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Millions Face Freezing Conditions in United States; Protests Against Government Underway in Venezuela, Peaceful So Far; Trump Slams U.S. Intel Chiefs After They Contradict Him; Stone Says Trump's Presidency Faces an Existential Threat; Ghosn Blames Plot and Treason for His Arrest in Japan; Trade Talks Resume Amid Huawei Charges; European Union Leaders Reject New Negotiations Over Brexit. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 30, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, we are live on the streets of Caracas as

thousands of people protest against President Nicolas Maduro. Also, tonight, go back to school. That is what Donald Trump is telling his own

intelligence chiefs. And later this hour, it's being described as the coldest air in a generation. 200 million people are facing freezing

temperatures in the United States. We are live in a very frosty Chicago. We start with this.

Thousands of Venezuelans are calling for change now, speaking out against the government led by Nicolas Maduro. Protesters are flooding the streets

of Caracas once again, heeding the call of self-appointed President Juan Guaido, despite fears of violence so far, it appears to be a relatively

peaceful protest. Not nearly as tense as the scenes we saw last week. Guaido spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump a few hours ago. A Guaido

representative said the U.S. is helping the opposition to take control of Venezuelan assets in the United States. As for Maduro, he says he's

willing to sit down and talk with Guaido, but he's ruled out new elections before 2025.

Let's go live to the streets of Caracas. Journalist Jorge Luis Perez Valerie joins me, and now tell me what's going on where you are right now.

JORGE LUIS PEREZ VALERY, JOURNALIST: Hello, Hala, it's nice to be with you right now. We were just testifying how many thousands of people went to

the streets in the neighborhoods of Caracas attending the protests called by the President of the national assembly, Juan Guaido, recently self-

proclaimed President, interim President of Venezuela. We were into different places of the city in the east, in the west. People are

expressing the same. They are giving their support to the actions that are being taken by the President of the national assembly, Juan Guaido. They

recognize as interim President of the country by the United States and they are also expressing their concerns about the situation that they are

living. The situation, the economic situation, thousands of people having -- lack access of food, medicine, and any other type of supplies.

GORANI: Right. Thanks very much for that update. We'll have more on Venezuela later with Eva Golinger. She has written extensively about the

situation in Venezuela and she'll be able to give us some sense there of what might come next.

Also, there is the Russian connection which we'll be exploring as well. But we want to get to the United States. The U.S. President Donald Trump

is firing back today at his own intelligence chiefs, suggesting they should go back to school. He has been tweeting up a storm on the defensive after

his Director of National Intelligence and other officials contradicted his assessment of security threats of ISIS to Iran and North Korea. Let's

bring in retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby. So, what do you make of this? He's criticized U.S. institutions before. It shouldn't come as a

shock to anybody. But this is specifically after the testimony on capitol hill of a top intelligence chief disputing the idea, the notion that Iran

had the keys to build a nuclear weapon.

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST, RETIRED U.S. NAVY REAR ADMIRAL: Hala, I honestly think to a large extent this is just Donald

Trump reacting to news coverage because almost every responsible news outlet yesterday reported what you just said, that his intel chiefs all

sort of rebuked his views on whether it's Iran and the nuke deal or Syria, North Korea, and their intention to denuclearize, and he's just striking

back. It's also a big plug for him and his base who agree with him, the rest of the intelligence agencies can't be trusted. What bothers me the

most is the willful ignorance represented in the tweets and the message that sends to allies and adversaries about our own decision-making process

in the United States.

GORANI: Let's listen to what Dan Coates, by the way, said on Capitol Hill about Iran to remind our viewers.


[14:05:00] DAN COATES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.

We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and

production capabilities. We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 U.S. elections as an opportunity to advance their interests.


GORANI: So, also on North Korea what Dan Coates said angered Donald Trump because it goes against his narrative that his approach to the North Korean

crisis is actually putting a lid on North Korea's ambitions to build a nuclear weapon.

KIRBY: Yes, it really shows the difference in degree which they are all on the same sheet of music when it comes to where we're going with North

Korea. Look, both, both sides are actually right to a degree. Coates is right that the North Koreans have no intention of denuclearizing. That is

not a new idea. Every Korea analyst and expert will tell you the same thing. That is Kim's Trump card, he's going to get rid of that before

negotiations begin and he has no intention of sacrificing the he regime's survival. Yet Donald Trump makes a good point. There have been effective

confidence building measures that have moved this negotiation process forward. Probably not as far forward as he or secretary Pompeo wants, but

they have made progress. The fact we're simply talking to North Korea and we have a conduit for dialogue is a healthy thing. I understand Trump's

pique, but you can't just erase the facts. The fact is that they still have a nuclear program and they have no intention right now of getting rid

of it.

GORANI: That said, when there is a real crisis and there will be a real crisis one day, where the President of the United States and the

intelligence community -- if they're on completely different sides here --

KIRBY: Right.

