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New Day Saturday

State Dept. Orders All Non-Emergency Staff To Leave U.S. Embassy At Kyiv; Blinken Speaks With Lavrov Ahead Of Biden-Putin Call; U.S. States Move To Lift Mask Mandates As Omicron Subsides; States, School Districts Begin Loosening Covid Restrictions; Protesters Remain At Bridge To U.S. Despite Deadline Set By Judge; Senators: CIA Collected Data On Americans In Warrantless Searches; NFL's Man Of The Year Leads Rams On And Off The Field. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired February 12, 2022 - 08:00   ET




CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We are so grateful to have your company as always. I'm Christi Paul.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Phil Mattingly in today for Boris Sanchez.

A diplomatic standoff is unfolding in real time between the U.S. and Russia during a Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border. U.S. officials now warning Vladimir Putin could decide to invade at any time. The high stakes talks set for this morning amid the rising tensions.

PAUL: Yes. And disappearing mandates. Governors across the country are ending school and indoor mask mandates. The data behind that decision in which states are keeping them at least for the time being.

MATTINGLY: And not backing down. Canadian protesters blocking a critical supply route to the U.S. are now defying a judge's order and could be forcibly removed. "New Day "starts right now.

It's Saturday, February 12th. Thanks so much for waking up with us.

PAUL: Yes, good to have you here. And we do have some updates to give you that have happened overnight with this escalating crisis in Ukraine today. The U.S. ordered all non-emergency employees at its Embassy in Kyiv to evacuate. Now the list of countries urging its citizens to leave Ukraine is growing. The threat of a Russian invasion is definitely looming here.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in fact warns that Russia could launch an invasion quote at any time even while the Winter Olympics are going on. And Blinken speaks with his Russian counterpart today. He'll do so ahead of a call between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And that call is scheduled to take place really just a few hours from now. President Putin and Biden last spoke on the phone late last year.

MATTINGLY: Now we have a team of reporters covering this story across the globe. Our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson joins us from Moscow, senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley is live from Kharkiv Ukraine. And reporter Jasmine Wright is at the White House.

And Sam, I want to start with you, given what we've seen really the uptick in tempo over the course of the last couple of days. How -- what's it like right now playing -- how's it playing on the ground in Ukraine?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Zelensky who has been looking at Ukrainian military maneuvers in the south of the country close to the Azov Sea, of course the Azov Sea, parts of the Black Sea are currently being used by Russian naval military maneuvers for among other things, live firing exercises, he has reacted to these now multiple national calls from everywhere from the United States through to the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Japan, all saying and others saying to their citizens to get out of Ukraine out of fear of a Russian invasion. He's just said that he says that panic is a weapon that serves only the purposes of the enemy. He didn't name Russia. But of course, Russia is what exactly what he's talking about there. He has been repeating that refrain throughout.

And indeed, weirdly enough, the Russians have been bending it around saying, yes, it is, indeed, the NATO pressure, the swamping of this country within the Russian's view with NATO weapons that is causing this panic and the unnecessary economic impacts that are being occurring on Ukraine. But here in Kharkiv, we're only 30 miles from the border with Russia just across the border. There's reports of very large concentrations of tanks, of long range artillery, of surface to surface missiles all ranged against this city of a million and a half people, or at least pointing in this direction, potentially for an invasion.

And it was President Zelensky himself, at the end of January, he said that to the Kharkiv this city might well be the first city to get attacked by the Russians. Have to say here in town life does go on as normal. Whereas in Kyiv, the mayor there have started to instruct his population about plans for evacuation and where to seek shelter and reassuring them that the power and communication systems will be kept going in the event of some kind of an assault.


PAUL: Sam Kiley we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

We're also learning that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State Blinken spoke just a short time ago.

MATTINGLY: Yes, Nic Robertson joins us live from Moscow. And Nic, we heard before this call that the Secretary of State was going to threaten sanctions against Russia if they invaded Ukraine. Where are you hearing came from this call between these two? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, we're going to read out from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here and no reference to what Secretary State Antony Blinken said about sanctions and urging Russia to take the track of diplomacy. What we have from the Russian side is that they are rejecting what they're calling propaganda that alleges that they're going to invade Ukraine. They're saying that this is a provocative act. That is actually encouraging and this is the Russian position. And it has been for a while that this is encouraging the authorities in Kyiv to not fully engage in the Minsk talks to end the hostilities in the east of the country and that pro-Russian, Russian backed separatists in called Donbass.

