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CNN NEWSROOM

Shutdown Standoff; Countdown to Brexit; Myanmar's Court Rejects Journalist's Appeal; Mike Pompeo's Reassurance Tour; The State of Syrian Kurds as U.S. Plans Withdrawal; Former Nissan Executive Carlos Ghosn Indicted Again; Trump Probably Declare National Emergency To Build Wall if Democrats Refuse; Myanmar Court Rejects Journalist's Appeal; Tennis Star Andy Murray To Retire This Year; Yellow Vests Protest; People Living On U.S.-Canada Border Says It's Secure; Special Counsel Interviewed Trump Pollster Tony Fabrizio; A Familiar Parting Shot. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 11, 2019 - 03:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: President Donald Trump tours the U.S. border with Mexico and hints his mind could already be made up about using emergency powers to fund his wall.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: In the U.K., the British prime minister under pressure, the fate of her Brexit deal just days away from being decided as she faces another day of debate today in parliament.

ALLEN: Also this hour, America's top diplomat tried to clear up the confusion about the Trump administration's foreign policy in the Middle East.

HOWELL: We are live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, and we welcome our viewers all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen and CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Eight hundred thousand U.S. government workers have now endured three weeks in a game of chicken none of them asked for. By this time tomorrow, the partial shutdown of the U.S. government will be the longest in U.S. history. As a result, thousands of American families could be on the brink of financial ruin.

HOWELL: That's the thing. This is hurting people, a lot of people. Hundreds of thousands of people don't know how, when they'll be able to pay their bills. From the White House, though, not much talk about that pain that people are feeling. These workers, furlough, are working without pay.

Instead, the focus there is on laying the groundwork for the president to declare a national emergency and bypass Congress altogether to get the wall that he said Mexico would pay for. Besides the name-calling of Democratic leaders, Mr. Trump took a trip to Texas, the Texas border with Mexico. Our Kaitlan Collins has this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Politicians in Washington, they don't know the first thing about -- they've never been here.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump making the case for his wall on the border after suggesting he may declare a national emergency to build it.

TRUMP: I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency.

COLLINS (voice-over): After storming out of negotiations with Democrats the day before, the president telling reporters today he'll bypass Congress if they can't make a deal.

TRUMP: If we don't make a deal, I would say it would be very surprising to me that I would not declare a national emergency.

COLLINS (voice-over): The president's third meeting with Democratic leaders ended in anger after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to fund his signature campaign promise. Trump claiming today that negotiating with China is easier than talking to Democrats.

TRUMP: I find China frankly in many ways to be far more honorable than crying Chuck and Nancy. I really do. I think that China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party.

COLLINS (voice-over): The president pushing back on Senator Chuck Schumer's claim that he raised his voice and pounded his fist.

TRUMP: I don't have temper tantrums. I really don't. But it plays to his narrative. But it's a lie. I very calmly walked out of the room. I didn't smash the table. I should have, but I did not smash the table.

COLLINS (voice-over): But as the president played coy about whether he'll declare a national emergency, sources telling CNN the White House legal team has started preparing the legal justification for doing so, including advising aides to ramp up, calling it a crisis, suggesting the more times they say it, the more times they can cite it in a legal defense.

TRUMP: This is a crisis.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a crisis.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have a crisis.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: He sees it as security and humanitarian crisis at the border.

COLLINS (voice-over): Vice President Mike Pence back on the Hill today meeting with lawmakers, even as some members of the president's own party voiced skepticism about Trump using his emergency powers.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: The emergency declaration is something obviously that has been kicked around and contemplated, but I think there -- frankly, I'm not crazy about going down that path.

COLLINS (voice-over): But some Republicans believe he has already made up his mind.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: After listening to the president yesterday and listening to him this morning and listening to Speaker Pelosi, I think he's going to invoke the National Emergencies Act.

COLLINS: Now sources tell CNN that it is not a sure thing yet that the president is going to declare a national emergency, but they like floating that idea because they think it is a card in their pocket that can help them serve as a negotiating tool with Democrats.

However, behind the scenes, White House officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the optics of the shutdown because even those officials who feel they have been able to effectively message this in their favor are going to get worried about what it is going to look like the longer it continues to drag out, especially starting on Friday when the first federal government workers will not receive their paychecks, and on Saturday when this will turn into the longest continuous shutdown in U.S. history.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:05:01] ALLEN: Frustration among the furloughed workers, as you can imagine, is already reaching critical levels. They have now began turning their agitation into rallies and protests, demanding the government reopen.

HOWELL: And you can expect that anger to go louder as the shutdown drags on. Some people say they are already running out of money. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LYNN STRATTON, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER: I've been here for 20 years. I wasted 20 years of my life for the federal government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): So, are you worried about getting behind on bills and payments, that kind of thing?

STRATTON: Yep. I have one more mortgage payment, and I got to go to CarMax tomorrow and sell my car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): You're going to sell your car?

