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Senate To Vote On Trump Cabinet Picks Monday; Lawsuit To Claim Pres. Trump Violating Constitution; Adviser: Trump Will Not Release Tax Returns Yet; Trump Says He'll Begin Renegotiating NAFTA; Pres. Trump Invites Netanyahu To U.S. For February Visit; British PM Set To Meet Pres. Trump In Washington; Trump's Agenda for First Full Week; Georgia Neighborhood Hit Hard as Storms Tear Through Southeast; Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots Head to Super Bowl. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 23, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We're live in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier.


VANIER: Now, Donald Trump is about to embark on a busy first week as President of the United States. He's going to meet with congressional leaders on Monday to discuss key issues on his legislative agenda like, tax reform and replacing Obamacare.

CURNOW: And Monday is also a big for two of Mr. Trump's most controversial cabinet nominees. The senate will likely vote to confirm Mike Pompeo as head of the C.I.A. though some democrats disagree on him on surveillance and other issues, and citizens will also vote on Rex Tillerson's nomination for Secretary of State. There had been concerns about his past dealings with Russia. Meanwhile, the White House says President Trump will also work on reversing many of Barack Obama's executive orders this week.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think this week we're going to talk about trade. I think we're going to talk about that a little bit more tomorrow. I think we're going to talk about immigration this week and we're going to have a time of nationals security, a conversation about that, obviously, with General Mattis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will he undo some of the Obama executive orders?

PRIEBUS: I think you're going to see more of that coming, perhaps this week, executive orders and those three topics.


VANIER: Our President Trump still has some hurdles to overcome; an Ethics Watchdog plans to file a lawsuit against him on Monday. The group claims that he is violating the constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments through his business empire. His lawyers would not comment on the suit, but they have repeatedly said that he has done everything necessary to avoid conflicts of interest.

CURNOW: And President Trump's top adviser, Kellyanne Conway, said he will not release his tax returns even after the IRS orders, he's often talked about is completed. Conway later walked back those remarks, saying the President is still under audit and has not being advised, and has been advised not to release his returns.

VANIER: With great promises comes great responsibility. Mr. Trump says he's going to start working on a major campaign promise, renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. That's parts of his protectionist message of America first. Mr. Trump says he will soon meet with the leaders of Canada and Mexico on NAFTA. Experts say striking a deal that is more beneficial to the U.S. will be a challenge. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says six million jobs in the U.S. depend on trade with Mexico.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We will be meeting with the President of Mexico, who I know, and we're going to start some negotiations having to do with NAFTA. Anybody ever hear of NAFTA? I ran the campaign somewhat based on NAFTA. But we're going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration, and on security at the border.


CURNOW: The world is watching as Donald Trump's presidency begins. In the hours ahead, we will go into our correspondents around the world to bring you the global reaction to President Trump's first week in office. Stay with us. And Mr. Trump is moving quickly to reach out to Israel. He spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Sunday, and invited him to visit the U.S. next month. Well, let's go to Jerusalem, Ian Lee is standing by. And what more do we know about this conversation, Ian?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, during their conversation, Robyn, Trump, reiterated his unprecedented level of support for Israel. It was a very nice conversation according to President Trump. There were three major issues, though, that Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to get across that is the neighboring war - civil war in Syria, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as the Iran deal which he describes as a bad deal. They also - Prime Minister Netanyahu also got an invitation to visit the President next month.

CURNOW: We're also hearing about cautious plans, early plans, to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Let's -- What do you know about that and more importantly, also, what are the repercussions for the region, if that goes ahead?

LEE: Well, what we heard from the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, saying that they are at the beginning stages of even discussing this subject, but here in Jerusalem, it is the talk of the town and local headlines on newspapers. You have Maariv, which is saying, "Heading Towards Jerusalem." You have Israel Hayom saying, "Trump Invites Netanyahu to Visit in Washington. And then, the Jerusalem Post, saying, "The Trump administration in the very beginning stages of talks of moving the Embassy."

[01:04:57] And what we heard from the Mayor of Jerusalem, who has welcomed President Trump's announcement that they are going to move it. But it is going to be, probably, a slow process, not something you'll see overnight. And there has been strong reaction coming from the Palestinians. We heard from the chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who said that if this does go forward, that they could revoke their recognition of Israel, they could revoke all agreements with Israel, the President of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas, went to Jordan to talk to King Abdullah.

