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New Day Saturday

Pence: "Trump is Wrong" to Say Election could be Overturned; Putin, Xi Tout Their Alliance on the World Stage; Russia Denies Planning False Flag Operation to Justify Invasion; Severe Weather Storm Leave 200k Customers Without Power Across Five U.S. States; Seven Virginia School Districts Can Temporarily Keep Mask Mandates in Place; Waffle House Shooter Who Killed 4 People Found Guilty on All Charges. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired February 05, 2022 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to your "NEW DAY." I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I'm Boris Sanchez.

First up. Mike Pence striking back. His most forceful rebuttal yet of President Donald Trump, saying the former president is wrong and claiming that he could have overturned the last election.

Plus, we're learning new details about who Trump was speaking to in the hours before the Capitol attack.

PAUL: Also, the U.S. marking another pretty somber milestone of the pandemic. There's promising news though in the fight against the coronavirus as well. The hopeful finds that we're seeing across the country now.

SANCHEZ: Plus, Florida's Democratic Party chair demanding an investigation after some senior citizens say they were duped into changing their party affiliation.

PAUL: And aiming for gold, the first medals are handed out at the Winter Games. We're going to take you there live.

"NEW DAY" starts right now.


All right. Take a nice deep breath as you get into your Saturday morning. I hope you are still in your PJs. We clearly are not. That would not be good. Good morning, Boris, on this February 5th.

SANCHEZ: Good morning, Christi. Not in the PJs that you can see right up here. The suit and tie stay on.

PAUL: That is a very good point. That is a very good point. Nobody knows what's going on, right?

All right. Let's talk about what's happening this morning with former Vice President Mike Pence. He's calling out his former boss by name, saying that quote, "President Trump is wrong" in claiming that he could overturn the 2020 election, meaning the vice president could do so.

SANCHEZ: Right. Pence has previously defended his actions on January 6th, though, Trump has ramped up his push of the big lie. Even suggesting he might pardon rioters if he's reelected. Yesterday's remarks are Pence's most forceful pushback yet.

CNN's Paula Reid has the story.


PAUL REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: On Friday, former Vice President Mike Pence rebuked former President Trump in the strongest terms yet, saying Trump was wrong about Pence's authority to overturn the election on January 6th. His remarks come 13 months after the insurrection, which he once again called a dark day in the history of the U.S. Capitol. And then called out Trump's big lie.

Let's take a listen to exactly what he told the crowd at this conservative event in Florida this weekend.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. But President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.

Under the Constitution I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.

Look, I understand the disappointment many feel about the last election. I was on the ballot. But whatever the future holds, I know we did our duty that day.

If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won't just lose elections. We'll lose our country.


REID: And Pence's remarks take on new significance as we have learned more about the pressure he was facing on January 6th from Trump and his allies, from the House Select Committee investigation into the attack.

Now, two of Pence's top advisers have recently testified before the committee, but it's not clear if Pence will also cooperate with lawmakers. And the split in the GOP evident this week when at the RNC's winter meeting in Salt Lake City, they voted to formally censure Republican lawmakers Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their involvement in the January 6th investigation.

Cheney tweeted in response. "I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump."

So, not all Republicans, of course, are embracing Trump over the rule of law. But GOP clearly at odds with itself.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: Thanks, Paula. We should note the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection now has records that provide new details about a phone call that former President Trump made to Republican Congressman Jim Jordan.

PAUL: The committee is drilling down on the many ways that Donald Trump and his allies including those in Congress tried to overturn the elections results.

Here's CNN's Ryan Nobles.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Christi, this is new information.


We knew that Jim Jordan had some level of communication with former President Donald Trump on January 6th, but we still don't know how many times he talked to him. But we now know for sure that there was at least one phone call that was initiated by President Trump on the morning of January 6th that was taken in the residence of the White House and lasted for 10 minutes.

Now, basically every time Jim Jordan's been asked about his communications with Donald Trump, he's given a different answer. At one point, he said he couldn't remember. I thought maybe he talked to him in the morning, maybe after the attack, maybe during the attack. He then told the House Rules Committee in October that believe he only talked to him once. And that was after the attack.

