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U.S. Retaliatory Strikes; Biden: Strikes in Iraq and Syria Just the Beginning; Biden Attends Dignified Transfer of Soldiers Killed; U.S. Will Not Strike Inside Iran; Iraq was Informed of Strikes Ahead of Time; U.S. Military Official Praises Use of B-1 Bomber; Blinken to Travel to the Middle East on Sunday. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired February 03, 2024 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and all around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is "CNN Newsroom."

The U.S. military strikes more than 85 targets in Iraq and Syria, retaliating against Iran-backed militants. We'll look at why the U.S. decided to strike now.

Plus --


GABRIEL FANT, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: We need somebody who speaks to black Americans in the United States, and I don't think that either or are doing so.


BRUNHUBER: -- South Carolina is holding the first official Democratic presidential primary today. We look at why some black voters say they might sit this one out.

And closing arguments in the historic case against the mother of a school shooter just ended. Why prosecutors argue she is partly to blame for the tragedy.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is "CNN Newsroom with Kim Brunhuber."

BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden says the strikes in Iraq and Syria are just the beginning. U.S. bombers struck 85 targets early Saturday local time. The Pentagon says it was going after groups backed by Iran, like the one that struck a U.S. base in Jordan, killing three American soldiers and injuring many more.

The White House says the strikes lasted 30 minutes. In a statement, President Biden says, "Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing. The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world."

Meanwhile, the leader of one Iranian group is vowing to continue attacks on U.S. targets. There have been 165 attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East since October. Now, those attacks have injured more than 120 U.S. service members.

Syria now says the U.S. strikes have caused "significant damage and killed civilians and military personnel." The retaliatory strikes took place just after the dignified transfer of the three American soldiers killed in that drone attack in Jordan.

The remains of Sergeants William Rivers, Kennedy Sanders, and Breonna Moffett were carefully carried off a military plane in Delaware. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden met with their families. Now, presidents don't always attend the solemn ritual, but this is Biden's second as commander in chief.

All right. We have a team of correspondents and military analysts standing by. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is live in London for us. Nic Robertson is in Tel Aviv. We'll look at the regional response. But we begin with Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon with details on the strikes and why they were carried out.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. carrying out strikes at seven locations across Iraq and Syria, more precisely four in Syria, three in Iraq, targeting 85 different targets and using more than 125 precision guided weapons. That is an order of magnitude more powerful than the strikes we've seen the U.S. carry out in Iraq and Syria over the course of the past several months. It's also worth noting, this is the first time we have seen the U.S. strike Iraq and Syria simultaneously.

Meanwhile, in a briefing following these strikes, the White House and DOD say, from what they initially know of the strikes, they were successful at hitting the targets they were going for, and that included a long list of facilities used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force and associated militias here.

Command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, weapon storage facilities. You can really see in this target set, the U.S. going after the types of weapons used to target U.S. forces in the region and all of the logistics and essentially command and control needed to carry out those sorts of attacks.

The U.S. had made it clear it wasn't trying to start a war with Iran here and very much trying to avoid that possibility, so no strikes in Iran directly, but very much going after Iran's proxies in a region -- in the region, and the ability of the proxies to carry out these ongoing attacks on U.S. forces.

Worth noting that these strikes, of course, come five days after a drone attack in the region killed three U.S. service members in Jordan and wounded scores more, but it's not just that there have been more than 160 attacks on U.S. forces in the region, and this was effectively a more powerful response to all of that.


And yet, there is no expectation that this is the end of it, because President Joe Biden saying there could very well be more to come. And Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin being even more blunt about this in a statement afterwards saying, this is the start of our response.

The key question here of course, what does the rest of that response look like and where does it play out?

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us live with more on the strikes and the reaction. So, Jomana, what, if anything, have we heard from Iran and what reaction has there been so far in the region?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, a short time ago, the Iraqi government released a very strongly worded statement, as you would expect that the Iraqi government would be under pressure from its own population from the powerful Iranian-backed Shia militias in the country to respond to what would be viewed as this violation yet again of Iraq's sovereignty.

