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BuzzFeed: Trump Directed Cohen to Lie about Moscow Tower Project; Trump Denies Pelosi CODEL Use of Military Plane; U.S.-Backed Syrian Forces Vow to Drive out ISIS; British Prime Minister Tries for Plan B; Britain's Prince Philip in Car Crash. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired January 18, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. Just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM:

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CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These roads are still dangerous, especially early in the morning because there are ISIS sleeper cells in the area. They come out overnight and they plant roadside bombs.

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ALLEN (voice-over): CNN takes you to the front lines in the battle against ISIS in Syria.

Also from Washington, a bombshell report that alleges the U.S. president directed his former fixer to lie to Congress.

And we're also live on the English countryside, where 97-year-old Prince Philip is said to be doing just fine after the car he was driving crashed.

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ALLEN: We begin with major breaking news in the Russia investigation. BuzzFeed news reports Donald Trump directed his long-time attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The new site BuzzFeed cites two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. CNN has not independently verified the report. For more now, here's our Sara Murray.

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SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a wild story because you know, if this is accurate and as you pointed out, CNN has not independently confirmed it, it's an indication that the president was in fact trying to obstruct justice. Now the way that BuzzFeed has put it, they cited two federal law enforcement officials to say that President Trump directed Michael Cohen. It basically says the discussions about the Trump Tower Moscow project ended earlier that they did. So it wouldn't look like Donald Trump was trying to negotiate this project while he was the GOP nominee in 2016.

Now the story also sites this line. It says, "The special counsel's office learned about Trump's directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company e-mails, text messages and the case of other documents."

And you can bet if the special counsel is planning on relying on this, if this is true, they would have to have documents to back it up because everyone knows at this point that Michael Cohen is a witness with a lot of problems.

He is a guy who has already pled guilty to lying before Congress who's shown he's been willing to make things up to protect the president. And so, in this case, you know, could certainly be making things up to protect himself if, in fact, this is somehow traced back to him.

We don't have these documents that can corroborate these conversations at this point. What we do though have tonight is a comment from Rudy Giuliani to CNN and other outlets.

It says, "If you believe Cohen, I can get you a good deal on the Brooklyn Bridge."

And I think this is what we're going to see from the president's legal team, essentially saying that Cohen is a liar and you can't believe anything.

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ALLEN: CNN's Sara Murray reporting there from Washington.

Democrats in Congress already reacting, saying if the president did direct Cohen to lie to Congress, that is obstruction of justice.

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff tweeted this, "The allegation that the president of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what is necessary to find out if it's true."

Democratic congressman Joaquin Castro also serves on the Intelligence Committee and takes it a step further, tweeting, "If the BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached."

Joining me now from Los Angeles, Ron Brownstein, senior political analyst for CNN and senior editor for "The Atlantic" and from New York, Josh Campbell, a CNN law enforcement analyst and a former FBI supervisory special agent. Thank you gentlemen for being with us.

With this explosive story by BuzzFeed, it's a federal crime to instruct someone to lie to Congress and that's what the story alleges that Mr. Trump instructed his lawyer, Mr. Cohen.

If true, how serious is this for the president?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Enormous. This has been incorporated into previous articles of impeachment, the idea of suborning witnesses to lie to Congress and I think this would significantly change the calculus.

Democratic leaders in the House, as you know, they have not been enthusiastic about going down the road of impeachment, in part because they don't believe there will ever be 20 Senate Republicans that will vote to remove him from office.

But certainly, if this allegation, as BuzzFeed reports, it is borne out and ultimately this is what the special counsel alleges to Congress in his report, the pressure will be enormous on Congress to act, on the House to act.

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ALLEN: Josh, also to you, if true, would it indicate the president obstructed justice?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, it certainly looks that way. And I'm with Ron and, as you mentioned earlier, this is highly explosive because, up to this point, we have seen a number of allegations of illegality and criminality by people that are in Donald Trump's orbit.

We've seen Robert Mueller with his indictments, basically taking a lot of people off the deck.

