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Democrats Taking over House as Trump Digs In over Demand for Border Wall; Apple Warns iPhone Sales Hit by China Slowdown; U.S. Ambassador Visits American in Russia Arrested for Spying; Chinese T.V.: Rover Landed on Far Side of the Moon; Trump: Government Will Be Shut Down As Long As It Takes; Trump: No Specific Timetable For Syria Withdrawal. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired January 3, 2019 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The art of no deal. The U.S. president and Democrats for a lengthy government shutdown, both sides refusing to budget on funding for a border wall.
The shifting timetable for the U.S. troop pullout in Syria, from 30 days and done to 120 days. Now the president says "a period of time."
And Apple stocks tumble after the tech giant lowers its revenue outlook for the first time in almost two decades because of a huge fall in iPhone sales in China.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
VAUSE: There's a major development to report for China's space program. State television reporting it has landed a rover on the far side of the moon. This is animation of that part of the Chinese lunar mission which has been launched to conduct a number of experiments, including attempts to find water and other resources there and to see if certain plants will grow in low gravity environment. We'll have more on the story as soon as we get it.
In a few hours from now, it will be a whole new world in Washington for President Trump. The 116th Congress will be sworn in around noon with Democrats taking control of the House.
This comes amid a government shutdown in its 13th day. The House Democrats said they will vote on a package of spending bills which mirror the stopgap measure the Senate passed last month, which will get the government funded at least for now.
But Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the president will get nothing on his border wall and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he won't move forward on any plan the president won't support. So the stalemate will likely drag on. All this came as President Trump huddled with his cabinet for the
first time in 2019. He had some candid scenes and there were a lot of new faces there. Here's Kaitlan Collins reporting from the White House.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Washington in a stalemate tonight with no end to the government shutdown in sight.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States needs a physical barrier.
COLLINS: After President Trump rejected an offer his own vice president and chief of staff floated to Democrats just last week, a deal that would include $2.5 billion for border security, about half of what he is asking for.
TRUMP: No, not 2.5. No, we are asking for 5.6 and, you know, somebody said 2.5. No. Look, this is national security we're talking about.
COLLINS: That's a proposal Democrats later turned down, but the president's comments at his Cabinet meeting setting the tone for his sit-down with Democrat and Republican leaders from both the House and the Senate this afternoon, where no progress was made.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We had a long discussion. The president asked us to come back on Friday.
COLLINS: Democrats emerging from the meeting to announce they will bring bills that would reopen the government to the House floor tomorrow, though it won't make of a difference since Senate Majority Leader McConnell has vowed not to bring a vote in the Senate unless the president has endorsed it.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: I said, Mr. President, give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown of these -- of the eight cabinet departments while we are debating our differences on Homeland Security. He could not give a good answer.
COLLINS: A Hill source familiar with the meeting calling it, quote, "more of a White House stunt than a serious attempt to have a discussion," as Trump spent the morning claiming Mexico is paying for the wall through the recently renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, an idea that has stumped lawmakers and aides alike, since it hasn't even passed Congress yet.
Trump falsely claiming the wall has been built, when, in fact, none of it has. The president's cabinet meeting turning into a nearly two- hour affair after he spent the holidays virtually alone.
TRUMP: I was all by myself in the White House. It is a big, big house, except for all of the guys out on the lawn with machine guns. Nicest machine guns I have ever seen. (LAUGHTER)
COLLINS: Trump starting the new year surrounded by a new staff, as seven of the 21 cabinet positions are now filled by deputies or acting officials, including the chief of staff, attorney general and Defense Secretary.
COLLINS: The president falsely stating today that he fired his former Pentagon chief, James Mattis.
TRUMP: As you know, President Obama fired him and essentially so did I. I want results.
COLLINS: Mattis resigned in protest over the president's sudden decision to withdraw troops from Syria, saying as much in a scathing resignation letter that sources said Trump didn't realize was so critical. He blasted the retired general today.
TRUMP: General Mattis was so thrilled, but what has he done for me?
How has he done in Afghanistan?
Not too good.
