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CNN NEWSROOM

WaPo: Trump Concealed Details of Putin Meetings; FBI Probe into whether Trump Worked for Russia; Trump Administration Preparing for Shutdown to Drag on through February; Three Killed, Dozens Hurt in Paris Bakery Explosion; Castro Declares Candidacy as O'Rourke Mulls Bid; Sheriff: Kidnap Victim's Parents Killed Because They Were "Barrier" to Abduction; Ebola Survivor Beats Odds, Gives Birth to Healthy Baby; Lin-Manuel Miranda Brings "Hamilton" to Puerto Rico. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired January 13, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president says he's not keeping anything under wraps but a new report from "The Washington Post" alleges he concealed details of his meetings with the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. secretary of state heads to Saudi Arabia for a face to face visit with the crown prince and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is promised to come up.

HOWELL: Also ahead, the race for the White House in 2020 gains another candidate. But Democrat Julian Castro may not be the only Texan who wants to be president.

ALLEN (voice-over): There are a few out there that want to be president, I believe. We'll be hearing from them. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, we're live in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): I'm George Howell from CNN's World Headquarters. NEWSROOM starts now.

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HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. A new report raises new questions about the U.S. president and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin zeroing in on the private conversations the two men had, a lot of what has been said remains between the two of them.

ALLEN: The latest reporting comes from "The Washington Post" which says Mr. Trump went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the details of his meetings with Mr. Putin.

That included on at least one occasion confiscating the notes from his interpreter and not allowing the interpreter to discuss the meetings with anyone else in the administration. The U.S. president calls the allegations ridiculous and adds he has not kept anything under wraps.

HOWELL: The U.S. president attacked the familiar foe "The New York Times." On Friday, the paper published an article alleging the FBI was so concerned about President Trump's actions following the firing of former FBI director James Comey that it opened an investigation into whether he was secretly working on behalf of Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?

DONALD TRUMP (R), 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)

HOWELL: Mr. Trump there speaking on an opinion show. He and his surrogates speaking much of the day on Saturday, defending against the articles.

ALLEN: CNN's Boris Sanchez has that part of the story for us from the White House.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump launched a barrage of tweets on Saturday morning, responding to reporting in "The New York Times" that shortly after he fired former FBI director James Comey, the FBI launched an investigation, a counter intelligence investigation, to find out whether President Trump had wittingly or unwittingly begun working for the Russian government potentially against American interests.

CNN has confirmed that that investigation was, in fact, opened. We should point out, the president tweeted this, quote, "Wow, just learning in the failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me for no reason and with no proof after I fired Lyin' James Comey, a total sleaze."

Now the president's own behavior after firing Comey is, according to "The New York Times," what set agents off and raised red flags into the president's behavior and led to the opening of this investigation.

Notably, one of those instances involved a letter that was drafted in May of 2017 before Comey was fired that listed the president's reasons for firing the now former FBI director. That letter was apparently blocked by former White House counsel Don McGahn, who threatened to resign if it was released.

We know that letter is now in the possession of special counsel Robert Mueller and is part of his inquiry into whether the president committed obstruction of justice by firing James Comey. Now others are coming to the defense of the president, including secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who, on a Sunday morning talk show, called the reporting in "The New York Times" ludicrous. Listen to this.

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MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to comment on "The New York Times" stories but I'll certainly say this. The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS HOST: Just clarify, since you were CIA director, did you have any idea that this investigation was happening?

POMPEO: Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, I've answered this question repeatedly indeed on your show, the idea that's contained in "The New York Times" story that President Trump was a threat to American national security is silly on its face and not worthy of a response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: The press secretary, Sarah Sanders, also weighed in late on Friday evening --

[04:05:00]

SANCHEZ: -- putting out a statement that called James Comey "a disgraced partisan hack" and also said that the reporting in "The New York Times" was absurd -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Steve Moore and Robert English. Steve, a CNN law enforcement contributor and retired supervisory special agent for the FBI and Robert, a Russia expert as the deputy director at the University of Southern California School of International Relations, both joining via Skype from Los Angeles.

Gentlemen, thank you for your time.

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Sure.

HOWELL: Robert, I'd like to start with you. This latest reporting that the U.S. president allegedly concealed details of his private meetings with Vladimir Putin, a claim that without question would be out of the ordinary for senior officials to not know what was said except for the president's interpreter, who he allegedly instructed not to discuss what was said.

