Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. negotiators say they have reached an agreement in principle to avoid another government shutdown, Battle rages as terrorists cling to last Syrian enclave, Opposition leader urges protests on Youth Day, U.S. Secretary of State visit Hungary, Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired February 12, 2019 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:15] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM: El Paso, Texas might just be ground zero in the battle of fact versus alternative facts. The President continues with his false narrative about the city's crime rate and a success of a border wall despite an official resolution by county officials calling to trump to cease and desist.

Exclusive new footage of the fight to take ISIS' last enclave in Syria. A CNN crew so close to the frontline the camera shakes at incoming explosions.

And 30 years since the dark haunting lyrics of Janie's Got a Gun, now, the song is helping abused children get new a home, Janie's home. The end result of rock legend Steven Tyler's effort to help the kids he once sang about.

Hello, welcome to our viewers all around the world, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN newsroom.

With government funding set to to run out on Friday, U.S. lawmakers said they have an agreement in principle to avoid another shutdown. But whether the White House will will agree to it, well, we'll have to wait and see.

One source tells CNN the deal includes more than a billion dollars not for a wall but for fencing along the border, not exactly President Trump has been demanding. And he specifies how many beds would be available to immigration officials to detain undocumented immigrants.

Earlier, the President was in El Paso, Texas to make the case for his big beautiful wall and he also defended the last government shutdown.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE United States: You know what, if we didn't do that shutdown, we would not have been able to show this country, these politicians, the world what the hell is happening with the border. That was a very important thing we did.


VAUSE: And just down the road from the President's event, former Democratic Congressman and El Paso native Beto O'Rourke and potential democratic presidential nominee or at least candidate held his own rally, telling the crowd the city is safe not because of walls but in spite of them.

Let's go to CNN's Senior Political Analyst, Ron Brownstein, who joins us from Los Angeles. Good to see you, Ron.


VAUSE: You know, before the President arrived in El Paso, the county officials passed a resolution and they declared that, you know, the county was disillusioned with Trump's lies regarding the border, how difficult it would be to welcome him, but they would nonetheless. They also say he never contacted local officials or law enforcement before making all of these false claims. You know, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Donald Trump was having none of it.

Listen to the rally. Here he is.


TRUMP: I spoke to people that had been here a long time. They said when that wall went up, it's a whole different ballgame. Is that a correct statement? A whole different ballgame.

I'll give you another example, and I don't care whether a mayor is a republican or a democrat, they are full of crap when they say it hasn't made a big difference.


VAUSE: You know, it's not just the local officials, it's not just, you know, the Mayor, you know, the FBI, it's a whole host of people that put the facts on the table. It does seem that like, in some way, El Paso is going to be this final stand where this great big battle, you know, ground zero between fact and alternative facts.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, first, if you look at who supports the wall in polling, the wall is a concept as much as a physical reality. It is a way of expressing building a wall against the changes remaking America. I mean, the voters who support the wall are overwhelmingly the same voters who are opposed to immigration in all forms, legal as well as undocumented immigration.

And the wall really has become an equal symbol on the other side to democrats and why they are so dug in against it, because they view it as a symbol of kind of racist hostility toward the rest of the world. And It is striking, you know, that this rally was held today not only with, as you point out, you know, the local officials condemning the President's rhetoric about the border.

But the California governor joining the New Mexico governor, both democrats, in withdrawing their National Guard troops from the border. And the border members of Congress from both parties, really, everyone across the border opposing the wall. I mean, it really - support for the wall, you know, certainly the Arizona governor still does and does and that Texas governor, republicans are still in there.

But it is essentially, I think, largely a symbolic statement at this point. And one the members of Congress were unwilling to kind of go to there, as we saw it tonight, to go to the brink for.

VAUSE: You know, I agree, you know, that it is a symbol in a much larger sense but there are facts. And the President just got up and ignored those facts despite being told repeatedly, not just by the politicians but by the law enforcement, which he says he supports. And, you know, he's all about supporting, you know, the law enforcement, the FBI, this kind of stuff, he just ignored the reality and repeated, you know, a false and misleading narrative.

BROWNSTEIN: Because I believe that neither to him nor his supporters is the wall fundamentally about reducing undocumented immigration much less dealing with drugs.


I think it is a statement about holding back, walling off the changes that are inexorably occurring in America. I think that is the primary driving force here. But, yes, I mean, it puts him in this incredible position.

And as you saw tonight, with this announced deal, we'll see what happens in the next couple of days. But it suggests that Senate republicans are only willing to go so far in kind of what - gratifying the President's desire for a wall above all. Mitch McConnell said he will not bring a spending bill to the floor, a solution to this if the President doesn't support, we'll see if he will hold to that now that Senate republican negotiators have accepted a deal that unlikely is going to cause a lot of champagne corks to pop in the White House.

