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Tusk Special Place In Hell For No-Plan Bresiteers; U.K. P.M. Hopes To Negotiate Backstop With E.U. Leaders; Maduro Blocks Aid On Bridge From Colombia; Maduro: Our Armed Forces Are Never Traitors; U.S. Envoy In N. Korea To Prepare For Trump-Kim Summit. Democrats Launch Probe of Trump's Finances and Russia; Madagascar Dealing with Deadly Measles Outbreak; Making Music with Treasured Violins. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired February 7, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody! Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. In the hour ahead, let the insults begin. 50 days until the Brexit deadline and senior officials from the E.U. and U.K. are now trading insults and another day passes with no Brexit deal in place.

Also the politics of aid with millions in need of humanitarian assistance, Venezuela's present barricades a border crossing to stop a convoy of trucks carrying U.S. aid.

Two years on another Russian investigation is really getting started. House Democrats are significantly expanding the scope of their hearings into the 2016 election all over the host of new investigations into almost every aspect of the President's life.

So with the pressure of a looming Brexit deadline and no exit deal in place, it seems the cracks are starting to show. The European Council president vented his frustrations on Wednesday saying there was a special place in hell for Brexiteerss who did not have a plan for leaving the E.U. And to make the point, this is no slip of the tongue. Donald Tusk then tweeted those comments.

The British Prime Minister was in Belfast on Wednesday meeting with Northern Ireland's political leaders. The trip described as too little too late. CNN's Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson now has more on Theresa Mays next stop, a meeting with Donald Tusk in Brussels.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The Irish Prime Minister got exactly the support he was looking for and his visit to Brussels meeting with E.U. leaders there, a very clear United commitment from them that the withdrawal agreement is not something that's going to be opened up for Theresa May, that the backstop remains part of that agreement. Donald Tusk the European Council President using very strong language

saying that there was a special place in hell for those who hadn't planned properly for Brexit for Theresa May here in Northern Ireland. That was incendiary language for some of the political leaders she was meeting here.

She was meeting with the Democratic Unionist Party, their leader has called it provocative. They've also called it insulting. So this is something that's deeply polarizing here because Theresa May was also meeting with leaders of the main Nationalist Party Sinn Fein and they said that Donald Tusk was correct to say that there was a special place in hell.

They said that Theresa May came here with no new plan, no clear vision for the future, and they've even gone as far as to repeat their calls that if there is a no deal Brexit, there should be immediately a referendum across the whole of Ireland for a United Island.

Another one of the Northern Ireland party is a unionist party repeated a call that they've made as well. Just to give you an idea the massive rift of sort of views here in Northern Ireland that also unionist party said that if there's a no deal Brexit, then London should take over ruling Northern Ireland, go back to what they call direct rule. That's the polarized debate that Theresa May has walked into here.

So what she heard from the Democratic Unionist Party, the party that she really wants to convince to support her in a vote next week, she heard from them that they still hold her to that amendment last week that she must replace the backstop when she goes to Brussels.


ARLENE FOSTER, LEADER, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY: Well, I think we're into semantics now. I think what the House of Commons has given her the mandate to do this to replace the backstop and that's there for her mandate to take to Brussels.


ROBERTSON: A very clear message for Theresa May there. And what we've heard for the European Union something that they don't appear willing this stage to give. Theresa may now going to Dublin on Friday to meet with the prime minister there for talks. Brexit really coming down to the wire. Nic Robertson, CNN Belfast, Northern Ireland.


VAUSE: CNN European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now from Los Angeles. And Dominic, it's good to see you. OK, so naturally the Brexiteerss couldn't let this go. That included Mr. Brexit himself (INAUDIBLE) Nigel Farage who tweeted out to Brexit, we will be free of unelected arrogant bullies like you and run our own country. Sounds more like heaven to me.

One lawmaker with DEP which is the minority party from Northern Ireland which you know, basically props up Theresa May's ruling coalition, issued a statement which was actually almost as highly critical of the president of the EU Council. He wrote in part, "all he will succeed in doing is stiffening the resistance of those who have exercised their choice to be clear of Tusk and Trident -- and his Trident wearing cabal."

You know, the schoolyard name-calling to one side, is that actually a fair point that essentially comments like the ones made by Tusks you know, the special place in hell, just made the Brexit supporters even more determined to leave, more determined to ensure there is no delay, no extension to Article 50.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think the Brexiteerss need any other motivation. They wake up every single day, particularly when you mentioned people like Farage thinking about nothing else but Brexit. This is their lifelong struggle and there's nothing else for them to think about.

[01:05:11] Now, of course, such comments can provide them with the sort of additional oxygen to kind of go out to their base and trying to sort of rile them up and mobilize them and so on. And -- but I think that at the end of the day, it's really for them more interesting to be demonizing the European Union which helps to kind of shield them from the sort of scrutiny of their inadequacies in actually preparing for the very thing that Donald Tusk addressed which was having no plan sketched out for what Brexit would actually look like.

