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CNN NEWSROOM

Venezuela Political and Economic Crisis; Interview with Jennifer McCoy, Georgia State University; Trump Retreats but Vows Will Build Wall; Shutdown Costly to Trump Approval Rating; Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted; Blast Kills at least 17 at Philippine Cathedral; Hundreds Still Missing after Brazil Dam Collapse; Police Search for Serial Killer Who Murdered Parents; Steve King Goes Home to Defend Himself against Racism Claims; Vince Lombardi Trophy Arrives in Atlanta. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired January 27, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The crisis in Venezuela is spiraling out of control. The latest power struggle has the country even more divided and the U.S. turns up the pressure, urging other nations to pick a side.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus, America's longest government shutdown finally over but the battle in Washington is far from over. The U.S. president promising he will still build his border wall.

ALLEN (voice-over): Later this hour, the White House claims Roger Stone's indictment has nothing to do with Donald Trump but history, it suggests otherwise. We take a look at their decades-long friendship.

HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers from the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM start right now.

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ALLEN: Thanks for joining us.

Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro has been dealt a blow in his struggle to maintain power.

HOWELL: That's right. The country's military attache in Washington now says he backs the opposition leader, Juan Guaido. Colonel Jose Luis Silva Silva said Saturday that he support Guaido's road map, which he says includes transparent elections.

Guaido declared himself interim leader on Wednesday. And military leaders reiterated their support for President Nicolas Maduro. ALLEN: But it's not just the people in Venezuela picking sides. Countries around the world are now doing the same thing. The list of nations backing Maduro include Russia, Cuba, Turkey and China while those now backing Guaido include the U.S., E.U. and much of Latin America.

HOWELL: The Venezuelan leadership crisis was debated during a special U.N. Security Council meeting on Saturday.

ALLEN: U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo urged other nations to support the opposition leader. Several E.U. nations indicated they would if Maduro failed to call new elections by next week. CNN's Michelle Kosinski has more about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: We heard some tough messages on the floor of the U.N. Security Council. This was a special session on Venezuela, called by the United States.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo went there to try to get other countries on board to supporting the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. He said, at the very least, he would like to see some kind of presidential statement come out of the Security Council, at least supporting the people of Venezuela, supporting democracy.

But he said even that could not happen because Russia and China blocked it. And that was indicative of the kinds of statements we heard. While Pompeo was saying the time for games is over, either you're on our side and supporting democracy, or you're on Maduro's side and supporting mayhem, while Russia and Venezuela accuse the U.S. of orchestrating a coup in Venezuela.

Now on the ground there, the U.S. has kept its embassy open but pulled out all but essential staffers. And Pompeo warned Venezuela that it needs to keep those diplomats safe. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: And I want to be 100 percent clear. President Trump and I fully expect that our diplomats will continue to receive protections provided under the Vienna Convention.

Do not test the United States on our resolve to protect our own people. We hope that the international community will support the people of Venezuela and the transitional government led by Juan Guaido.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSINSKI: So now you have the United States and a number of other countries supporting Guaido. And the United States has flat-out said that Maduro has no legitimate power.

But then there are several European countries, including the U.K., France, Germany and Spain, who have given Venezuela eight days to hold free and fair elections. And if that doesn't happen, they say they will also view Guaido as the legitimate leader.

One hopeful sign, perhaps, is that there was word that some of Maduro's team were talking to Guaido. We'll just have to see where that leads -- Michelle Kosinski, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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ALLEN: Let's dive deeper into Venezuela's political unrest with Jennifer McCoy, distinguished professor of political science at Georgia State, joining us via Skype from Budapest, Hungary, today.

Thank you for talking with us. Let's begin with this new development from Washington. The Venezuelan military attache pulling his allegiance from Maduro.

Is that significant?

JENNIFER MCCOY, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes, it is. It is what the gamble of declaring an interim presidency was hoping to --

[05:05:00]

MCCOY: -- provoke. Of course, much more of this. He's doing it from a safe position in Washington. And we'll have to wait and see if others follow him.

Right now Guaido is hoping that others around the world, other similar military attaches, might follow suit and then eventually some in Caracas. But that is still yet to see.

ALLEN: We know the opposition-led national assembly in Venezuela offered amnesty to the military that steps away from Maduro. That could be a tipping point. Also, word that perhaps Maduro and the opposition are talking.

