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White House Attacks GOP Criticism Of Biden's Age In New Memo; Trump Looking To Reinforce Dominance In South Carolina; Trump Co- Defendant Presses To Remove D.A. Fani Willis From Case; U.S. Launches More Strike Against Houthi Targets In Yemen; Chiefs And 49ers Set To Face Off In Big Game Tomorrow. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 10, 2024 - 15:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. This just in: the White House releasing a new memo blasting Republican criticisms of President Biden's age following assertions from a special counsel report into his handling of classified documents. Special counsel Robert Hur did not recommend any charges but he did make unflattering comments about President Biden's mental acuity, characterizing him as elderly with poor memory. Democrats including Vice President Kamala Harris are blasting the report, or at least the characterizations as gratuitous and inappropriate.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is in Washington.

Priscilla, tell us more about what's coming out of the White House.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the White House as you mentioned releasing this memo today, attacking Republicans over the president's age. But the timing of this does come as the report really touched on one of the defining themes of the presidential election, the president's age and his fitness to serve in office. Now, this all goes to what the campaign and the White House have had to try to navigate here as they try to fend off these attacks from the Republicans as well as voter concerns that have been expressed in polls about the president's age here.

Now, all of this struck a chord this week in the White House as the report talked about lapses in President Biden's memory when talking about these classified materials during his time or leaving his time as vice president. Now, Biden aides have fumed about this. They have called the president instead sharp and tireless, but the president himself was also angry. That was very clear during his news conference on Thursday, especially regarding the mention of his son's death where the special counsel said that the president didn't recall when he died.

But Vice President Kamala Harris has also followed and saying and having strong words for the special counsel and the characterization of President Biden and his report.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The comments that were made by that prosecutor, gratuitous, inaccurate, and inappropriate. The way that the president's demeanor in that report was characterized could not be more wrong on the facts and clearly politically motivated.


ALVAREZ: Now, going back to the substance of the report, it found that President Biden woefully retained and disclosed classified information but again, he did not recommend criminal charges. It also drew a sharp distinction between President Biden and former President Donald Trump who was also allegedly misused classified documents.

Now, again, all of this comes during an election year and at a time when again, the campaign and the White House have had to navigate inquiries and criticisms over the president's age. Now, senior campaign officials have said that President Biden being on the trail allows voters to draw their own judgment and we have noticed a notable uptick of President Biden engaging in these traditional retail politics stops where he can be one-on-one with voters and in the end, it is them that are going to draw the judgment according to officials.

WHITFIELD: All right. Priscilla Alvarez in Washington, thanks so much.

All right. Right now, Donald Trump is in South Carolina speaking at Coastal Carolina University, in his first visit to the Palmetto State of the year. The former president is looking to assert dominance in Republican rival Nikki Haley's home state.


The former governor says she plans to stay in the race through the primary, which is two weeks from today.

CNN's Alayna Treene joins me now from Conway, South Carolina.

Alayna, what's happening?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, as you can see, Fred, Donald Trump is currently speaking behind me, but look, this is really a state, South Carolina, where Donald Trump and his team want to deal the final blow to Nikki Haley's campaign. They are very competent about his standing here in South Carolina. And that's reflected in the polling that we have seen for several months now. He has consistently shown overwhelmingly over Nikki Haley for several months. And so, that is where a lot of this optimism from Trump and his team come from.

Now, I want to share some of what he has said during his speech. Given the confidence they have about his chances in this February 24th primary, he's really begun testing out a lot of his general election rhetoric. We heard him rail against Joe Biden repeatedly already. He's only about 30 minutes in and he's really largely attacked Biden the most here. He criticized him over the handling of the southern border and also celebrated what he called was a victory over helping sink the bipartisan deal in Congress that would have looked to, you know, deal with some of the border, something that Donald Trump had lobbied privately and publicly many members to reject.

Donald Trump also did touch on the special counsel's report regarding Joe Biden's handling of classified documents. Trump argued that this is a sign of a two-tiered justice system and that he's a victim of political persecution, something that we heard him repeatedly say but he's really ramped up that rhetoric in recent days as well. And he also claimed that Joe Biden got off scot-free.

