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Key GOP Leaders, Dems: Memo Has No Impact On Russia Probe; Congress Faces Spending Deadline, Possible Govt. Shutdown; 2 Dead, 100+ Injured In Amtrak Train Derailment; GOP, Dems Scramble Ahead of DACA Deadline; Pennsylvania School Secretary Thrown Into GOP Tax Debate; CNN Discovers Evidence Of North Korea Evading Sanctions. Showdown Between Eagles And Patriots Just Hours Away; SNL Spoofs First Lady's Role In White House. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 4, 2018 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:50] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again. Thanks so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

CNN learning today Democrats on the House Intel Committee are expected to push for a vote tomorrow to release their rebuttal to a controversial GOP memo that alleges FBI surveillance abuses. President Trump, who is spending the day golfing at his Florida golf course, sent out a tweet this weekend claiming the memo vindicated him in the Russia probe. The memo alleges the FBI and Justice Department abused their surveillance authority to target a Trump campaign adviser.

Democrats claim the document is incomplete and partisan. At least one Republican is agreeing with Democrats that the memo does not vindicate Trump.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Trump says the Nunes memo totally vindicates Trump in the probe. Does it?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D) ILLIONIOS: No, of course it does not.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D) RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Of course not at all. And in fact, on the issue of collusion, what the memo indicates is the investigation didn't begin with Carter Page, it actually began with George Papadopoulos, someone who was a foreign policy adviser for candidate Trump and someone who is meeting secretly with the Russians and talking about the stolen Clinton e-mails.

So quite to the contrary, even this very flawed memo demonstrates what the origin of the investigation was, and that origin involved the issue of collusion.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The memo has no impact on the Russia probe.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: No -- not to me, it doesn't, and I was pretty integrally involved in the drafting of it. There is a Russia investigation without a dossier. So to the extent the memo deals with the dossier and the FISA process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower.

The dossier has nothing to do with an e-mail sent by Cambridge Analytica. The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos' meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn't have anything to do with obstruction of justice. So there's going to be a Russia probe, even without a dossier.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Boris Sanchez live in West Palm Beach near the president's Mar-a-Lago state. So, Boris, what are Republican saying about how this memo, other Republicans how it may or may not impact the Russia probe?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Yes, some Republicans outright contradicting the president on this. He's tweeted multiple times this weekend, not only about the Nunes memo but about the Russia investigation as a whole.

Yesterday, he tweeted that the release of the memo vindicates him and proves that the Russia investigation is a witch hunt. He tweeted again about the investigation late last night writing, "Great jobs numbers and finally after many years, rising wages. And nobody even talks about them, only Russia, Russia, Russia despite the fact that after a year of looking there is no collusion."

You also had Donald Trump Jr. on Fox News talking about the release of the memo saying that to him and his family, it is sweet revenge. Seemingly also making the case that this is vindication, proving that there are officials at the Department of Justice and at the FBI that are out to get the president and his family.

Republicans so far, many of them have sap for short of that. Here is some sound from Brad Wenstrup who is on State of the Union this morning speaking with Jake Tapper. Listen to what he had to say.


TAPPER: Do you agree that it vindicates Trump?

REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R), OHIO: I think it's a separate issue. In my opinion, what we're dealing with is a situation within our FISA Court and how we process within our government agencies, and I don't think it really has anything to do with that.


SANCHEZ: Doesn't have anything to do with that. Well, Fred, as you noted, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are pushing for the release of the so-called Schiff memo. It's essentially the Democrats counterargument against Nunes memo. Democrats are saying that it provides more contexts in a more complete picture and contradicts to some degree of the Nunes memo. We could see a vote on that as early as tomorrow.

We got a chance to ask the Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah if the president would be inclined to see that memo released as he was with the Nunes memo. He said that he believes that the president would be inclined to release it even though there is no obvious political benefit to that, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

[15:05:02] All right. So, it's shaping up to be another busy week on Capitol Hill. And at the White House, let's bring in CNN Political Analyst, Nathan Gonzalez, Julian Zelizer is a CNN Political Analyst and professor at Princeton University, and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and retired FBI supervisory special agent, James Gagliano. Good to see all of you.


WHITFIELD: OK. So, we've seen the Devin Nunes memo, the GOP memo. The House Intel Committee could vote tomorrow on the Democrats' version.

