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Trump to Deliver State of the Union Address; War in Yemen Continues; Flood in Paris Reached Up to Six Meters. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, HOST, CNN: A milestone in his presidency. Donald Trump set to sell his agenda to an audience of divided lawmakers and divided Americans.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: Another deadly assault in Kabul. ISIS is claiming responsibility for this one. An attack on a military base.

HOWELL: And the music industry's best and brightest pay tribute to the Me Too movement.

CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and of course all around the world. We are live in Atlanta. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell from CNN world headquarters. Newsroom starts right now.

The U.S. president is a day away from delivering his first state of the union address, and it is an important moment, certainly for his presidency after what's been a roller coaster first year in office for Donald Trump.

Speaking to a divided nation, a main focus of his speech is expected to be his plan for immigration reform.

CHURCH: Lawmakers from both parties are stressing the need for compromise.

Boris Sanchez has more now from the White House.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: White House officials telling CNN that the president is set to strike an optimistic tone during his state of the union address on Tuesday night. The theme of this speech, building a safer, stronger, and prouder America.

A source telling CNN that the president is expected to try to reach across the aisle and appeal to people that are not in his base, in part, doing that by touting his economic record and the major success that we've seen recently in the U.S. economy, specifically, with the stock market and the low unemployment numbers.

The president is then going to shift and talk about infrastructure and ask Congress for a trillion dollars to fund his infrastructure plan. The main focus of this speech, though, where all eyes will be is in the portion where he talks about immigration.

The speech coming at a critical time in the debate for immigration reform. And the president is set to sell his vision to the American people in exchange for offering a pathway to citizenship for some two million undocumented immigrants, the president is going to ask Congress for $25 billion to fund his long promised border wall.

And he is also going to ask for major changes to legal immigration. And as of right now, that's where the sticking point is right now between republicans and democrats on things like what this White House calls a chain migration that is the sponsoring of relatives by naturalized immigrants.

Marc Short, the director of legislative affairs for the White House took to the Sunday morning talk shows to say that the president has offered concessions on offering that pathway to citizenship, and that now it's time for democrats to offer concessions.

Listen to more of what Marc Short said.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: I think that the president made enormous appeal and showed enormous leadership in putting forward a plan to resolve the DACA situation, an issue that has plagued our country for decades.

And yet, the outcry from democrats when he went I think further than many people thought he would in providing not just permanent residence, but also pathway to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million for people living in this country. And yet so far democrats have continued to cry that they don't want to solve the problem. We're anxious to solve the problem.


SANCHEZ: Democratic lawmakers have said that that proposal from the White House is dead on arrival, in part saying that those changes to legal migration being proposed by the administration are inhumane.

All this as far as the preview for the state of the union is what's on paper. A White House official telling CNN that the president is expected to speak from the heart. And as we've seen before, often that can mean him going into tangents and talking about things that are not on paper, that are not on the script, potentially leading to distractions.

We'll see exactly what happens on Tuesday night at the state of the union address.

Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.

HOWELL: All right, Boris, thanks. The U.S. president also sparring over the black unemployment rate. Not with a political adversary, but with hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.

CHURCH: Mr. Trump responded to comments the rapper made during an interview on Van Jones' new show on CNN. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN JONES, HOST, CNN: He is somebody who is now saying, look, I'm growing, I'm dropping black unemployment. Black people are doing well under my administration. Does he have a point that maybe the democrats have been giving us good lip service but no jobs? Maybe he is going to say terrible things but put money in our pocket. Does that make him a good leader?

SHAWN "JAY-Z" CARTER, RAPPER: No, because it's not about money attend of the day. Money doesn't equate to like happiness. It doesn't. That's missing the whole point you. You treat people like human beings. That goes back to the whole thing. You treat me really bad and pay me well.

JONES: Right. Yes.

CARTER: It's not going lead to happiness. It's going lead to like, you know, again, the same thing. Everyone is going to be sick.


[03:04:59] CHURCH: Mr. Trump later tweeted this, somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policy, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the lowest rate ever reported.

HOWELL: All right. So here is the situation. It is true that the African American unemployment rate hit a record low of 6.8 percent. That was last month. But that's still well above the rate of 3.7 percent for white Americans.

