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The Situation Room

Washington Post Reports, Some Trump Documents Taken To Mar-A- Lago Were Top Secret; Biden Warns Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Go Crazy Quickly; U.S. Inflation Jumps 7.5% in Past Year, A 40-Year High; Sources: Russian Teen Figure Skater Tests Positive For Banned Drug; Homeland Security: Trucker Protest Could Disrupt Super Bowl. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired February 10, 2022 - 18:00   ET



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Our coverage continues now with Jim Acosta filling in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. A new report out tonight reveals some of the documents former President Trump took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago were clearly marked as classified and some were even labeled top secret.

Also a breaking, President Biden just warned that the Ukraine crisis could, quote, go crazy quickly as more Russian troops deploy near the border. The State Department issuing a new warning for Americans to stay away from or get out of Ukraine now.

And a historic jump in inflation with prices surging at the fastest pace in four years. We'll breakdown the impact on consumers and on President Biden as his poll numbers are sliding.

Welcome to viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I am Jim Acosta and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And we begin with breaking news. There is raising concern that former President Donald Trump was brazenly mishandling White House documents. The Washington Post has new reporting on the records Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago. The Post says some of the documents were clearly marked as classified, including some at the top secret level. This as we are also learning about potentially important evidence that's missing from the White House, White House records obtained by the January 6th committee.

Let's go right to CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel. Jamie, what are you learning? Some important updates are happening at this hour.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: What we have learned, Jim, is that there is a gap in the official records, the phone records for what was happening during the riot on January 6th. We know that Trump made calls before the riot. There were calls after 4:00 P.M., after he made the video telling the rioters to go home.

So, the question is why do no calls show up during that period of time? And just to be clear, no one is suggesting that these official records were tampered with. So, what are some possible answers? As you well know, Trump famously used a personal cell phone. Also, former administration officials have told us he routinely used other staffers' cell phones, sometimes his personal aide or Dan Scavino.

The other that may have simply been true is he may not had been on a lot of calls during the riot. We know from other testimony to the committee that he appeared to be riveted, watching the riot on T.V., rewinding, and it may also be that there are more records to come from the National Archives.

But, Jim, sources familiar with the investigation say that while they haven't drawn any final conclusions yet, this may raise the question does the committee consider more seriously going after Trump's personal cell phone records. Jim?

ACOSTA: Absolutely, and trying to get some straight answers from the former president. Jamie, how significant are these gaps to the committee's work at this point? It sounds like they've hit a very big area that needs to be explored.

GANGEL: Well, look, we have heard the committee would like to know what he was doing and not doing during the riot. Obviously, they also want to know who is he talking to, what was he saying. We do know that he had a shouting match with Kevin McCarthy. Why isn't that in the records? We know he reached out to Senator Tuberville through Mike Lee's phone. Why isn't that in the records?

I think what's important here though, Jim, is this is yet another example of how the Trump White House worked. Despite security concerns, despite the Presidential Records Act, Trump flouted the rules, the norms, whether it was using personal cell phones ripping up papers and flushing them down the toilet, as Maggie Haberman from the New York Times is reporting.

So, a former white house official in the Trump White House described it to me this way when I asked about January 6th. He said Trump, quote, doesn't think the rules apply to him, and that was passed on to the staff around him, Jim.

ACOSTA: Yes, there was a lot of flouting of the rules. Jamie, the question is whether any of that was illegal. Of course, we're going to stay on top of that.

GANGEL: Correct.

ACOSTA: Jamie, stay with us. Let's bring in CNN Senior Commentator, former Ohio Governor John Kasich, CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin there with us as well.

Jeffrey, let me start with you first, let's start with this new reporting from The Washington Post. I mean, this is getting serious. Documents recovered from Trump's private residence were clearly labeled as classified at the top secret level.