In this statement, the government says that 16 people, they say, including civilians. They say 25 others were injured, that there was damage to residential properties in the areas where these strikes took place as well. They say that the areas that were struck in Western Iraq were sites where "our forces were present."

And it's very important to point out here, Kim, when they say our forces, the Iranian-backed militias in the country known as the Popular Mobilization Units. They nominally fall under the control of the Iraqi government. They have operated alongside Iraqi forces for years. So, when they say, our forces, one would presume they are also referring to the militias.

And our colleague, Mohammed Tawfeeq, spoke to mayor's local officials in Western Iraq, in these towns where the strikes took place, and they say that the sites that were hit, those were Shia militia sites, that these were the Popular Mobilization Units there.

The Iraqi government as well, describing this again as an aggression, and they deny, what we've heard from U.S. officials, that there was any sort of coordination, they say, with the Iraqi government, that they were given advance notice that this was going to happen. And they say that this aggression will push Iraq and the whole region to the brink of the abyss.

And really important here, Kim, they are saying that the U.S.-led coalition, more than 2,000 troops who are in the country has diverged from its mission and the authorization it has to operate in Iraq and that it has become a source of instability for Iraq and for the region. We do know that there are plans. We have heard this in the past week that Iraq and the U.S. want to discuss the plans for the future presence of U.S. forces in the country. Iraq, once again saying that it does not want to be a battlefield with various regional, international powers for these conflicts and their battles to play out on its territory. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I want to go back to what you said there in the regional implications, that stern warning there that it might push the region to the abyss, I think the words you used there.

The Biden administration says it doesn't want escalation, but how much more likely is that now with the war in Gaza seemingly spreading now, the attacks on shipping and these latest attacks? What can you -- what more can you tell us about that?

KARADSHEH: Well, look, I mean, can we have been hearing the warnings from the U.S.'s Arab allies in the region for months now since October saying that the war in Gaza, the U.S.'s support for Israel, and if that war doesn't stop, which they see is fueling these attacks, as we have heard from these various groups, whether it is the militias in Iraq and Syria, whether it's the Houthis in Yemen, whether it is Hezbollah and its fight against Israel as well in Southern Lebanon, they have all said that this is about Gaza.

And if the war stops, their attacks will stop. And there has always been this concern, as you see these groups ramping up their activity, that while the U.S. and Iran say they don't want war and they don't want to go to war, the concern is while you see these attacks, you end up in a situation like the one we are in right now, that any sort of miscalculation could potentially lead the region to a wider conflict. Kim.


BRUNHUBER: Yes. All right. Thanks so much, Jomana Karadsheh. Appreciate it.

Now, earlier, I spoke with Malcolm Davis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He explained how the U.S. carried out its attack using B-1 bombers, which deployed from the U.S. and made it back in one non-stop flight. Here he is.


MALCOLM DAVIS, MILITARY ANALYST AND SENIOR ANALYST, THE AUSTRALIAN STRATEGIC POLICY INSTITUTE: It's a long-range heavy bomber that is designed to be able to deliver both precision strike munitions and standoff weapons. It's supersonic. Its top speed is about Mach 1.3. And its range essentially is intercontinental. It can go anywhere on the planet with air to air refueling and deliver a payload with precision and shock and awe, and it's a very effective capability, albeit an old one, and it's going to be replaced with the new B-21 Raider bomber.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. Now, to the scope of these strikes, I mean, how do they compare to what we've previously seen from the U.S.?

DAVIS: Look, I think this is a very significant strike. It's not a pinprick attack. It is a much more substantial attack. In the sense that, you know, we have seen the U.S. hit 85 different targets across seven different locations using precision munitions.

And as President Biden has indicated, this is the first of several such strikes that will occur over the coming days and weeks. This is not the end of the story. This is the beginning. And the goal, I think, of these strikes is more to degrade the Iraqi militias and also the Syrian militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.

So, the question, I think, that everyone is asking is, will it deter future strikes by Iranian proxies? And there is some concern that the long delay in getting these strikes going and also more significantly the telegraphing of intent to Iran will actually undermine that deterrence aspect.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East on Sunday to continue hostage negotiations. The U.S. State Department says he'll travel to Israel, the West Bank. Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to work on a deal to secure the release of hostages held in Gaza.