So, James, you first. If that memo does not get released and win the approval of the president to be made public, what potential effect might this have on this overall investigation or even public perception about what's happening?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Fred, it will have zero to do with how the investigation goes on. I want to comment on Representative Trey Gowdy's words. The Russia investigation is going to continue. Nothing is going to impede it.

I don't suspect that Robert Mueller is going to be removed. I think it would be a colossal error for the president and I think he's comfortable right now, which is letting things kind of sort themselves out.

I argue that the Democratic memo should have come out at the same time as the Republican one. I thought it was bad form. I thought it was a huge, huge -- it's own goal, basically a self-inflicted wound there.

However, I think that the country is basically in memo fatigue right now. I described the original memo is a tempest in a teacup. I think the both sides can't even agree on what Andrew McCabe's testimony was, whether or not he said the dossier was with the -- if the FISA application was bereft of the dossier, it would not have been able to proceed or whether it would be able to proceed.

I think we got to sit back and see what happens when the Democratic memo does come out. And I don't think there's anyway that it won't.

WHITFIELD: So, Nathan, is this GOP memo backfiring for the White House, for President Trump who said it's vindication, but then you've got Republican, you know, Trey Gowdy saying not necessarily, nothing is undermined here?

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think when it comes to voters outside of Washington I think we're in two camps, right? I mean, to Republicans and Democrats, and I think that for those who were supporting the president before this came out, it's proves it sort of the Donald Trump Jr. tweet version of -- they just -- they rally around the president. For those that suspected, you know, the president of wrongdoing and his campaign of wrongdoing before, I think this just adds to it.

And so, I'm not sure that it changes minds. I'm not sure that how many, you know, people that are getting ready to watch the game today, you know, are worrying about what exactly is in the memo. I know, I try to take the long view.

Most of what happens, you know, doesn't have a big impact but, you know, it's our job to figure out what is there, and I'm not sure that this is going to matter even in the next few weeks.

WHITFIELD: So the memo that has been released attempts to cast doubt on the Russia investigation, special counsel, you know, Robert Mueller. Here's what former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had to say this morning on it.


REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I never felt, of all the things that we went through in the West Wing, I never felt that the president was going to fire the special counsel. So I never felt the level of, you know, the level --

CHUCK TODD, NBC MEET THE PRESS HOST: The feeling and what people heard. It's possible the president utter the words, "I want Muller fire. I want Mueller gone."

PRIEBUS: I never heard that.

TODD: But you never took it --

PRIEBUS: No, I never hear that.

TODD: -- you never heard the specific --

PRIEBUS: I never heard that. No

TODD: -- the sentiment was expressed?

PRIEBUS: I think it was very clear by the president's own words that he was concerned about the conflicts of interest that he felt that the special counsel had, and he made that very clear. Perhaps someone interpreted that to mean something else. But I know the difference between "fire that person, why isn't that person gone" to what I read in that "New York Times" piece. So, when I read that I'm just telling you I didn't feel that when I was there.


WHITFIELD: So, Julian, if the release of this memo might have been the impetus to if not get rid of Mueller directly, then indirectly by way of getting rid of the A.G., and the deputy A.G. Rosenstein, do you think the White House is rethinking that strategy or the president rethinking that now?

ZELIZER: I'm not as convinced firing someone is the end game here. I think what the administration with Republican support has tried to do is discredit the investigation. So ultimately this is handled --

WHITFIELD: Was that mission accomplished?

ZELIZER: -- I think it is. I think for Republicans, and you can see support for the investigation is falling, this kind of memo, the discussion about the memo combined with the many statements coming from his Twitter feed have already raised doubts about is this legitimate, is it some kind of, "deep state effort" to take out this president through some kind of impeachment process? I think it's achieving that goal.

Ultimately, we have a Republican Congress. And if that doesn't change, I don't think there is going to be support for moving forward with anything, and this kind of efforts work.

WHITFIELD: And, Nathan, we're now just four days away, switching the subject now from another possible government shutdown.

[15:10:05] Is Congress setting itself up for another potential shutdown or might there be a budget deal that will mean the government stays open?

GONZALES: Well, I feel a little bit of Deja vu because I think we've been in this position before. I come back to where we were even a few weeks ago that I don't think there are people that are really afraid of a shutdown. Part of it is, well, all the sides involved, whether it's the White House or Democrats or Republicans on the Hill believe that they could benefit from it or they're just not afraid of it. We had a shutdown for three days and we're all still here. And so, I just don't know that the fear of that is what it may have been even a few years ago.

