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President Donald Trump Spent His Sunday Working, Railed Against Former FBI Director James Comey; Chief Of Staff John Kelly Will Leave His Post At The End Of The Year; Senior Adviser And Son-In-Law, Jared Kushner, Was Advising The Saudi Crown Prince Even After He Was Accused Of Ordering Khashoggi's Killing; Robert Mueller Says Paul Manafort Lied To Investigators; A Massive Winter Storm Is Hitting The Southeast; Allegations Of Election Fraud In North Carolina; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 9, 2018 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:11] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Less than 48 hours after being implicated in two federal crimes of directing hush money payments to women after alleged affairs, President Trump is resorting to strategy of distract and deny. The President spending his Sunday working, railing against former FBI director James Comey, accusing him, without evidence, of lying to Congress.

The tweets coming one day after President Trump's surprising announcement that chief of staff John Kelly will leave his post at the end of the year, an announcement that was supposed to come formally tomorrow.

Despite that, the Russia cloud continues to hangover the White House with questions now being raised with whether a sitting President can be indicted. Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree on this. No one is above the law.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I disagree with you in the department of justice. There is nothing in the constitution that prohibits the President from being indicted. And I think it's very important that, you know, we originated - this country originated in rebellion against the English king. We did not seek to create another king. Nobody, not the President or anybody else can be above the law.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: If someone has violated the law, that the application of the law should be applied to them like with any other person in this country. And obviously, if you are in a position of great authority like the presidency, that has to be the case. I don't know if it is going to reach that point or not. We have to wait and see. But my position on that or my position on that will not be a political position. It will be the fact that we are a nation of laws and no one in this country no matter who you are is above it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's check in now with CNN's Sarah Westwood at the White House.

And what are you hearing, Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Fred, President Trump is apparently fixated on the testimony his former FBI director gave to the House judiciary and oversight committees on Friday, claiming without evidence that James Comey was lying when he told investigators, congressional investigators during six hours of closed door testimony last week that he did not recall some of the answers to their questions.

And he spent the weekend both railing against the Russia investigation, claiming that somehow these filings Mueller submitted in court vindicated him and making some sweeping personnel changes starting on Friday when he announced his new attorney general pick, Bill Barr and his new pick to be U.N. ambassador Heather Nauert, Saturday morning announcing his pick to be the new joint chairman chiefs of staff General mark Mille.

And then, surprising reporters Saturday afternoon when he announced ahead of schedule that his White House chief of staff John Kelly would be departing the White House. And in that same interaction with reporters as he was leaving Washington for the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, he said that his team was happy with what they were reading in the filings that the special counsel's team submitted on Friday because those filings did not contain any direct evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russians, but those filings did say that prosecutors believe President Trump was involved in illegal payment that his former attorney, Michael Cohen, made to women who were alleging they had affairs with Trump in the 2016 campaign. Prosecutors believe that Cohen committed a campaign finance violation by making those payments.

Now, Congressman Jerry Nadler who is the top Democrat on the House judiciary committee, he said that those payments, if proven true and if Trump's involvement was proven true, would be impeachable offenses even if those offenses don't rise to the level of impeachment.

Take a listen to what he told CNN's Jake Tapper this morning.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: If it is proven that the President directed or coordinated with Cohen to commit these felonies, if it is proven and I understand it has not yet been, it has been alleged by the prosecutors but hasn't been proven, if it's proven, are those impeachable offenses?

NADLER: Well, they would be impeachable offenses. Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question. But certainly, they would be impeachable offenses because even though they were committed before the President became President, they were committed in the service of fraudulently obtaining the office. That would be an impeachable offense.


WESTWOOD: Now the White House has attacked Cohen and continue to undermine his credibility and has sought to put distance between President Trump and his former associates. But this week, Fred, President Trump will have to confront these new realities that we learned from Mueller's filings as he searches for new leadership in his west wing.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood at the White House. Thank you so much.

Former Nixon White House lawyer John Dean says he thinks Congress will have little choice but to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, but one senator said not so fast. Listen.


[14:05:04] CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MEET THE PRESS DAILY: Do you believe there is already enough to start an impeachment inquiry? That doesn't mean he would be impeached, but impeachment inquiry. Is Congress obligated to open that at this point?

