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Trump Told Cohen to Lie to Congress; Rudy Giuliani's Claim that Trump Did Not Collude with Russia; President Trump Not Allowing Pelosi to Use a Military Plane to Afghanistan; Prince Philip in a Car Crash; Theresa May Holding Cross-Party Talks; U.S. Allies to Push ISIS One Town at a Time; Kim's Envoy Arrives in D.C. as Pentagon States 'Extraordinary Threat' Posed By North Korea; Demonstrations Against Prime Minister Orban Continue; Turkish Media: Intl. Arrest Warrant Issued For Kanter. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 18, 2019 - 02:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A stunning new report says the U.S. President told his former fixer to lie to Congress about a proposed project in Moscow. It is a big story. We're on it. We have the latest for you.

An ugly shutdown fight gets even worse. The House speaker said the president should postpone his State of the Union speech, so he canceled her trip to a warzone.

And Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip is unhurt, this after a being involved in a car crash in the queen's Sandringham estate.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers all over the world. I am George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts now.

At 2:00 a.m. here on the U.S. East Coast, we start with this major breaking news we're following in the Russia investigation. BuzzFeed News reporting Donald Trump directed his long-time attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about negotiations to build the Trump Tower in Moscow.

BuzzFeed citing two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. CNN has not independently verified the report.

Our Sara Murray has the latest for you.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a wild story Because, you know, if this is accurate, and as you pointed out and CNN hasn't independently confirmed it, it is 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 to basically say the discussions about the Trump Tower Moscow project ended earlier than 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 cites 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 a case of other documents.

And you can bet if the Special Counsel is planning on relying on this. If this 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's a guy who has already pled guilty to lying before Congress. He's shown he's being 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 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.


HOWELL: Sara, thank you again from Washington. Congressional Democrats are already reacting to this, saying that if the President did direct Cohen to lie to Congress, that that is obstruction of justice.

This from the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, tweeting this, the allegation the President of the United States may have suborn 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. He goes on to say, we will do what's necessary to find out if it's true.

And then this from the Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, tweeting, if true, and proof must be examined. Congress must begin impeachment proceedings and attorney general nominee, William Barr, must refer at a minimum the relevant portion of the material discovered by Mueller. This is a potential inflection point.

CNN's Senior Political Analyst Rod Brownstein says that if these new allegations can be proven, Democrats are much more likely to consider impeaching the President.


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is incorporated in previous articles of impeachment, the idea of suborning witnesses lying to Congress. And I think this would significantly change the calculus of Democratic leaders in the House. As you know, that they have not been enthusiastic about going down the road of impeachment, in part because they do not believe that there will ever be 20 Senate Republicans who will vote to remove him from office.

But certainly, if this allegation, as BuzzFeed reports, it is born out and ultimately this is what the special counsel alleged to Congress in these reports. The pressure, I think, will be enormous on Congress to act, on the House to act.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with David Katz. David, a criminal defense attorney and former assistant U.S. attorney joining this hour from Los Angeles, David, thank you for your time.


[02:04:58] HOWELL: Let's start, David, with this latest reporting from BuzzFeed, alleging that the President of the United States directed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. That is a federal crime, if true. And there are so many incremental and important stories that we've covered around this President. But I imagine you would agree this is a big one.

KATZ: This is a bombshell. This is potentially a day that we'll remember in the Trump presidency and in the congressional investigation, and perhaps in the impeachment of the President of the United States. You know, there was the famous tape of President Nixon that really doomed him. And if this is true, you have two law enforcement officials saying that this happened.

You only have Cohen later confirming it. This is not from Michael Cohen. This is not a Brooklyn Bridge that he wants us to buy. This is two law enforcement agents who said there are internal Trump documents from the Trump Organization that show that this happened and that there are texts which also back it up. And all of it goes to the same effect, if true, that President Trump told Michael Cohen, his fixer and then attorney, to lie to Congress to impede the investigation.

That was the first article of impeachment against Nixon, as I say that doomed Nixon, obstruction of justice and suborning perjury of Nixon officials who went in front of the Congress and lied. If that is what President Trump did with Michael Cohen, this thing has moved to a whole different level.