VAUSE: That's actually interesting, what happens, you know, with the procedure in the Senate.

We also had the first dueling rallies in El Paso of the 2020 election season. Former Congressman, potential presidential candidate, Beto O'Rourke, had his own gathering. Now, that was a source of much mockery from the President. He claimed 35,000 people at his rally, only a few hundred at O'Rourke's.

David Siders from Politico regularly guessed at this show. He reported the numbers at 7,000 per law enforcement, that was for Beto O'Rourke. Denver Post reporter quoted, the El Paso Fire Department is saying Trump's venue held a maximum of 6,500. That's how many were allowed. There's no indication of how many were actually turned away, I guess, at this point.

This is also petty and silly. But in Trump's world, it looms large. And in some ways, you know, in 2016, crowd sizes were a better indication on Trump's popularity than the opinion polls. So that's, I guess, what matters.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, it's a measure of intensity. And as we saw in 2016, probably more than many people, including myself, thought intensity can matter, you know, in terms of bringing out voters who don't usually vote. That's what Trump did in 2016.

Beto O'Rourke is a symbol, really, to those democrats who want to emulate that strategy in 2020 and want to worry less about converting or reeling in those soft republicans who are personally or morally opposed to Trump and wants to focus more on turning out their new coalition, particularly young people and minorities.

I was struck listening to Beto O'Rourke's rally tonight, really, at the opposite - the action-reaction cycle that we are in, that Trump's overt appeals to racial anxieties, really, is pushing democrats to be more overt themselves in defending a changing, tolerant, inclusive, diverse America as a core American value, and I think that will be the fundamental fault line even more than economics in the 2020 election, are you happy, do you accept or are you worried about the way America is transforming culturally, demographically and socially.

VAUSE: Yes. And you mentioned this that there was this deal in Washington between the republicans and the democrats about, you know, continuing funding for the government, which included, you know, some money there for a physical separation, barrier, however, you want to say it, it's not the wall. And this was a reaction from Donald Trump. Here he is.


TRUMP: I have to tell you, as I was walking up to the stage, they said that progress is being made with this committee. Just so you know, we're building the wall anyway. They say that progress has been made with this committee.


VAUSE: You know, that reaction seems his portal of reporting that Trump has given up on getting the full funding from Congress and also whatever they come up with and then they go find the money somewhere else.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, as you know, there are a lot of people in both parties who basically would prefer at this point that he stop trying to do this through the mechanism of a government shutdown, which, by the way, has never achieved its goal, as we talked about many times going all the way back to the Bill Clinton administration, that the party that shuts down the government never gets what they want.

But there a lot of people in both parties, including democrats, who prefer at this point that he go the route of an emergency declaration, which is opposed by two-thirds of the country consistently in polling, including about a third of republicans that would face significant push back among republicans in the Senate perhaps enough to pass a resolution of disapproval, which would certainly pass in the Senate, in the House. And in any case, it would face months, if not, years of litigation in the courts.

And, look, tonight, it certainly sounded like he left himself no out but to do that unless he is willing at this point to shutdown the government again despite a deal that at least some Senate republicans are willing to accept. Even Mitch McConnell has said, who doesn't speak often, there is not much education in the second kick of a mule and shutting down the government again would be certainly be putting yourself in a position for one of those second kicks.

VAUSE: Yes, it's a great saying. And it's so apt in so many instances, especially this one, Ron, thank you, good to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Well, amid airstrikes and artillery, ISIS is clinging to its last piece of real estate in Syria, the town of Baghouz Al-Fawqani. U.S. Air Forces launched an operation to seize the area on Saturday, some of the people have fled the town but thousands of civilians could still be trapped there.

One woman who escaped described horrific, saying, food is running low and ISIS is using human shields. There is also the threat of shootings from both sides.


CNN's Ben Wedeman and his team have seen heavy crossfire in their reporting from front lines. They have more now on the battle in this CNN Exclusive.


BEN WEDEMEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So we have to leave our position now because the morning began with heavy exchange of machine gunfire followed by loud explosions. We went up to the roof and started to take incoming rounds. Then some sort of explosive device landed next to the building were in.

Now, we have to pull out because it appears that there has been serious ISIS counterattack. And we have is seen some of the S.D.F. troops pulling back as this goes on. Although some of the officers are urging them to go forward. But what ISIS fighters were taking advantage of the early morning fog, which is often their tactic to try to make advances, and it appears indeed they have. And that's why we have to move back.

