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Suspect Charged with Number 7-Year-Old Jazmine Barnes; White House Official: Trump May Declare State of Emergency to Build Wall; Suspect Charged with Number 7-Year-Old Jazmine Barnes; White House: Use of Emergency Powers "Provides a Way Out; Witness: "El Chapo" Spent $1 Million A Month On Bribes. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 6, 2019 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:01] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: No, no. Those days are long gun.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And the trash talk from those guys has apparently no limits.


PAUL: Hair is not off limits.

Coy, thank you so much.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news!

PAUL: Seven o'clock on this Saturday. So grateful to have with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

The breaking news this morning is out of the Houston area, a suspect has been charged in the murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes. Her family has been waiting for some movement on this case. Investigators say more suspects could be charged.

PAUL: CNN correspondent Kaylee Hartung is outside the Harris County sheriff's department right now there in Houston.

We understand, Kaylee, that a tip helps lead them to the suspect. Is that correct?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christi. Over the past week, we heard authorities begging the public for any help and any information they could offer in the search for this killer and now we know a tip led them to take Eric black Jr., a 20-year-old man, into custody. They say they did that without incident in East Harris County, that's the area where the shooting took place.

And in the course of questioning, this man admitted to taking part in the shooting. Authorities are not specifying what role he played. They have not explicitly said that he was the gunman. They say they are continuing to pursue evidence that could lead to others being charged here. But the headline in Houston for a community that has been gripped by fear the last week, is that Eric Black Jr. is in custody and charged with capital murder.

In a statement from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez here in Harris County, he said, I am grateful to our dedicated investors, the partner in law enforcement agencies that provided vital assistance, and tipsters from across the nation who pulled together to support our work to get justice for Jazmine. But he says, our work is not finished. I believe the people of Harris County can take comfort in knowing we have made great progress there.

The key there: our work is not finished. This is an evolving story and we will be here with you with the latest as we learn more.

There is a press conference scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time this afternoon with the Harris County sheriff's department where we hope to learn more.

BLACKWELL: Yes, so many answers still out there. Hopefully, we will get some this afternoon.

Kaylee Hartung, thanks so much.

PAUL: Can't imagine the relief that this brings Jazmine's family, if this is indeed the suspect who is guilty of the crime that's being alleged.

S. Lee Merritt is with us now. He's an attorney. He's been advising the Barnes family.

First and foremost, Lee, what are you hearing about this suspect?

S. LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY, MERRITT LAW FIRM: Well, I heard from the sheriff's office late last night that they had made an arrest and they had charged the suspect that they arrested with capital murder for the murder of Jazmine Barnes. This (INAUDIBLE) welcome news to the family (INAUDIBLE) based on credible evidence. We have no reason to believe that it was not but (INAUDIBLE) heard anything up to this point. At least four independent witnesses (INAUDIBLE) have identified the suspect as a (INAUDIBLE) white male.

PAUL: OK, listen, we are going to take a minute.

Lee, I'm sorry. The Skype we are working on with you is just not -- it's not working. We can't understand what you're saying. We're going to take a minute and try to get out on the phone. We'll be back in a just minute.

Let's go to a break and be back and reestablish our connection with Lee and be back in a moment.


[07:06:50] BLACKWELL: Back with us now, Attorney S. Lee Merritt. We have him on the phone now. He is in communication with the family of Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old who was shot and killed. There's been an arrest overnight with a person who has admitted to now being involved in her death, charged with capital murder.

Lee, thanks for staying with us. The Skype was a problem and forgive me if you've already answered this. But had you been in contact with the family to get their reaction to this arrest overnight?


PAUL: Lee, go ahead. Have you been in touch with the family?

MERRITT: Yes. The sheriff with the family through my office.

BLACKWELL: Was there any reaction from them that you could share?

MERRITT: The family was surprised but they were grateful that an arrest had been made. This is something that happened over a week ago, so it was a great deal of anxiety behind anyone would be identified to the extent that the arrest is reliable, we have no reason to believe that it is not. We look forward to getting some more answers in the coming days.

PAUL: Sure. What do you know -- again, I'm revisiting a question we asked but we could not understand your answer due to the connection. What do you know about the person they have in custody and what happens from this point on in the investigation?

