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New Report Details Sexual Misconduct Allegations against Steve Wynn; White House Proposes Framework for Immigration Reform; Taliban Claims Responsibility for Terror Attack in Kabul; Larry Nassar Sentenced to Life in Prison; CDC Warns Flu Season May Not Yet have Peaked. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 27, 2018 - 10:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We've been waiting here for you. So glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. CNN Newsroom begins right now.

PAUL: A historic week ahead for the White House as the president prepares to get his message out on the national stage.

SAVIDGE: President Trump is set to give his first state of the union address. That will be Tuesday. But two major issues this morning are at risk of derailing his agenda.

PAUL: First, the RNC's finance chairman, Steve Wynn, is in the middle of a sex scandal. It was only a week ago that the president was singing the casino mogul's praises. Now "The Wall Street Journal" reporting dozens of women claimed Wynn forced them to perform sex acts when they worked for him. This morning Wynn is calling those claims preposterous.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are trying to legislate against Robert Mueller being fired after it was reported that President Trump came close to axing the special counsel in the Russia investigation.

PAUL: Kaitlan Collins is standing by at the White House with more on the Russia investigation. We want to begin with Miguel Marquez, though, who is live in Las Vegas with details on this scandal surrounding a top official of the RNC. Miguel, what are you learning there this morning?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is Steve Wynn and Donald Trump. These guys have known each other for many years. Their hotels here in Vegas, that's Steve Wynn's hotel, that's Donald Trump's hotel just a few blocks away from each other. But these new allegations of sexual misconduct against Wynn are certainly putting that relationship in a whole new light.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARQUEZ: Preposterous says Steve Wynn, the Vegas hotel and casino billionaire to charges that he ever assaulted any woman. The blistering statement from Wynn himself after a bombshell "Wall Street Journal" report that a manicurist in 2005 was forced to lie on a massage table naked and then have sex with Wynn against her will. "The Journal" also reporting win paid the manicurist $7.5 million in a settlement.

Wynn, in his statement said the instigation of these accusations is the continued work of my ex-wife Elaine Wynn with whom I'm involved in a terrible and nasty lawsuit in which she is seek a revised divorce settlement. Elaine Wynn's attorney told "The Journal" that's just not true.

Wynn, the latest high-profile wealthy and politically connected man accused of sexual misconduct. The Vegas impresario a competitor and friend of President Trump who has denied allegations of sexual misconduct. Their Vegas hotels just a few blocks from each other. Wynn co-hosted a fundraiser for the president just last week in Mar-a- Lago.

STEVE WYNN, HOTEL AND CASINO OWNER: And then, all of a sudden, once again in American history an unlikely person became president, perhaps the most unlikely of all since Abe Lincoln. Donald John Trump became the 45th president of the United States to the chagrin -- to the hysterical chagrin -- of the other side. He was their worst nightmare.

MARQUEZ: The "Wall Street Journal" says it spoke to more than 150 employees and dozens reported a pattern of sexual abuse by Wynn. Wynn in his statement said we find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations regardless of the truth and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multiyear lawsuits. It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.

The allegations now reverberating in politics where, despite a history of supporting both parties --

WYNN: I'm friendly with Bill and Hillary and I'm a friend of Donald Trump's. I haven't given a dime to either one of them, and I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for.

MARQUEZ: Wynn is now closely tied to President Trump as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Democrats are demanding the RNC return any campaign contributions from Wynn, much the way Republicans did with Harvey Weinstein.

Allegations against Wynn are now being used to put pressure on the Republican Party. The Democratic National Committee saying the RNC have helped fund the campaign of an alleged child molester, blindly supported the GOP's attacks on women's health, supported a president who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over a dozen women, and now they remain silent amid sexual assault allegations involving Steve Wynn, one of their party's most senior officials.


MARQUEZ: Now, to give you an idea of just how close these gentlemen are with, last weekend was that fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago. The president couldn't make it because he was in Washington because of the shutdown. Steve Wynn spoke on his behalf. The president sent a video down because he could not be there singling out Wynn in that video. CNN has obtained an audio recording of that video.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank you. I want to thank your whole group, the money raised. You're really special people. Thank you very much. We'll see you the next time.


MARQUEZ: Now, to be perfectly fair, the president did mention others in that video, but certainly Steve Wynn was singled out, and completely coincidentally it is Steve Wynn's 76th birthday today. Back to you guys.

