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Two Powers Fighting for One Throne; President Trump Not Pleased with His Own Intel Chiefs; Brexit Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place; E.U. Rejects U.K.'s Bid To Reopen Brexit Negotiations; Guaido To New York Times, Maduro's Re-election Illegitimate; Venezuela In Crisis; Trade Talks; Facebook's Big Profits; Asylum Reassessed; Super Bowl LIII Preparations; Throwing Shade. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired January 31, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR: As the power struggle intensifies in Venezuela, protesters take to the streets once again and the man fighting over the presidency, each trying to get the military on their side.
The U.S. president picks a fight with his own intelligence chiefs, calling them naive, and suggesting they go back to school.
And they are sitting down face-to-face but mistrust hangs over day two of the high-stake talks to end the U.S.-China trade war.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Nick Watt and this is CNN newsroom.
The battle for power in Venezuela plays out in the streets of Caracas and cities around the country. But the key to control likely rests in Venezuela's military barracks.
Self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido is urging the military to abandon Nicolas Maduro and support him instead.
In a New York Times op-ed Guaido writes "we have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and security forces." And he says "Mr. Maduro's time is running out."
Guaido spoke by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday and the White House says Mr. Trump reaffirmed his support.
The U.S. also welcoming Guaido's top envoy in Washington who later spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: I get it. I know you're saying this is a fight between dictatorship and democracy. Just explain for people who are watching and they think, well, hang on a second. President Maduro claims that he won the elections. And Juan Guaido has not been elected president. Describe how you are going to square that circle and how you are going to resolve what many may have as a question mark.
CARLOS ALFREDO VECCHIO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION CHARGE D'AFFAIRES TO THE U.S.: Well, we have to keep in mind that Maduro conducted a fake election last year in order to keep six more years in power. So that was declared by the OAS in the entire American system as an illegal as an illegal election and that's why he's no longer the president. He doesn't have authority to conduct the presidency of Venezuela.
Given that we don't have president in the constitutional order and following our Constitution under article 233, when you don't have constitutional president, the president of the National Assembly has to assume the competences of the president. So that's why we are claiming the legitimacy of Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Let's some much-needed perspective on the protests and the developments in Venezuela with Brett Bruen. He is the former director of global engagement at the White House under President Obama and he joins us now from Washington.
So, Brett, Maduro is claiming that the U.S. interest here is oil, that Trump wants Venezuelan oil and he is saying that this is going to become some sort of South American Vietnam. I mean, what is the Trump administration's motivation. This is not an administration really famed for an altruistic foreign policy.
BRETT BRUEN, PRESIDENT, THE GLOBAL SITUATION ROOM: No, it isn't. And this quite frankly, I would say even as an alum of the Obama White House is a bright spot in what is otherwise a pretty bleak Trump foreign policy. They're talking about issues like human rights and democracy here.
And Maduro's attempt at portraying this is some effort to take Venezuelan oil I think is quite tired and most of the world sees through those arguments because he is standing on top of human misery. I mean, we're talking about a country that has rapidly move down the human development charts in the last several years as he and his military officers have enrich themselves.
WATT: There were diplomats, Guaido diplomats in Washington today who met with some Trump officials. Let's just hear a little bit of what Carlos Vecchio, one of them had to say to Christiane Amanpour a little bit earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VECCHIO: In my view, the majority of the military forces are with us. They are just stop by small elite on the top of the military institution, but at the end of the day they are Venezuelans there. They have family. They are suffering the same thing that we are suffering as ordinary people.
[03:04:59] So, at the end of day in my view, with this pressure there 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 there in the right side and support what our Constitution says.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: So, Brett, is Carlos Vecchio right, is the army the key to all of this?
BRUEN: The army is playing a key role. But I would also add that up until now, whether it is Guaido's government or the United States and the international community that they're standing with. We've heard a lot of words. Now is the moment to show. We need to see action. We need to see the results of what the international community Juan Guaido is able to deliver.
So, that will be a key factor in the coming hours and days is whether or not some of the tangible elements of what they are discussing are going to be born out in international aid, in other changes within the military officers that are starting to peel off.
Because right now, while it is comforting to hear that officers have sympathy for Guaido we need to see it.
WATT: And finally, just quickly. How do you think this is going to play out, is Maduro going to successfully claim to power at this time?