And then it's important to understand what Donald Tusk's position is because there's a lot of projection here coming from the response of the -- of the Brexiteerss is that they ultimately are the ones who have been tormenting the European Union for the past 40 years with the threats, demands, and the concessions that they are -- they have been asking for.

And Donald Tusk is here defending an organization and institution and is concerned about serious questions such as peace in Northern Ireland and so on, and the integrity of this particular organization. And you can see where his frustration comes from in terms of that -- in terms of that response.

VAUSE: OK. So we have the British Prime Minister with nothing to show for her trip to Belfast and she's hoping for similar success as she heads to Brussels for a meeting with E.U. officials. Obviously, she's having trouble on all of that. But listen to what the President of the European Council Jean-Claude Juncker said.


JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: We cannot accept the idea which is circulated around that the withdrawal agreement could be reopened and as the backstop is part of the withdrawal. Agreement we cannot reopen the discussion on the backstop.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: That took me -- you know, that really -- you know, I was quite surprised there because you know, the backstop you know, as being part of the oval agreement will not be reopened, will not be renegotiated. Given the complexities of all of this, given what's involved, the stakes here, that does seem to be a particularly harsh line that they're taking.

THOMAS: Well, you have to understand where that harsh line comes from. So yes, she was in Belfast today. She's going to the European Union and after that she'll be going to meet with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland. Both the E.U. 27 and the Republic of Ireland part of it of course absolutely unambiguously against this.

Their number one concern is actually not Brexit. Their number one concern is the Good Friday Agreement. It is the integrity of the European Union, Customs Union and single market. And if there's anything about the backstop that is necessary is the question of insurance. When do you take insurance? You take insurance against risk and you take insurance in a situation where there is no trust.

It is very difficult for the European Union to trust Theresa May as an interlocutor. They don't know how long she's going to be in office and they want to make sure that no matter what happens with Brexit, if indeed it does happen that there are insurance policies in place that protect not only the European Union but the broader question of peace within the borders of the European Union and at this particular moment in time we're talking about the island of Ireland and the implications of that.

And so you can understand why it is that changing that particular insurance policy opens them up to all kinds of vulnerabilities. And there's no reason for them to take that particular risk, particularly when it's on the other side of the channel where there's been such a lack of consensus over what Brexit looks like.

VAUSE: Yes. With that in mind, there's an opinion piece in the foreign policy magazine laying the blame for all this follows mess on the prime minister and the British government for essentially believing you know, they thought they could cause a much stronger opponent. The headlines are doozy. Theresa May is negotiating like Yasser Arafat.

A piece goes on to read that you know, the late Palestinian leader was legendary for forsaking promising opportunities, caving to extremists, failing to appreciate the challenges of negotiating against the stronger opponent. British prime minister writes has perfected his diplomatic style. You know, looking back at everything that has happened, is that a fair description?

THOMAS: Well, for the last two and a half years she's been negotiating with the European Union with very little consultation back at home in the Houses of parliament. And everyone along the way has been saying to her that's the wrong way around to be doing this. She spent two and a half years doing this, brought the withdrawal agreement back to Parliament, suffered a historic defeat, then returned to Parliament with a whole set of votes around different amendments.

One of them is which was to go back with an amendment to the European Union asking to them to open the withdrawal agreement which all along the European Union had said that this was a red line. So if you sort of stack up all of that evidence, it's quite easy to go along with that.

Now, having said all of that, at the end of the day if Theresa May is able to deliver a Brexit in whatever shape or form it is, one could argue that the history books may look back on this with a slightly different perspective. And when today Jeremy Corbyn provided her with the list of six binding agreements, changes, and so on that could be made to this including a customs union, he has -- and talking about Brexit has moved much closer to her and much closer to center which is where the deal lies if the deal is going to be made.

[01:10:19] VAUSE: OK. It was also -- very quickly, we're out of time, Dominic, but you know, Theresa May said if she couldn't present parliament with a new Brexit fresh deal by the middle of the next week, then the vote which was scheduled for February 14th, Valentine's Day, that would most likely be delayed. It looks like it will be delayed until later at the end of the month. But Dominic, thanks for being with us. Good to see you, mate. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Of all the images of political upheaval in Venezuela in recent weeks, none explains the essence of this crisis better than this. The military either acting on the orders of President Nicolas Maduro, all with his known approval, barricaded a key crossing point from neighboring Colombia. Even though the Tienditas International Bridge was never officially open.

A convoy carrying U.S. Aid was driving there on Wednesday, expected to arrive the following morning. Only now, a fuel tanker, two shipping containers and members of Venezuela's national guard are standing between millions of people and the supplies and food, medicine, and basic supplies they desperately need.