So, I think -- but there is a lot of moving parts. I think House Democrats want to go on their annual retreat on Wednesday, government funding ends on Thursday. We'll probably hear from the president at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning, and that will be an opportunity for him to say something. But it's a -- I think we could be headed for another shutdown.

WHITFIELD: So, James, you were nodding your head. But politically, maybe if you don't have any fear, you do have fear if you're a government worker and you counting on your paycheck and you're afraid that the government may be shutting down.

GAGLIANO: Sure, Fred. I lived through the last two of them in '95 and '96. I was a young FBI agent working in the Queen's office for the FBI's New York Office and it was stressful. I mean, as a key and essential employee, FBI agents still come to work. So they can send some administrative folks home but FBI agents still had to work.

And in 2013, during the shutdown, I was in Mexico City. I was working as the FBI's legal attache there. So, dangerous environment, certainly, couldn't call in sick or stay home. And we just have to continue to do the job, which the FBI will do even if there is a government shutdown. We just didn't get paid until after the fact.

WHITFIELD: And, Julian, this February 8 deadline happens to be the same day of the National Prayer Breakfast. Usually a president is in attendance there. And we understand this president will be in attendance. So what will that day potentially look like?

ZELIZER: Look, I think the president and the GOP are in a better position on this shutdown. You know, the last time this happened, the Democrats buckled pretty quickly. I don't think there is a lot of appetite to move forward.

So, I think at the Prayer Breakfast, at his meetings that day, he is going to be pushing aggressively to pass the budget he wants and not really in the mood to negotiate with the Democrats. And the Democrats are not in a great position the second time around.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there, Julian Zelizer, Nathan Gonzales, James Gagliano. Good to see you.


GAGLIANO: Thanks very much.

WHITFIELD: All right. We're also following breaking news out of South Carolina where a collision between a freight train and an Amtrak passenger train has left two dead and more than 100 others injured. We're live on the scene right after this.


[15:17:01] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. New details breaking this hour on a deadly Amtrak crash in South Carolina. Right now, investigators are trying to figure out if the signal systems along the railway were working properly at the time of the crash. We know the Amtrak train collided with a freight train overnight, killing the engineer and conductor, more than 100 people were sent to the hospital.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung joins me live from the scene now. So, Kaylee, this appears to be potentially human error or mechanical error?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right. We just got off a call for the media with Amtrak's CEO, Richard Anderson. He explained to us that the stretch of track where this crash occurred, it's owned, operated and maintained by the CSX railroad corporation. That means CSX is responsible for signaling, switching, and dispatching trains on the stretch of track that they own. Earlier, we had heard from South Carolina's governor, Henry McMaster, that it was his understanding that the Amtrak train was on the wrong track. Well, the Amtrak CEO now suggesting that it was CSX who would have been responsible for putting the Amtrak train on whichever track it ended up on that led to it colliding with that freight train that didn't have anyone on board.

We've also confirmed that signals were off line on the stretch of track, and so CXS was manually directing Amtrak, this Amtrak train via telephone communications from a CSX dispatcher to an Amtrak engineer. So, to answer your question, Fred, that is a human error you would have to imagine there.

Now, we've also learned the identities of the two men whose lives were lost here, two Amtrak employee, the engineer, Michael Kempf, 54-year- old man from Sylvania, Georgia and the train's conductor, Michael Sella, a 36-year-old man from Orange Park, Florida. The folks so many here now, the passengers who survived this crash, 116 people were taken to local hospitals.

We were told at this point one is in critical condition, two in serious. But many others have been released with not much more than bumps and bruises. A family resource center has been setup across the street at a middle school for people to come together and figure out their next plan as they look to get to their final destination, Fred, and also process the chaos that they witness this morning.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kaylee Hartung. Thank you so much for that.

All right, up next, the battle over immigration. Republicans and Democrats scrambling to work out a deal on more than 70,000 Dreamers with only one month before that deadline. Details straight ahead.


[15:24:18] WHITFIELD: Republicans and Democrats are quickly running out of time to work out a deal on Dreamers before a March 5th deadline. The agreement would throw more than 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants into limbo. The president has proposed a deal that includes money for border security, a pathway to citizenship, and the end to both family-based migration and the diversity visa lottery.

