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U.S. Intel: Russia Trying To Help Both Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election; President Trump Wants John Bolton's Book Withheld Until After Election; Roger Stone Alleges Juror Misconduct In Request For New Trial; Growing Questions Over Potential Errors In Nevada Caucuses; Democratic Nevada Caucus-Goers To Choose A Presidential Preference Soon; Bloomberg Offers To Release Three Women From NDAs; Mother Of Two Missing Kids Behind Bars In Hawaii. Aired 6- 7a ET

Aired February 22, 2020 - 06:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Nevada caucuses will be getting underway in the hours ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poor showers (ph) could very well make things difficult for several 2020 hopefuls.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our democracy hangs in the balance and you have a decision to make.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let us have the largest voter turnout in the history of the Nevada caucus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alarming warning from the intelligence community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The top intelligence official on election security telling House Intelligence Committee members Russia is working in favor of President Donald Trump's re-election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: they said today that Putin wants to be sure that Trump gets elected. Here we go again. Aren't people bored?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is still throwing his weight around the Justice Department, granting clemency for the corrupt and well- connected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a Trumpocrat. If I have the ability to vote, I'm going to vote for him.


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

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. We start this morning with two revelations, two candidates with two very different reactions. Well, the U.S. intelligence community believes Russia is putting their support behind President Trump and Senator Sanders in the 2020 race.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And President Trump calls the discovery by his own Intel community a, quote, "disinformation hoax by Democrats." Now, the loyalist he's brought in to take over as acting Director of Nation Security moves (ph) on day one into the job.

BLACKWELL: Now, Senator Bernie Sanders is calling on Russia to stay out of American elections as he deals with this new reporting and what it means for his campaign in Nevada ahead of today's critical caucuses there.

PAUL: We're following all angles of this story. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is in Las Vegas. Want to go to CNN's Sarah Westwood first in Washington. Ladies, thank you both for being here. I want to ask you, Sarah, what more are you hearing from the president about this intel?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, good morning, Christi, and we're learning that President Trump was angry that he heard about this briefing that a top intelligence official gave to lawmakers last week, not from his own aides, but from a Republican ally. Sources say that's Congressman Devin Nunes who went to President Trump, told him about the fact that this intelligence community official told lawmakers that Russia had a clear preference for President Trump's re- election in 2020.

Some of the Republican lawmakers pressed the intelligence official to provide that underlying data about why the intelligence community, (ph) the briefer, Shelby Pierson, didn't provide it. Of course President Trump believes that Democrats weaponized intelligence related to Russian meddling after the 2016 election and so that perception is making him fearful that that could happen again.

That's part of why he reacted so forcefully to news of that briefing. It led to the ouster of the intelligence chief, the acting intelligence chief, Joseph Maguire yesterday at the president's rally in Las Vegas, President Trump suggested that perhaps Putin should want Bernie Sanders to win the election and dismissed this stuff as misinformation. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I was told a week ago, they said, you know, they're trying to start a rumor. It's disinformation. That's the only thing they're good at. They're not good at anything else. They get nothing done. Do nothing Democrats. That Putin wants to make sure I got elected. Listen to this. So doesn't he want to see who the Democrat's going to be? Wouldn't he rather have, let's say, Bernie? Wouldn't he rather have Bernie who honeymooned in Moscow? Wouldn't that be -- these people are crazy.


WESTWOOD: Now, with Maguire out, the president tapped Richard Grenell, someone who is very loyal to the president, the ambassador to Germany, to hold that position on an interim basis, but critics have questioned whether Grenell has the credentials to hold such a high-profile position in the intelligence community, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Sarah, there's also this new reporting from "The Washington Post" on the future of the former national security adviser John Bolton's book and what the president is willing to do to stop the release of it. What do we know?

WESTWOOD: Yes. "The Post" reports that President Trump wants to keep all conversations that he and his former national security advisor John Bolton had private. He wants to claim executive privilege over those conversations. Also he wants to have that book withheld at least until after the November election. So the president clearly doesn't want some of the revelations in John Bolton's book to be released. That book currently set for publication in March, so a pretty quick timeline there.

