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Trump Expected to Sign Budget Deal; Iran Shows Off Its Ballistic Missile Capability; AMI Denies Wrongdoing after Bezos Extortion Allegations; The Joys of Prison Life; Huge Crowds Protest For And Against Maduro; Showdown Looming Between Maduro And Guaido Over Aid; Drug Lord "El Chapo" Convicted, Faces Life In Prison; U.K. P.M. Promises Meaningful Vote After More Talks With E.U.; Turkey Orders Detention Of More Than 1,100 People. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 13, 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. Ahead this hour a battle over humanitarian aid is the latest flashpoint in the struggle for political control of Venezuela with the Maduro regime warning the country U.S. assistance is poison and a biological weapon.

Guilty on all counts. The verdict by a New York jury brings to an end El Chapo's infamous and notorious reign as the world's number one drug lord. While the kingpin is heading to jail, there's no shortage of those ready to take his place.

The art of the deal. How Donald Trump negotiated his way from a Democrat offer of $20 billion to fund his border wall for just $1.4 billion, oh so much winning.

The battle for political control of Venezuela is playing out a tug-of- war over humanitarian assistance. Protesters supporting the self- declared head of state Juan Guaido flooded the streets of the capital on Tuesday demanding an end to the Maduro government and also that convoys of aid waiting on the Colombian border fill out into the country. But Venezuela's Vice President appeared on national television to warn that U.S. aid is poisoned and had been contaminated.

Meantime, Juan Guaido snapped a selfie during Tuesday's protest and made a promise that humanitarian assistance would start to arrive on February 23rd.


JUAN GUAIDO, OPPOSITION LEADER, VENEZUELA (through translator): No matter what, humanitarian aid will come to Venezuela. No matter what because Maduro has to leave Venezuela. It's not the first time that Venezuela has got rid of the tyrant. It's not the first time.


VAUSE: Nicolas Maduro remains to fight denying in fact there is a crisis. He says the U.S. and others are simply distorting the situation to justify intervention. He also has stepped up his attacks on the Trump White House.


NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT, VENEZUELA (through translator): It's a political war of the United States empire, of the interest of the of the extreme right that today is governing, the Ku Klux Klan that rules the White House to take over Venezuela. They are warmongering in order to take over Venezuela.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is President Trump a White supremacist?

MADURO (through translator): He is publicly and openly.


VAUSE: Joining me now from San Diego, California Kevin Middlebrook, a Professor of Latin American Politics at University College London. Kevin, thank you being with us. You know, it seems almost inevitable in the country millions are going hungry and hundreds of thousands of dealing with malnutrition that humanitarian assistance would become politicized.

I want you to listen to the Venezuelan vice president with that warning about aid being sent from the United States. Listen to this.


DELCY RODRIGUEZ, VICE PRESIDENT, VENEZUELA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): That humanitarian aid comes contaminated, poisoned, and is a carcinogen. That is what different scientific studies of the alleged edible goods sent by the United States have showed, which attempts through chemical products to poison our people. We could say they are biological weapons.


VAUSE: You know, a few days ago, Maduro said aid from the United States was filled with the poison of humiliation, now it's just poisoned. At this point, are the only people of Venezuela who might believe that? Are they the ones who aren't hungry and are not in need of assistance?

KEVIN MIDDLEBROOK, PROFESSOR, LATIN AMERICA POLITICS UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON: Well, it is possible that that kind of government propaganda would cause some people to doubt the value of the humanitarian assistance. These are not very plausible claims, obviously, but this really is a battle of political symbols in which humanitarian aid is the principal weapon at the moment of Guaido and his forces are trying to basically put the government in hock by saying that you can't provide for the needs of a population that is greatly deprived in shortages of the food, medicine, and so forth, and that they can.

And therefore must the Armed Forces should open the way for this aid to flow to the people of Venezuela.

VAUSE: You know, it's interesting that he's actually -- Guaido has says a week from Saturday set a date, you know, that his supporters he says will start shipping this aid that's sitting on the border and it'll start flowing into the country.

There's actually no indication of how he actually plans on doing that because this seems to be setting on a major confrontation with the regime because you know, for the trucks to roll past the border gates, that you get past the you know, the tankers and the containers which are laying on their side across the bridge and they should pass you know, the military which has remained loyal at least now to Maduro.

MIDDLEBROOK: It's a very smart effort to try to control the political timeline now to control the political momentum of the situation. There as well in a very difficult volatile moment with two forces contending for the presidency and Guaido is basically trying to outmaneuver Maduro and make it -- make it clear that he really represents the best interests of the country.

Whether he can maintain that momentum over a period of time and maintain the cohesion of the opposition forces that he now holds is an open question, obviously.

VAUSE: It seems that almost every turn Guaido is outmaneuvering Maduro.

