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Florida School Shooting; Russian Olympic Athlete Fails Drug Test; Russia Investigation; Iran Crashed Plane Found In Mountains, Reports Say; IOC To Rule If Russia Can March Under Own Flag At Closing; Red Stripe Helps Jamaican Team Buy Their Bobsled; Canadian Figure Skating Pair Dance Into First Place. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 19, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): All eyes are on the U.S. president's handling of the Florida school shooting, whether he is saying too little or too much. Some of the survivors say one weekend tweet went too far.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus we speak with one of the students from that high school shooting in the U.S. state of Florida, a person who says she and her classmates won't stop until something changes.

CHURCH (voice-over): And at the Winter Games, the Russian Olympic delegation says one of its athletes has failed a drug test. We are live in PyeongChang later this hour.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and, of course, from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. NEWSROOM starts right now.


CHURCH: And we start with anger turning into action in the U.S. state of Florida. A deadly school shooting killed 17 people there last Wednesday. Well, now many of the survivors say they will march on Washington to demand tougher gun laws.

They're calling it the March for our Lives and want students to descend on the Capitol on March 24th. Survivors and supporters held this rally Saturday to condemn lawmakers beholden to the gun industry.

HOWELL: The U.S. president, Donald Trump, has been in the state of Florida. He took time out there to meet with a couple of survivors from that shooting. The White House says the president plans to discuss campus safety with students and teachers this week.

But that may be overshadowed by a tweet that he made about the shooting on Saturday, a tweet linking the shooting to the Russia investigation. It has sparked outrage. Our Boris Sanchez reports.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: An interesting item being added to the president's schedule for this week on Sunday afternoon. On Wednesday, the White House announcing that the president would be hosting a listening session with some high school students and teachers to talk about campus safety.

What's unclear right now is exactly who the president is going to be hearing from. The White House not telling us if he is going to be hosting survivors from last Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School in Parkland, Florida, which is only about 40 miles from where the president is spending his long weekend at Mar- a-lago. Sources telling CNN that the president opted not to go golfing on Saturday or Sunday, in part to show respect to the victims and families of that shooting.

However, the president is staying inside and sources tell CNN that he is watching cable news and growing frustrated with what he sees, the president apparently having dinner with his two sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., on Saturday night.

And sources tell CNN that they encouraged him to be tougher on the FBI after it was revealed that the FBI mishandled the tip about the shooter involved in last Wednesday's attack.

The president apparently went to the residence at around 10:00 pm. And then at 11:00 p.m., we started seeing the beginning of this tweet storm. The president going on some 13 tweets, attacking some of his favorite targets, including Democrats, the media as well as his own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.

One tweet in particular raised a lot of eyebrows and drew anger from some of the survivors of the shooting.

Here is that tweet now, the president writing, quote, "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many of the signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They're spending too much time trying to prove Russia collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud."

That tweet getting several responses from some of the survivors of the shooting at the high school, many of them upset with the president, saying that he crossed the line by making this all about himself.

We got a chance to ask them -- our colleague, Fredricka Whitfield, asked some of the students if they would take part in the listening session with the president. They told us that they would not be approaching the president -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in West Palm Beach, Florida.


HOWELL: Boris, thank you. Fair to say that people had a lot to say about that tweet from the

president. People upset about it. That tweet tying the school shooting to the FBI and to Russia. Many of the responses on Twitter appear to be coming from students at Stoneman Douglas high school like this tweet.

Quote, "My friends were brutally murdered and you have the nerve to make this about Russia. I can't believe this."

CHURCH: Another tweeted this , "Oh, my God, 17 of my classmates and friends are gone and you had the audacity to make this about Russia. Have a damn heart. You can keep all of your fake and meaningless thoughts and prayers."


CHURCH: Survivors of the Florida tragedy say they want it to be the last school shooting.

HOWELL: Here is what some of them told CNN's Dana Bash about their planned march in Washington and what they hope to achieve with it.


CAMERON KASKY, DOUGLAS STUDENT: On March 24th, You are going to be seeing students in every single major city marching. And we have our lives on the line here. And, at the end of the day, that is going to be what's bringing us to victory and to making some sort of right out of this tragedy.

