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WAPO: No Record Of Trump's 5 In-Person Meetings With Putin; Border Residents Says Migrant Crossings Are "Not A Crisis"; 911 Tape Reveal Panic, Shock After Woman In Coma Gives Birth; Trump Concealed Details of His Meetings with Vladimir Putin; 800,000 Government Employees Not Paid as Shutdown Drags On. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 13, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: -- after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey that the bureau launched a counterintelligence investigation into the president himself. They were working to find out if Trump was actually knowingly, unbelievably working to benefit the Russian government.

In this extraordinary moment last night on Trump friendly FOX News, a show host asking the president point blank this yes or no question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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)

CABRERA: Now we could play his entire answer but after nearly two minutes you still won't hear him, the president, flatly say whether he is working actively to help the Russians. He doesn't say it. He doesn't answer it, yes or no.

Now CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us from the White House right now.

Boris, the president has been tweeting an awful lot today, a little about the Democrats, a little bit about the snow, a little bit about Syria. Does the president have cabin fever on this wintry day there in Washington?

(LAUGHTER)

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is taking to Twitter, claiming that Democrats are having fun while he is back here in Washington, waiting for them to discuss a potential reopening of the federal government. President Trump did not specifically address any of the details contained in those two reports, both in "The New York Times" and the "Washington Post," though he did say in "The New York Times" report that that was an insulting report.

We should point out Press Secretary Sanders put out two statements about both of these articles. She used very similar wording to describe them, in both cases dismissing them but then calling into question President Obama's toughness on Russia saying that President Trump had been tougher on Russia than Obama. Clearly we know that at least publicly it's not been the case. You recall that President Obama actually confronted Vladimir Putin publicly about Russian election meddling back in 2016, something President Trump has not done.

Whether he's done that privately that is another question all together. And it clearly draws into question what the "Washington Post" is pointing out that President Trump is apparently trying to take steps to keep his conversations with Vladimir Putin private.

Now the president, as you noted, tweeted about the shutdown today, about Syria, but he has not made any specific mention about this as the shutdown continues, now moving into its fourth week. And a new CNN poll shows that a majority of Americans blame the president for the shutdown -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris, I know you're also getting details firsthand from your sources inside the White House about how the president and his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, are getting along. What are you hearing?

SANCHEZ: That's right, Ana. A source a short while ago confirming to me a story that was first reported in Axios about an exchange that President Trump had with his new acting chief of staff during a meeting here at the White House, in the situation room with congressional leadership, both Republicans and Democrats.

Mulvaney toward the end of the meeting was apparently negotiating the $1.3 billion that Democrats had offered for border security funding when the president told him this, quote. "Stop, stop. Just stop. What are you doing? You're f'ing it all up, Mick." That's according to a source that was in the room who tells me that there was no reaction among anyone else inside that room.

The White House says -- responded to the Axios reporting saying that it is an overblown exaggeration as to what actually happened. They've yet to respond to CNN's request for comment. We should point out the source also indicates that Democrats have been poking at the new acting chief of staff, suggesting that he's enjoying this government shutdown. So the new acting chief of staff getting it from all sides.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: And we should point out, the president, according to a previous reporting, has acted this way towards some aides and officials before. So Mick Mulvaney getting initiated to the chief of staff position, getting to know President Trump quite very well -- Ana.

CABRERA: Baptism by fire. Boris Sanchez at the White House. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

CABRERA: Let's bring in CNN contributor, Garrett Graff, author of "The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the War on Global Terror," and also with us, former assistant U.S. attorney and CNN legal analyst Elie Honig.

So let me start with you, Elie. These two reports back-to-back, they seem to reinforce each other, do they not?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, they do. And the common theme, Ana, with these reports is obstruction. Right? Efforts to keep the truth from coming to light. The "New York Times" tells us about the efforts to -- you know, the FBI opened a counterintel investigation because they believed and feared that Trump fired Comey to prevent him from digging into the Russia case.

