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Do Russia's Putin, N. Korea's Kim Benefit from U.S., U.K. Turmoil?; Inside the GM Plant Where Nooses and "Whites-Only" Signs Hung; How Long Will Wall Street's January Rally Last; One-on-one interview with Congressman Ted Lieu; Exclusive Interview With Former Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 20, 2019 - 18:00   ET



[18:00:08] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here.

President Trump's personal attorney today telling CNN, maybe yes, maybe no, talking about the President and his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, possibly discussing Cohen's testimony before Congress in 2017. And even if they did talk about it in the words of Rudy Giuliani, so what? Michael Cohen goes to prison in just a few weeks for a slew of charges linked to his involvement with the President including lying to Congress.

Here's Rudy Giuliani today on CNN.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Did President Trump on 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 --

TAPPER: Did President Trump or anyone --

GIULIANI: Let me answer the question.


GIULIANI: As far as I snow, 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. TAPPER: But you just acknowledged that it is 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 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 acknowledge that he spoke to him.

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: Well, is it not --?


CABRERA: CNN's Sarah Westwood is outside the White House right now.

Sarah, tell us why we just heard from Giuliani there is so important.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ana, the question of whether President Trump instructed his former attorney to lie about the duration of talks about a Trump tower Moscow project, that's been consuming Washington over the past couple of days. And as you just heard, Giuliani, the President's attorney left opened the possibility that Trump and Cohen did discussed that congressional testimony before Cohen delivered it, although Giuliani today also repeated denials that the President instructed Cohen to tell the lie that he pleaded guilty to making.

And Giuliani made a similarly eye-catching admission today as well appearing on "Meet the Press" when he said that the talks about the Trump tower Moscow project may have gone on throughout the Presidential race until November and he said that the President admitted as much in written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller's office. Take a listen.


GIULIANI: It's our understanding that they went on throughout 2016, weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can't be sure the exact dates, but the President can remember having conversations with him about it.


GIULIANI: President. Also remembers -- yes, probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November or actually is cover until the election. So any time during that period, they could have talked about it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now, this is significant especially when we look at the timeline. Because it was in August 2016 that intelligence officials warned then-candidate Donald Trump about Russian attempts to infiltrate his campaign, but if we are to believe Rudy Giuliani, that means that talks about a deal in Moscow continued three months after Trump received that warning from the intel community.

Then back in July 2016, Trump denied having any business dealings whatsoever in Russia. If Giuliani is correct, that means Trump's denial came in the midst of these talks about the Trump tower project. Here's Trump in 2016.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you I think if I came up with that, they would say, oh, it's a conspiracy theory, it's ridiculous. I mean, I have nothing to do with Russia. I don't have any jobs in Russia. I'm all over the world, but we are not involved in Russia.


WESTWOOD: Now, Cohen, of course, pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress when he said that those Trump tower Moscow talks ended in January. Mueller in those filings said that those talks continued until at least June 2016. Giuliani pushing that timeline out even further so his comments today, Ana, raising a lot more questions about the nature and the timing of talks about that Russia deal.

CABRERA: Sarah Westwood, more questions, indeed. Thank you.

I want to bring in Democratic congressman Ted Lieu of California. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee and is a former attorney.

Congressman, thanks for being here.

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: How do you interpret what Giuliani said this morning on CNN that he couldn't rule out Trump talking to Cohen about his congressional testimony?

LIEU: Many times when Rudy Giuliani appears on TV, he raises more questions than is answered, and he made two very interesting admissions, one is that it's certainly possible that Donald Trump talked to Michael Cohen before he testified in Congress and Rudy Giuliani also said that discussions about Trump tower Moscow may have gone all the way up to November 2016. That would directly contradict from Donald Trump junior told congressional investigators under oath.

[18:10:17] CABRERA: So what does that mean?

LIEU: One of the things that happened last November is in addition to Democrats running on health care and infrastructure. We also ran on having a separate and co-equal branch of government that would conduct oversight. We are going to call in these witnesses and get to the bottom of all these allegations and really find the truth so the American people knows what happened during 20916 elections.