You know, this is getting beyond the level of flushing things down the toilet.This is a serious breach.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's all serious. And all of it has one question which is the issue of intent. Who did this and why. Because if this was done in the normal course of business, if it was just an oversight, a mistake, a matter of habit, that's not a crime. That's not something law enforcement deals with.

However, if any of this, whether it's flushing down the toilet, whether it is removing documents, whether it's hiding phone records, any of that, if that is done specifically with the intent to deprive a criminal or congressional investigation of relevant evidence, that could be a crime.

So, investigators need to know what happened, who did it, and even more importantly why.

ACOSTA: And, Governor Kasich, as you know the top secret designation means that if those documents were released, it could cause grave damage to national security. So, what's your reaction to this report? I mean, can you imagine removing top secret documents from the White House?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: Well, people have gotten in trouble for doing things like that, as we know, over the years. But perhaps, Jim, that White House aide said it best. Trump just thinks he's just going to do what he wants to do. It is all about him. And these are the rules. He didn't care about the rules.

And then what you get concerned about is kind of that attitude that it filter into the staff where they just felt as though they couldn't do anything. And we had a lot of people leaving that administration when they saw what was going on.

But when you're talking about top secret information, and there were times when I had to deal with it being on the Armed Services Committee, it is a very, very serious matter. And anytime it involved top secret information, there was an investigation to find out what exactly happened.

ACOSTA: And, Jamie, this comes on top of the very alarming reporting from Maggie Haberman of The New York Times that former President Trump would apparently flush documents down the toilet when he was in office. You know, there were other reports of him tearing things up when he was in office, throwing them in the trash, the staffers would have to go in, retrieve that.

You know, I guess this gets into the question now whether he was just simply being careless or was he trying to cover things up?

GANGEL: Look, it doesn't sound very careless. It sounds as if he was doing it on purpose. And one of the things you well remember is National Archives civil servants would go into the trash baskets when he would rip up documents and they would carefully tape those back together. I'm assuming he was flushing these things down the toilet because he didn't want them taping it back together.

But to Jeffrey Toobin's point about intent, what do we know? We know that in all of these cases, he's trying to circumvent the rules. We don't know why but I would add one more thing. Will there be the political will to go after a former president? Will the Justice Department do that? Will the Biden White House want to do that?

ACOSTA: That's right. I mean that the ultimate question, Jeffrey, because we're getting to the point, where at one point does this add up to something that the Justice Department has no choice but to do. The former president says this is no big deal. But when you look at all of this, the gaps in call logs, top secret documents at Mar-a- Lago, at what point does this amount to obstruction of justice?

TOOBIN: Well, that's a huge question, Jim. And, you know, I am not here to convict Donald Trump of anything. I don't know what the reason was. But when you add it all up, when you look at how many examples there appear to be of the president trying to cover his tracks, trying to keep documents from people who have the right to see them, it certainly calls out for an investigation by the Justice Department, though I'm certainly well short of saying that there needs to be a prosecution here. But how the Justice Department can simply shrug its shoulders and say it is not my job, that's really becoming very hard to accept at this point.

ACOSTA: Governor Kasich, what do you think? Does there need to be prosecution?

KASICH: Well, I mean, look, first of all, this is reports. And I know that -- I don't know Maggie Haberman but she's clearly a really good reporter, but it is just a report. So, you can't get to the bottom of it.

But, look, following Trump all these years with the way he did real estate, his taxes and everything else, there's no surprise here. The question is there are questions around with what Jeffrey Toobin is saying, and, look, at the end of the day, that's why the January 6th committee is so important, regardless of what some Republicans say, that's some a partisan exercise, you have to get to the bottom of this, because January 6th is one of the darkest moments in our history.


ACOSTA: Absolutely. I used to call him the catch me if you can president when he was in office. Now, he is the catch me if you can ex-president, I think. All right, thanks to all of you, we appreciate that. Just ahead, President Biden urging Americans in Ukraine to leave the country immediately as the administration warns Russia's growing military buildup could signal a looming invasion.