And I just want to be very clear here, Fred, Robert Hur, the special counsel who wrote this report very clearly said in his report that there's a big difference between how Joe Biden handled the classified documents in his possession and those that former president Trump had in his possession and mainly pointing out how Joe Biden did volunteer to give those back. He cooperated with law enforcement about turning those over whereas Donald Trump of course is facing allegations about trying to obstruct that process -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then, Alayna, in terms of campaigning in South Carolina, are we seeing from Trump a different style? Different strategy than when visiting other states?

TREENE: Yeah, well, it's truly interesting because his strategy here is a lot more laid back than what we saw in some of the other early nominating states, particularly when you looked at Iowa and New Hampshire. Donald Trump's team had aggressively crisscrossed those states in the lead up to the primaries in this caucuses in Iowa and New Hampshire.

They're still doing that here. Donald Trump is expected to come and visit this state several more times before the primary in two weeks but it is a very much laid back style to their strategy than it has been with those other states. And part of that again is just because of their confidence here. Even though it is Nikki Haley's backyard, this is her home state, they feel very good about how Donald Trump will perform here and they really do believe that this state will help them in their hope of clinching enough delegates by mid-March in order to secure the Republican nomination or at least become, make him the presumptive GOP nominee before the convention in July.

WHITFIELD: All right. Alayna Treene in South Carolina, thanks so much.

All right. A big moment next week in Georgia as the election racketeering case against Trump meets a critical crossroad. One of Trump's codefendants is now accusing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis of lying about when a relationship began with her top deputy in the case, Nathan Wade. In a motion filed late Friday, Mike Romans' defense attorney said she will call a witness who will refute Willis and Wade's claims that they begun seeing each other after Wade was assigned to the case.

Romans' legal team alleges that Willis misused funds and accepted valuable gifts from Wade and want Willis disqualified from the case. The judge in the case set a hearing on the matter for Thursday and evidentiary hearing. Here with me now is Jonathan Nash. He's a law professor at Emory

University here in Atlanta.

Professor, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So, why is it so important or why will it be important to establish when this relationship, but that both now, you know, admit to having partaken in, when it began in terms of when he was also Nathan Wade was brought on the team as a prosecutor?

NASH: Well, I think the way that this is shaping up is there's an allegation that the district attorney Willis had motivations to sort of one suggestion is to use financial benefit sort of to pay Wade then have Wade pay for vacations and just entertainment and things for both of them.


So if that relationship was already in place ahead of time, you might be able to make more of an argument that that's why she chose him as opposed to she chose him and the relationship developed later and sort of the benefits that are there were not driving the decision making. Now, there's a separate question whether even if that was happening, that affects the validity of the case, the viability of the case against former President Trump and his codefendants, but I think the timing could go to that question about what her thinking was and her motivations were.

WHITFIELD: OK. And the latter point is exactly, you know, what is motivating Roman and other codefendants. They ultimately want her off the case. Before we get to that, now let's establish during the evidentiary hearing next week. What would have to be presented? Roman, co-defendant, and his team is saying they want to call a witness. Someone who worked with Nathan Wade, the prosecutor, and will be able to say or their expectation is that person will say that the relationship happened earlier.

I mean, it's -- you know, what customarily would happen during a hearing of this stature?

NASH: Well, I think the -- this is very interesting waters. I'm not sure we're entirely clear what's going to happen. I do think the judge before going down this path may try to sort of think in his own mind, what difference will this make.

And in fact, even as we said, the relationship began earlier, the relationship began later, is that a ground for either getting rid of the case? I'm dubious of that, but you know, make that -- make that call. And/or maybe thinking about replacing the prosecutors.

So I think the judge may want to decide is this going to help me, you don't just want to call witnesses and then at the end of the day say there's no legal ground to do anything here anyway. And D.A. Willis filed a very long motion or document with the court sort of saying there are a whole host of reasons why this is just irrelevant and doesn't affect the decision to appoint Wade, the case itself. So I think there's going to be an initial sort of back and forth about whether this matters then if it does matter, the judge might decide that, these are the sort of hone in on what whether this might matter then we might start to see people take the stand and talk about this.

