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Government Shutdown Continues over Border Wall Funding; President Trump to Make Address Regarding an Offer to End Government Shutdown; Democrats May Reject White House Offer on Ending Government Shutdown; Women's March Takes Place in Cities across U.S.; Women's March Leaders Criticized for Association with Louis Farrakhan; Interview with Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, (D-FL); President Trump Announces Upcoming Meeting with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un; Former Employees Sue General Motors Plant in Toledo, Ohio, for Racist Work Environment; Winter Storms Delay Airport Flights across U.S. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 19, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. military has not said why the Americans traveled to the busy commercial city of Manbij. This is the largest loss of American life in Syria since the counter- ISIS campaign started in 2014. Three other Americans were also hurt. Our deepest condolences to all of the families.

We've got so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom, and it all starts now.

Hello again, and thank you so much for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We are now entering week five of the longest U.S. government shutdown in history -- 800,000 federal workers still without a paycheck as Democrats and Republicans battle it out over the president's demand for a border wall. So in just two hours from now, the president will, once again, take his argument to the American people. Promising a, quote, major announcement concerning the southern border. A source tells CNN the president is expected to propose extending protections for DACA recipients in exchange for the wall, something the president is not willing to back down on -- the wall.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope that Speaker Pelosi can come along and realize what everybody knows, no matter who it is, they know that walls work. And we need walls. And whether it's personal or not -- it's not personal for me. She's being controlled by the radical left, which is a problem. And she's under total control of the radical left. I think that's a very bad thing for her. I think it's a very bad thing for the Democrats. Everybody knows that walls work.


WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, House Democrats are not willing to budge on the border wall. We saw that in their latest plan. They will propose to -- which offers no funding for the wall. So where does all of this leave the shutdown and the thousands of federal workers? Let's check in with CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood. So we'll hear from the president in just a matter of hours. What's expected?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Fred, we expect President Trump to lay out a broader deal than he's offered so far throughout this process. It would essentially involve the president trading funding for his border wall in exchange for immigration reforms that have been priorities of Democrats for a couple of years now.

The deal would involve President Trump holding firm with that demand of $5.7 billion in money to build his wall in exchange for a renewal of temporary protections for Dreamers, those young undocumented immigrants protected under DACA, a program Trump has tried to end. It would also renew temporary protected status for some groups of immigrants and allow those people who remain in the country.

Let's take a step back. This is not a new idea. It's one that the president in the past has not supported. In fact, in recent week, President Trump has been saying that he'd prefer to wait for legal challenges to his DACA removal attempts to make their way through the courts before he negotiates on DACA.

Nonetheless, though, the White House wanted to project an image of progress after a week of an escalating feud between President Trump and Speaker Pelosi. White House aides worked into the night last night trying to get this proposal ready for this Saturday afternoon announcement. Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were all in charge of crafting this proposal that President Trump will announce.

Democrats, though, Fred, have said that they are in no mood to make a deal until the government is open. So it's unclear if this is the thing that breaks the logjam.

WHITFIELD: All right, Sarah Westwood at the White House, thank you so much for that.

Let's check in now with CNN's Ryan Nobles. So how will this proposal from the president go over with Democrats?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the sense we're getting is not very well. Sarah talked about the fact that Mick Mulvaney and the Vice President and Jared Kushner spent a lot of time crafting this proposal. One thing they didn't apparently do was extend that propose am to the Democratic leaders that would play a big role in seeing this through the Congress. In fact, one senior Democratic aide telling me just a few minutes ago, quote, "Democrats were not consulted on this and have rejected similar overtures previously." They call it a "non- serious product of negotiations amongst White House staff attempting to clean up messes the president created in the first place." And "POTUS is holding more people hostage for his wall."

And to put some of this in context, Fred, keep in mind that the Democrats did put on the table, back when the Republicans controlled the House, a proposal where they would offer President Trump $25 billion for physical wall funding, but that was in exchange for a permanent path to citizenship for the Dreamers that would solve the DACA problem.