I am Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from the front lines in Eastern Syria.


VAUSE: Major General Mark MacCarley joins us now from Los Angeles, he is a retired U.S. Army officer. Major General, good to see you, it's been a while.


VAUSE: We've seen moment like this before, the battle for Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and now, this enclave in Eastern Syria, only this time, ISIS fighters, which they had nowhere to run, so barring the unlikely event of a negotiated surrender. Are you expecting a level of resistance from ISIS that we haven't seen before?

MACCARLEY: John, what you looked at in that clip from Ben is sort of a representative of the last ditch effort on the part of anywhere from 500 to a thousand ISIS fighters within Fawqani. With that said, the expectation, I think the reasonable expectation is that Fawqani will fall. Just because I say that doesn't necessarily mean that we should unfurl the victory flag, had big parade down Broadway in New York and declare victory over ISIS, far from it.

When I referenced 1,000 or so fighters in Fawqani, there are thousands who have to use an army term, gone to the ground. And what that means, you translate that phrase, it means that they're out some place they become invisible, they can surface at a later time. And the insurgency, which is not just about maintenance of territory, a caliphate, the caliphate absorbed Western Iraq and Eastern Syria, but this is a conflict about ideology, and we have not yet won that battle.

So I'll credit, if there's credit to be allocated, there is credit to S.D.F., the Kurdish fighters who have led this conflict. There is credit to the Arabs who have served in the S.D.F. and other associated units. We've got to give credit to the U.S. Armed Forces, our Air Force, our advisors on the ground. But at the end of the day, this fight is not over, and that's what I see, regardless of whether --

VAUSE: Sorry to interrupt but you have been Counterterrorism Director. They actually put that out in a warning on Monday saying ISIS or ISIL, you know, they've had these major losses, but that does not mean that it should lead to any complacency. This is part of the report which was reported on Monday. Listen to this.


MICHELE CONINSX, U.N. COUNTER-TERRORISM EXECUTIVE DIRECTORATE: ISIL has retained its global intent and global networks with the presence not just in Iraq and Syria and Arab Republic but also many in many other regions of the world. Of all international terrorist organizations, it remains the most likely to carry out a large scale complex attack.


VAUSE: And the report goes on to say the danger posed by ISIS internationally has actually increased because foreign fighters are returning home. It goes on to detail how the terrorists are finding new ways to raise money through mobile payment systems in West Africa, they use blockchain and cryptocurrencies. This is specific detail is maybe new but the overall findings seem to come as a surprise to absolutely no one. MACCARLEY: I 100 percent concur with that, especially as both the proponent who addressed the subject just a minute ago and as well what we're seeing West Africa, as ISIS has morphed, it has found the right territory for engaging the same sort of activities that are disruptive that are reflective of all it stands for.

[00:15:21] So once again, no victory at this particular point.

VAUSE: Well, that begs the question if the U.S. President follows through with what seems to be his plan to declare an end to ISIS because they no longer hold significant real estate in Syria or Iraq, will that be his very own mission accomplished moment?

MACCARLEY: My personal opinion?


MACCARLEY: Far from it.

And there is something that we should reflect tonight and it gets back to whether the U.S. should continue its presence, for instance, in Syria or in Iraq. And we can go through a lot of foreign policy conversations about whether or not intervention, whether or not long- term presence in a country such as Syria is the right thing to do. But an answer to all that is sort of a simple formula and the President kind of commented and gave us the response, which I think is very accurate as to the consequences of, quote, declaring this victory.

And in January 3rd, the President came up and said - he was asked about Iran. And as we all know, Iran is a big player, saw the vacuum, Iran moved in, supported its proxy ally, Hezbollah, the Russians moved in at the same point in time extensively to fight ISIS but for all other political purposes. But what the President said on January 3rd was this. Yes, Iran is withdrawing some folks, but, quote, I don't care what the Iranians will do in Syria.

So to me, that says that with the collapse of ISIS, at at least those ISIS fighters have claimed territory, they're positioning themselves here or there, what we have created is a vacuum in which Syria becomes a further playground, a place where Iran can exert its influence and that's quite frankly absolutely inconsistent with the President's position, vis-a-vis Iran, in every other area of conversation. So in effect, we have created a platform for Iran in which Iran will have greater ability to whether negatively or negatively influence the foreign policy scene.

VAUSE: So let me just get [INAUDIBLE]. So you are saying essentially, what, the U.S. troops should stay because there is an argument that a small force has had an incredibly positive impact, you know, that they can be a lot more effective if they are in a country rather than trying to monitor the situation deal with the situation from neighboring Iraq?