But again, the question was, what did the president do?

What was his actual involvement?

And what's really striking is we saw, just in the last day, the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, really come out and take on this narrative of Russian collusion and say, we can't talk about what other people in the campaign may have done but we know that the president didn't do anything wrong.

This is completely different. These allegations are that the president of the United States directed his lawyer, his long time fixer, to lie to the legislative body that was conducting an investigation, which, as you mentioned, is a crime.

It's a crime not only to lie to Congress but it's a crime to have suborn perjury and have someone else lie to Congress.

The question will be, you mentioned earlier, the statements that have come out from members of Congress, how far will they take it?

Is this something that they are willing to look at, once Robert Mueller comes out with his report, and say this rises to the level of high crime and misdemeanor and now we're going to remove the president from office?

We'll have to wait and see. But highly explosive reporting from BuzzFeed.

ALLEN: Let's emphasize one part of this that we heard from Sara Murray. The special counsel's office learned about Mr. Trump's directive for Cohen allegedly to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages and a cache of other documents. So this isn't just coming from Mr. Cohen, it seems.

To you, how significant would that be?

BROWNSTEIN: I think you've seized on the most important part of the reporting. It reminds me of the language in the sentencing document from the Southern District of New York, when Michael Cohen was sentenced for his role in the hush money payments.

And the language was the same, that they verified the existence of this conspiracy and these payments, the involvement of the "National Enquirer," and then Mr. Cohen confirmed it. They went out of their way to indicate that he was not the original source for their conclusion and, if, in fact, the BuzzFeed reporting is accurate, they're making that point to Sara Murray's important point from earlier.

They are not hanging this fundamentally on the credibility of Michael Cohen but instead using him as a corroborating witness for documentary evidence that this report alleges they have collected.

CAMPBELL: I would just add to that, these text messages, emails are going to be so key because if you look at what we're dealing with here, at the end of the day, you have two people that lie. You have Michael Cohen, who has admitted to lying; you have the president of the United States, who lies multiple times daily.

Si if it's a he said/he said, well, the president told me to do this; no, he didn't, it's going to come back to that corroborating information.

Where are the receipts?

What do the emails and text messages say?

Does it say the boss told me to do X, Y and Z?

Do we see actual further indication that the president was even more involved in directing this?

It's all going to come down to that. Otherwise, it's just a he said/he said. ALLEN: Right. And Mr. Trump also stated explicitly to the American people that he had no dealing with Russia, wasn't doing any business with Russia and now this. It even implies that Cohen was reporting to Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. on possible developments with the Russia project.

So it's going deeper and deeper.

And what's next, perhaps for President Trump here?

BROWNSTEIN: All of this is against the backdrop of the government shutdown, which is really just the first skirmish between the president and a Democratic controlled House. We have seen four polls in the last week with his approval rating back under 40 percent. Significant majorities of the country blaming him for the shutdown.

And yet Republicans being willing to walk down this plank with him in Congress and then Rudy Giuliani moving the goalpost on collusion, saying well, maybe if somebody did collude, it wasn't the president colluding with the Russians in 2016.

So from a variety of fronts, the legal front, the political front, more pressure. And I think what we've seen from the president is, when he is under more pressure, his own behavior becomes more extreme.

So I think we're headed for a period in which he will face more challenges and he will create more challenges for the stability of the American political system.

ALLEN: Ron Brownstein, Josh Campbell, we appreciate your insights, thank you.

CAMPBELL: Thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

ALLEN: As all of this unfolds, the political battle over the U.S. government shutdown is getting even uglier. President Trump is refusing to let a group of lawmakers led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to use military plane for a trip overseas.

The White House says it has also --

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ALLEN: -- cancelled its own delegation's trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. CNN's Jim Acosta is on this story.

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With hundreds of thousands of federal employees working without being paid, the government shutdown has become a schoolyard brawl.

One day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the president to delay his State of the Union speech due to the shutdown, Mr. Trump fired back, telling Pelosi in a letter that he was blocking her use of military aircraft for a congressional trip to Afghanistan just before her departure.