STRATTON: I have to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): You can't dip into your savings or borrow some money?

STRATTON: Savings is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): When you think about this, have you figured out who you should be blaming?

STRATTON: Everybody. It's not the Democrats. It's not just the Republicans. It's not just Trump. It's everybody. We don't want an apology, we just want our jobs back, and we want them to make it right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Let's talk about this situation with political analyst. Peter Mathews is joining us from Los Angeles. He teaches political science at Cypress College. Peter, always good to have you with us. We just heard from --

PETER MATHEWS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be here.

ALLEN: Thank you. We just heard from that young woman right there. These are real people that are hurting at this point. So, President Trump traveled to McAllen, Texas, a border town, to make his case for his wall. Did he make it in your opinion?

MATHEWS: Not even close. I've been to McAllen, Texas. It is a very quiet suburban town. It's ironic he chose that. But look at that young woman you just heard of. She had to sell her car in order to pay her bills. This is unconscionable. And so many people will have a difficulty to get food stamps and other kinds of programs, you know.

The TSA is having to work without pay, same thing with air traffic controllers. What kind of morale will they have when they're controlling the air traffic? Many are calling in sick, the TSA. It is unbelievable a president would do this and then make his case in McAllen, Texas.

Also, he said that he identifies with these folks who don't get a paycheck. They somehow model (ph) they'll make it through. One more thing, Natalie, it's outrageous. His administration gave instructions to coastguard -- coastguard members to go out and sell -- go to -- to have garage sales to make their ends meet.

Garage sales of our people who are securing our coast areas. Unbelievable that he would even make those comments to show you what low depths this is really going to.

ALLEN: Yeah, that was bizarre. What about his argument for Mexico paying for it? He claims now, Peter, he never meant Mexico would write a check. He campaigned on Mexico paying for the wall.

MATHEWS: He certainly did. I'm sure -- I'm glad that you put it up on the screen there, showing his statements that are totally contradictory to what his position is right now. And he did say that Mexico will pay for the wall. He even had his crowds out in the campaign rallies echo him and making stronger point saying that Mexico will pay for it.

And then now, you know, he is not able to get Mexico because Mexico is a sovereign nation with a sense of pride. It will never consent to pay for this wall in any way whatsoever. He's trying to stretch the matter by saying that the trade deal with Mexico, new trade deal will actually help pay for it indirectly.

This is a major stretch in my opinion. It just shows his desperation trying to make his point when he's clearly in the wrong. I don't give equivalency to the Democratic side or his side because there's no comparison there. Democrats say, separate the two issues, separate the border issue, the wall issue, and separate the government shutdown.

Let's get the government going again so people can have their jobs back, the federal workers, and we can have the service Americans needed. And then the border issue and the wall issue can be worked on later on. And after refusing a compromise just last -- during the last session of Congress, he won't even do that. He wants to combine the two in order to get leverage unfairly.

ALLEN: Is he making his case at all for certain people, maybe his base, that this is an emergency and this must be addressed? Who is winning the blame game here, Peter? Democrats, the president who said he would rather negotiate with China than the Democrats. He's starting to call them names at this point.

MATHEWS: Completely counterproductive. He thinks he's going to deal with Democrats that way. It's not going to work whatsoever. And the American people sent a message to him by sending majority of the House in the Democratic hands. At least 38, 39 seats majority now after he -- in fact, he ramp this whole thing up about the wall just before the election in order to get his voters out to vote.

What happened? His voters came out to vote and it wasn't enough, was it? Democrats swept the House. And the point is that it's not going to get enough voters on his side from just relying on his base by doing these kind of egregious things and it's not going to help him in 2020 to win either.

So I don't think -- I do think the American people are seeing right through his hypocrisy and they are on the side of sanity of separating the two issues and saying let's get our government back to work and then let's work on the wall. But most Americans don't even support the kind of border wall he was talking about, a concrete wall.

[03:10:01] Only 56 percent were against the wall whatsoever, and 62 percent of Americans want to stop the shutdown and get the government going again. So he's appealing (ph) to minority. That's what he's doing. Minority opinion.

ALLEN: Peter Mathews, we always appreciate your insights. Peter, thank you.

HOWELL: Now to the United Kingdom. Parliament there is debating Prime Minister Theresa May's latest Brexit deal for a third day in a row now. The MPs are set to vote on the agreement come next Tuesday, but it is widely expected that her deal will be defeated. If that's the case, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call for a general election.

Let's go live to London. Our Anna Stewart is on the story. Anna, as we get closer to the March deadline for the U.K. to exit the E.U., Jeremy Corbyn now putting pressure on the prime minister. How will this play out?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes, he's stepping up calls for a general election. Now, how would that look? Well, what will happen is after the vote fails, which what we expect on Tuesday night, what could happen is Labour could table a motion of confidence against the government.

Now, if that were to pass and the government voted against, they would have just 14 days to see whether they could garner enough support to survive a second vote. If they don't, then a general election is called. Now, it is interesting to know about the timing of all this because Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has resisted this confidence vote so far.