ACOSTA: And we are following breaking news. President Biden warning that Americans should leave Ukraine saying, quote, it is a very different situation and things could go crazy quickly.

CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson has the latest from Moscow. Nic, what more are you learning at this hour?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Jim. We're getting again another satellite look at just how things physically would go crazy quickly. The latest satellite imagery we're now seeing shows several locations around Ukraine where there are movements, significant movements of Russian forces. Take that area in the southern end of Ukraine, Crimea, annexed by Russia. On there, there's a military base now that has some 550 tents for troops on it, hundreds of vehicles.

Another place on the northwest coast of the Crimea, there's another large camp that sprung up. It's got heavy armored vehicles. Another point on Crimea now has heavy artillery guns dug into it. And in the port of Sevastopol there, there have been new Russian naval vessels arriving, including large amphibious assault ships. So, all of that at the south end in Belarus to the north, the satellite images show that military bases,, men, tents, armored vehicles showing up closer to the border with Ukraine. And to the east in Russia proper, buildups of troops in several cities close to the eastern border of Ukraine. So, that's the picture.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman speaking about what's happening in Ukraine, speaking about the potential for an invasion and the sanctions that would come on Russia, saying that there would be heavy economic consequences but there would be other consequences too for the Russian military.

This is what she said.


WENDY SHERMAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: Vladimir Putin should understand that body bags will come back to Moscow as well, that the citizens of Russia will suffer because their economy will be completely devastated.


ROBERTSON: And this was the message that the British foreign secretary took to her counterpart here, Sergey Lavrov, telling him to avoid the bloodshed and deescalate. He said, we're talking to you, you're not listening. That was a very, very frosty two-hour meeting that they had.

ACOSTA: It certainly sounds like it. All right, CNN's Nic Robertson, thank you very much.

Let's get more on all of this with Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado, a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. Congressman, thanks for being with us.

You're also a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, so you understand the consequences of what's being discussed right now all too well. Moments ago, President Biden, he forcefully urged Americans to get out of Ukraine, saying things could go crazy quickly, those are his words, and the State Department echoed that warning, as we just heard a few moments ago. Is this a sign, are these signs that Russia is on the brink of an invasion, do you think?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, it is a sign, Jim. And we have been seeing these signs going all the way back to November, the buildup has been very gradual, but it has happened. And it sped up in the last, I would say, six to eight weeks, for sure, no doubt about that. But the president is right and the administration is right and the State Department is right, that if there are American citizens, dual nationals and others who do not want to be caught up fighting in what could be a massive invasion by Russia to Kyiv and throughout the country, they need to leave because they United States government will not be in a position to evacuate civilians. If Russian forces move in, we won't be sending U.S. forces to fight Russians, to be in parallel to an invasion. Those people need to leave and they need to leave now.

ACOSTA: And, Congressman, do you agree with President Biden that if Russia invades, that sending U.S. troops into Ukraine is a nonstarter, and that to conduct an evacuation could lead to a world war? Those are the words he used. Is that essentially what would happen, that would be the consequence of something like that?

CROW: Yes. I do agree with that estimation. I think the risk is just way too high and potentially catastrophic. We just can't be in a position of be putting U.S. soldiers and military equipment and units operating right against Russian and Ukrainian units fighting. The risks of miscalculation are extremely high. That was my experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, when you have units fighting adjacent to each other. And that's where things escalate. That's where you end up in a larger shooting war. And, certainly, the U.S. versus Russian conventional conflict would be extremely devastating.

So, we can't take that risk. That's why we're trying to get U.S. citizens out of Ukraine now. We're trying to put all of the measures in place, forward positioning forces in Poland to assist with evacuation, and, of course, getting our diplomatic families out of Kyiv, which we have been doing for the last couple of weeks.

