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U.S. Government Is Open For Business For Now; Exclusive Interview With California Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Roger Stone Says He Is Not Ruling Out Cooperating With Special Counsel Robert Mueller; Senator Kamala Harris Will Appear At An Official Launch Rally For Her 2020 White House Bid. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 27, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: From 1961 all the way to 2015.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my Davos program this week. I will see you next week.

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

The U.S. government is open for business for now, but the clock is ticking. Democrats and Republicans have just 19 days to agree on a bill to fund the government past February 15th. If they cannot, the President has threatened to use executive action to fund his border wall.

And while the government has reopened, the damage is already done. That historic shutdown cost the U.S. economy at least $6 billion, according to a new report by S&P global ratings, Standard and Port global ratings. That is more expensive than the President's border wall request.

So was the shutdown worth it? And where do things go from here? Lawmakers on both sides weighing in this morning.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Shutdowns are never good policy, ever. They are never to be used as a means to achieve any kind of goal no matter how important that goal may seem to be. We cannot have the threat of a government shutdown hanging over our people and our economy.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: We all know that these workers were held hostage by the President. We all know it's a strategy the American people abhorred and that's why the President had to cave. But we also want to make sure it never happens again, whoever is President, whoever is in Congress.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's check in now with CNN's White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. So Boris, the Trump administration are not backing down from their

threat to bypass Congress to get the President his border wall.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. The White House has been exploring different ways of bypassing Congress and getting money for the President's border wall for some time. It was essentially falling at two categories.

The President could declare a national emergency as he has been threatening for some time then get money for his border wall that way. That way, he hasn't gone that direction because there is really no guaranty that that would actually work with Democrats promising to try to block that action in court.

The other option is to look for funds elsewhere in the department of defense, in the department of the treasury. But according to sources, according to people familiar with the plan so far, all of that money combined would not reach the President's demand for $5.7 billion, the sort of down payment that he wants for building his long-promised border wall.

So for the President and his team, it is back to the drawing board, yet again threatening to shut down the federal government, essentially a repeat of the past month or so if the President doesn't get what he wants.

It's unclear exactly why the President and his team feel like they can get something different this time around, but as the acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said this morning, the President is determined.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the President really prepared to shut down the government again in three weeks?

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes. I think he actually is. Keep in mind he's willing to do whatever it takes to secure the border. He does take this very seriously. This is a serious humanitarian and security crisis. And as President of the United States, he takes the security of the nation as his highest priority. He doesn't want to shut the government down. Let's make that very clear. He doesn't want to declare a national emergency.


SANCHEZ: Well, Fred, Mulvaney reiterated the President's demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, saying that's what border security experts have told the President that he needs. Although he did say the President isn't married to that figure, but he wouldn't specify what the President would accept to essentially move on and let the government run without threatening to shut it down again - Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much at the White House.

All right. Joining me right now, Democratic congresswoman, Maxine Waters. She is also the ranking member on the financial services committee.

Good to see you, congresswoman. All right. So what will be the focus for the next 19 days? Do you see that there will be an agreement to avoid another government shutdown?

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D). CALIFORNIA: Well, I'm certainly hope that we can get an agreement. It's been too long. Too many of our federal employees have suffered. We saw the suffering, we saw federal employees standing in food lines, and so I'm hopeful that this is a serious and credible negotiation, and particularly on the President's part.

You know, the President changes his mind. We don't know if he is going to, you know, abide by any rules of negotiation. As a matter of fact, I was stunned after he came out and announced that he was going to participate in opening up the government. He started to do the attack again. And basically he was saying --

WHITFIELD: He started to threaten, yes, the emergency wealth.

WATERS: That's right.

WHITFIELD: And even you heard from, you know, Mick Mulvaney who said once again, while the President wants to keep the government open, they are exploring places where they can extract money to help justify this emergency declaration. So which is it? What is the sense you get from the White House in terms of how it will be participating in any negotiations where there is wiggle room?

[14:05:19] WATERS: It's hard to believe that he is prepared to seriously negotiate when he is making his demands outside of the negotiation already. First of all, he is talking about he has got to have a certain amount of money. He is also talking about how terrible it is with the rapists and the drug dealers and on and on and on. That's not how you enter a negotiation. You shut up, and you shut down, and you get into the negotiation and you legitimately lay your concerns on the table and people are prepared to talk about what they can and cannot do.