BRUEN: I think that every day that passes Juan Guaido is still able to command people out in the streets is a more likely scenario that he will eventually take power. I think Maduro's days are numbered.
WATT: Brett joining us from Washington, we really appreciate your insights and your time. Thanks a lot.
BRUEN: Thank you.
WATT: Now oil prices are edging upward after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company.
For details, let's bring in CNN's money emerging markets editor, John Defterios live this hour in Abu Dhabi. John, Venezuelan production has dipped in recent years, but those new sanctions are still sending out some ripples.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: I suggest ripples but no tsunami by any stretch of the imagination, Nick. The latest prices show that the global benchmark is up about seven-tenth of 1 percent, although that is a one-month high, about $62 a barrel, and some change there.
In the United States we see oil prices up about a half a percent. This is not a shock to the market because of the destruction of Venezuela's output. There are two factors at play, that is one of them, if you roll back the clock a decade, Venezuela is a major producer in the world at 3.2 million barrels a day. It's about a third of that right now. That's because the country has been starved for an investment. You had 15 years under Hugo Chavez and the last five, in particular, under Nicolas Maduro has been absolutely awful for the oil industry because nobody wants to invest because of the uncertainty and the hyperinflation.
Number two, we're in the world right now where there is absolutely a lot of oil around because the U.S. has expanded its production by better than two million barrels in 2018 alone, about five million barrels over the last decade in the United States.
In fact, there is so much oil around the Saudi Arabia and the other producers of OPEC and the other non-OPEC producer. Russia had to cut their output by 1.2 million barrels a day in December.
But let's put some context in Venezuela. It's the largest drop of any country a major oil producer after World War II that did not have the impact of a war itself. It's an absolute destruction of two million barrels a day. It is unheard of, Nick, in the context of the oil industry.
WATT: John, if Maduro is ousted, if we -- if, you know, there is a new government in Venezuela still going to take a long time for oil production to ramp up again in the country, right?
DEFTERIOS: It would take a long time to ramp up, but the potential is there, Nick. This is the number one country in the world in terms of proven reserves. Its thick crude is not easy to refine but there is demand for that type of crude. Three hundred billion barrels under the ground and they have not realized its potential. That's absolutely certain.
The other side of the story is the financial noose being tightened by the United States because of its U.S. Central Bank and the U.S. Treasury Department. They are chasing financial accounts of the Maduro government looking for gold around the world as well.
So, I think the discussions behind the scene with Guaido and the military officials are look, you're been having the discussions and been very loyal to the Maduro government. This is what's in the pipeline if you decide to stay with him going forward.
The noose will tighten which restrict financial dealings, and right now the U.S. purchases which is half of the 1.1 million barrels a day, the money is going to the National Assembly and not to the president and to the military. So, this is going to play in a very difficult way for Maduro as time rolls on here.
WATT: John Defterios in Abu Dhabi, thank you very much for those insights.
[03:09:59] Now the European Union is rejecting any possibility of reopening negotiations on Brexit. E.U. leaders have been critical of the U.K. for complaining about the Brexit deal that's on the table but they are offering no concrete ideas themselves. The impasse puts Britain's Theresa May we the proverbial rock and a hard place. The British government voted in favor of her going back to Brussels to renegotiate the sensitive Irish border issue. But E.U. leaders are saying that's not open for renegotiation. So, the prospect of a potentially chaotic no deal Brexit seems to grow by the day.
Our Nina Dos Santos joins us now from London. Nina, what happens if Theresa May goes to Brussels, comes back to London empty-handed, then what?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPPONDENT: Well, that's the big question here. It is a high-stakes political staring game which could potentially have a rather nasty ending, especially considering these things are coming right down to the wire in terms of the timeframe with Brexit just around the corner of the 29 of March, just two months away.
Now, on the one hand, the house earlier on this weekend the series of amendments express their wish for there to be a no -- to rule out to no deal, but in a nonbinding fashion. But on the other hand, there was another conflict amendment, as you rightly point out, suggesting that Theresa May go back to Brussels and trying to negotiate something that they have made very plain they do not wish to renegotiate.
That leaves us facing the prospect of a no deal scenario. I've been taking a look at how bad that could that really be.
