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President Trump's Personal Legal Attorney Trying To Split Hairs On What Constitutes Obstruction Of Justice; One-On-One Interview With Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen; Day 30 Of The Partial U.S. Government Shutdown And It Has Real Impact For Thousands And Thousands Of People; A Massive And Deadly Storm That Pushed Its Way Across Half The Country Is Now Hammering The East Coast; Aired 2:00-3:00p ET

Aired January 20, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: But for now, he is still locked up in cage pending a beat (ph).

Thank you for being part of my program this week and I will see you next week.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We start with President Trump's personal legal attorney trying to split hairs on what constitutes obstruction of justice. Rudy Giuliani refuting reports that the President instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, but also admitting that the President may have talked with Cohen in detail about what exactly he was planning to say in that testimony. Giuliani spoke at length with our Jake Tapper on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Did President Trump or anyone on the Trump team talk to Michael Cohen about his congressional testimony before he gave congressional testimony or after he gave congressional testimony?

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: I can tell you -- first of all, I wasn't the lawyer at the time.

TAPPER: Right.

GIULIANI: Michael Cohen's lawyers reviewed his testimony with him --.


GIULIANI: Let me answer the question.


GIULIANI: As far as I know, President Trump did not have discussions with him, certainly had no discussions with him in which he told him or counseled him to lie. If he had any discussions with him, they would be about the version of the events that Michael Cohen gave then which they all believed was true, I believed it was true, I still believe it may be true because unlike these people who want to just believe him, I believe Michael Cohen is a serial liar.

TAPPER: You just acknowledged that it's possible that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about his testimony.

GIULIANI: Which would be perfectly normal. Which the President believed was true.

TAPPER: So it's possible that happened, that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen --

GIULIANI: I don't know if it happened or didn't happen. And it might be attorney-client privilege if it happened where I can't acknowledge it. But I have no knowledge if this spoken. But I am telling you I wasn't there then. So it's not significant because the version he gave to --

TAPPER: But he's convicted of - I mean, one of the things he pled guilty to, I believe, is lying to Congress about the Trump tower deal.

GIULIANI: Which time? Which time, Jake? You can pick your time.

TAPPER: Right. About the Trump tower deal. About the Trump tower deal.

GIULIANI: But he is pleading guilty to get a reduced sentence which means he is saying what the prosecutor wants him to say.

TAPPER: But you just acknowledged that President Trump may have talked to him about his testimony.

GIULIANI: And so what if he talked to him?

TAPPER: Is it not possible that Michael Cohen had that conversation -- I'm just asking you what happened or what didn't happen.

GIULIANI: It is not possible.

TAPPER: Michael Cohen left the conversation thinking, well, this is what the boss wants me to say. The boss wants me to say --.

GIULIANI: Not possible. The guy driving this testimony was Michael Cohen. In other words, you and I are in a deal together. You are the guy running it, I'm the guy who is sitting back there doing 50 other things. When it comes time to remember what happens, I go to you and you tell me what happened, I don't tell you what happened. So Michael Cohen was telling people what happened.

I don't know if the President was briefed by him or wasn't, he certainly was briefed by his lawyers, all attorney-client privilege. But I can tell you this. Michael Cohen's lawyers believed him at the time.

TAPPER: Yes. GIULIANI: Why wouldn't the President believe him?

TAPPER: In his written answers --.

GIULIANI: He knew what happened. He, Michael Cohen, was the guy in charge of this. I emphasize that.

TAPPER: Right.

GIULIANI: President Trump was running for President. So when this comes down and everybody is in a joint defense agreement. You go to Michael Cohen and you say, Michael, what happened?

TAPPER: Right.

GIULIANI: Michael is going to remember a lot better what happened than Donald Trump where this was like this big in his recollection and it's this big in Michael's.

TAPPER: Right. So -- but let me ask you a question -- this part you were the lawyer for, in his written - lawyer for Trump for. In his written answers, President Trump's written answers to special counsel Robert Mueller's questions, what did President Trump have to say about the Trump Moscow project?

