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Trump Declares National Emergency; Interview with Texas State House Rep. Cesar Blanco; Special Counsel Says Manafort Deserves 20+ Years Prison; Vatican Defrocks Former Cardinal McCarrick; World Leaders in Germany to Discuss Global Threats; Fact-Check of U.S. President's Border Wall Claims; Nigerian Elections; Rising Popularity of Backcountry Skiing. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired February 16, 2019 - 05:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be signing a national emergency. There's rarely been a problem. They sign it. Nobody cares.


NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Soon after President Trump declared the national emergency for border wall funding, the list of challengers to Mr. Trump's announcement is rapidly growing.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus, taking a stand against sexual abuse the Vatican dismisses ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood. We have a live story on this from Rome.

ALLEN (voice-over): Live to Nigeria, where people find their polls closed across the country after the country's electoral commission delayed the presidential vote. We'll get the latest on what that's about.

HOWELL (voice-over): We are live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen, NEWSROOM starts right now.


N. ALLEN: And we begin at the White House declaring a national emergency is a big deal, so when the U.S. president made good on his threat to do that, to fund his wall, the lawyers and a lot of other people pounced.

HOWELL: Within hours of the president signing the document declaring this national emergency, the first lawsuit was filed. It was made by the government watchdog group Public Citizen.

N. ALLEN: Mr. Trump acknowledged he faces an uphill battle that might not succeed. Strangest of all, he may have sabotaged his own case by admitting he didn't really need to do this. We get more from CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trying to take a victory lap after a stinging defeat in Congress, President Trump declared a national emergency at the border to start tapping into administration funds to build his wall.

But the president may have already undercut his case when he indicated his real motivation is to speed things along.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I would rather do it much faster. And I don't have to do it for the election. I have already done a lot of wall for the election, 2020.

ACOSTA: Adding in more than $1 billion authorized by Congress, the White House said it's secured a combine $8 billion for the wall. But the president was still selling the project, accusing critics of lying when it's pointed out that most illegal drugs coming into the U.S. go through legal ports of entry.

TRUMP: When you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all comes through the port of entry. It's wrong. It's wrong. It's just a lie. It's all a lie.

ACOSTA: But the president was once again hyping the threat at the border, making all sorts of unproven claims of his own.

TRUMP: Women and girls, you can't take them through ports of entry. You can't have them tied up in the backseat of a car or a truck or a van. They open the door. They look. They can't see women with tape on their mouth or three women whose hands are tied.

ACOSTA: And the president lashed out when the facts were presented to him.

ACOSTA (on camera): There's a lot of Department of Homeland Security data out there that shows border crossings at a near record low --

TRUMP: That's because of us. But it's still -- excuse me --

ACOSTA: -- that shows undocumented immigrants committing crimes at lower levels --

TRUMP: You don't -- you don't really believe that stat, do you?

Do you really believe that stat?

Take a look at our federal prisons.

ACOSTA: What do you -- well, let me ask you this. I believe -- I believe in facts and statistics.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president sounded petulant, grumbling over the likelihood that Democrats will take him to court for circumventing Congress.

TRUMP: And we will then be sued and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit, even though it shouldn't be there and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we'll get a fair shake and we'll win in the Supreme Court.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump also appeared to mimic the president of China as he marveled over how the autocratic country punishes drug dealers.

TRUMP: I asked President Xi, I said, do you have a drug problem?

No, no, no.

I said you have 1.4 billion people.

What do you mean you have no drug problem?

No, we don't have a drug problem.

I said, why?

Death penalty. We give death penalty to people that sell drugs, end of problem.

ACOSTA: And the president bristled at the notion that conservative media stars are actually calling the shots when it comes to his policy.

TRUMP: Look, Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do. Not of me. If I changed my views, he wouldn't be with me.

Rush Limbaugh, I think he's a great guy. Ann Coulter, I don't know her. I hardly know her.

ACOSTA: But there are cracks in his wall of conservative support.

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: The only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.