Well, the chairman of the Rules Committee Jim McGovern saw our report, saw what Jim Jordan said in response to our report, and said that that directly contradicted his testimony to the Rules Committee back in October. In fact, when we asked Jim Jordan about our new reporting on Friday, he had yet another answer to when he spoke -- about when he spoke to the former president. This is what he told us on Friday.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): As I said, I had a number of calls with -- I talked to the president a couple of times a day, but I don't remember the times. So, I don't remember.

ANNIE GRIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You don't remember if it was the morning? If there was one in the morning before --

JORDAN: I don't recall, but I know I talked to him after we left off the floor, but I don't recall.


NOBLES: That was Jordan talking to our Annie Grier. That was the first time he's revealed to anyone that he had a conversation with the former president as he was leaving the House floor on January 6th.

So, this is a great interest to the committee. They want to know exactly what Jordan was talking to Trump about in part because Jordan was one of the leaders of the effort to object to the election results and deny the certification of the election results on January 6th. The committee believes that played a big role in leading to the violence and chaos on January 6th.

Now, they've asked Jordan to appear in front of their committee voluntarily. So far, he's turned down that request. The committee now wrestling with whether or not they have the ability and can enforce subpoenas to force their fellow members of Congress to appear before them. Boris and Christi?


SANCHEZ: Ryan Nobles from Capitol Hill. Thanks so much.

Let's discuss the morning's political headlines with CNN political commentator Errol Louis. He's also a columnist for "New York Magazine," and host of the "You Decide" podcast.

Errol, always appreciate you getting up bright and early for us. Thanks for joining us.

Let's start with Mike Pence because the video we watched a moment ago from him at that Federalist Society even in Florida. A very different Mike Pence than we've seen even just a few months ago. He seemed more robust in his rebuttal of Donald Trump who later responded to him saying that the former president was wrong and calling overturning the elections results un-American. What do you make of this version of Mike Pence, someone who clearly has aspirations for 2024?


It's a sign of how farthings have gone that simply standing up and saying the plain truth generates a headline, becomes news, is somewhat out of step with where the rest of the party is going because you know you've got this thing going on, on the other side of the country in Salt Lake City where they passed a resolution saying that the violent attack on the Capitol was, quote, "legitimate political discourse."

So, what we've got is Mike Pence finally saying that the people who were violently evading the Capitol, chanting slogans, trying to find him, setting up a scaffold and saying, "hang Mike Pence" were in the wrong. It's a little bit left. There are some things that even Mike Pence is not going to swallow. And that tells you, I think, how far and how outrageous the effort to tell lies about Donald Trump has become.

SANCHEZ: Errol, let's talk about that event in Salt Lake City that you alluded to, the RNC voting this week to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their involvement in the January 6th committee. The pressure is growing on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to take even further steps against them. Do you think he's going to be able to hold off on the far-right wing of his party, especially if he wants to be speaker?

LOUIS: Well, no. Of course, not. The far-right wing is in full control of the party, and that's what that vote represents, frankly, Boris. I mean, there's nothing else they can do to Adam Kinzinger. He's decided not to run for reelection. And so, he's going to step off the political stage.

There has been an effort to try and make it easy to funnel outside money into Wyoming and try to defeat Liz Cheney that way. That will be up to the voters of Wyoming. There are very many of them. It's a very small state. There's a very good chance that it has an incumbent with a well-known name she might hang on despite everything.

But no, make no mistake about it. It is not the leadership. They're elected responsible leadership or quote, unquote, "responsible leadership" that is an angry base, that wants to believe against all evidence that somehow Donald Trump won the 2020 election, and that's who's driving the ship at this point.


SANCHEZ: And Errol, we just heard CNN's new reporting from Ryan Nobles there on Capitol Hill. The call between Jim Jordan and Donald Trump on January 6th. It lasted about 10 minutes. The J6 Committee still deciding whether to issue subpoenas to fellow lawmakers. The Chairman Bennie Thompson acknowledges it's a complicated issue. Do you think that Jim Jordan and others potentially could be subpoenaed?

LOUIS: They might - they might subpoena them. But - but the - the reality, Boris, is that you're not going to get the truth out of Jim Jordan with or without a subpoena. He's told, what, four or five different versions of the story and I don't think we've heard the last one. So, whether it's under oath (AUDIO GAP) he'll say what happened.

And Nancy Pelosi in retrospect was very wise to keep him off this Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack. They have suspicions back then that I think are being proven out now that he was not going to be dealing in good faith and would likely have been conveying information to all kinds of people who didn't - who should not have received it.