And I do agree that I think that the Democrats would feel that they had to impeach that is both articles of impeachment. And I think they would be confident if this is true, that 20 Republicans would vote to remove the President from office if this can be proven.

HOWELL: David, you touched on this. And it is important to point out this information that was brought up by your own Sara Murray that 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 from internal company e-mails, from text messages, and a cache of other documents. So as you point out here, there is apparently evidence that goes

beyond Michael Cohen who does have a spotty history when it comes to truth.

KATZ: Again, nobody would be asking either the House members in voting articles of impeachment or the Senate in convicting and removing the president from office. Nobody would ask to rely on Cohen. I've been a federal prosecutor. I've dealt with cooperators. You have to watch them all, take them with a grain of salt, always corroborate them.

But this is not from Cohen, according to the allegations. This is from Trump Organization officials, from e-mails, from internal texts. And apparently Special Prosecutor Mueller has been sitting on this for quite a bit of time, calculating it, making sure that he has enough evidence. And then when Cohen finally came in to cooperate with him, he allegedly, according to the two law enforcement agents, surprised Cohen and said is this all true.

And according to the BuzzFeed report, Cohen said, yes, it is true. That's what he did. And that he worked closely with some Trump attorneys. I'd hate to be in the position of any Trump attorney that Michael Cohen worked with on that testimony. It is extremely troubling, George. It really is.

HOWELL: You know given this reporting that has come out, it is very interesting, David, to hear the president's attorney general nominee, William Barr, facing questions during his confirmation hearing, specifically when it comes to the issue of obstruction. Listen to what he had to say about that.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: You wrote on page one that a president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?



BARR: Any -- you know any person who persuades another, yeah.

KLOBUCHAR: OK. You also said that a President or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?

BARR: Yes.



HOWELL: All right. That's Nominee Barr right there. David, your thoughts, is this a matter of potential obstruction? KATZ: Well, this allegation is very important because it was very material, too. You can't argue that this was trivial or this was some payoff that maybe a federal crime, but does it rise to the level of impeachment. The public, the voters, would have been interested to know that Candidate Trump was still in 2016 while he was about to get the nomination, and during the campaign was still negotiating with the Russians about having a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Apparently, the cover-up and the attempt to have Cohen testify, different from the facts, was that they wanted Cohen to say, and apparently he did say and admitted he lied when he said, that the negotiations basically ended in January of 2016.

[02:10:06] If they want on through June 2016, that's a whole different kettle of fish. It is extremely important. It would have been important to the voters. That's what Michael Cohen confirmed, if this other information is true, that President Trump told him to lie to the Congress about.

And you know, the irony from the Nixon thing, everyone says it wasn't the crime. It was the cover-up. Can you imagine if history repeated itself? And it wasn't the crime that got Trump removed. It was the cover-up with Cohen and with allegedly suborning perjury before the Congress of the United States.

HOWELL: David, very interesting to see this new reporting, important to point out it is based on sources. We will have to see as it's born out where it goes. But it is a big, big story that we're following around the Russia investigation. David Katz, again, thank you for your time.

KATZ: Thank you very much.

HOWELL: There is another story we're following as well regarding the U.S. president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and the new claim where he's now saying Mr. Trump did not collude with Russia, but he can't say if anyone else is involved in the 2016 Trump campaign did.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.


HOWELL: Giuliani's latest claim flies in the face of what the President and his legal team have said now for two years. Here's a reminder of that.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians.

There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. But I can always speak for myself and the Russians, zero.

There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian people.


HOWELL: Proof of collusion is a central element to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. And just like with many of the Trump team's explanations, the story that we hear from them seems to change and shift a great deal. My colleague Cyril Vanier has this look.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, how far we have come since Election Day 2016. Let's travel back in time. No contacts with Russia, that there is the original line of defense. Days after Donald Trump wins the Presidency, Spokeswoman Hope Hicks tells the Associated Press there has been, quote, "no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity. It never happened, period."

Except a few months later, we found out the president's son and adviser, Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign. So that calls for a new line of defense, right? It comes from Don Jr. himself. He says to the New York Times we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children. It was not a campaign issue at the time.