What does that mean for national security, in your view, for everyone else who was apparently left out of the loop?

ROBERT ENGLISH, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Well, it is not absolutely unprecedented. And probably, listeners, our viewers know, for example, of what occurred under the presidency of Richard Nixon.

The extraordinary secrecy that he and Henry Kissinger went to conceal the preparation for the dramatic change in relations, the recognition of People's Republic of China. That was all kept secret for fear that, if it leaked, opponents would raise a hue and cry and undermine that initiative before it got off the ground.

Trump is no Nixon. And his team is not full of Kissingers. So while we have seen this kind of secrecy before, the difference here is that it is not in the interest of any evident, competent, well thought-out and important breakthrough in relations.

Instead, it is this fumbling around, mainly with Russia but not only, right?

So Trump has also tried to conceal the details of meetings with Mexican leaders, with others. Across the board he's seeking to avoid embarrassing leaks because there is so much that is embarrassing.

HOWELL: This is a president that puts a great deal of focus on leaks. He's frustrated with the fact that leaks do happen, coming out of Washington, D.C.

And, Steve, this plays right into the reporting from "The New York Times," just the other day that the FBI launched an investigation into the president because they were concerned that several of his actions could be construed as a national security risk.

What about private meetings?

Could that also be considered a threat?

HALL: Well, I have to agree with Professor English because I do believe that presidents have the latitude, obviously, to keep certain things secret. I mean, the other thing is I -- when I had interpreters, I would be very careful about what I would discuss in front of an interpreter.

However, if you are doing -- it really is -- what is your motive for hiding this?

And if it is just to hide leaks, I mean, that's what got the secretary of state in so much trouble trying to avoid things that could be accessed.

So yes, I think it is troublesome. The -- and it could cause the FBI to want to open an inquiry; was technically a preliminary inquiry according to "The Times" rather than a full fledged investigation.

HOWELL: Robert, there has always been the question who plays chess the best when it comes to Vladimir Putin. Mr. Putin himself known as a formidable adversary, who has had his wins and losses against previous U.S. presidents.

As for this president, apparently discarding the knowledge and experience of some of his best officials to instead prefer this one to one approach in dealing with Mr. Putin, does it leave Mr. Trump vulnerable to being manipulated in a meeting like that?

ENGLISH: Oh, it does. But then again, aware of Trump's weaknesses, his foibles, suspicious of collusion and all the rest, the potential vulnerability because of financial dealings, the Congress and the entire Washington establishment have taken extraordinary steps to limit Trump's powers to act on that and do anything that would damage U.S. national security, hence the increased sanctions, the constant scrutiny and this pushback.

So if Putin looked forward to a malleable American president in Trump, who would do his bidding, he got more -- he got too much of it. He got one so malleable, so suspicious, generating so much suspicion, that the rest of the establishment has pushed back and he hasn't been able to do anything.

HOWELL: Steve, this question to you, the simple headline in play with this investigation, questioning whether a U.S. president could somehow be working on behalf of Russia, to say that statement is profound to say the least if indeed proven to be true.

As an investigator yourself, how significant is it that's where we were, that this --

[04:10:00]

HOWELL: -- investigation was launched?

HALL: Well, it is profoundly important that the FBI would be concerned enough to want to look into the possibility. Yes, I think we have to measure this and realize what was open was a preliminary inquiry rather than a full investigation. There is a significant difference.

And the other thing we have to realize is that the only people in the FBI after Comey was fired who could have opened an investigation, an espionage investigation of the president of the United States, would have been the acting director and the deputy assistant director in charge of counterintelligence and that would have been Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok, who both have asterisks next to their name right now.

And so the one thing I want to ask, as an investigator, is what happened to the preliminary inquiry?

Because within six months, it either has to be closed or converted to a full investigation. And I'm very curious as to what became of the preliminary inquiry.

HOWELL: Steve Moore, Robert English, again, we appreciate your time and perspective today, thank you.

ENGLISH: Thanks.

ALLEN: Another story we're following, U.S. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo will meet with the Saudi crown prince on Sunday. He says he will address the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi with Mohammed bin Salman.

HOWELL: Khashoggi was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government. He was killed last October in the Saudi consulate in Turkey by men with close ties to the Saudi crown prince.

