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Virginia Governor Apologizes for Racist Photo on 1984 Medical School Yearbook Page; Trump Signals He Plan to Declare National Emergency for Wall; Senator Cory Booker Announces Presidential Bid; Anti-Maduro Protests Expected around the World; U.S. Suspends Nuclear Arms Control Treaty with Russia; Republican Governor Hogan May Challenge Trump; Judge Threatens Gag Order against Roger Stone; Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Spring's Arrival; 50+ Agencies Working to Secure Super Bowl. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired February 2, 2019 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A decades-long treaty now being suspended. Russia follows the U.S., leaving behind the INF treaty just announced a short time ago.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus a U.S. governor under attack from all sides after a racist yearbook photo comes to light.

Also ahead, we're gearing up for Super Bowl LIII, how Atlanta is handling security for the biggest game day in American sports, right next to CNN.

HOWELL (voice-over): We are live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: And we begin with breaking news that just broke in the past hour, fears are growing of a new arms race as Russia announces it is suspending its participation in the INF nuclear missile treaty.

HOWELL: This comes just one day after the U.S. said it would withdraw from the agreement unless Russia complied with the treaty within 180 days.

Instead, during a meeting with foreign and defense ministers, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said this, quote, "We have a tit- for-tat response. American partners have announced they are suspending their participation in the treaty, so we are suspending ours as well. They announced that they are engaged in research and technological development work and we will do the same."

We get more now CNN's Alex Marquardt.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Good morning, everyone.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United States announcing it's suspending one of the last remaining nuclear arms treaties between the U.S. and Russia.

POMPEO: We provided Russia an ample window of time to mend its ways and for Russia to honor its commitment. Tomorrow, that time runs out.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF was signed by president Ronald Reagan and then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The past several years, the U.S. accused Russia of violating the treaty, of developing and deploying medium- range, nuclear-ready missiles.

TRUMP: We can't be put at a disadvantage of going by a treaty, limiting what we do when somebody else doesn't go by that treaty.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Trump administration says Russia placed battalions of missiles at the borders of Europe, not allowed by the treaty's terms.

The missile is called the 9M729. Russia recently showed off the system but not the missile itself to journalists and claims it does abide by the INF.

"Russia has implemented and continues to meticulously implement the requirements of the treaty," this Russian general said, "and does not allow for any violations to happen."

The goal of the treaty was to prevent the two sides from developing land-based, medium-range nuclear weapons. NATO, whose members are most threatened by the Russian moves, expressed its full support of the U.S. pulling out.

While some experts, including former secretary of state, General Colin Powell, told Jake on "STATE OF THE UNION," it's a wrong and dangerous thing to do.

COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: There are a lot of people now who say, well, look, we got to get out of this treaty, we got to going to out of that treaty. Bad, terrible mistakes, which we will regret because they don't make sense.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The biggest concern: today's move could spark an arms race, not just with Russia but with China, which has not been constrained by the treaty and has grown exponentially more powerful over the past three decades.

ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: China is already developing these capabilities as well as strategic nuclear capabilities. You've got the North Koreans and of course the Russians have not only been developing these intermediate-range missiles but hypersonic and more strategic nuclear-capable missiles as well. So we are already in a bit of an arms race now. MARQUARDT: Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Interesting, U.S. officials have indicated that Russia has actually wanted to dissolve that treaty for some time. So really kind of playing the fence, some would say, saying that, you know, the United States is backing out; certainly disrupting international order but, at the same time, officials say this is something they may have wanted. So it is a story that we'll have to continue to watch.

ALLEN: And we'll continue to get analysis on what's going on with it.

HOWELL: Here in the United States, there are calls for the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, to resign after a racist yearbook photo came to light from 1984.

ALLEN: You can see two people on the right; one in blackface, one dressed as a Klansman. Northam admits he is one of them. He hasn't said which one. Now the Democratic caucuses in both houses of Virginia's legislature are among those demanding he resign.

