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Vice President Mike Pence Led Discussions On How To Get The Government Fully Restarted Again; Panic At A Bowling Alley In Southern California; New Generation Of Democratic Women Who Are Really Staking Their Claim To The Spotlight; Trump Faces More Capitol Hill Inquiries As Dems Take Over House; Russia: Not The Time To Discuss Paul Whelan "Prisoner Swap"; Friends, Family Say Final Goodbyes To Ronil Singh; Formerly Conjoined Twins Make Strides Two Years After Surgery. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 5, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:09] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It is 8:00 eastern. 5:00 in the evening out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for being here.
President Trump figured out a way to make the government shutdown go away. His solution? Just call it something else. People who were inside that White House meet with congressional leaders yesterday say the President prefers the term "strike" instead of "shutdown," never mind that it is a shutdown and the total opposite of a strike. More on that in just a moment.
First though, in Washington today, vice president Mike Pence leading what was being called a working group of congressional aides, oval office advisers and homeland security officials including DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. That meeting lasted for about two hours. It was more discussions on how to get the government fully restarted again.
The shutdown has forced about 800,000 American men and women to either stay home from their federal jobs without pay or perhaps even more challenging, continue to go to work without being paid. Two weeks now, no paycheck.
Friday at the White House President Trump, behind closed doors with the speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader, his advisers, his cabinet, the President reportedly launching into a profanity-laced speech, refusing to budge from the dollar amount he wants for the wall on the Mexico border.
And then, like I said earlier, President Trump reportedly told the people at that meeting that he wants to use the word "strike." not "shutdown," which he has power to end. Instead he says it's a strike, you know, when workers are so unhappy with their employers that they don't want to go to work so they choose not to. What's happening now could not be further from a strike.
So here is how we got here. December 11th, a possible government shutdown becomes a reality when President Trump meets with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and then incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump insists on the need for a border wall and floats $5 billion. The Democrats are unwilling to go beyond the existing fund of $1.3 billion for border security in general. Trump then says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: A week later, on December 19th, the Senate passes a continuing resolution that will temporarily fund the government and keep border security funded at the current level. It doesn't include the money for Trump's border wall. Still, the next day, then House speaker Paul Ryan tells Republicans the House is ready to pass that same bill and he expects the President to sign it. Republicans seem confident Trump is on board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any doubt that Trump will sign it?
REP. CHRIS COONS (R), NEW YORK: No. There's no doubt at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: No doubt at all. Hours later, however, warning from the White House, a senior White House official tells CNN pressure from ultraconservative members of the house freedom caucus could cause President Trump to change his mind. Conservative media voices like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh join the chorus against compromise. And now the President is no longer willing to sign that short term funding bill and keep the government open. He wants his wall.
The House moves quickly and passes a funding bill that gives President Trump $5 billion for his wall. The bill, more symbolic than anybody else because there's no chance that it passes the Senate, therefore at midnight on December 22nd the government partially shuts down.
Trump digs in his heels, $5 billion for his wall. Democrats not budging from the $1.3 billion they originally offer for border security. Behind the scenes, Trump aides start reaching out to Democrats with offers. Here is then acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: We have insisted on five. But the discussions now are between 1.6 and five.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We are told the exact ask was $2.5 billion for a comprehensive border and immigration proposal. And that was made by vice president Mike Pence. Democrats swiftly reject this. The following weekend the White House aides began backing away from a President Trump's demand for a physical wall. Outgoing chief of staff John Kelly tells "the Los Angeles Times," quote, "to be honest it's not a wall." And then Kellyanne Conway and Senator Lindsey Graham both say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The government filed shutdown --
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: They failed to --
BASH: A wall?
CONWAY: No. No, no.
BASH: It has shut down over a wall.
CONWAY: That incorrect.
BASH: The President said in the oval office, he said very, very clear.
CONWAY: It is shut down because of border security.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The wall has become a metaphor for border security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Twenty-four hours later, the President contradicts his own advisers and allies, tweeting this.
Quote "an all-concrete wall was never abandoned as has been reported by the media, making clear this shutdown is about the wall, not border security in general, not a metaphor."