ACOSTA: The president all but stomped his feet when he was asked whether he was simply making up this national emergency. But the president has bigger things to worry about than which questions are asked at a news conference, such as the --


ACOSTA: -- growing number of Republican senators who are raising concerns about the president's declaration, saying it may be unconstitutional -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE) N. ALLEN: Within hours of the president's declaration, congressional Democrats were demanding to know the legal basis for making such a claim.

HOWELL: The House Judiciary Committee has already fired off a letter demanding answers and the House will look to block the president's legislation. Here's what two of those Democrats told CNN.


REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: The Judiciary Committee will do an investigation of Donald Trump's authoritarian power grab. The framers of the Constitution are rolling in their graves right now. They specifically gave the power of the purse to the House of Representatives.

There is no way they would allow the president to override that power by declaring this fake national emergency. We want to interview these witnesses. We want to know what basis they have for this national emergency, what kind of communications they have.

We want to request documents because we believe the president and his staff are acting in violation of the Constitution.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: I am sure we will pass a resolution disapproval in the House pursuant to the emergency statutes.

That mandates, under the emergency statute, the Senate consider the emergency disapproval within 15 days without any ability to filibuster. I anticipate there will be a majority vote in both house to disapprove the resolution.


HOWELL: Again, I misspoke, I want to be very clear, the House will move to block the president with legislation. We will see how that moves forward.

N. ALLEN: There are already about 650 miles, a little more than a thousand kilometers of a physical barricade built between the U.S. and Mexico, that includes the Texas city of El Paso, an area the president has cited as justification for more border wall.

HOWELL: President Trump has argued that crime rates and illegal immigration have dramatically declined because of the border wall there but the critics tell a different story. Listen.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: In 2008, that border wall demonstrably made us less, not more safe. El Paso, as you know, has always been, at least for the last 20 years, one of the safest cities in the United States of America.

Before a wall it was, after a wall it was. So if the wall didn't make us safer, if it costs a lot of money to maintain, if it cuts us off from parts of our community, from our land, from our water supply, then it serves no real purpose and it should come down.


N. ALLEN: Joining me now is Cesar Blanco, a Democratic member of the Texas State House of Representatives. He joins me via Skype from El Paso, Texas.

Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Blanco.


N. ALLEN: You represent and live in a border city.

Is the president's declaration of an emergency at the border valid?

BLANCO: No, it is not. I am literally here in my home, which is about a couple of yards from the existing border wall. And we're one of the safest cities in the country. Most of the cities along the Texas-Mexico border are among the safest in the country. So the president's statement is false.

N. ALLEN: So where is it coming from?

What about the number of illegals trying to cross into El Paso?

Do you not see that as a problem as the president illustrates?

BLANCO: No, what the president has been saying is inaccurate. The numbers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection have indicated that migration has decreased throughout the years. And we really don't see that type of problem here.

Most of the people that come across overstay their visas. So I think it's a symptom of a broken immigration system in the United States. I think that the border wall is something that this president has campaigned on and hasn't really been able to deliver, so now he's calling a national emergency because he needs to fund a wall for his base.

N. ALLEN: Well, he visited your city, El Paso, recently. He has continued to talk about dangerous people, criminals, drug dealers coming across the border; in fact, he did that on Friday. Let's listen to what he said.


TRUMP: In El Paso, they have close to 2,000 murders right on the other side of the wall and they had 23 murders. That's a lot of murders. But it's not close to 2,000 murders, right on the other side of the wall in Mexico. So everyone knows the walls work and there are better examples than El Paso.


N. ALLEN: So how do you explain what he is talking about there? BLANCO: Well, there is violence on the other side in Mexico. There has been zero spillover violence in the United States. We continue to be one of the safest cities --


BLANCO: -- in the country and I think he's using information from Mexico or the situation in Mexico to legitimize the necessity for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Look, I grew up here in El Paso, Texas. I have family in Juarez. Our community is a food community. We go back and forth and we visit each other, we visit Juarez and have dinner or lunch and visit family members over there.