GIULIANI: He acknowledged they had conversations about it throughout 2015, 2016 --

TAPPER: Through November 2016, right?

GIULIANI: And he answered those questions fully and I think to the satisfaction of the special counsel. So I'm not at all concerned about that. He gave a full and complete answer to it. I can't share the whole thing to you, but I can share the conclusion which is he had conversations with Michael Cohen. But it was Michael Cohen driving the project as, of course, anybody who is being fair-minded would understand.

He was running, I emphasize, as President of the United States. Tied up 18 hours a day with that.

Tapper: Right.

GIULIANI: If he could devote a minute a day to this, it would be a lot. So it would be a minute here, a minute there, a minute here. Your recollection of that is not going to be that strong. The guy running the deal is going to remember it.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now from Memphis is Tennessee congressman Steve Cohen, Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Thanks so much for being with us on this Sunday. So let's begin with what we just heard, you know, from President Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani. He says the President never instructed Michael Cohen to lie in this congressional testimony but does admit that they may have discussed what Cohen was going to say. So what do you do with this information from his personal attorney Giuliani?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Both Giuliani and Trump are untrustworthy. They have a record of misstatements and lies. They go back - for Trump all his for his whole life, Giuliani since he joined Trump. So it's difficult to accept what they say, but it's clear that Trump talked to Michael Cohen, that he had interest in the Moscow deal right up to the edge of the election, and --

[14:05:24] WHITFIELD: Do you see that as potentially obstruction?

COHEN: The goal line is moved. I think it could be obstruction. I think we are going to see a lot of obstruction of justice. And I think we are going to see a lot of collusion. I think the Mueller report is going to be eye-opening to a lot of people who have unfortunately put a lot of faith into President Trump.

WHITFIELD: Michael Cohen also admitted, you know, that he lied about how late in the campaign that he talked to President Trump about the Trump tower project in Moscow. Giuliani, you know, he didn't even dispute that, but says it doesn't really matter because President Trump probably didn't remember the discussions, anyway. He also confirmed that the President, you know, was asked about it by the special counsel. So did you know that that was among the questions from the special counsel?

COHEN: No, I didn't actually know that those were the questions, no.

WHITFIELD: And now that we are hearing that from his personal attorney, how does this, you know, equip those in the House who either say now it's a time to, you know, move ahead with impeachment proceedings or, at the very least, you know, wait for Mueller's findings with baited breath?

COHEN: We are going to have hearings in both judiciary and government oversight on all of these issues concerning obstruction and the emollients clause, abuse of power that have been levied in the media and court filings about Trump. I think we are going to find out that there has been, in fact, violations of all of those things in the clause and there has been obstruction and there has been abuse of power. And I think that will eventually lead to impeachment hearings. But I think the first you do is you have to gather your facts. I think we can gather them without Mueller's help. But I think Robert Mueller's report is going to be a very, very eye opening.

WHITFIELD: And are you encouraged that you will receive a full report or at the very least a synopsis from, you know, based on what we heard from the nominee for attorney general William Barr, he believes that at least portions of it should be made public.

COHEN: I was disappointed in - with Barr's testimony, you know. The attorney general has discretion over whether to release that even to Congress. And I think it should be released except for the parts that intelligence, our intelligence folks say it needs to be redacted to protect sources and methods. We should see it all. And I think maybe that's the deal we should

make with Trump on his border wall. He gives us the entire report redacted only by CIA folks and he gives it to Congress and to the American public, and that might be the deal, and he agrees to have that be seen in public. I think that would be appropriate.

WHITFIELD: OK. And that brings us to, then, the offer of the President made yesterday on the wall and what he is hoping Republican senators will be voting on this week and eventually go to, you know, the House. Are you feeling like there is negotiations underway or do you feel that the President is not giving, not making room for negotiations from Democrats?

