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U.K. Parliament Wants Alternative to "Backstop"; Rising Migrant Death Rate on Mediterranean; U.S.-China Trade Talks; Bitter, Dangerous Cold Grips Parts of U.S.; Trump's Global Waming Tweet Inspires Jokes. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 31, 2019 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody, thank you for being with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, protesters return to the streets of Venezuela demanding an end to Nicolas Maduro's regime while the U.S. tries to bolster the legitimacy of the man who would be the next head of state.

How many ways can they say no? European leaders did not waste any time rejecting new Brexit talks as concern grows the U.K. could crash out of the E.U. without a deal. And Donald Trump opens a Twitter war on his own intelligence chief claiming they should go back to school after a public takedown of the U.S. President

To begin this hour, Venezuela and the growing pressure on the embattled Nicolas Maduro to step down as president. Thousands of protesters turned out on the streets of Caracas responding to a call from the leader of the National Assembly and self-declared president Juan Guaido. In a telephone call Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Guaido for assuming the role of interim president last week.

The U.S. had more than a dozen other countries consider Moduro's reelected last year to a second term is illegitimate and recognized Guaido interim head of state. Chris Sabatini from Columbia University's School of International Public Affairs is with us now from New York. Chris, Juan Guaido, he has written an opinion piece in the New York Times and partly explains why he's in fact the legitimate interim president arguing because you know, the last part of the international community considers Maduro's re-election as illegitimate, that gave him the authority as you know, the head of the National Assembly to assume the role of interim president.

He writes this. My ascension as interim president is based on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution. According to which, if at the outset of a new term there is no elected head of state, power is vested in the president of the National Assembly until free and transparent elections take place. This is why the oath I took on January 23rd cannot be considered a self-Proclamation. It was all of my own accord that I extreme the function of president that day but in adherence to the Constitution.

OK, so just purely from a legal and a constitutional point of view, is he unsafe or he's on shaky ground? CHRIS SABATINI, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, first of all, his point about that the media is portraying him as a self-proclaimed president is a good one and it's true. We can argue the constitutionality of this but the taglines self-proclaimed president makes this sound like he just put on a presidential sash, stood out in a balcony and proclaimed himself to the people. He didn't. You know, there is a constitutional basis for this.

Now -- and he represents the only democratically elected institution in Venezuela right now. So arguably the only democratically legitimate institution. Now Article 233, John, that you mentioned basically says the president is incapacitated. Now, the question is having a president that is -- was elected under clearly fraudulent elections, that were moved, that were gamed, that had -- that were denounced by over fifty governments, does that amount to him being capacitated? That's really -- that's a legal issue, but that's really what the -- it's the -- that's the read that Guaido is leaning on in the interpretation.

VAUSE: OK. So there isn't you know, a legal basis there which you can certainly argue you know, the strength of. OK, the White House welcomed a senior diplomat for Venezuela on Wednesday. He was appointed by Juan Guaido. This is Carlos Vecchio. He was greeted in the Roosevelt Room by the Vice President. I will say the U.S. President telephoning Guaido to great him on becoming you know, the interim president, these are all gestures intended to boost the credibility of Guaido as you know, the head of state. Is this a good strategy by the United States?

SABATINI: Well, let's take a step back because it's complicated, John. I think this was a bold move diplomatically. And we have to remember that Canada and eleven countries in Latin America have recognized Guaido even the socialist international, the party network globally has accepted that National Assembly as being legitimate. So there's -- it is a good diplomatic move. It's clearly a collective effort to put pressure on the Maduro government to have some peaceful democratic transition.

Now, to your point though, John, is it so good to have this administration embraced Guaido and Carlos Vecchio so closely? I'm not so sure. Obviously the U.S. has a very spotty history when it comes to intervention in the region stretching back even to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. So you know, it risks making this government is legitimate. We could claim that it is Guaido, it risk making it look like a U.S. puppet or an interlocutor for U.S. interests.

And so you know, I think this administration would be wise to step back and let other governments embrace it. We have to meet with Prime Minister Trudeau or something like that because the U.S., it is a damaged brand sometimes when it comes to objective legitimate support for transitions and change in Latin America.

[01:05:17] VAUSE: Yes. The reputation isn't the best at times.

SABATINI: No. VAUSE: After meeting at the White House, Carlos Vecchio did the

television rounds and then include appearing on CNN. This is part of what he said.