Because if there's one fact of more than anything else behind Venezuela's political crisis it's hunger and a government which is not only beyond capable of providing enough food for the most of its citizens but at time willfully exacerbating what was already a humanitarian crisis.

For more now, CNN National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd joins us from New York. So Sam, thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: OK, so let's just have a reminder of the -- you know, the scale of the crisis. Nine out of ten households in Venezuela say they don't have enough money to buy food. In 2017, Venezuelans on average lost 11 kilograms or 24 pounds. 300,000 children are believed at risk of dying for malnutrition, 85 percent of all medications are in short supply. And that list just keeps going on and on and on.

Keep in mind, this country has the biggest oil reserves in the world. So a lot of effort goes into screwing up an economy that badly. It seems Maduro has two choices right now. Let this humanitarian assistance into the country and look weak and remind everyone who is to blame for the problems, don't let it in and people die.

VINOGRAD: That's exactly right. And the problem as well is Maduro isn't just afraid of looking weak. In his mind allowing this assistance would be a win for the opposition. Because remember the U.S. assistance that's on its way to the Venezuelan border is coming in because the United States pledged funding for the legitimate government of Venezuela under the interim president recently a few days ago.

And so, if this aid is allowed in, that will be something that the opposition directly coordinated with the government of the United States that really sidelined Maduro. Maduro doesn't want to give opposition any more legitimacy. Of course, he's also saying that foreign aid is commensurate with foreign intervention which is just ridiculous.

The stuff coming into Venezuela are basic necessities so that people don't die, so that the babies can eat. We're talking about diapers and medicine, again, basic necessities but Maduro does not want to risk giving the opposition any kind of victory in terms of providing for the Venezuelan people because that would make very clear that he's been unable to do so.

VAUSE: Yes, the self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has said you know, the opposition will do everything it can to get this assistance into the country. This is what he said.


JUAN GUAIDO, OPPOSITION LEADER, VENEZUELA (through translator): We know the containers are traversing the border bridge crossing. We know the tanks are there on the border. And what we are saying is that it is an absurd reaction by a regime which is not interested in its citizens and that we are going to do everything we can so that some of this aid gets in.


VAUSE: So if Maduro stands firm, he won't allow the trucks to pass, then it all comes down to the military. And you know, the generals, they may getting fat and rich through kickbacks and corruption, but if you look at the rank and file, the guys on the bridge with the guns, they're going hungry, their families are going hungry, and they're the ones Guaido is directly appealing to.

VINOGRAD: Exactly. And that's why to use a bad pun, this may be a bridge too far by Maduro. The generals as you mentioned are getting their pockets line currently because Maduro has still had access to oil revenues through PDVSA sales around the world. As you and I have discussed before, John, those oil sales have been sanctioned, at least 40 percent or so that went to the United States.

So Maduro's cash cow from which he paid the generals is drying up so we see those payments start to decrease. And the folks that are at the border right now, at this checkpoint on the Venezuelan-Colombia border, perhaps the soldiers that will be sent to the Brazilian- Venezuelan border, they probably have family members that are desperate for food, desperate for medicine, and desperate for basic care.

So the real question is whether Maduro has made a strategic miscalculation by not figuring out some way to let this humanitarian assistance in perhaps through a third party or something of that nature and whether the military will start to make a recalculation and say, this man is conducting crimes against humanity. He's letting people starve because he cares about himself and he doesn't care about us.

[01:15:15] VAUSE: Well, as far as the food aid within the country, many Venezuelans have a special I.D. card, which entitles them to food subsidies. But, before last year's elections, Venezuelans we're told to present these cards at stations run by Mr. Maduro's governing party at polling places so that party organizers can see who has voted and who has not. Everyone who has this card must vote. Mr. Maduro has said the campaign rallies directly linking government handouts to voting. I give and you give. That was part of a report from New York Times.

And you know, this strategy is seen as a deliberate attempt to buy votes at the time. So, you know, if humanitarian assistance gets into the country is that seen in a way as a direct threat to his control on power?

VINOGRAD: It certainly does because again, this would be something that the opposition would have called for him, would have coordinated with the United States. And perhaps, countries like Canada and Germany that have also pledged new assistance.

But at this point, the United States is pursuing a policy in coordination with 38 or so, other countries, under which, we are trying to expose the choice that Maduro is presenting to the Venezuelan people, which is stick with me and starve, or support the opposition. While concurrently trying to offer the military and security officials that are still sticking with Maduro in off-ramp.

It's no accident that earlier today, the U.S. National Security Advisor tweeted out again that the United States will consider a sanctions off-ramp for military and security officials that defect. To try to entice these military and security officials to switch their allegiances.

VAUSE: And with them on, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he tweeted out, "The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. and other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela's military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tank with, with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must let the aid reach the starving people." I just wonder, is there a danger here if the U.S. pushes too hard? If this sort of becomes hugely politicized, you know, the humanitarian assistance and the aid groups which distributed end up being politicized as well, and they are trying desperately to avoid that.

