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Netanyahu Tweet on Iran Causes Concern; Manafort Violated Plea Deal, Judge Says; Venezuela Opposition Takes Steps to Seize Oil Revenue as Maduro Issues Threat; Theresa May: No Plans To Delay Brexit; Former U.S. Intel Specialist Charged With Spying For Iran; Copenhagen Light Festival A Winter Wonderland. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired February 14, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Hello, and welcome to our viewers, joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, with your next two hours of CNN Newsroom. Let's get started.
REP. RO KHANNA, D-CA: 14 million face famine in Yemen. It's because there's a systematic bombing preventing the food and medicine to get in.
CHURCH: U.S. lawmakers taking a stand against American support for the civil war in Yemen. In Venezuela, the military is still blocking humanitarian aid - how frustration and desperation are forcing people to take risks. Plus, a live report on the high-level and high-stakes trade talks between the U.S. and china.
There's a major push in the U.S. Congress to end American support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a resolution, calling for U.S. forces to withdraw from fight.
Within 30 days, it is a stunning rebuke of the Trump administration's defense of Saudi Arabia, after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashgoggi. The measure passed 248 to 177, along mostly party lines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHANNA: This is not a complex issue. For the last two years, we have been assisting the Saudis in bombing Yemeni civilians. And the reports say there are 14 million Yemenis who face starvation - 14 million. Let's put that in context. Eight-hundred thousand people died in Rwanda - 100,000 in Bosnia, and 14 million face famine in Yemen.
And it's not because the world doesn't have enough food or medicine to get in there, it's because there's a systematic bombing preventing the food and medicine to get in. We want to send the food; we want to send medicine, but the Saudis aren't allowing that food and medicine to get in.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TX: This resolution, in my judgment, misuses the tool to try to get at the different issue of security assistance to third countries. It provides no clear decisions on which forms of assistance are cut off. It does not address the humanitarian catastrophe inside, and alarmingly, it completes ignores the destabilization role that Iran is playing in Yemen and the region. This irresponsible measure is trying to hammer a square peg in a round hole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The U.S. is the world's largest arms dealer, and Saudi Arabia is its biggest customer. From 2014 to 2017, Saudi Arabia acquired more than 8 billion in arms from the U.S. Well, the United Nations calls Yemen the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The Trump administration says Iran is to blame. Here's U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking on PBS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If you want to know who's caused the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, you need to look no further than the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Americans, the Brits, the Saudis, and the Emiratis are doing everything we can to take down the threat from the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, while Iran fuels it.
It provides missiles to the Houthis, that they launch into airports in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. These are the challenges in Yemen; these are the challenges that this administration is determined to push back against, and we're going to keep at it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And the secretary of state isn't the only member of the Trump administration with some harsh words for Iran. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will speak at a security conference in Warsaw, Poland in the coming hours, and he's expected to call out the Iranian regime for its actions in the Middle East.
The Trump administration says its goal is to pressure Tehran to change its behavior in the region, not on regime change. But before the conference officially got started, Israel's prime minister caused controversy with a tweet saying he was there to talk about war with Iran. The tweet was quickly deleted, but not forgotten - Oren Liebermann explains.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has certainly used strong words against Iran in the past, but nothing quite like this. After meeting the foreign minister of Oman, Netanyahu appeared to openly advocate for war with Iran, saying it was a "common interest" of the dozens of countries meeting in Poland, under the auspices of the United States.
In a tweet and an official statement from the government, Netanyahu said this is a open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran. [02:05:00]
About 30 minutes later, that tweet was deleted and the government offered a new translation for Netanyahu, who was speaking in Hebrew. Instead of advancing the common interest of war with Iran, it was significantly softened to advancing the common interest of "combating" Iran.
The word Netanyahu used in Hebrew, (inaudible), can be translated as either war or combating. It depends on the context and the intent of the speaker. The prime minister's office didn't offer a public explanation was to why war was first used in official translations then changed.
From a big picture perspective here, Israel's assessment is that U.S. sanctions against Iran are working. They're crippling Iran's economy and forcing Iran to decrease the number of its forces in Syria and the funding to those forces.
For years, Netanyahu has warned that Iran is the biggest threat to Israel, even calling the threat to the region the world. Israeli has carrying out repeated strikes in Syria, and Netanyahu has said those will continue as long as Iran's presence in Syria continues. Despite the strikes on the bellicose rhetoric, Netanyahu has never openly advocated for war with Iran, and that appears to still be true. Oren Libermann, CNN, Jerusalem.
