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NEW DAY SATURDAY

First U.S. Citizen To Die From Coronavirus Confirmed In China; Three Cruise Ships In Quarantine Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak; Gordon Sondland And Alexander Vindman Fired From Their Posts By Donald Trump After Testifying Against Him During Impeachment Trial; Candidates Make Final Push Ahead Of New Hampshire Primary; Rivals Target Buttigieg And Sanders After Their Strong Iowa Finish; NTSB: No Evidence Of Engine Failure In Kobe Bryant Crash; At Least 26 People Rescued From Flood Waters In Oregon; Blazers Lose Heartbreaker After Missed Call. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired February 8, 2020 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've just gotten word that the first American has died of the coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Off the coast of Japan in Hong Kong, two cruise ships with over 7,000 people aboard were quarantined after passengers were diagnosed with the virus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump has fired two of the most prominent witnesses that appeared in the impeachment inquiry against him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland. His critics fear he might not stop there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here in New Hampshire, the stakes were high for all of these 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls and the tensions were even higher. From the very beginning, it was clear all of these candidates believed there was one person on that debate stage who was the center of attention and it was former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg.

AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a newcomer in the White House and look where it got us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: And I'm Amara Walker. Good morning. Christi is off today.

BLACKWELL: Breaking overnight, An American has died in China after being diagnosed with coronavirus. WALKER: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing says a six-year-old died in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Around the world, at least 726 people have been killed and there are more than 34,000 confirmed cases globally. We are covering the many angles of the story. CNN's Will Ripley is standing by in Japan, but first let's go to CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing. Steven, so what more can you tell us about this latest death?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Amara, we actually have just heard from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, giving us a bit more information about this U.S. citizen. They say this was an ethnic Chinese U.S. citizen who died at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Wuhan. The Chinese government said during this patient's treatment, they had maintained communication with this person's family and offered this person active treatment and cared. The Chinese government said now they have reported relevant information to the U.S. side and they are willing to continue to offer assistance to the U.S. government and this patient's family in dealing with the aftermath.

Now, this death was probably not entirely surprising given that Wuhan was, of course, where the virus originated, but also the picture continues to look very grim in the city. They have reported more than 13,000 cases, including 545 deaths. That's the overwhelming majority of the global death toll.

That's probably why the authorities there continue to implement these increasingly draconian measures. The latest we have heard is now they're requiring every citizen in the city, 9 million that remain in the city, every one of them now has to report their body temperature to local officials on a daily basis. If you don't do so voluntarily, officials and police will be knocking on your door, Amara and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Wow. Steve Jiang for us there. Thank you so much.

WALKER: And right now, thousands are trapped on three cruise ships in Asia over fears of coronavirus cases onboard. One is being blocked from docking. Two others are under quarantine, including the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. Sixty-four passengers on that ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 13 Americans.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Will Ripley is in Yokohama, Japan where the ship is docked now. Will, give us the latest on what's happening there.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have hundreds of American citizens, Victor, who at this moment are on these various ships basically in limbo. They're not able to go home. Certainly in the case of the ship here in Yokohama, the 400-plus Americans, many of them say they would like to go home, but they can't because they're under quarantine because of the coronavirus outbreak on that ship.

The number of cases did increase slightly overnight from 61 to 63. That of course is welcomed news after the number tripled the previous day and so at this stage now, people are continuing what they've been doing now for the last several days. They're quarantined in their cabins, trying to make the best of a pretty boring and anxious situation. Despite reassurances from health officials that the coronavirus is not airborne, people are still concerned about, you know, things like breathing in air that's circulated around the ship.

But with each day that passes, if the number of cases does not continue to escalate rapidly, then there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the passengers here in Yokohama because the quarantine should end by February 19th or February 20th. Now, as for the other ships, there's a ship off the coast of Japan that's been denied entry here. It's been denied entry in Taiwan. They don't know where they're going to go. They don't know what they're going to do. They don't have a corona virus outbreak, but, you know, they visited areas that are deemed to be risky, including Hong Kong and Mainland China.

And the ship that is in Hong Kong currently quarantined at this moment in the same situation. Passengers on a previous cruise tested positive for coronavirus and now everybody on that ship has to wait out a mandatory 14-day quarantine to make sure that there are no outbreaks on that vessel.

[06:05:07] So Victor, a pretty frustrating situation for a lot of people who paid a lot of money for dream vacations that have turned into kind of a nightmare.

WALKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

WLAKER: Frustrating, but also worrying. Thanks so much, Will Ripley. Well, there may be no city reeling more from the coronavirus outbreak and the stigma tied to it than Wuhan, but those with a connection to the Chinese city, like our next guest, wants us to remember that it's more than just the epicenter of this virus.

Yuli Yang is a former CNN producer who is from Wuhan and has family under lockdown there. She writes this, "The virus brings death and fear. People see the infection spread across borders and they grow afraid for their children, parents, for themselves, but the virus also reveals an amazing truth -- that we're all interconnected so much more closely than we might have thought."

Yuli Yang joining me now from Hong Kong. Yuli, it's great to see you. It's funny because just a few days ago, you and I were messaging on Facebook and I was telling you just how moved I was by many of your posts. We'll talk about those posts in just a minute, but let's start off on a personal note because you have family in Wuhan, including your mother. Tell us how they are doing and also you do have a family friend who recently succumbed to the virus.

YULI YANG, JOURNALIST: Yes. That's right. Thank you so much for having me on, Amara. For the past two weeks, I talk to my family every day. I talk to my mom on the phone every day to make sure that they're OK. My mom is just wanting to make sure that I don't get too worried about about her situation, as you can imagine for a mom.

These past two weeks, what's supposed to be the best two weeks of the year is what you live for is the Chinese New Year and it's time for celebration, for gifts, for dinner parties, for reunions. It's like Christmas, but for us, Christmas is canceled because of this virus and my family have been living under lockdown for the past two weeks and I would say that for my family, this has been the most gloomy Chinese New Year that we can remember.

WALKER: Oh, absolutely. I can definitely imagine that and you also talked about an aunt of yours, a close family friend that you had been messaging, but you had not heard back from her.

YANG: That was my mom's family friend actually. We're not related, but she grew up with my mom and my mom has mentioned to me recently that she has sadly passed away and it all happened so suddenly that my mom told me that she was still messaging her trying to find out some information about the virus from her just recently and then -- and then my mom heard from other friends that this friend of hers has passed away ...

WALKER: I'm sorry --

YANG: ... because of the virus.

WALKER: I'm sorry, Yuli. You know, regarding some of the posts that you had on Facebook, there was -- there was one that particularly struck a chord with me and that was one about the concerns about people's prejudices against Asians, people of Asian descent, the fears that are spreading, misinformation, all of this kind of reawakening prejudices, some of them centuries old, against Chinese people or just people of Asian descent. Tell me about your biggest concerns and what the reaction has been that you've seen so far.

YANG: My biggest concern is that obviously the virus is here with us right now. It is going to pass. Everyone has been messaging each other, "This too shall pass," but what I'm worried about is that once whenever the virus is gone, the damage of the discrimination is going to continue and this is -- the discrimination against Wuhaners, against Chinese people or against people who just remotely look Chinese is happening all around us and it's absolutely understandable actually.

This is what happens when you have a combination of fear and ignorance and it's -- what's important I guess is what we're going to do about it, what we're going to do about it. The opposite of ignorance is knowledge and that is why I wrote in my post I wanted to share a few of my favorite things about Wuhan so that people can know that the city is not just about virus. The city has this ...

WALKER: Yes. Let's talk about that, yes, because it's so important that you raise awareness and that you combat this ignorant. You know, I do want to mention, I mean, just anecdotally I've been hearing about, you know, college campuses, people there admitting that they are just, you know, wholesale avoiding Asian classmates because they're afraid that they might have the coronavirus.

[06:15:01]

You know, a few days ago, UC Berkeley had issued a statement then retracted it that xenophobia is a normal response to this when it's not exactly a normal response, but tell us a little bit, educate us, about Wuhan. There are so many interesting things about this city that many of us don't know and should know.

YANG: Yes. Thank you, Amara. So some of my favorite things about my hometown is, for example, we have this amazing noodle dish that has the texture of spaghetti. It's soaked in rich sesame sauce and sometimes it has spring onions sprinkled on them. It's very delicious. It's not gluten free, but it's vegetarian. We also have a ton of lakes in our city. In the summer, the lakes are filled with lotus flowers. It's very good for your Instagram accounts. We also have -- don't forget for all the amazing sports fans out there ...

WALKER: Yes.

