Return to Transcripts main page
A Secret Tunnel Leading From Mexico Into the United States; CNN Original Series American Style; Weeks Before the Super Bowl; Trump Concealed Details of His Meetings with Vladimir Putin; Mike Pompeo Expected to Meet with Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia; Government Shutdown Leaves Some Farmers Without Support Checks. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired January 13, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:27] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right. We start with the two explosive reports on President Trump and Russia this weekend. The latest, "The Washington Post" describing the extraordinary lengths President Trump has gone in order to keep the details of his meetings with Russian president Vladimir Putin a secret. There are reportedly no detailed reports of Trump's five face-to-face meetings with Putin, and in one instance, the president even took possession of notes by an interpreter, telling that linguist not to discuss the meeting with White House officials.
The reporter who broke that story spoke to CNN this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG MILLER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: If you go back to Clinton, Obama, George Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, their meetings with their Russian counterparts involved senior aides, often multiple aides, taking detailed notes. In fact, you can go through the Clinton archive and read almost verbatim transcripts of his meetings with Boris Yeltsin.
Those just don't exist for Donald Trump because he's excluding people from his own White House from seeing what's happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So all this reporting comes on the heels of the stunning story from "The New York Times" that the FBI started investigating whether President Trump was secretively working on behalf of Russia back in May of 2017.
The White House and President Trump are now in damage control, pushing back on both of those reports. And all of this as President Trump's disapproval rate jumps five points.
Let's check in now with CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.
So what more is being conveyed there from a very snowy White House? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right,
Fred. President Trump is dismissing both of these back-to-back bombshell reports from "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" respectively. The president not actually addressing any of the details in either of these reports specifically, but broadly saying that they are insulting and not worth responding to.
Listen now to President Trump when he called in to FOX News last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I had a conversation like every president does. You sit with the presidents of various countries. I do it with all countries. We had a great conversation. We were talking about Israel and securing Israel and lots of other things. And it was a great conversation. I'm not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn't care less.
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?
TRUMP: I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked. I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written. And if you read the article, you'd see that they found absolutely nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now you heard the president during that interview also say that no one has been tougher on Russia than he has. It's an idea, a claim that this White House has tried to hammer away at. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did the same when she released a statement last night responding to that report in "The Washington Post" about President Trump concealing his private conversations with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Sarah Sanders writes, quote, "'The Washington Post' is so outrageously inaccurate, it doesn't even warrant a response. The liberal media has wasted two years trying to manufacturer a fake collusion scandal instead of reporting the fact that unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia."
This echoes very closely what we heard from Sarah Sanders in a separate statement, one released Friday, responding to that reporting in "The New York Times" about the counterintelligence investigation that was launched by the FBI looking into whether President Trump had wittingly or unwittingly become an agent of Russia. In that statement, she uses very similar language, comparing President Trump to President Obama, saying that President Trump has been tougher on Russia. Also going after James Comey, calling him a disgraced partisan hack.
But the idea here that President Trump has been tough on Russia is one that has been challenged many times before. As you recall, Fred, during that press conference in Helsinki last year, President Trump didn't really challenge Vladimir Putin when it comes to Russian election meddling.
We've seen this White House time and time again show overt signs of friendship to the Russian leadership. And really, it's a questionable claim when the president says that no one has been tougher on Russia than he has, especially when we frankly don't know what he has said to Vladimir Putin in private, which is the gist of that "Washington Post" article -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
So officials have to rely on the president's word of what happened during those meetings with Putin, which many times involved little details. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We had direct, open, deeply productive dialogue.
[16:05:04] Went very well. Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.
President Putin and I have been discussing various things. And I think it's going very well. We've had some very, very good talks. We're going to have a talk now. And obviously that will continue. But we look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia, for the United States, and for everybody concerned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, former senior adviser to the National Security adviser in the Obama administration, Samantha Vinograd, and former special FBI agent Jeff Lanza.
Good to see you both.
All right. Sam, you first. So what could be a reasonable explanation for the president's approach here? Why wouldn't he want documentation or, you know, the proper witnesses, if anything, to protect him?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Fred, the only explanation here is that he has something to hide. Every decision that the president made going into the meeting in Helsinki and his failure to disclose what happened in previous meetings with President Putin really lead us all to assume that there's something that he doesn't want getting out.