WHITFIELD: So the judge will make that determination but for now then, how do you see this potentially? Does this matter? Is this an aside? Is it a distraction? Does it just kind of interfere, you know, with where the focus has been, which is, you know, a very important, sizable case of, you know, election interference in the state of Georgia?

NASH: So, I have two answers for you. One is sort of a legal answer. I've hinted, I'm dubious that at the end of the day, this is going to have any affect on the case going forward one way or another. And my guess is it may not even affect D.A. Willis and even Wade remaining on the case.

But you said the distraction. There's a separate question here. I'm just a law professor. I don't know. But if I'm thinking about this and I'm thinking about and just thinking politically, and even legally, if the case goes forward and this is lurking there, it has sort of that just distracting effect of the case, but to --

WHITFIELD: Possibly eroding credibility? I mean, because you are talking about jurors have to be selected ultimately and they have to respect I guess the case, right? Is this what you're talking about?

NASH: Well, potentially, yes, yes. And you know, as someone selecting jurors, you want them to respect the lawyers, if you have the power to get rid of certain jurors and you're trying to read that. So, I do think that there are issues there. There's also the question of timing, and I know folks have been thinking, when is this case actually going to get trial?

Things like to don't accelerate it. That's for sure. So there are separate reasons why defendants might be pushing this even at the end of the day, it doesn't stop the case. It delays the case.

WHITFIELD: Delay, delay, delay. All right. It seems like it is doing that. I mean, thus far delaying the attention of the original case.

NASH: Delay and distract.

WHITFIELD: All right.

NASH: It is a tactic.

WHITFIELD: All right. Professor, thank you so much.

NASH: Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come, Benjamin Netanyahu is ordering Israel's military to plan for the evacuation of the last major population center in Gaza not occupied by the IDF, but a refugee organization says the city could turn into a zone of bloodshed.

And later, remembering the life and legacy of Dexter King. A memorial service for the youngest son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is set to take place this afternoon.


We'll take you there.


WHITFIELD: Again, launching strikes on Iran-backed Houthi targets in Yemen, U.S. Central Command says the strike happened Friday and were aimed at drones and missiles that were already ready to launch against nearby ships in the Red Sea. It follows strikes last week where the U.S. and U.K. hit more than a dozen Houthi locations. Meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says military operations in the Gazan city of Rafah will be completed by the time Ramadan begins March 10th.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in Tel Aviv.

Nic, what's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, there's certainly a lot of concern coming from the U.N. The Saudis have also just released a press release saying they are extremely concerned about what could happen in Rafah.


They are saying that there should be a meeting at the U.N. Security Council to discus this. It is really highlighting, if you will, the precarious predicament of about 1.4 million people, Gazans who most of them, have been moving homes since the incursion began four months ago. Now they don't feel like they've got anywhere to go. Their food is in very short supply. A lot of them, about a million, are just living in tented plastic sheeting shelter. So the idea that there could be a ground incursion into Rafah as they've witnessed in other parts of Gaza, that's scaring them. People are saying where are we going to go?

The Egyptian officials just over the border are worried that people may try to scramble over that massive border fence there to escape what happens. So, it's not clear that that it is going to happen. The mood music coming from the Israeli government and the prime minister does seem to indicate that it may not be far off.

WHITFIELD: And even as Israel looks to move into the Rafah area, the challenge of getting Israeli hostages released still hangs over everything, doesn't it?

ROBERTSON: It really does. And you can, I was just talk about the mood music coming from the Israeli government. Is that about a real incursion into Rafah? Every possibility it could be. Or is it so put pressure on Hamas for a deal? Remember, just a couple of days ago, Hamas came back to the Israelis

with a counterproposal with a release on the hostages, which Prime Minister Netanyahu called delusional, however, Bill Burns will meet with his counterparts in Egypt, his Israeli counterparts, Egyptian counterparts and Qatari officials to discuss this. So maybe the hostage deal is not dead.

