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President Biden Urges Congress To Pass Senate Border Bill; Los Angeles Mayor Bass Calling On Constituents To Stay Home Amid Flood Threats; Interview With Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) About Bipartisan Senate Border Bill; Interview With Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA); Thursday: Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments In Colorado Case; Chiefs, 49ers To Arrive In Vegas Today Ahead Of Big Game. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 04, 2024 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN HOST: Welcome, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Omar Jimenez in Washington, in for Jim Acosta.
Breaking news, the Senate has released the language of its bipartisan border bill which Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now calling a monumental step. The compromise implements new stricter limits along the southern border, severely curtails asylum at the border, and ends the administration's current system of catch and release.
But even if the Senate can pass the legislation, it is set to face stiff opposition from House Republicans as Speaker Mike Johnson has said the bill is dead on arrival before even knowing what's in it. It will be curious if that changes now that the text is out.
We are also tracking severe weather on the West Coast. Last hour, Mayor Bass urged Los Angeles residents to stay home saying the city is not used to the life-threatening flood conditions it's set to experience. So we're going to bring you the latest updates throughout the hour there.
But first, I want to get to CNN's Priscilla Alvarez.
Priscilla, I know this is all happening in real time. We've got this legislative text. The Senate bill is now out. Have you been able to get a sense of what's actually in this and what you think is actually significant here?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Omar. And actually minutes ago, we got a statement from President Biden. Let me just read part of this to you. It says, quote, "For too long, going back decades, the immigration system has been broken. It's time to fix it." He goes on to say, "Now we reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it."
That's notable because this is a border deal that would give the president far reaching powers on the U.S.-Mexico border, ones that we have not seen previously enshrined into law. An example of that is a new emergency authority. What it does is essentially the Department of Homeland Security secretary would have the authority to largely bar migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border if encounters were over 4,000.
Now if encounters went over 5,000, the Department of Homeland Security would essentially have to trigger that authority.
To give you some context here, Omar, that's where we have been for the last few days. So if this were implemented, it would essentially allow the government to keep migrants from seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border if they cross unlawfully. It also includes expediting the asylum process. This is something that can often take years. This would cut it down to months. It also provides additional immigrant visas, so providing a little more there by way of legal immigration.
But all of this taken into totality, Omar, really amounts to a major overhaul in immigration law if it were to happen. It would be the first time that there would be such drastic changes in decades. But the politics of this haven't been easy. The White House has been involved in these ongoing talks with Senate negotiators, a process that has taken months. And they have sort of moved in a tougher direction as they try to find compromise with Republicans and Democrats.
Now House Republicans have no interest in this. House Speaker Mike Johnson has said that this bill is dead on arrival should it reach his -- reach the House after potentially being passed in the Senate. So all of this is still incredibly complicated for the White House and for the Senate negotiators. But it does mark a significant moment.
And I will say, Omar, just to remind viewers about how we got to this point. The White House had introduced a national security supplement, a request that included billions in aid for Israel, Ukraine, and border security among other top priorities. Republicans said they weren't going to pass that unless there major changes to border policies. So that's how we got to this point.
Senate negotiators tried to find that compromise. They seemed to have done so here with this agreement. The text of which we are still reading through. The White House saying they are supportive of it. The question, though, is, does it have any future?
Senate Leader Chuck Schumer saying that he wants to have a vote on the Senate floor this week. Whether it survives that or a House vote thereafter still very much in question.
JIMENEZ: Still a major question. And Senator Majority Leaser Schumer saying he wants to take the first procedural step on Monday. So tomorrow to really get this process going. And as you mentioned potentially, a Senate floor vote by this week.
Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much.
Here with us now to discuss the bill and its future, critically, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart. Alice and Maria are the hosts of the podcast "Hot Mics from Left to Right."
So I'm going to start from left to right there. Great to see you all. I just want to start with some of the breaking news that we've gotten here.