The leaders of Hamas and Islamic jihad are calling for a "complete end of the aggression and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza as part of any deal." But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, as recently as this week, that he wouldn't agree to a full withdrawal from Gaza until Israel has completed its goal of eliminating Hamas.

A new report from UNICEF says the war has left at least 17,000 children in Gaza orphaned or separated from their parents.

The U.N. agency says nearly all children in Gaza, more than a million, need mental health and psychological support. UNICEF says children are suffering from high levels of anxiety, panic, inability to sleep, loss of appetite, and emotional outbursts when they hear bombings and airstrikes. They add that relatives who take in children whose parents have been killed are already struggling to care for their own families because of the humanitarian crisis.

South Carolina's Democratic primary takes place today. And while there's no question about who will win, it'll help us evaluate where the U.S. president stands with his own party.

Plus, a federal judge delays one of Donald Trump's upcoming trials. Look at the reason why and what it all means.

And the district attorney prosecuting the Georgia election interference case against Trump is pushing back against calls for her dismissal. We'll have details after the break. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: South Carolina's Democratic primary gets underway in the coming hours. It's the Democrats first official nominating contest, the 2024 presidential race. And while it's not competitive, it's expected to provide a snapshot of where President Joe Biden stands with voters, especially black voters, a core constituency of the Democratic Party.

South Carolina, of course, helped turn the tide of Biden's primary bid in 2020, giving him much needed momentum that propelled him to the Democratic presidential nomination. CNN's Ethan McKenna talked to some black voters in the state to get a read on their political mood ahead of the primary.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Saturday's South Carolina primary will serve as an early test of President Joe Biden's standing with a loyal constituency, black voters.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: You're the reason I am president. You're the reason Kamala Harris is historic vice president. And you're the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president.

MCKEND (voice-over): While the president is expected to win the first official Democratic contest, the results could signal how much work he has to do to shore up support with a critical piece of his coalition, ahead of an expected rematch with Donald Trump in November.

GABRIEL FANT, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: We need somebody who speaks to black Americans in the United States, and I don't think that either or are doing so.

MCKEND (voice-over): Gabrielle Fant is a server at Hannibal's Kitchen, a must stop for political candidates visiting Charleston, including the president just last week.

FANT: I'm a seventh generation in South Carolina. So, I've seen the hardships black people go through, and no one is addressing that. And economically, we are at the bottom.

MCKEND (voice-over): Not even FaceTime with the president has changed her mind. Her economic anxiety is too great.

FANT: We need a candidate who's going to stand up and stand up strong for us. Or we're voting for the couch.

MCKEND: So, you're considering staying home and not voting?

FANT: Yes, and a lot of us are.

DR. TONYA MATTHEWS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, INTERNATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM: History reminds us to never forget that there was a time when we did not have that choice. MCKEND (voice-over): Dr. Tonya Matthews is the CEO of the International African American Museum in Charleston. She says black voters have created the organizing power to elevate issues vital to them, like fair wages, housing development, and small business support.


DR. MATTHEWS: We think about the ancestors who died to fight for this. But we also think about aunts and uncles that are currently poll workers. When we see encouragement or strong turnout or strong voices in places like South Carolina, it is a note to the rest of the country, not just to other black voters, that black voters are paying attention.

MCKEND (voice-over): The significance is not lost on shop owner Mimi Striplin, who met Biden last month with other South Carolina entrepreneurs. With this administration, she says she feels like she has a seat at the table and her voice is valiant.

MIMI STRIPLIN, SOUTH CAROLINA SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I think that we have to be able to step back and think a little more long-term, like, yes, four years, eight years feels like a long time in my lifetime. But we think about these changes and how they are hopefully going to be impacting the next generations to come.

MCKEND (voice-over): She worries about what another Trump presidency would bring.

STRIPLIN: It could be chaos all over again. Like there were days that I just wake up as a person of color in this state and fear for my life, and that shouldn't be the case for anyone. And so, of course, there are definitely worries and fears around that.