PAUL: All righty, Miguel Marquez, we so appreciate it. Thank you.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, the president is preparing for his first state of the union address, but will he be overshadowed by the new Steve Wynn scandal, his possible upcoming interview with Robert Mueller and a fight over immigration and DACA. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House. Kaitlan, this is going to be obviously a key speech for the president, but there are many ways it could be derailed, right?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There certainly are. This is a big speech for the president, his first formal state of the union address here on Tuesday night just down the street from the White House. And in that speech we expect the president to not only tout the successes of his first year in office, but also to go over what he hopes to accomplish in his second year of office -- immigration, infrastructure, also touching on international issues such as North Korea, the Middle East. He just got back from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, so we can certainly expect him to talk about trade, as well.

But there is no doubt at all here, Martin, that the president's moment in the sun is going to be overshadowed by these latest developments in the Russia investigation including that bombshell report from the "New York Times" where he asked the White House counsel to fire the special counsel. So it certainly will be something that is overshadowing the state of the union address Tuesday night here, and we're waiting to see if the White House has more to say about this, but so far, Martin, they've largely ignored it.

SAVIDGE: We'll be watching. Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much.

PAUL: So let's talk to CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, Washington bureau chief at HuffPost Amanda Terkel, and former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub. Thank you all so much for being with us. So first and foremost -- good morning, everybody. Ron, I want to come

to you. When we talk about Steve Wynn and what's happening, so many people coming out and saying the GOP has to return this money. We know that he gave $100,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, campaigning, he gave money to Senators Dean Heller of Nevada, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Karen Handel, a representative there in Georgia. And then we had Alixandria Lapp, president of a super PAC for the House Dems, and this tweet. She said "Since he's finance chairman, shouldn't they have to give all the money back they've raised since he's been there?"

We have not heard anything from any GOPer, nobody from the RNC yet. Do you believe they can fix this by giving money to charity that they've gotten from Wynn?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, ordinarily, you would -- anyone in this situation you would see the party leadership cutting ties with them very quickly. I don't know if they would give back all the money that he was involved in raising, but certainly there will be enormous pressure to give back the contributions, and unquestionably to remove him from the high post that he's in.

I think the complication for Republicans here is very clear. If you act against Steve Wynn, what does that say about President Trump who also faces an array of accusations from women, public accusations on sexual misconduct, and as "The Wall Street Journal" again reported and revealed, made a large payment just before the 2016 election to a porn star who claims they had a consensual affair. So I think the question -- what is holding up Republicans is how can they answer the question of why they would move against Steve Wynn when they dismissed the allegations against the president.

PAUL: There are GOP tweets back in October that we found saying still no word from the DNC on returning all of Harvey Weinstein's donations. Dems, put your money where your mouth is, return all the Weinstein money. And this is now with Steve Wynn about a guy who has known the president for 34 years, as we've said. Amanda, tough for the president to distance himself from this, and what does it do to the party in general?

AMANDA TERKEL, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFPOST: Absolutely it's tough for him and Republicans to distance themselves from Steve Wynn. I mean, look, it's sort of disgusting what the Republican party has done. They've been incredibly shameless in trying to claim the moral high ground on something like Harvey Weinstein. I remember when they were doing that. They were just tweeting out and sending press releases constantly, trying to use this as a political issue to go after Democrats. And I have to say, most Democrats did come out, condemn Harvey Weinstein, and return the money.

You saw the Democratic party do this with Senator Al Franken and others of their party who have had similar issues. You have not seen that with many members of the Republican Party, especially with the RNC. They didn't cut ties with Roy Moore in Alabama who obviously had his own issues, and like Ron was saying, you know, the core of this problem is they have the president who has been accused of sexual assault and sexuality harassment by multiple women. And so honestly, if they keep the money, I don't know what sort of repercussions they'll have because they have all of these other issues going on.

PAUL: Right. I want to read a tweet now from Walter Shaub because you were very passionate about this. You said, hey, GOP and the Democrats, instead of pointing fingers and shrieking at each other every time one of your donors turn out to be a filth bag, how about passing some meaningful bipartisan campaign finance reform? Get the corrupting influence of money out of politics now. Is it possible to focus on all of that when we are looking ahead at midterms and there are stories like these coming out about people, Weinstein, about Wynn, who have had up to this point so many influence in both parties.

WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: Well, I think that unfortunately this is a distracting race to the bottom when people start hypocritically demanding that the other side give back money from a bad donor. The reality is that we have a campaign finance system that allows incredibly huge infusions of dark money into the process. Neither side really knows who is making any donations to them, or at least they're not talking. And so we can't analyze whether there are other filth bags making donations.

The Republicans put the themselves in a tough spot by telling the Democrats to give back money from Harvey Weinstein, and that's never a smart thing to do because you might have your own skeletons in the closet. But it doesn't help things for Democrats to sink to the same low level of then somehow equating everything Donald Trump does with Steve Wynn. I've got my concerns about Donald Trump. I've been vocal about them. But if you set a precedent that every time you have a donor who does something bad you have to give back, one day you're going to have an underdog candidate from one party or the other who can't afford to give it back or who has already spent it, and what are they going to do, dip into their personal savings to repay it? I think what our country needs is campaign finance reform, and I don't think we'll ever see ethics in Washington until the candidates and the politicians work for the people instead of the big money donors and dark money sources.

PAUL: And speaking of some bad press here, Hillary Clinton, her faith adviser during the '08 campaign Burns Strider accused of sexual harassment, and then notes coming out that Hillary Clinton actually saved his job, essentially, even though she was asked to let him go at that time. She tweeted out, she's responding to that now today, tweeting, "A story appeared today about something that happened in '08. I was dismayed when it occurred but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard, and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed." As we understand, he was docked pay for several weeks, his title changed, he underwent some sexual harassment training, but he stayed on the campaign. Ron, how does Hillary Clinton and anything around her like this affect the Democrats at this point?

BROWNSTEIN: Hillary Clinton, you know, was the presidential nominee in 2016. She is not the president today. I think it's limited, to tell you the truth. Certainly, you know, her actions in this -- in 2008 are already a subject of debate, watching tweets back and forth about whether her response was sufficient, with some critics saying it's not. And it provides kind of a talking point to claim equivalence across the board on these things.

But I think voters focus on the people who are actually running things. And even in campaigns, you know, it's been -- it has not been my experience, I've been covering campaigns since the '80s, that voters hold candidates accountable for the actions of their supporters until and unless there's evidence they knew about those actions. So the idea that you took money from Steve Wynn and therefore you're a suspect, I don't think that holds. I think the question is what you do after it comes out. And there is a lot of precedence for candidates feeling pressure to give back money, whether that is mostly a symbolic gesture, as Walter said, or not. I think that's real.

But Hillary Clinton is not the president. Hillary Clinton is not in the Senate. She's not a leader. Whether she handled this correctly or not I think is less relevant to the issue of what the people who actually have power now are doing and how they are responding to these kinds of allegations and revelations.

PAUL: Ron, Amanda, Walter, I'm so sorry, we're out of time. Thank you for being here.

SAVIDGE: Breaking news this hour, 95 people are dead and dozens injured after a suicide bombing in Kabul. Let's bring in now CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. Nick, what do we know about how this attack was pulled off?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sadly and devastatingly here, an ambulance was used as a suicide car bomb, worth pausing just on that fact. That enabled this particular vehicle to get through it seems the first check points towards this very secure area of the ring of steel that is considered to be the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul. It appears someone tried to stop it in the security forces and then the second attempt potentially the device went off near the European Council, other diplomatic missions, and also a key hospital there, too, important as well, Martin. It gives you an idea outside of the staggering death toll of 95 so far and over 100 injured.

The Taliban leapt forward pretty much and said that they were behind this. This is in marked contrast to just under a year ago in March when an attack on a hospital in Kabul, a military hospital, was considered beyond the pale to the Taliban and they denied being involved. A year later they're quite happy to use an ambulance to launch this kind of an attack. Some say maybe they're trying to be as extreme as ISIS who they are competing for in terms of points within the insurgency, but this is an absolutely vital year for the Afghan war. Americans are going to be back on the front line training Afghan soldiers. Donald Trump has pledged to win. A lot of the factors you can use to work out if he's winning or not are becoming classified, but still more important than ever.

SAVIDGE: And again, a horrific toll this morning, 95 killed in an explosion in Kabul. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.