MERRITT: My understanding after speaking with the sheriff is that they have two persons in custody. We expect that they both will be charge charged. To date, only one of the two suspects has been charged with capital murder, Eric Black. The other man, from my understanding, some 20-year-old, mistakenly identified -- was riding in the car of some of the people that they were targeting and so the case was mistaken identity. They opened (INAUDIBLE) on a car and later they had targeted the wrong people.

BLACKWELL: All right. We know that there will be a news conference at 3:00 p.m. Eastern today. Hopefully, getting more answers from investigators. Our Kaylee Hartung is there.

S. Lee Merritt, thanks for spending a couple of minutes with us.

MERRITT: Sure. Thank you.

PAUL: All right. Let's move into the political arena here. In a few hours, the president is going to Camp David to meet with senior White House official about border security.

BLACKWELL: Now, while back in Washington, another shutdown meeting is planned for this afternoon between White House officials and congressional leadership staffers. Yesterday's meeting was another round of demands. Little was accomplished. Very little progress.

PAUL: And now, as the shutdown gets closer to becoming the third longest in history. A White House official says the president may decide to declare a national emergency to get border wall funding. [07:10:02] Live from the White House now, White House reporter Sarah


So, is there -- they are saying that he may be more inclined now, as he sees these meetings not being very fruitful or productive, to go ahead and declare a national emergency. Has the president, do we know, given any timeline as to how long he is willing to wait before he tries to do that?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, the president has said that he is willing to leave the government partially shuttered for weeks, months, even years if he doesn't get funding for his border wall. But a senior White House official does tell CNN that the president is inclined to use that national emergency declaration over border security to try to get funding for the wall if he is not able to do it legislatively. The source telling CNN that perhaps that could be way out for the president from these contentious talks, because emerging yesterday from the meeting on the White House lawn led by Vice President Mike Pence and other congressional leaders, there wasn't a lot of progress.

Both sides appear no closer to a agreement that would reopen the government. Democratic aides asked for a justification for the $5.6 billion demand in wall funding, that was supposed to come last night or early this morning ahead of another expected meeting.

Now, incoming acting chief of staff/budget director Mick Mulvaney said that he got the sense from that meeting that Democratic aides did not actually want to make progress yesterday. He claimed they were simply there to stall.

Here is what he told CNN's Jake Tapper.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think the president said for a long time that it's $5.6 billion for border security, including the wall. We recognize that things like technology are important, border crossings are important, but certainly a barrier is important. We didn't make much progress in the meeting which was surprising to me. I thought we had come in to talk about terms that we could agree on. They were actually, in my mind, there to stall and we did not make much progress.


WESTWOOD: Now, there are low expectations heading into a meeting today between White House officials and staffer for congressional leaders because as you know, the White House has not been exactly cleared always about what exactly it wants, for example, the president had signaled that he would be willing to back off that $5 billion demands, perhaps except a lower sum in some kind of deal. Then he went back and entrenched behind the $5 billion number, he's tried to muddy the waters around what exactly constitutes a wall, whether a see-through barrier. Steel slats could somehow fulfill his 2016 campaign promise and Democrats are still deeply dug in behind their refusal to fund any barrier at the southern border.

So, it looks like the stalemate could persist of President Trump will head later today to Camp David for a senior staff retreat so he won't be attending the border walk talks today, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Sarah Westwood, appreciate the update, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Joining me now to discuss, CNN political commentator Errol Louis, political anchor for Spectrum News.

Errol, welcome back.


BLACKWELL: So, the framework, the report from the White House is that they say there was not much progress made. Well, if the president is not moving off 5.6 and Democrats are not moving not a dollar for a wall, the only progress -- tell me if you see this a different way -- is a surrender from the other side. There is no middle ground here, is there?

LOUIS: Well, the flip side of a surrender, Victor, is the scenario I think is most likely which is that at some point one or the other side, most likely the White House will simply declare a victory, even though nothing has changed and move ahead. There is not any easy way out of the stalemate just as you suggest. Somebody is going to blink. Somebody is going to give in at some point.

If part of making it all in, though, involves nobody acknowledging who has given in, then somebody can declare victory and we open the government back up.

BLACKWELL: Can the president declare victory without really clear and explicit expression legislatively of a wall, a fence, a barrier or something more?

LOUIS: The president declared victory after his party lost historic number of seats in the House of Representatives.

BLACKWELL: That's true.