CABRERA: I'm trying to understand, though, what your biggest concern is here because Giuliani says he is 100 percent certain Trump did not direct Cohen to lie. And if that's the case, if Trump was urging Cohen to be truthful in his testimony before Congress, when they chatted or discussed, if that happened, I mean, would it be OK, then, for Trump to talk to a witness about their testimony?

LIEU: That may very well be the case. It's important that we hold these hearings and do our investigations to either exonerate Donald Trump or to show that he committed various crimes and we need to have American people understand what actually happened. And we don't really know. What we have are basically news articles plus things that Rudy Giuliani says on TV, some of which he has to backtrack from. That's why we have to put people under oath, subpoena documents and then do our own investigations.

CABRERA: What would you tell your Democratic colleagues who say now is the time to impeach, enough is out there already?

LIEU: The first thing I would say, and I'm a former prosecutor, is that Donald Trump like any other American is entitled to the presumption of innocence. And I hope these allegations are not true because if they are, it would show that our President committed criminal acts. That's why we have to have a very, very serious investigation calling witnesses, put them under oath and then put the truth out to American people. And then based On the Record that was created we can decide what to do from there.

CABRERA: The President keeps bringing up Michael Cohen's father-in- law ahead of his upcoming testimony ahead of Congress next month. I want you to listen to another exchange on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning.


TAPPER: The President is repeatedly calling publicly on Judge Jeanine's show, on twitter. He has repeatedly calling for an investigation into Michael Cohen's father-in-law ahead of Michael Cohen's testimony before congress. By your own definition, isn't that obstruction --?

GIULIANI: No, it's defending yourself.

TAPPER: Or attempt to intimidate a witness?

GIULIANI: No, if you made that obstruction, I can't defend anybody.


CABRERA: Congressman, what's your response? Do you agree with Rudy Giuliani?

LIEU: I have no idea what Rudy Giuliani is talking about. You can't go ahead and threaten witnesses because that's actually a felony. And just because a President doesn't so publicly, doesn't mean it's not a crime and that's why we need do an investigation. I know that Lanny Davis who is Michael Cohen's attorney clearly says that Michael Cohen feels like he is being threatened and with have to look at this as another issue to investigate.

CABRERA: Do you then see the President's comments as obstruction or as witness tampering or as threatening a witness?

LIEU: That's how I read it but one of the issues is intent. What did the President intend to do? That is something we have to again get witnesses to come in under oath and testify about what actually happened. But a lot of this is out in the public, it is on twitter or it is on TV, so making the case may not be all that hard.

CABRERA: It is day 30 now of the government shutdown. You heard the President's proposal this weekend. He wants more than $5 billion for physical barriers in exchange for temporary protections for dreamers and immigrants under temporary protective status. Do you see this as a new starting point in negotiations?

LIEU: So Democrats have had a very straightforward and reasonable request that has not changed, which is Mr. President re-opened our government and then we negotiate a deal. But we can't talk about these very complicated issues with a government shutdown as a negotiating tactic. That is wrong. And if we allow this to happen, then Donald Trump will simply shut down the government later this year when he doesn't get his way again. And that's why we have to first re-open government and then we are going to talk about anything the President wants to talk about.

CABRERA: I hear your point on the principle of the matter but when it comes down to the policy, what the President is presenting, is there anything on his list that you disagree with?

LIEU: Well, yes. I think if we are going to talk about a status issue, which is DACA, totally unrelated to funding, by the way, which is why the government is shut down, I think that should be a permit request that's fixed. We shouldn't have all these folks who are worried about whether they're going to be deported and not have a permanent fix so Donald Trump's proposal for a temporary fix I would not support.

[18:10:02] CABRERA: We are here in this situation where 800,000 workers are about to get another zero dollar paycheck. People are struggling to put food on the table, pay their mortgages or their rent, pay for medicine. At what point do Democrats say it's not worth the fight?