The White House Records Office has been looking over that book, checking to see if there's classified information in it, but the president wants to claim that most of the conversations that he had with Bolton are classified.

[06:05:03] So that is shaping up to be a battle between Bolton's lawyers and the White House over what information can be included in that manuscript once it goes to publication.

BLACKWELL: It's scheduled to be released in just a few weeks. We'll see if that happens. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much. Also, today is caucus day in Nevada and the Democratic candidates are in the state making those last-minute pitches to voters.

PAUL: Yes. Hours before the caucuses are set to begin, we learned that U.S. officials briefed Senator Bernie Sanders that Russia is trying to help his campaign in an effort to interfere with the contest. CNN Business and Politics correspondent Vanessa Yurkevich is in Las Vegas. She has more for us. Vanessa, good morning to you. What are you hearing?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENCE: Good morning, Victor and Christi. Well, just as Nevadans are getting ready to head to the Nevada caucuses in just a few hours, we're learning that Bernie Sanders says that he found out about a month ago that U.S. officials told him that Russia was trying to help him win the election.

This comes just about a day or so after we learned that President Trump received a similar briefing that Russia was trying to help him win the election. Senator Sanders was asked about this, especially as he commented on that news that President Trump received a similar style briefing. Here's what Senator Sander -- Senator Sanders said about that information.


SANDERS: It was not clear what role they're going to play. We were told that Russia, maybe other countries are going to get involved in this campaign and look, here is the message to Russia, stay out of American elections. And what they are doing, by the way, the ugly thing that they are doing, and I've seen some of, you know, their tweets and stuff, is they try to divide us up.


YURKEVICH: Another reason the Sanders campaign said that they didn't reveal this information is because they deemed it as very sensitive and the campaign says they also don't know exactly how Russia was trying to help Senator Sanders win, but this has now caused, for all of the -- all of the Democratic candidates, to weigh in on this from Joe Biden to Pete Buttigieg, also Mike Bloomberg seizing on this. He tweeted just yesterday. He said, quote, "They," meaning Russia, "either try to nominate the weakest candidate to take on their puppet Trump, or they elect a socialist as president."

But we reached out to all of the Democratic nominees and asked their campaigns whether or not they had received a similar style briefing as Sanders and the ones who got back to us said that they had not, but clearly this is something, Victor and Christi, that the Sanders campaign does not want to be dealing with today on caucus day. They don't want any doubts in voters' minds as they are getting ready to cast their ballot here in just a few hours, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Vanessa, good to hear from you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about all this now with CNN national security analyst and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So from a purely intelligence perspective, is the Russian effort to help President Trump, help Senator Sanders going public -- is now the public knowing about this a good thing?

KAYYEM: I think generally yes and I think actually the House can do a lot more to get information out to the American public about the tactics and means that the Russians are doing to manipulate our elections. I want to say there's nothing new or shocking about what we're hearing the last couple days. There's no reason to suspect the Russians would have changed their tactics from 2016 or 2018. No reason to believe that they will try to divide us and influence us through those divisions, whether it's in the Democratic primary or to support Trump.

I think the piece that we cannot forget is that the Russians are assessing Donald Trump's reaction and that is benefiting them. In other words, Donald Trump's reaction to the -- to these briefings isn't I need to find out more, how are the Russians getting involved with the elections? It is to fire the head of the ODNI and put in his own person.

From an intelligence perspective, if you're the Russians, this is so beneficial to you, right? In other words, you now know that the President of the United States could care less about your influence in the 2020 election and so the Russians will continue to do all the different tactics that we understand that they're doing leading into the election. They've got -- they got the signal from Donald Trump.


KAYYEM: He did not ask for more information. He fired the people telling him the reality that our -- that our elections are being influenced by the Russians.

BLACKWELL: Yes and calls it hoax number seven, as he does online. I want to put this up --

KAYYEM: Yes. I mean --

BLACKWELL: Let me -- let me put this up because I think this is going to lead into the next point --

KAYYEM: Right.