The president's word came down as buses were standing by at the Capitol.

The president told Pelosi in his letter, "Due to the shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule the seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over. If you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative."

Mr. Trump seemed to indicate in a speech at the Pentagon that Pelosi is getting under his skin.

TRUMP: While many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to make a deal, Speaker Pelosi will not let them negotiate. The party has been hijacked by the open borders fringe within the party. The radical left becoming the radical Democrats.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'm not for a wall. I'm not for a wall.

ACOSTA: When Pelosi defended her decision to all but disinvite Mr. Trump from the State of the Union, she took a swipe at the president.

PELOSI: I'm not denying him a platform at all. I'm saying let's get a date when government is open. Let's pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it's OK not to pay people who do work. I don't. And my caucus doesn't, either.

ACOSTA: A Trump adviser described the battle between the president and Pelosi as King Kong versus Godzilla.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is playing referee, calling the president's move inappropriate, adding, "One sophomoric response does not deserve another."

Another question for the White House is how Mr. Trump could reveal an upcoming congressional trip to Afghanistan when the details of those kinds of visits are typically closely guarded for security reasons.

The shutdown antics in Washington are overshadowing a disturbing report from a government watchdog that found the Trump administration has lost count of how many migrant children were separated from their parents under the president's zero tolerance policy.

The report says the total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown.

Thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017 before the accounting required by the court. And HHS has faced challenges in identifying separated children.

REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (R), PENNSYLVANIA: It's remarkably cruel. It's far more expensive. And I do wonder, once this whole period is behind us, how many children will actually go, never reunited with their parents.

It is -- I never imagined in my lifetime I would ever see a government of the United States enact such a policy. And, sadly, I'm not surprised that the numbers were even greater than originally reported.

ACOSTA: A source for the House Speaker described Pelosi's trip as primarily a visit to Afghanistan to meet with American troops with a pitstop in Brussels, where she and other lawmakers were scheduled to meet with U.S. military commanders.

In his letter to Pelosi, the president called her trip to Afghanistan "a public relations event," even though he just met with U.S. troops in Iraq -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

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ALLEN: The U.S. says ISIS carried out a deadly suicide attack in Syria that killed four Americans, including two U.S. service members. Three other U.S. service members were wounded. It shows that ISIS is still lethal, despite President Trump's recent claim it had been defeated; 14 people died in the blast on Wednesday. A U.S. official tells CNN the suicide bomber belonged to an ISIS sleeper cell.

In the aftermath of the attack, Syrian fighters backed by the U.S. vowed to step up their military operations against the remaining ISIS strongholds. Our Clarissa Ward made this dangerous journey to the front lines.

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WARD (voice-over): The battle against ISIS is still raging as the U.S. allied Syrian Democratic Forces, known as SDF, push in on the last sliver of territory under the militants' control.

Here the fighters prepare to move into the village of Sha'fa. Flares turn the dark night into day. Coalition aircraft circle overhead, providing crushing air power.

By daylight, they push further in. This is where ISIS ends, SDF commander Simko Shikaki tells his men. Moments later, panic breaks out. ISIS has launched a counterattack. The SDF fire back and Sha'fa is quickly liberated.

We travel to the front line as they approach the next --

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WARD (voice-over): -- village. Our escorts insist on taking an armored vehicle, even liberated territory is far from secure.

These roads are still dangerous, especially early in the morning because there are ISIS sleeper cells in the area. They come out overnight and they plant roadside bombs.

We stop at a house that the SDF took from ISIS just days earlier. Mortars are fired off at militant positions. Commander Shikaki takes us up on to the roof to show us the front line.

So the next village over, Sousa, is where the front line is now and they're hoping that they'll be able to liberate that by tomorrow.

American forces provide assistance from just a few hundred yards away. The commander warns the battle is not over.

"The pressure we had militarily is ending," he says, "but the fundamental war is eradicating the ideology of ISIS."

That will be a much tougher fight to win. Support for ISIS still lingers here. On the way back, we pass through another recently liberated area.