LOUIS: So, I mean, it's not beyond Donald Trump's ability to spin led into gold or vice versa. That what we're going to find is, though, I think, is that the question is going to be whether or not Trump's base will accept that he put up a hard enough fight. So, one number to look at, for example, is, will this now become, will this eventually become, could this eventually become the longest shutdown in U.S. history?

At that point, the I think president can declare victory saying, look, I push this further than anybody imagined, further than anybody thought I should and I did the very best I could. And he can say that in about six days from now, after which, again, the hope is that the government will reopen and people can get back to work.

Keep in mind, by the way, victor, while the D.C. area always gets a lot of attention, if you adjust for population, the places where that are most hard hit as a percentage of the local workforce, you have a lot of federal workers who are being furloughed or set aside right now, you're talking about Alaska, you're talking about Montana, you're talking about a lot of red states, West Virginia, places where Trump's base -- as much as they wanted to fight this battle over this wall, they also like to get paid once in a while, and they like to see their local economies not be damaged by it.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the reporting the president is inclined to have a national emergency and build the wall through the military. An administration source tells CNN that this declaration would, quote, provide a way out of the, closed quote, of the stalemate.

Does it? I mean, there would undoubtedly be a swarm of legal challenges.

LOUIS: Yes, and not just that, though, the challenge is -- look, the idea of declaring a emergency and moving forward quickly by using, in some accounts, the Department of Defense in order to get this stuff done, well, which agency in the Department of Defense? Most likely I think the army corps of engineers. Anybody who knows how that agency works, they do not move quickly.

I mean, we are talking about studies and multiple opportunities for Congress to step in and say, oh, no, you don't. There will be no funding for this. There will be no side journeys to the wall that we have explicitly refused to fund. So, yes, it will end up in court, it will end up in congressional appropriations hearings, it will end up essentially not working.

The president's lawyers, I'm sure, have walked him through this and so it's -- on some level, it's a reasonable attempt to get what you want, but it's really just kicking the can down the road. Eventually, they have to deal with Congress and arrive at some agreement to fund something as big as a border wall.

BLACKWELL: Reconcile this with Republican orthodoxy congressional territorial nature that the president would say we couldn't solve this through the legislative process, so I'm just going do it myself through the National Emergencies Act.

LOUIS: Well, look, Congress has somewhat Cooperated on this, frankly. To the extent we have seen any litigation around this, Victor, it's based on something called the real I.D. Act which Congress did pass back in 2005 and in addition to doing a bunch of other things around actual I.D., it allows the Department of Homeland Security to suspend a lot of environmental regulations.

There's been a fair amount of litigation, including in California, around prototypes of the wall and some of the existing fencing, saying, you know, you, the federal government, are not allowed to simply sweep aside local environmental regulations. It has gone to court, and the courts have found, you know what, the federal government can do that and gives an expedited appeal process where these kind of cases will go straight to the Supreme Court. So, the federal government does have a pretty strong hand here. It's

just, again, once you are talking about something like a wall, you've got to get the funding in place and that's where Congress always has the last word.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and one element of the news conference there in the Rose Garden on Friday in which the president was asked about eminent domain and was challenged on that, that most Republicans don't like the idea of eminent domain, but the president says that they'll just be able to get the land and it won't take very long to go through the courts to get it.

LOUIS: Well, I mean, there again, though, you know, eminent domain you're allowed to excel the sale of the land and, you know, they call it a taking. That's a legal term. The reality you have to pay full market price. So, once again, you're back to Congress, the power of the purse is critical in this case. That is the thing that the White House has not figured out a way to get around.

BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis, good to have you.

LOUIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" this morning. On the show, acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, as well as House Intelligence Committee chairman, Representative Adam Schiff, and Alabama Senator Doug Jones.

"STATE OF THE UNION", 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

PAUL: Senator Elizabeth Warren is hitting the campaign trail across Iowa this weekend, pushing for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020, of course. In speeches across the state, the Massachusetts senator pushed for, quote, structurally changed in Washington.

And she faced some tough questions yesterday. One voter confronted her regarding her decision to try to prove her claims of Native American ancestry.

CNN political commentator Peter Beinart is with us now.

Peter, I want to -- before we get to that, I want to read something that you wrote in the Atlantic. You wrote: The better explanation for why Warren attracts disproportionate conservative criticism, and has disproportionately high disapproval ratings, has nothing to do with her progressive economic views, or her dalliance with DNA testing. It's that she's a woman.