HOWELL: In a statement, the Virginia Senate Democrats said, "After seeing the yearbook pictures that surfaces of Governor Northam today, we were shocked, saddened and offended. Virginia has a complicated racial history and past and those pictures certainly reflect that. Blackface was used to ridicule --


HOWELL: -- "African Americans and the Klan was a source of terror and intimidation. We are beyond disappointed."

ALLEN: News of the picture surfaced on the first day of Black History Month in the U.S. Northam has since apologized.

HOWELL: Suzanne Malveaux has more now from Washington.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Virginia's Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, is facing growing criticism and calls to step down after this racist photo emerged Friday from his 1984 medical school yearbook page that shows a person in blackface and another dressed in a Klansman robe and hood.

Publicly confronted with the photo, Northam confirmed that he in fact was one of the people in the picture but declined to say which. He apologized and vowed to show Virginians he had changed and he would do so for the reminder of the term.


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: That photo and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents does not reflect that person I am today or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor and a public servant. I'm deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made nor can I undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.


MALVEAUX: The photo is from 1984, when Northam was 25 years old at the time, from the Eastern Virginia Medical School. Under the photo, it lists his alma mater, Virginia Military Institute; his interest, pediatrics, and a quote, saying, "There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I'll have another beer."

Northam's yearbook from his time at the Virginia Military Institute in 1981 revealed that he had two nicknames, Goose and Coonman. The reaction from many political corners has been fast and furious. The photo was first reported by Big League Politics, a conservative news outlet, followed by the Virginia GOP caucus, calling for his resignation.

Well, since then, some of Northam's most powerful allies are also calling for him to step down.

The NAACP tweeting, "Blackface in any manner is always racist and never OK. No matter the party affiliation, we cannot stand for that behavior."

The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who had been vocal in her support of Virginia Democrats earlier in the week during the abortion controversy, now saying that he's got to go, along with Planned Parenthood and the mayor of Richmond, Virginia. Several Democratic presidential primary candidates as well.

This from Senator Kamala Harris, saying, "Leaders are called to a higher standard and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government."

This from the "Richmond Times-Dispatch" editorial, quote, "He is all by accounts a decent and considerate man. And yet his poor judgment has undermined his standing in ways we believe will permanently impair his ability to act as an effective governor."

Holding off, however, Virginia's two powerful senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, calling for Northam to reflect on how to move forward, giving him more time. The big question, of course, will Northam heed these calls if this chorus grows louder over the next 24 hours?

Will he survive?

Susanne Malveaux, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus is among the top groups calling on the governor to resign.

In a statement, they said this, "We just finished meeting with the governor. We fully appreciate all that he has contributed to our commonwealth. But given what was revealed today it is clear he can no longer effectively serve as governor. It is time for him to resign so that Virginia can begin the process of healing.

HOWELL: And the former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, governor when Northam was lieutenant governor, also speaking out.

He tweeted this, quote, "The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in his untenable. It is time for Ralph to step down and for the commonwealth to move forward."

Stay with CNN. We will continue to follow with the developments and any more responses.

We are also following the developments around U.S. president Donald Trump and the border wall he wants. He is sending a strong signal that he will declare a national emergency to get his border wall and he is hinting he may do it around the State of the Union address.

ALLEN: That is despite words of caution from some Republicans, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Our Abby Phillip has more on this from the White House.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump venting his frustrations as Democrats stonewall his border wall. Trump once again dangling the prospect that he will go around Congress and build it anyway, even if a bipartisan group of lawmakers don't fund it.

TRUMP: We will be looking at a national emergency, because I don't think anything's going to happen. I think the Democrats don't want border security.

PHILLIP: And teasing a potential announcement during the State of the Union address next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying now you expect to declare a national emergency?

TRUMP: I don't want to say, but you will hear the State of the Union and then you will see what happens right after the State of the Union, OK?


PHILLIP: As Democratic candidates jump into the 2020 presidential race to defeat him, Trump is accusing the party of playing politics.

TRUMP: They're only doing it for one very simple reason. It's one simple reason. Couldn't be simpler. Because they think it's good politics for 2020, because they say, maybe we can beat Trump, because this is a big issue.

PHILLIP: Trump also slamming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's criticism of the administration's decision to suspend an arms control deal they claim Russia has been violating for years.