MCKEND (voice-over): National Democrats are leaning into those concerns, hoping they will motivate voters to turn out, while also making an affirmative argument for Biden.

JAIME HARRISON, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR: Diabetes and heart attack. There are a lot of ways that we've been trying to make things more affordable for working people. Student loan debt. We have seen the lowest unemployment for black folks in 50 years. We've seen this president work to cut childhood poverty in half, particularly in black communities.

MCKEND (voice-over): Many are ready to give Biden another four years to continue making the case.

GEORGE MCCRAY, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I'm always in support of Biden because I -- on the inside, I think he's fair. On the inside, I think he's fair. I don't think Barack Obama would have had him a part of the team if he wasn't. And I'm a firm believer of Barack Obama.

MCKEND (voice-over): But it may not be enough to convince some black voters weary of supporting Democrats again. FANT: I'm telling black people, stay home.

MCKEND (voice-over): Eva McKend, CNN, Columbia, South Carolina.


BRUNHUBER: And GOP voters are also gearing up for their upcoming primary contests. The next one on the calendar is Nevada next week, followed by South Carolina later this month, and Super Tuesday on March 5th.

But as the next contests get closer, Nikki Haley is stepping up her rhetoric against the GOP front runner, Former President Donald Trump. In a recent interview, she called him toxic and said he lacked moral clarity and divided people. She's also released a series of ads that call both Trump and Biden grumpy old men.

Now, in Trump's court cases, the federal judge overseeing his election interference case in Washington, D.C., has postponed that trial. Proceedings were set to start on March 4th, but as CNN's Katelyn Polantz reports, the delay is due to Trump's appeal on his claims of presidential immunity.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Donald Trump's first criminal trial will no longer be about the 2020 election and the end of his presidency. That is because a federal judge on Friday said it couldn't begin on March 4th. The reason? It's because the law hasn't been worked out yet. There are questions about presidential immunity, whether Trump even can face trial that are before an appeals court. That appeals court hasn't ruled in weeks.

And so, as the wait for the opinion continues, day after day after day, that means that Trump's team is not preparing for trial and that the trial is not going to be able to go forward as scheduled.

This is the trial in Washington D.C., a federal case against Trump, but he is still set to go to trial in March. In the end of March, in fact, is when the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, is set to put on his case against Trump now as a defendant related to a hush money scheme and the falsification of business records. So, right now, that is supposed to be the first criminal trial against Trump on the calendar.

There is a lot of moving parts here. Trial dates do move. And this case with Judge Tanya Chutkan, there is much anticipation of when the appeals court will determine what the law is here, when it will go back to Judge Chutkan, and when that 2020 election case could be put back on the calendar. And especially, whether it will happen before the presidential election of 2024, something the Justice Department very much wants to happen, no matter when the Manhattan D.A.'s case and other cases against Trump go forward. So, we will wait and see that.

Trump, of course, doesn't want this trial to happen before the presidential election in November. It would shine quite a light on the end of his presidency, how he managed his White House. There would be formal officials called to testify against him, very possibly his own former vice president, Mike Pence, and it would put a spotlight on how Donald Trump viewed elections in a critical moment where he is still running for the American presidency.

Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Now, to the latest in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case against Trump and more than a dozen of his allies, Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, and her lead prosecutor, Nathan Wade, have acknowledged in court papers that they have a "personal relationship" in addition to their professional one, but they strongly deny claims by one of Trump's co-defendants that Willis benefited financially from hiring Wade.

Now, Willis says the relationship shouldn't disqualify her from the case. Willis, Wade, and some of their colleagues could be forced to testify at a hearing on the matter in about two weeks. She's calling for the hearing to be cancelled. Trump's team says she should be dismissed from his case.

America's retaliation for the deadly attack on a U.S. base has begun. We'll look at the regional fallout from the strikes in Iraq and Syria. Plus, we'll get expert analysis on what the U.S. is hoping to achieve and what could come next? Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is "CNN Newsroom."

I want to get back to one of our top stories we're following this morning. The United States is promising even more action against Iran- backed militias after hitting dozens of targets in Iraq and Syria overnight. The strikes are retaliation for the deadly attack on a U.S. base that killed three American soldiers.