This is an important point to the Russians, because this is where they have tried to focus Western diplomacy over this past week, they tried to focus Emmanuel Macron, on that, they've called for German, French and even U.S. pressure on the Ukrainian authorities to get them into these direct negotiations with it -- with the leadership of the separatists. And the authorities in Kyiv don't want to do that, because they believe that this is falling into a plan, a Russian plan to essentially carve out longer lasting control for the separatists in that region in the east of the country. But that's part of the narrative that's emerging here from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today.

And it just two days ago, another foreign affairs official said that the Western diplomacy wasn't working, because it wasn't able to put -- essentially put that pressure on the Ukrainians to get into those talks. So I think when Lavrov puts a point on that, in the readout, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister puts it -- puts a point on that in the readout, this is pointing us in the direction of what they want. They want this increased pressure on Ukrainian authorities. And that's certainly something that we're hearing from President Zelensky today, you know, this, the pressure that's being created by the United States and others pulling out that pressure that he doesn't want on the people of the country at this time. So they're feeling that a level of pressure.

But the other key point coming from Sergey Lavrov is what we've heard from Russian officials, repeatedly that they are not getting what they want from their demands from NATO, that Ukraine can join NATO. They object to that, that NATO should go back to 1997 borders. He did indicate that Russia was still considering how it's going to respond to the letters from the United States and from NATO about that, that rejection of what Russia wants. But it doesn't seem that from the readout that we have that there is sort of some track going forward from this conversation that moment between Lavrov and Blinken.

MATTINGLY: Yes, we're at that -- we're in that window where every word of every statement or readout is so critical. Nic Robertson, you know that better than anybody else. Thanks so much for your reporting.

And that call came before the most important call of the day. I want to get to the White House, which has been ratcheting up the rhetoric on the potential for Russian invasion all week.

PAUL: The administrations urging all Americans to leave Ukraine immediately. This is the situation as we've been talking about becomes more dire. CNN's Jasmine Wright is with us live from the White House. What do we know Jasmine, about the verbage and a conversation President Biden is planning to have with President Vladimir Putin.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Christi, what we've heard from the White House ahead of that call has really been a continuation of those grave results. That has been the message as he accused those grave predict -- predicament of the situation. That has been the message from the White House ahead of this really high stakes call that the President will take at Camp David, the presidential retreat. Kremlin spokesperson said that it's going to happen around 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, 7:00 p.m. Moscow time, and that the United States actually initiated this call.

Now, this is going to be the third time that President Biden speaks with President Putin since December really laying out how critical, critical this call is going to be in his tenure. And now this really follows a set of grave warnings from the White House from the administration. Of course, we heard Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that a potential attack could happen before the end of the Olympics. That is February 20th.

And for the National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan last week, he said that we are within the potential window for an attack and just yesterday he took that further, he said that it is a distinct possibility that a potential attack will occur. And of course, he issued a really, really strict warning for Americans still living in Ukraine.

Take a listen.



JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours. We obviously cannot predict the future. We don't know exactly what is going to happen. But the risk is now high enough. And the threat is now immediate enough that this is what Putin's demands.


WRIGHT: Now, Jake Sullivan said that yesterday, so they're still a little bit over 24 hours left in that window that he is giving Americans to leave on their own time. But now, this reason for this warning, Sullivan said is because we learned more about the choreography. And he said that they believe in attack could begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks, killing civilians without any regard to their nationality. Now, so that was Jake Sullivan.

For the President's part of course, we're going to be watching Phil and Christi to see when this call starts, what President Biden's message is to Putin as they enter once again, this really, really critical time in terms of attentions for all this Russian aggression. Christi, Phil. PAUL: Jasmine Wright, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN military analyst, Col. Cedric Leighton and former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty. We appreciate both of you being here with us.

Jill, I want to start with you. We are getting word here that on that call with Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State Blinken was urging a diplomatic solution based on what we have seen thus far. Do you think that is something that can even be embraced by Russia?