In terms of timing, he was asked yesterday, would this happen straight after a defeat on his vote on Tuesday or would he wait some time? He said he would wait until it looks like Labour can win. Then he was asked what would Brexit look like under a Labour government? Will there be any difference? Well, the Labour leader says that he wants a softer Brexit, he does want Brexit, he doesn't call for a second referendum.

It would be a softer Brexit with a sort of customs union with E.U. but that divides his party and of course parliament. So you got to question whether this will led to any difference really than what we have now. It would mean that he would have to extend (INAUDIBLE). So, it would mean that we would (ph) leave the E.U. within 80 days.

HOWELL: Anna, Jeremy Corbyn resisting the calls for a second referendum. Where does that leave the people who want to remain because that is still certainly half the nation it seems.

STEWART: It is. Certainly some activists Labour supporters really, really support a second referendum. They see that as the only way to break this political deadlock, this quagmire in parliament. It is very hard to know at this stage what parliament really wants. We know what they don't want. We saw early this week in one of the votes that there's not enough support for a no deal Brexit.

It is very hard to say what they do want. Do they want a softer Brexit? Do they want -- with a customs union like Jeremy Corbyn wants, do they want sort of a no deal managed Brexit, an easier way of easing into the WTO rules, or do they want no Brexit at all?

A lot of people are saying that unless he put that to the House and possibly to the people, you're not going to know. After this vote on Tuesday, should Theresa May leaves it, which of course she's expected to do, parliament will get to say in the coming days as to what they want to happen next. It is not binding, but we might get a better idea of what they would really like. George?

HOWELL: Where this goes from here, Anna? We will have to wait and see. Anna Stewart live for us in London, thank you for the reporting.

ALLEN: Now, we turn to Myanmar which has rejected, a court there, an appeal by two Reuters journalists sentenced to seven years in jail for doing their job.

HOWELL: We are talking about Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. They were convicted last year of violating the state's secrets act. They exposed the massacre which happened during the brutal military crackdown, targeting Rohingya Muslims. This is back in 2017. Their reporting led to jail time for seven members of the military. Reuters editor and chief called the ruling yet another injustice among many inflicted on the journalists.

ALLEN: Matt Rivers is following this for us from Beijing. Matt, was this outcome a surprise or inevitable considering Myanmar does not welcome news reporting on this issue?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think it was a surprise unfortunately to those of us who have been following this case closely. We've been in constant contact with the families. We have friends in the journalism community down there. We at CNN have spoken to the families, the wives of these two journalists.

I think in general, there was a sense of pessimism that this was going to end this way given the previous conviction. Unfortunately, that is the way it did turn out today where a court in Myanmar, Yangon's high court, actually decided that they would reject that appeal.

Now the lawyers for both of these two journalists have basically said that they are going to consult with the families. As you might expect, they are quite upset today, but they are going to have a conversation about the appeals process moving forward which could include two to three more levels up to and including Myanmar Supreme Court if it gets that high.

[03:15:02] But that's a conversation, I suppose, for tomorrow. Today, there is just disappointment because conceivably, if that appeal had been accepted, then both of those journalists would have been let out of prison this afternoon. That of course is not the case.

But just to remind our viewers why we are being so clear that this was a sham trial and that's really the opinion of the entire international community, these were two journalists who exposed something the government did not want exposed.

Both of these journalists in trial testified that two policemen unbeknownst -- who they did not know came up to them, gave them two documents in Yangon, walked away, and shortly thereafter, they were arrested by a whole bunch of other police officers for holding state secrets.

And then in that trial, another police officer from Myanmar testified that he heard senior level members of the police department talking about setting up these two journalists. So, for that and a litany of other reasons, it just was a sham trial.

And yet the fact that they were convicted gives you an idea into the current state of Myanmar and what had been the kind of southeast Asia's big beacon of democracy over the last couple years lauded by President Obama and others has really turned into a place where freedom of the press is not respected and two journalists can go to jail simply for doing their job and exposing a massacre that the government didn't want out there.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Thank you (ph) for your reporting and others on this travesty of justice, and one can only hope somehow, international pressure could turn this around, but we will wait and see. Matt Rivers for us. Matt, thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead this hour, the U.S. secretary of state is in the Middle East trying to clear up confusion over the Trump administration's plans for Syria, but it's not going exactly as planned.

ALLEN: Also, a former Nissan executive indicted on new charges and they are strikingly similar to the ones he was arrested for back in December. We'll have the latest for you right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to Newsroom. The U.S. secretary of state is travelling to Bahrain on his tour of the Middle East. Mike Pompeo is trying to reassure allies in that region that the U.S. is still a partner.

ALLEN: Meantime, the U.S. is starting to withdraw military equipment from Syria and Pompeo's speech in Cairo may have sent some mixed signals about what the Trump administration plans to accomplish there.