BLACKWELL: -- part of this conversation. It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Senate Intel Committee released a report on the Russian interference in 2016 --


BLACKWELL: -- released a few recommendations to prepare for the next attack, as it's characterized in the report. Here's one of them. "The President of the United States should take steps to separate himself or herself from political considerations when handling issues related to foreign influence operations." That's two weeks ago from bipartisan members --


BLACKWELL: -- of that committee. I want you to just pull that thread a bit more about the damage that's caused by putting this in a political context.

KAYYEM: Right. So the -- and that recommendation is one that had existed before.


KAYYEM: In other words, if you have a threat, you would have a nonpartisan group of experts addressing that threat because you don't want the politics, especially given that this has to do with an election. I think it's an important recommendation. It's one that will not be abided by by this president who will politicize the intelligence and it's just worth for the viewers to remember the intelligence community doesn't work for Donald Trump, it doesn't work for the U.S. government, it works for us, right? In other words, the citizens. Their failure or their inability to guide us through the next couple of months and what is about to happen in terms of Russian influence, you know, sort of undermines our own sense of safety and security and leads to a sense by the American public that our elections are not valid --


KAYYEM: -- it leads to all these theories that things are hoaxes and that the system is rigged. We've got quite a couple months ahead of us in which it does make a lot of us in this space, especially Homeland Security --


KAYYEM: -- nervous about the American public's, you know, sense of stability in an election.

BLACKWELL: Juliette, let me quickly ask you about "The Washington Post" reporting that President Trump --

KAYYEM: Yes. Yes.

BLACKWELL: -- is trying to block all of his conversations with his former national security adviser John Bolton from being published in this book, not just the classified elements as had been mentioned by the White House team --

KAYYEM: Right.

BLACKWELL: -- that staff to clear the book. This is typically not the process. What do you make of that reporting?

KAYYEM: So I have no doubt that the -- that Donald Trump's lawyers will sue, I think it's Simon & Schuster, in terms of trying to stop publication. So we will see a legal battle. There's no standing for the legal battle. When I work for a cabinet secretary or a president, they don't own me for the rest of my life. They only own what, in fact, was secret or classified information.

You can imagine -- I mean, if Donald Trump's theory of John Bolton is true, there would never be books about people by people that worked in administrations, but they will sue. This is their tactic and it's also to shut people up in the future.


KAYYEM: Donald Trump uses litigation not simply for that issue, but obviously to scare people around him who might be thinking of publishing books.

BLACKWELL: Yes. "The Post" reports that the president says that he can publish anything he wants after the president leaves office, but not while he's still in White House.

KAYYEM: Yes. BLACKWELL: We'll see where this goes. The book's expected to be published in a couple of weeks. We'll see if that happens. Juliette Kayyem, always good to have you.

KAYYEM: Thank you. Good morning.

PAUL: So Roger Stone's legal team is building a case for a new trial. Coming up in our legal brief, what the judge said that his lawyers say is disqualifying.

BLACKWELL: Plus, did you see this? This fiery interview and CNN's Anderson Cooper calls BS against former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's claim that he was a political prisoner. We're going to watch part of that coming up.




PAUL: So topping this morning's legal brief, Roger Stone is asking the judge in his obstruction trial to recuse herself. Thursday, the political strategist and friend of President Donald Trump was sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress and witness tampering. Now, Judge Amy Berman Jackson praised the jurors at his sentencing and now Stone is asking Judge Jackson to disqualify herself as she weighs his request for a new trial.

I want to bring in Shan Wu who's with us, ask him about this because, Shan, I know that you've got a couple of good answers to some of the questions that are surrounding Stone right now. First and foremost, how likely is it that he can get another trial?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's pretty unlikely. First of all, motions for new trial are rarely granted. His grounds for them seem relatively weak, particularly his argument about maybe a jury person being biased in this instance. What we have to remember is that the jury selection process is under great scrutiny before they get selected.

Both sides get a lot of information about the jurors, they get to question the jurors, they get to actually strike them. They can ask the judge to strike them and then they get what are called peremptory strikes, meaning no one can challenge the reasons for striking them.