CARLOS VECCHIO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION CHARGE D'AFFAIRES: In my view, the majority of the military force are with us. They are just stopped by a small elite on the top of the military institution. But at the end of the day they are Venezuelans. They have family. They are suffering the same thing that we are suffering as ordinary people. So at the end of the day in my view, with this pressure that we are putting on the streets from our institution of the National Assembly and from the international community, I hope they can just be the in the right side and supporting and what our Constitution says.


VAUSE: OK, so Vecchio representing Guaido believes the military is with them. We also saw Nicolas Maduro appearing on state television Wednesday and he was also out there rallying the support of the military





VAUSE: OK. So the basic question here is where is the loyalty of the military right now?

SABATINI: Well, first of all there are two militaries. There are the soldiers and non-conscripted officers who truly do not have benefit to a lot of the corruption that this army and armed forces and national guard have been -- have access to. They are suffering. I mean, in the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, food and medicine, they are suffering and their families are suffering and their salaries aren't keeping up with inflation. But then there's the officer corps. And Maduro has done a very wise thing if you want to build an autocracy is what he's done he's promoted an inordinate number of generals.

There are more generals in Venezuela than there are in NATO countries combined, OK. So what he's done is he's promoted and built a loyalty within the officer corps. And that loyalty is not just based on their ties to his -- him personally but also he doles out basically access to corruption, the best -- the most plumbed position to have in the Venezuelan military is a border of Colombia because you get to extort money from narco-traffickers for cocaine flights.

But the military is also involved in food distribution. It's involved -- it runs the oil company, PDVSA which was recently sanctioned by the United States. It is rife with corruption and the question is, will these high-level military ops be willing to break with Maduro given they're going to be subject to criminal investigations and trials and sentences perhaps, they will -- and they will lose access to a pretty rich resource. So yes, we're talking to militaries. It's a tough sell for some of these guys.

VAUSE: Yes. More generals than NATO. That's a fact I did not know and it says a lot as you say. Chris, great to have you with us. I really appreciate your insights. Thank you.

SABATINI: Thank you very much, John.

VAUSE: At least now there is agreement in the U.K. Parliament and that is for the Prime Minister Theresa May to return to Brussels and come back with a better Brexit deal. In particular, there is a majority in favor of an alternative to the unpopular backstop provision. The part of the Brexit withdraw deal meant to keep the Irish border open but already the E.U. is saying no, won't happen, not a chance, no way together which means the chances at the U.K. crashing out of the E.U. without a trade deal in place are more likely.

And members of parliament have agreed to something else. That would be bad. A no deal should not be an option. But that amendment passes a non-binding measure more aspirational than anything else which kind of irritated the Prime Minister.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: That's not the house did vote to reject no deal but that cannot be the end of the story. The only way -- the right on the gentleman says of course not. I think that's -- I think that's the first time he's actually accepted that you can't just vote to reject no deal, you have to vote for a deal otherwise you leave with no deal.


VAUSE: The E.U. seems almost as frustrated with the U.K. as it complains especially over the Irish backstop while fairly to offer any concrete proposals in response to that. Now, the European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted, "The E.U. position is clear and consistent. The withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation." Yesterday we found out what the U.K. doesn't want but we still don't know what the U.K. does want. That point was driven home by the head of the European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker.


[01:10:00] JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Sometimes from time to time I have the impression that some hope that the 26 other countries will abandon the backstop and so Ireland at the last minute. But this is not a game and 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 Europe's border and it is our union's priority.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: But not everyone in the U.K. sees a no deal Brexit it on March 29th is Armageddon. Some economists even believe it could affect be a big boost for Britain's bottom line. Here's CNN's Nina dos Santos.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: It's the biggest question on Britain's minds and one their Parliament's tried to make sure the country would not have to answer.

MAY: The house did vote to reject no deal but that cannot --

DOS SANTOS: What would happen if the U.K. left the E.U. without a deal? The official predictions have been sobering. From immediate shortages of food and medicines as ports block up to a nine percent fall in GDP. A 30 percent drop in house prices and sharp interest rate hikes. In other words disaster says this campaigner who fought for Parliament to have the final say.

GINA MILLER, CAMPAIGNER AND FOUNDER, LEAD NOT LEAVE: No deal will be an absolute catastrophe. No deal means no transition. So that means in the morning of the 30th of March, everything would have to be in place. So we would have to start from scratch. And also this idea that we were -- we will be able to replicate exactly the same is impossible. Because if you think about it we are 65 million people compared to half a billion in the E.U. so we just don't have the same clouds.

DOS SANTOS: But with unemployment at a 43-three year low and exports still growing, Brexiters say the country is well equipped.