ACOSTA: New satellite images show a continued Russian buildup encircling Ukraine. Russia's top generals in Belarus overseeing their largest joint military drills, Russian ships moved into the Black Sea.

[18:20:01] At this point, is it naive to think that Putin is going to back down?

CROW: I think it is not likely that Putin would back down. He could. Let's be clear here, when we say that it is highly likely and we think an invasion is probable doesn't mean certain. There's no certainty to any of this. The only one person in the world knows what's going to happen and that's Vladimir Putin, and it is possible even Vladimir Putin doesn't know what's going to happen yet. What we do know is we are seeing all of the signs, all of the pieces put in place for a massive invasion.

And that's not just the units but all the supporting aspects of it, petroleum, the fuel supplies, the blood supplies, the ammunition, everything being prepositioned that are not earmarks of just maneuvers but are earmarks of a large conventional invasion.

And these things being put in place by Putin are being put in place at substantial cost to him. He is sinking tremendous cost into doing this with an economy that's faltering. He is investing heavily in this, which indicates he is not likely to back down.

Think about this one last thing though. Don't ever estimate Vladimir Putin's risk tolerance for Ukraine. This is extremely risky for him. It could be very bloody for him, the Russians and Ukrainians. His risk tolerance is enormous when it comes to Ukraine because he views Ukraine as essential to his legacy and essential to accomplish his vision for Russia.

ACOSTA: No question about it. All right, Congressman Jason Crow, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

And coming up, President Biden is giving new insight into a search for a Supreme Court justice nominee. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



ACOSTA: And there's more breaking news we are following tonight. President Biden just giving some new details of his search for a new Supreme Court justice.

Let's go to CNN Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, the president also just finished a meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee members. He's been talking about this pick with. What more are you learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. These are the Democrats from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, President Biden himself used to sit on that committee, and now he is meeting with members of it to talk about this vacancy and what he finds important in the candidate that he has said he will select by the end of this month. And earlier today he gave some insight on how the search is going.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: And what I've done is I've taken about four people and done the deep dive on them, meaning these thorough background checks, and see if there's anything in the background that would make them not qualified.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it important you believe they'll get a vote from the Republican side?

BIDEN: Well, I think whomever I pick will get a vote from the Republican side for the following reason. I'm not looking to make an ideological choice. I'm looking for someone to replace Judge Breyer with the same kind of capacity Judge Breyer had, with an open mind.


COLLINS: So, Jim, the president confirming they have been looking at four of these candidates, doing a deep dive, as he called it. As we know, sources and officials have also said that the president has been spending his nights in the residence reviewing their cases, looking at their past backgrounds here, as he makes a decision and tries to narrow the list down.

And it also comes as today he was in Culpepper, Virginia, talking about, of course, those new inflation numbers that they got this morning that were worse than the White House had expected.


COLLINS (voice over): President Biden promising all hands on deck tonight after inflation was worst than he expected in January.

BIDEN: Inflation is up. It's up.

COLLINS: The Labor Department says prices were 7.5 percent higher in January than a year ago, the largest and fastest increase since Ronald Reagan was in office. From gas to groceries, used cars to electricity, Americans are feeling the pinch almost everywhere, posing a massive political problem for President Biden.

BIDEN: Coming from a family where the price of gas went up, we felt it in the household, you know what it is like, it matters.

COLLINS: The worse than expected numbers coming after the president told CNN in December he believed inflation had hit its peak.

BIDEN: I think it's the peak of the crisis and I think you'll see it change sooner, quicker, more rapidly than it will take than most people think.

COLLINS: Tonight, Biden quoting forecasters who believe inflation will drop substantially by the end of 2022.

BIDEN: I'm going to work like the devil to bring gas prices down.

COLLINS: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who put a dagger in Biden's Build Back Better plan over his concerns on inflation is casting doubt on any further government spending for the time being.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV) (voice over): I have been ringing the alarm bell forever, I mean, for the last year about inflation. Nobody has been listening. Now, we're seeing a basic threat. It is 7.5 percent tax on everybody, on every product you buy. It is just unbelievable.