This is about us begging for our lives. This isn't about the GOP. This isn't about the Democrats. This is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral.

DAVID HOGG, DOUGLAS STUDENT: We've sat around for too long, being inactive in our political climate and, as a result, children have died. It's time for us to stand up and take action and hold our elected officials responsible.

And if our elected officials are not willing to stand up and say, 'I'm not going to continue to take money from the NRA because children are dying,' they shouldn't be in office and they won't be in office, because this is a midterm year and this is the change that we need.

EMMA GONZALEZ, DOUGLAS STUDENT: We're going to be facing this with trepidation and determination and we have an incredible support system around us. And we are going to be the difference.


HOWELL: Thursday, the U.S. has sadly become all too familiar with these school shootings. Nicole Hockley's 6-year-old son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting just five years ago. CHURCH: And she is now director of Sandy Hook Promise. That's an organization providing programs and practices to protect children from gun violence. Hockley said change may be finally coming because this time the young survivors are old enough to speak up.


NICOLE HOCKLEY, DIRECTOR, SANDY HOOK PROMISE: Momentum has continued to build since Sandy Hook. What's different about Parkland is that these are the actual kids speaking out. My son, Dylan, was far too young to have a voice. The survivors from his classroom were too young to have a voice.

These are teenagers. These are intelligent young people, who know what they want and they know how to articulate their pain and their needs. And, therefore, we really need to listen to them. This isn't parents advocating for their children. This is kids advocating for themselves and saying, help us. Listen to us. Keep us safe.


CHURCH: Another student is with me now. Carly Novell is a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and survived that horrific shooting. She joins me via Skype from Parkland, Florida.

Carly, thank you so much for being with us at this very difficult time and under these very sad circumstances. Our thoughts and prayers, of course, are with you and all the students as they deal with this nightmare.

How you coping with all of this right now?

CARLY NOVELL, DOUGLAS STUDENT: I've been coping by talking to people and trying to raise awareness and keeping myself busy. But the feelings have being off and on. And, at some points, I feel numb. At other points, I feel everything at once. So it's been kind of hard.

CHURCH: Yes, understand you're still working through this, so much to process. And Carly, I do want to read out this tweet you posted. It sent chills up and down my spine. This is what you said.

"This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn't be repetitive. Something has to change, #DouglasStrong."

And then you tweeted this, "We don't want higher fences and metal detectors. We don't want our teachers to have guns. We don't want to go to school in a prison. We want change. We want genuine, lasting change."

Incredible words there, Carly.

What type of change do you want to see happen?

What are you proposing here?

NOVELL: I just want something with gun control to happen, whether it be assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons that aren't put in the hands of civilians or something with mental health and that if someone that has a mental illness and background checks.

And it shouldn't be so easy to get a gun. And I don't think that, if you're not allowed to drink, you shouldn't be allowed -- you should be allowed to have a gun. It just doesn't make sense.

CHURCH: Carly, why do you think many politicians are so reluctant to have this conversation about ensuring the guns don't fall into the wrong hands?

NOVELL: I think that a lot of it is about -- they're saying we have this Second Amendment right, the right to bear arms. And that's so important. And that's what America was founded on.

But I think that the right to bear arms is not as important as the fact that people are dying at the --


NOVELL: -- hands of a gun and at the hands of these people who shouldn't be able to get a gun.

CHURCH: And, Carly, many people thought the murder of young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School back in 2012 was going to be a turning point. It wasn't. And many other school shootings that followed came and went with no change taking place, politicians saying now is not the time to discuss this.

But now in the aftermath of this latest shooting at your school, there really appears to be this sense that you and all the other students are standing up to the politicians and the NRA and saying enough is enough and we're not going take this anymore.

You all want to see something done about it. And there is a sense that this could be different, could very well be that turning point everyone was looking for.

Is that how you feel?

Do you think that these students will push this as far as they can until they see some sort of concrete solution?

NOVELL: I think that we won't stop until something changes and I don't know how long that will be. But personally, I'm not going to stop talking about this. I can't just sit here and keep watching these things happening in our country with no change.