Would that be a very positive step?

And do you foresee, with what we're looking at now, that there could be a political solution to this crisis?

MCCOY: There has to be a political solution to the crisis. I think some people have an exaggerated hope that there will be a complete capitulation and somehow a whole new group of people will simply take over the reins of the government and lead Venezuela forward.

But it is not going to work that way. There must be negotiations and it is a very good sign if they are talking because it is a complex transition. Even calling for new elections will take time to put the machinery in place, to improve what had been there before, to change the election authorities and to see who will oversee all of this process. There also have to be talks about exactly what the amnesty will

entail. There is international law that does not permit amnesty for crimes against humanity and war crimes. And so there are some complications there.

But it is absolutely necessary to give some incentives for the Maduro government and its allies in the military, et cetera, to consider leaving power without fearing what will happen to them when they leave.

ALLEN: Right. Meantime, the United States continues to encourage countries to stand with the opposition. Let's listen to secretary of state Mike Pompeo at the U.N. Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: We just mentioned the elections that some countries would like to see happen. You talked about the challenge of throwing that together.

But how important is it for other countries to give their international support to Mr. Guaido?

MCCOY: It would certainly continue to strengthen them. But the European Union giving the space of a week for the government to accept that there would be new elections is important because it allows time for negotiations.

And another thing that they really must consider is -- that makes this more complicated -- is what guarantees will they give to the governing party to continue to participate and its supporters to have a political life in a future Venezuela?

ALLEN: Well, let's take it back a step here. Mr. Guaido, 35 years old, planning a massive rally next week, how did this relative unknown become an opposition figure with heft?

MCCOY: Well, he kind of rose up to the top of his party because many of the older leaders were exiled or imprisoned. So it came down to him.

But it has been -- he's given a miraculous sort of sign of hope to many people and he's exerted his leadership and his communication skills and I think his coalition building skills in a very savvy way so that he is proving to be actually quite the leader.

Now of course, he's got people behind him, advising him, and he's got the other political parties and the opposition supporting him, unified in a way that they haven't been over the last year or so. So this is all pretty crucial for a move forward.

ALLEN: And as you were speaking, we watched video of him swearing himself in as the new president.

Will that stick?

We'll wait and see. We always appreciate your expertise, Professor Jennifer McCoy with us. Thank you again.

MCCOY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: All right. Here in the United States, a fresh warning to Democrats from the U.S. president. He says negotiations on border security need to start immediately.

ALLEN: President Trump left empty-handed at the end of the shutdown yet he still insists he will build a wall on the border. CNN's Boris Sanchez has more from the White House.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There were a number of factors that led to President Trump signing off on reopening the federal government this weekend. For one, he started to see his poll numbers slip and his disapproval rating go up as a result of the federal government shutdown.

Most notably, on Thursday, the president received a call from Senator Mitch McConnell, with the Senate --

[05:10:00]

SANCHEZ: -- majority leader telling Trump he was not sure how much longer he could keep Republican senators in line and in agreement over the issue of immigration, according to one source.

McConnell apparently told the president that GOP senators were frustrated at what they felt was a lack of a clear strategy from the White House on how to reopen the federal government.

And then on Friday, we saw real serious effects of the shutdown after many delays at airports throughout the country, where air traffic controllers were effectively calling in sick because they weren't being paid over the shutdown.

So ultimately President Trump reopened the federal government and did exactly what Democrats asked and not getting a cent for his long- promised border wall. But the president is maintaining he did not concede to Democrats; he is playing cleanup. Take a look at this tweet from President Trump Saturday.

Quote, "21 days goes very quickly. Negotiations with Democrats will start immediately, will not be easy to make a deal. Both parties very dug in. The case for national security has been greatly enhanced by what has been happening at the border and through dialogue. We will build the wall."

At this point, it's unclear exactly how negotiations will move forward for the president, with Democrats emboldened and Republicans apparently split on this issue. Privately, we are told that aides have talked about this as a humiliating loss for a president who does not often lose -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Well, the shutdown is over for now but the negative impact will linger for a long time. Contractors probably will not get back pay. People who took out loans now have added debt. And their creditworthiness and security clearances may take a hit. Immigration courts are backlogged and U.S. agencies are at higher risk from hackers.