Days later the President then contradicts his own vice president, saying $2.5 billion for his wall isn't acceptable. It is $5.6 billion or nothing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:11] TRUMP: They are not 2.5, no. We are asking for 5.6 and, you know, somebody said 2.5. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: With his heels still dug in, the President admitted he did say the shutdown could go on for months or even years but he says it's necessary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: It's very important that we have great border security. I think it's going to be over with sooner than people think. But I will do whatever we have to do. If we have to stay out for a very long period of time, we are going to do that. And many of those people, maybe even most of those people that really have not been and will not be getting their money in at this moment, those people in many cases are the biggest fan of what we're doing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you know that, sir? Do you have evidence to support that?
TRUMP: Major, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Let's hear from one of those people who aren't getting paid right now. My next guest Erin Kidwell is currently furloughed. She works for the forest service, so does her husband. He is also furloughed.
Erin, thanks for taking the time to be with us this evening.
ERIN KIDWELL, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER: Thank you.
CABRERA: Are you one of the biggest fans of this shutdown?
KIDWELL: No, I'm not a fan of the shutdown.
CABRERA: Do you know anyone who says, I don't care about my paycheck, I care more about the wall?
KIDWELL: No. I haven't heard that.
CABRERA: How are you doing right now? How is this impacting your family?
KIDWELL: I'm doing OK and very stressed about it. You know, January is one of our most expensive months of the year. And so moving a couple of paychecks is making us look at our budget to make smart decisions.
CABRERA: What type of hard decisions have you had to make?
KIDWELL: Well, like we have had a little bit of a savings, so, you know, the hard decisions are to come, you know. I still pay life insurance and car insurance, and life insurance, and our medical bills, and our mortgage, and day-care. And so, you know, I have filed for unemployment, and I'm applying for jobs, for temporary jobs right now, so.
CABRERA: You said that there's a bit of distress within your family. What are you most worried about?
KIDWELL: Just keeping our finances in order. We work really hard to balance our budget. We have to be very careful with all out expenditures, because of the high cost of living. And we just, you know, get by.
CABRERA: The President says he thinks landlords and lenders will be easy on people. Have you gotten any reassurance about your rent or mortgage?
KIDWELL: I have a mortgage so I don't believe that, you know. It's not an option for me not to make a payment. I make my payments on time and I don't want fines or interest. And so we got some guidance from OPM saying you can ask for loans from friends or relatives. All my friends and relatives live paycheck to paycheck as well so that's not an option.
CABRERA: Now the President was also asked about safety nets. And I just want to play his answer for you there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are saying months and possibly a year for the shutdown. Do you have in mind a safety net for those who need their checks?
TRUMP: Well, the safety net is going to be having a strong border because we are going to be safe. Many of the people you're discussing, I really believe they agree with what we're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Does that put you at ease, Erin?
KIDWELL: No, that doesn't help me at all.
CABRERA: Do you have a message for those in Washington right now who are refusing to budge on the negotiations?
KIDWELL: Yes. As federal employees, we would like to get back to work. We work for the American people. We do our jobs, work hard every day. And we want Congress to do their jobs and fund the government and get us back to work.
CABRERA: How is the forest service being affected? Since I know both you and your husband work for the forest service.
KIDWELL: The forest service will be affected in many ways. And like the public, you know, they are not going to be able to go to the visitors center. Our trail heads will not be maintained, you know. We are susceptible to vandalism and resource damage, you know. People maybe going off the road because our presence isn't out there as the forest service and damaging resources and theft, you know. People can't get their firewood from it. They may just go up and cut their firewood without their permits and be in areas they shouldn't be, which we may have to come back and restore.
And so, you know, we are already getting backlogged with the work. We are going to have to catch up on. And on top of that we are going to now have to do probably do more restoration, more maintenance and fixing any kind of damage that was done during this time. [20:10:02] CABRERA: Erin Kidwell, thank you so much for sharing your
story, your perspective, your experience with us. We hope you get your paychecks soon and are able to get back to work. Thank you again.
KIDWELL: Thank you.
CABRERA: Joining us now, Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell. He serves on both the House judiciary and intelligence committees. Congressman, thank you for being with us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Ana. Thanks for having me back.
