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Kansas City Chiefs Win Super Bowl in Overtime; Israel Special Forces Rescue 2 Hostages in Southern Gaza; Pentagon: Austin in Hospital for Bladder Issue; Trump: I Wouldn't Protect NATO Members Who Don't Pay. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 06:00   ET


MICA SOELLNER, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Careful in the decisions that they make.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Right. And I think so many -- so many of them are looking to them. Especially those, as you mentioned, who are going to be up in this year, those really critical Senate races, as well.

Mica Soellner of Punchbowl News, thanks so much for joining us. Great to see you this morning.

SOELLNER: Thank you.

DEAN: And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Jessica Dean in for Kasie Hunt. And CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four-man front. Receiver motion. Low snap. He runs and he throws, caught, touchdown! It's caught! Hardman caught the ball. The Chiefs have won! The Chiefs have won!


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm just glad you came to work today.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Just going to keep sticking the knife in all morning.

HARLOW: Yes. I'm sorry, Phil. I was rooting for you.

MATTINGLY: It was a wonderful halftime show.

HARLOW: But not. Go Chiefs. It was a wonderful halftime show. Usher was everything.

Good morning. Glad you're with us. Hope you had a good time watching the game. Glad you're with us early this morning.

It came down to a touchdown in overtime. The Kansas City Chiefs are once again Super Bowl champions. They beat the San Francisco 49ers in an overtime thriller.

We're going to take you live to Vegas for the highlights of the big game and, of course, Usher's epic halftime performance.

MATTINGLY: Also, overnight the Israeli military says its forces rescued two hostages in Southern Gaza after 128 days of captivity. We're now learning exactly how they did it.

And two people were injured, one a child, when a woman shot up Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church on Sunday. She had a long rifle in one hand and a child in the other. New details. What exactly happened here overnight?

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.


PATRICK MAHOMES, QUARTERBACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: It's the start of one. We're not done. I know we're going to celebrate tonight. Celebrate the pride of Kansas City. We're not done. We've got a young team; we'll keep this thing going.


HARLOW: And keep this thing going they certainly did. The Super Bowl -- three Super Bowl wins, I should say, in just five years. The Kansas City Chiefs took down Phil's 49ers with a stunning touchdown drive in overtime. The Chiefs have just become the first back-to-back NFL champs in 19 years.

MATTINGLY: Could have been luck. It could have been skill. Maybe it was just Taylor Swift. Taylor, of course, in the box with her famous friends. You probably saw them a couple of times, cheering on the Chiefs and her boyfriend, Travis Kelce.

After a quiet first half, one catch from like one yard, Kelce exploded in the fourth quarter. So did fans. Look at this video. Full watch party in Kansas City.

HARLOW: The Chiefs will once again visit the White House after their big win. President Biden posted this video on social media last night, writing, "The Kansas City Chiefs aren't just champions today. They are a dynasty. Ready to welcome back to team to the White House."

Also, Hillary Clinton tweeting overnight, "Congratulations to Taylor's boyfriend and the entire Kansas City Chiefs community."

MATTINGLY: Our Coy Wire is up early in Las Vegas. Not totally sure he ever actually went to bed.

Coy, it was a hell of a game. Kind of just want to focus on Usher and every millennial finding new life last night. Tell us what you saw.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Spoken like a true 49ers fan. And it's great. The night is over. I don't know if it's morning, if it's still night. Thirty-eight minutes of sleep, I know I got that. So I'm good, baby. But this Super Bowl felt a lot like the Super Bowl four years ago when

the 49ers started off hot, but then those Kansas City Swifties came roaring back, crushing Phil Mattingly and 49ers' hearts. They found a way to reign supreme yet again.


TRAVIS KELCE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS PLAYER (singing): Viva Las Vegas! Viva Las Vegas!

WIRE (voice-over): In the first-ever Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Taylor Swift was all of us: screaming, cheering, maybe chugging a drink, biting their nails as the defending champion Chiefs were down 3 with 75 yards in front of them in just the second ever overtime in Super Bowl history.

