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New U.S. House Passes Bills To Reopen Government; Tropical Storm Pabuk Makes Landfall In Thailand; 116th Congress Most Diverse In U.S. History; 13 Canadians Arrested In China Since December 1st; Turkey Pushes For Jamal Khashoggi Trial To Be Held There; Sex Abuse Crisis; Hocus Pocus Over POTUS; Democrats Rejoice in the House; No Budget Included in a House Bill; Top North Korean Diplomat Missing in Italy; U.S. Citizen Charged with Espionage; Dow with Another Nose Dive. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired January 4, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Washington, Democrats take over the House of Representatives with new challenges for the president.
Plus, the case against Paul Whelan. Russia charges the former U.S. marine with espionage. We'll have a live report from Moscow on what that's about.
Welcome to our viewers joining us from all spots around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. This is CNN Newsroom.
Our top story. U.S. House Democrats moved quickly on Thursday to end the partial government shutdown. Neither bill passed the House of Representatives provided any money to build a border wall as President Trump has insisted. And new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was adamant there would not be any either. To drive home her point she said, quote, "we are not doing a wall."
The White House has threatened to veto if the legislation reaches the president's desk. Senate Republicans say they won't act without Mr. Trump's approval.
The government shutdown is now two weeks old, with neither side signaling compromise. The stage is set for an epic showdown between congressional Democrats and the Trump White House.
As CNN's Manu Raju explains some of those Democrats are itching for a fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA: To the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, I extend to you this gavel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With that Nancy Pelosi officially took over as house speaker, and the newly emboldened Democrats took charge in the House. The plans to confront President Trump and his administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Two months ago, the American people spoke and demanded a new dawn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Goal number one, reopen the government amid a bitter standoff with Trump who is demanding billions for his border wall despite the stiff opposition by the new House Speaker and her powerful majority.
But Senate Republicans refused to take up the bill because of trump's opposition. Goal number two, conduct what could be the most aggressive, inexpensive investigation of a sitting president on a wide array of his controversies. And already, Pelosi facing pressure from her caucus to move forward on impeachment proceedings especially once Robert Mueller's investigation concludes.
On the first day of the new Congress, one Democrat introducing articles of impeachment against the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BRAD SHERMAN, (D) CALIFORNIA: The road to impeachment is a long road and many miles. The standard is high crimes and misdemeanors and he has committed the felony of obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Some influential Democrats are not ruling it out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SMITH, (D) WASHINGTON: But it's something we're clearly going to have to investigate. They're not that as the best path toward (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Pelosi for now wants to keep the focus elsewhere. But telling NBC news she is not closing the door.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we should avoid impeachment for a political reason. So, we just have to see how it comes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Democrats have a laundry list of items they want to investigate. The chairman of the House oversight committee tells CNN he wants to get to the bottom of the decision to put a controversial citizenship question on the U.S. census. Suggesting Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross misled Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: He has to answer for something that he said that I don't think was accurate. And what we are going to do is be in search of the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Also, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker could be forced to appear before the House Judiciary Committee this month to answer questions about his oversight of the Mueller investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) NEW YORK: They'll try to get a date and they are (Inaudible) on a date. We'll see what happens.
RAJU: Will you send the subpoena to him if he doesn't comply?
NADLER: If we have to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: For Pelosi, the challenge will be balancing demands from her base looking to take on the president and others eager for bipartisan accomplishments.
On the floor today, 15 Democrats revolted and opposed Pelosi's ascension to speaker, though she was elected with 220 votes for more than she needed. And now she represents the most diverse House in American history with a record number of women and minorities sworn in.
In the Senate, the GOP added two more seats. Now with the 53-47 majority and the ability to protect the president against their Democratic foes.
Now the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made very clear that he is not going to move on the House Democratic bill to reopen the government for one reason and one reason only. It is opposed by President Trump.
He does not want to put anything on the floor of the Senate that could pass, could land on the president's desk and force him to veto it. Even if there maybe the votes to override a presidential veto. He said today that he has no role in ending the standoff. He said it's all about house Democrats and the president to negotiate a solution.
[03:04:56] And they plan a meeting on Friday to discuss this going forward at the White House. But the question is will any of this get resolve or will only lead to more bickering.
Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.
ALLEN: CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart joins me now. Alice, thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Great to be here, Natalie.
ALLEN: Well, let's start with house Democrats. They voted on Thursday to reopen the government without a wall so President Trump says he'll veto it. So where are we in this process of getting the government going again 100 percent?