Now, at the time President Trump threatened a veto on that proposal and it was ultimately pulled back. Now, there are some saying, well, if the Democrats offered this before, why aren't they agreeing to this deal this time around?

[14:05:00] Because what we understand is that the president is going to offer the Bridge Act, which is different from the original proposal that would have protected Dreamers permanently. This Bridge Act was designed by Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, and the goal was to be a bridge, as it's called, to just protect those Dreamers on a temporary basis until a long-term plan could be put into place.

So the sense that we're getting from Democrats is they're not going to exchange any money for a physical wall, even if it's only $6 billion, for a permanent structure in exchange for only temporary status for these Dreamers. They're not going to trade permanent for temporary. So that's why the sense right now is that this proposal is dead on arrival before it is even actually introduced to Democrats.

And Fred, we should keep in mind, with all of the caveats, we never know exactly what the president is going to propose until the words actually come out of his lips. But it's important to keep in mind that at this point Democrats are completely in the dark and they don't know what the president is going to propose. But what they've heard so far from media report, they are just not impressed, and that's one of the reasons that this shutdown is probably going to continue to go on.

WHITFIELD: Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.

Let's talk further about all of this with Molly Ball, a national political correspondent for "TIME," and Seung Min Kim, a White House reporter covering Washington for "The Washington Post." Good to see you both.

Oh, boy, here we go. So here, we're a couple of hours away, from the president making his announcement. And the Democrats are now saying, well, he never consulted us, never even shared any of this with us. So, Molly, why wouldn't the White House share something of its plan with the Dems so that when a big announcement is made, at least the White House can kind of control the message from there?

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Yes, well, the Democrats' feeling is, as they said in that statement that Ryan just read, this isn't a real negotiation. This is a sort of cosmetic attempt to convince the American people, because I think the president and the Republicans realize that they have been losing the battle for public opinion. They want to put something out there to counter the criticism that they haven't made any counteroffers, that they haven't offered any compromise. But the Democrats feel that a real negotiation takes place behind

closed doors. A real negotiation takes place between the parties that actually have the power to hammer something out, not through public announcements where there is no input, there is no ability to horse trade, or whatever is done in a traditional negotiation. This president is not a traditional negotiator. And we still don't know what he is going to say. But, as Ryan was saying, what we are hearing he is going to say would be a nonstarter because the Democrats don't feel that it's acceptable.

WHITFIELD: Right. The Dems saying we've seen this overture before, and if it didn't work then, why, Seung Min, would anyone believe that it would work this time? What is the real strategy here? Is this a plan, an announcement from the White House that really is to galvanize support to get government up and running again? Or is this kind of a public showing of trying to one-up? How do you assess this?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think it is a measure to at least show the public that there might be some forward movement after days, nearly a week-and-a-half of no actual discussion between the president and the two Democratic leaders. But, again, this is a proposal that is going to go nowhere in this Congress for many of the reasons we've discussed earlier.

And I want to also point out another reason why this deal is unacceptable to Democrats. It's because Dreamers themselves, the immigrants who would benefit directly from these protections, have said over and over that we do not want to be, quote, bargaining chips for a wall that we do not support. And Democrats have leaned heavily in on that.

WHITFIELD: This underscoring the temporary versus permanent. You have a temporary extension for a permanent structure. Go ahead.

KIM: Exactly. And that's precisely why. But I do think that talking with a number of Republican senators and Democratic senators this week on Capitol Hill, Democratic senators still say they are not feeling pressure from their base. They feel like the more that they stand firm with their Democratic leaders against dealing, particularly while the government is closed, with the administration, that the court of public opinion is on their side, and they feel that the Republicans will come closer and closer to them because they are the ones feeling the pressure.

And I do want to point out, some recent polling this week that shows the president's personal approval rating has been on a decline. I found the NPR/Marist poll pretty interesting in that regard where it does show a decline, not just overall, but also with his key base of support. We're talking about white evangelical voters, suburban men, registered Republicans, and those are really clear signs that the president needs to watch.

