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Day 30 Of The Government Shutdown Is Almost Over; Lawmakers Are Reintroducing A Bill To Hold China Accountable For The Mass Internment Of Its Ethnic Muslim Minorities; Deadly Pipeline Explosion In Central Mexico; Giulian: 'So What' If Trump & Cohen Discussed Testimony; GOP Lawmaker Warns Against Talk Of Impeachment; Arizona "DREAMer" Reacts To Trump's DACA Offer. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 20, 2019 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:06] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Its 7 o'clock Eastern, 4:00 in the afternoon out West. Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera in the CNN NEWSROOM. 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 bunch 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 or anyone on the Trump team talked to Michael Cohen about his congressional testimony before he gave Congressional testimony or after he gave Congressional testimony?

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

TAPPER: Right.

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

TAPPER: Yeah, but did President Trump --

GIULIANI: I'm sure -- No, no. 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 believe was true.

TAPPER: But 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 that happened that President Trump talked to Michael Cohen about --

GIULIANI: I don't know if it happened or didn't happen. And it might be attorney/client privileged if it happened where I can't acknowledge him. But I have no knowledge when 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 about it?

TAPPER: Is it not --


CABRERA: CNN's Sarah Westwood is outside the White House right now. Sarah, that is a significant admission from Rudy Giuliani today, to say the least. And it's not the only one he made while making the rounds on T.V. this morning.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Giuliani leaving open the possibility that President Trump and Cohen did discuss the testimony that Cohen delivered to Congress, where he made a false statement that resulted in a criminal charge.

Although Giuliani repeated denials that President Trump instructed his former lawyer to lie and Giuliani also raising eyebrows when he suggested that talks about a potential Trump Tower Moscow deal may have lasted throughout the entirety of the presidential election, all the way to November.

Appearing on "Meet The Press" this morning, Giuliani also said that President Trump admitted as much in his written answers to questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office. Take a listen.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout 2016.

GIULIANI: Yeah. Probably up to -- it could be up to as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election. So any time during that period, they could have talked about it.


WESTWOOD: Now, this is especially significant when we look at the time line because it was in August 2016 that intelligence officials warned President Trump about Russian attempts to infiltrate his presidential campaign. So if Giuliani is to be believed, that means that talks about a potential Trump Tower Moscow deal continued three months after then candidate Trump received that warning.

Trump has also denied previously having any business ties in Russia in July 2016. He said, he didn't have any dealings with Russia. But, again, if Giuliani is correct, that means that the Moscow project was under discussion when Trump made that denial. 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're not involved in Russia.


WESTWOOD: Now, Cohen initially told congressional investigators that talks about Trump Tower Moscow ended in January 2016, a lie for which he was prosecuted. Mueller then said the talks stretched until at least June 2016. Giuliani pushing that time line, even further back when his suggestion today.

So Ana, those comments from the President's personal lawyer raising more questions about the timing and nature of that Trump Tower Moscow deal.

CABRERA: Sarah Westwood at the White House for us. Thank you. I want to bring in Former Federal Prosecutor, Michael Zeldin, he worked with Robert Mueller at the Justice Department and then also with us Politics Editor and Washington Bureau Chief at the Atlantic, Yoni Appelbaum. He is behind this Atlantic cover story calling for the President's impeachment.

Gentlemen, thanks for being with us. Michael, I want to begin with you. What do you make of the President's Attorney, Rudy Giuliani, now admitting Trump may have talked to Cohen about his Congressional testimony? But he says so what if he did? That is perfectly normal. Is it perfectly normal?

[19:05:01] MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it may be if his joint defense agreement and the parties are speaking to each other about events in the case that they can speak to one another. What would be inappropriate, of course, is if anyone knew that Michael Cohen was going to make a misstatement or a lie to Congress and then in some way acquiesced in that lie.

So it doesn't have to be as was the reporting in BuzzFeed on Thursday or Friday, that the President directed Cohen to lie for it to implicate liability for the President or anybody else. If they knew that a false statement was going to be made and they accepted it, they aided, they abetted, they conspired in it, that could all bring rise to it. We don't have evidence of that, right? So depending on what, you know, what it is, that they talked about.

CABRERA: So just yes or no, to make sure I understand what you're saying.

ZELDIN: Right.