So the jury has already been very vetted and then with regard to the judge being potentially biased, again, he doesn't really have any evidence of that. I mean, these sorts of rumors that the president is putting out there that she is a democratic loyalist and such, you know, that's just silly stuff and obviously she has presided over really the majority of the Mueller prosecutions and has not shown herself to be biased, has not been removed in any of those cases.

PAUL: Yes.

WU: So I think this is a pretty weak argument.

PAUL: You brought up the president and I know that Attorney General Barr overruled the sentencing recommendation, you know, from these four career federal prosecutors who then resigned from the case. It's not unusual necessarily, is it? For a top justice official to overrule career attorneys necessarily? It was the public rebuke of them and because of that I'm wondering, Shan, do you get the sense that some of this was orchestrated from the president himself?

WU: Well, it's hard to know if the president directly contacted the attorney general, but he doesn't need to. I mean, as Michael Cohen testified, the president is well-versed in the art of subtlety. He doesn't give direct orders. Plus, he gets to communicate to the world and to Barr through his Twitter account and through TV statements, his press conferences by the helicopter. It is not unusual for higher-ups in any organization to weigh in and make ultimate decisions.

[06:20:04] What doesn't make any sense here is all that goes on before you go to the judge and tell them what your position is. So that's a very odd circumstance here.

PAUL: It's the timing. I got you.

WU: Yes.

PAUL: I want to move on here real quickly to the Harvey Weinstein trial because it appears the jury may be deadlocked on two of the charges that he's facing. The jurors were sent home last night after four days of deliberations. Remember, he's facing 10 charges.

A note from jurors does suggest that they were deadlocked on two of the most serious charges, the predatory sexual assault, each count punishable by up to life in prison. I know a source on his team has told CNN that Weinstein is, quote, "cautiously optimistic, but nervous." Which of those two do you think he should be more?

WU: He should remain nervous. Generally for prosecutors, the fact that the jury's taking a long time to work through the case, that's a good sign, but there's enormous pressure on those two counts. I mean, I've tried a life without parole case in a sex crimes issue and it's like a civil death penalty. So there's enormous pressure there. Deadlocking on these two counts is critical. It goes to the heart of the prosecution's case because these are the counts that establish his modus operandi, his MO, if you will.

They used uncharged conduct, conduct that was outside the time period to be charged, to show that he's predatory. So the fact that they're deadlocked on that, good, means they're taking that very seriously, bad because without that, they don't get the life without parole, but most importantly for the prosecution, big strategy question. They can keep the pressure on the jury. They don't want a partial verdict. They want to keep the pressure on --

PAUL: Yes.

WU: -- all or nothing. That same pressure can cause potential issues in appeal if they get a conviction.

PAUL: If they are deadlocked, just so we're clear, that means that some are ready to convict and some just can't get there. What do you think is the main element of contention here?

WU: Well, if -- now, it could even just be one person, Christi. Doesn't have to be like a --

PAUL: That's true. That's true.

WU: -- split vote. Probably the tough part is that it's not charged, they won't be crystal clear why it wasn't charged, they may be told it's out of time, but it's an older allegation and the biggest issue in the Weinstein case is this issue of consent because he is the kind of predator, and they've had psychological expert testimony on this, who continued to engage in sometimes allegedly consensual relationships, friendships with the victims. The survivors felt they had to maintain a professional contact with him.

For his team, that's like, well, what do you mean this was non- consensual? They stayed friends with me, they still wanted favors, in some cases even had admittedly consensual sex later. That's the hard part for the jury. That's an outgrowth of the MeToo movement pushing the prosecution to go into areas where before they would have been too cautious. They would have said let's just stay away from this, too much doubt.

PAUL: Gotcha. Shan Wu, always appreciate your expertise, sir. Thank you so much.

WU: Good to see you, Christi.

PAUL: You too.

BLACKWELL: Nevada Democrats will caucus later today. This is the first test for the candidates in a more racially-diverse state. Question, who has the edge going in? Plus --


ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: I don't think they've looked carefully because I am a political prisoner. I was put in prison for practicing politics.