It's just heartbreaking every time you see a shooting in the news and all of the media flocks to it and everyone is talking about it for a solid three days. And then they stop caring. And I can see it happening here. But I think the students won't let that happen. And I hope something comes out of that. CHURCH: Why do you think it's different?

Why do you think your generation is making a change here?

Do you think it's the part that social media has played here?

Do you think it's that you, as teenagers, have grown up, having to do these drills?

You've lived with this fear of someone coming into your school and shooting at students in the school?

What do you think has made this different?

NOVELL: I think it's a combination of those things. But I don't know. I just felt passionate about it and I think my school is full of passionate people and outspoken people.

And -- because everywhere there is people that are talking. And I don't know why it's different. But I'm happy it is. But it is too late. This should have happened a long time ago.

CHURCH: Yes, it is certainly too late. But if you and all of the other students who have been so incredibly brave throughout this whole nightmare and you continue your march and your sense that something needs to change, something needs to be done, then that's when social change does take place.

So we thank you, Carly Novell, for your bravery and we wish you well. Thank you.

NOVELL: Thank you so much.

HOWELL: These students are certainly on the forefront demanding change.

CHURCH: Yes, this may very well be different this time around. That's what people want to see.

HOWELL: Now as for the shooter, he repeatedly shared racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views in a private Instagram group chat.

CHURCH: CNN got a look at the comments. There are also new details coming out about what the shooter apparently did right after that rampage. CNN's Martin Savidge has the latest now on the investigation.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are learning a number of new things about the investigation and what happened in the aftermath of the shooting, beginning with this surveillance video that CNN has obtained.

This is about 30 minutes after the attack has allegedly been carried out by Nikolas Cruz. And this video would seem to show him walking normally by himself, free, without any indication of the horrific attack of which he has now been accused.

Then there is the information we received from the Florida Department of Children and Families. This is the child welfare group. In September of 2016, they became aware of a post that Cruz put on Snapchat, that showed him cutting his arms and saying that he wanted to buy a gun.

Investigators were so disturbed, they went and paid a visit to his home. They talked to his mother, they talked to Nikolas and talked to mental health experts, who were also helping in his case.

But after that all that investigation, they came out and essentially said that there was only a low risk that he might carry out any harm against either himself or against anyone else. They really didn't see a horrific red flag.

And then there is the Snead family. This is the family with which Nikolas Cruz was living right up to the day of the attack. And they said that they had no idea that they had this monster living under their roof. They said that, yes, he was odd. He was quirky. And they took him in because he'd just lost his mother. But they also felt that he was improving.

They did know he had guns and they required that they be locked in a gun safe and that these adults be allowed to have --


SAVIDGE: -- the key. It turns out now that apparently there was more than one key -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Parkland, Florida.


CHURCH: One prominent political donor is trying to push Republican politicians to take action on guns and he is putting his money where his mouth.

Republican real estate developer Al Hoffman says he won't cut any checks for candidates or political groups who do not support a ban on assault weapons. Hoffman says the scenes of the Parkland school shooting last Wednesday urged him to act. Take a listen.


AL HOFFMAN, REPUBLICAN DONOR: When that tragedy occurred, now, I thought, my God, what can we do?

And the only thought that came to me is that now I've got to adopt a plan, whereby we contact every Republican donor around the country to endorse the adoption of a ban on assault weapons. The majority of people in the country are for that.


HOWELL: And you can join us for a special CNN town hall with students, with parents and other people impacted by the Florida school shooting. "Stand Up: The Parents (sic) of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action." It airs live on Thursday at 10:00 in the morning in Hong Kong. That's 9:00 pm Wednesday in New York, right here on CNN.

CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here. But still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, a former campaign aide of President Trump, who reportedly helps special counsel Robert Mueller. Why Trump's former campaign chief may be worried about that.

HOWELL: Plus, a Trump tweet storm. The U.S. president signaled the issues that were on the forefront of his mind over the weekend. A lot to talk about there, as you can see. We'll discuss it, right after the break. Stay with us.






HOWELL: The Court of Arbitration for Sport has registered an anti- doping case against an Olympic athlete from Russia.