In the first instance, notes are taken during these meetings. And I don't mean an interpreter. An interpreter is not a note taker. They're there to translate. A note taker is present in all presidential meetings so that there's an accurate representation for the U.S. government of what happened. And then subsequently, the president or members of his team that were in the meeting brief relevant U.S. government officials so that they can incorporate that information into policymaking. And finally, a memorandum for the record is often filed, so again,
there's a foundation that people can go back to, to see what happened. Absent any of those things happening --
WHITFIELD: And that's been a tradition in so many administrations. He's breaking with tradition on that. And there has to be a reason, a very specific reason why.
VINOGRAD: Exactly. And it's also a requirement under the presidential records act that anything that the president says or does is kept in the National Archives. So if that was the worst violation he'd made here, we'd all sleep a little bit better at night. But in this case, he has given an intelligence advantage to the government of Russia because they know something about conversations that he had with Vladimir Putin that his own government doesn't. That turns him yet again into a counterintelligence risk.
WHITFIELD: So Russia is the center of, you know, the special counsel, Robert Mueller's investigation. We know the FBI opened this counterintelligence into the president in relation to Russia. That was "New York Times" reporting.
So, Jeff, you know, how damaging is this information, particularly "The New York Times" reporting that the president is concealing details about these meetings, along with the fact that the FBI had launched these investigations even before the special counsel started its probe?
JEFF LANZA, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: Right. So if you go back to the opening of the counterintelligence investigation, which by the way doesn't mean that the allegations are true. It's just an investigation. But it involves the target of that investigation being a possible risk to national security. Now if that's an individual that works for the government, that's a much bigger deal because you might call that person a potential mole working for a foreign entity, which gets up into high levels of government. You know, you can imagine how serious --
WHITFIELD: Can't get any higher than the president of the United States.
LANZA: It can't get higher than that. And again, we don't know the allegations are true and we don't know how far the investigation went. We do know, according to the "Times" article, that it was turned over to Mueller's team, which still involves FBI investigators, but we don't know where that went. It could have been shut down right away, it could have continued, and may still be going on today.
WHITFIELD: So former deputy secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, you know, told "The Washington Post," and I'm quoting now, lifting from a portion of that article, "It handicaps the U.S. government, the experts and advisers, and Cabinet officers who are there to serve the president, and it certainly gives Putin much more scope to manipulate Trump." He also said, "This defies historical standards and is outrageous."
So, Sam, this really underscores what you had said earlier.
VINOGRAD: It does. And another aspect of this is we learn from "The New York Times" reporting that part of the reason the president didn't want to bring a note taker into his meeting or didn't want to bring the National Security adviser is because he felt like he could establish a rapport with President Putin.
That really tells me, Fred, that he thinks that he is able to escape President Putin's manipulation tactics in a one-on-one setting. President Putin --
WHITFIELD: That he could outsmart.
VINOGRAD: President Putin is a --
WHITFIELD: Or he is smarter than --
VINOGRAD: Exactly. Is a trained KGB agent with decades of experience. And unfortunately, this president broadcast his trigger points, his manipulation points every day on Twitter when he talks about his own accomplishments, when he responds immediately to criticism or to flattery. There is no way, logically speaking, that President Trump can match up to President Putin from a manipulation standpoint.
[16:10:05] WHITFIELD: So, Jeff, you know, given your experience at the FBI, how unusual in your view is it that a counterintelligence investigation would be opened on a president?
LANZA: Right. They must have been -- they must have gone through a lot of thinking about that one before it was opened. I can't imagine a counterintelligence investigation being opened into a high-level member of the executive branch of government without a lot of thought going into it.
WHITFIELD: And at first there was some real reticence.
LANZA: There's been a lot of allegations.
WHITFIELD: There were some real concern because of the magnitude, the scope. So if the initial, you know, response was we need to do this, "The New York Times" article implies that they sat on it for a little bit. But then there were other impetus, you know, that made them go forward, move forward on it.
LANZA: It had to require a lot of different allegations, not just the firing of Comey. There had to be something else that went along with that at the time. And there are a lot of hard thinking about it before that was opened. And usually those things are opened, and if nothing becomes of it, they're quietly shut down, no one ever hears about it.