GORANI: You need unity in times of a true national security crisis. What happens then if he keeps attacking his intelligence officials so publicly

on social media? s

KIRBY: Two thoughts there. One, you definitely don't want to create gaps that adversaries like Russia and China can drive through. They're seeing

gaps in our decision-making process now. You're right about that. Number two, I don't think what we should be striving for is complete lockstep

unity between the executive leader and the intel community. You want there to be some healthy tension. Remember, back in 2003, intelligence was

politicized. Everybody was on the same page about WMD in Iraq and look where we are. So, I think having some healthy skepticism between the two

is a good thing. What bothers me about this is Trump simply pushing back on every assertion that they've made which is backed up by all intelligence

agencies and a lot of context, a lot of facts to back it up. That's willful ignorance and that's dangerous for the country.

GORANI: And also, regarding is, the intelligence official -- I think what's interesting here it's is not just on one issue.

KIRBY: Right.

GORANI: It's on a list of issues.


GORANI: That Donald Trump has essentially pinned his international foreign policy reputation on, including what he has called in the past the complete

defeat of ISIS.

KIRBY: That's exactly right. This is the whole panoply of issues. When you look at the entire briefing yesterday and all the different things they

talked about, and that's why I think -- back to your first question, Hala, I think largely this is Donald Trump's ego and the news coverage he saw

last night and getting ticked off because all the outlets were reporting that these intel guys were rebuking him. They weren't rebuking him. They

were up there to testify factually and honorably to the American people and will to Congress. They have no choice. They have to tell the truth.

Trump may not like it, but it doesn't mean it's not the truth.

GORANI: Uh-huh. John Kirby, as always, thanks so much for joining us from Washington. Appreciate it.

KIRBY: My pleasure, thank you.

GORANI: A long-time Trump associate in the Russia association has a warning. Your presidency is facing a dire threat. Roger Stone gave a

radio interview after pleading not guilty to seven counts including lying to Congress. He's accused of communicating with senior Trump campaign

officials about the WikiLeaks release of hacked DNC e-mails. Stone says he believes investigators are trying to frame Mr. Trump on collusion charges

so that they can make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi President. He's had some conspiracy theories. Some even more outlandish than this one in the past.

So, he spoke to a far-right conspiracy theorist yesterday about the case.


ROGER STONE, FORMER ADVISER TO TRUMP: This isn't about me, Alex, it's about the President. They're come for him and they want to silence me

because I see the big picture. I lived in 1974. I worked for Richard Nixon. I saw that take down. It was very, very similar. President, wake

up, this is a speeding bullet heading for his head.


GORANI: Well, let's bring in CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson. A speeding bullet heading for his head, according to Roger Stone, Stephen.

[14:10:00] STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hala, the first thing we need to remember is this is Roger Stone. He is a master of

hyperbole. If you can believe it, this case that he's now facing almost could be seen as a highlight of his career, even though he's at risk of

going to jail. He's someone who's wanted to be in the thick of a scandal ever since he worked for Richard Nixon. He's a master of dark political

art. I think you have to see these remarks in that context and also the fact that he might be fishing for a pardon from the President and, you

know, he's presenting himself as a martyr. Since he worked for Richard Nixon. He's a master of dark political art. I think you have to see these

remarks in that context and also the fact that he might be fishing for a pardon from the President and, you know, he's presenting himself as a

martyr. But I think below that he has a serious point. There are serious threats now to the Trump presidency. Even if Robert Mueller doesn't come

back in his final report and find there was direct collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2016, there is so much

evidence on the record now of a systematic attempt by people around Trump to damage the integrity of that 2016 campaign through various measures that

that could, in itself, be something that Democrats and the house of representatives look at when they consider whether the President should be


GORANI: And I wonder his attacks over on Twitter, on intelligence chiefs Dan Coates and others, their testimony on Capitol Hill with the U.S.

President tweeting up a storm once again. Any reaction from Congressional Republicans to any of this?

COLLINSON: Not so far. Usually what we get sort of is Republicans not wanting to talk about this, sort of running away from our reporters without

saying very much in the corridors of capitol hill. I think what John Kirby was saying there was very interesting because in many ways these tweets

play exactly as a play to Trump's base. Here he is again, the anti- establishment, anti-elite, anti-Washington force that got him so much support during the 2016 campaign, taking aim at those same sources. So, it

is a political device as John Kirby was saying, to go back and attack what he sees is the deep state. Among Trump supporters, there is not much

difference, put it that way, between intelligence chiefs and Robert Mueller and the representatives of what they say as the deep state that's trying to

undermine the President. So, all of this is about politics as much as it is surely very worrying to America's ally support when they see mixed

messages coming out of Washington.

GORANI: I do wonder, and I asked this question of John, when there is so much antagonism between the executive and the intelligence community, I

mean, then can the President ever rely on intelligence community assessments to make very important, sometimes critical foreign policy

decisions after having attacked them so regularly?