COLLINS: Trump, who didn't serve in the military, but prides himself on being surrounded by generals, adding:
TRUMP: I think I would have been a good general, but who knows.
COLLINS: Though that's far from the president's only feud in Washington, with incoming senator Mitt Romney telling CNN's Jake Tapper this today:
MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH SENATOR-ELECT: He was endorsing me. I wasn't endorsing him and I haven't decided who I'm going to endorse in 2020.
COLLINS: That interview coming after Romney bashed Trump in a scathing op-ed in "The Washington Post," claiming the Trump presidency, quote, "made a deep descent with the departures of Mattis and John Kelly."
The president uncharacteristically restrained in his response.
TRUMP: I read his op-ed. I just hope he's going to be a team player.
COLLINS: But he seemed to be saving the fire for Mitt Romney's own niece, the RNC chair, who Trump urged to stop using her maiden name last year.
She didn't name her uncle, instead writing, "For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack Donald Trump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want." Now Mitt Romney responded to the criticism from his niece, saying he
believes that she was simply expressing her viewpoint that she believes it is best for Trump and the Republican Party. But he did say when asked about the government shutdown, if it came down to it, he would vote for the president's border wall -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: To Washington now and CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," David Drucker.
David, you can see this, the president seems to have painted himself into a corner here, digging in on his demands for his $5 billion for his border wall. I'd like you to listen to conservative commentator Ann Coulter talking about the consequences of Donald Trump if he failed to deliver on that wall. Keep in mind, Coulter was one of his earliest and biggest supporters.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: They're about to have a country where no Republican will ever be elected president again, as happened statewide in California and is about to happen in Florida and Texas.
And, at that point, Trump will -- it'll just have been a joke presidency that scammed the American people, enraged but amused the populace for a while. But he'll have no legacy whatsoever.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VAUSE: They're strong words.
But is this essentially why Trump can't compromise here?
If he does, it'll cost him bigly with his base and right now they're the only support he has, is his base.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the interesting thing about this is Trump does not have to do the full Ann Coulter to satisfy his base. I do think he has created a scenario, if he backs down to the Democrats in the way they prefer to do border security, which would mean no money for a wall, that would make him look weak. And that's not why they elected him.
But he's in a position where his base would allow him to do a pretty big immigration deal. He could trade wall money for some of the immigration reforms and legalizing the DACA kids and all of that, that Democrats might want. I think the question here is whether or not the president wants to fight or whether he actually wants to do a deal. The only way you do a deal is if both sides win.
VAUSE: A deal would have to be done with the incoming Democrat majority in Congress. On high noon Thursday, the Democrats take control. Nancy Pelosi will once again be Speaker of the House. Here's Alexandra Pelosi, talking about her mother's second time around as House Speaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRA PELOSI, SPEAKER PELOSI'S DAUGHTER: She will cut your head off and you won't even know you're bleeding. That's all you need to know about her.
PELOSI: No one ever won betting against Nancy Pelosi. Think about all those presidents she's endured, right. She was the Bush, the Bush, the Clinton, she's been through it all.
So she's been around. This is not her first rodeo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Has the president underestimated Pelosi in terms of the fact that this is a different Democratic Party than the one she was leader of in the House 10 years ago?
This is a Democratic Party coming from urban areas strongly opposed to Donald Trump. There are no Blue Dog Democrats there that she has to worry about.
DRUCKER: Right. I think there's a couple of unanswered questions here. First of all, at some point, voters will actually expect Democrats to do some compromising because they only control the House. They don't control the Senate or the White House.
The last few years they've been able to watch Republicans self- immolate because they control all the levers of government. And Democrats really didn't have to do much.
On the flip side and you raise a good point here, I'm not sure yet if Trump understands who he is dealing with. Speaker Pelosi has proven very adept at dealmaking and legislating and keeping her conference in line. There may be some hiccups in that regard with a very ambitious freshman class of lawmakers that have a lot of grand designs on what they will do.
But a lot of them come from urban areas. But not just that. They come from the suburbs, all places in America that rejected President Trump, both his policy and his brand of leadership.