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I don't think so. Let me put it this way. I don't think that there is evidence yet available to the public where there would be more or less a consensus that this was an appropriate path. My concern is that if impeachment is moved forward on the evidence that we have now, at least a third of the country would think it was just political revenge and a coop against the President. That wouldn't serve as well at all. The best way to solve a problem like this, to me is elections.


WHITFIELD: All right.

Joining me now is CNN presidential historian and author of the book "Impeachment, an American history," Tim Naftali and CNN legal and national security analyst, Asha Rangappa. Good to see both of you.

So Tim, that's your reaction to what senator King is saying?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, my reaction is that senator King understands that impeachment is a political process. And that you don't have to commit a felony to be impeached and you are not going to be impeached necessarily for any felony.

But the game, the whole situation of context has shifted dramatically. The southern district of New York on Friday, we are talking about Mueller but really the more important filing was about Cohen and the hush money. The southern district of New York is laying the case that there were felonies committed in 2016 and there is a sense that Donald Trump organized and coordinated and ordered these felonious activities.

Now if that proves to be true, remember the President like anybody else is innocent until proven guilty, then you have this issue that the President while he was a candidate committed a felony. And then we were in the situation we were in with Bill Clinton. What kind of felony is impeachable? What kind of felony should have you removed from office?


ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I think Tim has it right. And I think that the important thing that Tim highlights is that the term high crimes and misdemeanors encompasses more than only offenses against the United States. Like things that are comprised within the U.S. code. They can include other things.

And so, I think there is a question on whether the President committed a felony. But I think there is a larger question, a constitutional question on whether the President has exhibited a pattern of trying to potentially benefit from the office of the presidency by pursuing, you know, a business deal without transparency to the American public and placing the United States under the influence of a foreign adversary. Both of which undermine his oath to uphold the constitution and the tenets of the constitution itself.

WHITFIELD: So then, Asha, you know, how protective though is the President? We heard him many times, as you said, you know, a sitting President, you can't be indicted. There is a 1973 policy, you know, from DOJ that states such, but policy can be changed. And how do you see that policy applying to these circumstances if we are talking about allegations prior to becoming the sitting President.

RANGAPPA: That's right. So policy is -- the DOJ policy is the internal, you know, decision based on an assessment of legal, you know, precedent, but it's not itself legal precedent. And we have unfortunate to not to have needed to test this before.

I think where this is relevant, where the scholars come down on this are two sides. One is that a sitting President can't be indicted. The other is that the President can be indicted, but not prosecuted. That is it's the prosecution which is the piece that cuts into the Presidential duties and that he couldn't be removed anyway, except through impeachment but that you could bring the charge. And I think that this is really where we are headed if it does come to light that the President has committed a felony and he does not say like Nixon decided to resign or step down.

WHITFIELD: And so, Tim, you recently wrote a book about impeachment, you know. If Congress decides to pursue impeachment, that's one thing. But then to Asha's point, prosecution law that may not happen during the presidency, it doesn't rule out that perhaps that could come if the material is there. It could come after the presidency.

NAFTALI: Certainly it could. But to Asha's point, you know, she is absolutely right. It is a myth that this is a settled rule that you can't indict a president, sitting president. There was a huge debate about it behind the scenes, of course, in the Watergate special prosecution force and most of the lawyers on that force thought that you could indeed indict a sitting president.

The special prosecutor himself, Jaworski decided I'm not going to deal with this. I'm going to let Congress deal with this because the House impeachment inquiry has started already. But it's an unsettled question. I think the key right now is how does the grand jury get the information it has on this conspiracy to the House? Because there used to be a law, the independent prosecutor law, which has run out, which made it a matter of course that this kind of material would go to Congress.

There is no real mechanism at the moment to get it to Congress. That's what the House should be looking at. Not impeachment hearings yet, but there should be a way to get this information to the House and perhaps this might be a reason for an inquiry about the election. Maybe the House should start an inquiry about the 2016 election. Not call it impeachment, just an inquiry.

[14:11:04] WHITFIELD: Asha?