STEWART: Well, we're virtually in the same place you were 12 days ago we're at ground zero. Basically, no side appears to be trying to concede on any points and this is really a battle of the bases here. We have President Trump and the diehard Republicans who are saying they want money for the wall and they want $5 billion.
And we have Democrats now that they have control of the House. They have a lot more leverage and they're saying no. We're not giving you money for your big beautiful wall. We need to look at more overall border security.
And Republicans are saying, you know, what, no wall, no money, no deal. And that's basically where we are right now. Ideally, both sides been recognized that there is some agreement on border security and that could be some money for a wall, some money for protections for DREAMers, some money for infrastructure or personnel on the wall. But right now, it's just a matter of everyone's in their corner and not willing to come to the middle.
And ideally that's what we need to move the ball down the field and open up the government in the end, which is what Americans really do want.
ALLEN: Yes. Well, let's listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voted in today and this powerful position as house speaker. Let's hear what she said about President Trump's wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We're not doing a wall. Does anybody have any doubt that we are not doing a wall? So that's it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you worry about backlash? Do you worry about --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaker Pelosi.
PELOSI: No, it has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the wall. It's an immorality between countries. It's an old way of thinking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: And Vice President Mike Pence said no wall, no deal. Is this any part of semantics since we saw President Trump using other language besides wall. Now we're hearing more of security of barrier, of fence. And do you think this softening of the wall will really turn into anything that the Republicans can agree to with the Democrats?
STEWART: I think that you're right on the point of really the wall itself semantics whether we're going to call it a wall or steel slats or a curtain or some other type of device.
The reality is Trump's wall is his wall and Democrats recognize no matter how you whatever you call it is still the actual physical structure on the border is something as Nancy Pelosi just said, they view that as immoral. And they want to look at the bigger picture it's not -- and they don't think that walls work.
They think that we certainly need to look at infrastructure and personnel and drones, but they also as I said, but they do have some bargaining power now that Republicans are no longer in control of the House and Senate and the White House.
Democrats can negotiate certain aspects that they want. And protection for DREAMers is something they can and should use. But at this stage of the game when we have both sides and their corners are not willing to come to the middle, you can call it whatever you want but right now we're calling it a shutdown. And with no sides willing to negotiate, it's nothing seems to be changing.
ALLEN: Right. And you mentioned that Democrats now have more power on the hill as of today. And you were there for the swearing in of new legislators and when Ms. Pelosi was tapped as house speaker. What was the atmosphere? Was it excitement meets a wall, so to speak.
STEWART: It was. It depends on what group you were with. I was on the House and Senate side, and certainly, I'm Republican. I voted for this president, I support his policies, but you cannot let the historic nature of what is going on this week escape you.
We have a new face literally and figuratively on Congress, more women, more minorities. We have more Hispanics, an entirely new makeup really of Congress that is certainly much more reflective of the American population. And that's historic and it's something that you cannot go without notice.
But politically, it was not a very happy day for Republicans given that our power has been a greatly diminished in the House and it's going to be much more difficult to get things done, and specifically the president signature issue really is immigration, border security, and specifically getting this wall build.
[03:10:04] And the fact that they have not been able to get that done in the first two years it's going to be certainly much more difficult moving forward.
ALLEN: I want to ask you how do you think the dynamic between Nancy Pelosi. She's now a very powerful person in Washington and President Trump is going to play out. What element does this bring to the already polarized situation in D.C.
STEWART: Well, you just play the clip from her. She's not backing down. She's not a wallflower and she wouldn't be where she is and the speaker for the second time if she wasn't someone that doesn't shy away from a fight. And she's clearly dug in and she has said not one dollar for the wall. And at one point, you know, she joked that she will give maybe one dollar.
But she is clearly something that is very headstrong and the president as someone that is certainly very headstrong. And we're going to see in my view, a tremendous clash between the two. But the one thing that is I think very refreshing is divided government in my view is good.
This is important to have both sides Republicans and Democrats represented in Washington. And I say that as a Republican, but I think this is a very important way to get things done. I think where oversight is critical that we have that in government as well.
But there is no dispute of the fact that right now the shutdown of this government is based on President Trump and Nancy Pelosi sitting down in a room and having a serious conversation and see which one of those two very powerful people blinks in order to turn the lights back on fully in American government.
ALLEN: And I'm sure the people that have been furloughed will appreciate your comment there that hopefully this will be a good thing for Washington. Thank you so much. We always appreciate your insights. Republican strategist Alice Stewart. Thanks, Alice.
STEWART: Thanks, Natalie.