COHEN: I think it's an opening salvo. I think he did it partially because of the paychecks that are due out Tuesday and he knows he is going to get more political hurt because of that. And I think he did it because Nancy Pelosi had her trip to -- trip is the wrong word, probably, but her journey to Afghanistan, which is no place you really want to go but you go out of a sense of duty, and wanted it to be so -- make it look like this was important for the speaker to be there to respond to his proposal.

If you do anything with DACA, it needs to be a permanent path to citizenship, and it doesn't need to be three years, and it doesn't need to be - and I will be surprised if the Senate passes even what he's proposed. We'll see, but I will be surprised if it passes the Senate. But it is going to be a difficult slog, but to get the full funding for his wall, which is necessary.

And remember, the Mexicans were going to pay, who is going to pay for it? Mexico. We have forgotten all of about that now. And it is the American taxpayers and the American government employees who are being held hostage for paying for the wall.

The wall is up where it needs to be (INAUDIBLE) where they need to be. And what we need is technology. More money and personnel. The Democrats have offered more money for immigration courts, more money at the ports of entry for technology, more money for drones and those are the things we need to offer. And they are in the President's proposal and he could accept part of a loaf, but he wants to have his wall. His wall is something he has got -- it's a political promise he made, but the promise was the Mexicans were going to pay for it. All you Trumpers out there, don't forget he lied to you.

[14:10:25] WHITFIELD: The House speaker made it very clear not long after her swearing in, she said, there is no money for the wall. The vice President, you know, Pence was asked earlier today on CBS, you know, whether the President and when the last time the President has negotiated face to face with Pelosi, with Schumer, and the vice president said that, you know, the President bypassed Democratic leadership in negotiations, and instead went the rank and file. Why? What do you see in that strategy?

COHEN: He didn't go to the file. He tried to get some of the quote- unquote "problem solvers" to come out before him, but they said that we need to open the government first, which he didn't do. He tried to get some of the people who had been elected from prompt district to come to the White House, they refused.

Basically, he went to Jared Kushner and Mike Pence and said, what can we throw out here to make the Democrats look bad on the eve of these checks being given out and try to get -- find something?

WHITFIELD: So are you any more encouraged that all sides are closer to a deal so as to get government up and running again or do you see a stalemate.

COHEN: We need to get the government up and running. I have met with our employees, our government employees who are out of paychecks and still working. And it's I a difficult situation. But remember this. The Trump budget and the Trump tax scam put us $3 trillion more in debt. We don't have the moneys we need right now for giant infrastructure package, for healthcare for our people, and for public education and for people with disabilities.

Put $5.7 billion into a useless wall just to give the President his political needs and his personal little pet project is wrong. We have limited - less government money than ever before because of the tax scam that gave so much money to the upper two percent, just hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars to the wealthiest people, the Mar-a-Lago set, and we need that money for other things and we could do so much with research, with healthcare, with education and we don't need to be wasting that much money on a wall.

COHEN: And in your view, quickly, is the ball in the Democrats' court?

COHEN: The ball is really in the President's court. The President is supposed to be running the government. That's what he takes and notes to do, and that his job as chief executive is to keep government open and running and working and he has failed. Thirty days into a shutdown. It is the Trump shutdown. The Democrats and Republicans both in Congress article one, we appropriate the money.

Yes, he can veto it. But the Senate should have passed the bill. What we passed to open the government. We have done it eight times. Give them to the President. We want to veto it and go through the process and see if can override his vetoes. Get the government open without the wall. It is possible we could have done that. But Mitch McConnell has become the mid-chef (ph) down as well because he hadn't put the votes up in the senate and he hasn't gone through the process.

The government is supposed to be operated by the chief executive and he has failed to do his job and carry out the laws.

WHITFIELD: All right. Tennessee congressman Steve Cohen, thanks so much for your time today.