Let's talk more about all this now with Jacob Parakilas. Jacob is the deputy head of the U.S. Americas Program at Chatham House live this hour for us. Thank you so much for your time today.

On this point about the unemployment rate for African-Americans, let's talk about the president's comments. Because he is talking about a rate, a trend quite frankly, that was taking place before he ever took office but taking credit for all of it.

JACOB PARAKILAS, ASSISTANT PROJECT DIRECTOR, CHATHAM HOUSE: Yes, absolutely. Like loot of Trump claims, there is a kernel of truth there, but it reflects a larger deception. The unemployment rate has been dropping for years. The trend line has continued from the latter years of the Obama administration into the Trump years.

He can certainly take credit for not having changed the trend. Arguably he could take credit for some improvement at the very margins. But the underlying trend is not something Trump can take credit for. Indeed, there are a lot of factors beyond the president and his policies, any president, any party, any time in which are responsible for the unemployment rate.

HOWELL: The U.S. president again looking ahead to a milestone here. His state of the union address very important moment for his presidency. Topics that will be on the table. Immigration, infrastructure, and possibly prison reform. We hear the president will also try to reach across the aisle to speak

beyond his base especially on the issue of immigration in order to push for some tougher policy. But the question here, Jacob, will democrats be open to that offer with these tougher policies.

PARAKILAS: I don't think they're going to be particularly open. One of the things, we heard Marc Short speaking about it a minute ago. But one of the points the democrats have been making is that the situation with DACA was created by Trump. That the change in policy, the crisis was created by Trump, changing an Obama era policy.

So I think it's a bit disingenuous for Trump to say that this is a crisis that we need to solve immediately. He could solve it unilaterally with executive action. He has chosen to expand the remit of what he is willing to do, the kinds of deportation that he is willing to order ICE to carry out in order to buy himself more negotiating space.

So I don't think the democrats are going to be in much of a mood to accept any offer on that front. On the other hand, they have fairly, they have somewhat limited power. They're the minority in both houses, they do need to be brought in to some kind of deal. But their ability to sort of put leverage on the president is limited and somewhat attenuated by that.

HOWELL: Also I want to talk about this interview that took place on i-TV, the British broadcaster. The president's response to re-tweeting the Islamophobic videos from the far right group Britain First. His not-apology apology, as some are calling it. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're telling me that there are horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that. I know nothing about them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you would disavow yourself of people like that?

TRUMP: I don't want to be involved with people like that, but you're telling me about these people.


TRUMP: Because I know nothing about these people.


HOWELL: So Jacob, when I heard that, it reminded me of something that I heard a couple of years back. I want you to listen to it. This similar situation that President Trump found himself in while campaigning, discussing the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. Listen closely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don't know what group you're talking about. You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I'd have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them. And certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.


HOWELL: OK. That back from February 2016. Jacob, the question here. The similarities, because some people see this type of sidestepped response as dog whistle support for these groups.

PARAKILAS: Trump certainly doesn't characteristically apologize for anything. I think the biggest apology we've seen him make was in response to the Access Hollywood tapes. And subsequently it's been reported that he changed his story and said that those were fake.

This is -- a lot of people have been saying this is not really an apology. It's an offer to apologize. Well, he re-tweeted those words. He has an obligation since he has the, you know, most sort of public Twitter account. Maybe not the most followed. But the most public Twitter account in the world.

Certainly, the Twitter account that draws the most news of any in the world. I think he has certain obligation to look before he tweets.

[03:10:00] And to then not say, well, I don't understand this group says. I think an abdication of responsibility there.

HOWELL: Jacob Parakilas live for us this hour, thank you so much for your insight.

CHURCH: And we are tracking developing news from Afghanistan. An attack on a military base near Kabul has killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 16. An official says the assault is over, and at least four attackers are now dead. ISIS claims it's responsible for a take on the Afghan military, but says it targeted a military academy and not the base.

HOWELL: All of this comes after a Saturday bombing, a bombing that killed more than 100 people in Kabul. This happened when an ambulance packed with explosives blew up on a crowded street. It got past a checkpoint. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that earlier attack.

CHURCH: And for more we are joined live from Kabul by journalist Bilal Sarwary. Bilal, the attack is over as we just reported. But what is the situation on the streets right now? And of course, now we're getting this higher death toll as a result of that attack. How tense is the aftermath?