The subpoena question is a minor technical point compared to the effort to find the truth. If you're looking for the truth, Jim Jordan is not your man.

SANCHEZ: We've got to leave the conversation there. But, Errol, always great to hear from you and get your perspective. Thanks for joining us. LOUIS: Thank you.

PAUL: So, you know, two years ago when the pandemic started, I don't know if any of us thought we would be where we are right now. This milestone of 900,000 Americans who died from the virus since the start.

President Biden marked the occasion yesterday. He called each soul lost to COVID-19 irreplaceable. Families certainly would agree with that. He urged more people to get vaccinated or boosted.

Now, data shows unvaccinated adults are 97 times more likely to die from the COVID compared to those who have received their shots.

And we now have a second fully approved COVID vaccine here in the U.S. Yesterday, CDC backed Moderna's two-dose vaccine for adults named Spikevax.

President Biden and the White House, meanwhile, celebrating the good news on the economic front, Boris.

SANCHEZ: That's right, Christi. The January jobs report had beat expectations. The United States adding nearly half a million jobs, and it comes at a welcome time for this White House. The president struggling to battle inflation, supply chain issues, and a sinking popularity rating.

Let's take you now to the White House and CNN's Jasmine Wright. She's actually in Wilmington, Delaware traveling with the president.

Jasmine, after weeks of dismal economic news the White House was ready for this when?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah. Look, that's right. The president is having a good week for a change here, Boris and Christi. And the White House is really taking a victory lap. Yesterday, we saw the president out really touting that surprisingly good jobs report where the U.S. economy added 467,000 new jobs and also revised the jobs report from two months previous to add even more jobs.

Take a listen to the president at the White House here really taking that victory lap.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know it hasn't been easy. I know that January was a very hard month for many Americans. I know that after almost two years, the physical and emotional weight of the pandemic has been incredibly difficult to bear for so many people.

But here's the good news: We have the tools to save lives and to keep businesses open and keep schools open, keep workers on the job, and sustain this historic economic comeback.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WRIGHT: So, there we heard from the president really trying to show that his administration is in a place once again at least domestically to really turn the corner after a few bumpy months that we saw record- level of COVID cases because of that Omicron variant. And so, they are really ready to do that.

And now internationally, the White House really touted their success, what they called successful mission after they did a successful raid that killed the top ISIS leader in Syria. The White House took a victory lap on that.

But -- there's always a but, right? They are not out of the woods yet. Serious issues loom internationally. Of course, we know that there is still tension with Russia as they do the troop buildup on the Ukrainian border.

And then back domestically, of course, the president has to deal with that record-level of inflation. And, of course, those poll numbers that are currently under water. So, the president is not out of the woods yet. But, yes, they had a good week, and they are certainly celebrating. Boris, Christi?

PAUL: Jasmine Wright, we appreciate it so much as always. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Jasmine.

PAUL: So, let's talk about the international arena. Russia denies U.S. accusations that it's planning a false flag operation in Ukraine while Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi tout their alliance on the world stage, as tensions are intensifying.


SANCHEZ: Plus, a jury handing down a guilty verdict to disgrace Attorney Michael Avenatti for stealing from Stormy Daniels. We'll breakdown the details of the case and the jury's verdict after a quick break. Stay with us.


PAUL: Well, Russia is pushing back against U.S. claims that the Kremlin is producing a, quote, "graphic propaganda video" that the U.S. contends the video would depict an attack by Ukraine that would be used then to justify a Russian invasion.

SANCHEZ: CNN is covering the story from all angles.

So, let's bring in international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. He's live for us from Moscow. Correspondent Melissa Bell is live for us from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Nic, let's start with you. What is Russia saying about the accusations of a false flag operation in the works? The story has been out there for weeks.

[06:20:08] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah. What the Russians are saying, Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister, is saying, it's delusional. Indeed, he points to that. There have been these reports of a full flag operation. This one of course has more detail on it, sounds more graphic.

Also, we've heard from the British government that the - President Putin is planning on installing a puppet government in Ukraine after he invades the country and takes control of it. All of this, the foreign minister is saying it's becoming obvious to everyone that essentially that these are just - that it's untrue.

Also, you know, on Russian state TV here as well. Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, who declined to give details when asked by a reporter at a conference about the false flag operation as governments often decline to do because they don't want to reveal sources and methods. He, Ned Price, and the issue really had been trolled on Russian state media to, you know again, to re-emphasize from the Kremlins' point of view, this is - there is no substance in it. So, the Kremlin quite literally trying to use this against the United States.