LIEU: So, again, Democrats have a very reasonable position, which is let's re-open government and that's why we passed eight bipartisan bills in the House of Representatives to U.S. Senate to re-open government. One of them is actually just a very short-term 30-day re- opening of government so we can negotiate a deal with Donald Trump on whatever he wants to talk about in terms of immigration, but we can't have a negotiating tactic of a government shutdown that's harming people that's going to then cause us to cave on all these issues because he's just going to keep on doing this again and again.

CABRERA: Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you very much for spending time with us.

LIEU: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: I appreciate it.

Day 30 of the shutdown creating some eerie scenes in Washington.

Up next, I sit down with former homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson. Why he says the empty parking lot at his old headquarters doesn't bode well for the future of U.S. national security.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.


[18:15:35] CABRERA: I want to show you this. TSA workers at the busiest airport on the planet, Atlanta, getting donated food from a group that typically serves homeless people.


CABRERA: These are the people we depend on to find explosives in luggage having to fall back on handouts just to feed their families. The shutdown is inflicting financial pain on TSA employees, on border patrol agents, coast guard personnel, secret service agents, the very people we rely on to keep our nation safe.

Joining me now, former homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson who served during President Obama's second term.

And Secretary Johnson, you are the perfect person to have with us today as we now are entering the 30th day of this government shutdown. You obviously have had a unique position in the government and have access to information and understandings of some of the things that we don't know about when it comes to national security. What keeps you up at night?

JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY UNDER OBAMA: Right now, what keeps me up at night is the emerging security crisis we are having because really a self-inflicted wound which is the very people we depend on to keep us safe, separate and a far from any discussion about a border wall, about border security, the very people we depend on, and we depend on the people most more than anything else, to keep us safe, land, sea, air, TSA, coast guard, border patrol, customs, cyber security personnel, the secret service are people, because of the failure of our political leadership are the people that we are inflicting all sorts of stress, anxiety, and anger in their personal lives and in the lives of their family. And having led this very large workforce through three years through some periods of near government shutdowns, I know what that's like.

So, for example, 2015 when we came close to a shutdown at DHS, there was a woman who worked for TSA, I will never forget her, she had stage four cancer. And she was dependent upon her salary, her paychecks for her co-pays for cancer treatment and we were going to have to furlough her if we went into shutdown. I took on personally coaching her through the stress of this.

Most of our security personnel live paycheck to paycheck. And we are inflicting all this anxiety on them. And as you pointed out in your lead-in, these are the very people we depend on to look for explosives, to look for weapons, in luggage, for aviation security, counterdrug in the high seas.

CABRERA: And if their mind is somewhere else --

JOHNSON: And if their mind is someplace else, if they are distracted, if they are upset, we are compromising our own security. And this is something as a result of our own leaders' failure to come to an agreement.

CABRERA: Is there a breaking point?

JOHNSON: I worry there will be a breaking point if they miss their next paycheck, frankly. To miss two consecutive paychecks is a big, big deal to ask someone who makes $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a year. And even if this were resolved tomorrow, the damage we have done to our security and our law enforcement, I think, will last months if not years in terms of retention, recruitment, people in the coast guard, for example, may think twice about reenlisting. People in the secret service will have their families tell them why do you need to work these long hours and you are not getting paid? And so when I was in office, we were fighting high levels of attrition just in the secret service. And were able to turn that around, but I fear that this will be a major step backwards in so many respects.

CABRERA: Just yesterday, the President made a new pitch to the American people and really to lawmakers, Democrats, offering them some concession, some would say, in exchange for his money for border security, his wall that he's touted. But here's some of his proposals.

$800,000 million for drug detention and detection, I should say, technology, at ports of entry. Thousands more border agents. Dozens more immigration judges. And $5.7 billion for a new border barriers. He says he's talking about roughly 200 miles. Not a wall from sea to shining sea. Doesn't have to be built of concrete. Could be steel slats among other things. I want your read on this. Are these effective measures for border security?

