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U.S.-Led Coalition Launches New Round Of Strikes In Yemen; New Strikes In Yemen Come One Day After U.S. Strikes In Iraq And Syria; U.N. Security Council To Meet Monday On U.S. Airstrikes; Biden Wins South Carolina Democratic Primary, Earns First Delegates Of 2024; Biden Moves To Shore Up Critical Support From Black Voters; Haley Fights For Votes In Home State Of South Carolina; Nikki Haley Pops Up As Concerned Citizen On SNL. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired February 04, 2024 - 06:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning, everyone. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. Yes, it is Sunday, February 4th. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for joining us.

Here's what we're watching for you. A U.S.-led coalition struck more than two dozen Houthi targets in Yemen, Saturday. The targets of those strikes and what we're now hearing from the militant group in response to the strikes.

WALKER: President Biden notches his first official primary victory of the 2024 campaign with an easy and expected win in South Carolina. The signs Democrats point to as good news for Biden heading into the general election.

BLACKWELL: We're tracking a dangerous weather situation in California. Evacuation orders are in place. Schools are closed tomorrow, it's all in preparation for what forecasters are calling an intense atmospheric river. The forecast and warnings from emergency officials, we have those just ahead.

We're starting in the Middle East where the U.S. carried out more strikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. U.S. Central Command says it conducted a strike in self-defense and destroyed a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile that was prepared to launch. Earlier Saturday, the U.S. and U.K. launched airstrikes targeting Houthis rebels in Yemen, a response to the group's continued attacks in the Red Sea.

WALKER: Officials say the strikes hit over 30 targets, over 13 locations associated with the Houthis' deeply buried weapons storage facility, as well as other weapons used by the Houthis to target international shipping lanes. The Houthis responded to these recent strikes saying -- quote -- "we will meet escalation with escalation."

Now, those strikes come -- came just one day after U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria, which were in response to the three American soldiers who were killed in a drone attack in Jordan. CNN national security reporter Natasha Bertrand joining us now. Hi there, Natasha. Tell us more about this latest round of strikes.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Amara. So, this is the third that the U.S. and the U.K. conducted joint strikes targeting Houthi weaponry and infrastructure inside Yemen, backed, of course, by a coalition that included the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Bahrain and New Zealand.

And what we're told is that these attacks targeted 13 different locations, 36 targets which included commanded and control nodes and underground weapons storage facility as well as Houthi radars and helicopters. Now, of course, it remains to be clear -- remains to be seen whether this actually degrades the Houthis' capabilities to the extent that they're then unable to keep launching these missiles and drones into the Red Sea targeting commercial shipping.

But we are told that the U.S. used F/A-18 fighter aircraft as well -- from the Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier that has been stationed there in the Red Sea, as well as Tomahawk missiles from the USS Gravely and USS Carney that have also been there trying to protect the ships that are seeking to transit the Red Sea amid all of this Houthi attacks.

Now, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released a statement shortly after the attacks unfolded. And he said -- quote -- "This collective action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels. We will not hesitate to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world's most critical waterways."

Now, the coalition that has backed these strikes they said that their aim ultimately is to de-escalate tensions. And they are saying that they're not going to hesitate to continue to defense themselves, that is how they are framing this as part of self-defense action. But that -- you know, the Houthis, of course, are saying that they are going to continue these attacks until the war in Gaza comes to an end. And so, the U.S. military right now is grappling with how to continue its strikes on these Houthi militants in a way that actually degrades their capabilities for good.

BLACKWELL: Natasha, thank you. U.S. officials also emphasized that they don't want to escalate tensions in the Middle East, and they rallied a global coalition to condemn and hold the Houthis accountable. The U.N. Security Council will meet Monday to discuss the recent U.S. strikes.

WALKER: Let's go now to CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman in Amman, Jordan. Ben, tell us more about how the Middle Eastern countries are responding to this latest -- these latest strikes in Yemen.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, the Houthis themselves are saying, as Natasha mentioned, that they will meet escalation with escalation.