PAUL: Melissa, I want to pull you into the conversation here because there's clearly been a break between the U.S. and Ukraine over the last few weeks when it comes to how to interpret some of this intelligence. Have you seen any narrowing of the gap between those countries, particularly in response to this potential false pretense for war?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, on that question of that false flag operation, you know, the Ukrainian foreign minister has been speaking to that, Christi, and saying the United States had warned us about this. That the information was coming out, but they have yet to give us any of the details. So, they're going to be looking out for that.

But even though there is -- you're quite right, a difference in terms of the assessment of how grave and how imminent the Russian threat to Ukraine is. Ukraine is preparing. We spent the day in Chernobyl yesterday, the site of that 1986 catastrophic Soviet nuclear disaster, watching Ukrainian forces using the space to prepare for a potential invasion.

But we also took the opportunity of speaking to the defense minister who is there, Christi, and putting that question of that false flag operation to him. Asking him whether any evidence had been provided at all. Now, he wouldn't speak specifically to that latest piece of news. He did speak to what you just mentioned. Those differences of assessment that we've seen over the course of the last few weeks between American and Ukrainian intelligence. Have a listen.


OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: We have the same facts but a different perception or different estimate.

BELL: The difference is on the question of intention. You don't believe they intend to invade.

REZNIKOV: I hope that in Kremlin, they didn't make their decisions still.


BELL: Now what their defense minister explained to us is that the Ukrainian assessment was that the Russian troops were not yet in position - in a position that they would need to be in if they were going invade and that was going to take some time, Christi.

SANCHEZ: Nic, I want to show our viewers the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. This is before the start of the Beijing Olympics. It strikes me that these two nations have something in common. They're both aggressively pursuing efforts to reclaim territories that are independent that they claim are theirs in Ukraine and Taiwan. I'm wondering what you see. What significance you see in these meeting and the message they're trying to send to the world.

ROBERTSON: Yeah, definitely this was a great platform at this moment for President Putin but for President Xi as well. Both have common enmity towards the United States. Both have reason to join together and send a message to the United States.

And in this case, President Xi backing what you know President Putin has been saying, that it's NATO that's in fault here. That it's expanding too far eastwards. That it's the United States destabilizing the eastern fringes of Europe at the moment.

And so, President Xi backing that, but also President Putin essentially backing President Xi on President Xi's views over Taiwan as being part of China. So, you know, this was a good opportunity for both of them to share the platform, to send that message to the world.

And indeed, they kind of went beyond the visuals of it to issue a joint statement where they say that they are engaging in deeper strategic coordination and this is sort of you know in the future economic cooperation, high tech, green tech, Russia needs support in that current economic ties, you know signing an oil deal, selling Russian oil to China. And on the security sphere.

It's a message that says whatever you load us with, with sanctions, together we can really potentially not overcome it, but we can work our ways around it.


PAUL: Melissa, I think a lot of people are going to be looking ahead at this coming week when French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting both Moscow and Kyiv, wondering if we have any indication what the president of Ukraine hopes that the takeaway, the messaging, the optics will be for the international community after this visit.

BELL: Well, Ukrainian officials are quite clear that they believe that not only diplomacy can work but that it actually is working, Christi. And if that Ukraine's assessment is correct, that there not necessarily Russian land grab being planned but rather an attempt to destabilize NATO. Then, of course, there is room for diplomacy.

Now, Emanuel Macron has been looking for a closer relationship with Vladimir Putin now for several years. He wants an independent European foreign policy. This is an opportunity to make it work in the context where Ukrainians are also hoping that these continued visit from world leaders, this support, military, financial, the solidarity they're seeing, is helping keep Russia in check. And that's what they want to see continuing, Christi and Boris.

SANCHEZ: We'll certainly be watching the situation closely.

We appreciate your reporting, Melissa Bell, Nic Robertson, thank you both.

PAUL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: So, the ex-police officer who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald got an early release from prison after serving just three years behind bars, less than half his sentence. There are now calls for DOJ to step in.

We'll break down the case when we come back.



SANCHEZ: We're just about half past the hour, and we want to give you a look at some of the top stories that we're following this morning. At least, 200,000 people are still without power after snow, ice, and rain fell on nearly a third of the country because of a massive Winter storm. Many emergency officials are still working to restore power lines damaged by heavy ice accumulations, winds, and fallen trees.