CABRERA: No, no. It was great. Thank you for laying that out there. But I do want to make sure our viewers and I understand. If the President didn't necessarily direct Cohen to lie to Congress, but knew that Cohen was going to lie to Congress, then that could still be a problem for the President.

ZELDIN: I think that's right. You know, some may disagree with me. But I think that if you have two people who are conspiring or agreeing or coordinating with one another, and one says, look, I'm going to give false testimony, the other one says, you know, cool, that's all right, go for it, that will protect, you know, both of us, that I think is criminal.

As I said, we don't have the factual predicate for it. But it doesn't have to be a direct order, go lie for it to implicate legal liability for the two parties.

CABRERA: OK. And what about Giuliani's admission that Trump Tower talks with Russian may have lasted up until Trump took office? Is that problematic?

ZELDIN: Well, I mean, politically, it's problematic because the president said he had no dealings with Russia during a time period when he was in contractual negotiations with them. So, you know, you could be very lawyerly and say no dealings means, I don't have a signed contract. But I think to the ordinary person, if you've got a 17-page offer sheet with them and you're meeting with them and you are discussing the possibility of building a tower there that could net you millions of dollars, that's doing business.

So that's a political liability. Because it doesn't seem like he was, you know, completely forthright with it. Whether it's a legal problem, I don't think it's a legal problem for him to sort of lie to the American public unless of course, one takes the view that Ken Starr and some others have, which is if you lie to the American public as a means of improperly obtaining your office, then that could be an impeachable offense as set forth, you know, from the time of the convention in 1778 or whatever it was, '76, whatever the -- he only will tell us when the convention was. But, George Mason from --

CABRERA: Don't test me.

ZELDIN: -- talked about that specifically, obtaining it by means of fraud.

CABRERA: OK. Yoni, let's talk about this idea of impeachment. I heard the word from Michael just there. I know you say it's time for lawmakers to go there. Here's the cover of "The Atlantic" again in your piece. You write, quote, the oath of office is a President's promise to subordinate his private desires to the public interest, to serve the nation as a whole rather than any faction within it. Trump displays no evidence that he understands these obligations.

So when you hear Giuliani say the President may have been pursuing a business deal with Russia throughout the entire presidential campaign, what do you think?

YONI APPELBAUM, POLITICS EDITOR & WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think the last 48 hours are a really great illustration of how badly this process is going and why Congress ought to summon up the courage to do it right.

The Constitution gives us a process for weighing these sorts of claims that are now being levied against the President. It is a process that Congress can initiate at his pleasure. The House can convene an impeachment inquiry into the President. It can hear from witnesses. It can parse the evidence. It can put it out there for the public to offer a degree of clarities that we're not relying on second-hand leaks and contradictory reporting and we're not parsing Rudy Giuliani's statements.

We're hearing directly from the people with knowledge of it. And these sorts of claims are troubling enough that Congress ought to get moving.

CABRERA: Earlier asked Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, if he was concern about this new timeline from Giuliani that Moscow Trump's Tower or the thought of Moscow Trump Tower and it talks about that potential deal may have lasted until November to the election. He actually mentioned impeachment and warned against it. Listen.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: It's definitely concerning in terms of, you know, we were told in January that it ended and now we know it didn't. You know, the President can say what he wants to say. If it's not under oath, it's not impeachable. So people that are quick to jump on that train need to be careful on that.


CABRERA: Yoni, do you think you're being too quick to jump on the impeachment train as Kinzinger says?

APPELBAUM: Well, let me correct the congressman. An impeachable offense is a high crime or misdemeanor. But that doesn't mean that it has to be a criminal act. On this, there's actually remarkable consensus among constitutional scholars. And it goes back to the convention in 1789 and it's followed four or three time.

[19:10:12] An impeachable offense is one in which the President betrays the public trust and undermines his office. It's a broad, that deliberately broad term of legal art that's adopted from British common law and brought over to the American context. And so the question here isn't, actually, whether or not the President has violated criminal statutes, it's whether his conduct meets that very high bar. And I think the fact that we're sitting here tonight discussing it on the air is ample indication that the debate ought to be moved off of the streets, out of the cable news panels, and into Congress where it properly belongs.

CABRERA: Michael, do you think it's too soon to be talking impeachment?