PAUL: Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA gymnastics doctor, in prison for life for abusing more than 150 women and girls. His actions have turned the heat on organizations, though, that are associated with him. We have details as to who will be stepping down as a result of all of this.

SAVIDGE: Plus, this year's flu season is on track to become one of the worst in nearly a decade. And the CDC says there is still a long way to go. What you can do to protect yourself.


SAVIDGE: Larry Nassar, the former MSU And USA gymnastics doctor will spend the rest of his life in prison. But his actions have turned the heat on organizations associated with him. In just a couple of hours the Michigan attorney general will be giving everyone the very latest on the investigation.

PAUL: CNN's Jean Casarez is live from Lansing, Michigan. Jean, what are you learning this morning?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. We're right outside the attorney general's office. And this is the first time that we have ever heard the attorney general's office say investigation into Michigan State University. Up and to this point, it's all about Larry Nassar. But we do know that in less than two hours there will be this press conference on a weekend.

And on a local radio station yesterday, the attorney general said that an investigation actually has been going on for some time but they didn't want to make an announcement, have a press conference like today, until all of the victim impact statements had been given.

Larry Nassar has another sentencing this next week. It is believed 10 victims will give their statement in court. But because of everything happening, they thought this is the time the people need to know. They're going to make announcements and updates. So I think we're going to have to listen to see exactly what they do say.

Now, also taking it into their own hands, the House of Representatives in Michigan. I spoke with two of them yesterday. In regard to Title Nine sexual assault complaints, they are asking for reports from Michigan State University from 2014 to 2017. It is known that one victim came forward in 2014, another 2016, both filing Title Nine complaints. Listen to Representative Kesto.


KLINT KESTO, MICHIGAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We want those documents in the Michigan legislature. We've been charged by the speaker, myself and another representative, Representative Lasata, to have an inquiry into why these things fell through the cracks. Was it intentional? Was it negligent? Did somebody turn a blind eye when these young girls are making complaints after they've been violated, sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar?

(END VIDEO CLIP) CASAREZ: They do not believe that the same conclusion was given to the victim as was sent to the federal government. Those are their concerns.

PAUL: Wow, no doubt. Jean, thank you for the update. Appreciate it.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, the president is expected to tackle immigration in his first state of the union speech. That will be next week. The White House rolls out its immigration plan, and there is a lot of criticism from both sides, including talk of a pathway to citizenship. So if both sides don't like it, could there be some room to make a deal? We'll talk about it after this.


PAUL: It's good to spend some time with you on a Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. The president is expected to address immigration reform in Tuesday's state of the union address. But it comes under the pressure of a looming February 8th deadline to address the fate of roughly 700,000 to 800,000 Dreamers as their called across the country. Let's talk about this, and joining me to do this is Saru Jayaraman, president of the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California at Berkeley, and Roy Beck, president of Numbers USA and author of "The Case against Immigration." Thank you both for joining me.


SAVIDGE: OK, so there's lots to talk about here. First of all, let me start, Saru, with you. Both Democrats and Republicans say that the president has been all over the map, you might say, when it comes to talking about what will be in an immigration plan or some kind of deal. What are you hearing from people that you talk to?

JAYARAMAN: People agree that the policies that he's talking about have been definitely all over the map. It's clear that what we actually need is for him to reiterate some fundamental American values, that families should be sticking together, that hard work should be rewarded, and that people should not be treated differently based on the color of their skin or where they're from. And instead we're hearing everything from I'll taking anything both sides give me to I won't take anything at all. It has been all over the map, I think fundamentally there are some values that Americans agree with that I just said, and that's what people want to hear.

SAVIDGE: This has been an issue that has divided this country for quite some time and it's been, of course, a mainstay of Trump's whole campaign, and now it is very important to him in the White House. Roy, the White House has now, or will unveil this new plan, a framework on immigration reform, I believe it's going to be on Monday, that will likely include four pillars. And I'll go over them real quick. The president broke hard with his conservatives Thursday, offering a

pathway to citizenship is the way it was put forward, an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, in exchange for $25 billion worth for border security, including infrastructure. He's also calling for dramatic changes to laws that impact family-based migration or the so-called chain migration, and an end to the diversity lottery. Do you expect that the White House and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can come to an agreement by February 8th on all of that?

