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President Trump Upset with Democrats; Pope Francis Visits Abu Dhabi; New England Patriots Bags Super Bowl LIII; Mother Nature Rocks Again in Australia; European Countries Supports Venezuelan Opposition Leader; India Celebrates Kumbh Mela; Performers Snubbed Super Bowl's Halftime. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired February 4, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Another set of eyebrows raising comments and criticisms in a new interview as President Trump slams his opponent and his own intel chiefs.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: And once in a lifetime opportunity. Catholics in Abu Dhabi are celebrating the pope's historic trip hoping they get to see him in person.
ALLEN: Also, ahead this hour, a shocking sixth Super Bowl championship. Another trophy going home to New England as the Patriots dominates again.
We're live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. We're right to Mercedes Stadium where all the action was or a lack thereof depending on how you look at the game. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. This is CNN Newsroom.
So, U.S. President Donald Trump saying it's possible that he may shutdown the government again this month.
ALLEN: This as he continues fighting with Democrats over his southern border wall. The last shutdown, the longest in U.S. history ended with Mr. Trump getting no money for the wall. He told CBS News all options are open.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you shut down the government again?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're going to have to see what happens on February 15th.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not taking it off it the table.
TRUMP: Well, I don't take anything off the table. I don't like to take things off the table. It's that alternative, it's national emergency, it's other things. And, you know, there have been plenty of national emergencies called. You need a wall, and anybody that says you don't, they're just playing games.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: CNN has also confirmed Mr. Trump wants to send more U.S. troops to the U.S. border with Mexico.
Boris Sanchez has these details.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Sunday afternoon the Pentagon confirmed something CNN had previously reported out last week. Sources at the Pentagon telling that the White House was prepared to deploy some 3,500 troops to the U.S. border with Mexico to help Customs and Border Protection agents that were stationed there.
The Pentagon on Sunday made the official number closer to 3,750. That would lead to a total of some 4,300 U.S. troops on the border with Mexico. Democrats have said that the move is essentially a propaganda move by the president, using American troops as tools to sell his message of border security.
It does lead to more questions about what else President Trump might do to bypass Congress and install his vision of border security along the U.S. border with Mexico.
The president has been frustrated by negotiations with Democrats. During an interview with CBS over the weekend he has effectively said that negotiating with Democrats was a waste of time, and he called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that she was bad for the country. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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's very bad politics because basically she wants open borders. She doesn't mind human trafficking or she wouldn't do this because, you know, the traffickers --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered over a billion dollars for border security.
TRUMP: Excuse me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered over a billion dollars for border security. She doesn't want the wall.
TRUMP: She's costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what's 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: A spokesperson for the house speaker shot back at President Trump saying that he was reckless during the first government shutdown and suggesting that he had been dishonest in misrepresenting, mischaracterizing where Democrats stand on the issue of border security and immigration.
We should point out CNN did see a preview of what the president would be saying Tuesday night during his State of the Union address. There is no indication that he would be declaring a national emergency during his speech.
Instead, a White House official suggested that the president would try to have some unifying words for the country, using the occasion to provide a path forward for the nation following that record are breaking divisive government shutdown.
Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in West Palm Beach, Florida.
VANIER: OK, we're joined now in London by Amy Pope, former deputy homeland security advisor on the U.S. National Security Council. She's now an associate fellow at Chatham House. Amy, if Donald Trump shuts down the government once again it's probably not going to work out for him politically. If he doesn't get his border wall, on the other hand, it's also not good for him. So, is there a way out of this for the president?
[03:04:57] AMY POPE, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: I suspect that he ends up declaring a national emergency. Now I don't think that's a terrific solution for him. I don't think that he has the legal basis to do so. And once he does that then I am sure that it will be challenged in court and probably successfully. But he's painting himself into a corner and not giving himself many options here.
VANIER: Yes. The early returns in the polls are that a majority of Americans do favor Donald Trump declaring a national emergency for this.
POPE: There's good reason for that. It's because there is no national emergency on the southwest border. Immigration is at it an all-time low. When you look at the real immigration problems along the border it's not between the ports of entry. Rather, it's what's coming through the ports of entry. It's people being able to smuggle drugs in trucks, for example.