EDGAR MILLER, CONVENER, ECONOMIST FOR FREE TRADE: It shouldn't be thought of as no deal. It should be thought of as a different deal. We, in fact, have generally referred to it as a world trade deal where you stop the obsession about trying to have a special arrangement with the E.U.

DOS SANTOS: The E.U.'s own research predicts the line share of growth over the next decade will come from outside the bloc and levers want Britain to be able to capitalize on that trend.

E. MILLER: The biggest benefit is that you can do free trade deals with all the countries in the world and we run -- we calculate that to be about a four percent increase in GDP. Secondly, you have your own regulation that is tailored to the U.K. You can get rid of the dead hand of E.U. regulation and we calculate that, it's about another two percentage points increase in GDP.

DOS SANTOS: Whether no deal Brexit ends up being a blessing or a curse depends to a large extent on whether the U.K. can trade under World Trade Organization rules after leaving the E.U. Now, aside from the fact that that could make a whole range of goods including some of these clothes on this London High Street subject to significant tariffs, it's also unclear as to whether the WTO rules today would need to be brought up to date with more modern aspects of the British economy. G. MILLER: Leaving with no deal means leaving every single E.U.

institution and we would have to have those replicated on the morning of the 30th of March. So that's a medicals agency and a chemicals agency, the list goes on and on. We have not one ready.

DOS SANTOS: As ever with Brexit, the theory paints one picture of the practicalities another and until March the 29th, no one will really know if no deal is or isn't the way to go. Nina dos Santos, CNN London.

VAUSE: This time it's different. Donald Trump has criticized and question his intelligence chiefs people but not like this. Ahead, it's all out this time. It's all out in the open and the President publicly standing by his assessment of what is and is not a national security risk.

Plus staring out the polar vortex, our winter blast paralyzing parts the U.S. with temperatures plunging way below zero.


[01:16:40] VAUSE: The U.S. Justice Department, says Moscow is meddling in and trying to discredit Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. The Justice Department alleges that evidence in one of his cases against a Russian company was published online.

In court filings, prosecutors wrote, "Certain non-sensitive discovery materials in the defense's possession appeared have been altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign, aimed apparently at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system."

Prosecutors did not say exactly how the documents manage to be found online, but a federal judge has ruled that information, in this case, cannot legally be shared with anyone outside the case.

Donald Trump has described the people he chose to lead the various intelligence agencies as passive, naive, wrong, and why? Because they publicly contradicted him on national security issues like ISIS, North Korea, Russia, and Iran. CNN's Pamela Brown has details down from the White House.


PAMELA BROWN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: President Trump today punching back against his own intelligence chiefs for their candid national security assessment, which contradicted some of the president's own claims. In a tweet that included a misspelling, Trump suggested the Intel Chiefs he nominated are "naive, and should go back to school."

He is particularly upset over their assessment of Iran. And testimony Tuesday, they said Iran is not currently making a bomb, and still abiding by the Obama-era nuclear deal that Trump pulled out of. GINA HASPEL, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: At the moment technically they're in compliance, but we do see them debating amongst themselves as they fail to realize the economic benefits they hope for from the deal.

BROWN: But the president not satisfied with that answer, tweeted, "Iran is still a source of potential danger and conflict."

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have won against ISIS. We've beaten them and we've beaten them badly.

BROWN: And after declaring victory over ISIS, the intelligence chief's clearly striking a nerve at the President as they testified, ISIS is still a serious threat to the U.S.

DAN COATS, UNITED STATES DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Remaining pockets of ISIS and opposition fighters will continue. We assess to stoke violence. ISIS's intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.

BROWN: Coats, also refuting Trump's claims that North Korea will eventually give up its nuclear program.

COATS: 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.

BROWN: This as new reporting from the Financial Times puts more scrutiny on the president's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The report says that when Trump and Putin spoke after a G20 event in Buenos Aires in November. Trump didn't have a note- taker or translator there to document their conversation.

It also cites a Russian government official's account that the two leaders discussed a range of issues. The White House did not respond to CNN's questions about the meeting, except to again say their encounter was one of a series of informal discussions' Trump had with counterparts that evening.

Coats wouldn't comment publicly on any of the meetings Trump has had with the Russian president.

COATS: Clearly, this is a sensitive issue and it's an issue we ought to talk about this afternoon, I look forward to discussing that in a closed session.