DRUCKER: And so I think that's what Pelosi's got going for her. I don't know if Trump has ever really taken account to what happened in the 2018 midterms. Even the Republicans may control the U.S. Senate; gained a couple of seats; they lost 40 seats in the House and they did so because a lot of the places that usually vote Republican didn't. And they didn't because of him. VAUSE: With regard to the government shutdown, I want you to listen to Democrat Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the Senate, talking about the shutdown. And this is him after the meeting with the president on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: They're now feeling the heat. It is not helping the president. It is not helping the Republicans to be the owners of this shutdown.
Today we gave them an opportunity to get out of that and open up the government as we debate border security. And to say to him, because he says he won't sign it and use the government as hostage, we should just give in? The
American people don't want that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Schumer's right there, they will feel the heat in sometime in the near future.
But is there any reason why Democrats would actually throw Trump a lifeline at this point?
DRUCKER: Not at this point, no. Senator Schumer is correct that the initial polling shows more voters blame Trump for the shutdown than they do Democrats. That's probably because he's said he would own the shutdown, because he has taken ownership of it and basically keeps reminding voters there's a shutdown because he wants it.
But eventually what is likely to happen when voters return from the holidays and if the shutdown lasts long enough, which it could, the voters are likely to get a little frustrated and demand that both parties fix the problem.
At that point, if both sides are smart, they will start to offer the other side lifelines at the same time and see if they can't reach a compromise. If they dig in and this thing goes on forever, then either side is only going to move if they determine they're really feeling the political heat.
So Senator Schumer may be pointing to some of the initial polling. But I don't believe anyone in Washington is feeling the heat yet for the shutdown. Once they do, you'll start to see more movement.
VAUSE: Good to see you, thank you so much.
DRUCKER: Thank you.
VAUSE: Two days into the New Year and a grim warning from Apple, announcing sales targets for the fourth quarter will fall way short of expectations. The news rattled investors; Dow futures were down close to 1.5 percent. Apple blames the revised forecast on China's slowing economy. Right now the Shanghai Composite pretty much flat. We have the Nikkei there down by 0.31 percent and Hang Seng Hong Kong down 0.5 percent, the Seoul KOSPI down by 0.22 percent.
Apple expects a $5 billion fall in revenue for the first quarter of the year. That will be $84 billion down from a forecast of $89 billion. Here's CEO Tim Cook, explaining the reasons for the decline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: As we look at what is going on in China, it is clear hat the economy began to slow there for the second half. And what I believe to be the case is the trade tensions between the United States and China put additional pressure on their economy.
So we saw, as the quarter went on, things like traffic in our regional stores, traffic in our channel partner stores, the reports of the smartphone industry contracting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Live from Beijing now, Matt Rivers joins us.
Matt, to be clear when Tim Cook refers to trade tensions between China and the U.S., he's talking about the trade war and tariffs. And while iPhones are made in China they're exempt from the tariffs. The overall negative impact tariffs having on China's economy, Apple seems to be one step removed from all of that.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a very case in point example of China's economy slowing down and having a very negative impact on an American company. There's just no way around it. And that's in part because of the trade war.
But don't forget, the economy here was slowing down before the trade war really kicked into high gear. There was trends like state-owned enterprises not getting proper reforms and the government not being invested in that. Way too much debt in the economy here, a property bubble, capital outflow.
There were a number of impacts on the economy here before the trade war. Now you throw in the trade war, which, really, you could argue, the effects haven't been fully felt yet. That's having a broad impact on the economic slowdown here. And that's going to have an impact on consumer spending.
You look at iPhones, they're expensive, they're a lot more expensive than other alternatives that Chinese consumers can go for. So if the Chinese consumer here is feeling less good about the economy and they feel like --
RIVERS: -- they have less money to spend, maybe they won't shell out for an iPhone. Clearly, according to Tim Cook, that's the case.
VAUSE: Here's part of a letter Tim Cook wrote to investors that deals with the impact of China's slowing economy. "While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did
not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in greater China. In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline occurred in greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad."
If you read between the lines here, Cook is saying China just fell off a cliff in terms of iPhone sales. That's an ominous sign, not just for China but for the rest of the world. To be fair, Apple is very much exposed in China, make up a lot of its sales.