And folks from Mexico come across legally. They shop. They dine here. we co-exist as a community. We are two cities that are binational. We're right on the Mexico border. And we share the same community. But we don't have that type of violence on this side of the border in El Paso.

N. ALLEN: Here are the statistics we have. According to FBI crimes data and city law enforcement data analyzed by the newspaper, the "El Paso Times," violent crime peaked back in '93; border fence construction was completed in 2009 but violent crime dropped long before the fence was built in El Paso, falling 34 percent between '93 and 2006.

Then in 2006 to 2011, violent crime in the city went up again by 17 percent but dropped again around the start of operation Hold the Line, which stationed hundreds of Border Patrol agents around the border surrounding El Paso.

So that's the illustration of what the situation is, is that accurate and what is working for El Paso?

BLANCO: Well, what's working are a combination of things. Our local law enforcement, meaning our sheriffs department, our police department, in coordination with federal law enforcement agents, the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs, they are coordinating. They do a phenomenal job of protecting our communities.

We also utilize technologies, such as drones, cameras, sensors and the like, to continue to keep our communities safe. A wall is a medieval approach to a modern situation and I think that we need to go beyond that and be smart about it.

There are Republicans, one of them, Congressman Will Hurd that I agree has the same ideas that I just laid out before you. So there are ways to protect secure this border we view technologies that are smart. A medieval approach with a border wall is very expensive and just not very effective.

N. ALLEN: We appreciate your input there from El Paso, State Representative Cesar Blanco, thank you.

BLANCO: Thank you.

HOWELL: Now CNN has learned exclusively that the special counsel's team has interviewed the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders. The subject of that interview, though, it is still not clear. But it could have something to do with how Sanders composed statements she made about the Russia investigation.

ALLEN: She told CNN, "The president urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them."

But that might not be completely accurate. The source says the White House did not immediately agree to let Mueller's team interview Sanders.

Meantime the special counsel's office says it now has evidence former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone had direct communications with WikiLeaks.

HOWELL: Earlier, court filings had only outlined his attempts to communicate through intermediaries. Prosecutors say Stone wanted information about emails stolen by Russian hackers that could help Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

And the special counsel's team says President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort you see here, deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

N. ALLEN: The 69-year-old Manafort was convicted by a Virginia jury last year for bank and tax fraud and other crimes related to money he earned from Ukrainian politicians. For more about it, here's Evan Perez.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Paul Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison if a judge follows sentencing guidelines endorsed by special counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors.

The guidelines call for between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison. A federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted the former Trump campaign chairman guilty of financial crimes, including tax and bank fraud.

He's turning 70 this year. The prosecutors say he shouldn't get a break because of his age. They say that Manafort, quote, "acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law."

Manafort has separately pleaded guilty to federal charges here in Washington but a judge has voided the plea agreement after ruling that Manafort lied to investigators and to the grand jury during the time he was supposed to be cooperating.

A newly released transcript in from a hearing in D.C. --


PEREZ: -- federal court centers on the importance of Konstantin Kilimnik in Manafort's case. He was Manafort's business partner in Ukraine.

Special counsel Robert Mueller says Kilimnik is essentially a Russian spy. Manafort's lawyers have tried to push back against that, saying that Kilimnik also met with U.S. diplomats, suggesting perhaps he was a double agent.

During a sealed court hearing a few days ago, the judge said it doesn't matter. She said that Manafort lied about his communications with Kilimnik and the judge said that Kilimnik is the link between the Russians and the Trump campaign, which goes to the heart of Mueller's Russia investigation -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


N. ALLEN: The U.S. vice president Mike Pence takes to the world stage to speak to leaders at the Munich Security Conference. We'll take you there live to Germany ahead.

HOWELL: Plus the Vatican drums a disgraced American and former cardinal out of the priesthood. The continuing fallout of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal as CNN NEWSROOM continues.




N. ALLEN: A major development in the Catholic Church abuse scandal we are learning about. Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, once a respected and influential religious leader in the United States, has now been kicked out of the priesthood.