ALLEN: Our Ben Wedeman is covering the story for us, he joins me now live from Cairo.

And hello to you, Ben.

What is Mr. Pompeo expected to say in his meeting with the crown prince?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we believe that, Natalie, he will be addressing, for instance, the U.S. attempt to get its allies in the region to line up in this effort to confront what they claim is the growing Iranian footprint in the region.

We got a good sense of the tone that the secretary's going to take while in the kingdom during an interview with the Saudi-backed television station Al Arabiya, where he described Saudi Arabia as a great ally and partner of the United States.

Now in addition to Iran, what the United States is trying to do at the moment is organize a conference on Iran in Poland for the 13th and 14th of February. Obviously he's going to get the Saudis to sign up, attending that one as well.

Another project that the secretary is working on is this so-called MESA, the Middle East Strategic Alliance, an attempt to create an Arab NATO. That is something of a long shot, given the disunity among the Arab states.

All I have to do is look down the street from here and see the headquarters of the Arab League, which is a very good example of Arab disunity in action -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right. Back to Jamal Khashoggi for a moment. We know that this administration has stayed close to the crown prince over this story.

But what about the trial of those accused of killing him?

Turkey, of course, wanted that trial in Turkey.

Is Pompeo expected to address any of that?

WEDEMAN: Well, we did also get hints of that from his interview with Al Arabiya, where he said the United States expects that Saudi Arabia will hold those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

At the moment, well, on the 3rd of January, a trial began in Saudi Arabia of 11 individuals accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. They are apparently asking for the death sentence of five of them. But we don't know exactly who those 11 people are. We do know that there were 15 members of the Saudi hit team that went

to Istanbul on the 2nd of October and subsequently murdered and dismembered "The Washington Post" columnist.

Apparently among those are people who, as you mentioned, are closely affiliated with the Saudi crown prince. And the CIA itself said that there is a high probability that Mohammed bin Salman was the one who issued the order to kill Jamal Khashoggi.

Nonetheless, it has been made clear, for some time now, that as far as the Trump administration is concerned, Saudi arms purchases are far more important than the murder of Saudi citizens -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Ben Wedeman for us in Cairo, Ben, thank you.

HOWELL: The partial U.S. government --

[04:15:00]

HOWELL: -- shutdown showdown, politics for some but real for hundreds of thousands of others, including airport security agents, who protect passengers from all kinds of threats, now they feel insecure over the ongoing shutdown. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how long we are equipped for it. And being pregnant, I can't just go pick up a job.

HOWELL (voice-over): You heard that right. Here is the thing, she's 13 years on the job, pregnant and compelled to work without pay. The story ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Plus, the man accused of kidnapping 13-year-old Jayme Closs and killing her parents is in police custody. But a motive remains a mystery.

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ALLEN: A new week, the U.S. government shutdown and no end in sight. Got to feel for the workers and the services that are affected as well; 800,000 workers suddenly left without their regular paycheck since before Christmas.

HOWELL: Here is the thing, now this is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. And now a White House official confirms to CNN the administration's preparing for the shutdown to continue through --

[04:20:00]

HOWELL: -- February. That's more than six weeks from now.

ALLEN: On Saturday, President Trump tweeted that he had planned to reopen the government but he provided no details of what that might be. Let's take a look at some of the impacts the shutdown is having across the U.S.: 51,000 security screeners at airports are now working without pay. Many have been calling in sick.

This has been having a serious effect on air travel. The staffing shortage is so bad at the Miami airport, one of the concourses had to close.

HOWELL: In fact, that's the concourse I used, just a few days ago. Thousands of Border Patrol agents are also working but not getting paid. They operate at legal points of entry where smuggling is a chronic problem. Some agents even suing the Trump administration over their missing wages.

ALLEN: The safety of the nation's food supply also at risk. The shutdown has forced the Food and Drug Administration to stop some of its inspections, removing a critical line of defense in protecting the public's health. Every time there is a recall of a tainted food item in grocery stores, it is because of the FDA.

HOWELL: And some cherished national parks being ruined because employees have been furloughed like Joshua Tree National Park in California, has been plagued by trash, sewage, illegal off-road vehicles and illegal camping.

ALLEN: It is a national treasure and, get this, this is even more disgusting. Vandals chopped down one of the park's prized namesake trees because no one was there to stop them.

