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Huawei's Heiress Arrested in Canada; Brexit Voters Wants Results; Yemen Hoping for Peace; No Deal Done at OPEC; France No Stranger to Protests. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired December 7, 2018 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: Trade tensions, and a market roller coaster after United States has a prominent Chinese tech official arrested.

Manafort and Cohen documents, new filings from the special counsel's probe coming out on Friday. What we may learn about the investigation.

And a glimmer of hope for war torn Yemen. With the country facing the world's worst humanitarian crisis, peace talks are under way between Iranian backed rebels and the Saudi supported government.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you. We begin with what we could learn on Friday about why a Chinese tech executive was arrested at the request of the U.S. on a bail here. It takes place in Canada.

Meng Wanzhou is the CFO of the Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies. A Canadian court impose a news blackout on the case but there's no question the U.S. wants her extradited. The news sent Wall Street into a tailspin.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones dropped 785 points before regaining most of it to close down just 79 points.

CNN's Matt Rivers following the story live in Beijing. Matt, the timing of this that seems the most circumspect to see a senior Chinese executive arrested.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no doubt about it. I mean, this isn't happening in a vacuum. The fact that this is would like arresting if China arrested a senior executive at Apple, for example. That's how big Huawei is to China.

And so, the fact that this is happening is really going to put a damper, if you will, on the ongoing trade negotiations. George, remember that trade war that's ongoing between the U.S. and China, well, this isn't going to help those negotiations.

Just a couple of days ago, that President Xi of China and President Trump sat down in Argentina in Buenos Aires at the G20 where they agreed on this 90-day framework to try and hammer out a deal on trade.

Well, then this happened. So, that is certainly not going to make those negotiations any easier.

Now, in terms of exactly why Meng Wanzhou was arrested, you know, there's a -- what's called a publication ban in Canada right now so we can't discuss the specific charges that she's facing.

However, here's what we do know. The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and others earlier this year reported that Huawei was under investigation by the Department of Justice in the United States for violating sanctions that the United States have placed on Iran.

So, basically, what they're saying, is that they're investigating Huawei for doing business with Iran that would violate U.S. law. Amongst the rest might have something to do with that.

And the fact that the United States is willing to go so far as to try and extradite her, ask the Canadians to arrest her and then bring her back to face trial or charges unspecified at this point in a New York City courtroom is a massive escalation. It's something the Chinese are not happy with. They have already called for her release.

But where it all goes from here, George, we're not really sure it's going to affect those trade negotiations. But do both sides let this one arrest derail this broader talks? It's a possibility.

HOWELL: Matt Rivers following the story live for us in Beijing. Matt, thank you.

Most outside of China may not be familiar with Meng Wanzhou or appreciate her role in China's tech industry.

CNN's Michael Holmes gives us a closer look now.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A sometimes elusive figure, Meng Wanzhou has often been seen as the likely next leader of one of China's largest technology companies and the heiress to an empire. The 46-year-old began in 1993 as a secretary of Huawei, a multi-billion- dollar telecommunications giant founded by her father.

At the time of her arrest on Saturday in Canada, Meng had risen to chief financial officer and deputy chair. Requested by the U.S., her surprise detention has China incensed demanding more answers.


GENG SHUANG, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): The Chinese side made it clear our solemn positions to the U.S. and Canada and ask them to clarify the reason of the detention and to release the detainee immediately.


HOLMES: It's not the first time China has gone on the defense for Huawei which has suffered a series of setbacks this year, largely over increasing worries it might be influenced by the Chinese state.


SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE: There's a grave concern in this country in Europe and other countries that embedding Huawei equipment in our next generation of the 5G generation of cellular, for example, creates a really serious national security risk.

[03:05:02] I don't think this -- this detention has anything to do with that. But that's an overarching issue in the background here.


HOLMES: In February, the U.S. intelligence agencies warned that Huawei's phones and those of its rival ZTE, pose a security threat to Americans.

In August, Australia banned Huawei's 5G technology there. And on Wednesday, a U.K. telecom company said it would no longer buy the firm's products or technology.

Huawei has long denied any government interference in its business but some have also scrutinized the background of Huawei's elusive founder and Meng's father, Ren Zhengfei. For nearly a decade, he helped build China's communications network while working as a civil engineer with the China People's Liberation Army.

Much like her father, Meng who also goes by first names Sabrina and Kathy has largely kept a low profile. Little is known about her outside of Huawei's web site and limited media appearances.