[01:05:02] MIDDLEBROOK: He has so far. But Maduro is also taking positions to bolster his own position. He's done that by marshaling his own international supporters, Russia, China, Turkey, etcetera. And he's also tried to find ways to bypass U.S. financial sanctions apparently by opening a bank account or reopening a bank account at Rosneft, the Soviet -- the Russian oil company. And so he too is trying to position himself for the longer term.

In the end, this will be driven in part by how deeply the financial sanctions bite and how much worth the fight -- the humanitarian crisis becomes. But both sides are playing for time and hoping that there's something will turn up to their benefit.

VAUSE: CNN's Isa Soares is on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. She spoke to some people who plan on taking part in the anti-government protesters. This is part of her report.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said to me (INAUDIBLE) with his wife, his two kids, said look we will all be going to protest. We were going to the protest. It's a happy protest. We want change. We want (INAUDIBLE) to come in. But bear in mind, this is what he says me. Bear in mind that is still a very dangerous time for us to be on the streets because you turn around and you don't know if the Jose next to you or the Maria next to you whether they are militia, whether they're with Maduro's people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: You know, it seems for the most part, these protests have now moved sort of beyond anything to do with politics or political ideology. It seems to be quite simply a demand to get enough to eat.

MIDDLEBROOK: Well, this is still very much about politics. Obviously, the day-to-day survival of people in Venezuela is very much a challenge. Some people calculate the average Venezuelan's lost something like a dozen kilos in weight over the last year just because food shortages are so severe. But this is very, very much about politics. Your reporter of it was very, very correct in making one point that this is a very volatile situation in which violence, significant violence can break out.

It's I think quite remarkable that Maduro has unlike in past years, in 2014, 2017 has not cracked down heavily on these mass protests organized by Guaido. But that can change or his own forces can escape his control and it is --it is a volatile situation in that regard.

VAUSE: You mentioned this Russia is you know, sort of offering support to Maduro, Putin has made this offer to help resolve the dispute, also put in warning United States not to interfere. You know, this is causing some concern on Capitol Hill, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said if Russia actually places weapons in Venezuela, the U.S. military may have to intervene.

James Inhofe, a Republican said on Tuesday, I think that it could happen. You've got a guy down there that is killing everybody. You have him put together a base that Russia would have on our hemisphere. And if those things happen, it may be to the point where we'll have to intervene with troops and respond.

You know, (INAUDIBLE) comes with all qualifications and conditions but again, is this an indication of how the situation could quickly spiral into a much bigger crisis.

MIDDLEBROOK: That's correct. But Russia has no material basis on which to establish a military presence in Venezuela so that's really a you know, holding up the old ghosts of the Cold War. The greatest negative outcome here I think would be some form of U.S. intervention. It would almost certainly galvanize the support for Maduro with it not only the armed forces but within a larger part of the Venezuelan population.

It's very important that the United States play a very back role position in this entire game. The United States has a historical legacy. Donald Trump is not popular in Latin America. It's very easy for the United States to overplay its hand and that will rebound against the cause that the United States wishes to support.

VAUSE: Professor, it's great having you. Your insights have been incredibly invaluable, so thank you.


VAUSE: OK, we'll move on now. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, once ran one of Mexico's most feared drug cartels now facing life in prison. A jury in New York found him guilty of all ten criminal counts including international drug trafficking and conspiracy to launder money.

Guzman showed no reaction as the verdict was read but one of his lawyers described El Chapo is extremely upbeat. He'll be sentenced in June. Well, his reaction or lack thereof may have been surprising. The way Guzman lived his life, well, that's been shocking. Here's Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: After some 200 hours of testimony for more than 50 witnesses, the jaw-dropping tales from inside the courtroom show Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's reputation as a ruthless, violent drug lord is hard-earned. Corruption and fear helping to keep some witnesses quiet for years.

In secretly recorded phone calls played for the jury, El Chapo was heard negotiating a deal for six tons, tons of Colombian cocaine.


[01:10:04] TAPPER: What collateral might he used to ensure payment, his nephew. El Chapo was deadly serious. He has allegedly taken part in some 30 murders, many too gruesome to describe here. This diamond- encrusted monogrammed pistol was said to be his favorite and just part of a huge cache of seized cartel weapons including a grenade launcher.

One of El Chapo's former confidants told the jury that he was in jail when El Chapo tried to end his life. The drug boss even allegedly sent a brass band to perform his calling card song outside the would- be victims jail cell window.

Un Puno de Tierra played as grenades were tossed inside the cell. When El Chapo himself was first caught, he proved hard to contain. Witnesses say he continued running the Sinaloa empire from behind bars where he had taken a mistress and paid off guards. In 2001, El Chapo escaped and remained a fugitive for more than a decade.

In 2014, he evaded Mexican Marines through the hydraulic hatch to this bathtub fleeing fully nude through miles long tunnels to a series of safe houses. In prison a year later he escaped through another tunnel this time in his cell shower. But this dramatic raid in 2016 led to his latest capture. El Chapo now under careful watch and thus far unable to escape his fate. Jake Tapper, CNN Washington.