King Abdullah said that he doesn't want to see this unilateral move that it should go through negotiations. He's going to rally not only international partners, but regional partners that help prevent this move. So it is a very thorny issue, not only here amongst the Israeli from the Palestinians, but also for the region as a whole.

CURNOW: Yes, thanks so much, Ian Lee, coming to us there from Jerusalem. Thank you.

VANIER: And after Israel, let's go to the U.K. Mr. Trump's first meeting with the world leaders since he took office, will be on Friday with British Prime Minister Theresa May, and that will be on Washington. For more on that, CNN London Correspondent Max Foster, joins us now from there. Max, both sides apparently feeling very positive about that relationship. There's been talk of reprising the almost symbiotic relationship between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the default position for U.K. leaders, is to cozy up to any U.S. leader, that's always been the case, whatever party you're from, whatever, sort of, part of the political spectrum you're from. So there were democrats and conservatives for example, ideologically different but it often worked together in the past. Will they do the same in this case?

It's kind of different this time around, simply because Donald Trump is such a controversial figure. A lot has been made in this country, the fact that Theresa May is a woman, he's made derogatory marks - remarks about women. She said, she finds them, you know, unacceptable, many of these comments he's made. But she - her job is to continue these relationships. So she's talking about discussing NATO the North-American Alliance, of course, the Transatlantic Alliance, and also talking about the Syrian Civil War. But really, the most important thing for her getting into this meeting, is getting some sort of trade deal to allow her to appease the British public in relation to the (INAUDIBLE) she's going to pull out of the European Single Market as a result of Brexit. So that's the main thing that she's going to want out of this. It's an absolutely priority. And it's more than anything else.

So she's going to, perhaps, ignore some of the more controversial issues, perhaps, while saying their unacceptable. But also, Brexit is a big deal for Donald Trump as well, because if he can make it look as if Brexit is part of Trumpism, that now fits into his narrative and perhaps that's what he's thinking about with this trip this week.

VANIER: And to your point that you made just a moment ago, Max, Theresa May needs a strong relationship with the U.S. perhaps now more than ever.

FOSTER: She does and she got a few things to offer. There is that Brexit narrative and there also this idea that Donald Trump is very interested in what -- you know, the one thing that billionaires can't buy, and that's a visit to Buckingham Palace. So a few questions about that yesterday, will he be making a state visit to United Kingdom. There was some hints, perhaps, he could be coming over later on this year.

These are things that Theresa May can offer Donald Trump to boost his position on the international stage. And there's something that Britain can always offer all the pumped in ceremony that comes with that. But she desperately needs a trade deal that she can offset the economic concerns about leaving the European Union on. So that's very important to her. But also, she was, perhaps, pip to the post in meeting Donald Trump because the first political leader to meet Donald Trump wasn't the British Prime Minister. It was a leader on opposition party. So, she's having to get past that, and she wants to show that she's in charge of this relationship. So, it's a very important moment both Donald Trump and Theresa May this week.

VANIER: All right, Max Foster reporting live from London. Thank you very much. And the Trump White House is doubling down on Press Secretary Sean Spicer's claims that Friday's inaugural audience was the largest ever. However, aerial photos contradict what Spicer said. On the right, you see Trump's inauguration on Friday, just minutes after he was sworn in. Sections of the national mall are vacant, showing a white protective ground cover.

CURNOW: Compare that now with Barack Obama's inauguration, eight years earlier, showing there on the left. Even though there's no white ground cover visible for contrast, the mall in that same area was clearly filled with people. On Sunday, Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer's comment. Take a listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER: I don't think, ultimately, presidents are judged by crowd sizes at their inauguration. I think they're judged by their accomplishments.

CHUCK TODD, NBC MEET THE PRESS HOST: Why put him out there for the very first time in front of that podium to utter a provable falsehood?

CONWAY: If we're going to keep referring to our Press Secretary in those types of terms, I think that if we're going to have to rethink our relationship here.

TODD: You did not answer the question of why the President asked the White House Press Secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood? Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House Press Office on Day one. [01:10:10] CONWAY: No, Chuck. Don't be so - don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What it - you're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point -

TODD: Wait a minute, alternative facts?


CURNOW: Conway told CNN that it was Mr. Trump who directed Spicer to go to the White House briefing. We even talked about the size of the inauguration crowd. Well, let's bring in our Political Strategist Mac Zilber. He joins us now from Los Angeles. Listening to that exchange, also want to play Sean Spicer, he has spoken about truth and his job. Take a listen and then I want to get your comments on the other side.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The one thing that whether you're a republican, democrat, independent, you have your integrity. I may tell a reporter, I can't comment on something or, you know, I'm not able to discuss it, but I've never lied. And I don't think -- and I don't intend - I would argue that anybody who's an inspiring communicator adhere to that, because you - if you lose your - the respect and trust of the press core, you got nothing.


