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Coronavirus Outbreak; U.S. Intel: Russia Trying to Help Sanders Campaign; Nevada Caucuses; Trump to Visit India; Harry and Meghan to Drop "Royal" from Brand. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired February 22, 2020 - 03:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone and welcome from Studio 7 at CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Michael Holmes.

Right here on CNN NEWSROOM, coronavirus cases surge as sharp increase outside of China.

2020 election interference, the U.S. says that Russia is trying to help Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders but there is a big difference in how each is reacting to that news.

And Trump's trip to India, see how the country plans to welcome the U.S. president.


HOLMES: Just when it appeared the coronavirus outbreak in China might be slowing, a surge in cases in a neighboring country shows the battle is not over. Nearly 350 people have tested positive for virus in South Korea, compared to just 30 cases six days ago.

About half of those are linked to a large religious group in Daegu. In the coming hours, the World Health Organization is sending a team to Wuhan, China, the capital of Hubei province. That's where most of China's 76,000 infections have been.

We begin our coverage with Ivan Watson in the South Korean capital.

Blake Essig is in Yokohama, Japan.

Ivan, let's start with you, tell us about the spike in cases, what's behind it. And despite it people out in the streets today in Seoul

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right; the number of cases have gone up dramatically to at least 346, almost doubling overnight. The fact is that, South Korea is now battling with a growing epidemic right now. The authorities have announced a number of measures to try to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

For instance after at least four military personnel became infected, they have canceled vacations for the military in South Korea and they have passed other ordinances, like the city of Seoul declared that a weekly opposition rally downtown would be canceled, banned.

And despite that, that was flouted and attended by thousands of demonstrators and police that did not enforce that ban. In this shopping district, it is still quite busy, people are wearing their masks but that hasn't stopped people moving around and circulating here in Seoul.

The real hot spot right now is Daegu, in the middle of the country, where more than half of the cases have originated from and it is also linked to a religious group, known as Shincheonji, which has a reputation for being quite secretive.

There was a religious gathering there and a lot of the cases, including some of the military cases, have been linked to a so-called super spreader at a religious service there.

The religious group itself has published a statement, saying it will suspend all services across the country and it will begin disinfecting all its places of worship -- Michael.

HOLMES: Ivan, good to have you there on the spot, Ivan Watson for us in Seoul, South Korea.

Let's go to Yokohama, Japan, that's where we find Blake Essig.

And that's where cruise ship passengers are gradually getting off the Diamond Princess. I'm sure those passengers are relieved.

What are they telling you and how many more are still on board?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Michael, some of these passengers that have been getting off over the last several days, prior to this quarantine, starting in early February, they had only been on the cruise ship for 29 days already.

Plus the 14-day quarantine for some of these passengers and even longer for some still on board the ship. So, yes, people are ready to get off the ship, who are still on it.

At this point you have 920-plus crew members still on board the ship. There are actually only 31 passengers still on board the ship. We just obtained some video from one of the passengers currently in the process of disembarking from the ship.

When you watch that video, you can see that the ship is pretty empty. There is not anyone else to be seen in the video. Again, 31 passengers still on board the ship.


ESSIG: When the Diamond Princess docked here in Yokohama port earlier this month, there was roughly 3,700 people on it. So a lot of progress getting these passengers off the ship and a lot of countries also who have evacuated their citizens back to their individual countries -- Michael. HOLMES: Before we let you go, is there concern in Japan, is it being

discussed that Japan might have made a mistake, keeping those passengers all coupled up together, on one giant really petri dish?

ESSIG: There is no question, the idea that this cruise ship was essentially a incubator for this virus to fester and spread, it has been echoed by not only infectious disease specialists but by residents here in Japan, who are fearful of what the passengers on board that ship, who have essentially once they test negative, are released into the general population here in Japan.

They can go anywhere they want with a certificate that says they've tested negative and they're good to go.

That might not be the case; CDC on their website says, if you interact with or come into contact with the virus in the early stages of the infection, you have the potential to be tested and test negative, even if you do, in fact, are positive for the virus.

So there is that potential that some of these people coming off the ship over the last several days are infected even though they are going to be leaving with that certificate that says they aren't.

HOLMES: Yes. Blake Essig in Yokohama, Japan, we appreciate it.