ROY BECK, PRESIDENT, NUMBERS USA: No, absolutely not. The sides are way too far apart on that. The House has a great bill, the Goodlatte bill, by four chairmen, and that has all of those pillars. The problem with the president's framework is that it does end chain migration. It ends chain migration applications. But it would continue chain migration admissions through the backlog for another 15 or 20 years.

SAVIDGE: So is that your biggest concern with this legislation or this proposal from the White House is the chain migration?

BECK: Well, there's that and what's missing. But yes, the big deal is that American workers at the bottom and the people who aren't even in the labor market, they need a relief, and the relief can come from cutting chain migration, the lottery. They should not have to wait 15 or 20 years.

And secondly, the big problem is it does not require e-verify. The reason these DACA people are here is because the government allowed employers, outlaw employers to illegally hire these people's parents for 10, 15 or 20 years. That's why they're here in this situation. We should never have another amnesty without a mandatory e-verify that keeps employers from hiring illegal workers.

SAVIDGE: Let me -- then Saru, to sort of put this to you, is there anything in the White House plan, because the president seems to be -- I think it's more than doubling the number of people he is willing to put on a path to citizenship, not just renew their status as had been under the Obama program. Is there any of that you would buy into?

JAYARAMAN: We absolutely need a path to citizenship, not just for the people he's naming with, but, frankly, for everybody who has been in this country working very hard.

SAVIDGE: But let's stick with the deal out there right now. Do you see any way this deal could possibly work for you?

JAYARAMAN: We need a cleaner bill. We need more -- we need more of a path to citizenship for more people, not some. So it definitely works to provide a path to citizenship. But for our industry that's going through a massive labor shortage right now and that relies on these workers, one in four restaurant workers in the United States, 13 million workers is foreign born. We actually need more.

SAVIDGE: OK, so from what I am hearing from both of you is that this plan that's been put forward or will be put forward and has been described as having dramatic concessions is pretty much dead on arrival from both your different perspectives. It just will not work. And that leaves us with the looming deadline, another potential government shutdown, and you're both at very different places. How do we get through it? Saru?

JAYARAMAN: Again, I think there are some values we all agree on. I actually think there's things that fundamentally most Americans agree on. I've mentioned them. Family should stick together. Hard work should be rewarded. And with regard to that, I think we actually agree. There's one thing we agree on, Roy and I, and that is that companies should not be able to exploit these workers. Companies should not be able to pay pay lower wages because these workers are in the shadows.

The solution to my mind is to allow these workers an actual path to citizenship. The real problem with wages going down is not that immigrants are here, it's that they're forced to live in shadows, that they're in fear. And that's precisely what President Trump and corporate cronies want. They want these workers to live as second- class citizens, to not have the rights and ability to speak up. It's clear that president Trump understands the importance of these workers. He hires them himself in large numbers at his own properties, hotels, restaurants at Mar-a-Lago. He's been sued by them for not paying them their wages. So there are some things we do agree on, and it should be that these corporations are health liable, absolutely, for treating workers well and paying them well, but that we all need them. They've made incredible contributions and --

SAVIDGE: Let me bring Roy back in. And Roy, to this issue to path to citizenship, because that phrase caught me right away, could you live with that?

BECK: Yes, we can live with the path to citizenship if we don't ever have another amnesty. That sounds great, sounds to me like we have an agreement here that we should have mandatory e-verify. No DACA plan should be put forth that does not have mandatory e-verify. That's a great place to start, a common ground.

SAVIDGE: All right, well, it's good to hear that there is some common ground, although --

JAYARAMAN: Yes, no, I didn't say e-verify. I said regulations that hold corporations accountable for treating all of their workers well and paying them well following the law. E-verify as a system would place tremendous burdens on small businesses in particular. It works well for big business, for large corporations. The National Restaurant Association and the chains.

SAVIDGE: I got it. We're out of time, and I know that we're obviously going to debate this for some time. The question is will we get it done before another shutdown. Saru Jayaraman, thank you very much. Roy Beck, thank you as well.

PAUL: So Republicans this morning are dealing with allegations against RNC finance chairman Steve Wynn. Democrats trying to protect the special prosecutor from the president. We're going to talk to Congressman Bill Foster of Illinois and try to work through some of this and see what is ahead.

Also, the CDC says the flu virus -- listen, I know you're sitting at home, maybe you have somebody who is sick. This virus will be around for many more weeks. That's the verbiage from the CDC. We're going to talk to chief medical correspondent next.