COHEN: You are welcome. Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, government shutdown day 30, 800,000 federal workers most still not getting paid. And the longer this drags on, the bigger security risk the country faces. Next a federal prison worker who says he is risking his life without getting paid a dime.


[14:18:05] WHITFIELD: We are in day 30 of the longest partial government shutdown in history and still no end in sight. President Trump is on the attack, blaming Democrats and House speaker Nancy Pelosi after his proposal to end the shutdown was shot down before he even made the announcement. Pelosi called it unacceptable and a nonstarter. Now lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are weighing in.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), BUDGET COMMITTEE: Yes. It represents progress, not perfection. I talked to the President about this issue for about an hour last week. And if you bring a plan to him that doesn't include a wall, it's dead as 4:00.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), BUDGET AND FINANCE COMMITTEE: Let me just also make clear that what the President proposed yesterday, increasing border security, looking at TPS, looking at the Dreamers. I will use that as a starting point but you have got to start by opening the government. What we cannot do, and I have actually had Republicans as well recognize this, is that we cannot reward the kind of behavior of hostage taking.


WHITFIELD: So negotiations are still at square one. And as politicians play the blame game, real people are feeling the impacts caught right in the middle of this mess. Eight hundred thousand federal workers, most of them still not getting paid, many still working. They are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families. And for them, this shutdown is 30 days too long.

Let's check in with CNN's White House reporter Sarah Westwood.

So the President, you know, offered temporary protection for immigrants in exchange for his border wall as part of his proposals. His big announcement yesterday. But Democrats have said this is dead on arrival. So where does it go from here? Is the President inviting, you know, Democratic leadership to the White House to hash it out?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Fred, the White House says Democrats, they have an open invitation to come to the White House when they are ready to negotiate on his terms. But at the moment we expect Senate Republicans to start moving on this proposal as soon as Tuesday. But right now, it looks like this bill won't have a path forward because the Democrats remain dug in on their refusal to negotiate on any kind of deal until the government is reopened.

Now the President yesterday rolling out what he calls an attempt to get the Democrats back to the negotiating table. His deal would get him $5.7 billion for a border wall, it would involve him conceding on a three-year renewal of DACA protection for those young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, as well as the three-year extension of the temporary protected status for roughly 300,000 immigrants who currently are covered by TPS. And it included a request for more funds for other border security priorities like drug detection equipment, more immigration judges.

Democrats though rejecting that proposal before the President even announced it saying they want to reopen the government immediately. They have a package of six spending bills they plan to bring forward this week. In those bills will be $1 billion for border security in general, not for the construction of a border wall.

One thing Democrats and Trump do seem to agree on, though, is the need for more immigration judges. But at the moment, this attempt to peel some of those moderate Democrats, often a Democratic leadership doesn't appear to be working, Fred. Democratic still seeming to be unified in their opposition to Trump's immigration agenda.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, thanks so much.

All right. Let's bring in Margaret Talev, senior White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News" and Daniel Dale, Washington bureau chief for the "Toronto Star."

Good to see both of you.


WHITFIELD: All right. So Margaret, you first. You know, Republican senators could begin voting on this President's proposal as early as Tuesday, as we heard Sarah say, you know. In the meantime, is it probable, you know, that Trump will actually meet with Democratic leadership to get a consensus, especially with Democrats saying, you know, that plan he announced is dead on arrival? I know he says the door is open, but it's a matter of, you know, four-party leadership, you know, representatives and the President hashing it out, kind of old style.

TALEV: Yes. Fred, I spent all day yesterday at the White House, both for the President's remarks and speaking with top officials like the vice president, the chief of staff, Jared Kushner also and the legislative affairs director. And I left there not entirely clear on whether the White House's strategy is primarily to force actual negotiations to complete a resolutions to the wall by the end of this week or whether the primary objective is to change the onus and the messaging ahead of the timing on this next federal workers' paycheck that's about to be missed.