PAUL: CNN's Anderson Cooper pushes back against that claim from former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich after his sentence on corruption charges was commuted by President Trump. We have more of the interview for you straight ahead.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: It is caucus day in Nevada. So in just a few hours, Democrats across the state will vote. now, this is the third contest in the presidential primary season, but it's the first test in a more racially-diverse state.

PAUL: Now, there's no obvious front-runner, however, Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders, heads in with one bit of strong footing there. According to several national polls, he leads the Democratic field, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

BLACKWELL: Now, there are countless questions about the caucuses going off without problems, integrating the early votes into this dynamic caucus process, how this newly created caucus calculator will count the votes, avoid what happened in Iowa and site volunteers, some of them are quitting because they're being asked to sign a confidentiality agreement hours before the caucuses.

Joining us now to discuss all of this is CNN Political Commentator and host of "You Decide," the podcast, Errol Louis.

Errol, welcome back.


BLACKWELL: So let's start here with this anxiety about process. We'll get to the candidates and the race in a moment. Some of the site managers that I've been speaking with, one particularly, the training for them on this new tool started Wednesday, right? Today is caucus day and now the request for this NDA, this confidentiality agreement, is there reason to be suspicious that volunteers are being asked to sign this document?

LOUIS: Well, yes, sure. Everybody should be concerned about that because I think there's a link between the first thing you mentioned and the second, Victor, which is that late training on untested software in a high-stakes situation after the disaster that we already saw in Iowa suggests that there's going to be a couple of bumps in the road on a good day, if today is a good day and it could be a complete meltdown in a disaster and it sounds like the Democratic Party in Nevada wants to limit the damage by having people sign these non- disclosure agreements.

The difficulty is, however, these are not -- by and large, these are not paid people. So these are volunteers.


It's very hard to get people to sign over an agreement to not complain about a situation when they're not even getting paid. I mean, they're there to try and help the process out. And frankly, it's counterproductive in the sense that, you know, surfacing the problems will help people understand better what went wrong and how to avoid problems in the future. So I think we're in for quite a day today, and we'll all across our fingers and hope for the best, Victor. BLACKWELL: Yes, starts at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. So let's stick with NDAs,

but in a different context. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that he will release three women who made complaints against him to -- from their NDA, so they may be able to speak publicly. We don't know what the details of the NDAs are, so we don't know the impact on the campaign. We're not going to speculate there.

But the question is, if this was a consideration, if this was a possibility, why didn't Mayor Bloomberg have this in his pocket when he hit that debate stage earlier this week, and when Elizabeth Warren came to him with that, he could have just simply said yes.

LOUIS: Yes. In fact, he could have answered the question. She was saying we don't know if there were dozens of women. Well, he could have said, no, actually, there were just three. One wonders why there wasn't better preparation, maybe the expectation that this question would rise to the top of the agenda and he'd have to have an answer. This is a case of the Bloomberg team, I think they're probably kicking themselves a little bit, knowing that they might have been able to get out ahead of this.

The big unknown question, though, Victor, is we don't know what any of these women want to do or what they're going to say. You know, Mike Bloomberg really could have handled this a lot better. One of the things he could have said, for example is that, this is from decades ago. It was a big company. You know, we've moved on. Elections are about the future.

My record with women as a chief executive and as a business manager is --spans decades, it's not something you can just reduce to three disgruntled former employees.


LOUIS: So, you know, he really had a lot of opportunities. And it's hard to understand why he missed all of them.

BLACKWELL: So, let me ask you about this. This is what Senator Warren said after the news broke of that decision from Bloomberg. And I want to lean on your law degree after that.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's just not good enough. Michael Bloomberg needs to do a blanket release so that all women who have been muzzled by nondisclosure agreements can step up and tell their side of the story.


BLACKWELL: So, Senator Warren reminded us this week that she taught contract law. My question here is can Bloomberg release women from NDAs who are not making claims against him but against another employee potentially -- I'd imagine that, that agreement is between those two people, the accuser and accused. And unless he is the accused, he doesn't have the purview to release anyone from that agreement.