WHITFIELD: And we're looking at the president arriving back at Andrews Joint Base after paying respects to four Americans killed in Syria, and a ceremony taking place at Dover Air Force Base. [14:10:07] So Molly, as we continue to look at the pictures of the

president upon his arrival, and now he's just two hours away from his statement at the White House, you were nodding your head that, yes, Democrats feel like they kind of have the court of public opinion on their side, and they don't really need to work as hard at budging to the president's request. But the president usually is very responsive to polling and to approval ratings, and it has dipped. However, he continues to dig in his heels about the wall being the right thing to do. This is what he had to say this morning before he went to Dover. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a lot of people in caravans coming up. If we had a wall, we wouldn't have a problem. But we don't. We have too many open areas. The walls that we fixed and the walls that we built hold beautifully. Everybody knows that walls work. The Border Patrol has done an incredible job, but we need the help and the backup of the wall.


WHITFIELD: So Molly, he continues to say everybody knows walls work, except there are a lot of experts who are saying walls don't do, and are not as effective as the president is professing. So will he change his tune? Or does he have any incentive to change his tune?

BALL: Well, I learned long ago never to try to predict what President Trump is going to do. However, I think there's a couple of things. He has sent conflicting signals on this, does it have to be a wall question, right. There have been various times, including in his national address, where he talked much more about border security as a whole. And you have people on Capitol Hill saying, well, this is a game of semantics. It isn't. It's a wall or it's not. But if the president can be convinced to convince his supporters that some kind of border security package is the equivalent of, or is as effective as a wall, then he might get somewhere, but as long as it is wall, period, you're not going to see Democrats come along with it.

The other thing I wanted to add to the prior discussion about DACA and the Dreamers is that part of the reason this a temporary protection is a nonstarter with Democrats is that the Dreamers already have temporary protection because the courts have stopped the administration from implementing the end of DACA that they tried to do. So the Dreamers have temporary protection for as long as that decision lasts. What the Democrats want is some kind of permanent legalization, what they want is citizenship for the Dreamers, and that is not something the administration has ever been willing to put on the table.

Final thought, there's two ways you can read what the president is doing today. One way is, OK, he's going to start winning this battle now that he has shown that he is the reasonable one, he is making an overture, and it's the other side that has dug in its heel, that's one avenue. But the other way you can read it is he's shown that he is willing to give, and that means that maybe he is willing to give some more and maybe he is willing to cave.

WHITFIELD: So real quick, Seung Min, either he is showing he is willing to give, or perhaps he has even forgotten himself the various sequence of events that have happened, leading up to this, because some of the overtures that he is willing to make today reportedly seem to be overtures that have already been made, whether they were failed, or offered some incentives.

KIM: Exactly. There was a broader version of this deal that was offered a year ago in the previous shutdown impasse. But Vice President Pence himself has rejected, when we asked him on Capitol Hill, what about a DACA for wall deal? It was I believe a week ago, though the timeline in my brain can be warped sometimes, but a few days --

WHITFIELD: It's happening to all of us.


KIM: -- when the Vice President explicitly rejected that, though he said the president would like to wait until the Supreme Court indicates whether it will weigh in on this DACA case, one way or the other. The president has also contradicted that since. So there is a lot of mixed messaging coming from this administration, and that's why Democrats feel especially confident that they can hold firm on where they are because, as Chuck Schumer has argued, negotiating with the president is like negotiating with Jell-O.

WHITFIELD: Seung Min Kim, Molly Ball, we'll keep it right there for now. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Right now, Women's Marches are happening across the country, but some are facing criticism over comments from organizers. Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz even stepped away from the march in Washington. We'll ask her why, next.


[14:18:27] WHITFIELD: Happening right now, women in cities across the country are taking part in the third annual Women's March. A live look right now of the one taking place in the nation's capital. The first marches in 2017 took place the day after President Trump's inauguration to protest comments he made about women during the campaign and to support women's rights overall. This year's marches are expected to be smaller as controversy and divisions have cast a shadow over part of the movement. But organizers are still expecting thousands to turn out in cities across America.