HOWELL: That's not all. Essential employees had to keep working without pay. That caused its own problems. Sickouts became a major issue at airports and some TSA staff, the security at airports, screeners, they were asked to relocate.

ALLEN: From air traffic controllers to federal corrections officers, not knowing when they would be paid, caused huge personal turmoil and stress.

HOWELL: And don't forget the start of tax filing season. Furloughed Internal Revenue Service employees suddenly called back to work without pay. Even park rangers had to set up to protect national parks from vandals and trash.

We have a lot to talk about today with Scott Lucas from the University of Birmingham in England and the professor of international politics and founder and editor of "EA WorldView." He's joining us this hour from Birmingham, England.

Good to have you, Scott.

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Good morning to you, George.

HOWELL: Boris mentioned in this his piece but Republicans are divided here. The pundit Ann Coulter called the president a coward -- essentially saying that he caved -- rather, a wimp. Former adviser Sebastian Gorka calling it a master stroke, what happened here.

Between the Republicans' views, how do you see it?

LUCAS: Well --

(LAUGHTER)

LUCAS: -- first of all, I think Sebastian Gorka is best left in his particular headspace because there was no master stroke about what has happened to Donald Trump.

Let's start with the fact that he's like the wannabe tough guy who's just gotten knocked down in the playground and he's trying to get back up and saying, this ain't over yet. His problem is that already he looks weak to those on the hard right, such as Ms. Coulter, who would want to have not only a 30-foot wall but something far higher to shut out anybody who is not American.

But on the other side, he has gotten now not only Democrats but a number of Republican legislators, who are saying we have to have a constructive way forward on border security, on immigration, on government services, which provides assured funding but which does not include his wall.

In other words, Donald Trump has just put America through the most expensive vanity project in history, not just the $25 billion for the wall but the cost to all of those Americans you talk about. And he's got absolutely no leverage, no leverage after 35 days.

HOWELL: Well, the government is reopened now and the president's approval rating we understand was key in that happening. You see that it's at 57 percent disapproval. This poll taken within that window of the partial government shutdown.

And we understand one of the reasons that the president did it is was because basically he reopened the government, despite tweeting that he would never cave. Well, he did cave. He caved to Democrats, putting workers back to work for sure but not getting a single dollar, Scott, for the border wall that he promised.

(CROSSTALK)

HOWELL: -- here's the question, are Democrats or Republicans under more pressure?

LUCAS: Well, I think right now let's realign this just a bit, George, because beyond the opinion polls that you cite quite rightly, it was the fact that Mitch McConnell, on behalf of Senate Republicans, told Trump --

[05:15:00]

LUCAS: -- we can't sustain this anymore. We can't sustain this politically. The country can't sustain it.

So rather than speaking to a Democrat versus Republican thing, which is what Trump is going to try to do, it's really now a question of both Republicans and Democrats trying to contain Trump.

Now what will that mean in a few weeks?

Will that mean $1.3 billion more for border security, maybe $2 billion, $2.5 billion more, what will be the specific measures?

In other words, can those congressional leaders agree, if they do agree, that this is no longer Trump and Republicans versus Democrats, it's all Congress versus that guy in the White House?

HOWELL: The president though seems between a rock and a hard place to get things done here over the next several weeks. One pundit as I mentioned calling him a wimp for this, for reopening government.

Look, if he gives Democrats what they want on DACA, on immigration, wouldn't that alienate him even further with that base that he relies on?

LUCAS: Yes, but that base may be mythical, George. Let me explain real quickly because we have gone on and on for months about maybe 25, 30 percent of Americans who are dug in with Trump come hell or high water and I understand that.

But what you have seen in the last few weeks is that when you have even diehard Trump supporters who are faced with the choice of, do we stick with our guy, do we stick with an Ann Coulter or do we stick with, we need a stable home, we need a stable job, we need a stable government, we need security, which way do they go then?

And that dip in opinion poll ratings shows not only that those people who might not be Trump supporters are moving away from the White House, it shows that even those who have been with Trump on make America great again don't necessity think that America is that great when it comes to their personal circumstances.

HOWELL: Scott Lucas, thank you so much for your time.

LUCAS: Thank you, George.

ALLEN: All right. A related story, Roger Stone is out of jail on bond but the long-time Trump adviser arrested on Friday heads back to court Tuesday.

HOWELL: He will be arraigned though on charges that draw the clearest line yet between the Trump campaign and Democratic emails stolen by Russia, then released by WikiLeaks.