We don't know if that happened yet or not. And it could still -- and it could still be ongoing. We'll hear from Mueller at some point in time. And if Mueller's investigation was shut down into this, into the counterintelligence part of it, we may never know any more about that. That may not even be made public.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jeff and Samantha, thank you so much. Good to see you both.
LANZA: You're welcome.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, while the president points the finger at Democrats for the shutdown, a new CNN poll says most Americans feel President Trump is to blame. Is the border wall funding hurting his approval rating?
[16:15:58] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Happening right now, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to meet with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pompeo promising he will press the prince on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'll say what we've said consistently. America's position both privately and publicly is the same. This was an outrageous act, an unacceptable murder. Those who were responsible will be held accountable by the United States of America. We're determined to do that. We're determined to get at the facts just as quickly, as comprehensively as we can. We've had a policy that's been remarkably consistent with respect to this.
We, like the rest of the world, value human rights all across the globe. And the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was outrageous, and we'll hold those responsible accountable. And then we'll talk about all the important things we do with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all the support they provide to keep Americans in Kansas, and Colorado, and California and in Washington, D.C., safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Last month the U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning the crown prince for the murder. Saudi Arabia has denied bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who was an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime.
Kimberly Dozier is with me now to talk about all of this.
So when Pompeo says he and the administration will make sure Saudi Arabia is being held accountable, what does that mean exactly?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, State Department officials have explained to us before that they don't think the investigation into the Khashoggi killing has gone far enough, been transparent enough, and they're not happy with what they've seen released publicly. Also --
(CROSSTALK) WHITFIELD: But what could and would the U.S. do, especially when he underscores the importance of, you know, ongoing business relations with Saudi Arabia, just as the president has done?
DOZIER: Well, I think what they want to see from Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, is a more transparent release of information. They want to see the people who have been prosecuted thus far, what is the evidence against them, and are they just going to try to pretend like this didn't go all the way to the top? How much are they going to release?
The things that Pompeo could do, and apparently he's been warning MBS behind closed doors that he could do are things like curtail some of the cooperation, possibly even prestige things where, you know, you have high-level meetings where MBS is invited to the White House, et cetera.
There are things like that they can do that would hurt him, at least in an ego sense. So -- but what is the U.S. leverage? Well, the U.S. needs Saudi Arabia in its campaign against Iran. MBS knows that. So the problem is, you can say all of these stern things in public, like the secretary of State has done in interviews today, but really, they both need each other so they only can push so far.
WHITFIELD: So how important is this meeting between Pompeo and the crown prince, particularly now, more than 100 days after Khashoggi's murder?
DOZIER: I think it's very important in that this is a chance for Pompeo to say to him directly, here's what you need to do. Here's what we need to see. And to deliver the (INAUDIBLE) -- the message from the White House. So I think afterwards, what we will see out of the Saudi government in terms of public statements is going to matter a lot.
Is this going to comfort the family who has lost a father, a husband? No, but is it going to be far enough for journalists who met only last week to talk about the hundred-day anniversary?
[16:20:02] But it could be getting on the right track towards accountability, at least from the U.S. government's point of view.
WHITFIELD: So Pompeo is in the region, has been in the region primarily to, you know, allay any fears of U.S. allies, particularly with the discussions about the U.S. pulling out U.S. troops in Syria already, you know, reportedly, equipment has been pulled out.
Is the presence of, you know, Bolton and Pompeo in the region -- is that comforting, you know, rattled U.S. allies?
DOZIER: It is intended as a reassurance tour of sorts. I did get a U.S. official to confirm that yes, they've repositioned or pulled out some equipment as they look ahead towards a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. But from the standpoint of the allies that they're speaking to, no matter what Bolton and Pompeo say, they still can't rule out a future Trump decision determined by some sort of a last- minute conversation with someone.
They can't erase what happened just before Christmas, that Trump in a single phone call pivoted and changed the plan on everyone without consulting allies first. That's going to leave a mark for some time.
WHITFIELD: Yes, surprising allies, surprising even members of his own Cabinet.
All right. Kimberly Dozier, thank you so much.