What do you mean by that?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If you look at the kind of major female political politicians of our time, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, what you see is that consistently, they have significantly higher disapproval ratings than kind of corresponding male figures. [07:20:09] So, for instance, Elizabeth Warren has significantly higher

disapproval ratings than Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton had far higher disapproval ratings that even fairly unpopular Democratic nominees like John Kerry or Al Gore. Nancy Pelosi significantly more unpopular than Chuck Schumer or Harry Reid.

And what I argue is if you look at academic research, there are a whole raft of studies which show that, unfortunately, people tend to respond much more negatively to women when they express ambition than towards men.

PAUL: OK. So, you're saying the challenge for women, in general, it's not specifically for Warren?

BEINART: Yes. That's exactly right. And that we make -- it's not that we shouldn't cover all of the specific issues with Elizabeth Warren, but we make a mistake if we think that her highest approval ratings are necessarily connected to specific things she's done. A lot of it, I think, is something that would be faced by any woman who was seeking the presidency, especially any feminist woman.

PAUL: OK, the presidency. But, I mean, let's look what happened the last few months. You got 15 women who have ascended into positions of power in Washington. There are 127 women in the House of Representatives today as opposed to 110 just last year.

Do you think that things are changing in that regard? I mean, why would Elizabeth Warren's gender be a challenging factor?

BEINART: I think things are changing a bit, but I do think it's very different when you run to the simply one member of the House or one member of the Senate, compared to when you run to the president of the United States or speaker of the House. Again, what academic research shows and this is an uncomfortable subject, is that there are a lot --

PAUL: It is, because I'm sitting here would it be the same for Amy Klobuchar? Would it be the same for Kamala Harris?

BEINART: Yes. I think -- I think we'll find out, in fact, that it will be, that what many men and even a minority of women who have more traditional views about gender tend to express in studies is a discomfort with women in positions of power over men. And that's what the presidency represents and it's what the speaker of the House represents.

And that is why I think that when you ascend for those higher jobs, you tend to find a greater gender of blowback.

PAUL: So, let's talk about this too, because back in October, I want to play what President Trump had to say about what he hopes happens in the Democratic nomination process coming up.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope she is running for president because I think she would be very easy. I hope that she is running. I do not think she would be difficult at all.

She will destroy the country. She will make our country into Venezuela. With that said I don't want to say bad things about her because I hope she would be one of the people that will get through the process. It's going to be a long process for the Democrats.


PAUL: OK. So, President Trump, obviously, is talking there about Elizabeth Warren and how he hopes she gets into the race. Is there a hesitation about a woman running at all? Or is there a hesitation in the Democratic Party even about a woman running against Trump?

BEINART: I don't think it has particularly -- what we know that Trump goes after women, particularly aggressive and kind of often sexist and vile ways. You know, the fact he is focusing on this Pocahontas slur against Elizabeth Warren far more than he has attacked Bernie Sanders. I think that is typically of the way in which women who run for national office tend to get more attacked than men do.

That is not to say Elizabeth Warren couldn't win the nomination and beat Donald Trump. I think perhaps she could but I think we have to, as journalists and as political commentators, we have to be aware of the ways in which political conversations about women in politics are different than they are about men and more -- and that women face particularly challenges, even in this era in which we have more women in congress.

PAUL: What is the answer? Because you are going to want to have a nominee who fights back against much of the rhetoric from the president.

BEINART: Right. The answer is in evaluating the way Donald Trump speaks about Elizabeth Warren or public opinion about Elizabeth Warren is recognize that gender plays a role and not pretend this is all specifically just about Elizabeth Warren. It's to recognize that we still, as a country, have kind of presumptions that favor men when we think about offices like the presidency and to be more self-conscious about that.

PAUL: But you do see that that thought is changing? It's just not changing enough to make a difference? Is that what you believe?

BEINART: It's changing but it's very, very deep seated. I mean, look what happened to Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton's kind of net favorable rating was 20 points lower than any Democratic nominee since 1980.

[07:25:03] Was she really that more inauthentic or dishonest or liberal than all of those other Democrats? I don't think so. I think the point is that there are still significantly amount of gender bias especially when you're talking about the position of the presidency of the United States and I think we need to talk about it openly. PAUL: It certainly makes you sit back and think where your intentions

are, where they're coming from, and what you're thinking about this.

Peter Beinart, thank you so much for good conversation.