COLLINSON: Well, as you were saying, we haven't really come to that point where there's been a crisis where the President has to go before the

American people and say the intelligence agencies are giving me information and we have to act upon it and -- national security. The President has

come before the American people and said there is a security crisis and it's on the southern border. Those statements have not been backed up by

U.S. intelligence and they weren't in the session yesterday. We don't really know what would happen if there was a very perilous international

situation. But this is yet another example of Donald Trump preferring the version of reality that he invents and which helps him politically than the

truth and the reality that is prevailing in the rest of the world. I think it's one reason why it's so difficult for America's allies and foreign

leaders to work out exactly what is foreign policy? In some ways it seemed those intelligence chiefs up on Capitol Hill yesterday were sending a

message to America's foreign friends that, you know, whatever the President says, this is the real situation. I think that's where it's quite damaging

from the point of view of U.S. national security.

GORANI: Stephen Collinson in Washington. Thanks very much.

A lot more to come this evening. Nissan's former boss speaks up for the first time since his arrest, and he says he's the victim of a conspiracy


And one of America's biggest cities is struggling with dangerous cold weather. We'll have a live report. Stay with us.


GORANI: Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is blaming corporate back stabbing for landing him in jail. He spoke to Nikkei, his first interview in Japan

more than two months ago. Ghosn has been charged with financial misconduct, for allegedly understating his income by around $80 million.

He now says he's the victim of, quote, plot and treason by fellow Nissan executives. He told Nikkei they ganged up on him because they opposed his

business plans for the company. Nikkei's reporter spoke earlier to Kristie Lou Stout.


AKITO TANAKA, "NIKKEI" STAFF WRITER: He believes there was a connection between the people or one group was in the Nissan that was opposing a

potential integration with Renault. And these people were, in a sense, related to the secret investigation team. And he did mention in the

interview that it was a plot how he was arrested.


GORANI: Well, Nissan was quick to fire back, saying Ghosn can only blame himself for his legal trouble. Let's go to John Davis. He's the host and

creator of the automotive TV series "Motor Week." He's speaking with us from Maryland. What did you make of Carlos Ghosn saying, I'm the victim of

a plot, basically, Nissan wants to stab me in the back?

JOHN DAVIS, HOST AND CREATOR OF "MOTOR WEEK": Well, when I heard about the arrest back in the 19th of November, it sounded like a palace coup then

because here's this extremely focused auto executive -- I followed him for 20 years. In all my interactions, I never met a more focused gentleman who

is absolutely determined to make Nissan and Renault and now Mitsubishi a great global alliance car maker. And to find out that he's supposedly done

all of these misdeeds on a personal level, it was a real shock. For my standpoint sitting here in America, it did sound like a bit of a coup.

GORANI: That would be a stretch, though, wouldn't it? You'd have to have the whole Japanese judicial system taking part in some giant conspiracy

with Nissan executives. Doesn't it sound a bit farfetched?

DAVIS: I think it does. But I also think westerners don't understand the Japanese culture. We certainly don't understand this legal system. And a

man like Mr. Ghosn who is extremely authoritative -- I mean, he basically wanted it done his way. That doesn't always mesh with other -- what I've

seen in other companies which have a more cooperative style of management. So, I can see where a lot of people might not like his style.

GORANI: But that was never an issue when he saved Nissan.


GORANI: Ghosn is a superhero in Japan. There is even a superhero comic book character modelled after him.

[14:20:00] DAVIS: Well, I think he's both loved and hated because, after all, he came to rescue a well-known Japanese company. And he saved them,

and now he wanted to integrate them more with Renault and, of course, Mitsubishi. There is some resentment. It looks like a love/hate

relationship. Looks like the hate has the upper hand.

GORANI: What happens to the car company as a result he's in legal trouble. He's still detained. I mean, this is something he's obviously out at

Nissan. What does it mean for the automotive group itself?

DAVIS: I think it calls into question how deep the alliance will go. He was one of the first executives to see that car companies needed to group

together in order to be able to be competitive. I don't think that's going to go forward as fast as it would have if he were still in charge. Maybe

instead of sharing a lot of vehicle platforms it will be he was one of the first executives to see that car companies needed to group together in

order to be able to be competitive. I don't think that's going to go forward as fast as it would have if he were still in charge. Maybe instead

of sharing a lot of vehicle platforms it will be more about technology. It probably won't stop the alliance, but I think it's going to slow down any

integration that might have happened under his watch.

GORANI: John Davis host of "Motor Week," thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

DAVIS: My pleasure.

GORANI: More news from Asia here. Beijing's top trade envoys are in Washington now for critical talks between China and the Trump

administration. But escalating tension between the nations are threatening to derail negotiations. We know how markets are when there is a trade war.