COLLINS: Manchin also upping the pressure on the Federal Reserve to act quickly.

MANCHIN (voice over): It's the only way they've ever been able to control it. I mean, you have got to stop it now. I mean, if you don't, it's going to continue to run.

COLLINS: Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is blaming Democrats' policies for soaring prices.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The severity of this inflation was directly fueled by the reckless far-left spending spree that every single Democrat in this chamber voted to ram through at President Biden's behest last year.

COLLINS: A new poll conducted by CNN delivering more bad news to the president tonight, finding that nearly six in ten Americans disapprove of his time in office and most of those say there's literally nothing Biden has done that they approve of. Just 41 percent approve of the job Biden is doing, as overall Americans say his first year in office has been more of a failure than a success.



COLLINS (on camera): Now, Jim, as you know, President Biden came into office saying that he had two main priorities, dealing with COVID and the economy. And right now, he is also not getting good marks on that from voters according to this CNN poll, because it says his handling of the economy has dipped eight points, now to 37 percent. That's since early December. And his handling of COVID has also dipped nine points to 45 percent since early December. So, two numbers, of course, that the White House knows are top of mind for them.

ACOSTA: And, Kaitlan, getting back to the Supreme Court pick selection process, any indications as to where the president is heading on this and how soon we might see a decision from the White House?

COLLINS: Well, the Senate Democrats that we just spoke to said they don't believe there's any movement in the timeline that the president saying, by the end of the month, he intends to pick someone, but they did say that they expect those in person meetings to start soon.

And that would be a new part, a new development in the search that's been under way. Because typically at the beginning, they start with the FBI background checks, they look into these candidates, they vet them to make sure they know everything that you could possibly learn about them in their confirmation hearings. Then they meet with staff and then, of course, those meetings at the end are one-on-ones often with the president.

And those are crucial meetings that can determine who is actually going to be the next Supreme Court nominee. But other than that, the White House has not offered any more details on who exactly it could be President Biden is meeting with.

ACOSTA: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much for that. Let's go to a break.

In just a few moments, just ahead, Prince Charles tests positive for COVID for a second time tonight. There are new concerns Queen Elizabeth could be at risk as well.



ACOSTA: There's more breaking news this hour from a new interview with President Biden. He says he thinks it is still too soon to end mask requirements for federal offices and public spaces, citing his commitment to follow CDC guidelines. This comes as more and more states are lifting mask mandates.

So, let's bring in Dr. Tom Frieden, the former CDC director. Dr. Frieden, great to see you, thanks for being with us. Things are snowballing in one direction, that's for sure. Earlier this week, you said it was too soon to immediately lift these mask mandates. The president and the CDC appear to agree with you, but states are lifting them anyway. I mean, are you concerned the states apparently no longer see the CDC as the authority on these questions?

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: The situation is getting better. Cases are plummeting. Omicron is causing much less severe disease than other variants. But we're still having tens of thousands of hospitalizations, thousands of deaths, and hundreds of thousands of cases a day. Within the next few weeks, those numbers should decrease quite substantially as cases continue to plummet.

By March, I think it will probably be fine for mask mandates to come off, but still, that doesn't mean no masking, that means if you're sick, good idea to wear a mask if you have to go out. If you have got underlying condition, such as immune-compromising condition and you want to wear a mask, good idea to do so. If you just would feel more comfortable wearing a mask, good idea to do so. But the mandate time is ending, as long as we don't get a worse variant in the near future.

ACOSTA: And we have some fresh sound from President Biden. He was just talking about these governors lifting mask mandates. Let's hear what he has to say and I'll have you comment on that on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the question is with these governors making these moves, does it begin to make the government, the CDC irrelevant, that people will gravitate toward the advice that really fits their world view, that this thing feels like it is over?