In other words, sure, I met with a Russian national but it wasn't politics, nothing wrong. That is the -- we have some contact with Russia defense. Over time, we find out that that was just one of many contacts between Russians and Trump associates, some of his lawyers, advisors, his campaign managers, some family members, people who ended up in his administration, people who didn't.

It is a long list. Under mounting pressure, the president himself floats a bold new defense. Collusion is not a crime, he tweets. Also known as the -- what is the big deal, legal defense? That is not over.

As the wheels of justice turn, we find out that some crimes have been committed. Do you remember these faces? Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, he pled guilty to lying to FBI agents. Paul Manafort was found guilty of financial fraud. Also in Trump world, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos admitted to lying to the FBI.

So now, more than two years later, here we are with the latest, shall we say, contrived defense, this one from Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Essentially, he says, the president didn't collude, but I can't promise that no one else did. What the next defense might be, I am not creative enough to guess, back to you.


HOWELL: All right. Now, as all of this plays out, let's not forget there is a partial government shutdown in effect here in the United States, with a political fight that seems to only be getting uglier. President Trump is refusing to let a group of lawmakers, led by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to use a military plane for a trip overseas.

The White House says he has also canceled its own delegations trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Our Jim Acosta is on this story.


[02:15:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 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 presidential order came down as buses were standing by at the Capital. 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-MD), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I am not for a wall. I am 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. Any 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 soft 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.

Spokesman for the House Speaker described Pelosi's trip as primarily a visit to Afghanistan to meet with American troops with a pit stop 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.


HOWELL: Jim, thank you. Prince Philip's family is breathing a sigh of relief. He is safe and unhurt, this after a serious car crash that you see there. We have details and a live report from the scene coming up.

Plus, after a disastrous vote against her plan, Theresa May is looking to the future of Brexit, the desperate scramble now for a plan b. We'll examine that. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back. Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip was in a car crash on Thursday. Police say that he was not injured, but the driver and passenger on 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.

Our Anna Stewart is in Sandringham at the scene of that accident, live. And Anna, what more can you tell us about what happened there?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, a really serious car accident. As you can you see from some images and videos we have, Prince Philip's Land Rover literally upturned onto one side, a terrifying ordeal, must have been quite traumatizing. I mean it is miraculous that Prince Philip is OK. He saw a doctor on the Sandringham Estate after the event.

And he got a clean bill of health. As you said there, the two passengers in the other car that were involved in the collision have minor injuries, but only minor injuries. They were treated straight away in a hospital.

Now, I am actually at the crash site, George. And you'll probably see some pictures because behind me there is some debris of shattered glass, plastic vacuum wing (ph) from the Land Rover I believe that Prince Philip was driving, quite a scene.

And really, this is a very main road, which you can begin to see. It's still quite dark. Behind me (ph) very big road, and there is a junction just coming off it from the Sandringham Estate. So we don't know the full details of what would happen. But it appears that from the marks around here that this happened just at the junction, and it happened about yesterday around 3:00 p.m. There was a very, very quick response from the Emergency Services and the vehicles have, of course, been towed away.

Now, there have been many concerns about Prince Philip's health. He wasn't seen at Christmas as is usual with the Royal Family going to church at Sandringham. There have been (inaudible) his health. He hasn't been seen much in public really since he stepped down from public office in 2017.

There were concerns, for instance, that he might not make his granddaughters wedding early this year, as you remember Princess Eugenie got married. He did in the end. But the Palace very much plays it as a wait and see how he feels on the day process. Miraculously, he's OK. Lots of people, of course, around here really hoping that he has a full and speedy recovery and he's not feeling too shaken.

HOWELL: Anna Stewart, live for us, thank you so much for the update.

For the first time, the British Prime Minister Theresa May is holding cross-party talks with opposition leaders about the issue of Brexit. And now, they're trying to come up with a plan B, this after Ms. May's proposed deal suffered a crushing defeat in Parliament this week and after she narrowly survived the No Confidence Vote. So far the new talks don't include Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. He says that he won't join until the Prime Minister agrees to this condition. Listen.