This is what is left now of the town of Hajin. You can see it's basically been completely obliterated. And to many of the people living in areas like this and others, this is what liberation looks like, miles and miles of rubble.

Many here fear that buried in the destruction, the seeds are being sown for another war -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, Sha'fa, Syria.

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ALLEN: New developments in another apparent suicide attack, this one in Colombia. A car bomb exploded outside a police academy in Bogota Thursday. Reuters reports at least 21 people were killed, dozens more wounded.

Police say the driver drove at full speed through the building grounds, ignoring calls to stop. A high-ranking official tells CNN, the blast appeared to be a suicide attack. Colombia's president condemned the incident as terrorism.

Prince Philip's family breathing a sigh of relief. He is safe and unhurt after a car crash. More details about that coming up with a live report from the scene.

Also more penalties could be on the horizon for Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Details on the harsh action the U.S. and Germany are considering.

Ahead here, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: Welcome back.

British prime minister Theresa May is finally reaching out to opposition leaders to talk about a plan B for Brexit. It's the first time she has started to hold cross-party talks about that issue but not so far with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But it's only come after her proposed deal suffered a crushing defeat in Parliament earlier this week and after she narrowly survived a vote of no confidence. Lawmakers will debate the next steps and vote on the new plan January 29th. For the latest from London, here's Nina dos Santos.

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NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: It's been more than 24 hours since Theresa May won that vote of confidence in her government's leadership and she has been spending the time in between, reaching out to members of all sides of the political spectrum, all different parties, to try to find some way through this Brexit impasse.

Mainly to find a solution to the current predicament that could command a majority in the House of Parliament. But without the largest opposition party, the Labour Party, on board, it's unlikely that the deadlock is going to be broken anytime soon.

The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, gave a fiery speech in the south of England, calling her attempts to reach out a mere political stunt and said, unless she takes a no deal Brexit off the table, he will not be turning up to speak to her just yet.

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JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: If the prime minister actually concedes that a no deal Brexit is actually the most dangerous and very damaging thing to our country and our society, so I say to the prime minister, again, she may even be with us, Prime Minister, simply do this. Take it off the table. Take it off the table now so we can go forward in a sensible way.

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DOS SANTOS: Well, in response, Theresa May wrote back to the leader of the opposition, saying that it was not within the government's ability to adhere to any preconditions, such as, for instance, taking Brexit off of the table.

So calls have grown, particularly in the business community, for a second referendum, with 170 business leaders, high profile ones in the U.K. representing hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of annual economic output for this country, saying that they think the British people should have a second say on E.U. membership.

Now the government has published a short, informative paper on how long it would take to hold a second referendum and said it could take well over a year. That means that even if the country does extend Article 50, it's not certain as to whether or not there would be enough time to hold a second vote even though Number 10 still remains against some of these options -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, outside Number 10 Downing Street in London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Meanwhile, France is getting ready for a worst-case scenario, a no deal Brexit. The French prime minister says that's because it's looking more likely than ever.

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EDOUARD PHILIPPE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We have been preparing this plan since April 2018. All the various administrations were tasked in their fields to work together on the measures that would have to be adapted in order to be able to face what was then a hypothesis for which we had to prepare.

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ALLEN: France is considering investing tens of millions of euros in ports and airports if a hard Brexit happens. The country is also opening hundreds of jobs, including customs officers and veterinary inspectors.

Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip was in a car crash Thursday. Police say he was not injured -- after that right there. It's amazing. But the driver and passenger in the other car were treated for injuries at a nearby hospital.

Palace officials say the 97-year-old Duke of Edinburgh was driving a Range Rover when the crash happened. Anna Stewart is Sandringham, where the queen and duke are staying. They have been there since Christmas.

You're there at the scene, Anna.

How did this happen and what is the scene like now?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a really serious car crash. You can see those images there. Prince Philip's car appears to have actually been overturned on its side, an absolute miracle that he wasn't badly injured.

As you said, the palace confirmed that he sustained no major injuries and he has a clean bill of health and the other people in the other vehicle have had minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital.