[03:20:02] Ben Wedeman joins us now from Cairo. We know that Mr. Trump first said, Ben, troops are coming out. Now, they are saying, well, maybe not so fast. Talk more about these mixed signals we are hearing.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The mixed signals keep on coming. Secretary Pompeo's address at the American University in Cairo didn't really do much to clear that up. The latest is that the United States will pull out it's 2,000 troops from Syria, but when, how, under what conditions? It is no clearer today than it was yesterday at this time.

Now, he's on his way to Bahrain where he is going to meet with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Bahrain is also the headquarters where the fifth U.S. fleet is based as well. Now here in Egypt, he got a warm reception from Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who as a -- whenever it is possible, a fairly decent relationship with President Donald Trump.

But even here, it doesn't seem that they're too enthusiastic about one of the pillars of Pompeo's speech and the Trump administration which is confronting Iran in the region. Clearly, Egypt has other priorities here.

This is the Cairo daily Al Gomhuria. It says that Sisi told Pompeo, he said, our position is clear, we want a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian problem and an independent Palestinian state, which was barely mentioned. In fact, it wasn't really mentioned at all by Pompeo in his address yesterday.

What is clear is that each country in this part of the world has its own priorities, certainly in the gulf. He is going to find a much more receptive audience to his drum beating as far as Iran is concerned. But in Jordan and in Iraq and in Egypt, they have other concerns which doesn't appear that he really addressed.

ALLEN: All right. Ben Wedeman following for us. We appreciate it. Thank you, Ben.

HOWELL: And as we have reporting, the U.S. military has started withdrawing some of its ground equipment from Syria, signaling the start of the draw down.

ALLEN: As the withdrawal is expected to continue, questions remain about the vulnerability of the Kurds in Northern Syria. CNN's Clarissa Ward reports on how the coalition's biggest ally on the ground is faring.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was the Syrian Kurds who led the liberation of Raqqa, ISIS's self-declared capital in Syria just over a year ago.

(GUNFIRE)

WARD: As coalition air strikes intensified, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic forces fought street to street against the remnants of the terror group, finally planting their flag in the city stadium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (UNTRANSLATED).

WARD: By then the Kurdish militia, the YPG, had become a trusted ally of the United States, receiving weapons, intelligence and training, and clearing ISIS from a huge tract of Northern Syria. It was a remarkable turnaround.

(GUNFIRE)

WARD: In the late summer of 2014, Syria's Kurdish population was fighting for survival against a rampant ISIS, desperately defending the city of Kobani. The YPG took heavy casualties but held out and began to turn the tide. It also helped rescue thousands of Yazidis trapped by ISIS's lightning (ph) advance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNTRANSLATED).

WARD: Gradually, the YPG forced ISIS into an even smaller space, pushing them out of the oil fields of Northern Syria, working closely with the U.S.-led coalition in the skies above.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): (UNTRANSLATED).

WARD: But despite U.S. help, they fought a low tech war, in sandals with pickup trucks and old weapons. (GUNFIRE)

WARD: And as they drove ISIS from nearly a quarter of Syrian territory, the Syrian Kurds lost thousands of fighters, many of them teenagers, many of them young women. And even as they were destroying one enemy, another was waiting in the wings.

(GUNFIRE)

WARD: Turkey has long described the YPG as terrorists, close to Kurdish separatists inside Turkey. It has frequently criticized the U.S. for working with the Kurds. Last year, its military rolled into one Kurdish-controlled part of Syria.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY: (UNTRANSLATED).

WARD: And President Erdogan has threatened to cleanse other Kurdish- held land of those he calls terrorists.

[03:24:57] A U.S. withdrawal from Syria would leave the Kurds vulnerable to further Turkish attacks, to regime forces, and to the few thousand ISIS fighters still left on Syrian soil.

(GUNFIRE)

WARD: Just a few weeks ago, chasing down ISIS remnants on the Syria- Iraq border, the YPG lost dozens of fighters. ISIS paraded others they captured in videos. In the long campaign against ISIS, many have shed blood. The Iraqi army, Arab tribes, Shia militia.

(GUNFIRE)

WARD: But the Syrian Kurds like their brethren in Iraq have been the most steadfast allies of the U.S.-led coalition.

Clarissa Ward, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Clarissa, thank you for the reporting. Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been indicted on two new charges of financial misconduct in Tokyo. He was detained nearly two months ago on similar charges. Ghosn denies any wrongdoing. Let's go live now to Hong Kong. CNN's Will Ripley is following the story. Will, what is the latest in this case?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, George. This is a very discouraging development for the legal team of Carlos Ghosn, the 64- year-old auto tycoon who has already been charged in Japan with under- reporting his pay over period of five fiscal years, some $46 billion under-reported allegedly.

