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Deputy FBI Director Andrew Mccabe Is Retiring; United States Is Going To Supply Anti-Tank Weapons To Ukraine; Mysterious Death Of A Border Agent Killed In The Line Of Duty. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired December 23, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Well, just hours ago, "The New York Times" released its stunning new report which claims President Trump made the remarks (INAUDIBLE) in oval office meeting back in June. Now, those sources for that report requested anonymity. And during the meeting, President Trump reportedly became enraged as he began reading aloud from a document the detailed how many immigrants had received obtained visas in 2017.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is live in West Palm Beach following the new report.
And Boris, lay out exactly what the President is being accused of here and how the White House is responding?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Pam. Yes, these are some explosive comments being attributed from President Trump. Again, just a step back, this apparently, according to sources that spoke with "The New York Times" took place at a meeting in June with his cabinet. And the President was furious after he began reading a document that was prepared for him by domestic policy advisor Stephen Miller that detailed a number of visas given to immigrants from certain countries in 2017.
The President specifically read off certain portions, again, according to sources that were either in this meeting or briefed on it. In one portion he speaks specifically about Haitians and this is from the Times reporting, apparently, the President is quoted as saying Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They quote "all have aids, he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there. The President also had some choice words about Nigerian immigrants here.
Here again from "the Times," quote "40,000 had come from Nigeria. Mr. Trump added once they had seen the United States, they would never quote "go back to their huts in Africa, recalled the two officials who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive conversation in the oval office."
But White House Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, reputed the reporting in the "New York Times" saying that the President did not make these statements. She provided CNN with verbatim, the same statement that was provided to the "New York Times." She writes quote "General Kelly, General McMaster, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Neilson and all other senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims and it is both sad and telling "The New York Times" would print the lies of their anonymous sources anyway."
This is certainly not something that the White House is likely expecting to have to respond to. It appear to be an eventful Christmas vacation down here in Mar-a-Lago. The President spent most of the day golfing before heading back to Mar-a-Lago state. But on this first full day in Mar-a-Lago, the White House, o the defensive, having to deal with a distraction that they likely did not want to talk about, especially considering that just yesterday the President signed his first major legislative victory of the tax reform bill into law -- Pam.
BROWN: That's right. The White House today really going after them for using sources who have requested anonymity.
Thank you so much, Boris Sanchez.
In the last hour I actually talk to Michael Shear, one of the "New York Times" reporter who broke the story. And he told me that he stands by his reporting.
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: My colleague Julie Davis and I set out three months ago to write a story that sort of chronicled President Trump's efforts on immigration, how it had evolved from the time he was a candidacy and through his presidency. And part of that, as part of that reporting we began to hear about this meeting from multiple people. And, you know, we heard different stories. And as a reporter you, you know, put it together the best you can from both people that were in the meeting, people that were -- had talked to folks that were in the meeting. And at the end of the day, we came to believe that the report, as we produced it and published it today, was accurate, was true. And, you know, the White House did push back very forcefully. We included their denial in the report that we published on the website today, but we stand by our story.
BROWN: Two sources told you Trump made these remarks, but other officials say he never used the words "huts" or "aids." Why do you find these two sources that you use for this story more credible than those who are denying it On the Record?
SHEAR: Well, look, I mean, that's -- as you well know, Pam, I mean, that's something that you do every day as a reporter. As you weigh the motivations of your sources, you weigh, you know, the kind of detail that they told you, how they told you, how they described events and whether they, you know, are consistent over time and the like and we, you know, we came to believe that the people that were telling us this, you know, described this meeting accurately. You know, we didn't just listen to them. We tried to talk to a whole lot of people. And, you are right, we did talk to some people who said they didn't recall those comments being made back in June. And then, as you say, the White House, you know, gave us a statement saying that several of the top officials that were in the meeting denied it. But at the end of the day, after, you know, deliberation and looking at our reporting, we stand by the story. (END VIDEOTAPE)
[16:05:17] BROWN: And that was Michael Shear of the "New York Times."