Among the states seeing the most customer outages are New York, Ohio, and Tennessee as well, which accounts for nearly half of the outages nationwide. In Virginia, mask mandates in southern school districts can remain in place for now after a judge granted a temporary restraining order against Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin's executive order on optional masking in schools. Several districts filed suit last month for opposing the governor's order, which allowed parents and guardians to choose whether their child wears a mask.

The temporary block is in effect until the final ruling on the case. But the state has already said it intends to appeal that judge's decision. Meantime, the Waffle House shooter who killed four people in Antioch, Tennessee, has been found guilty on all charges including premeditated first-degree murder and first-degree felony murder. Travis Reinking opened fire with an assault-type rifle back in 2018. You might recall the shooting ended when one customer wrestled the weapon away from him.

Reinking fled on foot and was taken into custody when a woman spotted him in the woods some 35 hours after police launched a manhunt. A sentencing hearing is expected for later this morning.

PAUL: And after several days of deliberations, a jury found Michael Avenatti guilty of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for stealing nearly $300,000 from his former client, adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Now, prosecutors say Avenatti instructed Daniel's literary agent to send installments from her 2018 book deal in advance to an account controlled by him, but she had no knowledge of it. Here's what Avenatti had to say about the verdict.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, CONVICTED OF WIRE FRAUD & AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT: I am very disappointed in the jury's verdict. I look forward to a full adjudication of all of the issues on appeal. Thank you.


PAUL: CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson with us again this morning. Hi, Joey. So, we're going to get to a potential appeal in a moment, but I want to ask you first and foremost, because I was hearing somebody say yesterday and reminding us that this is a man who also got 30 months in prison while ago for extorting Nike. Does that conviction add any weight to the potential sentence in this case?

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it really will. It's good to be with you, Christi, good morning to you. And so, what happens is now we move to the issue of sentencing. Of course, we know as was noted, he was facing two counts, one with respect to identity theft, another with regard to fraud. And I think just looking at the case broadly, you know, he was cross-examining Stormy Daniels as it relates to the paranormal and her beliefs in that and cross-examining her with regard to whether she speaks to dead people or not.

But at the end of the day, you can do all that, it's very entertaining, but the issue was whether or not you diverted the funds, was there a text, an e-mail, really trail indicating that you were moving it away from the literary agent, et cetera. And so, I think, ultimately, it was a -- it seemed to be again this sit on a jury, I was not in the courtroom, but by all indications based on what we learned from that court that the jury got it right.

And now, when moving into sensing, the judge has to consider a number of things and will with regard to the prior background of the defendant with respect to the instant matter that he's being sentenced on. And I think as it relates to the prior conviction and 30-month sentence in addition to all the other things he's facing, remember Christi, he has a California case that he initially had a couple of years ago, was declared a mistrial, who will be tried again in California on some other issues.

So, all of that will relate and stack up to, I think, a sentence that will not only be in consideration of the law, but with regard to who he is as an individual. That's what sentencing is all about.

[06:35:00] PAUL: Real quickly, the jury had sent a note yesterday, saying, there

was one juror who refused to deliberate. They said, please, help us move forward, not going on any evidence, all emotions and does not understand this job of a jury, two hours later, they came back guilty -- only have a couple of seconds on this one. But do you expect Avenatti to use that in some way to try to solidify an appeal?

JACKSON: I think he will. But I think the judge pretty much nullify that. The judge --


JACKSON: Did not sync a lot of that -- the judge simply said all the jurors deliberate in good faith on the evidence. I think it won't be another major talent issue.

PAUL: OK, so let's turn to Chicago here, the former police officer accused of killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald released early from prison. We're talking about Jason Van Dyke. He was convicted in 2018 of second-degree murder along with 16 accounts of aggravated battery with a firearm. He was released on Thursday. He served just a little more than three years of a nearly seven-year sentence. Now, the early release set off protests in the city of Chicago.

You see there what was going on, widely was viewed as a setback in the city's efforts to improve relations between its police department and the black community there. So, Joey, this is said -- his release is said to be tied to good behavior in prison. As I understand it, correct me if I'm wrong, this does fall within the legal boundaries of his sentence, but do you agree with it?