The Sandringham estate where they're staying is just over here and this is a junction onto a very busy main road. The collision happened just before 3:00 pm in the afternoon and, although emergency services were very quick to respond and the cars have since been towed away, you can see some of the debris here. Lots of broken glass, --

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STEWART: -- broken plastic. You can see a wing mirror here with the Land Rover. So still a lot of detritus here.

And what is really quite extraordinary to consider is a Land Rover is an incredibly heavy car. So quite phenomenal for it to have turned over as it did and so miraculous that Prince Philip is OK. He's 97 years old.

This has brought up many questions as to whether a 97-year old should be driving on public main roads. The palace confirmed to us, he does have a driving license. It's renewed every three years in line with British laws and regulations.

But there are many concerns over his health generally. We don't see him as much as we used to. He retired from public life in 2017 and he wasn't seen at Sandringham here at Christmas, when the royals all get together and go to church. Some people are questioning whether he is a bit unwell. But hopefully he's OK after this very traumatic experience.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Some witnesses said he was quite shaken afterward. It's really remarkable that he wasn't hurt. We're so glad that he wasn't. Anna Stewart for us there at the scene. Thanks so much.

Well, U.S. prosecutors may be working on a criminal investigation into Chinese telecom firm Huawei. "The Wall Street Journal" reports investigators are looking into whether Huawei stole trade secrets from U.S. business partners. CNN's Cristina Alesci has details.

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CRISTINA ALESCI, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Tensions are already high between the U.S. and China and this investigation has the potential to escalate that conflict. Now some background on the actual investigation, a civil lawsuit caught the attention of federal prosecutors.

That suit alleged Huawei stole technology that T-mobile was using to test mobile phones. That was a private dispute between parties. But now the U.S. government is getting involved and investigating Huawei, which is a darling of the Chinese economy and the world's largest maker of telecom equipment.

The U.S. has long been suspicious of Huawei and some lawmakers allege the Chinese government uses Huawei devices to spy on Americans. The company denies it but the U.S. has blocked the government and government contractors from using some of Huawei's technology.

Additionally, lawmakers here introduced a bill to impose more restrictions on the company.

One lawmaker said the following, "Huawei is effectively an intelligence gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party, whose founder and CEO was an engineer for the People's Liberation Army."

Now one potentially positive development, reports emerged late today that the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is floating whether to lift tariffs that could benefit trade talks between China and the U.S.

Now in response to the report, a Treasury spokesperson told me that trade officials haven't made any decision and the process is nowhere near complete. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: We'll have a live report on this story in our next hour. CNN's Cristina Alesci there. Again, we'll be live in Beijing for more on this investigation.

North Korea's top envoy is back in Washington. He is said to be carrying another letter to President Trump from Kim Jong-un.

Is it a precursor to a second Trump-Kim summit?

We'll have that story and a live report for you.

And anger in Zimbabwe as rising fuel prices spark protests and a deadly crackdown.

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[00:30:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And welcome back, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Atlanta. Let's update you on our top news this hour. BuzzFeed News reports that Donald Trump directed his long-time Attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

CNN has not corroborated the report, which comes from two sources familiar with the investigation, according to BuzzFeed. Democrats say, if true, it's clearly obstruction of justice.

Meantime, Mr. Trump is refusing to let House Speaker Nancy Pelosi use a military plane for a trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It comes one day after she asked the President to delay his State of the Union Speech, because of the government shutdown.

In Columbia, officials say a car bomb outside a police academy has killed at least 11 people and wounded dozens more. A high-ranking official tell CNN the blast appeared to be a suicide attack. Columbia's President has condemned it as terrorism.

North Korea's top negotiator is in Washington. Kim Yong-chol is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and could also meet with President Trump. This, ahead of a possible second summit between Mr. Trump and the North Korean leader, this comes hours after President Trump rolled out a new missile defense strategy and a Pentagon report that says North Korea is still an extraordinary threat.

