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Warren Launches Presidential Bid Amid Heritage Controversy; CNN Reporting From Frontline Of Battle Against ISIS; Conway Describes Alleged October Assault In Restaurant; Spectators Throw Crumbs As Lookalike Ivanka Vacuums. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 9, 2019 - 20:00   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: 2020 heats up. Another Democrat throws her hat into the ring just in time for the president to throw some serious shade.

Plus, scandal in Virginia. Moments ago, a new poll revealing how Virginians feel with their governor.

And on the front lines, inside the battle to retake the last ISIS enclave in Syria. A CNN exclusive just ahead.

It's 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 in the evening out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York and you are live in the CNN Newsroom. Thanks for being here.

First tonight, America exhaled when the government was restarted late last month. But don't forget, it could be partially shut down again and that could happen next week.

President Trump and Congressional Democrats have until Friday to come to an agreement on border security and a dollar amount, knowing the president has not ruled out the possibility of another shutdown. And what he will accept remains unclear.

It's a political stand-off in Washington at the same time a physical stand-off is happening on the U.S. border with Mexico. Hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers and a caravan of migrants just across the Rio Grande. About 1,800 people, all of whom want to come into the United States.

Right now, a contingent of U.S. lawmakers led by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is in south Texas on the border seeing the situation for themselves. They've also gone to New Mexico. Stay right there because I want to speak with Congressman Hoyer in just a couple of minutes.

But, first, let's to go CNN's Martin Savidge on the U.S.-Mexico border. And, Martin, you are right there just across the river from where those migrants are requesting asylum. What are U.S. authorities telling them? MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, the security situation,

in this small town of Eagle Pass, in a word, is intense tonight. Normally, we would be allowed all the way down to the banks of the Rio Grande. That's about a quarter of mile away from where we're standing right here. But once it gets dark, it is believed that we're in too much of a risk and too much of a danger to the officers that are on the line down there. That our lights or somehow our presence would be a distraction. It's just one small indication of how much life has changed in this town as a result of all the security.


(voice-over): The Texas side of Eagle Pass has been invaded. Thousands of federal, state and local authorities, even military personnel, have flooded this usually quiet community on the banks of the Rio Grande.

(on camera): Look at that. It's a combination of customs and border protection vehicles and Texas state troopers. They are all lined up literally side by side. All those facing towards Mexico.

And then, if you take a look across the Rio Grande, on the other side of the border, just recently we've seen this. Mexican authorities now lined up facing exactly the opposite direction. Eagle Pass's mayor is grateful but also a bit taken aback.

RAMSEY ENGLISH CANTU, MAYOR, EAGLE PASS, TEXAS: We are extremely appreciative of the work that they do. But this is something that is unprecedented.

SAVIDGE: Law enforcement patrolled in vehicles, on ATVs, on bicycles, even on horseback. Helicopters monitor from above, while high-powered boats prowl the shallow water of the Rio Grande.

A security search is in response to the arrival of a caravan of 1,800 Central American migrants. Just on the other side of the border, set to have their sights on seeking U.S. asylum. President Trump has declared such caravans a national security threat and uses them to justify a border wall, painting asylum seekers as invaders. Something did he again in his State of the Union speech.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the United States.


SAVIDGE: Federal authorities fear a potential repeat of last November's chaos near San Diego when tear gas was used to pry back migrants rushing the border area.

Thursday, border patrol agents rehearsed in riot gear on one of the towns two public bridges to Mexico. Bridge defenses are being beefed up.


PAUL DEL RINCON, PORT DIRECTOR, EAGLE PASS, TEXAS: Part of our preparations include installation of temporary impediment measures on our bridges, such as could conex boxes, concertina wire and jersey barriers.


SAVIDGE: So far, authorities say no caravan members have crossed illegally into the U.S. Local leaders credit not just the American show of force but also a new stopped-up effort by the Mexican government, using its military and national police to keep caravan members under control. But processing 1,800 asylum seekers will take months.


SAVIDGE: This isn't going to be a short-term thing then.