But still, this is the second biggest economy in the world. It's looking to be in trouble.
RIVERS: Yes, absolutely. I think if you're looking at -- if you're an American company looking at Apple as some sort of a bellwether, maybe you won't be thrilled about what's happening here.
It is not just Apple, it is also FedEx. The CEO of FedEx within the last couple of months also pointing to politics of the trade war, saying that's part of the reason why FedEx revised its growth potential over the next quarter or so.
So there's a lot of different examples. If you look at why the iPhone sales fell off, you also have the economy, which we talked about. But you also have the rising nationalism in China. Don't forget there's friction right now between the United States and Huawei over Iran sanctions and the like and CFO being detained in Canada.
And there's some anecdotal evidence here that Chinese people, instead of pointing to the iPhone, saying they're going to buy that, they are buying Huawei's phones.
Huawei's earnings have actually gone up. Huawei smartphone sales have gone up you. So people are still buying cellphones here but maybe just not Apple cellphones. Part of the reason could be they're choosing the national maker, the national cell phone company, over the international one.
When you combine that with a slowing economy overall, things don't look good for Apple and furthermore maybe for American companies operating and selling their products in China.
VAUSE: There's a time here, 1,000 bucks for an iPhone. They were more expensive in China than the were in the U.S. It was a status symbol that they wanted to have. I guess that status symbol is no longer there, at least for many buyers.
Matt, we'll catch up with you next hour. Thank you.
Still to come, new details about the American being held in Moscow accused of spying. But Russia saying very little about why he was arrested in the first place.
VAUSE: Welcome back.
The United States is demanding to know why Russia arrested an American on espionage charges. Paul Whelan received a consulate visit Wednesday from the U.S. ambassador in Moscow.
Whelan's family continues to insist, at least on the spying. CNN's Michelle Kosinski has more now on Whelan, including details on why he was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An American citizen is in custody in Russia tonight, accused of spying and only today, after five days, was for the first time allowed a visit by the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, which is unusual and demonstrates the seriousness of the matter.
Paul Whelan, a 48-year-old head of global security for a Michigan automotive supply company, disappeared in Moscow on December 28th. He was in town for a friend's wedding and, when he didn't show up, his friends reported him missing.
The Russian government says Whelan was arrested on suspicion of carrying out an act of espionage, but why and what exactly Russia believes he did are still very much murky -- even this morning, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges, come to understand what it is he's been accused of and if the detention is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return.
KOSINSKI: It was Russia that told CNN Whelan was finally allowed a consular visit today.
Several hours later, the State Department confirmed it, saying, "Ambassador Huntsman expressed his support for Mr. Whelan and offered the embassy's assistance, then spoke by telephone with Mr. Whelan's family. Due to privacy considerations, we have nothing further at this time."
Whelan is a former U.S. Marine reservist who served for 14 years, including two tours in Iraq. He received multiple medals and awards but in 2008 was discharged for bad conduct after a court-martial and charges related to larceny, according to the Marine Corps. Since then, he's worked in corporate security.
His family says he's travelling often for both business and pleasure. He's been to Russia multiple times, has friends there, has had a Russian social media account for more than a decade, where he's posted some pro-Trump messages and pictures of himself in Moscow.
The situation now has confounded his twin brother.
DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF PAUL WHELAN: We don't really know why he was picked up by the Russians, why he's being charged with espionage.
KOSINSKI: Some critics of the Kremlin and experts are calling Whelan's arrest a hostage taking, possibly to gain leverage over the U.S.' detention of Russian Maria Butina who pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to influence U.S.-Russia relations. She's been held for five months and Russia is not happy.
TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: What this looks like, at least, is the Russians simply doing tit for tat. What they'll do in response and other countries have done in response is just arbitrarily pick up someone who isn't responsible or guilty of anything just to create pressure and leverage on us.
KOSINSKI: So at this point, Russia isn't saying publicly what they allege they have on Whelan. And the State Department is not saying whether Russia is being forthcoming with that kind of information.