After earning a master's degree in 1998, she has held financial jobs at the company. In the most senior position of her uncle, brother and stepmother who all work there, she was considered the obvious choice to take the helm. But her fate and that of the global tech giant may be uncertain.

Michael Holmes, CNN.

HOWELL: Michael, thank you. U.S. oil prices fell more than 2 percent on Thursday after OPEC members failed to reach an agreement on supply cuts during their first of meetings taking place in Vienna. Saudi Arabia's energy minister added more uncertainty, saying he's not confident that a deal can be reached by Friday.

CNN's Emerging Markets editor John Defterios is joining us from Vienna where OPEC leaders are meeting again on Friday. And John, does this have more to do than just oil?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, I think so, George. This is a case where oil and geopolitics are clashing. let's put it that way. They came in with a pretty simple mandate and that is to try to take some oil off the market to lift prices because we had a $25 fall in October and November. In fact, the month of November is the worst in oil since the global financial crisis in 2008. And everybody was optimistic coming in. Because you saw the meeting between Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Vladimir Putin in Argentina last weekend, their discussion of keeping this declaration between the two major parties intact and that they would agree on what level to cut here in Vienna.

This has been complicated by the fact that U.S. President Donald Trump has been leaning on Saudi Arabia to keep the supplies steady with oil prices low. So, the three major oil exporters of the world today, being Saudi Arabia and Russia and the United States don't see eye-to- eye. So, they met all day yesterday with a simple plan to try to take a million barrels a day off the market. More modest effort to do so and they could not agree.

So, in the last 15 minutes we've seen the different ministers coming through the front door here, trying to iron out their differences, they're pretty subtle. And then we have the Russian minister coming back after a meeting with Vladimir Putin trying to get a final agreement, probably in the next three or four hours but they came unstuck last night.

HOWELL: John, you say ministers coming together and trying to iron out differences. But the grand question here, what will it take to get a deal done?

DEFTERIOS: Well, you know, it's a key question, George. Because when we came in we were looking from a -- for a bold statement from OPEC of a cut of 1.3 million barrels a day to send a signal to the market after $25 fall, we want to rebalance supply and demand.

The U.S. is serving as a wedge into the negotiations. This is the reality, particularly because of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the support that President Trump has given to Mohammed bin Salman.

And there's a fly in the ointment. The wild card here is Iran. The U.S. leaning on Iran, of course, with sanctions. The Iranians are suggesting if we are going to a deal let's make it a robust deal. Why are we going with the U.S. push here for a smaller cut? That's not what we're looking for and that's exactly, according to sources, is what happened last night.

Saudi Arabia and Russia trying to find an agreement, Iran suggesting they want something a bit bolder because they are facing sanctions and the U.S. on the phone lobbying Saudi Arabia to where it is. So, it is complex. But they're trying to get an agreement by the end of business today at the very latest, George.

HOWELL: John Defterios following the story for us in Vienna. John, thank you. We'll keep in touch with you.

Now to the conflict in Yemen, the opposing sides of the fight are holding peace talks in Sweden. These are the first direct discussions between the Saudi-led Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels in two years.

[03:09:56] On Thursday, a confidence building gesture, each side agreed to free thousands of prisoners. The U.N. envoy for Yemen warns it is a hopeful start but it's not time to be overly optimistic.

Following the story, our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman live in Beirut, Lebanon. Good to have you with us, Ben. So, the simple fact that talks are happening surely positive. We've seen prisoner swaps, trust building that is building. But are these talks expected to result in any major breakthroughs here?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Major breakthroughs, George, no. But really it is significant that they're being held at all. Remember that last September, talks were supposed to be held but the Houthi delegation never showed up. Their fear was that to get to the -- the talks, that they were going to have to fly through Saudi controlled air space and were afraid they might not make either make it or perhaps not make it back to Yemen after the talks.

And it's important to stress that according to Martin Griffiths, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, these are not peace negotiations. He's calling them consultations. And that we understand that there is no part of the program -- there's going to be no face-to-face talks between the U.N. recognized government based in Aidan and the Houthis who control Sana'a, the capital of Yemen.

But as I said, it's significant that they're speaking at all. Now you discussed these confidence building measures, this perhaps 5,000 prisoners swap between the two sides, the Houthis want the Sana'a airport to be completely opened again. At the moment, only flights that are approved by the Saudi-led coalition are allowed to land in Sana'a.

So, those are small measures that can be taken as they talk but certainly given the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen some sort of breakthrough is desperately needed.