RINCON: It doesn't seem like it. It doesn't seem like it. But, you know, we stand committed. My officers stand committed.


SAVIDGE: No one in Eagle Pass can tell you when or even how this international showdown will end.


[20:05:05] SAVIDGE (live): Ana, there is no indication tonight that there is going to be a relaxation anytime soon of the security measures here. In fact, it's going to intensify because on Monday, members of the Texas National Guard will begin showing up, adding to the security forces that are already here and making this town seem even more like an armed camp -- Ana.

CABRERA: Martin Savidge for us. Thank you.

Congressman Steny Hoyer, the Democrats' Majority Leader, joins us now from New Mexico, close to the Mexican border. Congressman, you just toured the border there. What's your big takeaway?

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORY WHIP: Well, my takeaway is that everybody agrees that what you really need to make our border secure is you need a mix of technology and personnel. And, yes, in some places, fences which we already have.

But what we came away with, there has been a market change in people who are coming to the border. Where you used to have single men coming across the border, you now have, essentially, many families that -- and many women with children, seeking refuge and safety for themselves and their children, so that the challenges confronting the border patrol are different.

And it's obvious that they do not have the resources, in many respects, to deal with the number of people that are coming to the border and the kinds of people that are coming to the border. It is also obvious that, unfortunately, separating children from their parents is not altogether ended, as we thought it should and that it had.

We talked to a woman today whose two children had been taken from her, as she came across the border and, just recently, were reunited with her. So, what I think we can come away with is also the fact that El Paso is a very safe city. Not only did the president mention it's safe now, but we had with us, of course, the Congresswoman who represents El Paso, Congresswoman Escobar, who was the county judge, that is to say the county executive for a number of decades, or years before.


HOYER: And when you look at the statistics, El Paso has been safe.

CABRERA: One of the reasons you went there, obviously, is because there's still this ongoing negotiation happening about border security money. And that's a big part of making a deal in order to avoid another government shutdown. Do you know, have Democrats and Republicans reached a deal yet?

HOYER: I'm optimist that they have, in talking to some of the conferees. They were relatively optimistic that they were going to reach a deal. They didn't reach it by Friday which was our hope. But I'm hopeful by early next week, hopefully as early as Monday, that we have a notice that the conferees have reached agreement and are prepared to make a report so that we can pass it before the 15th of February.

CABRERA: We all hope that's the case. Our latest reporting is that Democrats and Republican, who are part of this negotiating team, the conferees, may be settling on around $2 billion for border barriers. Now, we've heard from some Democrats in the past who say no amount of money should go to a border wall or something that the president could refer to as his border wall. How confident are you that Democrats are going to stay united when the time comes for a vote?

HOYER: Well, I'm hopeful that we will stay united. Obviously, a conference committee is exactly that. A conference between two bills that are not alike. And, therefore, there's going to be compromise. And I don't think anybody expected there wouldn't be a compromise of some type. And, obviously, one side has been asking for additional barrier money.


HOYER: So that when you have a conference like this, one ought not to be surprised that part of the deal encompasses that faceted of one party's demands.


HOYER: But I expect it to be, hopefully, a balanced agreement that comes out. And I'm hopeful -- again, I don't know the particulars at all of the agreement if an agreement has been reached.


HOYER: But I am hopeful that it will be something that both the Senate and the House could support.

CABRERA: Just a quick yes or no, though. If it comes out and there is $2 billion in money designated for a border barrier, would you support that?

HOYER: If an agreement comes out, I'll support it, yes.

CABRERA: OK. Today, Congressman Joe Kennedy --

HOYER: And I'm hopeful that the president will as well.

CABRERA: OK. Gotcha. We've got a little bit of a delay here. So, forgive me if we're kind of quirky jerky. I want to talk about 2020.

HOYER: OK, no problem.

CABRERA: Because we saw another person enter the race today, Senator Elizabeth Warren. And we saw Congressman Joe Kennedy and Senator Ed Markey endorse Warren for 2020.

[20:10:02] Are you ready to endorse a candidate?