YANG: ... we have the tennis champion Li Na and if you know her, you would know that she is a real fighter and I guess what I wanted to share with people through that post is that for a fighter like Li Na, for example, they cannot win any battle by themselves. They need support around them and right now people in Wuhan, they are fighting this virus and they need us, people all around Wuhan, around the world to give them that support so that we can -- we can all heal collectively as a species.

WALKER: Yes. And you've been rallying people to show that support with #GoWuhan on Twitter. You can write a digital get well card by using that hashtag, #GoWuhan. I appreciate you joining us, Yuli Yang. All the best to you and strength in the coming days and weeks.

YANG: Thank you, Amara.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, the 2020 Democratic candidates go after Iowa frontrunners Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders. This was a contentious debate. Who came out on top? We'll have the notable moments of the night ahead.

WALKER: Plus, President Trump is cleaning house after his acquittal, firing key figures who testified against him during the impeachment inquiry. More on that when we come back.

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BLACKWELL: President Trump is feeling emboldened by his acquittal and he appears to be looking for revenge against the people who spoke out against him. The president dismissed Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council, and recalled Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

WALKER: Both men testified against Trump in his impeachment inquiry. An advisor to the president told CNN that it was necessary and that the White House is flushing out the pipes. CNN's Sarah Westwood is following the latest. Sarah, Colonel Vindman was escorted out of the White House by security. There's been a swift and strong condemnation from Democrats. What more can you tell us? SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Amara and Victor. Good morning and President Trump clearly wasting no time after the end of his Senate impeachment trial ridding his administration of officials who broke with him during that trial, dismissing those two key witnesses.

Yesterday, Alexander Vindman now reassigned from the National Security Council, was a participant on that now infamous July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky and Vindman spoke up first internally at the time about concerns over what he heard on that call and later he testified to House investigators about what he saw as the president's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens in Burisma.

And Gordon Sondland, the now former ambassador to the European Union was also deeply involved in the president's efforts with regards to Ukraine. He testified extensively about the president's personal interest in those political investigations and also testified that the president's pursuit of those investigations was widely known within the White House. Take a listen to some of that testimony.

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GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via e-mail on July 19th, days before the presidential call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, in a statement, Sondland said that he was informed on Friday that it was the president's intention to recall him from that post, ambassador to the European Union, and sources tell CNN that Vindman was bracing for the possibility that he would be removed from his detail on the NSC since he's testified publicly. He was not due to be transferred from that position until the summer. Obviously his detail ended early and his removal came just hours after President Trump told reporters that he was not pleased with Vindman's continued service on the NSC. Take a listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, would you like to see Alexander Vindman out of your White House? Do you want Alexander --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm not happy with him. You think I'm supposed to be happy with him? I'm not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Of course these removals come against the backdrop of President Trump striking a vindictive tone in the wake of his acquittal this week. There are other impeachment witnesses who have left the administration in recent weeks more quietly, including former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, but, Amara and Victor, there are still a number of officials within the Trump administration who did speak up during the Senate impeachment trial and their futures, their fates still unclear at this time.

BLACKWELL: Of course what does this portend for their tenures? Sarah Westwood, thanks so much. Let's remind you now of part of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's testimony. This was during the impeachment inquiry. Listen to what he said about his service to our country.

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ALEXANDER VINDMAN, DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Next month will mark 40 years since my family arrived in the United States as refugees. When my father was 47 years old, he left behind his entire life and the only home he had ever known to start over in the -- in the United States so his three sons could have a better and safer lives. Dad, I'm sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals -- talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family.

[06:20:10]

Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.

SEAN MALONEY, (D) NEW YORK: Why do you have confidence that you can do that and tell your dad not to worry?

VINDMAN: Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I've served and defended, that all of my brothers have served and here, right matters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Right matters. Joining us now to discuss, CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd. She's a former senior advisor to the national security advisor under President Obama. Samantha, welcome back. Let's start here. Listen, you've got this new write on CNN.com about what happened with Sondland and Vindman and you write that it is -- it's dangerous, that there's great danger in removing NSC members like Vindman who have these long-standing relationships. Talk about the danger and your initial reaction to these two dismissals.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good morning, Victor. I mean, in the first instance, you know, I think back to my four years at the NSC and in my day, people were fired when they didn't do their jobs. In this case, both Vindman brothers were fired because they dutifully did theirs. They spoke out through legally protected channels to report on and to testify about the president -- the president's misdeeds and abuses of power.