And I want to get more perspective on this from our panel. With me now, deputy managing editor of "Weekly Standard" Kelly Jane Torrance and CNN political senior reporter Stephen Collinson. Thank you both for coming on.
Stephen, what do you make of what we just heard from -- what do you make of this reporting here about what the President allegedly said in the oval office.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICAL SENIOR REPORTER: Well, these are two very careful reporters and seems to be a very deeply sourced report. Clearly, if the President -- as the President of the United States had said those things, it would be seen as deeply offensive to many people. But whatever went on in the oval office and what is detailed in this report, I think it gets to something deep about the President's immigration policies and the root of those policies.
Critics have long believed that the present immigration policies rooted in racism. And they point to racism and the kind of language he has used when referring to Mexicans. Way back to the start of his campaign in 2015, the kind of language and rhetoric he has used around the Muslim ban. So this report certainly will reinforce the belief of people that believe the President's motivation here is based on prejudice as much as anything else.
Having said that, if you talk to Trump reporters - supporters and one of the reasons they like the President so much is that they believe that his immigration policy is based simply in a sort of desire to make Americans safe, to keep what they would see as undesirable people and to count the number of refugees from dangerous places in the world where it was a rating were terrorists in this prevalent.
So while this is a huge story, I don't think it's going to meaningfully shift the political debate on immigration. If you are disposed to be suspicious of the President. This will reinforce that. If you believe in the President's immigration policies, I don't think anything that he said in this report in which the White House has denied is going to change your opinion.
BROWN: And Kelly, I want to go to you now because, you know, as Stephen said, this could indicate some prejudice. You know, the "New York Times" article said that the President's views toward immigration has above over many years well before he ever enter politics. What do you make of that?
KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, and that's what you have to do. Like Stephen says, look at the evidence. And, look, if you want to go to a more skills-based system of immigration, which Canada and Australia have. Keep in mind, though, that they also have a separate system for refugees. If you want to do that, you do that based on study, you do that based on data. I mean, hard work and talent have no geographical or racial bounds. But when you hear a man saying things like as allegedly the President said, all Haitians have AIDS.
By the way, I looked in the problems right for adults age 15-49 in Haiti is it was 2.1 percent have HIV or AIDS. Now, that's not a great number but it certainly nowhere near everyone from Haiti having AIDS.
And when you hear uninformed remarks like that, you have to wonder, is his more broadly based on such uninformed -- I hesitate to call it thinking, you know. It's really instinct I think as "The New York Times" sort of indicated.
BROWN: And you know, Stephen, for me personally, I covered the travel ban very early on in the administration and you really see an evolution in terms of how the White House is trying to deal with immigration and, you know, create policy from the beginning when it was total chaos with the travel ban to now and seeing how they deal with refugees and so forth.
COLLINSON: Yes, that's right, Pam. You remember those early months of the administration, especially when the travel ban came in in the early weeks, it was chaotic. There were people at the airports who didn't know if they would be able to get in the country or get on to even planes outside of the United States. There were border officials not very clear about what the rules, you know, were and when they were coming to force and what they meant.
It has got a lot more sort of methodical. I think one of the reasons, of course, is that you have John Kelly now who is the chief of staff who was at the homeland security agency department who was clearly a key player in the administration's immigration policy. So I think many of Donald Trump's supporters would say that they are actually quite happy with the way that that's evolved.
There had been various iterations of the travel ban that have sort of gotten through the courts. Its clear those from this "New York Times" report that the President was deeply frustrated that the first version of the travel ban was stayed by the courts. And he felt that the second version and subsequent versions were watered down and didn't live up to exactly what he was saying and promising his supporters on the campaign trail. But it's clear that immigration is not just a key to Donald Trump's support among his political base, it is a motivating factor for him in his sort of personal political base. It is a multi- faith in factor for him in his sort of personal political philosophy. And it is going to continue to be one of the most controversial political issues running up through the midterm election years in the next year.
