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Acting A.G. Making Controversial Comments on Russia Probe; Government Shutdown Could Happen Again; Some Don't Agree with Starbucks CEO Running in 2020; Maduro Upset with U.S. Sanctions; U.S.- China Trade Talks Hangs in the Balance; U.S. Slaps New Sanctions On Venezuelan State Oil Company; Whitaker, I Think Mueller Probe Close To Completion; Countdown To Brexit; No Veteran Left Behind; Drug Kingpin Trial; Dangerous Deep Freeze; Icy Rescue; Stone Cold Dandy. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired January 29, 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] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR: It's almost over, perhaps. A top Trump official suggests Robert Mueller could be near the end of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Plus, an outrage President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela is lashing out at Washington as his opponent vows to do whatever is necessary to see democracy come to the country.
And temperatures so low it only takes five minutes to freeze human skin. The U.S. copes with a record-breaking polar vortex bringing in literally Antarctic cold.
Live from CNN center in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers joining us in the United States and from all around the world. I'm Nick Watt. And this is CNN Newsroom.
The end may be in sight. That's the word from the acting attorney general on the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. In the 20 months special counsel Robert Mueller has been on the case, he secured more than two dozen indictments, including those of half a dozen Trump associates.
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker made the suggestion Monday which could possibly mean there are no indictments coming. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I've been fully briefed on the investigation and, you know, I look forward to Director Mueller delivering the final report. I really am not going to talk about open an ongoing investigation otherwise, but, you know, sort of the statements that I made where as a private citizen only with publicly available information.
And you know, I am comfortable that the decisions that were made are going to be reviewed, you know, either through the various means we have, but right now the investigation is, I think, close to being completed and I hope that we can get the report from the Director Mueller as soon as we -- as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: The other big issue looming over Mr. Trump his border wall. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders made it clear that another shutdown may be just a few weeks away. The president ended the last shutdown to negotiate a deal by February 15, meaning government workers could be thrown off their jobs yet again.
Kaitlan Collins has the story.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House holding its first press briefing of the year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president doesn't want to go through another shutdown. That's not the goal. The goal is border security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The Trump White House now holds the record for the longest time without an on-camera briefing since they were first aired during the Clinton administration. And with 800,000 federal employees returning to work today, the record for the longest government shutdown in history.
But that return could be short-lived. This group of bipartisan lawmakers has three weeks to find a funding proposal that could clear both chambers of Congress and get the president's signature before the government runs out of money again on February 15.
Trump appearing doubtful a deal will be struck telling the Wall Street Journal he believes there's less than a 50-50 chance. His chief of staff making clear that bypassing Congress and declaring a national emergency to fund the border wall is a top option.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He is willing to do whatever it takes to secure the border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office showing that the shutdown cost the U.S. billions of dollars, including $3 billion that won't be recovered.
Trump feeling the heat from some of the most prominent members of his base, including Ann Coulter who said he was the biggest wimp to ever serve as president for conceding to Democrats' demands. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE SPEAKER: The base is what has rebelled here. And they can take me as a stand in for the base, but that's all I am, a member of the base.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Trump telling the Wall Street Journal "Coulter has become very hostile, maybe I didn't return her phone call or something." And after a long shutdown with nothing to show forth, it's not just members of the president's base that are frustrated, moderate lawmakers are too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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. They're ineffective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has officially invited the president to deliver the State of the Union address on February 5, that's one week after the president was initially scheduled to do so.
And he has accepted writing in a letter to the house speaker saying, quote, "We have a great story to tell, and yet, great goals to achieve."
[03:05:03] This will give the president an opportunity to make the case for his border wall during a televised primetime address. And it will be as congressional negotiators are meeting behind the scenes trying to reach a deal before the government runs out of money again.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
WATT: We're joined now from Munich by James Davis, dean of the school of economics and political science at the University of St. Gallen. James, what is going to happen February 15? I don't see Nancy Pelosi caving in. So, does he declare a national emergency? What do you think is going to happen?