Maria, what is your initial reaction to some of what we're hearing coming out in the Senate bill?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, Omar, this is huge news because, as Priscilla stated, this is going to be groundbreaking in terms of the ability to have a bipartisan negotiation for changes in immigration policy. As you know, this has been impossible to do for decades. And it is a very tough bill. Priscilla is right about this, too. A lot tougher than even many Democrats and a lot of the immigration advocates have wanted.
JIMENEZ: Things that Democrats would have even --
CARDONA: Would never have done without --
JIMENEZ: -- agreed to ever, years ago.
CARDONA: Without things in return.
CARDONA: You know, like the Dreamers or additional affirmative relief for undocumented immigrants that have been here for years. Hopefully that will come not too far in the future. But what this does, Omar, I think, is it underscores that the Biden administration and Democrats and sensible Republicans understand that something needs to be done. There has been a global pandemic that has caused this global migration pattern.
This was not Joe Biden's fault, which is something that Republicans love to say. But what he does understand is that something needs to be done. So now he is taking advantage of the commonsense Republicans that are in the Senate who also understand that something needs to be done. And they have come up with this bipartisan negotiation.
CARDONA: Now it's going to be up to the Republicans in the House who clearly have now showed themselves to be feckless and to be genuflecting at the altar of Donald Trump because now they're saying it's dead on arrival. Well, you can't have it both ways.
CARDONA: You can't scream crisis, fentanyl, drug traffickers, something needs to be done now and then when Donald Trump says no, wait, I need this for my election or I'm not going to be elected again, and they say, yes, sir. That is not leadership. JIMENEZ: So, Alice, along those lines, obviously we had heard the
comments from Speaker Johnson saying that this was dead on arrival before we've had this come out. These are pretty strict measures, at least by many people's standards. One, do you think it will change any minds in that camp? And two, why not, if that's your answer.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this is a classic case of politics getting in the way of good policy. And there's only one mind that needs to change for this to move forward, and that is Donald Trump. And that's not going to happen.
Look, I've been speaking with Republicans in the House and in the Senate for the last several days, weeks and throughout today. And at least those Republicans in the House, they've been saying no. Whatever happens, as you said, no matter what's in this provision, no matter what the text says, they are going to vote no, because it's dead on arrival because that's what Donald Trump said.
And look, there's some important provisions in this text. We are talking about the number of migrant crossings. We are talking about revisions and expediting the asylum process and immigrant visas. These are important components for meaningful incremental immigration reform. But none of that matters. Donald Trump does not want Joe Biden to have any kind of victory in this. He would much rather drag this out in the hopes that he will be president and he can claim victory on this.
The frustrating thing, look, rational Republicans that I have spoken with, I asked them late this afternoon, if Donald Trump wasn't in the picture, would you be supportive, at least open to having this conversation, they said, absolutely. If Donald Trump wasn't working things behind the scenes, they would be more than willing to have an open conversation and work bipartisanship across the aisle to get something done. The reality is, Donald Trump has a huge chokehold on the Republican Party.
Here's the thing, we all understand that there's a massive problem at the border. We need to secure the border first and foremost before we make any of these changes. President Biden does have more ability than he has actually exercised to secure the border right now. He is not doing so. That being said, incremental changes in immigration are better than no changes at all.
JIMENEZ: Well, and I just, before we'd go on, just Manu, our colleague, has rounded up a little bit of just what Republicans have been saying about these prospects over recent time. I think we have that. Let's play that now.
REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): The Senate deal is trash.
REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): The height of stupidity is having a strong opinion on something you know nothing about. So I don't have a strong opinion on the bill because I haven't seen it. Nobody has.
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): Well, it's a crappy bill. I mean, it's terrible. The thing is terrible.
REP. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): There's not a bill yet. We haven't seen a bill yet. So I don't know why we would undermine the effort to make the country safer.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): That's not a border deal. That's a slap in the American people's face.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): You've got to read the bill. I mean, don't be ignorant. Read the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: So there's sort of seem to be the dichotomy there whereas folks who, again, the bill had not come out, that was obviously before the Senate text was released. The bill hadn't come out and people seemed to have made up their minds. How concerning is that for you? But I'll ask both of you.