VINOGRAD: There's certainly a danger of that, but the aid groups that I work with, the IRC, you know, seven others are not political by nature. And they have been active in Venezuela, in Colombia, in Brazil, and in other neighboring countries for some time. So they are conducting business as usual.

The question here is whether the bilateral foreign assistance from USAID, Canada, Germany, and others will be allowed to reach its source. And I really want to stress here, there is a possibility of setting up a humanitarian corridor, we've done that in places even like Syria, where Russia and France work together to get humanitarian assistance at one point into Eastern Gouda.

So, there are ways to do this working with the other side. In this case, Russia, Maduro, and perhaps, China, to try to just get humanitarian assistance into alleviate the suffering. Maduro does not want to do that. And so far, and we'll see where this goes is not under pressure from his patrons to change his tune on this.

VAUSE: OK, Sam. Thank you, we'll leave it there.


VAUSE: Great to have you with us. We appreciate it. Thank you.

And in response to the U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton offering sanctions related to senior military officers who backed the opposition. Nicolas Maduro had this to say.


NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Is John Bolton, Venezuela's military chief? That's why we're going to tell John Bolton what's the thinking, doctrine, and strength, of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces are.

Listen well, John Bolton, here is the response of the armed forces to your so-called coup makers. Let's say our slogan loudly. Loyal always, traitors never so it could be heard in Washington.


VAUSE: It seems almost overnight, Juan Guaido, went from obscurity to being recognized by more than 40 countries as Venezuela's legitimate president. CNN's Sam Kiley has more now on the man who would be Venezuela's next head of state.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A new face in South American politics, Venezuela's self-proclaimed president. And there are similarities to a former U.S. president. Right down to his campaign slogans, "Can we do it?" "Yes, we can."

But Juan Guaido faces challenges that Barrack Obama never had to meet. Venezuela's presidency is simultaneously held by a rival, Nicolas Maduro. The heir to two decades of economic decline and social upheaval.

Guaido's backers include the National Assembly. Among others, and they're all demanding a break with the past.

Juan Guaido has prison without (INAUDIBLE) delay claims of the presidency of Venezuela. But it's his lack of history, his untainted past that is really here on the ground offering hope to ordinary Venezuelans. His mother certainly thinks so.

[01:20:12] NORKA MARQUEZ, MOTHER OF JUAN GUAIDO (through translator): Obama rolls up his sleeves, he also does that. It's just the way he does it, not like his mimicking Obama. But we always told him and a lot of people, and a lot of friends are telling, "You look like Obama."

KILEY: Guaido, an engineer by training helped found the Popular Will Party. He's on the political left. But through his brother, he remains a social conservative.

What do your brother think of your earrings?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He doesn't like them, he doesn't like my tattoos, either.

KILEY: Inflation is over a million percent here. 3 million people have fled in search of work and food. Even the middle classes are near destitute.

HUMBERTO ROJAS, PHYSICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSIDAD CENTRAL DE VENEZUELA: My salary is about roughly $11 per month, OK? So, it's very difficult to survive from that. So, essentially we depend on friends and family abroad that send goods and send us money to survive.

KILEY: Venezuela's older generations seem to accept their responsibility for today's chaos. They're leaving the field to younger politicians who insist that they want only to Shepherd Venezuela to a new democracy. So, will Juan Guaido run for president in an election?

STALIN GONZALEZ, POLITICIAN AND ALLY OF JUAN GUAIDO: Juan and I discussed it. We want to be remembered as the ones who laid the foundations that led to change in the country.

KILEY: And that for now, maybe Guaido's biggest selling point, a lack of personal ambition. Sam Kiley, CNN, Caracas.


VAUSE: Well, still to come here, the first summit produced little more than an historic making photo op. And now, with the U.S. and North Korea set to meet again, what's being done to ensure this second summit is more than just a disappointing sequel.

Also, with the U.S. president officially a major announcement about the defeat of ISIS. We'll take you to Eastern Syria, on the last piece of territory controlled by the terror group.


VAUSE: The U.S. special envoy for North Korea is now on Pyongyang for talks on the ground rules for a second nuclear summit. But before Steven Beigun and his northern -- North Korean counterpart can actually agree on an agenda, they need to decide where President Trump and Kim Jong-un will actually meet.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul. So, Paula, we know when they'll meet. We know the country where they'll meet. We just don't know which city that will be in. Is that odd that the first few details have been made public but nothing on the city, any theory behind what's causing the delay?

[01:25:23] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the assumption that most experts working on is that there's disagreement between the U.S. and North Korea when it comes to which city it's going to be. We did hear from two U.S. sources. One within the Trump administration that it was going to be Da Nang, the coastal city in Vietnam. But that wasn't announced by the U.S. president.