JILL DOUGHERTY, FMR CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: You know, at this point, I'm not very hopeful about that. It doesn't seem to really be going anywhere. And one of the crux of the issue, of course, is that issue of the Eastern Russian speaking part of Ukraine, and the conflict that's going on there. And they essentially what the Russians are saying is, the Ukrainians aren't engaging. They're not trying to solve this, and even worse, that the United States is goading them, you know, provoking them to take some type of military action.

So, there's a lot of action though. I mean, or if you think. Lavrov and Blinken, Putin and Biden and Putin is going to be speaking with French President Macron today, as well, and then you have the highest military officials, General Milley and General Gerasimov also talking within the last days, I guess. So, there's a lot of talk going on. But I don't think it's going anywhere diplomatically.

And the most worrying thing and I have to say, what we just heard from Nic is really kind of the crux, what they're saying is, the Russians are saying, this is a propaganda campaign, that you are exaggerating what we are doing, we're just carrying out exercises. And this is very dangerous. So they could be setting up this idea, again, of a provocation that would induce them to take military action.

PAUL: They could. But Colonel, they have 100,000, more than 100,000 troops along the border of Ukraine. We know that there are 30 now that more than 30 warships for Russia that are in the Black Sea, they say. It is because they are conducting some military exercises. But this is not business as usual by any means. So when we talk about this upcoming conversation that President Biden is going to have with President Putin, I'm wondering in the 2014 annexation of Crimea, President Biden was vice president at the time he was in Kyiv at the time, he warned Russia back then, that they shouldn't do anything. President Obama drew a red line, the red line was crossed, and there was no consequence.

Do you think there are decisions that were made in 2014 that will linger into negotiations trying to be made right now?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Christi, I do. I think those decisions made back then in 2014, and have a profound effect on what's happening now. Basically, the way I see it is Putin believes he can get away with basically anything. And if he believes that, then he's going to try things. And you know, at this point, he is, you know, pulling out to the audacity card, I'll call it, he is going full bore with, you know, like you said, way more than 100,000 was probably somewhere around 275,000 troops arrayed around most borders of Ukraine plus with the Black Sea and naval exercises going on.

People have basically, you know, two choices here. Either you ramp up exercises of this type do something or you tone it down and move away from the border. And it sounds like he's not picking the latter course.

PAUL: There's nothing that Russia is doing as actually the Secretary of State said, all we're seeing from Russia is an escalation right now.


Jill, Nic talks about this I think as well and we're hearing this morning about what is happening with the Ukrainian leadership. This morning, former Ukrainian President Poroshenko came out demanding that this current administration, quote, take all emergency measures to protect the country. Where exactly is President Zelensky in all of this?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know what, that is one of the complications to this, because domestically, while all of this is going on, with the threat from Russia, domestically in Ukraine, there is the usual I would say, political fight infighting, et cetera, you have the former President Poroshenko, who was legally prosecuted, and at the end, then now criticizing Zelensky.

So there, there is a real conflict within Ukraine, that is making this very, very difficult. That's why sometimes the messages seem a little bit confused. There's a lot of confusion within Ukraine. And that obviously makes it even more complicated when you're in the midst of a potential very serious external conflict situation.

PAUL: OK. I want to listen to Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt of the U.S. Army, he's retired, this is what he said he is most concerned about, he said this yesterday on CNN.


BRIG. GEN. (RET.) MARK KIMMITT, FMR ASST, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL MILITARY AFFAIRS: I'm less worried about deliberate operations and more worried about miscalculation, mistakes, or mischief among the forces, particularly those in the Donbass, the separatists. I can see them provoking an incident, which would cause the Russians to come in because they would be delighted if the Russians came into their assistance.

So, I just hope that everybody's keeping a cool head about what's happening on the ground. And we don't blunder our way into a fight.


PAUL: Col. Leighton, do you have similar concerns and at this point what's the answer.

LEIGHTON: Well, Christi, I think yes, I do have similar concerns. I mean, I think about the (INAUDIBLE) that was down to a by those various separatists forces in eastern Ukraine, they clearly don't have the same degree of command and control that discipline Russian forces would have. So, it is very possible that we could blunder our way into a major conflict if we're not careful. That is definitely one possibility. There are a lot of other possibilities. I think that you know, what we're looking at is probably a combined operation that involves a both cyber as well as unconventional warfare that goes in and decapitates the government in Kyiv.