TRUMP: Honestly, I don't think she has a clue. I really don't. I don't think Nancy has a clue.

PHILLIP: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing the suspension today.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Russia has jeopardized the United States' security interests and we can no longer be restricted by the treaty, while Russia shamelessly violates it.

PHILLIP: Though Trump keeping the door open for negotiations on a new pact with Putin.

TRUMP: I hope that we're able to get everybody in a very big and beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better, but because, certainly, I would like to see that.

PHILLIP: All this after the president sat down with "The New York Times" for a wide-ranging interview, where he downplayed any potential risk in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, claiming he got private assurances from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

TRUMP: He told the attorneys that I'm not a subject, I'm not a target of...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He told your attorneys?

TRUMP: Yes. Oh, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he say that about the SDNY investigation -- because there's two. There's Mueller and then there's Cohen.

TRUMP: I don't know. I don't know about that.


TRUMP: That I don't know about.

PHILLIP (voice-over): The president also explicitly denying he talked to his longtime adviser, Roger Stone, about stolen information that WikiLeaks released during the campaign.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Did you ever talk to him about WikiLeaks? Because that seemed to be what Mueller was...

TRUMP: No. No.

HABERMAN: You never had a conversation with him about that?


PHILLIP (voice-over): And contradicting his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who said the negotiations with Russia about a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump telling "The New York Times," "He was wrong. Rudy has been wrong a little bit." President Trump, who normally denounces the media as being fake news, is also citing CNN's exclusive reporting that three phone calls his son, Donald Trump Jr., made after the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, were not made to him.

Trump tweeting, "The big deal, very mysterious Don Jr. telephone calls after the innocent Trump Tower meeting that the media and Dems said were made to his father, me, were just conclusively found not to be made to me. They were made to friends and business associates of Don. Really sad."

PHILLIP: And White House officials won't say much in detail about what President Trump might say at his State of the Union address next week. But they have said that he's going to call on lawmakers to break decades of stalemate on various issues.

He'll also strike an optimistic tone. And as for that announcement the president seemed to tease on the government shutdown, the official said that he will offer a way forward. But what seems clear is that the way forward is unlikely to be through that bipartisan group of negotiators who have been working for weeks to end the stalemate -- Abby Phillip, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: In an interview that airs Sunday on CBS, President Trump doubled down on his justification to shut down the government over the wall.

HOWELL: And he had more sharp words for the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You had quite the showdown with Speaker Pelosi.

What did you learn about negotiating with her?

TRUMP: Well, I think that she was very rigid, which I would expect. But I think she's very bad for our country. She knows that you need a barrier. She knows that we need border security. She wanted to win a political point. I happen to think it is very bad politics because basically she wants open borders.

She doesn't mind human trafficking or she wouldn't do this because --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered you over a billion dollars for border security.

TRUMP: Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered over a billion dollars for border security.

TRUMP: She --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't want the wall.

TRUMP: She's costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what is happening is, when you have a porous border and when you have drugs pouring in and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi, who don't want to give proper border security for political reasons, she's doing a terrible disservice to our country.


ALLEN: Let's talk about this story with Richard Johnson, a lecturer in U.S. politics and international relations at Lancaster University. He joins us now from Devon, England.

Thank you for joining us. Always good to see you.


ALLEN: First question for you, President Trump's resolve on the wall, it is steadfast. He says he'll get it built by emergency degree and the impasse with Democrats won't be resolved by negotiating with Democrats. He's a self-described dealmaker.

Where is his dealmaking on this?

JOHNSON: I think it's possibly a narrow path for a deal on some sort of border fencing. I think that's the only thing that Democrats --


JOHNSON: -- are willing to countenance, they've been talking about something Normandy fencing, which is a particular type of structure. Trump would then call it a wall.

But I think it seems that the increasingly likely path the president will take is to declare a national emergency to embark on this on his own behalf. I think actually from a political standpoint, it's a bit of a win-win for him in terms of how his base will interpret this.

They will be happy he has taken action. And even if the courts strike it down, which a lot of people have said could be a very real possibility, then he's able to blame the courts rather than take responsibility for himself for the failure to get a deal through.