[16:10:24] BROWN: And of course, he is ending this year without fulfilling his number one campaign promise, building that wall.
TORRANCE: And having Mexico pay for it.
BROWN: And having Mexico pay for it, right. He sort of seemed to go back away from that as of late.
All right. Kelly Jane Torrance, Stephen Collinson, thank you so much.
TORRANCE: Thanks, Pamela.
BROWN: And we are getting some more breaking news this hour. We have learned that deputy director Andrew McCabe is retiring. President Trump has just tweeted about this.
How can FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge along with leaking James Comey of the phony Hillary Clinton investigation including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by Clinton puppets during investigation?
A second tweet, FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is raising the clock to retire with full benefit 90 days to go.
With me now, retired FBI supervisory agent James Gagliano.
First of all, I just want to do a fact check on the tweet. Because Andrew McCabe's wife who is running, her office received just a little bit lesson sort of $100,000 coming from Virginia Democratic Party and also a Pac in Virginia. So not coming from Hillary as he seem to insinuate their in that tweet.
But first, I want to get your reaction that Andy McCabe that the fact that he is retiring and the President's tweet here, James.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, two points, Pam. Well, first of all, it's personal for me. I know Andy McCabe since he was a young age. And he worked for me on the SWAT team in New York City office of the FBI.
Andy is an honorable and decent man. I think some mistakes have been made. I think he should have recused himself from a couple of these investigations a bit earlier than he did.
BROWN: Which ones?
GAGLIANO: Well, specifically the Clinton email investigation. I he could have recuse himself in that a little bit quicker or maybe that could have been a conversation at the kitchen table is right as far as political aspirations to goals. Many agents have a problem with that even though no one thinks that Andy did anything to put his finger on the scale.
The President's tweet reprehensible. And he is a career public servant. No matter what you think about him, Andy's worked his butt off for the organization and the American people for 20 years.
The second piece of this now is how does the federal time system work? Andy came in in the mid-1990s. He is under the federal employee retirement system. Not to get too wonky, you have to spend 20 years in the FBI or be aged 50, whichever comes second.
So what Andy's got to do is he has 20 years in the FBI. He has got to reach that age 50. He is in his - he is 49 right now. In the spring I believe he turns 50.
So the President sending that tweet out and saying that. Well, some people could interpret that as a threat. The President will make the decision whether Andy is fired or not. Andy is not going to get fired.
BROWN: It's not easy to fire him.
GAGLIANO: No, exactly. It has to be cause. And he has got protections.
Number two, the thing about it, also, is that Andy is going to retire with a full benefit package because he put in a career full of government service. And there is no place from the go. When you're number two in the FBI, there's not a lateral transfer. How do you latterly transfer somebody? Director Wray is entitled to his own deputy director. I think another month or two until (INAUDIBLE) and he will do so. But I think it is appropriate to where it is going.
BROWN: But the bottom line is that I have been hearing from weeks from people I know and the FBI that he is going to retire in March if this is going to happen. I mean, this is sort of fire for the course when you are in the FBI and you reach that point when you can retire, this doesn't necessarily means of doing so because he is under pressure due to be, you know, Trump Russia investigation.
GAGLIANO: Eight FBI directors in our 110-year history. Yes, there was an interim directors but only eight full-time appointed FBI directors. The average amount of time that a deputy director would stay on when a new FBI director is appointed, two, three, four months. You want to give the new guy coming in and some ability to get his feet on the ground. So it's appropriate that they stayed on after director Wray was appointed. And now I think the question becomes who is director Wray going to pick to be his number two.
BROWN: Of course, that is a big question. But this also comes on the heels of the fact that James Baker, general counsel has been reassigned within the bureau to a new wall. And so, it does raise questions why is this happening now. Do you attribute this to any efforts by Republicans to sort of undermine the current Russia investigation or just a new FBI director coming in and wanting his own leadership?