CABRERA: I want to ask you about the Democrats and the President disagreeing on just how badly or what type of border security is needed. Both sides do support border security, I know. So what could the President offer that would have you on board? Is it a certain number in terms of amount of funds you're willing to put forward or is it about how the fund would be allocated? Spell it out for us.
SWALWELL: The President does not want border security. He wants border theater. And that's what's been playing out here as he has been offered increases in border patrol agents, increases in technology, fencing where there are vulnerabilities, and enforcement on the visa overstays.
But the President doesn't want to engage there because that does not fulfill the promise that he knows that he's not going to get, which is that he is going to build a wall, sea to shining sea, and that Mexico is going to pay for that.
We are never going to go for that. The American people don't want that. And it turns out when it comes to effective security, Ana, that isn't going to stop the issue we all believe we need to address.
CABRERA: He says he doesn't want a concrete wall anymore, though, he wants steel slats. And if you look at the pictures on the border, I mean, it seems incredibly similar to fencing we already have in some places. Does this create room for compromise?
SWALWELL: If the President can articulate where he needs steel slats and why, and we can agree on facts, yes, there is an ability to compromise. But the tweet that he put out earlier today, he is using the word "wall." A wall to me is immoral between two allies. You don't want a permanent structure between two allies, especially when the facts play out. One, we have a net outflow of illegal immigration since 2008 in our country. More illegal immigrants are going from the United States to Mexico than the other way. And two, the majority of people who are here undocumented have overstayed their visas. That's an issue we should address. But a wall isn't going to do anything to stop either of those two.
CABRERA: I want to turn to the Russia investigation because you are on both the House and Judiciary Committees, the intelligence committee and the Judiciary Committee, both controlled by Democrats, obviously. Let's talk about the investigative priorities. Tell us the top three people who should expect summonses and the specific documents you want to get your hands on.
SWALWELL: I don't want anyone sitting on the edge of their seats to see if they are going to get a subpoena on your show, Ana. We don't know it that way, as entertaining as that would be. We are going to fill in the gaps on the Russia investigation to make sure that we in this upcoming election, the Presidential election ahead, protect our ballot box. And we believe we are still vulnerable to Russia. So we are going fill in the gaps --.
CABRERA: Where are the gaps?
SWALWELL: So we want to understand, the witnesses who refused to testify because of different privileges that they asserted. We want to bring them in and put them under subpoena. Bank records, cellphone records, travel records that we sought from people like Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, and others, we would like to get those records.
And then the money laundering that we believe exists between the Russians and the Trump organization, which again, we were not allowed to pursue, we want to go there. And we believe that's the case because both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump said that a lot of money, millions of dollars was coming in from the Russians in the 2000s. And Deutsche bank, the President's bank, was find in that period of time for laundering Russian money. So we think we have reason to look.
CABRERA: Trump junior called the blocked number shortly after he arranged that Trump tower meeting, you will recall. Republicans had refused to issue a subpoena about the mystery call. But now that you guys are empowered, do democrats plan to subpoena those records?
SWALWELL: Absolutely. And that would go to the President's knowledge. Because you have Donald Trump Jr. being offered dirt on Hillary Clinton. Then he makes a call. And on the phone record it's a blocked number. And then he calls back to Russia. And so, we know from other evidence that Donald Trump, his father, had a number that would come up as blocked and that he was in the building at the time that Donald Trump Jr. was making these calls. So we have reason to look.
Again, every time we learn evidence in the last two years that was illuminating, the Republicans would take out the shovels and bury it. For the sake of the American people and our investigation, we now can unearth that evidence and tell the American people what it means.
CABRERA: Some of your colleagues are already talking about impeachment. I know you are not there just yet. We know it is on the President's mind. Two sources tell us in yesterday's meeting during an apparently profanity-laden tirade, the President brought it up and he directed his comments to Nancy Pelosi alluding to that yesterday. Here is the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Well, you can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job. Nancy said, we are not looking to impeach you. I said, that's good, Nancy. That's good. But you know what? You don't impeach people when they are doing a good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:15:13] CABRERA: You can't impeach somebody for doing a good job. Your reaction?
SWALWELL: He shouldn't worry about us impeaching somebody who is doing a good job. But what he should worry about is that the last two years of having Presidential immunity where his abuses of power went just unchecked, those days are over. And we are not rushing to impeach. But we certainly are going to do our job. And if there is evidence that's there, we will build an airtight case, seek bipartisan buy-in (ph) and make sure the American people know what that means.