VAUSE: Well, to Washington now and Malcolm Beith Author of The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord now available at the discount table with all good books itself. Malcolm, I'm just wondering, after the verdict you know, we had the defense lawyers, they spoke to reporters, they came out, they admitted that they'd never seen a prosecution case quite like this one. Here's what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFFREY LICHTMAN, ATTORNEY: I've never faced the case with so many cooperating witnesses. I've never faced a case with so much evidence, and we did our best.


VAUSE: OK. So here's the question. Is this the end of the story for El Chapo? Do you need to change the title of your book to the man who was the world's most wanted drug lord?

MALCOLM BEITH, AUTHOR, THE LAST NARCO: Well, the question now is whether he was the actual last narco or whether Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada who the prosecution and defense brought up during the trial is really the last narco. And actually I won't -- you know, spoiler alert here, in my book I contemplated that question too. Because in 2010 when it was published, similar questions were swirling around Sinaloa.

Is this the end for Chapo Guzman? We'll see. You know, he's going to spend the rest of his life in prison but I was talking to a former colleague and friend and we agreed that you know, this is not the last we will see of him. Somehow, whether through his wife, through his son who are believed to be running the Sinaloa cartel or the remnants of it, we will hear his name again.

VAUSE: You know, outside the court, we heard from the prosecutors they went kind of all Eliot Ness. Listen to this.


RICHARD DONOGHUE, U.S. ATTORNEY, EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: There are those who say that the war on drugs is not worth fighting. Those people are wrong. Every day we lose American lives. Every day harm is inflicted on this country by drug addiction. And every seizure, every arrest, and every conviction contributes to a noble effort to save American lives.


VAUSE: I guess perhaps the question should be, is this the right way to be fighting the drug war? You know, last time El Chapo went to jail what 2016-2017, heroin production from Mexico went up almost 40 percent.

BEITH: Yes. You could always question the methods of stemming the flow of drugs or trying to send the flow. Let's face it they are smart businessmen at this point and they will meet the demand if it's there. They were producing -- they were increasing the volume of heroin production back in 2008 when I was there knowing that veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq have historically turned to opiates, that they were ahead of the curve on this opiate trend opioid epidemic, that's not surprising.

What it really does show in terms of -- I don't believe in many victories in the war on drugs. It's a long, long effort. But this trial was a good step continuing in the right direction and that a drug lord like Chapo Guzman who had escaped prison twice, who had fled the law, fled justice in Mexico and created plenty of mayhem and effectively terror in some parts of the country was brought to a courthouse in New York where he was tried by U.S. citizens you know, not particularly a jury of his peers but close -- you know, the closest thing that exists on that sort of trial level instead of for instance -- you know, we didn't drove him out of out of his base.

We didn't bomb him and kill innocence in the meantime. As far as human rights regard are concerned, I think the fact that was held on trial is a great development.

[01:15:14] VAUSE: You know with the fall of one kingpin, comes the rise of another. Goodbye El Chapo. Hello, El Mencho. He's the -- you know, his cartel has makes El Chapo and the Sinaloa guys look like a bunch of Sunday school teachers. Here's part of the report from Rolling Stone.

"The cartel has established trafficking routes in dozens of countries, six continents, and controls territory spanning half of Mexico, including along both coasts and both borders. At the cartel have increased their operations like no other criminal organization to date."

The network about the same size as El Chapo's but grew in half the time. And these guys sound like bloodthirsty lunatics. Again, quoting from Rolling Stone, "In 2015, cartel assassins executed a man and his elementary school-aged son by detonating sticks of dynamite, duct-taped their bodies, laughing as they filmed the ghastly scene with their phones. 'This is ISIS stuff,' says one DEA agent who's investigated the cartel."

There's also reports of huge rocket launchers, they laid siege to an entire Mexican city at one point (INAUDIBLE). The comparisons with ISIS in terms of tactics is pretty accurate.

BEITH: Yes, I -- there's no doubt. I've always been -- I've long been a skeptic of narco-terrorism statues that were introduced during the Bush administration. But the truth is a lot of these cartels have long used terrorists like tactics. Beheadings, any sort -- you know, at the end of the day, they're spreading terror.

That doesn't always fit our definition of terrorism. But without a doubt, they're springing on there -- the CJ and G's modus operandi spaces they've seized on the gap that was left by Guzman's -- and it was the Sinaloa cartel's gradual demise between 2009 and 2016.

So, they've -- that's how they've expanded fast across the world. It's the same roots -- you know that the drugs need to get there. How terrifying they are, and how terrorizing they are? Really remain -- I mean, we have to put it into context.

DEA agents are going to sometimes exaggerate the fears or maybe highlight one killing, one specific incident. I don't track this stuff. But it's something worth tracking over the next -- you know, year or so to see just how violent they're getting. VAUSE: I just want to fiction up here with the word from the newly elected president of Mexico, as far as he's concerned more than a decade of a war on drug trafficking is officially over. He recently told reporters, "There haven't been any capos arrested, because it's not our main purpose."