BILAL SARWARY, JOURNALIST: Look, Kabul is a city with a really broken heart. As I've said before, the streets are empty. You really don't find the same, you know, chaos of life that you would have here, the traffic jams. And I really feel sorry for the seven million people or so who live here. Because you can't go to restaurants you, you know, you can't go to

shopping malls. They've all been attack and there are these constant attacks.

The fatalities and casualties today that you're alluding to, they did not happen in the front lines somewhere in a remote or a valley on the border with Pakistan. So that is quite a worrying development that Afghan, cities, including Kabul is becoming another deadly front.

Put yourself into the shoes of an Afghan soldier, I would say, you know, when he is killed, you know, he is the sole breadwinner. He leaves behind a young widow. He leaves behind an orphan. And I think for the Afghan society, the weight of these coffins is just too heavy.

Because when these coffins go back to the remote villages and districts from where these soldiers have come to join the Afghan national army and Afghan national police, most of the times just to put food on the table, I think that's the most heartbreaking aspect of this conflict.

You also have a situation where the government continues to promise that they will prevent these attacks, and then they can't prevent them. So there is a demand in this frustration and anger for better security. After all, Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan. It's the city of seven million people.

And as a result of these attacks, people's lives and businesses have really been paralyzed, you know. People have lost their incomes. So for the moment, the security situation remains extremely volatile. And Kabul remains on a very high state of security alert.

CHURCH: Yes. And this is the problem, isn't it? Because both the Taliban and ISIS successfully carried out these attacks in Kabul, or near Kabul. And I wanted to ask what Afghan authorities are saying about this. You mentioned security. Are they promising anything as far as security goes in the capital going forward?

SARWARY: Well, this morning when I was coming to work, I saw visible signs of security. I saw armored Humvees, extra police. So we are now being told that investigators will be questioning the individual who was detained in the area. He has been described to us by the minister defense spokesperson as one of the five attackers.

We'll have to see what evidence the government provides to back that claim up.

I think one of the major challenges for the Afghan government is to really find out about the sleeper cells, you know, to find out about the support network of these military networks. I mean, you know, after all, these attacks have been happening for the last two or three years.

So the question everyone is asking, why so many attacks? Why so many they attacks in one area in this city. You also have to remember that in the last two, three years both the Taliban and Islamic state expanded their areas of recruitment. These are areas that would previously provide soldiers and policemen to the Afghan national army and police.

So, you know, a lot has happened. At the same time, the American military and the Afghan government and other international forces are killing mid and high level commanders both from the Taliban as well as the Islamic state.

[03:14:56] And then, you know, the further complication that one can hardly understand is the Pakistan element. Because both Kabul and Washington really wants Pakistan to move against the leadership of Taliban as well as the Pakistan best militant network, the Haqqani network.

Sirajuddin Haqqani is the leader of the Haqqani network is the deputy head of the operations for the Taliban and Kabul simply wants Pakistan to go after him and other commanders and stop supporting the Haqqanis and many other Taliban leaders.

CHURCH: All right, journalist Bilal Sarwary joining us there live from Kabul. Many thanks to you.

HOWELL: Ahead, CNN is getting exclusive access inside the Civil War that's taking place in Yemen. Next we take you to the front lines of that battlefield.

CHURCH: Plus the River Seine flooded some parts of Paris over the weekend. Yet life is going on as normal for most people. We will check on the river's rise. That's still to come. Stay with us.


CHURCH: Yemen's prime minister is accusing southern separatists of attempting a coup. Government forces and the separatist group clashed on Sunday in the port city of Aden. At least 18 people were killed.

[03:19:59] HOWELL: Both groups used to be on the same side. They fought together against Houthi rebels. But now the separatist accuse the Saudi-backed government of corruption and want to remove it from power.

CHURCH: CNN international diplomatic Nic Robertson is following this story from Abu Dhabi. He joins us now live. So, Nic, what's going on in Yemen? How did the separatist and government forces end up at odds with each other?

NIC ROBERTSON, INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR, CNN: Well, the tensions have been there for some time. In fact you could say decades. You know, when you talk to people in the south, they'll take you back to 1974 or other points there have been three civil wars between north and south in the past four decade.