GAGLIANO: The President can tweet away. Republicans on Congress and Democrats as well can say what they want and say political ping pong because at some point they think he is doing the right thing. But if there is investigation targeting somebody from their party, they would feel differently. Nothing is going to change. The FBI is an apolitical organization. Of the 35,000 employees, I believe that 99.99 percent of them are there to do their jobs, to not put their finger on the scale and follow the evidence wherever it may lead.
[16:15:05] BROWN: Have you ever seen the FBI under attack like this before?
GAGLIANO: Well, Pamela, I'm old but not that old. I could say yes, going back to 1948 when J. Edgar Hoover was accused of trying to tip the scale for Thomas Dewey when he ran against Harry S. Truman. It was bad back then. During the civil rights movement, there were some back then. Some
people said they cheered the Hoover and Martin Luther King had some animus between the two of them and that predicated co-Intel pro and some of the other things that people look on now and which is full of context to say we did the right moves to make.
In my lifetime, no. One half of my life I spent in the FBI. I served 25 years. And I have never seen such partisan attacks, such political ping-ponging. Scrutiny is good and healthy because we serve at the pleasure of the President and at the pleasure of the American people. The FBI is there to investigate federal violations and to make sure that they do so a politically. Unfortunately right now, I think that there is a segment of the population don't believe that that's true and I hope that changes soon.
[16:16:05] BROWN: OK. James Gagliano, thank you so much.
GAGLIANO: Thanks for having me, Pam.
BROWN: And just ahead, we are going to talk more about this developing story on deputy FBI director McCabe.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:20:23] BROWN: And we are continuing to follow breaking news at this hour. We have just learned that FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is planning on retiring. Two sources familiar with his plans told CNN McCabe informed senior FBI officials months ago that he was planning on retiring in the coming months. The sources say he told senior agents he is eligible to retire in March and they say he is not being forced out.
Now President Trump is tweeting about this already saying, how can FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, the man in-charge along with leaking James Comey of the phony Hillary Clinton investigation including and her 33,000 illegally deleted emails be given $700,000 for wife's campaign by Clinton puppets during investigation?
And there's another tweet. FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits, 90 days to go.
Joining me now to discuss, CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan and former CIA operative Mike Baker.
Sam, to you. A lot to unpack here. I mean, normally, this would not be news that the deputy FBI director is retiring. FBI agents retire all the time. But your reaction to this in the President's tweets today.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: This is the national security issue as much as it a personal issue. Wash away the post every single time that the President tweets about a department of justice employee or the ongoing investigation. We know that Russia launched an attack against our country to describe it a democracy and a democratic institutions.
A free and transparent legal system is a core asset of our democracy system. So every time the President is undercutting the department of justice, he is starting to do Russia's job for them. He is making it a lot easier to shift perception about the state of American democracy.
BROWN: But Paul, have you foreseen anything like this? I mean, the President going after the FBI, individual agents like this?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Never ever have I seen anything like this. And I am a former prosecutor and I was a criminal defense attorney for a long time dealing with these federal investigations. And you know, to see the FBI attacked like this is just totally odd behavior by the President. It doesn't help him. I mean, I think he thinks he is weakening public confidence in the FBI and therefore there will be little public confidence in a finding against him. But the truth of the matter is, you are weakening law enforcement around the United States when you make attacks like this.
BROWN: And, of course, the President is now lashing out over this news that McCabe is now retiring in the wake of McCabe testifying on Capitol Hill this week, Mike, it basically corroborating James Comey's account that the President had asked him for loyalty, had pledged loyalty. He told according to my colleague Manu Raju, lawmakers that James Comey went to him after and recounted that conversation with the President.
So what are the optics of this, of the President lashing out just on the heels of that testimony with McCabe corroborating James Comey's account?
