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Venezuela's Maduro Breaks Relations with U.S.; Trump Recognizes Venezuela's Opposition Leader as Rightful President; Manafort Disputes Mueller's Accusations of Lying; Multiple People Shot in a Hostage Situation at Florida Bank; Trump Responds to Pelosi Canceling State of Union at House. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 23, 2019 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here's the new piece of breaking news right now. The embattled President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, says he is ending diplomatic relationship with the United States. This comes just hours after President Trump officially recognized an opposition leader as the legitimate President of Venezuela and it comes after days of violent protests in the country. So, let's first begin in Caracas with Stefano Pozzebon covering all this. And Stefano, can you give us a little bit of context as to why Maduro would have said this and where would these diplomats go?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, exactly, Brooke, we are seeing history rolling out in front of our eyes. Earlier today, the President of the National Assembly here in Caracas, the President of Parliament, President of Congress of Venezuela swore himself in as an interim President with the support of the United States of America and of many other countries around the world including Canada, Paraguay. These trigger an escalating reaction and Nicolas Maduro has announced just minutes ago that he's ending all political and diplomatic relationships with the U.S. and is giving them 72 hours for the consulate staff to leave Caracas or as early as possible.

Really the situation escalating dramatically. We have seen a clashes of words played in front of our eyes for the past two weeks. The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence spoke with Juan Guaido, the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly here, to reiterate his support to say the United States are on the side of the anti-Maduro opposition here. And now we're seeing the reaction from Nicolas Maduro, who quite literally said, get out of Venezuela -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, Stefano, thank you so much. And so, Boris, to you. Covering the White House who just said, you know, the White House's position supporting the anti-Maduro opposition. Why?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hey there, Brooke. Well yes, there's a number of reasons why the White House has laid out rhetoric escalation over the past several days indicating that this move might be made today and the President took the steps shortly after National Assembly leader, Juan Guaido, swore himself in as the legitimate President of Venezuela. He now has some 30 to 45 days to start new elections in that country. From what we understand, the White House was expecting that several other countries, normally Latin American countries, but European nations would also recognize him as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

Now the big question now with Maduro breaking off relations with the United States is what happens specifically at the pump with oil. These two nations for years have tossed back and forth rhetorical grenades at each other but maintained a relationship when it comes to the trade of petroleum, of gasoline and other related products.

[15:35:00] In this case the White House had considered previously installing a full-fledged ban on Venezuelan oil. They ultimately backed away from it because of the potential economic ramifications for the United States oil market. Clearly, if that step ultimately is taken by Maduro, it would mean that Americans would feel the pain at the pump. We should point out, earlier today the White House held a call with some NSC officials and we were told on background by one of them that the White House is, quote, barely scratched the surface of what the United States can do to inflict pain upon Maduro economically. Exactly what that means going from here, we don't know yet. I've already reached out to the White House to find out exactly what they plan to do after Maduro's declaration. They've yet to get back to me -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: And the diplomats, Michelle Kosinski, you know, you cover the State Department for us and if they have 72 hours to get out, how? Where do they go? What's the story there?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Well they're going to have to leave. I mean, this reaction came swiftly and harshly, as we might expect from Maduro after the U.S. declared him not the legitimate leader of Venezuela. So we've seen these kinds of expulsions before. I mean we saw them just in the past year between the U.S. and Russia, you know, your diplomats need to leave by Friday and then, well, your diplomats need to do the same thing. But this was tit-for-tat and those could be replaced.

But this is Maduro ending political and diplomatic relations with the United States. Here's what he said during his speech just this afternoon.

The imperial government of the United States is leading a coup attempt against us in order to install a puppet presidency they can control in Venezuela. I have decided to break all political and diplomatic relations with the U.S. Get out, leave Venezuela. We have our dignity, damn it.

What we're waiting for now is to hear from the State Department on their response to this and also logistically during this shutdown how they are going to get everybody out in a hurry. And what the next steps are. As you heard others say, you know, today on this call, the White House insists that this is just the beginning of the pressure that they can put on Maduro, but he's clearly wasted no time in exacting some of his revenge on the United States -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Michelle, thank you. Boris, thank you. Boris at the White House there on what's happening with Venezuela and the U.S.

Meantime, there's more breaking news involving President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Shimon Prokupecz is standing by with the very latest.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: A busy day here in Washington, Brooke, for sure. So we finally have this filing from Paul Manafort's legal team. They filed it under seal and portions of it have now been released. It's their response to the accusations from the Special Counsel's office that Paul Manafort lied to them in the proper sessions and meetings that he lied before a grand jury.

And essentially, obviously, it's what we would expect here. And that they're defending Paul Manafort. They're saying that prosecutors here had they placed this in the proper context, much of the evidence presented by the Special Counsel's office merely demonstrates a lack of consistency in Manafort's recollection of certain facts and events, is what they write in their legal briefing.