DOZIER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come, we're three weeks now into a partial government shutdown with no end in sight, and federal workers, well, they're not the only ones feeling the pain. How this shutdown is hurting farmers, next.
[16:26:15] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
Part of the U.S. government ground to a halt more than three weeks ago. And for the past 23 day, Democratic leaders have blamed the president while the White House has sought to pin this shutdown on Democratic lawmakers Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
We now know who Americans feel is at fault. A new CNN poll shows 55 percent of people believe Trump is responsible. 32 percent say Democrats. 9 percent say both are to blame. President Trump tweeted earlier, "I'm in the White House waiting. The Democrats are everywhere but Washington as people await their pay. They are having fun and not even talking." But Democrats dispute that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I think history will show that Donald Trump, the supposed great deal maker, and I'm working on a piece on this, that business schools and management consultants will look back for years and say, this was the most inept negotiation. He boxed himself in a corner. He didn't empower his negotiators like the vice president or Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And in an interview with FOX News, the president reiterated his position on possibly declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I have the absolute right to call a national emergency. Other presidents have called many national emergencies for things of lesser importance, frankly, than this.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right. This all comes as the president's disapproval rating has climbed five points since last month to 57 percent. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are not getting paid.
The impacts are being felt. The Miami International Airport has closed a concourse to just operating half a day now because TSA workers are calling out sick in droves. The FDA has stopped some inspections of food. Furloughed workers are filing for unemployment and millions of others are doing whatever they can to survive.
With me now is John Boyd, Jr. He's the president of the National Black Farmers Association and a fourth generation farmer in Virginia.
Good to see you, John.
JOHN BOYD JUNIOR, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BLACK FARMERS ASSOCIATION: It's good to be here, Fred.
WHITFIELD: So --
BOYD: Thank you very much for having me today.
WHITFIELD: Absolutely. So you're a soybean farmer. How is this shutdown --
WHITFIELD: The government shutdown impacting you and other farmers?
BOYD: Well, basically right now my farming operation is shut down. And the United States Department of Agriculture is closed. And the president promised soybean producers like myself and other 30,000 soybean producers around the country a bailout, a relief package for about $1.65 a bushel for farming operations like mine.
And since the government is closed, I can't get my check. And we've been calling and calling and calling. And it's been more delays. And this all stems from the president's lowest prices in history for farmers due to the president's tariffs.
In 2012, I was selling soybeans for roughly $16 a bushel. And today I'm selling soybeans for $8 a bushel. So we're facing the lowest prices, and now we can't get our relief payments from the United States Department of Agriculture, and I believe it's because poor leadership and bad decisions by President Trump.
WHITFIELD: So you're being hit -- this is a double whammy because you're saying --
WHITFIELD: You know, it wasn't that long ago you were promised because of the tariffs this $15,000 check is one that you would be expecting to help get your new crops going.
WHITFIELD: But you can't even get that because government is shutdown, and you can't even get a response because government is shutdown.
BOYD: Yes. And, you know, I went to the office the other day. The office is closed. And what's ironic about that is the government says they can receive payments from farmers to pay on their loans, but they can't send out checks to needy farmers like myself. And what happens here, Fred is when your operations shuts down I should be planning one a week. So I'm going to be, like you said, hit with a double whammy. I'm not able to sell my soybeans at a great price.
Now, I am being delayed in planting my winter wheat. And as I said earlier, I believe it's from the poor decisions and the poor leadership by this President. He should be working diligently to bring our country together, both politically and racially in this country. I believe we're more divided politically and racially since this President has taken office.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, NEWSROOM ANCHOR: So what are you going to do? I mean you're unable to, you know get the resources you need in order to get those new crops in. I mean timing is everything. You look at the, you know, the calendar, you know, you look at the conditions. All of these things have to come together in order to get your crops started for the next season.
BOYD JR.: That's right. And from what I am hearing, the President is going to make some announcement tomorrow, addressing farmers. And I hope that he'll have some answers for farmers like myself. Because we're out here hurting, and I don't understand why more large scale white farmers, the Midwestern farmers who supported this President hand over foot, are not speaking out against his policies.