LOUIS: I'm not quite sure about that. That could be the case, Victor, but I think what we would more see is that the nondisclosure agreement was between the employee or ex-employee --


LOUIS: And the company, Bloomberg LP. And he has a great deal of control over what that entity can do. So, if he wanted to, he could do a blanket release as Senator Warren is suggesting. That's probably not going to happen. And you know, I don't argue, I never did argue much with my law professors. But I would remind Professor Warren that one of the benefits of NDAs is that they settle these questions.

They put them behind them so everybody can move on with their lives. I understand for political reasons why she now wants to sort of bring this back up. But unless there's some tangible evidence that somebody has been muzzled, somebody has been harmed, somebody does have a story that they want to tell and were forced or pressure to sign an NDA, unless that's true, you know, she's really for understandable reasons stirring up stuff from before Michael Bloomberg started his political career that might be best left in the past.

BLACKWELL: And we'll also see if the three women who have been released, according to the Bloomberg campaign, actually come out and want to tell their story. Errol Louis, thanks so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And be sure to watch our special live coverage of the Nevada caucuses. All starts this afternoon at 2:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

PAUL: Please take a look at your screen because these two children have not been spotted in five months. They've been missing since September. Their mother is arrested in Hawaii. What charges she's facing and the latest on the search for the missing kids.



BLACKWELL: The mother of two children who have not been seen since September is now charged with two felony counts of desertion and non- support of dependent children. Lori Vallow appeared in Hawaii court yesterday, and she's being held on a $5 million bond. She could be extradited to Idaho next month.

PAUL: Now, in January, she missed a deadline to prove that her children, that who you see here, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan on the right, and 7-year-old Joshua J.J. Vallow on the left. She failed to prove that they were alive. CNN's Natasha Chen has been following the story for us. And I want to start with both of those children first of all, Natasha. I mean --


PAUL: They haven't been seen since September.

CHEN: Not in five months.

PAUL: It's baffling I think for anybody to think why would the mother not comply if they're alive and OK.

CHEN: And this gets really complicated, right? So, J.J. entirely had recently moved with their mom from Arizona to Idaho, and when J.J's grandmother hadn't heard from him in a long time, she asked police for help. They did a welfare check at the Idaho home in late November. And that's when Lori Vallow told police J.J. was staying with a family friend in Arizona, turned out not to be true.

And during that investigation, police also learned Tylee hadn't been seen either since September. And when police returned to the house the next day with search warrants, Vallow and her husband -- her new husband, Chad Daybell had fled the home. Vallow and Daybell went to Kauai, here is the Kauai police chief from a press conference last night.


TODD RAYBUCK, POLICE CHIEF, KAUAI POLICE DEPARTMENT: The last sighting that I have been aware of happened in the mainland, and there has been no sighting since that sighting here in the main -- on Kauai or in the state. And so, at this time, we don't believe that there's any connection to the children being here.


CHEN: And through the investigation, police have learned that Daybell told his family his new wife, Vallow, had no minor children. In January, an Idaho court ordered Vallow to produce her kids within five days. She missed that deadline, so on Thursday, Vallow was arrested on two felony counts of desertion, non-support of dependent children, as well as resisting and obstruction of an officer, one count of solicitation and one count of contempt.

So, we've also tried to reach out to attorneys representing her and her husband, they haven't gotten back to us.

BLACKWELL: So, we know that Vallow and her husband, they're part of other investigations because they each have a dead former spouse.

CHEN: Right, both the most recent spouses of Vallow and Daybell died last year. Now, we should be clear that no one has been charged in those deaths. We also -- what happened is that in July of last year, Vallow's brother actually shot and killed Vallow's former husband. They were in the middle of a divorce. Vallow's brother also died several months later.

Vallow married her new husband just a couple of weeks after his wife passed in October. So, we check with authorities yesterday on all three of these deaths, and no new information so far on those investigations.

BLACKWELL: All right --

PAUL: Wow, all right, Natasha Chen, I know it's a lot to kind of piece together --

CHEN: A lot to process --

PAUL: Thank you very much.