Now one of the points that they are discussing is the possibility of putting Hudayda, that port on the Red Sea controlled by the Houthis but under siege by the Saudi-led coalition, putting that under U.N. control.

It's important to keep in mind that about 70 percent of the humanitarian aid that enters Yemen comes through that port and any disruption of that flow of aid would be catastrophic in a country where according to some estimates, 14 million people are in danger of starvation. George.

HOWELL: Ben Wedeman following the story. Of course, we'll continue to watch these talks. Ben, thank you for the report.

Now to New York City where police there have given the all clear. This after CNN's offices and studios at the Time-Warner Center were evacuated due to a bomb threat just a short time ago. The caller claimed that five devices were planted inside that building but a floor by floor search police found nothing suspicious.

Northern Ireland has been no stranger to division. But now comes Brexit, when we return, how people there view Theresa May's latest deal. Plus, how France plans to keep another weekend of yellow vests protest

from becoming violent. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back. Comedian Kevin Hart says that he's stepping down from the opportunity of a life-time as the host of the Academy Awards in February. Hart made that announcement after tweets protested from 2009 to 2011 came to light, in them he made offensive remarks about the LGBT community.

Hart eventually apologized on Twitter saying this. "I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists."

Now to the United Kingdom and Brexit, the Prime Minister Theresa May got a much-needed boost for her plan to leave the E.U. for Britain's finance minister. Many lawmakers there oppose the deal that she brokered with E.U. dealers. But the finance minister told parliament it's simply not realistic to renegotiate.


PHILIP HAMMOND, BRITISH FINANCE MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, I have observed this process at close quarters for two and half years. And I'm absolutely clear about one thing. This deal is the best deal to exit the E.U. that is available or that is going to be available.

The idea that there's an option of renegotiating at the 11th hour is simply a delusion. We need to be honest with ourselves, the alternative to this deal are no deal or no Brexit.


HOWELL: Keeping in mind, lawmakers there are mired in a five-day debate over the prime minister's plan.

Let's get the very latest now from our Erin McLaughlin who is on the streets of Belfast. And Erin, once again, Northern Ireland came up as a possible obstacle here.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's looking like the obstacle what could happen to Northern Ireland that so-called backstop solution, is really looking like the reason that it's increasingly unlikely that Theresa May will be able to get that critical Brexit legislation through parliament next week.

But speaking to people here in Belfast and talking to them, they say that they're confused by all of this. Some are angry but business leaders I've been talking to say they see opportunity.


MCLAUGHLIN: Belfast is a city that knows division. And when it comes to Brexit, there are new fissuers over Theresa May's deal. Though many say they're more confused than anything else. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See, like I understood it at the start of the

Brexit thing but now I just don't understand what's happening anymore, so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's difficult.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To understand some but not at all. And to say and I think the part that they don't understand much themselves either. So, as I say it's very difficult for such only like ourselves, you know.

MCLAUGHLIN: Isn't that concerning?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is concerning, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I mean, it does. So, that's the world we're living, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's concerning. We don't know where we're going.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know what the future will hold.

MCLAUGHLIN: There are those with a more definitive view. They say the controversial backstop drafter to prevent the return of a hard border means weakening the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, keeping us more in the E.U. than with Britain.

MCLAUGHLIN: And it bothers you?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we're British. We're not Irish.

MCLAUGHLIN: The Democratic Unionist Party feels the same. The DUP holds the keys to Theresa May's minority government balance to vote down her deal next week.



NIGEL DODDS, DEPUTY LEADER, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY: Northern Ireland will treat Great Britain as a third country. How can we possibly stand here and recommend this deal?



MCLAUGHLIN: But where the DUP sees a threat, brewer Niall McMullan sees opportunity. In fact, he debated the backstop means Northern Irish businesses will be able to trade both in the E.U. and the U.K. friction-free.

NIALL MCMULLAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, HERCULES BREWING COMPANY: As I say, we could actually benefit from inward investment, you know, being in this unique situation where we can play with both markets.

[03:20:01] MCLAUGHLIN: So, it must be surreal to see argument against the backstop that you see as a potential opportunity.

MCMULLAN: Yes. It doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.

MCLAUGHLIN: the city of Belfast is known relative peace for the past 20 years. With Brexit there's newfound uncertainty and plenty of confusion.


MCLAUGHLIN: And the latest attempt according to British media reports to resolve this legislative impasse is a tabling of an amendment that would give the U.K. parliament more of a say over when that backstop is triggered.