[01:20:00] BROWN: But the Financial Times report comes in the wake of other reporting that President Trump has tried to conceal the details of his face-to-face meetings with Vladimir Putin. So, it just raises more questions, particularly as investigators continue to probe the Trump campaigns interactions with Russians in 2016. Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: With us now from Denver is Michael Moran, CEO of the risk advisory firm, Transformative, also lectures about political risk at the University of Denver. Michael, thanks for taking the time.

You know, for the most part where intelligence assessments have contradicted his own interests or not serves his own purposes, the U.S. President, yes so doubt, he's criticized he's questioned, mischaracterized, whatever it came to undermine. But this now seems to be new territory, you know, it's almost like Donald Trump has declared war on intelligence.

MICHAEL MORAN, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, TRANSFORMATIVE: But you know, the intelligence agencies like many of the agency that the U.S. government are not was -- he was elected to kind of work with. He was sent to Washington by his base to break things. To not play that would play the game that Washington plays. Which you know, for political reasons is just fine.

But there are important and somewhat perilous, you know, reasons that he should really heed these people. After all, these are the people who spent their life understanding how to interpret data.

They're not always right. There have been some disastrous called by the -- by the intelligence services. But the intelligence community in the United States, it's a very large and very broad system. And the idea that you should just -- you know, discount them because they, they represent something -- you know, deep state or establishment is a very dangerous idea.

VAUSE: You have all details on the president's reaction to the congressional hearing with CNN's Kaitlan Collins reporting. "President Trump seethed Wednesday morning as he watch the highlights of his intelligence chiefs testify on Capitol Hill. Singling out the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats by name during his morning rant, two people with knowledge of the outburst tell CNN. The president didn't see Coats's full testimony in front of the lawmakers, but he was furious as he watched television chyrons blare that the officials had contradicted him."

Those not in the -- no, the chyrons are the writing at the bottom of the screen. There it is. So, how much this is about sort of -- you know, the thin skin and the ego of this president rather than -- you know, being contradicted as opposed to the substance of what they were saying?

MORAN: Well, there's been no penalty for his -- for his disdain of the establishment. And particularly, the law enforcement and intelligence establishment. The real penalty that's being paid is not by him personally because his calculations seem to be entirely focused right now on 2020.

The real -- you know, price of this is in the smashing up of decades and decades of reputation, and, you know, U.S. credibility with regard the things like treaties we've signed, with guarantees we've given to various allies around the world, to the various status quos that the United States has either willingly or unwillingly had to sustain since World War II in places like East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Those are the things that are crumbling. And you see that in the way that he is treated and somewhat -- you know, denigrated in Europe. And in places where normally, a U.S. President would be welcome.

VAUSE: As to that point, you know, the Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer tweeted, "It's past time for U.S. Intelligence Community leaders to stage an intervention with Donald Trump." As he also posted a letter to that same Dan Coats, which outraged the president. Urging Coats to meet with Trump immediately and explained the importance of the Intelligence assessments and the importance of speaking with one voice.

You know the chances of Coats actually doing that are next to zero. And the question is why would he? Because it seems that this is something the president has done for two years. He -- you know, he doesn't realize the importance and the ramifications of what he is doing. Or he does realize he doesn't care?

MORAN: Well, you know, it is at the end of the day in the U.S. constitutional system. It's his choice if he -- if he takes advice from various factions and makes a decision one way or another. That is the way the system works.

The problem seems to be that he does not take that advice and he does not create a system or an atmosphere where that advice is welcomed, and where he could listen to it and then decide after a period of debate either to take it or not. He has his own reasons and his own kind of what we call a kitchen cabinet here in the United States. People like Jared Kushner and others who have their own agenda, who pursue their own agenda, and seem to have more influence than any of the professionals who -- you know, let's face it. This is a guy who came into office with a really an attitude that is I don't understand how anyone could spend their lives working for the federal government.

That by, by definition is almost anathema to him. How could you do anything that doesn't -- you know, benefit you financially in the long run? That's the way this guy thinks. So, it's not surprising that anybody who spent their life, you know, basically dedicating their life to public service in United States, is someone he's -- he doesn't treat seriously.

[01:20:49] VAUSE: Yes, and according to the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, yes, all of the chaos and the crazy the confrontations, the scandals this is just how God wanted it. Here's what she said.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president and that's why he's there. And I think he has done a tremendous job and supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.


MORAN: You know, I wish --

VAUSE: You know, a free shaky ground when you start speaking on behalf of God but go ahead.

MORAN: Absolutely. The last time that I can recall that someone -- you know, recalled or cited God as the reason for ignoring Intelligence was the last Republican administration, and it led to a disastrous war in Iraq where the professional intelligence agents said this is the wrong word, at the wrong time, we're not sure Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, but they gained the system and the president of that day listened to the advice, he wanted to hear and look where we ended up.

