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Both Fairfax Accusers Willing to Testify at Impeachment Hearing; Interview with Presidential Candidate John Delaney; Trump and O'Rourke to Hold Dueling Rallies Near the Border; National Guard Troops Deployed to Eagle Pass, Texas; Hip-Hop Community Rallies Behind Rapper After ICE Arrest; 61st Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday; Duchess of Sussex's 5 Friends Share Meghan's Side of the Story. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired February 10, 2019 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:05] SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand here today to declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I certainly think the president is going to haunt her. He's going to go after her over and over on again Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has anybody else worn black face in college?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a question. What if the black face was just part of your costume of a black person?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see, Tom, that is the exact kind of thing that we are looking for here today.



ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning to you.

We start this morning with a political crisis in Virginia. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, those are two women who are accusing the lieutenant governor of sexual assault and rape respectively, now say they are prepared to testify at impeachment hearings.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax denies the allegations and now wants the FBI to investigate. He said in a statement yesterday, quote: The one thing I want to make abundantly clear is that in both situations I knew at the time, and I know today, that the interactions were consensual, unquote.

BLACKWELL: Meantime, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says to "The Washington Post" that he is not going anywhere. And a new poll shows the people are split when asked if Northam should step down. Last week, Northam admitted to wearing black face, claiming he once darkened his face to impersonate Michael Jackson at a dance contest.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung is following the latest out in Virginia.

Kaylee, good morning.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, as Virginia's Democratic leaders and lawmakers continue to call for Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax's resignation, he is pleading for due process. In a statement, he released late Saturday night, he calls for an investigation here. He asks for the first time for the FBI to be involved and, again, he emphatically denies the allegations against him.

In a statement, we heard a man trying to give context to two sexual encounters which he doesn't deny happened but which he says were consensual. A clear disagreement between a man and two different women about the nature of their sexual interaction. And while the spotlight has been so bright on Justin Fairfax, in the past couple of days, the calls for Virginia's governor to resign has really quieted a bit. We now have a poll from "The Washington Post" that was conducted from Wednesday of this past week until Friday. So, before Fairfax second accuser came forward, we learn that Virginians are deadlocked in whether their governor should step down in the face of middle of racially charged behavior in the past when he was a college student and wearing black face, 47 to 47 percent Virginia residents really are torn on that question.

But what's most interesting is when you break that number down further, he has incredibly high support among African-American voters in the commonwealth. They supported him 58 percent to 37 percent, that is 58 percent of African-Americans polled in favor of Ralph Northam continuing to serve as the governor of the commonwealth, while white voters polled were much more evenly split.

As "The Washington Post" wrote, this survey is a snapshot of the competing and sometimes conflicting emotions in a state with a complicated 400-year history of racial division -- Victor and Christi.


BLACKWELL: Kaylee, thank you.

Now, in his first interview since that racist photo surfaced, Governor Ralph Northam tells "The Washington Post" that he wants to spend his remaining time in office trying to ensure that black Virginians have the same opportunities as whites.

Northam said this: First of all, what I plan to do is to make sure that we have sensitivity training in our cabinet, in our agencies. He goes to say, this is part of it, that I have a lot more to learn. I want to heal that pain and I think I'm the person that can do that for Virginia.

PAUL: All righty. Talking about the 2020 race and another morning and another Democrat who is jumping in this afternoon. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is expected to officially join the race for the White House. This is after, of course, Elizabeth Warren officially entered the field yesterday.

Now, Klobuchar will likely make the announcement at a really in her home state today and she'll be joining eight crowded field, more than a half dozen people who have made an announcement officially and there are at least that many that are considering it. Several of them are going to be campaigning today. Senator Cory Booker, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are all going to be on the campaign trail today.


[07:05:02] WARREN: This is the fight of our lives. The fight to build an America where dreams are possible and America that works for everyone.


And that is why I stand here today to declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.



BLACKWELL: And we'll hear something similar likely from Senator Amy Klobuchar. So, that means two more 2020 candidates this weekend into the race. More are expected to jump in after that.

But one Democrat has been at this for about a year and a half now. Look at former Congressman John Delany ground game so far. Nearly two dozen trips to Iowa already, six offices opened there, more than 20 staffers. He is now taking his 14th trip to New Hampshire on Monday.