MACCARLEY: Absolutely. Certainly from my vantage point and my experience in what we have achieved with 2,000 most professional soldiers on the ground in both in advisory capacity and also in terms of guiding our air interdiction and close air support, the benefit of our presence, even with with 2,000 soldiers, which less than a brigade's, brigades are 3,000 or so, not the numbers but the fact that we are there and we are saying that we are not going to abandon our position and basically, I'm going to use this word, give it away to Rhe russians, give it away to the Iranians. And that inconsistency is just unacceptable.

VAUSE: And so, essentially, would you expect that the fighters, many here the U.S.-backed fighters or the Kurds from all in Syria, if there is this U.S. pull out, I don't know, it seems like it's just a matter of time for them to be redeployed. Would expect the Kurds to actually stick around and fight the ISIS insurgents themselves?

MACCARLEY: That's a great question. A lot - there's a lot to be said about that. Are we putting the Kurds in a position in which their very lives are going to be jeopardized? Because, in a sense, we went out at that moment when ISIS crossed that border from Iraq, rode up through the Tigris, rode up through the Euphrates, crossed into Syria, the only competent fighters that we could rely upon were the Kurds.

Now, yes, they have motivations for engaging in that sort of close combat in which they have been very successful, whether you say they want to come out with a Kurdish state or whatever. But by the same token, they were successful and we motivated them.

And I think that's one of the reasons why some of our most senior policy decision-makers, the Secretary of Defense and others, were so put aback at that point in time when a policy position was announced, which from a human perspective, with those soldiers, Kurdish soldiers, who went out and did the dirty work that we did not want, we did not want to commit American soldiers thousands and thousands to resolve the ISIS issue in Syria, they did the job and now we are abandoning them.

So whether they continue to fight, whether they are getting or will receive this protected enclave because Erdogan from Turkey is a going to cut some deal with the President at this particular point, I haven't heard any deal, I think that Kurds are in a really serious area of jeopardy.


And in some senses, it could be said we are abandoning those who did the very best for us at a point in time when we needed the Kurds to fight ISIS.

VAUSE: Yes. And it sends a message to anybody around the world thinking of doing business in with the United States in the future. General, good to see you. Thank you.

Well, still to come here, Venezuela preparing to mark a national holiday with more protests and the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, turns to the Vatican to try to end the country's political crisis, that's next.

Also the U.S. Secretary of State is in Hungary looking to reengage with allies in Central Europe, but why now? What kind of response will he get? We'll have the latest from Budapest.


VAUSE: Venezuela's opposition leader is calling for more mass protests as the country marks Youth Day. Juan Guaido wants President Nicolas Maduro to step down. He also wants military to allow aid convoys into the country. In the meantime, the Vatican is calling for a just and peaceful solution to the political crisis after a meeting with representatives for Guaido. Pope Francis has said the Vatican could help mediate if Guaido and Maduro agree.

And trucks filled with food and medicine are waiting just across the border, Colombia, but the military leaders loyal to Maduro are blocking the aid from entering the country. Guaido says 300,000 people could die if those supplies are not allowed in, a number which is backed up by humanitarian groups.

Mike Pompeo, the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Hungary since 2011, it was the first stop on a tour of Central Europe but amid reasserting American ties to the region and also countering the growing influence of Russia and China.

CNN's Atika Shubert has details.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Budapest on a diplomatic mission to reassert U.S. influence and push back on Russia and China, in particular Russian gas and Chinese technology in the form of telecommunications giant, Huawei.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We must not let Putin drive wedges between friends in NATO. Russia is not the only power that wants to to erode freedom in this region. There is an experience of states in Asia-Pacific region that shows that Beijing's handshakes sometimes comes with strings.

SHUBERT: It's been almost eight years since a U.S. Secretary of State was in Budapest.


Since Prime Minister Viktor Orban was elected in 2010, the previous Obama administration had given Hungary the cold shoulder for Orban's increasingly anti-democrat policies undermining the independence of the courts, the central bank, cracking down on the media and free speech. But in U.S. President Donald Trump, Orban sees a natural ally with similar views on immigration and the media.

The visit is the validation Hungary needs just as its fellow E.U. members threatened to sanction the Orban government for failing to uphold democratic principles.

PETER SZIJJARTO, HUNGARIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE: The Trump administration has similar and the same stance in general policies. Both governments are patriotic with natural interest come first, first and foremost, to protect the safety and sovereignty of the country, to fight migration, to be in line to defend the borders and protect the Christian heritage. We support the fair [INAUDIBLE] of Israel. We base our policy with mutual respect. The world is not better if some countries lecture other countries. SHUBERT: During the visit, both Hungary and the U.S. agreed to hammer out details on their defense cooperation agreement allowing for U.S. troops to operate in Hungary as part of NATO, a positive start to Pompeo's European tour.