HOYER: I am not. You know, we have somebody running from our own state of Maryland, John Delaney, who's a Congressman, a colleague -- a former Congressman, a colleague of mine. But we have a lot of very good candidates who have entered their names into consideration. And we'll see how that works out.

But, no, I'm not going to be endorsing at this point. And they're all good people.

CABRERA: When do you think you'll make that decision?

HOYER: Not for some time. Certainly not until -- I think probably until next year. And, you know, I'll probably be an officer in the convention as I've been so I may wait a significant period of time.

CABRERA: You've got to keep your cards close to the vest. Let me ask you this way then. When you look at our recent polling here at CNN, there's a lot. But the most important thing to Democratic voters right now is a candidate's ability to beat President Trump. Who do you think is the strongest in a head to head right now?

HOYER: Well, look, I think Joe Biden is, clearly, the individual that has the broadest reach right now. I'm not endorsing Joe. But if you ask me who now has the broadest reach, I think Joe Biden does. But that -- we'll see how that develops over the next six to 12 months.

CABRERA: OK. We also -- I wanted to ask about what Democrats are doing. We saw yesterday the big -- the big showdown, so to speak, with Attorney General Matt Whitaker, the acting Attorney General, who's the outgoing in that position. He testified on Capitol Hill, capping off his busy week of Congressional hearings. And, right now, we did the counting, Democrats are pursuing 21 investigations across 11 different committees. Here's what President Trump tweeted about that, saying, in part, never happened before. Unlimited presidential harassment. The Dems and their committees are going nuts.

Congressman, what's your response?

HOYER: As usual, he's wrong. I don't know that anybody faced the kind of investigations and oversight hearings that President Obama did or, frankly, Secretary Clinton did, or President Clinton before that. In fact, as you know, they impeached President Clinton and that was defeated in the Senate, as it should have been.

But we have a responsibility to do oversight. Frankly, the last two years of this president's term, the Republicans decided that oversight was not their business.

In fact, it's our responsibility to oversee and the executive department and make sure that the policies that we set are being pursued properly. That includes, with respect to a lot of issues, not the least of which is the protection of the environment, the promotion of education in this country, and whether or not the Russians or any other entity impeded our election process and undermined our democracy.

So, those are things that we ought to be doing. And there's no surprise that the committees' responsibility believe it's their duty to ensure that things are being done correctly.

So, I think the president is -- he goes on offense and complains as a tactic, not because it's true.

CABRERA: Congressman Steny Hoyer, good to have you with us. Thank you.

HOYER: Thank you very much.

CABRERA: Just in to CNN, a fresh poll out of Virginia, revealing how people there feel about their embattled governor. This, as the lieutenant governor releases a new statement calling for an FBI investigation into two sexual assault allegations against him.

You're live in the CNN Newsroom.



CABRERA: Breaking news out of Virginia tonight. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is now calling for the FBI to investigate two accusations of assault against him and proclaiming his innocence.

I want to go live to Richmond, Virginia where our Kaylee Hartung is covering this breaking news for us. Kaylee, what else is Fairfax saying about the accusations he's facing? KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, as Virginia's

Democratic lawmakers and leaders continue to call for Justin Fairfax's resignation, he is really pleading for due process here. He has released a new statement tonight in which he continues to deny the allegations against him. Calls for an investigation. And, for the first time, asks for the FBI to get involved.

I want to read the statements. He said, I did not sexually assault or rape Meredith Watson, Vanessa Tyson or anyone else. I call on all appropriate and investigatory authorities, including the FBI, to investigate fully and thoroughly the allegations against me by Miss Watson and Dr. Tyson.

So, here, Ana, this new statement tonight. Justin Fairfax trying to give context to two sexual encounters that he doesn't deny happening. He says that he believes these women were in agreement with their interactions with him. But, clearly, a disagreement in the context and the understanding of what happened in those two different encounters between Fairfax and two different women.

CABRERA: OK. So, that's the new development, dealing with a lieutenant governor. Another breaking story, this time dealing with the governor. A new poll showing Virginians are actually split on whether Governor Northam should step down over the racist photo in his medical school year book.

Kaylee, you're on the ground there. Tell us more about this poll and when it was taken.