But we just recently heard from the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster who said that that solution simply won't cut it. So, the impasse continues, George.

HOWELL: Where do things go from here? Erin Mclaughlin live for us in Belfast. Erin, thank you for the report.

We've already heard warnings from the Bank of England and some major firms if the country crashes out of Brexit with no deal. But there are some companies that see opportunity in a hard Brexit.

Our Anna Stewart has details on that.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It's the sound of routine, far from the shouting in Westminster. Since 1961, David Nieper has made classic British clothing. Trousers, coats and nightgowns for ladies of a certain age.


CHRISTOPHER NIEPER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DAVID NIEPER LTD.: We have a mature customer base. And they buy directly from the designer's work which are here behind me.


STEWART: Britain's major manufacturers those in aerospace and automotive have warned of calamity, if parliament doesn't pass Theresa May's Brexit deal next week. Here in Derbyshire the management likely disagrees. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIEPER: If there was referendum tomorrow, I would vote the same way. And I would encourage our M.P. to vote against the withdrawal agreement next week in parliament.


STEWART: The sales are up nearly 15 percent since the 2016 referendum. Mostly thanks to weaker sterling.


NIEPER: They predicted the economy would go down, it went up. The stock market should go down, it went up. All of their official predictions have been wrong.


STEWART: Most here aren't clear what parliament is even voting on.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The deal that's been proposed right now not a lot of people know what it is. We don't know what it is. We don't know what's written in the papers. Everybody is falling out with everybody else in parliament.


STEWART: The business may look like a throwback from an earlier era but it generates about $20 million in annual revenue, a third from customers in Europe.


STEWART: Now if there were tariffs, if we had a hard Brexit that's going to cost you more. Are you going to pass that cost on to the consumer?

NIEPER: No. We won't pass it on. It won't make a difference.

STEWART: So, you see this as an opportunity?

NIEPER: It's a catalyst for change. And it's just what Britain needs, is a shot of adrenaline to start producing in Britain again.

STEWART: And that could be bad news for its European suppliers. David Nieper gets its yarn and printed cloth from Deveaux, a fabric company in the foothills of the alps. That company says a no deal Brexit could sink a significant U.K. business.

And David Nieper may deliver the first blow. Its invested millions in this new fabric factory to make more at home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIEPER: One of the most important things for us is that we have continuity of supply chain. And so, we've taken a decision to bring more of the supply chain from Europe into the U.K.


STEWART: A homegrown firm hoping the prime minister's deal will falls apart at the seams.

Anna Stewart, CNN, Derbyshire.

HOWELL: Anna, thank you. Now to France. Thousands of troops will be deployed on the streets of Paris on Saturday and many across the country ahead of another round of yellow vests protests.

The government there is hoping to get out ahead of new outbreaks of violence. Just a week ago, there were riots. Cars were torched and national monuments vandalized and dozens of people injured in clashes with police.

For several weeks now, Protesters have demanded economic reforms starting with relief from rising fuel prices. French authorities say troublemakers aren't legitimate protesters and they will be ready to deal with them they say.


EDOUARD PHILIPPE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We're facing people who are not here to protest but to smash. We want to have the means to not give them free rein.

We have mobilized a considerable amount of forces, 8,000 in Paris which is much more than last Saturday and in total for France. Not 65,000 as announced earlier, but 89,000. So, it is truly an exceptional mobilization.


[03:24:58] HOWELL: The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and other famous landmarks will be closed during these protests. Now, Paris is no stranger to this type of public anger.

Our Jim Bittermann reports the yellow vests reminds lawmakers there of a violent social movement 50 years ago.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Forty-year- old Emmanuel Macron is the first president of France with no direct memory of what happened on the streets here in May of 1968. But many of those around the young leader recall graphically what took place back then and the consequences.

On the surface, the violent scenes of the protest that have taken place here looked a lot like the scenes from 50 years ago.

The street barricades, burning cars, running battles with police armed with tear gas and protesters armed with cobblestones. All are signs in France that public anger has reached a boiling point. That people had enough.

Laurent Joffrin today editor of the left-leaning newspaper Liberation was a university student in 1968 and confronting the police on the streets.

LAURENT JOFFRIN, EDITOR, LIBERATION NEWSPAPER: It's France, you know. France is a country where you like rebellions. Demonstrations. So, that's the cultural thing. And the fact that the government is lost. It was the same in May '68, in front of a revolt that didn't (Inaudible) at all and don't understand in the first place.