And by the way, Ana, if this was Donald Trump justice, Donald Trump would be impeached already. He is so reckless with the facts that he would have thrown anyone that has done anything like what he has done out already. But we are not going to do that. We are going to give him a fair investigation that he probably deserves.
CABRERA: I want to talk quickly 2020, Senator Elizabeth Warren announcing an exploratory committee this week. You said last year you were considering running, but you told me that decision would be based 100 percent on your family. We saw you with your beautiful baby daughter on the house floor this weekend. We have a picture of it up. Any announcements to make on our show?
SWALWELL: We are getting close, Ana. Senator Warren, I'm thrilled is in the race. I think other qualified folks will be in. This weekend she is in my hometown, home-county in northwest Iowa where I was born. I think it's important to run all over that state, because we have to go to the rural areas. I'm going to be going back there soon. But yes, a decision is forthcoming.
CABRERA: All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, we hope you will save your announcement for my show when that time comes.
SWALWELL: Of course.
CABRERA: Good to see you. You are always welcome back.
SWALWELL: Thanks, Ana. Thank you.
CABRERA: Talks to reopen the government remain at a stalemate. White house chief of staff Mick Mulvaney talked to CNN after the meeting today and admits it was more of the same.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I know that speaker Pelosi had said she didn't want to get even more than $1 to the border wall. President Trump has talked about $5.6 billion. Is there any give in the $5.6 billion in terms of whether or not it has to be for a wall or whether it can be for more generally border security?
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think the President said it was $5.6 billion for border security including the wall. We recognize that things like technology and border crossings are important. But certainly a barrier is important.
We didn't make much progress at the meeting which was surprising to me. I thought we had come in to talk about terms that we could agree on. Places where we all agreed we should be spending more time, more attention, things we can do to improve our border security. And yet the opening line from one of the lead Democrat negotiators was that they were not there to talk about any agreement. They were actually, my mind, there to stall. And we did not make much progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: You can watch the entire interview on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" tomorrow morning. Jake will also be joined by Representative Adam Schiff, it all comes your way at 9:00 tomorrow morning.
[20:21:39] CABRERA: Welcome back.
Panic at a bowling alley in southern California when gunshots rang out during a family bowling league night. This tragic scene erupted in Torrance, California, that's south of L.A. Three men are dead, four people are injured. Officers found multiple gunshot victims when they arrived on the scene. A witness describes the pandemonium.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. RYON THOMAS, WITNESS: People started to run inside the karaoke shouting gunshot, gunshot, gunshot. And so we being in the space, some persons within our space heard gunshot, I did not heard it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Several relatives of victims tell CNN the shooting started after a fight broke out between two women. Police are still searching for the shooter.
From the west coast to the Midwest now. More than a year ahead of the Iowa caucus, you are looking at live pictures of Elizabeth Warren in Des Moines, Iowa, kicking off her push for the Democratic nomination with visits to several Iowa towns this weekend.
And at a stop in Sioux City, she responded to a voter who asked her about why she used a DNA test to prove she has native-American ancestry. Saying, I am not a person of color and that she respects the difference tribal citizenship and ancestry.
Now her trip come as Nancy Pelosi is reclaiming the House speakership and looking in and locking her position in as a most powerful woman on Capitol Hill. But it's the new generation of Democratic women who are really staking
their claim to the spotlight, hours after being sworn into Congress. Michigan House Democrat Rashida Tlaib made some headlines when she said this about President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: Now when your son looks at you and says, mama, look, you won, bullies don't win. And I said baby, they don't because we are going to go in there. We are going to impeach the (bleep).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Some on both sides of it aisle said Tlaib went too far with her salty language. President Trump had this response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I thought her comments were disgraceful. This is a person that I don't know. I assume she is new. I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family. Using language like this in front of her son and whoever else was there, I thought that was a great dishonor to her and to her family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And yet in an exclusive interview with CNN affiliate WDIV, Tlaib stood by her comment and the language she used.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TLAIB: I think no one expects me to be anything but myself. The girl from southwest Detroit, the little sass and attitude. I think, you know, President Trump has messed -- met his match. I can tell you I have talked to a number of my colleagues, including congresswoman Maxine Waters and Al Green and others who were very smiling and telling me we live your spirit. We welcome it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter is with us now.