CHURCH: The International Olympic Committee has requested the procedure against curler Alexander Krushelnitskiy. He has won a bronze medal at PyeongChang in the mixed doubles event. No hearing date for the case has been scheduled as yet. Russia was banned from the Games because of state-sponsored doping.

HOWELL: But more than 160 athletes from the nation who could prove they were clean are competing under the Olympic flag as part of the Olympic athletes of Russia team.

CHURCH: Well, new revelations in the Oxfam sex crimes scandal. The aid agency has released an internal report from 2011. It details how the agency dealt with allegations of sexual crimes by some of its staff working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

The report reveals that three aid workers physically threatened and intimidated a witness during an internal investigation.

HOWELL: That report also says that the program director admitted to having sex with prostitutes at his Oxfam residence. He denied the allegations last week.

Oxfam says it will not request new funding from the U.K. government, this until reforms are implemented. The aid agency has apologized but denies there was a cover-up.

Turning now to Washington, a new report says a former Trump campaign aide has agreed to plead guilty to fraud.

CHURCH: And that's giving a fresh break to Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Sara Murray has the details now.


SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former Trump campaign adviser, Rick Gates, has apparently struck a deal with special counsel Bob Mueller. According to the "L.A. Times," Rick Gates will plead guilty. He will also testify against his co-defendant in a criminal case, Paul Manafort, who is also his former business partner.

The two of them were facing charges for financial crimes that were unrelated to the presidential campaign and they had pleaded not guilty. Now as part of this deal, according to the "L.A. Times," Gates could serve about 18 months in prison. That's far shorter than what he could have served if he had gone to trial and been found guilty.

But, of course, if you're Paul Manafort, if you're the co-defendant in this criminal case, this is worrisome news for you. It means that Gates could testify against him but it also puts additional pressure on Manafort to cooperate with Bob Mueller in the special counsel's probe.

And as of right now, it's not clear exactly what Mueller could be building up to.

Is this just about Paul Manafort or could Gates' cooperation be a building block towards something larger?

Could it be a building block to a potential case or potential charges against President Donald Trump or another Trump associate?

That is not clear yet. But from the White House perspective, they are downplaying any potential plea deal, essentially saying, look, if Rick Gates wants to flip on Paul Manafort, that doesn't make a difference us to here in the West Wing. It has nothing to do with the president. It has nothing to do with his top aides.

They sort of see these charges, these plea deals as related to activities that occurred all before the presidential campaign. They don't believe it's going to touch the president or the West Wing -- Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: President Trump has a lot to say about the Russia investigation. He launched a tweet storm while hunkered down at his Mar-a-lago Florida estate over the weekend. More than a dozen tweets, in fact, since Friday, when Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

HOWELL: That's right. The president seems focused on his irritation on the Russia investigation itself instead of what the indictments revealed.

He tweeted Sunday that, "They are laughing their asses off in Moscow." That's what the president said. But the former director of U.S. national intelligence warns that Mr. Trump's attempts to discredit the Russia investigation are distracting from the real meaning of the indictments. Listen.


GEN. JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Above all this rhetoric here, again, we're losing sight of what is it we're going to do about the threat posed by the Russians. He never talks about that. It's all about himself, collusion or not.

And the indictment, as was the deputy attorney general's statement, was very precisely and carefully worded. The indictment itself reflected no collusion in the same way that it acknowledged that the members of the Trump campaign were unwitting participants in this.


HOWELL: Let's now bring in Steven Erlanger to help bring all of this down. Steven --


HOWELL: -- "The New York Times" chief diplomatic correspondent, joining us this hour, live from Brussels.

Good to have you with us, Steven.


HOWELL: Let's start with the Russia investigation, this news from the "L.A. Times" about former campaign aide, Rick Gates, agreeing to testify against Paul Manafort. Now clearly, the special counsel is tightening the screws on Manafort.

What do you make of this move and the significance of Manafort himself with regards to this investigation?

ERLANGER: Well, there are lots of reasons to look into Paul Manafort and the way he used his firm to help autocrats all around the world. But what interests us is Paul Manafort's connection to the Trump campaign, which he ran for a time. And it's clear that Mueller is tightening the screws.