JEREMY CORBYN, U.K. LABOUR PARTY LEADER: If the Prime Minister actually concedes to the no deal Brexit is actually the most dangerous and very damaging thing to our country and our society. So say to the Prime Minister, again, she may have been listening (ph), 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.


HOWELL: And lawmakers will debate the next steps and vote on the new plan on January 29th. The biggest hurdle facing Brexit negotiations is Northern Ireland. It is part of the United Kingdom but it shares a border with Ireland, which is in the E.U. The issue of a hard or soft border is complicating things quite a bit.

Let's bring in CNN's International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, in Northern Ireland live for us. And Nic, the threat certainly of a no deal Brexit makes the delicate matters there along that border even worse.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It does, absolutely. The understanding would be that a no deal Brexit would go against everything that the British government and the Irish government and the European Union are committed to under the Good Friday Agreement 20 odd years ago that put an end to decades of sectarian violence, and that principle was to keep an open, seamless border along the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

And then a no deal Brexit would certainly threaten that. It would potentially mean that border posts would have to reemerge. And that's, you know, for people living here. For example, I was talking to a young lady last night whose sister lives just across the bridge on the other side of the river, on the other side of the border, she said. Would I now need a passport to go and see my sister? But it's very, very big politically because it's this reason to keep

an open border. The European Union said we must have a backstop deal, a backstop and insurance policy that everyone agrees to and is locked into.

[02:25:00] That means that whatever conditions we fail to reach or if we fail to agree conditions for the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union, the border posts won't go back up again and the border remains open.

So this backstop deal has become very contentious because some Northern Irish MPs, those that Theresa May relies on for her majority in Parliament, say that an endlessly running backstop agreement would detriment their links to the mainland U.K. And that's something they can't count on.

And so, politicians have pointed in the last couple of days that if they haven't voted to support Theresa May in that vote no confidence in the government on Wednesday, she would have lost the vote. So what they say has a very big powerful influence over Theresa May and reduces her flexibility.

HOWELL: Nic, we do know that Theresa May not directly endorsing at all a second referendum, a second vote to the people on this issue. But we do understand there has been discussion, at least, about what it would take, how long it would take for a second vote to be pulled together, for to be put to the people.

The question to you is, is there a sense that there is a call, there is a, you know, an interest in seeing a second vote given where things stand now?

ROBERTSON: There is absolutely an interest, but there isn't a majority in Parliament for it. And there is a big question on which way the outcome might go, would it be -- would it be along the same way as it was before that the vote would end up just endorsing to leave, the country would remain more divided? And this is a big political concern.

But what Theresa May is under pressure to do at the moment is to come up with a plan B -- because her plan A got voted down so horrendously badly earlier in the week -- come up with plan B by Monday next week. And to that point, she's been saying she's reaching across party lines to talk to leaders from other parties.

The concern has been is that she's not willing to make significant compromises yet. And one of those significant compromises could potentially be that referendum, a second referendum. And the way that she appears to be ruling this out is in those meetings across party lines with leaders of other parties is to show them government documentation that indicates that it would take, you know, potentially more than a year to get another referendum up and organized.

And of course, there are only about 70 days left now before that potential no deal Brexit could happen. So what she is saying is essentially we don't have time to organize a second referendum. Get real. Get on board with the direction I want to go in. But give me some idea of what I can work with.

HOWELL: And that's the question I was asking. You know there is a clock that we are monitoring as that day gets even closer when the U.K. is set to exit the E.U. So there is certainly pressure on officials there to figure this thing out. Nic Robertson, live for us. Thank you.

Still ahead here on Newsroom, U.S. allies saying they will keep pushing ISIS out of Syria one town at a time. CNN takes you to the frontlines ahead.


[02:30:37] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to viewers all over the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. North Korea's top envoy has arrived in Washington, D.C. Kim Yong-chol, he is expected to meet with the U.S. Secretary of State and possibly to meet with the President of the United States.

Among the topics, the second summit between President Trump and the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un. BuzzFeed news reports the U.S. President Donald Trump that he 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. Democrats say if true it is clearly obstruction of justice.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump is refusing to let the 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. Let's talk more about this now with the former Republican Governor of Ohio, Governor John Kasich, a CNN Senior Political Commentator joining us this hour from Los Angeles. Governor, a pleasure to have you on the show.