Iraq's prime minister released a statement saying the strikes in his country killed 16 people and wounded 25 others. He said there was damage to residential property and areas struck were where Iraqi forces were present. He calls the military action aggression against Iraq's sovereignty.


Meanwhile, Syria's government is warning the strikes will "fuel the conflict in the Middle East in a very dangerous way." The Syrian military reports significant damage and says that both civilians and soldiers were killed, but he didn't specify how many.

Now, it's not clear yet how Iran or its proxies will respond. CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson has the regional state of play for us.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, of course, one of the big concerns for the United States going into these strikes is that it didn't trigger a further escalation in the region. The tension's already clearly very high. The northern border of Israel with Hezbollah has exchange of fire every day. The IDF is engaged with Hamas inside of Gaza. The question is, could these strikes then trigger a misinterpretation of another move? Could it trigger one of the -- one of Iran's proxies in Iraq and Syria to strike back aggressively and therefore escalate the situation?

Well, the first we've heard is from the Iraqi government. A spokesman for the army there is saying that it's a violation of their sovereignty. Now, we've heard them say this before. So, that in itself, not necessary an escalation. The biggest and strongest of the Iran-backed militias inside of Iraq, Khatib Hezbollah, just before the strikes, minutes before the strikes on their Telegram channel, they said they were waiting for orders about what to do next, an indication that they're waiting for Tehran, their main sponsor, to tell them how to respond to the events of the night.

It's not clear yet how much damage has been done, how many of the IRGC members and how much of their weapons have been, have been damaged and destroyed overnight. But I think perhaps looking to what the president of Iran has said, he said, we're not looking to get into a direct fight with the United States, but he's clearly hinting very strongly that there will be a response. He said, we will deal with bullies authoritatively.

I think in the language of this region, that means the United States strikes, so though there'll be more, they certainly won't be the last word from Iran's proxies in the region.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Tel Aviv, Israel.


BRUNHUBER: All right. I want to bring in Brian Finucane, senior adviser for the U.S. Program at the International Crisis Group, and he joins me now from Washington. Thanks so much for being here with us.

Oh, we seem to have lost our guest. Maybe we can get him back coming up.

All right. We're going to take a little break and then we'll come back with more news. Please stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is "CNN Newsroom."

As promised, I want to bring back Brian Finucane, senior adviser for the U.S. Program at the International Crisis Group, and he joins me now from Washington, D.C.

All right. Great to have you back here with us. So, I just want to get your reaction to the scope of these strikes and the Biden administration walking that fine line between punishment and escalation.

BRIAN FINUCANE, SENIOR ADVISER FOR THE U.S. PROGRAM, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: Well, I think it's important to take a few steps back and understand the broader context in which these latest, and, yes, wider us strikes are occurring.

So, the latest round of us hostilities with these Iran-backed groups and Iraq and Syria began in mid-October as a result of the Gaza conflict. There had been a month long lol (ph) and attacks on both countries on U.S. forces, leading up to October, and those attacks resumed October 17th as a result of the Gaza conflict. And they've been much more frequent and intense as a result of the Gaza conflict.

We've been now up to about 165, 170. And many outside analysts, including a crisis group predicted that eventually there would be, unfortunately, a fatal attack on U.S. forces, and we saw that last weekend in Gaza with the three U.S. soldiers killed -- are -- in Jordan, with the three U.S. soldiers killed.

And yes, the U.S. is walking a fine line. There is a political imperative for the Biden administration to respond to these fatal attacks on U.S. troops. But they -- as they telegraphed and indicated very clearly, they don't want escalation and they don't want a direct conflict with Tehran. And Iran has indicated the same, that they do not want to direct a conflict with the United States.

So, you have both parties -- and again, they don't want to want a broader conflict, but the U.S., you know, has a need to respond to these continuing attacks in U.S. troops. I do not expect, however, these strikes -- you know, they're not done. I did not expect these strikes are going to end the attacks on U.S. forces. At least based on the track record thus far.