BITTERMANN: While the '68 protest started in the universities and today it's began with higher prices at the gas pumps, both then and now, localize demonstrations quickly spread throughout the country. Common to both as well is a growing sense that the government was having a difficult time getting a handle on the situation as more and more groups joined in.

But a well-known French journalist who was a researcher for NBC News back in 1968 says there are major differences today.


CHRISTINE OCKRENT, FRENCH JOURNALIST: First of all, the internet, the social media. The fact that this movement is amorphous, no leaders. The very few people who come out immediately receive threats from the others. So, it's very dangerous. The other dimension is that trade unions are completely out. Political parties are completely out.


BITTERMANN: Just like 1968, though, the demands of the protesters have broadened as the protests have worn on. Demonstrators demanding more and more and just like in '68, some want the president to resign even though he was democratically elected just 18 months ago.

President Macron's government has now made compromises but still trying to identify a leader of the grassroots yellow vest movement to accept him, still looking for an exit strategy.

Back in 1968, President Charles de Gaulle faced a country paralyzed in protest. He decided to suddenly leave the country without telling anybody where he was going or when he would come back. After a day of political uncertainty and high drama, he returned to make major concessions to the protesters, dissolved the parliament and called for a new election. Something that just strengthen his hand.

Macron is a committed follower of de Gaulle and like de Gaulle, he's had to make major concession to defuse the threat from the streets. But just in 1968, it may take even more to avoid further chaos.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

HOWELL: Friday may be a big, big day in the Russia investigation. Why we will be watching for two court filings and a hearing.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you this hour. The war insides in Yemen's conflict are holding peace talks in Sweden. These are the first direct discussions between the Saudi led Yemeni government and Houthi rebels in two years. But the U.N. envoy warns they would be overly optimistic he says, talks are only consultations, not yet the beginning of negotiations.

Friday's bail hearing in Vancouver Canada, could help shed light on why a top Chinese tech executive was arrested. And why do United States wants her extradited? Meng Wanzhou, is the CFO of the Chinese tech giant Huawei technologies. Canadian court imposed the news blackout, but months ago it was reported the company was being investigated for possible violations of Iran sanctions.

The U.S. comedian Kevin Hart, he says he is dropping out, stepping out from a chance to host the Academy Awards in February. The actor made the announcement after tweets that he wrote from 2009 to 2011 came back to light. In those tweets he made offensive remarks against the LGBT community. Hart apologized, said that his goal was to bring people together.

We are learning some surprising new details about what was going on behind the scenes in the days before Robert Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel in the Russia investigation. Our senior White House correspondent, Pamela Brown has more for you.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, CNN has learn any hectic eight day after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein and top FBI officials viewed Trump as a leader who needed to be rein in and they discuss a range of options. Ultimately then acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe to the extraordinary step of opening, obstruction of justice, probe, even before Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed. This is what the several sources told us. This was an idea that the FBI had previously considered.

But the probe wasn't open until after Comey was fired and before Mueller was appointed. The justification went beyond Trump's firing of Comey, according to the sources, and included the president conversations with Comey and the Oval Office asking him to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Now sources say the FBI would only take such dramatic action if officials suspected a crime had been committed, but we are told Rosenstein and other senior FBI officials also have deep concerns about Trump's behavior and thought he needed to be check. Well, as they consider various options relating to the president and the hours filing, Comey's fire, McCabe and Rosenstein, how the flurry of meetings to discuss the situation and that is when the decision was made for the FBI to open up the case into Trump.

And Washington Post, was first to reference the probe pre-Mueller but the new details about the genesis of the obstruction case and that Trump became a key element of the Mueller probe, just line on the chaotic week following Comey's firing and the scramble to the decide how best to respond and they also help to explain the origins of the Mueller investigation into stretch across 19 moths.

Consume Trump's presidency and is building toward a dramatic day of court room filings Friday. We should know the source within the Justice Department strongly disputed Rosenstein sought to curb the president emphasizing that his conversations with McCabe were simply about talking through ways to conduct the investigation.

The source say he never said anything like that and a spokeswoman for McCabe did not provide comment for this story, Pamela Brown, CNN Washington.