DOS SANTOS: It's the biggest question on Britain's minds and one that parliament is trying to make the country would not have to answer.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The house did vote to reject no deal, but that cannot be --
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 brock up to 9 percent fall in GDP, a 30 percent drop in house prices and shop interest rate hikes.
In other words, disaster, says this campaigner who fought for parliament to have the final say.
GINA MILLER, CAMPAIGNER & 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 are -- 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 to the 43-year low and exports still growing, Brexiteers say the country is well-equipped.
EDGAR MILLER, CONVENER, ECONOMISTS 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 block and leavers want Britain to be able to capitalize on that trend.
E. MILLER: The biggest benefit is that you can do a free trade deals with all countries in the world. And we calculate that to be about 4 percent increase in GDP. Secondly, you have your own regulation that is tailored to the U.K., you can get rid of the debt hand of E.U. regulation. And we calculated that as about another 2 percentage points increase in GDP.
DOS SANTOS: Well, then a no deal Brexit ends up being a blessing or a curse depends to large extent and whether the U.K. can trade under World Trade Organization rule 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, is also unclear is to whether the WTO rules today would need to be brought today 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 medical's agency, a chemical's agency. The list goes on and on. We have not one ready.
DOS SANTOS: As ever with Brexit, the theory paints one picture, the practicalities and other, and until March the 29th, no one will really know if no deal is or isn't the way to go.
DOS SANTOS: Well, Nick, the prime minister's here official residence number 10 Downing Street she's been excepting a number of cabinet members who have come to see her today to try and find out which way forward they can go through this impasse.
[03:14:52] No point in going to Brussels it seems for the meantime, because of course, after conversations with Donald Tusk of the E.U. Council and also Leo Varadka, the Irish Taoiseach, they have made it plain that they are not willing to budge on that most contentious issue of the backstop.
And until they do, the big question is whether we go from here.
Back to you.
WATT: Fascinating stuff. Thanks, Nina.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department says that Russia is altering and leaking evidence from Robert Mueller's investigation to try and discredit him. We'll explain jus ahead. Plus, Donald Trump slams his intelligence chiefs on Twitter after they publicly rebuke the number of his so-called foreign policy achievements.
WATT: The U.S. Justice Department says that Moscow is meddling in and apparently trying to discredit Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Prosecutors alleged Russians altered then published documents online as part of a disinformation campaign.
Here's CNN's justice correspondent Evan Perez with more.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: According to the special counsel the Russians were behind this, essentially were taking some of the documents that the special counsel has provided to the lawyers who are representing this company Concord Management. This is the company that's behind the troll farms that were part of the social media aspect of the Russian interference in the 2016 election.
And so, the lawyers have been provided these documents by the Mueller team. And so, according to the special counsel some of those documents ended up in the hands of the Russians, who then altered them and release them back in October using a brand-new Twitter handle called hacking Redstone and essentially, they were putting it out there to try to undermine and create, again, disinformation about the special counsel investigation.
There was a debate inside the Justice Department about whether or not to charge this company because you notice there are 13 Russian individuals who were charged as part of this case and they've never shown up in court to try to fight this out.
But this company went and hired a Pittsburgh law firm and was -- and has managed to essentially draw this out and use, essentially that legal system of the United States against the Mueller investigation. Because they know that they have to get discovery, that they have to get information turned over.
[03:19:55] So, this is exactly what the Mueller team was concerned about. And one of the reasons why they've asked the judge to limit the type of information that could be shared with the Russians.
The idea being that sensitive sources and methods could be exposed.
WATT: Excuse me. Evan Perez reporting there from Washington where President Donald Trump is using some harsh words against the very people he chose to lead various U.S. intelligence agencies. He's calling them passive, naive, and wrong. Because they publicly contradicted him on national security issues, including ISIS, North Korea, Russia, and Iran.
CNN's Pam Brown has more details from the White House.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 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 quote, "naive" and "should go back to school."