But what's happening right now, if we think back to when the Houthis took control in Aden back in 2015, it was the southern separatists who were the most organized there. And they were the ones who began to sort push the Houthis out. And they feel when the government came, re -- the government of President Haider reestablished itself in the south, they gave up too much. They're not getting enough back from the government.

I've just been speaking with one government official who is in Aden right now. And I'm just going to play you a recording of the gunfire here. He just sent me this gunfire that is happening in Aden around his house.

So you can hear those gunshots there. He tells me that it's been heavy fighting overnight. It's heavy fighting again today. I asked him if he thought that the government would be overthrown at the moment. He said no, he doesn't believe that's likely to happen.

We do know that the prime minister and the seat of government in Aden is very, very secure and heavily, heavily defended. There is additional security around there from coalition forces and particularly the Emirati forces who have a presence there in Aden and have

So this is something that we know is happening in the city. The pictures you're looking at now are from somewhere completely different in Yemen further to the north outside the town of Ma'rib outside the capital Sana'a, where there are also government forces -- where there are also government forces pressing on the Houthis.

But what we're seeing happening in Aden right now is really something that has been simmering in the background for some time. The implication, from what we're hearing from government officials is this is something that can be dealt with politically. However, at the moment, they say the prime minister of the Yemeni government says that this does threaten this broad-based coalition that seeks to overthrow the Houthis.

CHURCH: So Nic, where is this all going? What is the likely outcome here for the conflict here in Yemen?

ROBERTSON: As far as we can tell at the moment, because things are still playing out in Aden, is that at the very least this is going to set back efforts to bring an organized and pressured force against the Houthis, who the government says they control 85 percent of the territory in the country, that the Houthis only have 15 percent.

But when we were there the week before last, government officials told us that they need to bring that pressure to bear on multiple axis. Which mean from Aden in the south they want to push up the coast toward the important port city of Hudaydah. They want to push from their way so there's fighters on the hilltop just now in the dessert hilltop, that's near the capital to the east of the capital of Sana'a. They want to push in from there as well.

So when you, you know, if have infighting essentially what is happening between the southern separatists and the government who have, as you were saying were on one side, that's going to make it much harder for the government to be able to rally forces in the south to push north. Because they do need those separatists who have an interest in securing the south, but not the north. They immediate them to push further north. So the reality is that this slows down the efforts to reestablish

across the whole of Yemen peace and unity, and to establish the government into actually recognize government back in the capital. Which means for the people as we know a third of the population are close to starvation. A million threatened by outbreaks of cholera. Shortages of food. Shortages of water. That means the civilians will continue to suffer for longer. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Indeed. Our Nic Robertson joining us there and covering the Yemen conflict from his vantage point in Abu Dhabi. We thank you.

HOWELL: All right now. To tell you about the situation in Paris that city is on a flood alert. A lot of water there. Heavy rain caused the River Seine to burst its banks. Look at that.

CHURCH: The water levels were expected to peak around six meters on Sunday. The flooding has disrupted train services, shut down tourist riverboats and forced pars of the Louvre Museum to close.

[03:24:57] HOWELL: In the middle of it all following the story our Jim Bittermann, live in Paris. Jim, a lot of water there behind you.

JIM BITTERMANN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: George, no question about it. This is where it peaked last night. Just before midnight last night. It peaked to 5.84, which is about 3.84, about 12 feet above the normal level of the Seine. Still well below the levels of the flood just two years ago, 2016.

However, this is a very different kind of a flood this time around. Mainly because of the volume of water that still exists and still is upriver and River Marne and other feeder rivers to river Seine, as well as the reservoirs around Paris, which can have a buffering effect on floodwaters.

In fact, they're all full. And also complicating the dry-out period here is the fact that there is rain in the forecast as of tomorrow night. So it's going to be very, very slow drying all of this out and drying out all those homes and what not that were flooded.

Now, the -- too early to tell about damages. But one of the security officials who used to be in charge around the Paris area said in fact he would fully expect it would be in the hundreds of millions of euros. That's not only because of the river traffic cut off as Rosemary mentioned. The boats -- the merchandise boats that go up and down the Seine. But also loss of commerce and the damage from the waters themselves.

Another headache, at least for Parisians is the commuter train lane. One of the major commuters train lines the area are sea which is right along the Seine here has been flooded for a week now and probably won't be open again February 5th.