So, in some ways, I think there's delivered planning going on between Iran among the Russians and the separatists forces in the eastern Ukraine. But there's also the possibility that any of these elements could make a great mistake, and that could propel us into a major, major conflict.

PAUL: Col. Cedric Leighton, Jill Dougherty, your perspective is really valuable to us. We appreciate you taking time to talk to us this morning. Thank you so much.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely.

MATTINGLY: And still to come this morning, more states plan on rolling back mask mandates, but many are still requiring them in schools. We'll hear from a Connecticut superintendent on his plan to make them optional.

Plus, Canadian protesters are defying a court order as they continue to block a major trade crossing. How this is impacting an already very stressed supply chain?



PAUL: Twenty-two minutes past the hour right now, you know a growing number of states are planning to end their indoor or school mask mandates and, you know, the next few weeks as COVID-19 rates are continuing to decline.

MATTINGLY: And that move has drawn the attention to the CDC, which has yet to change its masking guidance for Americans. The agency says we should continue wearing masks in areas of high or substantial transmission. That map shows you that's about 99% of U.S. counties.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From coast to coast, governors are rolling back their mask mandate. According to a CNN analysis, only these six states as well as Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. still have such a requirement in place. However, California, Illinois and Oregon already announcing plans to lift that requirement in the coming weeks, that leaves only Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington State, Puerto Rico and D.C. with no announcement on when they'll end their mask mandate. Then there is masking up in the classroom, school systems in these eight states have either moved toward ending mask requirements or expected to do so by the end of March. However, local governments and school districts are still free to keep making masks a must, even after state requirements are lifted.

JAY VARMA, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, WEILL CORNELL MEDICINE: This is really a decision for elected officials. And they've made the decision to remove this which is there right. So what I would like to see is to make it easier for individuals to protect themselves. And so what does that mean? That means basically making high quality masks like N95 masks as widely available as you know toilet paper and soap and water are in every facility.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Governor's in states scaling back and pointed to an improvement in COVID metrics when making their decision that includes lower infection rates and COVID hospitalization numbers that are dropping. Some doctors worried the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be falling behind.

ALI RAJA, EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIRMAN, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: right now. We've got the state saying one thing and the CDC saying they're looking at this again, and that's just not enough.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Dr. Ali Raja of Massachusetts General Hospital urging the CDC to issue revised masking guidance to help improve confidence in that agency.

RAJA: My patients every day come to me and say well, I'm hearing this from the federal health agencies. I'm hearing this from our local town health agency. I don't know what to do and the confusion between what we're hearing on the federal level and what states around the country are doing. It's just damaging to the trust and the psyche that the population has and our health officials


SANDOVAL (voice-over): Also losing the masks Amazon. This week, the company announced fully vaccinated warehouse workers can go maskless in states that have eased off indoor mask wearing, but new policy does not apply to the unvaccinated or those working in the few states where masking indoors remains in place for now.


SANDOVAL: And it seems that list of those states actually seems to be growing shorter and shorter by the week. Now there are some states to California and Connecticut. And Phil and Christi they have already announced that they plan to maintain that requirement for indoor masking for the unvaccinated. But I checked the stats in those two states and really that amounts to about 25% more or less of their population.

And a quick reminder again, in absence of any kind of state order, those local jurisdictions like cities and school districts, they are free to implement their own orders as they see fit. MATTINGLY: A patchwork system, no question about it. Polo Sandoval, thanks as always, for your great reporting.

Now, many parents across the U.S. are questioning what's actually coming next, as states and school districts reevaluate their policies on mask wearing in schools. Now seven states have announced they are ending or will soon in their school mask mandates. In California is expected to make a similar announcement next week.

Joining me now is Jeffrey Solan, superintendent of Cheshire Public Schools in Connecticut.

And Jeff, thanks for taking the time because I was struck, I was watching the reading what you guys have put out in guidance, right, what's the YouTube video you made kind of laying out three very clear metrics that would dictate when mask would no longer be required. What do you say to parents who are looking at those metrics, looking at statistics with kids and saying it needs to happen now, regardless of what vaccination rate or case rate maybe?