That they will continue these attacks on navigation in the Red Sea. Specifically, they say those headed to Israel until Israel halts what it calls its genocidal war in Gaza. And what we know is that, you know, the Yemenis from 2015, the Houthis, specifically, from 2015 to 2022, were under pretty constant attack by Saudi Arabia, using very sophisticated weaponry in the war in Yemen. But nonetheless, the Yemenis -- the Houthis emerged stronger than ever before.

They're a very strong, tough people. It's sort of like the Afghanistan of the Middle East. And they can put up with a severe beating and come out sometimes stronger than they were before. So, the Houthis have a track record of being hit hard and somehow coming out better.

Now the Iranians are accusing the United States and the U.K., in reference to these attacks on Yemen, that this is only going to make things worse. That you can't de-escalate by escalating and they accused the U.K. and the U.S. of fueling chaos, disorder, insecurity and instability in the Middle East -- Victor, Amara.

WALKER: All right. Ben Wedeman, thank you very much. Let's talk more about this with CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger and military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton. Welcome to you both, gentlemen.

Colonel, let's start with you and just to get your assessment on this latest round of attacks this time targeting Houthis -- the Houthis, the Iranian-backed rebels.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, good morning, Amara. The main assessment that I have is that these attacks have been pretty successful in a tactical sense. One of the most important aspects of this is that they were able to get at -- missiles as they are being launched or being prepared for launch. So, the U.S. and the U.K. have clear indications that these missiles are going to be set up to target a specific vessel or a series of vessels, depending on the number of missiles. And that is a success.

But on the other hand, when you have these kinds of efforts going on, it does nothing at the moment, at least, to alter the strategic balance that's going on. As Ben mentioned in his report, the Houthis are not only very tough and resilient but they are going to find ways to survive these attacks at least as they are being conducted so far.

WALKER: So, David, if these latest strikes don't act as a deterrence, then what? I mean, what kind of message does that send?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, that's going to be the big challenge for them, Amara. Because if you think about the evolution of the Biden administration's approach here, first, they were doing essentially a policing action in the Red Sea, right? They were trying to have a number of patrol cars that were cruising around, trying to stop crime, as they viewed it. Then they moved to a defensive action which was to try to intercept these missiles as they came.

About two weeks ago, President Biden approved new strike packages that basically said that any kind of missile or drone that was seen out in the open, put on the long trail could be destroyed. And that's what you saw happen last night.

But there are two problems with this approach as it expands. The first is we don't know the depth of their supply lines here. So, as Cedric said, we know what we hit, but what we don't know is how quickly they can resupply.

And the second is almost an ideological problem, which is that the Houthis don't exist to be in resistance to the United States. So, the more the U.S. does this, the more it sort of reaffirms their position. They're not there to administer a country. You know, they're not known for their social services. So, to some degree, we are boosting their status, even while we're degrading their arms.

WALKER: I mean, there have been previous U.S. strikes to deter these Iran-backed proxies, particularly, the Houthis. We've seen these strikes from the U.S. and Yemen recently. And then the attacks in the shipping areas, the commercial shipping in the Red Sea, continues by the Houthis, Colonel. So, does that make America look weak, I mean, even in the face of these strikes from the U.S., that they remain resolved, and will likely continue if, you know, their weapons systems have not been fully degraded?

LEIGHTON: Yes. That's going to be the key problem, Amara. I think the -- if the weapons systems aren't fully degraded and the resupply efforts, as David mentioned, continue from Iran or the existing stocks that they have, it's going to be really hard to convince people that this operation is a success.


Although technically it has, you know, achieved a lot of its -- a lot of its objectives. But that's the difference between tactics and strategy. And there is a huge concern that without any further action or de-escalatory action there will be no stop to this.

But we're kind of in the same quandary that we were in back in the early 1800s when we fought the Barbary pirates off the north coast of North Africa. That too, was an intractable problem for -- it was the first time that we engaged these kinds of pirate actions, if you will, on the open seas.