So some criticism, Brian, for Tlaib but she is also getting some serious support from at least one other young Democrat who just came to Congress.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez who has become one of the most famous people in the country thanks to her surprise election win in the primary. And since she's been tweeting up a stopper ever since.
She had this response to the controversy, the criticism of the effort. She said, Republican hypocrisy at its finest on display here, saying Trump's talk of sexual assault on tape is just locker room talk, but scandalizing themselves in to faux outrage when my sis says a curse word in bar. AOC saying here, GOP lost entitlement to policing women's behavior a long time ago. Next.
And look. This is what she does really well. She uses twitter to respond the controversies, to attack the GOP and she has done it over and over again on twitter, racking up millions of followers. She has actually surpassed Nancy Pelosi just in that twitter count of followers. And look. Twitter is not real life. Twitter is not the political world, but it is a reflection of where the passion is in the Democratic Party right now.
KIDWELL: Where the passion is everywhere.
STELTER: And I think we talk about this curse word controversy. It was really more about the word "impeachment," I think. Civility is long gone in politics. But this was about impeachment. And what we were seeing was a movement among some in the Democratic Party to push impeachment to the forefront. That's what these congresswomen want. These newly elected representatives who come from really blue districts. But then you have a lot of other Democrats trying to calm everything down, try not get too far ahead of themselves. It is a really interesting tension within the Democratic Party. And to me that's what this controversy is really about.
CABRERA: I want to talk more about the social media comments and some controversies including this one other involving Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez earlier this week. She was targeted on twitter by an anonymous user who posted this video of her from when she was in college. The person who posted it described it as America's favorite commie know it all acting like the nitwit she is.
Now this was just spoof of the dancing scenes from "the breakfast club." And Ocasio-Cortez didn't stay quiet in the face of this latest run of criticism tweeting, this video of herself dancing outside her office on Capitol Hill and saying, wait until the GOP find out congresswomen dance too.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
CABRERA: She's like, yes, take that. I think it's so interesting, though, because Donald Trump is so savvy when it comes to using twitter and social media, and that's been a huge advantage in some respects for him and his ability to communicate with his supporters.
CABRERA: Do you think he's met his match now?
STELTER: In many ways he has met his match with her and these other newly-elected lawmakers who are using not just twitter but Instagram and You Tube in new ways.
I mean, AOC, what she does on Instagram doing live chats with her supporters. She is not necessarily bringing in new folks that are critical of her. But she is deepening support from her voters in her district and fans across the country. And that's why I say she has become one of the most famous people in the country already.
It's partly because of conservatives criticizing her and attacking her. There has been lots of FOX News segments about her. The dancing video, conservatives were up and arms about. But a lot of other thing she has done, conservatives have been angry about it and been criticizing her about and it's made her more and more famous. She is using twitter and Instagram really well to capitalize on that.
And I think most importantly, she is bringing it back to policy. You might love, you might hate her policies but she is bringing it back to policy. She's on Anderson Cooper's "60 minutes" program tomorrow. Cooper's interview with her tomorrow. Biggest news program in the country. And what is she doing? She is talking about taxes and the green new deal. So she is trying to capitalize on the interest in her personality and bring it back to policy. We will see if that's successful or not.
CABRERA: All right. Brian Stelter, thank you for your take.
CABRERA: Don't forget Brian's show is tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. eastern here on CNN, "RELIABLE SOURCES."
Now when it comes to the House, things are looking blue. Up next, we will introduce you to the five new House of Representatives committee chairs and their plans to take on President Trump.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:30:30] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: They've made it clear, they are not playing around. The new Democrat-controlled House is gearing up. Take this photo, featured in "Vanity Fair," showing the new House of Representatives committee chairs looking more like a teaser for an episode of "Law and Order." That's from the hall of Capitol Hill.
Representatives Richard Neal, Maxine Waters, Elijah Cummings, Jerry Nadler, Adam Schiff. Those are the faces, those are the names to remember. They are vowing fresh scrutiny of the president.
