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U.S. Strikes Against Houthi Rebel Targets; Global Outrage Aimed At Russia Over Death Of Alexei Navalny; 2 Officers, 1 Firefighter Killed In Minnesota Shooting; France And Egypt Express "Firm Opposition" To Any Offensive In Rafah; Nasser Medical Out Of Service; Kamala Harris High-Profile Role; Migrant Shelter Boy Dies; All-Star Game Hours Away. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 18, 2024 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C. And we continue to follow breaking news out of the Middle East.

The U.S. Military has conducted a new round of strikes against Houthi controlled areas of Yemen and targets in the Red Sea. These new strikes hit anti-ship cruise missiles and vessels, and also included strikes on the first unmanned underwater vessel the Iranian-backed rebel group has used since the attacks in the Red Sea began. The Houthi attacks have forced some of the world's biggest shipping and oil companies to suspend transit through one of the most important maritime trade routes, which could potentially cause a shock to the global economy.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis is covering these developments for us.

Katie Bo, what is the U.S. Military saying about these new strikes?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the U.S. Military carrying out five strikes against targets in Houthi held areas of Yemen. Three anti-ship cruise missiles one drone boat, and one underwater drone. Now the U.S. Military in a statement saying that this is the first time that it had seen the Houthi rebels employ one of these underwater drones. But at this point, we don't really have any more details than that in terms of how the military identified this potential target where it was, and what potential risk that the use of this kind of underwater drone could pose to either commercial shipping in the region or to military vessels in the area.

The U.S. Military saying in a statement that it had identified these targets, quote, "because they presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region," and saying that these actions will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels. This is just the latest round of U.S. Military strikes against Houthi targets. The Houthis being an Iranian-backed rebel group that control large

swaths of territory in Yemen that for months have carried out dozens of attacks against both commercial shipping as well as military targets in the region in what they say is support of the Palestinian cause inside Gaza. These latest strikes follow another series of strikes, literally just a couple of days ago, on Friday. The U.S. striking two other Houthi targets. Again, an anti-ship cruise missile and a drone boat.

The big question now at this point, Fredricka, is do these U.S. strike have an impact on the Houthi decision-making, the Houthi attacks, right? Do they actually deter the Houthis from carrying out further attacks? The Houthis have said publicly that they have no intention of stopping their attacks on shipping until the Israeli invasion of Gaza is over, until the Israelis are out of Gaza and hostilities there have ended.

Also true that we have not seen the pace of attacks from the Houthi is in the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden slow. At the same time, the U.S. doesn't really have a great sense of how big the Houthi arsenal really is, right? How many military capabilities they retain. U.S. intelligence gathering inside Yemen, inside Houthi controlled Yemen, is a little bit anemic. And so I think a big question for U.S. officials who are watching this situation closely is how much capability do the Houthis retain and how long can they keep this up?

WHITFIELD: All right. Katie Bo Lillis, thank you so much for that.

All right. Now to this situation inside Russia. Hundreds of people have reportedly been detained for attending vigils and rallies following the death of opposition leader and Putin critic Alexey Navalny. He died in a Russian prison. Earlier today, the U.S. and British ambassadors to Russia laid flowers in memory of Navalny in Moscow.

CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance is in Moscow.

Matthew, what's the latest?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not just the U.S. and the British ambassadors that have been paying their respects at makeshift memorials in Moscow. Across the country thousands of Russians, despite the restrictions, sort of banning them from doing this have been turning out and laying flowers, putting photographs and messages, you know, to Alexey Navalny, and some of them have paid a price for that because according to one rights group, monitoring group, OVD info, hundreds of people have been detained simply for that act of defiance of placing a flower at one of these makeshift memorials somewhere in a town or in a city in Russia that has come out to pay their respects to this late prominent Russian opposition leader.

It just showed you how intolerant the Russian state has become even at that kind of sort of voice of opposition if you like in the streets of its towns and its cities.