So that's where the focus needs to be, giving the resources that are needed so that customs and border officials can find this contraband and identify what are the real issues. So, it's not building a wall. And I think that's where the president is making a mistake. He's trying to sell a solution that doesn't actually fit the problem.
VANIER: I want to you to listen to Republican Senator Richard Shelby. He spoke to my colleague Jake Tapper on Sunday. He's one of the -- he's among the bipartisan congressional group that's trying to negotiate a deal on immigration and border security and he had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, (R) ALABAMA: We've asked the professionals, the people who do the work that know something about the border and know what they need, do they need a wall, they need a fence, they need more technology? Do they need it all? We're going to find out what they want. I think it's not what I need or what the speaker needs or even the president needs. It's what we need to secure our borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: So, this is what surprised me about that. There's already been a five-week government shutdown over this. There have been weeks and months of acrimony over the topic of a border wall. And nowm we have one of the senators tasked with negotiating a deal who is saying well, what are we going to do next. Our next step is we're going to talk to experts and find out what they need. I mean, it seems to me that should be the first step in policymaking.
POPE: I agree with you. And there are real issues with our border security, and there are ways to make the immigration system function far more effectively. But the answer is not a wall, and I think this is what characterizes this president's perspective is that he takes a certain point of view and then he fails to listen to the experts.
And when the experts don't align with his particular point of view, then he publicly derides them or calls into question their intelligence or their ability to do their job.
And that's a difficult place for anybody who's trying to come up with a meaningful solution to be. He's not interested in meaningful solutions. He's interested in politicking and that's not a great place for the country to be in at this moment in time.
VANIER: OK, leaving the wall aside, what should be the strategy for Donald Trump, for this White House going into the State of the Union.
POPE: The mid-term elections made clear that the American people are much more interested in finding compromises that work for them. I think the president would do well to strike a more much conciliatory tone to identify areas where he can find success working with a bipartisan Congress and demonstrate to the American people that he is committed to getting things done and to negotiating meaningful deals.
It is not going to be terribly helpful if he pushes for divisive solutions, particularly those that don't even have the support of his Congress. So, if you look, for example, on Syria, when you have Republicans who are voting against a solution that he's putting forward, he needs to take the time to reconsider his path and find a way that brings people together.
VANIER: Amy Pope from London this morning. Thank you very much.
POPE: Thank you.
ALLEN: Pope Francis is meeting political and religious leaders on a historic trip to the UAE right now.
VANIER: Yes, this is the first time a Roman Catholic pope has ever visited the Arabian Peninsula. He's being welcomed to the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi.
ALLEN: We are watching for how the pope interacts with Muslim leaders and what if anything he says about the war in Yemen during his visit.
For more let's got to our Vatican reporter. CNN's Delia Gallagher is live in Abu Dhabi for us. Delia, this is a historic trip by the pope. How would you gauge the interest there for his visit?
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, you can only imagine it's the first time that a pope has ever visited the Arabian Peninsula. There is great excitement. Certainly, it is a coup for the government of the Emirates because this is their year of tolerance, 2019.
[03:10:01] He is just arriving right now at the presidential palace where he will meet with the crown prince and other government authorities.
What is hanging over this visit, Natalie, is a delicate political situation. That is the war in Yemen because the Emirates are together with Saudi Arabia in a coalition fighting a war in Yemen. The meeting that the pope is going to have right now with government authorities is a private meeting. So, we do not know if he will raise that issue.
But yesterday, from the Vatican before he got on the plane to come here to Abu Dhabi the pope did make a plea for peace in Yemen, that the people there would be allowed to have access to food and that international agreements would be observed.
So, certainly, government authorities here know where he stands on the issue.
But an important moment for them as they attempt to raise their profile in the world as a country of tolerance, the pope indeed said they are a country which is striving to attain a peaceful coexistence amongst diverse cultures, so the pope helping them out in that respect, Natalie.
ALLEN: In advance of his trip, what did Muslim leaders have to say about the fact that he chose to come there and that he was being welcomed there?