RANGAPPA: Fredricka, and to Tim's point, there is actually one avenue which could ensure that this happens. So the special counsel does provide a report to his boss, whoever that is, whether it's acting attorney general, the new attorney general when he concludes his inquiry. If he suggests a course of action and the supervisor, the attorney general say -- decides that it is so unwarranted and the departure from departmental policy that it shouldn't be pursued, he can say no. But then that does trigger a reporting requirement to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

So if Mueller says I believe we should indict and the attorney general says but we are not going to because it is not our policy, then that decision as well as a justification for it would need to go to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. And it would become a part of under their purview.

WHITFIELD: That's fascinating.

Meantime, you know, the President has said this weekend that, you know, he doesn't feel that this is in any way implicated him. If anything, he said he has been happy about the way things are going. And he is also focusing on now former FBI director James Comey. He has been tweeting out, saying that without evidence Comey lied, you know, to Congress.

So Asha, what do you make of, I guess, this form of distraction or if there is anything to what the President is saying in terms of, you know, Comey's words not being truthful.

RANGAPPA: It's not clear to me what he is basing that on unless he has not read the documents himself and his advisers are not telling him the truth. Because the filing, the Cohen memo, sentencing memo in particular directly implicates him in a conspiracy or directing his lawyer to commit's campaign finance felony. That is abundantly clear.

WHITFIELD: About being the person account of Michael Cohen, his fixer, saying he got the directive from then candidate.

RANGAPPA: Correct.

And I think it's worth noting that for the southern district to put that so directly into that document to a court suggests to me that they have other corroborating information. Whether it's documents, whether it is another witness who can also testify to that. Because Cohen does comes with a lot of baggage with regards to his credibility and I don't think that they would put all their eggs in one basket by relying only on his account of how things went down.

WHITFIELD: All right. We will leave it there for now.

Asha Rangappa, Tim Naftali, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Next. a new report about the relationship between Jared Kushner and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the contacts they had following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


[14:17:56] WHITFIELD: Surprising new details on how a key player in the White House handled the fallout from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to a report in the "New York Times," the President's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was advising the Saudi crown prince even after he was accused of ordering Khashoggi's killing. The Times says Kushner offered Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, advice on about how to quote "weather the storm" following Jamal Khashoggi's death.

It goes on to say Kushner and MBS were chatting privately and informally in the days after the October murder despite White House protocol that national security council staff be on all phone calls with foreign leaders. According to three former White House officials and two others briefed by the Saudi royal court, I'm quoting now from the Times, "the two men were on a first name basis, calling each other Jared and Mohammed in text messages and phone calls," end quote.

Kushner first admitted that he had contact with MBS when he talked to CNN's Van Jones in October.


VAN JONES, CNN HOST, VAN JONES SHOW: What are kind of advice did you give MBS in this whole situation?

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Just to be transparent, to be fully transparent. Though the world is watching and this is a very, very serious accusation and a very situation and to make sure you are transparent and to take it very seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: In November, the CIA concluded MBS personally ordered Khashoggi's killing. But according to "the New York Times," Kushner continued to argue that Saudi Arabia is a key ally to the Trump administration.

Let's bring in Susan Hennessey and Samantha Vinograd. Both are former members of the national security agency under the Obama administration. Good to see both of you.

All right. So Susan, you first. Does this help explain why it will be a huge challenge, you know, for this White House to be firm or penalize Saudi Arabia for its involvement in Khashoggi's murder despite the CIA findings?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY ATTORNEY IN OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: I think it is. I think it demonstrates sort of the overall weakness of this administration is foreign policy which is one that has really, you know, a shoot and men quite hostile to expertise.

You know, the Saudis need us a lot more than we need them. But the foreign policies constructed by the President's son in-law Jared Kushner has gone all in on that relationship as central to their regional policy. And so, what we see is not a response to which the United States is responding from a position of leverage and flexibility and power, but instead the United States understands that we are compromised and in a President who sort of shrugging and saying well, you know, we need them for regional policy. We need them, you know, to continue to do deals and therefore we have to accept conduct that is fundamentally odds with basic American values.