The "Washington Post" tells us about Trump's efforts to seize the notes and to tell the interpreter, keep quiet, again to keep the truth from coming to light. And on top of all that, we are about to begin the confirmation hearings for William Barr as attorney general, which is the number one job in this country responsible for bringing truth to light.

And the problem with William Barr is he sent this long memo to DOJ, unsolicited, six months ago, where he attacks not Robert Mueller generally.

[20:05:09] He doesn't say everything Mueller is doing is crazy, but specifically the obstruction of justice investigation. He calls it fatally misconceived and earlier Barr had said that the obstruction investigation is asinine. Say that to the Hill. So our senators really need to dig into that, and say, is this how you view the obstruction investigation? Do you stand by your own words and they really cannot accept merely mouth, dodgy, coached-up, lawyered-up answers.

CABRERA: Let me talk more about Barr here more in just a second.

HONIG: Yes.

CABRERA: But as you just put it very nicely all in one package, it does show that obstruction is a big piece potentially of Mueller's investigation.

Garrett, you're sort of our Mueller expert. On the "Washington Post" reporting, do you think Trump's concealment of the records pertaining to his meetings with Putin are of interest to Robert Mueller?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. But I think the bigger thing, as Elie is saying here, is the pattern. And again you even look at the interview that the president did last night, you know. If I was being accused of being a Russian agent I would be much more annoyed about being accused of being a Russian agent than I would be the investigation itself. That's not what we're seeing from the president, you know.

It would be easy for him to come out and deny this. What we have to, you know, almost assume at this point is that the president and his campaign were compromised by Russia in some meaningful way that is not yet clear. That's the evidence that we're seeing, sort of pattern after pattern, both from the staff and the president's own actions.

You know, this is a president who, in many ways, has gone out of his way to continue to be soft on Russia and Vladimir Putin, to continue to be complimentary to Vladimir Putin, you know, up to and including that astounding Helsinki summit, which was the subject or part of that "Washington Post" report where the president met privately with Putin and then basically came out on the stage with Vladimir Putin and complimented Putin and questioned the American intelligence community.

CABRERA: Garrett, do you know could Congress try to question that interpreter?

GRAFF: Well, I think that's not -- that's a very complicated answer. And there are some legitimate executive privilege concerns stemming from the idea that presidents need to be able to have some private conversations with foreign leaders and that's not necessarily a precedent that we should want to set as a democracy and as a government but you do have to look at the pattern of behavior here which, you know, this is a president who knows that these questions are being raised about his behavior with Russia vis-a-vis Vladimir Putin, and is still going out of his way to have these incredibly odd, one-on-one, no staff conversations with the leader of Russia.

CABRERA: Elie, is that executive privilege going to end up being the president's best defense?

HONIG: It may be. I do think Congress is going to try to subpoena the interpreter. Adam Schiff has said it straight up. He said he tried to do it over the last Congress but the Democrats were outvoted. They were the minority. Now the majority. He said we're going to want to talk to her.

The only really way to resist that is through a claim of executive privilege. And it's an interesting claim. On the one hand, executive privilege is meant to protect and keep secret conversations between the president and his close advisers, his attorney general, his counsel, his chief of staff. It would be quite a stretch to say that should also include his conversations with foreign heads of state. They're not advisers. We'd be really stretching that.

On the other hand, I think Garrett has a good point. There is a legitimate interest in keeping confidential, high-level conversations, diplomatic conversations. And if you look back at the Nixon decision from 1974 when the court said yes, executive privilege exists, but no, it doesn't apply to this situation. What they did say, the Supreme Court back in 1974, is it's really intended to protect military secrets, national security secrets.

So there may be an argument, a creative argument that Trump could make that we need to expand executive privilege to cover this kind of situation.

CABRERA: I want you guys to stay with me as we bring in also David Gergen who, as many of you know at home, has worked in four White Houses.