And now people are turning their attention downstream, there are still a number of major cities downstream were all wide and whatnot, and all this water is going to be headed in that direction very soon. George?

HOWELL: All right, Jim Bittermann, thank you so much with the view of the Seine River. Again, a lot of water flowing this morning.

CHURCH: Unbelievable. And of course extreme weather is becoming the norm in many places across the globe.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with the latest examples. And Pedram, this seems to be a constant, doesn't it, these extremes?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Absolutely, you know. And we're just looking at this winter alone across Paris in particular, Rosemary and George. This is the top three wettest winters on record including the month of December now through January. In fact, you look at 100 millimeters, or four inches which is what is normal in the wet season across this part of the world.

Well, we're almost doubling that now so far into the month we're almost doubling that and getting up to about seven inches of rainfall so far that has come down across this region.

But what Jim Bittermann was alluding to as well, the rainfall in the forecast it's concerning. Because notice the seven-day forecast now from Tuesday through the next week there puts rainfall, at least the possibility of it each of the next seven days. This temps and degrees Celsius scattered about this region in the River Seine.

And when you follow the blue line here indicative of last week's water levels above 3 meters, now pushing up close to what would be around 6 meters, it falls just shy of what occurred in 2016. We know that. We have a major disruptions across the area. In fact, it took with it upwards of four lives in France, 11 lives in Germany that particular flood event. One billion dollars in estimated losses associated with that.

And the Louvre of course, artwork there had to be removed because of the threat for water. Now we're seeing that the lower level of the Louvre at this hour closed because of what is happening across portions of Paris and the water levels rising.

Now the river has been said, of course the River Seine directed right here, but there are many hundreds more tributaries associated with this river.

And when you look at this, we know some 250 communities and towns have already been impacted farther downstream. Expecting another 200 or so towns to be in the path of this. So certainly when the story begins to dwindle a little bit for Paris, which certainly they deserve it at this point, and we think peak of the flooding there, at least the gates.

The level of concern would be some time Monday night. Beyond that expect the water levels to rise elsewhere downstream so that is going to be a major concern for friends across Paris over the next several weeks and of course further downstream as well.

I'll leave you with the photos and what is happening across Tehran and Iran where upwards of nearly 57 meters of fresh snow came down over a meter up into the mountains there. Major disruptions across the capital city there, and of course the highways, the airport briefly shut down because of the snowfall. Parts of 20 provinces, guys, impacted across the Middle East there in Iran with heavy snowfall this past weekend.

CHURCH: Unbelievable. All right, thank you so much, Pedram. We appreciate that.

HOWELL: Thanks, Pedram.

CHURCH: Well, a high profile arrest in the middle of a Moscow street. Well will go live to Moscow for more details about the man behind the latest protest across Russia.

HOWELL: Plus, the Grammy Awards they featured politics, surprises, and a lot of music on Sunday night. Who went home with the most trophies? We'll tell you as CNN Newsroom continues live in the U.S. and around the world.


[03:30:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm Rosemary Church.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: And I'm George Howell with the headlines for you this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump is a day away from a pivotal moment in his first year in office. His first state of the union address set to happen Tuesday night. A White House official says that a big focus will be the administration's immigration plan.

CHURCH: At least 11 Afghan soldiers have been killed by an attack on a base near Kabul. An official says four attackers are dead and the assault is over. ISIS is claiming it's responsible for an attack on the Afghan military. All this comes after a bombing killed more than 100 people in Kabul on Saturday.

HOWELL: Did you catch the 60th annual Grammy Awards that took place in New York on Sunday? Politics took center stage. One of the biggest moments of the night was Kesha's emotional performance of her song "Praying." She paid tribute to the "Me Too" and the "Time's Up" campaigns against sexual misconduct and against gender inequality.

CHURCH: Well, police on Sunday snatched up Russia's main opposition leader right off the streets of Moscow and threw him in jail.

HOWELL: Alexei Navalny, he was arrested. It came during Sunday's protest against the Kremlin. You see the video here of it happening. This over the upcoming presidential election, which he says is rigged. Navalny has since been released and has tweeted that he is free until a court hearing.

CHURCH: And our Matthew Chance joins us now from Moscow. He spoke exclusively with Alexei Navalny before these latest protests. So Matthew, Alexei Navalny doesn't have much support from voters, does he? So why does President Putin feel so threatened by him?