JOHNSON: I thought there was a lot work with in the proposal. We need more immigration judges. We need more technology at points of entry where you find the most dangerous things trying to cross our southern border. And I noted the use of the word, barrier, as opposed to a wall signaling, perhaps, some flexibility there. But what strikes me most, if you could remove the emotion and the

politics from this -- from this dispute, two creative lawyers who know how to wordsmith could probably resolve it in 45 minutes. What constitutes a wall versus a fence, for example? What's the difference between a wall and a vehicle fence or a pedestrian fence?

[18:20:35] CABRERA: Do you believe that a wall or some kind of barrier is necessary in certain portions of the southern border where it maybe doesn't exist already?

JOHNSON: We have a wall now. And I suspect, I haven't looked at this in a couple years, obviously, there may be places where we could fortify existing structures, where we could -- we could strengthen places where there's just a pedestrian fence or a vehicle fence and perhaps raise it a few feet.

There may be ways to fortify what we have without wasting taxpayer money and work through and get this whole thing resolved. But I fear that what's happening right now is each side is digging in so much that it's going to be difficult to resolve. And, you know, in addition to being the former secretary, I'm a lawyer and I have resolved lots of disputes. One thing you don't do is negotiate in public which makes it harder to come to an inevitable compromise.

CABRERA: On the issue of immigration, we also learned this week thousands of more children were separated from families at the border than were previously disclosed. Also a leaked memo suggesting the Trump administration did discuss separating families much earlier than we all knew about this. This was apparently happening in 2017. These discussions were put into memos.

This is a big deal because you will recall the homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen repeatedly insisted that there was no such policy of separating families. Here's what she said last summer.


KRISTJEN NIELSEN, HOME LAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There's a lot of misinformation about what DHS is and is not going as it relates to families at the border and I want to correct the record. Here are the facts. First, this administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border. We have a statutory responsibility that we take seriously to protect alien children from human smuggling, trafficking, and other criminal actions while enforcing our immigration laws.


CABRERA: Secretary Johnson, as somebody who has recently held the same position, could she have been doing her job without knowing about this policy? Where's the responsibility here?

JOHNSON: Well, that's semantics, frankly. What this administration did, very clearly, was they launched this zero-tolerance approach to law enforcement where people who crossed the border illegally are going to be criminally prosecuted. The obvious result of which is when you put somebody in the criminal justice system, you are separating them from their children. And everyone in DOJ and DHS and HHS had to have known that and thought that through. Thought through the implications of that. And so when my successor says there was no policy to separate kids, there's a bit of a semantic game going on there because that was the consequence of zero tolerance. Everybody had to know that.

CABRERA: And that consequence was outlined in these memos in 2017.

JOHNSON: Correct. Which makes one believe that what they did was just simply a subtle nuance in difference from what was contemplated earlier on.

CABRERA: Well, now we are hearing from Democratic senator Jeff Merkley along with some other high-profile Democrats including congressman Nadler and Cummings and calling for the FBI to investigate Nielsen for perjury. What's your take on that?

JOHNSON: Well, I haven't seen this memo. The only thing I have to say about this whole debate is don't talk to the American people like they are stupid. They launched a zero-tolerance policy with not a whole lot of planning and deliberation which led to disastrous consequences, was contrary to American values and wasn't that effective at all to begin with. The result of which a lot of families were separated. And that's obvious - it is obvious to anyone who saw what happened and it would have been obvious to anyone in DHS before they launched it. And so, don't talk to the public like we are stupid and will just simply accept at face value whatever we are told by our leaders.

CABRERA: Should she have to come clean? Should she have to be questioned? And should there be an investigation pursued into what she knew?

JOHNSON: Well, I will leave that to Congress, but it seems obvious to me what is going on here. And that's up to Congress.

CABRERA: OK. Let me ask you this because I know you continue to do consulting work when it comes to cyber security. And you were at the helm of DHS back in 2019 during the Russian hacking. There's new CNN reporting that the DNC was also allegedly was attempted to hack by Russia after the midterm elections. Just after the midterm elections. What are your thoughts about that?