And so thank you, David. I'm so glad you can be part of the conversation tonight with this extraordinary reporting here. We're talking about what the "Washington Post" is reporting about the president's efforts to really conceal his interactions with the Russian president. In fact, even confiscating notes from one of his interpreters.

Have you ever heard or experienced such a thing with other presidents?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. And I worked for President Nixon, and we never had anything like this.

I must say, Ana, that if you combine the story in the "Washington Post" that you just talked about, along with "The New York Times" reporting, about the fact that the FBI opened this counterterrorism investigation, if I were in the White House, I would be terribly worried.

[20:10:16] I'd be terribly worried not just about my president. I'd be worried about the office of the presidency, which I think is threatened in this situation. It's almost like a spy thriller that we're going through. It's just unbelievable we'd be here. But I'd also be worried about the country because I think this could be very damaging to us as Americans if this unravels and the patterns that seem to be developing -- the patterns are very, very suspicious.

And the "Washington Post" I would also commend the people -- a new piece by Max Boot, who is a contributor to CNN, on all the reasons why we should be suspicious, all the things, the alignments of President Trump and Vladimir Putin again and again and again. It's a really arresting piece.

CABRERA: David, what typically happens with the notes that are part of these meetings, that document what happens taken place?

GERGEN: Sure. They -- well, first and foremost, they are shared with the principles committee, which is essentially the secretary of State, secretary of Defense, the CIA director, the White House chief of staff, the National Security adviser, the head of the Joint chiefs. All those people need to know what's going on. There has to be a transparency. Those are all the top people, the top circle around the president on national security.

And they are typically shared with them for informational purposes so they know, you know, what the other side is thinking very importantly, but they also know what our president is saying and pledging. And so it is -- I can go back to the Nixon days, sometimes he held a meeting one-on-one with the Russians and would have only an interpreter there, and indeed an American, Vernon Walters, served as an interpreter for both sides on some occasions. But since then, the tradition has been one of sharing, of more

transparency because we have such a complicated government with so many different kind of sprawling relationships that really makes a difference that people are brought up to speed. After all, these are the people we trust with the utmost secrets of the government. So to trust them with that is no stretch at all. It is traditionally what is done.

Strobe Talbott, for example, who became -- later became head of Brookings, a very fine person, worked with President Clinton on many, many occasions. He was the note taker. He went in as -- because he and President Clinton had been long-time colleagues and friends, and Strobe would take these notes in meeting after meeting after meeting that Clinton had with the Russians and those notes would then be religiously shared with others and then they would go into a master file for a variety of reasons, because so you can have for comparative purposes.

Now if you don't know what your president is saying or thinking, you have no sense of continuity about how relationships develop and you don't know how the Russians are trying to play him. You know? Because after all, that at the end of the day is what all of this is about. Have the Russians played him?

CABRERA: Right.

GERGEN: Has they turned him into what used to be call a (INAUDIBLE) would call a useful idiot?

CABRERA: Well, and you wonder --

GERGEN: Someone who was unwittingly going to cooperate.

CABRERA: And you wonder if now the Russians can spin the narrative that they want.

GERGEN: Absolutely.

CABRERA: From what happened in those meetings without being able to prove something different happened.

David Gergen, Elie Honig, Garrett Graff, great to have all of your thoughts with us. Thank you.

Our other top story, more than three weeks into a government shutdown and no end in sight. Up next, I'll talk to a furloughed NASA engineer who says the lack of a paycheck is about to cost her much more than a month's pay.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:17:54] CABRERA: Today is officially the first or maybe the second full day since nearly one million federal workers missed their paychecks. Their pay stubs literally say zero dollars. They're getting nothing right now, even be though some are still having to put gas in their cars, and show up for work, find a way to afford lunch while they're there, pay for child care, make it all the way back home.

The president knew this could happen and he said he'd be proud of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Later, when federal employees just started realizing that the money in their pockets was all they were going to have for a while, the president was asked about a potential safety net. Here is how he answered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You're saying months and possibly a year for the shutdown. Do you have in mind a safety net for those who need their checks?