JOHN KASICH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, George. You know, (INAUDIBLE) former governor for like, you know, three days (INAUDIBLE) I am former. You're right.

HOWELL: And we appreciate having you here to give us some insight here on all things politics specifically let's start getting your thoughts on the president's action this day postponing Nancy Pelosi's overseas trip with a congressional delegation after she threatened to derail his plan State of the Union. Are you surprise by Mr. Trump hitting back this way and is it this a matter of how low do we go here? Where does it go from here?

HOWELL: I don't know. But everybody looks at it and just shakes their head and rolls their eyes and, you know, we pay them to solve problems in this country. And it's -- it almost looks like tit for tat. And, you know, you do this then I do that. I mean this is -- isn't this kind of -- George, I think what used to do in the schoolyard, you know, and it's beneath the institution. It's beneath the presidency. It's beneath the Congress. I mean come on. Sit down, put the country first, and begin to work this out.

That's what has to happen. I've been involved in shutdowns before. But we were never anxious to prove a political point to some particular group or whatever. We wanted to reopen the government. But we wanted solid negotiations. I was a congress man and involved -- I was Chairman of the Budget Committee and we ended up coming out of a shutdown and achieving something remarkable. But it was our love for our country, and not who the heck was going to applaud us and who wasn't.

HOWELL: Oh, you touched on this schoolyard politics. You could describe it as. But let's look at the optics, the overall optics here. The congressional trip to Afghanistan during a shutdown, Mr. Trump saying for his part no one from his administration will travel to Davos, your thoughts there.

KASICH: Let's get this solved. I mean (INAUDIBLE) particular thoughts about this or that. You know, Billy did this and Sally did that. No, just get it fixed.

HOWELL: Yes. You know, I have a toddler and we do run into discussions like that in the schoolyard. It is unfortunate to see it playing out in politics.

KASICH: Yes. It's just -- it's not good no matter where we see it. If we see it in sports, right, we see it there, you know, one player, well, I'm not getting enough passes and, you know, I'm not going to practice today. And we see it in business, well, you know, people can't get along. I mean, look, we know this. When human beings work together and they have unity, we achieve so much more than when human beings fight with one another.

Now, there's a difference between Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals and all those kinds of things. But you have to look for those things that we agree upon and what are those things? Things like, you know, we love our country. It should be country over party. It should be I can't play all these politics all the time. I need to show respect for somebody who doesn't share my views. I mean those are some of the fundamentals that you have to have not just in politics I think but also in life.

HOWELL: Well, you talked about Billy did this and Sarah did that. But in the middle of all of this, the shutdown shut down continues to linger on, some 800,000 workers still on the sidelines.

[02:35:06] They're either furloughed, governor, or working without pay. But given the petty politics we're seeing on display (INAUDIBLE) the only people really who can get this thing fix, get it done, where does it leave every day Americans, the people having real power here to push these politicians to do something.

KASICH: Well, first of all, you know, we have to feel very badly for those folks who were not being paid and particularly those who were showing up and continuing to provide service. I mean they're struggling I'm sure with medical bills and mortgage payments, and it's just -- it's unbelievable, right? And, so, I think that's something that we have to really think about. And in the long run though, this just -- this cast such a bad image for us America, you know, across the globe.

Like, what are they doing over there? And that's -- it's really important and that's why it's really critical to get this thing over soon.

HOWELL: The question here is without people willing to take that -- what seems to be a political risk, how do the two sides come together here and how do you see this shutdown ever coming to a resolution?

KASICH: I've been very disappointed with what I've seen. I was a member of the House of Representatives for 18 years. I worked with the leadership. I was Chairman of the Budget Committee. I worked with senators. I worked with the Clinton administration. I worked a lot of different people. It's just a disappointing thing to see. But I have the sense that we will come out of this and I hope we learn from it. And I hope that the public will put pressure on their elected officials to say get, please, get this done.

HOWELL: Governor John Kasich joining this hour in Los Angeles. Governor, thank you again for your time.