Joining us now, former Maryland Congressman John Delaney.

Congressman, welcome back to NEW DAY.

JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me, Victor.

BLACKWELL: So, I want to start with policy so that we don't run out of time for that before we get to the horse race. So, let's start here what we heard this week from representative Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez introducing this new green deal, calling for net zero gas emissions, guaranteed jobs, health care, also access to green space. It's supported by many of your competitors in the race for the 2020 nomination for Democrats.

You stopped short of supporting it. Explain why and what your position is on it.

DELANEY: So I definitely support the energy that it's brought to the debate, the fact that it's shining a spotlight on an incredibly important issue, global warming, an issue that I've done a huge amount of work on. But I do think what we should be doing is focusing on solutions that we could get done right away, because the problem with global warming is the time is of the essence and we have to start doing things immediately, which is why my plan is rooted in this kind of bipartisan carbon tax bill that I introduced in the Congress last session, the first bipartisan carbon tax bill to be introduced.

I think it shows that we can, in fact, build a coalition to get something done on climate right away, which is incredibly important. And I worry that if we put out impractical goals, that we lose our ability to build the coalitions we need to get something done on climate right away. This has been a huge issue for me and the Congress, and we move the ball forward really far and I think we are in a position where we could actually get something big done, which would be a carbon tax that would fundamentally change the trajectory of this incredibly important issue.

And I worry that if you tie climate to too many other issues like health care and other things, and you set forth goals that aren't practical within a reasonable amount of time, that you lose your ability to keep the coalition together.

BLACKWELL: Is that what you believe the green deal does? That is sets goals that are not practical in the next ten years as it sets up?

DELANEY: Yes. I think the goals that it sets forth the next ten years are not, in fact, practical. Again, they are ambitious goals and I applaud that and I'm excited about the energy that it's brought to this discussion. But in terms of solving problems, which is what my campaign is about, which is actually getting people in a room, bringing people together and actually solving problems, I've shown that there is a way to do that on climate and we can get something done that will really start moving the needle and I worry if you push the goals to a point where they are not realistic, that you lose the kind of support you need to actually get something done.

In other words, I'm more about action and progress than I am about just talk on these kind of issues.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about getting people in a room and getting together on a solution. This conference committee on border security, you supported a comprehensive immigration deal which would include a path to the citizenship for Dreamers, protections for those under temporary protective status, along with border security, all together here. Do you support what is reportedly on the table, which would be $2 billion for a barrier, if that is what this conference committee reaches, if it does not include, as part of this package, those that path to permanent citizenship for Dreamers and those protections for TPS recipients?

DELANEY: So, I support, Victor, doing something smart on border security. My approach to border security from the beginning is that we should actually get the experts in the room, people who know something about border security and they will likely come back with recommendations that are mostly focused on technology solutions and some additional personnel. And if their recommendations include additional barriers, I would be supportive of that, right?

I really do want to get something done on the Dreamers. We have 1.8 million Dreamers in this country. I think they go to bed every night worried about whether they're going to be deported and I think this is a real moral issue for us as a country.

[07:10:02] So I really have been insistent upon trying to get Dreamers taken care of as part of border security. But if you're doing border security on its own, then we should listen to the experts, we should allocate an appropriate amount of money and listen to the experts and accept their recommendations.

BLACKWELL: And if the experts suggest to this conference committee that they support $2 billion for barriers, which we heard from the speaker that she would support $1, then you would support that compromise?

DELANEY: Again, I have a hard time imaging the only thing coming out of the conference report is barriers. I don't think that is what we are going to be looking at.

BLACKWELL: I don't expect that is what they are talking about either but that would be part of this package for border security.

All right. So, let's talk now about the race. Let's talk about the politics here. This is the most diverse field for a nomination ever. Several women, we got a man of color, women of color, Pete Buttigieg who is gay. Are you finding it difficult to pitch yourself as the nominee in such a diverse field to a party that is fully embracing diversity?

DELANEY: I think embracing diversity is clearly what we should be doing as a country. I think our leaders should reflect broadly the American people. So, I think diversity is one of the great strengths of the Democratic Party.

My candidacy is about solving problems, as I just talked about with climate, real solutions to solve problems. It's about focusing on the future. All of these changes in the world with technology, et cetera, having a profound effect on our world and we need to be focused on what we have to do to create a more prosperous and just future for our citizens.