We have complete coverage of the coronavirus outbreak with instant updates on the story, happening around the clock. You'll find that at

We'll take a break. When we come back, days after U.S. intelligence officials warned that Russia is working to help President Trump win again in 2020, U.S. officials also say the Kremlin is helping a Democratic candidate, we will discuss.

Also why workers are building a wall in India, ahead of U.S. president Donald Trump's first official visit there.




HOLMES: Just hours into what was supposed to be a week of reduced violence in Afghanistan, there are reports now of a Taliban attack in Paktika (ph) province. It's unclear how this will affect the ongoing peace efforts between the U.S. and Taliban.

Both sides had said they would sign an agreement if the planned week succeeded, that week is just getting underway.

And despite only being weeks into the U.S. election cycle, intelligence officials are warning that Russia is already meddling once again.

[03:10:00] HOLMES: And this time its efforts are crossing party lines. Intel officials briefed lawmakers earlier that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump. Well, now we're learning that officials told Bernie Sanders that Russia is working to help his campaign. The difference is on Friday, the senator was quick to condemn the Kremlin efforts


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Putin is a thug. He's an autocrat. He may be a friend of Donald Trump. He's not a friend of mine.

Let me tell Mr. Putin, the American people, whether you're Democrats, Republicans or independents, are sick and tired of seeing Russia and other countries interfering in our elections.

The Intelligence Community has been very clear about it, whether Trump recognizes it or not or acknowledges or not, they did interfere in 2016.

The Intelligence Community is telling us they are interfering in this campaign right now in 2020. And what I'll say to Mr. Putin, if elected president, trust me, you are not going to be interfering in American elections.


HOLMES: Now Russia, not surprisingly dismissed the reports as propaganda and President Trump accused Democrats of weaponizing the intelligence briefing rather than criticizing Russia for doing it. CNN's Jim Acosta reports from the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a rally in Las Vegas, the president seized on what he views as the latest threat to his reelection, the U.S. Intelligence Community's warning that Russia is already interfering in the 2020 race to benefit Mr. Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Disinformation, that's the only thing they're good at, that Putin wants to make sure I get elected.

Listen to this. Doesn't he want to see who the Democrat is going to be?

Wouldn't he rather have, let's say, Bernie?

ACOSTA: Earlier in the day, the president tweeted, "Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress, saying that Russia prefers me to any of the do-nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to after two weeks count their votes in Iowa. Hoax number seven."

Sources tell CNN the president berated then acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire last week, one day after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and other Democrats clashed with Republicans during a classified briefing, where DNI officials warned of the Russia threat.

Days after Mr. Trump's heated meeting with Maguire, he tapped U.S. Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell to be the new acting head at DNI. The top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, told the president what happened at the briefing.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Vladimir Putin is not running some operation with Donald Trump. There's no evidence of that. And so all this is, is, they don't have anything to run on. And so they have got to make up Russia again.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Sources tell CNN, committee Republicans, including Congressman Will Hurd, pressed intelligence officials for more proof that Moscow was meddling once again.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I can't comment on the specifics of the briefing. But what I can say is that, unfortunately, I think folks on the other side still have not internalize some of the conclusions from 2016, namely, that the Russians interfered in that election on the president's behalf.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump's foe in 2016, Hillary Clinton, went on the attack, tweeting, "Putin's puppet is at it again, taking Russian help for himself. He knows he can't win without it and we can't let it happen."

The president has repeatedly questioned the Intelligence Community's conclusion that Russia interfered in 2016. His comments at the Helsinki summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin...

TRUMP: I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- came just days after former DNI Dan Coats warned U.S. elections are at risk.

DAN COATS, FORMER U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: And here we are two decades -- nearly two decades later. And I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again.

ACOSTA: With the Russians eying the 2020 election, the president appears to be struggling to find a new permanent DNI. After the president floated GOP Congressman Doug Collins for the position, the Georgia Republican said he didn't want it.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): To mention my name and, among others, to be this position. But let me just tell you right now that's -- I know the problems in our Intelligence Community, but this is not a job that interests me at this time. It is not one that I would accept.

ACOSTA: The president's former acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker just touched on the Russian threat during an appearance at Oxford in the U.K. earlier this evening. He told the crowd there, quote, "I am never going to deny that Russia

tried to interfere 2016. They tried to interfere in 2018. And they're trying to interfere in 2020." -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: Now this all comes as Nevada voters head to the polls in the coming hours, for the third vote in the 2020 presidential primary season. Democratic candidates have been busy getting their final pitches to voters, polling suggesting strong support for Bernie Sanders.