VAUSE: In fact, I remember him say when asked, did he speak to his father who went to war against Saddam Hussein. He said, no, I spoke to a higher father.

MORAN: That's right.

VAUSE: Michael, good to see you. Thank you.

MORAN: Thank you.

VAUSE: When we come back, we take a closer look at Brexit, the artist's backstop and the Good Friday peace agreement. Why is all of this so complicated cannot be resolved? We'll talk to the man who brokered the historic Good Friday Accord, two decades ago.


[01:29:45] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

In a "New York Times" op-ed Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido says he is, under the constitution, committed to be the interest president because Nicolas Maduro's reelection was illegitimate. U.S. President Donald Trump telephoned Guaido on Wednesday. His top envoy is now in Washington greeted by senior administration officials as he seeks support from U.S. lawmakers.

And the U.S. President lashing out at his own intelligence chief suggesting they should go back to school. Mr. Trump is on the defensive after his top officials contradicted his assessment of security threats including ISIS, Iran, North Korea and Russia.

The U.K. parliament wants Prime Minister Theresa May to head back to Brussels one more time to try and get a modified -- better deal out of the E.U. over the so-called backstop to keep the Irish border open. The E.U. insists the Brexit deal is not open for negotiations including the backstop. This impasse could make a no deal Brexit more likely and in a worst-case scenario it could undo the Good Friday Agreement before which brought peace to Northern Ireland.

And this right here, this is the Good Friday Peace agreement. Almost 21 years ago, the deal was approved by referendums in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland bringing to an end what was known as "The Troubles". Three decades of violence between the Protestant unionists who wanted Northern Ireland to maintain its status as part of the U.K. and the Catholic Republicans who wanted to leave the U.K. and join the Republic of Ireland.

And here's the thing. There's surprisingly very little in this agreement about a hard border or an open border. In fact, nowhere does it mention anything like there shall be no border. The closest it gets to dealing with infrastructure on the border is in the section on security and a commitment by the British government for normal security arrangements on the border, removal of soldiers and security installations.

During The Troubles, Britain had built fortified army outposts, watch towers, and other structures along the border. And under this agreement they would be and were ultimately removed.

So to help us understand the Good Friday Peace agreement and what it all means now, we're joined the man who brokered the deal. At the time he was the U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland. George Mitchell joins us now from Washington.

Senator Mitchell -- thank you so much for being with us.


VAUSE: If there is one area of agreement in all of the Brexit negotiations, it is the need to avoid a physical border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But there's no part of the peace deal which expressly deals with an open border. So explain to me, why is that?

MITCHELL: Well, the agreement established a series of institutions and operations that would function cross border. And if you go through all of that, it is very clear that all of the parties contemplated that the previous border, heavily militarized, difficult to cross would not continue. And in fact, that has been the understanding and the reality in the nearly 21 years since the agreement was reached.

And of course there's a reason for that. The border when it existed effectively precluded people on either side from crossing to the other. That accelerated and intensified demonization, stereotyping, hostile attitudes that were grounded sometimes in the distance past but were brought to bear in the difficulties of The Troubles.

And so it has been a very important part of the success of the in precluding a return to violence. People now cross freely. The old stereotypes, the old demonization really -- they haven't disappeared but they've dissipated to a great degree particularly those who live near the border and who cross it more frequently.

Commerce flows across, joint activities occur -- all of that underpinning the peace process that occurred in which, in my judgment would be seriously threatened by a resumption of a hard border.

VAUSE: An E.U. research paper looked at the impact that Brexit will have on the Northern Ireland peace deal and notes "A hardening of the Irish border becomes inevitable. This will not only affect movement on the Island but symbolically and psychologically represent to many a major step backwards in the peace process and a profound impairment of the Good Friday Agreement.

So how do you avoid that because every suggestion so far has raised fears on either side? That either, you know, Northern Ireland will be separated in some way either from the United Kingdom of from the Republic of Ireland.

And you know, they haven't been able to find a solution in so many years -- can they find the solution in two months?

MITCHELL: I think they can. The E.U. has worked out special arrangements with Norway. They have a special arrange with Canada. They have a special arrangement with Switzerland. There's certainly enough talent and ingenuity with the European governments and with the U.K.

I have to say to you that in the years that I spent in Northern Ireland, among the most ingenuous and effective people I've ever met were the civil servants in the U.K. government and the Irish government who devised all kinds of new ways to move the talks that I was engaged in forward.