The man who calls himself a dirty trickster is accused of lying to Congress, obstructing justice and tampering with witnesses. Those charges coming from special counsel Robert Mueller.

ALLEN: The ever defiant Stone walked out of a Florida courthouse Friday to crowds chanting, "Lock him up." He said he would never, in his words, "bear false witness" against President Trump.

If you're keeping score, Stone is the sixth Trump associate that has been indicted, including his personal fixer, Michael Cohen, and his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

HOWELL: Regarding the indictment specifically, it says that Roger Stone sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton's campaign while he was in close contact, allegedly with senior Trump campaign officials.

ALLEN: Our Phil Black takes a look at what that means for Stone, Assange and Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: WikiLeaks says Roger Stone's indictment proves what it has always maintained, that there was no direct communication between Stone and WikiLeaks or between Stone and its founder, Julian Assange.

The view of WikiLeaks and Assange's supporters is that Roger Stone wanted access to WikiLeaks' information and he was happy for some people to think he could get it, that he deliberately promoted himself as a conduit to WikiLeaks and to Julian Assange, even though no such line of communication ever existed.

ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: The charges today relate in no way to Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal act in connection with the 2016 campaign.

BLACK (voice-over): At the center of long-time Trump associate Roger Stone's indictment, that Stone sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Hillary Clinton's presidential race in coordination with the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) contact with the Trump campaign to contact WikiLeaks?

STONE: No, I have addressed that before, that is incorrect.

BLACK (voice-over): But the Mueller probe paints a different picture.

Back to July 2016, when WikiLeaks releases thousands of stolen documents from the DNC, damaging to Hillary Clinton. And after that, a senior Trump campaign official is directed to ask Stone about more damaging information, Organization-1, WikiLeaks, might have.

By August, Stone gets an email from Person-1, now confirmed to CNN as Stone associate Jerome Corsi, including these words.

"Word is friend in embassy plans two more dumps. One shortly after I'm back, second in October, impact plan to be very damaging."

That friend, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, evading an arrest on an unrelated matter and potential extradition --

[05:20:00]

BLACK (voice-over): -- to the U.S.

Within a few days of the email, Stone claims direct communication with Assange.

STONE: I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to The Clinton Foundation. But there's no telling what the October surprise may be.

BLACK (voice-over): And sends this email to former Trump adviser, Sam Nunberg.

"I dined with my new pal Julian Assange last night."

Stone would later explain it was a joke.

But was it?

Both WikiLeaks and Stone's camps deny Stone and Assange ever meeting and WikiLeaks maintains there wasn't even a back channel, tweeting Friday, "These are only Stone, Corsi attempts at braggadocio. New evidence of no back channel with WikiLeaks."

Amid all these conflicting statements, we know that Stone and WikiLeaks have communicated directly from these private messages on Twitter.

October 13, 2016, Stone messages WikiLeaks that since he's been defending them and Assange, they may want to re-examine the strategy of attacking him.

A WikiLeaks staff member replies and attempt to distance WikiLeaks from Stone.

"We appreciate that. However, the false claims of association are being used by the Democrats to undermine the impact of our publications. Don't go there if you don't want us to correct you."

WikiLeaks tweeted this statement from an Assange lawyer Friday.

"The charges against Mr. Stone do not allege that Mr. Stone lied about his lack of contacts with Julian Assange but rather about his contacts with others and about documents reflecting those communications," and goes on to say that, "The office of the special counsel has never spoken with Mr. Assange."

BLACK: As for Assange, he is now well into his seventh year of being confined to -- or perhaps confining himself -- to the Ecuadoran embassy and that looks likely to continue because British police say they will arrest him if he emerges for breaching the bail conditions that he broke when he initially entered the embassy.

And Assange still fears that if that happens, he will be extradited to the United States -- -- Phil Black, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: All right, Phil, thanks.

ALLEN: There are signs of progress in U.S. talks with the Taliban. On Saturday, the U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted he's headed to Afghanistan after six days of negotiations in Qatar. He said those talks were more productive than previous meetings.

HOWELL: A source tells CNN that the U.S. and the Taliban are discussing a cease-fire that may lead to a U.S. withdrawal but there are fears that could mean the fall of the Afghan government.