MAHOMES: Just know that the Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs. Just know that.

WIRE (voice-over): Patrick Mahomes, putting the team on his shoulders, found a way to win again, dissecting the defense with his favorite target, Travis Kelce: 330 yards passing on the night, two touchdowns, including the game winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He runs and throws. It's caught, touchdown. He caught the ball! The Chiefs have won! The Chiefs have won!

WIRE (voice-over): A party for the ages in Kansas City.

At just 28 years old, Mahomes is now a three-time Super Bowl MVP, just the fifth quarterback ever to win three titles.

MAHOMES: I can't ask for anything better than this, man. We're Super Bowl champs. Kansas City, I'll see you all at the parade. Let's do it, baby.

ISIAH PACHECO, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS RUNNING BACK: It's a brotherhood. It's a family. Forget about me. I love you. Showing that we sacrifice.


RASHEE RICE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS WIDE RECEIVER: We bought into everything. And I mean, there's confetti on the floor. I got a nice hat.

WIRE (voice-over): Andy Reid, 11 years as the Chiefs' head coach, ten play-off berths, three Super Bowl wins, tied for the third most ever. And Big Red isn't done.

WIRE: What's going to be your celebratory meal, Coach?

ANDY REID, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS HEAD COACH: You know it. Cheeseburgers, baby.

WIRE (voice-over): Dynasty complete. A 25-22 win. Kansas City gets their third title in five years. They're the first back-to-back champs in nearly 20 years.

KELCE: We get a chance to do it three times in a row.

WIRE (voice-over): Travis Kelce getting a celebratory kiss from Taylor Swift. While brother Jason and momma Donna stuffed confetti in their pockets.

The most hyped Super Bowl --


WIRE (voice-over): -- delivers. From Usher's halftime performance to the Hollywood ending that couldn't have been scripted. Any ways, seems like nothing can stop the Chiefs and their Super Bowl "Eras Tour."


WIRE (on camera): So how many Super Bowls can the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, this dynasty get? I guess that maybe is the next question.

And maybe when we see or hear wedding bells in the near future for Travis and Taylor. Or maybe, at least, when we see Taylor perform at the championship parade in Kansas City. That will be on Friday.

MATTINGLY: Hey, Coy, can I -- I know we're focused on the important things, which is obviously Taylor Swift. Can I ask you a football question, though?

As a former player who was on the field with these guys, the Chiefs were not good like six weeks ago. They were not good. The dynasty was not going to continue. Everything was falling apart. What happened?

WIRE: Yes. So, they embraced that. Right? They weren't playing at the top of their game. And as an elite competitor, when your back is against the wall, you feel like the world is against you. That can rally you.

And if you have the right personnel; if you have the Patrick Mahomes, the Travis Kelces in the world, an incredible defense and a leader like Andy Reid, you pull together and you pull off one of the most incredible Super Bowl wins we've seen in overtime.

Absolutely phenomenal what they were able to do. They certainly have that championship pedigree. A dynasty, no doubt.

MATTINGLY: No question about it. And every 49ers fan, myself included, knew exactly what was going to happen when Patrick Mahomes had the ball that last drive.

Coy Wire, we appreciate you, my friend. Thank you.

HARLOW: Can we also talk about Biden's team and posting this? If you -- if you went to bed right after the game and you missed this, let's pull it up. Because this was -- OK. So, Phil, how would you describe this? MATTINGLY: A digital and social media team that doesn't feel bound by

the traditional campaign restraints. Right? The -- everything is scripted. Taylor and Travis are a plant. The dark Brandon meme, just like we drew it up.

HARLOW: Is everything.

I had to explain that to my husband last night. Like, you haven't been following this?

MATTINGLY: Digital native, like yourself, explaining social media, like always.

HARLOW: Me. Me. Also this. Turning the page -- we'll get back to football soon. But breaking overnight, the big news. Also late last night, the Israeli military rescuing two hostages from Southern Gaza in a Special Forces operation.