MIKE BAKER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Not good. That I the short answer. The optics are often - look. First of all, the worst job in America right now has got to be to look in the social media office of the White House, right. I mean, because, you know, I don't know what they are doing. Clearly, they have got to pull the plug. Because I agree clearly with Sam. You know, regardless of the President's intent to motivations for sending out the tweets, it's just - it is not helping anything. It is unhealthy and it shouldn't be done. It's not going to change, you know. He is 70 years old. He is not changing his stripes.
Look. The FBI does have some perception issues right now. The optics from a handful of things that have surfaced are not good. But fine, you know, look at it, create transparency just like we did when there were investigations related to CIA or NSA. Fine, you should have transparency. You should investigate issues that may reveal some sort of hyper-partisanship.
But what the President is doing right now is, as has been pointed out, it's creating an unhealthy environment. Look, I know a lot of bureau personnel, former and current, and I have absolute faith in those personnel, working out on the streets every day on our behalf to go about their job regardless of who is in the White House in a professional and ethical and nonpartisan way. Again, there are some optics from Peter Strzok's bit, that's fine.
Look into that, take care of that. But somebody has got to get that twitter handle away from the President.
BROWN: So I'm going to go to you on this, Sam. Because as a reporter who has been covering the FBI for years, I noticed a huge shift in terms of the FBI's relationship with the media. Under James Comey, it was more open and transparent. James Comey would sit down with reporters and talk to us. Now they have clamped down and will not talk to reporters. It is a totally different environment under the direction of Christopher Wray. And even under Andrew McCabe, I mean, we were told that he really cracked down on the FBI working with the media because of the leaks.
But do you think the FBI should come out more forcefully in the wake of attacks like this from the President and just say, hey, here's the deal. Andy McCabe is retiring because he is eligible. This has nothing to do with anything else. What do you think? I'm just curious.
[16:25:27] VINOGRAD: I definitely think that various government agencies pursue different press postures based upon what is going on policy wise or for example if there is a high level ongoing investigation. Typically, you don't comment on an ongoing investigation. President Trump has obviously deterred from that pact.
But I do think that we have seen the CIA, for example, respond when they have come under direct attack by the President. Director Pompeo responded directly, for example, when President Trump sided with Vladimir Putin and started the intelligence community regarding Russia's attack on the United States.
So I do think that it is worth reiterating something that all of us that observed no, which is the FBI is a political. Jim Baker has served his country for 25 years under Republican and Democratic Presidents like I did. And that the career staff of the FBI was make up a majority of FBI employees don't switch out with the administrations. And I think that we all know that but in light of what's happening, it might be useful thing to re-empathize.
BROWN: I just wish it could be a service to the people for them to help educate them beyond us talking about it. How come the FBI directly about the fact.
And you know, I have to note that these tweets from the President and all of this comes on the heels of the FBI preventing an ISIS-inspired attack in San Francisco. And we are seeing they are doing a really good work. Yes, some Republicans are actually coming out and acknowledging that today.
But you mentioned James Baker, who was formally general counsel. Former FBI director James Comey issued a rare statement in defense of Baker on twitter. He says, sadly, we are now at a point in our political life when anyone can be attacked for partisan gain. James Baker who is stepping down as FBI general counsel served our country incredibly well for 25 years and deserves better. He is what we should all want our public servants to be.
Paul, your reaction to that? And I should note we don't know exactly why he is being reassigned? But go ahead.
CALLAN: Well, of course, Comey is in a position now where he can respond because he no longer works for the FBI. I feel terrible for these agents because they work for the President and the justice department. So they are in a very difficult position. If they attack the President directly, they could lose their jobs in the end.
So the FBI is an institution has put on an extremely difficult position by the President. Heaven knows we are in for a rough year ahead, Pamela, because twitter has increased the number of words, what, characters to 340. So the President can now send these lengthy statements. I mean, that wondering attack that was just read was really -- it's quite shocking. And I think we are going to see more of that now because this is how he communicates.