CNN's Erica Hill is live for us in Boston. So Erica, you just spoke with one of the newest members of the most diverse U.S. Congress in history. What was said?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, we did. We spoke just a short time ago with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who in fact is an honorary chair of the event here in Boston. You can just hear, they're just coming back to Boston Common here from their march. She was on the bill for a long time. She was the last speaker before folks set off on their march. And I asked her why it was so important for her to be a part of this year's march.


REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY, (D) HONORARY CHAIR, BOSTON WOMEN'S MARCH: Well, because our federal government has all but abandoned American workers and families, the rights to self-agency. The autonomy of health care of women is at stake every day under this administration. The work that is being done here on the ground in states and in cities by these community-based organizations, by these citizen activists, this resistance is the only way that we will preserve existing rights, build upon our rights, and fight for more.


[14:20:04] HILL: Fred, a lot of energy here on the ground today. Obviously, a smaller number than certainly that first year in 2017, but the folks I spoke with said they were energized, they wanted to be here because they felt there was more work to be done besides just marching today.

I also do want to point out that I asked the congresswoman her thoughts on what we are expected to hear from President Trump a little bit later this afternoon, extending protections for Dreamers, for temporary protected status folks, in exchange for funding for the border wall. She told me the Dreamers and those TPS recipients that she has spoken with do not, in her words, want to be bargaining chips. She said what she would like to see is a solid policy discussion, but she says, Fred, that discussion cannot happen while the government is shut down, and she believes first the shutdown needs to end.

WHITFIELD: Erica Hill in Boston, thank you.

Now let's head to the nation's capital. That's where we find CNN's Jessica Dean. So Jessica, what has the turnout been like there? What has been the focus?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon to you. Well, the marching portion of the march has concluded. They've now gathered here on the plaza for a rally. They've had a number of speakers. And people really saying here, they're very passionate, again, echoing what Erica had to say from Boston, people who are here today believe it is very important two years into the Trump administration to come and let their voices be heard.

I want to introduce to you a couple of participants, Jarfa and Elif. You guys actually just met here at the march. Jarfa, what brought you out today?

JARFA ASHRAFI, TAKING PART IN MARCH: I wanted to have my voice be heard about different topics that I'm passionate about in this country that I don't think are being given enough attention. And this is the first time I've attended any type of march or protest, and I thought a Women's March would be a great first march for me to attend.

DEAN: And so what's the feeling been like out here for people who are watching?

ELIF CETIN, TAKING PART IN MARCH: Oh, God, it's been absolutely amazing. You see we are the women's wave. We came here to flood the streets. And that's indeed what we did. It is just absolutely amazing. It is kind of chilly but you don't feel it. Just the energy here is ecstatic, honestly.

DEAN: Do you guys feel hopeful? What do you feel?

CETIN: Absolutely.

ASHRAFI: I agree. I think I feel hopeful that at the very least our voices are being heard.

DEAN: Thanks to both of you for being with us. We really appreciate it.

And that's kind of the stories that we're hearing. We've seen mothers and daughters. We interviewed a grandmother who was here on behalf of her young granddaughter, she is very concerned about the environment. Again, a smaller crowd than they've had in years past, certainly in 2017 when we had those record-breaking crowds here in Washington, D.C. And there is a counter-protest, a small counter-protest, that happened not too far from here, women who said that they didn't feel included in all of this, perhaps because they're conservative or they're anti- abortion, that they didn't feel included in this group. But the people that are here today, very passionate, and they said it is absolutely worth it for them to be here even when it's cold and gray outside. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Jessica Dean in Washington D.C., thank you so much.

So many of the marches taking place across the country are trying to distance themselves from that event in Washington. Leaders of Women's March Incorporated are being accused of anti-Semitism for their association with Louis Farrakhan, a man known for hate speech regarding Jews and the LGBT community. Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is one of those who walked away from the Washington March. She explained why in a "USA Today" op-ed, writing in part, "While I still firmly believe in its values and mission, I cannot associate with the national march's leaders and principles which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. I cannot walk shoulder to shoulder with leaders who lock arms with outspoken peddlers of hate," end quote.