CURNOW: What do you make of that?

MAC ZILBER, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, I guess Sean Spicer's got nothing. Look, I think that CNN and the New York Times made the right call in how they covered Sean Spicer's press conference yesterday, which was essentially, "We're not covering you until we see whether what you said is true," and afterwards, in our hard new stories, we're going to say, he uttered untrue statements. He went after the press for quoting accurate facts.

The reality is, the White House is a fake news source until proven otherwise. And frankly, I think that we should go beyond just not airing Sean Spicer's press conferences live. And Kellyanne Conway should not be invited on any news shows until she's been proven to be an accurate source.

CURNOW: But they are employed by the White House, and they have a job to do and that is, you know, no matter you're democrat, you can criticize him but they're being paid to do what Mr. Trump wants them to do essentially in this White House. Certainly, everyone tried to find their feet. Do you agree with many people who feel like, this is just a side show that this conversation that has been taking place over the weekend, is just a sideshow and they should be more focused on, really, on day one, that is - that is Monday?

ZILBER: I don't think that the reliability of the White House is a sideshow at all. Look, when you are paid by someone to be a spokesperson for them, you still have certain responsibilities to tell basic levels of truth. This new incoming White House has shown that it's unwilling to even reach the basic levels of reliability that a .gov web site should have true facts. On day one, the incoming White House split false D.C. crime stamps on its White House.

When children in school can't quote a .gov website in their bibliography and know that the facts are right, that's a crisis. And I think that until that is rectified, the press should treat this White House the way that it would treat, you know, a paid sponsored ad on a website and, you know, trust but verify, and verify before publishing.

CURNOW: That's easy to say but this is the White House, in fact, that come out of the White House aren't just viewed by local press in the U.S., but they all studied by governments and world leaders all around the world. So the implications of an alternative fact White House or a post fact, well, you say, are going to play very much into the foundations of how this White House does business.

ZILBER: Absolutely. I would say the apt comparison is, when China releases new GDP numbers, our press doesn't report China's GDP grew 10 percent this quarter. We say China's government claimed their GDP grew 10 percent this quarter and economists say otherwise. We're unfortunately going to have to do a heck of a lot of that over the next four years. Otherwise, the tail is going to be wagging the dog and people are going to constantly be having to report and then retract when Spicer, Trump and Conway come out and state falsehoods.

CURNOW: These conversations that we are having and you're talking about CNN and the New York Times and this is certainly being watched, this argument, around the world. The fact of the matter is, that many Trump voters do think this is a sideshow and that they are really concerned about Mr. Trump delivering on his election promises which was jobs, jobs, jobs. Is this going to also need to be part of the, sort of, the conversation that that's going to be his focus and many of the people who voted him say, this stuff doesn't matter.

ZILBER: Sure, well, and that's been his appeal from the start, right? Is that he says, all of the things that I'm saying, you shouldn't take them literal face value. I'm trying to convey an emotion. That's sort of what he claims. Now, for as long as we go back to Woodrow Wilson, where the White House was actively engaging in the press. The notion is that when the White House issues a statement, its policy and it should have some factual basis behind it.

[01:15:03] If we move away from that, that's a dramatic break. I mean, as far as Trump following through on his promises, he has done virtually nothing in the first 72 hours in office. And he's actually said in his first 100 days start Monday which almost no prior president have said. So, whether he follows through on his promises, the fact is, he spent his first few days in an office largely just warring with the press.

CURNOW: Let's talk about what we saw on Saturday. Crowds across the US, across the world, is this the - I mean, how do the democrats particular, the political party, harness that energy? Is it just a once (INAUDIBLE) does that going to be a coordinated effort; is that going to be a focus; or how do you - how do you manage what we saw on Saturday?

ZILBER: Well, you don't manage a movement, but what you need to do is tap into it and find out what really sparked it. I mean, I think it's clear that the Democratic Party has had the support of a plurality of Americans for, you know, the last 25 years. There's only been one Presidential Election were Republicans got the most votes. That being said, how do we capture these people and make sure they're registered. Make sure that they're showing up every weekend and making calls in the swing districts, making sure they're getting involved. I think it's incumbent on the establishment of the Democratic Party to listen to the message of these grassroots folks to come to them and ask them what their needs are, rather than just trying to get them to show up at a local Democratic headquarters and flip them into a part of the existing program.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks so much, Mac Zilber, appreciate it.