[03:35:00] across the weekend or on Sunday demonstrated, Alexei Navalny is one of the few, if not the only opposition figure in Russia, that can call these kinds of numbers out. Now whether those numbers are sufficient to topple President Putin, I think, is unlikely.

Navalny polls something in the region of 2 percent, according to the official polls which (INAUDIBLE) and President Putin polls much higher, often more than 80 percent. And so yes, he doesn't have the figures it seems to really challenge Vladimir Putin, but at the same time, the Kremlin is concerned that he represents certainly an emerging threat.

As indicated by these nationwide protests that were called to boycott the upcoming March 2018 presidential election in this country in which Navalny has been barred from standing, monitors across the country report that more than 350 people, including Alexei Navalny himself were detained.


CHANCE (voice over): Russian police quickly swooped in on the opposition leader, fighting through his supporters to drag Alexei Navalny from the nationwide protests he organized. He now faces another spell in a Russian jail, an occupational hazard, he told me, ahead of the protests when standing up to the Kremlin.

(on camera) As the leading opposition figure in Russia, you've been harassed. You get regular visits from the authorities, the police, the other inspectors. You've been insulted widely. And of course you've been attacked. How concerned are you in a country like this where opposition figures have been killed in the past? How concerned ready you about your own safety and security?

ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): I'm a reasonable man. I ran my election campaign for 12 months. And out of these months, I spent two in prison. So I have a clear understanding of what this regime can do. But I'm not afraid and I'm not going to give up on what I want to do. I won't give up on my country.

CHANCE (voice over): And it seems there are many Russians on his side. In towns and cities across this vast country, Navalny's anti- corruption movement says thousands turned out to support his call for a boycott in the March presidential elections in which President Putin already 18 years in power is expected to be returned.

NAVALNY (through translator): The Putin regime is built on corruption. And Putin himself is the most corrupt. His family is directly involved in corruption. According to a official (INAUDIBLE), over 20 percent of our population lives below the poverty line. And people linked the obvious. Why are we so poor? Because they steal so much.

CHANCE (on camera): Regardless of the popularity of that issue, you have been prevented from standing in these forthcoming presidential election. Do you think that Vladimir Putin is genuinely concerned or fearful of you as a political opponent?

NAVALNY (through translator): He is scared of all real competition. We see in these elections that he only allowed those to run who did not even resist, do not even do any campaigning.

CHANCE (voice over): And Alexei Navalny is certainly not one of those chosen Kremlin-friendly candidates. Official opinion polls suggest his support is at barely 2 percent, but in the tightly controlled world of Russian politics dominated by Vladimir Putin, no other opposition figure can rally so many on the streets.


CHANCE: Right. Well, supporters of Alexei Navalny say that the fact these nationwide protests took place in such numbers, shatter the myth that Vladimir Putin has unassailable popularity. But the fact is those polling numbers, however flawed they may be speak for themselves, Vladimir Putin still polling at well over 80 percent. And frankly, he still look likes a shoo-in in the March presidential elections. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes, it certainly looks that way. Matthew Chance joining us live from Moscow where it is nearly 11:40 in the morning, many thanks to you.

HOWELL: The Grammy Awards on Sunday night were full of surprise, full of politics, and memorable moments.

CHURCH: And we will discuss the night's biggest moments, when we come back. Stay with us.


CHURCH: Music and politics went hand in hand Sunday at the 60th annual Grammy Awards. Stars arrived on the red carpet holding or wearing a white rose, a show of solidarity for the "Me Too" and "Time's Up" campaigns against sexual misconduct and gender inequality.

Singer and activist Janelle Monae was the first to address the movement in an impassioned speech.


JANELLE MONAE, SINGER AND ACTIVIST: We offer you two words, time's up.


MONAE: We say times up for pay inequality. Time's up for discrimination. Time's up for harassment of any kind. And times up for the abuse of power. Because, you see, it's not just going on in Hollywood. It's not just going on in Washington. It's right here in our industry as well.


HOWELL: All right. So there was that speech. And then there was this emotional performance by the singer Kesha. Listen.


KESHA, SINGER: I hope you're somewhere praying, praying. I hope you're somewhere changing.