Both sides are holding two days of very high stakes meetings with a deadline to reach a trade agreement a month away. Casting a cloud overall

this, criminal charges brought against the Chinese tech giant Huawei. Now Washington is requesting the extradition of the company's CFO from Canada.

You'll remember she was detained in Canada a few weeks ago for allegedly helping the company dodge Iran's sanctions. Samuel Burke is here to make

sense of all of this. So, what do we know about the accusations against Huawei that we didn't know yesterday now?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Well, this indictment really gave us great insight, at least in terms what the United

States is alleging. In terms of what Huawei is as a company, keep in mind, this is not a publicly traded company. We don't know that much about how

the inner workings are. And the U.S. is making accusations from the top to the bottom. From employees to executives. So, let me put on the screen

the four things that we can really take away from this indictment that was revealed yesterday. And it literally does start from the very top. The

father of the woman in jail in Canada, the U.S. alleges he lied to the FBI, telling FBI agents in 2007 that Huawei complied when they didn't. Bonuses

for stolen trade secrets, including attempting to steal technology from T- Mobile, the U.S. telecoms carrier. Finally, Huawei, CFO, the woman in jail in Canada, they say she conspired to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.

They say they accessed her electronic devices -- a little bit ironic -- to try and figure out exactly what she was lying about. This is what they say


GORANI: There is this allegation that the company is spying for China. Is there any proof to back that up?

BURKE: That's the backdrop of all this. These allegations are specific to Meng Wanzhou. There is a whole backdrop, not just from the U.S. Australia,

the U.K. alleges Huawei is an arm of the Chinese government. This is something Huawei denies. Fact to say, Hala, there is not one piece of

public evidence that would state that Huawei is spying for the Chinese government. We hear from officials all the time. We hear from allegations

from officials from across the world. But so far literally no proof has been provided publicly to any reporters.

GORANI: And obviously these trade talks are going on. So, is there -- is this company or is this -- the accusations against it playing any role in

these discussions?

BURKE: How could it not? What's so incredible here is Huawei has become the most tangible part of the Chinese/U.S. trade war. Now, on the one

hand, United States says this prosecution has nothing to do with the trade war, but President Trump has made this all so murky because he said, Yes,

I'd be willing to see if I can get her out of jail. So, Huawei represents the world's fight for 5g who will own the internet. Will it be a U.S.

company now that Huawei is out of so many countries? Really this is about the bigger back and forth between Apple which we saw is on a downturn right

now even though the stock is up a little, selling less phones as now they have this huge Chinese competitor, don't forget Huawei means China is able.

[14:25:00] GORANI: Right. Well, so many companies are saying this is where their growth will come from. And it's a battle between all these

companies as to who is going to get the most of that --

BURKE: Just a year ago Tim Cook was saying China is our bright spot. Look how fast everything has changed in one year with just one trade war.

GORANI: Even Dyson vacuum cleaners are moving to Singapore.

BURKE: [14:30:00] A whole other vacuum.

GORANI: Thank you very much, Samuel Burke.

Now, under the gun and at crossroads, that's the state of play of Brexit at the moment. Britain's Parliament said Theresa May once again on a

collision course with the E.U. she wants to return to Brussels to renegotiate the Irish backstop to make sure no border goes back between

North Ireland and Republic of Ireland. The E.U. says this is not open for renegotiation. The backstop stays. The prime minister, however, is

adamant that it's the only way Parliament will approve her deal. Listen.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Let me be absolutely clear with my contacts with European leaders. They want a deal. What this house

voted for last night is to leave the European Union with a deal. But it also crucially showed what it will take to see support in this House for a

deal in the future. I think the plan that was set out last night shows that we can obtain substantial and sustainable majority in this House.


GORANI: So, it appears we've reached a stalemate yet again. Where does Brexit go from here? In Brussels, Erin McLaughlin joins us tonight from

there. So, Erin, the prime minister is saying, I'll renegotiate, backstop. You saying, no, you won't. Where do we go now?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LONDON BUREAU: Yes, it's anyone's guess at this point, Hala. Theresa May says she has this mandate

from Westminster to come back to Brussels to reopen the negotiation on the withdrawal agreement to take a look at the backstop. The problem is she

hasn't been able so far to spell out exactly what changes will simultaneously leave no hard border on the island of Ireland and satisfy

the demands of Brexiters back in London. There was a phone call that took place just a few hours ago between prime minister may and the President of

the European council, Donald tusk out of that call. He was tweeting they don't know what the U.K. wants. We have a read out from downing street

specifically, but you are getting a sense of frustration here in Brussels with this process. There is a sense that MPs there in Westminster are

perceiving this all as a game. And the E.U. is saying that it's incredibly serious. It is standing by Dublin on the backstop. Take a

listen to what the President of the European Commission had to say in Parliament earlier today.


JEAN CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Sometimes from time to time, I have some hope that the 26 other countries will, so Ireland

at the last minute. Neither is it a simple bilateral issue. It goes to the heart of what being a member of the European Union means. Ireland's

border is your border and it is our union's priority.