Atika Shubert, CNN Berlin.

VAUSE: Well, the 1978 Islamic Revolution in Iran toppled Bashar [ph] and shattered once close relations with the United States, 40 years on and there is no indication from Iranian leaders that suggests those relations are likely to improve any time soon. We'll have the view from Tehran at the moment.

Also a polar bear invasion striking fear in Northeastern Russia, what authorities are doing with these cute and fluffy and white but yet unwelcomed visitors?


[00:29:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. An update now on the top stories this hour.

Congressional negotiators in Congress have reached an agreement in principle to avoid another U.S. government shutdown. Sources say it includes more than a billion dollars for border fencing, but specifically prohibits a great, big, beautiful concrete wall. No word yet on whether the President will accept the terms while the funding runs out on Friday if there is no agreement.

U.S.-backed forces are locked in a fierce battle with ISIS in the terror group's last Syrian enclave. This exclusive footage shows some of the fighting around Baghouz Al-Fawqani. A woman who fled the town says food is running low and ISIS is using human shields.

Venezuela has set to mark Youth Day with more mass protests against the sitting President Nicolas Maduro and his government. Opposition leader Juan Guaido says Mr. Maduro must resign and aid convoys coming, desperately need food, medicine and other supplies, allowed into the country.

Iran has marked the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and the celebration has come at an especially tensed time.


Relations between the U.S. and Iran are the worst they have been in years, that familiar chant, death to America, ringing out across the streets of Tehran. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is there.


[00:30:15] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Tonight a show of defiance against the U.S. during Iran's celebration of 40 years of the Islamic Revolution, many saying they're not impressed by what President Trump says is his tough stance against Tehran. "Trump is a stupid and crazy man," this Iranian navy SEALer says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States' policy is doomed to be exploded. To the collapsed.

PLEITGEN: Many in the crowd mocking the U.S. One children's stand even had what appeared to be a Bugs Bunny type figure in "death to America" chants.

Iran's Islamic Revolution culminated with Ayatollah Khomeini, returning from exile in 1979. On February 11 of that year, the U.S.- backed shah was officially overthrown.

Iranian students later overran the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding more than 50 Americans hostage for 445 days. U.S.-Iranian relations never recovered.

Speaking exclusively to CNN, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard corps ripped into Washington.

"The Americans and other big powers know that conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran would fail," he says. "So they've started a soft war, a cultural, political and economic war against us; and our people have understood that. They're resisting, and they're prepared."

The Trump administration scrapped the Iran nuclear deal last year and has since hit Iran with crippling economic sanctions. The White House saying Tehran is destabilizing the Middle East with its plastic missile program, Iran says its missiles are for self-defense, the country's president vowing to continue the development.

"We have not asked and we will not ask for permission from anyone to develop our missile capabilities. And we will build a wide range of missiles that include ground to air, air to air, land to sea and ground to ground," he says.

Forty years after the Islamic Revolution, Iran is arguably one of the strongest nations in the Middle East. But also one in economic turmoil as sanctions continue to take their toll.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.


VAUSE: Well, they came looking for food. Polar bears forced to search further than ever before because of the impact of global warming. And they found what they wanted in a village in northeastern Russia. But the arrival of the polar bears has sent locals running in fear, others refusing to send their children to school.

We get details now from CNN's Matthew Chance, reporting from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think this is a particularly vivid illustration of how a changing climate in the arctic is having an impact on the local wildlife and leading to these potentially lethal encounters with humans.

Russian officials say dozens of polar bears searching for food have gathered in and around this remote settlement in Novaya Zemiya off Russia's northeast turn arctic coast. Local residents have recorded them rifling through a local garbage dump, searching for scraps. Even entering apartment blocks, desperate for something to eat.

Now, the bears would normally be hunting seals, but a lack of pack ice means that those seals are out of reach.

Of course, this is absolutely terrifying for the human population of the area. Local Russian officials have released statements saying that the bears have already chased and attacked a number of people. They say locals are scared to leave their homes or to send their children, of course, to school.

Now, because polar bears are a protected species in Russia, a decision has been taken not shoot the animals dead. Instead, Russian officials say they're planning to sedate them and to transport them away from these human settlements.