This is video of a helicopter taking them to a hospital in Israel after they were held in captivity for 128 days.

The IDF says the two men were rescued after an intense gun battle with their captors. We are told Israeli Special Forces hugged and protected those hostages with their own bodies as they came under heavy fire.

Israeli air strikes pounded targets during the operation. Hamas claims the overnight strikes in Rafah killed more than 100 people. The city is now home to more than half of Gaza's population. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been seeking refuge here with nowhere else to go.

There is mounting international concern that an Israeli ground offensive could again be coming soon. Let's go to Nic Robertson. He's live at the hospital where those hostages were taken. Incredibly important news for their families to receive, that after 128 days they are now safe and getting the treatment they need.

Do we know how they're doing physically?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, we do. And I have to say, big news for the country, as well. I mean, this is what everyone has been hoping for, that more hostages would get released and these freed in this lightning covert military operation.

They're here in the hospital. I've talked with a couple of their relatives. They describe them in good spirits. So they're a little bit dazed and confused.


GEFFEN SIGAL ILAN, RESCUED HOSTAGE'S NIECE: They are a little thin, different, a little different --

ROBERTSON: They lost some weight?

ILAN: They lost a little weight. IDAN BEZERANO, RESCUED HOSTAGE'S SON-IN-LAW: Very thin. Walking. At

least, so I can say they are walking. But I believe that they're still on high adrenaline. And we will see how physically good or bad they are or how mentally good or bad they are, only when the days will come.


ROBERTSON: So, two hostages: Fernando Marman, 60 years old; Louis Har, he is 70 years old. So two slightly elderly men.


Hospital officials here say they'll keep them here for some time, run all sorts of different medical checks on them. Psychological wellbeing is -- is the big thing.

But when you look at this video of the family greeting and meeting and hugging them here, so emotional. Such a big deal for these families. Such a big deal for the IDF, as well, to be able to put on a rescue like this. It was covert.

And it was all over so fast. They went into this house in the center of Rafah at 1:49 in the morning. They took on Hamas, who were guarding these two hostages.

As you said, a couple of their special forces threw -- threw themselves over the hostages to protect them. And then, within a minute of getting in that building, then the IDF started this diversionary dropping -- dropping bombs, hitting targets, hitting Hamas that was coming towards the building, the IDF says.

And in that process, they then extracted the hostages under fire to a safe place, put them on a helicopter, brought them to this hospital.

So OK, that -- that took a minute to happen there in Rafah. Within two hours, the families were getting a call that their loved ones were safe and that they were in the hospital here and to come visit them.

So it's a really -- it's a big day for the families. But I have to say again, a big day here for Israel, of course.

HARLOW: It's a great point. What it means for Israel and their aim to be able to do this much more going forward.

The phone call that Biden had with Bibi Netanyahu over the weekend, as I understand it, about two-thirds of that call was focused on hostages but also that President Biden stressed to Netanyahu the need for a credible plan to ensure civilian safety in Rafah as they carry out these operations.

Any reporting on that and what this hostage rescue does to the clearly increasing tension between the U.S. and the Netanyahu regime?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think it really puts into really sharp focus what happens on these military operations. We understand from Palestinian health officials that about 100 people

were killed overnight and what appeared to be raids that were part of this rescue effort, that those 100 people who were killed and others injured, many of them were women and children.

And it really, again, just shows the stakes of civilian casualties, particularly in Rafah, where there are 1.4 million people, more than a million of them displaced. Many of them have been displaced from homes elsewhere in Gaza. This is a point of last refuge, if you will, for them. They say they have nowhere else to go.

So, it will put a lot of focus and attention on the civilian cost of military operations inside of Gaza and pressure on the government here, not just from President Biden, but we've heard from Egyptian authorities. We've heard from Saudi authorities, UAE as well, all saying there will be serious consequences for Israel if the civilians cannot be protected.