KASICH: Thank you very much.

HOWELL: The United States says ISIS carried out a deadly suicide attack in Syria, an attack that killed 14 people, two U.S. troops among the dead. It shows that ISIS can still be lethal despite President Trump's claim that ISIS has been defeated. A U.S. official telling CNN the suicide bomber belonged to an ISIS sleeper cell. In the aftermath of the attack, Syrian fighters backed by the U.S. promised to step up their military operation against remaining ISIS strongholds.

Our Clarissa Ward made this dangerous journey to the frontlines to bring you this report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The battle against ISIS is still raging as the U.S. allied Syrian Democratic Forces known as the SDF push in on the last sliver of territory under the militants' control. Here the fighters prepare to move into the village of (INAUDIBLE) flares turned the dark night into day. The coalition aircraft circle overhead (INAUDIBLE) crushing air power. By daylight, they push further in. This is where ISIS ends, SDF commander (INAUDIBLE) tells his men.

Moments later, panic breaks out. ISIS has launched a counter attack. The SDF fired back and shoot (INAUDIBLE) quickly liberated. We travel down to the frontline as they approach the next 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 stopped at the house that the SDF took from ISIS just days earlier.

Mortars are fired off at militant positions. Commander (INAUDIBLE) takes us up on to the roof to show us the frontline. So the next village over Sousa is where the frontline 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 (INAUDIBLE) for ISIS still lingers here. On the way back, we passed 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 who were living in areas like this and others this is what liberation looks like, miles and miles of rubble.

[02:40:08] Many hear fear that buried in the destruction, the seeds are being sowed for another war. Clarissa Ward, CNN Shaafah, Syria.


HOWELL: Another city that had the scars of miles and miles of rubble, the Syrian City of Aleppo, it has seen more than share of death and destruction in recent years. But today, that city is gradually erasing those scars of war. Many streets have been cleared of that rubble. Bombed out buildings are not being repaired and critical infrastructure like streetlights are now backed up. Now, they are encouraging signs of industry to return to the city, textile machinery is humming there once again.

City officials say that China has been instrumental in helping Aleppo's factories get up and running. Opposition protests continue in Hungary against the prime minister of that nation, Viktor Orban. But not everyone is on board with the revolt over his policies. I have the very latest from Hungary ahead.


HOWELL: Welcome back. Some worries and developments to tell you about in Zimbabwe as social media has been cut off there. It comes after violent protests sparked when the government more than doubled the price of petrol that led to a deadly crackdown on demonstrators. Internet service was cut off for a time, but then came back up. But social media platforms often used by protesters did not come back up. CNN reached out to the Zimbabwean government for a response, but has not yet heard back.

New protests against the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are expected in Budapest this weekend. But without more support from outside the capital, some wonder how this long revolt how long it can this last? CNN's Atika Shubert has this.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the moment that sparked a revolt against Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban last month. Opposition lawmakers used whistles and sirens to obstruct the government's contentious new labor law heckling Orban to his face. Look at me and explain what's happening, one lawmaker demands that the prime minister as he streams live on Facebook.

[02:44:52] BERNADETT SZEL, HUNGARIAN POLITICIAN: This is definitely hypocrisy anymore. I mean it is -- it is not a fair game to us as why we do not play with the rules of democracy if you don't have the democracy.

SHUBERT: Independent M.P. Bernadette Szel is one of the handful of opposition lawmakers who was forcibly removed from the headquarters of Hungarian public T.V. last month after demanding to have their criticism of the new law put on the air.

And on the day we talked, she was still there, taking turns to stake out time on the public airwaves to voice opposition to our bond.

SZEL: So, this is a crazy trick. This is a rigged game going on in this country and we want people to see this.

SHUBERT: Since winning his third consecutive term in office, Orban has solidified power over the country's parliament. But the courts under government control, and placed much of its media under the ownership of friends and allies. Despite condemnation from human rights groups and protests from the E.U.

His latest moves towards what he calls a liberal democracy has triggered weeks of demonstrations as thousands have continued to march against Orban and his government. So, has it shaken his grip on power? "Or if he's worried, he sure didn't look at last week when he downplayed the protests and ranted against immigration and other liberal evils."