Nevertheless, you can see there pictures of people being taken away, some of them forcefully by the police deployed at these areas. Since then a lot of these makeshift sites have been cleared of their flowers as well because the authorities simply don't want to leave any trace of, you know, these tributes to Alexey Navalny, who, as you say, was pronounced dead at this penal colony late last week on Friday.

WHITFIELD: And then of course, Matthew, Navalny's family and his supporter say they still haven't seen his body. Are there any updates on that?

CHANCE: Not really. It's still a big mystery. In fact, Alexey's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, traveled to the remote penal colony or a town close to it, to the morgue in that location where she was told the body of her son would be. And she was trying to recover it so the family can have a funeral. But when she got to the morgue, it was closed and the people there said her son's body wasn't there. And so there was some confusion around that.

Subsequently, the Russian authorities have said, look, we're not going to give the body back to the family so it can be buried until such times we've finished all our medical examinations, all our, you know, sort of forensic work, postmortems to determine what the cause of death was. But the Navalny team, you know, his political allies, his campaigners in the anti-corruption group that he ran, say that this is just the Russians -- the Russian authorities trying to hide the body, trying to hide the real reason why Alexey Navalny suddenly and without warning died late last week.

WHITFIELD: All right. Matthew Chance in Moscow. Thanks so much.

All right, let's bring in Ariel Cohen. He is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Good to see you, Ariel. So President Biden has joined many others who are blaming Putin for being involved in Navalny's death. If that turns out to be the case, why do you believe Navalny died now?

ARIEL COHEN, NONRESIDENT SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: I believe that the whole imprisonment of Alexey Navalny was one big operation to take him out, to murder him. I personally knew very well two Russian opposition leaders, the late Galina Starovoitova, a woman who was the forefront of Gorbachev's Perestroika and Yeltsin's reforms. She was killed in the entrance of her apartment building in St. Petersburg in 1998. And my good friend Boris Nemtsov who I warned not to go back to Russia in 2014 and he was murdered also in February of 2015.

Navalny was arrested after he returned to Russia upon his recovery after he was poisoned in Siberia by the Russian government. There is ample evidence that he was poisoned. He was miraculously saved in Germany by doctors and then he decided to go back and fight for freedom in Russia and immediately was arrested and put in increasingly harsh conditions above the Polar -- above the Arctic Circle in the Polar Siberia and there he met his demise. Now the fact that the body is not remitted to the family and cannot be

flown to the West to do an independent autopsy, and now they are also leaks that there are bruises on the body suggests to me that this young, relatively young man of 47, in good health before the poisoning, was murdered in the gulag.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Even with that information that you've learned, CNN cannot verify that. But is it your feeling that the family will never receive the body of Navalny because, of course, receiving the body, someone's going to do an independent forensic study of him in order to determine cause of death. So what is your feeling about Russia forever holding on to his body?

COHEN: I hope that the body will be released to the family and the body needs to be examined abroad. Even in that case, there are poisons in the labs of the former KGB of the Russian Security Services that after a while can evaporate or dissipate. And no evidence, no tracks of the poison will be found after a while.


So we have the circumstances of a prominent opposition leader. Navalny for Russia is what Mahatma Gandhi was for India, or what Nelson Mandela was for South Africa, or Martin Luther King Junior was for the United States. And they took him out.

WHITFIELD: Is it your feeling that -- I mean, Navalny new with great risk that he was making his return to Russia even after recovering from the poisoning in Germany. Is it your feeling that he made that return knowing that he would near immediately be apprehended or do you think he felt like if and when he were to be detained that it would come, you know, I guess after some time of being able to continue his opposition work in Russia?

COHEN: He probably thought he may be detained so did my friend Boris Nemtsov when he went back. I think those two leaders of the opposition did not think they'll be murdered quickly. And Navalny thought he'd live long enough. He was, what, 20 plus years younger than Putin? He thought he'd live long enough to participate in democratic politics in Russia one day. Unfortunately, today we see the ratcheting of the political conditions in Russia.