CHRUCH: Iran says there will retribution for suicide bombing which blew up a bus carrying members of the Elite Revolutionary Guard. The blast Wednesday left the bus in a heap of twisted metal, killing at least 23 and wounding 17. It happened on a desert road in a remote region near Iran's border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A militant separatist group claimed responsibility. Well, territory controlled by ISIS has now shrunk to a single dot on the map. This Syrian village on the Euphrates River is all that's let of the caliphate, but probably not for much longer.
U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, oppressing their final offensive, and as they advance, civilians are fleeing the two by the thousands. Ben Wedeman explains what happens once they leave.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kurdish soldiers, female soldiers frisk the veiled women one by one, after they fled ISIS' last enclave in Syria. Bags are searched, scissors, nail clipper confiscated - the soldiers say, this morning, they found a pistol in one purse.
They both inhabit this land, but live in different worlds. This woman only identifies herself as (inaudible), the mother of (inaudible). Her description of conditions in the town of (inaudible), bleak. "There's lot of shelling (ph), lots of wounded," she says. The men folk are held apart, waiting to be questioned by Kurdish, American, French and British intelligence officers on the lookout for ISIS members and foreign nationals trying to escape among the civilians. Prior to the launch of the offensive on ISIS' last sliver of land, Syrian Democratic Forces officials said about 1,500 civilians were inside.
What's clear is that officials have massively underestimated the number of civilians in the town. Within the last three days, more than 2,000 people have left (inaudible) and there still be thousands left inside - inside and under heavy round the clock air and land bombardment.
There is no clear picture of the number of civilians killed and wounded. The accounts of those who have escaped to this area, where those fleeing are registered, impossible to verify. Alda Mathisala (ph) and her family were staying in a camp for the displaced inside the town. She says they left with bullets flying over their heads.
"Yesterday, rockets hit the camp," she tells me. "They killed civilians. As soon as the planes see movement, they strike. They don't know if they're hitting or civilians." Hala was in the same camp. "There was hunger, fear, bombing, cold," she says. "Many women and children were killed," but there was no ISIS there.
As they wait to be trucked to a camp for the displaced, north of here, there is no bombing; there is hunger, thirst and misery. Supplies arrive, they're gone in seconds. Children jostle in the dust for the scraps. Ben Wedeman, CNN, on the plains of Eastern Syria.
CHURCH: In Venezuela, the opposition-led parliament is moving to take control of the country's oil wealth. Self-declared President Juan Guaido has appointed new boards of directors to the state run oil firm, and it's U.S. subsidiary, Citgo. The move is intended to further isolate and battle Nicolas Maduro, and possibly undercut his support among Venezuela's military leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN GUAIDO, SELF-DECLARED INTERIM VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): A historical moment for Venezuela, we are not only protecting the assets of the nation, but also protecting and safeguarding one of the most important industries for the development of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well with bridges in the country blocked, U.S. officials say they are making plans to fly humanitarian aid in to Venezuela and they are putting relief supplies on the border ready to deliver once it's safe. Now in the meantime Venezuelans are streaming in to neighboring Colombia to get whatever food and medicine they can. CNN's Isa Soares (ph) is there.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every step is a burden. A load they have to carry for miles on end, but even the weight of their cargo does little to hold their tongue. And while the majority cross this border legally, some others take a less travelled road. And they all do it out of necessity.
There's no food -- nothing. Nothing there, he's saying. Coffee, toothpaste -- there's nothing in Venezuela, only sadness -- that's what she's telling me. And yet (ph) 20 minutes away from here on Tienditas Bridge is a warehouse packed full of humanitarian aid waiting to be delivered. Sure this is just a drop in the ocean, but it's creating a wave of expectation on both sides of the border and with that, desperation.
The frustration's evident in every corner of this border town. As Venezuelans line up for food, for money, and for any way out of this crisis.
He's saying Colombia, but this gentleman here he's collecting some money and he's going all the way to Peru. He's telling me we don't want anything to do with Maduro. It seems he's not alone.
They're celebrating the fall of Maduro's regime, premature, after all he's standing his ground with his military still preventing the aid from entering the country. But they're heeding the call of Juan Guaido.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
SOARES: Who has been rallying his troops -- calling on the people to volunteer and carry the aid across the border on the 23rd of February. Are you going to help on the 23rd?