GALLAGHER: Well, this is the other aspect which is very important and really the part for the reason for this trip. It's the meeting that's going to happen later in the afternoon with the Muslim council of elders. These are representatives of Islam throughout the region. And Pope Francis has come here to speak with them as he has done on many occasions in the past. Many of these leaders have also been to the Vatican. Because one of
the pope's point is that all religious leaders need to come together to help fight fundamentalism and to promote peace.
The pope is also, of course, interested in religious tolerance and reciprocal religious tolerance but especially for Christian minorities and other religious minorities in many countries around this region which still don't guarantee full religious freedom to minorities.
ALLEN: All right. Delia Gallagher, we know that you'll be letting us know what happens from here. Thanks so much.
VANIER: A footballer fighting extradition to Bahrain will spend two more months in a Thai jail. Hakeem al-Araibi appeared at a Bangkok court hours ago. He fled Bahrain in 2014 and says he was tortured there. Thai authorities arrested him on his honeymoon back in November. He has refugee status in Australia and plays for a Melbourne club.
ALLEN: Now Bahrain alleges he helped protesters vandalize a police station, that's why they want him back. But his supporters say those charges are just politically motivated. He is a critic of the Bahrain government. We'll keep you posted on developments there to get him free.
VANIER: And Super Bowl 53 made a number of entries in the record books, a thrill ride for fans of low scoring football. More or of Maroon 5 take a pick. We'll recap the big game when we come back.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: Welcome back. Virginia's Democratic governor bombarded by calls to resign is losing support from his own team. On Sunday, Ralph Northam held a meeting with top administration officials of color. Sources say none of them told him to stay in office and fight.
VANIER: Northam is facing pressure after this racist photo in his medical school yearbook went public. Other close political allies say, it's time to call it quits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KAREN BASS, (D) CALIFORNIA: I think he's been completely dishonest and disingenuous. He knew this picture was there, and he could have come clean and talked to African-Americans that he's close to decades ago.
And I think given the overall climate around race in this country especially over the last two years, it's completely unacceptable. The good news is, though, is that there is a zero-tolerance and people do understand, and he needs to resign immediately to stop the pain in Virginia and of frankly around the nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: It is not clear what's in Ralph Northam's political future. Even his stories are changing.
VANIER: Yes. At first, he apologized and said that he was in that photo. Now he says he wasn't.
Jessica Dean has more details.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New reporting here in Richmond, Virginia, where a source with direct knowledge of the governor's thinking on all of this is telling CNN that as of right now the governor's thinking has not changed, that Governor Northam has no plans to resign.
In fact, that press conference was scheduled -- that was scheduled and held over the weekend was there as a platform for the governor to explain the photo and that it was supposed to be a forum for people to begin to understand the governor and hopefully the governor was thinking that it would give him time to kind of think through what his next steps might be.
We're told the governor is evaluating things minute by minute, day by day. But right now, the only reason that the governor would resign is if he was not able to govern effectively. And currently he doesn't believe that is the case.
Now, the legislator is scheduled to meet on Monday here in Richmond, and it will be interesting to see if anyone brings this up. Right now, no talk from anyone officially publicly about any sort of removal from office. But again, we'll see what the days bring.
In Richmond, Jessica Dean, CNN.
ALLEN: The search teams have found the wreckage now of the plane that was carrying Argentine football star Emiliano Sala.
VANIER: Now he and the plane's pilot were flying over the English Channel on their way to Wales when the aircraft dropped out of sight.
Patrick Snell has the latest.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: Well, it was two weeks ago on Monday that the plane calling Argentine football Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared from radar as it flew from Western France to the Welsh capital city Cardiff.
The 28-year-old South American who just becomes the English Premier League club's record signing was returning to Cardiff after saying his good-bye to his former F.C. non-teammates.
Now on Sunday, authorities in the U.K. confirming wreckage has now been found on the first day of a privately funded search of the Island of Guernsey carried out on behalf of the Sana family.