ALLEN: Rescue workers in Brazil have a long road ahead of them. They are still trying to find hundreds of people believed buried after a dam collapsed. That's what it left behind. We'll have the latest.

HOWELL: Plus here in the United States, take a look at that; winter just got a lot colder. More snow and blizzard-like conditions sweep across parts of the country. We'll have more on the forecast ahead.

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HOWELL: Welcome back.

At least 17 people are dead after a pair of explosions at a Philippine cathedral. This happened in Jolo in southern Sulu province. A military official said that the first blast happened inside the cathedral and the second targeted soldiers nearby.

ALLEN: Sulu province is in the Mindanao region. On Monday, millions took part in a referendum that could lead to self-administration for Muslim majority areas and most people voted yes but the town of Jolo rejected the plan.

Well, we are awaiting word that rescue efforts in Brazil have resumed after heavy rain forced them to stop overnight.

HOWELL: Hundreds are still missing and at least 34 people are confirmed dead. This after a dam collapsed on Friday. Our Patrick Oppmann has the latest for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surveying the damage. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro flies over the muddy aftermath of Friday's deadly dam collapse. Search efforts have doubled since the previous day.

Rescuers trolling through the mud and water, looking for anyone who may still be alive. So far civil authorities say around 300 people have been rescued. A spokesman for the Vale mine near the dam say all the missing people work for the company.

Police say they are trying to find a cafeteria they think is buried in the sludge. Local residents say the search could be delayed because of the landscape.

ALTHAIR GONCALVES, RESIDENT (through translator): The recovery of the area will be difficult, because the whole area was full, with the river and vegetation. Now the vegetation is all gone.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Officials say they are bringing in rescue dogs and Israel says it is sending a rescue team and equipment to the scene. President Bolsonaro says he will do everything possible to find the missing and comfort those waiting for answers. JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The government is taking immediate steps to help minimize the pain of family members. From now on, the work is basically searching for missing people. Unfortunately, the death toll can greatly increase.

OPPMANN (voice-over): -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: We will keep you posted if they find more people.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, a closer look at Venezuela's collapsed economy and how it got stuck in a vicious downward spiral.

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: I'm one of his oldest friends. I'm a fervent supporter of the president. I think he's doing a great job of making America great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: If you want insight into Donald Trump's political mind, look no further than the long-time adviser there to his side, Roger Stone. We'll have more on their friendship over the years. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for being with us.

(HEADLINES)

HOWELL: The crisis in Venezuela appears to be getting worse. And you can see here by the numbers. The country's economic -- economy, rather, remains in a state of collapse; hyperinflation has skyrocketed. The IMF predicts inflation will hit 10 million percent this year. Basic goods are simply unaffordable for many Venezuelans and, according to the U.N., around 3 million people have left the country since 2015.

ALLEN: Poverty is adding to the growing humanitarian crisis. A 2018 survey by Venezuelan universities found that nearly 90 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty. The survey also found that over two- thirds of Venezuelans reported losing an average of 11 kilos in 2017. HOWELL: The Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela estimates the country is experiencing an 85 percent shortage of medicine. In November, the U.N. announced it would give Venezuela $9.2 million in health and nutritional aid.

ALLEN: Venezuela's political and economic turmoil did not come up overnight. It has been years in the making.

HOWELL: Our Rafael Romo explains how the country got to this point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA: (Speaking Spanish).

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): He shouted at the top of his lungs...

MADURO: (Speaking Spanish).

ROMO (voice-over): -- embattled Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro broke political and diplomatic ties with the United States. His furious reaction happened only hours after secretary of state Mike Pompeo recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.

POMPEO: The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate, his regime is morally bankrupt. It's economically incompetent.

ROMO (voice-over): Venezuela has seen violence and instability for years.

[05:35:00]

ROMO (voice-over): The country is bankrupt and shortages of basic necessities, such as medicine for children and food are widespread, as we have reported for years.

ROMO: There's no rice; rice should be here or milk or baby products. And everything is empty. Now you can find some other non-essential products like, for example, this is a sweetener for milk. The problem is that, even if you buy it, there's no milk.

ROMO (voice-over): The U.N. says more than 3 million people have fled Venezuela since at least 2014.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA.: You may not just have a humanitarian catastrophe in Venezuela, we may soon have a growing economic catastrophe in Brazil and Peru and Ecuador and in Colombia.