JACKSON: I do not, and it does fall within the legal boundaries, not making it right. I mean, if you want to get technical about it, the judge would have sentenced him to the aggravated battery instead of using judicial discretion not to, then he would have had to serve more time. And now of course, Christi, the issue where it is, although it falls within that in serving half a sentence, that is three and a half years, he was given 81 months, whether this broom for the federal government to step in, I think there is.

The federal government can look at civil rights violation, if he willfully deprived Laquan McDonald of his freedom with respect to using excessive force intentionally, I think the federal government has been -- you know, certainly, they've been asked to do what I think there's a place for them to do it, and I think that they will and should do it.

PAUL: OK, so, I wanted to ask you about that because we've got the NAACP, the McDonald family, local U.S. representative Bobby Rush there all calling for those federal charges, even Cook County state's attorney Kim Foxx on Twitter said on the sentence of Van Dyke served, did not fit the 16 shots to the body that killed the teenager and quote, "if there's an ability to do something about it on a federal level, then by all means something should be done."

Talk about the plausibility and the logistics of that happening. I mean, what kind of time frame are we talking about, Joey?

JACKSON: Yes, I think they could and should do it immediately. You know, the federal government has been investigating this case for years and then quietly it went away. There's not a statute of limitation so they can get back into -- well, it's just about investigating a case, putting it before a grand jury, securing and indicting it based upon the use of excessive force. Everyone has a right to really be free of unnecessary force, particularly force that is excessive and result in death.

And when it's done in this way, there's a place to investigate, a place to bring it before a jury and a place for a jury to adjudicate and make an assessment as to whether or not he violated the civil rights, last (INAUDIBLE) and that's this. For our system to work, there needs to be trust, there needs to be faith, and it has to apply to everyone equally. And you can't have these disparities in sentencing, it's looked at as you know what? Some people get away with things, other people don't.

And those people generally, you know, people of color say, what is this, when you're sentenced for far less things that you do in a far greater way? And so, I think the federal government should look at it, and in doing so, I think they would engender a lot of trust within communities.

PAUL: All right, Joey Jackson, we always appreciate your perspective and your expertise, thank you for being with us.

JACKSON: Appreciate you more. Thanks, Christi.

PAUL: Thanks, Joey. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: They thought they were just updating their voter registration.

PAUL: Yes, well, some elderly Florida residents say now, they were tricked into switching their party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Here's CNN's Leyla Santiago.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Christi, the Florida Democratic Party is now calling for an investigation into voter registration irregularity because of claims coming from here, this public housing high-rise. Let me talk to you about one claim in particular. We spoke to a man named Juan Carlos Salazar. He is a registered Democrat who lives here. He says about two months ago, he was approached by individuals identifying themselves as Republicans, and then this happened.


JUAN CARLOS SALAZAR, SENIOR WHO LIVES AT HALEY SOFGE TOWERS: They say they're going to fill out a registration to get the new registration card like they do every four years. When I saw the ID, they sent to me, they switched me from the Democratic ballot to the Republican ballot.

SANTIAGO: Did you ask them to do that?



SANTIAGO: Just one example of what the big concern is from Chairman Manny Diaz when he wrote to the Secretary of State, demanding that investigation. The Secretary of State telling CNN that election integrity is a top priority -- we should also mention that we checked in with Florida's state Senator Annette Taddeo, she says her office has received multiple claims with similar stories of people who had been switched from being a Democrat to a Republican.


We looked into the number in Miami-Dade. It looks like from January of 2021 to February of this year. They have had more than 5,000 people who have switched in their political affiliation. Boris, Christi?

SANCHEZ: Leyla Santiago, thank you so much. We should note that CNN has reached out to the local Republican Party though, we've yet to hear back. The Beijing Winter Olympics is finally here, and athletes are already counting their medals next. We'll take you live to China and tell you who's in the lead of that medal-count.



PAUL: Forty-nine minutes past the hour right now, and for the second time during this pandemic, and against a tense geopolitical backdrop, the world is again, at least coming together it seems for the Olympics.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the 2022 Beijing Winter games are officially in full swing. The torch now burning brightly for almost 24 hours, and this morning, the first medals have been awarded.

PAUL: Let's go to Coy Wire, he is in China. He's bundled up, he's live in the Z-zone in the mountains. How are you doing, Coy?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'm doing well, very cold.