And their leader, Nancy Pelosi, also vowing a tough stance against President Trump. And this week, ahead of her new speakership, leaving the door open when it comes to the president being impeached or even indicted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he's no longer president of the United States.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, HOST, TODAY SHOW: What about a sitting president?
PELOSI: Well, a sitting president when he's no longer president of the United States.
GUTHRIE: A president who is in office. Can Robert Mueller come back and say, I am seeking an indictment.
PELOSI: I think that that is an open discussion. I think that is an open discussion in terms of the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Kristen Holmes is joining us now. Kristen, walk us through who those five committee chairs are and their agendas.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, I think the big question here is what's not on the agenda. Democrats have said that they will comb through every single aspect of the Trump administration. And let's meet the key players, the Ways and Means Committee, headed by Representative Richard Neal.
Now, this is one of the most powerful committee and he wants to use this power to see President Trump's tax returns.
Now, you might now see this immediately. He has said he wants to make a case to the public first as to why the president should voluntarily turn over his taxes.
We know President Trump had promised in the past to give over those taxes. I don't know what could be said to the public to try to compel him. But if that's what he says he's going to do, that's what they'll do before they move forward with some sort of legal action.
Next, Maxine Waters. Now, of course, we remember that Maxine Waters, she will be the incoming financial services chairman. But we remember she has a contentious relationship with President Trump. He has called her "Low I.Q. Maxine" and she has called for his impeachment since 2017.
Her big thing on financial services is going to be follow the Trump money trail. That means looking into the Trump organization as well as President Trump's finances, those ties to Russia included in that.
Let's move on to the third one. Here, you've got the oversight committee. That is Representative Elijah Cummings. Now, this is an incredibly broad group. They can cover a lot here. He actually resent letters to the administration, 51 that he had sent while he was in the minority, telling the administration they needed to comply by January 11th.
[20:35:06] In this, this is what he covered. Cabinet secretary travel, immigration, security clearances, hurricane recovery efforts. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Again, 51 letters here that he's sent in already and we haven't even had the committees actually formed.
Moving on here to intelligence, Representative Adam Schiff obviously not a stranger. He's made himself a rival to President Trump, a rival to Devin Nunes. He has said that Republicans really slacked on that investigation, on the Russia investigation. So this is what he's going to do, he's going to be focused on that, using his new subpoena power which he obviously did not have when he was in the minority, to look into those Russia ties.
And last but not least, we have the judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler. Now, this is interesting. He is actually been an adversary of President Trump since back in New York in the 1980s. They clashed when Nadler was a local politician and Trump was a real estate mogul.
This committee is really going to handle Special Counsel Mueller's report, how it is going to be portrayed in the public. Is it going to be released to the public? They're also going to be in charge of any kind of Democratic impeachment.
So this is really interesting. Obviously, they're hitting the ground running, and those committee assignments are expected to be made next week.
CABRERA: Thanks for laying it out, Kristen. Good to see you.
New details tonight about an American detained in Russia, facing spy charges. What the kremlin is saying about a possible prisoner swap. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:40:20] CABRERA: A tragic story out of Poland. Five teenage girls were killed when a fire broke out in an escape room. The 15-year-olds were celebrating a friend's birthday at the attraction, where people are locked in a room and they try to find their way out by searching for clues.
A fire official says the girls might have had survived if there had been a proper evacuation route. One person is in the hospital with severe burns. And authorities are investigating how that fire started.
Russia says now is not the time to talk about a possible prisoner swap for detained American Paul Whelan who is being held in Moscow on espionage charges.
There had been speculation that Vladimir Putin might be willing to trade Whelan for alleged Russian spy Maria Butina who recently pleaded guilty to conspiring against the U.S.
A Russian news site also says Whelan was detained in his hotel room shortly after getting a flash drive containing confidential names of Russian intelligence agents. But his family insists the former Marine was simply visiting Moscow for a wedding.
CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has more from Moscow.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the details emerging about Paul Whelan may go some way to explaining why he appeared on the radar of Russian counterespionage agents. He is former military, serving with the U.S. Marines for 14 years including two tours of duty in Iraq.
He had multiple passports, U.S., British, Canadian, and Irish, something Russian intelligence may have seen as suspicious. And he friended dozens of ordinary Russians on social media. Many of them military veterans like himself, something that may also have rung alarm bells.