But having talked to a number of hostage families recently, they really beginning to lose faith in their government to actually act in the hostages' interest.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Bittersweet, grandfather and granddaughter, born while her father, Sagui, an American, held hostage.

JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, FATHER OF HOSTAGE: For me, the birth of his third daughter just multiplies my desire and my absolute commitment to getting Sagui reunited with them.

Some of them entire families actually and that were murdered.

ROBERTSON: We first met Jonathan a month after the Hamas attack. His kibbutz, Nir Oz, taking refuge in a seaside hotel, reeling. Dozens dead, more than 70, including his son Sagui, taken hostage from their kibbutz.

A few weeks later, more than 30 of them released. And the first confirmation Sagui was alive.

DEKEL-CHEN: It was a wonderful moment for sure. Since then, of course, our worries have only grown.

If things were urgent when we last spoke, I think they've only become more urgent.

ROBERTSON: Others from Nir Oz, who we met last year, like farmer Nir Adar, who helped his two daughters survive the attack by telling them fairy stories in their rocket shelter. The past month also an emotional roller coaster.

NIR ADAR, BROTHER OF HOSTAGE: Because the way I told them at the beginning, so they don't have inside them the experience of trauma.

ROBERTSON: His grandmother at 85, the oldest hostage, released along with more than 100 hostages during a week-long truce last November.

ADAR: She said, I got more mature, like -- so this is very, very happy thing and moment for us.

ROBERTSON: But a few weeks after that, the news Nir feared most. His beloved brother Tamir dead. His body still held by Hamas.

ADAR: He died while he was fighting. He had the chance to fight and to save some people. So it's a small relief, maybe.

ROBERTSON: Amidst all the torment though, a ray of hope. The Nir Oz community welcomed to a new town and new homes.

YONATHON BAR, FORMER NIR OZ RESIDENT: We've got a big house with all these furniture that we didn't pick out.

ROBERTSON: When we last met banker Yonathon Bar and his son Uri from Nir Oz, life was on hold. Now, Uri has a new school and his best friend, Aten, who was the hostage he worried about most was released. He visited him in hospital the next day.

We hugged in hospital. I was very happy, Uri says, he has been here playing with us many times since.


Even despite these important pleasures, life for the whole kibbutz locked in the trauma of loved hostages, dead and alive, still held.

BAR: Life is moving forward, but we're still stuck on the 7 of October because -- we're not finished with all our friends there. They're still there.

ROBERTSON: What has changed -- anger with the government is growing.

DEKEL-CHEN: They're prioritizing a certain way of finishing this conflict that will for them serve as a kind of poster for what they have done.

But we are aware that we were abandoned on October 7 by this very same government and this prime minister who's been in office for a very long time.


NIC (on camera): And that frustration is playing out on the streets in Tel Aviv even this evening. A few people have been arrested by police. They've been protesting. They have family members who are hostages. They're protesting because they want the government to take action.

And as we have seen them over previous weekends, they try to highlight their plight, stopping traffic in the road, appealing for help. So this is -- this is something that just, it's not something most people here can really shake off and move on from and the focus is, of course, does the government really care. That's what they're wondering.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. Heartbreaking.

All right. Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

All right. Still to come, a man hunt is underway in Tennessee for a man accused of killing a sheriff's deputy. The latest on the search to track him down, next.

And we are just over 24 hours away from a much anticipated kind of lavender haze of a Taylor Swift event. And there also happens to be a football, game, too. Will there be some bad blood on the field? Live to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, next.



WHITFIELD: A massive manhunt is underway in Tennessee right now after Deputy Greg McGowan was shot and killed during a traffic stop in a small town about 20 miles south of Knoxville. A second deputy was also injured in Thursday night's attack. Officials say 42-year-old Kenneth D. Hart is wanted on multiple charges including first degree murder. Authorities are offering an $80,000 reward for information leading to Hart's capture.

All right. Now to the biggest football game of the year. We are now just one day away from the Super Bowl LVIII. Sunday's game will be a rematch from four years ago as the Kansas City Chiefs face off against the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs will be looking for back-to-back titles while San Francisco will be attempting to win their first Super Bowl in 30 years. We have team coverage for the big game.