BEINART: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: There's a major break in the shooting death of Jazmine Barnes. Police have arrested and charged a man who admitted that he was part of the shooting. We've got a live update from Texas.


PAUL: Just edging toward 7:30 on this Sunday morning. Good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

The breaking news in the shooting death of Jazmine Barnes. The Harris County sheriff's office has arrested and charged 20-year-old Eric Black Jr. with capital murder. Now, Black was arrested based on a tip and he later admitted to taking part in the shooting.

PAUL: Authorities say they do not believe Jazmine's family was the intended target of this shooting, but rather a casualty of mistaken identity.

Investigators are still gathering evidence that could possibly lead to other suspects. The sheriff's department is holding a press conference at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, for more details in that investigation.

And CNN correspondent Kaylee Hartung in Houston outside the sheriff's department.

Give us a little more information, would you please, Kaylee, of what we know about the suspect and the potential of any others?

HARTUNG: So, a short time ago, Eric Black, Jr., actually appeared in court here in Harris County and during that hearing, it was explained that, yes, this was a case of mistaken identity on his part.

[07:30:05] Believed someone else to be in that vehicle that Jazmine Barnes, her mother and sisters were in. We expect to learn more details about this case of mistaken identity, as you mentioned, in this press conference that will be forthcoming from the Harris County sheriff's department later this afternoon.

But authorities telling us that they were able to find Black by way of a tip that came in to them. They say that they were able to take him into custody without incident and in the course of questioning, he began to talk and he admitted to taking part in this shooting that took Jazmine Barnes' life. They are continuing to pursue evidence that leads to others charge. But most importantly this morning that Eric Black is in custody and he appears to be speaking in great detail to authorities in the matter of this murder that has really captivated the nation.

Now, authorities also say, you know, that their strong belief that Jazmine Barnes and her family were innocent victims here. Well, that is, of course, being corroborated by this account that black is giving. It was late last night when we first got word from the Harris County sheriff's department that they said this investigation was taking on a new direction and then came the news of this arrest. Now, earlier this morning, you all spoke with Lee Merritt, legal counsel for the Barnes family and the family was grateful that an arrest was made but surprised.

Now, the surprise in part can be explained because this composite sketch is this was a white man in his 30s or 40s that Jazmine's mother and three sisters who survived this attack had described to one of the best names in the forensics art field. And yet, the man taken into custody is, in fact, a black man.

There are so many more questions than we have answers at this time. This story continuing to develop and the key here, again, that there is quite high likelihood that others will be charged in this case, Victor and Christi.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Kaylee Hartung, appreciate the update. Thank you so much.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: There is no end in sight for the government shutdown now pushing into its 16th day. Soon, the president will be headed to Camp David for a retreat. Now, the president says he will be joining senior staff for meetings on border security and many other topics. One of those topics sure to be the president's push to declare on national emergency potentially.

White House officials tell CNN the president is inclined to go that far if talks over border funding continue to stall.

So, let's talk about it. Joining me now CNN political commentator Maria Cardona, and Madison Gesiotto, she is a Trump 2020 board member.

Ladies, welcome to the show.


BLACKWELL: So, let's --


BLACKWELL: So, let's start here with the general question and I'll start with you, Maria. Is this, what is happening at the southern border, a national emergency?

CARDONA: Absolutely not. It is a Trump created temper tantrum that is focused on his political talking point to assuage his base. That is all it is.

It is not a national security what is going on on the border. It is a humanitarian crisis, not a national security crisis the way that Trump is trying to, you know, pull all of our eyes over and this is a lie coming from this president focused on just giving his space what he thinks they want, which is a border wall. It is not.

It is completely unnecessary. It is not based or focused on facts whatsoever, and this is something that Democrats are holding strong because they want real border security, not just a political talking point from this president.

BLACKWELL: Madison, same question.

GESIOTTO: I do think we have an emergency on the southern border and I believe this because we look at the drug crisis and we look at the opioid epidemic. You know, I'm from the state of Ohio. We're one of the top five states that's been affected by the opioid epidemic.

We when we look at the southern border, we saw last year, 10,000 pounds of methamphetamine. This is not at the ports of entry. This is across where we have unsecured portions of the border that has been seized. Of course, more than that has come across. Three hundred and thirty-two pounds of fentanyl. That's enough to knock off a fourth of our population.