CARDONA: Well, I would say I think it's concerning for the American people. And I think it should absolutely be concerning for the Republican Party, Omar, because what you just saw right there is the massive divide between Republicans who have a spine, who have some kind of understanding of what leadership is and what being real leaders is, and Republicans who have completely given up their spine, who are cowards, who are afraid of Donald Trump, who when he said, you can't pass this, they absolutely just run to do everything that he wants them to do.
And what this says to the American people, Omar, is that Republicans have had zero interest in solving this issue. They have negotiated in bad faith. They have no idea how to and no interest in actually governing on this issue, especially when Donald Trump says, don't do this. Going into the election for 2024, this not only helps Joe Biden flip the script and Democrats flip the script on immigration saying, we wanted this, we fought for this, we fought for additional strong, smart border security, even more so than some of our own people wanted.
And Republicans have yet again are the ones that are saying no. And I think it gives Democrats a strong messaging ability to say Republicans should not be trusted to lead anything, not the House, not the Senate, and certainly not the White House.
JIMENEZ: Now, Alice, along those lines is that part of -- in the most recent NBC polling, it found that Trump was outperforming Biden on those issues, immigration, the economy. We have started to see the economy -- we have seen it grow. Also this bill, if potentially it makes it out of the Senate, which we don't know if that's going to happen at all.
STEWART: Right. JIMENEZ: How concerned would you be about that dynamic? And do you
think that dynamic can actually hold for someone like Trump given the roadmap that's ahead?
STEWART: Well, I think you brought up an interesting poll. The NBC poll that came out shows on this specific issue of immigration, people trust Donald Trump more than Joe Biden to handle immigration. 57 percent of those polled trust Donald Trump over Joe Biden. Who knows? Maybe the fact that he is forcing Republicans in the House to stand firm and push more for provisions in HR-2 that would be stronger with border security and border enforcement, that might encourage Democrats to have more of a conversation with them on that. But the fact that the majority of those polled, almost twice as many people polled trust --
JIMENEZ: And there is the poll.
STEWART: There you see Donald Trump over Joe Biden on this immigration. I think this is an opportunity for people to recognize Donald Trump has identified the problem at the crisis at the border years ago. Now Democrats are on board and recognizing this is a problem. I don't expect Joe Biden's numbers to change with that regard because people do see Donald Trump as strong on immigration.
The problem is, with this dynamic we have right here, it is showing that he is not willing to give an inch in order to make some kind of progress.
JIMENEZ: Last word.
CARDONA: And I think that's the problem because he is not even talking about HR-2. He doesn't want it resolved at all. He wants it as a weapon in the political campaign. Americans understand. They are not anti-immigrant. They are anti-chaos. What Republicans want is chaos. That's going to be the message that Democrats are going to be pushing.
JIMENEZ: Well, we are seeing the intersection of policy and politics in an election year.
CARDONA: Imagine that.
JIMENEZ: Yes, who would have thought?
JIMENEZ: But let's see what happens out of the Senate, if it does make it out. And then whether it actually is dead on arrival in the House, or if this could change the minds of some folks. But up against some powerful forces.
Alice and Maria, thank you so much.
CARDONA: Thank you, Omar.
STEWART: Thanks, Omar.
JIMENEZ: Of course.
Coming up for us, just into our newsroom, flash flood warnings are now in effect for parts of Los Angeles County with potentially life- threatening flooding prompting evacuations across Southern California. We're going to bring you more next.
JIMENEZ: Now we're going to go to the California storm that could bring life-threatening flooding over the next 24 hours. Last hour, Mayor Bass urged Los Angeles residents to stay home, saying the city is not used to the level of rain it is set to experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KAREN BASS (D), LOS ANGELES: Our priority is for Angelinos to be informed and to stay home. To stay home and tomorrow, when we expect the rains to be even heavier, for people to work remotely if they can. You know, Los Angeles is not used to weather events like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: Meteorologist Elisa Raffa is tracking the storm from the CNN Weather Center.