ZILBER: Thanks for having me.

CURNOW: And they praised each other from a far. Now, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will speak to each other as world leaders. What the Kremlin is saying about their upcoming phone call bust next.

VANIER: And some Chinese newspaper say U.S. President Donald Trump's America First Policy could backfire. Stay with us.


KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. Chelsea lead at the top of the English Premier League just got a whole lot bigger with key teams dropping points on Saturday. On Sunday, the Blues welcomed back their striker, Diego Costa. He didn't disappoint the fans. He netted a goal just before half time with across from (INAUDIBLE) Chelsea then added to their lead when Cesc Fabregas would find Gary Cahill -- he made it 2-0. That's how it ends leading - adding to their lead.

At the top of the table, meanwhile, Arsenal also kept the title race alive after a late, late drama at the (INAUDIBLE) stadium on Sunday after Burnley's Andre Gray threw the (INAUDIBLE) there were all sorts of action, a 10-man Arsenal found a new gear in the 7th minute of injury time. Alexis Sanchez put the Gunners ahead. Arsenal now in second.

[01:19:48] And finally on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The Brit Tommy Fleetwood held off big names like Dustin Johnson and Martin Kaymer to capture his first European Tour title 2013. One shot back at the start of the final round, Fleetwood was bugged by a (INAUDIBLE) eagle on the 10th for 31 on the back nine. He finished the tournament at 17 under for a one-shot victory. Yes, well done to him. And that's a look at all your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CURNOW: Welcome back. U.S. President Donald Trump will hear from

Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming days. The Kremlin says Putin's call to Trump is a diplomatic necessity.

VANIER: Now, there's been speculation about closer ties between Russia and the U.S. during a Trump presidency. But on Sunday, Russia's Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, said U.S. sanctions on the country will likely last for a long time.

CURNOW: OK. So, let's go straight to Moscow, CNN's Matthew Chance is there with the view from Russia as Mr. Trump begins his first week. Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, (INAUDIBLE) much is right. The -- couple of days ago, the Kremlin said, via telephone call, after the inauguration of Donald Trump for the next few days, the contents of that call of when it's going to happen is not clear to us. But obviously, there's a whole range of issues between these two counties. They would need to discuss not least of which a sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on Russia over its involvements in Ukraine. The issue of Syria on the conflict fair by the countries on opposite sides of the countries especially what happened up until now. And the issue of NATO expansion, which of course, Russia has repeatedly expressed its concern over.

And so, there's a whole range of issues they can discussed, they also undoubtedly going to discuss when that first face-to-face meeting is going to be between Donald Trump and President Putin of Russia. There's been a great deal of anticipation here in Russia about that meeting. One leading lawmaker here, (INAUDIBLE) Peskov, are saying that the first meeting will be, quote, "The most important event in world politics -- at world politics. A defining moment in history," such as the sense of anticipation at the start of the Trump era here in Russia released.

The Kremlin for its part though has been playing down that expectation. Has been saying essentially that Donald Trump is not Russia's man, that which is -- which is what it said to us a few days ago and saying that, you know, expectations are overplayed, that there can be any dramatic turnaround in the very rocky relationship between these two countries. So, that's the public position of the Kremlin. This is said, you know, behind the scenes, you know, many Russians -- many Russian lawmakers and people, ordinary people are quietly confident with the situation between the two countries is going to improve.

CURNOW: OK. So, you said that Kremlin is in many ways managing expectations and we see that with the Prime Minister saying that U.S. sanctions in the country will likely last a long (INAUDIBLE).

CHANCE: That's right. Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister is saying that, you know, we should -- we -- when he talks about Russia we shouldn't -- we shouldn't be looking to foreign elections, to foreign leaders to be -- to be turning around these sanctions. Again, it's part of this campaign of expectation -- management as you call it. The Kremlin and high officials are engaged in the moment because there is such a lot of speculation, a such a lot of expectation that we're at this pivotal moment between U.S. and the United -- the United States and Russia. But obviously, you know, it could go very, very wrong.

CURNOW: And then, you know, there's a history of that. In many ways, previous U.S. presidents have all tried to rethink this relationship in different ways and both sides are being left disappointed.