TRUMP: Well, the safety net is going to be having a strong border because we're going to be safe. Many of the people you're discussing, I really believe that they agree with what we're doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Safety net is a strong border. But how does that help people buy food, pay their mortgages, afford daycare?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOANNA MCCLELAND, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: It's quite possible even if we open this week, I don't see a paycheck before the 1st of February. And where is my rent going to come from?

CHRISTINE VITEL, TSA EMPLOYEE: I am a single mom. My son just graduated. His first two years of college, he's going back. I'm not getting paid. I just bought a house. I'm not going to be able to pay my mortgage.

LYNN STRATTON, FEDERAL EMPLOYEE: I have enough for one more mortgage payment and I've got to go to CarMax tomorrow and sell my car.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You're going to sell your car?

STRATTON: I have to.

LORIE MCCANN, FURLOUGHED FEDERAL WORKER: If it goes on much longer, then I am going to have to figure out what I'm going to do to sustain my lifestyle and just to be able to eat, honestly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Quick update, the woman who said she needed to sell her car tried to and the dealership wouldn't buy it. Now again, the billionaire president was asked if he can relate to these struggling workers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I can relate, and I'm sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustment. They always do. And they'll make adjustment.

[20:20:05] People understand exactly what's going on. But many of those people that won't be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I'm doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Not only does the president say he can relate, but there's that claim again, that federal support this shutdown. Is that really the case?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRSTEN HEALY, FEDERAL CONTRACTOR: I don't feel like it's worth shutting down the entire government over something that's certainly not going to solve an immediate crisis, because it's going to take at least 10 years probably before any wall would be fully built. So it doesn't seem like it's really solving any immediate crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm tired of having this president make decisions that, you know, he could have had passed over the last two years, but he's decided this is a crisis. There is no crisis on that border. It's a manufactured crisis by a madman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Now those are just two federal workers. We can't interview all 800,000 of them and ask them individually whether or not they're OK with giving up their paycheck in order to get a border wall. I did talk to one Border Patrol agent this weekend who does support it, but even those who support this shutdown, they're hurting, too. They are going without pay just like everyone else.

So again this week the president was asked when could these workers see some relief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Realistically how long do you think this shutdown will last?

TRUMP: I don't know. That I can't tell you. All I can tell you is that I feel very badly for people that have family members that have been killed. That should have never happened. OK. Those are the people I'm thinking most about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The president may not know when the shutdown will end, but the federal workers know one thing for sure. No wall, no paycheck.

One of those people who didn't get a paycheck on Friday, NASA engineer Tryshanda Moton, who is joining us now.

Tryshanda, thanks for spending time with us. I know it was a very wintry commute for you. So extra thanks for making that effort. What is the biggest concern you have right now?

TRYSHANDA MOTON, FURLOUGHED NASA ENGINEER: Well, the biggest concern for me has been most recently I have a mortgage that is -- well, I have a pending mortgage settlement coming up at the end of January. January 31st. And as I met with my loan officer this week, I talked to him and I also talked to his supervisor and they were not really, I guess, understanding the gravity of this until I brought it to their attention.

As it turns out the furlough is going on longer than expected. And they were not really concerned at first. But what's necessary for me to close on my home is a pay stub that shows gainful employment, that shows dollars and not zeros. And that's important in order for me to close on the house. If I don't have pay stubs that show that for the past 30 days as of January 31st, which it doesn't look like, that means my closing will be delayed and that's going to cause other hardship for me because I'm also scheduled to move out of my apartment on the 1st of February immediately following that.

CABRERA: Oh, my.

MOTON: So in addition to the hardship of not having the funds available because my paycheck is missing, to secure the movers, to prepare for the move, to take care of the extra expenses that I'll need for closing, I also don't have the assurance. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if I'm going to be able to close. They're talking about provisions they might be able to make. There's conversations being had as late as yesterday with their underwriters but I don't know what's happening. They don't know yet. They're all hoping this ends before the 31st.