ALLEN: Well, one bad day for Apple is spoiling a whole bunch of portfolios for investors from New York to Tokyo. The tech giants warning about missing its sales targets dragged down U.S. markets across the board.
In Asia, the Nikkei took a hit down two and a quarter percent, but Hong Kong and Shanghai finished higher after word of a new round of U.S.-China trade talks. In New York, the Dow lost 660 points Thursday. Apple shares were 10 percent lower, the biggest drop in six years. Analysts say it's a clear signal the U.S.-China trade war is starting to bite.
CNN's Anna Stewart is in London for us as markets across Europe are opening this hour. Anna, hello to you. Clearly, many people are worried about the economy in China. Many corporations and that's having a big effect in the markets. Asia, certainly had a rude awakening, didn't they?
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes. If you look at the Asian markets it's interesting because we have the biggest losses on Japan's Nikkei. And actually, that comes as no surprise given this is actually their first day of trading since the New Year, so they were down over 2 percent.
So, as the topics since the other main index there, however, you will see that Hang Seng and the Shanghai composite both recovered by the end of the session and now that is on some positive news. We have some positive data out of China, perhaps not enough to (inaudible) all investor's concerns about China's slowing economy, perhaps, but some positive date there.
And also, news that there will be a vice minister level meeting on trade talks between China and the United States on Monday, so that's some positive sentiment as well. And actually, Natalie, going into the European session markets have now opened here and it seems to be having a positive reaction here too.
Of course, yesterday, we did have some heavy losses particularly on sectors that are reliant on China. So, we saw big losses in the auto sectors and some of the luxury stuff as well like Burberry, LVMH, and so forth.
ALLEN: Let's talk more about what the Trump administration is saying. One person from the economic team said hey, this is -- this is OK because more corporations probably will be hurt from the Chinese economy.
But now, perhaps this will bring China to the table and pushed through these tariff issues. What do you think about that message from the Trump administration?
STEWART: Well, I think throughout this trade war or tensions, whatever you'd like to call them that has been this idea that you can be strong on tactics to get people around the table. Frankly, from the investors you speak to they will all tell you that there is no winner in a trade war, and ultimately for business they need these talks to resume.
And that is what we're seeing today with some positive feedback on the fact that a meeting is scheduled. It will be on Monday, and their hopes that we will get something out of that. Of Course, this has been going on for some time though, stay aside. Today, I think futures are looking up. I mean, it's pretty early in the trading session of premarket trading but they are looking up.
[03:14:58] We'll be focusing much more today, Natalie on jobs number out to the United States. Because although there are concerns about China's economy, I would say there are also concerns whether or not they're founded on American's economy and whether it's strong enough. There were concerns overnight.
And looking at treasury yields, you could see it that perhaps the way that these many rate rises, for instance, as people were expecting on the back of some weaker economic data out of U.S.
ALLEN: Right. And it's expected to be a pretty good jobs number when it comes out in just a few hours here, but we still have more corporations saying the future for them in 2019 does not look as good as they thought. Is their concern about a global recession?
STEWART: It's interesting. You know, I think there is a concern about recession, about slowing economies in developed countries across the world. But is it really founded?
Because if you look at some of the data some of the fundamentals, they're really not so bad. America's economy is ticking along just fine. In fact, yesterday's jobs numbers on the private sector were pretty positive. And as you said, jobs numbers today are expected to be fairly positive too.
So, in that sense it's a lot of this is sort of doom and gloom. The problem is of course, we're looking at a border context of central banks winding up, you know, lose monetary policy. We're looking at less money on the table frankly. For American corporates it's also the end of the sugar high. They had from the corporate tax cuts from Donald Trump.
So, there is a lot at play here. And yes, it will be a tougher year perhaps, 2019, for many corporates but it's not as simple as saying it's all down to an economic slowdown. I don't think this is doom and gloom welcome to recession 2019. Natalie?
ALLEN: Good end right there, good ending. We like it. Anna Stewart for us in London, always a pleasure. Thank you, Anna.
Well, a defense lawyer says Russia has brought formal charges against an American being held in Moscow. Fueling speculation over possible prisoner swaps. We'll explain just ahead with a live report from Moscow.
Also, North Korea's top diplomat in Italy has not been seen in weeks. Up next, what we know about his disappearance and what it could imply.
ALLEN: A Russian news outlet reports the American held for spying in Moscow had classified information on him. Rosbalt reports that according to a source in Russia special services, Paul Whelan had just accepted a flash drive with secret information when he was arrested last week.