CHANCE: Yes. When President Obama came in, of course he attempted in his administration to reset the relationship; George W. Bush before him attempted to effectively reset the relationship as well. And all of those attempts ended in failure, and actually at the end of each of those terms, the relationship was even worse than it was at the beginning. And there's a sense in which that could also be true if Donald Trump is a very complex issues. And of course, as you say, it's gone wrong for other presidents, it could go wrong for Donald Trump as well.

CURNOW: Matthew Chance in Moscow, thanks so much.

VANIER: And after Russia, let's see what the expectations are in China. Several state-run newspapers there say things could get messy quickly between the U.S. and Beijing if Mr. Trump uses Taiwan as a bargaining chip in trade talks.

CNN's David McKenzie joins us live from Beijing. David, are Chinese officials afraid of a trade war?

[01:24:44] DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, they're definitely afraid of a trade war. So, we're attacking this "wait and see" approach right now. Those editorials you speak off in state-run media have largely been holding back a little bit. Not necessarily pushing the envelope when it comes to Donald Trump, the new U.S. President, who has in the campaign, and in the lead up to the inauguration threatened at least to raise tariffs substantially on Chinese goods that's going into the U.S. It's the most important bilateral trade agreement on the earth.

And any kind of trade war, the economist could severely affect the economies of both countries. I spoke to someone inside government meetings in the lead up to the inauguration is that there is serious concern of that here in China. They say they're happy to have negotiations on trade, there being trade spats before between the two countries. What they're not happy with is if there's any sense that the Trump administration will bring Taiwan into their discussion, they say the two things should be kept separate. Otherwise, you really could see the sparks fly. Cyril?

VANIER: All right. David McKenzie reporting live in Beijing, thank you very much.

CURNOW: And a new lawsuit against Donald Trump coming up. A group is arguing the new president is already violating the constitution, but Trump's lawyer denies the allegations.

VANIER: Also after the break, a closer look at what's on President Trump's agenda for his first full week in office. Stay with us.


CURNOW: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Robyn Curnow.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. And here's some of the stories we're following for you this hour: Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will face former Education Minister Benoit Hamon in the primary runoff on January 29th. Whoever wins will be the French Socialist Party's candidate in the Presidential Election this spring. Opinion polls however suggest that the Socialist do not have much chance after Francois Hollande's unpopular presidency.


[01:30:34] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: The work truly begins for U.S. President Donald Trump this week.

Jeff Zeleny now reports the coming days include meetings with at least one foreign leader, and with top U.S. lawmakers.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump starting his first full week as president with a full list of items on his desk. He is going to potentially look at executive actions, executive orders, ranging from immigration to trade to other matters.

He is also keeping a close eye on Capitol Hill where he is going to try to start enacting his agenda and keep an eye on the confirmation hearing.

But tonight, at the White House, he is going to invite over Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader mitch McConnell, and other Republican leaders of Congress to start building those relationships and start talking about how, indeed, he will try and repeal and replace health care and other matters like tax reform and other things. He is trying to build these relationships.

And there was certainly a different tone on Sunday from Donald Trump at the White House than he took earlier in the weekend when he was expressing so many grievances.

Listen to what he said in the East Room on Sunday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And as I said during my inaugural address, this is not about party. This is not about ideology. This is about country, our country. And it's about serving the American people. We will prove worthy of this moment in history. And I think it may very well be a great moment in history. So be proud. Be very proud.


ZELENY: With President Trump saying we will be worthy of this moment in history, that certainly is his charge to his senior advisers there in that room, many of whom we're seeing in public out front for really the first time. Steve Bannon, his chief strategist here at the White House, is almost never in public. But he was standing there next to Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus, the chief of staff, and Jared Kushner. Now they all have the task here, these competing power centers, to enact the president's agenda.

This week will be packed with meetings, ending with his first meeting with a foreign leader. British Prime Minister Theresa May will be here at the White House on Friday.

President Trump will also take his first trip as president. That will be to Philadelphia on Thursday to meet with congressional leaders there, the House, and the Senate, to start enacting their agenda.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now is Ron Brownstein, CNN's senior political analyst.