HARTUNG: Well, Ana, you know, this week, it seemed any given day, it was a question of which one of the top three lawmakers in Virginia could withstand their respective controversy. It was February four -- I'm sorry, February first when that racial photo was first discovered. Ralph Northam in question. And we heard him speak out for the first time today in reaction to it.

But, now, we are seeing this poll from "The Washington Post" that was conducted at the end of this week, Wednesday through Friday. So, that's before the second accuser came out against Justin Fairfax, the Lieutenant Governor.

[20:20:09] And, here, we are learning, as you mentioned, Virginians are deadlocked in the question of whether or not Ralph Northam should resign with that spotlight so much brighter on Justin Fairfax, in recent days. The calls for Northam to resign have seemingly decreased. Here, you see Virginians split, 47 to 47 on the question of whether or not the Democratic governor, who has admitted to racist behavior in his past, should resign.

But what's most interesting here, when you break this poll down by race on that specific question, he has high support among African- Americans, 58 percent to 37 percent. African-Americans supporting Governor Ralph Northam staying in office while whites are more divided.

CABRERA: And we heard from Governor Northam today in "The Washington Post" interview saying he's going to go on this reconciliation tour around the state and try to make equity and injustices part of his main focus moving forward as he continues as governor.

Kaylee Hartung, thank you for continuing to stay on top of this story.

OK, Senator Elizabeth Warren making it official today. Sher is running for president. As this field, now, of Democrats continues to grow. Up next, we'll hear from former presidential candidate, Howard Dean. He weighs in on what the party needs to beat Trump. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.


[20:25:17] CABRERA: Welcome back. We are only two months into 2019 and already, eight Democrats have officially announced they are running for president in 2020. The latest, Senator Elizabeth Warren. She rolled out her vision and her agenda today in front of a historic site in Massachusetts, a cotton mill where women and immigrants led a labor strike more than a century ago.

And if you look at who she's up against so far, you'll find a historically diverse crowd. Earlier, I spoke with someone who knows all about the challenges tied to running a campaign, former presidential candidate and chair of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. He highlights youth as a key factor when it comes to stealing back the White House.


HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF VERMONT, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Our core base is young people who supplied all the energy for the wins in 2018 and the 40 seats we picked up and the 350 seats we picked up in state legislators. People of color and women. That is our core base. We have to have people who can be really exciting to that base in order to win. If those people come out, just as they did in 2018 and in 2017 in Virginia, then we're going to win the presidency and maybe the Senate, too.

CABRERA: Then, do you believe Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, both in their 70s, both white men, should stay out of the race?

DEAN: No. I don't -- I think anybody should run for president who wants to run for president, as long as they are doing so in the best interest of the country. And I -- you know, I think Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have every right to run.

CABRERA: OK. And look at this new polling that we have because this, also, is giving us some insight into where Democratic voters' heads are at. About half of the Democrats, or Democratic leaning voters, 49 percent, say the ability to beat Trump is the most important trait for a candidate to have. Even more so than experience to be president.

But that same poll also shows that a majority of Democrats, 62 percent, want Joe Biden to run in 2020. In fact, more people want Biden to run now than in back in 2015. What does that tell you about what Democrats want? Because there's been a lot of talk about the base moving further and further left, and that is not where Joe Biden is.

DEAN: No, I think this business about the base moving farther and farther left is nonsense. I think the base is getting younger and younger and wanting younger voters. But I don't think there's -- it's certainly that there have been some very effective young legislators, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who are pushing an envelope very hard and very well.

But there's also a whole lot of people who've been elected from the middle of the country who are much more, shall we say, centrist or moderate or whatever.

Look, I think the most important number that -- in that poll, Ana, is the one that said that we want somebody to beat Joe Biden. If that -- I mean, --

CABRERA: You mean President Trump.

DEAN: -- excuse me, to beat President Trump. That's the most important number. And as long as that number stays where it is or goes higher, we're going to come out with a unified party. And coming out with a unified party is the most important thing we can possibly do. And I think that's where most Democrats are.