HOWELL: Pamela, thank you. We could get some new insights and the probe on Friday with a pair of important court filings that are coming up Special Counsel faces a deadline to file briefs in cases against the former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

[03:35:03] On top of that former FBI director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill. Our Alex Marquardt has more.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Special Counsel office has been so good about keeping the inner workings of their investigations secret, so through these documents coming out on Friday. This really could be a moment for us to get a much better sense of what is going on inside the Russia probe. Let us first talk about Paul Manafort. The Trump campaign chairman, who struck that stunning plea deal three months ago with Bob Mueller, only to now see it fall apart. This will be the main event on Friday.

The Special Counsel's office accusing him of breaching that agreement by repeatedly lying to those prosecutors in a whole range of issues. On Friday, we expect the Mueller team to file a brief in court on what Manafort actually did to violate the terms of that plea deal. We expect at least some of the filing to be public. We don't know exactly when it will come just that has to happen before midnight here on the East Coast.

Then there's the question of the president's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who President Trump has called the weak person for flipping on him. Michael Cohen due to be sentenced next week in New York, and Mueller's office has to submit their sentencing memo by Friday afternoon in New York. This is for lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Cohen has now admitted he had was updating President Trump and candidate Trump about the deal far longer than he originally said. Essentially saying that the president was aware of the Trump organization's business efforts in Russia while he was running for president. And then switching gears a little bit, there's former FBI director

James Comey, famously fired by President Donald Trump early in his term. Now as Republicans are about to lose control of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill. The judiciary committee chairman has subpoenaed Comey one more time to testify about the FBI's handling of Hillary Clinton's emails and their Russia investigation.

That would be behind closed doors. Comey had wanted it to be in public. He has said he will talk about the testimony afterwards and we are expecting a transcript. So it will be a big day on multiple fronts. One that will hopefully give us a better idea of where things stand across the Russia probe. Alex Marquardt, CNN Washington.


HOWELL: Let us talk more about this now, let's bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, joining us from our studio in Los Angeles. Areva, thank you again for your time.


HOWELL: Through these court filings court on Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, we could learn a lot. Let us start with Manafort. What do you expect, we could learn about what Manafort said to prosecutors and what evidence they have at the show that he is lying.

MARTIN: Well, we know George that Special Counsel Mueller is very upset with the way that Paul Manafort handled the cooperation agreement that was entered into between him and Special Counsel's office. According to earlier filings, Special Counsel, Mueller said that Manafort violated the terms of the cooperation agreement and he went further, he said the Manafort actually lied to prosecutors and engage in other crimes during the period that he was supposed to be cooperating and providing you know, reliable and truthful information to the Special Counsel.

So one of the things I think we can expect tomorrow from the Special Counsel is to ask the judge not to provide any leniency to Paul Manafort. We saw that with respect to Michael Flynn in the file he made by the Special Counsel's office. He went out of his way to talk about how Flynn had cooperated and how his cooperation had aided the Special Counsel's office, we can expect just the opposite, when it comes to our statements made about Pam -- Paul Manafort, we should expect the Special Counsel to be very critical of how Paul Manafort has conducted himself and for the Special Counsel to ask that he receives the most stringent penalty for the crimes that he's been convicted of and those that he's already pled guilty to.

HOWELL: Areva, with regards to Michael Cohen, we do know the Special Counsel's office and federal prosecutors in New York pledge provide memos to recommend a sentence for Cohen and through those memos. The question here. Can get some insight into the scope how much Cohen cooperated with various investigations?

MARTIN: , Well, I think George, what we can expect is for the Special Counsel to definitely make some recommendations of leniency towards -- with respect to Michael Cohen and the sentencing that will occur on December 12, because he has cooperated apparently not just with a Special Counsel's office.

But with other attorneys within the Department of Justice and we know that when someone comes forward and they cooperates with the Special Counsel's office with the Department of Justice that is grounds for the person being given a lighter sentence. How light the sentence? Remains to be seen. We know that Michael Cohen in his memo to the court has asked that he received zero jail time.

[03:40:03] I'm not as optimistic that our Special Counsel Mueller will be recommending that Cohen not serve any time given the gravity of his crimes, but I do expect that the Special Counsel will acknowledge his cooperation. The fact that he's been truthful with respect to his cooperation and he will ask the judge to take that into consideration and give him a sense that is lighter that he otherwise would receive.

HOWELL: So even before Robert Mueller was appointed, CNN has learned that the then acting FBI director, Andrew McCain but he already opened an obstruction of justice investigation into the President of the United States. From what's already being divulged in the courts from the Mueller team, is there a sense that obstruction of justice is a major focus of this investigation?