ALLEN: It is sounding more and more like that is an option he may take, just go around the Democrats and get it done. We'll have to wait and see on that interesting tidbit, though, on the wall I want to talk with you about.

It was the idea of the self-described dirty trickster, Roger Stone, whom we know has now been indicted, a former Trump adviser. So it wasn't an idea built on analysis of illegal immigration.

The candidate, Trump, played it; his base loved it. So he stuck with the Roger Stone wall for political purposes. So that's kind of an interesting side note on this. And now he's properly boxed in on the wall since it was such a big part of his campaign.

Is that how you see it?

JOHNSON: I think the politics of it are very important. It's become a titanic issue in the Republican Party. We're talking something like nine in 10 Republicans believe that a significant border wall needs to be built and, you know, the constant mantra I have throughout the Trump presidency is that this is a president who is focused on his base. He sees that as the way of staying in office, he sees it as a way of protecting himself from congressional Republicans, who might otherwise team up with Democrats against him on the investigations that are with him.

And I think he feels, as long as he can secure, say, nine in 10 Republican voters at the next presidential election, that's a reasonable path for him to be reelected.

So I think it's right to say that this isn't really particularly about an analysis of what's the most effective way of keeping people in or out of the country but it speaks to an issue which is very important to Republican voters, whom, at the end of the day, I think, he is most interested in.

ALLEN: Well, let's talk about what's next, the election in 2020. A new person wants to face off with President Trump. Senator Cory Booker is the latest among a growing field of candidates. Let's listen to Booker and then what President Trump had to say about Mr. Booker getting in the race.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-N.J.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm proud of not only who I am and my conviction but this is a time where too many people, I think, are trying to pit people against each other, where the Democratic Party, I don't want it to be defined what we are against but by what we are for.

If you are tired of that bitterness, that trash talking, that trolling, that politics that is just a race to the bottom in our country, then don't support me because I'm not in this race to tear people down. I'm in this race to try to build our nation up.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to ask you about 2020, quickly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Cory Booker announced today that he's also running, there are a lot of Democrats on the field.

TRUMP: He's got no chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No chance, why? TRUMP: Because I know him. I don't think he has a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who has a chance?

TRUMP: So far I don't see anybody, I'm not impressed with their group.


ALLEN: So he's not impressed. What is of note is the lineup so far. We have two blacks in the race, five women and a Hispanic candidate.

So what do you think of Booker's opening message to keep it positive?

And the field, the most diverse lineup ever?

JOHNSON: This is a very consistent message from Cory Booker. I've spent some time researching Cory Booker. I wrote a chapter of my PhD on Booker. I spent time in Newark, New Jersey, interviewing people who have known Cory Booker over the last 20 years.

And that message of unity is a message which he's had throughout his life in both municipal and statewide politics. He's faced, in the past, opponents who have actually had very negative and divisive campaigns against him. He's not always been successful in Newark.

The first time he went for mayor in 2002, he had a very hostile opponent and the opponent was successful. So this unity message, although I think Booker strongly believes in it, is not always the winning message. I think that, though, the next Democratic nominee, the African American vote, will be crucial, as we saw in 2016 --


JOHNSON: -- and in 2008. The candidate who secures support from the majority of the African American Democratic primary electorate wins the nomination. That's because, in some states, African American voters are a majority.

And so I think that obviously Kamala Harris and Cory Booker probably are the most likely to try and make appeals to that electorate. But I don't think any candidate can afford to ignore this very significant Democratic electorate.

ALLEN: All right. We always appreciate your insights, Richard Johnson for us. Thank you, Richard.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, we are following the situation in Venezuela, protests there mount for the president to step aside. But Nicolas Maduro remains firm. We will hear more on his efforts to dig in and cling to power.

ALLEN: Also cities around the U.S. declaring emergencies due to a brutal arctic blast and this weekend's erratic temperatures could make it worse. We'll have the forecast for you next.




ALLEN: Stunning new video from that deadly dam collapse in Brazil last week, it's really hard to look at when you see that, how just huge this was.