JAMES DAVIS, DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALLEN: Well, if I had to take a wager on that, I think the president is going to cave in again. I mean, the president has got himself into even a tighter bind than he was in before the shutdown was ended temporarily.
He has now passed the ball to the Congress. We have a Senate and House committee comprises of both parties, a lot of deal makers in that committee working on a deal and if these people, many of whom are quite reasonable on these issues, come to a solution, come to a deal that the president himself then rejects, then it is clear to everyone that it is the president that is the obstructionist party in this game and I think he will take another hit in the polls for that. He can't cooperate with the Democrats for fear of losing his base, but
he is in the meantime, losing so many middle of the road Americans that I think this is a lose-lose situation, but it's one of his own making.
WATT: James, I want to now look forward a little bit to 2020. Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks announced today that he is strongly considering a run as an independent. Surely that is the best news that President Trump has had for a little while.
DAVIS: It certainly is. The question is, of course, whether there is anybody out there who really wants Mr. Schultz to run. There are disaffected people. There are people that think that both of the parties have failed -- have failed them, but we're seeing already a very lively group of Democratic contenders who represent a broad spectrum of political positions.
We may even see a primary challenge against the president. And so, the question is do we really need this campaign of Mr. Schulz. We'll see. In the end, of course, he would be a spoiler. He will divide the anti- Trump vote and, perhaps, be then the person who is known forever more as the person who delivered Mr. Trump into the White House for a second term.
WATT: And we saw earlier on our air Kamala Harris has also declared that she is going to run for the democratic nomination. Do you see her as a strong candidate who could possibly go all the way?
DAVIS: Well, early polls show her to be really tracking well with the Democratic base. She seems to be the most popular of the candidates who have declared so far, and of those who we think might declare, for example, she is running in current polls higher than the former price president and she is the person who may be able to put together that Obama coalition of younger voters, of multi-ethnic group of voters that really propelled Barack Obama into the White House twice.
She seems to be the person that may be able to reconstitute that coalition. So, I think she is a formidable candidate and we'll just have to see. But you know, she's one of a number of women that are going to be running. She is one of a number of minorities that are going to be running. The Democratic field is going to be full and it's going to be an exciting primary campaign to watch.
WATT: But of course, if Matt Whitaker is right and Mueller is about to drop his report, then we are going to be talking about nothing other than that.
DAVIS: Yes. I think that's right. The question is of course, whether Mr. Whitaker really has any credible information on this. you know, the reports were that the FBI sees not only -- not only arrested Roger Stone but seized numerous documents and computers in their raid last week. Those are going to take, it's going to take time to sort through all of those documents and those computers. And who knows what they are going to come up with.
SO, I'm a bit skeptical about claims that there are no indictments coming forward. We or even the special prosecutor may not know whether there are going to be any more indictments. It's all a function of what's in those documents and what other witnesses say in the next few days and weeks.
WATT: And I just want to read you a little bit of something else that Matt Whitaker said. He said "I'm comfortable that the decisions that were made by the special counsel are going to be reviewed through the various means we have." Now that has got a few Democrats a little anxious.
[03:10:00] DAVIS: Yes. I mean, I think the question that everybody has is where does Mr. Mueller's report land? Does it land only in the offices of the attorney general or the acting attorney general and is it the discretion of the attorney general or the acting attorney general to decide whether to move forward with that report to share the contents of that report with anyone else, or is this report also going to be handed over to the relevant oversight committees of Congress in which case we could expect a much more thorough discussion of what's in them.
And then a decision on whether there is any basis in the documents and in the report for the opening of impeachment proceedings. I think that's the question. The political question everybody is
asking, and you know, it will be a function of where that report lands and whether it ever sees the light of day.
WATT: James Davis joining us live from Munich, thank you very much.
DAVIS: Thanks, Nick.
WATT: Now to a new move by the Trump administration to try to force Nicolas Maduro from power in Venezuela. The U.S. is imposing sanctions against the state-owned oil company which it accuses of embezzling money for politicians and businessman. And top officials are not ruling out a military option either.
Stefano Pozzebon has reaction from Caracas.