[01:35:04] And I just don't think it's beyond their ingenuity to come up with a way -- to come up with a way to solve this because the reality is that if there's a hard border created, I believe it will have an adverse effect on the U.K. economy as a whole but it will be devastating to all of the Irish, northern and southern, because their economies are so deeply integrated, especially that of the Republic of Ireland and to that of the U.K.

Remember Ireland is a small country. It's got about five million people. U.K.'s got over 65 million people and they'll be able to absorb some of the shocks more effectively than would the people of Ireland. So I think it is very important on all sides that somehow they stretch themselves in these negotiations and they recognize, which I think they all do, that the worst possible outcome is a hard Brexit. A breakdown completely and U.K. tumbling out of the E.U. in a way that would be very, very harmful to all concerned.

VAUSE: You've spoken a lot about the courage of the politicians who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement. Here's what you said back in 1999, a year after the deal was reached.


MITCHELL: Neither I nor anyone else has a magic wand that will wave away these problems, but I believe it can be done. Whether it is done is up to the political leaders. Each of them sought public office and the power that comes with it. With that power comes responsibility. At this time and place, that means having the courage and wisdom to find a way to overcome the obstacles to implementation of the agreement.


VAUSE: It is a very different time now and Brexit a very different challenge. But have you seen that same level of courage and responsibility now as you did back then?

MITCHELL: Now, not really. That's a blunt and difficult judgment to make.

But keep in mind, back then people were dying.


MITCHELL: There were bombings, assassinations. There was tremendous fear and anxiety. And all of the political leaders who negotiated this agreement had themselves been involved in conflict for almost all of their lives. Some of them had been shot at, shot. Some of them had committed grievous crimes and served lengthy prison sentences and on leaving prison had become advocates for peace.

So there was a lot riding on it. And in fact, one of the most compelling argument for the agreement was that the failure to get an agreement would have triggered a new outbreak, undoubtedly more savage and violent than those that preceded it.

So there was a lot of fear and anxiety. And these men and women, ordinary people demonstrated extraordinary courage and vision. The political leaders of Northern Ireland were the real heroes of the peace process as were the people of Northern Ireland themselves who supported that process.

And I think that the leaders now of the U.K., of the E.U., of Northern Ireland and Ireland are to take their inspiration from people back then. This is a tough issue now. No doubt about it.

But life has changed. The solution to every human problem contains within it the seeds of a new problem. You never reach a point in your life or in the life of a society where you say everything is fine, we don't have to deal with another problem.

And so this problem is there. It has been there from the beginning. It was created by human beings. It must be ended by human beings and by the leaders of the U.K. and the European Union who have within their power to bring this to a satisfactory solution.

VAUSE: Also the Good Friday Agreement has been described as one of the great achievements of the 20th century. You brokered it. Let's hope that the leaders now realize what is at stake here.

And so thank you being with us. Most appreciated.

MTICHELL: Thank you very much. VAUSE: Dozens of migrants are still missing in north Djibouti along

Africa's East Coast when two boats headed to Yemen capsized. It's a sad example of the deadly risks taken by so many. And the U.N. has released details on the death rate of to those crossing the Mediterranean to finally reach Europe.

Simon Cullen reports.


SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These are lucky ones. Rescued from the Mediterranean, the group of asylum seekers was eventually taken to European shores. Many others though don't make it.

New speakers (ph) 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, UNHCR: Six people per day in average lost their lives in the Mediterranean.

[01:40:01] 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 the cuts to search and rescue operations and the decision by some Mediterranean countries, most notably Italy, to close their ports to rescue ships.

(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 migrants. For the past few years, the European Commission has been trying to broker a solution to ease the pressure on front line 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: The European Commissioner for 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 all these contradictory elements. 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: It is Hungary's goal for anti-immigration forces to be in the majority in every institution within the European Union.

AVARMOPOULOS: We are against this approach. As (INAUDIBLE) said, the European Union stands for its principles. We don't want to see a fortress Europe.

CULLEN: But it might all be too late. With European parliamentary elections scheduled for May the tide of public opinion may soon demand changes to how the continent deals with migrants.

Simon Cullen, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: When we come back, Chinese and U.S. delegates wrap up their first day of trade talks amidst fading hope for a major breakthrough and that means the trade war between the two biggest economies in the world is expected to escalate. Live to Beijing in a moment.