So, it suggests that there's still some negotiation ongoing between North Korea and the U.S. Potentially, North Korea could prefer Hanoi, the capital where it has an embassy, and where clearly Kim Jong-un would want to go and have a state visit as well with the leader in Vietnam.

But we don't know for sure at this point. We do know or we assume that Steve Beigun, the U.S. special envoy to North Korea is still in Pyongyang. He went on Wednesday, today is Thursday. He is so potentially that negotiation is still ongoing to narrow down the city that they said that the State Department said that, that meeting was to make sure that they could narrow down all the last-minute details for the summit. John.

VAUSE: And beyond near the logistics here, we know what's actually happening behind the scenes to ensure that there's something more concrete that comes out of this summit compared to the first one where, you know, at the end of the day it was basically the North Koreans getting a photo-op it's of legitimacy, which they've always wanted.

Donald Trump walking away with a nothing burger. What are they doing this time to ensure that North Korea and the Americans actually commit themselves to something which is actionable and verifiable?

HANCOCKS: Well, we are seeing a certain amount of working-level talks. Beigun right now is in Pyongyang. Just recently, he was in Sweden, meeting with the North Korean counterpart, as well.

So there have been these ongoing discussions. You had Kim Yong-chol that the right-hand man to Kim Jong-un when it comes to these negotiations heading to Washington and having a meeting with President Trump, and with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Although, we did hear from sources that they gotten nowhere within that's -- that scenario.

But there are these working-level talks ongoing. But, of course, the issue here is you are not dealing with two regular leaders, you're dealing with President Donald Trump and a North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And they are very much top-down negotiations. They are two leaders who will make their own decision. They won't necessarily be swayed by logic, by working-level talks by what the people below them those working on this believe they should agree to.

And we saw an element of that after the Singapore summit last year when the U.S. president announced to the surprise of most people to be honest including some within his own military that he was going to suspend the U.S.-South Korean military drills, and called them a provocation, a word that North Korea uses.

So, no matter how many talks you have that the working-level at the higher level, it really is down to these two very individual men. John.

VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Yes, they aren't who -- they are indeed very different leaders in their style. Thank you.

What Donald Trump says next week? He's expecting to announce all territory once controlled by ISIS has been retaken by U.S.-led coalition forces. But he has said nothing about concerns, the terror group is continuing its fight covertly and could regroup. CNN's Ben Wedeman, reports from Eastern Syria, not far from the final pocket of ISIS resistance.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The battle to retake the last enclave of Isis in Eastern Syria at this point appears to have reached a standoff. What we know from commanders of the anti- ISIS coalition is that there are about 2,000 people left inside the last town.

That includes 500 ISIS fighters. Some of its most battle-hardened, ruthless, and experienced fighters in addition to around 1,500 civilians among them, family members of those ISIS fighters, as well as a few local inhabitants.

Now, the anti-ISIS coalition is somewhat hesitant to go in guns blazing out of fear that there will be a huge number of civilian casualties. So, there this standoff continues. There are rumors that there are negotiations with tribal elders within the town, perhaps, to work out a sort of evacuation deal for the ISIS fighters and their families similar to other deals whereby they were taken and bussed to Idlib Province in Western Syria, the last part of the country held by the armed opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

[01:29:50] BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are told by officials here that there are no such negotiations going on. Now we did hear President Trump today saying that perhaps within a week it would be announced that ISIS had been totally preceded (ph) in Syria but on the ground there is no clear indication that this final battle is about to occur.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN -- reporting from eastern Syria.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHRO: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM, after calling for unity and bipartisanship, Donald Trump lashes out at a leading congressional Democrat after Congress significantly expands the investigation into his finances (ph).


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

The President of the European Council says there's a special place in hell for people who promoted Brexit without an exit plan. Donald Tusk's comments come a few hours until British Prime Minister Theresa May meets the E.U. leaders to try and renegotiate that deal but the E.U. said there will not be new negotiations.

In Venezuela, forces loyal to the embattled President Nicolas Maduro are blocking a bridge where desperately-needed humanitarian aid is supposed to be delivered from Colombia. The opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido is urging the military to allow the food and medicine and other supplies into the country.

Donald Trump says he expects to announce next week coalition forces have retaken 100 percent of territory once held by ISIS. The U.S. President has been criticized for saying the terror group has been defeated and that he plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee has announced a sweeping investigation into whether any foreign country has leverage over the President. And that brought some choice words from Donald Trump to the committee chairman. He also called it presidential harassment. This just hours after Donald Trump talked of reconciliation during his State of the Union address.

CNN's Jim Acosta reports now from the White House.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President has gone from kumbaya to combat as he lashed out at House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff.


ACOSTA: Brand new probes into Russian election meddling and any possible links to Mr. Trump's global business dealings.