But as we learn more, the less Whelan appears to fit the profile of a spy. He was kicked out of the military for amongst the other crimes trying to steal more than $10,000 while he was in Iraq.
His multiple passports are a product of his complicated family. Born in Canada to British parents with Irish grandparents, then choosing to become an American.
A diplomatic source familiar with the Whelan case tells CNN he does not appear to have any connection with any national intelligence operation.
Earlier, Whelan's Russian lawyer confirmed to CNN the charges of espionage have now been formally made. If convicted, Whelan could face 20 years in a Russian jail.
Whelan's family are now calling on President Trump to break his silence on the issue, urging him in a newspaper op-ed to intercede on Paul's behalf as government action from United States will reinforce that Americans traveling abroad should not do so in fear and ensure that other American families are less likely to have their loved ones go missing.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
CABRERA: I want to bring in former CIA operative Bob Baer now, a CNN intelligence and national security analyst.
Bob, earlier in the week, you basically said you thought Whelan was framed. Given everything we know now, do you still feel that way?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, I think he was framed. The way it works, Ana, this is fairly typical of the FSB, is they find somebody they think is suspicious. They run an FSB agent into him posing, let's say, as a military officer.
At some point, the Russians decide they need a case against the United States for a trade. So what will happen is that guy undercover will go to someone like Whelan and say, I've got some secret documents, would you please carry them to my government -- to your government? And he goes along with it.
He probably thinks very -- he's going to be helpful. He's going to walk into the military or the CIA when he gets back to the United States, look, I've got a source for you.
Setting up innocents like this is done all the time. I guarantee you that when they present the evidence in court, there will be something on film from the Metropol Hotel. All those rooms are wired for sound, for video, fiber optics and the rest of it, and you're going to see Whelan saying something dumb and they will produce some evidence. This will not be fabricated at a whole cloth.
CABRERA: Now, the fact that he has four passports, that he had a Russian social media page, any red flags there?
BAER: The red flags for the FSB is social media. He didn't speak Russian. He was using Google Translator. The fact that he was trying to befriend ex-Russian military officers, or current for all we know, that was definitely a red flag for the FSB.
So the moment he set foot in country this time in December, they had surveillance on him, they watched him, and somebody made the decision to, you know, run this sort of false flag into him.
[20:45:03] CABRERA: So you think that because perhaps he had this social media page, some of his interactions on there, that may have been why he was picked out of all the Americans who may be visiting or working in Russia right now?
BAER: Well, I mean, they could have done it to somebody at the embassy. And one of these FSB officers walks up to an American diplomat and say, hey, I got some secret documents. But our embassy employees know better and they push these people away.
But somebody like Whelan isn't going to know the way this works and he's an innocent. And frankly, again, I'd say he's been set up. He was not a spy working for the United States, for the CIA or the Pentagon or anybody like that. He doesn't meet the profile.
And right now, the Russians don't care. They need a trade of some sort or they need to make a point in Washington and we're going to find out what that point is pretty soon, I'd imagine.
CABRERA: Why do you say he doesn't meet the profile for somebody who would be an intelligence agent?
BAER: He'd be too unreliable to recruit for the CIA. And with a criminal record like that, you can't work for the CIA or the Pentagon. He would never get a top secret security clearance, ever.
CABRERA: The president has been very quiet. He's been surprisingly mum on Whelan's detainment. Our colleague Fredericka Whitfield did speak to Whelan's brother about the government's efforts. And here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF DETAINED AMERICAN PAUL WHELAN: We will encourage Americans to contact their Congress people, to contact Ambassador Huntsman and let them know that there is concern, there's broad concern in America that Americans can be arrested in this sort of manner in foreign countries. And push whatever levers we can to bring Paul home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Bob, are you surprised we haven't heard publicly from the president on this?
BAER: Well, I think right now the embassy should have the evidence in hand, exactly what Whelan did. And I think that Pompeo, the secretary of state, is waiting to see what the Russians produce.
I mean, right now it's a big question mark, who this guy was. And I don't -- I think we're going to wait until there's a court hearing until we find out what that evidence is before we can really go in strongly.