Our Paula Hancocks is watching it all from Seoul, for us. Paula, the last time Kim Yong-chol travelled to Washington, he did bring a letter from Kim Jong-un for President Trump. What do we know about this visit?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, we're expecting something very similar. We're really following a pattern that we saw last year, ahead of that first U.S.-North Korea Summit. We saw Kim Jong-un going to China to meet with Xi Jinping. We then, saw Kim Yong-chol, his top nuclear negotiator, coming to the United States, meeting with Secretary Pompeo, and also at that time, U.S. President Trump. And then, after that, the location, the date for the summit was set and it went ahead as planned. This seems to be following the same kind of pattern.

So we are expecting Kim Yong-chol to come with a message from the North Korean leader Kim Jong -un. We know that letters have been passing between the two leaders over recent weeks. It is interesting, though, with the timing, you've mentioned there, Natalie, the fact that this did come just hours after Trump rolled out this missile defense strategy.

It's the missile defense review from the Pentagon, which explicitly states that North Korea is still an extraordinary threat to the United States. Now, this is in -- this is consistent with what U.S. military and intelligence assessments have been saying all along, but it's not consistent with what the U.S. President has been saying.

Mr. Trump has said that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. He said that after touching down in the U.S., after the last year's summit in June, in Singapore. So, clearly, the timing of this is interesting, Natalie.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely. And then the Vice President has said this week that North Korea is not making the moves that they expected from the country. So, any more information on a possible summit, again, between the U.S.-North Korea to get things back on track, to at least where the United States thought they were?

HANCOCKS: Well, we're deep into the speculation phase, again, of location and timing. Hanoi, Vietnam appears to the frontrunner from different reports, from different sources. Bangkok, Thailand has not been ruled out. February is potentially a time after the Lunar New Year, but none of these has been corroborated by the White House at this point.

And it's not actually clear if North Korea has agreed to any of those locations. We do expect to have some more indication once Kim Yong- chol has met with Secretary Pompeo, presumably, with the U.S. President as well, although, that meeting is not confirmed at this point. But we would imagine that over this weekend, we'll have more clarification on that.

ALLEN: All right. Paula Hancocks, as always, thank you.

[00:35: 04] We turn now to a crisis in Zimbabwe, after the government doubled the price of petrol, making it the most expensive gasoline in the world. It was hoped that would lower demand and ease the fuel shortage, but all it did was spark protests and a deadly crackdown. For more, here's CNN's Robyn Curnow.

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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Burning tires, barricading roads, the capital city is being brought to a standstill. Anger spilled on to the streets of Zimbabwe, and days of violent protests, after fuel prices more than doubled overnight. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Someone just wakes up and

decides to increase the fuel price? We are demanding that the price be reduced.

CURNOW: In a televised weekend address, the president announced a massive spike in the cost of petrol. Suddenly, an impoverished Zimbabwe became the most expensive country in the world to fill up a car. The outrage that ensued has been met with a swift and deadly crackdown.

Human rights watched as security forces have killed several protesters since Monday. Access to the internet and social media was shut down across the country, for days. Schools have reportedly been detained in Zimbabwe's capital. And some have described being targeted at random in their own home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Soldiers broke into our house in the middle of the night, destroying property in the process. They took turns to beat us and our room was full of blood.

CURNOW: Officials also arrested pastor and prominent activist, Evan Mawarire.

BEATRICE MTETWA, LAWYER OF ACTIVIST EVAN MAWARIRE: They're alleging that he has incited violence. We asked how asking for people to stay away, can constitute incitement to violence. But, of course, this is a new dispensation time.

CURNOW: Mawarire was a critic of former president Robert Mugabe, and began a movement against his government in 2016. It led to celebrate when Mugabe finally stepped down in August, after 37 years in power. Mugabe's successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, took over with promises to help stabilize the economy. And now, Zimbabwe is in its worst economic crisis in years.

Millions live in extreme poverty and unemployment rate is staggeringly high. Food, medicine, and other staples are increasingly scarce. Raising fuel prices was meant, in part, to help with ongoing petrol shortages, which left drivers, spending hours, and sometimes, days, in line for gas, which was priced in a way that was also running state coffers dry.