CABRERA: So are we. This sounds incredibly stressful. Just how long are you prepared to go without a paycheck?

MOTON: Hmm. Well, I don't know. I mean, I have some funds saved for myself, but I also assist with family. And I also, as I said, a lot of my money is tied up in this home purchase that I'm about to do. I've worked really hard to pay down my debts, to take care of expenses that I need for this. I've also spent a lot of time and energy planning for this house. I mean, I've lived here now eight years, finally decided to, you know, find a home here that I want to purchase and to be at this state after having searched for a home for about a year and found a place that I want to move to and have all the things in place in terms of credit, in terms of funds available, and the preapproval for the loan is there as well, to now not be able to do it just because I don't have a paycheck to show gainful employment. That's really disheartening.

CABRERA: Do you have a backup plan if this shutdown keeps going on for weeks, months even? Other work, other ways to make money?

MOTON: Well --

(LAUGHTER)

MOTON: I was just talking about that today with a friend. I'm also a florist. I have a floral business. And I -- it's not thriving because I haven't the time to put into it.

[20:25:02] But I might have to start doing weddings or something. It's kind of interesting. It's outside of what I do normally. I'm an aerospace engineer at NASA. That's the job I like to do, that's the job I came here for, that's the job I got hired at the federal government to do. So that's what I want to do, that's what I am paid to do typically. So that's the job that I took for the security within the federal government as opposed to having something that wasn't secure.

So it's really disappointing that we're at this place where working for the federal government doesn't seem like it's becoming favorable. I don't know what's happening for other people outside of my agency, but I represent the union as well.

CABRERA: Yes.

MOTON: I'm a vice president for our union and I'm hearing from a lot of our employees about real hardships they're having with their families. I'm a single woman so I don't have kids but I have other responsibilities.

CABRERA: Sure.

MOTON: But I know people who have had to cancel their children's -- one guy just cancelled his daughter's surgery this week. Another guy says he can't have his dental surgery at the end of the month because he doesn't know if he'll have money for the co-payment because he's got to save and pay some power bills. So, you know, I'm going to be faced with similar things.

CABRERA: Yes.

MOTON: I've got to talk to my creditors and say hey, we're furloughed. Can't make all my bill payments if I'm getting zero paycheck. And if this continues, you know, it won't be good for anybody. It's just -- it's really not going well for a lot of people.

CABRERA: (INAUDIBLE) --

MOTON: Not everybody has savings put away for this.

CABRERA: No doubt about it.

MOTON: Nobody does money that's just ready. So -- CABRERA: Exactly. Well, I'm really glad you're able to shed some

light on to the reality of this situation that you're in. Keep your head up. We hope that loan comes through. We hope the shutdown ends soon.

Again, Tryshanda Moton, joining us, thank you very much.

MOTON: Thank you.

CABRERA: News just in from California now. L.A. teachers won't be at work tomorrow after union talks break down and educators agree to a strike. What this means for the more than 600,000 student there.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Two bombshell reports darkening that cloud over the White House this weekend. The New York Times dropped the first one Friday by reporting the FBI was so concerned by the President's actions before and after he fired FBI Director James Comey that it began investigating whether he might be working for the Russians. Second, The Washington Post revealing today that there are no records of the President's five known face-to-face meetings with President Putin, the Russian President, because Trump went to extraordinary lengths to hide them, the paper reports. And at least one instance, President Trump reportedly took possession of the notes himself and told his interpreter not to discuss what happened with any administration officials.

I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem our National Security Analyst, who served as the assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. And Juliette, on Friday night, when we learned that the FBI had opened an investigation into whether Trump was a Russian asset, you said this, quote, how would a President compromised by Russians behave? And give me any moment in the last two years where Trump has behaved differently. And now, we've learned that Trump has allegedly gone to extreme lengths to conceal his private conversations with Putin. What say you now?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, I mean, the second story with -- by Greg Miller of The Washington Post about how Trump tried to essentially hide the information of the discussions that we know about, right? There might be others that we know about between him and Putin, just adds to the list of unusual, weird, I don't know, give it the adjective you want -- behavior that Trump shows only when it comes to Russia and only when it comes to Putin.