Because I am sure that they're hurting the same way that I am, but in a much larger scale. So I am waiting to hear from some of these farmers as well. Because at $8 a bushel and no relief from the federal government, it won't be long before those farmers to be on the auction block. And we really need to band together and speak out against this administration and its harmful policies that's hurting American farmers right now as I speak to you.
WHITFIELD: All right. And you mentioned those bushel prices cut in half in such a short amount of time. John Boyd, we appreciate you sharing your experience with us. Thank you so much for being with us, appreciate and all the best.
BOYD JR.: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Let's bring in CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor at the Atlantic Ron Brownstein. So Ron, you hear John Boyd's story if you really (Inaudible) spoke with sally earlier today who is working at, you know, at a federal prison, who has been without her paycheck. There are so many stories of people facing real hardships as a result of what's transpired. Are there any indicators that there is any empathy, you know, or real understanding coming from the White House or Capitol Hill?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You're watching I think in real time playing out the consequences of a President that really has displayed no interest in being President of the entire country, and is focused solely on his most ideological base. And there are enormous policy and political consequences of that. And there are enormous political consequences. You know in the CNN poll today, 39 percent of the country supports building the wall.
The ABC Post poll today it was 42 percent. In Quinnipiac, they poll 10 times, and in his presidency, it's never been higher than 43 percent. He's using a tactic...
WHITFIELD: It's not the majority. The President has said most Americans want it and that's why they elected him. But reminder, he did not win the popular vote. But go ahead.
BROWNSTEIN: And not only that, Fred, it's actually something fascinating that's happened. If you go back to the exit poll in the 2016 election, 41 percent of the country supported the wall among the people who voted in 2016. But for the people who opposed the wall, it wasn't necessarily a deal breaker, just as it was for many people who expressed doubts about Trump personally.
Only 76 percent of the people who opposed the wall back in 2016 voted for Hillary Clinton. If you look in this new CNN poll today, 90 percent of the people who disapprove of Trump also disapprove of the wall. And what that says, as the midterm election said, is that voters who are kind of willing to take a chance on him, he's driving away with this relentless focus solely on the priorities of his hard core base.
And that carries real risks to republicans who have been remarkably reluctant to kind of step out and challenge him over a strategy that's kind of leading them further and further, you know, out on a limb with no way off.
WHITFIELD: But the President only seems to really be assuaged by polling of the republicans, because he will still continue to boast that he's still very popular among republicans. So this new polling still may not move him too much.
BROWNSTEIN: No, it won't. You know, it's extraordinary to come out of this election where you had swing groups in the electorate, college educated white voters, independent voters, move sharply away from the republicans. As a result, they lost 40 seats in the House, were decimated in the big suburban areas, not only in traditionally blue places like Philadelphia and Chicago, but also Dallas and Houston and Atlanta and Oklahoma City, places that they've never really had this kind of erosion before.
[16:34:50] And then come back and double down as your first act after that kind of thumping with a strategy that's essentially doubling down on speaking only to the base even at the risk of alienating everybody else. The question isn't whether President Trump changes course. The question is whether enough republicans who are up in 2020, people like Martha McSally in Arizona and Corey Gardner in Colorado and Susan Collins in Maine, and even David Perdue and Tom Tillis in Georgia and North Carolina are willing to go along with an approach that's facing such majority opposition.
But if you have a President who has no aspiration or goal of speaking to the majority of the country, you can go pretty far afield without a majority opinion really changing his direction.
WHITFIELD: Wow. And 2020 is a long way away, particularly if you are a furloughed or federal worker or a contractor, etcetera. I mean you -- if you are any of those people, you were hoping that it's not the President, then republicans, their support for his wall notion, that that might crumble far sooner so as to get federal government up and running.
Because, you know, declaring a national emergency doesn't necessarily ensure that government will be up and running, even if the President were to declare that.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, there are some republicans who hope that is face-saving maneuver. Because declaring a national emergency and then reopening the government really would be a retreat that looks like an advance, right? I mean it would allow him to claim that he's escalating the dispute, when in fact he would be backing down. And I suspect that's why someone like Lindsey Graham, at least part of the reason why someone like Lindsey Graham is so assertively advocating for that position, because it would allow them to (Inaudible) of allowing President Trump to reopen the government.