WHITFIELD: So then, does that tell you that it's going to be a repeat experience?

WATERS: I hope not. We believe in border security. And we have offered, you know, how we think it can be done. We want to make sure that he understands that it's not simply about a wall. I want him to think about, and we want him to think about technology. We want him to think about drones. We want him to think about all of those things that go into having a secure border.

And so I just don't know -- I don't trust him very much, because he has agreed to something and then backed off of them, and I just hope that he understands, he put this nation in danger. Just think what is happening to our air traffic controllers. Many of them are under a lot of stress because they didn't get their pay. They had to come back to work because they were considered among those employees that must work despite the fact that they are not getting paid. They are under stress. Many of them are working long hours. Some of them are working in towers with only one individual there, one air traffic controller, and so I don't know if he understands that he was about to shut this nation down.

WHITFIELD: Except is that the imagery and are those the sentiments from air traffic controllers and flight attendants that actually got the President's attention, seeing how commerce, how the economy was being disrupted because of these, you know, ground stoppages? Because we heard from federal workers for, you know, five weeks who talked about their personal hardships, but it was another thing to see those images perhaps on television and then you had the President saying, government back open again.

WATERS: Well, I think that the air traffic controllers sent us a serious message. They sent out a letter that talked about the dangers that were possibly involved in what was going on and said it was so awesome and so huge the possibility of the risk that was being, you know, put into effect by this President, they couldn't even tell you how bad it was going to be. I think that had something to do with it.

But the most thing is Nancy Pelosi had made a legitimate offer. Nancy Pelosi had also employed a legitimate strategy. So it's a combination of those things that made him back down. He had to back down. He had no choice. So he should not come into this negotiation with threats.

WHITFIELD: So there was really unity demonstrated by the Democrats, you know, perhaps by a representation of the President's thinking, this go-around with 19 more days, this is what the acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had to say this morning about the White House, the President's persistent demand for the wall.


MULVANEY: There are some parts of money that are easier to get to than others, so again, this is not something we are shooting on from the hip. We have been working on this for months. We had been hoping for months to do it through legislation with Democrats because that's the right way for the government to function, but at the end of the day, the President's commitment is to defend the nation and he will do it with or without Congress.


WHITFIELD: So again, hours after, you know, the President made his announcement, you know, he was tweeting about this option of an emergency declaration. And so, how is Congress preparing for President Trump to try to establish that there is a national emergency, a crisis that so these pots of money as Mulvaney was referring to, you know, would be available?

WATERS: Well, let me just say this. I think the American people and our federal workers, including the air traffic controllers, we have all made everybody understand what a dangerous situation we are in. And I don't know where they are talking about getting this money from. But I know this. I know that even if they were able to find money that was not in the control of the congress, they will have all other kinds of issues to deal with, imminent domain issues. They don't even know about the terrain.

WHITFIELD: You are talking about the land mostly privately owned along the Texas border.

WATERS: That's right.

WHITFIELD: And there was an inference that perhaps from Mulvaney money would come from treasury or perhaps even the defense department, and you don't see those as viable options?

[14:10:03] WATERS: No, I don't. I don't have any idea what they are talking about. I have heard all kind of thing that he was going to take money from housing, that he was going to get money from places where there is no money.

And so, again, this President starts out bluffing and threatening all over again. I would just hope he would settle down and come to his senses, because he doesn't understand the role of the three branches of government. He thinks he can just run over the House and the Senate, but we're proving that he can't do that and it won't work.

And so I hope that he would have sense enough or his advisers would have sense enough, to send him into a negotiation in a legitimate way. We don't play threats. We are together. The Democrats are solid. And we're not going to be intimidated by him. We want legitimate negotiations to try and make sure that we never put the American people or our workers into the situation that we put them in, threatening the entire economy of this country.

WHITFIELD: So, congresswoman, you for a very long time have led this charge for impeaching the President. You are the chair of the House financial services committee, you know. And a recent "Washington Post" polling is supporting Democrats, you know, opening a range of investigations of Trump, you know, including suspected ties between foreign governments. However, that same poll shows that only 40 percent believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. So how are you prioritizing that whole idea this go-around?