JEFFREY SOLAN, SUPERINTENDENT, CHESHIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Sure, I think there are a lot of passionate feelings on both sides of this, that there are a number of folks who would, you know, like to see it dropped immediately, many whom didn't believe it should have ever been in place in the first place. And then there are others who are very concerned. And I appreciate both sides. I think as school leaders, we don't have the capacity to identify metrics.

And so, we work with local health officials absent state or federal guidance, to create these metrics and try and balance both sides of the equation.

MATTINGLY: Yes. One of the questions I think I've had with federal officials, particularly given some of the targeted funding that was sent out and I'm asking you about financials here. But mitigation efforts outside of masking were considered so critical early on in this process, how do you retrofit schools to make sure that so many systems are in place to help with ventilation, things like that. What else do you have in place outside of masks?

SOLAN: Well, we've employed a lot of social distancing, we ended up renting tents with some of that federal money because our buildings don't have the central air capacity, or the air filtration systems have some more contemporary facilities, we've had to create more space. So, we did that through tents, obviously, that's really difficult in a New England winter. But we have tried to continue all of the mitigation strategies that were enforced through the heart of the pandemic to.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you, you know, you are kind of at the center here of what has been a political uproar of the course of the last couple of years, you kind of get stuck in the middle. I know you've had some contentious meetings, parents on both sides, to some degree, trying to figure out what's best for their kids. For the parents, we're looking around right now and saying absolutely not, do not drop mask, we don't see the value, like how do you balance that with the parents who are dead set that this needed to end yesterday?

SOLAN: Yes, as I mentioned, there's a lot of anxiety. And I think I'm trying to remember that all parents want what's best for their child and their family. And so, you know, again, I don't have the public health background to be able to determine that, but I listened to your previous guests, you know, like Dr. Hills this morning talking about how important it is to focus on what does the local data tell us? What does the vaccination rate look like? What does the positivity rate look like?

And when we compare our community, to the broader metrics around the state, I think we're in a pretty good place to find that balance. Certainly, you know, students, staff are encouraged to continue to wear masks if they wish. But we're getting much closer to a place in our data that says that should be optional.

MATTINGLY: What's your sense, you know, given the fact that your guys vaccination rates, that's one of the metrics you guys have already hit, I believe, if I was reading the data correctly. But you know, there's a segment of the school population that can't be vaccinated yet. How does that as a administrator you look at that group, how does that kind of affect decision making?

SOLAN: Sure. I mean, in our school system in Connecticut, you we have great progress with respect to vaccinating, five to 11-year-old. So really it's the students under the age of five, which is pretty limited population for us as a school system. And we continue, as I said, to enforce the mitigation strategies there. And with the low community rates, that's what gives us more confidence to be able to go mask optional at that level, if indeed, we do hit those metrics.

MATTINGLY: All right, Jeffrey Solan, as a parent of three, who's desperately trying to figure out all the rules and regulations, I appreciated your YouTube video very much. It was very clear. Thanks so much for your time, sir.

SOLAN: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Already hurt by supply chain issues and ship shortages, the auto industry is taking another hit. And that is because of the protesters in Canada. What automakers are doing to get around some of these blocked bridges now? That's next.



PAUL: 35 minutes past the hour and an hour's after a judge ordered them to clear out, protesters are still blocking traffic at the busiest international crossing in North America. Officials warned yesterday those blocking a bridge between the U.S. and Canada will face severe consequences if they don't leave.

The blockage is putting more stress on an already strange supply chain causing millions of dollars in lost business. And cities along the U.S.-Canadian border, they're bracing for even more disruption now. MATTINGLY: And that so-called Freedom Convoy, it started as a truckers protest by drivers who were fighting vaccine mandates in Canada and the U.S. But it has since become a protest of just about all COVID-19 health restrictions, a protest with significant economic implications, which I want to talk about now with Bernard Swiecki. He joins me to talk about the potentially crippling impact this blockade is having on the auto industry. He's the director of the Center for Automotive Research.

And Bernard, I want to start with, you know, people who maybe look at this protest say that this is an anti-vaccine protest. This is an anti-protocol protest, something along those lines. But there are very real implications for industries and consumers across the northern border and I think beyond. Help us understand who is affected from a supply chain perspective by what's happening?