[14:20:41] WHITFIELD: And then, Sam, you know, if Jared, you know, indeed use the cell phone, you know, there is precedence on why using secure lines of communication with certain people in attendance or listening in. So why is that kind of protocol so important?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Fred, I spent four years at the national security council and even five years since then and I can still recite the rules for outreach of foreign officials in my sleep because they were so important from a security perspective. If anybody other than President Trump's friends and family engage in this kind of conduct, there would actually be a counter intelligence investigation. This actually happened a few times while I was at the White House.

Investigators would want to know why U.S. government official was knowingly engaging in unauthorized contact with a foreign official.

WHITFIELD: Do you think that kind of investigation is happen right now?

VINOGRAD: I strongly doubt it based upon the fact that Kushner has violated other protocols in the past and gets off scot-free. But Fred, the whole point is when Jared Kushner goes around the process, when he doesn't let other U.S. government officials know about his contact, when he doesn't do it through the situation room, when he doesn't report back out on what Mohammed bin Salman said, as the Saudi government know something that the U.S. government doesn't. That's a bribery point and a prime counter intelligence target for the Saudis.

WHITFIELD: So, you know, how potentially dangerous is it then, you know, that Jared Kushner reportedly sent signals, you know, to MBS that the White House essentially, you know, had his back even before knowing all of the facts, Susan?

HENNESSEY: Yes, I think it is. And you know, to Sam's point, it is dangerous because it is compromising. And you know, we haven't just seen Jared Kushner sort of skirt the protocols out of convenience, we had actually seen him taking affirmative steps to attempt to hide his communications from the U.S. government, you know, using encrypted messaging apps as reported by the "New York Times." You know, we have seen this conduct in previous occasions as well whenever Kushner reportedly -- suggested that they use Russian embassy communication system facilities to communicate with the Russian government.

You know, that is somebody who doesn't understand that at this time United States of America, the United States national security establishment is all on the same team. And that the team needs to communicate with one another and needs to have clarity into what is exactly is being represented to foreign officials. And so, you know, I do think that it opens up one, just the general risk of a policy that is not cohesive, you know.

And two, I think Sam is right. There are counter intelligence risks and specifics to the fact that Kushner is now providing this information and potentially not following the rules and potentially putting himself in a compromising position.

WHITFIELD: And the White House spokesperson did put out a statement saying that Jared Kushner has been following all the rules. He is following protocol. That's their defense on this kind of reporting.

And Sam, you know, Kushner, he really, you know, has no substantial, you know, real Middle East experience, but you know, he has been family friends with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And the White House said that he was going to be their guy, you know, to help bring peace in the Middle East. But what really in your view may have brought Kushner and the crown prince together?

VINOGRAD: It's a very simple answer. Any foreign official would knowingly try to make Jared Kushner their friend because he is such an easy counterintelligence target whether because of hubris ignorance or malign intent. Kushner has exposed himself to manipulation (ph) by a range of foreign officials.

And the other point, Fred, is he has made a mockery of the national security council process. I sat in hours of meetings in the situation room where officials discussed various policy options on the table in times of crisis. These text messages are being heard around the world in the sense that foreign leaders now just know if they cozy up to Jared Kushner, they can perhaps get a policy outcome that is preferable to them while the rest of the national security council sitting in that sit room going through options that may never see the light of day. WHITFIELD: So Susan, do you agree with Sam that while there are

grounds for investigation with this kind of, you know, break, you know, in protocol and practice, that it is not likely that there would be an investigation?

HENNESSEY: Yes. I think that's absolutely right. And I do think that it illustrates a point that ethics rules are national security rules. And we have seen the President who has hired his family and violated basic nepotism standards allow his family members through essentially not abide by the ordinary rules whether or not as things as critical as communication with foreign governments or rules related to divestiture from their businesses. Disclosure, transparency, and accountability.

And so, what we are seeing here is, you know, they tend to treat those rules as though, you know, there , you know, they are just a matter of process and policy and sort of small details that it's not a big deal if they disregard them.

What this shows is no, these rules are about security. Because whenever we have individuals that one, have access to tremendously sensitive classified information and two, are making critical decisions on behalf of the nation and they are actually serving the interest of what is right for the United States of America and not their personal pocket books.

And so, I do think that we are seeing sort of in real-time kind of the worst case scenario, the exact reason why these rules will put in place, you know, to guard against this kind of behavior.