WATERS: Well, let me just say this. I am pleased that I started the conversation early. I believe that the President early on had defined himself as someone who was incapable of being a legitimate President. And so I started the conversation, of course we got a lot of criticism. I got a lot of criticism, but he has been defining himself ever since. And you will hear impeachment being talked about more and more.

Eighty percent of Democrats believe that he should be impeached. I know that the Congress of the United States is slow and reticent to do it, you know, without having all of the facts. And we are waiting - they are on Mueller to come back with the information that will either say he colluded with the Russian government or he obstructed justice or he committed some other kinds of crimes. We want to hear what Cohen has to say. He's been subpoenaed. He has additional information. And so we have a ways to go, but I believe that I have been right all along, that I was able to understand what he is all about and his allies, their connection to the oligarchs of Russia. The intent on being able to lift those sanctions. And I believe that was part of the agreement with sending Manafort there to help run the campaign. That if this President was elected that he would lift those sanctions so that Putin and the oligarchs would have their way and moving forward with drilling for oil and other kinds of things that they want to do to continue to enrich themselves.

WHITFIELD: So you are still intrigued by the idea, but are you kind of slowing the role on pushing for impeachment proceedings?

WATERS: I'm never going to change my mind on it. I said what I believe in. I'm going to move forward as the chair doing legitimate work of the financial services committee. That doesn't stop me from doing that. We have got a lot to do. We have got to be concerned about predatory lending and all those issues. Housing, homelessness, et cetera. I'm going to work on that.

WHITFIELD: OK. And then real quick, you know, the field for Democrats, you know, throwing their hats into the ring, or at least launching exploratory committees for 2020 is widening. Today Senator Kamala Harris has her launching of a campaign rally in Oakland, California, your fellow Californians. So do you have any favorites thus far? Who are you supporting or backing?

WATERS: Well, you know, I have not announced anything at this point. And Fredricka, when I do it, it won't be, you know, on national TV this way, it will be getting with the candidate and helping to understand how they are going to direct the issues of this country. It will be helping to understand where they stand on progressive issues, et cetera. So I'm watching, I'm looking, I will be talking with them, and at some point I certainly will make a decision. But we are going to have a lot to choose from, aren't we?

WHITFIELD: So far, yes.

All right. California congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you so much.

WATERS: Thank you so very much.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, an about-face from one of the President's allies, Roger Stone, now saying he is willing to testify in the special counsel's investigation. This as Stone's own long-time friend tells CNN he has no problem telling Robert Mueller the truth about Stone's link between Trump's campaign and WikiLeaks.


[14:19:02] WHITFIELD: Long-time Trump associate Roger Stone says he is not ruling out cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. On Tuesday, Stone will be a rained in Washington, D.C. on multiple charges including witness tampering, lying and obstruction. His indictment draws a distinction between him, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks for damaging information on the Clinton campaign.

Stone denies the charges, calling them politically motivated. Now Trump is attempting to perhaps distance himself from Stone, friend of 40 years? The President tweeting this, in part, quote "Roger Stone didn't even work for me anywhere near the election." After repeatedly saying he would not testify against the President, today Stone now says he is open to testifying.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Any chance you'll cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller if he asks?

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: You know, that's a question I would have to determine after my attorneys have some discussion. If there is wrongdoing by other people in the campaign that I know about, which I know of none, but if there is, I would certainly testify honestly.

I would also testify honestly about any other matter, including any communications with the President. It's true that we spoke on the phone, but those communications are political in nature, they are benign, and there is certainly no conspiracy with Russia.


[14:20:23] WHITFIELD: CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joining me right now.

So Jessica, Stone continues, you know, to talk ahead of this court appearance. Why is he so comfortable and really eager to do so?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Maybe trying to talk now before he appears in court on Tuesday, but you are right, Fredricka, Roger Stone's media blitz continues. But his tone does seem to be softening ever so slightly. So Stone there pledging to tell the truth about his communications with Donald Trump but then also saying he never spoke with the President about Russia either during the campaign or since Trump has become President, and Stone interestingly also shed a little bit of light on who that senior Trump campaign official might have been who was directed to ask Roger Stone about any upcoming releases from WikiLeaks back in July 2016, Stone saying, sure, it could have been Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign manager to Paul Manafort. Gates, of course, has been cooperating with Robert Mueller's team for almost a year now since pleading guilty.