So what is the threat right now?
ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We have flash flood warnings that are continuing to expand across the Los Angeles County area, now in effect for parts of central and western Los Angeles, including places like Malibu, Burbank, Hollywood, Beverly Hills. This until midnight local time where up to two inches of rain has already fallen and another one to four inches of rain is possible. All of this in that red shading area.
For parts of Santa Barbara, they are talking about that flash flooding damage being considerable up in Ventura County. So something that we'll have to watch out for.
And again this threat is just continuing to slide east as we go into the overnight because the rainfall rates will pick up overnight tonight into tomorrow. Looking at rainfall rate of one to one and a half inches possible.
Here is a look at the storm. It's still, you know, finding some of those heavy downpours from central into northern California. This number has been climbing like crazy. Power outages, 550,000 people, half a million people in California right now without power from the rain and the wind.
The high risk continues as we go into the night tonight for that excessive flooding. This happens fewer than 4 percent of the time but is responsible for 80 percent of our flood damage and 40 percent of our flood-related deaths. So just incredibly rare. And it lingers again tomorrow. We still have this high flood risk for the Los Angeles area on Monday where several inches of rain is possible. So talking about dangerous life-threatening flash floods.
River and urban flooding, mud, debris flow and landslides and downed trees and power lines all from the water and the wind because we're looking at gusts making it over 75, 80 miles per hour. We already have reports of that for parts of California today, all of that kind of dark red showing where we have these very intense wind gusts. And when we're talking about the rain, when you're looking at Southern California, we're looking at widespread three to six inches of rain, but some places you get over eight inches of rain and if we get those over eight-inch totals, that would be half a year's worth of rain just in a couple of days -- Omar.
JIMENEZ: Wow. Elisa Raffa, in the CNN Weather Center, thank you so much.
Still ahead for us, we are continuing to follow breaking news. The Senate has released the language of this bipartisan border bill. Leaders are calling it a big step. Next, we're going to talk with a key member of Congress about it.
JIMENEZ: The Senate has released its long-awaited bipartisan border bill. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling it a monumental step. The legislation, among what it would do, would expedite the asylum process and end policies like catch and release while severely restricting daily border crossings.
So to talk about what's in this and more, joining me now is Democratic Congressman Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts.
Congressman, so for starters, based on what you've seen so far, I know it was just released, but based on what you've seen, is this something that you would support?
REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): Good evening. Thanks for having me on. I have had literally minutes to review it.
JIMENEZ: Yes. Yes.
AUCHINCLOSS: So can't commit 100 percent. But, yes, this is the kind of negotiation, good faith, bipartisan compromise that I can support. And I hope that over the next days and weeks, Congress does not devolve into a beltway fiasco. Let's remember the job we are in Washington to do.
My home state, Massachusetts, is buckling under a surge of migrants that is straining our budget and is leading to real humanitarian suffering. Just over Christmas, I was visiting some of these migrant families. They deserve better than what they are finding here. And we need a fix to this problem. Not just for due process and for border security, but also for the importation of fentanyl, which is now being laced with horse tranquilizer, which is now being combined with meth in Massachusetts.
This is unsustainable for my constituents. We have here a bipartisan proposal that looks to fix it. And we are going to have to decide in Congress whether in an election year it's about performance or it's about policy. And I'm here for policy.
JIMENEZ: Now, look, you're over on the House side. This bill is coming out on the Senate side of things. Senate Majority Leader Schumer is hoping to bring the bill up for a vote this week. But even if it passes there, Speaker Johnson has already said the bill is dead on arrival in the House chamber. So based on what maybe some initial reaction you've gotten from some colleagues over on the House side, do you see this bill as having any chance of even coming up for a vote in the House?
AUCHINCLOSS: It should. If it passes the Senate it would be unconscionable for Speaker Johnson not to put it forward in the House, to let Americans see whether duly elected representatives stand on some of the most momentous issues of the time. Not just border security, but also support for Israel, support for Taiwan, support for Ukraine fighting on the frontlines of the free world.