Well this morning on CNN, Dick Durbin, the Democrats number two in the U.S. Senate, explained why he would not support the president's proposals even though he voted to support a similar plan back in 2013.


[15:24:57] DURBIN: The answer is very obvious. The comprehensive immigration reform dealt with 11 million people in the United States and gave a path to legal status over a long period of time. We swept away all of the existing applications for family members seeking visas. Over 3 million of them were going -- the backlog was going to be wiped away and we were going to bring them into the United States, and then moving forward, change the standard. That is not what President Trump is suggesting. Understand what they are proposing. They want to cut legal immigration into the United States of family members, some of whom have waited 20 years or more to join up with their families here. This is no longer about the security of the United States, it is not about competition for American jobs, it is an effort by them to make a different immigration policy in the future, one that envisions an America that is much different than it is today. This is not an acceptable premise.

TAPPER: Senator, a CNN poll after the government shutdown when Democrats forced the government shutdown over the Dreamers two weeks ago found that 56 percent of Americans polled thought that keeping the government open was more important than continuing DACA. The next deadline to fund the government is Thursday. Do you vow right now that you will not shut the government down again if there's not a DACA deal before the deadline?

DURBIN: There is not likely to be a DACA deal, though we're working every single day on telephone calls and person to person to try to reach this bipartisan agreement. I think we're making real progress. I want to salute the moderates in both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the Senate. They have really been a positive voice, Democrats and Republicans sitting in the same room working to try to solve this problem. I don't see a government shutdown coming but I do see a promise by Senator McConnell to finally bring this critical issue that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in America, finally bringing it to a full debate in the Senate. That's what we were looking for when there was a shutdown. We're achieving that goal. We're moving forward.


WHITFIELD: All right, the deadlines there up on the government deadline this Thursday the eighth, and then there's the DACA deadline which is March 5th. I want to bring in Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton.

Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So you recently informed the U.S. Supreme Court that if the DACA program still exists in June, you would consider filing suit to eliminate the program. Your state has the second highest number of DACA recipients in the country, so would you file a suit to eliminate the program if Congress reaches a deal and passes a bill to renew the program?

PAXTON: Well, if Congress does their job and deals with this issue, no, we wouldn't file lawsuits, only if it stays in place -- the way it was put in place which -- was through executive action which is not legal. So my relationship to this is not policy related, it's about making sure the rule of law in the constitution is followed.

WHITFIELD: OK, so the president's recommendation is the DACA program would be reshaped a bit, there would be a path to citizenship. There would also be, in the president's proposal, funding for a wall. Are you on board with that?

PAXTON: So, again, as the chief law enforcement office Austin, Texas, what we care about is safety of our citizens. And so, yes, we have wanted border security for years and years, including something like a wall, you know, using technology to protect us, more border agents and allowing our border agency to do the job. So as long as we're address the security issues then, you know, it's up to Congress to fashion exactly how that's done, but we wanted to make sure that our citizens are safe. That's what we care about.

WHITFIELD: So security issues, does that include a wall?

PAXTON: Yes, I think it includes a wall, a fence. You know, in El Paso, we have a fence that was put up in the late 1990s. It used to be the El Paso, it's one of the highest crime cities in America is now one of the lowest, if not the lowest at times, because they put up a 30-foot-high fence. It makes a difference in certain places to put up barrier to stop people from crossing the border illegally.

WHITFIELD: So what's you response to Dick Durbin who said that cutting illegal immigration to family members is not necessarily an issue of security. He says, this is not about security, it's not about jobs, but instead it's about changing the makeup of people in the United States.

PAXTON: Well, I guess it's easy for him to say that from Illinois, but we live in a border state where we have an issue with crime. We've had over 600,000 crimes committed over the last six years by illegals including 1,200 homicides. So I guess he can say that from Illinois, but if you were living in Texas, he might have a different view of that.

WHITFIELD: If on March 6 there is no deal in place, what kind of action would you take as the attorney general?

PAXTON: Well, so long as the president actually recind, which we believe he will, no action. If it stays in place then we will follow through on going back against the Obama administration put in place which was unconstitutional action that's changing of the law -- that is clearly within the legislator preview (ph) then we will file a lawsuit for sure.

WHITFIELD: What kind of plan are you hoping would go into place where you would not be willing to file suit?

[15:30:05] PAXTON: As long as Congress acts and they rescind what the Obama administration did and the president rescinds, then we won't act. It's not my job to --

WHITFIELD: Well, specifically like what?