WHITFIELD: Ron Brownstein, thank you so much. Good to see you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come, Mexican authorities say they have just discovered another secret tunnel leading from Mexico into the United States. Details on that smuggling route next.
[16:40:01] WHITFIELD: A discovery on the southern border. Mexican federal police have released this video of a smuggling tunnel they discovered running from Mexico into the Arizona border town (Inaudible). The Arizona Republic reports this is the third tunnel found crossing into that town in the past month. CNN Correspondent Polo Sandoval is live for us along the southern border. So Polo, what more can you tell us?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, you can consider that more proof that if there's a will, there's certainly a way for some of these drug smuggling operations just south of the border, mainly those drug cartels that are trying to get both their human and drug loads into the United States. This particular one, the video posted by Mexican federal police on their official Twitter page.
They say it measured about 10 meters long, was going basically from the Mexican side to the United States. It only said that it was used to conduct criminal activity. But at this point, they haven't said a whole lot more. This certainly isn't something new. It really is just the latest of hundreds of these so-called Narco tunnels that have popped up all along the 2,000-mile border.
Today, we actually find ourselves in the city of Hidalgo, Texas. So we're in south Texas. This particular segment of wall, this was built just after 2007. I remember being out here. Also, this levy was basically just lifted slightly to also provide flood control. Authorities here on the ground say these kinds of tunnels they have to deal with to a certain extent, except in this particular of the country of the border mainly.
They say that these drug smuggling organizations are using the city's own network of drains that basically lead out to the Rio Grande, which is the one that divides both countries here. And authorities telling me here in Hidalgo that not long after this border wall was built, this border wall levy as it is known around here, that's when these cartels, these organizations had to get a little bit more creative and a little bit craftier, and have been almost once or two times a month, according to authorities, smuggling their marijuana loads in from underground.
So this is all part of the conversation that's happening all along that 2,000-mile border. When the President was here on Thursday, border patrol did tell the Commander-In-Chief about those efforts. So again, it's just perhaps another reason the President may want this wall built as soon as possible.
WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. Still so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom after this.
[16:45:00] WHITFIELD: The way we dress doesn't just reflect our taste in clothes. It reflects what's going on in the word around us. And now, the new CNN original series American Style looks at how the social, political, and economic changes of the past 100 years have defined America's unique style and identity. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty's and fifty's were definitely America finding itself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Americans felt very second rate when comparing ourselves to Europe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sportswear became the defining style of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bikini was the biggest thing since the atom bomb. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Through the 60s, 70s, our style and fashion
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at hippie culture, it's really oppositional to the Vietnam War.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disco was very important in terms of people being free to express themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the 80s, it was a lot of excess in every way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had our Calvin Klein's and Ralph Lauren's and our Donna Karen's.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calvin Klein's advertising was rather scandalous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This underwear ad stopped traffic in Time Square.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By 90s and 2000s, things have become less formal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Supermodels really brought fashion into every household.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, what's embraced as being yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Style gives you a voice. It's freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now is Vogue Contributing Editor and fashion icon Andre Leon Talley, so great to see you.
ANDRE LEON TALLEY, VOGUE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Thank you, Fredricka, happy to be here.
WHITFIELD: Oh, and Happy New Year. Hey, what is it about fashion, you know, accessories that really speak to how we collectively and even individually are thinking and feeling and living?
TALLEY: Well, fashion -- you have to put on clothes every day. And fashion reflects who you are and where you live and what you wish to express through your fashion. So in every decade at every moment, fashion is a part of your cultural and political being. I mean if you live within your decade or your time, you want to be in with the trend or be individualistic, because American style is individualism.
It's everything is important. It's not one style. The great thing about American style is that it's as free as a t-shirt with a pair of jeans.
[16:49:56] TALLEY: It's as free as a jumpsuit on Beyonce or Madonna in the 80s, or it's as elegant as Jacqueline Kennedy in the 60s as our First Lady, or as really boldly original as First Lady Michelle Obama, or it's extraordinarily perfection in the current First Lady, Melania Trump. So fashion does reflect who we are and who we at the moment.
WHITFIELD: And you heard in that clip that there was a time, you know, when America felt really behind. The Europeans were, you know, in the lead of making a statement on fashion. How do you suppose American designers have taken the lead, changed things, helped fashion, you know, evolve?