That's a language similar to that being used by European Union leaders, as well, who -- who want to see a ceasefire out of this.

HARLOW: Nic Robertson reporting for us from the hospital there. Thank you very much.

MATTINGLY: Well, also this morning, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin back in the hospital and being treated in the critical care unit at Walter Reed.

The Pentagon says he was brought there yesterday afternoon for, quote, "an emergent bladder issue." Officials confirmed that his duties have been transferred to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

The White House and Congress were notified within hours, unlike Austin's previous hospital stay for prostate cancer, when no one was told for weeks.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis has been covering this story.

And Katie Bo, this is clearly a very different process of notification. But in terms of the health of the secretary of defense, what do we know right now?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Phil, at this point what we know is that Secretary Austin has been admitted to Walter Reed for monitoring and supportive care.

The hospital saying in a statement that these latest complications are not expected to impact what is anticipated to be a full recovery from his original surgery for prostate cancer on December 22 and also that his prognosis for cancer remains, as the hospital put it, excellent.

But the hospital also saying that they don't know how long he will remain hospitalized, which means we don't know how long defense -- DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY Kathleen Hicks is expected to retain the duties of the defense secretary. This obviously, again, as you say, very different handling of how they

went about this when he was originally hospitalized for complications from that initial surgery on January 1, when he did not notify either the White House or other senior members of his -- of the Biden administration for days.

Still, Kathleen Hicks taking over the duties here. Clearly, not originally the plan. Yesterday when Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder initially made his public notification that Austin was on his way back to Walter Reed, he said that Hicks was standing by but that Austin was traveling to the hospital with both the classified and unclassified systems necessary to perform his duties with him.


Obviously, something changed once they got him to Walter Reed, and he was evaluated, and the decision was made to admit him. Now, the Defense Department, I think, expected to provide as many updates as they are able to through the coming days, in an effort to avoid the criticism that Austin received after his first hospitalization on January 1st, when that notification wasn't made for days.

Obviously, the defense secretary key in the chain of command here at a moment when the U.S. is at least tangentially involved in two separate hot wars across the globe. So it think they'll be -- they'll be looking to avoid that with as many updates as they are able to avoid.

MATTINGLY: Our best wishes to the secretary and his health. Katie Bo Lillis, keep us posted when we learn more. Thank you.

LILLIS: Thanks, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Well, international reaction, it is pouring in fast and furious after Donald Trump said he'd encourage Russia to, quote, "do whatever the hell they want" to NATO allies that don't meet the financial targets. We'll explain, next.

HARLOW: Also, Trump's attacks on Nikki Haley getting much more personal. What he said about her husband that had President Biden coming to Nikki Haley's defense.



DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president of a big country stood up and said, Well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us?


I said, You didn't pay? You're delinquent?

He said, Yes. Let's say that happened.

No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You've got to pay.


HARLOW: That was Donald Trump suggesting he would -- not just suggesting, saying he would encourage Russia to attack NATO countries in Europe if they didn't pay on time in funding NATO.

The White House has responded to this, saying it, quote, "is encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes. It is appalling and unhinged. It endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home."

Let's talk about this with Jamal Simmons, CNN political commentator, former aide in the Biden White House; CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp; and strategic communications expert and former Republican strategist and pollster, Lee Carter. Good morning, guys.

It's not that surprising, given what he did while he was in office and said to advisers about why would we support folks if they don't pay up to that 2 percent?

What I think is so striking here is that he said it out loud, Jamal. And it wasn't just the Biden White House who said that. You know, Jens Stoltenberg said that, said that it puts, you know, people on the ground, soldiers in danger.

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. It's against our entire national security framework as kind of the Western alliance. Right? We have this Article 5 commitment with NATO that, if one country is attacked, all the other countries will come to that country's aid and benefit.

The only time it's ever been invoked was for us after 9/11 in Afghanistan.