And that is, I think, the kind of thing that we're looking at here, a protracted struggle that is going to require us to do these kinds of things in order to keep commercial shipping open. But it's going to require a lot of effort and a lot of time to degrade their capabilities. And -- they may never be fully degraded.

WALKER: David, what do you anticipate in terms of Iran's response to all of this? And you wrote an interesting piece in "The New York Times" basically highlighting the fact that the Iranians are playing a long game right now, that they have an ultimate objective pushing the U.S. out of the region. So, what is our calculus right now then?

SANGER: Well, first, unlike the Houthis and unlike some of the Hezbollah offshoots that we've seen the U.S. attacking, the Iranians have a lot to lose in a direct conflict with the United States and with Israel. So, they've denounced the U.S. They've said the U.S. is making the problem more complex. They may be right about that. But they have not threatened retaliation.

And the U.S. has been very careful not to strike Iranian sites inside of Iran. Or IRGC officers inside Iran. Now, the question is, do the Iranians just leave it at their verbiage which is what the administration is betting they will do?

And to some degree, they have a lot to gain from just letting things play out here. Secretary of Defense Austin is already in discussions with the Iraq government, which was displeased with the strikes on their own territory, about removing those 2,500 U.S. troops that are remaining in Iraq. And remember, what's Iran's goal here, it's to get the U.S. out of the Middle East.

Now, there will be a lot of troops left elsewhere. But, boy, if they can just sort of sit this out and get the Americans out of Iraq and make it more risky and expensive for the U.S. elsewhere, they kind of win by just sort of sitting back.

WALKER: And, Colonel, we do expect more attacks from the U.S., right? And cyberattacks, are those possible in Iran?

LEIGHTON: Absolutely. And, you know, as David knows very well, we are, you know, certainly capable of doing those kinds of things. And I'm certain we are doing those kinds of things.

The key thing to remember, though, as much as we want to engage in cyberattacks and know there are unconventional style weapons and movements like this the Iranians have a completely different system when it comes to their IT networks. And they are in the end a bit less vulnerable to those kinds of attacks than we are, although they can be effective and they can certainly stop certain things from happening, such as stuff that was very effective in shutting down at least for a time the Iranian nuclear efforts.

So, those are the kinds of things that can be done. The question is, how long will they last and how often will we have to revisit the target?

WALKER: Colonel Cedric Leighton and David Sanger, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, President Biden wins a landslide victory in South Carolina, the first official Democratic primary. What this could mean for his reelection campaign.

Plus, southern California is bracing for torrential rain, life- threatening flooding and mudslides today.



BLACKWELL: President Biden will be in Las Vegas today for a campaign event ahead of Nevada's primary on Tuesday. The president just cruised to an expected but still significant win last night in South Carolina. This was the first official primary victory of the 2024 campaign season.

WALKER: It was also the first time South Carolina kicked off the Democrats' nominating contest. CNN's national politics correspondent Eva McKend has more from South Carolina.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Victor, Amara, though the results of this contest not all too surprising, South Carolina is still a hugely consequential state for President Biden. That's because South Carolina Democrats, 60 percent of whom are Black, they resurrected Biden's campaign in 2020. And that is why he pushed so hard for this state to hold the first in the nation primary.

You know, when you speak to Black voters across the state the reviews of him are mixed. Some are excited about him. They still give him credibility for being Barack Obama's vice president. Others have real economic anxieties and feel as though their lives are not changing in any material way, even though year after year, they consistently vote for Democrats. And then we have more pragmatic voters who are so worried about former President Donald Trump returning to the White House, that is their main motivation for supporting this president.

Listen, the Democrats here say that they are feeling good. That they did extensive outreach in rural communities. They got to reach Black rural voters in a way like never before. And they say that the absentee ballots in some of the early voting from Black voters across the state reflect the enthusiasm from the population here that will be mirrored across the country -- Victor, Amara.