MCLAUGHLIN: So, Jean Claude Juncker is concerned they are barreling toward the E.U. at this point, seen as catastrophic for both sides of the

channel, Hala.

GORANI: I guess here's the question. I imagine Theresa May is hoping for this. We'll get so close to March 29th without a deal that the E.U. will

start panicking, that they, too, are against the idea of no deal. And that they'll give in on the backstop. That they'll put something that's legally

binding in the agreement and say, yes, OK, fine, it's time limited. Could that happen based on what you're hearing?

[14:30:00] MCLAUGHLIN: You know, that is why we are hearing E.U. officials. That's why we heard Jean Claude Juncker there say this is not a

game. The E.U. is not bluffing. This goes to the heart of what the E.U. is all about and that is its member state's interest. They are clearly

pointing out they are not going to abandon the backstop. Where we go from here, as I said, is anyone's guess. I think with the brady amendment, it

was so vague in language, Hala, the perception among senior E.U. officials I was talking to, maybe if that passes, it could leave room for some sort

of alternate solution. But the problem is Theresa May explicitly saying in Westminster, promising she's going to come back here to Brussels and take a

look at the backstop which as she knows is a crimson red line for the E.U., leaves her with very few options at this point.

GORANI: Erin McLaughlin in Brussels. Thanks very much.

Still to come, the fight to stay warm. Hundreds of millions of Americans are dealing with potentially life-threatening cold. We'll talk to you

about that.

Also, how would impacting travel in case you're flying to that part of the world? You might have some issues. We'll tell you more after the break.


[14:30:12] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: The coldest air in a generation, that is how meteorologists are describing the temperatures

gripping the Midwestern United States. Hundreds of millions of Americans are battling this. Look at this. Below freezing weather, lakes, rivers

are freezing over. At least five people have died so far. This is really dangerous. This is what it looks like in Chicago, the third biggest U.S.

city which is getting dangerously close to hitting its all-time low.

Ryan Young is in Chicago and he can join me now live. I haven't seen your shot. Poor thing, my goodness. What's the temperature where you are right


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, we say it's -- I think it warmed up just a little bit so we are about at negative 15 right

now. And, of course, that doesn't account for the wind chill. That's been about 30, 40, and 50 below at some point. We've been out here since 4:00

a.m. So you can imagine the range of weather that we felt so far this morning.

It's hard sometimes to even feel your face in front of you. The toes are really what have been going with this so far. But look at the windy

conditions here. You can see the flags moving. You can see the busy downtown area. Something that we've been talking about just -- when you

talk about the fact they've been trying to make sure the homeless get off the street. That's something very serious in terms of the temperatures.

There's more than 24 warming stations throughout the Chicago area. Schools have been closed and actually we've seen not a lot of people walking out on

the famous Michigan Avenue. Every now and then you see somebody, we saw one jogger today. So that's been the good news so far in terms of people

who try to listen to this, knowing how dangerous the temperatures are.

We've also been doing this experiment throughout the day where we take this hot water and it sort of -- I'll toss it toward the river here. And you'll

see this. Watch this. And it just dissolves right there. Some of the water blows back, but it pretty much freezes once it hits the air.

Look at the Chicago River as well. That's one of the iconic shots when you come to Chicago. The idea that this is like a frozen palace. Besides

that, though, the temperatures are going to be staying this way for more than 24 hours, so we know people are going to have to stay inside, get out

of these cold temperatures and not deal with the potential of frostbite.

GORANI: And is it affecting travel? I mean, we have viewers internationally who may be traveling to the U.S. right now. Or is plane

travel OK?

YOUNG: So one of the things they suspended was they suspended some of the Amtrak trains. We've seen thousands of flights canceled here at the

airport. We know that Chicago is obviously the second busiest airport in this country. And so they had to cancel flights because it was so cold.

De-icer that they've been using has actually been freezing on some of the planes. So when you think about from a safety perspective, they had to

cancel some of those flights.

[14:35:00] Bumping into a guy internationally actually yesterday, he was actually saying he was looking forward to seeing how we dealt with this

cold. But at the same time, he was worried about the wind chill. Because most people don't pack heavy coats like this one when they travel. So you

can understand what you're dealing with when it comes to this.

A lot of businesses are also closed because they wanted to protect their employees and they wanted to make sure they could actually get to work.

Because some of the travel from the suburbs has been shut down as well.

GORANI: All right. Ryan young, thanks very much. Hopefully you can hop right back into wherever you're warming between your live reports. And

appreciate it. Good luck for the rest of your day.

So how bad is the weather in the U.S. Midwest? So snowy and windy that when you're driving down the road, just looking through the windshield,

that alone can be downright scary.

So cold that railroad workers are burning fires along the tracks to keep the lines open.

And so cold that when you throw hot water in the air, as Ryan Young showed us, it turns into snow immediately before it even hits the ground.