Andy Scholes is in Las Vegas. But let's get started with Josh Campbell and the security preparations. It's a colossal event.

Josh, what's been going on?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the good news is law enforcement conducted an intelligence assessment, a threat assessment, on the game. They determined there is no specific or credible threat. Nevertheless, tomorrow there will be this massive deployment of law enforcement officers protecting the hundreds of thousands of fans inside and outside Allegiant Stadium. We're told some of the resources include physical scanners for all people that are entering that stadium. There are also explosive detection canines. They also have a host of other resources that you won't see behind the scenes, surveillance assets as well as cyber.

Now, all of that is happening on the ground but authorities say they are also looking towards the skies. Have a listen.


CATHY LANIER, CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE: National security temporary flight restriction will be in place from one hour before to one after the game. Drones are prohibited for 30 miles around the Allegiant Stadium. Federal public safety partners including the FBI, FAA and Customs and Border Protection will be actively enforcing TFR during the game.


CAMPBELL: Now, these drones are of particular concern because of potential harm that they can do. That's why the FBI and other agencies have brought in this counter drone activity that or assets that can actually take over a drone, drop it out of the sky or move it away from a populated area. Authorities say anyone caught flying a drone near the stadium faces

criminal prosecution as well as over $30,000 in fines. Fred, this will be an all hands on deck situation. Authorities say the state of Nevada as well as the FBI in Las Vegas have fired up their emergency operation centers. They will be supported by 24-hour around the clock operation centers in Washington, D.C. all watching Vegas. Again, helping to ensure everyone has a safe game.

I will point out in closing though, here, Fred, just how unfair it is that the great Andy Scholes is there covering what's happening on the field.

WHITFIELD: I'm with you.

CAMPBELLL: All this kind of action, while I am stuck covering the doomsday planning, but I guess that's the way it goes.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, oh, I understand. I'm with you on that. I am, too, envious.

Look, I'm wearing the green. This is how envious I am.

Josh Campbell, thank you so much.

So, Andy Scholes, to you there in Vegas. Okay, so tell me what is the lavender haze or should I say the blank space, I mean, the game? What's it all about there? What's the atmosphere like?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, Fred, the atmosphere here in Vegas is awesome, right? I think, I don't think many people would be upset if the Super Bowl was just in Vegas permanently every year.

WHITFIELD: Hey, sign me up.

SCHOLES: It should be like a three-year rotation at a minimum.


SCHOLES: I'm sure it will be back in the near future. But, you know, the headlines all week, Fredricka, you even mentioned this, like everyone's been talking about Taylor Swift. Had the Chiefs not been in this game, you know, the number one story would have likely been the Niners quarterback Brock Purdy. He's the first ever Mr. Irrelevant to lead a team to the Super Bowl.



SCHOLES: Mr. Irrelevant, the term going to the player picked very last in the draft and Purdy was picked 262 in 2022, but he's just defied the odds. He's been awesome for the 49ers. He's trying to lead them to their first title since 1995. You know, despite where he was drafted, Purdy says he's always believed in himself.


BROCK PURDY, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS QUARTERBACK: People can overlook you, may not think you're the biggest, the fastest, the strongest, but man, if you believe in yourself, you think you have what it takes and you truly do believe that, you don't give up on it, then you can achieve it.

KYLE JUSZCZYK, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS FULLBACK: The biggest thing is his consistency, is the fact he's gone out there each week and just proved it and done it. I mean, there's no faster way to earn our trust than for us to see it.

JAKE BRENDEL, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS CENTER: He's embraced every single bit of this opportunity that he's had. The fact that he's done what he's done, just one-half seasons, I mean, I feel like he's really coming into his own for the team and for himself in his career.


SCHOLES: Yes. So, Purdy and the Niners hoping to spoil the Chiefs' bid to be the first team since the Patriots back in 2005 to win back-to- back titles. Those Niners, Fredricka, also trying to keep Taylor Swift off the field after the game celebrating with her boyfriend, Travis Kelce. She wrapped up her Tokyo concert today. So presumably in or out right now here to Las Vegas.