And my campaign is also focused on bringing us together and restoring a sense of unity and common purpose. That is a very unique message and much more of a centrist message than I think what some of my colleagues maybe running. And I think it's a message that the American people are looking for. They're looking for someone to solve problems, focused on a future in an optimistic way and bring people together and start restoring a sense of common purpose to our nation.

And that's what my campaign is about and I think that's what will ultimately distinguish me from all of those terrific people I'm running against.

BLACKWELL: All right. Congressman John Delaney, good to have you again.

DELANEY: Thank you, Victor. BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: All righty. Next, the financial squeeze this tax season, are you feeling it? Because refunds are falling an average of 8 percent. We are going to talk about that.

BLACKWELL: Plus, many in the hip-hop community are rallying behind the release of rapper 21 Savage. We will talk to the high profile attorney that Jay-Z hired to help free this artist.

PAUL: And a caravan of migrants are at the U.S./Mexico border right now. How the situation is heating up in Eagle Pass, Texas, specifically, where already heightened security is about to get a boost when the Texas National Guard troops roll into town. That's happening tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that. It's a combination of Customs and Border Protection vehicles and Texas state troopers. They are all lined up literally side-by-side, all those facing toward Mexico.



[07:17:27] BLACKWELL: Seventeen minutes after the hour now.

And early tax filers are seeing smaller refunds this tax season. According to the IRS, the average refund is down about 8 percent from last year.

PAUL: Yes, financial planner Chris Burns talks to us about the best way to save money this season. Not just this season but next season, too.


CHRIS BURNS, FONDER & PRINCIPAL DYNAMIC MONEY: You can go, OK, and raise your withholding and let the government keep more of your money basically and then you will get that bigger refund next year again.

But let's remember what a tax refund is for a second. Let's say you go to a grocery store and you're buying your milk and you just hand the guy at Kroger ten extra dollars and say just because. All year every time you buy milk, it's ten extra dollars.

At the end of the year, Kroger calls. They say, you gave us way more money than you were supposed to and they give it back to you. Would you be like this is amazing? This is the best thing ever! No, you overpaid for the milk.

So many of us are so used to overpaying the IRS, but it's your money. So here is a thought. You can increase it and get your bigger refund or this year, you could switch it and say if I'm still getting a thousand dollars, that is a thousand dollars I'm letting the IRS sit on for the year. They are babysitting my money.

Now, look, the IRS is good for a lot of things. Not a great babysitter, all right, not a great babysitter of your money. I rather you get that money back. Then you take it and save it and invest it and get money back from it and you will do way better than in the long haul than that tax refund.


PAUL: So, teachers in Denver, Colorado, will not be greeting kids in a classroom tomorrow morning. They're going to be the picket lines by 7:00 a.m.


PAUL: Negotiations between the Denver public schools and teachers association fell. They fell through late last night. So, that means that for more than a year now, teachers have been negotiating for better salaries, for pay schedules. Many say that they just can't afford to live in the community their schools serve.


LAUREL DAVIS, BILL ROBERTS ELEMENTARY TEACHER: I'm anxious, scared, but I'm also angry when. I think a lot of us are angry. We have had enough. We feel like it's a game they have been playing with us for months.


PAUL: The school district offered bonuses as a solution but the teachers association said that was unacceptable.

BLACKWELL: All right. The next round of the border fight, President Trump heads to the Texas/Mexico border tomorrow and so does the Texas National Guard. We will talk about the migrant caravan waiting to cross the U.S. and the growing security force growing there at the border.

PAUL: You want to watch CNN's Laurie Segall as she talks exclusively with Facebook insiders.

[07:20:05] What's really going on inside the most powerful social media company on earth? Catch the CNN special report "Facebook at 15: It's Complicated". That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.


BLACKWELL: President Trump is heading to El Paso, Texas, tomorrow. He will host a rally to drive home his message for a border wall.

PAUL: Yes, at the same time, Beto O'Rourke will lead a march through El Paso.

CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is following the very latest.

That sounds like it could get a little dicey, Sarah.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Victor and Christi. We are likely to see two very different narratives being pushed in El Paso tomorrow night. One is a call to action from President Trump to address what he has described as an urgent security crisis along the southern border.