CHEN: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Rod Blagojevich had his 14-year prison sentence commuted by President Trump this week. It spent eight years in federal prison. Now, the former governor of Illinois was convicted of several public corruption charges, including trying to solicit money for President Obama's Senate seat.

PAUL: Well, last night on CNN, the former governor claimed he had been unjustly imprisoned. And Anderson Cooper pushed back. Take a look.


ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: I am a political prisoner. I was put in prison for practicing politics --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Wait a minute. You're a political prisoner? Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner. Political prisoners have no due process and are unjustly jailed. You had a jury convict you. You had appeals courts look at your sentencing, and you even tried -- you even appealed to the Supreme Court twice, and they refused to hear you. So you're hardly a political prisoner.

BLAGOJEVICH: Well, first of all, Nelson Mandela went to -- before a court. He was convicted in a court of law. I had nearly 8 years to be booked --

COOPER: By a segregationist -- right, by a racist apartheid government.

BLAGOJEVICH: That's correct. And I thought if you would ask him --

COOPER: And not a jury of his peers.

BLAGOJEVICH: I bet if you would ask Nelson Mandela whether he thought the process was fair back in the early '60s in South Africa, he would say what I'm saying today. And that is the shocking fact --

COOPER: Sir, portraying -- I've just got to stop you --


COOPER: I'm sorry, as someone who has worked in South Africa --


COOPER: And saw apartheid, the idea that you are comparing yourself to somebody who has actually been railroaded by an apartheid system is just nuts. And frankly, like offensive --

BLAGOJEVICH: Well -- no, you're the one making the comparison. Not me. I didn't bring up Nelson Mandela, you did. I'm simply saying that I --

COOPER: Right, you're saying that -- like him, you were railroaded by an all-white jury who for an oppressive regime?

BLAGOJEVICH: No, here again, you're putting words in my mouth. I never said that either.


BLAGOJEVICH: There were -- there were -- that the jury was -- you had -- you know, some representation from African-Americans. Though what I'm saying is that, I was thrown in prison and spent nearly eight years in prison for practicing politics, for seeking campaign contributions without a quid pro quo. No expressed quid pro quo. And if -- I was given the same standard Senator Menendez was given, I could very well have been in the U.S. Senate instead of where I was.

Now, I'm not complaining that I'm not in the Senate. But I am complaining that I was sent to prison by a handful of corrupt prosecutors who were abusing their power, they're uncontrolled and they're the ones that Chief Justice Breyer talked about when he said that our country is in trouble because of these uncontrolled prosecutors who can do just about anything they want to do and are using --



BLAGOJEVICH: Their power to go after government officials for what are --

COOPER: Right --

BLAGOJEVICH: What he called routine practices.

COOPER: So, let me just ask you --

BLAGOJEVICH: And that's what I went to prison for.

COOPER: Look, I have no problem with you getting out. I think, you know, the president can do whatever he wants. I just think -- I wish -- you know, you're besmirching prosecutors who actually are -- who are no longer in the government, but you know, prosecutors are important in our system and you are going after the very basis of our justice system which has plenty of problems. But you know, part of the thing is --

BLAGOJEVICH: Right -- COOPER: You got out. You do have an obligation to at least admit what you did wrong, and you refuse to do that, and you're creating a whole new alternative universe of facts.


PAUL: Again, that interview from last night. Listen, still ahead, fears are growing over the coronavirus. And the CDC says the flu has killed record-breaking number of children here in the U.S. this year. CNN Sanjay Gupta breaks down the latest numbers for us, next.



BLACKWELL: A new storm system is expected to sweep across the southwest this weekend.

PAUL: CNN's Allison Chinchar is with us here because I know some of these storms, Allison could impact obviously the Nevada caucuses. A lot of people wondering if it will affect turnout.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, because we do actually have a pretty significant amount of rain expected in and around Las Vegas, not to mention some other areas as well. Here's a look at the current radar. Most of the flash flood watches for at least for now are down towards Arizona. But we could end up seeing those expands into some other states over the next 24 hours. Here's a look at the forecast radar.