[14:25:57] WHITFIELD: All right, Susan Hennessey, Samantha Vinograd, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Robert Mueller says Paul Manafort lied to investigators about five major things. At least two of those things involved a secretive Russian associate of Manafort's. So who is this mystery man? We will take you live to Moscow to find out.


[14:30:46] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

In special counsel Robert Mueller's filing on Paul Manafort, he said that Manafort lied about five major issues after agreeing to cooperate with investigators. Mueller said two of those lies involved Manafort's interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a shadowy figure with ties to the same Russian intelligence agencies accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Kilimnik had been a close business associate of Manafort's for years. Manafort told investigators the two had no meetings during the campaign, but when he was confronted by evidence to the contrary, he admitted investigators that he lied.

Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen joining me now from Moscow.

So Fred, paint a picture of who this person is.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you are absolutely right, Fredricka, on that. This is an extremely shady and secretive individual. In fact, those two pictures that we were just showing there on the screen as you in the lead in to our live shot, that is pretty much all that we have of Konstantin Kilimnik. He is someone who seems to shun being in the limelight, being in the public. He rarely had his picture taken at all.

But he is also someone who was very important to Paul Manafort and seems to have been important in the years that Paul Manafort did business in Eastern Europe. Of course, specifically, in Ukraine and in Russia as well. In fact, Paul Manafort apparently once called him his Russian brain, doing business for instance with the Victor Yanukovych government, the pro-Russian government in Ukraine that was in power until 2014 then also doing business with at least one major Russian oligarch called Oleg Derapaska who also has ties to the Kremlin.

Now as far as the Mueller investigation is concerned, you are absolutely right. They are saying that Paul Manafort lied about having met with Konstantin Kilimink specifically in 2016 when, of course, Paul Manafort was the chairman of the Trump campaign. He said at least two occasions, the two had met.

And this is significant because the Mueller investigation also believes that Konstantin Kilimnik at that point in time still had ties to Russian intelligence which of course the Mueller investigation says was at that point in time aggressively trying to meddle in the United States election.

So certainly, very important individual to the Mueller investigation. Someone who seems to be somewhat at the nexus of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and certainly someone who is very, very interesting to investigators, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So what would be the chances that Kilimnik would be extradited to the U.S.? And even questioned by Mueller?

PLEITGEN: Yes. I think it's extremely slim and probably possibly zero. Kilimnik, until very recently still lived in Ukraine and apparently went here to Russia sometime during this year and now lives somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow. We tried to contact him through intermediary. He has so far declined to speak to pretty much anybody. He did give some interviews but that was a long time ago. More than a year ago, though.

So the chances of him actually being questioned by the Mueller investigation and actually coming to the United States, pretty much close to zero. He does now apparently lives somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow and therefore pretty much out of the reach of U.S. investigators - Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much. All right. Still ahead, a winter storm dumping rain, snow, and ice,

can you believe those images right there? It is all being dump on 18 million people across the southeast. Hundreds of thousands are now without power. And more than a thousand flights have been canceled.

We will take you to the hardest hit areas, next.


[14:38:56] WHITFIELD: A massive winter storm is hitting the southeast, dumping more than a foot of snow in some places. More than 18 million people are under some kind of winter weather alert right now. This drone captured North Carolina's snow from above. Can you believe this, North Carolina right there?

Officials say to expect delays of transportation. American Airlines alone just announced that it has canceled 1100 flights today and more than 300 for Monday.

Here is CNN's Polo Sandoval.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A statewide emergency being declared in North Carolina where residents are hunkering down. On Sunday morning, Governor Roy Cooper described the incoming storm as mammoth in size. It is packing a punch with snow, sleet, and eventually rain making for a flooding threat. Governor Cooper warning residents to stay home Sunday.

GOV. ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Don't put your life and the lives of first responders at risk by getting out on roads covered with snow and ice. Instead, stay put, if you can. Wrap a few presents, decorate the tree, watch some football.

[14:40:03] SANDOVAL: As much as six inches of snow might fall in the city Charlotte, warn experts. Ice accumulations could also make to an inch-and-a-half. The storm made its presence known in the lone star state Saturday while the Texas received 10 inches of snow, two inches more than they usually get in a whole year.