But Roger Stone says he doesn't have any emails or documents to back up it was 100 percent Gates, and he says he doesn't really remember. And Stone also insisted that he has no idea who may have actually directed Gates amid, of course much speculation.

And another person blasting the airwaves this morning, individual one from that indictment, Jerome Corsi. Corsi, of course, a long-time friend and associate of Roger Stone. And during the campaign, Corsi predicted that WikiLeaks would be leaking more and more documents. It is alleged in the indictment that Stone directed Corsi to get more in touch with WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange to get pending emails that could later be released. Corsi though says he never has been in touch with Assange and instead was just a good predictor. And he also said that he would be willing to cooperate. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME CORSI, FORMER STONE ASSOCIATE: I will be happy to testify. I expect to get subpoenaed, and will give my testimony wherever it falls. I'm going to tell the truth to the best of my ability. Even that's hard given the amount of information and the fact that I have said from the beginning, I'm not a human tape recorder, you can't push a button, and I can't recall precisely granularly in detailed gradually, conversations, emails, events from 2016, but I'm going to do my best to tell the truth without calculation of whom it benefits or whom it detracts.

SCHNEIDER: And Jerome Corsi has already been talking because he has been interviewed by Mueller's team multiple times and he has actually said that he has already sat for 40 hours worth of interviews.

Corsi and his lawyer, though, they do not believe that Jerome Corsi will be indicted. And interestingly, Fredricka, Corsi has put it this way to CNN back in November. He said that Mueller and his team have everything and know everything. So very ominous words from Jerome Corsi and what may be yet to come with this probe.

WHITFIELD: Essentially saying, you know, they are looking for corroboration. So those testimonies are going to be critical interviews as well.

All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

So with me now is Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor and a former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the department of justice and a senior CNN legal analyst, Garrett Graff, author of :"Threat Matrix" and a CNN contributor. Also with me is Michael Bender, a senior political analyst and White House reporter for the "Wall Street Journal."

Good to see all of you. Thank you.

All right. So Michael, you first, you know. Stone now says he is open to the possibility of cooperating with the Mueller investigation, testifying. He says he is willing to tell the truth and has nothing to hide. So is he changing his tune?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so, because he also is saying that I have no evidence that anyone has done anything wrong, including the President. And so, that's been his, you know, party line all along. So I'm not sure exactly what it is that he is saying that's any different than what he said all along. So he is on a media blitz. And I'm surprised his lawyer allows that, but, you know, he's a difficult --

WHITFIELD: And what would be behind that? Why? I mean, why wouldn't his attorney feel that that was, you know, potentially dangerous territory? Because he does make reference to his attorney that, you know, my attorney thinks it's OK. Yes, I'm willing to, you know, tell the truth. And he has already said that he would be unwilling, you know, to say anything that he believes was being coerced by investigators.

ZELDIN: Second to Donald Trump, Roger Stone may be the most -- second most difficult client to control, you know. I think that Roger Stone has been counseled by his lawyers to be careful out there, and yet he keeps talking. He has already indicated what his defense is to this case, which is, I may have lied but I did so unintentionally. I forgot, it was immaterial. Why you would do that is beyond me except that he is Roger Stone and that what is Roger Stone does. And he is not going to change his spots at this point in his life, age 66.

[14:25:06] WHITFIELD: He does like the limelight. He said that himself. So while Stone is possibly opening the door, you know, to testifying and cooperating, you know, with Mueller, he does say that he has no plans to cut a deal and vows to win this court case. Take a listen.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you prepared to spend your last best years of your life in jail?

STONE: Due to the fact that I expect to be acquitted and vindicated and that my attorneys, including Bruce Rogow, one of the very best attorneys in the country, Grant Smith, Rob Brouchard and (INAUDIBLE), and believe that this indicted is as thin as piss on a rock. So I'm prepared to fight for my life.


WHITFIELD: So that gets your attention.

So Garrett, you know, more than 90 percent, you know, a federal indictments ending conviction. So based on what we know here, based on reading the indictment, why is he so certain there would be an acquittal for him?