HOWELL: Wow.

Some airport security screeners should be getting a little money to tell you about. The government says it will pay them for one of the days of work, back when the shutdown first took effect. It also promised a $500 bonus to uniformed security employees who showed up for work during the holidays.

ALLEN: But it probably will not do much to relieve the strain and fear many of those families are now living through. For more about that, here is CNN's Dianne Gallagher.

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DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's Aria Smith-Phillips before- work morning routine.

ARIA SMITH-PHILLIPS, TSA WORKER: Coffee for my husband, fix my child's lunch, I have to get his backpack together.

GALLAGHER: Wrangling a 4-year old while six months pregnant, not easy. But working three weeks without pay with no end in sight...

SMITH-PHILLIPS: I'm not getting anything and I was expecting that.

GALLAGHER: -- makes it even harder.

SMITH-PHILLIPS: I grew up at TSA -- 13 years. 13 years -- it was 13 years on Monday.

GALLAGHER: Along with thousands of other Transportation Security Administration officers, Aria has been working throughout the partial government shutdown. But today is payday and her check isn't coming.

SMITH-PHILLIPS: Reality is the fear of not knowing when I'm going to receive that check. And then this is going to cause a ripple effect on our income here.

GALLAGHER: Aria says her husband's job helps to ease their financial burden, but that's not the case for many of her colleagues at the airport in Little Rock.

SMITH-PHILLIPS: We have a list of food pantries that you are able to contact.

GALLAGHER: And that has not always been up there.

SMITH-PHILLIPS: No. No.

GALLAGHER: And the longer the shutdown lasts, expenses like home repairs, stuff for the baby, daycare -- they become more difficult to swing.

SMITH-PHILLIPS: I can't tell the daycare worker, hey, I can't pay you. That's our biggest fear, the unknown. So I don't know how long we are equipped for it and being six months pregnant, I can't just go pick up a job.

GALLAGHER: A veteran officer, Aria doesn't want to find another job, saying she takes her mission seriously no matter what.

SMITH-PHILLIPS: I wouldn't clock in if I'm not going to give 100 percent. So I go in and I give 100 percent and not getting paid is really hard.

GALLAGHER: Especially she says when the president says this shutdown is all about national security.

SMITH-PHILLIPS: Shouldn't we be part of that partial shutdown, the one who receives pay?

I think we're pretty essential.

GALLAGHER: Does back pay help if it comes three months later?

SMITH-PHILLIPS: Back pay does not help if it comes three months later because I'm already three months behind. GALLAGHER: She's hoping the shutdown ends soon so she can spend her maternity leave bonding with her daughter instead of looking for a new job -- Diane Gallagher, Little Rock, Arkansas, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: The suggestion that you can call your creditors and say, hey, there is a shutdown, I'll pay you when I can, that doesn't work because you're 30 days late, you're 60 days late, that's what happens.

ALLEN: Yes. Going to keep compounding as well.

HOWELL: Yes.

Now an update to a story we brought you about an explosion at a bakery that rocked Paris on Saturday. At least three people died in --

[04:25:00]

HOWELL: -- that blast. Officials are blaming a natural gas leak. Two firefighters who rushed to the area when residents smelled the gas were among the killed. A Spanish citizen also died. Dozens more were injured.

ALLEN: Elsewhere in Paris, the number of Yellow Vest protesters rallying across France increased Saturday. Officials say 84,000 demonstrators marched nationwide, up from 50,000 last weekend.

The protests began two months ago to oppose higher fuel taxes but they're now broadly aimed at government policies. Police clashed with people protesting at times, they fired water cannon and tear gas at those who reportedly threw objects.

HOWELL: A Saudi teenager has a new home in Canada after fleeing her allegedly abusive family. Rahaf al-Qunun had tweeted that she feared that she was sent home -- that if she were sent home she would be killed for renouncing Islam.

ALLEN: Her pleas sparked attention across the world. On Saturday, the 18-year old was welcomed in Toronto by Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland after Canada granted her asylum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: It was Rahaf's choice to come out and say hello to Canadians. She wanted Canadians to see that she is here, that she's well and that she's very, very happy to be in her new home; although she did comment to me about the cold. I told her it does get warmer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: It does get warmer. Qunun arrived in Canada from Thailand, where the U.N. designated her a refugee a few days ago.