BERNARD SWIECKI, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AUTOMOTIVE RESEARCH: Yes, absolutely. You know, automotive has very, very deep supply chains. Our estimates show that for every one job and an automotive assembly plant, there are 10 jobs in the overall economy, in the suppliers that build the parts and even the restaurants and other businesses in the community. So when one of these plants is going up, communities really compete for them because of all that economic benefit.

And then when they go down for whatever reason, the protests like this or other issues, you face all those economic calamities on the way down while that plant is not producing money. And because the workers are not getting paid that money, and it's not going into the overall economy.

MATTINGLY: So Toyota has already said they expect disruptions through the weekend. I guess the two questions I have are, is there a concern this is going to become a long-term problem? And then the second one is, how long does it take to ramp things back up if you have disruptions that slow things down for a couple of days?

SWIECKI: So yes, there are absolutely concerns that this could turn into a long-term problem. When this issue first popped up, what we saw was that the plants that were affected were near the border. And generally, it's like throwing a pebble into a pond where you see those supply chain disruptions affect plants farther and farther out that now we have plants all over the United States that have gone down.

Now, if the supply is restored, if that border is reopened, those parts can get to those plants, you know, the ones that are near the border within hours. And then it is pretty darn easy to switch those plants back on and begin producing vehicles again. The problem is at that point, you're not just producing the vehicles that are part of your normal volume, you're also trying to make up whatever volume you lost while you were down because of these disruptions.

MATTINGLY: And I think that gets me to what I wanted to ask next, which is, you know, the supply chain impact, and already this has been a significant issue, particularly on the automotive side when talking about chips in particular, but over the course of the last two years, but when do you think consumers might see the effects? Because I don't -- you don't think it's going to be near term, right? Like it's going to take some time for it to actually filter down.

SWIECKI: So absolutely. So in terms of how long these production disruptions affect the consumers, you know, there are two different impacts. The one that comes to mind first is just lack of vehicles on the lot. So the automotive industry is already suffering from the pandemic, semiconductor microchip shortage, rising materials costs, labor costs, and so on. So when you add this disruption to it, we already had dealership lawns that were largely empty and a lack of new vehicles to sell.

So this is going to exacerbate that problem. But also when you have this kind of scarcity, quite simply, prices go up. And consumers are going to be hid basically two ways .One, lack of product to the product that will be there will become more expensive. The longer all of these disruptions go. And this particular crisis at the border is just one more additional burden that the industry is having to shoulder.

MATTINGLY: Yes, just exacerbating I think the fragilities that were laid bare over the course of the last couple of years in a very acute manner. Bernard Swiecki, thanks so much for your perspective. Really appreciate it.

SWIECKI: My pleasure. Thank you.


MATTINGLY: New allegations from two senators raised privacy questions over how the CIA may have collected data on some Americans. The details coming up next.


PAUL: There are new concerns this morning that the CIA is collecting more data on people citizens here in the U.S. than previously known.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it was a while letter from two Democratic senators alleging that the CIA may have mishandled Americans information collected as part of the agency's foreign surveillance programs. CNN's Katie Bo Lillis has this story from Washington.


KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Hi, Christi. Hi, Phil. Two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have alleged that for years, the CIA has been inappropriately collecting and sorting through vast swaths of data in a way that can negatively affect Americans privacy. And in April 2021 letter to the CIA director that was declassified on Thursday, Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich say that the committee has a watchdog report that shows the CIA has, quote, secretly conducted its own bulk program entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.

But although the CIA has declassified some materials about the surveillance activities in question, it says that both the report and the nature of the surveillance must remain classified in order to protect sources and methods. That means that right now, we don't know what data the CIA has been collecting or how exactly it raises privacy concerns. An intelligence official told CNN the report is related to the internal CIA data search systems that analysts use to query existing data repositories, not the actual collection of the data, as well as how their systems work when used for queries that involve Americans information.

The official also said that the Intelligence Committee was fully informed of both the collection itself and the tools that analysts used to sift through the database, and that data was collected by multiple agencies, not only the CIA. Wyden and Heinrich say that the problem is so called backdoor searches of Americans data. In general, the CIA has a foreign facing mission and isn't allowed to investigate Americans. But sometimes Americans data is swept up incidentally as part of broader surveillance programs.

