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CNN This Morning

White House Pushes Back On Special Counsel's Criticism Of Biden's Mental Fitness; Trump Blasts Special Counsel Decision Not To Charge Biden; Trump Co-Defendant Suggests Georgia Prosecutors Lied About Relationship Timing; Sheriff Vows To Capture Man Who Killed 2 Deputies In Tennessee; U.S. Customs Cites The Use Of A.I. May Revolutionize How U.S. Stops Drug Smugglers; Chiefs And 49ers Take Center Stage In Las Vegas For Super Bowl LVIII. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired February 10, 2024 - 06:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to CNN This Morning. It is Saturday February 10. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for joining us. Here's what we're watching for you this morning. Democrats are now trying to figure out how to answer questions about President Biden's age and memory after that damaging Special Counsel report to his handling of classified documents. What both the White House and the Biden campaign are doing to try to tamp down some voter concerns.

WALKER: There are new warnings this morning from aid groups over Israel's plan to evacuate displaced Palestinians and Rafah the outcry over the plan and what we're learning about the status of ceasefire talks.

BLACKWELL: Officials in Tennessee are looking for a man suspected of shooting and killing a sheriff's deputy, a reward for his arrest is now up to $80,000. What we're hearing from local officials including why the suspects brother is under arrest.

WALKER: Plus, we'll show you how federal border agents are experimenting with AI to try to stop the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. how it works just ahead on CNN This Morning.

BLACKWELL: Well, the White House says it may release some of the transcripts from President Biden's interviews with the Special Counsel Robert Hur. It's the latest effort from the Biden team that's pushing back on Hur's report on the president's handling of classified information.

WALKER: Now, Hur's report found charges against the president were not warranted but also sparked controversy for suggesting that his forgetfulness about some details was caused by age and lack of mental fitness. This was the response from Vice President Kamala Harris.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: 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.


BLACKWELL: CNN White House reporter Camila DeChalus Joining us now. Hi there, Camila. So, what's the White House's response to the Hur report?

CAMILA DECHALUS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Amara, the White House is aggressively pushing back on how the report has tried to portray the president, White House advisors have called the report gratuitous and out of line.

And what has been really interesting to note is that the White House is not ruling out the possibility that they will publicly release the transcript of the interviews Biden had with Hur. Take a quick listen of what the White House counsel's spokesperson had to say about this.


IAN SAMS, SENIOR ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL'S OFFICE: I think that it's important to know that we're dealing with classified materials in this conversation. There are classification issues there. I don't have any announcement on, you know, releasing anything today. But it's a reasonable question. And there are classified stuff, and we'll have to work through all that.


DECHALUS: Now, Sams has said and he kept repeating li saying at the press conference yesterday, that Biden has been willing to cooperate in this investigation, and that he's been very transparent about how he came forward, saying that he had the classified documents and was ready to turn it over. Amara. Victor.

BLACKWELL: That is the classified document portion of this, that there's the age and acuity issues in this report. What is the campaign doing their strategy to try to quell some concerns of voters?

DECHALUS: Well, at this point in time, there's no indication that the campaign is going to change or pivot their strategy. They see it Biden's best when he's engaging with voters directly going to towns, going to states, visiting voters and talking to them about key issues that are happening in their community.

But what's been interesting to see is that the White House what their strategy has been to push back on the report and how they portray the President is that they've been trying to shift the attention less on how the President has been portrayed and how the report has mentioned several times referencing Biden's age and his memory, shifting the focus less on that, and more so on the fact that the report ultimately concluded that Biden should not be have any criminal charges filed against him at his time, or his handling of classified documents. Victor, Amara.

BLACKWELL: Camila DeChalus for us they're traveling with the president. Thank you so much.


Former President Trump addressed the special counsel's report and an NRA event last night and he lied and said that he cooperated with investigators far more than Biden did.

WALKER: CNN's Kristen Holmes has more from Pennsylvania.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Farm President Trump speaking at the National Rifle Association event in Pennsylvania railed on Special Counsel Robert Hur's decision not to bring charges against President Biden for his handling of classified documents saying that it was a two-tiered justice system and trying to blur the lines between this report and his own investigation brought by Jack Smith into his handling of classified documents.

He tried to say that he cooperated more than President Biden. However, as we know, that is not true. He was subpoenaed, and eventually a search warrant was executed at his house at Mar-a-Lago in order to retrieve those documents.