But right now, the president doesn't know what to make of it. Why would Putin do this at this point? Clearly, he signed off on this. Is Putin tired of the United States? Is it another arrest we've made? Is it a message to the FBI and the Department of Justice to let off people like Butina or to release of Butina? We just don't know. It's a mystery.
But I don't think it'll be a mystery for long, as I said.
[20:50:29] CABRERA: Friends and family of California police officer Ronil Singh said their final goodbyes today. He was just 33 years old. A new father, shot to death the day after Christmas while responding to a report of a drunk driver.
Since then, at least seven people have been arrested in his death, including an immigrant who was in the country illegally.
Singh was laid to rest today. He was assigned to a K9 unit at the time of his death. His dog named Sam will now retire and live with the Singh family.
Officials running the migrant shelter in Tornillo, Texas say they expect all children held there to be released and placed in sponsor homes within weeks.
According to officials at the tent city shelter, the population has been steadily dropping since the department of Health and Human Services ease background check requirements for sponsors.
They expect to close the facility completely by the end of the month and HHS spokesperson tell CNN they have no updates on the matter.
And for an update to an incredible story CNN has been following for two years. In October of 2016, the McDonald family decided to have their boys, Jadon and Anias separated. They were born conjoined at the head. And after 27 hour separation surgery with many complications and setbacks, the twins are now 3 years old, and still making great strides.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been there from the beginning. And he just caught up with the McDonald family again.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: After two years, Nicole and Christian decided to leave New York. The city they adopted to help care for their boys and returned home to the Midwest, Knox, Indiana.
Big changes for everyone. The biggest change of all, though, the boys. This is 3-year-old Jadon McDonald. He's starting to read. But as with most stories, along with victories came defeats. You see, for conjoined twins there's almost always one that is more dominant and one at a greater disadvantage. Anias.
NICOLE MCDONALD, MOTHER OF JADON AND ANIAS MCDONALD: That's where I kind of fell apart this year because the child that had hit so many walls before and you just want them to fly, you know. And he's still stuck on the ground.
CHRISTIAN MCDONALD, FATHER OF JADON AND ANIAS MCDONALD: In this day and age, we're kind of a quantum leap society, you know, we want quick fixes and if it doesn't happen quick, then we almost get discouraged and think that it can't happen. But we really need to understand that amazing things can happen, and Anias can do amazing things and will do amazing things.
N. MCDONALD: Just started to hold this up like this.
GUPTA: But even Anias has made gains. He no longer needs any of the machinery that was used to monitor him. He's starting to be a kid again, playing with his toys.
It's hard to believe that just two years ago Anias and Jadon were connected. And amazingly Nicole and Christian are now more connected than ever.
GUPTA: How are you guys doing as a couple? I mean, it's been your life. How are you guys doing?
C. MCDONALD: I think we're getting stronger and better every day. I mean, I guess they say, you know, sometimes difficult circumstances, you know, you go through the fire, you know, you come out stronger on the other side. And I think that's definitely true for us. It's definitely made us better as a couple.
N. MCDONALD: This forced us into family. I've gained so much respect for him through the process and the dad that he is and then in the way that he's been able to support me.
[20:55:05] C. MCDONALD: Here I come.
N. MCDONALD: But we also have to remember that we're not done, you know, our future has a lot more.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Knox, Indiana.
CABRERA: Such beautiful children. Talks to reopen the government as we've been reporting unfortunately remain at a stalemate tonight.
And acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, talked to CNN's Jake Tapper just after another meeting this weekend and he admits it was more of the same.
You can watch his entire interview on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION." Jake will also be joined by Representative Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and that all comes your way at 9:00 tomorrow morning.
CABRERA: Well, I can't sign off tonight without wishing a very special someone, a very happy birthday. My daughter Maria is now officially a 3-year-old, full of spirit, curiosity. And she has the best sense of humor. And since I'm here working tonight, we decided to make it a whole birthday weekend. We started the party last night. We had birthday cake. She opened a few presents.
Today, she's been spoiled, no doubt, by her dad and her big brother. Pretty sure I heard McDonald's and the movie "Frozen" was on their agenda.
So, Maria, mama loves you. Happy birthday, baby girl. See you soon.
That does it for me tonight.