The message that these firings send throughout the National Security Council and throughout the U.S. government more broadly are that if you speak up, again, through legally protected channels, there will be consequences. What that means is that people currently at the National Security Council have good reason to fear what will happen to them if they report on government abuse. When I was at the NSC, if the president did something wrong or any other NSC official did something wrong, if you did not go to the lawyers and point out concerns, you would be reprimanded. In this case, the opposite has happened and my concern is that from a -- from an accountability perspective, this is going to have a chilling effect on NSC employees, State Department employees and others speaking out about presidential abuses.

And you really have to wonder as well from a recruitment and retention perspective what kind of people are going to be attracted to working at the National Security Council going forward knowing that the president is unlikely to listen to their policy advice, but also that they will suffer extreme risk, again, if they speak out about any perceived wrongdoing.

WALKER: We should also mention, Samantha, a detail that's not been lost on many of us and that is the fact that Vindman's twin brother has also been let go. He did not testify. He was the National Security Council attorney. He didn't have much to do with the impeachment inquiry at all, yet there's this message being sent where you have family members now being punished as well.

VINOGRAD: Well, I think that certainly Lieutenant Colonel Vindman's brother was involved in the impeachment issues to the extent that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman reportedly, according to his testimony, went to his brother to share his concern. So his brother was involved, but of course this is the president trying to publicly humiliate a decorated war hero, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, by firing his brother as well. It is guilt by association.

And let's also remember that President Trump didn't just order that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman be removed from his position early. He was due to cycle out this summer. He had Lieutenant Colonel Vindman escorted off of White House grounds by security. Most NSC directors, when they leave the White House, when they leave their positions, turn in their devices, turn in their badges, do some kind of transition with their successor. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was treated like a criminal.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

VINOGRAD: People that are escorted off of White House grounds by security represent a risk to the security of White House personnel and White House assets. The message here was simple. President Trump was trying to humiliate Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, to punish him and to deter anybody else from speaking up.

WALKER: Samantha Vinograd, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

WALKER: All right. Still to come, just three days away from the New Hampshire primary and candidates are taking jabs at Iowa frontrunners Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. Who came out on top at last night's debates? We're live in Manchester next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:25:00]

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WALKER: Three days until the New Hampshire primary as most of the candidates are making their final pitch in the Granite State.

BLACKWELL: Now, back in Iowa, the state Democratic Party there is giving campaigns until 1:00 o'clock today to submit evidence of inconsistencies that could justify a recanvass or recount of the caucuses. Now, the candidates that came out swinging against Iowa frontrunners Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders. This was during the debate last night.

WALKER: They took jabs over health care, race relations and overall electability. CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles is in Manchester, New Hampshire with more. Hey there, Ryan. So what were the notable moments of last night's debate?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Amara and Victor, for a while, we had wondered when we were going to see this matchup develop between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg and the results in Iowa really led to what we saw last night.

[06:29:49]

They were not only the two frontrunners in terms of the incoming that they took from some of the other candidates but we also saw the two of them attempt to draw some sharp distinctions between each other.

And we saw a preview of this from Bernie Sanders yesterday prior to the debate where he zeroed in on Pete Buttigieg's donor base and suggested that perhaps that would cause him undue influence on Buttigieg were he to become president. We knew it was going to happen, but Sanders did deliver that blow last night.

Take a listen.

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SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unlike some of the folks up here, I don't have 40 billionaires, Pete, contributing to my campaign --

-- coming from the pharmaceutical industry, coming from Wall Street, and all the big-money interests. What we do have is we have now over six million contributions from 1.5 million people averaging $18.50 a contribution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Now, Buttigieg was prepared for this. There was no doubt he knew that Sanders was going to come after him on this point. Buttigieg for a long time has taken some criticism over his efforts to reach out to these wealthy donors to fund his campaign.

And Buttigieg in the past has called for campaign finance reform but has essentially said you cannot go into a battle with Donald Trump with one hand tied behind your back. That was the argument he made last night. Listen.