Again, you can see some pretty heavy rain at times for areas of Phoenix, portions of Tucson, up around Flagstaff, yes, even around Las Vegas. Now, the timing for that is going to be from now all the way through the afternoon. And keep in mind, a lot of those events take place this afternoon. From noon to 6:00 p.m., we have rain in the forecast with those highs in the 50s.

And Victor and Christi, the other thing is we'll keep an eye on the system as it pushes east in the coming days.

BLACKWELL: Allison Chinchar, thank you.


PAUL: So there's some doctors who are calling it an unusual flu season.

BLACKWELL: They say children under the age of 4 are among the hardest hit. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the latest.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: When public health officials describe this flu season so far, they're describing it as having started early, early as in September as opposed to typically in October, and also being particularly hard on kids. You know, we've been talking a lot about the coronavirus this year. But let me show you flu numbers so far this flu season. In the United States alone, some 29 million illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations, and 16,000 deaths.

And when you look at that hospitalization number, the most hospitalizations occur in people who are 65 and older. But the next biggest category is newborns to 4 years old. So, you know, this flu could be particularly hard on kids. And this year so far has been the worst year for kids. If you take out 2009 which was the H1N1 flu pandemic, this now becomes one of the worst years on record for kids with regard to the flu.

I want to show you again just quickly looking at flu numbers here which I just shared with you and coronavirus again, because we've been talking about coronavirus so much. On the left, those are U.S. numbers, on the right are global numbers for coronavirus. And you can see obviously flu does cause a lot more illness and a lot more death in the United States and around the world.

The reason there continues to be such concern about coronavirus is because it is a new virus, and whenever you have a new virus, you're not exactly sure how it's going to behave, how it's going to trend or if it's going to continue to mutate. So those are things that researchers are keeping an eye on. But certainly, here in the United States, we've got to keep an eye on flu as well. Can't take our eye off the ball, and it's still not too late to get the flu shot. Something we talk about a lot. Back to you.

PAUL: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. We'll be right back.



PAUL: So, on Monday, there's going to be a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna as well as the seven others who were killed in that helicopter crash.

BLACKWELL: Coy Wire is here with a look at Kobe's legacy in today's difference makers.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, good morning. Kobe and his daughter Gianna were on everyone's mind last week and in Chicago at the NBA All-Star festivities. But today, we're going to take a look at Kobe's impact on women's sports. From coaching his daughter, Gigi's basketball team to making sports more inclusive for young girls to the newly renamed Mamba and Mambacita Foundation.


KEMBA WALKER, GUARD, BOSTON CELTICS: Kobe was just a special guy in our league. He's done so much for the game, even with the females -- you know, before he -- before his passing, he was -- he was just, you know, bigging up the females and trying to, you know, grow that game, you know, more and more. So you know, we've got to continue that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's pretty cool, though, to see just the league, the world recognize him for what he did, especially his off-the-court stuff that he was doing as a father and as a coach. So, this weekend is definitely tough for a lot of players, it's tough for the league, but we're finding ways to pay tribute to him.

NNEKA OGWUMIKE, FORWARD, LOS ANGELES SPARKS: Recently, we've seen, you know, a lot of proof that there's been legacies forged especially with Kobe Bryant and Gianna for women in sports. And you know, I think that although not how we wanted it to be, it was a great wake-up call. And for us to be in a world where people are paying attention to young girls aspiring to be their best. It's the world we want to live in.


WIRE: A celebration of life for Kobe, Gigi, and seven others is Monday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern from Staples Center in L.A. On February 24th, 2/24, those were Gigi and Kobe's numbers. It' s a sweet moment. They're loving their connection is going to live on through the lives of others, through all the good work that he started.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and I think it's important that the seven others were also part of this --

PAUL: Oh, yes --

BLACKWELL: This memorial because often the two get the headlines. But a lot of families across California are hurting.

WIRE: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, Coy.

PAUL: Coy, thank you. New hour of CNN NEW DAY WEEKEND starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Nevada caucuses will be getting under way in the hours ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poor showings could very well make things difficult for several 2020 hopefuls.

WARREN: Our democracy hangs in the balance. You have a decision to make.