Florida Democratic Congresswoman and former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz joining me right now from Fort Myers where a march is to take place tomorrow. You'll be involved in that, right?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ, (D) FLORIDA: I will. Thank you, Fredricka. It's good to be with you.

WHITFIELD: Congresswoman, the leaders of the D.C. march have rejected anti-Semitism and homophobia since the controversy began to bubble up. Why did you choose to write this op-ed and continue to oppose the Women's March in D.C., which you have been associated with in the past?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: I have. And I am not marching in Washington, D.C. with the National Women's March this weekend, like the Southern Poverty Law Center and Emily's List and the Democratic National Committee, and most of my women colleagues in Congress, because it is simply unacceptable, disappointing, and really saddening that the Women's March leadership in Washington continues to associate themselves with a virulent anti-Semite who has discrimination against the LGBTQ community, against women, and refuses to denounce him, and quite frankly took too far long to denounce anti-Semitism, are not inclusive of Jewish women on their board. They belatedly added some Jewish women to whatever their steering committee is.

[14:25:02] But the bottom line is that this weekend is and should remain exclusively about sisterhood and solidarity, about advancing equal rights and fighting oppression in all its forms. And, unfortunately, the women leaders of the National Women's March have become a distraction because they, bafflingly, refuse to fully repudiate and distance themselves from this anti-Semitism and discrimination.

WHITFIELD: And in your view, what do you chalk that up to? Do you chalk that up to inexperience with handling something of this magnitude at this level? Do you believe that it is a reflection of a real reticence? What's behind your view of this delay in repudiating? How do you explain it?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: That's why I and many others, rank and file women who still believe in this movement -- I fervently believe in this movement. I advance the principles of equality and fighting oppression every single day in my role as a member of Congress, whether it's making sure we fight for comprehensive immigration reform and fighting President Trump of his horrific policy of dividing families, separating children from their parents at the border, fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community, for women. It's baffling it took as long as it did for them to even utter a word against anti-Semitism, that they continue to refuse to condemn a leader like Mr. Farrakhan, who continues to utter those discriminatory and harmful and damaging words of oppression.

And at the end of the day, it just shouldn't be that hard. If we have a unified movement led by women who understand that all forms of oppression and discrimination aren't acceptable, then it shouldn't be that hard to condemn the words, condemn the actions, and condemn the people that are uttering them. It is unacceptable.

WHITFIELD: So earlier today, one of the organizers of the D.C. Women's March was on CNN. She repeated her rejection of anti-Semitism and homophobia, and then had this to say when asked about your op-ed and why you decided to take the position you did, by not attend can the D.C. event. Listen.


LINDA SARSOUR, BOARD MEMBER, WOMEN'S MARCH NATIONAL TEAM: No one was waiting for Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and her opinion about whether or not she is going to march. So for us moving forward, it is not about Debbie or about anyone else, this is about all women in America. We have actual injustice against our communities by this administration, that should be the focus. The focus shouldn't be about one controversy. It should be about the controversial administration that cages children, that has kept the government closed for 29 days, leaving 800,000 workers without pay. That is the true controversy. Collusion with Russia. This administration is irresponsible and wreaking havoc in our communities, and that's what our focus is at the Women's March.


WHITFIELD: So in your view, does this division, does this take away, distract from the objectives of what the Women's March was designed to focus on?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Fredricka, I wrote that op-ed because I couldn't remain silent while knowing that I was not going to participate in the march and was deeply concerned about the Women's March leaders in Washington's continued refusal to fully repudiate anti-Semitism, discrimination against LGBTQ people, and women and others.