Certainly, it doesn't seem like what was proposed, given the temporary nature of the DACA fix, given the sort of shrunken parameters of who it would affect, it is meant to actually be the deal, but it does seem like at a bare minimum, the White House's interest is understanding that there will be another paycheck at the end of this week. The interest is at least putting the onus on Democrats or trying to from a message perspective if that happens. But I do think nonetheless that it certainly seems that some elements

of what the President said, the idea that this isn't - he is not talking about a 2,000-mile coast-to-coast wall, some of those elements suggest that the White House may be acknowledging some of the pressure they are facing.

WHITFIELD: That is willing to be pliable to a certain degree?

TALEV: It's possible.

WHITFIELD: OK. So, Daniel, if part of the strategy, as Margaret was saying, you know, if it wasn't clear, part of the inference was, you know, the White House trying to change the narrative, you know, saying, OK, we at least put the offer out there and now it's, you know, up to the Democrats to come to the table. But, you know, is that really the case when already most Americans don't believe in the wall, don't support the wall? His approval ratings are, you know, going down and most Americans are blaming the President for the shutdown.

Precisely. So I think this is an attempt to get fewer Americans to blame him and more Americans to blame Democrats, you know. If indeed McConnell holds a vote, and even if he doesn't, you know, Trump will be able to say, and hope, you know, (INAUDIBLE) and media outlets covered it this way, that look, I made a good faith effort to compromise. It is the Democrats who are holding this up. You know, Republicans voted for this. Democrats didn't.

But I don't know if that will work. I mean, I think many Americans will understand that this was never a so-called compromise that was actually hashed out as a compromise with Democrats. This was a weak offer by a President who is playing a weak hands. And so I think democrats have made their point very clearly to Americans that, you know, if they are going to make some sort of trade involving DACA, it has to be a stronger offer with regard to DACA. It has to be some sort of permanent fix, not a three-year band-aide solution. So I think this is more likely a messaging effort that are real effort to end the shutdown, but I'm just not sure it is going to work even as a messaging effort.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, listen to -- this is what the President had to say when he was, you know, speaking directly to Democrats making his offer.


TRUMP: In recent weeks, we have met with large numbers of Democrat lawmakers to hear their ideas and suggestions. By incorporating the priorities of rank and file Democrats in our plan, we hope they will offer their enthusiastic support, and I think many will. This is a commonsense compromise both parties should embrace.


[14:25:26] WHITFIELD: So, Margaret, you heard the President say, you know, he reached out to talk to rank and file. You heard the vice President today say rank and file not necessarily to the leadership, you know, of the Democratic Party, but then also today, House homeland security committee chairman representative Bennie Thompson said, you know, that's not enough. He said that while he and other Democrats won't rule out, you know, a wall completely, they will go for barriers. He also says the President keeps changing, you know, the game. Listen.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: I'm saying that we will sit with the chief, the President or whomever and we will work through it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you wouldn't rule out a wall?

THOMPSON: I would not rule out a wall in certain instances, but clearly Democrats are for border security but we are not for this constantly moving the ball just for a talking point.

Mr. President, Democrats will work with you, but you can't pick what Democrats you work with. We have picked our leaders and you have to work with our leaders.


WHITFIELD: So Margaret, he is essentially saying, you know, it is back to square one. Let's start over, do over and let's begin with leadership talking to leadership.

TALEV: Well, certainly, the White House -- the President, of course, he can try to pick off any Democrat he wants. Any White House would try to do that that when the leadership isn't doing what they want them to. The difference is this. The President, you know, the Democrat who holds the most leverage in power right now is Nancy Pelosi. And the President is not trying to work directly with her. He is trying to work through the Senate.

WHITFIELD: And that's a problem, right. That's the problem.

TALEV: Well, it's only a problem if it doesn't work.

WHITFIELD: Not working.

TALEV: What they are trying to do and it was clear from yesterday, what they are trying to do is pick off enough Democratic senators in swing states during elections that have been close and people who made face reelection in the 2020 cycle or try to incorporate ideas that they have put out there before in the past.