[03:20:03] CNN has not verified that though. The news site also reports Whelan had been trying to recruit a Russian. Moscow has not detailed the allegations, but Whelan's Russian lawyer says he was formally charged with espionage and has been sitting in prison since his arrest. He says they are appealing and applying for bail.
Let's find out more about this story. Let's bring in CNN's Moscow bureau chief Nathan Hodge. Nathan, thanks for being with us. Is there any more information on how he was arrested and what more could be behind these allegations that Russia is talking about regarding him?
NATHAN HODGE, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Natalie, as you had mentioned his lawyer confirmed that he was being formally charged with espionage and that's a very serious charge. If convicted under Russian law could face up to 20 years in prison. We're only beginning -- we're trying to find whatever we can about the details of his actual arrest here in Moscow.
Earlier this week, the federal security service, Russia's domestic intelligence agency put out a very brief statement saying that they had arrested him last Friday but giving no details about where and when the arrest took place, just saying that he had been involved or caught in the act of espionage.
This report in Rosbalt which CNN has not verified does say that he was arrested at the Metropol hotel, that's a historic hotel in central Moscow, saying that he was caught in possession of this flash drive that FSB agents came in and arrested him five minutes after he had received this information.
And this same report also points out the interest of the Russian source describing it in Paul Whelan's activity online. His efforts to make friends in Russia cultivating friendships online. Now his family has confirmed that he's traveled to Russia several times over the years. He does maintain an account, we believe on VKontakte, that's a Russian version of Facebook.
And apparently, this is one of the items that had stir the interest of the Russian security services according to this report. And again, his family has said was he was here simply to attend a wedding. That this was a purely private visit that he was visiting a friend who is marrying a Russian and this was just something he was hoping to be a sort of a tour guide for.
So, we have very few official details on that side. But on the U.S. side we do know that U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman visited with Whelan in Lefortovo. That is a former KGB jail on the outskirts of Moscow. Natalie?
ALLEN: Do we know anything about what Jon Huntsman say anything about the conditions in the prison or how he is being treated or did Whelan have anything to say to him that we've learned?
HODGE: Natalie, we do know from Whelan's lawyer that his morale is good. That's what the way it was described and that his conditions were also reasonable. But, again we're only sort of learning this sort of details about what the Russian government's or the Kremlin's real agenda is behind the detention of Whelan.
Just two weeks prior to his detention by the FSB, alleged Russian agent Maria Butina put in a guilty plea in a federal court to conspiring to infiltrate Republican political circles in the United States. And so that timing, the timing of that plea has raised a lot of speculation in national security circles and in Washington as well about whether the Russians really want to organize some kind of tit for tat, whether there will be some sort of exchange for Butina with Whelan.
Of course, there are other Russians in U.S. custody that the Russian government has been quite vocal about wanting to return to Russia. So, it's a very complicated picture here. But again, very serious charges that Whelan faces, possible 20-year jail term.
Butina, on the other hand, seems under this current plea deal to be facing a relatively short term about six months and could be deported thereafter. So, again, the timing very interesting factor here, Natalie.
ALLEN: Absolutely. It will be interesting to watch. This is indeed a story that is about prisoner swap and how that might play out. Nathan Hodge for us in Moscow. Thanks so much, Nathan.
Well, North Korea's top diplomat in Italy and his wife have been missing for weeks raising suspicions that they may have defected. Jo Song Gil's term was set to expire in November of last year. Anonymous sources told a prominent South Korean newspaper that he is seeking asylum in the west. If true, Jo would be the highest ranking North Korean official to defect since 2016.
Our Alexandra Field joins us now from Hong Kong.
[03:24:58] That last statement right there is pretty remarkable. What could this mean to North Korea if he has indeed -- or if he's defecting. And how did it come out and any word on where he could be.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, at this point if officials know where he is, they are not saying. The Italian foreign ministry is saying that it has not received a request for asylum from a North Korean diplomat. And officials in South Korea have either not commented or said that they can't confirm whether he has in fact defected.
But Natalie, this did all come to light because South Korea's national intelligence service briefed lawmakers letting them know that a North Korean diplomat had disappeared from his post, one of lawmakers in that briefing making this public.
We understand that Jo Song Gil's disappearance happened early November, just a few weeks before he was supposed to end his diplomatic mission in Italy. This is somebody who has been in Italy since 2015. He stepped up to the top diplomatic job in 2017 after North Korea's former ambassador was expelled as retaliation for increasing tension with North Korea. That was around the time that North Korea conducted its six nuclear tests, Natalie.
ALLEN: Yes. And Pyongyang has long been paranoid about people serving overseas and has very strict rules for those serving overseas. How difficult would a defection be and what could it mean for family members back in North Korea?