[07:25:04] He is trying to build support for his border wall as he considers using executive action to try to tap into federal funds to build it. And that's -- El Paso is an interesting backdrop for him to be making that argument, because during the State of the Union, he highlighted El Paso as a city that he said became much safer when a border wall was built.

So, it's an inaccuracy that Beto O'Rourke, a potential 2020 challenger is likely to point out when he holds a competing rally right across the street, at about the same time as the president's event, O'Rourke is also participating in the protest he calls the March for Truth through El Paso before president's event. O'Rourke said there is no security crisis at the border. He has described the wall as racist. So, those messages are certainly going to clash.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, negotiators are nearing a deal that could fund president's border wall. Sources say that negotiators are settling around $2 billion to fund some kind of barriers along the border. Obviously, that is less than half of the $5.7 billion that Trump requested, but it's more than the $1 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered for the wall. So, neither side really getting what they want out of this compromise.

Trump, nonetheless, going after Democrats on Twitter last night writing: The Democrats just don't seem to want border security. They are fighting border agents' recommendation.

If you believe news reports, they are not offering much for the wall. They look to be making this a campaign issue. The wall will get built one way or the other.

Now, we don't know if the president will support that deal emerging from conference. He's not given a lot of clarity as to exactly what kind of agreement he would support. But we do know, Victor and Christi, that we will see more of this kind of rhetoric, attacks on Democrats and building up support for his wall at this rally tomorrow night.

PAUL: All righty. Sarah Westwood, appreciate the update. Thank you.

Now, also, there is deployment of Texas National Guard arriving in Texas tomorrow along the border.

BLACKWELL: Yes. They are being sent to Eagle Pass, Texas, to help secure the border crossing where this caravan of migrants anxiously waits on the other side.

CNN's Martin Savidge is there and he shows us how this tension is building. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Security in Eagle Pass continues to be, in a word, intense. This is where we are allowed to stand when it gets to evening hours.

Normally, we would be allowed to go down to the banks of the Rio Grande which is about a quarter of a mile away. This is a public park. At nighttime, it's considered we might be a danger to law enforcement. Our lights or our presence could be a distraction. It's one indication of how life has drastically changed in this community.

(voice-over): The Texas town of Eagle Pass has been invaded. Thousands of federal, state and local authorities, even military personnel have flooded this usually quiet community on the banks of the Rio Grande.

(on camera): Look at that. It's a combination of customs and border protection vehicles and Texas state troopers all lined up literally side-by-side, all nose phasing towards Mexico. And then if you take a look at across the Rio Grande on the other side of the border, just recently, we have seen this -- Mexico authorities now lined up facing exactly the opposite direction.

(voice-over): Eagle Pass's mayor is grateful but also a bit taken aback.

MAYOR RAMSEY ENGLISH CANTU, EAGLE PASS, TEXAS: We are extremely appreciative of the work they do, but this is something that is unprecedented.

SAVIDGE: Law enforcement patrolling vehicles on ATVs and bicycles and even horseback. Helicopters monitor from above, while high-powered air boats prowl the shallow water of the Rio Grande.

A security search is in response to arrival of 1,800 Central American migrants on the other side of the border set to have their sights on seeking U.S. asylum. President Trump has declared such caravans a national security threat and uses them to justify a border wall, painting asylum seekers as invaders, something he did again in his State of the Union speech.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the United States.

SAVIDGE: Federal authorities fear a potential repeat of last November's chaos near San Diego when tear gas was used to drive back migrants rushing the border area.


SAVIDGE: Thursday, border patrol agents were in riot gear on one of the town's two public bridges to Mexico. Bridge defenses are being beefed up.

PAUL DEL RINCON, PORT DIRECTOR, EAGLE PASS: Part of our preparations including insulation of temporary impediment measures on our bridges, such as Conex boxes, concertina wire and jersey barriers.


SAVIDGE: So far, authorities say no caravan members have crossed illegally into the U.S. Local leaders credit not just the American show of force but also a new stepped-up effort by the Mexican government using his military and national police to keep caravan members under control. But processing 1,800 asylum seekers will take months.

(on camera): This is going to be a short-term thing then?