ZELDIN: Well, I don't disagree with Yoni's proposition that this needs to be in acquired in one of the things that was troubling to me during the last Congress was that so many of the hearings were held behind closed doors. So I don't know yet whether I believe there's a predicate for any sort of convening of a committee for the purposes of inquiring of impeachment articles.

But surely, the House and Oversight Committees should look into this and they should do so in public so that we get a sense of what is it that really happened here, who did what, who said what, so we can then perhaps move to where Yoni wants us to go if there is a predicate for that.

CABRERA: I guess that is one question I have Yoni, why not wait for the Mueller report to come out for all of the facts to be laid out. I hear what you're saying, where it's not all about did the President break the law and you're looking at this one maybe sliver of what could lead to impeachment. But could that be a dangerous President to set if that's what the -- I guess the bar becomes?

APPELBAUM: Sure, well, I think there are two answers to that. One is that a variety of claims lodged against the President are outside of the scope of Robert Mueller's probe. So, for example, Michael Cohen has said publicly in court and pled guilty to being directed by the President to break campaign finance laws, to aid in his election. That's not something that Robert Mueller is examining.

Are there questions about the commingling of his private businesses and public interest during his time in the presidency and during the campaign, as you noted? Those questions too are largely outside the scope of the Mueller probe. So simply waiting for it, it won't address those things.

The other reason is that in past investigations, for example in Watergate, the special prosecutor moved forward with his probe in tandem with the Congressional investigations, and they worked well together, this has to be a process that lays the evidence out before the public. It's not too soon to start that, because it puts rules, process, and procedure around the kinds of claims that are currently being bandied about without any of that.

CABRERA: Let's just look at the Mueller report for a second, Michael, because there are questions over whether it will be made public. Do you think if confirmed, that's Attorney General William Barr, will release this report publicly? ZELDIN: So Barr gave a very legalistic answer in his confirmation hearings, which was to say that if the regulations authorize me to do so, I will. But I wrote a piece up on earlier this week where I said, the regulations are not really clear about whether he has the authority, even if he wants to, to release that report.

I think he can if he wants to. But I think he can also find a reason not to. And so really it's going to be based on the good faith of Bill Barr whether we see the whole report or we see his summary of the report, which I think blends in some sense to Yoni's point. My view is, I would rather see it start at the Congressional Oversight Committees before we move forward from that.

But I think the Congressional Oversight Committees should be able to subpoena that report independent of the release by Barr so we that we can see it and assess it and make then a secondary determination of what should we do about his findings.

CABRERA: Michael Zeldin and is it Yoni or Yoni? Forgive me if I was --


CABRERA: It is Yoni. Thank you so much Yoni Appelbaum as well as for being with us, appreciate it guys.

APPELBAUM: Thank you.

[19:14:10] CABRERA: A deadly winter storm taking hold in cities all across the Northeast right now. We'll tell you where it's headed next. Plus, what's a super blood wolf moon? It's happening tonight. We'll explain. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Millions of Americans who woke to winter weather alerts this morning are now bracing for bitter-cold temperatures snow-blanketing highways from North Carolina to Maine this weekend bringing dangerous conditions to roads, railways, airports.

In fact, a plane skidded off this icy runway at Chicago's O'Hare Airport yesterday, where 650 flights were also canceled because of the ice and snow. A snowplow driver in Kansas died in a crash while clearing roads yesterday. And two people died in a wreck on a snow- covered road in Wisconsin.

And just this afternoon, a utility worker was killed in Connecticut, when a tree fell on him while he was clearing a power line. Meteorologist Tom Sater is joining us now from the weather center. Tom, I understand the Northeast will soon get some of the coldest temperatures of the season.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Now, the entire winter season and to make it worse, if the models are correct, Ana, I think next week we're looking at even a colder blast that could be strong enough to get down to Florida and that citrus area. Storm is leaving the Northeast. But in its wake, 12.5 inches Wisconsin, look at Buffalo Airport, 11. Then we get over 10 in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois. It was a deadly storm.

Even when it hit the west coast, we had those accidents. We had an avalanche at a ski resort in New Mexico. Rochester, 18.5, Eerie, Pennsylvania, 17, the list goes on and on. The snow and ice is going to be on the roads for a while with this cold air moving in. The good news is, we're starting to see it lift out of the areas hour, hour and a half delays, Newark and JFK right now, a ground delay at Logan in Boston. And a little concern still about the Boston area and the Suburbs Northward, because not just the delays, it's the icing that could still take effect.