Ron, I'd like you to look ahead to this week. Donald Trump has repeated many times that he considered Monday, this Monday, as his first real day of work. So, one of the first orders of business for him is he is going to be meeting on Monday. The leaders of Congress from both parties, Republicans and Democrats. Now this is going to be an important meeting. What has he got to say to them of pave the way for good relationship with him going forward?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the first point is the first 72 hours of the Trump presidency has shown us that just as the campaign and the transition, there is going to be very little about this presidency that fits in the normal parameters. We see so many extraordinary things happening already. And it's going to be a tumultuous ride. The question for Donald Trump as he works through Congress, think about Donald Trump's agenda and the Republican congressional agenda as two diagrams as where they overlap and there are places where they overlap, repealing Obamacare, cutting taxes, rolling back federal regulation. You're going to see a lot of forward movement, particularly where they can use the so-called reconciliation technique to defang the ability of Democrats to hold things up with a fill buster in the Senate. The challenge is there is a lot else that is kind of outside of that diagram, his protectionism, infrastructure, some of the more edgy proposals on the immigration side where it's not clear that Republicans are going to come along. So, this is a relationship I think that is going to be a work in progress. Don't forget very few Republican members of Congress supported him during his campaign. Not a lot of deep loyalty on either side. A marriage of convenience at the beginning. We'll see how far that can extend.

VANIER: But you're mentioning Republicans. But how much does he need to reach out to Democrats, if at all? BROWNSTEIN: Well, he needs -- on many of the core things they want to

do, they're going to try to do that through the reconciliation process in the Senate that does not require him to reach out to Democrats that can be passed with 51 votes. 50 votes even and the support of the vice president, Mike pence. Where he will need Democrats is pretty much anything that doesn't have a fiscal implication and cannot be stuffed into that reconciliation process. For all of that he needs 60 votes. He has one big asset. He has 10 Democrats in the Senate in 2018 will be running in states that Donald Trump won. They will be looking over their shoulder at Trump voters.

But it's not going to be easy on many of these fronts. Infrastructure, perhaps, some of the trade initiatives, perhaps. But, for example, on Obamacare, the direction that he is going, it's not going to have a lot of appeal to many Senate Democrats in part because almost all would raise prices on older and sicker that are concentrated in the blue states that the Democratic Senators are running in, in 2018.

[01:35:48] VANIER: Ron, I want your take on some of the back and forth coming out of the White House, particularly on Kellyanne Conway, regarding the tax returns of Donald Trump. Earlier in the day, this is what she had to say. We're going to play you a short clip.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: The White House response is that he is not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care. They voted for him.

And let me make this very clear. Most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.

And you know, full well, that President Trump and his family are complying with all the ethical rules, everything they need to do to step away from his businesses and be a full-time president.


VANIER: Later in the day, on Sunday, Kellyanne Conway said this, "Our position from the campaign has not changed. He, Donald Trump, is under audit and has been advised by accountants and lawyers not to release."

She didn't say whether or not he would release his returns at the conclusion of the audit. Is this an issue where Donald Trump has perhaps had his finger on the pulse of Americans more than the media, or is this something that is going to come back and bite the White House some time down the road?

BROWNSTEIN: First, if you can have the standard of the result of the election being whether any issue still has relevance post-election, the fact is most people -- he lost the popular vote by almost as -- by nearly three million votes and didn't win by more than John F. Kennedy or jimmy carter did. If that's the standard it's hard to say that most people were not concerned. Certainly, in polling, most people have said they want to see the taxes.

I think where this becomes an issue for Donald Trump is because the second half of her statement is also very debatable. Most ethics analysts and experts do not believe the fact that he has gone as far as necessary to really clean up the potential of conflicts of interest around his varied business interests and around the world with his son running the company. And the taxes become relevant in understanding exactly what is the web of financial relationships in which he is involved as he is pursuing these momentous decisions as president of the United States.

VANIER: CNN's senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much for your insights.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CURNOW: And now to more questions about the new president and conflicts of interest. A liberal ethics watchdog group is planning to file a lawsuit on Monday against Donald Trump. The lawsuit will argue Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments through his business empire. The president's lawyer denies the allegation and says he has taken the necessary measures to avoid any conflicts of interest.

VANIER: The executive director of the nonprofit group, known as CREW, says, "We did not want to get to this point. We hoped that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the constitution before he took office. He did not. So, we were forced to take legal action."

CURNOW: Some good news, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is feeling much better and could be out of intensive care in a day or two. The 92-year-old was hospitalized in Houston, Texas, last week for issues stemming from pneumonia.

VANIER: His wife, Barbara, was also admitted for bronchitis. Mrs. Bush actually could have been discharged on Sunday but chose to stay one more night to continue her recovery and stay close to her husband.

Robyn, how long did you tell me they had been married?

CURNOW: 70 years or more than that. I think she made a very good decision.

VANIER: There you go.

CURNOW: Good luck do them both. Wish them both a speedy recovery, I think.