VIKTOR ORBAN, PRIME MINISTER OF HUNGARY (through translator): The protest will continue. But this is the innate specialty of the opposition's athletic wing.

SHUBERT: That may be because what's happening in Budapest is so far barely felt in the countryside.

So we're visiting the village of Felcsut, which also happens to be the hometown of Viktor Orban. And, in fact, this is his private home. Where he gets sometimes comes to see his favorite football.

That's pretty convenient because right across the street is the football stadium. It was only built a few years ago and fits 3,500 people more than twice the amount of people in the village itself.

With its vaulting arches and grand football pitches, critics have questioned the money behind the project tied as many national projects are to an increasingly tight circle of Orban's friends and business associates. But, while no one we spoke to hear seemed particularly enthusiastic about the government and its policies, do you see any alternative to Orban and his party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Anyone asked who could be strong as them.

SHUBERT: That's the question, isn't it?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I don't think there is other choice at the moment because you could say this would be nice, that would be nice, but they don't have anybody behind their new ideas.

SHUBERT: This weekend, opposition lawmakers are hoping to win new support. They have joined trade unions to organize fresh protests in Budapest. And now in other towns as well. Orban remains firmly in control but the revolt against him continues. Atika Shubert, CNN, Budapest.


HOWELL: Still ahead this hour, he came from Turkey to play professional basketball.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You believe that if you were to leave the United States that you could be killed?



HOWELL: Now, the Turkish president calls him a terrorist and wants him arrested


HOWELL: Welcome back. Turkish media reports an international arrest warrant has been issued for a U.S. basketball player, Enes Kanter. Kanter is from Turkey and now plays for the New York Knicks. He's been an outspoken critic of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the brutal crackdown that followed a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Fearing for his life if he left the United States, Kanter was forced to skip his team's exhibition game in London against the Washington Wizards. He spoke about his dilemma with my colleague, Brooke Baldwin.


[02:50:14] BALDWIN: What is it that you have done, that you have said that would make you not feel safe? That makes you think you can be arrested, could be killed?

KANTER: Well, I mean if you look at what's happening in Europe and all over other countries. Erdogan's operations in all over the world.

BALDWIN: President Erdogan, the head of Turkey?

KANTER: Yes. And Turkish government is very famous for hunting down people who talks about the government and Erdogan. That's why I was scared of his long arms that -- you know, just my life will be in danger.

BALDWIN: You believe that if you were to leave the United States, that you could be killed.

KANTER: If I step outside of America, yes. But I feel really safe in America.

BALDWIN: Last month, the Turkish Foreign Minister, said that the Trump administration is working to extradite the cleric who you follow, Fethullah Gulen.


BALDWIN: However, we should point out on the U.S. side, there has been no sign from Washington that the U.S. is moving ahead with this. What's your response to that?

KANTER: Well, I mean, Turkish government has been now try to extradite him for five years with no evidence. And I visit him once every two or three weeks. And I -- he's a -- you know, old man who lives a simple life in Pennsylvania.

BALDWIN: Pennsylvania.

KANTER: And, if I look at him, he doesn't even have a parking ticket. So, there are rules and laws in the United States. So, that's why I don't think that will happen.

BALDWIN: But apparently, because of you are following him that this is why the Turkish government believes you are -- they say you're a terrorist because you support this cleric, who Erdogan blames for that coup in 2016.


BALDWIN: So, what do you say to that?

KANTER: Well, I was with Mr. Gulen in the cool night, in the same room. And when Mr. Gulen's assistant brought the news to Mr. Gulen, everybody in the room -- everybody was so shocked. And Mr.Gulen, and --


BALDWIN: Serious alibi. I was -- I was in a same room with him. And -- you know everybody was so shocked, and Mr. Gulen -- Mr. Gulen was so sad. And I remember with my own eyes all he did was sitting on his chair and pray for his country.

BALDWIN: Are you concerned because of, you know, your relationship with him, the things that you have said, you will be extradited?