[19:20:11] You look at the heavier snowfall, yes, its interior sections, 1 to 2 feet, still to come. But that icing could be a big, big problem for those trying to catch up on lost time. JetBlue said 770 cancellations as far as that's concerned. But the cold air moving in is going to be brutal, as it moves in, wind chills overnight tonight, minus 5, minus 10, minus 15. The temperature drops are incredible. But then it gets even colder. We could see minus 30, minus 35. So we've got 70 million under some sort of advisory.

CABRERA: Ooh, I'm getting the chills just thinking about this, Tom.


CABRERA: I also hear there's this rare super blood wolf moon rising tonight. Tell us a little bit about this.

SATER: Yes. Sky cover permitting, this is something because it's a super moon, because it's the closest proximity to earth for the entire year. All of North America and South America will have a total lunar eclipse, including parts of Western Africa, maybe the United Kingdom, as well.

Totality begins on the east coast at 11:41, when it takes on that orange color, that hue. That's why they call it the blood red moon. So it's super, it's larger, it's closer. It gets red now. This is until about 12:43, its totality. So enjoy this one, sky cover permitting. Now, we're not going to have one for a number of years. But in most locations with the exception of that storm still in the New England area, I think clear skies should give us quite a show tonight.

CABRERA: How cool. Tom Sater, thank you.

SATER: Yes. Sure.


CABRERA: Oh my gosh, I hear this all the time at my house. My 3- year-old daughter loves this song. And it was playing loud and clear in Massachusetts. You can hear the laughter there when an officer played it from, of course, the movie "Frozen" while patrolling the snowy streets in Somerville. The man posted the clip on Twitter, Saturday. And said police were out enforcing a snow emergency parking ban, and a fun way to remind people about parking rules during the snowstorm. This was the idea here.

A day after the President's offer to Democrats falls flat. Reaction now from someone personally involved. An Arizona DREAMer and college student will join us live, next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:26:52] CABRERA: Welcome back. Young, undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers are back in the spotlight this week, and becoming a presidential bargaining chip in the epic Trump/Pelosi shutdown battle. President Trump tried to convince Democrats into funding his border wall by offering a sweetener, temporarily extending the Obama-era program that affects DREAMers from deportation, the response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a firm no.

I wanted to know, how do DREAMers feel about the President's offer and the ongoing debate over his proposed border wall? Joining us now, Belen Sisa, she's an Arizona DREAMer and college student. I first talked to you back in 2017, Belen, after that viral Facebook selfie showing an IRS 1040 tax form. You highlighted the fact that DREAMers pay Arizona state taxes. And so it's good to see you again. Thanks for being here.

BELEN SISA, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT "DREAMER": Thank you so much for having me, Ana.

CABRERA: Belen, the President put out his proposal last night that included a three-year extension of the DACA program. What's your reaction? Is that reassuring to you?

SISA: Well, let's start off with, my reaction is, I don't know if the President is completely ignorant to history or if he has gone delusional to what happened a year ago when he ended the program himself.

If he truly cared about DREAMers, if he truly cared about undocumented youth, he would not be using us as bargaining chips through his tantrum of getting a wall that makes no sense that majority of the American public does not want. It's like lighting your house on fire and then going outside and trying to put it out yourself by blaming it on other people.

CABRERA: What does it feel like to even be part of this conversation to reopen the government? You said you felt like a bargaining chip or that he was using you as a bargaining chip. Help me understand what it's like to be that.

SISA: It's horrible. It's really disappointing and saddening to see that the person who is supposed to hold this country together is doing nothing but dividing the American people by holding immigrant youth hostage. And by placing the blame on everyone but himself while almost a million federal workers are not being paid.

Immigration has nothing to do with our own working class being paid. If anything, we want the government to reopen. We just do not want it to happen at the expense of throwing others under the bus. CABRERA: Do you think the Democrats should take this deal, just for your own sake, for peace of mind that the rug won't get ripped out from under you right now?

SISA: I think they should absolutely not take this deal. And the reason why is because right now, DACA is still in place. Courts are upholding and protecting the program that President Obama passed. And we will continue to fight. But we will not do it at the expense of others.