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PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're facing a fundamentally new problem with President Donald Trump. So the biggest risk we could take at a time like this would be to go up against that fundamentally new challenge by trying to fall back on the familiar. Or trying to unite this country at a moment when we need that kind of unification, when our nominee is dividing people with a politics that says if you don't go all the way to the edge, it doesn't count. A politics that says it's my way or the highway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you talking about Senator Sanders?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So no doubt what we saw here last night was what the polls have been telling us for some time. That this is an extraordinarily close race here in New Hampshire that perhaps Bernie Sanders has a slight edge. But there's at least three, maybe four candidates that have a real shot at winning here on Tuesday.

And the other thing that we saw last night -- Amara and Victor, is that the results in Iowa, even though they did tell us a little bit about where voters stand, they really aren't going to matter nearly as much as what the results in New Hampshire will on Tuesday night.

Because there's so much ambiguity, because we don't have a final verdict in Iowa, the voters in New Hampshire will now have an outsized role in this process. You saw that urgency from the candidates last night. They brought it to the debate stage. It will now be in the hands of the voters here in New Hampshire here in the next coming days-- Victor and Amara.

WALKER: Ryan Nobles in New Hampshire -- thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you -- Ryan.

Let's bring in now CNN political commentator and host of the "You Decide" podcast Errol Louis.

Errol -- good morning to you.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: So Ryan is right about that. Iowa was so muddled. You've got two campaigns claiming victory -- the Buttigieg campaign, the Sanders campaign. Did you see anything last night that dramatically or even in some significant way changed the standing of either of those two front-runner campaigns?

LOUIS: No. Not really. In fact, we should really put to rest the idea that we're still waiting to find out who came out on top in Iowa. We know for a fact that the two were essentially in a dead heat and will get the same number of delegates. That's the end of Iowa.

What we saw last night though Victor -- was both candidates trying to make the case that they've got some momentum, that they're going to be able to claim that they won the first two states and try and ride that momentum to something greater because in the past anybody who did manage to win Iowa and New Hampshire has more or less gone on to become the nominee.

I think all of the rules -- those rules kind of go out the window this time around, in part because of the chaos in Iowa. And in part because there's just a different sent of rules. Almost anybody who can get a sizeable number of delegates can ride it all the way to the convention under the new rules.

BLACKWELL: Yes, let's talk about some of those candidates who are trying to make a move into the top tier -- the top two, I guess.

Washington Post is reporting that Elizabeth Warren's campaign is pulling money out of Nevada, out of South Carolina, ad money at least, and trying to increase her chances in New Hampshire -- not all of the money.

Her race may not be as much against the entire field as it is against Bernie Sanders. What does she have to do on Tuesday? Is it to come in close third or to beat expectations with a second-place finish? What's her future?

LOUIS: She's got to make a strong showing because it's a neighboring state. And as we know, in southern New Hampshire, it's basically the Boston media market. And so, you know, if she basically can't win in her own back yard, it's going to really cause her a lot of problems as far as perception.

She needs to or she's going to try to stop the advance of Bernie Sanders. I mean he's also from a neighboring state and is well-known to the voters of New Hampshire.

[06:34:56]

And so, if she can't come close, if she's not in the top three, if she's not, you know, hopefully from her point of view in the top two, she's going to have a very hard time making a case that she can win going forward.

The idea being if you can't win in your back yard, what happens when you go to other kind of states? What happens when you show up in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, California -- places where you're really not all that well-known.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about Vice President Joe Biden. And listen to this seeming admission or resignation last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I took a hit in Iowa. And I'll probably take a hit here. Traditionally Bernie won by 20 points last time. And usually it's the neighboring senators that do well.

It doesn't matter whether it's one or the next. I've always viewed the first four encounters, two primaries and two caucuses, as the starting point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: You'll remember back to 2008 then-governor Romney was talking about, well, I got a silver medal here and a bronze medal there. Eventually he didn't get the nomination in '08.

But what does this type of talk do to I guess keep the 13 percent to 17 percent that he has in New Hampshire if he's saying well, I'm going to take a hit?

LOUIS: Well look, he's got to spin expectations. Joe Biden was probably the only clear winner out of that debacle in Iowa in the sense that he finished rather poorly, but we took so long to figure out the results, it didn't really, really resonate.

He's trying to set expectations. He's really sort of laying a big marker and putting all of his chips on South Carolina where he has something like an 18-point lead as of right now.

Now, if he can't meet that expectation, then he's going to have a real serious problem. But right -- he knows he's not going to do all that well in New Hampshire and so he's trying to sort of spin some expectations.