BRUNHUBER: Right. So, what will the message from Iran to its proxies be? Do you think we'll be cool it or keep it up?

FINUCANE: Well, we've seen that the statement issued by (INAUDIBLE) earlier in the week, indicating that they were going to dial back their own activities to some degree. And that may be an indication of messages that they received from Tehran.

But I think it's important to understand that these -- you know, the so-called Islamic resistance in Iraq, these, you know, Iran-backed groups, they exercise a fair amount of own agency. They have their own decision-making, and it's not simply a matter of them following marching orders from Iran.

I think it's quite likely that these groups were surprised that they -- that they're -- the attack in Jordan, succeed in killing U.S. personnel. I think that they have expected it would have been another one of these harassing attacks on U.S. troops that was intercepted and shot down. But unfortunately, you know, these are deadly serious activities. Later, one of these attacks was likely to kill personnel.

And so, there's plenty of room for mishap and miscalculation on both sides, both by these Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria and frankly, by the United States and its response.

BRUNHUBER: I want to look ahead now. Anthony Blinken traveling to the region again. What kind of diplomatic efforts do you expect to see to try and put a lid on this conflict that seems to be growing across the Middle East?


FINUCANE: Well, as I indicated earlier, these attacks on U.S. troops resumed as a result of the Gaza conflict and these members of the various parties of the so-called axis of resistance in Iraq and Syria, but also, you know, the Houthis in Yemen have been very clear that they have mounted their attacks as a response to the Gaza conflict.

And the Biden administration doesn't want to publicly acknowledge it, if it wants to dial back the regional escalation, if it wants to put a lid on this wider regional conflict, it's going to have to address more seriously the war in Gaza and push for a longer-term ceasefire there in a way that it hasn't done so far.

BRUNHUBER: All right. We'll have to leave it there. Really appreciate your insights. Brian Finucane, thanks so much for speaking with us.

FINUCANE: My pleasure.

BRUNHUBER: The mother of the Michigan high school shooter who killed four of his classmates and wounded six others and a teacher was -- wrapped up her testimony in her manslaughter trial. The jury is expected to begin deliberating Monday whether she should go to prison for her role in her son's actions. CNN's Jean Casarez has more on the story.


KAREN MCDONALD, OKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: We actually saw the last day he was practicing to kill four of his classmates. And there was only one person with him, ladies and gentlemen, and her name is Jennifer Crumbley.

SHANNON SMITH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR JENNIFER CRUMBLEY: It was unforeseeable. No one expected this. No one could have expected this, including Mrs. Crumbley.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorneys making their final pitches to persuade the jury in this historic trial of the mother of the Oxford Michigan school shooter.

MCDONALD: She walked out of that school with just the smallest, smallest of things, could have saved, could have helped, Hannah, and Tate, and Madison, and Justin. Just the smallest of things. And not only did she not do it, she doesn't even regret it. SMITH: The Crumbley son was a skilled manipulator, and they didn't realize it. He's not sick. He doesn't have a mental illness. No parent would purchase a weapon if they believed their child had mental illnesses.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Before closing arguments began, Jennifer Crumbley faced cross-examination, testifying she knew her son was acting depressed after his only friend moved away just one month before the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you knew to be true in November of 2021 that he had no peer support?

JENNIFER CRUMBLEY, MOTHER OF OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTER: I don't know what he had in school. He told me he had friends in school that he talks to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You never met them though?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And he didn't have any clubs at school he was a part of?


CASAREZ (voice-over): Jennifer Crumbley is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter. She has pleaded not guilty. The prosecution pressing Crumbley on her actions the day of the shooting. That morning, the school called in Jennifer Crumbley and her husband after discovering a violent drawing their son made on his math worksheet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the thoughts won't stop help me? Did that ring out to you?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, that was what was concerning to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blood everywhere. And there's a bullet, and actually, you were the one who bought the bullets on November the 27th.

CRUMBLEY: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you later came to learn that those bullets were used in the shooting?


CASAREZ (voice-over): In the meeting at school, Crumbley did not mention the gun purchased four days earlier for their 15-year-old son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't tell them that you had gotten him that Christmas gift?