[03:19:58] It followed pleas from high profile stars from the world of football including Argentine greats Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona to resume the search after the initial one had been called off after three days. Among those helping to finance it through a crowd funding campaign,
French World Cup winning star Kylian Mbappe. It comes after a highly emotional weekend in Cardiff which saw the Welsh club and its players paid a poignant tribute to Sala as its first home match since his disappearance as manager Neil Warnock could signed the striker from Nantes visibly fought back tears. It's expected more details on the recovery operation will be released later on Monday.
Patrick Snell, CNN.
VANIER: Now you've heard us say this before. The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions.
ALLEN: Saying it again.
VANIER: They beat the L.A. Rams 13 to 3. This was just hours ago here in Atlanta. It is the sixth championship for the team, and of course the Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
ALLEN: Yes. And Goodell they're happy now they've done it before. Look at them, like they've never done it before. And there's his daughter holding up the trophy. That was sweet. They say defense wins championships but it's not always that fun to watch. The only score -- the score -- excuse me, was on three to zero at the half. And the lone Patriots touch down, well, it came in the fourth quarter.
For more about it let's go to Andy Scholes. He joins us live. He's probably one of the few people still outside the stadium. And we appreciate that, Andy. So, you know, yay for the Patriots, but for a lot of people, you know, wanting an exciting game they saw a lot of punts.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. If you wanted to see a lot of exciting games and you like offense, this is definitely not the Super Bowl for you. Fans on social media having a good time calling this, you know, the snooze bowl, the punt bow, just the boredom bowl just because there wasn't a lot of excitement in this game.
And it's ironic because in the season this was the second highest scoring NFL season we've ever seen, yet we got the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever. It was three- three all the way to the fourth quarter for the first time ever. And that's when Tom Brady finally gave us an exciting hitting Ron Gronkowski on a big play to get the Patriots with inside the five-yard line.
Next play Sony Michel punches it in. And hey, we had a touch down for the first time in the game. That was in the fourth quarter with seven minutes to go. The Patriots take the lead 10 to 3.
The Rams had their chance, though. Jared Goff to Brandin Cooks that he can't haul it in, and that turned out to be a huge play in this game, because moments later Goff really bad pass, picked off by Stephon Gilmore and that pretty much sealed the deal for the Patriots. They go onto win 13 to 3.
Julian Edelman your game's MVP 10 catches 41 yards for him. Brady a champion now for the sixth time. And our own Hines Ward, he already spoke with Brady right after the game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: What does it mean to win six, man? You are the greatest of all time.
TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: I don't believe that.
BRADY: I don't believe that. I don't believe that. I don't think about that. I just think I played with so many great guys on so many great teams and I still get to do it at 41 years old, playing a sport I grew up loving and proud of my team tonight.
WARD: What about Jules, man?
BRADY: He was like a little Hines Ward tonight, wasn't he?
WARD: He balled out, man.
BRADY: He played his butt off. And I knew he was going to play his butt off. He was so focused, and we needed him big time and he came through.
WARD: Congrats, my brother.
BRADY: Thanks. I appreciate it.
WARD: What is it about the Super Bowl that you just keep making plays, man? I get so geeked up when I see you running around and making play after play after play for Tom Brady.
JULIAN EDELMAN, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WIDE RECEIVER: I don't know. I just try to go out and have a good week of practice and you know, try to make the play when my number's called.
WARD: MVP of the Super Bowl. What does that mean?
EDELMAN: It's pretty crazy.
WARD: Is it surreal?
EDELMAN: It is pretty surreal. I am still, you know --
WARD: You are not going to sleep tonight. I guarantee you that.
EDELMAN: I don't know yet. I just want to say hello to my little baby girl, Lily. I love you. I miss you. And I can't wait to see you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Now at 41 years old Tom Brady now the oldest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. And I was actually standing right there when he was celebrating with his family. They were so happy, you would have thought it was the first time Brady has ever won this big game. And I caught up with his dad, Tom Brady, Sr. and asked him what has it been like to watch your son win six Super Bowls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BRADY, SR. TOM BRADY'S FATHER: I was proud of him at five. I was proud of him when he didn't have any, but now that he's had six, it's extra sweet. You know, it's not even something that you could even fantasize with, and we've just been living the dream for about 18 years now. So, we're very thankful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: And, you know, some fans say, hey, they're tired of seeing the Patriots and Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Well, I say, you know what, we should appreciate it while we're seeing this, guys, because Tom Brady is the Michael Jordan of the NFL. And you know, you never know when this is going to be the last time you see him in the Super Bowl, so you should really appreciate these moments.