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes. Harsh reactions from Nicolas Maduro, the embattled Venezuelan leader against that those oil sanctions, those weeping oil sanctions that the department of state placed on the Venezuelan state company PDVSA.
On Monday evening, Maduro define labelled those sanctions as criminal and illegitimate and unjustified and ordered legal actions against those sanctions. And he also has some strong very serious words against the U.S. President, Donald Trump directly calling on him and saying that you will have blood on your hands if you go ahead with further pressure on Venezuela.
But at the same time, further pressure is, indeed, coming Maduro's way because the opposition has called yet another wave of street protests for next Wednesday and the following Saturday and with the option from the international community to take the money away from Nicolas Maduro. The pressure is only going to be even heavier and heavier.
For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Caracas.
WATT: Joining me now from London Diego Moya-Ocampos, is a principal analyst for the Americas at the business consulting firm IHS Markit. So, listen, we have a situation here where the U.S., Colombia, a number of European countries, are saying that Guaido is now the actual president of the country. You've got Russia, Iran, China standing by Nicolas Maduro. You have three and a half million people have left the country. How can this end without more bloodshed?
DIEGO MOYA-OCAMPOS, PRINCIPAL ANALYST, IHS MARKIT: Well, I mean, in general terms, what is happening is that according to article 223, is there a vacuum of power the president of the head of National Assembly has to step in and that's what has happened to Juan Guaido.
As head of the National Assembly he has assumed as president interim. I think all the domestic pressure in the form of protests and riots, all the increasing discontent within the military, and all the international pressure in the form of sanctions, will lead to a situation in which Maduro through possibly dialogue or a association in which he will be -- or in which he would agree to step down, that's what I see more likely happening.
If that is not the case, then certainly protests arise are going to escalating and we're going to see the military withdrawing support from him and sort of inviting him to leave office. But I don't see necessarily that there is going to be armed confrontations between military factions. And the violence I'm seeing is more than one which is a security operates is exercising in protest, demanding Maduro to step down and for Guaido to assume government functions.
WATT: And Diego, I mean, what about the possibility of U.S. military intervention? I mean, John Bolton today at the White House had 5,000 troops to Colombia written on his notebook.
MOYA-OCAMPOS: It is difficult to make an assessment over that possibility. What is clear is that following what started as a political, social and economic crisis and have turned into a full- blown migration and humanitarian crisis, nearly three million people have left the country as you said, Nick, and nearly 10 percent of the population.
[03:14:56] The whole region is in agreement that a consolidated and a real solution is near in case Nicolas Maduro refuses to step down. And the key thing here is that this is basically Maduro leads a military government.
He continues having strong military support, but mainly from the high military command because this is a high military command which he has granted a lot of power, not only in terms of airports, ports, oil services, imports, but also some of his top commanders, not all of them, are highly involved in drug trafficking, fuel smuggling, illegal mining, human trafficking and obviously, they have incentives to sort of step down.
Now the (Inaudible) the rank and file and amongst some institutional functions there is a lot of clarity that Maduro need to step down and the moment has come to pave their way for a democratic transition.
WATT: Diego, I just want to play a little bit of sound bite of CNN Espanol colleague Fernando del Rincon spoke to Juan Guaido earlier. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FERNANDO DEL RINCON, CNN ESPANOL HOST: Juan, are you prepared to seek conflict to achieve the goal of removing the Maduro government?
JUAN GUAIDO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): We are sure we can achieve a peaceful transition, a transition and eventually, free elections. Now during this period where we end the occupation because Maduro has seized the executive power. His administration ended on January 10th. There was no election that endorses him. We must use great pressure for the dictator to leave, install a transitional government and have free elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: I mean, Diego, would he live up to those statements, do you think?
MOYA-OCAMPOS: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think Guaido is aware that he is a means to an end. In the end is free of fair elections, that's what the position is demanding, that's what the coalition he has been demanding, that's what international community is demanding.