HOWELL: Yes. Take a look. This is the very moment that that dam failed. You are seeing it, the destructive wave of mining waste and mud that buried houses, cars and many people in its path.

ALLEN: Yes, at least 115 people are confirmed dead from this; more than 240 are still missing and there is growing public anger in Brazil at the company that owns that mine.

HOWELL: Following the situation in Venezuela, in just a few hours' time, protesters around the world are set to hit the streets to march against the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro. They are a part of the latest effort to drive him out of power, out of office.

ALLEN: But as CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports from the region, Mr. Maduro continues to reject all calls for him to step aside.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A beleaguered president Nicolas Maduro has tried to make a show of support, appearing for the third time in a week alongside his military commanders on national television, a bid to shore up or at least show visibly the support he says he still has from the military elite.

He also presented a list -- list of smaller countries, Suriname, Laos, Benin, who he says have expressed support for his government. But the pressure continues to mount. It will be seen on the streets when --


WALSH: -- potentially tens if not hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans take to the streets.

We've also heard from vice president Mike Pence at a rally in Florida saying it is time for Nicolas Maduro to go and Venezuela to be freed from the grip of Cuba, essentially his expression of how close the Cuban government is to that of Nicolas Maduro.

But really eyes are on exactly what Juan Guaido, the interim president, self-declared and opposition leader, who'll be leading the protest, what he can practically do in order to try and show that he has some kind of control over the levers of government.

He's said he's in talks with the military. We haven't seen the military seeming to crumble in its support of the Maduro government. And he's also, in fact, this day, said he wanted to see some sort of humanitarian aid coming into the country and appealed to the military to assist that.

But the key test I think is whether demonstrations pass peacefully. I suspect they probably will. We have heard also from the supreme court of Venezuela, two of those judges tweeting that they believe some of the restrictions against Juan Guaido, freezing his bank accounts and giving him a travel ban, that they're against those.

Not quite sure what legal force that necessarily has. But so far, a relatively moderate and restrained reaction from the Maduro government. We'll have to see if that's sustained through the protests and whether that moves the dial in terms of who supports the Maduro government going forward -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Bogota.


HOWELL: Now to tell you this deadly cold weather that's gripped the Eastern part of the U.S., it is moderating but now two powerful Pacific storms are taking aim at the U.S. West Coast.


ALLEN: Roger Stone, well, he loves the camera. But a federal judge says it's time to stop talking or else. We'll have that coming up.

HOWELL: Plus a Republican who might challenge the U.S. president in 2020.

(INAUDIBLE) the governor of Maryland?





HOWELL: From wherever you are watching here in the United States or all around the world, thank you for being with us, from CNN NEWSROOM, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.


HOWELL: Again, we're following this breaking news, Russia announcing that it will no longer be part of the INF nuclear missile treaty. Let's bring in Oren Liebermann, following the story this hour for us in Moscow.

Oren, what more are you hearing from Russia?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, the announcement came just a short while ago, a readout from Russian president Vladimir Putin, who had a morning meeting with his defense minister and his foreign minister.

He promised a tit-for-tat right back at the United States after the United States announcement from yesterday. He says Russia will be withdrawing from the INF treaty as well in response to the United States' decision. He also said --


HOWELL: I think we're having audio issues with Oren. We'll continue to reach out to him to bring you more information.

But again, we understand that Russia has indicated that it will no longer take part in the INF treaty. The United States indicated first it would be backing out of this agreement. We spoke with experts, who say that Russia has been indicating that it wanted to back out of this for some time now, with concerns about China.

So saying, on the one hand, they are upset the United States is backing out but at the same time this is something U.S. officials say Russia has wanted to do for some time.

Let's bring back in Oren Liebermann, Oren following the story for us in Moscow.

Oren, you are saying --


HOWELL: -- that the latest readout came a short time ago.

LIEBERMANN: Correct, George, an hopefully the audio on this end holds up a little better.

It was a readout from a meeting between president Vladimir Putin and his defense minister and his foreign minister. They said, first, we are withdrawing from this as a tit-for-tat response to the U.S. announcement from yesterday and followed it up with saying there should be no arms race and there will be no arms race.