BLACKWELL: Eva McKend for us. Thank you so much. CNN political commentator and political anchor for "Spectrum News," Errol Louis, joins us now. Errol, good morning to you.

So, far smaller turn out than 2020, 126,000 was the president's vote count, but it's really hard to find a comparable race of a contested Democratic incumbent. What does this tell us, the president wins with a 96 percent of the vote?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Victor. Look, yes, you're exactly right, four years ago, there are a bunch of other people on the ballot. There was Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg, and they all had operations in the state and so turnout much lower.

On the other hand, this shows a level of Democratic unity and force that I think is going to be kind of the bare minimum that they need to really get this campaign rolling. I think it also does reflect, Victor, that, you know, right now, you have viewers that are watching all of this unfold in cities like Detroit, and Cleveland, and Denver, and all over the country. And this was a really important place for President Biden to start, to say that Black voters, who are the majority of Democratic voters in South Carolina, are a constituency that is very important to him. And kicks off what's going to be a campaign to turn out the Black vote as the base of the Democratic Party. Absolutely essential for him to win.

BLACKWELL: You guys are going to have to do that again in Michigan coming up in about three weeks. Let me ask you about -- let's put the results board up again, please. Dean Phillips finishes behind Marianne Williamson with 1.7 percent here. He didn't win, although New Hampshire doesn't count this year, but he didn't win New Hampshire when the president wasn't even on the ballot.

What is next for him? What is happening here?

LOUIS: Well, look, he's been trying to make an argument that there's a generational issue that has to be addressed within the Democratic Party. He's not wrong about that. The problem, of course, is that he's trying to make this case by saying we should throw out the sitting president of the United States, which is always a very tough endeavor, especially if you've never sort of had the national notoriety that you need in order to do such a thing.

You know, we don't have a history of people going directly from the House of Representatives into the White House. It just doesn't happen. So, Dean Phillips is making a case. Nobody has heard that case, and, you know, I think we can see state after state where he will not get a single delegate. It's only a matter of time before he either recognizes that, or changes his approach altogether.

BLACKWELL: One more before we go to the Republicans here. President Biden is skipping the traditional Super Bowl pregame interview for a second consecutive year. The reason that the White House said he's skipping is that voters are expressing election fatigue. And they don't want to pile on.

Voters have been expressing election fatigue for as long as I've been covering elections. Anytime there's an election season, it doesn't stop these campaigns from putting a campaign ad into every commercial break. What do you think about this -- the president's decision and the justification?

LOUIS: Well, you know, it seems to me it would be a bit of a risk, honestly, Victor. There -- you know, this is a very highly produced set of entertainment that the whole world is going to be watching. And all you need is for one small thing to go wrong. And you've got kind of a viral problem that you'll have to spend weeks fixing.

I think they've decided that everybody pretty much knows who Joe Biden is. There's no particular reason to take the kind of risks that come with kind of sticking a message into the middle of a performance that nobody wants to hear, on a day that nobody wants to hear very much about politics.

BLACKWELL: We're still a couple weeks away, three weeks almost from the Republican primary in South Carolina. Ambassador Haley is more aggressive in her attacks. We're going to show in a moment she showed up on "SNL." And one of the jokes that she made had to do with the "Sixth Sense" and I see dead people, and that's what voters are going to say when they see the ballot in November. Is she hurting Donald Trump more, or her own political future, as this campaign goes on?

LOUIS: Well, you know, some of that will be determined by what happens in her home state. But I -- look, I think she has a future, first of all. She is expressing something that the polls suggest a lot of voters are thinking which is that, you know, having two guys in their late 70s, early 80s as our candidates is something this country has never seen before.


There are a lot of voters who are very uncomfortable with that. She's certainly basing what's left of her campaign on that argument. And the comedy writers at "Saturday Night Live" were making fun of it.

I think she's going to have a future no matter what, if she chooses. She's got a lot of people behind her in the Republican Party who think that the party has to go in a different direction. Donald Trump win or lose is not going to be the long-term future of the Republican Party. And she's kind of calling the question first.