Officials there took to twitter warning people about black ice and freezing fog. North Carolina state highway patrol has responded to at least 500 vehicle collisions and over a thousand weather-related calls for service.

American Airlines reports it canceled 1100 flight schedule for Sunday and hundreds more on Monday. This December dose of winter weather is likely to make travel treacherous for the work ahead.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: And the worst of this storm will continue through tonight.

Let's go to our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera now for the very latest.

So Ivan, what kind of areas are we talking about?

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Fredricka. Good to see you.

We are talking about still North Carolina, South Carolina, parts of Virginia, parts of Georgia, I mean, this is still ramping up and going. And don't be fooled if the snow kind of stops in your area because it is going to back around again and we have actually a second round, if you will, into tomorrow.

But I want to show you some of these totals. These are basically things you would see across the northeast. But oh no, North Carolina, Saluda got 18.5 inches that in just 24 hours. Incredible stuff here. And in South Carolina, 10 inches and look even Raleigh there almost seven inches of snowfall and it continues to fall.

So let's fly in here and check out where it's still snowing and heavily. You see the purples here on the radar. That is indicative advance of very heavy snow that could easily put down two to three inches an hour. We have been seeing that over the last day or so.

Winter storm warnings. Just look at all the areas still. We are talking about millions of folks that are still not only under the gun for I think additional snowfall, but the tricky thing will be the ice, right. That is going to be a problem for folks. If your flight is not canceled and you happen to get in, then when you get in the roads, you are going to deal with additional ice and an additional six to eight inches.

So let's talk about city by city here and focus on perhaps where you are. If you are watching from Charlotte, this is happening through tonight. I think you are getting another one to three inches and perhaps a quarter of an ice in between those snowfall rain. So that is going to be something.

Greensboro through tomorrow, nine to 12 additional inches compared to what has already falling. You know, we are talking about a quarter inch of ice, working our way up to the north into Virginia. Roanoke another six to perhaps a foot of snowfall that through tomorrow and at times tonight, it is going to be blinding snow with wind as well. And then in Richmond, four to eight inches with that light icing. And that continues until tonight.

So this storm, started yesterday. It is still ramping up and again continues through tonight and into tomorrow and things are going to be a mess. It looks like the northeast in places where it shouldn't - Fred.

WHITFIELD: Wow. It really does. I was going to say 18 inches? I mean, that's looking like Vermont, you know, in certain parts of North Carolina. And that's going to, you know, be a big powerful punch, you know, for so many in the southeast.

CABRERA: Lots of power outages.


CABRERA: It is cold.

WHITFIELD: And is that system them heading out to sea or will it be, you know, is this --?


CABRERA: Naturally, it is going to march east. It is not going to be a nor easter, but on the back side of it, I still think we get additional snowfall because of that. So that is why we are talking about an additional four and in some another foot of snowfall on top of what has already fallen. Not a lot out of snow plows out here. So I'm thinking a lot of folks are going to be coming in from other states to help out.

WHITFIELD: All right. Christmas-like conditions coming very early there, but in places that are not accustomed to that kind of snowfall.

All right. Ivan Cabrera, thank you so much.

CABRERA: You bet.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, allegations of election fraud in North Carolina. The FBI is now involve and the state's election board has now named a person of interest in the investigation.


[14:48:17] WHITFIELD: A community already rattled by anti-Semitism is now dealing with a new threat. Pittsburgh police are investigating a dissemination of anti-Semitic pamphlets across the city including in Squirrel Hill. That's the same community where 11 people were shot and killed at a synagogue back in October.

The city's department of public safety released a statement. It reads in part, such hate-filled material will not be tolerated in Pittsburgh, not by residents, city officials nor law enforcement. The department of public safety assures the community that we are taking this matter very seriously and will follow every investigative avenue. Pittsburgh is and will remain stronger than hate.

And there is one congressional race still undecided from the midterm elections and it's being marred by allegations of election fraud.

Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready are vying for North Carolina's ninth district House seat. McCready had conceded to Harris after it appeared Harris had won by some 900 votes. Well now, there are serious concerns about fraud involving absentee ballots in two counties.