ALLEN: A historic government shutdown and new questions about Donald Trump's relationship with Russia. Next here, a look back at the past week and we'll speak with an expert, what we can expect in the week to come.

HOWELL: Plus, you're not seeing double, you're seeing 2020.

Which Castro brother wants to take on the U.S. president?

Ahead. Stay with us.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

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ALLEN: Kind of a showdown as well, because people are expressing their understandable frustration.

It is the start of a new week but the partial shutdown and bombshell headlines about the U.S. president will set the agenda. Here is how it played out last week.

On Monday, President Trump digs in on his threat to declare a national emergency, which would take money from disaster funds to build his border wall.

HOWELL: It is against this backdrop he addressed the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday. Despite the buildup, he stopped short of calling an emergency. Democratic leaders give their rebuttal immediately afterward.

ALLEN: On Wednesday, Mr. Trump again meets with congressional Republicans to shore up support for his border wall. But he storms out of a White House meeting with Democratic leaders after they refuse to back his demand for $5 billion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later says she thinks the White House meeting was a setup.

HOWELL: Then on Thursday, the U.S. president heads to the state of Texas, McAllen, to bolster his claim that there is a crisis there. McAllen, though, is considered one of the safest border cities in the country.

ALLEN: On Friday, President Trump holds a roundtable discussion at the White House to discuss border security but it is soon overshadowed by "The New York Times." It breaks the news that Mr. Trump was secretly under investigation by the FBI in 2017 for actions that may have benefited Russia.

HOWELL: Then Saturday, another bombshell report, "The Washington Post" reporting the U.S. president went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the details of his interactions with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

ALLEN: Let's get some perspective now. Scott Lucas is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, in England.

Scott, always good to see you.

Considering we just laid out the week, where do you want to start with this interview?

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, how do you deal with wave after wave that keeps crashing?

Let's pull it all together. Combine the government shutdown with the revelations about how deeply Donald Trump may have -- may have been tied to the Kremlin, Donald Trump in the eyes of many, is a threat to America.

That's not just me speaking, that's not just Democrats, we're talking about current and former U.S. officials, who now are looking at two converging stories. The first is this record-setting shutdown that Trump is determined to continue, as you just reported.

ALLEN: Right and now we have the -- of course, the story from "The New York Times" about the FBI -- oops. I think we lost Scott.

Scott, are you there?

LUCAS: I'm here. Hopefully we reconnected.

ALLEN: Sorry about that. Yes, we have this story from "The New York Times," you were addressing it but, of course, the White House says that is absurd. And they're really talking no more about it.

LUCAS: Well, of course, the White House would say that. You're not going to simply put your hands up and say, you're right, Donald Trump is an agent of the Kremlin.

But you'll notice that, last night, when he appeared on another channel, he did not deny the stories. He simply said he was insulted by them. You're talking about a story --

[04:35:00]

LUCAS: -- these two stories, first of all, that Donald Trump was under investigation by the FBI, on counterintelligence, not just criminal but counterintelligence matters. And then the story he's been withholding evidence from his officials, that it isn't coming from just former officials, there are current officials who are saying this.

And that's because U.S. agencies are now worried about Donald Trump being a threat. They, of course, are worried about the government shutdown, as you have been discussing but they are now worried that you have a president whose first priority has been, for whatever reason, personal, financial, political, his first priority is to protect his relationship with a foreign power.

And the reason why we're going to get more wave upon wave upon these stories is we're getting close now I think to Robert Mueller, special counsel, bringing in his findings. I think those findings will be very serious indeed.

I wouldn't dare to predict how far they go in terms of criminal activity but I think officials know that, with Mueller coming in, they're saying, OK, now is the time to prepare. Not just for what this may say about Donald Trump but about picking up the pieces after Donald Trump may be forced from office before the end of his first term.

ALLEN: Let's go back to the shutdown for a moment. He's adamant, he stormed out of the meeting, Pelosi said she thinks it is a setup. The Democrats seem to be stuck as well because they do not want or believe in this border wall.

Do you really believe they will keep this government shut down for the weeks we're hearing?

LUCAS: This isn't a two-sided issue. The Democrats are not stuck in the sense that they, along with many Republicans, have proposed additional money for effective border security. They presented this to Donald Trump just before the shutdown on December 21st, $1.3 billion for border security; he rejected it.