A capos is a reference to the -- you know, the name of the crime bosses. "What we're looking for is safety, to lower the number of daily homicides." Apart that he says will seeing, you know, substitution for illicit crops.

Can you see this psychos with a duct tape and the dynamite deciding that you know, maybe life as a corn farmer would be a better way of making an honest living?

BEITH: No, it's not going to happen, I mean, my only -- I'm generally pro-legalization of marijuana, at least, the other drugs probably not, it's just not possible. But when Calderon, into -- the President Calderon in Mexico between 2006 and 2012, pushed decriminalization. And the hope was to get effectively -- you know, turn over the drugs, you know, long term to the government.

But, why are they going to give up a multi-billion dollar industry? And the question is, would they be willing to just hold their disputes in a court, for instance rather than shooting each other?

Another reason why this trial is so important, you know, this judicial model someday someone like Chapo might be tried in a courthouse in Culiacan Sinaloa, instead of Brooklyn.

VAUSE: And that would be a day to see.

BEITH: Right.

VAUSE: Malcolm, thanks so much. Always good to see you.

BEITH: Thanks very much.

VAUSE: 44 days to a Brexit and with each passing day it seems the British prime minister loses a little more support. When we come back, the incredible shrinking world of Theresa May.

And call it crackdown 2.0. Two years after a failed coup attempt, Turkey issues more than a thousand arrest warrants for those accused of betraying the government.


[01:21:50] VAUSE: The British Prime Minister Theresa May, denies she's actually running down the clock on Brexit, even though, she'll feel that way. As a reminder, the deadline has not changed. The U.K. is set to leave the E.U. March 29, with or without a deal. And no second vote on her exit deal is in sight.

The prime minister is set to return to Parliament with an update in less than two weeks. But E.U. leaders have already refused to renegotiate. And for some inexplicable reason, Prime Minister May remained optimistic.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The talks are is a crucial stage, and we now all need to hold on earth to get the changes this House requires and deliver Brexit on time.

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: It appears the Prime Minister has just one real tactic. To run down the clock, hoping members of this House are blackmailed into supporting a deeply flawed deal.


VAUSE: And what Britain has decided to push on with its departure from the E.U., an unexpected consequence of the anguish painful Brexit negotiations, has been bringing European countries closer together. CNN's diplomatic editor Nic Robertson explains.


I've been wondering what that special place in hell looks like?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Down to the wire, Brexit is throwing up barbs, isolating the U.K.

DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL: For those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely.

ROBERTSON: Frustration on both sides, P.M. Theresa May shot-back.

MAY: The point I made to him is that we should both be working to ensure that we can deliver a close relationship between the United Kingdom, the European Union in the future, and that's what he should be focusing on.

ROBERTSON: Trouble for May, the E.U. is focusing on a close relationship but not with her, with its remaining members, particularly, Ireland.

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Brexit issue is not the bilateral question between the Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom, it's a European issue.

HELEN MCENTEE, MINISTER FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, IRELAND: Let's thank my colleague and foreign minister of the Netherlands, Stefan Blok, for traveling to Ireland but most importantly traveling here into the border. And --

ROBERTSON: At Brexit's physical impasse days before Tusk's outbursts, an object lesson for May on E.U.-Irish unity.

STEF BLOK, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, NETHERLANDS: I'm pride confident that the E.U. unity will be there until the end. ROBERTSON: Even the normally reserved Swedes are venting their frustration with the U.K. The foreign minister telling a group of Scandinavians, "I cannot forgive the politicians responsible for the process that led to Brexit." Calling it dangerous and badly handled.

In the U.S., May is also facing pushback. Congressman Brendan Boyle, tweeting, "After agreeing to the Irish backstop, Theresa May's government has now reneged on it. Why would anyone negotiate with her now?"

Last week, Ireland's Deputy P.M. Simon Coveney, touring D.C. Meeting officials, questioning May's post-Brexit U.S. trade deal. If Coveney and his boss, P.M. Leo Varadkar were worried about losing friends, it's behind them now.

[01:25:06] LEO VARADKAR, PRIME MINISTER OF IRELAND: I am the European Union when it comes to these matters. So, the Irish government and the European Union are all one when it comes to Brexit. And I'm sure people if they haven't realized that for the past two years they're coming to realize this.

ROBERTSON: Contrasts with his counterpart. Her circle of allies even in her own party less certain by the day. Nic Robertson, CNN, Dublin, Ireland.


VAUSE: The trial is started for the leaders of the failed Catalan independence movement. The 12th separatist charged with rebellion and sedition, face up to 25 years in prison. Pro and anti-separatist demonstrators were gathered outside the Supreme Court in 2017. Catalonia held a referendum on independence with 90 percent in favor. But the movement seemed to fizzle in the wake of a violent police crackdown.