BIDEN: Well, look, I think it is one thing to say -- to talk about masks other than talk shots and boosters and the like. But, look, it is confusing. It is worrisome to people. They're trying to figure it out. But what I've tried to do, I've tried to make sure we have all the vaccines needed, all the boosters needed, all the masks needed, all the protection that's needed.


ACOSTA: What do you think, Dr. Frieden?

FRIEDEN: The CDC is always going to set the framework and then it is going to be up to states, cities, communities to apply that framework in their community as they see fit. Sometimes that's going to be done in a way that's better than the general guidance, more specific, sometimes it's going to be a mistake, and people in that community may suffer the consequences of more spread of COVID.

COVID has been very challenging to deal with. But the bottom line is right. We have more vaccines, more treatments, more tests, more masks, better understanding, better tracking of the virus. We're in better shape now than since the start of the pandemic, and I remain quite optimistic that we will see continued progress getting the pandemic under control and not having it dominate our lives in 2022.

And the president did say that keeping mask mandates in place is a tough call. He's acknowledging that these restrictions have real tradeoffs, even if they're necessary. What are your thoughts? I mean, if I wanted to go into a restaurant or a supermarket and not wear my mask, and I am double vaxed and boosted, good idea, bad idea? What do I do?

FRIEDEN: It depends. It depends on whether you have an underlying condition, how much COVID there is in the community and whether you live with someone who has an underlying condition. That's why it is so important we know how much COVID is spreading in communities.

A flashpoint issue is schools. And on schools, I think the most important thing to understand is that we must do everything possible to keep our kids in school learning safely. And if that means continuing masking in schools for another few weeks until cases plummet further, that is a small price to pay to keep our kids learning safely in school.

ACOSTA: All right, Dr. Tom Frieden, is sounds like it is a work in progress. We appreciate the time.


Thanks very much.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Even as COVID cases are easing, the virus has hit the British royal family again. Prince Charles has tested positive for a second time. It's raising concerns not only for his health but for the health of Queen Elizabeth, who is 95 years old.

Let's go to CNN Royal Correspondent Max Foster. Max, you're in Dubai, covering Prince William's visit there, now this breaking news that his father has tested positive for COVID again. Any concerns that the queen has been exposed or that there's a risk there?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Prince William is basically not commenting on this. He says these are private conversations, but we have heard from a royal source that Prince Charles did meet the queen recently. Now, she is not showing any symptoms, but they are monitoring her closely.

They're not telling us if she's being tested. You would assume that she has been tested. It is not clear why they're not telling us that apart from broadly private medical matters. So, they don't want to tell us all of the information about her medical condition right now. They're monitoring it though, so we're also doing the same.

Prince Charles, meanwhile, in isolation. As you say, he tested positive twice, the first time back in March 2020. He didn't have symptoms then. It is not clear if he has got them now, but he is isolating. So, it seems as though he is stable.

He also met actually on Wednesday night some very senior ministers, the finance secretary, also the home secretary. Presumably, they're being tested as well because he's been at events. So, we are monitoring all of this.

At the moment, it seems okay. But, of course, the queen is in her 90s, there's always concern when she's exposed to any sort of infection. But no major alarms coming from the palace right now, as I say, they are monitoring her.

ACOSTA: All right. Max Foster in Dubai for us, thank you very much for that report.

Coming up, details on the doping scandal rocking the Winter Olympics, we have new information on the Russian figure skater who tested positive for a banned substance and what it means for their gold medal.



ACOSTA: New details tonight on the Olympic doping scandal that has the medal ceremony for the figure skating team event still on hold.

CNN sports analyst and "USA Today" sports columnist, Christine Brennan, who's in Beijing for us. Also joining us, Jemele Hill, co- host with Cari Champion of the upcoming CNN Plus show, "Cari and Jemele, Speak Easy".