MARTIN: We know George that obstruction of justice has been a major theme for all -- throughout the investigation that a been conducted by the Special Counsel's office, all stemming back to that February meeting that James Comey had in the White House where he says Donald Trump ask him to basically you know, kill or quashed the investigation as it related to Michael Flynn. Now we know the president has denied this, but we've heard you know, a really contradictory statements about what happened during that February meeting.

This article, that just come out this reporting is somewhat shocking, because it says that even before Mueller was appointed that it was Rosenstein and McCabe who were, you know, working together to open this obstruction of justice investigation, because they had real concerns. There's also some you know reporting that suggest that Rosenstein was considering wearing some kind of wire and to engage in conversations with the president, perhaps to get him to make certain admissions, you know while Rosenstein was wearing a wire.

Now he's denied this. There has been denials, you know from the Department of Justice with respect to some of this reporting, but I think it shows the gravity of the investigation is being conducted by the Special Counsel's office and that is far more expansive than just be a Russia collusion with the Trump administration in his campaign.

HOWELL: It will be interesting to see what we get from these filings, CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin, thank you again for your time.

MARTIN: Thanks George.

HOWELL: From the cloud of the Russia investigation to a historic snowstorm that is set to cripple parts of the southeastern United States. This weekend I believe Atlanta will be in the mix there. We have Derek Van Dam here to tell us about this weather it's on the way, Derek?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This if it Atlanta's greatest stages just above freezing so we are going to keep it all, rain here in the Metro were CNN headquarters is located, but to the northeast is a whole other story. Because of the details, this is a multi-day event but look what happened in Southern California, kind of all part of the moisture that is fueling this particular system and the strengthening of it as well.

We've had the of course the recent wildfires in Southern California, you add in additional heavy rainfall to the burn scars and this is the result get mud flows we've had some of the highways closed down, because of the flooding and the mud flows that had taken place. Well, that rain is moving out of there and now starting to moved eastwards. So, checkout where it's going.

Look on the graphics, near the sea, this is the storm system responsible for heavy rain in Southern California. Now is going to team up with that low-pressure across Southern Texas, it is going to pull in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, radar doesn't look too interesting just yet, but give it 12 maybe 24 hours and you'll see a marked difference really going to light up like a Christmas tree. I think it is appropriate this time a year across central and eastern Texas.

First, we get a winter mix across the Panhandle moving into Oklahoma. That's a concern for those areas. A wintry mix means roads can get icy on Interstate 40 heavily traveled road. We have over 15 million Americans under a flash flood warning from San Antonio to Houston with over 10 million Americans under some sort of winter weather advisory for Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle, but I'm really focusing my attention over Western sections of North Carolina. That's where we have a winter storm warning. Look how the storm system revolves over the next few days. It is going to target that location specifically across the appellation.

The higher elevations of Western North Carolina could be measuring the snowfall in feet and they have the potential to set all time historic snowfall events in places like Asheville and Boone. Not the most populated part of America, but nonetheless this will cripple infrastructure here for several days, because there is a lot of cold air behind it, and the snowpack will stay in and a lot of times these locations in the Deep South. As we know here in Atlanta, we don't have the facilities to take care of that amount of snow in a short period of time. Makes it very difficult.

HOWELL: It's what we call hot mess.

VAN DAM: That's true or cold mess.


HOWELL: Derek, thank you very much. All right. Still ahead delegates from around the world coming together for conference on climate change but Trump administration takes a different course planning to rollback safeguards on home we will explain ahead. [03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: The most important number 1.5 degrees if the Earth's temperature rises any more than that, there is the results could be disastrous. Nations coming together in Poland are working to keep global warming under 2 degrees, but experts warned that that target may not be ambitious enough. Above 1.5 degrees over preindustrial levels. The impact of climate change grows exponentially, CNN is exploring the consequences of past inaction and how what comes next could be much worse if warming doesn't stop at that critical threshold.

In the U.S. the Trump administration is helping out the coal industry potentially at the expense of the environment, Andrew Wheeler, the man that you see here the acting Environmental Protection Agency chief says he's rolling back Obama era rules for new coal plans. And this is the same Andrew Wheeler who used to lobby for the coal industry. Our Rene Marsh explains.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are putting him back into business, we are going to have clean coal, clean coal.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Keeping his campaign promise the Trump administration is trying to make it easier to build new coal power plant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are rescinding unfair burdens on America's energy providers and leveling the playing field so that new energy technologies can be part of America's future.