SIMMONS: In Afghanistan. They came in -- So I think -- I think it's irresponsible. It's a very serious time in the world. And we see people in Ukraine. We watched these videos of people being displaced from their homes, people who are dying and the president saying that he would invite that upon our allies.

I can't imagine that this is the kind of person we entrust with the White House and our most sensitive national security secrets.

MATTINGLY: You keyed on the same thing, Poppy, which was Jens Stoltenberg actually saying something and being very specific and explicit was a big deal.

HARLOW: I think so.

MATTINGLY: We have interviewed him often. And while he's wonderful, he does not di verge from a very straight line. Understanding the delicacies here. Also, by the way, NATO countries don't pay into, like, a pot of money.

It's about how they building up their own defense. And for eight years, the former president hasn't figured that out, and it drives me insane.

Can we pull up with Marco Rubio said, though? Because I feel like we're reverting back to nine years ago where we see things like this. Take a listen.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): He told the story about how he used leverage to get people to step up to the plate and -- and become more active in NATO. He's not the first American president. In fact, virtually every American president at some point in some way have complained about other countries in NATO not doing enough. You know, Trump is just the first one to express it in these terms.


MATTINGLY: We're back to the "seriously not literally" shtick, which I feel like January 6th kind of blew out of the water. And it's surprising when you hear people like him or Lindsey Graham or others defending this, which has been a pillar of kind of Western democracy and stability over the course of seven decades.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, it is and it isn't. We've watched this emasculation of the GOP and guys like Marco Rubio, who used to talk tough, really bending over backwards to contort, to defend and explain and translate Donald Trump.

But the bottom line here is Donald Trump doesn't know what an ally is. His interest in loyalty flows one way. It's one way. Your loyalty to me. He has no interest in a loyalty to other people.

The idea of allies is so completely lost on him that I don't think there's any point in explaining or even pointing out how grotesque this is. He just doesn't care. Truly doesn't care.

HARLOW: Lee, can you talk about how this plays with the Republican base?

LEE CARTER, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: So, I think this is one of the things that it's like not what you say that matters; it's what people hear.

And on one side you hear, you're offended, you're horrified, all of the things that we just discussed.

And then, if you're a supporter of his, you think this is a tough guy, and he's fighter, and I like it.

And it's almost like no matter what he says, he can get away with it, because that's part of the persona. Eight in 10 Trump supporters are angry. They don't like the way things are going. They want somebody who's going to go down to Washington, D.C., back in the White House, and blow things up. And that's exactly what he's suggesting with statements like this.

And whether the rest of us understand it or not, it plays very well to his base. And they're going to forgive him, and it's going to be forgotten in no time.

And it's -- and it's amazing, because really for two years, we were hearing from -- we were not hearing directly from Trump. We were hearing about Trump, because he didn't have a platform in the same way.

Now we're starting to hear directly from him. And we're reminded, Oh my gosh, these are the kinds of things that he says all the time. But for his base, I don't think it's going to make a little -- a little bit of difference.

SIMMONS: Isn't that the point? The base cares about that. I think Lee is absolutely right.

The question is, though, what do the rest of Americans think, the average Americans who are going to show up and vote?

Republicans my entire life, even as a Democrat who was fighting campaigns against Republicans, you know, the entire life, the Republicans were strong on national security, strong on defense.


Democrats were always trying to prove that they were as tough as Republicans so that they could have a shot at it, right?

That's not what this is. This is a president saying, we're done with it. Like, that's not what we do anymore.

HARLOW: Marco Rubio can say that, but he was the main voice, was he not, and push behind ensuring that Congress has to --

MATTINGLY: He was the Republican sponsor.

HARLOW: That a president cannot just pull the U.S. out of NATO. And it has to be Congress. So he can go on TV and say that. But then what he did behind the scenes was to ensure that Congress has to weigh in.

MATTINGLY: Right. He understands that it's a threat.

HARLOW: But this is the -- this is the really amazing trick that Donald Trump has -- has managed to pull off.