ROMO (voice-over): In 2017, President Trump said he wouldn't rule out the military intervention to help restore democracy to the country and he doubled down last week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering a military option for Venezuela? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not considering anything but all options are on the table.

ROMO (voice-over): A warning from Russia was swift.

SERGEI RYABKOV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The resort to military power would be catastrophic. We face now a scenario that may lead to further bloodshed in Venezuela.

ROMO (voice-over): Russia and China are siding with Maduro. Both have invested billions of dollars in Venezuela, which has some of the largest oil reserves in the world. And like other totalitarian regimes, its government has quashed the opposition, silenced critics and the censored the press.

When we investigated an alleged fraudulent sale of passports, getting reaction took months.

ROMO (through translator): Foreign Minister, what can you say about the allegations that Venezuelan passports are being sold at the embassy in Baghdad?

What do you say about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): How crazy.

ROMO (from captions): What can you tell us about it?

As foreign minister, do you have any knowledge?

(CROSSTALK)

JUAN GUAIDO, INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA: (Speaking Spanish).

ROMO (voice-over): And now Venezuela is the country with two men calling themselves president: opposition leader Juan Guaido, who swore himself in on Wednesday, and Nicolas Maduro, who is beginning a second six-year term after a May election many in the international community call a farce because the opposition was not allowed to participate.

Meanwhile, people have come out to the streets again. Clashes between security forces and protesters left more than 120 dead in 2017. And many fear history may repeat again -- Rafael Romo, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Rafael, thank you.

Friday's indictment of Roger Stone puts the spotlight squarely on one of Donald Trump's closest advisers. ALLEN: The two weren't just friends since Mr. Trump became president. Their relationship goes back decades. Critics say Stone's reputation as a dirty trickster can sometimes be seen in some of the moves Donald Trump makes. Tom Foreman looks at their relationship through the years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But Roger Stone has had plenty to do with Donald Trump ever since they met in the 1970s, legal work for his businesses, lobbying for his casinos; they share personal history, too.

STONE: Donald Trump came to my wedding, I went to two of his. I was at both his parents' funerals.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And time and again, Stone has pushed Trump's political ambitions.

TRUMP: Roger always wanted me to run for president and, over the years, every time a presidential race came up, he always wanted me to run.

STONE: I was like a jockey looking for a horse. You can't win the race if you don't have a horse.

TRUMP: Well, the polls are saying --

FOREMAN (voice-over): Their partnership has been, at times, a rough ride. The two had to pay fines related to that casino lobbying long ago. Trump once told "The New Yorker," "Roger is a stone-cold loser. He always tries taking credit for things he never did."

And even after Stone was all in on Trump's 2016 campaign, advising the candidate, raising money, Stone was fired or he quit, depending on whom you believe. Still --

STONE: I am a loyal supporter of Donald Trump. I believe he can be a transformational president.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Trump prizes loyalty and Stone's loyalty is unwavering. He even has a tattoo on his back of Richard Nixon, whom he once worked for. So for Trump, Stone soon became a raging voice against the Russia investigation.

STONE: A fairy tale, a falsehood, a steaming pile of BS.

FOREMAN (voice-over): A quick defender for any decision, no matter how controversial.

STONE: The president made the right decision. Mr. Comey had become unaccountable.

FOREMAN (voice-over): An attack dog to go after Trump's enemies and an ally to ridicule his critics.

[05:40:00]

STONE: Oh, my God, I'm busted, drinking Russian vodka. Mueller, arrest me, libtards.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And most of all Stone has been a man who steadfastly says what Trump needs said most.

STONE: I'm aware of no evidence whatsoever of collusion by the Russian state or anyone in the Trump campaign or anyone associated with Donald Trump.

FOREMAN: And the more this investigation tightens, it may be that President Trump will need Stone and others to keep holding that line -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: All right. May be chilly days ahead for Mr. Stone. That's your transition.

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HOWELL: Still ahead, Steve King has some explaining to do, this after the U.S. congressman was accused of racism. What he told his hometown crowd about it. Stay with us.

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ALLEN: Police in Louisiana are on the hunt for a man they say killed five people including his own parents. Authorities believe 21-year- old Dakota Theriot had been living with his girlfriend when he killed her, her father and her brother.

HOWELL: Police say he then drove to his parents' house and shot them and escaped. In his dying declaration, Theriot's father identified his son as the gunman. One sheriff said it's the worst case of domestic violence he's seen in a long time.