He's particularly upset over their assessment of Iran. In testimony Tuesday they said Iran is not currently making a bomb and is still abiding by the Obama era nuclear deal that Trump pulled out of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINA HASPEL, DIRECTOR, CIA: At the moment, technically they're in compliance but we do see them debating amongst themselves as they've failed to realize the economic benefits they hope for from the deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: But the president not satisfied with that answer, tweeted, "Iran is still a source of potential danger and conflict."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have won against ISIS. We'd beaten them, and we'd beaten them badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And after declaring victory over ISIS, the intelligence chiefs clearly striking a nerve with the president as they testified ISIS is still a serious threat to the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, UNITED STATES DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The remaining pockets of ISIS and opposition fighters will continue that we access to stoke violence. ISIS' intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Coats also refuting Trump's claims that North Korea will eventually give up its nuclear program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATS: We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities. It is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 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 officials 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATS: Clearly, this is a sensitive issue and it's an issue that we ought to talk about this afternoon. I look forward to discussing that in a close session.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The Financial Times report comes in the wake of other reporting that President Trump had 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 campaign's interactions with Russians in 2016.
Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.
WATT: Joining me now is David Sanger, he is a CNN political and national security analyst. He's also a national security correspondent for the New York Times. David, Donald Trump doubling down on disagreement with his intelligence chiefs. He's tweeting calling them passive and naive and saying that they should go back to school.
Listen, Dan Coats was an ambassador to Germany. He served in the Senate intelligence committee. Gina Haspel served in the CIA for 34 years. Donald Trump is a former real estate developer and reality show barker. Why is he doing this?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: A couple of reasons. First of all, it's worth noting that of all of the intelligence chiefs that were testifying for the 2019 worldwide threat assessment, every one of them was now appointed by President Trump.
So, it's not as these were holdovers from the administration who were engage in some deep state effort of subterfuge against his policies.
The second is, I think the president has a fundamental misunderstanding of what the intelligence community's job is. It is not to come up with intelligence to support a policy that the president has already settled on. Instead, it's to give objective intelligence and assessments of what threats are, what countries are doing.
[03:24:59] And then the president can choose to pay attention to that, to ignore it, to take a policy in a different direction, but you're not supposed to go bend the assessment in order to fit the policy. He's supposed to provide an unvarnished assessment and then let the chips fall where they may on a policy. So, what the president has done here is on the Iran case, the
intelligence agencies have said what they have always said, which is, there is no evidence that Iran is violating any of the commitments have made within the four corners of the nuclear agreement. Missiles are outside that agreement.
And the president instead comes back and says they're naive but he doesn't have any evidence.
WATT: So, that's Iran. Let's move on to Russia as we so often do when we're talking about Trump. There were couple of things today. There was a filing from the special counsel suggesting that some documents that they had given to defense attorneys have been doctored and then posted on the internet in an attempt to kind of delegitimize the Mueller probe.
I mean, that surely reaffirms what Dan Coats have been saying that Russia was a threat, is a threat and will continue to be a threat.
SANGER: I thought the most interesting part of the Coats testimony and the underlying report was its working assumption that the kind of data manipulation and influence operations we saw on 2016 are nothing compared to what's coming. An era where you can use artificial intelligence and other techniques to help you make deep fakes, to alter documents, to alter photographs, to create basically an alternative reality.
And that was the most scary part in some ways of the testimony. And almost as if to prove it the special counsel then steps up with this mysterious case of alteration of some documents before they're posted.
And you know, you are going to see a lot more of this between now and the 2020 election.
WATT: And still on Russia, there was a Financial Times report today that at the G20 late last year President Trump met again with Vladimir Putin with only Putin's translator and Melania there.
WATT: Listen, you've been covering this kind of thing for a long time. How unusual and how potentially dangerous is that?
SANGER: Well, it is unusual because it looks like the president does out of his way to seek the use of social events where you don't normally have a notetaker with you. To stop off and rather than just exchange pleasantries with Putin he gets involved in deeper discussions.
This happened in Hamburg in 2017. And we now know it happened in Helsinki in 2018. Now, there were some witnesses to that, Melania, obviously, his wife. But relying on the Russian translator and not having a notetaker is dangerous if you move beyond questions like, how's the weather in Moscow this time of year.
So, this pattern of setting up these discussions outside of the ordinary diplomatic structure where there would be translator's note takers and so forth is beginning to look a little bit suspicious.
WATT: David Sanger joining us from Washington, we appreciate your time. Thanks a lot.
SANGER: Thank you.
WATT: Meanwhile, the crisis in Venezuela is playing a very differently in the Russian media. Just ahead, what the Kremlin is doing for Nicolas Maduro to help him stay in power.