HOWELL: A church trial found the disgraced former archbishop of Washington guilty of sexually abusing minors. McCarrick had previously denied the accusations. The Vatican says the pope's decision cannot be appealed.

Let's get more now from CNN's senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, following this live in Rome.

John, tell us more about McCarrick, his importance and the significance of this latest move to kick him out of the priesthood.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SR. VATICAN ANALYST: Well, this is an extraordinarily significant move, it is in fact unprecedented. A cardinal has never been -- the colloquial term for this is defrocked; that, is kicked out of the Catholic priesthood. Of course, it is because the accusations of sexual abuse, both of minors and adults, that have been lodged against former cardinal McCarrick.

Over the summer, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as a cardinal. So he became an ex-cardinal. Today he an ex-priest. This is essentially the most significant penalty in church law that can be --


J. ALLEN: -- imposed upon a cleric. It's the Catholic equivalent of the death penalty. Clearly the Vatican hopes this will send a signal of resolve in seriousness about the clerical sexual abuse scandals.

We should note this comes just a couple of days before a keenly anticipated summit of presidents of national bishops conferences from all over the world is going to begin here in Rome, convened by Pope Francis to try to get on top of the clerical sexual abuse scandals -- George.

HOWELL: Put this into context, it does seem like it's one after another after another.

Is this putting more pressure on the pope and the Vatican to address this problem differently and more directly?

J. ALLEN: Yes, I absolutely think that's the case. And we should say that, you know, the Vatican wanted to have this verdict against McCarrick announced before that summit in order to sort of have it out of the way.

The difficulty is the McCarrick case is not out of the way yet because the questions most people have aren't just whether McCarrick, himself, was guilty but who knew what he was up to?

Who covered up for him?

Who allowed him to remain at the peak of power in the Catholic Church for 20 years, despite persistent rumors that he was engaged in this kind of conduct?

In other words, what the Catholic Church needs is accountability, not just for the crime of sexual abuse but also for the coverup. I suspect you will hear a lot of talk about the accountability question in the wake of today's decision.

It will certainly be a part of the subtext for this high profile summit of bishops that begins in Rome on Thursday. Until that piece of the puzzle falls into place, George, I don't think anybody will be prepared to say the job has been done.

HOWELL: All right. Certainly this, a big move by the pope, John Allen, live for us in Rome. Thank you.

N. ALLEN: A warehouse in Illinois was the scene of the latest tragic example of gun violence in the United States. Police say an employee there was being fired from his job when he went on a rampage at the facility. He killed five fellow workers and wounded five police officers and another employee.

HOWELL: Police say that he used a handgun in the 90-minute attack. He was trying to hide when officers found him and killed him in a shootout. A bystander said the gunman was shooting, quote, "everybody with a weapon that had a laser site on it."

N. ALLEN: U.S. vice president Mike Pence will take the stage soon in Germany. He is leading the U.S. delegation at the Munich Security Conference.

HOWELL: We continue to monitor events there in Munich. Leaders from all over the world are coming together to discuss the greatest threats to global peace. But this year the United States is somewhat isolated for its approach to several foreign policy issues.

N. ALLEN: CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is covering the conference. He joins me now live from Germany?

What are the issues at the forefront of this year's meeting and what a role does the U.S. Is likely to be broached by Mr. Pence when he speaks?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, I think very likely the audience will hear maybe what Mike Pence spoke about a couple of days ago in Warsaw.

That is that the United States really feels at odds at the moment, particularly with Britain, France and Germany, because of their creation of the financial instruments to get around the sanctions the United States put on Iran.

That's a point of tension, we heard Chancellor Merkel talking about the interconnectedness of things, global warming, the big issues President Trump opted out of on the global stage, he opted more isolationism, more bilateral arrangements rather than the multinational global talks, institutions that help keep world peace and world order.