SOARES: As you can see here, everyone -- as you can see here everyone here is prepared to risk their lives to carry that humanitarian aid across the borders. And they're counting (ph) on the army, the rank and file who too, are living on the edge. To walk, as well as stand beside them. Isa Soares, CNN, Cucuta, Colombia.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
CHURCH: The U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to address the crisis in Venezuela at a speech in Miami next week. He welcomed Colombia's President to the White House on Wednesday. Both men insist Nicolas Maduro must resign, and they pledged their support for opposition leader Juan Guaido.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have great respect for the man that most people -- many people think is the real president of Venezuela. He's very brave, it's a very brave situation what he's doing -- as you know. I've seen what's happened in the streets, and I've seen what's happened with executions -- so I really give him a lot of credit.
IVAN DUQUE MARQUEZ, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT: President Guaido, who is the person about to lead this transition in Venezuela has a strong support, and we need to give him even stronger support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: All right, so let's bring in CNN National Security Analyst, Samantha Vinograd to talk more about all of this. So good to see you, and Sam we just heard from President Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque in the Oval Office. Both very supportive of Venezuela's Juan Guaido, the man they see as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. You just met with the Colombian President, what all did he have to say to you?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well as you mentioned, I just went to a dinner hosted by the Concordia Summit with the President of Colombia who stressed a few things. The first is that Colombia itself is under a lot of pressure as a result of what's happening in Venezuela.
President Duque of Colombia by no means will cease his support for refugees from Venezuela and for Juan Guaido. But we have to remember that Colombia is really struggling to go in to -- to bring its own people out of poverty and to raise their living standards while they are hosting about 1.2 million Venezuelan refugees, which is part of why there's such an urgent need for assistance for those refugee populations in countries like Colombia, Brazil and elsewhere.
He also emphasized that there has been -- and has emphasized in his public remarks today, unprecedented diplomatic pressure on Maduro to step down. And that that diplomatic pressure must continue if we're going to see the military and security forces really make a calculation that they no longer want to stay with Nicolas Maduro and instead recognize that the future of Venezuela is with Juan Guaido and a duly elected, legitimate president of Venezuela.
CHURCH: Right, and I do want to talk to you about that in just a moment. But I want to ask too, you've been in-touch with humanitarian agencies trying to get aid in to Venezuela what is the latest on progress with that effort?
VINOGRAD: Well the latest on progress with the kind of two different lines of work that they have underway. One is serving the refugee populations in the surrounding countries, and the other is trying to get aid in to the country and doing normal operations within the country's -- excuse me, from their country offices in Venezuela.
I have spoken with organizations that are working in surrounding countries and treating the refugee populations which are astronomically higher than other refugee crisis that we've seen in places like Syria. The numbers are truly staggering. And what I'm hearing is that the monies that are needed just to treat those refugees are growing at an incredibly scary rate for organizations like UNICEF, the IRC and others.
And the longer this crisis goes on, the larger the refugee crisis is going to be and we are going to have millions of Venezuelans sitting in countries like Colombia, like Brazil, like (Inaudible) and other parts of Central and South America. And these not for profit organizations are really struggling to collect the money that they need to take care of them while we wait for U.S. bilateral assistance to try to get in to the country which is currently stuck at the border.
CHURCH: Right. And as you mentioned Nicolas Maduro remains to find, clinging on to power with the backing of his military -- for now at least. Even as Juan Guaido receives all of this support from leaders around the world, how long though, do you think Maduro can withstand the pressure and what measures could realistically be used to oust him ultimately?
VINOGRAD: Well that is the multi-million dollar question at this point. I think the answer somewhat depends on a few countries that are not currently working with us. We haven't talked as much in the media about the role of India in this calculation but after the United States stopped taking exports of Venezuelan oil, the United States has started putting pressure on India to stop doing exactly that because they are one of Venezuela's largest customers, and Maduro does get money in cash from India when he sells Pedevesa oil to them.
The other two game changers here are really Russia and China. China is a large consumer of Venezuelan oil, but Russia and China have also really given other kinds of financial assistance to Nicolas Maduro.
And if they keep extending him financial lifelines, he could hang on longer and that's why conversations at this point whether it's about humanitarian assistance or any other part of the crisis that is happening right now really needs to involve Russia and China, as difficult as that may be.
CHUCH: Samantha Vinograd, always great to get your analysis -- many thanks.
VINOGRAD: Thank you.
CHURCH: To the Philippines now where journalist Maria Ressa is free on bail. She is an outspoken critic of the Philippine president and was arrested for cyber libel. The CEO of the online news site, Rappler spoke to reporters after she was released from custody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA RESSA, CEO, RAPPLER: For me it's about two things -- abuse of power and weaponization (ph) of the law. This isn't just about me, and it's not just about Rappler. The message that the government is sending is very clear, and someone actually told our reporter this last night, "be silent, or you're next."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Ressa posted nearly $2,000 bail, the news site says the libel charges are related to an article it published back in 2012. She is among several journalists, named Person of the Year by "Time" magazine last year, and she was also CNN's longtime bureau chief in Manila. Local and international journalism groups, and amnesty international are among those condemning her arrest.
