Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Agrees to Reopen Government, Gets Zero for Wall; Grand Jury Indicts Trump Confidant Roger Stone; Brazil Dam Collapse; U.S. and Opposition Crank Up Pressure on Maduro; Interview with Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Cato Institute; 17th Century Painting Discovered behind Wall in Paris. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired January 26, 2019 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. government reopens temporarily without money for a border wall, a stinging defeat for Donald Trump.

The Mueller investigation hits close to the U.S. president as Trump confidant Roger Stone is indicted.

Plus a dam collapses in Brazil, unleashing a torrent of mud. Rescue workers are rushing to find survivors.

We're live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier, great to have you with us.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VANIER: We're following two major stories.

First, the sudden end to the 35-day shutdown of the U.S. government. Without warning Trump dropped his demand for border wall funding. He agreed to reopen federal agencies for three weeks. One advisor called it a humiliating loss for the president.

Also on Friday, Mr. Trump's long time confidant, Roger Stone, has been arrested by the FBI at his home in Florida. He's been charged with obstruction and making false statements and witness tampering. We'll have more on Roger Stone in just a moment. For now, we begin with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's demand for a wall came tumbling down as he backed off in his standoff with Democrats over the government shutdown and made an unthinkable concession. He agreed to sign a spending bill without money for his border wall.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will sign a bill to open our government for three weeks, until February 15. I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible. It will happen fast.

ACOSTA: But the president cautioned, the short-term agreement to reopen the government will only last three weeks, warning if he doesn't have his wall then, a shutdown could happen all over again, raising the prospect that he could declare a national emergency.

TRUMP: If we don't get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.

ACOSTA: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer welcomed the concession from the White House, but stated Democrats aren't about to give the president what he wants.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: I genuinely hope that this process can produce something that's good for the country and acceptable to both sides. We don't agree on some of the specifics of border security. Democrats are against the wall.

ACOSTA: The president didn't sound like he was giving up on his wall as he ad-libbed big portions of his remarks, arguing border barriers work.

TRUMP: I believe drugs, large percentages of which come through the southern border, will be cut by a number that nobody will believe. So let me be very clear. We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. ACOSTA: At one point in the speech, Mr. Trump sounded as though he's

not dealing with reality, praising federal employees for not complaining about working without being paid.

TRUMP: You are fantastic people. You are incredible patriots. Many of you have suffered far greater than anyone but your families would know or understand. And not only did you not complain, but in many cases, you encouraged me to keep going because you care so much about our country and about its border security.

ACOSTA: But federal workers have been sounding the alarm about the shutdown's devastating effects, including the potential for an aviation disaster, with so many air traffic controllers pushed to the breaking point..

TRISH GILBERT, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION: We are already short-staffed, so now you have added the stress to air traffic controllers and their personal circumstances and they're not sleeping at night. Now we're concerned that they're not fit for duty.

ACOSTA: The president's surrender on the shutdown also reveals a new political reality in Washington, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all but forcing Mr. Trump to eat his own tweets, after he promised no cave just days ago.

All Democrats had to do was point to the video from last month. TRUMP: I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.

ACOSTA: A senior official said the administration is taking steps to make sure federal workers receive their back pay as soon as possible. The big question is just how much political damage has been done to the president; not only is there the president's cave on the shutdown, there's the indictment --

[03:05:00]

ACOSTA: -- of his long-time advisor Roger Stone. As one Trump adviser put it to me, "The White House is in a valley tonight." -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Joining me now, political analyst Peter Mathews, he teaches political science at Cypress College.

Peter, good to have you back. The president picked this fight way back in December. Now it is apparent with the way it ended he never had any real strategy or a plan to win the fight.

PETER MATHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: He did not have a plan to win it and more than that, it is actually based on a fundamental vision of America.

We have America that is inward and that is closed off by a wall excluding people and immigrants to the country and even legal immigrants. His adviser, Stephen Miller, said that we should limit legal immigration.