TALLEY: Well, American fashion has always been as important as European fashion. However, in the 50s, everyone looked to Paris. By the 60s and 70s, fashion in America became into its power. I would particularly in the 70s. And the people who would have pushed fashion forward, I would say single-handedly the most important American fashion designer would be Ralph Lauren, who over -- he celebrated five decades in fashion this year or last year, I am sorry.
We -- he was the quintessential American master of style. You could be great in your Ralph Lauren plaid shirt. You could be great in your Ralph Lauren blazer or you could be great in your Ralph Lauren Navajo blanket, poncho.
WHITFIELD: Or that polo.
TALLEY: Or that Polo, that logo Polo t-shirt, which is iconic and global.
TALLEY: And I think that even the French look to America. They're often inspired by American fashion.
WHITFIELD: Hmm. So you've been one of the top, you know, arbiters of style, you know, through the best and the worst of American fashion for so many decades now. I mean -- and happy birthday, it's hard to believe, what, 70? You're coming close to 70.
TALLEY: I am 70 years old.
WHITFIELD: And you look amazing.
TALLEY: Thank you. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Amazing. So, you know, has there been, in your view, kind of a peak era for American style? And I know you mentioned those iconic figures, you know, leading the pack. But is there a particular time?
TALLEY: The particular moments for me were exquisitely the 60s, particularly with Jackie Kennedy, because Jackie Kennedy represented a kind of elegance that women looked up to, particularly old women who were adults. And it was a very formal yet individualistic style. I know that black church ladies all over this country were aping, which means copying or imitating the Jackie Kennedy style at church. So that was reflective.
WHITFIELD: And she was a young woman, but she did have a certain maturity, you know, in what she exuded with -- through her fashion. TALLEY: Yes. But yet at the same time, as American as her fashion
was the strength of her fashion came from Paris. She ordered clothes in Paris. But then when she became First Lady, (Inaudible) had to interpret those Paris and concepts into American style, and it worked.
WHITFIELD: Yeah. But as you mentioned, even as a mature woman, I mean just seeing her, you know, in the simple black cardigan and her Cartier watch, I mean it's amazing, so simple but stunning.
WHITFIELD: All right. Andre Leon Talley, so great to see you, I wish we were like face to face. I am so bummed.
TALLEY: I do too. I do too.
WHITFIELD: But I am so happy to see you.
TALLEY: Great to see you. Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Be sure to tune in. The all-new CNN original series American Style premieres tonight at 9:00 eastern only on CNN.
[16:55:00] WHITFIELD: All right. Three weeks before the Super Bowl, and the biggest game of the year is announcing its halftime musical lineup. The NFL making it official today Maroon 5 will be the headline act for Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta. And joining the band for the halftime show will be rappers Big Boi and Travis Scott. The announcements come after many acts and artists turned down a chance to perform at the Super Bowl in support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
And other players who have take a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. When it comes to President Trump's most prominent policy position, he says the old way is best. Our Jake Tapper has that in this week's State of the Cartoonian.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump agrees a wall is not a new idea.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say it's a medieval solution, a wall. That's true. It's medieval because it worked then and it works even better now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are other medieval ideas perhaps the President might want to try out. Leeches for those sniffles we heard the other night, maybe a border moat.
TRUMP: It's tremendously big and tremendously wet. Tremendous amounts of water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe the government shutdown could be resolved by a sword fight between Lord McConnell and Lady Pelosi. The President has long embraced medieval themes. Just the other day, he used a meme from the ultimate medieval fantasy TV show, Game of Thrones, tweeting this image, the wall is coming. As references go for public policy, we should probably note that Game of Thrones is a show that also features ice zombies and dragons.
Also, spoiler alert, the show's famous great wall protecting Westeros from the hordes of ice zombies fell at the end of last season.
TRUMP: Not since the medieval times has anything happened like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should note that the President's embrace of medieval times, whether real or fantasy fiction, does capture a certain spirit of this era.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention.
TRUMP: They say a wall is medieval. Well, so is a wheel. A wheel is older than a wall. A wheel works and a wall works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much for joining me. I am Fredricka Whitfield. The news continues with Ana Cabrera right now.