So there are tensions and differences. The U.S. delegation here, the biggest in years, that has been noted by the audience here, interestingly, when there was an introduction for that U.S. delegation earlier on, Nancy Pelosi, when her name was announced, there was a huge round of applause from the audience.

We get a sense of where their sympathies lie, not so much with the Trump administration, Mike Pence arrived and his speech coming up, as you say, people here anticipating it.

We will also be hearing from the Russian foreign minister around the same time as well, so, of course, maybe some interesting comments both ways there.

N. ALLEN: You know, there are so many issues right now that the next summit with North Korea, troops pulling out of Syria, eventually the United States, historically, though, Nic, how important, though, is this conference?

ROBERTSON: You know, the trends you hear discussed here --


ROBERTSON: -- at the Munich Security Conference tend to be the issues that come up over the next couple of years. So what's being discussed here -- and I think everyone here seems to recognize that this is a moment of change, not that the change is coming but that it's happened. It's happening to the global order, a re-alignment of the global order.

Perhaps a sense of a new Cold War, a multi- -- a new Cold War. China is seen in the ascendancy at the moment. The United States under President Trump is seen as a disruption to the past global order at the moment.

So all of that is a sense of change. But what you hear being spoken about a lot is about the technologies of the future, the game-changing battlefield technology is what we are talking about, the INF, the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, it looks will be ending this summer across a number of issues, particularly artificial intelligence and how that will apply to the battlefield.

So there is a huge amount of change coming, the global order. But the systems that will fight the coming wars.

N. ALLEN: Fascinating. You will be covering it for us. We are about to hear about the U.S. vice president, Nic Robertson, thank you.

HOWELL: It's interesting to think about global warming, but AI, the pros and cons around that.

N. ALLEN: An unknown.

HOWELL: Still ahead, Mexico wouldn't pay for it, neither would the U.S. Congress so President Trump found another way to do what he threatened to do all along, he declared a national emergency. We will fact-check the president's claims ahead for you.


TRUMP: We have tremendous amounts of drugs flowing into our country. Much of it coming from the southern border. When you look and when you listen to politicians, in particular certain Democrats, they say it all comes through the port of entry. It's wrong. It's wrong. It's just a lie. It's all a lie. They say walls don't work. They work 100 percent.






HOWELL: A welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. We thank you for it. I'm George Howell.

N. ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen.


N. ALLEN: U.S. President Trump has made good on his threat to declare a national emergency after Congress denied his demand for border wall funding. Now lawsuits have already been filed to stop the president from diverting federal funds to build his wall and congressional Democrats will bring up legislation to disavow his emergency declaration.

HOWELL: Whether or not the president overstepped his authority may ultimately rest with the U.S. Supreme Court. If he wins, he could access an additional $6.6 billion to fund the wall he wants to build on the Mexican border.

The president makes a lot of claims about the border wall and how it will protect, he says, the U.S. from crimes, illegal drugs and illegal immigration.

N. ALLEN: As our Tom Foreman reports, some of his claims don't seem to be very accurate.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the president's chief claims to his fans that always gets a lot of applause is the Idea that the wall has already been started.


TRUMP: We are right now in construction with wall in some of the most important areas and we have renovated a tremendous amount of wall, making it just as good as new. That's where a lot of the money has been spent on renovation.


FOREMAN: The second part of that statement is true, there has been renovation, just as there has been under every president and that's all there has been. There has been no new wall construction. This is a fact.

There may be some started next month on a very tiny part of it. But for him to make the claim with the other one there makes the statement at very best misleading.

El Paso had a giant crime problem. They built a wall and the crime was solved.


TRUMP: When the wall went up, was it better?

You were there. Some of you. It was not only better, it was like 100 percent better.


FOREMAN: Yes, go to El Paso. They do have a huge wall, a huge barrier. And yes, they had a huge spike in violent crime. It went way up and it came way down. The problem is, the wall was built down in this area. And crime actually went up after it. All that had nothing to do with the wall. It happened before the wall.

That claim by the president is simply false.

One more he really likes to make is about how much drug traffic is coming in over that open land out there, where there is no big barrier.