Will she personally benefit from that? I think the floodgates are going to open for both parties, honestly, Victor, after --

BLACKWELL: Hmm, we were four words from the end.

LOUIS: -- infighting in both parties like you can't believe.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol, we had a bit of a technical gremlin there, but we got through it. Thanks so much for being with me, happy Sunday.

LOUIS: Thank you.

WALKER: And speaking of that "SNL" cameo by Nikki Haley, she did take a quick break from the campaign trail to be a surprise guest on "SNL."


KENAN THOMPSON, AS CHARLES BARKLEY: OK. Our next question comes from someone who describes herself as a concerned South Carolina voter.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, hello. My question is, why won't you debate Nikki Haley?

JAMES AUSTIN JOHNSON, AS DONALD TRUMP: Oh, my god, it's her, the woman who was in charge of security on January 6th. It's Nancy Pelosi.

THOMPSON: For the 100th time, that is not Nancy Pelosi. It is Nikki Haley.

HALEY: Are you doing OK, Donald? You might need a mental competency test. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Well, Haley appeared in the show's cold open last night. She was a -- quote -- "concerned" citizen in a town hall hosted by actors playing Charles Barkley and Gayle King. Haley sparred with the actor playing Donald Trump about why he won't debate her, as you heard there, his massive legal fees and his age.

Still ahead --

BLACKWELL: They put in here, react. I was like, nah, we're good.

WALKER: Yes. Millions of people bracing for heavy rains and severe flooding as California faces a rare life-threatening weather event.



BLACKWELL: This morning, people across parts of Southern California are facing emergency evacuations, a rare powerful storm system is threatening to bring dangerous flooding to the region.


REX RICHARDSON, MAYOR, LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA: We're expecting a storm that could bring between five and seven inches of rain here to Long Beach starting on Sunday, with heavy rain on Sunday, lasting through Tuesday. That's more than we usually get in a year. So, it's a lot of rain.


BLACKWELL: Local authorities have prepared more than seven million sandbags to protect against the flooding. And school districts have canceled classes for tomorrow. CNN's Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is now tracking the storms from our weather center. This is a lot of rain. The Grammys are tonight. You've got even more than that, this is dangerous for the people who live there.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and I think the key thing is that this is a widespread concern. We're not just talking one or two counties here that are looking at a potential, it's pretty much statewide and it's going to traverse into other states in the coming days. Here's a look at where the rain is falling right now. you can see we've got rain in Sacramento, San Francisco, and starting to make its way down across portions of southern California as well. And that's going to be the concern as we go through the next 24 to 48 hours.

An excessive rain fall risk pretty much for the entire state here to varying degrees. But the worst of it really is from San Francisco all the way down through Los Angeles. And Los Angeles specifically including Long Beach, Oxnard, up through Santa Barbara is under a very rare what we call high risk, a level four out of four. To emphasize how rare these actually are, there only for about four percent of days you get these issued. But they're responsible for over 80 percent of the flood damage that occurs in nearly 40 percent of the flood deaths.

And for L.A. specifically, it's not just a high risk for today but also tomorrow. So, you're talking back-to-back days of that potential flood risk for the city of Los Angeles specifically. So, you're talking about life-threatening flash flooding river and urban flooding, also mudslides, landslides, debris flows, but also the added concern of high winds. And that's going to bring down trees also likely causing some pretty widespread power outages.

You've got these high wind warnings and wind advisories. Wind gusts of 50 to 80 miles per hour. And for the first time in recorded history the National Weather Service Office in San Francisco issuing a hurricane force wind warning just down to the south and west near the Big Sur coastline. Those wind gusts around 90 to 95 miles per hour.

You also have not only damaging winds but the potential for some water spouts and even tornadoes along the coastline here as well. That includes Monterey down through San Luis Obispo, widespread rainfall totals. When you're talking up and down the coast, you're looking at about two to four inches. But then when you get farther down to the south along the coast and in some of those valleys, you could be looking at four, six, even as much as eight inches of rain for some of these areas in a short period of time.