PAUL DEL RINCON, PORT DIRECTOR, EAGLE PASS: It doesn't seem like it. It doesn't seem like it but we stand committed. My officers stand committed.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): No one in Eagle Pass can tell you or show you how this international showdown will end.

(on camera): The security in this community is only going to increase because come Monday, the first members of the Texas National Guard will be showing up, adding to a force of what is already almost 2,000 law enforcement officers.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Eagle Pass, Texas.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Martin, thank you.

There is a major health concern at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Houston.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Outbreak of mumps has been confirmed at the detention facility. We know seven adult immigrants are said to be affected with the contagious disease. The Houston Health Department says there's still no evidence anyone outside the facilities have been exposed and they are working to contain the outbreak.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, rapper 21 Savage's immigration status is in limbo as many in the hip-hop community are supporting his release. So, what happens next? We'll talk to the lawyer that Jay-Z hired to help out.


[07:35:56] BLACKWELL: It is Grammy night. The award shows honors the best in music but one Grammy contender will not be there.

Rapper 21 Savage is currently in ICE custody for being in the country illegally. The British-born rapper was arrested and detained by ICE last Saturday in Atlanta for overstaying his visa. Now, many in the hip-hop community, including artist Jay-Z are lending their support and calling for his immediate release.

Joining me now is attorney Alex Spiro. Jay-Z hired Spiro to help him with the release of the rapper. He's represented Jay-Z in a lot of other high profile celebrities, athletes and the like.

Alex, good to have you with us this morning.


BLACKWELL: So, let's start here. You say that 21 Savage should not be in custody, should not be in jail. Why?

SPIRO: I mean, it's very simple. We have somebody who is here on a visa overstay, nothing more. The reporting about he has a criminal conviction is just flat-out false. He is here like many college students who overstay a visa and visitors overstay a visa and nothing more than that.

A person like that does not need to be detained and caged and a person like that has been present in this country for decades who has a known face and known address should be allowed to be at liberty and deal with his case.

BLACKWELL: So why do you believe he is being held? Is it because of a broken system? Because of celebrity, because of an error? What is your explanation or understanding of why?

SPIRO: Well, it's certainly a broken system, right? We have, again, a young man who came over here as one of the many Dreamers who has led a productive life that employees many people that give back to his community so that is not the type of person that we want to rip off the streets and put in a cage. So, certainly, that speaks to a broken system.

But there is more, because he actually was cooperating with his lawyers, he was applying for a proper visa. He had a visa application pending. He was acting in good faith and it was actually bureaucratic delays that caused that visa not issued in time.

BLACKWELL: So, let me understand this and correct me if I'm wrong on the chronology here. But his visa expired in 2006. He has a pending visa application but that is pending only four years, so there's nearly a decade in the middle there where he was in the country illegally with no pending application.

So, was he wrong, has he been wronged by the press or was he just wrong?

SPIRO: Well, you know, I'm glad you asked that, because I think we have to take a step back and picture this young man coming over here as a first grader and growing up in Atlanta and trying to find his way and finding his way through the arts. Only as he became an adult did he start to understand process, did he understand, you know, how to engage lawyers, how to apply for a visa, how to go through the process.

So I guess you're right. When he was 14, he didn't think to himself I need to go down and stand in some line or go through some process. Once he became an adult and took responsibility for his life and its direction, he began to work on this process and he has done so in good faith.

BLACKWELL: If he is released, do you expect that he will be permitted to stay in the country?



SPIRO: Well, we have a lot of different avenues in place to try to make sure that he remains here and he is a productive member of society. He has got good moral character and there are a lot of different aspects that an immigration court can look at in determining whether somebody is allowed to stay in the country and all of them weigh in his favor. He's got three young children, he is a father, he is a performer, he's a philanthropist. He, again, employs many people here and he's a benefit to the community he lives in.

BLACKWELL: So, let me ask you when you talk about a benefit to the community he lives in, as a congressman is calling for his release as well and when this news initially broke last Saturday, I guess it was late Saturday going into the Super Bowl, there were reactions online, the memes, the celebrities coming out, that immediate reaction to his having born in the U.S. but being so connected to Atlanta.

[07:40:04] And then it seemed to me things shifted where people started to have a conversation about immigration and a more serious conversation. Why do you think that this story line, as it is, has taken a turn?