And we have to remember that this all started when Maduro tried to reelect himself on 20 May last year through an electoral fraud. Now the vacuum of power materialized on 10 of January when his 2013, 2019 mandate expired and then article 223 of the Constitution basically allowed for the head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido to step in.
But we have to remember that the 2013 election in which Maduro was elected in the first place was also not recognized by the opposition and there's areas that he could have also got into power through an electoral fraud.
So, we're talking about a president who probably was never elected in the first place. I do think that certainly Guaido is aware that he is going to lead a transition towards free and fair elections.
And the next steps are to create the conditions to appoint an independent national electoral counsel and to therefore (Ph) get their electoral role and for Venezuelans to be able to vote in free and fair elections and decide their fate and go through a path prepared in a country which has the largest oil reserves.
We have to remember that when Chavez came to power in 1999, oil productions to the 3.4 million barrels per day. Two years ago, oil productions to the 2.5 million barrels per day. At the moment it stands at 1.2 million barrels per day falling very rapidly and it could end the year below 900,000 barrels per day if there is no regime change. And this is for the people on the ground what this means is shortage
of food, shortages of medicines, collapse of the health system, no electricity, no water supplies, no gas, which is what most Venezuelans use to cook. Hyper (ph) inflations of workers more than capacity had disappeared, economic construction which means that, you know, the economy is going nowhere.
So that's basically the situation and that's what the people in the streets are demanding.
WATT: Diego --
MOYA-OCAMPOS: And we're seeing increasingly -- yes.
WATT: Diego, we're going to have to move on, but I thank you very, very much for your insights on the country. I appreciate it.
MOYA-OCAMPOS: Thank you, Nick.
WATT: Next, trade talks between the U.S. and China are set to resume Wednesday, but the lengthy list of charges against tech giant Huawei may sour negotiations.
Plus, dangerously cold weather is impacting much of the U.S. And it's only going to get worse.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WATT: Days ahead of renewed trade talks with China the U.S. is targeting Chinese tech giant Huawei. In two sets of charges the Justice Department accuses Huawei of trying to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile and violating sanctions against Iran.
The U.S. says Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou played a key role in the scheme to conduct business in Iran. Meng was arrested in Canada and is fighting extradition to the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: As the indictment charges the alleged fraudulent financial schemes used by Huawei and its chief financial officer were not just illegal but detrimental to the security of the United States.
They willfully conducted millions of dollars in transactions that were in direct violation of the Iranian transactions and sanctions regulations. And we will not, as a country, tolerate efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions to support an odious regime that sponsors terror and threatens the United States and our allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: CNN's Steven Jiang joins us now from Beijing with the latest. Steven, is this another card in the trade war, perhaps an ace? STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Nick, in a way it's all
interconnected. And the company, Huawei, as well as the Chinese government, have responded to these latest indictments quickly and firmly.
Now the company said it was very disappointed to learn those charges saying in a statement and I'll read to you.
[03:24:53] "The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliates have committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the indictments is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the U.S. Courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion."
And the Chinese government response is even more forceful with a foreign ministry spokesman accusing the U.S. of trying to destroy the normal and lawful business operations of Chinese companies like Huawei to politically-motivated charges.
Now the spokesman also called on the U.S. to drop the charges, and again, urged Canada to release Ms. Meng immediately. Other things considered, though, these statements are fairly restrained. There are no threats of retaliations or consequences as China had done to Canada.
I think one likely reason for that, Nick, is a senior trade allegation from China has just arrived in Washington ready for the next round of trade talks. So, the Beijing leadership probably doesn't want to derail these talks before they even start.
But one thing is clear, these indictments really show that there is an increasing consensus both within the U.S. government and between the U.S. and its close allies on the danger of using Huawei technologies.
And on top of that there is rising concern over Huawei's alleged theft of intellectual property. That of course is a sticking point and a long complain by the U.S. and could affect these latest round of trade talks as well, Nick.
WATT: Steven Jiang in Beijing, thanks very much for your time.
Long time Trump confidant Roger Stone heads to court in a few hours. We'll update you on the case against him and the other Trump associates facing charges in the Russia investigation. Stay with us.