Snowfall also going to be extreme. You're looking at three to even four feet of snow across much of the sea areas. That is going to make travel conditions along many of those passes virtually impossible, so please plan accordingly.

BLACKWELL: All right, Allison Chinchar watching it for us, thanks so much.

Southern Chile is dealing with devastating wildfires. More than 50 people have been killed, more than 370 people are still missing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Foreign Language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (text): Move along, move along.



BLACKWELL: Wow. The government has declared states of emergency and curfews in some areas. Nearly 100 fires are actively burning impacting thousands of acres. And they're damaging over more than more than a thousand homes. Our affiliate network CNN Chile reports at least one person has been detained in connection with those wildfires.

Coming up, a group of Republican governors will join Texas Governor Greg Abbott at the border today. The Biden administration is facing an escalation immigration battle. We'll get into that next.


BLACKWELL: 14 Republican governors will join Texas Governor Greg Abbott in Texas today. Arkansas' Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Georgia's Brian Kemp, those are two of those governors who are backing Operation Lone Star.

WALKER: The State of Texas is forbidding Border Patrol officers from entering a nearly three mile stretch of the border along the Rio Grande. Meanwhile, thousands of migrants are still getting through each day. CNN's Rosa Flores is there in Eagle Pass, Texas.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Eagle Pass looks like a war zone. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordering miles of razor wire placed along the Rio Grande and around the public park to block migrants like this group of Venezuelans from entering the U.S.

FLORES: They are trying to turn themselves into immigration authorities.

FLORES (voiceover): Texas shutting down 2.5 miles of border in Maverick County and denying U.S. Border Patrol access.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Texas is very simply is securing the border.

FLORES (voiceover): County Sheriff Tom Schmerber says that Texas takeover puts local officials in a tough spot.

TOM SCHMERBER, COUNTY SHERIFF, MAVERICK COUNTY: It's creating some kind of a problem for us because we're kind of like in the middle.

FLORES (voiceover): The weeks-long standoff between Texas and the Biden administration over command and control of the border in Eagle Pass has turned into a partisan rally cry.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): And now, it's as bad as it's ever been at the Southern Border.

FLORES (voiceover): Dozens of Republican governors and attorneys general from around the nation and former President Donald Trump side with Texas.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to express our thanks to Governor Greg Abbott.

FLORES (voiceover): House Speaker Mike Johnson also said I stand with Governor Abbott. He and House Republicans blame Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the ongoing border crisis.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): That's why Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is going to be impeached.

FLORES (voiceover): House Republicans looking to keep the focus on Mayorkas instead of new legislation. The last time Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform, it was 1986 and Ronald Reagan was president.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most comprehensive reform on immigration law since 1952.

FLORES (voiceover): And while a bipartisan group of senators are pushing for a border deal now, the bill appears to be dead on arrival in the House, much of it due to the strong opposition from former President Donald Trump.

TRUMP: This is a terrible bill, terrible bill for our country.

FLORES (voiceover): Sheriff Schmerber from his neighborhood in Eagle Pass is calling out Trump for lobbying against a bill that both parties say is the toughest border security legislation in decades.

FLORES: Would you blame President Trump if the deal doesn't go through?

SCHMERBER: Yes, because it's going to hurt us. You know, I see that it's political. President Trump, this is self-interest.

FLORES (voiceover): Magali Urbina, a Republican with riverfront property in Eagle Pass that is lined with razor wire, says the border deal falls short of fixing the issue.

FLORES: Former President Trump has been lobbying against that bill. Do you agree with him?

MAGALI URBINA, LAND OWNER, EAGLE PASS: I do agree with him. Actually, I believe that when Trump was president, having them remain in Mexico, I think that helps.