In Ohio, 4,800 people died in 2017, the eighth year in a row that number has risen, and 75 percent of those deaths are due to fentanyl. This is a crisis. This is affecting people across this country. And I think we need to address it, because you know what? As far as I'm concerned, Congress has neglected its job to protect the people of this country for far too long.

[07:35:07] CARDONA: But the problem with those numbers is that the majority of the drugs that are coming over the border are coming in ports of entry, not over the -- border wall.

GESIOTTO: No, that's not true.


BLACKWELL: Let her finish.

GESIOTTO: Those numbers have been adjusted.

CARDONA: Absolutely not! The majority --

BLACKWELL: Respond and I'll let you respond.

CARDONA: The majority of the illegal drug trafficking takes place through legal ports of entry. That is a fact. The majority of the terrorists that have come into the country have actually come in through the northern border. There is an infinitesimal number of human trafficking that actually comes across illegally through the borders.

So, a border, a physical infrastructure, a 2,000-mile physical infrastructure which is what this president is focused on is ridiculous, unnecessary, and the majority of the American people understand that it is not something that taxpayers should pay for, especially when Trump said that Mexico would pay for it.

BLACKWELL: All right. Madison, respond and I'm going to get to another question.

GESIOTTO: Sure. You know, I wish that I could say you were correct on those numbers but you are not. I've adjusted those numbers. You look at the numbers coming through the port of entry, notwithstanding the numbers I've already given you, 275,000 pounds of cocaine at the port of entry, 67,000 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,300 -- of fentanyl enough to knock out our entire population.

Those are not the numbers I gave you. The numbers before 332 pounds of fentanyl has already retracted from the number I just gave you.

BLACKWELL: So, let me move on to this element --

GESIOTTO: Three hundred thirty-two pounds of fentanyl could knock out a fourth of our population.

BLACKWELL: Let move to reopening the government. There are two bills that have been passed by the new Democratic House, Madison. One that deals specifically with Homeland Security and funding for the wall to get the department to February to continue negotiations. There's another bill, H.R. 21, that deals with the other departments that have been impacted. Let's put them up on the screen.

Agriculture, HUD, transportation, the EPA shutdown, federal courts soon are going to run out of money, the Smithsonian, the zoos, on and on. What is the argument for not passing the legislation that does not deal directly with homeland security or with the wall? Why are all of these departments closed?

This is not an omnibus situation where there is just one piece of legislation so you have to hold everyone up. These departments can be reopened. Why not -- why shouldn't Mitch McConnell bring that to the floor and why shouldn't the president sign it?

GESIOTTO: You know, the president has not said he will not sign that. The president has made it himself --

BLACKWELL: The president has said he will not sign it and McConnell has said that he is not going to bring anything to the floor until there is a deal on the wall.

GESIOTTO: Nothing has been brought to the president's desk he said he will not sign regarding what you just said. The president again has said --

BLACKWELL: That's just simply not true.

GESIOTTO: -- repeatedly he is committed to making sure --

CARDONA: He said he wouldn't sign it.

GESIOTTO: That he has committed -- that he is committed to making sure we secure our southern border. This is what the American people want. This is what he was elected on in 2016 because Congress --


BLACKWELL: I understand but it has nothing to do with the EPA. It has nothing with the Smithsonian. The president has said he will not sign the legislation to reopen the government until he gets $5.6 billion.

GESIOTTO: He said he will open the government when he's given the -- exactly, he said he will reopen the government when he is given the $5.6 billion.

BLACKWELL: But that has nothing to do with the second bill.

GESIOTTO: And all of those departments will be reopened. Keep that in mind, 75 percent of the government is fully funded.

BLACKWELL: How that does argument resonate with the 800,000 people not getting paid?

GESIOTTO: And I empathize with those people. But at the same time, this is a commitment he's made. I spoke to many people who support him who are not getting paid right now. I have people reach out to me saying, listen, I'm a government worker and not getting paid but I understand what is going on, and I respect the safety and security of this country and the future of our nation is at stake!


CARDONA: Victor, sadly, Trump supporters are focused on ridiculous talking points that are not based on facts and have completely a zero focus on what the 800,000 people federal workers who are not getting paid are going through.

I was a government worker in 1996 during that government shutdown. I was not getting paid. Luckily, I was young and my parents helped me out. There are so many people that do not have that kind of help who were living before even when they were getting paid paycheck-to- paycheck.

This president is holding 800,000 federal workers hostage for his inane unnecessary wall.

BLACKWELL: Maria -- quickly.