That deserves a vote for the historical record to allow America to meet the moment that we are in right now. And Speaker Johnson now, with his recent proposal on standalone Israel funding, is playing politics with Israel security for a second time in his short tenure. Last time he was asking for IRS cuts. This time, he's trying to undercut a border security deal. Republicans are going to have to ask themselves why they are so comfortable playing politics when Israel is at war with the Jewish Democratic State Security.
JIMENEZ: Yes. Now, look, as you mentioned, it is an election year, which obviously puts many different lenses on a deal like this. And we are seeing that intersection, politics, policy, which sometimes is not pretty. Now on President Biden's side, he politically is trying to strike a balance where he can appease some Republicans on border security while also keeping support from Democrats on issues like asylum so that this can actually pass.
Again I know you've only had minutes, but do you feel like this at least the start of this bill makes those goals possible?
AUCHINCLOSS: Yes. And let's distill it down even further. Joe Biden is trying to govern. He is trying to govern on Israel, on Ukraine, on border security. And as you say, there's some real compromise in this border security bill with expanding due process but also strengthening border security measures. Donald Trump is trying to campaign. And he's saying the quiet part out loud. He is telling Republicans in both the House and Senate, don't fix the border, I want to have this issue in 2024. And that's not worthy of the American people.
I want to shift to one other story. Well, a big story that we've been following is the US military response in the Middle East.
The US struck Iran-backed militants across Syria and Iraq following that deadly drone attack on US servicemembers in Jordan. Based on what's been reported, so far, do you think that was enough to send a message to these proxy groups that attacks on US troops will not go in answered and I guess more critically, to prevent them or deter them from taking future actions.
AUCHINCLOSS: The attacks need to be sustained and unpredictable, and they also need to be directed at senior commanders within IRGC and the Quds Force such that we are able to do to senior military command within Iran what we did with ISIS a decade ago, make it an organization where no one wants to get promoted, and that is the kind of message that we have to send directly at Tehran.
But I also want to point out that actually, the most important thing that's happening in regards to Iran are not these strikes, it is the conversations that Jake Sullivan is having with the Chinese Premier, because we need to insist on two things from China. The first is to stop exporting fentanyl to the United States poisoning and killing 100,000 Americans every year. The second is to stop importing Iranian oil, which is the only lifeline that Iran has for the hard cash that allows them to sustain these proxy militia forces.
China is the true villain behind these actions in the Middle East.
JIMENEZ: And the question is when some of these shipping lanes are actually struck by what we've seen, it does raise some diplomatic issues with some allies in the region like India, and for example, China for some of their vessels. We will see.
Very multifaceted issue right now. You mentioned very important talks happening with China as well.
We've got to leave it there. Congressman Jay Auchincloss, thank you so much.
AUCHINCLOSS: Good evening.
JIMENEZ: All right, should former President Trump be disqualified from states' ballots for his role in January 6? The Supreme Court is going to hear arguments on that very question this week in a case that could have huge implications on this year's election.
Norm Eisen is here to discuss it all. You're on the CNN NEWSROOM.
JIMENEZ: We've seen courts collide with the campaign trail this week. We are set to see the Supreme Court collide with the campaign trail as Donald Trump challenges Colorado's decision to remove the former president from the ballot.
Now, the issue here is whether Trump can be excluded from a state's primary ballot because of his role in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. While this case comes from Colorado, the ruling could be far reaching.
So with me now, CNN legal analyst, Norm Eisen.
Norm, I think, plainly, this is shaping up to be the biggest election case we have seen outside of Bush v. Gore nearly 25 years ago. What are you expecting here?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The commonsensical nature of the arguments that the Coloradan voters are making, is, look, the January 6th Committee found that Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection. The 14th Amendment Section 3 says very clearly, insurrectionists can't hold office, therefore, he should not be allowed to run.