Now, these new charges saying that he continued that practice of under-reporting for three additional years, $37 billion more dollars of income, they say, he didn't report. And then even more serious charge of aggravated breach of trust. Japanese prosecutors basically alleging that Ghosn orchestrated this complex scheme, trying to transfer lawsuits on foreign exchange contracts to Nissan's books, and he was even accused of using company funds to repay a Saudi man who prosecutors say was putting up collateral for those contracts.

And as that breach of trust charge that we are told by far the most serious, even Ghosn's own attorney acknowledging that because of these new charges, it's going to be very difficult for Ghosn to secure bail.

It could be six months before he even goes on trial, according to his lawyer. This has just been a saga that has gripped Japan and the business world since Ghosn's shocking arrest on November 19. He was coming in for what he thought was a board meeting. He was arrested and taken to jail where he has now sat for two months.

The Tokyo district court has been very hard on him. They have not allowed him out on bail despite complaints from his family about perhaps health problems and what not. We saw him in court on Monday with a rope around his waist, noticeably thinner. He had a fever just a few days ago. Doctors are now saying he is back to normal.

Even though his physical appearance has changed during his time in custody, he's still acting, we're told, very much as a CEO, speaking with a very strong voice, defending his innocence passionately despite the fact that his family claims he has lost up to 44 pounds, George.

HOWELL: Will Ripley live in Hong Kong with the details. Will, thank you for the reporting.

ALLEN: Yellow vest protesters in France gear up for yet another weekend of demonstration. Some of them want to make the movement a permanent fixture of French politics. We will have the story ahead for you.

HOWELL: And the U.S. president puts a great deal of concern and focus on the southern border with Mexico but if he's concerned about terrorism, he might look toward our northern border. We'll explain that as Newsroom pushes ahead.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

U.S. President visited the Southern U.S. border with Mexico and Texas to make another pitch for the wall that he wants. Before leaving Washington, Mr. Trump said that he would probably declare a National Emergency to build the barricade, if congressional Democrats don't agree to his demands for the money that he wants for it. The impasse has partially shut down the U.S. government for three weeks leaving some 800,000 workers without pay or furlough. ALLEN: A Myanmar court has rejected an appeal by two journalist for Reuters News service sentenced to seven years behind bars for their reporting. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were convicted last year of violating the state's Secrets Act. They exposed a massacre which happened during the military's crackdown targeting Rohingya Muslims.

HOWELL: Tennis great, Andy Murray, has announced plans the hang up his racquet later this year. A tearful Murray told reporters on Friday on the eve of the Australian Open that his final event could be Wimbledon in July and that is if he can make it that far. The former world number one has been battling a hip injury and has plunged in the world records.

ALLEN: Quite an emotional announcement from him, wasn't it? Well, France is bracing for more Yellow Vest protests this weekend as the government plans to kick off a national debate on the issues demonstrators are raising. They have taken to the streets around the country every Saturday now for two months.

HOWELL: We've been following it for many weeks now. This was the scene just last weekend. The protests had evolved from marches against fuel tax hikes to a movement against the President himself, Emmanuel Macron. The protests are named after the Yellow Vest French motorists are required to carry in their vehicle as a safety measure.

Let's go live now to the French capital. Our Melissa Bell is following the story live in Paris. And Melissa, look, many of these people are people who do not like Emmanuel Macron. Is there any indication of what the French President might say? How he might appeal to these protesters in a letter?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It seems already tricky one for the President to deal with, I mean, he hasn't actually managed yet -- managed it yet, George. Concessions haven't worked. The harder sort of law and order approach to these last couple of weeks doesn't appear to have brought their numbers down.

I think what was interesting is that last Saturday, which was the eighth Saturday in a row that the Yellow Vests were out protesting in those big Saturday gatherings, the numbers were back up from the week before which suggests that this process still has some energy in it.

Tomorrow, as you say, it will be the ninth Saturday in a row. We expect them to protest here, but also in other cities, like in Bois, the center of France and all across the countries. Here's a look back at a movement that no one in the government certainly has seen coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: Macron resign. The rallying cry hasn't changed. But since their first timid gatherings in early November, the Yellow Vests themselves have, taking over the Champs Elysees with their fiscal revolt after the French government announced a hike in the fuel tax which it canceled in early December.

EDOUARDO PHILIPPE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The tensions had led us to decide that no tax is worth endangering civil peace.

BELL: The two days after that decision, the Yellow Vest were back, 136,000 of them across the country. No longer calling for lower taxes, but now the greater spending power. And beyond this Saturday gatherings, the daily protest, the toll booths and round about continued all over the country. By mid-December, again, the government conceded.

PRES. EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Financial help to those least well off was announced. Measures that seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Yellow Vest movement.

BELL: By December 29th only 12,000 people were on the streets of France. By their first gathering of the New Year, the gloves were off with a former boxer caught on camera beating up a policeman at the protests in Paris and a police man in Talange (ph) caught on camera facing off with protesters with both incidents now being investigated by the police.

[03:35:09] Also last Saturday, the numbers on the streets were back up to 50,000. So what do the Yellow Vest want now?