Plus, British Prime Minister Theresa May gets a chance to sell her Brexit plan again, but this time parliament could make some edits. A live report from London coming up.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I'm Nick Watt with the headlines we're following this hour.
The Trump administration has imposed new sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company that could in the next year keep more than $11 billion in assets out of reach of Nicolas Maduro's government. U.S. officials also apparently not ruling out military options in Venezuela.
Nepal says the pilot in a deadly plane crash was emotionally disturbed. At least 49 people were killed in the BS-211 crash last March. A final report on the incident says the pilot felt a colleague was questioning his reputation, says he was involved in an unnecessary, unprofessional and lengthy conversation even in a critical phase of the flight.
And the acting U.S. attorney general says he has been fully briefed on Robert Mueller's investigation and says he thinks it's close to being completed. Matthew Whitaker says he hopes the report in the special counsel will come in as soon as possible.
The latest Trump associate to face charges in the Mueller investigation is Roger Stone. The longtime Trump friend and adviser heads to court later on Tuesday on charges that draw the clearest line yet between the Trump campaign and Democratic e-mails stolen by Russia, which were released by WikiLeaks.
Jessica Schneider has the details.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Roger Stone flashing his Nixon-esque victory sign outside his Fort Lauderdale home as he headed to Washington. The self-proclaimed dirty trickster is expected to be inside the D.C. Federal Court tomorrow to face arraignment on his seven count indictment on charges of obstruction, false statements and witness tampering, all related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
He courted reporters before leaving for the airport seeming to flip on his previous statement that he could cooperate with Mueller.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you willing to cut a deal with Mueller to avoid the case going to trial?
ROGER STONE, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LONG-TIME ASSOCIATE: I don't answer hypothetical questions. I have no intention of doing so, however.
SCHNEIDER: But this weekend, Stone left that possibility open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any chance you will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller if he asks?
STONE: I would certainly testify honestly. I'd also testify honestly about any other matter including any communications with the president.
SCHNEIDER: Roger Stone has been making the rounds.
STONE: Two FBI agents here holding assault weapons. I said, I would like to know what the charges are. And they said, we will tell you that while, you know, in the car.
SCHNEIDER: Still allegedly lied about directing Jerome Corsi to contact WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, to find out about more e- mail dumps. Of course, he told Jake on State of the Union, the information in the indictment is accurate.
JEROME CORSI, FORMER ROGER STONE'S ASSOCIATE: I'll be happy to testify. I was -- suspect to be subpoenaed and I will let the testimony fall wherever it falls.
SCHNEIDER: Corsi insists he has never met Assange and was just acting on instinct when he predicted the releases from WikiLeaks.
CORSI: I did just connect the dots and figured it out on my own and I admit that's hard to accept.
SCHNEIDER: Roger Stone fired back.
STONE: I have e-mail messages, text messages and metadata that proves that he would be lying.
SCHNEIDER: Lying, exactly the charge Stone and several other former Trump associates are now facing in the Mueller investigation, including the president's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, for National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, former Campaign Adviser, George Papadopoulos, all accused of lying to federal investigators or Congress. But the unanswered questioned Muller's team may be trying to figure out, why do they all seem to have lied?
And who else could be lying? Well, that's the question House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, is pledging to help Mueller get to the bottom of. Schiff says one of the first acts of his committee will be to send transcripts of all its witnesses to the special counsel so Robert Mueller can consider any additional perjury charges.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
WATT: Two months to go until Britain is supposed to leave the E.U. and British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to face parliament yet again. Two weeks after lawmakers rejected her deal to leave Europe, she is now going to outline her plan B.
In the coming hours, MPs are also set to debate possible amendments to the deal to potentially break the deadlock or maybe even delay the entire process. For more CNN's Phil Black is live in London. So, Phil, we've got Theresa May's plan B.
[03:35:00] We've got maybe a dozen amendments that MPs are putting forward, among them one saying that Theresa May should go back to Brussels and hammer (ph) out a different deal on the Irish border, another one that we should delay everything if we haven't got a deal by the end of February, another saying we should have a second referendum, and another saying, we should just completely reject a no deal.