I think on the barrier or the wall issue, maybe the meeting place in the middle, Democrat help is the idea of, you know, addressing ports of entry or drones or that sort of technology rather than beautiful shiny steel slot barriers.

But the President has made this such an under pending of his pledge to his base that in the end, I think it's almost impossible still to see how a compromise works unless Republican lawmakers and Congress kind of force the President's hand on a compromise.

So I think we are probably closer than we were yesterday, but it's not entirely clear on precisely when the shutdown ends and how.

WHITFIELD: So, Daniel, you know, it looks like the President is also caught in a really tough place because he has not able to appeal to Democratic leadership thus far. At the same time, he is finding out very quickly that he is not, really, appealing to conservatives either including like commentators Ann Coulter, even Iowa's congressman, you know, Steve King, who have been weighing in via tweet very critical, you know. But the President had to say in terms about, you know, extending, you know, offers to, you know, DACA recipients, but the vice President, you know, is still defending the President this way.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President has said that we will support temporary relief for three years for DACA recipients and those who are in temporary protected status. This is not amnesty, there is no pathway to citizenship, there is no, you know, permanent status here at all.


WHITFIELD: So is the President, you know, in a tight corner? He is trying to figure out who to please.

DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE TORONTO STAR: He is a little bit. But you know, honestly, I think we can overstate the importance of Ann Coulter and websites like Breitbart. We can treat them as sort of spokespeople for Trump's base.

But I think what has been showing definitively is that Trump's bas is willing to role with him. It is as ideological immigration as someone like Ann Coulter is. For example, when Trump first started talking positively about protecting DACA was against when they first tried to make a deal a while ago, something like 88 like in the his 80 up to 90 percent of Republican voters in polls said they were now supportive of protection for DACA recipients, which was a big change in their stance in the Obama era. So I think when Trump takes a position, much of the conservative base and certainly elected Republicans are willing to roll with him.

But I also think it is kind of ironic that they are now being accused of offering a sort of amnesty and being forced to say this is now amnesty because for so long, you know, many Republicans have described any protection for people like DACA with recipients as amnesty. Democrats have said no, no. There is no, you know, path to citizenship here. This is merely sort of - this is a semi-protection. And now it's the vice president being forced to make the (INAUDIBLE) on amnesty argument. That people like Barak Obama have been forced to be make in years past.

[14:30:11] WHITFIELD: All right. Daniel Dale and Margaret Talev, we will leave it there for now. Thank you so much.

TALEV: Thank you.

DALE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. So what about the people who are directly impacted by this shutdown? Next, a federal penitentiary worker joining me as the shutdown threatens security in some of the nation's prisons. Why the President he says he no longer feel safe.


[14:35:02] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. It is day 30 of the partial U.S. government shutdown and it has real impact for thousands and thousands of people. Pilots are warning of security risks. TSA workers, who keep our airports safe, are calling out sick. Attorneys are warning of slowing crime investigations. Federal workers say they are entering survival mode. And prison workers say this is a recipe for disaster.

Joining me right now is Kelvin Williams who has worked over two decades with the Atlanta federal prison, and he is also a local union President representing hundreds of federal employees.

You were working without getting paid. Kelvin, how are you doing? How are you making it?

KELVIN WILLIAMS, LOCAL 1145 UNION PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES: Right now I'm making it as best I can. The longer this prolongs, the more difficult it becomes.

WHITFIELD: So when you first heard the President say it could be months or perhaps even years before the government is reopened, did you believe it then? Did you think that was an exaggeration?

WILLIAMS: At first I thought it was an exaggeration, but after hearing the speech yesterday, and the other members of Congress, I think it's a possibility if not years, definitely for months.

WHITFIELD: So then, how do you continue to go to work knowing you are not getting paid right now? We are at day 30. Based on what you heard yesterday, you said it's more believable than ever to you now that this really could be prolonged. How do you continue to go to work? What kind of plans are you starting to make long term?