Now, look, yes, we have sanctions against Russia right now. Did Trump embrace those? No, he fought them until Congress actually passed them. And then, his administration delayed them. Does he support NATO? No. NATO is very concerned about the rise of Russia. Look at Helsinki. Did that look like a moment, did that look like a person who was really tough on Russia? No, it looked like someone who put Russia's interests ahead of the United States. So, the combination of his conduct, right, the hiding of the notes, the -- you know, attempting to undermine the Mueller investigation and the firing of Comey with the policy that he's enforcing against Russia was my main point, which is, tell me what an uncompromised President would do and Trump has done the exact opposite, consistently.

CABRERA: Well, Trump allies say in this case, according to The Washington Post reporting, that he tried to conceal some of these conversations because of leaks. But did he actually --

KAYYEM: Yes.

CABRERA: -- perhaps, expose the U.S. and himself to more vulnerability because Russia could then have complete control of the narrative of what happened in their discussions?

KAYYEM: Exactly. There's only one narrative right now, and that's owned by the Russians and possibly by other foreign intelligence agencies that know something about what happened in those meetings. You and I don't know. More importantly, let's say, Congress doesn't know or the Gang of Eight, the intelligence committee heads do not know what happened. To this day, we still do not know what Trump promised Putin in the Helsinki meeting or why Trump behaved that way during the press conference after.

And I want to say one thing, this whole notion that Trump, who offends his entire team, who, you know -- who that people are a revolving door, this idea that if he's alone with Putin, he'll establish some rapport is not -- it's like sort of ridiculous at this stage. I mean, Trump does not do this with other national leaders. There are teams around him. He has normal discussions. This is a case study of one, and we have to ask ourselves, why? So, their defense does not -- it doesn't hold water because Trump doesn't do the one-on-ones with no notes with any other leader.

[20:35:11] CABRERA: So, do you think that now this reporting really validates the FBI's investigation?

KAYYEM: I do. I think -- look, I think we tend to think -- first of all, let me be the first amongst a hundred to say we have no idea about what Mueller is really focused on, or what the report will actually show, but I think what we can conclude from this week's -- this weekend's reporting is that the idea that there's three different pieces to the Mueller campaign, the financial dealings between the Trump, and Ivanka, and Jared, and the Russians, the collusion during the campaign, and then the third piece, the obstruction of justice. The idea that there are three different silos, I think, is no longer true anymore. I think what we have learned from the counter -- from the initiation of the counterintelligence investigation by the FBI is that though all three of them are, in some ways, connected. And I personally think that what Mueller is heading to is not only the indictments -- because remember, there may be more, right? He's not going to -- you know, he's going to -- there may be more coming down the pike.

CABRERA: Right. KAYYEM: But also, a report that discloses the extent to which Trump

and his family are compromised by the Russians. It will be up to Senate Republicans to look at themselves and to look at what the country needs when they get that report.

CABRERA: Juliette Kayyem, thank you very much for your perspective.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

CABRERA: Good to see you. Crises or not, even for those living along the southern border, there is no consensus over what needs to be done. Up next, CNN takes you to South Texas to hear straight from the people who live there. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:53] CABRERA: The Trump administration insists there is an emergency along the border. But is what we're actually seeing on the ground there telling another story? CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the Southern border with the reality check tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you crossed the bridge from Mexico into El Paso, this is what you see, thousands of people walking back and forth across the river every day. Life is laid back. No sign of a crisis here. But up and down the southern U.S. border, tension is growing and many residents feel threatened by the Trump administration's push for a border wall. In the past week, Armando Rios Jr. noticed pink survey markers pop up in his neighborhood in the border town of Roma.

ARMANDO RIOS, JR., RESIDENT, ROMA, TEXAS: We're actually a block -- at the most, a block and -- a block and a half away from the river. And you can see the border patrol right there, patrolling.