The way these investigations work, as I understand them, is you go around the edges. You get people to talk. You see what -- where they're vulnerable and then you trade off testimony for a reduction in that vulnerability.

Now it may be that Manafort is really vulnerable on money laundering charges, on other kinds of charges. But one can use that to find out what he really knows about the Trump campaign and its alleged connections to Russians, let alone the Kremlin.

What is troubling, of course, is simply that while, you know, all over the Western world, people are talking about the way Russia is meddling in their elections, messing with social media, trying to disrupt the unity of the West.

And American intelligence officials and the FBI agree that Russia tried to meddle in the American campaign. Mr. Trump refuses to acknowledge it. He says over and over again, Russia's -- you know, it's not clear that Russia had anything to do with anything.

He is not leading a Western fight-back against a clear Russian plan to affect our electoral system, which is the heart of our democracy. And I think that's what troubles a lot of our allies.

I was just in Munich at the Munich Security Conference, which is like the Davos of transatlantic relations. And that was one of the great concerns, which is that the West is under a kind of new subversive attack by Russian, Russian trolls. And American leadership is simply not there.

HOWELL: So the president quiet, you know, on this issue. But certainly not quiet with other issues, tweeting a lot. Let's talk about that tweet storm from the president Sunday morning, specifically, Steven, the tweet where he uses the school shooting in Florida to criticize the FBI, saying that they are spending too much time on the Russia investigation, essentially linking the school shooting to the Russia investigation.

He went there. And clearly, a lot of people outraged by that. Your take, Steven.

ERLANGER: Well, Trump has a kind of zero-sum thing in his head on trade, trade that is perfectly balanced. Somehow he thinks that the FBI has very limited resources and when it's working on one thing, it can't be working on another thing.

I just think, you know, in his head, he is obsessed with his vulnerability. He wants the Russia thing to go away. Clearly, it's not going away. The FBI keeps looking into things. And, you know, in his mind, he is convinced that it was the FBI that somehow colluded with the Democrats and so on.

So he puts these things together in his head. And I think they're very disturbing because they undermine confidence in the American justice system.

HOWELL: To that point and briefly here, I want to talk about another tweet because with regard to the Russia investigation, cyber warfare, this effort to sow political discord in the United States, take a look at this tweet from the president.

"All of the committee hearings, investigations and party hatred," this tweet says, "they've succeeded beyond their wildest dreams and they're laughing their asses off."

We're not showing the tweet. And pardon me for using that word but it is an official statement from the President of the United States.

Steven, this being President's Day here in the United States, your thoughts. ERLANGER: Well, the president on President's Day gets to write whatever he wants. That's OK.

Now clearly, this disruption does help Russia. There is no question. I mean, they may be laughing their bottoms off. But part of the disruption, part of the undermining of confidence in the democratic system and in the justice system comes from the White House's inability to acknowledge that Russia did what it did during the last election campaign.

Now you have other officials who are perfectly willing to admit it. But why Mr. Trump is unable to do so is one of the great mysteries. And I have no answer to that.


HOWELL: It certainly raises a lot of questions to a lot of people scratching their heads for sure with some of the tweets that came out over the weekends. Steven, thank you so much for your time. Live for us in Brussels this hour, thanks.

CHURCH: And we'll take another short break here. But coming up in just a moment, more on the Florida school shooting tragedy, friends and loved ones pay tribute to the victims.


[02:34:05] HOWELL: And coast to coast here in the United States and live around the world this hour. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. Time to update you on the main stories we have been following this hour. Former Trump Presidential Campaign Aide Rick Gates has agreed to testify against former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. That is according to "The Los Angeles Times." The report says Gates will plead guilty to fraud charges and is cooperating with Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

HOWELL: The U.S. President Donald Trump says and I quote the president, "That Moscow must be laughing their asses off at America amid ongoing Russia investigations." This just one of the tweets that came out from a tweet storm focused on the probe into election meddling. Mr. Trump also suggested the FBI missed signals about the Florida school shooter because it's spending too much time on Russia the investigation.