Now, one thing that Donald Trump did not really touch on is what we've been hearing from Democrats, Republicans and even President Biden himself, which was the language that Hur used essentially alluding to the fact that Biden was elderly, had a poor memory, he has not seized on that.

And I am told by advisers that part of this is intentional, particularly when it comes to talking about age Trump's the 77, at Biden -- to Biden's 81. And he has a lot of older supporters and older donors. So it's tried to mostly just hit Biden on cognitive ability, and not tie it to age.

However, again, he's a little bit of a fine line there that he's walking here is what he did say about the Hur report.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This department of injustice will bring zero charges against crooked Joe, despite the fact that he willfully retained, willfully retained and disclosed rows of ultra- classified national security documents.

They're trying desperately to spin the Biden document disaster into a, oh, but wasn't Trump worse than Donald Trump was peanuts by comparison. That was 50 years and he did a lot of it. When he was at a very young age. He was mentally a little better than he is right now.

HOLMES: And the rest of the speech was really targeted to the NRA and to gun owners touting what he did for the Second Amendment while he was in office and saying that he would do it again, if they reelected back to the White House in 2024. Kristen Holmes, CNN, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


WALKER: Kristen Holmes, thank you for that. Let's bring in CNN political commentator, Errol Louis and Joey Jackson, a CNN legal analyst. Welcome to you both gentlemen.

Let's start with you, Errol, legally, obviously this was a huge victory for Biden, but politically what a disaster and then that hastily arranged news conference by President Biden where he was visibly angry and quite emotional. And then he had that verbal gaffe. Let's take a look.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: As you know, initially, the president of Mexico CC did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in. I talked to him. I convinced him open the gates.


WALKER: Mexico, el-Sisi is the president of Egypt. Did Biden make it worse?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. No, I don't think so. Good morning, Amara. I mean, look, it would be one thing if he clearly had mixed up the issue. But in this case, he said Mexico, when he met Egypt, anyone listening to this, I think understood exactly what he was talking about.

I'm a broadcaster, you're a broadcaster. These kinds of things happen all the time. Not that important.

I think the issue that the Vice President talked about, I think was right on, which is what's going on in this report. It's supposed to lay out legal doctrine, the facts that they found from their investigation and whether or not to move forward. And then there's all of this stray commentary from somebody who, as far as I can tell, is a lawyer who is not at all qualified to make these kinds of judgments about whether he's elderly or whether his mental sharpness is this or that.

I mean, he wasn't asked to do it. And yet he put all of these sort of opinions into the document. I don't know if that really is something that we need to focus on. And by the way, personal opinion, I thought by being fiery and sort of snapping back in this press conference the other day, President came across as human as genuine and as frankly sharp. He was kind of mixing it up with reporters the way you like to see.

WALKER: Yes, well, critics would disagree with you, right, because you have him standing there saying my memory is fine. And then he's having, you know, a mistake there where he calls the president of Egypt, the president of Mexico.

LOUIS: Amara, the press the other day, the Speaker of the House, referred to an aid package to Iran. it was simply a meaningless mistake of the kind that doesn't stop you from getting to the heart of the issue.


If he'd gotten -- if he'd said that I spoke to the President of Mexico about, you know, five or six different issues in the Middle East, then you'd wonder what he was talking about. But I don't know if we get into the nitpicking game, I think we'll never get through a single speech by most public figures.

WALKER: Yes, fair enough. And so Joey to you then, I do want to read what Eric Holder, the former Attorney General, under Obama said in a tweet, he said Special Counsel Hur report on Biden classified documents issues contain way too many gratuitous remarks and is flatly inconsistent and long standing DOJ traditions.

Had this report been subjected to a normal DOJ review these remarks would have undoubtedly have been excised.

Do you agree or disagree?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So here's what I say. I say that the issues relating to why the Special Counsel decided not to prosecute, predicated upon age and memory were necessary, fair and appropriate. And I know that's a minority view. But allow me to explain.

In essence, what they said and good morning Amara and Errol, what they said at the end of the day was that he's guilty. He's willfully possessed documents which he shared. Wow. So now you have to justify why you're not moving forward.

Prosecutors, I was a former prosecutor, make credibility assess -- assessments day and night. Prosecutors, as a former prosecutor, had discretionary judgments as to whether you're going to prosecute to the extent that you're going to prosecute, or if you're not going to prosecute.