PAUL: All right, 40 minutes past the hour. Steve Wynn in the middle of a sexual misconduct scandal right now and a lot of calls for Republicans to give some money back today.

SAVIDGE: The billionaire casino mogul who is also the Republican National Committee finance chairman, according to the "Wall Street Journal," dozens of women say Wynn forced them to perform sex acts when they worked for him. This morning Wynn is calling those claims preposterous. Republicans called for Democrats to give back Harvey Weinstein's money. So should RNC, should those members do the same with Wynn? Democratic Congressman Bill Foster of Illinois joins us now this morning. Thank you very much, sir, for joining us.

REP. BILL FOSTER, (D) ILLINOIS: I'm happy to be here.

SAVIDGE: So let's start with the observe, which is do you expect any action from the RNC on this?

FOSTER: Well, I think that the "Me Too" movement is going to have a lasting impact, as it should, on the culture of our country and I hope the political culture of our country as well. And what's important at this point is when these allegations from credible sources like "The Wall Street Journal" come to light, what you have to look at is the reaction of the political parties and if they really are willing to hold their political leaders accountable when this sort of allegation, if confirmed, shows up and looks like it's something that has to be answered.

PAUL: We had Ron Brownstein on earlier, senior political analyst here, and he made the case that while, yes, all of this is very disturbing and it's very bad, that the parties, you know, political parties don't necessarily have to be responsible for their donors. To that you say what?

FOSTER: There's some truth in that. There's a degree of separation. I think it's appropriate when something truly, truly wrong has been done by a major donor to your party. Then I think that most politicians on both sides of the aisle do the right thing and return that money because simply they don't want and they shouldn't want to be associated with that sort of behavior.

I think it's much more serious when there are allegations against the elected officials. And there is when you really see the difference in the character of different parties and different individual politicians.

PAUL: So do you believe money should be given back that would -- that Steve Wynn donated? FOSTER: I certainly would if I was in the position of the Republican

Party, assuming these allegations are confirmed.

SAVIDGE: And given the very strong stance you obviously are taking here on the subject of sexual misconduct, we're hearing from sources that Hillary Clinton saved a staffer on her 2008 campaign from getting fired after that person was accused of sexual harassment. So should that be included in this conversation, or do you see it as two very different things?

FOSTER: I don't believe there's an issue of returning money in that.

SAVIDGE: No, but there is an issue of morality and whether a person should remain on your staff.

FOSTER: Yes, I am not familiar with all of the details of that case. I know that in my staff, both on the political side and the official side in Congress, we have a very significant training programs for sexual abuse and we would take any of this very seriously.

PAUL: Senator Chuck Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and he said in the last 24 hours that he's open to bipartisan legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from any political interference from the White House. How would you vote if it comes up for you? Do you believe there's any legislation that should protect him?

FOSTER: This is a relatively new suggestion. I'd have to see the details of something like that. It's important because it would set a precedent on the relationship between Congress and the White House. Then we would have to think it through not only in terms of this administration but future administrations where there may be a mirror image effect.

SAVIDGE: Congressman, Bill Foster, thank you very much for coming in and talking to us today.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

FOSTER: So one of the things I know you might be sitting at home a little worried about, maybe dealing with somebody who is sick in your home, flu season. It isn't even at its peak yet, the CDC isn't sure, and they say it is the worst that they've seen in a couple of years, and it's not over yet. We're going to talk about what you can do in just a moment.


PAUL: It's 49 minutes past the hour. I know this flu season has been miserable. It's an epidemic. It is not quite at its peak yet. There are many more weeks left. But what is really frightening about this is that people have been dying, and many adults have died from it within 24 to 48 hours of having symptoms, and more than three dozen children have already died.

SAVIDGE: Hospitals and clinics are overcrowded, and an entire school district in Florida has shut down because of the widespread outbreaks. CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is in New York for us. Polo, what is the situation there? Every state is suffering in its own way.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Martin, from coast to coast. Let's start here in the big apple, a record number of flu cases and hospitalizations here in New York over the past week. Just over 1,700 New Yorkers were hospitalized with confirmed flu this week alone. The flu already hitting communities across the country, of course, forcing some schools to close because so many students and teachers are ill.