However, in that same statement, Putin also announced that Russia would be further developing what is known as its caliber missile. That is a sea-based, medium-range, hypersonic missile that does not or would not have violated the terms of the INF treaty.

However, in Putin's readout, he said he is further developing it towards a ground-based version of that same missile, which would be a blatant violation of the INF treaty except that treaty is now in tatters.

As you pointed out, it's the U.S.' assessment that Russia has been looking for a reason to withdraw from this, even though the Russian accusations are right at the U.S., saying, first, show us the evidence that Russia has violated the treaty and, second, there have been accusations from the Russians that it was, in fact, the U.S. that violated the treaty in terms of its drones and in terms of systems. The Russians say the U.S. has deployed in Europe. But Russia is

saying it is U.S. violation of this treaty that led to its collapse; Russia, that tit-for-tat right back, saying we will withdraw from this treaty and will violate -- not violate; in terms of we will develop these missiles that are now -- that would have been in violation of a treaty that's now in tatters at this point.

HOWELL: Oren, it seems like this came down to all or nothing, so all sides comply with it or there's nothing at all.

The question is, does this lead to an arms war?

Beyond that, we heard that Russia before, we heard this recent statement, we heard that Russia is open to the concept of renegotiating, of considering a new option.

Are you hearing anything on that end?

LIEBERMANN: Well, the statement here didn't address what options there are available for the Kremlin or what options there are available in terms of U.S.-Russia diplomacy for a treaty that's now no more.

Russia has made it clear, with the treaty no longer intact, with the treaty essentially gone at this point, Russia will develop missiles that are no longer in compliance with the treaty, that's no longer, at this point, in existence here.

HOWELL: Oren Liebermann, following the details for us, live in Moscow. Thank you very much.

We'll be right back after the break. Stay with us.





ALLEN: The field of Democrats seeking the presidency in 2020 is growing more crowded by the day. It will be interesting to see who finally catches fire in the primaries.

HOWELL: But would a Republican challenge the president in 2020?

That is a topic that seems practically taboo. There may be one possible exception. CNN's Jessica Dean explains who he is and why he might do the unthinkable.


LARRY HOGAN (R), GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: Let's keep changing Maryland for the better and continue setting an example for Washington. JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fresh off his 2018 re- election victory in deep blue Maryland, Republican governor Larry Hogan has some of the party wondering if he should challenge President Trump in 2020.

HOGAN JR.: I'm flattered that people are saying that and including me in those discussions. My plan right now is to stay here for four years and do the best job I can in Maryland. But I've said you never say never. Who knows what will happen.

DEAN: You are listening?

HOGAN JR.: I'm listening.

DEAN: And are you thinking about it?

HOGAN JR.: I would say I'm listening, I'm not sure how much thinking we're doing but I haven't closed the door.

DEAN (voice-over): From the beginning, Hogan has made no secret of his opposition to the president.

HOGAN JR.: My thoughts about Donald Trump are very clear. I believe I was the first Republican governor in the nation to say I wouldn't support Trump.

I'm not protesting every day about every issue. But I stand up and certainly let people know when I disagree or when I think something is going on that I don't think is right.

I'm kind of surprised there haven't been any tweets yet but I'm glad.

DEAN (voice-over): Opposing a sitting president in his own party is something Hogan shares in common with his beloved late father, Representative Lawrence Hogan Sr.

REP. LAWRENCE HOGAN SR. (R), MARYLAND: It isn't easy for me to align myself against the president.

DEAN (voice-over): The first Republican on the House Judiciary Committee to call for President Richard Nixon's impeachment.

HOGAN JR.: Especially I want to thank my dad.

DEAN (voice-over): Hogan Jr. credits his success working with the Democratic legislature to a bipartisan approach, signing new gun control measures, pushing to lower health insurance rates and addressing climate change.

HOGAN JR.: It's not easy. It's not easy to overcome differences and partisanship but you can. And it's what people want.

DEAN (voice-over): Just months into his first term, doctors diagnosed Hogan with an aggressive form of cancer. He continued to work while receiving treatment and ultimately beat it.