So if you have a situation where someone engaged in a crime, you have to justify why you're not moving forward. In the law, there's this thing called mens rea, it's guilty mind. And so you're looking at intent. You sit with someone for two days, you ask them multiple questions, you find classified documents that in Delaware in DC, you find that those documents were shared, that's prosecutable.

So now you have to say, should we move forward? Well, if you sit with them, but you think it was just a good faith mistake predicated upon memory, you're obligated to say so. You just can't be a jury which this -- Hur was, because that's a factual determination. Right? You can't just not prosecute and say, well, it's because he cooperated. My clients cooperate, they get prosecuted. You can't just say, well, the client, you know, the defendant returned the instrumentality of the crime. He Biden gave over classified documents, right.

So what? They give under the federal sentencing guidelines, and I'll conclude, right, points for that, it means you're guilty, but you're going to serve less time because you cooperate. So you have to justify.

So as a practitioner, what I'm saying to you is that listen, if you're going to not prosecute someone, you have to indicate your basis. And that's what was done. I know, I hold them in already view on this, but it needs to be done. So politically a disaster, but legally speaking, he had to explain the mens rea, this was his basis, and I thought that that basis needed to be explained and that's what he did.

WALKER: Okay, so the details in this report about these memory lapses of Biden, you say were relevant to this case. Errol, what do you say in terms of, you know, this looking partisan? At least, that's what the critics are saying?

LOUIS: Well, yes, I mean, it feels partisan. It reminds me of what we saw in 2016, when the emails document came out towards the end of the campaign, and you had sort of a description of why they weren't going to move forward. But then all this other language that basically erased the central legal meaning of the document, and that's what I see here.

And I think that's what people are really complaining about, you know, either you prosecute, or you don't, either you damage him or you don't, but you know, if you're going to sort of say, well, we'd love to prosecute him, but you know, we can't. And here's all of this other damning testimony that we can put out there that really can't be refuted at this point. I don't see how it could be viewed as anything other than somewhat partisan.

I think Merrick Garland also made a mistake by appointing a pro-Trump Republican to do this. You want to do a peer even handed, which is, you know, in this highly partisan atmosphere, maybe a little bit too idealistic for the moment.

WALKER: Yes. All right. Fair enough. Just quickly, before we go, Joey, I do want to ask you about the Georgia election, subversion case and some new reporting that we have that Trump co-defendant, who accused Fani Wilis of being romantically involved with her lead prosecutor is now accusing her of lying in her motions about when their relationship started. He says that the relationship started --Willis has said that the relationship started after she hired him as a lead prosecutor in this case.


And he is saying that it happened before. Why is the timeline relevant?

JACKSON: I would argue that, you know, it's not, right. Some would disagree. The issues before us right now are were offenses committed, are those offenses criminal was processed followed was a grand jury convened, did the grand jury conclude that there was reasonable cause to believe that a crime was committed? And the subjects of that investigation committed those crimes over? Right.

If you're going to now suggest that because of an affair and it happened one day and not the other, it happened before, it happened after, if you're going to suggest that that influences the evidence the grand jury heard, or it changes the dynamic, factually, with respect to the accusations that were made or the materials that will produce that's one thing.

But when someone had an affair, what does that have to do with whether or not your client did what is alleged to be done? There are safeguards in the system and I'll conclude, Amara, but those safeguards in our grand jury, those safeguards are a trial jury, those safeguards are proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, those safeguards are constitutional.

So talk to me about that, not when someone was with someone and whether they would not look someone and how much they liked someone, et cetera. I just think it's very interesting to talk about but irrelevant to the question of guilt or innocence.

WALKER: What a conversation. Joey Jackson, Errol Louis, great to see you both. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead this morning. There's intensifying pushback as Israel moves to evacuate displaced Palestinians and Gaza ahead of a move into Rafah, what Israel is saying about those efforts and when they must be completed. We are live in the region.

Plus, we're a little more than 36 hours away from kickoff at Super Bowl 58. Will Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs go back to back or will the 49ers make history of their own. We're live in Las Vegas.



BLACKWELL: Some breaking news now this is out of Ukraine. Seven people are dead after a Russian drone strike and Kharkiv. Three of those victims are children, according to Ukrainian officials.