Well he made a deal with prosecutors, but a judge says Paul Manafort voided his agreement by lying. What President Trump's campaign chairman could be facing now. And time is running out for a compromised spending bill, what President Trump is saying about the deal to avoid another government shutdown. Back with those stories in just a moment.
CHURCH: President Trump's former campaign Chairman could be facing a longer prison sentence. A judge ruled Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement to cooperate with the Russian investigation by lying to prosecutors. Evan Perez has the details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVAN PEREZ: A judge here in Washington voided Paul Manafort's plea deal with federal prosecutors. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that there's enough evidence to show that Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, intentionally lied in three instances during the time that he was supposed to be cooperating with investigators from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office.
Manafort's attorneys have disputed that he intentionally made false statements, saying he simply didn't remember certain details. Prosecutors had accused Manafort of five specific lies. He plead guilty last year to financial crimes and had agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
The judge issued an order saying that Manafort lied in thereof those topics. The lies were, quote, "material to the investigation." Two of those lies, the judge said, had to do with Manafort's business associate, Constantine Kilimnik. Prosecutors alleged that Kilimnik is an operative with Russian intelligence and they say that Manafort shared sensitive polling data with Kilimnik during a meeting last year at a cigar bar in New York.
Now, we don't know exactly what else happened at that meeting, but prosecutors say that it was important enough that Manafort lied about it, and that those who attended left by separate exits, perhaps to avoid detection. The judge has yet to decide how long Manafort will spend in prison and whether he gets any time for admitting to his crimes. Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: It looks like the U.S. will avoid another government shutdown. Sources say President Trump will agree to a compromised border security deal even though it falls far short of his demand for border wall funding. The deadline for his spending bill is midnight, Friday. Mr. Trump said he wants to see the text of the measure before he decides whether to sign it. And he's hinting he will find other ways to pay for the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you look at the other elements, ICE funding, will be complete. We have other things happening which people aren't talking about, but we've got a lot of funds for other things. But with the wall, they want to be stingy.
But we have options that -- that -- that -- that most people don't really understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Tiffany cross is the co-founder and editor of the Beat D.C. And she joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us.
TIFFANY CROSS, BEAT D.C.: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: Let's start with the judge in Washington voiding Paul Manafort's plea deal with Federal prosecutors saying there's enough evidence to show that Manafort intentionally lied in at last three instances to the FBI's special and grand jury. And that's when he was supposed to be cooperating with the Mueller investigation. What could this mean for Manafort going forward, particularly as he waits to find out how long he'll spend in prison?
CROSS: Well, it doesn't mean anything good. His sentencing is scheduled for March 13th. I think it's going to say a lot of problems for him because Paul Manafort is 70 years old, he's lived a long life of luxury. I mean, the relationship he has with President Donald Trump goes back until the early 80's. He had a firm with his business partner, Roger Stone, who was also recently arrested by the FBI.
And so these two guys, though Donald Trump has tried to say they don't have a close relationship, he was one of their first clients at their firm, so these two guys are looking at a significant amount of time ahead of them. And the thing I find interesting about Paul Manafort, Rosemary, is it wasn't just him. His attorney was also communicating with Donald Trump's legal team, leaking information that he shouldn't have.
So I think this is a cast of shady characters whose going to have a really challenging time convincing a jury that he does not deserve a lot of time, particularly given that he was colluding -- alleging colluding with foreign adversaries to the United States. So it's going to be a challenge for him. CHURCH: Of course while that all goes on, we are still waiting to see if the president signs off on the new compromised border deal. Two sources suggest to CNN that he will, but publically he is saying he'll take a serious look at the deal, saying it could have land mines. What does he mean by that, and do you think he'll agree to this? What signs are you seeing?
CROSS: I think he will agree to this because he has to show some sort of credibility with his base. His base is a group of people who do not necessarily have intellectual curiosity and can sometimes be described as fact adverse. And so they may not start their mornings reading the paper, but they read this president's Twitter feed as the gospel, they will believe the things that he says even though the data doesn't back it up, even though there's no evidence to back it up.
They will believe the misinformation that he perpetuates across social media. So unfortunately, I think because he has a strong following, that he has no choice but to try to gain some credibility. For the other side, I think the Democrats actually gave a lot away in this bill. The problem is, they're dealing with unreliable negotiator who moves the goal post every time. So the fact that they show they were willing to budge, he should change his mind tomorrow about what he wanted in the bill.