PAXTON: Specifically, all I need him to do is make sure that the Obama era implementation is gone, that it's rescinded. If that's done, then whether Congress acts or doesn't act isn't my responsibility. My responsibility is to make sure the rule of law and the constitution and that my citizens are safe. Those are my responsibilities.

WHITFIELD: All right, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Thank you so much for your time.

PAXTON: Have a great day. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Up next, House Speaker Paul Ryan eviscerated on Twitter for seeming out of touch after singling out a school secretary's a $1.50 a week pay increase thanks to Republicans tax reform. We speak with her after this.


[15:35:08] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Critics are blasting Paul Ryan over a deleted post on Twitter. The House Speaker retweeted an Associated Press article saying, "A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week. She said that will more than cover her annual Costco membership." Well, some are now complaining that Ryan is out of touch.

A short time ago I spoke with the woman Ryan was referring to. Her name is Julia Ketchum.


JULIA KETCHUM, CITED BY SPEAKER RYAN IN TWEET: I responded to Sara Sales' Twitter poll, did you see a change, yes or no. And I said yes and I answered four or five simple questions, and I answered them honestly. And when she asked what would I do with the extra money, that's the only thing I could think of was it would cover my Costco membership for the year, and I answered it honestly and I didn't really expect -- I didn't really expect it to go where it went.

WHITFIELD: And so it's gone a lot of places. It was tweeted by the House Speaker, and then it was taken down because, you know, there were a lot of folks on Twitter who were criticizing his sentiment saying he's out of touch. In fact, even, you know, Nancy Pelosi even, you know, tweeted out this, saying, crumbs. He's literally, you know, bragging about six quarters while giving away the store to the wealthiest and corporations. What do you think about that sentiment, whether it be from Pelosi or other critics who say that, you know, that tweet exemplifies that he's out of touch? Do you have any strong thoughts about that?

KETCHUM: Well, I can't speak to that. I just know -- I fully understood it's my money and the withholdings had changed. I meant nothing political by it, by saying anything, and, you know, never would I intend that something I say, you know, maybe get turned around and made political, because if my friends and family that know me know that that's not really how I operate, I never would intend to make anybody look silly. So having it be a political issue does make me a little uncomfortable because that wasn't the intention. I just go on about my day. It was not that big of an increase but I did notice it. So I just answered the Twitter poll and away it went. WHITFIELD: All right, now that you have been the subject of, and you did, you know, answer, you know, the poll, how are you hoping that the information that you shared might be instructive this point forward?

KETCHUM: Well, I know that I'm going to look at my withholdings. I do fall in the middle class. And it is prudent to look at your withholdings and make sure you're in line with, you know, how much you're having held out of your paychecks. And hopefully whatever comes out of this, people are more aware of how they set their withholdings in their paychecks.


WHITFIELD: All right, Julia Ketchum there.

Up next, a CNN exclusive, the United Nations says North Korea is thumbing its nose at sanctions and pocketing millions of dollars in the process, details on that straight ahead.


[15:43:22] WHITFIELD: The U.N. said North Korea racked up nearly $200 million in illicit income last year by ignoring sanctions and exporting banned goods. The regime allegedly sent coal to China, Malaysia, Russia, and Vietnam by falsifying documents and supplied weapons to Syria and Myanmar. According to an exclusive CNN investigation, the North is also side stepping sanctions through military and fishing industry deals in Mozambique. Watch this report from David McKenzie.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tracking the illicit funding of the rogue nuclear state. Amongst our investigation leads us to a fishing boat in Maputo, Mozambique.

(on camera): Be careful. Hello, can we talk to someone?

(voice-over): We uncovered sanctions busting caught in the act.

(on camera): So there's North Korean fishermen here in the boat. They don't want us to talk to them. And they've stuck this boat between two others. It's pretty well hidden.

(voice-over): The captain locks himself away with good reason. Illegal fishing operations generate significant cash for Pyongyang's nuclear missile program, say U.S. officials. Yes, the crew are all Korean, this Mozambique crewman tells us.

(on camera): Can we come up? So the captain of the ship is on the phone with someone. I think it's wiser we get out of here, actually.

[15:44:55] (voice-over): Kim Jong-un's ultimate aim is to develop a viable nuclear-tipped missile, threatening to strike cities across the United States. But the sanctions are biting, and the Trump administration is taking a tougher stance. They're scouring the globe to generate cash.