First, he managed to get conservatives to stop caring about conservatism. Then he got Christians to stop caring about, like, scripture, the Bible, what would Jesus do? Now Jesus is woke.

He got Republicans and Americans to stop caring about America and what democracy should mean.

And in this instance, he got, you know, the patriotic, you know, military-loving far right to stop caring about national security. And to stop caring about our servicemen and women, our troops.

I mean, it's -- it's a feat, what Donald Trump has done to the right in this country in a very short period of time.

MATTINGLY: Lee, can I pull on that a little bit, because NATO is kind of like the perfect capture of Trump's talent, right? You don't really understand how the payment process works. You don't understand how other countries -- no, no. I'm not mocking or being dismissive.

You don't understand why it's benefitted you. You've never seen it in your day-to-day life, necessarily. So that's ripe for him to take advantage of. Attacking Nikki Haley's husband who's currently deployed, that feels a little bit different but lines up with that. This is what he said.


TRUMP: Where is her husband? Oh, he's away. He's away. Where -- what happened to her husband? What happened to her husband?! Where is he? He's gone.


MATTINGLY: And this was how Nikki Haley responded.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, if you have something to say, don't say it behind my back. Get on a debate stage, and say it to my face.

If you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don't deserve a driver's license, let alone being president of the United States.


MATTINGLY: Now again, he's deployed. The commander in chief confirmed as much when he tweeted in support of Nikki Haley --

CUPP: Serving, serving.

MATTINGLY: And her husband serving. But does that have -- that's different than NATO. That's personal.

CARTER: It's very different than NATO. It is personal. And you would think that it would have an impact. I don't think it will. I mean, this is a man who could go after John McCain --


CARTER: -- a war hero and have no repercussions. I think -- I think there's going to be very little repercussions.

And the question really is did he -- did he -- was he saying this as -- with a -- with a memory gaffe? I mean, if Biden had done the same thing, he would say, does he even

know what he's talking about? This is like -- it's an unbelievable statement that he made. And yet I guarantee you, his supporters are going to say, it doesn't matter.

HARLOW: To them --

SIMMONS: We just lost Toby Keith last week. One of his best songs, right, is "American Soldier." And I remember, when I worked for Wesley Clark, when he ran for president, we used to play it when Wes Clark would walk into -- into a room, right?

Because it would be like, Democrats are grabbing ahold of national security. And I just -- you know, it is -- it really does pain me to see that we've got somebody who is -- who wants to lead our troops, who really does not care about them.

HARLOW: S.E., to that point --

CUPP: Yes.

HARLOW: -- Jake asked Marco Rubio about this in a really good interview yesterday and reminded Rubio and the audience that, when Trump said those things about McCain, that Rubio had called that disqualifying.

CUPP: Right.

HARLOW: But his answer yesterday to Jake about what Trump said is, "I think they're part of an increasing nastiness of this campaign."

CUPP: That's exactly what I mean. There would have been no stomach for this in the Republican base to go after a man who is serving our country, whether you're mocking or you've just forgotten, whatever the point of that was. There would have been no appetite for that.

And it would have been -- it would have been disqualifying to attack a man who's serving our country and, by extension, all you know, American men and women in service.

But this party doesn't care anymore, because Trump is so indifferent to service. He doesn't understand public service. He doesn't understand the role of it.

You know, the presidency was really to line his own pockets and consolidate power and an ego trip. So, none of this -- he doesn't care about any of this. But the crazy thing is he's conditioned the base not to care either.

Harlow: Not just the base, but Republican lawmakers who used to stand up for things like that.

CUPP: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you. Stay with us, guys. Also this: overnight a woman walking into Joel Osteen's megachurch

with a young child and a rifle, opening fire. That woman is now dead. The child is in the hospital this morning. And authorities are trying to figure out why this happened. We've got the details ahead.

MATTINGLY: Plus, Senate Republicans defying Trump and moving one step closer to passing a bill to aid Ukraine and Israel. We'll tell you the latest, next.