They say the drone started several large fires burning down 15 residential buildings. Look at this video. This is after a separate attack yesterday in the region that left three people dead.

And we have this just in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the country's planned IDF operation in Rafah must be completed by the start of Ramadan. That's March 10. Israeli officials say they want to clear out what they're calling Hamas' last bastion in the region and humanitarian groups are alarmed.

WALKER: Human Rights Watch strongly warned against the plan saying in a statement forcing the over 1 million displaced Palestinians in Rafah to evacuate again without a safe place to go would be unlawful and would have catastrophic consequences.

The United Nations echoed that sentiment with officials saying they are extremely worried about the plans.

Also this morning, ceasefire talks appear to be at a standstill after the speaker of the Israeli parliament canceled a meeting with the U.N. Secretary General after he called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. CNN's Nic Robertson joining us now live from Tel Aviv.

Nic, is Israel signals these evacuations could come soon. Many Palestinians I mean, where did they have to go?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: A lot of them feel they have nowhere to go. A lot of them feel that they've already moved multiple times to get to Rafah. Rafah is right at the southern end of the Gaza Strip. And the IDF has been working their way over the past four months north to south and evacuating people as they go.

So, you have a million evacuated people, more than a million now according to the U.N., around ratha, plus, of course, the 300,000 who were living there before, it's densely populated. The Egyptian authorities are afraid if the IDF starts a military ground operation there then people will be so desperate they'll try to flee over the fence in huge numbers into Egypt.

The U.N., as you say, is concerned about what can happen about the humanitarian situation of food for people which is already desperate, but so many people potentially being caught up in the, you know, in a military operation.

And the idea being proposed by the prime minister here, Netanyahu, that the operation could be concluded by the 10th of March, the beginning of Ramadan a month from now does seem compared to what we've seen already about the military operations would be a huge stretch for the IDF to achieve because Khan Younis a city that doesn't have the population that's in Rafaj right now.

The military operation has been going on there for two months. Why? Because it's riddled with tunnels. And the IDF expects there to be tunnels and hostages and Hamas leadership there underneath Rafah, so it seems to be a stretch.

And we've also seen the evacuation plans that have been put in place for civilians so far, have not been effective to stop deaths of people on the road for evacuation in the evacuation safe areas.

I think there perhaps is some potential light in terms of hostage negotiations and ceasefire, because we know Bill Burns, head of the CIA will meet with his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts as well as representatives of Qatar in the coming days early next week, that is perhaps a chink of light. That all the rhetoric about the military going into Rafah could be just that rhetoric and pressure to get it deal but we don't know that for sure.


BLACKWELL: Nic Robertson for us there in Tel Aviv. Thank you, Nic.

Let's bring it down CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. David, good morning to you. So the State Department says that the U.S. would not support this operation in Rafah unless there is a serious plan for civilians in their words. If the plan that the U.S. is looking for does not come, and this operation moves forward, what that I mean, what is the influence now of this U.S. disapproval on Israel?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, Victor, I think what's been interesting about the past week or so, is that all of the pretenses between the United States and Israel is the public pretense that no we're talking about it. We're working out plans, we're cooperating as allies.

I think most of that has now fallen away. With Secretary Blinken's trip to Israel a few days ago, it was pretty evident how wide the gap was, or he had barely left the country when the standard set out by the U.S. who are immediately contradicted by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

We're not seeing very many phone calls anymore between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu. And most importantly, and maybe least noticed, the Biden administration turned out an executive order the other day, requiring written certifications that U.S. arms are not being used to violate human rights. Clearly, Israel was one of the targets of that, it will be interesting to see whether they enforce it.

BLACKWELL: The President's comments on Thursday, which somewhat had been lost in the discussion of Mexico versus Egypt. And all that came out from that special counsel's report in which you said that Israel's operations in Gaza are quote over the top. What is the value there, as you talk about the pretense being stripped away? What does that mean, then moving forward?

What I'm trying to get to is all of this discomfort in the U.S., what is the impact or effect for Israel, or for the people of Gaza?

SANGER: Well, the Israeli government has shown that it is not going to be terribly influenced by what you're hearing from President Biden, what you're hearing from Secretary Blinken and others. And that's because they believe that they have high confidence that the $14 billion in aid that is slowly wending its way through Congress will probably come to them no matter what they do, and probably without conditions on it.