Now specifically to a lot of what many have been interested is the interaction between Paul Manafort and the Russian intelligence operative that the Special Counsel has raised concerns with in that Paul Manafort had given him polling data. And there's a portion here where some of it is redacted, but Manafort's attorney described that interaction with this man. His name is Konstantine Kilimnik. And they essentially argue that it was just Manafort's recollections about some of the meetings, that he didn't remember some of it. It wasn't that he was lying and that he was trying to somehow hide his interactions with this Russian operative. But simply, it's just things he did not recall.

And essentially, as we said, they are arguing he didn't remember things. The prosecutors now from the Special Counsel's office have an opportunity to respond. They are supposed to respond by tomorrow. And then all of this would get litigated in court on Friday when everyone will appear. There are parts of this, Brooke, that are redacted. So we still need to go through there. It seems at least in this filing that the defense attorneys here properly redacted the information so we can't see what's under it. And we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens on Friday when everyone appears in court.

BALDWIN: OK. I do not recall. I have been hearing that a lot from folks in Washington. Shimon, thank you very reading that and hopping on camera for us. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you.

[15:40:00] Everyone, standby. President Trump has called White House pool reporters into the room. Is the President about to respond again to Speaker Pelosi pulling the plug on his State of the Union? We're standing by.


BALDWIN: We are following breaking news in Sebring, Florida. Where police say a suspect has surrendered after a shooting and hostage situation at a SunTrust Bank. So let's go to CNN anchor, Victor Blackwell, for more details. Victor, what happened? VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Brooke, we got confirmed from the

Highlands County Commissioner that multiple people have been shot after this hostage situation at the SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida. Now Sebring is in southcentral, Florida, just southeast of Tampa.

[15:45:00] We're told that the FBI out of Miami is in route. We don't know at this point how many people have been shot or the severity of their injuries, but we know that this suspect has surrendered and is in custody. Here's what we know from the Sebring Police Department.

That it started around 12:30 this afternoon when a suspect called police and said that he fired shots inside the bank. Well they showed up as well as a team from the Highlands County Sheriff's Office and they created a perimeter around and tried to negotiate with this hostage taker and to bring him out and to end the situation. When those did not work, we're told that a team from the S.W.A.T. team of Highlands County Sheriff's Office went into the bank and eventually this person surrendered.

Again, we don't know how many people were shot or the severity of injuries, but we know the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is involved. The Governor, Ron DeSantis has been briefed by the sheriff there as well as statewide officials. There was a school daycare nearby that placed itself on lockdown. Several schools in the area across the county have been placed on high alert. And that road, U.S. 27, which is important through that part of the state, has been shut down as this investigation continues.

We're told that family members, coworkers are all at a nearby hotel, the Inn on the Lakes. They are there. The front desk manager is saying that that's people who were near the bank or at the bank are now going to be reunited with their families. And SunTrust corporate office also responding saying they are working closely with officials to take care of everyone affected.

We're expecting to get the very latest from law enforcement in about 45 minutes to an hour in a planned news conference. But again, you see some of the aerials from our temple affiliate there, an indication of the threat potentially now ended to that area as they say there is no danger to the surrounding area. The investigation continuing. We're hoping to get information about the injuries soon -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Great, we'll listen into the news conference and look for your reporting. Victor, thank you so much on the situation there in Sebring, Florida.

If you have been watching, it has been a busy, busy Wednesday afternoon. Multiple breaking stories right now. Especially there in Washington. A major power play by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulling the plug on President Trump's State of the Union address, which was set for next Tuesday. The President is expected to react to this again moments from now. Standby.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Welcome back to the breaking news on this Wednesday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Let's take you back to the White House where our correspondent there, Abby Phillip is standing by with some news on what was supposed to be State of the Union next Tuesday. What has the President said?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke. It coming fast and furious this afternoon. President Trump just allowed reporters into a room with a meeting with conservative leaders saying in response to Nancy Pelosi that she doesn't want to hear the truth. That's why she canceled the State of the Union address. He called it also a very negative part of history. I mean, he is in many ways right about the historic nature of this. If he does not deliver a state of the Union address in the Capitol , it will be a pretty historic occasion. But he also nodded to the idea that we have been talking about for several days now, that there are alternative options that the White House has been --

BALDWIN: Hang on, Abby, here's the President.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are doing a great job at the border considering we don't have the tools. They don't give us the tools to work with meaning we have to have a wall. We have to have a barricade of some kind, a steel Barricade. It's already designed. We're building a lot of wall as we speak, a tremendous amount and we're renovating a lot of the other wall. Otherwise, by the way, with what's coming up.

Because of the strong economy that we have -- we haven't had an economy like this I guess in over 50 years. Would you say that's correct, Steve?

And because of the strong economy everyone's pouring up and we're stopping them but it's a lot of work. We have incredible people at the border. And you have to thank all of the border patrol agents and the ICE agents.