[18:25:09] JOHNSON: Well, our intelligence leaders in this administration have told us publicly that the Russians are still at it. They warned us. They told us that the Russians were still trying to manipulate our democracy in the run-up the 2018 election. There's no indication that they have stopped. And so, that, to me, was not a surprise.

My overall reaction is when you are dealing with nation states, we cannot have a 100 percent defense in our cyber security. You have to create sufficient deterrents such that the other nation state -- and all nation states, whether they are democracies or communist regimes, behave in a certain way when it comes to their behavior. If you create sufficient deterrents, if you make the behavior cost prohibitive, they will stop. And right now, we have yet to do that.

I think some of the sanctions that have been put in place have been effective. I think they were worthwhile. I think it was the right thing to do. But we have yet to create a sufficient deterrent, I suspect, on the Russian government to end what they are doing.

CABRERA: What needs to happen? What would be that deterrent?

JOHNSON: Well, sanctions do have an effect. Sanctions, focused, directed against the right people or entities do have an effect. And so, more can be done there. But there is more we should be doing on defense. For one thing, put back to work our cyber security experts and homeland security.

The other day, I was in Washington driving along Nebraska Avenue, passed my old headquarters at DHS. Wednesday at 4:00. What was shocking to me was the parking lot was empty. Nobody was -- almost nobody was home at the headquarters of homeland security, which includes our nation's cyber security. So we have to put these people back to work. I fear our guard is being let down right now. As long as our leaders fail to compromise to put people back to work to protect us.

CABRERA: Secretary Jeh Johnson, thank you for being here.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

CABRERA: Good to have your insight.

Good week for Russia? Shutdown, Brexit. A slew of headlines from both the U.S. and the UK spell turmoil in the west. Up next, how the news just keeps getting better for Vladimir Putin.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:31:43] CABRERA: President Trump facing day 30 of the longest government shutdown in history with no end in sight, and no signs of a possible deal. Across the pond, America's strongest ally gripped by political chaos and uncertainty. British Prime Minister Theresa May saw her Brexit plan go down in flames rejected by parliament.

And with us now to discuss, Max Boot, a Washington Post Columnist and senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, and CNN Politics Reporter Stephen Collinson covering the White House and politics around the world.

And Stephen, you wrote earlier this week that all this turmoil in the U.S. and the U.K. is music to Vladimir Putin's ears. Explain.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Ana. So Vladimir Putin's project over the last decade or so has been to restore Russia's lost influence and prestige that it drained away at the end of the Cold War. And one of the ways he's done that is to try to discredit the institutions of the west and its democracy. So we've seen definitely the Russian intervention in the U.S. election. There's talk that there was also a Russian intervention in the Brexit vote a couple years ago. And even if there wasn't, the turmoil we're seeing now in Washington and London rebounds to Putin's advantage.

In the United States, we have a government that is not even open. We had a surreal debate last week about whether the president of the United States was, in fact, acting on behalf of Russia. In London, you have massive political dissent that mirrors some of the polarization in the United States. And the government there can't agree nor can the parliament on the biggest geopolitical question and crisis facing Britain since the end of the Second World War, its relationship with Europe. So, all of this works to taint western democracy and then the zero-sum game that President Putin is playing, that is to his advantage.

CABRERA: Max, the experts all say Putin's goal is to infuse chaos into democracy. Do you see him as the puppet master here or simply the beneficiary of what's happening right now?

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, I think puppet master is probably a little strong but he is definitely the beneficiary and he's certainly a contributing cause because as was just mentioned, he did support Donald Trump, he did support Brexit. Now you can argue about to what extent his involvement made a difference or not but clearly, it's there. And -- but in both cases it's also part of this larger movement which is this kind of right- wing populism, there's also left-wing populism but in the case of the U.K. and U.S. right now, we're talking about right-wing populism run amok. And in both cases you have extremists who are basically manufacturing crises and they don't have any obvious way out of those crises.

In the case of the United States, you have Donald Trump saying we have a border emergency, we have to build a wall. We don't have a border emergency. The number of undocumented immigrants coming across the southern border is down 75 percent since the year 2000. This is a manufactured crisis to motivate his base and even if it were real, it would not be solved by building 200 miles of wall at a cost of $5.7 billion.