VANIER: Absolutely.

CURNOW: Absolutely.

Let's also bring you up to date on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owners. Their phones were catching fire. The company now has figured out what caused the problem. [01:39:35] VANIER: Also, in the coming hours --



VANIER: In the coming hours, the warring parties in Syria will take another stab at ending the nearly 6-year-old civil war. It's been a year since the last attempt. Delegates from the Syrian opposition and the government have been arriving in the capital of Kazakhstan. This new round of negotiations was organized by governments of Turkey as well as being backed by Iran.

CURNOW: Samsung is blaming bad batteries for causing its Galaxy Note 7 phones to catch fire.

VANIER: Investigators say the overheating stemmed from poorly designed batteries from two different suppliers. Samsung launched the phone last August and killed off the troubled device in early October.

CURNOW: At least 12 people are dead in central China after a landslide slammed into a hotel on Friday. State media reports the bodies of 10 victims have been found. Piles of rocks and dirt buried part of the building. Over a dozen people were eating lunch on the ground floor restaurant were trapped. Rescuers pulled five people from the rubble, but two of them died on the way to the hospital.

VANIER: Severe storms have been tearing through the southeastern United States. They have killed at least 14 people in central Georgia.

CNN's Polo Sandoval went to a central Georgia neighborhood that was hit very hard by the weather.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities have now been able to complete the search-and-rescue recovery efforts yet because of the ongoing threat of severe weather. As a result, what is perhaps the hardest hit neighborhood, that you may be able to make out behind me remains closed off.

Because of the darkness, because of the distance, you might not be able to see too much. So, take a look at some of the pictures shot in the region. You can see the widespread devastation.

The Sunshine Acres neighborhood, a mobile home park, according to authorities, is where at least seven people lost their lives. The owner and the manager of that property are posting a statement online for his residents saying, quote, "It is with deep sorrow that I write this. The majority of Sunshine Acres is no more due to a tornado. The majority of Sunshine Acres was destroyed. Most everyone is OK. There are still some missing."

That manager referring to what are at least five people that are still unaccounted for. So, there is concern and the death toll could rise. And know we're hearing some of the remarkable stories of survival,

including a 24-year-old husband and father that I spoke to here who says, after I rode out the storm, he joined rescue efforts and helped rescue at least three children from the rubble.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Adele, Georgia.


[01:45:13] CURNOW: Thanks to Polo for that report.

Let's get the latest on this deadly weather. Pedram Javaheri joins us now.

This is all unusual, isn't it?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is, absolutely. This time of year, we're, climatologically, this third week of January is what it should be the coldest time of the year across north America. And of course, the temperatures have been well above normal, spawning numerous tornadoes. You take a look. January averages 36 tornadoes for the month. It is among the quietest times of the year. You take a look at the perspective, 94 tornadoes, is what we've seen so far across the United States. And in fact, that's over 260percent of what is considered normal for this time of year. So of course, the concern remains very high.

The storm system so impressive. We were looking at some of the observations coming in from the storm reporters and the officials on the ground. And one person spoke to an official there at a grocery store who is reporting that once the tornado came through, they actually had the biscuit there's -- the cans of biscuits were beginning to pop because of the pressure drop within the storm in that vicinity of southern Georgia. That kind of speaks to the significance of the storm.

And still very active. 800-mile stretch there from places such as Key Largo out north off the Carolinas where we're seeing thunderstorms left and right. When you work your way towards southern Florida, almost seven million people underneath a tornado watch at this hour. We do have a tornado warning in effect right now with radar-indicated rotation right there. Palm Beach Gardens northwest of Palm Beach on into Jupiter. We know it's in the very early morning hours, and we often say tornadoes, of course, very deadly. But when you put them into the overnight hours, they're about twice as likely to kill than the daytime hours for obvious reasons. We're watching that threat very carefully across Florida at this hour.

I want to show you how these tornadoes spawned significant damage over parts of the United States. We talk about the number of tornadoes that we saw across the southern United States. And that number in the past three days alone sat somewhere around 41 reports of tornadoes. You can see where they're scattered about the southeast. Climatologically, we should be into the 30s for the entire month. And we see that number. And you compare that to what has occurred with these storms we know of at least 22 fatalities now, and you compare to 2016 which was, in fact, one of the quietest years in terms of fatalities for tornadoes. In fact, the quietest in 30 years where only 17 live were lost. You notice what happened a couple of years ago, with the break across Alabama where over 500 lives were lost. It speaks to the significance of an event that is taking place in the heart of the winter season across parts of the southern United States.