But so far, the President's comments I think, have been pretty mild. A few weeks ago, he said that there had been indiscriminate bombing done by the Israelis, it seemed pretty obvious. Over the top, you know, is not exactly the strongest diplomatic condemnation I've heard.

So he's still being quite careful while trying to signal his displeasure. He's trying to walk that very fine line. And you know, clearly many in his own party believe he has not been strong enough on this. You're hearing that from the progressive lane, but now also from more moderates in the party as well.

BLACKWELL: This is something I found interesting. Moody's, Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Israel's debt for the first time. And this is part of the statement they released explaining why. The main driver for the downgrade of Israel's rating up to A2 is Moody's assessment. And the ongoing military conflict with a moss, its aftermath and wider consequences materially raise political risk for Israel, as well as weaken its executive and legislative institutions and its fiscal strength for the foreseeable future.

I wonder what you think the economic impact domestically how that fits into any decisions about the execution of this war moving forward?

SANGER: You know, Victor, this was really fascinating. And you'll remember that very similar things happen to the United States in various moments in our own political dysfunction when we shut down the government at various moments and so forth.

So here is Moody's, which is supposed to evaluate the credit worthiness of a country, saying that their political moods here and their reaction to the awful terrorist attack on October 7, is actually endangering their credit rating by making them a riskier investment, which will raise interest rates for ordinary Israelis and for the Israeli government.

Now, I'm not sure that Prime Minister Netanyahu particularly cares, given all the other pressures that he is under, but certainly there are many ordinary Israelis who may well care and I think it could go on that list of Particularly when Netanyahu is finally up for reelection.


BLACKWELL: All right, David Sanger always good to have you. Thank you.

WALKER: Still ahead, a man accused of killing a sheriff's deputy is still on the run. The latest on the manhunt to track him down.


BLACKWELL: Right now in Tennessee, search teams are looking for Kenneth DeHart, he's suspected of shooting and killing deputy Greg McCowan, an east Tennessee sheriff's deputy. The reward for information that will lead to his arrest is up to $80,000.

WALKER: Deputies arrested DeHart's brother yesterday, accusing him of helping his brother after the shooting. He is being held on a million dollar bond. CNN's Rafael Romo joins us now with more on what we know about the suspect. Rafael?


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Victor and Amara, authorities say the suspect is believed to be traveling on foot and should be considered armed and dangerous. That's according to the Blount County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee, which has launched a manhunt to arrest the suspect. He's identified as 42-year-old Kenneth DeHart, and is accused of shooting and killing a sheriff's deputy and injuring another during a traffic stop on Thursday. The officer killed was 43-year-old deputy Greg McCowan, according to

Blount County, Sheriff James Lee Berrong. A second officer, 22-year- old deputy, Shelby Edgars(ph) was injured after returning fire. She was treated at a hospital and released. The Blount County Mayor's Office announced a reward of more than $70,000. Sheriff Berrong has vowed to catch the suspect. Let's take a listen.


JAMES LEE BERRONG, BLOUNT COUNTY SHERIFF, TENNESSEE: I've got my friends behind me, they've had officers and they've stood up here before you before. I haven't. It's the hardest thing I've ever done.

We're going to get this man off the streets of east Tennessee and put him behind bars. The Attorney General, Ryan Desmond, has filed a warrant for first degree murder and no bond.


ROMO: On Friday, Berrong specifically asked people who live in the county's Wildwood area where the suspect was last seen to check their outdoor security or doorbell camera video systems for any images of the suspect. Blount County is about 60 miles south of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is assisting in the search and has issued a state-wide blue alert for DeHart. Officials are advising people to not approach the suspect, and asking them instead to contact law enforcement immediately if they see him. Victor and Amara, back to you.

BLACKWELL: Rafael, thank you so much. Up next, the revolution of Artificial Intelligence. It's everywhere. Well, now, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, they're using it to help stop the fentanyl epidemic. We'll explain how?



BLACKWELL: One more use now for Artificial Intelligence. Federal law enforcement officers say they're using A.I. to help fight the fentanyl epidemic.

WALKER: Yes, it's part of a new pilot program from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to detect drugs being smuggled into the country. CNN's Josh Campbell goes behind the scenes of the Los Angeles operation.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the short time we've been here, this packet of fentanyl was seized in the mail. The sender of this envelope now under federal investigation. The deadly drug detected by Artificial Intelligence, its street value --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 100,000 worth of fentanyl.