Let me point to one example in Florida in the panhandle where the superintendent of Gulf County Schools says 20 percent of their students were absent from class this week, and the same goes for about one-third of their staff, teachers or other members of the staff, that they even ran out of substitutes according to the superintendent who ordered their campuses closed for cleaning until Monday's return to school.


JIM NORTON, SUPERINTENDENT, GULF COUNT DISTRICT SCHOOLS: Somebody wants to say the sickest school in America. We're not. We're actually the most sanitary school in America. And this was just a great chance, if it were a sporting event, you might call it a halftime in the middle of the cold and flu season.


SANDOVAL: Of course, much of this story is also in those staggering numbers. The deaths of seven more children were reported this week. That brings the total number of pediatric flu deaths to 37 this season. The season started in October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting at least 86,500 laboratory confirmed cases already. That means that this flu season is already on track for becoming one of the worst in almost a decade. And that number, too, Christi and Martin, could potentially be even higher because according to experts not everybody actually goes to the doctor when they get sick.

And as you mentioned at the top, the CDC worries that the flu season still has not peaked yet. So the main recommendation of course to get that shot. That's one of many ways that you're about to hear from one of our experts that you can try to fight the flu or at least make sure that you don't feel as sick if you do get sick.

PAUL: Right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

He's talking about how I spoke with CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, because at this point there are a lot of people who did not get the flu shot, and I'm wondering is it still worth it to do so. Take a listen.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: People are always a little bit skeptical of the flu shot. I know that from having reported on this for years. And the flu shot is never 100 percent effective. This year it's particularly low. It's about 30 percent effective. But look, it's better than nothing. And not only could it decrease the chance of you getting the flu, it can decrease you getting as sick if you do get the flu. So it can decrease the severity of symptoms, as well. That's helpful. So it's not too late to get it. I still recommend people get it. We have two or three more months left of this flu season.


PAUL: To April, he said. So good luck with that.

SAVIDGE: Thank you, doctor.

Canadian police are now saying that the deaths of a billionaire couple, that's Barry and Honey Sherman, was a double homicide. After combing through evidence, police say the couple was intentionally targeted. That's the word, "targeted." Barry Sherman was the founder and former CEO of the generic drug company Apotex. His wife was a well-known philanthropist. Authorities have not named any possible supsects or persons of interest. But they say they do have an extensive list of people that, as they said, they look forward to speaking to.

PAUL: Stay with us. We're going to be right back.


SAVIDGE: We are just 12 days away from the start of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

PAUL: U.S. Men's figure skater Nathan Chen, once in a generation talent on the ice. He is unbeaten so far this season, and he's poised to make his Olympic debut next month. He's just 18 years old.


NATHAN CHEN, U.S. MEN'S FIGURE SKATER: From a young age I think it was really just the expanse of ice, so much emptiness, just the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I think that's what really drew me to skating. I have a big family, two brothers and two sisters, and my mom spent most of my entire life with me on the ice making sure that I was getting the right training in, doing all the right steps necessary to do well in the sport. I wasn't able to have lessons year round. She would stand on the ice, takes notes of what the coach was asking me to do, and then after the coach left she would continue training me, continue going over all those little things. And she'd ask the coach what specifically to work and what things that I could improve on. And she made it really fun, she made a lot of games out of it, and she made me really find my passion for skating at a young age.

I think the jumps are the biggest money makers in skating. And when I was 17-year-old I landed five spots in a program and really set the bar for myself, set the bar for a lot of other people. The feeling when you land a quad is honestly indescribable. I've never felt that feeling anywhere else. You definitely feel a huge rush of adrenaline. You feel a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment. And honestly the only thing you to do is just do it again and feel that same thing over.


SAVIDGE: Only two U.S. men have won individual figure skating medals over the last six Olympic Games. If Chen is able to capture gold medal, he will become the youngest to do so since 1948 from American Dick Button was also just 18-year-old.

PAUL: We'll be watching for sure.

We hope that you make some great memories today. Thank you for spending some time with us.

SAVIDGE: The next hour of CNN Newsroom is starting right now with our colleague Fredricka Whitfield.

PAUL: Good morning.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: He's so poised, you know, and graceful, and beautiful to watch. I can't wait to see him. In just 12 days, I can't believe it.

PAUL: I know.

WHITFIELD: Good to see you guys.

PAUL: You, too.