CABRERA: I want you to listen to something else the President said last night as he reflected on a naturalization ceremony that he had participated in earlier in the day.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told them that the beauty and majesty of citizenship is that it draws no distinctions of race or class or faith or gender or background. All Americans, whether first generation or tenth generation, are bound together in love and loyalty, friendship and affection. We are all equal. We are one team. And one people, proudly saluting one great American flag.


CABRERA: Belen, what did you make of the President's tone there? Does that sound like a President who has become more empathetic to your family situation?

BELEN SISA, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT "DREAMER": Absolutely not. If anything, this sounds completely hypocritical. His actions are not matching his speech. They are not matching anything that he said. He is a person that has been running this country, and even campaigned on us not being equal. How could he turn around and slap us in the face? It is very, very noticeable.

And honestly, I don't know how he is even trying to hide it. He is lying. I am asking the President, please stop lying and actually put forth a solution to reopen this government and for Dreamers and our families to have permanent protection in the place we call home.

CABRERA: As your future hangs in the limbo, what do you have planned at this point for your future?

SISA: Well what I have planned is to continue being civically engaged. I can't vote myself. But getting other people in this country, my peers, my neighbors, to take political action. 2020 is just around the corner. And Dreamers, undocumented youth and our families, we are not giving up. And we will ensure that in the elections to come, we will have allies in the White House, and we will have allies in the Senate and Congress.

CABRERA: Belen Sisa, thank you so much for being here. Let's keep in touch.

SISA: Thank you.

CABRERA: Thanks.

It's the new CNN original series, style is a window to where we have been. It tells a story. We are talking about the original series, "American Style." It continues into the 1980s tonight at 9:00 here on CNN.


[19:36:24] CABRERA: Day 30 of the government shutdown is almost over, and still no end in sight to end this impasse. That means 800,000 federal workers, plus countless federal contractors will start another week not knowing when they will see a paycheck. And former homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, says that is putting the nation at risk.


JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECRETARY UNDER OBAMA: The other day, I was in Washington, driving along Nebraska Avenue, past my old headquarters at DHS. Wednesday at 4:00. Wednesday at 4:00, and 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: That brings us to your weekend Presidential brief, a segment we bring you every Sunday night, highlighting some of the most pressing national security information the President will need when he wakes up tomorrow.

And joining us now, former national Security Council adviser and CNN national security analyst, Sam Vinograd.

Sam, as we just heard there, the shutdown is about much more than just this battle of wheels between the President and congressional Democrats. So much is at stake. What should the President be thinking about right now?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the President should do something that is anathema to him, and that is thinking about the long-term impact of this shutdown. The truth is, the threats associated with the shutdown aren't going to go away once the government reopens, because there are going to be resource drains well into the future.

When we look at the range of activities that aren't being performed right now, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that aren't being performed because of the shutdown, we know that key national security functions are going unaddressed. You look at the FBI, where investigations aren't proceeding at pace because agents have to cut costs. The state department, where diplomats are cancelling meetings and not engaging with counterparts, which is their job, by the way, because of less resources.

Once a government reopens, there is going to have to be a very honest damage assessment of everything that we miss doing during the shutdown. And that is going to represent yet another resource drain, even when the government reopens, just so that we can play catchup.

CABRERA: And that's the backdrop as we head into now a second summit with Kim Jong-un, the President and his team announcing that it's going to happen next month. The planning process has begun, we assume. What should the President be doing to prep for that?

VINOGRAD: Well, when we used to prep President Obama for major meetings, we started out by asking for a baseline assessment of a foreign leader's intentions and the threats and opportunities that a foreign leader represented. At this point, the baseline assessment on Kim Jong-un is that he represents more of a threat today, not less, than he did in June at the Singapore summit or even when President Trump took office. And that's because his nuclear arsenal is actually getting bigger, not smaller.

We knew at the end of 2017 he had upwards of 60 warheads. And Kim said publicly in his new year's speech that he has not frozen production on nuclear weapons. He is continuing until we give him what he wants. That means that he is getting stronger from a nuclear perspective every day that goes by. And that really means that as we think about our goal for the second summit, we should be working at least towards a nuclear freeze. And any concessions that we give to Kim Jong-un have to be really, really carefully tailored to match the fact that, again, he is negotiating from a position of increased strength, not weakness.

[19:40:03] CABRERA: There has been a lot of criticism of that first summit. A lot of people calling it really not much more than a photo op. What kind of progress could we expect from the second summit?