Putin is cleaning the deck, so to speak, as the war in Ukraine continues, and there are leaked materials from the Estonian Intelligence Services that Putin is going to expand the war to the Baltic States after he wraps up the operation in Ukraine, that he will be able to wrap up if our Congress continues to stall on providing assistance to Ukraine.

And Putin's ambitions don't stop there. Putin is working closely with Iran to support Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East to support Iran with potentially nuclear technologies, buying thousands of drones from Iran. So the connection is the battlefield is not just Europe. It's also the Middle East. And Russia, of course, is in the pocket of China today. If, God forbid, the balloon goes up in the Pacific, Russia and China and North Korea will be facing the United States and our allies there.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ariel Cohen, glad you could be with us. Thank you so much.

COHEN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. We're learning more about the two police officers and firefighter who were killed in a shooting outside Minneapolis as officials get ready to hold a briefing. Stay with us. Plus, Vice President Kamala Harris is working quietly to change the strategy that the Biden reelection campaign is using. New CNN reporting straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: All right. We've just learned new details about the fatal shooting of two police officers and a firefighter during a domestic disturbance call outside of Minneapolis as authorities prepared to hold a press conference at the top of the hour.

Let's get right to CNN's Camila Bernal.

What are you learning, Camila?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred, really a tragic loss of life, but authorities are releasing the names of these officers and the firefighter that was killed. I want to start with that. Officer Paul Elmstrand, just 27 years old, shot and killed this morning. Officer Matthew Ruge, also just 27 years old, and firefighter paramedic, Adam Finseth, 40 years old.

The city of Burnsville giving us new details and saying this. They received a call at 1:50 in the morning. This was a domestic call where a man was reported to be armed and authorities say that quickly thereafter the officers arrived, it escalated to gunfire with police, and that's when these three individuals were killed. There was another officer who was also injured. This is Sergeant Adam Medlicott and he was taken to the hospital. We were told his injuries are non-life- threatening.

Now it was after 8:00 a.m. that authorities reported that the suspect, the shooter, was dead. They said that shortly thereafter the family in the home where the suspect had been barricaded the family was able to leave the home and they said that those family members are safe and that there is no longer a threat to the community.

Now the governor of Minnesota saying that we should never take for granted the bravery and the sacrifices that the men and women that serve make. You know, it is just something extremely heartbreaking for so many people in the state, and really all over the country. And there is a vigil that's scheduled for later on this evening. There's that press conference that we're waiting for also in about an hour, just less than an hour. So hopefully we'll get more details there. And in terms of the victims, again, the people that are being honored

and remembered, I just want to go back. Elmstrand, the police officer that was killed, he joined the department in 2017, was promoted to an officer in 2019. He was a member of the department's Mobile Command Staff, the Peer Team, the Honor Guard, and the Field Training Unit.

Ruge, who is also 27 years old, he joined the department in 2020. He was part of the department's crisis negotiations team and was a physical evidence officer.


Finseth, who was that firefighter, had joined the department in 2019. So again, just three men who are being honored and remembered amidst this tragic situation here that authorities say is still in the beginning phases of the investigation. So there are still a lot more to this, but unfortunately, three of these first responders, the people that got there first, that went towards the danger, were killed by this shooter this morning -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, horrible situation. At the top of the hour there'll be that press conference and more formation about all of the circumstances surrounding this.

Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

BERNAL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. The Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health says what was once the largest functioning hospital in the enclave is now, quote, "completely out of service." How bad is the situation in Gaza right now? I'll talk to the head of Oxfam, next.



WHITFIELD: All right. New deadly strikes in Gaza. Palestinian hospital officials say at least 18 people have died after an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza and dozens of others were injured. Meantime, the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health says the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza is now out of service after an Israeli raid. It had been the largest functioning hospital in the area.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now from Tel Aviv.