MARSH: Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler was a coal lobbyist. His firm represented clients including Murray energy which bills itself as the largest coal mining company in America. From 2009 until last year Murray energy paid his old firm nearly $3 million. Wheeler was shared on by members and supporters of the coal industry Thursday as he announced a proposal that will benefit his old industry.


MARSH: Wheeler is also a former top aide to climate change deniers Senator James (inaudible). Wheeler's new proposal would roll back in Obama era rules that required most newly built coal plants to drastically reduce their emissions.

[03:50:00] The agency's new proposal flies in the face of a recent Trump administration report that urges swift action in curbing greenhouse gases to avoid catastrophic flooding, drought, economic recession and extreme heat due to climate change.

Is this the sort of situation where you are ignoring this government report, because they clearly said that we urgently need to curb emissions? This proposal seems to do the exact opposite.

WHEELER: We are not ignoring the government report, we are so looking at the reported itself.

MARSH: The report warns the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century.

TRUMP: No, I don't believe it. Right now are the cleanest we've ever been, that is very important to me.

MARSH: The Trump administration wants to rollback another environmental law, just as a recent report warns that global fossil fuel emissions are about to hit an all-time high that matters because it's the emissions that scientists say trigger that catastrophic effects of climate change. Thursday's announcement happen just as the U.N. is holding a conference on climate change in Poland. Her work is being done to get every country in the world to curb its emissions in a substantial way.

So, today's yet another example of the Trump administration harboring counter to the global consensus that climate change is a serious issue that needs action now. Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Rene, thank you and one more thing to worry about Greenland's ice sheets are melting faster than they melted in thousands of years and that's causing global sea levels to rise. Researcher at the Scientific Journal Nature say the ice melt has accelerated over the past 20 years after staying relatively stable since the mid-1800s. Greenland's melting ice is the largest source of rising sea level and scientists say it could swamp coastal cities in the coming decades. 40 to 50 percent of the world population lives in these vulnerable coastal areas.

Global warming, it is a real thing. We will be right back.


HOWELL: Hollywood's award season is officially underway with Thursday's nominations for the Golden Globes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Vice presidency is the most symbolic job. However, if we came to a different understanding -- no more Monday job.

HOWELL: Wise the dark satire about former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. Starring Christian Bale was nominated for best musical or comedy and five other categories for most for any film this year.

And a star is born starring Lady Gaga will compete in the best drama category. It is up for five globes along with the film the favorite and Green book. The Golden Globes will be awarded on January 6.


HOWELL: And now to a celebrity duck in New York City's Central Park has been grabbing the attention of hundreds of locals and tourists there. Our Jeanne Moos has the story of a magnet -- magnetic Mandarin duck.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is the duck on all other ducks revolve around the flaming star, commander and duck in Central Park, ever since he parked himself here about two months ago. His celebrity has taken flight.

[03:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's beautiful.

MOOS: Out of towners flock to see him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just for the duck you pay $50 to park.

MOOS: New Yorkers can't believe he is real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks fake, honestly. Like am I being punked?

MOOS: Regulars had given him name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mandy, go ahead.

MOOS: Mandy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I call him Mandy.

MOOS: Others had dubbed him Mandarin Potemkin after the actor, he is also known as the most eligible bachelor in New York. Mandarin ducks are native to East Asia, not North America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has got two leg bands, so he came from somewhere, he belong to somebody.

MOOS: the going fear is that Mandy escape from someone's collection of exotic birds. Someone dumped him here. His photo has made all the way back to China in the People's daily. He's on T-shirts. He's even inspired imitators like Mandarin dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the talk of the town.

MOOS: Mandy the duck is captive for the Quackarazzi. Photographers are always training their lenses on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was trying to get some action shot and I got some of them flying.

MOOS: Urban rangers keep an eye on them to make sure onlookers are --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- respecting the duck.

MOOS: Sure over the weeks his reputation is taken a hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enchanting Mandarin duck in Central Park turned out to be a mallard nipping jerk.

MOOS: We did see them repeatedly chasing other ducks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it looks nasty. He is like attacking them. That's not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And all the Mandarin there sitting doing nothing.

MOOS: A case of mistaken identity. Or perhaps Mandy is defending himself from underwater sneak attacks like this one. A birder told the New York Times. He's the Kim Kardashian of ducks. We tried to lure him with his namesake song. Mandy.

But it drove him back into the pond. Guess he wanted to duck Barry Manilow.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: thank you for being with us for CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. The news continues this hour with Max Foster, live in London. You are watching CNN, the world news leader.