And it does have a commonsense appeal. Legally it's right, but we know that this is a Supreme Court that has been resistant to these kinds of arguments. So it's the correct argument, it is an uphill battle in the Supreme Court, and as you say, the argument is going to be one for the ages.
JIMENEZ: Yes. I mean, look, it is a monumental one and you and I were talking in the commercial break that there are multiple monumental issues playing out in courts right now, one coming out of Washington DC, the election subversion case. The judge in the initial case, a district level case, Judge Tanya Chutkan has now officially vacated the March 4th trial date in the federal election interference case. It is not really surprising since it was being appealed. But is this a win for Trump? Because we know that they wanted not to go directly to the Supreme Court, but instead to the appeals court.
EISEN: It's a temporary win for Trump, but his argument here that he has absolute immunity, and he can send SEAL Team Six out to assassinate a political opponent, Omar, that can't be right.
The DC Circuit is going to reject that. We've been waiting, clock is running. We've been waiting almost four weeks. I think we'll get something from them. I hope we'll get something from them soon.
I don't think that's going to fly at the Supreme Court. It's inimical to American law. So that case, yes, it's delayed, but there's plenty of time in 2024. That case is going to get back on track and it doesn't get Donald Trump totally out of election interference hot water, because Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, 2016 election interference, 34 felony counts against Donald Trump for payments in order to avoid another scandal at the end of the election, one that he won by 80,000 votes in three states.
So that case slides into the opening, so you start with 2016 election interference and then roll into 2020, most likely over the summer.
JIMENEZ: Do you think -- so, it sounds like you think that this will all, despite the delay in this particular case play out before the summer conventions and more particularly, I guess more relatively, the election itself in November.
EISEN: The New York 2016 --
JIMENEZ: Sorry, not the New York one, the DC.
EISEN: Yes. New York for sure will be done, I think --
EISEN: I think the DC case will start at some point in the summer. DOJ has a rule. You can't take investigative steps 60 days before an election, but where the investigative steps have already been taken? You can proceed with the case. That case is going to be switched back on over the summer, and I think it's going to go and be concluded most likely. No guarantees in the law, no crystal balls they give you in law school, but most likely that case will conclude before the November election.
JIMENEZ: Yes. Now, again we have seen the legal system collide with the campaign trail here.
I want to go to another case. This one the RICO one, state level out of Georgia. Obviously, there has been a lot of motions filed for Fani Willis to step off the case stemming from the revealing of a personal relationship with one of the special prosecutors there.
What is your opinion there? Do you think that she is still able to manage this case effectively and should stay on this case?
EISEN: I think she should. The Georgia law of disqualification is that a prosecutor is not disqualified for having a romantic relationship. Now people raised issues, they said she hired Mr. Wade, the other prosecutor when they were having a relationship, but her filing on Friday says the relationship started after.
They said well, she took gifts from Mr. Wade. Again, she rebutted that. She said look, in a relationship you roughly split things 50/50. We both spent.
So the most damning and damaging allegations are gone now. The law is not going to knock her out. But this case isn't only in the court of law, it's in the court of public opinion.
I think Mr. Wade is a distinguished attorney, contrary to what some have said. He has done a great job on this case, defeated some of the best lawyers in the country in court, got four guilty pleas.
The right thing for him to do to help us get past this now is to say, hey, I'm going to go out on a high note and say, in order to avoid distraction, close the books on this, I'm going to voluntarily step away. I think that's what he should do. She must stay. She was democratically elected to prosecute these kinds of crimes.
JIMENEZ: Yes, yes. Well, we will see what happens. Norm Eisen, great to see you in person.
EISEN: Omar, always.
JIMENEZ: Always a pleasure. Always a pleasure.
All right, coming up for us, Patrick Mahomes has a chance to strengthen his argument for being the GOAT as he tries to win his third Super Bowl in just a few years, but the 49ers will probably have something to say about it. We're going to discuss just how much of a say they have with Rachel Nichols straight ahead.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
JIMENEZ: The stage is set for Super Bowl LVIII, one week from today. All eyes will be on Las Vegas where the San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs with the Lombardi trophy on the line.