Last week, the House passed the bill with Republican support for $1.3 billion for border security; Mitch McConnell will not allow it to be discussed in the Senate because Donald Trump will reject it.

There is one person and one person only who is holding Americans hostage, including those 800,000 workers who are not being paid, including those millions who worry about tax refunds, worry about their forms, worry about their stocks, that one person who is maintaining the shutdown because he wants $5.7 billion for his vanity project is Donald Trump.

ALLEN: So what does he go from here on that, Scott?

LUCAS: He's in the bunker. He's in the bunker along with certain advisers like Stephen Miller and I think they decided they're not going to come out. They're going to dig in and somehow hope that they'll have this wave of support from Americans who will decide that all the damage is worth it if you have, quote, "the wall."

I think they're wrong. But until they come to that recognition or until perhaps more importantly Mitch McConnell stops protecting him and allows the Senate to also pass a bill to reopen the government, they'll stay in that bunker for weeks and even months.

ALLEN: We'll see what the effect that has on Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who continue to stay on the side of Donald Trump. Scott Lucas, we always appreciate your insight, thanks.

LUCAS: Thank you.

ALLEN: Well, speaking of others who would want to be president, it is official now, a young popular Texas Democrat is running for president but it is not who you might think. It's not Beto O'Rourke.

HOWELL: No, in this case, it is the former chief of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, who's announcing his White House bid. Our Dan Merica has more from San Antonio, Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Julian Castro announced his presidential campaign on Saturday, here in San Antonio, where he was born and raised, across the street from the church he was baptized in.

Castro has made his family's legacy and history here in the United States where his grandmother emigrated to the United States in 1922 after her parents were killed during the Mexico Revolution, a center point of his candidacy.

And he referenced his grandmother when he announced and made his campaign official. Take a listen to what he had to say.

JULIAN CASTRO (D-TEXAS), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When my grandmother got here almost 100 years ago, I'm sure that she never could have imagined that, just two generations later one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words, I am a candidate for President of the United States of America.

MERICA: Before Julian Castro even had a shot at President Trump, he's going to have to win the Democratic nomination and he admitted to me in an interview that that could be a long shot. He could have issues with money. He also may have issues resonating outside of places like San Antonio.

His campaign says he will travel to Iowa in the future and he will play across the country but that could be an issue. Another issue for him is the fact that Beto O'Rourke, the popular former congressman who ran for Senate unsuccessfully in 2018 but captured the imagination of Democrats, is considering a presidential run.

In an interview with CNN after he announced his campaign, Castro said that while he's not worried that --

[04:40:00]

MERICA: -- Beto O'Rourke could get into the race, he obviously would like him to stay on the sidelines.

CASTRO: Of course, I would rather be the only Democrat running from Texas. But, you know, I think that we're going to have a crowded primary. We don't know who is going to run. And so everybody is just going to have to go and put out their vision and go and do the hard work of campaigning and reaching voters.

MERICA: And now the real work begins for Julian Castro. On Sunday, he'll travel to Puerto Rico for his first post-announcement event, a Latino event, in Puerto Rico. He will then travel to New Hampshire, where he will meet and mingle with a number of top Democrats in the state. They, of course, have questions for him and he says he has answers to give them -- Dan America, CNN, San Antonio.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Dan, thanks.

Still ahead, the mystery surrounding the abduction of an American teenager, the suspect apparently never met Jayme Closs before but he's accused of kidnapping her and killing her parents.

ALLEN: Also, heavy snowfall has already buried a large part of the American Midwest and the deadly winter storm is now headed east. Derek Van Dam will have more about it.

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HOWELL: In Barron, Wisconsin, there is a great sense of relief now that Jayme Closs is free from her kidnapper and out of danger.

ALLEN: But serious questions remain about the 13-year old's abduction, the man accused of the crime and the motive. CNN's Ryan Young is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No matter where you turn in this community, everyone here was looking for Jayme Closs. In fact, that's the thing that people have been talking about.

How did this end this way?

How did a little girl end up getting away and escaping from her captor and making it to a road where she could find someone to help her?

That's the big story right now. Even when the sheriff had his news conference, there were people from the community who decided to come in and hear for themselves. But the next part about this is the investigation.

[04:45:00]

YOUNG: Why did Jake Patterson pick that home?