VINOGRAD: Well, from Kim's perspective, progress would be just more of the same which is a generally worded statement and some big declarations of denuclearization because again, that will allow him to keep doing what he does best which is playing the President and making more weapons.

From the U.S. national security perspective, we really need to look for specificity, specificity on concrete steps towards denuclearization. And I fear, Ana, that the writing is already on the wall in terms of what we can expect. We have experts that work on disarmament. We have experts that work on denuclearization. We even have the IAEA, which is an international body that does this. That's their function. We have not seen expert-level meetings, we have not seen consultations with the IAEA. And for that reason, I don't think that we can expect that there is going to be any specific steps that we have hammered out with the North Koreans that they can take to actually start to denuclearize.

CABRERA: There is still time, fortunately.

Sam Vinograd, thank you so much.

All right. One refugee in Virginia says her baby was taken by Chinese authorities and allowed to die in the hospital. While a young Chinese student studying here says his parents were either jailed or put in concentration camps. Just two of the stories highlighting the growing crackdown on ethnic Muslim minorities in Western China. An exclusive look at what's happening, next.


[19:45:57] CABRERA: Lawmakers are reintroducing a bill to hold China accountable for the mass internment of its ethnic Muslim minorities. Now according to the U.S. state department, Chinese authorities have indefinitely detained at least 800,000 such people in the past year- and-a-half.

CNN's Ivan Watson spoke to a refugee about the horrors inside the internment camps.



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a lot of love in this apartment in Virginia between a mother and her children. But something, someone, actually, is missing here.


WATSON: In 2015, ethnic weeger (ph), Mihrigul Tursun, then, a citizen of China, gave birth to triplets in Egypt where she had been living and working. And barely a month later, she flew home with them to Shin gang (ph), a region of western China. At the airport, she says Chinese police detained her and took away her babies.

MIHRIGUL TURSUN, UYGHUR REFUGEE: I asked her, where is my baby? Please give me my baby. And then --

WATSON: Taped your mouth.


WATSON: Mihrigul says police jailed and interrogated her for the next three months. The day of her release, she went to the children's hospital to see her infants.

TURSUN: When I come, the doctors say, OK, my baby can go outside hospital. They say, yes, he die. I said, what? What die? Your son die this morning at 6:00. I don't believe it. And I scream, why you kill my son? And they say if you scream, I call the police. Stop. Be quiet. And they give me my baby. So cold. I say, why he die? What happened? He say we make operation and he cannot strong, so he die.

WATSON: CNN reached out for comment from the (INAUDIBLE) children's hospital, but did not receive a response.

The surviving siblings have scars on their necks. A CNN medical expert says that suggests they, like their deceased brother, received intravenous tubes for nutrition at a time they should have been breastfeeding. Mihrigul says her son's death was just the beginning of a three-year nightmare during which she was jailed two more times and tortured.

TURSUN: They asked questions. When I say I don't know, they start beating me so hard.

WATSON: During the second imprisonment, she says she was put in a crowded cell with 50 other women, all ethnic weegers (ph) from her home town in Churchin (ph).

WATSON: Someone is my doctor, someone is my medium school teacher, someone are neighbor, all people, 80 percent I know.

WATSON: The U.S. government alleges this is part of a much larger, frightening pattern.

SCOTT BUSBY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Since April 2017, Chinese authorities have indefinitely detained at least 800,000, and possibly more than two million weegers (ph), ethnic Kazakhs (ph) and members of other Muslim minorities in internment camps.

WATSON: Beijing has gone from denying these alleged mass detentions to saying prisoners are getting vocational training. Authorities recently took some diplomats and journalists on a carefully supervised tour of some of these facilities. Some detainees told journalists the camps re-educate them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All of us found that we have something wrong with ourselves, and luckily enough, the communist party and the government offer this kind of school to us for free.

WATSON: The climate of fear in Shinggan (ph) can be felt halfway around the world.

ARFAT AERIKEN, UYGHUR REFUGEE: I lost contact with my family in 2017. And I --

WATSON: So that was the last time you heard your mother's voice?


WATSON: And your father.


WATSON: 21-year-old Arfat Aeriken came to the U.S. three years ago to get a university education. But gradually, his parents stopped sending tuition money and stopped calling him. Then last September, Arfat made this desperate appeal on You Tube.