PAUL: Yes --

WIRE: Where's my bariatric (ph) to put my head up, I know. Good to see you, good morning to you. It's good night here. Norway was at the top of the medal table at the 2018 games in Pyongyang, earning 39 medals, 14 of them gold. Well, they picked up right where they left off. Therese Johaug winning the women's cross-country ski, won by a huge margin by more than 30 seconds, it's the first gold given here, 33 years old, Norwegian, second Olympic gold. The other was in a 4x5 relay back in 2010. She missed the 2018 games

after a doping suspension. American Jessie Diggins comes in sixth in this event. Now, let's go to an event to keep an eye on, coming a little bit later on Saturday, women's snowboard slope-style final, not many people in the world can say they've ever won a gold medal ever offered in an Olympic event. But American Jamie Anderson is one of them.

Now, she can make history by becoming the first snowboarder to win a third straight Olympic gold in the same event. She just got engaged. We asked her ahead of these games what it would mean to win it all again. Here she is.


JAMIE ANDERSON, SNOWBOARDER: I feel so proud of everything I've done. And you know, my mom always says like there's nothing to prove, like just go enjoy. But I think deep down, of course, everyone going there wants to win and do their best. And for me, to win three medals would be absolutely insane.


WIRE: Now, let's talk about team USA free-style skier Kai Owens, 17 years old, she was actually born here in China, but she's never met or even talked to her biological parents. Baby Kai was abandoned, found at a town square, she was adopted at 16 months old by Amy and Jon Owens, a couple from Colorado, and with the love and support of mom and dad, Kai's become one of the best free-style skiers in the world. I asked her ahead of these games about her incredible journey that started right here in China.


KAI OWENS, FREE-STYLE SKIER: I kind of was just left with a note with my birth date. So, obviously, she hadn't for -- and that's all. Being adopted from China, China is my heritage. It's where I was born. And to be able to go back to China, it feels so full circle

WIRE: How do you embrace your Chinese roots?

OWENS: It's taken a really long time, but my parents have done just the most incredible job of teaching me and helping me realize that being adopted is an amazing thing, and I found a lot of gratitude in it. And so that's helped me, accepted and coped with it.


WIRE: All right, now, Kai told me she hopes that maybe competing here in China where she was born might be an opportunity created for her to finally meet her biological parents. She's scheduled to compete in Mogul this weekend. And she had an injury in practice here the other day, but I texted her and she said that she is feeling better and she's hoping that she can go. She's certainly someone we'll be rooting for here in Beijing. PAUL: No doubt about it. Fingers crossed for her, and that you get

some heat, Coy --

SANCHEZ: You're not fully back, Coy --

PAUL: And I mean the good kind --

WIRE: Yes --

PAUL: Yes, I mean, the good kind.

WIRE: Thank you --

PAUL: Thank you so much, Coy.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Coy Wire. Stay with CNN, we'll be right back.



PAUL: So, I know there are still millions of people who are dealing with the aftermath of that massive Winter storm this week. There are some really frigid freezing temperatures that they have to add to their forecast today.

SANCHEZ: Yes, let's get to meteorologist Allison Chinchar, she's live at the CNN National Weather Center. Not exactly welcome news for them, we do have to recognize though, Allison, it is National Weather Person's Day, so, I'm sure to appreciate what you've got cooking in the forecast for them anyway.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I really wish I had better news actually, given what day it is. But yes, thank you very much. Yet, the unfortunate part is for so many of those people without power, the temperatures are just going to stay brutally cold, which, again, when you don't have access to heat, it's not really what you want to hear. The good news is we don't really have a lot of those places that are going to be dealing with any additional snow or any additional ice or rain on top of what they've already had.

We're just dealing with very frigid conditions. Again, this Is the areas we're most concerned in terms of power outages. Just these highlighted states make up over 200,000 people without power. That number will come down today, just not as quickly as we'd like. And again, when you look at the temperatures, it's not what you want to see. These are the current wind-chills. Boston temperature of 22 feels like 10, Albany, 12, feels like it's zero degrees.

All of these areas are about 10 to 15 degrees below normal for even their high temperatures for today. Now, again, progress, we are going to slowly get warmer. In fact, most areas in the northeast will start to see their temperatures get back to 40 by the time we get to Monday, and they're going to stay in the 40s for the rest of the upcoming week. We've just kind of got to get through the weekend first. Even as far as southeast Texas, you've still got freeze warnings in effect.