This is an anti-immigrant vision of America where the president can envision. This is a nation of immigrants. And Nancy Pelosi took the vision and pushed that through by saying no border wall, no wall. We're going to get the government running again. And she did it. And this was a big setback for the president this time, that vision of America.

VANIER: Look at his latest approval rating. I want to put up the latest CNN poll. The numbers are clear; 57 percent disapprove how the president is handing his job. Only 37 percent approve.

Do you think there's lasting damage for the president?

MATHEWS: A dismal rating and probably not had in the history of the modern presidency. It could be lasting damage because people have seen now what he's really like. Does he really want a country that'll be inclusive, does he want to expand his base or contract it?

He just kept hammering away at keeping his base by pitting their xenophobia. And these numbers are pretty stark. I think they'll remain for quite a while.

It show he probably can't win reelection. We'll see what happens in two years, if he even lasts that long. There's still some hurdles to go.

VANIER: It seemed to me it's not a clear-cut case. I ask you this question because early on in the shutdown, it was reported Trump said, his calculus was, when it comes to election time, voters don't remember or they don't factor in the shutdowns. Essentially they may blame me for this now but it won't factor into their vote down the road.

That's an interesting calculus, if true.

MATHEWS: If it is true. But this is not far down the road. We're looking at one and a half years away and the primaries begin in a year. It will be recent memory. Many voters who are independent voters and also some of the Trump voters who had a second look at him once this whole fiasco of the shutdown occurred might be breaking away from him.

You saw his numbers drop. The Republican support that he had from 97 percent support Republicans went down to 83 percent recently because this activity on his part. So I think memories are long enough to -- a percent of the voters will still remember what happened a year and a half ago.

VANIER: The other big part of this is the story potentially is not over. The government has been reopened for three weeks and Donald Trump threatened to shut it down again in three weeks if he doesn't get money for the border wall or a deal between now and then or to use the emergency card and get money for the wall that way.

MATHEWS: That's very true. He could just pull this thing over again and do it once again and say, look, the blackmail, so to speak, you didn't give me the border wall and now you have three weeks' worth of funding and I'm coming back at you and say give me what I need to secure this country or you will not get the funding, the budget.

He can do it over again. That's why I warned against the Congress caving into him or Nancy Pelosi and she held strong. Let's see what happens in three weeks. He could do it all over again, very vigilant about that.

VANIER: He insisted on Twitter on Friday this should not be seen as a concession or a defeat on his part and he hasn't said the last word.

Peter Mathews, thank you so much for joining us.

MATHEWS: My pleasure, Cyril, thank you.

VANIER: The Russia investigation in the U.S. has chalked up another indictment. This time it's long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone. CNN was there when the FBI raided Stone's house in Florida and arrested him.

According to the indictment, Stone sought to get Democratic Party emails from WikiLeaks that had been stolen by Russia. All the while, Stone was allegedly coordinating with senior Trump campaign officials.

Stone is out on bond and said he will plead not guilty and he adds he won't flip on the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: There's no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself. I will not testify against the president because I would have to bear false witness against him. I am a fervent supporter of the president. I think he's doing a great job of making America great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: In interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Stone dismissed the charges as process crimes which don't show collusion with WikiLeaks or Russia.

[03:10:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: Well, first of all, I always said that there could be some process crime.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes.

STONE: There's still no evidence whatsoever that I had advanced knowledge of the topic and subject or the source of the WikiLeaks disclosures.

I never received any of the WikiLeaks disclosures, I never communicated with Assange or WikiLeaks other than the limited communication on Twitter, direct message which I gave to the House Intelligence Committee last September, I guess it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: So just who is Roger Stone?