And in the case of the U.K., what is the crisis for the U.K. about why they have to leave the European Union? The United Kingdom is doing very well, they are not being oppressed by the European Union.

[18:35:00] This has actually been to their benefit, I would argue, economically and security wise to be part of the -- to be part of Europe. But Brexit opponents conjured up this image of hordes of immigrants inundating the U.K. which was not going to happen -- is not going to happen and they scared people and got a small vote to get out of the European Union, promising that there would be all these benefits and no cost. And now guess what, there's a lot of cost to getting out of the European Union and Prime Minister May can't figure out how to do it in a way that will please everybody. And so in both cases, with a deadline coming up on Brexit, with the government shutdown in the U.S., in both cases you have the government kind of hurtling towards a wall at 100 miles-per-hour and don't know what the off ramp is.

CABRERA: Well, now add this to the mix, we have a second summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un planned for next month. Critics are questioning why, saying Kim hasn't earned it. Stephen, what do you make of the timing of this? Could it have anything to do with Trump wanting to change the headlines to Trump the statesman away from headlines like we saw and you referenced in the New York Times last week about the investigations into whether Trump was working as a Russian agent?

COLLINSON: Certainly, it could. It's clear that the president needs a foreign policy success. We've seen the disarray of the administration over the last few weeks regarding his sudden announcement that he was going to pull out troops from Syria and then the administration trying to roll back that announcement a little bit. There's a big question around the world as to exactly what the policy of the United States is under the Trump administration on many of the most critical foreign policy issues. So by going and having a summit with Kim in February, the president can sort of stride the world again and get his big photo op.

I think the question is, though, is there really a justification for this summit? One of the big criticisms of the last summit between Kim and the president in Singapore was that the president gave Kim all the leverage because he was getting the advantage of standing side by side with the most powerful man in the world. And the American side didn't really get much out of Kim, apart from an undertaking to move towards denuclearization. And the time has passed since that summit, we've seen very little movement towards permanent denuclearization.

In fact, U.S. intelligence agencies have suggested that the work on the missile, nuclear programs is still going on. So I think there's going to be a great deal of pressure on the president to come back from the next something -- summit with something tangible.

CABRERA: I mean, to that point, it was just one month ago, December 20th, a CNN headline reads, "North Korea Will Not Denuclearize Until the U.S. Eliminates Its Own Nuclear Threat." Of course, there were questions about doing that first summit, Max, but what has Kim Jong-un done to earn or deserve this second summit?

BOOT: Nothing, but Donald Trump is desperate for something to distract from his domestic attentions, hence the summit. And it's very interesting that you don't hear the Trump administration even talking any more about denuclearization with North Korea. They're talking about how great it is that there's a nuclear freeze going on right now in terms of testing, even though the North Korean nuclear program continues to expand.

CABRERA: But what about John Bolton's argument that, you know, he told the Wall Street Journal that this second summit would actually be productive because they haven't moved far enough along in holding up their end of a deal that a face to face might hold them more accountable?

BOOT: Well, I think the more likely outcome, Ana, is that Donald Trump is going to make concessions that a John Bolton or Mike Pompeo would not make. I mean, Kim Jong-un has made clear that he wants major concessions before he will even talk about denuclearization including a peace declaration ending the Korean War, an end of that military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, relaxation of sanctions and Donald Trump could well give him some of that. In fact, the fear right now in Japan is that he could strike some kind of deal where North Korea would promise to scale back their ICBM program which is the chief issue that the U.S. is concerned about but leave their medium range and short-range arsenals intact. In return for that, Donald Trump could conceivably pull U.S. troops out of South Korea because right now the U.S. and South Korea are in the middle of a contentious negotiation over how much the South Koreans will pay to subsidize those troops and Donald Trump, that's always been a sore point for him.

So I think there's a real sense of risk I think in both South Korea and in Japan in terms of what's actually going to happen at the summit, how much is Donald Trump willing to give up?