Joining me now is Rachel Nichols, host of "Headliners" with Rachel Nichols on Showtime.
So Rachel, good to see you.
ESPN's matchup predictor says the 49ers have a 59.4 percent chance of edging out the Chiefs. What's your prediction aside from people getting mad every time Taylor Swift is shown on camera even if it's only for a few seconds? What are you going to be looking for?
RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, "HEADLINERS" WITH RACHEL NICHOLS ON SHOWTIME: Well, if both teams actually arrived in Las Vegas tonight, and for the Chiefs, it is their second consecutive Super Bowl. It is in fact their third Super Bowl in four years.
And because of that, amazingly, they just sort of have a routine. This is how we handle the championship game. Right? And Patrick Mahomes was talking this week about all the players, totally comfortable with the game plan by now. Over these next couple of practices, it is just a matter of locking the details in.
On the 49ers side, they also have recent Super Bowl experience, but a little bit different. They were in this game four years ago. They actually were facing also the Chiefs, and they were ahead 20 to 10 in the fourth quarter, thought they were cruising to a win and the Chiefs stormed back and won by 11 points. It was devastating for San Francisco.
So the talk around that team for the past few days has just been sharpening up the defense and getting everyone focused on playing a complete game the whole way through.
As for Taylor Swift, who you mentioned, a lot of attention about the fact that she will be playing a concert in Tokyo on Saturday night. How is she going to get to the game on Sunday? Is the time difference going to allow her to? Spoiler Alert: It will.
But there is still enough hubbub about it that the Japanese government felt the need to put out a statement a couple of days ago to Japanese fans, assuring them Taylor Swift will not cut her concert short. You will get to see the full show, and then she has a 17-hour time difference.
She will in fact arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday night, Nevada time so everyone can just stand down. It's all good.
JIMENEZ: Whoo. Straight from a show into a Super Bowl, I need that stamina. I feel like it's really tough.
I want to talk about soccer. The rest of the world is football. There was anger in Hong Kong after Lionel Messi didn't play. Fans at the sold-out match were chanting "Where is Messi" and "refund, refund, refund." Even Hong Kong's government as we talked about government's getting involved in entertainment here says the event organizer owes fans and explanation. Inter Miami's coach said the decision was made on late notice under recommendation of the medical staff. I don't know if that's going to fly with the fans, but what's your reaction to what we saw here?
NICHOLS: Yes, it is crazy, all of these governments getting involved. I know NBA fans are concerned their stars don't play enough, but at least we don't have Washington, DC getting involved in that.
I do understand though why there was such a furor in Hong Kong. This was so anticipated. Throngs of fans went to the airport just to meet the plane and then the team had a training session on Saturday and they held it open and the entire state stadium was filled, just for practice.
So everybody wanted to see Messi play. The decision was last minute.
I believe the event organizer that he didn't know it was going to happen. I believe the team that Messi's injury really could have caused him more hurt if he had played.
All of that being said, the team is still facing some pretty intense criticism that this whole Asia exhibition tour has too many matches squished into it, and that it might have been inevitable that some of the key players had their bodies wear down or get hurt.
So there is no way to prove whether that's true or not. And I can tell you, the team is not changing its schedule. They will be in Japan on Wednesday. We'll just have to see if Messi is on the field for that.
JIMENEZ: And jumping around to a lot of sports, but Formula One, because there was huge news this week, seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton leaving Mercedes or will leave Mercedes for Ferrari at the end of the 2024 season.
He said he is fulfilling his childhood dream by joining Ferrari. But how much will this shake up the Formula One World?
NICHOLS: Yes, this was a huge shake up, and you have to remember, this announcement was that he is going to join the team in 2025, which means that they still have to play an entire 2024 season. And that has a lot of people up in arms.