And with the clock ticking, Chinese and U.S. delegates head into a second day of trade talks and it looks like the U.S. president is stepping in.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NICK WATT, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom, I'm Nick Watt with the headlines this hour.
European Union leaders are adamant they will not reopen Brexit talks with the United Kingdom. The EU's resounding no comes after the U.K. Parliament voted in favor of Theresa May going back to Brussels to seek changes to the sensitive Irish border issue. But Brexit now less than two months away, the possibility of a no deal Brexit is considered greater than ever.
The death toll has soared to at least 99 in that dam collapsed in Brazil. More than 250 others are still missing. President Bolsonaro will meet with his cabinet in the day ahead to discuss the tragedy.
In the New York Times op-ed, Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaido, claims that he didn't arbitrarily declare himself interim president. He claims he was just following the country's constitution, which calls for the president of the National Assembly, that's him, to take power, if there is no elected head of state. And Guaido says that President Nicolas Maduro's re-election last year was illegitimate. Guaido is now appealing for support his country's military leaders to topple Maduro.
The crisis in Venezuela extends far beyond that country's borders. Some of the world's most powerful nations are taking sides. The U.S. and its European allies back the position, but it's quite a different story in Russia.
CNN's Matthew Chance reports.
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 asked other protest. No may dance 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 a 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 asked 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 had 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 spirits away vast quantities of Venezuela 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 a not so thinly veiled dig at the United States. His top national security advisor appeared on Monday with a notepad showing the words 5,000 troops to Columbia which neighbors Venezuela.
[03:35:05] 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 Kremlin. Moscow is watching Venezuela closely urging diplomacy, but also bracing for yet another damaging fallout with Washington.
Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
WALLACE: The White House says that President Trump is to meet with the Chinese vice premier Thursday as both countries try to reach a trade deal. Negotiations have been going on for some time and a deadline is now just a month away when U.S. tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods are set to jump from 10 to 25 percent.
For more on this, let's go to Steven Jiang in Beijing. Steven, are they going to reach a deal?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN PRODUCER: Well, it's hard to tell at this stage, but that meeting you mentioned between President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier, Liu He, would be very interesting to watch, because as you know Mr. Trump is always full of surprises. He has vetoed a provisional deal reached by his negotiators and the Chinses once before. So let's see what he says or does this time and what kind of impact you would have in this latest round of the negotiations.
But at least publicly, Mr. Trump's core demands have been clear and consistent that is the Americans want to see more than just Chinese offering to buy American products and services, but rather the U.S. wants to see structural changes in the Chinese economy. We are talking about Chinese state subsidies on its industries and the alleged Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property, for example.
And this are going to be very difficult issues for the Chinese government to resolve quickly because some of them actually touch on the fundamental belief of what this government believes in terms of how this economy should be run.
But we're seeing some positive gesturing, if you will, from Beijing. Lawmakers here have just finished the second reading of a new foreign investment law and it's expected to be passed early in March. This law actually I would address a number of long-standing U.S. demands, for example, better protection to foreign investments, equal treatment of foreign companies and the banning of forced technology transfer from foreign companies to their Chinese partners.
But the problem is that the Chinese had made many similar promises in the past but only to fail to follow through with concrete auctions. That's why the American negotiators say a key part of the current talk is to come up with some verification mechanisms to ensure the Chinese latest promises are not just empty talk. Nick?
WATT: Steven Jiang in Beijing, thank you very much for your time.
Meanwhile, this side of the pacific, a year of negative headlines, periphery's scandals and government scrutiny has not impacted Facebook's. Awesome 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 rose 30 percent.
The company says the number of active daily users increased almost everywhere, including Europe and North America. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook is also increasing investment in cyber security.
Now, Donald Trump once claimed he'd be the greatest jobs president God ever created. Just don't tell that to the people of Wisconsin. The president took all the credit last year when Taiwanese electronics giant, Foxconn, said it would invest $10 billion in a new plant in the state, creating thousands of blue-collar manufacturing jobs.
Wednesday, the company said it's rethinking this plans. Instead of a factory, Foxconn says it's now planning a technology hub for researchers, designers and engineers, and the president is notably silent since that news came out.
A grim report from the U.N. on the dangerous migrants face. Ahead, how Europe's divisions are contributing to a rising death toll, in the Mediterranean. And record-breaking cold temperatures slamming parts of the U.S. is there a thaw on the horizon?