CABRERA: We will see. Max Boot, Steve Collinson, thank you both, gentlemen.

Coming up, racist comments threat, even a noose hanging in an area where a black employee worked. The shocking allegations against General Motors, next.


[18:43:48] CABRERA: Nooses, "whites-only" signs and the n word on full display. Sounds like something from the Jim Crow era, right? But that's not what, more than -- this is exactly, in fact, what more than a half dozen black autoworkers at a General Motors plant in Ohio say they're facing now in a lawsuit against the automaker. GM says it's doing all it can to get rid of the problem but a state law enforcement agency says they aren't doing enough.

CNN's Sara Sidner has the details on this story and I must warn you, it includes disturbing racial slurs.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyday, he walked into work, Marcus Boyd prayed he'd survive his shift unscathed.

MARCUS BOYD, FORMER GM SUPERVISOR: I thought like I was at war, risking my life everyday.

SIDNER (voice-over): 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 got 11 or 12 people who want to put a noose around your neck and hang you until you're dead? SIDNER (voice-over): There's a reason he brings up nooses, it's not just a figure of speech.

BROOKS: This is, yes, the picture of the noose that I found the night that I'm -- I was at work on my shift.

[18:45:01] SIDNER (voice-over): According to a lawsuit now pending against GM, this is one of at least five nooses discovered at their 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 (voice-over): 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.

(on camera) 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 (on camera): He said what to you?

BOYD: That was a death threat. And I was told to push (INAUDIBLE) aside.

SIDNER (voice-over): Boyd says he reported the incident.

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

SIDNER (voice-over): But he says the threats got worse.

(on camera) Were you afraid for your life?

BOYD: Definitely. That's why I left.

SIDNER (voice-over): When the noose appeared in March of 2017, Derrick Brooks said 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 (voice-over): Brooks and other black employees also noticed being called "Dan".

BROOKS: I thought they just mispronounced my name for Derrick then later I find out that "Dan" was an acronym for dumb-ass nigger.

SIDNER (voice-over): General Motors sent us a statement insisting discrimination and harassment are 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."

(on camera) And that everyday, everyone at General Motors is expected to uphold the values that are an integral part of its culture. But according to more than 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's a culture.


BOYD: You have to -- it's from the top down. And the bottom up.

SIDNER (voice-over): One employee filed a police report, others filed complaints with the Ohio civil rights commission prior to filing suit.

DARLENE SWEENEY-NEWBEM, OHIO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION: The ultimate decision that was made is that GM did allow a racially hostile environment.

SIDNER (on camera): They alleged they investigated quickly and have done remedial things to take care of the problem.

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

SIDNER (voice-over): 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 being 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 (voice-over): Sara Sidner, CNN, Toledo, Ohio.


CABRERA: Now this week's "Before the Bell", here is CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans. Hi, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Big question now, can the January rally last after that big meltdown at the end of 2018? Corporate earnings are likely to drive things from here on out. Last week, big banks reported mostly positive results helping to power stocks higher and now investors see opportunity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what happened at the end of the year last year was that the market actually started to price in an earnings recession for 2019. We have to ask ourselves how realistic is that? And we think the likelihood of earnings growth is actually much higher than an earnings recession for sure.


ROMANS: This week, Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor, Starbucks, and Johnson and Johnson are among the big companies reporting quarterly earnings. Now, keep in mind, it's a short week on Wall Street. Monday, trading is closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.


[18:54:17] CABRERA: The death toll is climbing following a deadly pipeline explosion in Central Mexico. Officials say at least 79 people are now dead and dozens more are hurt in the wake of Friday night's explosion. This happened about 65 miles north of Mexico City. Mexico's general prosecutor says the preliminary belief is that the explosion was caused by static electricity from the clothing of people who were around the pipeline.

It's the magazine cover guaranteed to stand out. Thanks to just one word, "Impeach". We'll talk to the author on why he believes removing Trump from office is the antidote to chaos.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: It's 7:00 Eastern in the afternoon (INAUDIBLE).