I see in Long Island they don't want ICE. The radical Democrats don't want ICE there because they are too good. They're doing too good a job. And I always talk about Long Island. That's one of the real hot beds for the MS13 gangs. And I just see this morning where the really radical Democrats don't want them there. Because they don't want them to do anything to disturb MS13. And when you think about it, MS13's about the most violent gang -- they say one of the most violent anywhere in the world. And they have done -- we are sending them out by the thousands out of our country. So we think it's too bad.

But I would say this, that the State of the Union speech has been cancelled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn't want to hear the truth. She doesn't want the American public to hear what's going on. And she's afraid of the truth.

And the super left Democrats, the radical Democrats, what's going on in that party is shocking. I know many people that were Democrats and they are switching over right now. They are switching over quickly. So I hope they know what they are doing for their party. So far, they haven't. If you know I won the Senate. Meaning, we won the Senate altogether. But we get no credit for that. They don't talk about that. They talk about the House.

I didn't have any chance to -- other than a couple of people like from Kentucky where I went and campaigned for Andy Barr and for some others. They ended up winning their races but I couldn't campaign too much, too many people. But we did a great job with the Senate. And people don't want to talk about it.

[15:55:00] I will say that the American people want to hear the truth. They have to hear the truth and the truth is all about and said I think and I hope well we were planning on doing a really very important speech in front of the House and the Senate and the Supreme Court and everybody else that's there. It's called the State of the Union. It's in the Constitution.

We are supposed to be doing it and now Nancy Pelosi --or Nancy, as I call her -- she doesn't want to hear the truth and she doesn't want to hear. More importantly, the American people to hear the truth. So we just found out that she's cancelled it. And I think that's a great blotch on the incredible country that we all love. It's a great, great horrible mark.

I don't believe it's ever happened before and it's always good to be part of history but this is a very negative part of history. This is where people are afraid to open up and say what's going on. So it's a very, very negative part of history.

I'd like to start today -- we're talk about shutdown. We're talking about some conservative values. These are the great conservative leaders of our country.

BALDWIN: OK. So that was the President there commenting again on what he is referring to as radical Democrat and how he's characterizing how Speaker Pelosi cancelled his State of the Union. This is all amid the shutdown -- what is this, day 33, 34 -- the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, for example, says some controllers report that they're not fit for duty while others are simply resigning. One air traffic controller flew to Washington to tell their Senators just how vital it is to reopen the government so controllers can focus on keeping air travel safe. I wanted to talk about that this afternoon.

Trish Gilbert is the Executive Vice President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. So, Trish, thank you so much for coming on. You know, you were an air traffic controller for 21 years. Even when you get a paycheck as an air traffic controller how stressful is your job?

TRISH GILBERT, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION: It's a very, very stressful job. It is a job that you have to be focused all the time, 100 percent. You actually give clearances to pilots to turn behind aircrafts so they don't hit, to climb below and above to prevent them from hitting. That's the kind of work we do. We prevent airplanes from hitting each other. So the last thing we need is fatigued controllers driving Uber before their shifts so they can pay their bills or being more fatigued and stressed out because they are not getting sleep at night. Worried about how they're going to meet their financial obligations and take care of their family. It's absolutely heartbreak. And this shutdown has to stop. It's ridiculous and unreasonable, irresponsible.

BALDWIN: Talk to me more about these air traffic controllers who are trying to make ends meet, who might be driving Uber in those extra hours. What are you hearing about their stress levels, their exhaustion?

GILBERT: You name it from beginning to end, single mothers taking care of their parents. Single mothers or families not being able to pay for daycare to get to work. And they're trying to do that. It has been -- they are about to see a second paycheck with nothing in it even though they have been working nights and weekends and holidays to keep America moving, to keep planes flying cargo passengers, military flights, life flights with organs and critically -- critical patients. These people are actual patriots, heroes trying to provide for the American public and they're being treated like they're irrelevant. American people need to stand up to this issue and they need to call their senators and tell them, like tomorrows vote, that the senators need to open up the government with that vote. They need to open up the government.

BALDWIN: And listening to the President I'm sure you have been following this back and forth. I'm going to get you in on that. But the President earlier had said, paraphrasing, we're going to be in this for a while. What is, we're going to be in this for a while, mean for the people you're talking about?

GILBERT: What that means to us it's unsustainable. We cannot be in this any longer. It is already less safe than it was a month ago when we shut down. We have critical components to safety that is not there. We have processes not there. Training not taking place. Distraction in the workplace. We have controllers actually reporting to us that they're making mistakes when they are giving clearances. Clearing planes in places where they shouldn't be clearing them in conflict with other airplanes. Because they are so stressed out about how they are going to care of their family. Their livelihood is threatened at this point. This cannot go on for months and years. It's not sustainable.

BALDWIN: That is so incredibly alarming and heart wrenching for these employees. Trish Gilbert, thank you so much just for the perspective from folks are making the calls about planes landing our controllers. Thank you so much for that perspective.

Thank you all for being with me on the ride that we've been on for the last two hours and all these breaking stories. I'm Brooke Baldwin, special coverage of all these breaking stories continues. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.