HOWELL (voice over): With song called "Praying," she shined a light on the "Me Too" movement. She was joined on the stage by other female artists including Camila Cabello, who took the opportunity then after that performance to give a speech about immigration while introducing "Me Too."

CAMILA CABELLO, SINGER: Tonight in this room full of music's dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers chasing the American dream.


CABELLO: Just like dreams, these kids can't be forgotten and are worth fighting for.

CHURCH (voice over): And by the end of the night, the biggest winner was Bruno Mars, who took home seven trophies, including song of the year, album of the year, and record of the year.

HOWELL (voice over): And then the show wouldn't be complete without host James Corden taking a jab at the U.S. president, Donald Trump. In a skit, he holds mock auditions, I should say, for the spoken word album of the Michael Wolff's book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," but it was one surprise appearance that really got the crowd going.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: He had a long-time fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's. Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre- made.

JAMES CORDEN, ACTOR: That's it. That's the one.


[03:45:00] CHURCH: Music journalist and musician David Sinclair joins us now from London via Skype. Thanks so much for being with us. So, Bruno Mars won seven trophies including all the big ones, song of the year, album of the year, and record of the year.

But the night appeared to belong to Kendrick Lamar, who not only took home five trophies, but also opened the Grammy's with a commentary on racial issues in the U.S. and earned a standing ovation of his performance. Was he is man of the moment or did that belong to Bruno Mars?

DAVID SINCLAIR, MUSIC JOURNALIST AND MUSICIAN: Well, that's a big question, Rosemary. I think that the -- you know, the idea that you're judging just the song of the year these days is probably slightly out of date now and I think as much as anything, it's also the narrative of the year.

In that sense, Kendrick Lamar absolutely swept the ball. He was the man of the moment in terms of what he was saying and how he was saying it. The opening sequence, I think, is a medley of tracks from his album. It was really, really powerful in terms of, you know, anyone who thought they were tuning in to just sort of see a music show and light entertainment show of some sort was quickly disabused.

CHURCH: And what were some of the other powerful music moments do you think that stood out to you? And what will people be talking about in the hours ahead?

SINCLAIR: Well, I think as you mentioned in your introduction, the Kesha performance of "Prayer" was a pretty intense, emotional moment in the show. She, of course, she went through a terrible period of -- she was in a big dispute with her former producer, who she accused of sexual assault and all sorts of things.

And it sidelined her whole career for about two or three years. So coming back from that, obviously much stronger than ever was a very big moment. I think that was captured -- that was captured very well. I saw You Tube outside on a barge outside the Statue of Liberty.

They looked a bit cold and uncomfortable to me. I mean, Bono was wandering around with a mega phone, which seems to be his way. I'm not sure that was quite a success. I rather enjoyed James Corden with Sting and Shaggy on the New York underground.

CHURCH: Yes, you're getting ahead of me because I did -- I did want to talk about James Corden and one thing he particularly did, because U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley took issue with the skit that had various stars reading from Michael Wolff's controversial tell-all book "Fire and Fury," including a surprise appearance from Hillary Clinton.

Haley said, this was trash and ruined the show. What did the audience think, though?

SINCLAIR: Well, I think the audience at the Grammys obviously was delighted. I think they found it all -- you know, I mean, I think they knew what they were getting into when they went to it. But, of course, you have you to be a little bit careful because there is a big crowd out there that like music, but don't necessarily agree with all of that.

And we used to have the same thing in Britain when Margaret Thatcher was in power. There was a big feeling that oh, the music industry is united in opposition to her and her policies. I think you've got much the same thing going on with Trump now in America.

But of course, Margaret Thatcher got reelected. And so, you know, you have to be a little bit careful about alienating some people whilst obviously, you know, fighting the good fight and taking your message to the people in other sense.

CHURCH: Yes, it certainly can sometimes be dangerous injecting politics into shows like this. David Sinclair, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SINCLAIR: Pleasure.

CHURCH: And coming up next, competing in the Winter Olympics is challenging enough.

HOWELL: But two North Korean skaters will be facing diplomatic pressures as well. We'll tell you about it.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri here with you for CNN Weather Watch. Right now, the northwestern United States, the southeastern United States patrols about as far as wet weather is concerned here for some showers, but generally across really the heart of the U.S.