And I just want to remind everybody, that there was a bill like this with already $1.6 billion in it in December for border security. It was a bipartisan agreement reached by both houses -- both chambers in Congress, that he blew up afterwards. So I hope that he signs the bill because there were over 800,000 people who went 35 days without being able to feed their family. He owned that shutdown as he should have, when he was in the Oval office with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
I don't think people are going to be so forgiving to go another cycle without pay. Now, he said that he will -- he's open to paying for the wall in other ways, which is kind of ridiculous, because he would literally have to take money from military operations and from natural disaster preparedness funds to fund a wall that by all evidence is unnecessary and that he said Mexico would pay for.
CHURCH: Yes, that's not making the generals very happy either, for sure. We'll see whether this shutdown on Friday is averted. Tiffany Cross, thank you so much for joining, appreciate it.
CROSS: Thanks, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Well, the tariff clock is ticking. Will high level talks in Beijing result in a deal before time is up? We will get a love update. Plus, a former U.S. military intelligence specialist, now a fugitive. Why the FBI wants her but likely won't get her? We're back in a moment.
[02:31:51] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour. The U.S. House has voted to end any U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The U.S. Senate approved a similar resolution in December and is expected to pass this one as well. If the measure is sent to the White House, it could set up a possible veto by President Trump.
Well, Donald Trump is hinting once again he may send U.S. troops to South America to help end the crisis in Venezuela. He met with Colombia's president Wednesday urging Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to resign. A source says Mr. Trump will deliver a speech on Venezuela Monday in Miami. High level trade talks are under way in Beijing. The U.S. Treasury Secretary said so far so good and could soon meet with the Chinese president, but hanging over that optimism a March 1st deadline.
If a deal is not reach, U.S. tariffs could go up to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese goods. So let's bring in our Ivan Watson watching all of this from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Ivan. So we just mentioned that March 1st deadline. But President Trump has indicated that he could move it to a later date if the two parties comes close to an acceptable trade deal, how does that help expectations as these talks proceed?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I guess it makes it a softer deadline, March 1st, a deadline that was impose by the White House in the first place saying that the U.S. could more than double tariffs on some $200 billion worth of Chinese goods going to the U.S. if a deal isn't reached by then. Now, this is believed to be the last round of high level talks between Beijing and Washington before March 1st, so that would seem to put more pressure on both delegations to come to some kind of a deal.
But again, President Trump's statement earlier this week that the -- that deadline could slide if progress wasn't being made that removes perhaps some of the pressure on both sides negotiating away out of this trade war before the week's end, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And of course, Ivan, we all know President Trump is known for his unpredictability. How uneasy does that make the Chinese as they work for these negotiations?
WATSON: Well, the tone from China has been rather conciliatory. You don't see harsh rhetoric in Chinese state-media bashing the U.S. right now as both sides are engaged in these talks. In fact, you've seen a number of goodwill gestures coming from China with offers to buy large amounts of American soybeans offers to remove temporarily a tariff on U.S. cars being exported to China. And you've had some kind of conciliatory measures over the past couple of months coming from the Trump administration for example this March 1st deadline we're talking about right now.
It was initially January 1st, but after meeting between President Trump and the Chinese Leader Xi Jinping at the end of last year, the Americans decide to pushback that deadline and perhaps that's what we may see in the coming weeks. [02:35:13] What the Americans are asking for here are really
substantial changes in China's relationship between the state and its own economy. The U.S. is asking for a substantial transformation in the balance of trade, the enormous trade surplus that China enjoys with the U.S. The U.S. is asking for Chinese markets to be open to American banking, manufacturing, and farming. And that calls into question a lot of the relationships that China has with its own economy and the interventions it makes to help its own economy at a time when the Chinese economy is slowing down.
Its growth in the last year really slower than it has ever been in a quarter century, Rosemary.
CHURCH: And global markets watching closely to see the outcome over these talks (INAUDIBLE) Ivan Watson brings up today from Hong Kong where it is 3:35 in the afternoon. Many thanks. Well, as the two countries talk things out, Chinese consumers are feeling the pinch from the tit-for-tat tariffs. CNN's Matt Rivers gets their perspective from the streets of Beijing.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So I've live in China now since 2015 and one of the first things I noticed when I got here was this sense of economic optimism that when it comes to individual opportunity, things were looking good. But over the last couple of months, there's a thought that maybe that's begun to change.
RIVERS: To be fair, there are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic these days. For starters, there's that giant trade war you might have heard off. China also just posted its slowest annual GDP growth rate since 1990 and the main stock market lost more than a quarter of its value since early last year. Things have cooled enough that you don't have to be an economist to notice.