And they continue to make this about them, about the leaders themselves, rather than about making sure that we can have true solidarity and exclusive focus on these issues. The bottom line is that we have to demand the same principles from the movement as we do from our society. And that's why I wasn't alone in refusing to march with them. Most of my women colleagues are not marching in Washington for similar reasons. They've lost sponsorship of Emily's List, of the Democratic National Committee, of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

And many of us, in fact, most of us, are marching today and tomorrow, in marches across the country, who have similarly distanced themselves and disaffiliated from the National Women's March because they are more focused on it being about them than it being about the movement and advancing our agenda and fighting oppression and bigotry in all its forms, and that's just sad.

WHITFIELD: We will leave it there for now. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Thank you. You too, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: President Trump promising that he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month. The big question now, where? We'll discuss the possibly locations and what they could mean for ongoing nuclear negotiations, coming up.


[14:34:12] WHITFIELD: President Trump says a location has been picked for his next summit with Kim Jong-un, but he is not saying where. An agreement on a second summit was announced after the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a meeting in the Oval Office with North Korea's lead negotiator on nuclear talks. Here's the president earlier today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a very good meeting yesterday with North Korea. That was an incredible meeting. It lasted almost two hours. And we've agreed to meet sometime, probably the end of February. We've picked a country, but we'll be announcing it in the future. Kim Jong-un is looking very forward to it, and so am I. We've made a lot of progress that has not been reported by the media, but we have made a lot of progress.


[14:35:01] WHITFIELD: CNN International Correspondent Will Ripley joins me now from Beijing. So is there any indication of where this second summit might be?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing that Vietnam is probably the most likely of the locations that have been thrown around. Hawaii, I highly doubt, along with Bangkok. I also was reading a report that it could happen again in Singapore, but I don't see that happening either. I think Vietnam is, again, probably the most likely. That's what my sources are telling me based on the fact that it's close to North Korea, it has a good relationship with both the U.S. and North Korea, and it's a country that was once at war with the United States and has since risen from the ashes, transformed its economy, and could potentially be a model for North Korea as they try to grow their own economy.

But location aside, there are a lot of other things that need to be sorted out. President Trump, you heard him just now, obviously he is very optimistic and he says that there is lots of progress being made behind the scenes. But keep in mind, the president shortly after Singapore, he famously tweeted that the nuclear threat from North Korea was over. And then there were these U.S. intelligence reports showing them expanding their missile bases, and analysts have been telling me that North Korea probably has more nuclear weapons now than they did at the beginning of the diplomatic process.

Even the Pentagon put their missile defense strategy on Thursday, the same day the North Korean delegation was arriving in Washington, and they called North Korea an extraordinary threat to the U.S. So there's still some very significant issues here. North Korea has an arsenal. The U.S. wants them to get rid of it. And North Koreans say the U.S. needs to get rid of sanctions in order for them to do anything. They still need to build a lot of confidence, a lot of trust.

So there are some talks happening right now in Sweden, in Stockholm, lower level negotiations with the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and his negotiating counterpart Choe Son- hui, who is North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister. If those lower level talks can hammer out some preconditions and they can come to a compromise on easing sanctions and also actually taking tangible steps toward denuclearization, then the second summit might actually be something as opposed to a photo op with another vaguely worded statement, Fred. WHITFIELD: Will Ripley in Beijing, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Gordon Chang, he's a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and the author of "Nuclear Showdown, North Korea Takes on the World." Gordon, good to see you. So how crucial do you believe this second summit is?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN, NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": I actually don't think it's that crucial at all. President Trump actually talked about this last May, he said look, maybe we need one, two, three, maybe even more summits. And that really diminishes the importance of any one of them. And I can see why Kim Jong-un wants this summit. He wants to be able to delay more. He wants legitimization. He wants to use it to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington. I don't understand why we want it, though.

WHITFIELD: And this is already a pretty big win for North Korea, right? Getting to, a, having the first summit, and then having this Oval Office meeting, and now a second summit that is on the schedule.

CHANG: Yes, the first summit in Singapore in June was an enormous win for Kim Jong-un because it showed him on the world stage as an equal to the world's most powerful figure, President Trump. And so that helped him back home I think in terms of solidifying his hold on the regime. And it certainly allowed him to reach out to South Korea and to other countries as well. So they got a lot from that first summit. We didn't get very much at all, if anything. So I don't see why we're going to have another of these photo opportunities unless there's some real agreement.