GARRETT GRAFF, AUTHOR, THE THREAT MATRIX: Well, I wouldn't -- he may be saying that. I don't know that that's necessarily what he believes deep down. You know, when you look at this indictment on paper, if Mueller has, and presumably he does, have the evidence to back it up, this is about as simple and straightforward an indictment as you could bring. You know, very heavily grounded in documents, in primary sources. You wouldn't actually even need a lot of corroborating testimony from other sources to help bring this case.

You know, I think this is obviously the negotiating position where you start out if you are Roger Stone. And that Roger Stone is also sort of looking at this in the big picture, you know. This is something where if he goes down fighting, if he is able to either be acquitted on a hung jury, perhaps, in the courtroom or does a short prison sentence and goes out and hits the conservative speaking circuit, you know, Roger Stone hopes that he can dine out on this indictment for years to come. Much in the way that -- one of the best things that happened to G. Gordon Libby's career was getting wrapped up in Watergate. WHITFIELD: So Michael Bender, a recent "Washington Post" poll

supports Democrats opening a range of investigations on Trump, and this campaign including connections with Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, the same poll show only 40 percent believe Congress should begin impeachment proceedings. So does it indicate that people are, you know, still waiting for the results of the Mueller investigation or are they tiring of it?

MICHAEL BENDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, And then that same poll, more people think that - more people have fewer doubts about Trump's presidency after all of this Russia investigation, all of the Mueller news. You know, the poll shows that Trump's approval rating right now is pretty steady, so top lines -- this is not bad news for Trump. A small dip but not what you would think after another associate in handcuffs just presided over the longest shutdown in U.S. history, and it's effectively unchanged in our poll that's out today.

But it's not exactly good news for Trump here. There is a lot of erosion in how people feel this President is equipped to do his job. A lot of people thought that coming into office that he was going to be a positive change agent. No more. More people now --

WHITFIELD: And he said he was going to surround himself with the best people.

BENDER: That's right. More people thought he was going to be effective at being President than didn't. Those numbers have reversed themselves. More people -- over 50 percent of Americans think he does not have the personal characteristics to be President. Compare that to President Obama at the same time, 15 percent said that about Obama. So Trump's top numbers are pretty steady. He has a very strong support core. He has shown an incredible resilience. But we are seeing some churning underneath that should give this administration present some pause.

WHITFIELD: And then back to, you know, Roger Stone. He has said, you know, that he is not at all concerned that the President, you know, seems to be distancing himself from, you know, Stone and says that his publicizing WikiLeaks documents was not against the law. Take a listen.


STONE: When Sarah Sanders says this has nothing to do with the President, she is correct. I never discussed these matters with the President. And everything I did regarding trying to get as much public attention to the WikiLeaks disclosures among voters, among the media, is constitutionally protected free speech. That's what I engaged in. It's called politics and they haven't criminalized it, at least not yet.


WHITFIELD: So Michael Zeldin, is it as simple as that?

ZELDIN: Well, it's complicated for sure. And I think central to the analysis is what do you think WikiLeaks is? Our intelligence agencies say they are non-state hostile intelligence service. Many others, including Roger Stone, say it is a first amendment media-protected organization. If it is the latter, then I think Stone is correct, that his talking to WikiLeaks does not implicate any criminal conspiracy.

If WikiLeaks, on the other hand, is a non-state hostile intelligence service, then talking to them may well be. So Mueller may have to make a decision. If he's going to bring a case like this, does he want to fight WikiLeaks on first amendment grounds in the same way they fought with the release of the Pentagon papers?

[14:30:32] WHITFIELD: All Right. We will leave it there for now, gentlemen.

Thank you so much Michael Zeldin, Garrett Graff, Michael Bender, appreciate it.

All right. Still ahead, Senator Kamala Harris is about to officially kick off a campaign rally in her hometown. How does she plan to stand out from an already crowded field of Democratic hopefuls? We will take you there live, next.


[14:35:24] WHITFIELD: In about an-hour-and-a-half, Senator Kamala Harris will appear at an official launch rally for her 2020 White House bid. That rally is being held in her hometown of Oakland, California. We will bring it to you live as it happens. Harris is joining a crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls, which is already the most diverse in modern political history.

CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah is in Oakland.

So, what is the field look like in terms of the audience? And is the expected message going to be?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the public hasn't been quite allowed in, Fredricka, but there is already a line forming outside of the perimeter here just where we are standing which is Oakland city hall. This is outside Oakland city hall.