THIERRY PAUL VALETTE, YELLOW VEST SPOKESMAN (through translator): What we want is not complicated. It is a citizen be listened to, that all citizens be able to act in the political process and referendums when laws are made when important decisions are taken, that is what the citizens want.

BELL: But will the citizens get that? The French government is organizing a national debate that are changes to the political system itself, actually on the cards.

JEAN-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE, FRENCH JUNIOR MINISTER FOR FOREIGH AFFAIRS (through translator): There are people that put on yellow vests for the right reasons, for reasons linked to their everyday life, but there are others who fear neither the extreme left nor the extreme right and who want to topple institutions. And naturally with them, we will be firm.

BELL: For their part, the Yellow Vests say that they're here to stay. With another protest plan for Saturday and some of them preparing to stand in European elections. The Yellow Vests believe that they're set to become a permanent feature of French political life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: So, George, here is Emmanuel Macron, the French President, who really since his election has presented himself as a sort of barrier against populism, a final hope perhaps for maybe an old-fashioned way of seeing the world, multi-literalist, pro-European, a liberal, who wanted to continue to champion Europe.

And he's facing his party rather will be facing in those European elections which could prove crucial to the future of the European Union itself, George, his party will be facing not only the likes of (inaudible) on the far right and the far left, but also Yellow Vests themselves, populists standing in this election on their own lists and vowing to take on the President.

HOWELL: We are seeing these protests now playing deeply into French politics. Melissa Bell live for us in the French capital. Thank you for the reporting, Melissa.

ALLEN: Well unless something dramatic happens in the next 24 hours, it is a near certainty that the partial shutdown of the U.S. government will be the longest ever on record.

HOWELL: And here's the thing, it means for thousands of federal workers required to work without pay. Look at that, net pay, zero, a pay stub showing zero dollars and zero cents. And if you think people are upset, you're right.

You get a paycheck, like that you might just go out and protest. You see a great deal of anger being channeled into the protest, marches and rallies like this, people demanding that the government be reopened. Our Ryan Nobles has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGON CORRESPONDENT: The growing sense of frustration from federal workers across the country was palpable here in Washington, D.C. A series of protests throughout the nation's capital, a demanding the federal government to get the government back open.

This particular protest that we're in the middle of was organized by the AFL-CIO, it features a number of different Employee Unions that represents federal workers of all different stripes. This was just one, there was another protest not far from we are in another part of the city representing air-traffic controllers who are also impacted by this shutdown.

Now, their message is pretty clear. They're sick of politicians fighting for over their pay checks. They don't want this to be a part of the battle over a border wall on the Southern Border between Mexico. They're not interested in that political fight. They want both Republicans and Democrats and President Trump to come together to try and find a solution.

And while, there's no doubt this frustration with President Trump. That is why they're here right in front of the White House. There's also a growing sense of frustration with the leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell in particular, among those that was under attack by this group.

This is big because tomorrow is the first day that they could be potentially without a paycheck which is one of the reasons that you hear this frustration growing at a very, very loud range.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: The question is, is the President listening? Because as the U.S. government shutdown drags on, the President is sticking with his story that there is an immigration crisis at the southern border.

HOWELL: During his visit to a town on the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump claimed that a barrier would stop criminals, gangs, and drugs from getting in, but what about the threat on the Northern Border? Our Alex Marquardt has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In looking at the potential terror threat from the two different borders in the north and south of United States, experts will tell you that in so far as there is a threat that the northern border is potentially more problematic and this is part of the reason why it is much more open.

[03:40:02] There is far less of a physical barrier between the two countries. This is the border between United States and Canada. This marker, delineates that. As United States right here, Canada on the other side. Those cars, those houses, those are all over in Canada. So to some extent, it is just a matter of walking across the border.

But as one resident here told us, you're not going to get very far. If you look at this library here, if go inside, there's actually a line that cuts straight through the middle and tape that shows that one side is in United States and the other side is in Canada. And the main reason that this Northern Border is more of a threat, than the Southern Border, it is because of its length.

It is 4,000 miles long, compared to just over 1,900 miles down in the south. And then when you look at apprehension of people who are on the terror watch list, in a fiscal year of 2018, down in the Southern Border, there were around a dozen apprehensions. While up here in the north in the first half of that period, it was more than triple that amount. There are 41 people -- foreigners on that terror watch list who were apprehended.

There is more of a terror threat in Canada. There had been cells that had been broken up, there had been people who had pledged allegiance to ISIS. We have seen people carry out attacks in the name of ISIS. Just last month, in New York, a young Canadian man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for wanting to carry out attacks in the United States.

But when you speak with the residents here in Northern Vermont and ask them if they feel the border is secure. If there's enough security for the residents here, they will tell you absolutely. Here's a little bit of what they have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have a lot of people drawing the crowd, but they don't make it here far (ph).