LAVANDERA: City officials tell us these markers are the beginning of planning for 12 miles of steel see-through fence that would be built right through the city. Rios says he occasionally sees migrants crossing but it doesn't bother him.

RIOS: It's not a crisis. It is -- we would say it is occasional problem but not a crisis. I actually do feel safe. We actually don't even lock our doors. The doors are always open. We don't -- we don't fear getting robbed or anything.

LAVANDERA: Rios told us he's even removed some of these markers put in the ground by government contractors.

Since President Trump has taken office, some new border structure actually has gone up. Last year, the president signed an executive order that allocated $73 million to build this, it's a 20-mile stretch near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. And when you look at it, the question is, is it a wall or is it a fence, and does that question even really matter? According to customs and border protection officials, there are currently eight border wall projects already in the works, covering about 120 miles. The Trump administration's request for $5 billion more would pay for an additional 215 miles of new or replacement fencing in various locations along the southern border. That could include areas like this, where miles of longstanding wall abruptly end, but critics of the wall also say there are vast regions of the southern border that are so remote and filled with such rugged terrain that a wall is unnecessary.

ADOLPHO TELLES, REPUBLICAN CHAIRMAN, EL PASO COUNTY: The buildings you've seen out there is Mexico.

LAVANDERA: Republican Adolpho Telles lives in El Paso, where a border fence already stretches through much of the city. Telles says Trump is right to shut down the government to get border wall funding in hopes of controlling illegal immigration.

TELLES: This certainly doesn't end it. It'll never be ended, it'll never be stopped completely but it certainly has slowed it down significantly compared to what it was, you know, before the wall was here.

FRED CAVASOS, RESIDENT, MISSION, TEXAS: I'm 68 years old, and I've never had any kind of -- any kind -- sort of problems with these people.

LAVANDERA: Fred Cavasos and his family have owned 64 acres of land in Mission, Texas, along the Rio Grande since the 1950s. They live off the rent money dozens of people pay to live on the water's edge.

When they say we need a -- we need to put a wall here, what do you say to that?

CAVASOS: It's just money spent that it won't help for us. It's not going to help -- the wall is not going to help at all.

LAVANDERA: But construction of a border wall is slated to start in February, which will leave their property sitting in a no man's land between the wall and the river, essentially cut off from the United States.

So you're running out of time?

CAVASOS: Yes. What can you do? You can't fight the government. We're trying -- we're trying to stop them and stall a little but we can't -- we can't stop the government. They'll do what they want to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: That was our Ed Lavendera reporting.

Dramatic 911 tapes revealing a shocking discovery the moment health care workers discovered a patient in a coma for more than 20 years had given birth. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER: Phoenix 911. How may I --

[20:45:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, the baby's turning blue. Baby's turning blue.

DISPATCHER: OK. Where are you at?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help, please!

DISPATCHER: What is the address, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby's turning blue. Baby's turning blue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: After nearly two years of talks, teachers in the country's second largest school district plan to go on strike tomorrow. United Teachers of Los Angeles has been fighting for smaller class sizes and higher pay. This is a district, mind you, with more than 600,000 students. Now, negotiations hit a deadlock on Friday. Officials say classes will continue tomorrow even without approximately 32,000 teachers and staff members.

[20:50:00] Terrifying moments as a caller tells 911 operators a woman in a vegetative state has just given birth to a baby and, get this, no one had even realized the woman was pregnant. CNN's Sara Sidner has more from Phoenix.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A woman calls 911 from inside the Hacienda Health Care skilled nursing facility. A patient in a vegetative state has just given birth and the baby isn't breathing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

DISPATCHER: Phoenix 911. How may I --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, the baby's turning blue. Baby's turning blue.

DISPATCHER: OK. Where are you at?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help, please!

DISPATCHER: What is the address, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby's turning blue. Baby's turning blue.

DISPATCHER: Ma'am, I need an address. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello?