WHITFIELD: So how will you game real progress? If there is indeed another summit, how will you assess what has been learned from the first summit, what may have been the U.S. gains from it, and how the U.S. builds on that?

CHANG: Well, there are two things that people are talking about as really crucial for coming out of this second summit to show progress. One of them is a declaration from North Korea of its missile and nuke sites, and the second is a firm table for disarmament. If you don't get those things, then this is just another opportunity to talk and stall, which means another win for North Korea.

WHITFIELD: What do you want to see, besides a document, what would you want to see in this second summit, that would, I guess, look more serious or more convincing to you that there was something gained on both sides from it?

CHANG: I'd like to see this summit not occur. I'd like to see President Trump go back to doing what made him successful prior to the June summit, which was maximum pressure, sanctions. What we've seen in the last seven or eight months is open violation of the sanctions, not only by the North Koreans, not only by the South Koreans, not only by the Chinese but the Russians as well. And this is really allowed Kim Jong-un to do what he wants, to think he can just sort of just play out this process. So I think we need to go back to those sanctions rather than talking. WHITFIELD: Gordon Chang, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

CHANG: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And don't miss former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry as he joins CNN's David Axelrod for "The Axe Files" tonight at 7:00 eastern only on CNN.


[14:44:003] WHITFIELD: A new lawsuit alleges years of blatant racism at a General Motors plant in Toledo, Ohio. A group of workers are suing the automaker, claiming nothing was done to prevent a hostile work environment. Those workers say it's a problem that has gone unresolved for years.

CNN's Sara Sidner has more in this report, which we warn you, contains offensive language.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every day he walked into work, Marcus Boyd prayed he'd survive his shift unscathed.

MARCUS BOYD, FORMER GM SUPERVISOR: I felt like I was at war, risking my life every day.

SIDNER: Derrick Brooks, a former Marine, worked in the same place. Both were supervisors on different shifts at the General Motors transmission plant in Toledo, Ohio. Brooks considers himself tough from his military training, but he struggled to handle what was happening at work.

DERRICK BROOKS, FORMER GM SUPERVISOR: How rough and tough can you be when you have got 11 and 12 people who want to put a noose around your neck and hang you until you're dead?

SIDNER: There is a reason he brings up nooses. It is not just a figure of speech.

[14:45:00] BROOKS: This is the picture of the noose that I found the night that I was at work on my shift.

SIDNER: According to a lawsuit now pending against GM, this is one of at least five nooses discovered at the workplace in separate incidents. The suit also claims there were signs that blacks were not welcome there. "Whites only" scrawled on a bathroom wall, along with swastikas on bathroom stalls, and "niggers not allowed" scratched or written on bathroom walls.

BROOKS: This was saying you don't belong here. This was saying, if you stay here, this is what could possibly happen to you.

SIDNER: In the struggling town, Brooks and Boyd didn't want to leave their six figure jobs. Brooks has eight children. Boyd takes care of his mother, who was an amputee. Now they and seven others have sued GM for allowing an underlying atmosphere of violent racial hate and bullying.

When did you notice overt racism?

BOYD: Well, when an employee that was under me, he told me that back in the day, a person like me would have been buried with a shovel.

SIDNER: He said what to you?

BOYD: That was a death threat. And I was told to push that to the side.

SIDNER: Boyd says he reported the incident.

BOYD: He admitted to it. And I was pulled to the side and said, if you want to build relationships here, you just let things go, he'll be all right.

SIDNER: But he says the threats got worse.

Were you afraid for your life?

BOYD: Definitely. That's why I left.

SIDNER: When the noose appeared in March of 2017, Derrick Brooks says he reported it to upper management. He was sure he was the intended target, but says he was told to investigate by questioning his employees.

BROOKS: It felt like a slap in the face. It did. But I had to be professional.