Jeremy, were there still patients in the Nasser hospital when this happened?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there certainly were. And there still are patients at that hospital, but they are living in very, very difficult conditions. Not only is that hospital not functional anymore, not able to process critical care patients there, but electricity has been cut off from the complex, and there are only about 25 medical staff remaining after the majority of the staff either evacuated or some of them, about 70 medical workers at the complex, were apparently detained by Israeli forces.

The Israeli military spent the last several days inside Nasser hospital searching they say based on credible intelligence for the bodies of Israeli hostages. They did not turn up those bodies after about three days of searching the complex, but what they did find they say is weapons on the complex as well as medicine with the names and photos of Israeli hostages. But what is clear is the damage to the hospital itself, which was shelled late last week and then subsequently raided by Israeli forces. The World Health Organization saying that it is not functional anymore.

We do know that there are also still people who were sheltering at that hospital. Thousands of people who have since fled. But what is also clear is that while a lot of military activity has focused on Southern Gaza, Central Gaza has been getting hit very hard by the Israeli military over this weekend. 68 people killed in strikes on Saturday and an additional 18 people were killed in airstrikes on Central Gaza today.

The videos are quite stunning. One after the other you see children being brought in, killed or injured. Two health officials at that hospital in Central Gaza say the majority of the victims who were killed or injured were children. Just showing how even as the Israeli military has focused its offensive in Southern Gaza, Central Gaza still remains very, very dangerous place for Palestinians.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

As Israeli troops plan for a possible ground operation in Rafah, the leaders of France and Egypt have expressed firm opposition to any offensive in Gaza's southernmost city. According to a call between them, their main concerns are the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the unobstructed delivery of aid to Palestinians.

A non-government humanitarian group trying to end poverty and injustice, Oxfam America, has called the suffering in Gaza horrific. President and CEO, Abby Maxman, is joining us right now.

Good to see you, Abby. So what's your point of view on this? How will, you know, the possible Israeli operation in Rafah impact the refugee crisis there?

ABBY MAXMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, OXFAM AMERICA: Yes, thanks, Fredricka. You know, a further offensive in Rafah will surely accelerate the deepening hunger crisis. Given the fact that more than one million people sheltering there have nowhere to go. And it also will dramatically diminish the already weak flows of aid going in. And we have heard chilling reports from my colleagues and many about just how fearful people are in Rafah right now.

And the risk of going beyond this tipping point where emergency food aid won't be enough and averting mass deaths becomes harder and harder as risk of starvation gains momentum.

WHITFIELD: What are your staffers, your crew, your volunteers, what are they telling you about some, you know, real specific experiences that they are enduring or what they're witnessing?

MAXMAN: Well, I was there several weeks ago and spoke with our colleagues who were describing horrific, inhumane conditions as they were just trying to survive day by day. They were losing hope. They were eating if they were -- those who called themselves lucky were eating one meal a day and finding flour that they could cook to create -- to bake some bread for their family.

And some living in conditions with more than 60 or 100 people crammed into small, small places. Virtually everybody is displaced. Living in tents, on top of rubble. And my colleague just the other day spoke of one of her close friends who delivered a baby with -- by caesarean, with no anesthesia. None.


WHITFIELD: Oh, my God.

MAXMAN: These are people who are trying to survive every day in incredibly impossible circumstances.

WHITFIELD: A Nasser hospital was the largest functioning medical center in Gaza and, now reportedly, is just non-functioning. People -- we just heard from our Jeremy Diamond. He said there are people that remain there still who needed medical help.

In other cases, people are there because that's where they seek refuge or their nearest family members who were getting medical help there. Without that functioning, now what do you believe is happening?

MAXMAN: Well, it's heartbreaking and heart wrenching to even consider what's happening. Because it has been not just weeks but months where we have heard and direct first-hand stories about the lack of access to health care.

One family I spoke with, a woman who has separated outside of Gaza, seeking health care for one of her children while her husband and two daughters were there. They were care -- this -- they had been victims of shelling. And the daughters both had injuries. And the father and the community -- the people they were living with were the ones providing the care for very real serious injuries.