And why is he such a big player in the Republican Party and in Donald Trump's life. Jake Tapper looks at the political operative's colorful past.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROGER STONE, TRUMP ASSOCIATE: I'm Roger Stone, R-O-G-E-R S-T-O-N-E.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been called The Dirty Trickster, The Prince of Darkness, even the Cockroach of American Politics by the left-leaning "New Republic." And Roger Stone flaunts many of these monikers as proudly as he flaunts his Nixon back tattoo.

STONE: I'm an agent provocateur.

TAPPER: Stone's reputation is hard-earned. His notorious political rap sheet goes back to the Nixon campaign when the then-19-year-old donated money to Nixon's opponent. He said it was from the Young Socialist Alliance and gave the receipt to the press. It didn't get any more ethical from there.

In 1980, Stone began a lobbying firm with Paul Manafort that unapologetically catered to human rights abusers. Stone once boasted they "Lined up most of the dictators in the world that we could find. Pro-western dictators, of course. The good ones."

Nevertheless, the questionable consultant's resume is filled with work for Republican stars, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. and, of course --

STONE: I'm a political adviser to Donald Trump.

TAPPER: While working for Bob Dole, Stone's personal ad caused a public stir. He was forced to resign from Dole's presidential campaign after a tabloid revealed that he and his wife had placed an ad for a sex partner in a paper called Local Swing Fever. But Stone did not go away He continued to stir the political pot. In 1999, Stone helped Donald Trump navigate his first short-lived campaign for the presidency.

STONE: I've got to give my best advice but Mr. Trump makes the decisions. And frankly, the polls so far kind of reflected voters like it.

TAPPER: A year later, in 2000, Stone took credit for disrupting the Florida recount by organizing a Republican riot at the Miami-Dade elections office. All the while, the Stone list of dirty tricks and black ops continued to grow.

Stone took credit for the downfall of then-New York governor Eliot Spitzer, saying he found out about Spitzer's penchant for prostitutes from a sex worker he met at a Miami swingers' club.

STONE: Welcome to Stone's Zone.

TAPPER: Through his online channel the Stone's Zone and national TV appearances, Stone has for years peddled countless deranged conspiracy theories.

STONE: I am not a conspiracy theorist; I'm a conspiracy realist.

TAPPER: And through all of this, there has been a mainstay, his longtime friend Donald Trump who reportedly continued confiding in Stone even after firing him from his campaign in 2015. Stone claims he quit.

STONE: We go back a very long time. I have -- Donald Trump came to my wedding, I went to two of his. I was at both his parents' funerals. I have great affection for Trump and the Trump family.

TAPPER: So what advice might the president have received? One passage from Stone's book of life lesson stands out "Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counter-attack." -- Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: A dam in Brazil bursts. Homes, buildings and people are buried in mud and flooding.

Plus Venezuela's political crisis, the power struggle between the two presidents. One who is in office, the other who hopes to take over and, in the middle, protesters.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:15:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VANIER: We're getting news reports that at least 200 people are missing after a dam at an iron ore mine in Brazil collapsed. It buried a wide area in mud. Rescuers are hard at work, looking for survivors, with nearly 300 saved.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER (voice-over): A rescue worker struggles to pull a woman to safety. She's trapped in a thick deep sludge, barely able to hold herself up. Finally, with some help, she's lifted onto a helicopter, covered in mud, appearing exhausted.

She's one of those rescued in a deadly disaster that is submerging homes, roads, cars, buses and people.

It began when a mining dam burst early Friday afternoon near Brazil's southeastern city of Brumadinho. Serve flooding followed, sending huge rivers of mud rushing over the city, trapping scores of people. Dozens of rescue workers have been deployed to try and free them, fighting against the dense mud.

Mining giant Vale, that manages the collapsed dam, apologized for the disaster. The CEO asked for forgiveness from those affected. Sadly, this tragedy is not the first of the country's largest mining company or for this region of Brazil.

Company officials claimed Vale has made an immense effort to improve its dams after a similar collapse in 2015; 19 people were killed and officials called it the worst environmental disaster in the country's history. But Vale's CEO worries the outcome of Friday's disaster could be even worse.