ZHANG YUQI (via translator): We usually set up payments with our clients before the Chinese New Year, but this year is particularly difficult to get our payments on time.
RIVERS: Zhang Yuqi works in construction and renovation and says a rough real estate market means for clients aren't selling as many apartments as before. It's enough to make her think about her own spending habits. She's now using an app that lets her pay for big ticket items over time like a new car.
YUQI: We can't afford to buy it at its full price, but we can choose to buy it in small installments and pay it back month by month.
RIVERS: In 2018, China new car sales shrunk for the first time in 20 years. iPhone sales were off 15 percent and luxury brands could face a tough 2019 and a slowing economy what people choose to spend their disposable income on changes.
ZHOU CHANG, OWNER, MOVIE TIME FITNESS (via translator): Working out isn't eating or housing. Those are must-haves. Working out is a --
RIVERS: Zhou Chang owns a gym in Beijing that has seen slowing sales this year, but (INAUDIBLE) he says has forced other gyms to close throughout the city.
CHANG: Most people are already have housing loans, car loans, and so on. Only when they can lower that pressure a little bit and they consider other needs like working out.
RIVERS: Among slowing traditional growth drivers like manufacturing, China is depending on consumer spending to support the economy. A recent consumer confidence survey by Beijing-based Capital University puts 2018's fourth quarter index at 99.4, anything below 100 means consumers aren't optimistic overall about the economy.
RIVERS: Now, some economist say there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Chinese consumer, spending on services rather than goods think travel, leisure, healthcare is actually up. There have been tax cuts that could be in play this year and retail sales will still grow. But the fact that I can easily come out on the street here and find multiple people who will tell me that they're worried about the economy, well, that's different than it was when I first got here. Matt Rivers, CNN Beijing.
CHURCH: Well, the U.S. national debt now stands at a record $22 trillion. That's about $67,000 for every men, women, and child in this country. Now, it includes money the government owes itself and other countries. And it could mean higher interest rates on credit cards, home, car, and student loans. The interest on that debt is getting expensive too, $325 billion in 2018. CNN's Alison Kosik has more now from New York.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN INTERNATIONAL GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: As a candidate, Trump promised to get rid of the national debt. But it's hard to see how the Trump administration could reverse this trend now that he has set some wheels in motion which expand the national debt. The ballooning national debt has been increasing over the last century rising at a faster clip since the 2008 financial crisis when the Obama administration and Congress approved stimulus funding to prop up the company.
The debt begun to level off at the beginning of President Trump's term but it jumped again after his tax cuts took effect and to lower corporate tax rate reduce revenues coming into the U.S. Treasury.
[02:40:09] Unless the red physical tide is reversed through higher taxes, massive spending cuts or an explosion in economic growth. The Congressional budget office predicts public debt will balloon by 2029 climbing to 93 percent of the U.S. economy compared to 78 percent now, and public debt not the only threat here. The amount of debt Americans are carrying moved higher to a record $13.5 trillion at the end of last year. That includes housing debts, student loans, auto loans, and credit cards. This is troubling in such a strong economy and the fed warns that it
could signal a downturn is on the horizon. For example, a whopping seven million Americans are 90 days or more behind on their auto payments. That's a million more than during the financial crisis. In New York, I'm Alison Kosik. Now, back to you.
CHURCH: Well, Airbus is pulling plug obvious the jet once described as the future of air travel. Production of the Airbus A380 will stopped in 2021. The decision came after Emirates Airline cut back its orders. The world's largest airline first took flight 14 years ago and 234 of the double-decker planes have been delivered so far. That is a fraction of what Airbus had predicted it would sell. Well, she was once a trusted U.S. Air Force intelligence specialist.
When we come back, why she's now a fugitive and U.S. authorities probably won't be able to arrest her. Plus, as U.K. lawmakers haggle on where to go with Brexit. Those who make their living on the border are looking for ways to stay afloat in case of a crash out. Back with that in a moment.
CHURCH: U.K. Parliament is debating Brexit again. In just a few hours, lawmakers are there to suggest possible ways forward. But not much has changed since parliament rejected Theresa May's deal last month. So far, the prime minister has failed to convince the E.U. to renegotiate. Though she says talks are at a crucial stage and she stands firm on the U.K. leaving the European Union on March 29th.
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[02:44:55] THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The government -- the government's position is the same. We triggered Article 50. In fact, this house voted to trigger Article 50. That has a two-year timeline. That ends on the 29th of March. We want to leave with a deal and that's what we're working for.