FIELD: Well, we certainly know that a defection from North Korea itself is a harrowing, dangerous and oftentimes deadly endeavor. It would be somewhat easier for somebody who is already outside the country acting in a diplomatic capacity and it's something that we know can be done.
You saw it done as you pointed out back in 2016 with another high- profile diplomat who defected from his post in the U.K. Certainly, you would think after that defection, stronger security measures would have been implemented as deterrence against affection.
We know the strongest deterrent however, from defectors seems to be the risk that they put their families in who were back in North Korea. Oftentimes when diplomats travel outside of North Korea, their children or family members might be made to stay behind in cases of defection. There have been stories told by defectors that those family members
can be punished, sentenced to hard labor camps, even executed at times. So, certainly, that would serve as the strongest deterrent. It is not clear if Jo was abroad with his children. We do know that he disappeared alongside his wife.
North Korean officials have not said anything about Jo's whereabouts. Certainly, though, Natalie, a defection at this point, a high profile like this one -- a high-profile one like this one potentially would be hugely embarrassing to North Korea at a time where it's working on its diplomatic engagement with both South Korea and of course, the United States.
ALLEN: Absolutely. We'll be following it. Alexandra Field for us from Hong Kong. Thanks, Alex.
Well, strong winds are pummeling Thailand as a rare tropical storm makes landfall in Thailand. And some people weren't able to evacuate. Derek van Dam will have the latest for us there.
Also, ahead here, the 116th Congress is setting records as the most diverse in U.S. history. We'll meet some of the new members when we return.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on out top news this hour. Democrats officially reached with control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Thursday and once again chose Nancy Pelosi to be House Speaker.
One of their first orders of business is to pass legislation to end two weeks of partial government shutdown. The Republican controlled Senate is not expected to take action, because the White House has threatened a veto.
Financial markets in Europe are off to a strong start following a dismal day on Wall Street. As you can see, the FTSE is up, the DAX up, as well, just over a point. The Paris CAC 40 also and the Zurich is up, just under a barely a point. In New York the DOW sinks 660 points Thursday after warning from Apple that it won't meet a failed target.
Britain's foreign office said it is providing consular support to Paul Whelan, the former U.S. Marine being held in Moscow on spying charges. Whelan was born in Canada to British parents, but he's a dual U.S.- British citizen. He's lawyer says, he has been charged with espionage.
Tropical storm Pabuk has made landfall in Thailand. The storm is bringing heavy rain and strong winds to much of suburb Thailand with the biggest concern is flooding and mudslides. Thousands of people are stranded at the moment on Thailand's popular tourist island. Authorities moved to suspend flights and ferry service ahead of what could become the worst storm to hit the country in decades. Let's learn more about it from our Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. They
may not be used to a storm, because they haven't seen one in so long and you got to feel for the tourists that couldn't evacuate.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Hopefully many of them heeded the warnings to get off of the islands, away from the coast and in to the mainland, part of Thailand. Because as you mentioned, this tropical storm is making landfall as we speak. The latest radar confirms that.
Here's southern portions of Thailand. The popular tourist destination is Koh Samui into to the Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and the Phuket area, all taking the heat over the next 12 hours. The worst of the storm yet to come for those regions as they are on the northern flank of the eye.
And what we're going to show you here is quite astounding, the winds across this area easily gusting in excess of 80 to 90 kilometers per hour. Again, this is the extreme southern portions of Thailand, right in the Malay Peninsula. The wind is really not the major factor with this storm as we've been talking about all night. It really has to do with the rainfall. And in fact, it is becoming down extremely heavily across this are.
Updated rainfall totals in this southern portions of Thailand, the Pattani region, over 300 millimeters of rain. There's a mountain range called the Phuket mountain range that runs north to south along the Malay Peninsula and that is going to ring out the available moisture from this tropical storm.
And it is going to deposit it in heavy rainfall in the valleys below. And we have the potential for an additional 200 millimeters of rain before the system finally departs into the Andaman Sea over the next 24 hours.
So, the potential here for landslides and mudslides is very high. So, I believe that is going to be the major concern for this part of the world as the storm makes landfall right now and continues to put its fiercest threats in the region at the moment.
Heavy rain, flooding, the potential for mudslides, high surf, we can't rule out the potential for waves in excess of three to five meters along the coastline and of course, the strong winds.
Here's the latest from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, 95 kilometer per hour sustained winds, higher gusts near the center of circulation. Right near that eye wall that I showed you on the radar just a moment ago. Again, we're expecting gusts there to easily be in excess of 80 to 90 kilometers per hour, maybe into the triple digits quite easily.