Kamala Harris expected to say in her prepared remarks that CNN has obtained some excerpts of that she is the one who is best poised to lead the country, to unify the country, both in biography as well as in her credentials. And part of it is the symbolism of what she is and who she is.

But let's -- I give you a look of where we are. We are in Oakland. You can see this gate right in front of city hall. The podium is set. The public will fill this center area. This is a city that the senator was born in. It's a diverse city. It has been for decades a place of protest, and it has continued to be a place of constitution.

This is the place where Kamala Harris was first a prosecutor, where she spoke the words, Kamala Harris for the people. And it is now her campaign slogan.

In those prepared remarks, she is expected to be populist in her issues. And here are five points that that campaign has indicated that she will be lying out.

That she will be fighting for Medicare for all, a middle class tax cut, access to education, that includes universal preschool as well as trying to make sure that when students people graduate, they are debt free. Criminal justice reform and fighting climate change.

One of the line that she is expected to deliver will say this. Quote "I love our country and I feel a deep sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are and what our country can be. The people and power are no match for the power of the people."

Now Harris has already been on the campaign trail. She swung through South Carolina shortly before arriving here in Oakland. Part of the reason is that there has been a month-long soft launch in the southern strategy trying to energize a black vote will be critical to winning in the south.

But for today, Fredricka, this is about launching her campaign in the heart of the city she was born in and that she plans to have one of her campaign offices - Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Right. Very familiar territory. It's also just a few blocks away from that city hall, you know, Kyung, is the courthouse where, you know, she started her career as a prosecutor.

So the people who are there are clearly going to be great advocates of her. But she is bracing herself for the kind of criticism that might come, and scrutiny based on her record as a prosecutor. Has she or her campaign said anything about how they will preemptively try to address that?

LAH: This is something that has already come up at a number of her book stops, during her book tour where she outlined her biography. She talks about being the kind of prosecutor who isn't just tough on crime but smart on crime. That's a phrase that she commonly uses. And part of the reason for that is that she saw her career as a prosecutor as fighting from the inside to make change. That has certainly opened her up for criticism, especially here in Oakland among the far left. Now the left has said she hasn't been enough of an active for change, that she has been too much of a prosecutor. But the campaign says this is something that she has dealt with, that she has addressed and she will continue to talk about not just in sound bites but with lengthy discussion with her voters - Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kyung Lah, just an hour and a half away from this official launch rally there is Oakland for Kamala Harris.

Thanks so much, Kyung.

All right. Still ahead, are women really being bound, duct-taped and abducted at the border? Next, we fact check the President on his claim that there is rampant human trafficking at the southern border. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


[14:44:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Women are tied up, they are bound, duct-taped, put around their faces, around their mouths. In many cases they can't even breathe. They are put in the backs of cars or vans or trucks. They don't go through your port of entry. They make a right turn going very quickly. They go into the desert areas or whatever areas you can look at, and as soon as there is no protection, they make a left or a right into the United States of America.


WHITFIELD: All right. That was President Trump on Friday justifying to the American people why there should be a wall along the southern border. Keep in mind the fight over a border wall is the entire reason the government was shut down for 35 days. Now it's back up and running. People getting back to work this week. So that argument the President has made many times in the past in an effort to illustrate what he calls the crisis at the southern border. But is that an accurate depiction of what's really happening at the border?

CNN's Polo Sandoval has been digging into that and he joins me now with that for more - Polo.

[14:45:09] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So Fred, the President clearly has latched onto this idea that women and children are bound and smuggled across the border in ways he describes here. We have repeatedly trying to basically find evidence of that, turning to the White House to see if they can produce at least one or two specific cases of this kind of situation happening. So far no response.

We have, however, heard from some of those experts who deal with the victims of human trafficking. They say the victims in this, the nightmares that they experience, just do not match with what the commander in chief is saying.


TRUMP: I wish him luck.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): It's President Trump's new go-to talking point in his attempt to convince Americans of his border wall. Build it and stop human trafficking in the U.S.

TRUMP: It's at the worst level, human trafficking, in the history of the world. They come through areas where they have no protection, where they have no steel barriers, where they have no walls. And we can stop almost 100 percent of that.