We are going to be looking at drier conditions, very cold temp in place, and of course, February just around the bend here, so not unusual to see this. It is typically the third week of January through the first week of February is the coldest time of year across North America.

This climate logically speaking, so two below for high temp in Chicago, not that unusual. Fifteen below in Winnipeg. Notice the wet weather pushing in around parts of British Columbia into Washington. Oregon state get used to this. We are back for another atmosphere of river pattern.

That means, you look at the moisture source derived right there from area down towards the tropics, so you work your way towards the Hawaiian islands, could be a pineapple expressing the words, meaning tremendous rainfall.

Once again, (INAUDIBLE) going towards the latter half of the upcoming week. Santa Ana is in full effect across Southern California. Winds approaching 100 kilometers per hour, that certainly concerned especially when you look at the fire weather threat as well as you get this offshore component that build, so any sort of active fires or if any fires are ignited certainly would not be a good setup for that sort of a weather pattern.

Upper 20s in the tropics, very cool, as cool as you will get. Twenty- seven in Havana with some thunderstorms in store will leave you at conditions a little further towards the south.

CHURCH: The Winter Olympics next month in South Korea will be the largest ever.

HOWELL: That's right. Almost 3,000 athletes from 92 different countries are expected to compete. Much of the attention will focus on North Korean athletes.

CHURCH: Yes. They will compete in five sports after a diplomatic breakthrough. And two North Korean skaters are getting a lot of attention, as our Brian Todd reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Their coach says, neither of them have a driver's license or a credit card. When Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik take the ice at the Winter Olympics, all they'll be countered on to do is skate their hearts out and help diffuse nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

CBRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: That's going to be a very big deal. I promise you, I will be covering all of figure skating. That is not a time when you want to go out and get popcorn.

TODD (voice over): After they march into the opening ceremonies under one flag with their South Korean counterparts, Ryom and Kim, a pair of figure skating team, will likely command intense scrutiny from a worldwide TV audience and from their government.

BILL MALON, OLYMPIC HISTORIAN: Foe every athlete that's there, I suspect there will be two handlers with every athlete that's sort of protecting the athlete, making sure they don't say anything they shouldn't say to the press. And also, you know, also keeping them from defecting in case any of them have that idea.

TODD (voice over): Ryom and Kim finished in 15th place at the world figure skating championships last year, and their coach tells us even he doesn't expect them to win a medal at the Olympics. But all the tension leading up to the games combined with the skating style of this teenager and her 25-year-old partner, make them a must-watch.

BRUNO MARCOTTE, COACH OF NORTH KOREAN SKATERS: They skate with passion. They skate with, you know, with their heart, and that's why usually when people watch them and compete, they become instantly crown favorites.

TODD (voice over): In past competitions, Ryom and Kim have skated to music from the Beatles and The Nutcracker. North Korea has a surprisingly good Olympic record. They've won dozens of medals at the summer and winter games since 1964, including seven medals at the Rio games in 2016.

Their best performances have been in weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, boxing, and judo.

[03:55:00] How have those athletes along with Ryom and Kim been been able to train inside a secretive regime cut off from the world?

MALON: It's very much a state-supported regimen. They're trained by the state. They're fed by the state. Unlike many of the other North Koreans where there's a lot of famine and hunger, they're fed well, they're taken care of.

TODD (voice over): Their coach says Ryom and Kim's support team will do its best to eliminate distractions in Pyeongchang and keep them focused. It will be a tough job.

BRENNAN: They are not one of the best teams in world, and yet they are going to be watched as if they are. They're going to be watched as if they're one of the greatest pairs teams to ever skate just because of the magnitude of the moment and the sense that by being there, they make those games safer.

TODD: Kim Ju-sik and Ryom Tae-ok are not the only North Korean athletes competing in Pyeongchang. The International Olympic Committee has announced that more than 20 North Korean athletes will compete there, including short track speed skaters, alpine and cross-country skiers.

And there is a plan to integrate the South Korean women's hockey team with a few players from North Korea. According to Reuters and Yonhap, the South Korean players and their coach aren't too happy about that, concerned that it might disrupt team chemistry.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for your company this hour watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. For our viewers of the United States, "Early Start" is up next. For viewers around the world, the news continues with our colleague Max Foster live in London. Thanks for being with us.

CHURCH: Have a great day.