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CHURCH: Well, the entire deal rests on trade, of course, and the U.K. ports are preparing for delays on both sides of the border. But the CNN's Anna Stewart reports across the channel, they are confident things will run smoothly.
ANNA STEWART, CNN BUSINESS NEWS JOURNALIST: The port of Calais, geographically speaking is the Brexit frontline. And not since the 1800s has a faced a threat like this from across the channel.
JEAN-MARC PUISSESSEAU, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PORT BOULOGNE CALAIS: We are now investing 6 million euro to be prepared to the Brexit. But what shall we do? If we don't do anything, we will not be prepared.
STEWART: Jean-Marc Puissesseau is the CEO of the port, where he says 3,000-4,000 trucks cross to in from Britain by ferry each day. A no- deal Brexit could put an end to friction as trade and forced trucks to clear customs.
ALEX VEITCH, HEAD OF GLOBAL POLICY, FREIGHT TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: Even adding a couple of minutes for the most basic checks, even that will tailback up to about 20 kilometers either side of the border.
STEWART: The French, the British say are decidedly ill-prepared. Battle plans are being drawn up, U.K. trucks recently testing an airfield near Dover as a place to cue if the warnings come to pass.
Puissesseau is defiant. His Brexit plan, a holding area where 250 trucks can go through additional checks. He's confident customs will run smoothly.
PUISSESSEAU: There will not be any more control except the question, "Monsieur, do you have your papers ready?" If it is yes, there will be (INAUDIBLE).
STEWART: You're putting a lot of faith and trust in all these hauling companies, in knowing what to do and doing it.
PUISSESSEAU: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That's what I think so.
DAVID ZACCHEO, OPERATIONS MANAGER, ALCALINE HAULAGE: No, I don't think they are. I don't think they're going to be ready to cope with the potential volume of vehicles. They're going to be stopped.
STEWART: The first shots may have already been fired. The U.K. government recently announced plans to divert traffic away from Calais. When he heard the news, Puissesseau, said the British transport secretary was no longer welcome at his port.
PUISSESSEAU: It's a pity. (INAUDIBLE). Know that just in front of that 36-kilometer attribute third country who I still not believe it but its relative.
STEWART: Anna Stewart, CNN, Calais.
CHURCH: Well, the Egyptian Parliament is debating constitutional amendments that could have long-term consequences for the country. The proposals would extend presidential limits from four to six years and reset the clock for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Letting him run for two more terms, which means he could be on office until 2034.
Supporters of the plan, say it would help stabilize Egypt's economy. Critics argue it's another step toward authoritarianism. El-Sisi has won two elections since seizing power in a military coup in 2013.
A former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer vanished years ago that concerned authorities especially because she had access to some of the most highly classified secrets of the United States military.
On Wednesday, the FBI announced she is now a fugitive and believed to be a spy for Iran. Our Brian Todd has our report.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For more than a decade, she was a trusted counterintelligence agent for the U.S. Air Force with access to information on clandestine agents, human sources, recruiters, and a trove of sensitive secrets.
Now, 39-year-old Monica Witt is charged with espionage. Accused of spying for one of America's most dangerous enemies. Iran and its notorious Revolutionary Guard Corps, known to sponsor terrorist attacks around the world. The Justice Department which announced Witt's indictment says she's been a serious threat to national security.
JAY TABB, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: And we actually do believe that she gave information about her colleagues, and identity of her colleagues to the Iranian government.
TODD: As an Air Force intelligence officer, U.S. officials say, Witt was deployed throughout the Middle East on secret missions. They say she defected to Iran in August 2013, and officials believe she's still being harbored there. What specific intelligence do they believe she gave the Iranians?
TABB: Monica Witt provided the Iranian government with the identities of employees in the U.S. intelligence community who were operating covertly.
TODD: And officials, say Witt gave the Iranians the codename and target of a U.S. military intelligence operation. And created so- called target packages the Iranians could use against American agents.
Former CIA officer, Reuel correct, who tracked Iranian spies for 10 years, says providing a target package means Witt would have given her Iranian handlers information on a U.S. agents residence, daily habits, possible vulnerabilities. How could the Iranians use the target package?
REUEL MARC GERECHT, FORMER OFFICER, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: They would allow the Iranians to track that individual, and I assume if they wanted to do target, hurt, recruit, kidnap, you know, a whole variety of possibilities there.
[02:50:07] TODD: Gerecht says, while with handlers may not have wanted to use for target packages against the American agents who operated outside war zones, she still could do damage.
GERECHT: In a war zone, if they're giving a target package on individuals who operate in Afghanistan, who operate in Iraq, and are possibly accessible, then, that's something else.