Seven and a half thousand miles from Pyongyang, they found a willing partner. One of 11 African countries United Nation is investigating four sanctions violations. From the channel we can easily spot the rusting boats.

(on camera): So that's the Susan 1 and that's the Susan 2. Our investigations show that these shrimping trawlers are part of their lucrative joint venture between the Mozambique and the North Koreans.

(voice-over): Illegal as of last August, and there are more (INAUDIBLE) than just a few fishing boats. Investigators are tracking it all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surface-to-air-missiles, man-portable surface-to- air-missiles, military radar and defense systems, the refurbishment of tanks. It's a long list.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Pyongyang exporting its deadly expertise for hard cash, even to Mozambique's remote interior. Bolstering military installations like this the U.N. says, training elite forces for at least two years, military sources tell us. All of it under sanctions for more than a decade. So how do they keep their operations secret? The trail leads us to one of Maputo's busiest avenues.

(on camera): So according to documents, this is the headquarters of the North Korean trade emissary here in Maputo.

(voice-over): Reviewed by CNN, the document name a shadowy front company called a Geumgang (ph).

In 2017, the U.N. revealed that it helped funnel at least $6 million in military contracts to Pyongyang.

(on camera): Hi, how are you sir?

(voice-over): Some Asians were living here. They left three or four months ago, says the property agent. Nobody could tell us where they went.

(on camera): Are there still North Koreans in Mozambique.

"Yes, we have some here cooperating in social and technical field," he says, "which is not against sanctions that were declared by the United Nations." He says they are implementing sanctions we saw clear violations."

Defense Ministry Officials refused to be interviewed by CNN or answer our questions.

(on camera): Has Mozambique been complying with U.N. sanctions?

"I can't say at this moment," he says. "I don't have detailed information on the question you're asking."

The U.N. is waiting for answers from Mozambique, a country risking hundreds of millions in U.S. aid and helping Kim Jong-un to find ways to fund his nuclear ambitions.


WHITFIELD: And our thanks to David McKenzie for that reporting.

All right, coming up, "SNL," "Saturday Night Live," has some fun with this week's State of the Union, more specifically the role of First Lady Melania Trump. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your approval rating is through the roof.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes, people like me, because they're like, that lady looks how I feel.



[15:52:58] WHITFIELD: All right, place your bets. Stock your fridge. Get ready to settle in for the biggest event in American sports, Super Bowl 52 kicking off in just a few hours. The New England Patriots are going for their sixth league title. The Philadelphia Eagles going for its first. Our Coy Wire joins me now from a very frigid Minneapolis, but nobody cares out there, how cold it is. You just, you and everybody else are just happy to be there, right?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, Fred, you did get me in trouble. My mom and texted, what good are battery-powered glove ifs you don't have them on.

WHITFIELD: Hey, good point, mom!

WIRE: Any time a bottle of water does this, Fred, and freezes, you know it's pretty cold. It's going to smash a record for the coldest Super Bowl ever. And let's talk about this matchup. It's like a David versus Goliath. And if Philadelphia, they're playing in just their third Super Bowl. The Patriots on the other hand they're looking to win their sixth ever. That would tie an NFL record for the most ever.

And then it's the same thing with the quarterback. If the Eagles Nick Foles is Rocky Balboa, well then Tom Brady for the Patriots is like Ivan Draggo, a seeming immovable force. At 40-years-old, last night he became the oldest to ever win the league's MVP award, it was his third overall. And if he wins today, here at Super Bowl 52, he will have more Super Bowl wins than any player in history.

Nick Foles, though, he's starting his first-ever Super Bowl and he doesn't have a supermodel wife, but he does have a wife who's battling a heart condition, he has a 7-month-old baby. He's grounded. This is a guy you can't help but love. He takes online grad school seminary classes in the off-season. He wants to be a preacher some day. He's grounded, he's respected, and he knows what he's up against in this game. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK FOLES, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES QUARTERBACK: Trust me, I know what it means to the city, I know what it means to us. There's been a lot of hard work. There's been a lot of years waiting for this opportunity. I've been a starter in this league. I've started a lot of games. I know my position in the team and I know what my job entitles. So that's all that matters. I'm excited to for now just play with my teammates Super Bowl Sunday and play that game. I have no idea what I'll feel. I know it will be a lot of excitement, but I look forward to that moment.