CHURCH: In the U.S. State of Florida, four people wounded at Stoneman Douglas High School remained in the hospital as of Sunday. They were listed as being in fair condition. A gunman kills 17 people last Wednesday when he attacked the school with a military style rifle.

[02:35:28] And as grieving survivors of the school shooting try to heal funerals and memorial services are being held for their friends, classmates, and teachers killed in that massacre.

HOWELL: Our Kaylee Hartung has more now from Parkland, Florida. KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This South Florida

community continues to mourn the loss of 17 lives after last Wednesday's fatal shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Scott Beigel, a 35-year-old geography teacher was among those laid to rest on Sunday. He's been hailed as a hero over the last week because of his actions in the final moment of his life trying to protect his students from the gunman. But his friends and family reminded us he was a hero for more than his final moments also for the way that he lived his life, the impact that he had on his students, those athletes that he coached on the school's cross country team, and also the campers that he counseled at a summer camp he began attending as a child. He was remembered for his compassion and kindness, also, his humor and wit. Alex Shackter was also remembered, a young man who loved music.

This 14-year-old played the trombone and the baritone in the school's marching bands and orchestra. He was one of four children who would already endured the loss of their mother in 2008. We also remembered the life of Jamie Guttenberg, a young talented and beautiful dancer. Orange was her favorite color, so dancers across this country could be seen over the weekend in competition wearing orange ribbons to remember her. Alex and Jamie both had brothers who also attended Stoneman Douglas though they both escaped last Wednesday without harm. On Monday, the life of Luke Hoyer will be remembered, a 15-year-old with the youngest of three kids. He loved the game of basketball, playing video games, and eating anything sweet, his family said. This community continues to mourn and heal. In Parkland, Florida, Kaylee Hartung, CNN.

HOWELL: One just cannot imagine what those families are doing right now.

CHURCH: Just impossible to understand.

HOWELL: It is. Well, a monitoring group warns that Russian-linked bots are promoting pro-gun messages on Twitter. The group says, the bots are meant to so discord in the United States at a time when emotions are high because of what happened in Florida.

CHURCH: Yes. The U.S. has been paying particularly attention to Russian troll farms since their involvement in the 2016 presidential election campaign. Now, CNNs Matthew Chance gives us a rare look inside one.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the only glimpse we have of an Russian troll factory in action. The undercover video was recorded inside the secretive internet research agency in St. Petersburg where paid internet provocateurs worked 12-hour shifts distorting the U.S. political debate. CNN spoke to a Russian journalist who went undercover there as an internet troll in 2016.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. elections are the key issue for the Kremlin and of course Russia has invested a lot of that into them. That's why the troll factories are working. I have no doubt. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: And this is the publicity shy Russian oligarch now indicted in the U.S. for bankrolling the troll factory. Yevgeniy Prigozhin dubbed by Russian media as Putin chef has liquitive catering contracts with the Kremlin but denies any involvement in election meddling. Americans are very impressionable people, he told Russian state media. They see what they want to see. I have great respect for them. I'm not at all upset that I'm on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see one, he added. But the possible extent of Prigozhin alleged involvement in the often shadowy world of Russian foreign policy is only now starting to emerge. He's already under U.S. sanctions for supporting Russian forces in the Ukraine. The nights were complex web of relationships. He suspected of links to covert Russian mercenaries deployed in Syria where CNN has reported several were killed in a recent U.S. airstrike. Prigozhin denies any connection to the group. Whatever the truth, Putin's chef and his network of secretive companies seem to extend far beyond the kitchen. Matthew Chance, CNN St. Petersburg.

CHURCH: After the break, Iranian authorities are fearing the worst as they investigate a plane crash in a mountain range. We'll have the details for you in just a moment.


[02:43:13] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, Iranian investigators are trying to figure out what caused a plane to crash in the snowy mountain range. All 65 people on board are now presumed dead.

HOWELL: Aseman Airlines says that the twin-engine turboprop disappeared less than an hour after taking off from the capital of Tehran -- in Tehran on Sunday. CNN Sam Kiley has more.

SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was a French manufactured aircraft that's still in production. In a country that has in the past suffered from a shortage of spare parts in the aviation industry because of sanctions that were imposed to try to strangle the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Now, those sanctions in some parts have been lifted and there's no direct link at all between the missing aircraft and any kind of mechanical failure. But nonetheless, this is the sort of speculation that will be investigated by Iran's civil aviation authority if and when they discovered the black box, the flight recorder on this aircraft in the Dena Mountains which I have to say is very inhospitable area.

The aircraft is believed to have gone down about 14 miles, 23 kilometers away from its final destination. Not very far away but these are mountain -- just one mountain up there has 40 peaks at over 4,000 meters. That's well over 12,000 feet. The area is covered in snow and there is a large amount of fog and other bad weather which is hampering all rescue operations and the dwindling hope of finding any survivors. Sam Kiley, CNN Abu Dhabi.

HOWELL: Sam, thank you. Now, let's talk more about this with our meteorologist, Ivan Cabrera. The region that the mountains and the weather all kind of playing a fact here.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a -- it's a mess. I mean a plane crash in the mountains obviously got much worst unless of course you fall into the water and then you can't find them. This one they will find -- we hope they do that quickly for the family members here. But it is going to be tough because not only the terrain he mentioned 44 piece, upwards of 45, 100 meters, that is quite something. There is Tehran, there is Yasuj, they almost got -- there, my goodness, about 25 kilometers, or so, 25-50 kilometers.

This is the area they're going to be looking at. Take a look at the area, I mean, look at these mountains here. Pretty significant stuff. Oh, and then, there's this, there has been snow, heavy at times along with the gusty conditions along these peaks here. 4400 meters, 14,400 feet. And the now has continued since the Sunday. Basically, Saturday, Sunday, we have an area of low pressure that show you under the seconds.

Snow continues, heavy at times visibility is going to be very poor because of a little cloud. And then, of course, the wind, not so bad, at the surface route. At least on the ground, we assure that you get a little bit higher up and then, you start getting into some very gusty winds.

Look at this area of low pressure where it tightly round here in Iraq, as it continued to move, moving to the east, it brought all these moisture across the region. And so, that has been the problem, that has been the visibility issue, and I think we'll continue to see that.

By the way, as we get through the day on Tuesday, I think we have better weather conditions, we have a bit of a break. That's going to be a good window for them to be able to get out there and find these folks. And on Wednesday, more weather comes in with another round of snow and wind as well.

[02:46:23] HOWELL: Hopefully, they can use that window.

CABRERA: Absolutely.

HOWELL: All right, Ivan, thank you.

CHURCH: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, the very latest from the Winter Olympics, stay with us.


CABRERA: I'm CNN Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera, as we checked in on conditions across the northeast where they just had several centimeters of accumulation of a snowfall, followed by some rain that's going to be coming in to heading into next few days, where the big story here if you're travelling into the United States, bay for warm up, having rains to the middle part of the week. In fact, we'll have temperatures much above average where will stay this through the weekend, with temps that didn't make it to zero. Well, now, we're kind of go well above zero.

And look at that, for the first time to seeing even the potentials of strong thunderstorms is rolling through. For the first time through the season, right, this is time of year, winter and springs start fighting, and when that happens, we can get some nasty weather.

You get 13 in Chicago, down in Dallas, we'll have temperatures that into the lower 20s. At bound, we will continue pushing east, so that by in midweek, if that's when you get into the States across the east, you will see some rain at that point there. As far as temperatures through the south across the Caribbean, pretty typical for this time of year. Great weather that is with plenty of sunshine, we'll continue to see that across Cuba. And then, to the Bahamas with temperatures there in the upper 20, is the lower 30s, Managua, 31 and Mexico City, Distrito Federal, in the low 20s up to the afternoon.

South America looking pretty good, we do have this area of low pressure that's going to be moving along a boundary here. And so, that will impact of places like Brasilia, heading into Manaus, temperatures in the upper 20s, the low 30s.