SANDOVAL: This was Friday in the rose garden as the President announced a temporary end to the government shutdown. He painted a vivid and startling picture of migrant women being restrained with duct tape and then snuck over the southern border.

TRUMP: Women are tied up, they are bound, duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths. In many cases they can't even breathe.

SANDOVAL: But it seems like you have heard this before. You probably have. The President described this terrifying trafficking tactic almost a dozen times in the last month.

TRUMP: They have women in the backseat of the cars with duct tape all over the place.

They tape their face, their hair, their hands behind their back.

Human traffickers tying up women putting tape in their mouth.

They tie women up, they put duct tape over their mouth.

Women tied up, they have tape over their mouths, electrical tape. Usually blue tape.

SANDOVAL: This is all a misconception, says Lori Cohen director of the New York based anti-trafficking initiative. Of the hundreds of trafficking victims she has represented, she has yet to meet one who has experienced what the President describes.

LORI COHEN DIRECTOR, SANCTUARY FIR FAMILIES: I don't know where the President's information is coming from. I don't believe it's coming from law enforcement. It's certainly not coming from victims. And it's not coming from the dozens of service providers who I have spoken with across the country.

SANDOVAL: The experts we spoke to say many victims of trafficking actually come into the U.S. legally, unaware they will be victimized by traffickers. Others are smuggled but not restrained with tape before being driven over the border, as the President repeatedly claims.

MARTINA VANDENBERG, PRESIDENT, HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGAL CENTER: Donald Trump has told this lurid tale full of bogus details of how he thinks human trafficking works, and it's just not what we see.

SANDOVAL: Martina Vandenberg who also works with trafficking victims says this is all about the border wall.

VANDENBERG: He is ignoring the fact that about 66 percent of the cases that are handled by tracking organizations are U.S. citizens. About 34 percent are foreign nationals, and of those foreign nationals who are coming in, in our experience, the vast majority of those foreign nationals are coming in on perfectly legal visas.

SANDOVAL: Vandenberg's organization keeps a database of 1400 illegal indictments dating back to 2009. Of those cases, she says 26 of involve kidnapping and only one makes referenced to duct tape.

VANDENBERG: It mentions duct tape. And it mentioned someone tied up with duct tape, but the victim was a use citizen, not someone being brought across the border from Mexico.

SANDOVAL: Customs and border protection largely responsible for patrolling and protecting the southern border declined to comment of the President's remarks. The White House did not respond to CNN's repeated attempts to clarify the President's unsupported anecdote on human trafficking.


SANDOVAL: A critical voice in all of this, the victims himself. I had opportunities who can only identify as Sandra for safety purposes. And she tells me that when she became the victim of human trafficking, really before that happened, she was actually smuggled over the border. And the situation tonight whether she experienced is not match with the President is describing today -- Fred.

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

And we will be right back.


[14:53:53] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

Steve Martin returns to "Saturday Night Live," this time to play a real live character pulled right from the headlines, Roger Stone. Here's how "Saturday Night Live" played it up.


STEVE MARTIN AS ROGER STONE: I'm just a poor, helpless old man. I'm 66. I'm almost as old as sting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's why it was so awful the way police raided your home.

MARTIN: Exactly! The whole experience was so harrowing, and afterwards I could only manage one radio interview and a speech for the steps of the courthouse and two appearances on television. It's horrible!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you -- and haven't these ridiculous accusations made you poverty stricken as well?

MARTIN: Yes. That's right. I'm broke from my legal battles and now no one will buy my books.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why will no one buy your books?

MARTIN: Because I'm bad!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just tell people how they can donate money to help you.

MARTIN: I set up a donation page based on a phrase people have been yelling everywhere at me called "hey, Roger, go -- yourself!" UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well. Thank you for your time, Mr. Stone.

MARTIN: Pardon me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said thank you.

MARTIN: No, that wasn't a question. I was stating that for the President. Pardon me!


[14:55:10] WHITFIELD: All right. So much more straight ahead in the next hour of the NEWSROOM.

But first, here's a sneak peek of the CNN original film "Three Identical Strangers."


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have always thought, what would it be like if you turned the corner one day and you saw yourself?



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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nothing that could keep us apart.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something was just not right. I would like to know the truth. There was always a question mark.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The parents have never been told.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could you not tell us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Three Identical Strangers" tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on CNN.