KANTER: Like I said, I like Mr. Gulen. I don't even have a speeding ticket. I don't even speed in America. I am -- I'm trying to become an American citizen, and I hope in 2021, but I didn't do anything wrong. All I did is try to be the voice of all those innocent people.

BALDWIN: Your father was sentenced to 15 years in prison in June of last year. And then in 2016, going back, your father disavowed you saying quote, I apologize to the Turkish people and the President for having such a son, Enes. Tell me about your relationship with your father.

KANTER: Well, first of all, I haven't seen him since 2015. I forgot their voices. I even forgot how they look like. And so --

BALDWIN: How does it make you feel?

KANTER: It's killing my heart, I'll be honest with you. But in 2017, when police came to my house in Turkey and raided my house, they took every electronics away, phones away, computers away, the phones away, laptops away, everything away. They wanted to see if I'm still in contact with my family or not. And if they were to see any little text message, "Hi mom." Any missed call, "Hi dad, how are you doing?" They will be all in jail right now.

So, I don't want to risk my family's life or anybody's life that could be sent to jail just because they're in communication with me.

BALDWIN: But for your father to say -- the apologizing to the Turkish people for having such a son.

KANTER: Well, they had to put a statement out there or they would have be all in jail. And then, you know, it's very sad, because, like I said, in the end, those people are my family. I want to talk to them.

BALDWIN: You loved them.

KANTER: Of course, I love them. I want to reach out to them. I want to talk to my mom. And my mom probably worries so much about even like -- about everything. What I'm doing, what I'm eating, if I'm cold or not, if I'm sick or not. So, that's why it's very tough.


HOWELL: Deeply heavy and personal for him but he does try to keep a sense of humor. He responded to Turkey's accusation that he was a terrorist with this tweet, "The only thing I terrorize is the rim."

More than 100 million people in the United States are in the path of a major winter storm over this weekend. Our Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is here to tell us more about that in the international weather center, Derek? This is not great news.

[02:54:36] DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: No, it's not. And George, all of this moisture and the snowfall that started out west cause avalanches. Had a few different locations including Taos Valley ski resort, where, unfortunately, several skiers were buried by an avalanche. Two of which were injured, one had to be flown to the local hospital.

And then, we take it over to Utah. So, that's New Mexico in Utah. Another Avalanche took down a part of a canyon road. This is Highway 90, and it closed it off. And there was about a 30-foot tall pile of snow over this particular roadway.

This is the storm system that's really starting to gather some strength. Look at as it deepens across the central U.S. We've got a full-fledged winter storm shaping up across the Midwest and eventually will impact the East Coast, as well. The exact track that's going to determine how much snow, how much sleet, how much ice and how much rain you get at home if you are perhaps traveling along the East Coast this weekend.

Now, we've got a little bit of a curtain raiser at the moment. A brief little snowstorm, this is proceeding what's actually going to take place this weekend. But nonetheless, 100 million plus Americans under of some sort of winter weather advisory, winter storm warning, or winter storm watch at the moment.

In terms of timeline, we expect Saturday evening by 8:00 p.m., snow will overspread places like New York into Boston. Then, we get a warm front lifting north along the coast. This is complicated, so bear with me. That transitions our snow into an icy sleet mix before transitions getting to rain. And then, the cold air rushes, and behind it, and brings us back to snow once again.

Bottom line, snow totals will be hefty but the heaviest snow will be across upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, with easily top 50 centimeters. But the ice potential here is quite substantial just outside of the suburbs of New York. Look out Boston maybe a centimeter to a centimeter and a half of ice potential that includes sleet.

So, that's going to make very tricky travel conditions -- dangerous travel conditions right alone that I-95 corridor and the subsequent highways and roads across the region.

The coldest air of the season settles in behind it. Let me show you the four-day forecast as we head into New York. Four on Sunday. Negative 11 on Monday. That is not a typo, George. So, be prepared. Arctic blasts coming your way along the East Coast. Thank you.

HOWELL: Just getting at that number it makes me feel cold in here. Derek, thank you very much.

VAN DAM: All right.

HOWELL: Thank you for being with us this hour for NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. Let's do it again. Another hour of news right after the break. Stay with us.