What we do know is what we're hearing from our experts and analysts here. They say based on the information that we know now about Whelan, they feel it would be highly unlikely that he would be involved in the U.S. intelligence community.
First of all, they said that his dishonorable discharge from the military but also they say this is just not the way a U.S. intelligence operation would work. They wouldn't just send over somebody as a sort of contractor in this way -- Michelle Kosinski, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Steve Hall is a CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations. He joins us from Tucson.
Steve, thanks for being with us. I want to view that statement again from the U.S. secretary of state.
He said, "We've made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges and come to understand what it is he's been accused of. If his detention is not appropriate we'll demand his immediate return."
At this stage?
Is that response from Pompeo, is it appropriate?
Would you expect to say more thoughtful?
And what is this, "We will learn"?
It sounds like they'll learn about this independently of Moscow. STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It sounds to me about what you'd expect out of the secretary of state trying to be somewhat diplomatic, indicating that -- expressing our concern directly about the detention of this U.S. citizen.
And I think the strongest thing that we've seen out of the State Department is, of course, the American ambassador to Russia actually making the consular visit himself, which is something that is usually done by much lower level officials, just to check on the welfare of the prisoner.
But the fact that the American ambassador goes in, ratchets it up immediately and sends a very strong message to Vladimir Putin in a language that he understands, which is, we take this very, very seriously.
VAUSE: Whelan and his family, about being a former spy --
VAUSE: -- they all say this guy is not a spy. The last time Russia said they arrested a U.S. spy was in 2013 and he was ordered to leave the country. He wasn't detained there. So there's this inconsistency which seems that Whelan has been arrested so he could be used in a Checkpoint Charlie type trade, maybe because of Russian Maria Butina, who's being held in the United States.
This all seems to be pointing to the Russian, that he's being used for something else.
HALL: Yes this is not a -- won't be a spy swap largely because there's no spy involved. Mr. Whelan is clearly not an intelligence officer, not a spy, somebody who essentially they have been taken hostage by the Russian government who will fabricate whatever supposed evidence that they have. They're very good at that. They've done it before.
Maria Butina is definitely linked to this case but she's also not a professional spy. She is simply somebody that was working on an oligarch's behalf, on behalf of the Russian government. But neither of them are spies.
What is happening here is Putin is using this American citizen, Mr. Whelan, hopes to use him anyway, as leverage probably to try to get Butina out of the United States as soon as possible.
VAUSE: A few hours ago, David Whelan had this message on CNN about his twin brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHELAN: I just would tell him to be patient and to be strong as I know he can be in these types of situations and to know that we're doing everything we can, both to help him in Russia with the situation that he has right there and also to look to the U.S. government's resources to see if we can get him to come back home. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: What are the conditions like that he's being held in?
Are they -- is it OK?
How much leverage does the U.S. government actually have in a case like this?
HALL: To answer your first question, unfortunately, Lefortovo Prison, where he's being held, is a horrific place where historically and even currently unspeakable things have been done to people. He'll be lucky to get out of there with just a case of tuberculosis. That's sort of the best-case scenario.
Russian prisons writ large are horrible but Lefortovo has a particularly bad history.
With regard to the leverage that the American government has, we actually have quite a bit of leverage and we ought to exert as much of it as we possibly can. There's all sorts of things we should leverage against Russia, their international behavior, whether annexing neighboring countries or trying to assassinate its citizens abroad.
These are all inexplicable -- well, perhaps not inexplicable, since Vladimir Putin is running the place. But unpardonable things that not only the United States but the West should be pushing back very hard on.
This arrest and this incarceration of the American citizen here is simply another in a long line of inappropriate and unlawful activities on the part of the Russian government.
Yes, Steve, the president had that sort of expected but fairly grim. We'll see you, thank you for your time.
HALL: Thank you.
VAUSE: There's growing confusion over the timetable for the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria. Coming up, the first job for the new boss of the Pentagon, trying to figure out when the president says it is a period of time, is how long is that?
Also, sorry we're closed. Why now is not the time to visit some of America's most popular tourist spots.
[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody, I'm John Vause, with an update on the top stories this hour. A major milestone for China's space program with state media reporting a Chinese rover has landed on the far side of the moon.