Now, for most people these temperatures would make you want to wrap yourself up in a blanket and hibernate in a warm home. That would be me.

But that's not what four people in Minnesota are doing right now. They are running an ultra-marathon. Take a look at these pictures. These people

are slogging it out for more than 200 kilometers in minus 35 degrees Celsius weather with a wind chill that makes it feel like it's minus 52


Another two people have already finished the race, one other person had to drop out.

Let's speak to the race director Ken Krueger joins me on the phone from Tower, Minnesota. Talk to us a little bit more about this race, because you

had already a couple -- it's called the Arrowhead 135. Couple people have already crossed the finish line.

KEN KRUEGER, RACE DIRECTOR, ARROWHEAD ULTRA 135 (through telephone): Yes. It's 15th annual Arrowhead Ultra 135. It's 135-mile race International

Falls Minnesota to Tower, Minnesota. We had 146 races start. And so far 36 percent of them have finished. And the race you can run, bike or ski.

GORANI: So you can choose either to run, bike or ski, it's not like you can mix it up?

KRUEGER: Right, you have to finish how you started.

GORANI: Right. And how long does it take to run? How long is the fastest runner? How fast --

KRUEGER: The reported time for running is 34 hours 20 minutes. And all racers have 60 hours to finish.

GORANI: And from the pictures we've seen on social media, it looks like by the time they get to the finish line they are basically an ice person. I

mean, their beards are all iced up. What is the pink sort of plasticky material on the face of some of the runners?

KRUEGER: Some of the racers use frost tape to prevent frostbite. A lot of other ones will use balaclavas or some types of creams to protect their --

we really emphasize minimized exposed skin. But always there's a need to have a plan for how they're going to protect themselves.

GORANI: What's the biggest danger here for racers?

KRUEGER: The extreme cold and all of these racers have to prequalify. But certainly this race have intentionally held in the coldest city and states

at the coldest time of year.

And so certainly the cold is the biggest danger. And all of these athletes are capable of doing this race. But if something unexpected happen, a

mechanical issue or an injury, they're all required to have mandatory survival gear part of which includes a minus 20 degree Fahrenheit sleeping

bag so worst-case they can get in their bag and protect themselves.

GORANI: So if something happens, let's say they slip or hurt themselves, they're not -- you're not guaranteeing that someone will rescue them that

very night. That they'd have to find a way to protect themselves for a few hours with the gear that they're carrying is what you're saying.

KRUEGER: We have an amazing crew of snowmobile volunteers that will perform rescues. This trail is very remote in Northern Minnesota. And so

not all of it has cell service. But all the racers look out for each other. So if somebody passes, somebody in trouble, they're absolutely

going to stop and help them and get the message off the line and we'll get help to them just as quick as we can.

GORANI: All right. The polar vortex is not discouraging the athletes taking part in the Arrowhead 135. Thanks, Ken Krueger, appreciate it.

And don't forget, check us out on Facebook, And on Twitter, @HalaGorani.

A lot more to come this evening.

World leaders are picking sides on Venezuela's fragile future. We'll talk to someone who knows the government there from the inside.


[14:40:52] GORANI: Anti-government protesters are out on the streets once more in Venezuela. A country with one of the richest sources of oil on the

planet has descended into complete political and economic crisis.

Among the supporters of the opposition leader Juan Guaido is the American president. We spoke with him earlier today. And there are signs now that

President Nicolas Maduro may be willing to talk. He told the Russian news agency that he'd meet with the opposition and international monitors. But

he is not willing to call for new elections and that's what supporters and backers of Guaido want.

This conflict extends beyond Venezuela's borders. Many of the world's most powerful nations are taking sides. The U.S., as I mentioned, along with

its European allies and much of South America, are backing Guaido and the opposition. China and Russia support Maduro.

CNN's Matthew Chance has more on the very close connection between Maduro and the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, it's the top story on Russian state television. A sure sign of the importance

attached by the Kremlin to events in distant Venezuela.

"Do you feel revolution in the air?" The news anchor asks? "Are there protests?"

"No Maidans like in Ukraine," the reporter answers, "No round the clock protesting as it was in Benghazi. It's very difficult to organize a color

revolution here," he adds. "That may prove wishful thinking."

Moscow has been one of President Maduro's strongest backers, extending billions of dollars in loans and investing heavily in Venezuela's oil-

driven economy.

And it is, to Russia, Maduro is now turning as he faces the biggest challenge of his six-year rule.

NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): We have Russia's full support at every level and we welcome it gladly and very

gratefully. What did I ask President Putin? To stay in permanent contact.

CHANCE: But just how close is that contact remains a matter of rumor and controversy.

In recent weeks, there have been unconfirmed reports of Russian mercenaries beefing up Maduro's personal security.

And intense speculation about the purpose of this Russian charter aircraft, arriving in Caracas, forcing the Kremlin to deny reports it was sent to

spirit away vast quantities of Venezuelan gold.