FABIO SCHVARTSMAN, CEO, VALE S.A. (through translator): This time it's a human tragedy because we're likely talking about a large quantity of victims. We don't know how many there are but we know it will be a large number. And the environmental damage will possibly be smaller this time.

VANIER (voice-over): The country's newly elected president also cautioned he hopes the worst has not happened, announcing plans to fly over the region on Saturday, he says all possible measures are now in place to control the scale of the catastrophe, with officials working to limit the destruction and rescuers racing against time to save those they can.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: The political crisis in Venezuela continues as two men are claiming the presidency. Sitting president Nicolas Maduro slammed efforts by the U.S. to push him out of office but said he's willing to sit down with the opposition to resolve this political crisis.

Meanwhile Juan Guaido, screen right, who proclaimed himself president, called on the nation's military to work with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN GUAIDO, INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): If they dare to seize power again, the president is the only legitimate institution that assumed the authority of the constitution. I ask you to keep us on the path peacefully and nonviolently but with much force in every street and corner of Venezuela, demanding what belongs to us for freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: The U.N. Human Rights Agency says at least 20 people have been killed in protests just this week. And a U.N. Security Council meeting is set for Saturday.

Joining me is Juan Carlos Hidalgo, a policy analyst on Latin America at the Cato Institute.

Nicolas Maduro has outlasted every attempt to remove him from power over the last few years.

Will he survive this one?

JUAN CARLOS HIDALGO, CATO INSTITUTE: That's a good question. We've seen this before. We've seen people taking to the streets in Venezuela and we've seen in a power of position, calling for an end to the regime. We have seen international pressure before. And nothing happens.

The Maduro regime is pretty good at wars of attrition. Let's remember what happened at the Maidan in Ukraine back in -- when the protests that brought down President Yanukovych.

[03:20:00]

HIDALGO: Over 70 (ph) people died in one day and that was the end of the regime. In Venezuela, they don't do that. They will kill one person one day and two people the next day. That will go on until people get tired after two months of protests and so on.

So many people are now looking for the next move of the opposition. Juan Guaido declared himself president and he was sworn in as president, interim. He has the strong backing of the international community, that's good; 80 percent of Venezuelans want Maduro gone. These combination of factors we never seen before.

Now the question is what is next?

Most specifically, what is going to happen with the military?

Because they're the ultimate deciders in this crisis.

VANIER: That was my next question. In every political crisis, an attempted coup, uprising that I covered, the key has always, bar none, been the military.

Who do they support?

And whoever has their support ends up staying in power or takes power because they can just impose their will through strength.

Do you agree this applies to Venezuela as well?

HIDALGO: Indeed. We have a military regime, a military dictatorship. This is not a civilian government. Over 10 current or former generals are in Maduro's cabinet, they run the oil business; they run distribution of food. They're deeply involved in corruption, smuggling, drug trafficking. Several generals have been named by the Treasury Department of the United States as drug kingpins.

So they have strong incentives to stay loyal to Maduro because they know the alternative is either facing prison for corruption or crimes against humanity or being extradited to the United States for drug crimes. That's why the opposition is trying to build a bridge to the military --

(CROSSTALK)

HIDALGO: -- they pass a bill saying, OK, if you facilitate this transition towards democracy, you won't face charges for human rights abuses --

VANIER: So could that work?

Do you think that could peel away some of the support that the top brass gives Maduro?

HIDALGO: That's the bet. We haven't seen any movement in that regard so far yet. The military came out strongly on Thursday, saying they support Maduro. We know there's a lot of disaffection among the troops. Thousands of troops have deserted the army in the last couple of years.

We know about uprisings every now and then. But so far we haven't seen that definitive crack in the military.

VANIER: What about Guaido?

He's refusing to open up formal dialogue with Maduro.