WILLIAMS: It's difficult to go to work knowing you're not going to get paid. We're already working in a stressful environment working in the prison system. So this added stress causes us to lose our focus on being at work and our main focus on maintaining security and safety of the institution. That becomes difficult when you are not only stressed from your duties at work but also wondering when your next paycheck is coming in, how you are going to pay your bills, you know. You have mothers, single mothers and parents that are out there in the household by themselves paying bills, so how can you do that without paying bills?

WHITFIELD: Your training is such not to be distracted by other things, to stay be focused on the job. But this one is so sizeable for many of you because, you know, February 1st is coming. Rent, mortgage, you know, car payments are due, and you can't help but not be distracted, I'm hearing you say, from those things. How do you suppose prisoners use that to their advantage to play mind games with you and other federal workers?

WILLIAMS: Yes, and it's easy for them to play mind games. They do that on a daily basis. Now that they know we are not getting paid, they try to manipulate us. We try to focus more on doing our job, you know. We signed up for this, we still come to work, we just want to get paid.

WHITFIELD: How concerned are you or perhaps other, you know, prison workers since you are the President of the federal prison union? Are you hearing from them about their concerns if I don't go to work, if I don't show up the work even though the expectation is I go to work without pay, if I don't go to work and try to find other jobs, other means temporarily that I worry I won't be able to get that job back or that I ultimately will lose that job once the government is up and running again? What are the concerns that are being expressed?

WILLIAMS: You know, right now, even now before this sit-down, it's difficult for you to quit and try to come back and get your job back. It's very difficult. I don't know what the plans are for people that do quit the job and try to come back later on to try to get an income to keep their households going, I don't know what the plan is right now. Like I say, it's very difficult to get your job back once you quit, anyway, so I don't know.

WHITFIELD: All right. We wish you the best, of course, you know. I mean, so many are behind you. And hopefully government is up and running again so that lives can be up righted again because certainly this has been a terrible turn for the worst for so many of you.

WILLIAMS: Right. Because we have single parents right now that, you know, I haven't -- one of my coworkers now had to take her child back home to Mississippi because she can't afford the daycare, you know. We are not getting paid. And a lot of companies are like, OK, you are not getting paid but we still need your money to keep your child in its spot. A lot of people can't do that so they have to make other provisions try to keep their household afloat.

WHITFIELD: Kelvin Williams, we wish you the best, and we thank you, of course, for your civil and public service. Appreciate it.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. More ahead, but first here's a preview of the new CNN film "Three Identical Strangers."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I tell people my story, they don't believe it, but it's true.

[14:40:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have always thought, what would it be like if you turn the corner one day and you saw yourself? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a dad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first time the boys met, the three together, it was a miracle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing that can keep us apart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's when things kind of got funky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something was just not right. I would like to know the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was always a question mark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The parents had never been told.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are trying to conceal what they did from the people they did it to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's still so much we don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could you not tell us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Three Identical Strangers" next Sunday at 9:00 eastern on CNN.



[14:45:01] WHITFIELD: A massive and deadly storm that pushed its way across half the country is now hammering the east coast. The storm has already killed at least three people, including two deaths in a crash in Wisconsin. And right now tens of millions are under a winter weather alert across the northeastern U.S. The system has also created chaos for air travelers with thousands of cancellations this weekend.

The big threats right now, icy roads and sub-zero temperatures. More than 60 million people are under an alert for dangerous wind chills. We have a team of reporters across the northeast.

Let's begin with CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval in Hartford, Connecticut.

So Polo, ice, wind chill, all of it big concerns.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just look outside of our vehicle, Fred. You can see it for yourself, the roads certainly still cove red with snow and ice here in Hartford, Connecticut.

Let's say what is happening right now. You have about - you have a several hundred snowplows that have been working basically around the clock throughout the state to try to clear about 11,000 miles roads here in the state of Connecticut.