CABRERA: For more now on the widening 2020 Democratic field, I want to bring in CNN Politics Senior Writer and Analyst Harry Enten. Harry, you heard what Howard Dean saying, echoing what we found in our poll. And that is the most important quality for Democrats in electing a candidate is somebody who can beat Trump.

Now, if Biden stays out, because right now there's this speculation that he's the best to Trump, who do you think is second best?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Well, I will tell you, if you judge, based upon past performance, Amy Klobuchar who we believe is about to get in the race for president, has overwhelmingly shown over and over and over again that she can outperform the average Democrat in the state of Minnesota. Whether she won in 2006, 2012 or 2018. All those times, she outperformed Demo -- the average Democrat in that particular state.

And I can tell that you Minnesota is in the Midwest. It looks a lot like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania. And, of course, those are the three states that if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016, plus the states she actually did win, she would have defeated him.

CABRERA: Amy Klobuchar expected to throw her hat in the ring tomorrow. Big announcement in Minnesota. You talk about why she's a strong candidate. What's her biggest weakness?


HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: I think her biggest weakness is number one, she is a moderate candidate. And as Howard Dean was discussing, the Democratic base seems to be moving further and further to the left and the fact that she represents a state that is very white. And obviously, the Democratic Party is a larger percentage becoming more and more nonwhite.

So I think those are weaknesses for her in the primary. But if this primary becomes about electability, I think she could see her polling numbers which are right now, closer to zero percent than 10 percent could rise as this Democratic campaign gets underway.

CABRERA: Senator Elizabeth Warren. She launched her campaign today. She had her exploratory committee that she was looking into this since New Year's Eve. But today, she made it official. She's running for president. She outlined agenda. Her vision for America, this, of course, against the backdrop of a controversy over her native-American heritage claims. An issue that has been a frequent target for the president.

And just a couple of hours ago, he tweeted this in part. "Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate? Or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore?"

She's apologized but the latest CNN poll shows she's facing a 32 rating favorable rating. That's not high. Her unfavorable is higher. Will she be able to get past this or is this going to be something that haunts her?

ENTEN: I certainly think the president is going to haunt her. He's going to go after her over and over again on Twitter. I mean, look, we're still a year out from the eye of caucuses. We'll see exactly what happens.

What I will say is that if you look back at Elizabeth Warren's past performances in Massachusetts, although she won by a very wide margin in 2018, she actually underperformed how Hillary Clinton did in that state in 2016 despite the fact that 2018 was a better year for Democrats nationally.

So, I would say that if Democrats are interested in nominating the most electable candidate, if Amy Klobuchar has a very strong case, Elizabeth Warren's is much weaker.

CABRERA: What about Kamala Harris? Because you wrote today, Senator Kamala Harris had the best month start to the 2020 campaign. Explain that.

ENTEN: If you look at the polling, you compare our CNN poll in December versus the Monmouth University poll that came out this past week, you see that Kamala Harris went from the mid-single digits all the way up to 11 percent which was good enough for a third place, excuse me, in that Monmouth University poll.

If you look at who people are searching on Google, she had the highest Google trends of any of the candidates that announce in either late December or in January. And part of that might have been the CNN town hall. But what we really see is Kamala Harris generating a lot of interest in the democratic base, which shouldn't be so surprising, right? Because she meets those qualities that we spoke about earlier.

She's progressive. She's an African-American woman. And so I think that she can, in fact, generate that base support that Howard Dean was talking about.

CABRERA: How does somebody like that continue the momentum though? Because you mentioned just how far away 2020 really is.

ENTEN: I mean, look, if this is going to be a very long ride, I think, we're going to get into the debate season, eventually. There may be some fluctuations in the polls. But if Kamala Harris keeps talking about the issues that's important to her, those seem to be generally reflective of what's important of the democratic base.

CABRERA: Harry Enten, thank you for your take.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Good to see you.

Still to come, a CNN exclusive. We take you to the frontlines in the battle to retake the last ISIS enclave in Syria. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:35:15] CABRERA: Underway right now, what is being called the last push to eliminate ISIS in Syria. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are trying to push ISIS away from its last sliver of controlled territory there. And CNN has an exclusive look at this operation. You can hear some of what's happening in the background.