Surely, they're not going to hammer this out by the end of the day though, Phil?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Nick, I think it is likely that most of those amendments simply don't have a chance of either, A, being selected, or B, being passing in the Commons today.
But there are a couple of key areas to for, notably the ones that either seek to prevent or discourage Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, the so-called no deal scenario, because the wide view is that would be economically disastrous for the United Kingdom, pretty bad for the European Union as well.
There is one notably put forward by an opposition labor M.P. which could see the parliament ordering the government to delay that exit date of March the 29th if a deal is not in place by late February. So, it would essentially take no deal off the table for a period of time at least. And in doing so, it would deprive the Prime Minister of a key piece of leverage.
She has offered her to say it's my deal or no detail as she has been trying and largely failing to muscle her deal through the Parliament that would take that away from her and it would be Parliament saying, oh no, we don't like your deal and we would like a little bit more time, please.
Another key amendment is one that the government does support and that relates to that Irish border and what could happen there between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, it is that deeply unpopular clause within the Prime Minister's deal known as the backstop which is supposed to prevent in the future a hypothetical situation to ensure that there will never be a hard border there.
Again, one of these amendments says this deeply unpopular clause should be essentially replaced by something else. And the Prime Minister wants that one to pass because she feels it would then empower her with a mandate do to go back to Brussels, and say, if you cut me some slack on this particular point, then I'm pretty sure I can get the rest of the deal. We've spent two years negotiating through Parliament and then Brexit can proceed relatively smoothly.
That's the plan, but there is still so much tremendous uncertainty surrounding all of this. We don't know which amendments will be selected to be debated today and we don't know which ones have the numbers to pass. So, it is possible come near the end of the day, we could have some clarity on all of this or at least a little more clarity about what the next steps will be or we could face yet again the continuing stale mate, Nick.
WATT: Phil, clarity and Brexit, two words that are not often used in the same sentence. Thanks very much.
Now, for months jurors heard gruesome details in the case against El Chapo. Now, his lawyers are now presenting their defense. Will they make a difference? The story, ahead. And it was set to be a sad and lonely funeral for a U.S. war veteran with no family or friends until some total strangers stepped in, in a big way. That story next.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WATT: Defense attorneys for reputed drug kingpin Joaquin El Chapo Guzman are preparing to present their case. The prosecution rested on Monday after a parade of 50 witnesses who painted a dark picture of the accused drug lord. El Chapo's lawyer tells CNN he has got just one witness and it is not Guzman himself.
Polo Sandoval, has details.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the last two months, jurors have listened to tales of bribes and bloodshed, her testimony about notorious Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin El Chapo Guzman and saw rare images of the drug lord with his diamond encrusted crystal pistol by his side.
Government witnesses testified how Guzman allegedly smuggled drugs through tunnels, cars, semi-submersible, even inside cans of chili and fake bananas. Details from his former associates, now cooperating with the government, included explosive testimony from fellow Sinaloa Cartel member Alex Cifuentes. He testified about his former boss's bribes allegedly paid to Mexican officials.
Cifuentes claimed Guzman once paid former Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto a $100 million in October 2012 when he was president-elect. Pena Nieto's former chief-of-staff called the allegations false, defamatory and absurd, adding that it was Pena Nieto's administration who located, arrested and extradited Guzman to the United States for trial.
El Chapo's former I.T. expert, Christian Rodriguez, whose photo is shown here, was obscured by prosecutors to hide his identity revealed how the Cartel communicated through a system of encrypted phones. He used spyware to capture conversation with members of Guzman's criminal organization. Guzman is facing multiple counts including firearm and drug trafficking charges and faces life in prison.
Though the list of charges does not include murder, testimony took a graphic turn when Isaias Valdez was called to the stand, a former security guard turned pilot recalled when Guzman was involved in the gruesome murders of three rivals.