Ladies, we are looking forward to that show. And, of course, everything that Christine is doing for us in Beijing is always the great reporting that she does. Christine, let me start with you first. You broke the news of this

Russian doping scandal. This is extraordinary. They were already on a kind of probation situation after being sanctioned by the World Anti- Doping Agency. What's the latest?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Yeah, this is a country that continues to cheat. They are cheating now. It's a 15-year-old who is involved. Of course, immediately, Jim, you, and, of course, hi, Jemele -- look at the adults around but Kamila Valieva and what were they doing, and this drug of course but, endurance, and boosting red blood cells. So, that's part of the issue.

Right now, the medal ceremony is in limbo. The question, Jim, is, will the U.S. get the gold medal in the team competition, or will Russia keep that gold medal? If Russia keeps the gold and behind the scenes has been reporting there's a lot of back and forth and wrangling going on and there's several worldwide organizations, doping organizations, court of arbitration for sport involved -- this could take a while.

If Russia keeps that gold medal, what a terrible statement it will be to all those athletes out there who are not cheating, who are doing the right thing, who are doing all those drug tests and not on the door 365 days a year testing, to prove that they are cleaned, and not doping. That's what happens if Russia wins.

But I will not be surprised right now, the way things are going, is if Russia keeps that gold medal and the U.S. is silver. That will really be I think just a travesty.

ACOSTA: Jemele, let me get your take on this because Russian athletes are already competing as the Russian Olympic Committee, the ROC, which is the weirdest thing when you see the medal standings and it says the ROC instead of Russia, because the country is already in trouble for doping. It appears, you know, the symbolic consequences aren't doing anything to stop the Russians from cheating.

JEMELE HILL, CNN + HOST: First of all, great to see you, Christine. It's been way too long. Certainly somebody I have looked up to my whole career. Sorry, Jim, I had to get that out of the way.

ACOSTA: Of course, of course.

HILL: But to piggyback on which Christine said, this is a systemic issue. And that's kind of the problem with all of this, is we knew what it was when Russia showed up -- and granted they are showing up under different name -- but it appears to be the same old story. I really feel very sorry for the skater in question because she is 15 years old, clearly there was some adult -- if not a lot of adult -- involvement. And she's going to be villainized and this is going to be such a stain on her career, when it's clearly this is kind of a state- run system in Russia. That's what got the banned to begin with.

So, my heart goes out to not just her, but as Christine mentioned, all the other athletes who are watching this, who have spent years -- who have put so much of their sweat equity into making it to this moment and then to see if it worse to be ultimately rewarded, it would be such a slap in the face to them. Not to mention the credibility of the Olympics is completely in question if they allow the Russian team to keep this gold medal.

ACOSTA: Right? What's the point of having penalties?


And, Christine, let's talk about good news, because there's a lot of good news on the American side. American figure skating star Nathan Cheng is taking home the gold after his commanding performance. That's just been unbelievable to watch. I mean, he has been just shattering records and setting the sport on fire.

What do you make of his performance?

BRENNAN: Jim, I have no Nathan since he was a little kid starting out in the sport. This is a story of redemption. Four years ago at the Olympics in 2018, in South Korea, he bombed in the short program. He finished 17th. Yes, 17th. That's almost impossible to do if you are a great skater, as a teenage medal hopeful.

And, obviously, then, of course, he had a great long program but he was out of the metals, so no chance of winning a medal there. Four years, a 4-year quest to win that gold medal, to exercise all those demons, and he did it, and he did it in world record style. It is a very exclusive club, those individual male and female skaters who have won Olympic gold medals for the United States from the United States in figure skating.

There's only 14 of them, 7 men, 7 women. And Nathan Cheng joins that club. What a wonderful role model, terrific young man.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, congratulations to him.

And, Jemele, you are in L.A. ahead of the Super Bowl. I'm jealous. Is the excitement for the big game being overshadowed by this ongoing diversity problem in the NFL? It has been a scandal over the last couple of weeks. What do you think?