TRUMP: On what basis would he do that? He has no basis to do that. He's just a political hack who is trying to build a name for himself. It is called presidential harassment and it is unfortunate and it really does hurt our country.

ACOSTA: The reason for the President's outburst, Schiff's investigation will be invasive looking into whether the Russians have any compromising information on the President or his family members that's being used as leverage.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We will be conducting our investigation to make sure that the country is protected.

[01:34:57] ACOSTA: The Democratic chairman's announcement comes on the heels of the President's plea during his State of the Union address where the Democrats now control the House did not open new Russia investigation.

TRUMP: If there's going to be peace and legislation there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn't work that way.

ACOSTA: That was just one of many moments that seemed to divide, not unite members of Congress during a speech that was falsely billed as bipartisan.

TRUMP: Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.

ACOSTA: Even with another government shutdown looming over his demand for his wall, the President previewed a strategy for the 2020 campaign, labeling Democrats as socialists.

TRUMP: Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

ACOSTA: But the President is facing an uphill climb as a new CNN poll finds more than half of voters are not likely to support Mr. Trump's bid for re-election.

Driving much of that opposition, women -- a voting block the President tried to woo in his speech to unexpected results.

TRUMP: No one has benefitted more from a thriving economy than women who have filled 58 percent of the newly-created jobs last year.

You weren't supposed to do that. Thank you very much.

ACOSTA: As he called on Americans to resist the resistance.

TRUMP: But we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.

ACOSTA: He received a bit of shade from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. All throughout the speech, female members of Congress could be seen registering their disapproval again and again.

TRUMP: We are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Not even close.

ACOSTA (on camera): Trump will go back to doing what he seems to love most about president and that is when he heads to a rally next week in El Paso for his re-election campaign. Expect the President to continue to accuse Democrats of being socialists. As one campaign advisor told me the President wants to run against socialism no matter who his opponent is.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House.


VAUSE: Legal analyst Michael Genovese joins us now from Los Angeles. Hi -- Michael.

Ok. So you know, Donald Trump calls him a political hack, others call him Mr. Chairman. And Adam Schiff made clear this investigation is going way beyond Russia. Here's a little more from the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.


SCHIFF: We will also be announcing the parameters of our investigation which go beyond Russia. But in -- in some -- in some will allow us to investigate any credible allegation that financial interests or other interests are driving decision-making of the President or anyone in the administration.


VAUSE: You know, Michael -- Trump calls it presidential harassment. Others call it congressional oversight.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LEGAL ANALYST: Well, as they say in the military -- incoming. This President's got a lot of incoming now. He had to worry about Mueller was still the biggest threat. And also the southern district of New York.

Now there's a new element. Now the Democrats control the committees, both Nadler and Schiff are going to be doing investigations that the President was protected from when the Republicans controlled the Congress.

What we're going to see is that they're going to start going into his finances very deeply and quite publicly. And so the President has been acting like he's guilty. Let's see if h e's got anything to hide. They're going to follow the money -- the old Watergate adage -- follow the money.

Where does it lead? Does it lead to Russia? Does it lead to Russian oligarchs? The President has been very vocal about this is a bridge too far. And so I think he's quite concerned and he goes on the attack but I think he's running scared.

VAUSE: We don't just have, the congressional Democrats looking into Russia and Saudi Arabia and everything else. The Democrats will begin to try and get their hands on Donald Trump's tax returns. There's a subcommittee looking in the administration's bending of the rules during the recent shutdown. There's an investigation into what happened to the millions of dollars raised during the inauguration, unaccounted for at the moment.

And you know, the House has voted to send Robert Mueller, the Russia investigation, and about taking transcripts of testimony from witnesses which have been called in their Russia investigation.

And it seems that out of everything, the most -- sort of immediate threat could come from that last one, that testimony. Because we look at how the testimony has been used in the past by Robert Mueller when there's discrepancies. You know, those individuals have been charged with lying and that's when they fold and that's when they turn over a whole bunch of evidence.

[01:39:57] GENOVESE: Well, what a difference an election makes and the Democrats running the House not only changes the arithmetic. It changes the things that we're going to be looking at.

The things that were protected and hidden and that were going to remain under the rock are not going to be exposed. The tax returns obviously. And they're going to look into all of his finances especially through the campaign where he had said or his advocates had said, well, he wasn't looking into Russia. He wasn't talking to the Russians and then they keep changing their story and every couple of weeks it was well more and more and more.

This is also a classic example now that they're going to turn over the manuscripts and the testimony, what the Republicans have been worried about and complaining about -- the perjury trap. It opens the door.

Mueller knows a lot. Now he's going to be able to compare notes and to see again if their stories don't jive.

VAUSE: Here's the President on Tuesday night, as a reminder. Part of his address -- the State of the Union.


TRUMP: An economic miracle is taking place in the United States. And the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations.