The U.S. congressman Steve King went to his home state of Iowa this weekend to address claims of racism.

ALLEN: It was his first town hall meeting since being rebuked by Congress for telling "The New York Times" he didn't get why the terms "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" are offensive. Here's CNN's Sara Sidner. She was there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Steve King arrived here in Primghar, Iowa, in the far northwest corner of the state to a crowd of about 80 people. It's a very small town, we should mention, pretty remote. And there are about 930 people who live in this town. So a small place, where lots of folks just came to listen to their congressman.

All the people in the crowd were his constituents, they said. There were some Democrats also in the crowd. But mostly this crowd was very friendly. It was pretty much a love fest today, as Steve King held his first town hall since his controversial comments to "The New York Times."

We should also mention that the very first thing he did was address what he called "the elephant in the room."

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: The big subject is before us all, some might refer to as the elephant in the room, is the situation of a "New York Times" quote. And it is stunning and astonishing to me that four words in a "New York Times" quote can outweigh 20-some years of public service, 20-some years of giving you my word every day.

And not one soul has stood up and said that I've ever lied to you or misrepresented anything or given it to you in any spin that's anything other than what I believe to be the objective truth.

SIDNER: He was also asked about being stripped of his congressional committee assignments. He said his plan was to work closer with the president, work closer with the executive branch and he said it would also allow him to speak on the floor on every vote, that he would be there for every congressional vote now.

And he also addressed someone asking about his international travels, saying, will you be able to now save money, not go on the trips so often?

And he sort of sidestepped that a bit and said there were some things he could not do but that most of the time his staff does not go on those trips and they're not necessarily paid for with the local taxpayer money.

He also got a standing ovation basically when he left. The crowd certainly seemed to be very friendly, though Steve King himself --

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SIDNER: -- tweeted out that he thought the crowd might be volatile, the way he put it. That turned out not to be the case.

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ALLEN: Sara Sidner there for us.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, it's the biggest sports event in the year in the U.S., the Super Bowl. It's happening right next door to CNN. We'll have a preview for you after this.

HOWELL: The stadium is all lit and ready.

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ALLEN: A mural believed to have been painted by the anonymous street artist Banksy has been stolen in Paris. It had a special meaning. It was painted on the fire door of the Bataclan theater, where 90 people were killed in a terror attack in 2015.

HOWELL: The artwork depicts a sad woman, wearing a black and white veil, her head slightly bowed. The theater tweeted that the mural symbolized remembrance and belonging.

Next Sunday, NFL fans around the world will have their eyes right here on Atlanta, Georgia.

ALLEN: Exciting for us. You're looking at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, site of the Super Bowl and our next door neighbor here at CNN. The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots will battle there for supremacy and a Super Bowl ring.

HOWELL: In the meantime, the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy has arrived here --

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HOWELL: -- to Atlanta and who better to bring it in than the Hall of Fame running back known as The Bus, Jerome Bettis. Back in 2006, his team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, won Super Bowl XL.

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JEROME BETTIS, HALL OF FAME RUNNING BACK: For me to be the one to receive it and put it in its rightful place, it is a very, very special opportunity for me.

And I got a chance to put it on, I put the Super Bowl ring over top of my gloves because I wanted the ring to be as close as possible to the trophy because, in reality, they go together, the ring and the trophy. That's what it's all about. It symbolizes the entire game.

So I think every football player in the NFL wants an opportunity to hoist the Lombardi trophy and have a Super Bowl ring.

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ALLEN: Well, let's talk about the trophy down under in Australia, because the Australian Open men's final is over in Melbourne. Novak Djokovic has clinched a record seventh title to serve overwhelmed Spaniard Rafael Nadal in straight sets. Nadal was trying to become the first man in the open era to win each major at least twice. HOWELL: On Saturday, Japan's Naomi Osaka won the women's title, her second back-to-back grand slam, beating Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. The win is expected to give Osaka top spot when the new world rankings come out on Monday. If that happens, she'll be the first Asian player, man or woman, to achieve this milestone.

ALLEN: And all of Japan is going --

HOWELL: Oh, they're excited. Absolutely.

ALLEN: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Thanks for being with us. For viewers in the U.S., "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, "Ending Modern Day Slavery: Discussion at Davos" is next. Stay with us.