WHITFIELD: On the plane on her own jet making her way, but I don't know. I really do like that Purdy nice story.

All right. Andy Scholes, thank you so much in Las Vegas.

All right. The Super Bowl is, of course, the biggest sports night but with Taylor Swift expected to touch down just in time to cheer on her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, it's a pretty safe bet that there will be almost as much attention on the pop star as there will be on the game.

Here's CNN's Nick Watt.


PATRICK MAHOMES, QUARTERBACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: The "Anti-Hero" song. I mean that, that ones pretty sweet. So I would say that, but --

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Super Bowl star quarterback days before the big game, answering questions about which of a teammate's girlfriend's songs he likes the most.

MAHOMES: I do love "Love Story". I mean, it gets me every single time.

WATT: More than 100 men will be on the field Sunday eclipsed perhaps by one woman in the stands.

Here is Taylor Swift and the NFL by the numbers. The Chiefs won nine of the 12 games she attended this season, you can now bet on what color shirt she'll wear Sunday. Red is favorite. She's reportedly added over $300 million in brand value to her boyfriend's team, the Chiefs and the NFL.

REPORTER: What do you say to those who think it's all scripted by the NFL?

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I don't think I'm that good of scripter.

WATT: To the Jets/Chiefs game October 1st, she brought along 2 million new female TV viewers. The director reportedly cut to her 17 times.

"New York Times", all the news that's fit to print, took a deep dive on that stat. How often is Taylor Swift actually shown at NFL games? They are conclusion, less than many seem to think.

Still, right-wing TV talking heads are getting their boxers very bunched.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, around four years ago, the Pentagon psychological operations unit floated turning Taylor Swift into an asset during a NATO meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Build them up, build them up, build them up, and then at the moment of truth, they're going to endorse Biden

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 1949, George Orwell had a vision of the future.

WATT: As Orwell predicted our surveillance age, as Caravaggio predicated our narcissistic selfie obsessions, so Swift predicted falling in love with a football player.

In 2008, "You Belong With Me".


WATT: Whether she'll make it in time from a concert in Tokyo to the Super Bowl in Vegas has generated acres of copy, infographics, even an assurance from the Japanese embassy.

Is it only the 49ers quarterback who just doesn't care?

BROCK PURDY, QUARTERBACK, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Obviously, our defense is going against Pat Mahomes and their great offense. So that's all we're looking at it. We don't -- we're not trying to get wrapped up in us against Taylor Swift or anything like that. So --

REPORTER: Do you have a favorite Taylor Swift song?

PURDY: I don't.

WATT: Perhaps Brock Purdy doth protest too much


WATT (on camera): So more than 100 million people will watch the Super Bowl Sunday and while we're all watching, it's worth remembering one thing, in the middle of all this razzmatazz, they're just two young kids in love, getting to know each other, each other's past times, professions. As Taylor Swift told "Time Magazine" when she was named Person of the Year, she said football is awesome, it turns out. I'm just there to support Travis.

There. I said his name for the first time in this entire story.


Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

WHITFIELD: Oh, but we all knew what you meant.

All right. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: Later today, the public is invited to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s youngest son. Dexter Scott King died in January after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 62. Tonight's memorial service described as a candlelight musical experience, which gets underway in just under three hours from now at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church.

CNN's Rafael Romo is at the church and is joining us live -- Rafael.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, the King family has called Ebenezer Baptist Church their spiritual home for more than a century.


So it's no surprise that they chose to say good-bye to Dexter. As a matter of fact, when they were announcing plans to honor the memory of Dexter King, they said that the event would be called what they say a candle light musical experience and the memorial, Fred, will be open to the public and will also be streamed live on the King Center's website.

And as you mentioned before and we have reported this, Dexter King died after battling cancer, prostate cancer, on January 22nd. It was only days before his 63rd birthday.

The day after he passed away, his sister, Bernice King, the CEO of the King Center, wanted to honor the memory of her brother with these words. Take a listen.