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WATT: Dozens of migrants are still missing off Djibouti along Africa's East Coast after two boats headed for Yemen capsize. The latest example of the deadly risks migrants take. And now, the U.N. has come out with a report on the death rate of those crossing the Mediterranean to try and reach Europe. The findings are grim.
Simon Cullen has the details.
SIMON CULLEN, CNN PRODUCER: These are the lucky ones. Rescued from the Mediterranean, to this group of asylum-seekers was eventually taken to European shores. Many others though didn't to make it. New figures from the U.N.'s refugee agency showed the death rate among migrants trying to reach Europe by boat increased again last year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 giving the cops to search and rescue operations and the decision by some Mediterranean countries, most notably Italy, to close their ports to rescue ships.
The U.N. reported yet another a reminder, if it 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 frontline countries along the Mediterranean. The only problem, other countries like Austria and Hungary are refusing to agree.
VICTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER (trough translator): The Hungarian position is well known, only we should decide who we live alongside. We do not support migrant coaches (ph).
CULLEN: The European Commission for Migration acknowledges there's no clear path ahead, but will keep trying to forge a consensus.
DIMITRIS AVRAMOPOLOUS, EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR MIGRATION: So it has become a huge political issue, 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 (through translator): It is Hungary's goal for anti-immigration forces to be in the majority in every institution within the European Union.
AVRAMOPOLOUS: We are against this approach. I have repeatedly said the European Union stands for its principles. We do not want to see a fortress Europe.
[03:45:00] CULLEN: But it might all be too late. With European Parliamentary elections schedule for May, the tide of public opinion may soon demand changes to how the continent deals with migrants.
Simon Cullen, CNN, London.
WATT: American church service in the Netherlands has prevented a family from being deported. The church secured a safe future for family from Armenia who had their asylum request denied by the Dutch government. A law in the country prevents police from entering a church while a service is taking place.
So, more than a thousand people held round-the-clock services for three months while the family shelter inside. In the end, a political deal was reached. And now the family, including three children, has a new place to call home.
A global audience of tens of millions will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday. The New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams for the biggest prize in U.S. pro-football. Here in the host city, Atlanta, locals are hunkering down. That's more than a million fans flood in for the big game. Security, as you can imagine, is tight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I want to make clear that despite last month lapse in funding. DHS employees are and have been committed to keeping our nation and Super Bowl LIII secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: CNN's Martin Savage takes a closer look at the Super Bowl security plan.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sporting event in the U.S., it's also probably one of the biggest parties here in the U.S. And from a security point of view, it's also potentially one big target.
So, to that ends, security has been a primary focus not just in the past couple of weeks, but for the city of Atlanta, for the past two years. City officials have been travelling to other Super Bowl sites to get lessons learned there. And the numbers are staggering when it comes to security itself. Six thousand law enforcement officers will be seen there on the federal, state as well as local levels.
Then you got 7 miles or roughly 14 kilometers of fencing that sets up the perimeters far away from the game itself. And it's not just the game that they have to secure. It's an entire week of events including concerts and outdoor venues and multiple entertainment aspects that have to be protected as well.
So the federal government is helping supply the big things, think of helicopters that flyover constantly monitoring the air, looking for anything like, well, contamination, nuclear, biological or chemical. Then on top of that the x-ray machines, the massive ones that have to screen all the trucks that delivery all the goods including the beer into the stadium. On and on and on, you could see how this potentially is just one big security headache.
And then their new issues that have come up. The last time Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl was in 2000, a whole world away. Now you have new issues like, say drones, remember (ph) they weren't even consider at that time. So, protective steps have been put in place. In fact, drones aren't allowed to fly around this area. But just in case one comes in, they say they are ready for that too.
And that's the thing. They have to be prepared for just about anything, from protest on the streets to suspicious packages all the way up to a mass casualty event on the stadium itself. It's no wonder that they hold that once Super Bowl is over the only thing you'll remember is who won the game.
Martin Savage, CNN, Atlanta.
WATT: At one point on Wednesday, the temperature was below freezing and 80 percent of the United States. Ahead a look at how people are handling this record-setting cold and the thaw is just around the corner.
Plus, why comedians are having a laugh with President Trump's latest tweet about global warming.