CARDONA: And what is even more ridiculous and actually ironic the people are not getting paid right now, Victor, are border patrol agents, immigration judges, TSA agents, Secret Service agents, people who are actually supposed to be keeping our countries and our border safe.

[07:40:11] So, it's ridiculous when the president says he cared about border security when he is not paying the people to do their job.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about border security specifically and what Democrats should agree to. Is there any physical barrier, any additional physical barrier that you think Democrats should agree to that should be part of a deal for border security?

CARDONA: Democrats have always been open and amenable and have actually voted for smart border security investments and, in fact, the Obama administration has been the one that has made many of those historic investments that have actually made our border the southern border the safest it has ever been.

BLACKWELL: Physical barrier?

CARDONA: Yes. That includes physical barriers, victor. They would absolutely be amenable to, in fact, doing more physical border barrier if this president is focused on real security border investment.

BLACKWELL: But let me challenge you then. When Nancy Pelosi says there will be no wall, is it the word wall she's caught up on? Because you're saying that Democrats will support additional physical barrier. She is saying no wall, right? The president says --


BLACKWELL: The president says physical barrier.

CARDONA: Here is the problem. What President Trump is focused on and what he has promised his base is a 2,000 mile physical border wall, physical infrastructure. He has said so many times during his border -- or during his rallies, which should be border rallies, essentially, that it will be a big beautiful wall with big bold gates.

BLACKWELL: But that's not what he's asking for in this legislation, $5.6 billion, I think everybody knows won't build a fraction of that, right?


BLACKWELL: If we're dealing with this legislation and Democrats are OK with some barrier, can Democrats get over the word "wall"?

CARDONA: Democrats have already given him $1.6 billion of his wall. So that tells you right there, Victor, that absolutely, Democrats would be willing to do border, a physical border infrastructure. It's right there in the money, $1.6 billion. What Democrats don't want to do is to continue to waste taxpayer money on a ridiculous political talking point when this president doesn't even understand what our -- what the issue is at the border and what our real challenge are.

GESIOTTO: This is not a political talking point.

BLACKWELL: We have to wrap it here.

GESIOTTO: It's a reality.

BLACKWELL: Madison, give me 15 seconds and I have to go, 15 seconds.


GESIOTTO: -- in the state of Ohio killed by fentanyl coming across the southern border. This is a reality. This is not a talking point. Five years ago, Democrats voted to double the length of the fencing on our southern border. They voted for $40 billion dollars in border security.

CARDONA: Absolutely.


CARDONA: That tells you that Democrats are the ones who are focused on border security.


GESIOTTO: This is lives that are at stake.

BLACKWELL: Madison Gesiotto, Maria Cardona, thank you both.

CARDONA: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Take a break. We'll be back.


[07:46:23] BLACKWELL: More than $1 million a month, that's how much the Sinaloa drug cartel spent to bribe Mexican police, military, government officials. That's according to a federal witness who testified this week in the trial of El Chapo.

PAUL: And he is facing conspiracy charges in the courtroom.

Our Polo Sandoval talked to us about the testimony and the evidence prosecutors are hoping they're going to really be able to use.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's less than halfway through the trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman. El Chapo, as he is known, faced the son of his fellow suspected cartel leader, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada. Flashing a smile at Chapo and referring to him as his compadre, cooperating witness Vicente Zambada revealed more about the inner workings of the Sinaloa cartel. The 43-year-old revealed how the criminal empire headed jointly by his father and El Chapo paid millions of dollars to corrupt Mexican officials in their heyday.

According to Zambada, in 1997, his father even met privately with a Mexican general who reported directly to the Mexican president at the time. Zambada testified he believed that there was a campaign by the U.S. and Mexico to make El Chapo, quote, bigger that he was in order to bring him down, an argument made by the defense at the start of the trial.

Zambada is not the only one agreeing to testify for the government. The jury has heard from a parade of former Sinaloa associates taking the stand, hoping for leaner sentences in drug trafficking cases of their own. Jurors have also been shown evidence, including old photos of El Chapo, his flashy diamond encrusted pistol in his waistband.

Just before the trial broke for the holidays, prosecutors displayed a cache of seized weapons believed to have been used by the Sinaloa cartel. The made-for-TV testimony is attracting a steady stream of spectators.

Dimitri Mendoza has spent four days watching the courtroom drama.