CAMPBELL (on camera): Every piece of mail, every package entering the United States is scanned by CBP, right now, that's done by X-ray with officers staring at images across their screen, if they become suspicious, they open the package up to determine whether a threat is inside.

(voice-over): But A.I. could revolutionize the way U.S. Customs and Border Protection does battle against smugglers.

(on camera): We're here near Los Angeles International Airport in a facility that processes over 240 million packages every single year. Officers seizing numerous items including counterfeit merchandise, illegal food as well as precursors to the deadly drug, fentanyl.

Now, in order to help stop America's fentanyl epidemic, officers are now relying on Artificial Intelligence like this system. A package is sent through this main system called IDSS, this is similar to what you might find in a hospital or at an airport. A 3D image is taken, and then sent to what's called the Stunet(ph), this is the halo system.

Artificial Intelligence at work. Unlike old technology such as X-rays, this system is constantly learning and teaching itself.

(voice-over): The mission of this A.I. system, part of a CBP pilot program is to identify patterns, how smugglers are concealing fentanyl in order to evade detection.

(on camera): At the end of the whole process, the system will get a grade. After scanning 10,000 images, an officer will look to determine how well the system actually did, to determine whether this is the type of machine that CBP might want to roll out to its multiple facilities across the nation.

TROY MILLER, ACTING COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION: Imagine all the information that's coming out of officers and majors, they're the best in the world at what they do, but they need help distilling that information so you can make an informed decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something is going on here. Something is not right.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): But there's another important by-product of this sophisticated technology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I, as the officer, can look at some kind of device and say, you know what? Big red flag, yes, then I could actually follow the proper protocols, isolate, notify the proper people and then take care of it without getting too close and endanger myself or others.

CAMPBELL: This pilot program is currently being used for cargo arriving by air to L.A.X. CBP hopes to expand the use of A.I. to other critical points of entry into the United States, like the port of Los Angeles, the busiest port in the nation. And at the border, a major point of origin for fentanyl entering the U.S. drug supply, killing thousands.

One looming question with well-funded drug cartels known to adopt advanced technology of their own, how long will A.I. provide U.S. authorities a cutting-edge advantage to stay ahead of the threat.

MILLER: It's an incredibly challenging mission. Said something that's probably the most challenging that I've seen in my 30 years in law enforcement. But as a -- you know, a father of an 8-year-old daughter, as a husband, it's incredibly important we take it personally at Customs and Border Protection over and do everything we can to keep this place and off the streets.


CAMPBELL: Josh Campbell, CNN, Los Angeles.


WALKER: All right, Josh Campbell, thank you. Still ahead, the road to Super Bowl LVIII has finally reached Las Vegas. But who will lift the Lombardi trophy? We will go live to the Strip where our Coy Wire is getting predictions from some of the biggest stars in sports and entertainment.


WALKER: It's still Winter, but in some parts of the U.S., you may not even know it, with record warmth moving over the plains and northeast this weekend.

BLACKWELL: In some states, the temperatures could be close to 30 degrees higher than normal. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking it all for us. I am jealous, deep in my spirit. Allison, where is this going to be and for how long?


ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so that's a cut at the question. Although, I will point out, Victor, it's not quite what you think, 40s may be the warmth that some folks are feeling even though it's way warmer than they normally would be.

Looking at this map, all of the red dots you see here are showing where these areas had had their warmest Winter to date. The orange dots indicating certainly within the top five of their warmest Winters to date.

And you'll notice a lot of them are clustered across the Midwest and also into the northeast. And that's having an impact on snowfall, because most of the precipitation they're getting is in the form of rain. So, take a look, Marquette, Michigan, Syracuse and Erie, all looking at 50 inches lower than what they would normally have this time of year.

Even Minneapolis and Cleveland, about 2 feet below average for snowfall. It's not just snow, but also ice coverage. Total across the Great Lakes is looking at 5 percent. Normally, this time of year, they would be at about 37 percent of that ice coverage.

And it's probably not going to increase any time soon. All of these dots you see here have a potential to break a record temperature in the next 24 hours. And there's a lot of them, you're talking over 90 locations. But we are going to see those temperatures falling back.