You know, the problem, of course -- Victor, is that at some point you've got to win. If you keep saying that, well, wait until the next one, wait until the next one, wait until this, wait until that, and then that day never arrives, then you've got a real problem.

There's also, of course, the challenge of momentum. Nothing succeeds like success. And frankly, voters in South Carolina and Nevada are going to be looking to see what happens in New Hampshire. And it does give it an outsized weight in this contest.

BLACKWELL: So does that make Nevada and South Carolina must-win, that a second place is not good enough for the former vice president? He's got to win both of those?

LOUIS: No, no -- not necessarily. I mean look, keep in mind, this is about delegates. This is a delegate hunt. And people who think that they can just rack up lots of victories in lots of little states collecting delegates here and there have often found much to their consternation that they don't have what it takes to actually win the nomination.

So Joe Biden knows this better than anybody. He does know, though, as well, that he's got to win something in order to show his donors that he's got a viable path to the nomination. And as long as -- as they continue to see him not quite placing where he should be and giving a story and giving an explanation, then the money dries up, and that's when campaigns go into a death spiral.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis -- couple of days, three days now until the New Hampshire primary. Thank you so much.

LOUIS: Thank you -- Victor.

WALKER: We are learning new information about the helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Coming up -- why investigators say it is unlikely engine trouble caused the helicopter to go down.

[06:38:11]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALKER: Federal investigators say engine failure did not play a part in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant.

BLACKWELL: Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and several others died when their helicopter crashed into a hillside near Calabasas, California last month. The NTSB has not revealed a cause of the crash, but the board's update gives new details about the investigation and what's been found.

CNN's Nick Watt has those details.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The NTSB is calling this an investigation update. This is not analysis, these are not conclusions -- this is a report of the facts that they have gathered so far.

But experts say it does give an indication, a roadmap of where the investigation is going. And one line in particular stands out. And that is viewable sections of the engines showed no evidence of an uncontained or catastrophic internal failure which suggests that engine failure has pretty much been ruled out.

Peter Goelz is a former managing director at the NTSB. Take a listen to his initial reactions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER GOELZ, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR, NTSB: If they were concerns about the equipment or anything else, it would be mentioned. In this case they focused in on the weather, they focused in on the pilot's interaction with air traffic control, and in the end I'm afraid the spotlight's going to be on the pilot and his decision-making.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: The report also details the condition of that helicopter as there were no outstanding airworthiness directives or minimum equipment list items and all inspections were up to date. The pilot, age 50, had worked at that Island Express for about ten years, no issues with his record either.

There was focus on the weather. Photographs, one showing -- taken from a security camera showing the helicopter flying in heavy fog. Some eyewitness testimony, one line here, videos and photos taken by the public in the area of the accident also depict fog and low clouds obscuring the hilltops.

[06:44:53]

WATT: We now also know that the last contact with controllers, the pilot said he was planning to climb to 4,000 feet to avoid cloud. He only got to 2,300 feet before making a left turn, descending, and crashing into that hillside.

A full report might take more than a year to come out. In the meantime, we now know there will be a memorial for Kobe Bryant at Staples Center here in Los Angeles Monday, February 24.

Nick Watt, CNN -- Los Angeles.

BLACKWELL: Nick, thank you so much for that.

People in Oregon are expecting another wave of cold and wet weather. Heavy snow in the forecast, and severe flooding a concern.

Next, the areas expected to feel that winter blast.

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[06:50:01]

BLACKWELL: Some roads and highways are closed, others are washed out after major flooding in eastern Oregon. When you have heavy snowfall and then warmer weather, you get this -- flash flooding. At least 26 people had to be rescued from flooding homes and fields.

Three counties are in a state of emergency. The National Guard is also helping local authorities there with rescues.

WALKER: CNN Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar joining us now with more. And Oregon is bracing for yet another round of rain and snow.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They haven't had much of a break really to kind of (INAUDIBLE) -- it's been system after system. Not just for Oregon but Washington State -- truly since the beginning of the year. They've had non-stop systems coming through

So you are going to reach that point in which there is just too much water and the ground really can't take it all in. And unfortunately, that's what we saw.

So this was a combination of a lot of very heavy rain that came in but also the temperatures. Take a look at this video here. You've got what you can see is that very quick flow of that water coming down here. This is Echo, Oregon just to the west of Pendleton there for some reference.