One notable absence in court the previous leader of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Brussels.

It's been more than two years since a coup attempt found to oust Turkey's president. But that does not mean an end to the crackdown on those who the government believes are to blame. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh report's from Istanbul. More than a thousand arrest warrants have just been issued, and a series of raids have taken place across the country.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Early on Tuesday morning, this major operation beginning centered around the capital, Ankara. But also, simultaneous raids taking place in more than 70 cities across the country. Authorities say that they are going after more than 1,100 individuals for whom arrest warrants have been issued.

They say that they are allegedly linked to the banned movement of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen who Turkey accuses of being the mastermind of that failed coup attempt in 2016. Something that Gulen denied. So far, hundreds have been detained in this ongoing operation. Now, when it comes to this specific case, this specific investigation. Officials say that this is related to events in 2010, what they describe as this cheating scandal where questions for a written police exam were leaked by individuals and this is why they are carrying out these arrests.

Now, how does this link to the Gulen movement? We've seen arrests like this, operations like this, investigations like this, over the past couple of years. The Turkish government has long accused members of the Gulen movement of infiltrating state institution, security apparatus, the police, the judiciary, and what they say is this attempt to undermine the state and to try and create a state within a state. A parallel state as it has been described.

And this is, of course, part of this ongoing crackdown that began in 2016 where tens of thousands of people have been detained. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs. According to Amnesty International, they say more 130,000 people were expelled from their jobs for alleged links to the Gulen movement.

And it seems that on Tuesday, this message is clear from Ankara. 2 1/2 years, almost after that failed coup attempt, and this crackdown is far from over. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.

VAUSE: Still to come, what's the president to do? He wants the wall, but he doesn't want another shutdown while he take the deal. What about the base? Compromise, a confrontation, maybe, maybe not. Oh, what is the president to do?


[01:31:04] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Huge crowds flooded the streets of Venezuela's capital, both for and against embattled President Nicolas Maduro. Opposition leader Juan Guaido wants convoys of food and medicine and other supplies allowed into the country. But Maduro's vice president claims U.S. assistance is poisoned and contaminated.

A jury in New York has found drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman guilty of 10 criminal accounts including trafficking, firearms, and conspiracy to launder money. He now faces mandatory life in prison with no chance of parole. He'll be sentenced in June.

British Prime Minister Theresa May told U.K. lawmakers they need to hold their nerve as she continue Brexit talks with E.U. leaders. And she promised a meaningful vote once they conclude. But opponents say she's just running down the clock to try and force lawmakers into supporting her deal.

We're just days away from another U.S. government shutdown but Donald Trump can avoid the whole mess if he signs a bipartisan budget compromise. But that won't give him all the money he wants for his border wall with Mexico. But the President says he has a work-around.

Here's CNN's Pamela Brown.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very simple. We're building a wall.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Trump making clear he is not satisfied with the bipartisan conference deal.

TRUMP: I have to study it. I'm not happy about it. It's not doing the trick.

BROWN: Hinting that if he accepts the deal, he's weighing options, including various executive actions to supplement the proposed wall funding.

TRUMP: We're supplementing things and moving things around and we're doing things that are fantastic and taking from far less -- really from far less important areas.

BROWN: Another possible option -- declaring a national emergency.

TRUMP: I consider everything. I'm considering everything.

BROWN: Sources tell CNN the deal presented to the President includes more than a billion dollars for barrier funding that will cover roughly 55 miles of new barrier along parts of the Rio Grande Valley, a priority for the White House and the border patrol.

More than 40,000 ICE detention beds short of the number requested by the administration but with flexibility for additional funding from other sources as needed. And a $1.7 billion increase in Department of Homeland Security spending focused on technology, ports of entry security and humanitarian and aid.

REP. NITA LOWEY (D), NEW YORK: This is a compromise. No one got everything they wanted but it does secure the border. It does represent our values.

BROWN: The agreement falls well short of the $5.7 billion Trump originally demanded for a wall. And even falls short of the $1.6 billion included in the Senate measure the President rejected in December.

Still many Republicans are urging the President to take the deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope the President can sign it.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: There's no way that the country should be put through another disastrous government shutdown.

BROWN: And Democrats say Trump has no choice. SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: The President ought to

leave or get out of the way. Just sign this thing and enable this country to move forward.

BROWN: But even though Trump didn't commit to signing the deal he also told reporters another shutdown at the end of the week is unlikely.

TRUMP: I don't think you're going to see a shutdown. I wouldn't want to go to it now. If you did have it, it is the Democrats' fault.

BROWN (on camera): Now, the White House wants to thoroughly scrub all the details of this deal before making any firm commitment on what the President will do. But one thing is clear the President wants to avoid another government shutdown as he has said publicly and he also wants to build a wall.

So it appears that executive action as an option to get more funding for the wall is still very much on the table here at the White House.

Pamela Brown, CNN -- the White House.