However, the bigger picture again is that the rapidly changing climate in the arctic is throwing up these extraordinary challenges for all of its inhabitants.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Well, it was a haunting and disturbing song 30 years ago dealing with an issue few ever discussed, but now the song "Janie's Got a Gun" is changing lives and helping the victims that Aerosmith once sang about.




[00:40:02] GRAPHIC: Behind the Brand

FRED NOE, MASTER DISTILLER, JIM BEAM: You know, there's a lot of markets that don't know what bourbon's all about. My name is Fred Noe, and I'm the master distiller at Jim Beam.

GRAPHIC: The Beam family has been producing bourbon, an American made spirit, since 1795.

Bourbon is whiskey distilled from a grain mash primarily made of corn. There are strict rules and regulations for bourbon production. When aging bourbon, new barrels have to be used. No other flavors or colors may be added to bourbon. Ninety-five percent of the world's bourbon is produced in Kentucky. NOE: Oh, I think the future is very good for the bourbon industry as a whole, because the world is starting to learn about bourbon.


VAUSE: It's been 30 years since Aerosmith recorded "Janie's Got a Gun." For a band not known for tackling social issues, they went all in with this song about sexual abuse, rape, incest, victim blaming and murder. This song would earn Aerosmith their first ever Grammy Award.

And now all these years later, they were back together on Grammy night in Los Angeles, not to celebrate their success but the power of a song which has made and is making a real difference in so many lives.


STEVEN TYLER, SINGER, AEROSMITH: I'm deeply honored and humbled to see each of you here for Janie's Fund. Look at this room. I love us. I love us.

VAUSE (voice-over): Frontman Steven Tyler wrote the lyrics. His inspiration was a magazine story about parental child abuse, an issue rarely discussed and almost neglected at time.

But Tyler always wanted to do more beyond this one song. And from "Janie's Got a Gun" came Janie's Fund, a charity for abused and neglected children.

And just like last year, on Sunday night, Tyler, Aerosmith and some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry raised some serious cash for his charity, $2.8 million.

TYLER: One in five girls are sexually abused before they are 18 years old. That means mentally, physically and emotionally, as well. But experts confirm that the abuse is vastly under reported. So it's likely many, many more children are harmed in this way.

VAUSE (on camera): It's a long way from when Tyler started the foundation in 2015 with half a million dollars of his own. But at 70, of the hardest living rock 'n' roll stars of a generation says he's finally found what's good for his heart and good for his soul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.



VAUSE (voice-over): This is Steven Tyler's second scarf-cutting ceremony at Janie's house in Tennessee, which will accommodate up to 14 girls at a time, all victims of abuse and neglect. Here, they'll go to school, receive counseling, and deal with the kind of trauma most could never imagine.

TYLER: Here I am 70, and this kind of stuff is still happening to me. It's just -- it's God. Just when the world feels over, you can turn into a butterfly.

VAUSE: Janie's house grew its wings from one of Aerosmith's biggest hits.

TYLER (singing): Janie's got a gun.

(speaking): Well, I sat down at the piano and I started plinking out, "Janie, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah," and then I said, "Janie got a gun," and I thought, "Wow, all right, well, that's as good a lyric as any."

(singing): Janie got a gun. Janie got a gun.

VAUSE: The Grammy Award-winning song was a hit worldwide at the same time Tyler, who has his own checkered past with drugs and sex, has had to deal with his own demons.

TYLER: I went away to a place for co-dependency, and I happened to meet many, many of the girls there that had been physically, verbally and emotionally, and obviously sexually abused. The years went by and just the right time happened. I just suggested, you know, "What if we had a Janie's House?"

VAUSE: The first Janie's House opened in Georgia two years ago. And to continue to fund his charity, Tyler went where he knew there was no shortage of money: Hollywood, hosting a star-studded Grammy Awards viewing party for the second year. This one gathering on Sunday raised almost $3 million.

JANE LYNCH, ACTRESS: When you talk to Steven about Janie's Fund, he's -- his eyes light up, and you're -- you can't help but get wrapped up into the joy of this work for him. Which is helping abused and neglected girls and giving them a second chance at life.

SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: The majority of people, of families, have, in some way, been touched by sexual abuse, which means that we should be talking about it openly every day.

VAUSE: And there alongside Tyler on Sunday, the Janie's girls he's helping.

ADRIENA TURMEL, JANIE'S HOUSE RESIDENT: The day-to-day life is pretty difficult, but with good supports like Steven, and all these wonderful people here, we're actually able to work towards, you know, making those days better.

TYLER: For the time that they're there, there is poetry on the walls and they've got bunk beds. And one gets the top and one gets the bottom, and they can write on the wall. And it's their place of solitude and safety.

(singing): Janie's got a gun.