VINOGRAD: And if I may, we are spending time looking at the President attacking U.S. public servants rather than focusing on the real issue of Russia's attack on the United States. We have also seen this in congressional testimony. We had House judiciary committee hearing that devolve in the partisan finger pointing where lawmakers were attacking the credibility of the FBI rather than focusing on what Russia did and how we are going to hold them accountable.
BROWN: And on that note, Mike, do you think that from the point Sanders made, this is an effort from the White House and Republicans to distract from the issue of Russia's meddling in the election and trying to undermine the current investigation?
CALLAN: Well, you know what, I'm not really going to prescribe any sort of grand strategy to what is going on. I literally think that much of it is just driven moment to moment by sort of the whims of the President's tweets. So I don't think there's some 30,000 foot view.
I mean, to be fair, also, it's happening on both sides. I mean, both sides are ignoring bigger issues. Both sides are playing this partisan game. I mean, the other day during the tax bill signing ceremony, suddenly you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a senior Democrat coming out saying it's a red line if you fire Mueller. Well, nobody was talking about firing Mueller except for Schumer and, you know, and Warner and some of the others.
So both sides are playing this game. It's unhealthy all the way around. We have got serious issues that we should be focused on with that things that we should be doing on behalf of the American people and look what we are talking about at this point.
BROWN: Yes. I mean, you make a fair point. Both sides of the aisle politicizing this investigation.
All right. Sam Vinograd and Mike Baker, Paul Callan, thank you all so much.
CALLAN: Thank you.
BROWN: Well, the United States is going to supply anti-tank weapons to Ukraine and that provoked a strong reaction from Russia today. More on that just ahead.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We will be right back.
[16:34:19] BROWN: Well, it's official now. The United States is going to give weapons to the Ukraine specifically defenses and titan weapons. The U.S. state department announced it last night. Clashes have intensified lately between Ukrainian troops and Russian separatists who Washington officials say are being supplied by Russia.
Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is here.
Elise, how are U.S. officials justifying this move?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, you noticed that the state department is calling these defensive capabilities. But really, this is the first time that the U.S. is providing lethal weapons to the Ukrainian military. This is something that the Ukrainians have been asking for for a long time and members of both Houses of -- both parties in Congress have been asking for some time. In fact, Senator John McCain came out this morning praising the move. He was one of the largest proponents of doing so.
The idea is that the U.S. feels that the Ukrainians are facing this aggression from the Russian-backed separatists, from the Russian government. And so when they say it's defensive, they are defending themselves from this aggression. But make no mistakes, these are lethal weapons. These anti-tank missiles can puncture the kind of armored vehicles that these Russian backed separatists have.
[16:35:35] BROWN: And this appears, at least, to be a change in posture from what we have heard from Trump on the campaign trail versus now, right?
LABOTT: Well, in a lot of ways in terms of Ukraine. I mean, look in a campaign platform that the Republicans had, they had taken out any mention of arming the Ukrainians. Additionally, if you heard President Trump on the campaign trail, he suggested that he might even recognize Crimea which Russia annexed as Russian territory. He also said that might consider lifting those sanctions about Ukraine that were imposed against Russia by the Obama administration.
So I think that, you know, there was an expectation that President Trump, on the issue of Ukraine, would come and give Russia a pass and when you see now ramping up this type of weaponry.
Early in the week President Trump followed what President Obama did which was agreeing to sell light arms and ammunitions. Now for the first time providing this lethal weapons I would say it is exactly the opposite of what people expected from Mr. President. Why he is doing it now, we are not really sure. But as you noted, there have been these intensified clashes and we understand from officials that President Trump has been watching this very closely.
BROWN: You know, to me, and also he said on the campaign trail, was that he wanted to improve relations with Russia. But I imagine this move is not going to go over very well with Russia.
LABOTT: It's not at all. In fact, you heard the Russians reacting very strongly this morning. The deputy foreign minister Sergey Rovokov came out with a statement saying that this crosses the line. That this is going to create additional bloodshed. This is something that Russia cannot ignore. And I think the concern now is that Russia is going to use this as a pretext to launch further incursions into Ukraine to increase support for the separatists.