DISPATCHER: I need an address. OK, is it a house or an apartment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it's a facility where --

DISPATCHER: OK, I'm going to get paramedics -- paramedics are on the line. You need to give them the address again.

SIDNER: You can hear the panic in the caller's voice. She initially fails to even give the address where the ambulance can find them. Then, you hear a stunning admission. The caretakers around her did not know their patient was pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you able to get the baby out? Is the baby breathing? Is the bay breathing? Baby is not breathing, baby is blue.

DISPATCHER: OK. So, are they doing CPR?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they doing -- yes, they're doing CPR on the baby.

DISPATCHER: OK. Good. Just keep going with that. And how's the mom doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom is doing well. It looks like she's doing well. (INAUDIBLE) the vitals?

DISPATCHER: How far along was she?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had no idea this person was pregnant. We had no idea this patient was pregnant.

DISPATCHER: OK. I understand. Did they -- does she know how far along she was or anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no idea. We -- this is a complete surprise. We were not expecting this.

SIDNER: CNN obtained court records that showed the patient has been in a vegetative state since 1992. She has a breathing tube and a feeding tube, and court records indicate she is unable to make any decisions or give consent. Police made clear this is a sexual assault case, and they are already collecting DNA samples. The medical facility says that includes DNA from its male staffers.

SGT. TOMMY THOMPSON, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: This woman was unable to move. She was unable to communicate. In other words, she was helpless, but she was incapacitated.

SIDNER: Police say they were told it was a full-term pregnancy. Court documents reveal the same doctor who's been examining her since 2009 did an external well woman exam on April 16, 2018, noting her firm belly. But she would not have been visibly pregnant at the time. About nine months later, she gave birth on December 29th. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The baby is breathing.

DISPATCHER: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Thank God.

DISPATCHER: OK. OK. And that's the baby in the background? Is that the baby crying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was the baby crying.

DISPATCHER: OK. That's good. You guys did great, OK? They're on their way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

SIDNER: Mother and baby were taken to the hospital where they've been recuperating from the birth. Their family hails from here, a couple of hours from the facility on the San Carlos Apache Tribe Reservation. The family says the baby is a boy and he will be loved and cared for, but they are outraged for what they call the abuse and neglect of their daughter. The story has evoked fear in some of the families of other patients in the facility.

KARINA CESENA, PATIENT'S MOTHER: We were just so scared because who knows what would happen if it was a staff member, if it was a family member, if it was a stranger, we have no idea.

SIDNER: What did you decide to do personally to make sure your daughter who's inside is safe?

CESENA: I stay here 24/7 now.

SIDNER: Hacienda Health Care board of directors called the situation "horrifying" and said the facility is fully cooperating with the investigation. But for Karina Cesena, who has a 22-year-old severely brain damaged daughter inside, she has lost all trust and is trying to get her daughter care elsewhere as soon as possible. Sara Sidner, CNN, Phoenix.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: President Trump pushing back at those calling his wall a medieval solution. Up next, our Jake Tapper comically reminds the President what the Middle Ages were really like.

And join fashion and cultural experts for a front row seat to the runway of American history, "AMERICAN STYLE" premiers next, here on CNN.

[20:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: President Trump's promised southern border wall has dominated the headlines and set off the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. And while critics call the idea medieval, the President is actually running with that theme. Here's our Jake Tapper. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump agrees a wall is not a new idea.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say it's a medieval solution, the wall, that's true. It's medieval because it worked then and it works even better now.

TAPPER: There are other medieval ideas perhaps the President might want to try out. Leeches for the sniffles we heard the other night. Maybe a border mote.

TRUMP: It's tremendously big and tremendously wet. Tremendous amounts of water.

TAPPER: 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 T.V. 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 hoards of ice zombies fell at the end of last season.

TRUMP: Not since the medieval times has anything happened like this.

TAPPER: 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 using this has a happy ending, he who haven't been paying attention.

TAPPER: They say a wall is medieval. Well, so is a wheel.

END