[03:25:00] ALLEN: That's right.
VANIER: What about the side dish here? What about the halftime show?
SCHOLES: So, this is what I had to say about the halftime show, if you, and this is what -- from speaking with a lot of people that we're watching it. If you were a fan of Maroon 5, hey, you thought it was, you know, pretty good. If you're not a big fan of Maroon 5, the halftime show was not great. It did not get good reviews all around, and it lacked like something spectacular, something special.
You know, Lady Gaga was jumping all over the place, you know, flying around. Katy Perry a few years ago rode a giant lion in and then she shot off on a shooting star. This one just didn't have anything really special, excuse me, and that's the way most fans just thought of it. If you -- if I had to grade it, I would probably give it a c minus. It just didn't jump off the charts in terms of halftime shows in my opinion.
ALLEN: The fireworks looked good afterwards.
VANIER: We both wins.
SCHOLES: Fireworks are great. Good. Great insight.
VANIER: C minus.
ALLEN: All right. Andy, thanks so much for all the reporting. We appreciate it. It's fun.
SCHOLES: Thank you.
VANIER: Andy Scholes, thank you.
ALLEN: All right. We have much more news ahead here. And as another Super Bowl entered the books, President Trump weighed in about the sport America loves. And he talked about whether he would let his son play football.
ALLEN: Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you let your son, Baron, play football?
TRUMP: It's very -- it's a very tough question. It's a very good question. If he wanted to, yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn't. I just don't like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football. I mean, it's a dangerous sport. And I think it's -- it's really tough. I thought the equipment would get better and it has. The helmets have gotten better but it hasn't solved the problem.
So, you know, I hate to say it because I love to watch football. I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son -- well, I've heard NFL players saying they wouldn't let their sons play football. So, it's not totally unique. But I would have a hard time with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: A U.S. based oil company is caught in the middle of the Venezuelan crisis and its ownership could help determine the country's future. We'll have the impact on Citgo when we come back.
[03:30:00] VANIER: Welcome back to the CNN Newsroom. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. The headlines this hour for you.
U.S. President Trump tells CBS News even though he wants troops out of Iraq. He's going to keep some there to keep some there to keep an eye on Iran. Mr. Trump also says the troop withdrawal from Syria may cause a power vacuum but the U.S. military can respond and return if necessary.
VANIER: Virginia's Democratic governor is losing support from his own team after a racist photo in his medical school yearbook went public. Ralph Northam is facing pressure to resign. On Sunday, he held a meeting with top administration officials of color. A source says none of them told him to stay in office and fight.
ALLEN: Australia is experiencing a second weather extreme on the heels of a record-breaking heat wave, unprecedented monsoon rains and flooding have been recorded in Queensland State, that's in the country's northeast. Thousands of people had to leave their homes. This follows a record setting January of extremely high sustained temperatures.
VANIER: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is warning Donald Trump to stay out of his country's affairs. He told the Spanish channel laSexta that the U.S. president risks staining his hands with blood if he tries to drive him out of office. President Trump has said sending troops to Venezuela is still an option.
ALLEN: Meantime, Mr. Maduro has rejected an ultimatum to call early presidential elections. Several European nations had threatened to back the opposition if Maduro failed to do so by Sunday.
VANIER: CNN's Melissa Bell joins us now from Paris with more on Europe's response to the crisis in Venezuela. So, Melissa, the European deadline has now passed. Has there been any official reaction?
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There has. Wave been hearing this morning from France's foreign affairs minister, Cyril, who said quite clearly this morning that that ultimatum, that time which was until last night, Sunday evening, that's what several European countries had given as a time frame for the calling of fresh presidential elections in Venezuela, that France now considered that it would be legitimate for the opposition to organize those elections.
And it is a number of different European countries that are calling for that, France, but also Great Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands. Several European countries who are insisting that it is time those elections are held.