So this is really only going to exacerbate tensions. I mean, look. We have to be honest, the rhetoric about from President Trump about Russia, warmer ties, wanting to improve the relations, refusing to acknowledge Russia's involvement and meddling in the 2016 election would suggest that on the issue of Ukraine, he has looked to improve the ties. But I will say on Ukraine specifically, this is an instance where the Trump administration has even ramped up from the Obama administration.
BROWN: All right. Elise Labott, thank you so much.
Well, the United Nations votes for tough new sanctions against North Korea. It's an effort to stop that country's nuclear bomb ambitions. Details on that coming up.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:42:40] BROWN: Well, North Korea is now facing harsh new sanctions drafted by the U.S. and pass by the U.N. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley welcomed the measures Friday declaring quote "today we cut deeper." The rest of the Security Council voted unanimously to support the new strategy. This latest rebuke is designed to halt the use of North Korean workers overseas and took off Pyongyang's supply of industrial equipment and fuel.
Ambassador Haley says a new restrictions are direct response to North Korea's November 20th ballistic missile test.
And as the threat from North Korea looms, President Trump's new national security strategy singles out Pyongyang labeling it a top threat to U.S. security bent on acquiring weapons that could kill millions of Americans. And now, as Brian Todd explains, North Korea is pushing back.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kim Jong-un's regime using some of its favorite phrases to insult President Trump, calling him gangster-like and arrogant. Pyongyang was upset over the President's new national security strategy, a document which highlights what the U.S. sees as North Korea's desire for a missile program able to quote "kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons," a threat the President promises to counter.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be taken care of. We have no choice.
TODD: But now Kim's regime is firing back with its own accusation that the quote "gang of Trump" is seeking to invade and control North Korea by starting a nuclear war. All of this just weeks before the winter Olympics start in South Korea.
KELLY MAGSAMEN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are all in a place of pretty heightened tensions over the past year. And I think as we are looking at the Olympics and beyond the Olympics, especially when the United States begin its military exercises again into the March and April time frame, the potential for escalation is pretty high.
TODD: But it's not just nuclear arms that are escalating tensions. The new Trump security plans says Kim's regime is also pursing chemical and biological weapons which quote "could be delivered by missile." South Korean government reports recently cited by Harvard University saying North Korea has 13 types of biological agents which it can weaponize within ten days if Kim makes the decision to do that. The reports say anthrax and small pox are the most likely agents that North Korea would deploy.
Could anthrax be deployed on a long missile could work and could it kill a lot of people?
[16:45:01] ANDREW WEBER, FORMER ASSISTANT DEFENSE SECRETARY: Yes. The Soviet Union did have warheads that were designed for biological weapons, long range missiles like the SS-18. But it's really not necessary. You could deliver an anthrax attack in Los Angeles or Miami or New York covertly and have strategic impact and kill tens and thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people.
TODD: It is impossible to know for sure if North Korea is creating these types of weapons because the regime is difficult to penetrate and intelligence is limited. And the U.S. intelligence community has been wrong about chemical and biological weapons in the past, including in the run-up to the Iraq war.
Still, experts who study North Korea point to what they say is troubling evidence, including these photographs from two years ago as Kim toured the Pyongyang biotechnical institute which the North Koreans claim manufactures pesticides.
But some machinery on display raise alarm among WMD experts. Equipment such as these silver tanks which experts say are industrial- scale fermenters capable of producing anthrax on a large scale along with other machinery used to convert biological agents in sprayable form.
Andrew Weber track biological weapons for decades at the Pentagon.
Let's say a thumb-nail size quantity of anthrax, how many people could that kill from just the sprayer? WEBER: Delivered in the right condition, that could kill thousands,
maybe, even over 10,000 people.