(INAUDIBLE) a number of experiments, including attempts to find water and other resources, and to see if certain plants can grow in low gravity. U.S. government shutdown is now into its 13th day, no end in sight. President Trump says it will last as long as it takes to get funding for his border wall. As Democrats say, they'll vote on a plan Thursday to re-open the government, but there'll be no money there for the wall.
The Senate Republican leader says he will not bring it to a vote because the President won't sign it. U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, has visited the American, arrested in Moscow, on spying charges. The Kremlin has yet to reveal why it believes Paul Whelan is -- has carried out an act of espionage. Whelan's family denies his a spy.
U.S. President announced there's no specific timetable for withdrawing American troops from Syria. Two weeks ago, he said they would be coming home within 30 days, and that led to James Mattis to resign, in protest, as U.S. Defense Secretary. Now, his replacement has been handed the task. Here's CNN's Barbara Starr.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: On Patrick Shanahan's first day, as acting Defense Secretary, President Trump focused more on the man he just replaced, now, former secretary, James Mattis.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But what has he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. President Obama fired him, and essentially, so did I.
STARR: Mattis, however, resigned after having his advice ignored by the President, according to sources directly familiar with Mattis' thinking. Now, Shanahan takes on the burden of figuring out Trump's changing rhetoric on pulling 2,000 ground troops from Syria, which the President described as --
TRUMP: We're talking about sand and death. That's what we're talking about. We're not talking about, you know, vast wealth. We're talking about sand and death.
STARR: Now, the President insisting he has no specific timetable for pulling troops out.
TRUMP: Over a period of time. I never said I'm getting out tomorrow.
STARR: But in a White House-produced video, just last month, Trump was adamant on an immediate troop withdrawal.
TRUMP: They're all coming back, and they're coming back, now.
STARR: For his part, Shanahan, today, remained focused on the White House's message about border security.
PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES: The threat is real. The risks are real. We need to control our borders.
STARR: But commanders say it could take as long as four months to get troops out of Syria, safely.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: He made the decision first, and then, started looking for things to either back it up or run contrary to what he thought. That's confusing to not only our allies, but also our foes. And it's especially confusing for the military people.
STARR: So, did Trump fire Mattis? Well, he did push the secretary out two months earlier than Mattis had planned to go, but Mattis, had already resigned.
Barbara Starr, CNN, The Pentagon.
VAUSE: The partial government shutdown in the U.S. has forced many of the country's most popular tourist spots to close. All 19 of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington are now shut (INAUDIBLE) National Zoo. National parks like Yellow Stone and Mount Rushmore remained open, but severely understaffed, and many services are unavailable.
On Wednesday, California's Joshua Tree National Park was forced to close its campgrounds because restrooms are overflowing and there are not enough workers on site to clean them. CNN's Nick Watt has looked out the ugly impact of the shutdown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here's some trash bags that we can have. Do you guys need gloves?
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A small army of volunteers keeping Joshua Tree as clean as they can.
SETH ZAHARIAS, VOLUNTEER: We're operating now, but I'm working 11 to 13 hours a day, running what I do for a living, running rock climbing trips and maintaining the park. And yes, what we're doing right now is not sustainable.
WATT: The teller booths are closed. No one's collecting 30 bucks a car. The park service right now, limping along with absolutely essential stuff only. This park is still open, but the deadlock in D.C. does mean that campgrounds are now closing, California.
[00:35:09] All the campgrounds here in Joshua Tree closing down in the issue, those toilet blocks. Now, the volunteers can keep the toilets clean, but not to be too gross about it, but those blocked toilets are reaching capacity.
Other parts of these, more than 1,200-square mile park, also closing because of "illegal activity." People, apparently, off-roading, damaging the environment, bringing in dogs, other remote parts also now officially off limits because of safety. Get in to trouble out here, and there might not be anyone around to save you.
Over in Texas, Josh Snider broke his leg, Christmas Eve, when he fell at Big Bend his buddy, and another family had to carry him out.