[01:44:51] VAUSE: Well, a year of negative headlines, privacy scandals and government scrutiny has not impacted Facebook's bottom line. In fact profits soared in the last quarter of 2018 to a record $6.9 billion, up 61 percent from a year ago. Revenue up 30 percent.

The company says, the number of active daily users increased almost everywhere including Europe and North America. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is also increasing investments in cyber security.

Donald Trump promised he'd be the greatest jobs president God ever created. He took all the credit last year when Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn announced it would invest $10 billion in a new plant in the state of Wisconsin creating thousands of blue collar manufacturing jobs.

On Wednesday, Foxconn had another announcement -- those plans were being reconsidered. Instead of a factory, now planning a technology hub full of researchers, designers and engineers. And the world's greatest jobs president, totally silent on the news.

And the White House says President Trump will meet the Chinese vice premier on Thursday as both countries try and reach a trade deal. Negotiators are meeting with a deadline just a month away. U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are to jump from 10 to 25 percent March 1st. Both sides are under pressure. Beijing's economy is slowing and the Congressional Budget Office says tariffs are cutting into the U.S. GDP.

For more, live to Steven Jiang in Beijing. And Steven, you know, what was a brand bargain -- you know, getting everything on the table agreed to seems unlikely. If there are some areas of agreement, if there are some breakthroughs, does that actually mitigate the extent of a new tariff that the U.S. plans to impose on Chinese goods?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN PRODUCER: Probably. But it's interesting to see what actually comes out of that meeting you just mentioned between Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He because, you know, Trump is usually full of surprises. He has vetoed a provisional deal reached by his negotiators with the Chinese once before so what he says or does this time, let's see if they're going to impact the current round of talks again.

But at least publicly Trump's core demands have been clear and consistent. That is, the Americans are not going to be satisfied with Chinese offering to buy more U.S. goods or products.

What they want to see is structural changes in the Chinese economy. We're talking about Chinese state subsidies on industries and the Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property. And trade secrets, for example. And these are going to be very difficult issues to resolve quickly because some of them touch on the fundamental belief of the Chinese government in terms of how they view the economy should be run.

But there are some hopeful signs -- John. For example, lawmakers here have finished a second reading of a new foreign investment law which addresses a number long-standing U.S. demands including better treatment of foreign companies here and better protection for foreign investment as well as the banning of forced technology transfers from foreign companies to their Chinese partners.

But the thing is we had heard or seen the Chinese make similar promises before only to fail to follow through with concrete actions. That's why the Americans this time say one key part of the negotiations in the current round is to come up with verification mechanisms to ensure the latest pledges are not just empty talks -- John.

VAUSE: And that's the question because how they actually, you know, come up with some kind of mechanism, some kind of way of enforcing, you know, whatever they in fact agree to because, you know, in the past we've seen, you know, the Chinese side make agreements but then don't stick to those agreements and, you know, all is lost.

JIANG: That's right. It is not entirely clear because they're still talking. But there are suggestions for example, the U.S. could keep tariffs in place until the Chinese demonstrate they have taken irreversible steps in the areas the U.S. has demanded. And also the U.S. could say they would reinstate tariffs if the Chinese fail to live up their side of the bargain.

You know, the thing about the talks right now is there is a sense of cautious optimism because there's enough political will on both sides to see a deal reached by the March 2nd deadline. President Xi here is under increasing pressure because of the market's slowing economy and that could translate into social instability which the government here really does not want to see.

And President Trump also is increasingly concerned about the volatility of the U.S. stock market which the Chinese-U.S. trade war is a major factor in that. And he, of course, could also use some good news considering the criticisms he's been facing lately and he probably wants to cheer up his base in the very near future -- John. VAUSE: Well, they're not happy about the tariffs. That's one thing.

So clearly more tariffs isn't going to help things. Steven -- thank you. Good to see you.

At one point on Wednesday, the temperature was below freezing in 80 percent of the United States. When we come back we'll look at how many are handling this record-setting cold and more importantly when (INAUDIBLE) set to warm at least a little.


VAUSE: Right now more than 200 million people across the U.S. are in the path of a deep freeze borne on the polar vortex. Some parts have seen the coldest temperatures ever recorded and the extreme weather is being blamed for nine deaths, at least nine deaths.

More now from CNN's Ryan Young.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Arctic temperatures, bitter wind chills, whiteout conditions -- brutal polar weather breaking records across the U.S. today. Sixty million Americans experiencing temperatures below zero and more than 224 million feeling temperatures below freezing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is unbearable and its' dangerous.