VAUSE: And so what began with those four dark and haunting words, "Janie's got a gun" has now evolved. Janie's got a home.



TYLER: All right.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT is up next. You're watching CNN.


DON RIDDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, there, and welcome. It is time for WORLD SPORT. I'm Don Riddell at CNN Center.

Let's start today with a bit of a surprise in the world of tennis. Actually, it's a really big surprise.

The world No. 1, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion, Naomi Osaka, has announced that she's no longer working with her coach, Sascha Bajin.

In the last few months, the Japanese star has really come of age on the biggest stage in her sport, winning back-to-back majors at the tender age of just 21. Many gave Bajin some of the credit in what was his first coaching role, but it's suddenly all over.

Osaka broke the knows on Twitter, saying, quote, "Hey, everyone, I will no longer be working together with Sascha. I thank him for his work and wish him all the best in the future."

[00:45:02] He responded, thanking Naomi: "I wish you nothing but the best, as well. What a ride that was. Thank you for letting me be part of this."

It all seems to be very polite, but there may be more to this story that is all we have for now, though.

Football fans are going to be really spoiled this week. The Champions League is back, and there are some mega ties in the round of 16.

This is the knockout stage: eight games to be played over two legs between now and the middle of March. And four of those ties are going to kick off this week.

On Tuesday a massively intriguing fixture at Old Trafford. Manchester United against Paris Saint-Germain, while last year's semifinalists, Roma, will host Porto.

On Wednesday the reigning champions Real Madrid are at Ajax. But this is going to be a really big test for the Dutch giants, because Real Madrid, of course, have won four of the last five Champions League titles.

Also on Wednesday, we've got Tottenham Hotspur at home to Borussia Dortmund.

It's the game in Manchester that warrants special attention today, though, because so much has changed since the draw was made back on the 17th of December. At the time, remember, Man U. were in complete disarray. The team was hemorrhaging points and morale in the Premier League. A toxic environment was pervasive under Jose Mourinho.

But Mourinho was fired the very day after the draw was made, and the black cloud lifted almost immediately. Look at what they've done since under their caretaker manager, Ole Solskjaer. They're unbeaten in all competitions. And in the Premier League, they've won eight of their nine games, scoring 23 goals and conceding only six.

They've also advanced to the fifth round of the FA Cup, beating Arsenal on the way. Solskjaer believes that his team is ready.


OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER, COACH, MANCHESTER UNITED: We're giving us the best possible opportunity on the way we've gone into this game now. Because we're confident. We've found out what kind of -- I found out what team we have. We're looking -- looking like a team, the playing style that Anthony was talking about, that we -- we are agreeing on how we should approach games. So if there was ever a chance or any time to go into big games like this, it's now.


RIDDELL: Of course, as a player, Solskjaer was instrumental in United's epic treble-winning season of 1999. The memory of his last- gasp goal in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich is still so vivid that it hardly feels like it was 20 years ago.

Now he's preparing to lead them into Europe as a manager for the first time.

Wayne Rooney is another iconic United striker. He's been telling CNN how Solskjaer helped him in his own career and how he's turned the club around in just a matter of weeks.


WAYNE ROONEY, MANCHESTER UNITED PLAYER: Ole is a fantastic person, and after you play with him, he actually -- I always -- I pass advice on which Ole gives to me. I pass onto some of the younger players now.

And I remember as a young lad, I was on the bench and I was -- sat next to Ole Gunnar. And he said to me, "Just keep watching the strikers and their defenders. Watch them. Watch their movements and keep visualizing them, what moves you can make when you come onto to get behind them and score."

And every time I'm on the bench, I always do that; and it's a bit of advice he gave me years ago which I pass on. It sounds strange, but you think that can't be all he's done, but he's

just brought smiles back to the players' faces and brought enjoyment back to the players. But also to the staff who work behind the scenes. They're really enjoying it a lot more.

And when you have players who've got the quality of the players that Manchester United have, sometimes that's all it takes. And -- and allowing the players to make mistakes. Sometimes that just frees the mind up a little bit, and you get results like DPM (ph).


RIDDELL: So that is the Manchester United half of the equation.

It's not quite so positive for Paris Saint-Germain, though. PSG are one of the richest clubs in all of Europe. They routinely win their domestic competitions in France. But this is the one they really crave.

In recent weeks their form has been slipping and two of their star forwards, Neymar and Edinson Cavani are both out injured.


THOMAS TUCHEL, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN COACH (through translator): It's true. We're missing key attacking players. But changing our whole identity because of that, I'm not sure it's the right time. We traditionally play offensively. We're Paris. We're used to playing offensively and creating chances.