"You have to be careful about various hoaxes," the Kremlin spokesman said. "Russia is ready to do everything to facilitate the normalization of the

inner political situation in Venezuela," he added, "but is categorically against meddling in the country's affairs by a third country."

It's not so thinly-veiled dig act the United States whose top national security advisor appeared on Monday with a notepad, showing the words 5,000

troops to Colombia which neighbors Venezuela.

[14:45:02] That prospect of yet another U.S.-backed regime change like the ones witnessed in Iraq or Libya is one issue guaranteed to infuriate the


Moscow is watching Venezuela closely, urging diplomacy, but also bracing for yet another damaging fallout with Washington.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


GORANI: Well, with us now is Eva Golinger, former advisor to the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. She's in New York and joins me live.

So, what do you make of what's going on now with Nicolas Maduro? Does he have the support of the military? Is he safe?

EVA GOLINGER, FORMER ADVISOR TO THE VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ: He continues to have the support apparently of the military, at least the high

military command. We haven't yet seen signs of real divisions or weakening amongst the Venezuelan armed forces. They remain strongly behind him.

And in fact, he's been doing events practically every day, broadcasting it on social media with different components of Venezuelan armed forces. He's

also announced the expansion of the Venezuelan civilian militia to up to two million members. It currently stands around 1.2 million as well as the

creation of tens of thousands of locally based grassroots battalions in communities throughout the country to defend their nation.

So I would say especially hearing Maduro today saying the next elections for president will take place in 2025, he's digging in deeper. I

anticipated this. They will not back down. And they see this as yet another attempt of the opposition to engage in regime change or a coup.

And we've seen in the past, this is not the first time, the opposition has engaged in these types of protests, violent anti-government protests.

They've been backed by the U.S., not as aggressively and explicitly as we're seeing now, which I think takes it to a different level.

But certainly, what's happening is that the momentum ends up dying down. They can't maintain as it was clear in that report such as a Maidan in

Ukraine or call a revolution. Venezuelans don't protest 24 hours a day.


GOLINGER: So it's really a question of, well, that momentum maintain with --

GORANI: But that's what Maduro is counting on. He's counting on this whole thing to die down and the world to stop looking at Venezuela, right?

GOLINGER: I believe that that is the position, presently, because it has proved so in the past. However, my perspective, is that this is the first

time we are seeing actual explicit statements as well as actions coming out of the White House that are direct. It seems as though the decision is

made. There's a regime change operation underway. It's out in the open. They're not hiding it up. It's not a covert CIA operation to overthrow

Maduro. Yes --

GORANI: Yes. But you don't -- you don't do that unless you use force. You think that's what the U.S. has planned?

GOLINGER: I believe, as Trump has said since 2017, that a military option is on the table. That they have a contingency plan already underway for

that. The U.S. has a large military or a significant military presence already in Colombia, which borders Venezuela. They have military presence

all throughout the Caribbean which borders Venezuela as well. And Brazil, recently, they've strengthen the military relationships.

So the U.S. certainly has the military power to execute some kind of operation.

GORANI: But does it have the will to go into that situation? How much support does Maduro actually have? I mean, he's basically destroyed the

economy of Venezuela. This is a country that should be rich and it's very prosperous, has a lot of oil and it's a basket case.

GOLINGER: The situation is quite severe, economically, on the ground in Venezuela. There's widespread discontent, no question about that.

However, Maduro does have a hardcore base of supporters, I would say almost equal to that what the opposition has in terms of those who would

definitely want a regime change with the opposition coming to power.

The wide majority of Venezuelans just want stability. They want the economic situation to improve. They don't want a government imposed by the

United States or from abroad.

However, I think that the problem here is that both sides digging in deeper, the opposition is now emboldened with the explicit support and

military backing of the United States. So I do not see a positive outcome for the situation.

GORANI: You describe the opposition a lot as kind of basically directed from abroad, as if this is not organic. I mean, there is a legitimate

opposition that has support in the country that has been suffering for a very, very long time under the management or the mismanagement of Maduro.

GOLINGER: There's not a cohesive opposition in Venezuela. This is -- Juan Guaido represents one particular party. This is a turning point for the

opposition because they are a grouping of over a dozen different parties with different ideologies and different objectives.

[14:50:08] The only thing they've ever agreed on is the removal of Maduro or previously Chavez. So the problem also is that what is the alternative

they're presenting to the Venezuelan people? I think Venezuelans, in general, would like to be able to have a decision on who's going to be the

next --

GORANI: But why not have an election? Just have an election? But Maduro is ruling one out.

GOLINGER: I'm in favor of there being an electoral process. That would be encouraged and facilitated by a group of neutral countries not seeking to

impose their agenda in Venezuela.