The storm is migrating to the north and east. As it sets up across this area, very heavy rainfall around the Carolina on into parts of the eastern United States. Wind gusts around New York City, around Philadelphia could be anywhere from 50 to 60 miles per hour over the next 24 hours. It's certainly going to impact travel across this region. And we know any time you get into densely populated cities with tall buildings, and specifically, we look at winds to really begin to funnel and intensify even more. So, again, something worth noting here with wind damage potential over the next day or so around the northeastern U.S. -- guys?

CURNOW: Thank you so much. Folks need to stay safe.

Pedram, appreciate that update.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

VANIER: All right. And like many of our viewers across the U.S., Robyn Curnow was watching Sunday football before coming to work.

CURNOW: It was great. We're in Atlanta, and we now know who will play in Super Bowl LI.

VANIER: Two high-powered defenses and one team looking for their first ever title. We'll have the action from Sunday just ahead.



[01:52:26] VANIER: Welcome back. So, the waiting is over. Now we know who is headed to the Super Bowl. the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. The Patriots reached the NFL championship by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

CURNOW: And the Falcons crushed the Green Bay Packers right here in Atlanta. A lot of people celebrating in the streets.

Well, CNN's "World Sport's" Patrick Snell has more on that.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORT CORREPSONDENT: Well, for the second time in franchise history, the Atlanta Falcons have reached the Super Bowl. On Sunday, they produced a dominant display to see off the Green Bay Packers for a championship win in what was a truly emotional occasion at their own Georgia Dome, which after 25 years, was hosting its last ever game before the team moves to a new state-of-the-art home right next door. Led by their inspirational quarterback, Matt Ryan, the Falcons, who were the NFL's highest scoring team this season, meant business right from the star. Ryan doing his talking with his feet this time as he runs it in for the 14-yard touchdown score. Continuing to dominate going into the halftime break. Julio Jones outstanding as he fends off to would-be tacklers on his way up the sideline for the 73-yard touchdown. No one is going to stop him there.

This triumph meaning so much to these Atlanta players who steal a resounding victory, 44-21.


MATT RYAN, ATLANTA FALCONS QUARTERBACK: I'm happy. I'm happy for everybody in our organization. I mean we've worked hard to get to this point. But the challenge is still in front of us. What we set out to accomplish is still in front of us. We'll enjoy it because it's hard to get to this point. I know that from experience. It's really difficult to get to this point, and we'll enjoy the buildup and the process leading to it. But our ultimate goal is still in front of us.


SNELL: Meantime, Steelers legend and our own "CNN Sport's" Hines Ward, the honorary captain for Pittsburgh on Sunday, but his former team falling short against the New England Patriots, 36-17. Star quarterback, Tom Brady, picking out Chris Hogan for the 16-yard touchdown. The Pats were in dominant mood, with the 39-year-old Brady excelling again as he links up with Hogan once more for the 34-yard touchdown. New England powering its way to a ninth Super Bowl, and that is an NFL record. Brady throwing for more than 900 yards for the 11th time in a post season.


TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: It's a lot of hard work, and it's only two teams left standing. I'm happy we're one of them. That's what our goal is. It's nice to be able to achieve that.

BILL BELICHICK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS HEAD COACH: Proud of the team, happy for the team, happy for all these guys. They all deserved it. It's a good, hard-working group. You know, we're excited to move on.


[01:55:09] SNELL: So Super Bowl LI is set as the Falcons look to win it for the first time in their 51-year history. They'll be facing four-time victors, the Patriots, in Houston, on Sunday, the 5th of February.

Patrick Snell, CNN, Atlanta.


CURNOW: U.S. President Donald Trump dominated the news headlines this weekend, but his alter ego got most of the night off on "Saturday Night Live." instead, viewers got a shirtless Vladimir Putin played by Beck Bennett, and this Putin had some opinions on the inauguration. Take a look.


BECK BENNETT, COMEDIAN: Donald, let's talk as friends. You're not off to a great start, man. I thought you'd be better at this. However, I'm glad to see so many people showed up to your inauguration.


Oh, wait. That's the women's march. One day your country could be as happy as we are here in Russia. We are not divided.


You know, like you. Because all our people --


BENNET: Because all our people are so glad for their freedom.


CURNOW: You are watching CNN. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Robyn Curnow.

VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier.

Rosemary Church and George Howell are up next. You'll be in good hands. For more of the latest news around the world, do stay with CNN.