FLORES (voiceover): Meanwhile, in Eagle Pass, stand off like these. Between the group of Venezuelan migrants already on U.S. soil and State Police, are daily occurrences that don't stop illegal immigration instead just delay it for a few hours or a few days.


FLORES (on camera): Victor, Amara, I'm inside the zone that was taken over by Texas. If you take a look behind me, you'll see that miles of razor wire hug the Rio Grande. Now, DHS has asked the State of Texas multiple times to give Border Patrol full access to this area, but the State of Texas maintains that it has constitutional authority to do all this.

This weekend, 14 governors will be joining Texas Governor Greg Abbott here in Eagle Pass as politicians from across the country pick sides as to who should enforce border security, the State of Texas or the federal government. Victor, Amara?

WALKER: What a story. Thank you very much, Rosa. So, those governors are scheduled to hold a news conference this afternoon, and the Senate is expected to unveil the text of a long-awaited border security bill today.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, a multi-billion-dollar settlement in California over pandemic learning losses. Why some families are still pessimistic despite the legal win.


NICK WATT, CNN REPORTER: You say you're hopeful.


WATT: I sense a slight tinge of doubt.

KELLY R.: It hasn't happened yet.




WALKER: California has agreed to a $2 billion settlement for students struggling with COVID pandemic learning losses.

BLACKWELL: Parents, students, and community groups sued the state and demanded that more resources be used to help children who were underserved during school closures. CNN's Nick Watt has the story.


WATT: With this settlement, you know, you're not -- no one's cutting you a check.


WATT: You're not getting any money.

KELLY R.: I have not. But I'm hoping that the kids will benefit. All kids will benefit from this.

WATT (voiceover): Kelly R., still struggling to help her kids catch up in math, is among the parents, teachers, kids and community groups who sued California and won a settlement. The state just agreed to spend $2 billion on teachers, extended school days, mental health support, and more for kids who suffered most during remote learning, predominantly low-income Black and Latino kids who are now not bouncing back as fast as kids in whiter, more affluent districts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most pressing crisis in America today is what happened to kids during COVID. And hopefully, this settlement will be a model for 49 other states.

WATT (voiceover): During COVID, Kelly's kids at least had a parent who tried her best and some Internet.

KELLY R.: Their computers were glitchy, so then that's when I would have to at that point go over some of their lessons with them while I'm working from home.


WATT (voiceover): In California, around 10,000 schools were closed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were between 800,000 and a million kids who had no digital access whatsoever. What does that mean? It doesn't mean they got bad education. It means they got no education.

WATT (voiceover): School-aged kids were among those at lowest risk of serious illness from COVID-19 but suffered a lot from the restrictions to stem the spread.

THOMAS KANE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: We're asking poor kids to pay for the public health measures that were meant to you know benefit us all.

WATT (voiceover): Professor Thomas Kane and colleagues at Harvard, Stanford, and Dartmouth found many more affluent kids have already regained a lot of the learning they lost during COVID. But --

KANE: In some places like here in Massachusetts, the high-poverty districts did the opposite of catching up last year. They actually lost additional ground.

WATT (voiceover): Some they fear might never catch up given what was lost during COVID and the systemic educational inequities that existed long before we'd ever heard of COVID-19.

WATT: As a white guy, I've always kind of assumed possibly rightly, you know, that my kids are going to get a fair shake. But as a Black parent do you feel differently than that, you know, you are at a disadvantage?

KELLY R.: We are at a disadvantage and that's one of the major reasons why I felt like this was important because we cannot continue to let things like this happen and let our kids fall short. I'm hopeful that this will make a huge impact.

WATT: You say you're hopeful.

KELLY R.: Yes.

WATT: I sense a slight tinge of doubt.

KELLY R.: It hasn't happened yet so I could just be hopeful until it happens.

WATT (voiceover): Nick Watt, CNN Los Angeles.


WALKER: Warrior star Steph Curry scores 60 points in last night's game. Unfortunately, that did not guarantee a victory. Carolyn Manno joins us with highlights coming up.