HOWELL: All right, now, the latest news from the Winter Olympic Games, and information we're learning that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has registered at anti-doping case against an Olympic athlete from Russia. Let's bring in CNN's Amanda Davies, following the story the live from Pyeongchang, South Korea, Amanda.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, thanks, George. The second time in this games that we've heard anti-doping case from CAS there is always is their interest in the current climate when you hear of the failed drug test. But, if that failed test of all an athlete from Russia, it is magnified 10 folds. And the Court of Arbitration for Sport high escort in sport in the last hour have announced that they've started anti-doping proceedings against the Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitsky.

They haven't issued any more details about the case, but the 25 year old has won a bronze medal here at the games, competing with his wife in the curling makes doubles that 2016 world mixed curling champions.

But, when you're talking about Russia, you realize that this isn't just about one athlete, of course, that plays into the much bigger picture. And the fallout from the IOC's banning of the Russian team at this games over the state-sponsored doping u+ncovered by the McLaren Report.

The question now is what impact this might have on whether or not Russia will be able to march under their own team name and flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday. One of the closes in the agreement that allowed to ban Russian team to compete here in Pyeongchang under the neutral flag and not title Olympic athlete from Russia, was that the option is there for them to be reinstated. But the final proceeding, if they stick to the rules.

And the IOC spokesperson Mark Adams, would not be drawn on the matter. When he was press in his daily news conference this morning, he simply said, it's, quote, "Too premature to say with the official decision on that set to be made on Saturday." So, you would think that we'll be hearing a lot more on the story over the next couple of day. That has been a lot of interest to though, in the story of the Jamaican bobsled team has now with the woman's crew here for the first ever time.

But just quite an out infamous male counterpart 30 years ago in Calgary. It has been anything but an easy ride for them. And I was up out to sliding fence this morning to try and speak to them to find out what's happening after stories that they nearly ended up without a sled.

Following the departure of one of their coaches, they were out on track putting in a couple of pretty decent run finishing fifth the instant and sixth in the final training runs ahead of their main competition tomorrow.

They were ushered through the makes or no, without speaking to the media unlike any of the other crews. That will so able to grab a few words with their spokesperson who said that they haven't had to buy a new sled as some suggested, instead, they been help to buy their existing one outright, thanks to a deal with Red Stripe.

But, there is no doubt, their preparation has been disrupted as Kathleen Pulito, said to me, "They have been through the wringer. As the whole crew has, we're cautiously optimistic, we're trying to keep Jazmine and the team in bubble. I think tomorrow, we will surprise the world."

Well, the crew did finished seventh in a race earlier this year, but they could have pretty tough up to get with in touch in distance of Canada's two-time gold medal winner Kaillie Humphries, and the U.S. team, here hot on her heels. It's actually, the men's two-man gold medal run later today. Germany's Francesco Friedrich, looking to finally win Olympic gold having won the last four two-man world championships. But not the Olympic crown.

And just before I go, I want to tell you about a new world record in the ice dance, a great story from the Canadian pair of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They actually retired for two years after finishing with the silver medal in Sochi, four years ago. But, they came back to win the 2017 world championships. It's a couple of being together, competing together for over 20 years.

This competition very much builds as them against the French pair of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. But the veterans are really, really lay than the marker with a new world record to take the lead after the short program. Tomorrow, promises to be something special. Back to you.

HOWELL: Very cool.

CHURCH: Thank you so much, appreciate it. All right. So, back here on the United States, before the school shooting in South Florida, rapper Drake decided to do something nice for the people of Miami. It was all captured in the music video for his song God's Plan.

[02:55:10] DRAKE, RAPPER, CANADA: God's plan, God's plan, I can't do this on my own, hey, no.

HOWELL: Instead of using nearly $1 million to produce the music video, Drake, said that he used that money instead to buy people groceries. To surprise families with cash and to give away toys to children.

CHURCH: And now, Drake also gave the student from the University of Miami $50,000 for her tuition. And that student wrote, "I'm just a girl from Denmark, South Carolina who wants to make it and be somebody, and for you to see my hard work means the world."

HOWELL: Drake, says this is the most important thing he's ever done in his career. He also challenged his fans to go out and be nice to each other.

CHURCH: These are exactly the stories, we want to bring people, this is inspiring.

HOWELL: It's a good way to end this hour and thank you for watching. I'm George Howell.

CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. We'll be right back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM. So, don't go anywhere.