HILL: Yeah, I think it has hijacked a lot of the conversation around the Super Bowl. This lawsuit is just an extension of a long-standing problem that the NFL has had. Christine and I could write columns about this every single year because it seems like the NFL has had to address it every single year.

This is a very watershed moment. This is a potential historic reckoning for them. It's a sad situation because the NFL -- the whole reason they had -- is because of the threat of litigation. To be back in that same place, 20 years later, it speaks to how they have not dealt adequately with this problem.

ACOSTA: All right, ladies. Thank you very much. Great to see both of you.

Just ahead, will the trucker inspired protests shutting down roads in Canada spread to the United States? The Department of Homeland Security is warning the demonstrations could seriously disrupt the Super Bowl.



ACOSTA: We are heading into Super Bowl Sunday and the Department of Homeland Security is warning that the big game could be disrupted by truckers. That's right, truckers.

Brian is working the story for us.

Brian, we have seen truckers in Canada protest the vaccine mandates. It could happen in the U.S. this weekend?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the warning from Homeland Security officials, Jim. And they are warning that our truckers protest in the United States could extend several days past the Super Bowl, and well beyond L.A.


TODD (voice-over): Blaring horns. Rows of trucks clogging the streets.

Tonight, the Department of Homeland Security is warning that scenes like this in Canada, and several other points along the border, could be seen in the U.S. A new bulletin obtained by CNN's alerting law enforcement agencies that a convoy of truckers could begin here in the U.S., possibly as early as this weekend, at Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood, California.

How could they potentially disrupt the Super Bowl?

JAMES CARAFANO, HOMELAND SECURITY EXPERT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: You could see there be a disruption -- people may miss the kick off, they might miss halftime. I think the game could definitely go on.

TODD: A federal law enforcement official told CNN that police and security personnel are preparing for possible disruptions at the Super Bowl.

The DHS bulletin also says the potential convoy could make its way from the L.A. area to Washington, possibly impacting President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address, on March 1st.

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER FBI, CIA SENIOR OFFICIAL: It's legitimate, for the security services, the FBI, for example, state and local police, to look at open source information -- things like Facebook posts, the kinds of things you and I could look at determine what's going to happen if there are truck protests here. But you can't stop them.

TODD: And a law enforcement official tells us authorities have seen calls on a variety of online forums with protests to be expanded into the U.S. The DHS bulletin says there are currently no indications of planned violence if truckers converge on American cities, but they could disrupt transportation. Government operations, even first responders, rushing to get the scenes of trauma.

MUDD: What if there were a health emergency? Somebody has a heart attack at the super bowl, there is a major traffic accident, and you have blocked ingress or egress from parking lots, you have prevented people from getting in and out, and it takes an hour for an ambulance to leave that facility.

TODD: Free border crossings between the U.S. and Canada have already been cut off by protesting truckers. Dozens of vehicles temporarily disrupted traffic at Ottawa international airport this morning, by circling the airport's arrival and departure terminals, according to airport officials.

The mayor of Windsor, Ontario, says it's not a quick or easy operation to just go in and arrest truckers if things get out of hand.

MAYOR DREW DILKENS, WINDSOR, ONTARIO: It's very frustrating because people want us to go in and flush everyone out. There is a real threat of violence here. We have seen protests come out with tire irons when the police attempted to tow a car.


TODD (on camera): Security experts say there are ways to disrupt your head off truckers protest before they happen in the U.S. Police departments will have to coordinate to divert the truckers from bridges and other major arteries. But experts say police will have to be nimble because the truckers communicate very well within their own ranks -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Could be a messy halftime show on Sunday. Brian Todd, of course, you'll be watching that. We will as well. Thanks so much.

And thanks very much for watching. I'm Jim Acosta in THE SITUATION ROOM. Don't forget THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER is also available as a podcast. Look for us on, or wherever you get your podcasts.

And "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.