What do you think his road map is after that? HIDALGO: He enjoys the support of the population. And that's not easy. Let's remember most of Venezuela became disenchanted with the opposition. They thought that the opposition movement was hopeless until very recently. Guaido has been very good at reenergizing this relationship between the people and the opposition groups.

He is young, he's not tainted by the politics of the past. He's very determined. I think he's playing his cards smartly so far. He counts on big mobilizations. He's calling for a big rally this weekend. So anything can happen.

VANIER: Juan Carlos Hidalgo, thank you so much for talking to us today.

HIDALGO: My pleasure.

VANIER: I want to go to Spain now and unfortunately to the sad ending after a nearly two weeks of grueling work. Rescue workers have found and recovered the body of a missing toddler a few hours ago.

The 2-year-old boy had fallen down an open well nearly two weeks ago. The emergency workers and miners worked around the clock to reach him but the well was more than 100 meters deep, extremely narrow and blocked with soil.

In a few hours, Yellow Vest protesters will march in Paris and in cities across France. It is the 11th straight week of protests. The movement is critical of the government and especially of the president, Emmanuel Macron. They say he's out of touch with the needs of middle class workers.

But Mr. Macron is trying to ease some of that anger with what he calls the great debate. Those are public discussions where people can air their grievances and help build what he calls a new contract for the nation.

When you renovate an old building, especially in Paris, you might find some hidden gems; it happens. Perhaps gold, perhaps jewelry. But as Jim Bittermann reports, the treasure during construction at a new boutique has astonished experts in the art world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: As an architect who works on the ancient stones of Paris, Nathalie Ryan is used to surprises, mostly unpleasant ones that complicate her job. But the surprise she came upon while creating a new boutique for fashion house Oscar de la Renta was nothing short of spectacular.

Behind a wall at what --

[03:25:00]

BITTERMANN (voice-over): -- used to be an insurance office, workers discovered a huge 10x20-foot oil painting, oil on canvas that was glued onto the wall. Art restorers were called in and beneath layers of grime and ancient varnish. there emerged a 17th century masterpiece by Arnould de Vuez, a favorite in the court of King Louis XIV.

BENOIT JANSON, ART RESTORER (through translator): The first time I saw this work, my emotion was as big as the painting. As a restorer, right away I wanted to do a test to see what was underneath.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): What was underneath is what is believed to be one of a series of four paintings, commissioned to depict the travels of Louis XIV's ambassador to the Middle East, here shown entering into Jerusalem in 1674.

But while the painting and the painter have been identified, the question is, how did a 7th century painting end up behind a wall in a building constructed in the 19th century?

There's no clear answer.

NATHALIE RYAN, KIREI STUDIO ARCHITECT: Was it stolen or was it found by the previous people that were here and they put in all the wall?

Was it hidden during the war?

There's a lot of theory, you can go there and do a whole spy story about it.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): The discovery quite naturally led the de la Renta managers to rethink the design of their Paris boutique and how best to display their masterpiece.

RYAN: They were in the showroom. I think this is going to be a special visit in order to see it. I felt like really, you know, blessed, being part of this whole experience.

BITTERMANN: With a number of historic renovations that go on in this town, workers always have got a lot of tales about the discovery of treasuries behind the walls, gold and jewelry, things like that. Most of them turn out to be fake or exaggerated.

But in this case, discovery turned out to be real -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: It's that time of year, the biggest human migration on the planet is now officially underway. China is gearing up for its Lunar New Year spring festival and it's estimated people will take 3 billion trips as they head home to celebrate with relatives.

This year is set to be bigger than ever, falling on February 5th and ushering in the Year of the Pig.

Which brings me indirectly to this video that we wanted to show you before we close the show. It's in China. A Chinese school principal is behind this shuffle dance. It's gone viral online. More than 700 students dancing as one. The principal says he was just looking for an idea to make his students exercise more.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I have your headlines again in just a moment. Stay with us.