CRUMBLEY: I didn't think it was relevant, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You acknowledged that you didn't go home to look for that firearm after the meeting at the school?

CRUMBLEY: We wouldn't have a reason to.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Her son used that gun to kill four of his classmates, Madison Baldwin, Tate Myre, Justin Shilling, and Hana St. Juliana after that meeting on November 30, 2021. The prosecution asking Crumbley whether she neglected her son, pointing to how often she spent time with her horses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your son could have been with you those 3, 4, 5 times a week when you were at the bar.

CRUMBLEY: He could have, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And on November 30, 2021 at 12:51 p.m., you could have been with him.

CRUMBLEY: I could have, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you didn't?


CASAREZ (voice-over): In closings, Crumbley's lawyer dismissing that argument just.

SMITH: Just because she spends money and time on horses doesn't mean she doesn't love her son.

CASAREZ: Closing arguments concluded late Friday afternoon. The jury will return on Monday, where they will hear instructions from the judge, and then they will begin their deliberations.

Jean Casares, CNN, New York.


BRUNHUBER: California is bracing for a new storm system to hit the state on Sunday. That's as nearly 40 million people are under flood watches along the west coast in California. CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers has details.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Another very heavy round of rain in store for central California from the Bay Area all the way down to Southern California after what we saw just a couple of days ago, record-breaking rainfalls across SoCal. Even L.A. picked up 2.49 inches in one day. The total for the entire month of February should be around three inches. So almost an entire months' worth of rain in just 24 hours.

The next atmospheric river is on the way for Southern California. It will make significant rains from the Bay Area down through Monterey and all the way down even towards Santa Barbara and eventually into L.A. It's going to take a while to get there. But something else that's going to happen are significantly gusty winds here. Along the Central Coast, we're going to see wind gusts 50 to 70 miles per hour. That will bring down trees. That will bring down power lines. All of those things that happen, and especially in places that already have saturated ground from the rain that we picked up three days ago.

So, here it is. The storm does come into San Francisco. First, snow in the Sierra and then all the way down even toward Santa -- about Santa Barbara by the time we work our way into Sunday morning. It gets into L.A. later in the day and into the night, and then it pushes to the east. How long this heavy band of rain stays over Southern California before it moves inland is going to be the big question mark.

How much of this forecasted rainfall actually comes down before it moves away? If this storm or if this frontal little system here begins to stall and it rains for hours and hours and hours, there will be a significant flood event for SoCal, all the way up even towards San Francisco.

Certainly, along the coast where from Monterey all the way down, even toward Pismo Beach, could pick up -- in the mountains, could pick up a dozen inches of rainfall. Not along the coast as much. But when you start to push that air up into the mountains, all of that water has to run back downhill. And we know what happens to the highway when that happens.

So, yes, we have only 53 percent of the snowpack in the Sierra. So, we'll take the snow, but it's that heavy, heavy rainfall that is going to run off possibly with mudslides, all the things that could happen just depends on where this storm, if it does, stalls over California.

BRUNHUBER: The U.S. economy has again defied predictions, adding more than 350,000 jobs in January. That's about double what economists were expecting. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, and December's job gains were revised sharply upwards to a total of 333,000.

The markets initially fell on the robust numbers, but bounced back before the close. Few investors are now expecting the Fed to cut rates when it meets in March.

All right. Coming up here on "CNN Newsroom," history was made on the court Friday night during a women's NCAA game where just one player scored a whopping 51 points. CNN Sports Andy Scholes joins me live to break down the action. That's coming up. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: An 18-year-old freshman had a night for the record books, scoring 51 points. CNN Sports Andy Scholes joins me now. So, Andy, let me get this straight. Her team scored 67, so that means she nearly outscored the entire opposing team.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Yes. Yes. That's right, Kim. And you know, just what a night for USC freshman Juju Watkins. Yes. Imagine scoring more than 75 percent of your team's points in a game. It's just incredible.

And Juju was feeling it from the start and this one, she had it all going. The step back jumpers, she was knocking down threes from all over the floor. JuJu would finish with 51 points. And the Trojans 67 to 58 upset over fourth ranked Stanford. It was the most points in school history and the second most in a Pac 12 game ever.