HOLMES: To avoid the debacle that we saw in Iowa, the party plans to use caucus calculators to help report results across more than 1,700 precincts.

All right, let's talk about all things political now with our analyst, Michael Genovese. He's also the author of "How Trump Governs" and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

Always good to see you, my friend. Let's start with this. According to the Intelligence Community, Russia helping Trump again, also helping Bernie Sanders, the difference being that one is friendly to Russia, the other has slammed Vladimir Putin as a thug.

Apart from wanting to influence the election, part of the Russian plan is to sow discord in American society, make people not trust the election process. In that they must be succeeding surely.

What are the Russians thinking?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Putin is both sinister and he's smart and his goal is to undermine American values and American unity.

And so what has he done?

He's picked the two most divisive candidates, the two most extremist candidates and he's trying to push them to the forefront.

And what will that do?

If those two candidates are the final picks you could have a lot of people in the middle who are going to be disgruntled, dissatisfied and may sit it out. And you'll see a battle between the extreme wings of both parties. And that's just going to breed chaos, animosity and anger.

HOLMES: Also I mean a lot of people think that Bernie Sanders could be the weaker candidate against Donald Trump. That's why Russia may want to push him as well, that's another aspect.

Let's get back to this thing that kicked this off, the Intelligence Community assessment that Russia is meddling. And you had an intelligence boss telling lawmakers about it and it should be the case.

And then the acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, 36 years a Navy SEAL, by the way, commander of Navy special warfare, he gets pushed out, it seems, because the president wants that Russian interference kept quiet, specifically away from Democrats.

I mean, this isn't Democrats making the claim; it's the Intelligence Community.

GENOVESE: And the president was irate because his enemy got the information. To President Trump, Congress is the enemy. Congress is -- especially Democrats in Congress -- threaten his presidency in the future.

Russia is not the enemy; Americans in Congress, American Democrats are the enemy. So what has happened is the president has got it backwards and his anger led to the firing of a very experienced person and the hiring of someone who has no foreign policy -- or excuse me -- intelligence experience. Someone who's unqualified but who will be Donald Trump's little puppy dog because he will tell the president what he wants to hear.

He is very close to President Trump and President Trump doesn't want to hear the truth because it annoys and angers him. He wants to hear what he needs to hear psychologically.

HOLMES: And that actually brings us to a very good point, because so much has happened in the last few days. But we should touch on the return to the administration of a man called John McEntee. I think we've got some video we can show people.

This is a guy that was fired by the administration in 2018 because of a gambling controversy. Now he's back as Trump's personnel chief, reportedly calling agency heads together and telling them to be on the lookout for anyone not loyal to Donald Trump, that anyone not in lockstep with the dealer could be purged.

What does that mean to career professionals if they can be booted if not seen as having fealty to the leader?

GENOVESE: Well, President Trump is quick to fire but he also is quick to rehire. If he has the sense that someone will be loyal to him, he would go back to that person. And so it's a question of the personalized presidency of Donald Trump versus the institutional presidency, with the Intelligence Community, with career bureaucrats, career diplomats.

And they are at war with one another and that's why this administration is so discombobulated. You've got the personal and political with Donald Trump, you are with me or against me or you're part of the deep state, versus the career people and intelligence and the military and the FBI.

And that conflict is what has been driving all of the mistakes that have been made by President Trump, who, again, believes only what he wants and needs to believe psychologically but not necessarily what the truth is or what he has been told by the Intelligence Community. They are the enemy.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you about the Democrats as well. Saturday, Nevada becoming, of course, the first -- and this is the key -- the first diverse state to vote.

What you're looking for in this?

Who needs to shine?

And who is likely to?

GENOVESE: Well, first of all, Michael, let me thank you for not asking me to explain how Nevada's caucus works.

HOLMES: I don't get it.

GENOVESE: The people are voting ahead of time and they are voting in the caucus on Saturday.


GENOVESE: And your viewers should know that, in the United States, we have not one election, we have 50 plus elections. Then in the national election, we'll have 50 plus again.

We go by states, not by the nation. And so 50 different sets of rules, 50 different mechanisms for voting and for counting votes. Right now, Bernie Sanders is in the driver's seat.

Mike Bloomberg took a terribly, terribly vicious hit from a truck named Elizabeth Warren. She made points on that. She has revived her campaign. Bloomberg has to revive his now.