RIDDELL: As someone who will have a big say in this game could therefore be PSG's experienced veteran goalkeeper, Gigi Buffon. He's a World Cup winner with Italy. He won countless trophies with Juventus and played in three Champions League finals for Juve.

[00:50:01] He lost them all and is hoping to win the one trophy that's eluded him with Paris Saint-Germain.

He spoke exclusive with CNN's Becky Anderson and told her that Neymar's loss will be significant.



GRAPHIC: Yes, I think this is a problem for us. I'm not sure if it's a big problem or a little one. I hope it's only a small problem and that we nevertheless as a team thrive without him. This would give us great strength and confidence.

But I must say that without a player of Ney's caliber, it's going to be heavy going, particularly because in the last two or three months, he's been in excellent condition, both physically and mentally, and he would have been of enormous help. But nevertheless, we have to do our best in order not to have any regrets and play the quarter finals and semifinals with Ney back. And this would be the best present we could give to him, and I'm sure he would return the favor by playing in those two matches.


RIDDELL: We'll see.

Athletes can seem invincible, but none can go on forever. And we said good-bye to a couple of skiing legends over the weekend. However, both made sure that their last ever races were pretty darn good. That's next.


RIDDELL: We're now just over six months away from the Rugby World Cup in Japan, and on WORLD SPORT all this week, we're going to be taking a closer look at rugby in the first Asian country to host the tournament. Here's a sneak peek at what's to come from Japan's captain, Michael Leitch.


MICHAEL LEITCH, CAPTAIN FOR JAPAN'S TEAM: The last World Cup, people often saying Japan has never won a game at the World Cup. Japan's chances of getting out of the pool stages this time around is very high, but it won't be easy. And every game -- we've got four games to play, and every game is very crucial.

So the teams are very focused; and our main goal is not to get out of the pool stages. It's to keep on winning.


RIDDELL: All right. Tune in at the same time tomorrow when we'll set up our four days of coverage, with a look at the rise of Japan rugby and how a record defeat to New Zealand back in 1995 led to a rugby revival.

There was a prevailing theme at the World Ski Championships over the weekend: so long and thanks for all the memories. Two of the sport's legends skied for the very last time at Are in Sweden, and they both went into retirement in a familiar pose: with medals around their necks. For alpine edge (ph), Patrick Snell has more.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the bottom of the men's downhill in Sweden the stadium was packed with Norwegian flag wavers to support Olympic champion Aksel Lund Svindal in his final race before retirement.

[00:25:00] In a daring display, it was Svindal's compatriot, Kjetil Jansrud, who set a blistering quick time. But three skiers later came the man they'd all turned up to see,

Svindal closing his 17-year career as he crossed the line just two hundredths of a second behind his teammate, making it a one-two finish for the Norwegians.

KJETIL JANSRUD, NORWEGIAN SKIER: It's an honor to be on the podium with him when he retires. This feels like a poetic end to, you know, an amazing career.

SNELL: The pair's close friendship was evident in their celebrations, Svindal savoring the applause for one last time.

AKSEL LUND SVINDAL, RETIRING FROM SPORT OF SKIING: This is as close to perfect as it will ever get. So I'm really, really happy with my run and, I think, with the atmosphere we had earlier in this area, too, with all these Norwegians, we gave them a really good show. And I don't think we could have done any better.

SNELL: The follow day saw the turn of the women and another momentum retirement, for it was the final foray of America's most decorated skier, Lindsey Vonn.

Throwing caution to the wind and herself downhill, she overcame a spate of recent injuries and delivered a career-closing performance worthy of her legacy.

Reigning downhill champion, Slovenia's Ilka Stuhec, capturing gold but Vonn's third place stealing the limelight.

LINDSEY VONN, RETIRING FROM SKIING: To be on the podium one last time, you couldn't have come up with a better scenario.

I willed myself down. I skied with all of my heart. And, you know, for me, today bronze feels lime gold.

SNELL: Vonn and Skindal's retirement parties will go on long into the night, but tomorrow sees the dawn of a new generation of alpine athletes, hungry to break the records set by two of the sport's living legends.


RIDDELL: It's going to take a while to break their records, though.

That's it for WORLD SPORT today. Thanks for your company. I'm Don Riddell at CNN Center. See you soon.


VAUSE: Hello, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Ahead this hour, the terrifying imaginary world of Donald Trump, where El Paso, Texas, was a crime-ridden hellhole saved by a border wall. It wasn't true when he said it during the State of the Union. It is still not true in a campaign rally held in El Paso. So why does Trump keep lying?