[19:50:15] AERIKEN: I have confirmed that my father sentenced with the nine-year in prison and my mom is in concentration camp.

WATSON: If both of your parents are detained who is taking care of your 10-year-old brother?

AERIKEN: I don't know.

WATSON: If you could say something to your parents right now, what would you say?

AERIKEN: I hope they are just alive.

WATSON: Afraid to go home, Arfat has since been granted asylum in the U.S. Many weeger (ph) students are similarly stranded here,

PROF. SEAN ROBERTS GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: They are terrified because they doesn't know what to do. They don't necessarily want to declare asylum in the United States because that reflects badly on their family but they also have been getting messages from the region that they shouldn't come back because they will definitely be put in one of these internment camps.

WATSON: During her incarceration, Mihrigul Tursun claims she saw fellow prisoner die in detention.

TURSUN: In the same one room, nine women die, I see. So, so much people die, have torture like this. I will become crazy.

WATSON: The Chines government denounces criticism of its human rights record saying these preventative counterterrorism measures protect more people from being devoured by extremism.

Mihrigul and her family are now in the U.S., going through the asylum process but it's not easy. Her 3-year-old (INAUDIBLE) suffers chronic asthma attacks and Mihrigul can't afford a pediatrician. One day, she tells me, she will tell her surviving children the Chinese government killed their brother.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: CNN reached out to regional authorities multiple times for comment on this story and did not receive a response. Now if you ever needed a reason to look before you jump into the water, here it is. What may be the largest great white shark on the planet spotted swimming with divers off the coast of Hawaii. Much more on this, just ahead.


[19:56:26] CABRERA: The death toll is climbing, following a deadly pipeline explosion in Central Mexico. Officials now say at least 85 people are dead and dozens more are hurt in the wake of this huge explosion that happened Friday night. It was about 65 miles north of Mexico City. Mexico's general prosecutor now says the preliminary belief is that this explosion was caused by static electricity from the clothing of people around the pipeline.

Prince Philip has been caught on camera, apparently breaking the law. These pictures show him driving without a seat belt. The photos were taken 48 hours after the 97-year-old royal crashed into a car with two women and a baby inside. You can see there, the Prince's vehicle flipped on its side. He was not hurt thankfully, but the two women suffered minor injuries.

A Buckingham palace source tell CNN Prince Philip passed a police eyesight test. Now as far for the photograph though showing the prince behind the wheel without a seat belt, police say they have given him quote "suitable words of advice." Buckingham palace has not responded.

Now, I want you to take a look at really some remarkable images out of Hawaii, divers with a very close encounter of the ocean kind. This 20-foot-long great white shark believed to be one of the largest in the world swimming right up to the boat.

And then this 50-year-old female shark named deep blue, legendary by the way, caught on camera last time five years ago now swimming alongside this marine biologist, who got so close she even touched it. Now the woman explained that while some divers look down on this, she believes that sometimes sharks seek touch.


OCEAN RAMSEY, LEAD SHARK CONSERVATIONIST, ONE OCEAN DIVING: She swam up. She wasn't even interested in us. She was just interested in brushing up against the boat. And then she (INAUDIBLE). We looked over there and we see that there's a dead whale. We followed her over there and I did record her feeding on that whale.


CABRERA: Both the marine biologist and officials advice against engaging with shark this is closely, saying they can be unpredictable.

And just a touching moment at the state capitol in Atlanta this week when a Covington Georgia police officer was honored by new governor Brian Kemp during his state of the state address. Watch this.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: He is a fire in the strongest sense of the word and a true hero among us. Last year, he was wounded in the line of duty and nearly lost his life. While chasing a criminal, he was shot literally right between the eyes. After multiple surgeries, I'm proud to tell you that he's with us today, next to his wife, Kristen, in the gallery. Help me in joining and thanking Covington police officer Matt Cooper.


CABRERA: That standing ovation lasting more than two minutes. And after the speech, Officer Cooper took this photo with the governor. You can see he's wearing a special helmet, which is part of his recovery. Cooper was shot in the line of duty on Labor Day when he was responding to a shoplifting call. His department calls his recovery nothing short of a miracle. And after weeks in the hospital and months in rehab, cooper was released to go home to be with his wife and two kids just before the holidays.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with me.

Maybe they didn't, maybe they didn't. But if they did, so what? That was the take from the President's attorney Rudy Giuliani today when ask whether President Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.