This is a phenomenal storm. Because it is 1962 since the last tropical storm caused such havoc in this region. Over 900 people killed, lost their lives, thanks to tropical storm Harriet and unfortunately, because it has been so long, Natalie, that they've seen the storm of this magnitude, they may not be prepared for a strong tropical storm like this one. And unfortunately, this will be a very difficult period for them to say the least. Back to you. [03:35:06] ALLEN: All right. We will be watching it. Thank you,
Thursday swearing in of the 160th Congress was one for the record books. The members are the most diverse in U.S. History. Including two Muslim women, one, a Palestinian American, the other a Somalia born refugee.
Two native-American women were sworn in for the first time. New Mexico representative Deb Haaland also represented her tribe during her swearing in. She and her guests wore traditional clothes for the event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me about the moment today when you were sworn in. What will you be feeling? You're a historic first.
DEB HAALAND, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Yes, you know, it is -- it is hard for me to grasp that. So, I will -- I'm super proud to be representing New Mexico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: A milestone also for Hispanic and Latinos members with 10 newly elected, as well as for African-Americans adding nine new members and the number of LGBTQ Congress members is at a historic high.
CNN was invited to chronicle 31 year-old Katie Hill journey from candidate to Congresswoman. Hill is notable for her youth. This is California's first openly bisexual woman elected to Congress. Here's Kyung Lah with her story.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A predawn flight for Katie Hill from Los Angeles to Washington D.C., a journey that is turning this citizen into a Congresswoman.
What is your hope when you land in D.C.?
CONG. KATIE HILL (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, playing nice isn't really something that's kind of like in my vocabulary. I just do what I think is right. We are regular middle class people. You know, we're young, we're -- we look like and speak like the people that where there to represent. I just think that is different from what it is sort had been like.
LAH: The 116th Congress is different and historic. Younger, more racially diverse and more female, a record setting 127 women elected, among them, 31-year-old Hill.
HILL: Hi, it's Katy Hill.
LAH: She ran as unknown first time candidate and defeated a Republican male incumbent, flipping her California district. In true millennial form, Hill has been sharing her ride on social media since her victory.
HILL: Hey, everybody, last day of first week of training here and orientation here in D.C.
LAH: From meeting fellow new members, to being selected for the House Majority Leadership and adjusting to fine dining while flying cross the country.
Does that all mean you'll govern differently? Will government be different now, because of people like you?
HILL: I believe so. And I believe that we're big enough class, we dropped the average age of Congress by 10 years. More than 10 years. More women than ever. So, the face of Congress is changing and it literally is far, far more diverse than it ever has been.
LAH: Hill who had never lived outside of California or even traveled with so many bags is now sharing an apartment with fellow Democratic Congresswoman, Lauren Underwood of Illinois. She also unseated a man.
CONG. LAURA UNDERWOOD (D), ILLINOIS: Hi, everybody.
LAH: A four term Republican incumbent becoming the youngest black woman ever elected to Congress.
Neither of you guys looks like the traditional members of Congress.
UNDERWOOD: Isn't that something?
LAH: Together, the third and fourth youngest women members of Congress.
What does all of these mean for governing moving forward, having women like you in Congress?
UNDERWOOD: I think it's going to be hard. We don't walk in and everything on that changes.
HILL: I walked to the door was definitely - well, it doesn't feel like me, you know, my office was (inaudible) apartment. In this sort of shady part of town with like, look for a candle all over the place. This is definitely, different.
LAH: Inauguration morning.
HILL: The capital and what? Hi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?
LAH: A crush of cameras welcomed her.
LAH: From Congresswoman elect, dropping the elect, how does it feel?
HILL: I guess so. It looks good. It feels like we can finally get to work.
LAH: Hill's cross country journey ending marking the beginning of her new role as a Congresswoman. Kyung Lah, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: The state of New York's highest law enforcement officer has set her sights on Donald Trump. Coming up, we explain who Leticia James (ph) is and why she may become a big thorn in Mr. Trump's side.
Also ahead the trial for Jamal Khashoggi's murder begins, but Turkey is not happy about where it is being held.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: Now that Democrats control the U.S. House of Representative, they're gearing up for aggressive oversight of the Trump administration. For starters they hold the chairmanships of all House Committees giving them enormous leverage over the White House legislative agenda.
Democrats will also be able to launch their own investigations into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign. This time armed with subpoena power. And one of the boldest moves of all, some Democrats expressed a desire to see the President's tax returns. Mr. Trump is the only President in the modern era not to share them publicly while running for the White House.