WALKER: So, the Warrior star Steph Curry dropped 60 points on the Hawks and it still wasn't enough to come away with a win.

BLACKWELL: Carolyn Manno joins us now from New York. I mean, what else does a man have to do?


BLACKWELL: 60 points, everybody else get in here.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: There's not much more he can do. I mean, this is frustrating. This was the second-highest-scoring game of his legendary career, but it was all for nothing. The rest of the team just did not have enough in the tank against the Hawks in Atlanta.

Curry gave it his all. I mean, he dropped 22 of 60 in the fourth quarter alone to keep Golden State afloat. That included the final 13 points of regulation. But Trae Young and the Hawks went on an 11-0 run to open things up in over time and Atlanta went on to win by seven. So, with the loss, the Warriors are now four games under 500. They're in 12th place in the Western Conference.


STEPH CURRY, GUARD, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: It's frustrating obviously not coming away with the win knowing a couple of plays here a couple of plays there, it's a different outcome and you know, we're celebrating the individual performance like that but just asked to the frustration of our season.


MANNO: LeBron James and the Lakers have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the NBA this season. They still had enough to shut down the hottest team in the league. L.A. snapping the New York Knicks nine-game win streak behind a lockdown defensive performance in the fourth quarter. LeBron finishing with 24 in the 113-105 win. And afterwards, he said that his team can build on this win.


LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: We have one more game left on his road trip and we've had back-to-back great wins one in Boston one here, you know, two of the hottest teams in the league. And you know, we finished off in Charlotte and we have to be professional. We understand that. At the end of the day, that is the NBA team, and if we don't come to play, they will beat us.


MANNO: Meantime, the Bucks gave new head coach Doc Rivers his first win in three games at the helm by virtue of the 25-point comeback win and gets a Mavericks on Saturday night. Milwaukee has the Eastern Conference's best record among teams with coaches eligible for All- Star game duties. So, Doc is going to be on the sideline in Indy in two weeks. The 62-year-old says he plans on giving the All-Star game bonus and ring to former coach Adrian Griffin who was let go by the Bucks despite a 30 and 13 record in his rookie season as head coach.

The NHL holding his All-Star game in Toronto on Saturday. A hometown hero given the crowd the ending that it wanted. Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews scoring twice including a game winner had an assist to beat reigning MVP Connor McDavid's team 7-4 in the final of the three- on-three tournament as well. So, Matthews named MVP. He is the first Toronto player to win the honor in more than 30 years delighting the crowd there.

And we are one week away from the Super Bowl and what will likely be non-stop coverage of Taylor Swift to you may have heard his dating Chief Tight End Travis Kelce. But 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey's mom, Lisa, says she wants nothing to do with it.


LISA MCCAFFREY, MOTHER OF CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY: I refuse to listen to Taylor Swift songs within 11 days. I love her. I love -- I love the relationship but yes, we are boycotting any T. Swift songs. And it's hard for me because I have her on my play -- my running playlist and everything. So -- but if she pops up on the radio station and my oldest son Max and I are big Swifties, nope, she's dead to us this week.


MANNO: So, if you're 49ers fan, forget it. I guess everybody on the west says not to turn off the Grammys, guys. But other than that, try to mute the Swift noise around the Super Bowl. Good luck.

WALKER: I wonder how many cutaway shots are going to have of her. Should we count, come back, and talk about it?

BLACKWELL: You all -- you all act like --

MANNO: I'm sure it'll be a prop bet. I'm sure it'll be a Super Bowl prop bet no doubt about it.

BLACKWELL: You all act like Taylor Swift is a running back on the Chiefs. She is sitting up in the stands with tens of thousands of other people.

WALKER: She's the girlfriend. Thanks so much. Good to see you, Carolyn Manno.

MANNO: You too.

WALKER: Well, how did Martha Stewart go from multimedia mogul to behind bars? Find out tonight on "THE MANY LIVES OF MARTHA STEWART" that airs right there -- right here on CNN at 9:00 p.m.