VAUSE: And you know, just because it is an easy comparison does not make it a valid one. Here was President Nixon delivering the State of the Union in 1974.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough.


VAUSE: Speaker Nancy Pelosi described Trump's remarks as a threat and should not have been, you know, from the floor of Congress. Even Nixon did not go that far.

GENOVESE: Well, you can see parallels but we don't want to make too much of that. No president likes to be investigated. The more you investigate, you more you're likely to find something and the more you're likely to have a perjury trap.

But I think in the case of President Trump he's been so well protected by the Republicans in Congress that they've been enablers. Now, he's got attack dogs after him. They're not going to be lap dogs to him.

And so I think, you know, the Nancy Pelosi-Trump back and forth last night was indicative of just -- I mean the loudest moments of last night's State of the Union was the silence about the state of the Democrats in control of the House, the new political equation and Nancy Pelosi.

Donald Trump didn't even give her the courtesy of letting her introduce him as is the norm. And so he really is anti-Pelosi. He likes her as a target. But he's grown to be afraid of her. She's bested him twice and I think he's really afraid of her right now.

VAUSE: And she's the mother of five children so she's used to dealing with tantrums -- someone pointed out to me.

You alluded to this, Donald Trump -- he did say, any investigation unrelated to Russia and it would be going too far. And here he is talking to the "New York Times".


MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances unrelated to Russia. Is that a red line?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, "NEW YORK TIMES": Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is.

TRUMP: I would say yes. I would say yes.


VAUSE: He said, you know, that's a red line. So right now though, there seems to be this small army of prosecutors who have gone rogue. Was Donald Trump in a position back in 2017 where he could have closed this all down or knowing what we know now, is this flurry of investigation -- was it inevitable regardless of what the President did or didn't do at the time because he certainly can't closed everything down now?

GENOVESES: Had he done next to nothing, he would have closed it down. If he has things to hide, then you need to do the cover up, because it could be very damaging. If you follow the money this could be devastating, it would be explosive for the President. If he's in hock to Russian oligarchs after he's been denying that they dealt with Russia at all. If he owes x amount of money when he's been saying what a great businessman he is.

All kinds of things could undermine him, either in terms of his reputation or his legal status. Remember now you've got Mueller, the southern district of New York, the number of committees in the House after him.

So he's going to get incoming from a lot of places and he's just not ready for it. His White House is not staffed for it yet. They're understaffed. They're unprepared. They could really take some big hits that could be avoided.

VAUSE: We'll leave it there. Thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

GENOVESE: Great to see you -- John.

VAUSE: Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, the youngest victims of a preventable disease, a measles outbreak hits hard in Madagascar and doctors say it's a wakeup call.


VAUSE: Scientists say last year was the fourth hottest on record for the planet and it's only going to get hotter.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is here with more on this. You know, as you say, we hear these warnings month after month, almost week after week it seems like.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It seems like it, right. Yes, you know, this particular study too John -- is essentially the top of the food chain of the study. This was from NASA, from NOAA. It is the most cumulative data there for 2018, not just across the United States but globally speaking, showing that 2018, as you said, is the fourth hottest year on record.

Incredible presentation because when you take a look at the previous five years, previous four years that were the hottest on record, also going back over the past half a decade.

So the perspective is such when you break it down 2016, the hottest year on record and then you go back slightly cooler 2015, slightly below that 2017, and then right in line with that 2018. And notice again, top five happening each of the last five years.

And the perspective also this study revealing that now both the Arctic and Antarctic having the second lowest sea ice extent on record as well in 2018. So that is another element to take in effect here and into the (INAUDIBLE) in 1985.

The sea ice coverage roughly the size of Mexico and portions of Central America about 2.5 million square kilometers of land and was less of it in 2018 0.13 million square kilometers of land, about a 95 percent reduction in sea ice covered for both the Arctic and Antarctic.

And then you look at global temperatures compared to 1880, the average -- running about one degree Celsius above the 1880 average. Keep in mind the Paris agreement the cap is kept right up 1.5 C -- so this again approaching it rather quickly.

2018 also has some 42 global natural disasters that exceeded $1 billion each or more. Fourteen of them were in the United States and guess where the top three were?

Top one, two and three coming in -- Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Florence and also the Camp Creek Fire, that was in California -- the costliest natural disasters on our planet occurring in 2018. Three of them there in the United States.

So really a fascinating depiction to all of this, John -- looking back into the 1980s, the average per billion dollar disasters globally speaking was around six -- work your way in the last five, six years, and the past decade or so really in total, you notice, the average coming in somewhere between $12 billion to $16 billion disasters going up from about $6 billion from a couple of decades ago.

And again very consistent trend there with warmth comes a billion- dollar disasters. Of course, that enhances the tropical activity we may see, the rainfall we see, the drought and the fires that we see in parts of the world. All of them corresponding with these numbers -- a pretty stark study in reviewing (ph) it.