Mnangagwa called for calm, in a Facebook post from Moscow, who is hoping to get Russian assistance. And as he says resolving Zimbabwe's economic challenges is a monumental task, but at home, citizens grow more impatient with daily hardships that don't seem to be getting any easier.

Robyn Curnow, CNN.

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ALLEN: It is considered a fun tradition for some, but a case of animal abuse for others. Still ahead here, we'll tell you about a centuries old Spanish festival, involving horses and fire.

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ALLEN: Well, the first plant to grow on the moon has died. Chinese scientists say the cotton seedling apparently succumbed after conditions inside its protective container got too hot and erratic, so the experiment had to be shut down. The seedling was on the probe trying to land it on the far side of the frigid lunar surface this month. Also believed dead, another seeds and fruit fly eggs, scientists were hoping to hatch. Well, try again.

Well, it began 500 years ago, as a ritual, to avoid death and disease, now a horse festival has become a huge party for villagers outside Madrid. But, rights groups are concerned about the treatment of the animals who are forced to trot through piles of burning branches. Our Cyril Vanier has the story.

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[00:40:05] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: For one night, every January, fire banishes the darkness of winter and the clutter of horses' hooves echoes through the Spanish village, northwest of Madrid. Locals say the event dates back five centuries to a time when church rituals used smoke in an attempt to ward off the threat of the plague.

In honor of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of animals, they celebrate the Luminarias Festival.

JOSE ANTONIO COSTUMERO, FESTIVAL ASSISTANT (through translator): It's the tradition here, that what the smoke does is heal the horses, and the rest of the animals, for the rest of the year. That's the tradition. And then also to have fun, to eat steaks, have a good wine and spend time with good friends.

PEDRO MARTIN MUNOZ, ORGANIZER, 2019 FESTIVAL (through translator): For us to ride in Las Luminarias is a magical night. You can't explain how it feels. It's a great satisfaction.

VANIER: In recent years, Animal Rights Groups have objected to the festival. They say that making horses trot through flames because of an ancient superstition is cruel. However, the organizers say that veterinarians have examined the horses after the event and found no injuries.

JESUS HERNANDEZ, FESTIVAL HORSE RIDER: After running, a vet comes over to see if he's burned. And look, nothing is burned, whatsoever. The horse hair and the tail are tied up. They start sweating and because of the sweat, the hair gets damp, and so they don't burn at all.

VANIER: In by gone days piles of pine and scrub branches would be carried by donkey and collected into small heaps to set on fire. But now, large amounts arrive by truck. Some locals say the piles are too high. Nevertheless, many see the festival as an important fixture in village life.

SONSOLES HERNANDEZ, FESTIVAL HORSE RIDER: For me, it is very special, because since I was a child, my dad brought me here. You have to live it.

VANIER: So, for this year, at least, a traditional going back hundreds of years, has been marked one more time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Cyril Vanier reporting there. OK, listen up, if you want to improve your health, an international team of scientists has developed a diet, it says can improve health, while insuring sustainable food production to reduce further damage to the planet. It's called the planetary health diet, and it drastically changes the makeup of the typical western diet.

Here's the details, vegetables and whole grains, feature heavily, but take a look at that tiny orange sliver, beef, lamb, and pork protein, make up the tiniest fraction of the recommended daily food intake, by weight, just 14 grams. To put that into perspective, that's only around a sixth of a sausage or an eight of a 110-gram hamburger.

For poultry, eggs, seafood and plant protein, the allowance is quite generous. You could have the equivalent of four eggs or round of fillet, and a quarter of fish or chicken. For starchy vegetables, you'd be limited to a third of a baked potato, or a round half of a medium portion of fries. And for sugar, 31 grams is what you get from drinking nine-tenths of a soda.

Of course, all of these, around sustainable foods, and the word is, if we all eat less meat, it will certainly help the environment. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. I'll see you back here, in 15 minutes.

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