VAUSE: Kurtis Lee is a national correspondent for the "Los Angeles Times" and he joins us from L.A. Good to see you-- Kurtis. Thanks for coming in.


[01:35:01] VAUSE: Let's review here, the art of the deal. A year ago we had that offer for $20 billion reportedly for, you know, part of this grand bargain which included an overhaul of the immigration and, you know, legalization for the dreamers, you know. Trump turned them down, it wasn't good enough.

Back in December, he demanded almost $6 billion for the wall, he shut the government down for 35 days to get it but he got nothing. So now it looks like Donald Trump will accept just shy of that $1.4 billion. He gets 55 miles of barrier and fencing. (INAUDIBLE) was already in place on parts of the border.

You know, originally with this $6 billion he wanted 200 or so miles of steel and concrete barriers.

He's not going to get any of that. I guess the President -- what, he may need a little executive time, to take a break from all the winning right now? It just seems clearly this is not over.

LEE: No, absolutely. I mean this has been a campaign promise of Donald Trump. I mean ever since the 2016 campaign the President's had the "he's going to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border". And I mean now we're, you know, more than halfway into his first term and there hasn't been, you know, almost any funding for his wall. And we just came off of a 35-day government shutdown the President has insisted time and again that he wants $5.7 billion for a wall. And now, here we are after this 35-day government shutdown and we're just days away from another possible shutdown.

And Democrats have basically said hey, we will give you this $1.3 billion for fencing. And I mean you're even seeing Republicans saying, hey, President Trump take this deal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a phone conversation with the President in which he stressed the need for that -- for taking the deal. So it just remains to be seen if the President does takes this deal. But the time here is -- the clock is certainly ticking.

VAUSE: U.S. Vice President -- Ann Coulter, she hit the Twitter machine to let her frustration be known. "Trump talks a good game on the border wall but it's increasingly clear he's afraid to fight for it. Call this his yellow new deal."

Then during his regular appearance on Fox News, the White House chief of staff Sean Hannity was equally critical.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: $1.3 billion? That's not -- not even a wall or barrier. I'm going to tell this tonight and we will get back into this tomorrow. Any Republican that supports this garbage compromise, you will have to explain.


VAUSE: Ok. Ann Coulter is not the vice president and Sean Hannity is not the chief of staff. But in many ways, they carry a lot more influence in their role as conservative commentators. You know, they're seen as being reflective of the base and if that's the case, the base won't be happy.

LEE: No, absolutely. I mean these are voices that President Trump listens to, you know. Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity obviously -- he's appeared on his show a number of times and done interviews.

I mean a lot -- these two individuals, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, they have President Trump's base, their ear. And I mean the base really listens to these two firebrands who are on immigration. And you know, they really do listen to them and the President sees these tweets and he knows that this base is seeing them. So it has to be in the back of his mind.

I mean right around before the 35-day government shutdown last month, I mean Ann Coulter was tweeting and there were reports that, you know, the President was unhappy with some of her rhetoric and, you know, he was looking at it and that kind of led to a series of events to lead to the shutdown. But you know, these folks are tweeting and talking and the President is certainly listening.

VAUSE: You know what, the plan is to, you know, take this deal, take the $1.4 billion and then find money for the wall elsewhere within the government.

Even as that plan actually comes together, I wonder if the base and all the talking heads will still be unhappy because the President will be seen as giving in to Chuck and Nancy. And you know, the base and the conservative talking heads on the crazy end of the radio dial, they like to fight. They don't like it when this President gives in to the Democrats.

LEE: No, absolutely. I mean the President's base loves for him to fight and they love for him to take it to the Democrats. And on this issue, I mean we saw polls during the shutdown. Time and again polls showed that Americans were blaming the President for the shutdown. And that was -- you know, that was obviously, you know, probably on allies, people in his administration, their minds with this.

But now, his base definitely wants him to fight. And he could be seen as caving on this issue.

VAUSE: Yes. We'll move on very quickly because the President, he's demanding the resignation of Ilhan Omar, one of two Muslim women elected to Congress because of a tweet over the weekend which suggested U.S. lawmakers only supported Israel because they're being paid off by an Israeli lobby group.

The comment was regarded by both sides of the politics as anti- Semitic. Omar, you know, issued an unequivocal apology but that was not good enough for Donald Trump. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress. What she said is so deep-seated in her heart that her lame apology, that's what it was, it was lame and she didn't mean a word of it, was just not appropriate. I think she should resign from Congress, frankly. But at a minimum, she shouldn't be on committees.


[01:40:09] VAUSE: Yes. The same very president who could see very fine people on both sides of a rally when one of those sides were in fact neo-Nazis and white nationalists carrying tiki torches and making Nazi salutes. I mean this is just hypocrisy, which is just galling and beyond the pale.