Our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is joining us now from Eastern Syria near the frontlines of the ongoing fighting.

Ben, set the scene for us. What are you seeing? What can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this has been going on now for four hours. This fairly constant bombardment of this town behind me known as Baghuz Fawqani. It is the last piece of territory controlled by the Islamic State.

And the Syrian democratic forces. We are told by people who are monitoring it in a control room have made good progress inside the town itself. They say they haven't run into much resistance from ISIS. They do believe there are still some civilians inside the town.

Earlier, they told us, perhaps as many as 1,500 are still in there. But what we've seen is every day, dozens, sometimes hundreds of people either paying, bribing their way out of the town, or sneaking out of town.

So it's not clear how many people there are left. Now, we are told that they expect more resistance as soon as the sun comes up. Because we know that those ISIS fighters still in the town behind me are some of the most battle hardened and ruthless among them even though we have also heard reports that there has been infighting among the ISIS members, between those who, after weeks and weeks of bombardment, simply want to surrender and those, Ana, who want to fight to the death.

CABRERA: Ben Wedeman in Syria. Please stay safe. Thank you for bringing us that reporting.

Top adviser to the president, Kellyanne Conway telling CNN she was assaulted in a restaurant with her daughter by her side. So what happened? And what does the woman she accused have to say?


[20:40:57] CABRERA: The Russia probe, gag orders, indictments, sealed testimony. Every week, we bring you new headlines on complicated legal stories of importance. But sometimes, it feels like you maybe need a law degree to understand, right?

That's why tonight I'm picking up a new segment on this show called "CROSS-EXAM WITH ELIE HONIG." He does have a law degree. Elie is a former federal and state prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, and he's going to be giving us his take on the legal news and answering your questions.

And so, Elie, you've kicked off this new column on It' called "Cross-Exam." You write about this new bombshell this week involving you former employer, SDNY, the Southern District of New York Federal Prosecutor's Office. Which served a subpoena, we learned this week, to the Trump inaugural committee asking for documents related to donors, vendors and finances.

So your first viewer question here. Why is the SDNY so feared?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good question. Ana, it's been so interesting reading through these questions. And then the biggest topic on people's minds, viewer's minds is, what's the Southern District? Who are these guys? And what's the fuss?

So the southern district of New York is the federal prosecutor's office here in Manhattan in. They're part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

[20:45:04] The two things that the SDNY is best known for is, first, its independence. That is a nonpolitical office. I worked there for eight years, four years under George Bush, four years under Barack Obama. It made no difference.

Sometimes, people joke within DOJ that the Southern District should be called the sovereign district because the Southern District kind of does its own thing regardless of what the rest of DOJ is doing. So there's a deep history at the Southern District.

And one of the questions that's been raised is, who's the bigger threat to Trump and his administration? The Mueller probe or Southern District? I think the Southern District poses a bigger threat in a lot of ways. The Southern District is relentless to the viewer's question. They always shoot for the top and they don't have the same limits that Mueller has.

Remember, Mueller can only investigate by his commission, Russian interference and the election. The Southern District can go anywhere they want, Trump org, the finances, the family. There are no limits on what the Southern District can do.

CABRERA: We saw them involved in the whole Michael Cohen case. Obviously, there are other cases involving Trump associates that are still ongoing. Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, that's raising more questions about this idea of a presidential pardon.

And I know you received a lot of questions about this. So here's the viewer question. Must a presidential pardon be specific to a particular instance of a crime or can it be used as an umbrella against any and all future related charges that are not yet filed?

HONIG: So pardons are a fascinating issue. That sounds a little nerdy, but I stand by it. So the presidential pardon power is very broad. A president can pardon an individual, famous example is Richard Nixon, George Steinbrenner, the Yankees owner was pardoned. This president pardoned Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D'Souza. Or a group. Presidents have pardoned Vietnam draft dodgers, confederate soldiers after the civil war.