So, the raid on the Nasser hospital is yet another unacceptable assault on the basic services that Palestinians need to survive. The health care system really had, for all intensive purposes, collapsed, as the needs for license they've been care have been skyrocketing.

And hospitals must be protected. Civilians must be protected. And what we need is a ceasefire.

WHITFIELD: I'm still hanging on trying to envision what you mentioned, a caesarean section happening without any anesthesia. I just -- it's unimaginable.

Abby Maxman, --

MAXMAN: It really is.

WHITFIELD: -- thank you so much, of Oxfam America. Appreciate it.

MAXMAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, a new reporting that vice president Kamala Harris is editing her role in Biden's presidential reelection campaign. The details next.



WHITFIELD: Former U.S. representative, Liz Cheney, is criticizing Donald Trump's response, or lack thereof, to the death of kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny. She's warning of a Putin wing of the Republican Party.

While Biden asserted that Putin is responsible, Trump has said nothing directly about Navalny. Cheney finds his silence concerning.


LIZ CHENEY, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: When you think about Donald Trump, for example, pledging retribution, what Vladimir Putin did to Navalny is what retribution looks like in a country where the leader is not subject to the rule of law. And I think that we have to take Donald Trump very seriously. We have to take seriously the extent to which, you know, you've now got a Putin wing of the Republican Party.


WHITFIELD: Cheney ads that she hasn't decided whether she'll make a third-party run for president. But did say she would do, quote, "whatever is necessary to defeat Donald Trump."

All right, vice president, Kamala Harris, took on a more visible and high-profile role in the Biden administration this week. At the Munich security conference, she blamed Russian president, Vladimir Putin, for the death of Alexey Navalny. Harris also vowed the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine, as us lawmakers struggle to pass aid for the war effort.

And she also tried to assure European allies, after Trump recently disparage NATO. New CNN reporting finds that this is part of the vice president's latest effort.

CNN's Isaac Dovere joining us now on more of his reporting. So, what do you mean? Does she have a new role? More high profile, less? What's happening?

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Well, look, what's going on is that the vice president has been having a bunch of conversations. Sometimes, it's on the sidelines of an event, like at the White House Congressional party -- or Christmas Congressional party back in December, or meetings at the Naval Observatory.

Sometimes, Saturday afternoon sessions with campaign staff or dinners with black men leaders in the entertainment industry. Trying to say to them, look, we're not getting enough information about how things are playing out on the ground. What's going on? How is it looking? What's gone wrong?

And she's been getting quite a few complaints from people, about feeling like the Biden campaign isn't going well. She had a session with governors last week at the Naval Observatory, six governors from around the country. Democrats saying their concerns.

One person who's attending one of these meetings said to me that they're getting sick of feeling sloughed off by the White House in the Biden campaign. Every time they make a complaint, saying that these complaints that we're bedwetting are running -- wearing a little bit thin.

And she has been trying to take that information and then use it to build some new responses for how the Biden campaign can start dealing with this. And getting into a better place going into the reelection campaign.

WHITFIELD: So, it sounds like you're describing that she's getting intel, you know, to help reshape the campaign. Is this an unusual role for a vice president or is this generally what they do, especially in a reelection year?


DOVERE: Well, it is more than a usual running mate situation. More than a usual vice president situation. Of course, this is an, sort of, abnormal situation that we've got here with the election overall. But she is trying to find the right place for yourself.

Obviously, we've seen, over the last couple of years, that's been a little bit of a struggle for her. Of course, there has been a lot of attention on her as a potential successor. Someone to step in, if something happens to Joe Biden. Even among the Republicans, trying to make that a campaign issue against Joe Biden, that Kamala Harris would become president.

This is her trying to make sure, in her mind, that she's doing everything she can to get job Biden reelected, to get herself reelected as vice president.

WHITFIELD: All right. Isaac Dovere, thank you so much. Very interesting reporting there.

DOVERE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nearly two months after the tragic death of a five-year-old boy in a Chicago migrant shelter. We're learning how he died.