TODD: From a sprayer in an urban environment?
TODD: Millions of South Koreans and tens of thousands of American troops in South Korea could be vulnerable to that kind of biological attack and using biological weapons could give Kim Jong-un one other advantage. Experts say it's much harder to trace who used a biological weapon than it is to trace a nuclear weapon. This week, North Korea put out a statement denying that it has a biological weapons program.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: And out thanks to Brian Todd.
Meantime, the mysterious death of a border agent killed in the line of duty. One month later, the agent's wife speaks out to CNN and says she wants some answers. We are going to hear from her coming up.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:51:41] BROWN: Well, it has been one month since a border patrol agent Rogelio Martinez died while in patrol in West Texas. The FBI says it is still doesn't have a concrete answer about what exactly happened.
CNN correspondent Scott McLean spoke with the agent's fiancee.
ANGIE OCHOA, ROGELIO MARTINEZ'S FIANCEE: We talked about our future, what he planned and what we wanted to do. And he always spoke about getting old together.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a month since Angie Ochoa's fiance, border patrol agent Rogelio Martinez was killed on duty. A month wondering what happened.
OCHOA: The whole thing is very confusing. You know, just the fact that nobody is getting any answers just makes it even worse.
MCLEAN: On the night of November 18th, Martinez was working alone, checking culverts along the interstate near Van Horn, Texas about 30 miles from the Mexican border. Whatever happened next left Martinez badly injured and unconscious, never regained consciousness and later died in the hospital from head injuries.
OCHOA: I still have the last I love you note he left that night he left to work. He said, I love you. And I found it the following morning when I was going through my makeup.
MCLEAN: How did that make you feel?
OCHOA: It tore me apart. Just, you know, that someone loved me that much and now he is gone with no answers.
MCLEAN: A second agent, Steven Michael Garland (ph) was also found injured in the same area but survived. The border patrol union was quick to label it an attack. Texas governor Gregg Abbot called it murder. On twitter, the President used the incident to promote the southern border wall he has promised to build.
But the local sheriff, Oscar Cario, who responded to the scene that night said it did not sound like an attack to him. He suggested the agents may have fallen eight to ten feet to the bottom of the culvert. He told the Dallas Morning News it is even possible they were clipped by a passing tractor-trailer. The union disagrees.
CHRIS CABRERA, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL SPOKESMAN: These agents didn't get clipped by a truck or a car. They were attacked. It's just plain to see that they were attacked.
MCLEAN: According to a department of justice official with knowledge of the investigation, the FBI was investigating several possibilities, including an accident, an attack or a dispute between the two agents. In the weeks after the incident, the FBI set its sights on two brothers who crossed the border illegally according to a search warrant mistakenly filed in open court. Investigators searched the vehicle they were in for evidence that might tie them to the scene. The FBI has since indicated it's no longer looking in that direction.
You had the opportunity to actually go out to that scene. What did that tell you?
OCHOA: I find it very hard that a fall could have caused all the damage that he had. And as far as him being, you know, side swept, it couldn't have happened either because he was not off the freeway. He was actually on the side road. From the damages to his face, I mean, there's no way. There's no way.
MCLEAN: The one person who might have answers, agent Garland, says he doesn't remember anything after arriving at work that day. Garland has so far not responded to interview requests and Ochoa says he is also not reached out to her family to offer condolences.
[16:55:07] OCHOA: I just figured, you know, eventually, you know, he will start remembering things and they will catch the ones that did it. But now it's just -- it's become so hard to believe that he can't remember anything.
MCLEAN: For its part, the border patrol union says garland suffered severe head trauma that he wants to remember what happened, wants to get it out in the open and ultimately wants justice to be done.
Scott McLean, CNN, El Paso, Texas.
BROWN: And out thanks to Scott McLean there.
Well, the White House is denying a report that the President said Asian immigrants all have AIDS. I spoke to the "New York Times" writer behind the story breaking today. And you are going to hear from him up next.