MARQUARDT: There's no fence though. There's no wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

MARQUARDT: Do you feel like that's needed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No. I don't think it is needed down here either.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's actually border patrol everywhere. There's undercover border patrol, they're all over the place.

MARQUARDT: And this is part of that security that is everywhere. If you go down the street that go right up to border with Canada, you'll see those cameras, you'll see these border patrol agents. And in speaking with more residents around here, asking them, if they feel the need for a border wall, either on the northern part of this border or down south, in the words of one man they find it silly.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Derby Line, Vermont.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Alex, thank you for the report. U.S. House Democrats will soon get a chance to grill a one-time member of President Trump's inner circle, we're talking about his former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, the man you see right there, set to testify before the House Oversight Committee in February, this before he goes to prison for a three-year sentence. Cohen said he wants to provide the American people with answers.

ALLEN: He pleaded guilty in August to multiple charges including campaign finance crimes. They include hush payments made during President Trump's 2016 campaign to women who allegedly had affairs with Mr. Trump. Lawmakers plan to ask Cohen for details about his work with Donald Trump and hope to get more specifics about his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

HOWELL: Another story we're following, CNN has also learned that the Special Counsel's team has interviewed a former Trump campaign pollster with close ties to Paul Manafort.

ALLEN: Evan Perez, explains how this ties in with the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators interviewed Tony Fabrizio, one of the Trump campaign pollsters last year as part of the Russia investigation.

This is a discussion that possibly takes on new importance now that we know the Mueller investigators even recently were asking questions about internal polling data that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, shared with a former business associate, who the Special Counsel said is connected to Russian intelligence.

Manafort's lawyers this week accidentally made public in a court filing that prosecutors were claiming Manafort lied to them about sharing the polling information with his business associate, Constantine Kilimnik.

We don't know why that information was being shared or whether any of that data ended up with the Russians for the time we're trying to launch a campaign to try to help Donald Trump win the White House.

The President was asked by reporters whether he knew that his campaign chairman was sharing that information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know that Paul Manafort was sharing polling data from your campaign with the Russians?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn't know anything about it, nothing about it.

PEREZ: CNN reporters in February last year saw Fabrizio leaving his interview at the Mueller office's here in Washington. And we since confirmed that he provided information to the Mueller investigation.

Fabrizio is a former business associate of Manafort and he is someone who would have knowledge about the inner workings of the Trump campaign as well as Manafort's connections in Eastern Europe. Fabrizio worked with Manafort on elections in Ukraine and he went on to serve as the Chief Pollster for the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016.

[03:45:05] Fabrizio declined to comment for the story, but a source familiar with his testimony said that he was asked about Manafort's business dealings. We don't know whether he had any follow up interviews and what other topics he provided information on.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: And just ahead a bus driver is being called a hero, but she says it was just mother's intuition. Her amazing rescue is ahead here.

HOWELL: Plus in Europe, heavy snow hits part of that part of the world and more could be on the way. We have the latest on the forecast and what to expect. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. So, picking up passengers, it is part of a bus driver's job, of course, but one woman in the U.S. State of Wisconsin went above the call of duty.

ALLEN: Yes, she stopped to save an unlikely would be passenger, a baby. Christina van Zelst from our news affiliate WITI has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINA VAN ZELST, NEWS AFFILIATE WITI: MCTS bus driver, Irena Ivic, has some experience when it comes to driving a bus, but when she saw this --

IRENA IVIC, MCTS BUS DRIVER: Oh my God. I was so upset.

VAN ZELST: She knew something was terribly wrong. Video captures a little girl not even a year old, running on the sidewalk near Fort Mitchell in Milwaukee, in below freezing temperatures.

IVIC: I can't believe that somebody can left the child on the street.

VAN ZELST: The baby was barefoot, crying and wearing only a diaper and a onesie. Ivich instantly stop, ran out and pick up the baby and carried her back to the bus without thinking twice.

IVIC: I don't know what they told, I was so upset and shaking.

VAN ZELST: As passengers watched Ivich carry the baby back to the bus.

IVIC: Oh, my god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. Mg God.

VAN ZELST: Everyone was speechless.

IVIC: I'm shaken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am, too.

VAN ZELST: One passenger offered up her jacket to keep the baby warm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe those care and kind (ph).

VAN ZELST: Ivich, a mom of two, cradled the baby to sleep until police arrive. The baby's father thinks that his wife who is mentally ill took their daughter to a Church across the freeway and forgot about her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police say, is your baby? I say, yes. I say, police officer, thank you so much, sir.

VAN ZELST: Thanks to Ivich, the baby is reunited with her dad and is in good health. Today, MCTS honored Ivich to simply say, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:50:03] HOWELL: Wow.

ALLEN: How about that one.

HOWELL: Yes.

ALLEN: Yes, Christina Van Zelst, reporting there from WITI.

HOWELL: And look, so, if you think that story sounds familiar, that's because it is familiar. It happened before. The Milwaukee County Transit System says it is the ninth time their bus drivers have found a lost or missing child in recent years. Look at that. Wow.