LEE: Absolutey. I mean this is rhetoric. I mean the President, the President's calling someone to resign, I mean he's made a number of, you know, racially-tinged remarks during the campaign and, you know, during his time in office -- remarks that offend immigrants, that offend Native Americans.

And obviously the comment you made earlier about him saying that both sides were to blame when, you know, white nationalists killed a woman in Charlottesville. I mean this is something that the President has made a number of controversial remarks.

And it's kind of interesting to really see him call on someone to resign who has apologized for her remarks. But again, no doubt the President has obviously made a number of controversial remarks over the years.

VAUSE: If that's the level for resignation, then, you know, Donald Trump should have resigned a long time ago. Anyway, ok. Finish it off -- Kurtis, last word.

LEE: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Ok. Good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

It could have been a Trump-Saudi-"National Enquirer" collusion, a conspiracy of enemies out to get Amazon's Jeff Bezos. If there was such a scheme, what did the U.S. president know? More on that when we come back.


VAUSE: The U.S. Treasury Secretary is in China for another round of high-stakes trade talks. Steve Mnuchin is looking for a productive meeting, of course, in Beijing. The U.S. has threatened to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. That's if a trade deal cannot be reached by March 1st.

But President Trump says he can also move the deadline if the two sides appear close.


TRUMP: Things are going well with China. China wants to make a deal very badly. I want it to be a real deal, not just a deal that makes, you know, cosmetically looks good for a year.

We have a chance to really make a deal, a real deal with China. We've never been be in this position before. We've always been the lame duck.


VAUSE: Presidents Trump and Xi will finalize any lasting agreement.

A show of defiance from Iran with ballistic missiles on display for all the world to see and promises to expand the program despite U.S. sanctions.

[01:45:01] Our man in Tehran -- here's Fred Pleitgen.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Iran flexing its military muscle, launching ballistic missiles which the Islamic Republic says have become more lethal in past years.

At this arms expo in Tehran, a spokesman for the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps praising the weapons.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is able to respond on the same level to any threats against it," he says.

On display ballistic missiles with ranges up to 2,000 kilometers or almost 1,300 miles, capable of hitting targets in many places in the Middle East, and highly maneuverable cruise missiles with a range of several hundred kilometers according to Iran's Armed Forces.

Hossein Kanani Moghaddam (ph) is a former senior Revolutionary Guard commander who used to meet regularly with Ayatollah Khomeini. He says Iran's missiles are key to its defense and bargaining power.

"One of our policies to counter the sanctions is to expand our missile program," he says. "This is exactly the path we're following. The more they increase the sanctions, the more we will boost our missile capabilities."

For the first time Iran recently revealed video of a secret missile assembly factory. The U.S. says Tehran is breaching U.N. resolutions by bolstering its missiles program, a claim the Islamic Republic rejects.

(on camera): The Iranians say their missiles are vital to this country's defense. And they say that they have every right to not only maintain but to also enhance both the range and the quality of their missile arsenal.

(voice over): Israel says Iran's ballistic missiles are an unacceptable threat to its security. And the Trump administration has hit Tehran with crippling sanctions also citing its ballistic missile program.

National security advisor John Bolton ripping into Iran's leadership.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons to intimidate peaceful people all around the globe and ballistic missiles to use as delivery systems.

PLEITGEN: Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons. But it's not backing down from its missile program, a major factor driving the confrontation between Iran and the U.S.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Tehran.


VAUSE: Saudi Arabia has denied any connection to an alleged blackmail attempt of Jeff Bezos. The Amazon CEO and owner of the "Washington Post" has accused the "National Enquirer" of an extortion attempt. The "Enquirer" is a favorite of Donald Trump who is close to the tabloid's owner. But Bezos has hinted as well at a Saudi connection because of the "Washington Post's" coverage of the Jamal Khashoggi murder.

For more on the allegations and try to unravel all of this, here's CNN Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a billionaire who done it that has led to frenzied finger pointing and unproven allegations. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, billionaire, and owner of the "Washington Post" said he was the target of political blackmail by a Trump ally and perhaps even pay back from an unfriendly Saudi government.

For their part, the Saudis say they had nothing to do with the "Enquirer" or its parent company. And the "National Enquirer" says it acted lawfully in its reporting and calls it nothing more than a tantalizing tabloid tale that the papers own investigation will prove out.

ELKAN ABRAMOWITZ, LAWYER FOR AMIC CEO: We just want Bezos to acknowledge the results of that investigation which will show that politics had nothing to do with the story. It was a typical "National Enquirer" story.

GRIFFIN: This is that story. Hours before the "National Enquirer" released its multi-page spread of Jeff Bezos cheating on his wife Bezos released a statement announcing a mutually friendly divorce and gets ahead of the "Enquirer's" blockbuster release.

Bezos launched his own investigation to find out who leaked his personal photos and texts and raised the specter it could be political. The CEO of the "National Enquirer's" parent company AMI, David Pecker is a long-time pal of President Trump. Bezos owns the "Washington Post" which has had hyper critical coverage of the Trump White House.