SIDNER: Brooks and other black employees also noticed being called "Dan."

BROOKS: I thought they mispronounced my name for Derrick. Then later I found out that "Dan" was an acronym for "dumbass nigger."

SIDNER: General Motors sent a statement, insisting "discrimination and harassment were not acceptable and in stark contrast" to how they expect people to show up at work. We treat any reported incident "with sensitivity and urgency," and are committed to providing an "environment that is safe, open, and inclusive."

And that every day, everyone at General Motors is expected to uphold the values that are an integral part of its culture. But according to more than a half dozen current and former black employees, the problem is the culture. They say inside this plant, racism and harassment are the norm, not the exception.

BROOKS: It is a culture.

BOYD: It is a culture. You have to, it's from the top down, and the bottom up.

SIDNER: One employee filed a police report, others filed complaints with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission prior to filing suit. DARLENE SWEENEY-NEWBERN, OHIO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION: The ultimate

decision that was made is that GM did allow a racially hostile environment.

SIDNER: They allege, they investigated quickly, and have done remedial things to take care of the problem.

SWEENEY-NEWBERN: The commission disagrees with that position. GM did not do very much at all, or what they did do was not effective.

SIDNER: GM says that they held mandatory meetings and even closed the plant for a day for training, and to address the issue with every shift. The Civil Rights Commission report noted a former union president's testimony that during one of those meetings, a white supervisor said too big of a deal was made of the nooses. After all, there was never a black person who was lynched that didn't deserve it. The lawsuit alleges that supervisor was never disciplined.

BOYD: General Motors is supposed to stand for something, right? That's the great American company. But what are you doing about this?

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Toledo, Ohio.


WHITFIELD: Up next, over 100 million people under a winter weather alert from Missouri to Maine. A look at the storm and where it's heading right after this.


[14:53:23] WHITFIELD: The dignified transfer, one of four Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack in Syria this week, wrapped up about an hour ago at Dover Air Force Base. The president was there in attendance and paid his respects as well to the family members.

Meantime, more than 100 million Americans are facing a massive winter storm threat this weekend. It hammered places like Chicago where the city's lake front got thrashed with heavy snow and high winds. The storm has already forced the cancellation of thousands of flights. In Omaha, the airport closed for several hours yesterday after a plane slid off the runway while taxiing.

Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joining me right now. It's bad and it's only going to get worse, right?

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It has actually gotten much worse since we last spoke as far as cancellations. We're talking about 2,800. In the last hour, it was 2,400. At this point we're going to go north of 3,000 before dinnertime here. of course these are the airports that have been impacted, first across the Midwest, but the storm is headed northeast. And despite the fact that none of them are closed, it is going to be very difficult for you to get from A to B if you're going to be traveling across the eastern U.S. because we have the biggest winter storm so far this season. It stretches, the storm itself, right, from New Orleans, heading all the way into Canada. Of course, on the southern flank of it here, we still have a tornado watch in effect for Alabama and Georgia, we'll be seeing some nasty thunderstorms. But this is the real crippling stuff here, when we talk about freezing rain, ice accumulating, and then on the further northern side of the storm, we're talking about snow, 1,500 miles, that's how far the winter storm watch stretches, and that will be for tonight and into tomorrow.

[14:55:03] This is the track of the storm. Watch as it moves to the north and east. By later on this evening, the snow will start in Pennsylvania, move into the rest of the northeast corridor by later tonight. This is the problem. It is going to switch over to rain, and that would generally be a good thing because it will melt the snow. But the temperature on the ground, Fredricka, is going to be below 32 degrees. The rain is going to freeze. As it freezes, it's going to cake on power lines, and then we're going to have massive power outages across portions of the northeast by tonight and into tomorrow with that accumulating ice. Here is the snowfall. Again, this is going to be huge for the interior, but much lower along the coast.

WHITFIELD: All right, keep us posted. Ivan Cabrera, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And thank you for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. See you again here tomorrow. The news continues right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. Hello on this Saturday.