According to the cook county medical examiner, the boy died from sepsis that resulted after a rare complication from the bacteria that causes strep throat. He had been staying at the shelter with his family when he became ill. Shelter staff administered first aid. He, then, was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Chicago alderman, Byron Sigcho-Lopez represents the district where the shelter is located in and he's joining me right now. Alderman, good to see you.

So, you put out a very passionate statement last week, saying you were deeply heartbroken. Tell us, you know, about how you learned these details and how that's making so many people to feel.

BYRON SIGCHO-LOPEZ, ALDERMAN, CHICAGO'S 25TH WARD (via Webex): Well, thank you, again. And not only as an elected official, but as a father of young children, I'm deeply heartbroken for the family of John Carlos. The son of a -- the loss of a son and of a family member never goes away.

Right now, in Chicago, we are trying to do everything we can to address the serious needs that we can have, in terms of these humanitarian needs. We have, right now, unfortunately, as you mentioned, these tragedies that keep -- that keep amounting because of the serious conditions that are being created.

We have a governor in Texas that is treating this is a -- as a war zone. He's not treating these like a humanitarian crisis. We have people arriving in flip flops and without jackets often times. We have arctic weather. And, again, in this case with the -- in the case of John Carlos is -- this is a tragedy.

When we see this -- again, we are all familiar with the strep throat in Chicago. Unfortunately, when this becomes a more serious and aggressive type, and we've seen a lot of disease, this is -- this ended up in a tragedy. The medical examiner ruled as a natural cause.

And, again, we, as the city, as a community, we are an immigrant community, we're urging the state -- for instance, to win state access and (ph) document the patients to be able to access medical care. Something was called last year.

We are also asking the federal government to please urgently have the same resources that we did. And we employ in Chicago for us to receive 29,000 Ukrainian refugees that are also fleeing violence and adding a need.

Right now, again, we are deeply heartbroken in our community, that we have a young boy that is no longer with his family. And now, and only few months ago, we also had a three-year-old little girl that died in transit from Texas to Chicago.

This requires all to work with all the weight of government at every level, local and federal level, to address this humanitarianly. And to urgently take on the needs of cities, and destination cities like Chicago, that are in urgent need of food on the state support.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I mean, the circumstances of little John Carlos' death are horrifying. So, when he died -- the city of Chicago was sheltering nearly 14,000 migrants at 27 temporary shelters. What is the situation there now?

SIGCHO-LOPEZ: So, at this particular shelter -- and, again, we've been asking for support. We have over 2,000 people in one location. It's like a little city. And we have not been able to decompress, as we see more people arriving. And, again, threats of even bringing more people.

What we're asking is collaboration to decompress. To resettle. To treat this with humanity. To make sure that we address these on a coordinator effort, instead of putting so much burden.


SIGCHO-LOPEZ: And, again, in cities like Chicago, that are doing everything they can. But without decompression, without federal support, without a state support, housing is already a huge issue in the city of Chicago. We've got over 80,000 people that aren't housed, 20,000 CBS (ph) children.

So, when we added new neighbors -- and, again, the city of Chicago has done above and beyond. But, again, without the same process that welcome Ukrainian refugees, and without an estate that works in collaboration with us, it is a titanic (ph) task. And that's why we also ask the federal government for intervention, for collaboration, you know, with the -- in the border.

You know, it seems like there is a lot of willingness to support in Mexico. The president has asked for a meeting. We're asking to treat this with collaboration in coordination with all the levels of government. And, also, with diplomacy internationally to prevent more tragedies.

WHITFIELD: Byron Sigcho-Lopez, glad you could be with us. Thank you so much. Very sad details.