You mentioned that interview Nicolas Maduro gave yesterday answering Donald Trump on what he believes what's the American interference or the threat of an American interference. He also answered Europe saying look, how dare you pull for fresh elections essentially simply because you didn't like the results of the last one.
But we've also been hearing from France's European affairs minister, Natalie, who -- also Cyril, who says that the suggestion by Venezuelan leaders, by the regime there that parliamentary elections that were due for 2020 might be brought forward was a farce, in fact what she called a tragic farce. Cyril.
VANIER: And do we know if those European countries plan to take any concrete action? Because right now it's symbolically very important, of course. They no longer recognize Maduro. But concretely speaking, are they planning anything?
BELL: I think that's right, Cyril. For the time being we're talking about fairly strong words, but fairly strong words coming from different parts of the words. Now all eyes will be on Ashra (ph) who later say in that meeting of the Lima group several Latin-American countries, Canada, and Mike Pompeo is expected to take part through video conference but the European Union might as well.
Beyond that, E.U. leaders not just of the E.U. but of several European countries as well will be in Montevideo to lead -- to meet for the first time as part of this contact group with South American countries to try and help organize a peaceful transition, a peaceful political transition.
So, there is this sense, I think, that Europe wants to get more invested in the kind of concrete measures that might help the Venezuelan opposition bring about the change that they're hoping to. Cyril?
VANIER: Melissa Bell reporting live from Paris. Thank you very much.
ALLEN: Well, the U.S. has ramped up the pressure on President Maduro with sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned royal company.
[03:35:02] VANIER: But a familiar American brand of the Citgo oil company is now caught in that crossfire.
CNN's Paula Newton has more on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: GPS, take us to where we're going please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Citgo has been such a familiar part of the American landscape for decades that it is easy to forget that it is majority owned by the state-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA. Now it holds about 50 percent or more of Citgo and has held that position since the mid-80s.
Citgo is one of America's largest refiners operating plants in Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois. And it operated more than 5,000 locally owned gas stations. At the same time, it is Venezuela's largest foreign asset, and the cash it's generated has helped prop up the Maduro.
In its efforts to bring down Maduro, the U.S. slapped sanctions against PDVSA and moved to transfer Citgo ownership to opposition leader Juan Guaido.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES TREASURY SECRETARY: The path to sanctions relief for PDVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the interim president or a subsequent Democratically elected government who is committed to taking concrete and meaningful actions to combat corruption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: The measures would freeze all U.S. money that flows to Citgo, a huge blow to Venezuela whose oil holdings are its main source of revenue. President Nicolas Maduro calls the U.S. actions against the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): With these
measures they intend to rob Citgo from all Venezuelan men and women, red alert, Venezuela. The United States today has decided to embark on the path of robbing the firm Citgo from Venezuela. It is an illegal path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Reports suggest Citgo may file for bankruptcy to protect its operations, although the company officially denies it. One thing is certain, a unique American institution now finds itself on the front lines of the battle for Venezuela's future.
Paula Newton, CNN, New York.
VANIER: A Grammy nominated rapper has been taken into custody in Atlanta by immigration officials. They say 21 Savage whose real name is Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph is a U.K. national who came to the U.S. in 2005 and then overstayed his visa.
ALLEN: He was also convicted on felony drug charges in 2014. His attorney says efforts are underway to get him out of detention and clear up any misunderstandings. He's nominated for record of the year and best rap performance at next week's Grammy Awards.
Power has been restored at a federal prison in the bureau of Brooklyn New York.
VANIER: Now protesters called attention to the fact that prisoners had no heat, hot water or lighting for days, this due to a partial outage during a brutal cold snap. Inmates themselves banged on windows and bars to make sure their voices were heard by those on the outside.
ALLEN: A visitor to the facility said any heat to the building was sporadic and uneven. The U.S. Justice Department says it wants to make sure this never happens again.
VANIER: Millions of people attending the largest religious festival in the world looking for salvation. Stay with us for more news.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VANIER: Record rainfall has forced thousands of people to flee their homes in Queensland, Australia.