BERNICE KING, CEO, KING CENTER: I always admired his brilliant mind, his ability to innovate. But I told him this year, I said, Dexter, you, to me, you have the most strategic mind that I know. Dexter was a strategist. And most people didn't understand and know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMO: And Dexter King was the youngest son and third child of Dr. Martin Luther King, the civil rights leader, and his wife Coretta Scott King. He was only 7 years old when his father was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968. And according to the King Center, he was named after Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, the church where his father first served as a pastor. At the time of his death, he was not only the CEO of the -- the chairman I should say, of the King Center, but also the president of the King Estate.

Fredricka, back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Rafael Romo, thank you so much.

All right. One of the three American soldiers killed in last month's drone attack in Jordan will be laid to rest next week here in Georgia. Staff Sergeant William J. Rivers is being remembered as a true American hero, devoted father, and having a deep desire to serve his country. An Iranian-backed militant group is being blamed for his death and two other service members who were killed at their military post in Jordan. All three were based at Fort Moore in Southwest Georgia.

And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right. Today marks the start of a lunar New Year in China. CNN anchor Kristie Lu Stout sat down with an expert to get his forecast on the year of the wood dragon.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a time of raucous joy with festive parades and massive firework displays. This year, the Lunar New Year falls on February the 10th. That's when we enter the Year of the Dragon.

Most know the basics, the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle is represented by 12 different animals. Your animal is determined by your year of birth. When a new Lunar New Year approaches, some consult a feng shui master to find out what lies ahead.

STOUT: Let's look at the destiny --


STOUT: -- of Taylor Swift. She was born of the Year of the Snake. What does the Year of the Dragon hold for her?

LO: When we look at her birthday, she is born on the day of fire, and she is born in winter. That is, December 13 is winter. Winter fire is quite weak.

So, that was who needs the support of wood. So, that's why the last few years of wood actually brings her good luck.

STOUT: She has had some very good last few years.

LO: That's why.

STOUT: But, what about the next year?

LO: Continue to have good luck in the next few years.

STOUT: The Swifties would love hearing that.

OK. Now, also born the Year of the Snake is the Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

LO: He is a strong fire person. He is also like Taylor Swift. But, he is born in summer. So, that's why his fire is strong. So, when fire is strong, it likes earth because fire fulfills earth. Earth is the outlet for the fire to take action. That's why actually the dragon year is good year for a strong fire person.

STOUT: 2024 is a big U.S. election here.

So, I got to ask you about U.S. President Joe Biden --

LO: Yeah. Yeah.

STOUT: -- about his challenger Donald Trump --

LO: Yeah.

STOUT: -- about his challenger Nikki Haley.

LO: Donald Trump is a strong earth person. There is earth person born in summer already supported with a lot of fire. So, therefore, he doesn't like more fire.

Unfortunately, the coming year, we have strong fire coming up. So, therefore, it doesn't support him in his luck.

Nikki Haley is a strong metal lady. She has good luck. Fire means power to her. So, therefore, she is running for the president and hoping to get the power. But, she has a lot of competition.

Joe Biden is a weak fire person. Weak fire person likes wood and fire. Joe Biden's not so good year is actually just passed, 2023. And then, comparing with the Donald Trump, I think Joe Biden seems to be in better luck.

STOUT: And if you're a dragon in a dragon year --

LO: The dragon doesn't like (ph) the dragon itself. So, usually, that's not an auspicious year for you.


STOUT: So, be prepared for a few bumps, but no, you're not alone. There are a number of famous dragons out there, and their fortunes may vary.

Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


WHITFIELD: All right. Good luck to everyone no matter what your Chinese zodiac sign.

All right. Valentine's Day, well, it's just around the corner. And that day of love may have you wondering who's happier, those who tie the knot, or those who are remaining single but mingling.

A new Gallup poll found that adults who are married are actually far happier. Researchers asked more than 2.5 million adults from 2009 to 2023 how they would rate their current life, and consistently, married people said they were happier, even when researchers adjusted the data for factors like age, rates, gender, and education.

All right. Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

The "CNN NEWSROOM" with Jim Acosta is next.