A pardon also can cover either specific conduct or it can be very general. When Nixon was pardoned, it covered any acting committee during the time he was president.

The one thing that a pardon cannot do is going to the future. So a president can say, I pardon you from everything you did from this moment going backwards in time. But the president cannot hand out sort of a free pass to commit future crimes.

Now, the big question on a lot of people's minds is, can the president pardon himself? The only real answer to that is we don't know. It's never come up. It's like one of these law school hypotheticals that now has maybe becoming real.

Donald Trump has said publicly, he believes he has an absolute right the pardon himself. If he tried it, A, I think there'd be a political cause. B, it ends up in the courts and I don't know that the courts would be willing to put anybody above the law.

CABRERA: And see, now we know he can't do it until he actually is in a position which he's facing charges because he can't give himself a free reign moving forward.

OK. Let's zero in on Roger Stone, specifically. Longtime friend and advisor of the president. He's been indicted. He has this history of lying. He's probably called himself a dirty trickster. He's fighting a possible gag order. Here's the viewer question.

Given his history, would Special Counsel Robert Mueller bother to even make him an offer to cooperate? HONIG: It's a great question. When I was a prosecutor, I make cases based on some of the worst people on the planet. Murderers, mobsters, you name it. And in some ways, Roger Stone is actually more problematic as a cooperator than them. I'm not saying he's as bad a person.

But with cooperation, it all comes down to credibility. Can you bank on this person? Are they believable? But the flip side is if he flipped, imagine the rewards, imagine what could give. I mean, just looking at his indictment. Who were the senior Trump campaign officials who told him to talk to WikiLeaks?

So Mueller's got to make a decision. Now, will stone flip? He's made a big feel about, I won't, although he's sort of gone back and forth. But it's all about loyalty.

People said -- people say he won't flip on Michael Cohen, remember he said he would take a bullet for Trump. What happened to him? He flipped.

In fact, if you look at this case, everybody who Mueller has targeted has flipped, Gates, Papadopoulos, Flynn, Manafort, even tried. So he's basically batting a thousand and flipping people. I've seen crazier things happen.

CABRERA: Last thing, give us the three legal questions that we should be on the lookout for going into this next week.

HONIG: So first of all, what will the southern district do next? You know, I think there's two things we're looking at. That subpoena to the inauguration. And the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and to Karen MacDougal. Where they're going to go next? I think they're looking at other people with those hush money payments, executive one, executive two, the other people in the Trump org who are involved in those payments.

Number two, we have, will the judge issue a gag order on Roger Stone? I think she will and I think he will violate it immediately. And the third one is, Michael Cohen's testimony. He was supposed to testify yesterday, on Friday, but it got pushed off three weeks.

CABRERA: And that's front of the congressional hearing.

HONIG: And the reason that was given was in the interests of the investigation. And so that leads me to think something's going to happen between now and February 28th on the Mueller investigation. What's going to be? It could be more subpoenas. It could be more arrests. It could be indictments. It'll be really interesting to see.

CABRERA: So interesting. Elie Honig, I'm so glad we get to do this segment with you now.

HONIG: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Thank you for being here. You can check out Elie's "CROSS- EXAM" segment right here on CNN every weekend. And then his column, of course, every week on You can also leave him your questions about legal stories on that same page and we look forward to answering those questions right here on our show. Good to have you.

[20:50:07] HONIG: Thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you.

Now, for the first time, White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, speaking out about an alleged assault. She says it happened last fall at a restaurant in Maryland while she was with her daughter and a group of friends. This revelation came during a sit-down with CNN's Dana Bash.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I was assaulted in a restaurant and that person --


CONWAY: And that person has to go to court soon.


CONWAY: I was standing next to my daughter and many of her friends at dinner. And she was right here, right next to me. And her friends were, too. And somebody was grabbing me from behind. Grabbed my arms and shaking me to the point where I thought maybe somebody was hugging me. One of the parents coming to pick up his or her daughter.

And then as I turned around, it just felt weird. It felt like was a little aggressive. And I turned around and the woman had grabbed my hand. She was just unhinged.