Former Colombian Cartel lord Juan Carlos "La Chupeta" Ramirez also called to court testifying. He started working with El Chapo in the early 90s. Ramirez went to work with Guzman for nearly 18 years and was eventually captured in 2007. He was so hotly pursued by authorities that he underwent several plastic surgeries to try to evade capture.
One constant fixture in the courtroom has been Guzman's wife of more than 10 years, former beauty queen, Emma Coronel. Coronel helped her husband escape from a Mexican prison according to testimony that came from a former prison guard turned El Chapo associate. She is not facing charges at this time and her lawyer had no comment about those allegations.
In their final move to convinced jurors of Guzman's guilt, prosecutors showed images of the tunnel that provided his escape. A government expert described it as being just under a mile long, complete with a motorcycle track said to have been used by El Chapo and an associate for the ride to freedom.
Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
WATT: Four police officers were shot and injured while serving a search warrant in Houston, Texas, on Monday. The police chief says the officers responded to a house where they believed drugs were being sold. As soon as they entered, they came under fire. Police killed two suspects. Two of the officers underwent surgery for serious injuries. The two others are expected to recover.
And a Vietnam era veteran was set to be buried in Texas on Monday with no-one other than cemetery staff expected to attend his funeral, no friends and no family. But words spread and Air Force Veteran Joseph Walker was ultimately laid to rest with a large crowd in attendance.
Ed Lavandera, has our story.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the only image we have of Joseph Walker. He served in the United States Air force from 1964 to 1968 during the Vietnam era. Walker died in November.
[03:45:09] Not much else is known of his service, but what these people did know about Joseph Walker is that no family or friends were going to show up at his burial. And the call went out across social media to make sure the 72-year-old was honored and perfect strangers showed up in force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a testament to the bond that we share as having served. It just shows you how strong that bond is.
LAVANDERA: An Air Force honor guard escorted the flag draped coffin to the Veteran's Cemetery in Colin, Texas. The front row usually reserved for family members sat empty, but many surrounded the Pavilion to pay their respects to a veteran they didn't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord let's not forget the sacrifices that have been made by this awesome veteran. I'm so overwhelmed by the show of love and support for someone they have never met before.
LAVANDERA: With no family to receive the American flag, it was presented to Doug Gault, with the Texas Veteran's Land Board. He helped spread the word about Walker's service. DOUGLAS GAULT, CENTRAL TEXAS STATE: I was blown away of what I saw today. It's just a good feeling that came through my body. It's one of them that you know, wow, this is beautiful.
LAVANDERA: In the end all that mattered was the uniform and the promise that no veteran will be left to pass away alone.
WATT: Our Ed Lavandera reporting there. Coming up, dangerously cold temperatures, the lowest in a generation moving in to much of the U.S.
[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WATT: A dangerous and possibly deadly deep freeze is already impacting much of the U.S. and it's expected to get even colder as the week goes on. Record lows of as much as 50 below zero Celsius or almost 60 below Fahrenheit are expected throughout much of the Mid- West. More than 200 million Americans could be impacted by snow, ice and frigid air. Several thousand flights have already been cancelled through Wednesday and Michigan has declared a state of emergency.
A lot of people will be travelling here to Atlanta with the Super Bowl this Sunday. And our Meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, joins us now with more on all the wintery weather.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Plenty of it to go, as well Nick, you know, of course, we're in the heart of winter climatologically. This is the coldest time of year, but the impressive nature and the amount of people underneath these sort of watches and warnings that are encompassing wind chills as you mentioned 30, 55 below, and the cold spots in some areas even as cold 65 below in isolated pockets of Northern Minnesota.
In fact at this hour, it feels like minus 20 Fahrenheit in Minneapolis, minus 5 in Chicago. And that is going to be balmy (ph) compared to what we have slated for us for the next couple of days here.
And look at the perspective as you kind of shift the attention a little farther towards the north. International falls feels like minus 42 degrees at this hour. And needless to say, when you look at this wind chills, 30, 40, 50 below, it only takes a couple of minutes of exposure outdoors to cause permanent damage to your skin and certainly hypothermia to set in as well.