Drivers in parts of North Dakota and Michigan experiencing white out snow causing dangerous road conditions and pileups on highways.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As they did come up on a crash, they weren't able to stop in time due to the slippery, snowy and icy road conditions.

YOUNG: Officials urging people to stay off the roads.

J.P. PRITZKER, ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: These conditions are and can be life threatening. Even short periods of exposure to this type of weather can be dangerous.

YOUNG: More than 3,300 flights canceled Tuesday and Wednesday. Amtrak service stopped in and out of Chicago. Even the U.S. Postal Service which touts working through all sorts of weather conditions stopped deliveries in parts of at least ten states.

Temperatures in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota reaching levels colder than parts of Antarctica. Chicago is forecast to tie or barely beat the record for coldest temperature recorded there -- 27 below turning even a shower into an icy adventure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just took a shower and the steam froze.

YOUNG: For people trying to get around in the Windy City, train tracks pulled apart by the cold were set on fire by gas vent heaters fixing the rails to keep the trains moving. And boats are breaking the ice to clear the Chicago River.

In Minnesota this man biked to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can do it if you prepare.

YOUNG: And a handful of runners cross the finish line of an ultramarathon, faces encased in ice thanks to temperatures of 30 below.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You kind of embrace the weather in this state. If you don't, you can't live here.

YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN -- Chicago.


VAUSE: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with more. So you know, this has just been so unbelievably cold across such a big part of the country. And clearly when does it end is now the big question.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's in sight. At least another day of this -- John. And we'll see a pretty rapid warming trend going into the weekend. So ate least there's some good news there.

But you know, we still are looking at this very carefully across at the Midwestern U.S. because it still feels like nearly 40 degrees below zero but recall this time yesterday it was about 55 below zero.

Much of this has to do with the winds that have died just a little bit. But really the human body does an excellent job of conditioning itself against extreme heat but a very poor job when it comes to extreme cold.

Now, we know our core temperature right around 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 Fahrenheit. But only about a one or two degrees variation from that and bring you back to 35 Celsius, you get goosebumps that set in. You begin shivering. You lose some of your fine motor skills particularly in your hands and dexterity. And that's an issue.

But drop that down to below 32 degrees Celsius that's when it becomes dangerous and unfortunately several people already felt the brunt of this when it comes to that and that's when shivering stops, your muscles become rigid, speech also becomes slurred and all of these telltale signs of hypothermia is setting in. Of course, it leads to death very quickly beyond getting below 32 degrees Celsius for your core temp.

[01:54:55] But over 100 million people are dealing with these wind chill warnings, wind chill advisories still as cold as 50 below. In fact you look at this -- preemptive cancellations over 6,500 across the U.S. on Thursday includes delays as well and over 2,000 flights impacted out of Chicago airports on Thursday because of the extreme conditions there.

And the energy shift, John, out towards the northeast here so New York City wind chills at this hour, down to minus 25 will fail to get up above the freezing mark for a couple more days across New York before warming comes back Saturday into Sunday.

VAUSE: Rug up until then. Pedram -- thank you.

JAVAHERI: Rug up, yes.

VAUSE: Well it's cold outside, so naturally that means the U.S. President has again questioned if global warming is in fact real. We think he meant global warming because in the tweet he referenced global waming.

CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, he's taking some heat for that.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How cold is it? Cold enough that rail crews are using fire to warm the tracks in Chicago, cold enough that reporters are doing the toss steaming hot water in the air trick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost turns to dust --

MOOS: Cold enough to inspire another typo-prone presidential tweet.

JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: "What the hell is going on with global waming?

Please come back fast, we need you.

MOOS: With the President once again questioning global warming, it is safe to forecast a 100 percent chance of shade.

CHILDREN: Hi -- Mr. President.

MOOS: Kimmel had two kids school the President in science.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weather is what happens today. Climate is what happens over the long run.

MOOS: Old cartoons recirculated. "Trump is cold, therefore global warming is a hoax."

New cartoons popped up, "Are you crazy or just plain stupid? Yes."

Wisconsin Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan tweeted "This was something only a moron wouldn't understand."

Even one of his own government agencies took a swipe at the President for his latest blast of hot air about the cold.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweeted a simplistic tea kettle graphic to demonstrate winter storms don't prove that global warming isn't happening.

But it was the typo that had critics gleefully proclaiming global waming as if George Michael had invented it.


MOOS: Is President Trump fooling with us. Pity this reporter after spending 10 minutes outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are my pants that I just had damp this morning.

MOOS: He discovered global waming in his pants.

Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us though. The news continues here on CNN after a short break.