SPIRO: Well, a lot of the credit has to go to him. He's beloved in the music community and I think people feel a connection to him. What we saw is humanity overrunning the momentary blitz of negative press, because I think people start to realize and start to picture that there is a man who should be at the Grammys tonight but, instead, he is locked in a cage in a situation which many others have not been and should not be and other civilized countries would not be.

I think people start to picture, you know, a young man who is in jail whose children are wondering where he is and they start to realize that this is a problem, that this is a problem in this country and that it's a problem in many other areas of immigration.

BLACKWELL: Three U.S.-born children, if I have that right.

Alex Spiro, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

SPIRO: All right. Thank you.



PAUL: The CNN's Stephanie Elam is going to be live from the Grammys red carpet beginning at 4:00 this afternoon. Here she is telling us what is different this year.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Cardi B and her monster jams.


ELAM: To Brandi Carlile and her evocative vocals.


ELAM: Women are front and center in the big Grammy categories.

JEM ASWAD, SENIOR MUSIC EDITOR, VARIETY: There is momentum behind them based on what happened last year, the lack of female representation in the winners, the lack of female preparations in the industry.

ELAM: While the main categories were expanded this year from five nominees to eight, the most nominated artists are still men. Kendrick Lamar is up for eight Grammys.


ELAM: Followed by Drake with seven nominations.


ELAM: The four of them are up against each other for album of the year, along with her, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves and Post Malone.

ASWAD: Hip-hop, R&B are so big that it seems likely that those categories are going to carry every major award.


ELAM: Post Malone's "Rock Star" is up for two Grammys including Record of the Year. And while Post is expected to perform, he'll likely have to do it without 21 Savage who is featured on the hit song. British-born Savage was taken into ICE custody a week before the Grammys. Officials say he is in the country illegally.

Other contenders for Record of the Year are Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey for "The Middle", Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper's "Shallow" from "A Star is Born", and Childish Gambino's --


ASWAD: I feel like if there's one song that captured the zeitgeist for 2018 in both the best and worst says, is "This is America". You got that incredible video with so much meaning.

ELAM: Posting this year, a woman with 15 Grammys of her own, Alicia Keys.

ASWAD: She is exactly the right person. On the one hand, you very much got the establishment. But on the other, she's got hip-hop in her blood.

ELAM: More women on stage and among many nominees and perhaps more female Grammy winners.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.


PAUL: So, do you think you know Meghan Markle? Five of her closest confidants want you to know the truth about her, their friend who just happens to be part of the British royal family. We will tell you what they are saying.


[07:58:11] PAUL: Forty-seven minutes past the hour right now.

U.K. prosecutors are considering whether to bring charges against Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Phillip. Last month, a car driven by the 97-year-old, the Duke of Edinburg, collided with another vehicle. Two women in that other car were injured. One had a broken wrist.

The crash raised some questions about whether Prince Phillip is too old to be behind the wheel if he was capable. Well, now, the Buckingham Palace said he has temporarily surrendered his driver's license. He blames the accident on sunlight that was obscuring his vision.

And friends of Meghan Markle, the duchess of Sussex, are coming on her defense in the face of what they called global bullying. Five women who describe themselves as close friends of the duchess spoke with "People" magazine saying they're concerned about the emotional trauma she is facing because of the scrutiny she is under. Now, these women requested anonymity to protect their relationship with her.

Josh Duboff, senior writer of "Vanity Fair", is with us now.

So, Josh, so good to have you here. What do we know about these five women, first?

JOSH DUBOFF, SENIOR WRITER, VANITY FAIR: We don't know a whole lot. They're all granted anonymity as you just pointed out. We know a little bit about they gave some identifying details. One is a friend from L.A., one is a former co-star, one is billed as a long time confidant but we don't know much more about that about their identities.

PAUL: OK, I want to talk about some of the most persistent rumors that are out there and what they encounter that information with. First, the very public war, of course, between her, her father, her half-sister --

DUBOFF: Right.

PAUL: -- I believe it is. What do we know about the fact that, you know, the press says that Meghan is against both of them, that there's this huge feud. Truth to that?

DUBOFF: Yes, I mean there have been rampant since she married into the royal family, her father Thomas with whom they haven't spoke in quite a long time and then her half-sister Samantha and her half- brother Thomas Jr.