ALLEN: Yes. Many roads are impassable as they've been turned into rivers of water and mud. In coastal areas there are reports of snakes even crocodiles in the flood waters. That's not good. The disaster is described as a once in a century flood.
VANIER: Our meteorologist Karen Maginnis has been working on this. She joins us now from the CNN weather center. Karen?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, there's the setup. The setup is that this is the monsoon season across this portion of Queensland. Areas of low pressure, actually there's a trough that is fairly persistent here. That keeps the precipitation just kind of flowing in off the Coral Sea.
The additional problem was that we saw heavy rainfall right over the Ross River and that flows towards or through Townsville, and so the dam was backed up with all that heavy rainfall. So, they had to release the water from that so it would not fail.
So, already we're seeing hundreds of homes and businesses that have been damaged and roadways as well and lots of suffering of people who live in communities around that region.
Well, as I mentioned this is monsoon season where we see the volume of the rain. We just don't see it, a year's worth of precipitation in seven days. But that's what has happened around Townsville.
So, there you can see January, February, March, those are kind of, its peak times for the precipitation. Then it drops off rather dramatically. Very dry months. April, all the way towards the end of the year. So, what happened was in Townsville since the end of December, since the end of January and into February, seven days they saw almost the entire year's precipitation.
On top of that, they are looking at debris that is filling the streets. It has been horrific for people and so widespread. Yesterday we had drone video and you could see just how much it fanned out from the Ross River.
Take a look at this video. You would see people who were on boats trying to get through the waterways. They have so many rescue units out, helicopters looking for people, rescuing people. Also, people who were salvaging whatever they can, people who were walking through these toxic flood waters, as you can imagine. And people who were moving their dogs -- this particular woman is moving her dog on a rubber tube or wheel.
Well, it looks like over the next several days we're going to see a continuation of this rainfall, so it doesn't look like much relief in sight. Back to you guys.
ALLEN: Australia have flooding and it's got heat. They'll be ready for this summer to be over. Karen, thank you.
VANIER: More than 100 million pilgrims and devotes in India celebrated a Hindu religious festival over the weekend, by far the largest gathering in Hinduism.
ALLEN: As CNN's Ram Ramgopal reports the people who took part are looking for salvation.
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.
[03:44:57] Over the course of eight weeks it attracts upwards of 120 million people including one million international visitors. Devotes will bathe in sacred rivers to cleanse them of vices, coming one step closer to salvation. Kumbh Mela directly translates to pot festival, the name comes from a
Hindu story about the guard of Vishnu in disguise battling over a picture 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 also take place at the Kumbh Mela. The festival incapsulates the science of astronomy, spirituality and ritual. You'll see all types of people from conventional practitioners of Hinduism to hermits who temporarily trade this seclusion for civilization. It's an unusual sight for many, Sadhus sporting dreadlocks Mia Dinesh (ph).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels surreal. All this time you've read about them. They are almost like fictional characters and then you meet them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMGOPAL: Also in attendance, Hindu priests like this man who's been helping generations of pilgrims at the Kumbh Mela.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAND NATH PANDEY, HINDU PRIEST (through translator): People have been coming here to perform various rituals from prayers for departed souls to immersing ashes of their dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMGOPAL: This spectacle of faith is as mesmerizing as it is spiritual for the devout who have traveled from afar for the world's largest congregation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAKESH KUMAR PATHAK, PILGRIM (through translator): Faith compensate for everything. You don't feel cold or hot, neither do you get annoyed with the crowd nor do you feel hungry.
NANDITA CHAUBEY, PILGRIM (through translator): All the worries whether physical or mental, all problems disappear by taking the holy dip here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMGOPAL: 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.
[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: OK, so the thing about the Super Bowl, you don't have to watch the football game if you're not into it. You can watch the commercials or you can watch the halftime show.
VANIER: And in that regard this year's show went pretty smoothly. No wardrobe malfunction, no major problems. But it was a little boring. Even after all of the controversies over who would perform.
ALLEN: Let's talk more about this year's Super Bowl halftime show with Shirley Halperin. She's the executive music editor at Variety. Shirley, how are you? Thanks for being with us.