At his second inauguration, former Trump rival Jeb Bush praised him.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Larry is at the top of a list of leaders that I admire today because what's happening here in Annapolis is the antithesis of what's happening in Washington, D.C., these days.

DEAN (voice-over): If Hogan challenges the president, it would be a long shot. Trump's approval stands at 81 percent among Republicans in the latest CNN poll. He has already nearly $130 million for his re- election bid. And the Republican National Committee recently committed its undivided support to the president.

As Hogan keeps an eye on Trump's numbers...

HOGAN JR.: I think the latest approval of the president is in the 30s. So you can't win a national election being in the 30s.

DEAN (voice-over): -- his eyes remain wide open about the odds and the possibility.

HOGAN JR.: I wouldn't be on some fool's errand jus to run some suicide mission. I would only run it if I thought that I could actually win.

DEAN (voice-over): Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: In the meantime, as the Trump confidant, Roger Stone, faces criminal charges, he's making the rounds on talk shows.

ALLEN: But the judge in the case warns, that needs to stop. Here's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Roger Stone's post-arrest media blitz may soon be coming to an end. In court on Friday, federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson announced she is considering a gag order on the case.

The judge saying, quote, "This is a criminal proceeding and not a public relations campaign."

The judge warned President Trump's long-time political adviser, the run-up to trial wasn't like a, quote, "book tour," and cautioned him in any inconsistencies in his public statements could be used as evidence against him at trial.

Even under a gag order, Stone could still comment on other news, the judge said, like foreign relations, immigration or Tom Brady. Stone has pleaded not guilty to several charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and witness tampering.

Sporting a pinstriped suit and the occasional frown, Stone got a stern warning Friday not to contact any potential witnesses or -- [05:45:00]

MURRAY (voice-over): -- victims in the case, via email, Instagram, WhatsApp, intermediaries or any other mode. When the judge asked if Stone understood, he replied, "Yes, Your Honor."

MURRAY: A trial date still hasn't been set for Stone's case. The government said they're angling for a date in the fall, perhaps in October. But the judge is hoping for a trial in July or August. Both sides are due back in court in March -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: A top Afghan official warned a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan could lead to increased bloodshed. The message following news this week from an American negotiator that the U.S. and the Taliban made progress in talks to end U.S. Involvement in the war there.

HOWELL: But still there is no deal and the head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council told our Nic Robertson that a rapid U.S. pullout could backfire.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: What are the concerns of the Afghan government that the United States may try to withdraw its troops?

We saw President Trump do this in Syria.

OMAR DAUDZAI, AFGHANISTAN HIGH PEACE COUNCIL: If it happened in a matter that's not orderly and if it happens in a way that replacement is not thought about, if it happens that it leaves a vacuum behind, then obviously, the bloodshed would increase.

ROBERTSON: Is there a concern under this American president, that the possibility of having all the troops pulled out quickly, is that a feeling that that really could happen?

DAUDZAI: I would say, yes, there is that feeling that that might happen.

ROBERTSON: That must be a very big concern then?

DAUDZAI: But we judge the relationship on the ground. So we don't see any practical consequences yet. But like the pressure from President Trump that I'm going to withdraw, I'm going to reduce the costs, I mean, that pressure, in a way, is creating concern but it's also creating opportunity.


HOWELL: The United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, mostly helping to train, to advise and to assist Afghan forces. Now to an incredible sight out of India, millions of pilgrims and devotees celebrating the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela. Our Ram Ramgopal has their story.


RAM RAMGOPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to the largest religious festival in the world. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated four times within a 12-year period in India, alternating between four cities. Over the course of eight weeks, it attracts upwards of 120 million people, including 1 million international visitors.

Devotees will bathe in sacred rivers to cleanse them of vices, coming one step closer to salvation. Kumbh Mela directly translates to party festival. The name comes from a Hindu story about the god of Vishnu, in disguise, battling over a pitcher of nectar with demons.

In the 12-day fight, four drops of the nectar of immortality fell to the Earth on the sites that now host the festival. A number of ceremonies are to take place at the Kumbh Mela. The festival encapsulates the science of astronomy, spirituality and ritual.