[07:50:10] She hasn't had communication with any of them in quite some time, but the father and half-sister have spoken to the press quite a bit. Samantha likes to use Twitter to communicate her feelings about what's going on with Meghan. So, you know, there was a lot of controversy around the wedding itself because Thomas did not attend the wedding. He had a heart attack in the week leading up to it.

And these five friends in the "People" story as you pointed out come to Meghan's defense and say Meghan really was trying to get in touch with her father leading up to the wedding. She didn't hear from him. She says she hasn't changed her number. He knows how to reach her.

So, you know, she, I guess, seems very distraught by it all and the friends kind of say, you know, she's upset because she was a beautiful daughter and she wants to be on good terms with her father, but he hasn't made that possible. She sent him a letter over the summer to try to communicate some of this and he wrote back asking for a photo op which she sort of saw as the final straw.

PAUL: Yes, no doubt.

Let's also discuss we have to talk about this, Duchess Meghan and her sister-in-law Kate. There are, you know, these rampant rumors that they are feuding, that they don't like each other.

What do these friends say about this relationship?

DUBOFF: Yes, there was a big report that came out in the lead up to Meghan's wedding, she made Kate Middleton cry. A tiara related controversy that was related to asking for the right tiara and then there was something about Princess Charlotte's fitting that related in tiaras.

So, yes, there have been lots of reports about how they're getting along. The friends don't address Kate directly by name or anything about their specific relationship, but they say that she's been portrayed as sort of a demanding boss, this diva-like character, and that cannot be farther from the truth. That she's this wonderful person to work for.

That she put up an ice cream stand for people who work there and she, you know, has a box full of hand warmers to give out to the security guards outside. That she's kind of really embraced this life and, you know, she's very -- sees people eye to eye. She gets down when she's at engagements to kind of talk to people.

So, you know, they talk about her as a very magnanimous, giving person who is very present in the moment.

PAUL: OK. Josh Duboff, we appreciate you being here, sir. Thank you.

DUBOFF: Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

PAUL: Absolutely.


BLACKWELL: Complete whiteout conditions and a state of disaster. We have new video coming in of the dangerous winter storm slamming parts of the country.


[07:57:11] PAUL: Oh, love is in the air. Valentine's Day is this week. You only have a couple more days.

And in today's "Heartbeat", senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen shows us that being in love can actually keep your heart healthy.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Being in love is good for your heart.

DR. SANDEEP JAUHAR: The heart that is associated with love, that metaphorical heart directly impacts on our biological heart. It removes anxiety and stress. When you feel love, you feel good.

COHEN: It's the brain that floods the body with love's feel-good hormones which work wonders on the circulatory system.


JAUHAR: Blood vessels tend to dilate a little bit more. Blood pressure tends to drop.

COHEN: To get those heart-healthy benefits, it doesn't really seem to matter who or what you love.

JAUHAR: Some people, the most intense relationship in their lives may be with their children or with their pet. People who have healthy, loving relationships have better heart health.


BLACKWELL: There is a state of disaster in Michigan this morning after severe winter storm crippled the city of Grand Rapids. The storm system is dumping heavy snow from the Pacific Northwest through the Midwest. Places like Washington state are seeing record amounts of snow.

Now --

PAUL: Oh, my gosh.

BLACKWELL: That's a pickup truck. You probably can't tell because all you see is a bit of the bed. Officials say the driver went around a barricade and drove on a highway that had been shut down. Good news here. The driver has been rescued.

PAUL: We certainly hope so.

Take good care of yourself and each other out there. And thank you so much for sharing your morning with us. We hope you make good memories today.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" is coming up, but we leave you with "SNL" and their take on the blackface controversy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has anybody else worn blackface in college?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if the blackface was just part of your costume of a black person?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see, Tom, that's the exact kind of thing that we're looking for here today.

Yes, Barbara?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it count if you did it all the way back in the '80s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, of course not. It was funny and cool in the '80s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm going to stop you right there, Phil. It does still count and it was never funny or cool.

OK. Anybody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if you wore the blackface as a tribute, like an homage to your hero?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who was your hero?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Then I'd file that as very wrong.

Look, people, we're elected state officials. We can't keep having this pop up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it was the '80s!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't even know what that's supposed to mean, dude.