Here is why. This is basically - they are scrambling to make that it happens before the temperature continues to drop because basically any of the precipitation, any of that wetness that remains on the road has potential to freeze as we are expecting a 20-degree drop, according to the current forecast, in this part of the country. Add it all up, that means any sort of smashy mass that were lingers or at least stays behind on the roads has the potential to create extremely hazardous travel conditions coming tomorrow.

So the main recommendation right now coming from authorities, this is simply to stay home if you don't have to be out and about. It is Sunday and a holiday weekend, so authorities are surely recommending the people stay home. That way they can actually focus on clearing out these roads that went to plows, can do the job in the safest and most efficient way possible.

But again, the main concern now are those frigid temperatures expecting a massive drop in this part of the country tonight, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

All right. Now let's go to CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen. She is live for us in upstate New York where some areas are digging out more than a foot of snow?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, we have got about a foot of snow here in Albany. You can see where this bench here and this beautiful coating we have got in the lawn in front of the state capital.

Now in the downtown area, they have done a great job with plows coming through yesterday overnight. They have got 50 vehicles out right now. But as Polo was mentioning, everyone is expecting this massive temperature drop. Right now we are just at under 20 degrees. But by tomorrow, the high is supposed to be five degrees and the wind chill could be negative 30. So it's going to be a very, very difficult situation.

The city is concerned about people potentially using unconventional ways of heating their homes, putting them at risk for emergencies like fires. And in that case, city vehicles are really going to have to get through these streets and they are going to need these roads cleared from the cars. And the police were telling us about the importance of people moving those cars.


STEVEN SMITH, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ALBANY POLICE: It's essential that people get their cars over to the right side, because with the drop in temperatures, cars maybe -- it makes it more difficult to get the cars moved once the snow starts to freeze.


CHEN: Yes. And so because of these really frigid temperatures tomorrow, the city has even moved their Martin Luther King Day activities indoors, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM right after this.


[14:00:00] WHITFIELD: "Saturday Night Live" kicked off its first episode of 2019 with Alec Baldwin doing his President Trump impersonation and playing a deal or no deal U.S. government shutdown edition. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier today you went on TV and you told the American people you want to make a deal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So we decided to do this in the only format you can understand. A TV game show with women holding briefcases. All right, what do you say, Mr. President?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to open briefcase number five?

BALDWIN: No, I'm saying a lot of these women are fives.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. $1 billion and you say "Nancy is my mommy."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember, every time you choose no deal, half a million federal employees work another day without getting paid.

BALDWIN: Cool story, bro. No deal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know this isn't my business but --.

BALDWIN: Shmoney.


BALDWIN: Steve, I haven't had a hamburger in the most 15 minutes. I'm going to make that deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ended a shut down for a hamburger?


WHITFIELD: Still ahead, President Trump's attorney opens up new scrutiny after revealing Trump may have talk to his former fixer about his testimony to Congress. Will that amount to obstruction of justice? We will discuss next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biltmore is one of Ashville's most popular attractions. But of the most unique ways to see Biltmore is to take one of our behind the scenes tours. You are going to have these amazing views of the property and Ashville's rolling hills as well as up-close and personal looks at the architecture of the House including these very fun gargoyles and grotesque.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you are done at the Biltmore, it's a great town to eat. A farm to table for a grill, fun. You basically hop in a van, you visit several local farms. At the end of the farm, (INAUDIBLE), you are generally sitting down to eat a meal together. They call us brewery city USA. Well each brewery has their own personality and identity. They have a long tradition of day drinking in this town. You should go to the south slope which has a high concentration of breweries, including burial beer, which is one of my favorites.

[14:55:20] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you're done with your beer, walk a few blocks over to the river arts district. There, you will see art studios. You will have a chance to purchase a unique piece of art and even talk to the artist which makes every piece more special. You're getting a piece that you are not going to find in anyone else's home.

Come to Ashville. We look forward to sharing our passion.



[15:00:05] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.