[15:55:07] WIRE: Fans from all over the country are here gathered around in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They're freezing their buns off until they get inside, where the players will be, Fred. I'm looking forward to this matchup.

WHITFIELD: They are -- you well, know, I always like the underdogs, too. And I like Nick Foles' story, he was talking about. You know, even as a kid, he was not the kid who is watching football games with his dad. His dad wanted him to play and his interest in football came a little bit later. But the other centerpiece of, you know, any Super Bowl is who sings the national anthem. And Pink apparently is onboard to do that. But then she's feeling a little under the weather. What's going on?

WIRE: Yes. She practiced with the flu yesterday. She's battling it and it's sweeping our nation right now, a lot of people dealing with that. But she's from just outside of Philadelphia. She really wants to sing in here. She's an Eagles fan. She said she first had a dream of singing at halftime at the Super Bowl when she saw Whitney Houston do it back in 1991. Here's one thing I know so well, is that if anyone can get out there and sing and put on a great show despite the flu, it's Pink. She's tough and she rocks.

WHITFIELD: True. Yes, she can blow. OK, so who are you rooting for? I already revealed is, I'm going for the underdog, because that's the way I like to do it. Who are you rooting for?

WIRE: OK, so that's a different question than who I think is going to win? Who I'm rooting for, I'm from Pennsylvania, I love Rocky Balboa, Philly Cheesesteaks (ph), I want to see the Eagles get their first- ever Super Bowl title. And our producer back in Atlanta, Alex Close, he's from there, and man, it would mean the world to him. I want to give him a big hug.

WHITFIELD: OK, but then you said who you think is going to win, I think you just answered that.

WIRE: Yes.


WIRE: Yes. WHITFIELD: All right.

WIRE: Those New England Patriots, I mean you just can't go against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

WHITFIELD: I gotcha. All right, but we'll all be watching for surprises for those of us who are not lucky enough to be there or have a ticket to be inside. Coy, thanks so much. Have fun out there.

WIRE: Thanks. We could call out now.

WHITFIELD: OK, do that. Keep those gloves on while you do it. All right Coy tells us, in just hours the Philadelphia Eagles will be facing off with the New England Patriots. And President Trump apparently is staying uncharacteristically silent. That's this week's State of the Cartoonian.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's America's game and the final battle is as American as it gets, the Eagles versus the Patriots. Everyone is picking a side, including White House insiders, such as Kellyanne Conway, an Eagles fan from South Jersey who sees the matchup as a 2016 election remix.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I'll just say that the underdog here is the Eagles. And you know me, I love an underdog. The Patriots are like that woman whose name I don't mention on TV anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conway's placing bets against White House chief of staff, John Kelly.

CONWAY: A South Boston native versus me. I'm going to prevail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about President Trump? Will he bet on the gritty underdog or the establishment team? He has had a long bromance with Patriots star, Tom Brady.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love winners. We love winners, right? So a great winner -- Tom Brady. Tom Brady. Right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But their relationship has been, shall we say, deflated, since President Trump took on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality.

TRUMP: Get that son of a -- off the field. He's fired. Fired!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly disagree with, you know, what he said and, you know, thought it was just divisive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new poll shows more Americans are rooting for the underdog Eagles, but as President Trump well knows, in sports, as in presidential politics, it's not the popular vote that counts.

TRUMP: We had a victory that nobody thought was possible.


WHITFIELD: All right. And turning now to late-night comedy, "Saturday Night Live" had a field day with the president's State of the Union this week. More specifically, First Lady Melania Trump's role on the big night and her relationship with her husband.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, Mrs. Trump. The president's motorcade is ready to take you to the State of the Union. Are you coming?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell them I'll take the next car. How will I ever get through this State of Union? Come on, Melania, practice your happy face.

Girls, what's shaking?! Martha, I can't do this tonight, you know, maybe I don't go to speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Melania, you have to. Your job is to be your husband's confidant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ivanka does that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, well, to host foreign dignitaries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, that's Ivanka, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be the beautiful woman on his arm?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's Ivanka's territory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, well, fine, maybe being first lady just means being with somebody you don't really like who doesn't treat you very well?


WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. OK. We've got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom. It all starts right now.

All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right, breaking news this hour on that deadly Amtrak crash in South Carolina. Any moment, the national transportation safety board will brief the public on details of the investigation.

Here's what we know right now. The Amtrak train collided with the --