Once the data is in federal databases, CIA analysts can access it without a warrant as part of a valid foreign intelligence investigation. But for Wyden and Heinrich, that loophole raises concerns about whether Americans privacy and civil liberties are being appropriately protected. A CIA spokesman said this in a statement on Friday, "In the course of any lawful collection, CIA may incidentally acquire information about Americans who were in contact with foreign nationals. When the CIA acquires information about Americans, it safeguards that information in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General, which restricts the CIA's ability to collect, retain, use and disseminate the information."

It's clear that the senators letter to the CIA is only the latest salvo in the ongoing debate over how to strike the appropriate balance between limiting intelligence agency's ability to examine Americans data without a warrant or other legal predicate and ensuring that they are able to connect the dots in time to prevent terrorist threats and other national security concerns. Why didn't Heinrich have urged the CIA to make public what kind of data has been collected? How many Americans records are maintained as part of the agency's activities and how that data is stored, disseminated and searched?

But right now, we still have more questions than answers about the precise nature of this collection, especially what the CIA was looking at. Christi, Phil?

MATTINGLY: On the football field, he's a mountain of a man, off more like a gentle giant. Up next, how Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth is getting recognized for his work off the field.



PAUL: All right, if you got food ready for Super Bowl 56 between the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams in L.A., Phil and I are both from Ohio, so I am very transparent about it.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Well, I mean, why wouldn't you be. It's the best state in all the 50 states, clearly. PAUL: Yes.

MATTINGLY: But, well, there will be no shortage of stars on the field and off the field. Tomorrow, the NFL is most respected honor belongs to an unsung hero on the field who's making a big difference off of it. Paul Vercammen introduces us to Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Andrew Whitworth just won the NFL's prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The top honor for a player's community service and excellence on the field. Whitworth takes as much pleasure in helping anyone in need as he does making the block that leads to a touchdown.

ANDREW WHITWORTH, LOS ANGELES RAM'S OFFENSIVE TACKLE: I look at community the same way. It -- when I can put a smile on somebody's face, when I can make them appreciate that someone cares about them, when I can just let them feel more confident in themselves because of something I'm able to help them do, I feel that same feeling.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): With wife Melissa and four children pitching in, Whitworth donate so much time, energy and money it's almost impossible to calculate, helping raise $875,000 for children battling terminal illnesses, donating more than $800,000 for various education causes and help for homelessness. 250,000 of that for the food bank during the pandemic as so many people lost jobs.

MICHAEL FLOOD, CEO, LOS ANGELES REGIONAL FOOD BANK: He's a real leader for the Rams. And when that contribution came in, it just was like, wow, that's phenomenal.

MELISSA WHITWORTH, WIFE OF ANDREW WHITWORTH: It's changing people's lives and it in turn, it's changing hours and our kids and what they're learning and what they're seeing about life.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): The Whitworth found a single mother of three transitioning out of homelessness with help from St. Joseph Center. So he had an apartment for Amalia Jimenez refurbished, bought her furniture, electronics, clothes and toys. The Whitworth put on a Christmas dinner with presents for 53 poor families living in hotels or shelters and purchase 600 bicycles for children at a school in a low income L.A. neighborhood.

WHITWORTH: It's really the face to face interactions are the things I remember the most. Seeing people's eyes, their smile, their emotion, person to person and realizing how much they are touched and we're touched from that moment and really confirmed and what we believe is the right way to do things.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): The Whitworth way, amazing, huge, generous.

Paul Vercammen, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [08:55:09]

MATTINGLY: And if you haven't watched this Man of the Year acceptance speech, do it. There's an incredible moment in it. I won't spoil it for you.

PAUL: Yes.

MATTINGLY: It's positively wonderful.

PAUL: He is a good man.

MATTINGLY: As good as it gets.

PAUL: Yes.

MATTINGLY: Now, before the -- former Bengal as well, I acknowledged, make sure you pregame the Rams Bengals matchup with Coy Wire and Andy Scholes kickoff in Los Angeles, a CNN-Bleacher Report Special airs live today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning. I've enjoyed being here so much. We're going to come back in about an hour from now.

PAUL: Yes, you're not off the hook yet, Phil.

Smerconish is up next for you. We're going to see you again as he said and we hope you go make great memories today.