CONWAY: She was out of control. I don't even know how to explain her to you. She just -- her whole face was terror and anger and just, she was right here. And my daughter was right there.

And she ought to pay for that. She ought to pay for that because she has no right to touch anybody. She put her hands on me. I said, "Get your hands off me." She put her hands on me and was shaking me and was doing it from the front with my daughter right there who then videotaped her.

And let me tell you something. She just would not leave the restaurant. She kept going on and on. She went outside. She just wouldn't stop. This woman thinks it's OK to touch someone else. It's not OK. It's not by her -- and not OK by the law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you called 911. The police came.

CONWAY: I called 911. The police came. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did they arrest her?

CONWAY: They -- she left.


CONWAY: No. She had already gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You told the president about it?

CONWAY: I did. But long after. I told the other people --


CONWAY: What he always says, are you OK? Were you OK? Was your daughter OK? Were the other girls OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How was your daughter? That's so traumatic. I would imagine for you, but as a mother, probably the first thing you're thinking of is your daughter.

CONWAY: But that's what I cared about and other people's kids there. Which is why I didn't want to talk about it publicly. But I don't want it to become a thing. I just want it to become a teachable moment for everyone.


CABRERA: Now, Conway's alleged assailant, Mary Elizabeth Inabinett, has been charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct. Her attorney says she will plead not guilty telling CNN, quote, "Ms. Inabinett saw Kellyanne Conway, a public figure in a public place and exercised her first amendment right to express her personal opinion. She did not assault Mrs. Conway. The facts at trial will show this to be true. And show Ms. Conway's account to be false."

That trial is set for March.

From Montana to a remarkable story of survival. This is how Fluffy the Cat was found frozen and unconscious. Her fur matted with ice. But what happened next will literally warm your heart.


[20:55:08] CABRERA: Let's put this in the, what could possibly go wrong file? A lookalike Ivanka Trump vacuuming in a Washington art gallery where the public is invited to toss crumbs onto the carpet. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ivanka Trump, as you've never seen her, vacuuming? Vacuuming bread crumbs thrown by spectators?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt a little bit disrespectful. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really cathartic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought I gave her something to do.

MOOS: The real Ivanka has plenty to do. Launching a women's development Initiative Thursday. This is a lookalike dressed in an outfit similar to what the actual Ivanka wore to the G20 Summit in Germany.

But you'd think vacuuming Ivanka was real the way some conservative websites have reacted, violent art exhibit invites people to throw trash.

I mean, people are not throwing crumbs at her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They throw them on to the carpet.

MOOS: Fistful sometimes, two hands full deposited in the pink carpet. Artist, Jennifer Rubell's work is an exhibit in a Washington D.C. gallery.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people throw the crumbs and then they're really expecting her to -- and vacuum them right away and are a little disappointed by that.

MOOS: That is nothing worse really than having the crumbs ignored.

Look-alike Ivanka vacuums two hours a night. Tossing her hair, flicking the cord. Her expression blank. Unplugging every once in a while to take a break.

You definitely can accuse the artist of sucking up to Ivanka. Jennifer Rubell got called on to the carpet.

Ivanka tweeted, women can choose to knock each other down or build each other up. I choose the latter. But the artist says, the piece doesn't knock her down or build her up. She said she chose Ivanka as an icon at the cross roads of feminism and femininity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was unnerving actually just seeing her being completely expressionless.

MOOS: Do you think Ivanka Trump has ever vacuumed?


MOOS: Facing a Mount Everest of bread crumbs, Ivanka the look alike, is going to get a lot of practice.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: Talk about nine lives. I want to you meet a very lucky cat who was literally thawed back to life. Fluffy's owners found her covered in ice chunks, in a snowbank during last week's polar vortex in Montana. They rushed her to the vet. Her temperature was so low. It didn't even register on thermometers at first.

But this cat is tough and the vet was able to get her temperature back to normal. And she only had to stay one night in the E.R. before returning home.

But it'll probably a little bit more of an indoor cat than an outdoor cat from now on.

I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for joining me. I'll see you back here tomorrow night at 5:00 Eastern.