You do have flood warnings in effect for a lot of this area. Look at how much rain fell in just the last three days. Just east of Seattle and south of it, again you're talking areas two, four, even six inches of rain. This area that's east of Pendleton, now you're talking in excess of six inches.

But it wasn't just the amount of rain that fell. It's also the snow melt. Pendleton Airport reporting temperatures yesterday in the 50s.

So all of this snow that you see here in the background, yes, here's the water flowing. But a lot of that snowfall also melts when those temperatures get that warm. So it was the combination really of both that triggered a lot of these issues in eastern Oregon.

Now that main system that caused a lot of problems, that's going to continue to shift off to the east taking with it the potential for snow to areas of the high plains and the Midwest. And then the Pacific Northwest braces for yet again another storm.

So here's a look at that first system as it continues to make its way off to the east. You do have pretty decent snowfalls expected for areas of the Dakotas, as well as portions of Minnesota, even Wisconsin. Look at this swath right here where you're talking six to eight inches of snow. And again for a lot of those areas out to the west, you're looking at additional snowfall, as well.

This is only going to be the key thing over the next couple of days is those in-between periods where you have the snow on the ground, then you get those brief warmups that can trigger that melting and thus flash flooding.

BLACKWELL: Yes. A lot of states saw that huge swing. It was more than inconvenient -- dangerous. We'll see if we swing back.

Allison Chinchar -- thanks.

CHINCHAR: Thank you.

WALKER: An NFL player has found his passion off the field, and that work has brought him to the beaches in Florida. How he plans to help save the earth piece by piece.

[06:52:37]

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WALKER: A blown call by the referees cost the Portland Trailblazers a potentially big win.

BLACKWELL: Coy is here. Portland trying to get into the playoffs.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The Blazers are right on the cusp of the playoffs. Every game matters. They were down by two to the Jazz, and they had Damian Lillard, their all-star, with the ball in his hands.

Let's watch. Here it goes. He's driving to the hoop here. He goes for the lay-up. You'll see Jazz Center Rudy Colbert (ph) knock the ball away. But look closer. It clearly hits the backboard first. That's goaltending, it should be two points for the Blazers to tie the game. But instead the Jazz win by three.

All because the miss, the refs missed it. Lillard couldn't believe it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAMIAN LILLARD, NBA PLAYER: It's an easy call. Three referees out there and they don't call that. I don't want to hear no -- I don't want to see no report about we should have called it. They cost us a game. We're in a playoff race, and they cost us a game.

CJ MCCOLLUM, NBC PLAYER: Makes me think that you're not capable of doing the job the way you're supposed to do which means you should be reprimanded, you should be fined accordingly. When we make mistakes, we're fined. They cost us a game that could cost people money. So they should be fined accordingly because that's terrible. Not just bad, terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Terrible, he says. Now, the refs did admit afterwards that they missed that call.

Now, for our last story here, I want to jump back to Super Bowl week where a lot of NFL players use that big stage to shed light on issues that are very important to them like Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake, the focus of today's difference makers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KENYAN DRAKE, NFL PLAYER: Our goal is to try to gather 54 tons of plastics, trash, debris, from the ocean. Ocean conservancy is doing a great job. Just kind of guiding people to make sure to bring awareness, especially during the Super Bowl. Definitely a great platform to do that.

GEORGE LEONARD, CHIEF SCIENTIST, OCEAN CONSERVANCY: We've been working for about the last 18 months with the Super Bowl host committee to reach all kinds of new audiences to get them to understand the value of the ocean for all of us.

DRAKE: The great thing about Miami is the beautiful beaches, tropical weather. You know, we want to do everything we can to conserve it.

LEONARD: One of our major messages here is that the ocean is suffering greatly. And that we need a lot more people to understand what's happening in the ocean and to all get in the boat together and all row in the same direction to work toward ocean health. That doesn't include just people that live on the beach. This includes people throughout the country and around the world.

DRAKE: To be here in a situation where our people come out and just, you know, provide their energy and their effort into a cause that not only is going to affect us but, you know, future generations. You know, I feel like we're just going to pay it forward.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIRE: So Kenyan started his career with the Miami Dolphins. He fell in love with the ocean. He says he just wants to do his part to help keep them beautiful for kids.

WALKER: Good for him.

(CROSSTALKING)

BLACKWELL: Good work.

Thank you, Coy.

[06:54:57]

WALKER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've just gotten word that the first American has died of the coronavirus.