VAUSE: Yes. We keep hearing it all the time. Thanks -- Pedram. Appreciate it.


VAUSE: Madagascar is dealing with its worst measles outbreak in decades. The highly contagious disease has spread to crowded urban areas.

CNN's David McKenzie reports now from Madagascar. He's found anxious families and worried doctors.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Baby Pirot (ph) clings to his father. His measles made life-threatening by malnutrition. They traveled 24 hours just to get to a hospital for treatment.

[01:50:06] (on camera): What were people in the village saying about measles?

(voice over): "There are a lot of cases now in my village," he says. "It is getting even worse." It is Madagascar's worst outbreak in decades. More than 50,000 infected, more than 300 killed across this island nation by an entirely preventable disease.

The virus was forgotten by many, including physicians, thanks to vaccines but for years immunization rates have been dangerously low.

LON KIGHTIINGER, PEACE CORP VOLUNTEER: Outbreaks like this in Madagascar should be a wake-up call for not only every person, every health center in Madagascar but for the whole world. These -- the disease has come back and they clobber us if we're not protected.

MCKENZIE: Measles is now finding victims in Europe and the U.S. as well. In Washington State alone, there are around 50 confirmed cases.

(on camera): Do you get frustrated when you see outbreaks in the U.S. for preventable disease?

KIGHTIINGER: I do. I do. Especially measles. And the U.S. are -- the whole infrastructure is set up to prevent it.

MCKENZIE (voice over): In Madagascar, the system is overburdened and underfunded so when this outbreak hit, one (INAUDIBLE) found them.

KIGHTIINGER: No I said, you know, I work for them.

MCKENZIE: The former epidemiologist is now a Peace Corps volunteer put to work by the local clinic tracking cases and distributing vaccine.

KIGHTIINGER: You know, we get it done together.

MCKENZIE (on camera): It's a team.

KIGHTIINGER: Yes. It's a team.

MCKENZIE (voice over): We follow as he visits a man recovering from the virus -- even the strong have fallen ill.

KIGHTIINGER: This brings back a little bit.

MCKENZIE: The doctors say the Baby Pirot will recover too. But with measles and other preventable diseases, recovery isn't the aim -- prevention is. That requires a global effort and attitude.

"It is a question of mentality," says Dr. Anders Soa (ph). "Because we need to convince those people. Not only people in poor countries are not well educated".

Here health is never taken for granted. And one fact is known only too well -- vaccines save lives.

David McKenzie, CNN -- Antananarivo.


VAUSE: Next up here on CNN NEWSROOM, we'll head to Italy for a rare event in trying to record the sounds of the past.


VAUSE: Well, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the music workshops in the Italian city of Cremona made some of the finest violins and cellos ever. Many of these priceless instruments with names like Stradivarius and Amati are on display at the city's museum.

And now they're trying to preserve not just the instruments themselves but the unique sound and to do this, the entire city has to hold its breath and step lightly.

CNN's Barbie Nadeau explains.


BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Few things compare to the sound of a virtuoso playing. But this is no ordinary instrument. It's an Amati viola from the 17th century and it's being played here in Cremona where music making is an art form.

[01:54:56] These instruments are displayed in the town's renowned violin museum. Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces made by legendary artisans like Stradivari and Amati who created many of the first violins, violas, and cellos and (INAUDIBLE) today.

No one makes string instruments like these anymore which were created to delight the royal courts of Europe. And the unique sound they create can't be replicated either.

Maestro Fausto Cacciatori is in charge of taking these precious instruments out of their museum cases and down to the auditorium where their sound can be recorded.

"My dream is that these instruments that we're conserving will be played in two or three hundred years' time and that the sound is just like we hear today," he says.

Two tech companies have teamed up to immortalize the notes of these centuries' old instruments and through sound banks to do just that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We record everything you can perform on the violin, but not as part of a musical performance, but basically bit by bit, one by one. So we're recording long notes, short notes, just broken down into very tiny pieces and elements of the performance.

NADEAU: Once the recordings are finished, software developers will be able to use the notes and tones for their own composition.

(on camera): But it takes complete silence in order to carry out these recordings. The towers had to cooperate. They've closed the street with cobblestones to traffic in order to try to limit the vibrations and reverberations inside the recording studio.

The project creators believe these sacrifices will pay off. LEONARDO TEDESCHI, SOUND DESIGNER, AUDIOZONES STUDIOES: It will be

something that will help the digital composer to make music. And it will be a very practical tool. It will never be like having a live music.

NADEAU (voice over): 18th century composer Niccolo Paganini wrote this very music on a Guarneri violin, just like this man is playing. Paganini is often quoted as saying he wouldn't repeat his original performances for fear they wouldn't sound the same.

Thanks to these recordings that will never be a problem again.

Barbie Latza Nadeau for CNN, Cremona.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause. Stay with us.

The news continues after a very short break.