TODD: Prosecutors, say one of Witt's handlers was impressed with her. Writing to her at one point, "Should I thank the secretary of defense? You were well trained." They say, Witt, wrote back, "Lol, I love the work and I am endeavoring to put the training I received to good use instead of evil." Now, the U.S. says it wants to find and arrest Witt, but with no diplomatic relations or extradition treaty with Iran, that may not be possible.
TABB: We would hope that someday, she might travel outside of Iran and we would be able to affect her arrest and render her back to the United States to stand justice.
GERECHT: I think the odds of the Department of Justice getting her hands on her in Iran are near zero.
TODD: Reuel Gerecht says, any attempt by the U.S. to take Monica Witt into custody would probably have to involve a covert operation to capture her from Iran. Including surveillance and tracking by intelligence officers. He says if the Iranians suspect that could happen they are probably hiding her in a safe house with minders and surveillance of their own which would make any U.S. attempt to grab her very dangerous. Brian, Todd, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: Let's take a short break here. But with less than 10 hours of sunlight a day, things can get pretty dim in Denmark this time of year. But the capital city is hoping to lighten the mood with some illuminating art. We'd back with that.
CHURCH: Well, several storms are threatening the Western U.S. this week with the heaviest impacts expected over California. Our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam is here in the studio to talk more what's going on.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: You know, we were just checking some of the social media fees that we do typically during these events. And we're getting reports of mudslides and debris flows already in California from the heavy rain that's a result of this parade of storms that is lining up over the Western U.S.
Let's take you there, we'll take you to the U.S. state of California first and foremost because they've had significant flooding because of their onslaught of storm systems that have impacted the region.
Take a look at this. Just outside of Portland, some dramatic images -- aerial images of the flooding. You can see how that's washed away some of this residents backyard, and they would hear the sound bite from one of the women that was interviewed here saying that she saw power lines and trees and entire branches and bushes just floating in her backyard. So, get to the graphics and you'll see what's taking place.
Extensive amount of moisture just streaming into the U.S. This is the water vapor satellite imagery. And we have what is called an atmospheric river of moisture. So, that is just taking Pacific Ocean moisture, and depositing it in the form of rain and high elevation snowfall for the Western U.S. Look at these rainfall totals. Impressive so far, to say the least, 230 millimeters just in a day and a half of the Venado region, in Sonoma County. So, more rain on top of what's already been taking place. So, we have over 30 million Americans with some sort of flood threat today. And that includes flash flood from San Francisco to Los Angeles because the potential exists there for flooding just because of the amount of rain that they've had recently.
So, the radar lighting up like a Christmas tree, but you can also see how the snow is impacting those high overpasses, as you head over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over 15 million Americans with a wind warning or wind advisory today.
Wind gust have exceeded 120 kilometers per hour. And so those high elevations. So, you can imagine that's bringing down power lines, and branches, and trees. So, it's really a mess, it's going to be here through the weekend. Good news is that the ski resorts get plenty of snow.
[02:55:28] CHURCH: We want some good news.
VAN DAM: That's for the lot.
CHURCH: OK? And we pull the day with that.
VAN DAM: All right, Rosy.
CHURCH: Thank you so much for joining us again. Appreciate it. Well, a festival in Copenhagen is transforming the Danish city into a winter wonderland, and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, Northern Lights. Our Christina Macfarlane, reports.
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: The Scandinavian winter can be a grim experience. In February, Sun rises about 8:00 in the morning, local time. And it sets again around 5:00 in the evening.
The Copenhagen Light Festival gives visitors a reason to brave the freezing temperatures.
MARTIN ERSLED, ARTIST: I think the light festival gives people a head start of spring. And so many months, it's been dark up here in the northern countries. And we hunger for summer and spring. So, this gives us, yes, a little hit start of that spring feeling.
MACFARLANE: The festival brings together 40 designers from many different countries, who have set up displays all around Copenhagen. Installations range from this depiction of the Northern Lights at Tivoli Gardens. To this morning about global warming. To this pyramid complete with artists doing tricks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is like a dance, basically, yes, between many, many colors, I think it's and be remarkable for many people to see. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amazing light. I saw a couple when I wandering around last night. I saw that they glazer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guy versus guy, a lot of 32.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very charming, very beautiful.
MACFARLANE: The Copenhagen Light Festival opened on February 1st and runs until the 24th. Organizers say, 130,000 visitors, have already viewed the installations by boat in the city's canals. Christina Macfarlane, CNN.
CHURCH: Gorgeous. Well, thanks for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church and I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN. Stick around.