GORANI: One of the things that you wrote in an op-ed last October was just this -- I found this incredible because this illustrates the economic

meltdown better than anything I've read. The price I paid in 2006 for a three-bedroom apartment in a middle class area of Caracas would today be

equivalent to less than a dollar and couldn't even buy a single roll of toilet paper in Venezuela. It's incredible.

GOLINGER: It's incredible. I've written about it in a recent book, "Confidante of Tyrants." That's the story exactly of the rise and fall of

Chavez and his movement and what went wrong after he died and Maduro took power and just the immense networks of corruption in the country, but also

everyday life in Venezuela.

It is incredible. I was privileged to be able to leave the country and sell the apartment. For example, I left bank accounts there that had money

that I thought I was saving for my child. That is now worthless. Literally, it's worth nothing.

I'm one of millions that are suffering way more than I am that have lost everything. Their currency is worthless. And they have no purchasing

power for anything. Those who don't have access to foreign currency, generally, are entirely dependent on any government subsidies or food boxes

that the government provides, which leads to them supporting the continuity of this government. Because there's assurances that those types of

benefits would continue under an opposition regime.

GORANI: Eva Golinger, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it. Live in New York.

Thousands of migrants make a desperate, often deadly, journey across the Mediterranean. And now a new U.N. report is showing that the death rate

for migrant crossings is rising again.

Here's Simon Cullen.


SIMON CULLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the lucky ones. Rescued from the Mediterranean, this group of asylum seekers

was eventually taken to European shores. Many others, though, don't make it. New figures from the U.N.'s refugee agency show the death rate among

migrants trying to reach Europe by boat increased again last year.

FILIPPO GRANDI, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: Six people per day, in average, lost their lives in the Mediterranean.

CULLEN: In total, nearly 117,000 people made the crossing. It's estimated 2,275 people died.

GRANDI: This in itself, in my opinion, is something that should make all Europeans reflect.

CULLEN: The UNHCR warns the high death rate is likely to continue. Given to cuts to search and rescue operations and the decision by some

Mediterranean countries, most notably Italy to close their ports to rescue ships.

CULLEN (on-camera): The U.N.'s report is yet another reminder if it was needed of the deepening divisions within Europe over how to deal with


For the past few years, the European Commission has been trying to broker a solution to ease the pressure on frontline countries along the

Mediterranean. The only problem? Other countries like Austria and Hungary are refusing to agree.

VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The Hungarian position is well known. Only we should decide who we live alongside. We

do not support migrant quotas.

CULLEN (voice-over): The European Commission of a migration acknowledges there's no clear path ahead, but will keep trying to forge a consensus.

DIMITRIS AVRAMOPOULOS, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR MIGRATION: So it has become a huge political issue. It is dividing Europe right now and our

role is to put together this contradictory element. I can tell you it is not easy.

CULLEN: What's making his task even more difficult is the growing anti- migration sentiment in parts of Europe.

ORBAN (through translator): It is Hungary's goal for anti-immigration forces to be in the majority in every institution within the European


AVRAMOPOULOS: We are against to this approach. I have repeatedly said that the European Union stands for its principles. We do not want to see a

fortress Europe.

CULLEN: But it might all be too late. With European parliamentary election scheduled for May, the time of public opinion may soon demand

changes to how the continent deals with migrants.

Simon Cullen, CNN, London.


GORANI: We'll be right back after a quick break.


[14:55:33] GORANI: A dedicated church community in the Netherlands discovered that prayer and lots of it can really payoff, but not in the way

you're thinking.

The church in the Netherlands has secured a safe future for the Tamrazyan family, refugees from Armenia. In addition to knowing their religion, this

congregation knows the law. Because there's a Dutch legal provision that prevents police officers from entering a church while a service is going


So, more than a thousand people conducted a round-the-clock service for three months. A political agreement was reached earlier this week and now

the family, including three kids, has a new place to call home.

Now, to a heartwarming moment in the U.S. We all have bad days. Those times when things get a bit on top of you when you feel a little defeated.

Well, one boy in Indiana was feeling stressed out about school so he turned to people that help. He called 911. Listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through telephone): I had a really bad day and I just - - I don't know.

ANTONIA BUNDY, DISPATCHER (through telephone): You had a bad day at school?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I just came to tell you that.

GORANI: Well, it turns out the boy couldn't figure out his math homework. He was struggling with fractions. Who hasn't been there?

And, yes, 911 is supposed to be for emergencies. But instead of turning the boy away, the dispatcher, Antonia Bundy, helped him out.

BUNDY: So if you do three over four -- put that on your paper.


BUNDY: And then do plus one over four.


BUNDY: OK. So, what's three plus one?


BUNDY: OK. And then what's -- it would be over four. So, then, four over four is what?


BUNDY: Yes, good job.


GORANI: I love this. The boy apologized for calling 911. Bundy told him, we're always here to help. We're not condoning calling 911 to solve math

problems, but you know what? Every once in a while, you need a feel good story. And this is yours for tonight.

I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.