DIMITRI MENDOZA, TRIAL WATCHER: As the trial goes on, it unveils the corruption in Mexico and how bad Mexico was hit and how much money was laundered.

SANDOVAL: Fascination, coupled with curiosity, is also drawing New Yorkers Allie Pike and Nina Sussman.

ALLIE PIKE, TRIAL WATCHER: I'm still fascinated with the escape, the tunneling under to get out of prison. I think that's unbelievable.

NINA SUSSMAN, TRIAL WATCHER: He like smiled to all this lawyers and shook their hands very fiercely and nicely, and I was like, oh, it's weird, because it's someone that you watch things about and read things about but he is just a dude.

PIKE: Just a regular person.

SANDOVAL: Court is back in session next week. The trial is expected to last in February. More stories of bribes and bloodshed are likely to be told.

Polo Sandoval, CNN, Brooklyn, New York.


BLACKWELL: Never before scene pictures from the moon. Look at this, China has landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. We will ask our space expert what this could mean. .


[07:52:19] BLACKWELL: China has just taken a huge step forward in its space program, the Yutu 2. I think that's what it is.

PAUL: It is.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Christi.

It's landed on the far side of the moon. For the first time, we are getting to see what it looks like.

PAUL: The spacecraft faces an awful long to do list, observing whether plants will grow in low gravity, exploring weather water or other resources lie at the moon's polls.

So, of course, we had to bring in retired NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao because he is the man with all of the information.

Leroy, good to see you today.

How excited are you to hear about all of this? And what does it mean?

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, this is a very exciting mission for a number of reasons. This is the first time anyone has sent a probe to the far side of the moon. It's not just a probe. It's also a rover. There's a rover that came off.

We've seen the pictures of the tracks. Very interesting scientific mission. They're going to be doing some radio astronomy. They have ground-penetrating radar to send to the interior structure of the moon and also these wonderful photographs and as you indicated, there's some plant experiments on board as well to see how they do and even more amazing is that this -- the way they were able to communicate and control this spacecraft is through a relay satellite that is put into a halo orbit which is technologically, or operationally a somewhat challenging.

And so, from a political standpoint, this is a big statement that China is capable of doing these first missions as well. They have put the rest of us basically on notice that they are catching up rapidly.

BLACKWELL: So, NASA administrator tweeted this. Congratulations to China's team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment.

So, what else is China planning for its space program?

CHIAO: Well, China has already launched crews into space. In 2003, China became only the third nation able to launch astronauts into space. Since then, they have shown a steady increase in capability doing EVAs or space walks, having two small space labs, the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2.

And starting in another couple of years, they'll begin construction on their own space station, and they intend to have international partners cooperating not only in scientific research, but also in flying other astronauts from Europe, from Russia, Japan, all other nations that want to cooperate with them. They've also announced plans to land astronauts on the moon some time in the 2030s. So, it's a very steady, very logical and measured intentional progress.

[07:55:02] PAUL: Maybe we'll find peace in space.

BLACKWELL: Maybe. Maybe somewhere.

PAUL: Leroy Chiao, always good to have you here. Thank you.

CHIAO: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We'll be right back.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) AARON STANTON, VIRTUAL REALITY INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: Virtual reality gives the ability for people to exercise in environments you simply can't do in your life. To distract you from the fact you're exercising and letting you just enjoy the game.

MARIALICE KERN, DEPARTMENT OF KINESIOLOGY, SAN FRANCISCO STATE: You are in a different world when you put that headset on. From what we've tested in a lab here, we see, indeed, that you can get a great workout from virtual reality. Just like running on a treadmill. Just like biking.

We're actually measuring the oxygen consumption. We're measuring the metabolic rate of the person who's playing the games. And we also measure heart rate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yu put in an environment that you don't normally go in, like a boxing ring. I think this is a lot safer, and I feel more comfortable doing this.

STANTON: When first starting out, choose a virtual reality experience that's comparable to your experience level.

KERN: You can have people who suffer from motion sickness. And I'd say as soon as that starts to happen, you just kind of have to stop the game.

KEISHIA GU, INSTRUCTOR, 24 HOUR FITNESS: The trip is a virtual interactive immersive fitness experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In regular spin classes, usually I got bored. This class gets your attention. It's an IMAX screen and really great graphics. Going through the jungle. Going through the water, through the fire. Here I can't get hit by a car.


PAUL: Thank you so much for being here. Make some good memories today.