SHIRLEY HALPERIN, EXECUTIVE MUSIC EDITOR, VARIETY: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
ALLEN: We appreciate it. All right, the halftime show had some fireworks behind it. We're going to talk about that. Maroon 5 performed and they did have guests that performed with them, but it was hard to get those guests. We'll talk about that in a moment. First, what did you just think of the show?
HALPERIN: You know, I think they played it pretty safe, to be honest. You know, there wasn't a lot of sort of spectacularness about the performance. You know, they ran through their greatest hits and didn't make any, you know, overt political statement or even, you know, symbolic political statement. It really just seemed like they came out, they did their thing and, you know, they left the stage. So, it was a little uneventful as far as halftime performance shows are concerned.
ALLEN: Well, we see the gospel choir there. I like that part of it. But there is a story behind why they could not get certain artists to perform with them, and it all has to do with the silent protest led by Colin Kaepernick to take a knee during the national anthem. Many artists didn't want to touch the halftime show, right?
HALPERIN: That's correct, yes. You know, I think we called it at Variety music's least wanted gig. It just -- this year especially, you know, it really was perceived if you did perform at the Super Bowl, that you weren't standing with the right to protest and with Colin Kaepernick.
And it divided the urban music community, and I think that's a big part of the reason why they had such a hard time getting people to commit as special guests. But there was also this extra pressure of the Super Bowl being in Atlanta, the black culture of Atlanta and paying homage to it.
Bringing in a band that is, you know, known for sort of white soul music from Los Angeles, you know, wasn't really in line with the sort of musical heritage of that city. So that was another issue on top of that. So, they had a lot on their shoulders when they took this performance and certainly when they took the stage.
ALLEN: Right. And other artists and supporters of the move to take a knee asked Maroon 5 to do so, but they didn't.
Let's look at a tweet that was sent out by the director Ava DuVernay. She is the director of the Civil Rights movie Selma. She wrote, "I will not be a spectator, viewer, or supporter of the Super Bowl today in protest of the NFL racist treatment of Kaepernick and its ongoing disregard for the health and wellbeing of all its players. To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It's not worth it." And they had asked other big stars to perform, and they said no.
HALPERIN: Yes, that's correct. There was lot of backlash. Common also voiced his opinion publicly that he would be -- you know, if he were in that position, he would not take the stage on an officially sanctioned NFL game.
You know, this is a -- this is a much bigger story than just a band that was booked to perform a halftime show. And in a way I kind of feel bad for Maroon 5 because they had to, you know, they really had to take that blow and make with it what they could, which was just a challenge, no matter which way you looked at it.
[03:24:59] So, yes, they brought out a gospel choir, big boy who's a local musician from Atlanta. They brought out Travis Scott so that hip hop would be represented. Now they really just tried to tick all the boxes and we ended up with that Super Bowl show which was, you know, OK. Not great, not terrible.
ALLEN: Right. Right. Do you think the artist stance will make a difference with the NFL? The NFL instituted a rule that players couldn't take a knee but could remain in the locker room. They got so much flack over that. They pulled back. The question is this Super Bowl halftime show is famous. Are its days over because of this?
HALPERIN: I don't think so. I think it's too much of a moneymaker for the franchise, for the networks, for the league. So, I don't see it going away. But I do think that they'll have to pay much closer attention to these issues in the future so that they don't run into a problem like they did this year where it was just weeks and weeks of, you know, back and forth and then a lot of -- Adam Levine described it himself as hate thrown their way.
So, you know, we want to be able to rejoice with the game and the performance, the musician, the production, the lights, all of that. It should be very festive and joyous and this year it really had like a very dark cloud hanging over it, and it was a shame.
ALLEN: Right. We'll see what the NFL does in the future. We appreciate your insights. Shirley Halperin, executive music editor at Variety. Thanks, Shirley.
HALPERIN: Thank you.
ALLEN: Well, the flyover was my favorite part. But that's CNN Newsroom. Thanks for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. For viewers in the U.S. Early Start is next. For everyone else, stay tuned. You've got more news with Max Foster in London. Sty with CNN.