While Democratic leaders now carry big stick, they are talking softly about one of the most dangerous words in U.S. politics, impeachment. But some rank and file members are not so reticent. In fact one Democratic Congressman has already introduced articles of impeachment against the President. A Democratic colleague explained why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: It is not too soon to be talking about it. We'll have to decide whether or not it is the correct course of action. But certainly we should be discussing it. And asking those questions and figuring out what the best course of action is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: President Trump's legal and political problems are not limited to Democrats on Capitol Hill or Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Letitia James is now the State Attorney General in New York where the president is from. And if she is to be believed, she is coming for him. She's even labeled Mr. Trump an illegitimate President. CNN's Athena Jones, has this story.
LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW YORK: I will work in a legal system where even the most powerful in the country cannot use a loophole to evade justice. (CHEERS)
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New York's new Attorney General has big plans.
JAMES: Let that be a fair warning to all of those in high places who think that they're above the law.
JONES: And Letitia James sworn in on Tuesday has made clear that among her biggest targets will be President Trump and his business practices.
JAMES: I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate President.
JONES: After all Trump's company is headquartered in New York. And so was his 2016 campaign.
JAMES: But he is feeling my soul. Right now it's Trump and his abuses, abuses against immigrants, against women, against our environment.
[03:45:07] JONES: Among the many items that James has said she would look into, Trump's finances and his real estate holdings. Including any potential money laundering which James has said she believes there's evidence trump has engaged in.
JAMES: President Trump was almost on the verge of bankruptcy and then all of a sudden he was flush with money.
JONES: And with a view with possible repercussions of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller's probe, and the 2016 election meddling, James campaign on passing a bill to change New York's double jeopardy laws to allow her to pursue state charges against anyone the president where to grant a federal pardon.
She plans to continue an ongoing probe on to whether Trump has violated the constitution's Emoluments Clause which says federal officials cannot accept gifts from foreign powers without Congressional approval.
And James office will continue the lawsuit grant by the previous A.G. against the president, the Donald J. Trump Foundation and three of his adult children. Trump and Trump Foundation officials deny any wrongdoing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations to our great history making Attorney General.
JONES: It's shaping up to be a long to do list for James. One she is eager to take on.
JAMES: We must do our job to ensure that the man currently occupying the Oval Office is held accountable to any and everything he has done.
JONES: The President meanwhile is already reviewing his argument against James. Chalking it all up to politics calling James an Attorney General who openly campaigned on a Get Trump agenda.
Now James' rhetoric prior to taking office has raised concerns in some quarters about whether she could be impartial. In a blog post on law fair, Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney and Senior FBI official said James should appreciate that, quote, injudicious comments undermine her office and her cases legally and factually and will call into question in the public eye the credibility of her work.
He suggested she consider recusing herself or at a minimum stop talking about the planned investigations completely. James defenders say that regardless of her previous statements, James will make decisions based on what the evidence supports and where these investigations take her, if anywhere. Athena Jones, CNN, New York.
ALLEN: Canada's Global Affairs Department says, 13 Canadians had been detained in China since December 1st. But at least eight of them have since been released. The detentions coincide with when Canadian officials arrested Chinese Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the United States.
It is not clear request why many if the 13 Canadians were held. Beijing's Vice Minister of Justice didn't confirm the arrest directly, but said China operates under the rule of law. Experts suggest two of the arrests could be Chinese retaliation for Meng's arrest. Beijing has accused Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat and Michael Spavor, a businessman of threatening China's security. And the prosecutor's said there's no doubt they broke the law. Canada disagrees and is demanding their immediate release.
The trial against 11 man accused of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi is under way in the Saudi capital. Prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty for some of the suspects, but Turkey says it should be conducting the murder trial, because that is where Khashoggi was killed. Here's CNN's Gul Tuysuz.
GUL TUYSUZ, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL PRODUCER: Three months ago Jamal Khashoggi walked in to the Saudi Consulate building behind me. And today was the first hearing in his murder case in Saudi Arabia. We don't know a lot about how that process is going to be unfolding.
But what we do know today, we have from the Saudi Prosecutor's Office saying that there are 11 suspects who are being tried in this case. And they are going to be asking for the death penalty for five of those suspects. We don't know the names of them. But the Saudi Prosecutor's Office said that those five are ones who had direct involvement in the murder itself.