Take Cleveland for example, high of 56 today, back in the 30s tomorrow. Raleigh, high of 74 today, down into the 50s by Monday. The reason for that drop is this cold front that's going to be making its way through. And in the short term, it's also going to bring a tremendous amount of rain, and even the possibility for some severe storms across the south as it slowly makes its way through the states over the next few days.

Dropping quite a bit of rain, about 2 to 4 inches for a lot of them. One place you will not see rain, however, is in Las Vegas. Temperatures may be about 10 degrees below what they would be, but I don't think anyone is going to complain with the sunshine.

WALKER: I think Victor was about to pack his flip-flops and shorts and head north.


BLACKWELL: I thought you said the 40s --

WALKER: Not well enough --

BLACKWELL: And I was like, no, you can keep it. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.

WALKER: Thanks Allison --

BLACKWELL: Well, as we kind of tease there, we are now one day away from the big game, Super Bowl LVIII.

WALKER: Coy Wire joining us live from outside the stadium in Las Vegas, getting us ready for the showdown between the 49ers and the Chiefs. Hi, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, lovely people. I should have asked Allison about this weather here in the desert of Las Vegas. We are -- 31 degrees feels like temperature. What is going on? Things are about to heat up, though. Tom Brady, he was at the Fontainebleau, Las Vegas, in the New Hall of Excellence where they're housing all seven of his Super Bowl rings in this sort of louver-like museum of iconic sports artifacts, right?

He unveiled it with Fontainebleau Chairman and CEO of Development Jeffrey Soffer and legendary broadcaster Jim Gray, and we caught up with the greatest QB of all time, he said he hopes his collection inspires the next generation, he talked about how difficult it was to win all those Super Bowls. So, I asked him about Mahomes and Purdy, the two QBs we'll see in action tomorrow. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRADY, FORMER QUARTERBACK: Patrick has been a great player since he came in the league, and so is Brock. And they're leading two totally different teams and styles. Both well coached, both organizations are doing it the right way. I was a part of organizations that did it the right way.

So, I love when I see matchups like this in the Super Bowl that it's truly the two best teams and one each conference that are now competing for the championship. And one is going to get one of those rings, and the other one is going to be looking for answers like the other 30 teams who are in this game.

WIRE: What do you make of all this extra added hype, this Taylor Swift-mania for this Super Bowl?

BRADY: For me, it's -- you know, I'm happy for them. And --

WIRE: Yes --

BRADY: You know, I think they should -- that's their personal journey to me. This is really about a great football competition and the magic that's created on the field.


WIRE: All right, he was pretty all business just like he was on the field. Didn't want to talk about all the extra stuff going around the Super Bowl. The 49ers have been favored every game this season, and even though the Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champs, they are favored once again tomorrow.

And one always fun-facts into the lead-up to the big game is hearing celebrity predictions. I caught up with The Rock Dwayne Johnson for the kickoff of the upcoming Wrestlemania in Philly. Here's what D.J. had to say.




JOHNSON: But you can't root against AC --

WIRE: Oh, OK --

JOHNSON: I'm telling you, man, those are bad dudes, man. Yes --

WIRE: Yes, they are --

JOHNSON: Both teams are. I just feel like, you know, there's greatness on both sides, like looking in the mirror.

WIRE: I know, he's The Rock and I'm the purple.


WIRE: Yes, that was a pretty humbling experience for your boy over here. I interviewed The Rock, was awesome. He's going with Chiefs, and I am, too. And even though those Niners are favored, you just can't count out Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. They are like the new Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But we will soon find out who is the winner.

WALKER: I am so -- I was laughing when he mentioned that The Rock was saying he looked -- he felt like he was looking in the mirror, because you guys did look very similar, everything, the bald head, the build, handsomeness, all of it together. [06:55:00]

Coy Wire --

WIRE: Yes --

WALKER: Thank you --

WIRE: PGA there.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Coy.

WALKER: Still to come, I mean, you've heard the saying happily after -- ever after?

BLACKWELL: What's the phrase? I've heard that one.

WALKER: Happily ever after. But does the data back it up? We're going to talk about marriage with Victor, and whether it actually means a happier life. That's next.


BLACKWELL: All right, Valentine's Day is just a few days away, and maybe the wonderness you're looking for love, who is happier? The people who are married or the people who are still out in the streets?

WALKER: Out in the streets, that sounds harsh. Single and mingling maybe. 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 adjust the data for factors like age, race, gender and education.