SIGCHO-LOPEZ: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: OK, we're just a little over three hours away from the NBA All-Star game. Indianapolis is hosting the event for the first time in almost 40 years. And guess who's there? CNN's Andy Scholes. So, what's the format for this year's game?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Fredricka, it's going back to its roots. After six years of the team captains drafting the teams, the format of this game is going back to its traditional East versus West. So, that means, you know, at some point during this game, we could get a LeBron, K.D., Steph, Luka, Jokic lineup for the Western Conference, which would be pretty cool. And, you know, I talked to a lot of guys this week, about the format

going back to the way it used to be. And I'll tell you what, they were overwhelmingly in favor of it.


DEVIN BOOKER, GUARD, PHOENIX SUNS: I love it. And I think it should have been that way. I think, next, we should let people wear their own jerseys in the game.


STEPH CURRY, GUARD, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Getting rid of the pre- draft thing (ph), where everybody was just standing around for however long, will help. The East-West stuff, where it's a little bit more familiarity with, you know, your teammates will help. It's not going to be a game seven. It's not going to be a playoff-type vibe. But it should be somewhere in between.


SCHOLES: All right, here's hoping we get a good one (ph). The broadcast starts at 8:00 Eastern on TNT.

Now, last night for the first time ever, we had the battle of the sexes three-point competition between Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu. And it more than lived up to the heighten (ph). They came up with this idea, after Sabrina scored a record 37 points in the WNBA's three- point contest, winning it over the summer.

And, Sabrina, she went for a shooting from the NBA three-point line. And just put on a show, clearing the first rack completely. She would go on to finish with a great score of 26, which would actually have tied for the best score in the real three-point contest.

But she was going up against the best shooter of all time, Steph Curry. And Steph would get hot late, end up winning 29 to 26. Now, Sabrina saying afterwards, she hopes this event going to inspire kids across the country.


SABRINA: Being able to have this crossover and understanding the respect that I've been able to receive from a lot of the NBA guys. I mean, you know, just knowing that Steph wanted to do this as well, in terms of just respecting another shooter. And I think it's going to show a lot of young kids out there, a lot of people who might have not believed or even watched women's sports, that we're able to go out there and put on a show.


SCHOLES: Yes. And, Fredricka, Steph and Sabrina, they tease that they might have a round two of this special competition next year, when the game is in San Francisco. WHITFIELD: OK. We'll all be waiting and watching. Andy Scholes, thank

you so much.

We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right. There's always been the shady side of politics and the stranger-than-fiction situations that leave the voting public's heads spinning.

CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper gives us a preview of his new CNN original series, "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL," where he dives into some of the most sensational political controversies.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I've covered American politics now for the better part of three decades, and I've always wondered why politicians are so willing to risk careers they have spent years building for what often seems like trifling pursuits.

So, looking at our current political climate, the complex web of scandals surrounding our former president, not to mention allegations against Hunter Biden, Matt Gaetz, George Santos, and on and on. It felt like a good time to revisit similar events from recent history to maybe provide some new context as to what actually happened, as well as to hear directly from the folks who were there in the center of the storm.

So, tonight, in the new CNN original series, "UNITED STATES OF SCANDAL," I'll explore some of the most sensational political controversies and talk to some of the most famous or infamous political figures of the modern era, to try to dissect the truth from the spin.

Now, in the first episode tonight, I'm going to speak with former Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, best known for serving time in prison for trying to sell the Illinois Senate seats that Barack Obama vacated when he was elected president in 2008. Take a listen.


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF ILLINOIS: Let me reassert to all of you once more that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing.

TAPPER (voice-over): Was Rod a corrupt politician or just a politician operating in a corrupt system that still thrives to this day?

(on camera): So, Governor, thanks for doing this.


TAPPER: So, you've been out of prison now for almost two years. BLAGOJEVICH: A little over two years.

TAPPER: And you're still very outspoken about how you feel like the case against you was unjust. There isn't really an argument about what you said.


TAPPER: It's on tape.


TAPPER: The question is whether it was illegal and whether it was morally wrong.

BLAGOJEVICH: Look, if you're saying, do we have a fundraising system in America that you can argue is legalized bribery?


BLAGOJEVICH: I think there's truth to that. But did I do anything other than that standard that every other person in politics does?