The most interesting person, I think in the race right now in Nevada, is Steyer, who has put a lot of money and some time into Nevada. He is now seeing that the billionaire lane may be open again. It was his to begin with. Then Bloomberg came in and basically swept away everybody else.

Now Bloomberg's decline may be Steyer's last hope. So if he does well, double figures might even be enough for him, 10-11 percent. He may be able to revive his campaign. But I think that Bernie is going to be the one who comes out of this as the front-runner again. And every step of the way, he gets stronger and stronger. Someone has to stop him or he is going to go all the way very quickly.

HOLMES: Yes. He has certainly got the numbers. I think nobody who has not won the first three in the past and gotten the nomination. And Bernie Sanders looking pretty good in that lane. Michael Genovese, appreciate it, good to see you there in Los Angeles.

GENOVESE: Thank you. Michael. HOLMES: Well polling stations are now closed in Iran and hardline candidates are expected to win big. Friday's parliamentary vote coming after months of anti government protests fueled by a falling economy and the ruthless crackdown on dissent.

Any moderates were banned from even running. State media said voting was extended three times in some places because of high turnout. But the turnout was estimated to be down overall from four years ago.

When we come back, India is preparing for Donald Trump's first visit there as U.S. president. On the agenda, opening this cricket stadium.

What makes it unique?

After the break.




HOLMES: Welcome back everyone.

On Monday Donald Trump will arrive in India for his first official visit as U.S. president. That trip is going to mix a little bit of business and pleasure. Lynda Kinkade is showing us India is trying to make a good impression.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): At India's famous Taj Mahal, workers paint, spruce and polish. Those are renovated. And nearby, the Yamuna River rises, as millions of liters of water are released to cover its foul, polluted smell.

Around the country, these are just some of the preparations for U.S. president Donald Trump's imminent arrival.

VIVEK V. NAIR, AHMEDABAD VISITOR: It's a big thing because it's his first visit. The fact that it's a big thing.

KINKADE (voice-over): Set to arrive Monday, the president's first-ever state trip to India will likely focus on trade. Tensions over tariffs and diverging economic policies. His two-day visit comes just months after a so-called "Howdy, Modi' event welcomed the Indian prime minister to Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Howdy, my friends.


KINKADE (voice-over): Then Narendra Modi declared before a crowd of about 50,000 people that India had a true friend of the White House.

Now a massive welcome rally for his American counterpart may help distract from policy differences between the two leaders.

TRUMP: We're not treated very well by India but I happen to like prime minister Modi a lot and he told me we will have 7 million people between the airport and the event. So it's going to be very exciting.

KINKADE (voice-over): After landing Monday, Mr. Trump is set to address a record crowd as he opens what is claimed to be the world's largest cricket stadium.

On his way to the stadium, a new wall will hide the city's slums. Indian government officials say it was built for security reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The government could have spent that money in a way that is beneficial for the poor.

What is the point of spending thousands of rupees here in building this wall and hiring workers?

KINKADE (voice-over): Though his arrival may not be greeted enthusiastically by all, new research show polls show India has increasingly gained confidence in Trump since 2016. Few supporters are as ardent as one man in south central India, whose home is now a Trump shrine. There he prays for the U.S. president, ecstatic for his arrival -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


HOLMES: Well another big change for Britain's Prince Harry and wife, Meghan Markle. They will no longer use the world "royal" as part of their brand after this spring. CNN's Anna Stewart with more on that.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ever since it was agreed that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, would step down as working members of the royal family, questions have swelled as to what they would do about the word "royal" in their brand name. The website they launched only weeks ago is Their Instagram handle is @SussexRoyal and they have made trademark applications for the same branding internationally.

Now a spokesperson for the couple has said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use Sussex Royal in any territory post spring 2020, which, means their new nonprofit organization to be launched in the coming weeks will no longer have the word royal in it.

And the couple have removed their Sussex Royal trademark applications already. A new brand will allow the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to pursue the next chapter in their lives. Their financial independence to support it -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Well, one might think a visit from a massive black bear could cause a little panic but not in a southern California community. A bear appearance there caused curious onlookers to gather, as people chronicled the creature's casual strolls through their neighborhood.

It didn't seem at fazed by the presence of homes or cars or gathering crowds or that guy there. Local officials did eventually stop its trek. They tranquilized the bear, took it back to the nearby mountains whence it had come. No one was harmed.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. I'll have your headlines in just a moment.