This move has been rumored for a long time, but the fact that it's now finally happening, and announced now has a lot of people wondering whether this was a damage control move by Formula One? The organization had been under so much heavy criticism in the last week or so for not allowing Mario Andretti to field a team in F1 considered anti-American. People were charging that the other teams were blocking Andretti out because they were scared of him.
And then this Hamilton news gets announced and all of that chatter just wipes away and people are talking about Lewis Hamilton.
We'll have to see. I don't think anyone can prove that they're related, but it is definitely caused shockwaves around the F1 world.
JIMENEZ: Yes, and look, before you go, I want to show you a picture. See if you recognize the people in this picture here. Oh, that is you --
NICHOLS: Look at that.
JIMENEZ: That was 2012. You came to my class and spoke, and you were nice enough to take a picture with me afterwards. It was fun.
NICHOLS: I absolutely loved it. Northwestern, we've got to stick together. Right?
JIMENEZ: Of course. Go Cats, always and forever.
Rachel Nichols, great to see you. Thanks for being here.
All right, everyone. We'll be right back.
JIMENEZ: Tonight, CNN is taking you to the far corners of the earth for a special report on the climate crisis.
CNN's Bill Weir traveled with a team of researchers tracking whales across the seas to reveal how the crisis is affecting them. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For generations, the only way to study whales was to cut up a dead one, but then non-lethal research took hold and while this may look medieval, one of the biggest breakthroughs is the crossbow biopsy, developed by Ari's team at UC Santa Cruz, to measure everything from stress levels and toxins to most importantly --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got it.
WEIR (voice over): Pregnancy rates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful. Perfect classic sample. That's the blubber layer. The skin will be sort of scaled back up inside this little tip here. We'll put it into that case and keep it sterile until we get back to the boat to process it.
WEIR (on camera): Yes.
You were telling me that the pregnancy rate is a huge indicator, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I mean, what else tells you about a population that's growing or shrinking is how many newborns you're putting into the population each year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will tell us if that was a female, and if it is a female, if she's pregnant or not.
WEIR: That's the first time I've ever seen somebody take a pregnancy test with a crossbow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I don't think you get many of those.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: With me now is CNN chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir. So Bill, I've got to start, one, I'm jealous. I've never actually seen a whale in person. And here we go. You've seen clearly many. So just tell me -- tell us a little bit about meeting these whales. What were your impressions?
WEIR: Well, Omar, first of all, I'm going to take you whale watching.
JIMENEZ: Let's do it.
WEIR: And we don't even really have to ring up the expense account. We can go to Red Hook, New Jersey and watch them go by here.
JIMENEZ: I'm in.
WEIR: They're everywhere.
Humpbacks are the greatest comeback story in conservation. They were nearly harpooned into oblivion when I was a little boy, but the Save the Whales Movement, saved the whales, and they are incredible sort of indicator species. They're the most adaptable.
That is a minke whale, the little guys there, but the big humpbacks that are everywhere, not only do they provide incredible amount of Earth's services, science is just realizing that a single whale over the course of its life is worth $2 million, both in drawing down carbon and then seeding the oceans. Their poo creates the bottom of the food chain. It is the phytoplankton creates, which then feeds the krill, which feeds everything else.
So there is more food wherever there are whales, and the comeback is great. But now there are all these new threats. The sea ice is going away so their food supply is going away. There is shipping traffic. There's krill fisheries, so many stresses.
But making this hour was such a joy. I'm so blessed and it blew my mind a dozen different levels learning about these fantastic planetary roommates we have.
JIMENEZ: Yes, well I can't wait to watch. From what I've seen, it already looks incredible. Bill Weir, I am going to take you up on that whale watching. See you.
WEIR: You've got it. Let's do it.
JIMENEZ: All right, and for everyone else don't go anywhere, a new episode of "The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper, "What Whales Tell Us" is next right here on CNN.
Thanks for joining me this evening. I'm Omar Jimenez. It was a pleasure. I think we had a good time here.
"The Whole Story" is next, followed by new episodes of "The Many Lives of Martha Stewart."
Have a good night.