JOSH SNIDER, INJURED NATIONAL PARK VISITOR: When we're on the phone with the park, they told us that because of the shutdown, there are limited rescue services available. And that they're going to send one park ranger. You know, you'd think they'd come with a stretcher or something.
WATT: No, not right now. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian Institution kept its 19 museums and the national zoo, open, over the holidays, but today, they finally shuttered up, all now, closed. Now, Yosemite, the nation's third busiest national park, they're also having huge problems with garbage and toilets, filled to capacity.
The Nezbet family from Texas was planning this vacation to Joshua Tree for months. Now, they're cutting it short.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it has impacted ours, for fun, but it has impacted people's livelihoods and people's jobs.
WATT: Now, it used to be when the U.S. federal government shutdown that national parks shut down too, but last year, the national park service cooked up a new contingency plan. They basically furlough about 85 percent of their staff and try to keep the parks open with just a skeleton staff, but they rely heavily on those local volunteers.
And they tell us, they don't know how much longer they can continue doing their day jobs and cleaning toilets here at the park. So, if this government shutdown lasts much longer, there is a chance that Joshua Tree and other parks will have to close down completely.
Nick Watt, Joshua Tree, California.
VAUSE: Six people have been killed in one of the deadliest train accidents in Danish history. Investigators still don't know how it happened, but a passenger tell CNN, heavy winds while a shipping container from an oncoming cargo train, onto the tracks of a train he was in. The cargo train was holding containers of beer. At least 16 people were hurt.
This video was posted on social media, shortly after the crash. It shows the damaged freight train, with the Carlsberg logo, along with debris, littering the tracks.
Still to come, Donald Trump goes medieval with a cryptic message for a mystery foe. Sanctions are coming, but, for who?
And NASA, releasing new images from Ultima Thule, revealing new clues about our solar system.
[00:40:07] VAUSE: NASA has released the first colored images from the New Horizons spacecraft of Ultima Thule, at 6 billion kilometers from the sun. It's the most distant object, ever, explored up close. The pictures show, like a snowman, red, 30 kilometers in length, then, it was apparently formed 4-1/2 billion years ago.
NASA expects to release highly detailed images in the coming weeks. It's hoped the detailed study of Ultima Thule will reveal secrets about how the solar system was formed.
Donald Trump's cabinet meeting, more like a king in his court, on Wednesday, thanks, in part, to a cryptic poster in the middle of the table. Not the first time we've seen this oracle from the White House. Here's Jeanne Moos.
TRUMP: Thank you very much --
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just your typical cabinet meeting with President Trump in a throne position and a poster mimicking Game of Thrones, in front of him. Sanctions are coming, it said, playing off the Game of Thrones mantra.
SEAN BEAN, ACTOR: Winter is coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And winter is coming.
MAISIE WILLIAMS, ACTRESS: Winter is coming.
MOOS: is pretty much what reporters said about the poster. We do know that President Trump tweeted out this exact same image, back when he was about to re-impose sanctions on Iran, after the U.S. pulled out of what the President calls the --
TRUMP: Stupid deal.
MOOS: But what's the deal with the poster? Critics reimagined it. Mueller is coming or a back view with, indictments are coming. Someone safely bet that tantrums are coming. The President made no reference to the poster, while cameras were rolling.
TRUMP: And walls worked.
MOOS: He talked about walls working, in front of a poster, echoing a show in which a wall didn't work. In Game of Thrones, a dragon breaches the wall. HBO did some crowing of its own, throwing us to what they said the last time the President used the image. The nod to the show's made-up language, HBO tweeted, how do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?
Imagine President Trump delivering his rally speeches from math, next thing you know, he'll be trading in Air Force One for dragon one.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: So what do you do when your kid takes all the cash you've saved for a downtown for a car and rips it all into tiny, itty bitty pieces? Well, a man in Shanghai had actually withdrawn about 9,000 Yuan, $1,300 (INAUDIBLE) and what they did is that they got out the tape and they decided to sticky tape all of that money back together.
The bank manager said no big deal. We do this when people return torn currency, but that is a big pile of torn currency. And I think it took them about a day, and took them a lot of patience. And I want to know what happened to the kid.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is next. You're watching CNN.
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