But look at this, the free falling temperature all them originating from the poles, of course, and parts of Siberia. In fact the local meteorologist in Chicago gave the nickname a couple of years ago to Shyberia because of that Siberian air that is coming down through Shy Town.
But notice the color contours, the reds, all the way into the northern tier of the country here, very little modification as far as warming is concern across that area, so we get a multiple -- a kind of reinforcing shot of cold air across the great lakes and then eventually into the north-eastern United States that really sets the stage to see among the coldest low temperatures we've ever observed in some of these areas.
In fact, 17 above Fahrenheit is what is normal here in the cold season in cities like Chicago. Minus 24 is what we expect which would shatter the previous records in some of these areas, again, an incredible pattern that is shaping up right now across the Mid-Western U.S. there, Nick.
WATT: Pedram, the president has been tweeting about the weather. I'm going to read it to you now. He tweets, "In the beautiful Midwest, wind chill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can't last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with global warming? Please come back fast. We need you." Pedram, discuss.
JAVAHERI: Yes. You know, he has tweeted over one hundred times since 2009 before he was president, well before he was president, about climate change and weather in general, but the differences are pretty vast when it comes to weather or climate.
Of course, when we talk about whether it is essentially like your mood, climate is kind of like your personality, it is a long-term sort of representation of everything and weather been short-term, how the pattern behaves within a matter of days or even weeks versus weeks, months or years in the case of climate.
And again, when you broaden out the perspective and kind of look at what's happening on a global scale, over the past couple of days, we see very isolated pockets of extremely cold temperatures, parts of Northern Asia, parts of, of course the Midwestern United States.
But again even in this early stage of 2019, you see the pattern has favored warmth over cold. So, it really depends on how you look at it and when it comes to climate, of course, we're talking about a broad perspective versus a narrow perspective.
WATT: Pedram, thanks for parsing.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
WATT: Next, an incredible rescue was caught on video in Chicago by a police officer's body camera. A man had gone into Lake Michigan to save his dog from the freezing water, but then he couldn't pull himself out. A witness called 911 and five officers responded forming a human chain to save the man's life.
And Roger Stone, the latest Donald Trump associate indicted in the Russian investigation, is also feeling the heat from the fashion police. Here's Jeanne Moss.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Whether he is giving an interview or flashing the peace sign, it is not just what Roger Stone is doing, it is what he is wearing while doing it that sticks. While Nancy Pelosi takes her sunglasses off to talk to the press, Stone puts them on.
[03:55:06] ROGER STONE, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LONG-TIME ASSOCIATE: I'm going to put these on because otherwise I'll squint.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I don't blame you.
MOOS: But some blame him for wearing a top hat to President Trump's inauguration. Stone was compared to villain Snidely Whiplash and Mr. Peanut. He considers himself a dapper dresser with his pocket squares and round glasses, even on his legal defense fund pages. But when he wears his beret, he tends to get berated. Makes me wonder why he wasn't arrested sooner for his incriminating fashion choices.
STONE: Mano a mano.
MOOS: Stone's beret and leather jacket make you want to pull a Paul Manafort with his ostrich jacket and bury your head in the sand. But the most famous part of Roger Stone's look is what he wears under his clothes.
STONE: The Nixon tattoo is really all you need to know about Roger.
MOOS: The tattoo is featured in the documentary, Get me Roger Stone. It's brought Stone parody by political cartoonist and lampoon by the Borowitz report in ominous development for Trump, Roger Stone gets Mueller tattoo.
Stone is actually the men's fashion correspondent for the conservative website, the Daily Caller. His best dressed list for 2018 featured Melania and Trump, Fox News favorite, Jeannine Pirro. His worst dress list included Beto O'Rourke, dweeby, washed-out, Stone called him. And he trashed Michael Cohen for his ghetto sports jackets, not that Stone would ever wear such a thing. I wonder what he was wearing when the FBI rather than the fashion police woke him up and said you're under arrest.
Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.
WATT: Thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt. Early Start is next for viewers here in the U.S. for everybody else stay tuned for more news with Max Foster. You're watching CNN.