The man at the center of these allegations is Mcrae Dowless, a political operative who single handedly turned in nearly 600 absentee ballots requested in one county.

And as CNN correspondent Drew Griffin reports, even Republicans are now open to a new election.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Documents being released by the North Carolina board of elections show the investigation is expanding. A CNN review of Robison County found a team of hired Republican campaign workers. They have harvested dozens of unsealed absentee ballots then signed as witnesses. It's the same pattern found in neighboring Bladen County and allegedly connected to Mcrae Dowless, the paid political operative under investigation. Dowless has not return numerous request for comment.

The mounting evidence of election fraud had prompted the Democratic loser of the ninth district congressional race, Dan McCready to rescind his concession to republican Mark Harris.

[14:50:33] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you suggesting that your opponent Mark Harris knew about this election fraud?

DAN MCCREADY (D), NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, it certainly looks that way. He hired a criminal who was under investigation for absentee ballot fraught to do his absentee ballot work and apparently he got what he paid for. He likes to serve so much that he actually recommended this criminal services to other politicians.

GRIFFIN: Friday afternoon, Republican Mark Harris who won by just 905 votes released this video on twitter reiterating he had no knowledge of any illegal activity but said this.

MARK HARRIS (R), NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: If this investigation finds proof of illegal activity on either side to such a level that it could have changed the outcome of the election, then I would wholeheartedly support a new election to ensure all voters have confidence in the results.

GRIFFIN: In addition the alleged ballot stuffing operation under investigation, authorities confirmed to CNN a criminal investigation is under way looking at a scheme to suppress minority absentee votes by destroying ballots.

The director of North Carolina's Republican Party tells CNN, his party is now open to the idea of a new election, if the election fraud impacted the outcome of the race.

DALLAS WOODHOUSE, NORTH CAROLINA GOP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Anybody, anybody that targeted some racial or demographic groups to affect their votes absolutely has to be prosecuted under state law and has to be prosecuted for civil rights violations.

GRIFFIN: North Carolina's board of elections announces Mcrae Dowless is a person of interest in its investigation. And the board has subpoenaed records from the Mark Harris campaign, his political consultants. And in yet another twist announce it is seeking records from the committee to elect Bladen County sheriff, James McVicker.


GRIFFIN: And Fredricka, and just an indication of how serious this has become, the wake County district attorney who is leading the criminal investigation confirms to CNN the FBI is now helping her with their investigation - Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Drew.

All right. Still to come, Republican and Democratic lawmakers weigh one question. Can a sitting President be indicted? We will discuss, coming up.


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[14:57:58] WHITFIELD: There are just some things you can't say over text or tweet which is why phone calls remain an important part of communication for the President.

Our Jake Tapper has that in this week's state of the Cartoonian.


TAPPER (voice-over): This week President Trump praised his former associate Roger Stone for his guts and loyalty.

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: There is no circumstance under which I would testify against the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps they are both longing for those late night chats they would have during the 2016 campaign.

TRUMP: I think Elton John is great. I think the stones are great. The Beatles I love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now, according to the "Washington Post," Robert Mueller is zeroing in on those late night phone calls between Trump and Stone.

TRUMP: We are going win so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not the first time Trump's cell phone habits have come under scrutiny. "The New York Times" reported a few weeks ago in this presidential game of telephone, Mr. Trump's frenemies are also listening in. Are they overhearing anything useful? Hopefully, instead of state secrets, it's just a play by play of the President talking to his pal, Hannity, about his nightly broadcast.

TRUMP: This is the biggest story. This is a big, big story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps, instead of geopolitical secrets, they are hearing the President taking to say Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady about, I don't know, Kanye West.

TRUMP: Kanye has been a friend of mine for a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's just the best case scenario.

TRUMP: I'm on the phone screaming at people all day long for weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One can only imagine White House chief of staff John Kelly having to take extraordinary measures to limit the President's iPhone privileges.

TRUMP: Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then again, at least it is an email.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one wants their personal emails made public.


WHITFIELD: We have got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now. Hello again, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me. I'm

Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. Less than 48 hours after being implicated in two federal crimes of directing hush money payments to women after alleged affairs, President Trump is resorting to his strategy of distract and deny.