[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WATT: City workers in the town of Florida thought they were investigating a sinkhole, but what they found was much more alarming, a tunnel that appeared to be headed straight towards a bank.
The FBI says the tunnel was small, about 45 meters long and less than a meter wide. Authorities found tools inside along with a power cord and a small generator nearby. They think that more than one person helped dig the tunnel. They didn't reach the bank, but the FBI is investigating this as an attempted burglary. So far no arrests had been made.
And more than 200 million people across the U.S. are shivering in a once in a generation deepfreeze. So bitterly cold that many had been warned not to even step outside. At least nine weather related deaths reported so far. Record low is being broken across the Midwest, including Chicago, and it's even too cold for the postal service which has suspended service across large parts of the country.
CNN's Ryan Young has more.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Arctic temperatures, bitter wind chills, whiteout conditions. Brutal polar weather breaking records across the U.S. today, 60 million Americans experiencing temperatures below zero and more than 224 million feeling temperatures below freezing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unbearable and it's dangerous.
YOUNG: Drivers in parts of North Dakota and Michigan experiencing whiteout snow causing dangerous road conditions and pile ups on highways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As they did come up on the crash, they weren't able to stop in time due to the slippery snow and icy road conditions.
YOUNG: Officials urging people to stay out the road.
J.B. 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 cancelled 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 stop deliveries in parts of at least two states. Temperatures in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota reaching levels colder than parts of Antarctica.
Chicago is forecasted to tie or barely beat the record for coldest temperature reported there, 27 below, turning even a shower into an icy adventure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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-fed 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 crossed the finish line of the ultramarathon, faces encased in ice, thanks to temperatures of 30 below.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We kind of embrace the weather in this state, if you don't, you can't live here.
YOUNG: Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.
WATT: Let's turn now to meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, for more on the frigid weather in the U.S. Hi, Pedram.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Nick, you know, this is a multi-day event that were finally seem to begin to taper off at least in spots. The winds coming down just a little bit, so the wind-chills have dropped a little bit, and by drop meaning, hitting a little bit warmer. So minus 38 versus the minus 55 we had this time yesterday in a few spots, but still life threatening temps across these areas.
Cold enough to where people are reporting when they step outside and they take their first breath of first stepping outdoors, the hissing sound as audible from their breath, and of course, even their breath is kind of suspended for a few minutes at the time across portions of the Midwestern United States and even an unusual phenomenon known as a frost quake takes place across the areas as well.
But you notice over 100 million here underneath this wind-chill advisory and warning and a frost quake, by the way, you probably have never heard of it, but it has to do with the moisture in the soil beneath your feet. Once that freezes and expands rather quickly at extreme temperatures that we actually see those temps perming down below the immediate (ph) surface. We get this loud rumbles and even little rattles. But localized, so not everyone hears of a certainly certain properties if enough moisture is locked in beneath your feet you hear it and you certainly feel it as well. And that has been reported across portions of the United States.
But notice minus 24, minus 26, the name of the game now across the northeastern U.S. and flights of absolutely been impacted. Some 6,500 flights already seeing delays, cancellations. These are almost all preemptive for Thursday and noticed Chicago airport taking the brunt of this with over 2,000 of them impacted. But all that cold air, very quickly moves out of here. And in fact, we see temps arise roughly very quickly but also above what is normal by a wide margin.
[03:55:09] Chicago's high temperatures there on Friday, minus six, by Sunday, nine degrees, zero is the average for this time of year. So, we warm up just like that to almost early spring weather across portions of the U.S. Nick?
WATT: Good news on the horizon. Thanks, Pedram.
WATT: Meanwhile the U.S. President Donald Trump has once again given the cold shoulder to global warming in a tweet, only this time his spelling of the word warming wasn't so hot.
As CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, he has taken heat.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How cold is it? Cold enough that rail crews are using fires 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, JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW: What the hell is going on with global wamming? Please come back fast. We need you. MOOS: With the president once again, questioning global warming, it's safe to forecast a 100 percent chance of shade.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. President.
MOOS: Kimmel had two kids school the president in science.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 playing 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 teakettle graphic to demonstrate winter storms don't prove that global warming isn't happening, but it was a typo that had critics gleefully proclaiming global wamming, as of George Michael had invented it.
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 wamming in his pants. Jeanne Moss, CNN, New York.
WATT: Thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt. The news continues with Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. You are watching CNN.