JuJu is the only freshman in the past 25 seasons to have a 50-point, 10-rebound game. And afterwards, she couldn't believe it.


JUJU WATKINS, USC GUARD: I'm still shaking. It was a great game. I'm just glad that we got the dub. But winning is what matters most. And of course, I had a great night, but my team has had a great night as well. So, the fact that we were able to come out here and knock off a top team, that's terrific. It plays really well. It was amazing.


SCHOLES: And check out the scene in the USC locker room after the game. Watkins and her teammates jumping all around chanting 51 to celebrate the achievement. And then Watkins also posing for the iconic Wilt Chamberlain pick that we saw Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid do about a week ago, holding up a paper with the number 51.

All right. To the NBA, we had a frantic finish between the Spurs and Pelican. San Antonio up by one. Tre Jones is going to miss it here. Pelican's going to start the fast break and Zion Williamson is going to finish it with the go-ahead layup with three seconds left on the clock.

Zion a game high 33 points. Pelicans would win 114 to 113. And afterwards, Zion was all pumped up.


ZION WILLIAMSON, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS FORWARD: I love this competitive (INAUDIBLE). I live for stuff like this. So, playing the games like this is a lot of fun.


SCHOLES: All right. The NHL holding its all-star skills competition on Friday night in Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid showing once again why he's considered the best hockey player in the world. The reigning three-time MVP dominated the competition. He finished first in the fastest skater, winning that event for the fourth time in his career. The 27-year-old also winning the stick handling event and going four for four in accuracy shooting.

He capped off his iconic performance by earning his fourth victory of the night on the obstacle course skating away with $1 million in the winner takes all competition. Not a bad night there.

All right. And finally, Tom Brady taking part in the Pebble Beach Pro- Am yesterday. And check out this drive. Womp, womp. I tell you what, Kim, I've done that a bunch of times at Topgolf especially. And it just goes to prove, you know, no matter how good of an athlete you are, golf is very, very hard.

BRUNHUBER: That's right. I can finally say I'm as good as Tom Brady at something. That is --

SCHOLES: I think he --

BRUNHUBER: I never thought I'd say that.

SCHOLES: -- was maybe trying to make us all feel better about ourselves, you know.

BRUNHUBER: There you go. He is human. Andy Scholes, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.


BRUNHUBER: Well, the Japanese embassy to the U.S. says pop star Taylor Swift should comfortably arrive in time for the crowning event in American football, known of course as the Super Bowl.

Swift is scheduled to perform in Tokyo on Saturday, February 10th. Super Bowl LVIII, in which her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, will play for the Kansas City Chiefs. You probably haven't heard that, right? It is set to take place on Sunday, February 11th.

But diplomats say Swift will get to Las Vegas in plenty of time for the game. The Chiefs are this year's defending champions. They're competing against the San Francisco 49ers.

All right. Before we go, actor Carl Weathers has died peacefully at his home, according to his manager. Weathers played football for the Oakland Raiders, and never boxed before he was cast as the boxing champ, Apollo Creed, in four "Rocky" movies. He gave the lowly club fighter, Rocky Balboa, a shot of fame.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're bleeding outside, champ. I'm going to stop the fight.

CARL WEATHERS, ACTOR: You ain't stopping nothing, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't even get his gloves up to protect his --


BRUNHUBER: Weathers' capitalized on his "Rocky" exposure, landing other roles that made him an action star, including the 1987 sci-fi movie "Predator." But he branched out from there, landing comedy roles on "Happy Gilmore" and the TV series "Arrested Development."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate the offer, but I have some matters to look after.

WEATHERS: Well, I'm confused. I thought you had completed your mission, but you're still running around here with the same little critter.


BRUNHUBER: And you saw that recently Weathers played a major supporting role in the Star Wars series "The Mandalorian," which earned him an Emmy nomination as a guest actor in a drama.

Weathers was married three times and has survived by two sons. Carl Weathers was 76.

All right. That wraps this hour of "CNN Newsroom." I'm Kim Brunhuber. "CNN This Morning" is next.