The other thing that we know at this point is that as the trial is unfolding, the suspects asked for copies of the indictment and asked for more time to prepare, a wish that was granted by the court. The Saudi Prosecutor's Office also issued a statement saying, that they have been asking, sending letters to their Turkish counter parts, asking for any evidence that Turkey had in relation to the murder. And they said that their requests have not been answered thus far.
We know that there was been a lot of diplomatic back and forth between Turkey and Saudi Arabia when it comes to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey saying that Saudi Arabia, as opposed to collaborating is trying to figure out what evidence Turkey has and they're really asking that the case against those suspects involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi be tried here in Turkey.
[03:50:11] That issue has not been resolved. But what does remains now is that for the loved ones of Jamal Khashoggi, there isn't a lot of peace. Because the whereabouts of his body still remain a mystery. Gul Tuysuz, CNN, Istanbul.
ALLEN: Pope Francis says a culture of abuse has damaged the credibility of the Catholic Church. In a letter to U.S. Bishops, he called for a renewed approach to solving the widespread problem. Here now for more, Barbie Nadeau, in Rome.
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Pope Francis did not mince words in a letter to U.S. Catholic Bishops who are meeting in a spiritual retreat outside of Chicago this week. In the letter he called for them to be discerning and for conversion. The United States is not the only country that has been subject to widespread clerical sex abuse in recent years. But it is by far, one of the most problematic.
Over the summer, the Pennsylvania grand jury issued a damning report that outlined decades of clerical abuse by hundreds of priests against thousands of children. Several other states in America have followed suite with their own investigations.
In his letter to the U.S. Bishops, he writes, in recent years, the church in United States has been shaken by various scandals that have gravely affected its credibility. These has been times of turbulence in the lives of all those victims who suffered in their flesh the abuse of power and conscience and sexual abuse on the part of ordained ministers, male and female religious and lay faithful.
The times of tribune since suffering also call for the families and for the entire people of God. Pope Francis has called the leaders of the church to meet in February in round to discuss the global clerical sex abuse crisis. Hopefully they'll be able to find solutions that will pacify the victims and will allow the faithful to continue to have faith in their church. Barbie Nadeau for CNN, Rome.
ALLEN: Next, they were snowed in, but they refuse to give in. Our meteorologists dug themselves out of a snowdrift to carry out their duty.
Also after prime witch-hunt in the Russia probe, President Trump now faces criticism from actual witches. Ahead, how his allies are responding to all the hocus-pocus.
ALLEN: Heavy snowfall couldn't prevent three determined meteorologists from carrying out their duties. The group got stuck inside a snowed in meteorological station in Poland on Thursday. Look at all that snow, but they were not deterred.
You know, they're meteorologists. The three managed to dig through the snow and up to the surface in order to measure the weather readings outside. They did so despite an avalanche alert and strong wind from the blizzard.
Our employees of the day. The U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed the Special Counsel Russia Probe as a witch-hunt. But after reports that his comments upset supposed real life witches. The president allies came to his defense saying the stories where nothing more than a hocus-pocus. Here's our Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a witch story that continues to cast its spell. The other day we told you about self proclaimed witches peeved (ph) to President Trump for all we saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I call it a witch-hunt.
TRUMP: This is a witch-hunt. Like nobody's has ever seen.
MOOS: We interviewed a couple of witches.
[03:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does demonstrate his ignorance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really disgraceful.
MOOS: And thought we were done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the witches.
MOOS: After all of our toiling over the subject.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Double-double toil and trouble.
MOOS: The President's son took the trouble to re-tweet our story dismissively. The derangement is real folks, #TrumpDerangementsyndrome. Maybe Don Jr. was unaware that Fox News had done at least two segments on the same story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now upsetting actual witches.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some real life witches are angry at him.
MOOS: Talk about hocus-pocus. Fox News even aired part of my piece, which is tend to side with liberals. CNN and Fox, bewitched and bemused by the subject.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joining me now are go too witch, Dakota Bracciale.
MOOS: Next, Rudy Giuliani jumped on to the broomstick with his seemingly earnest tweet, "There is no reason for the witches to be offended, because witch-hunt derives from, for example, the Salem witch-hunts, where people are executed unjustly."
The President's lawyer tweeting about witches raised eyebrows. Rudy, sir, just stop. Even Kellyanne Conway's husband George took a swipe. Remember this is the best lawyer whom Donald Trump could persuade to represent him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire burn and cauldron bubbled.
MOOS: But this called Rene's bubble enough since the Daily Beast first featured the story last month. Time to break the spell and kill the story. Jeanne Moos CNN, New York.
ALLEN: Thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen. The news continues next with my colleague Max Foster in London. Thanks for watching.