The temperature was 33 degrees Fahrenheit.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just one degree Celsius, I mean, that's absolutely frigid to anyone to be walking home. ALLEN: The bus came along at the right time.

HOWELL: Thank goodness.

ALLEN: So, Derek, you're here to tell us about more cold weather.

VAN DAM: Yes. This time across Europe. This has been a big talking point for us, because the snow totals there are mind boggling, over three meters of snow, 10 feet plus of snow, immobilizing the entire villages, entire towns.

The National Guard, the army being called and to clear out some snow from some portions of Bavarian, Southern Germany, they issued a state of emergency within this area.

Let's take you to that part of the world. Here's Germany, you could see the heavy snow falling. And this isn't actually even as bad as it got. Some of the mountain tops in Austria have, again, reported over three meters just since the beginning of the year. So get to the snowfall totals on the graphics, and I mean, if this isn't impressive, I don't know what is.

This is incredible amount of snow in a short period of time. You try to pronounce those names, by the way, but it is in Austria, in the Alps (ph), 311 centimeters, that is the most snow that we could find. Here's an amazing picture, really that speaks a thousand words. This gentleman or this individual skiing through his village, right? To get from one place to another, that's about all you can do in snow. I mean, my goodness.

The concern here is that all of this snow piles up and it exerts a tremendous amount of force on structures and buildings. And if it is weak enough, let's say, a poorly built house, you get over 22,000 kilograms of weight on a roof. The potential for that roof to collapse is definitely there. We saw it happen last winter. The potential exists this winter and we don't want to see that.

Unfortunately, we haven't heard any reports of that, but the threat is there. Now in this snow is so heavy and so thick that it has even stalling entire trains. They had to dig this particular steam engine out of the tracks there because the snow piled up so much.

In Lofer, Austria, 57 centimeters, that's for normal January snowfall total. They've already seen 170 centimeters since the beginning of January. That is three times their monthly average in just 10 days.

Incredible amounts of snow, more to come, there is brief low right now, but it is going to pick up an intensity on Saturday and Sunday, when those northerly winds come up and over the mountain ranges, they cool, condense and they start to produce precipitation, especially on the Windward side. It's called the stahl effect. It is local to this part of the world. And that is the phenomenon that brings such heavy snowfall to the Alps (ph).

That's not only the snow that has been incredible here. We have talk about record setting cold. Greece reported its coldest temperature on record earlier this week, negative 23 degrees Celsius. Brrr, right? I mean, no one wants to feel that.

ALLEN: I won't be able to stay on those towns.

VAN DAM: Right, at least I admitted I wasn't going to try. No offense, I couldn't say them.

ALLEN: I would have tried.

HOWELL: Derek's approach. That is why you get paid the big bucks.

ALLEN: All right.

HOWELL: Derek, thank you.

ALLEN: Thank you.

HOWELL: Well, still ahead, it is the U.S. President's favorite parting shot. But in the midst of a government shutdown, maybe it's time to say good-bye to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I would have said, bye-bye. Bye-bye. I said, Bye-bye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: Talks to end the partial U.S. government shutdown remain at a standstill.

HOWELL: And for some, that standstill started, by the way, the U.S. President bid farewell. Our Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You heard of long good-byes, well this is the long --

TRUMP: Bye-bye.

MOOS: Donald Trump has been saying it forever.

TRUMP: You know what? Bye-bye. I said bye-bye without making a deal.

MOOS: But when he said it and then walked out on Chuck and Nancy.

TRUMP: I very calmly said if you're not going to give us strong borders, bye-bye.

MOOS: It made headlines even in France. It is one thing for Nsync to sing it or Ann-Margaret to belt it out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bye-bye bye.

MOOS: But this is POTUS, not some SNL skit. About a meme airline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bye-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. What part didn't you understand? The buh (ph) or the bye, bye-bye?

MOOS: Often President Trump's signature kiss off line is accompanied by a signature hand wave.

TRUMP: And if they said no, I would have say bye-bye.

MOOS: Whether it's about dealing with Iran or NATO.

TRUMP: They don't pay, bye-bye. Bye-bye.

MOOS: He loves saying it to protesters.

TRUMP: Bye. Go home to mommy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a bigot.

TRUMP: Bye-bye.

MOOS: But when it comes to a government shutdown, political analyst, Howard Fineman, tweeted, @realDonaldTrump doesn't understand that being President means you can't say bye-bye. This is not a real estate deal in New York or you can just walk away. Sure a host of a show could do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of time bye-bye.

MOOS: But out of line. According to this analyst, bye-bye. What is he a Telly Tubby?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bye-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye, Lala.

MOOS: Having their line hijacked by the President is enough to turn a Telly Tubbies' tummy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye, Lala.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye, Po.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye-bye.

MOOS: New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: With respect, we thank you for being with us for Newsroom.

I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. The news continues with Max Foster in London.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)