In a blog post last week, Bezos released what he said were e-mails sent to him from the "National Enquirer's" representatives proposing if Bezos would disavow any belief that the "Enquirer's" coverage was politically motivation, the "Enquirer" would not publish, distribute, share or describe unpublished texts and photos.

Instead of buckling, Bezos exposes the "Enquirer's" tactics then goes on to float the possibility the Saudis may be involved. Even the President today was asked about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you aware that AMI was investigating Jeff Bezos?


GRIFFIN: Bezos has offered no proof, politics or Saudis were behind the story. The "National Enquirer" refuses to identify its source or the motivation behind the leaker.

[01:50:02] But the "Enquirer" and its parent company AMI have other troubles. AMI is cooperating with a federal investigation into campaign finance violations for the tabloid's involvement in covering up affairs the President had with a porn actress and a Playboy model in exchange for not being charged with a crime. If it's determined the "Enquirer's" story on Jeff Bezos involved blackmail, former prosecutor Laura Coates says AMI could be in real trouble. LAURA COATES, FORMER PROSECUTOR: If AMI has violated the cooperation

agreement, it means they may or now exposed to great legal jeopardy for crimes that the SDNY chose not to prosecute initially because there was a cooperator involved. As the SDNY would be well within its rights to prosecute AMI for whatever conduct they committed that was a part of this cooperation agreement.

GRIFFIN (on camera): According to the "Daily Beast" Bezos' private security consultant finished his investigation into the leaks, turned it over to private lawyers who would make the decision whether to involve law enforcement.

It's still unclear if that happened or if the parties involved now just want this to go away.

Drew Griffin, CNN -- Atlanta.


VAUSE: Of all of the joys in life, prison doesn't usually top the list yet. But Bill Cosby, he's having an amazing time. We'll have the latest of the comedian's life behind bars.


VAUSE: Prison life seems to agree with comedian Bill Cosby. He's serving three to ten years for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004. His spokesperson Andrew White says Cosby wakes up every morning at 3:30 and works out even though he's 81.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you hear him describe how he's surviving. What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's mentally strong. He's such a strong man. He said despite the circumstances, he said this is an amazing experience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he really use the term "amazing experience"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He used the term "amazing experience".


VAUSE: Amazing.

White and Cosby's lawyers are the only one who's making jail visits. Apparently they (INAUDIBLE).

He does talk to his wife on the phone three times a day for three minutes each and he's received thousands of letters from total strangers. Some have even sent him money.

In Houston, Texas, a big surprise for the person who decided an abandoned home would be, you know, a really good place to smoke some pot. Waiting in the garage was a tiger in a cage. Police explained what happened next.


SGT. JASON ALDERETE, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: A concerned citizen called 311. They were trying to get into this house to smoke marijuana. We questioned them as to whether they were actually under the effects of the drugs or they actually saw a tiger.

They saw a tiger in this building, this vacant house that's obviously been abandoned for some time. Somebody's been feeding the tiger. There are several empty packages of meat.


VAUSE: The tiger was actually taken to an animal sanctuary. No word yet if the owner will face charges even though they should be locked up in a cage and left in the garage.

[01:55:04] Call it a tale of two Trumps. One is a President of the United States, the other is a show dog.

Jeanne Moos looks at who really is best in show.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two different Trumps took center stage at almost the same time -- President Trump you know but Trump the show dog was competing in Westminster doing some things the President does like shaking hands and some he doesn't like having his mouth examined publicly.

Actually Trump, the Australian shepherd is named after the trump card in a game of bridge, not the President who that very same night was musing about whether he should get a dog.

TRUMP: How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn? Would that be -- feels a little phony -- phony to me.

MOOS: Trump the show dog did not win a herding group competition.

TRUMP: I understand losers.

MOOS: This is a president who barks out insults, using a phrase like a dog. "Bill Maher got fired like a dog. Sloppy Steve Bannon got dumped like a dog. Kirsten Stewart cheated like a dog."

TRUMP: And the guy choked like a dog.

MOOS: Trump himself has been depicted as a dog led around by Putin. Critics have called the President a canine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you lie in bed with dogs, you get fleas.

MOOS: But you can't say Donald Trump never had a dog. I'm happy to introduce Chappy. Actually it was first wife Ivanna's poodle. In her book Ivanna writes Donald was not a dog fan.

She wouldn't move to New York without the dog. It's me and Chappy or no one, I insisted. Chappy had an equal dislike of Donald.

Yet (INAUDIBLE) five years, Trump posed with every Westminster dog show winner and those present said he seemed to enjoy it.

Ivanna writes, despite their issues with each other, Donald never objected to Chappy sleeping on my side of the bed.

That's more than you can say for President Obama and Bo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he going to be on a bed.


MOOS: Still with President Trump there can be only one top dog who's not going to let some a pooch yank his chain.

Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. The news continues on CNN with Rosemary Church after a short break.