That is something the sheriff and investigators are still working on. The sheriff did detail to us that they believe Jake Patterson used a shotgun to blow open the front door and then go inside and murder Jayme Closs' parents before kidnapping her.

He also told us the detail about, they believe the 21-year-old man shaved his head so he would not leave any DNA evidence behind. In fact, listen to the sheriff talk about the next steps and this investigation.

CHRIS FITZGERALD, SHERIFF, BARRON COUNTY: Right now we're looking for 88 days of evidence. So we're looking for receipts, where the suspect may have been over the last 88 days, did he take things with her, did she go with him to the store, did he buy clothes for her, did he buy food?

Timeframe, so we can gather any other video evidence.

YOUNG: So you heard the sheriff say there is more work to be done. Especially at this house and around this community, people are smiling. In fact, we talked to the aunts of this young lady, they say they could not wait to get their arms around this young lady.

This story will be remembered for quite some time, especially here where people were putting their hearts into trying to find Jayme Closs, someone everyone considers a survivor -- reporting in Barron County, Wisconsin, Ryan Young, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: She certainly is.

Well, a deadly winter storm is moving across the United States.

HOWELL: Especially affecting people in the state of Missouri, killing four people and stranding many other motorists. The storm dropped 12 inches, about 30 centimeters of snow on the city of St. Louis. Look at that. It is now heading east toward Washington, D.C., and the mid- Atlantic region. Let's get more information about what's happening, all the snow that's coming.

(WEATHER REPORT)

ALLEN: A medical miracle in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An Ebola survivor beats the odds and gives birth to a healthy baby girl. A story of hope and survival coming next.

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[04:50:00]

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ALLEN: Welcome back. Against all odds, an Ebola survivor in Congo has given birth to a healthy and Ebola free baby girl.

HOWELL: The delivery is being called a medical miracle. Our Pauline Chiou has this story.

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PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baby Sylvana is barely a week old but she is a survivor. She was born in an Ebola treatment center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sylvana's mother was infected with the deadly disease while pregnant and came to the clinic in December for treatment.

The survival rate for pregnant women infected with Ebola is extremely low and even worse for their babies. Sylvana's mother says it is a miracle they both survived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I thank God for allowing me to have a safe birth. Now I'm recovered. I do not have any diseases and the baby was born healthy.

CHIOU (voice-over): This latest outbreak of Ebola began six months ago and has killed nearly 400 people, almost two-thirds of those infected. So doctors say the baby's birth on top of her mother's recovery is against the odds.

SUSAN MCCLELLAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: This was something that was close to unheard of in the last epidemic and so that was really something exciting to see a woman give birth to a child after it appears she survived Ebola.

CHIOU (voice-over): For now, baby Sylvana is healthy and shows no signs of Ebola. But the treatment center says they will closely monitor the infant until the 21-day incubation period for --

[04:55:00]

CHIOU (voice-over): -- the virus is over.

DR. JUNIOR IKOMO, EBOLA TREATMENT CENTER (through translator): We did a sample on the newborn, we took a sample of the woman who gave birth and we took a sample from the amniotic fluid, which made us fear a process of release of the virus and after testing the result, it did indeed come back negative.

CHIOU (voice-over): Doctors say they hope Sylvana stays as she is now, swaddled in pink and safe in her mother's arms, a tiny glimmer of hope in the fight against a deadly disease -- Pauline Chiou, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: It was an incredible opening night for actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of "Hamilton."

ALLEN: That had to be great for him. They received a standing ovation in Puerto Rico on Friday as they kicked off a 23-performance run of the hit Broadway musical. The show is raising money for arts programs in the U.S. territory, which is struggling, of course, after two devastating hurricanes a year and a half ago. This was particularly emotional for Miranda. He reprised the role he created, the U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton on the island where his own father was born. Listen.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, CREATOR, "HAMILTON": People are going to come to Puerto Rico because of "Hamilton" and hopefully spend a lot of money here, eating cuchifritos and leave their hotels and actually spend money at small businesses on the island. At least, that is my hope. That's what I've been pushing.

But they're also going to see blue tarps and they're also going to see how much work is left to be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: The benefit is already a huge success. Tickets have sold fast and range from $10 to $5,000.

Is he not only talented but such a good person?

HOWELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so great to see in Puerto Rico.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely.

Thanks for being with us this hour. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. Let's do it again. Another hour of news right after the break. Stay with us.