You'll see all types of people, from conventional practitioners of Hinduism to hermits who temporarily trade their seclusion for civilization. It is an unusual sight for many, sadhus sporting dreadlocks mired in ash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels surreal. All this time you've read about them. They're almost like fictional characters and then you meet them.

RAMGOPAL (voice-over): Also in attendance, Hindu priest, like this man who has been helping generations of pilgrims at the Kumbh Mela.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People have been coming here to perform various rituals, from prayed for departed souls to immersing ashes of their dead.

RAMGOPAL (voice-over): This spectacle of faith is as mesmerizing as it is spiritual for the devout who travel from afar for the world's largest congregation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Faith compensates for everything. You don't feel cold or hot, neither do you get annoyed with the crowd nor do you feel hungry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the worries, whether physical or mental, all problems disappear by taking the holy dip here.

RAMGOPAL (voice-over): The Kumbh Mela is expected to reach a peak this Monday with some 30 million people taking a dip. And the festival will last until early March -- Ram Ramgopal, CNN.


ALLEN: Thousands of people are here in Atlanta for the biggest U.S. sporting event of the year. We will tell you how security is working to keep it a fun weekend -- next.







HOWELL (voice-over): All right. Live pictures there in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and we are about to hear from a famous weather prophet, he is the most famous of groundhogs, you've probably heard his name, Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil.

So every February 2nd he wakes up from hibernation to predict the weather.

If he sees his shadow, guess what?

Six more weeks of winter. Yay.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm going out on a limb here George and say he is probably the only famous groundhog.


HOWELL (voice-over): Maybe you're right, Natalie.

ALLEN (voice-over): More --

HOWELL (voice-over): If he doesn't see his shadow, though, here's the thing, spring will arrive soon, that's the good news. Let's hope that happens.

ALLEN (voice-over): A little more than an hour to go before we see him. You can see the crowd getting all excited. Phil's owners say he is 100 percent accurate. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- (INAUDIBLE) anyway -- says he has no predictive skill -- he's had no predictive skill for the last few years.

So we'll wait and see. It's probably the goofiest and coolest prediction we have in America.



ALLEN: Don't you think?

All right, we are a day away from the biggest U.S. sporting event in America of the year, the Super Bowl, right next door to us here at CNN, by the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots facing off. [05:55:00]

HOWELL: You see that skyline of Atlanta, the city certainly celebrating tonight, celebrations continue through the weekend. And there is the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That's where it all happens. Huge security operation is in place to protect people. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has more.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is an aerial team of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the home of Super Bowl LIII, courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the same officials known to patrol the U.S. border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We consider the Super Bowl to be a national security special event. This is a tier 1, level 1 event.

HARTUNG (voice-over): That means more than 50 federal, state and local agencies are working together in careful coordination, each with a specific role to play. The Air and Marine division of Customs and Border Protection are enforcing a temporary flight restriction with a 30-mile radius of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta on Sunday.

HARTUNG (from captions): But there are exceptions for that no-fly zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the aircraft will be allowed inside the TFR, some of the military aircraft, the law enforcement. But the key thing is, everybody who is operating inside of here, the airliners and so forth, they've been cleared by us.

HARTUNG (voice-over): If any aircraft should breach the no-fly zone, this Blackhawk, along with six others, will work to spot it and intercept it. Fighter jets are on standby if a threat arises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a different mission but it's one we are very familiar with, intercepting aircraft, steering aircraft away from sensitive areas. This is what we do, day in and day out.

HARTUNG: Last week that Blackhawk UH-60 helicopter that I rode on was doing a counter drug mission in Puerto Rico. Officers on board saying next week it's very likely they could be back patrolling the border. Very different missions from Super Bowl security but those officers say, it's the same job every day of dealing with people and vehicles.

At this time, we are told no credible threats have been brought to officials' attention -- Kaylee Hartung, CNN, Atlanta.


ALLEN: We will see you on Super Bowl Sunday. Thanks for watching.

HOWELL: Thanks for being with us.