TRUMP: A big majority of the big drug loads don't go through ports of entry. They can't go through ports of entry. You can't take big loads because you have people. We have some very capable people, the Border Patrol, law enforcement, looking.


FOREMAN: We don't know what he means when he says big drugs, big loads?

Monetary value?

Physical size?

We have no idea. We do know this, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the very people --


FOREMAN: -- he is citing there saying, no, most of the drugs come through the official ports of entry. Look at heroin, what they say about heroin is the majority of the flow is through personally owned vehicles entering the United States at legal ports of entry followed by tractor-trailers.

You need some proof?

Look, here's the pictures the DEA puts out showing some of those loads coming in here. In fact, the only type of drug coming in illegally that is more likely, according to DEA, to come over open land where maybe a wall would slow them down or stop them, is marijuana. So again this claim by the president is false.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about that with Natasha Lindstaedt, who teaches government at the University of Essex in England, joining us this hour.

Thank you so much for your time.


HOWELL: This whole debate, is this truly a national emergency, is it not so much?

Let's start with the president's own words. Let's listen closely to how he answers this question from reporter Peter Alexander with NBC News here in the States.


TRUMP: I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this but I'd rather do it much faster.


HOWELL: "I didn't need it but I'd rather do it much faster."

Keeping in mind it took the president some five minutes to even get to the issue of the wall. He ticked through a number of other topics before he spoke about it. But in these few plainspoken words he seemed to contradict his own emergency.

We may be having some trouble.


LINDSTAEDT: I'm sorry, I wasn't sure if you had another clip for me.

It's a political emergency for Trump. It's not a national security emergency. It's an emergency of his own making. There is nothing about this that would constitute a national emergency. National emergencies would need to be something that is extraordinary, a rare event, where the threat is imminent, where it could have a geographic scope of affecting all kind of American citizens.

And this doesn't even come close to passing that criteria. And he admitted it, himself, which I was sort of amazed by . He admitted that, you know, I didn't need to do it but I just needed to do it faster.

So clearly this is driven by his need to satisfy his base and to satisfy the right-wing media that was so critical of him when he caved earlier regarding the shutdown. So he is making this a lot worse than he needed to.

HOWELL: Let's get a sense of what people are saying about this most recent poll that gives a sense of people, you know, answering the question, should Trump declare an emergency to build the wall?

Well, you see 66 percent, Natasha, say no; 31 percent say yes. The majority of people in this poll taking, siding against this keeping in mind the poll taken before the emergency was declared.

But looking at this as a gamble, Natasha, whether the president may or may not get what he wants, does this constitute a win for him in the eyes of his base that he tried?

Or if it doesn't happening, if the wall doesn't get built, does that then work against it?

LINDSTAEDT: It does constitute a win for his base. But that's really the only win that will come from this because as the poll revealed, 66 percent of the public does not want him to do this. They don't want him to build a wall by declaring a national emergency.

I think the Republicans that will likely support him on this, because senator Mitch McConnell says he will support Trump on this issue, they are not looking at the long view, that what does this mean for the next president?

It could be a Democrat. As Nancy Pelosi was tweeting, this could have a serious implications for future leaders. They may decide to declare gun control a national emergency or the environment a national emergency -- so it could come back to bite them if they decide to push for this.

HOWELL: So now the rules of allow for Congress to contest the president's move here.

That challenge almost certainly to come from the House of Representatives. And it sets up an automatic vote in both chambers where Republicans will either have to stand by many of the statements made on record, Republicans calling this a bad idea or, Natasha, we will watch the acrobatics of lawmakers contort themselves to fall back in line with the president.

How do you see the Republican Party responding if forced to a vote?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, there is only a handful of Republicans that have come out and been against this. And what it's looking like is that most of the Republicans or at least enough to prevent a two-thirds majority of passing this, which would be needed to prevent Trump from vetoing it.


LINDSTAEDT: Most of the Republicans will go in line with what Mitch McConnell wants them to do. They may privately think very differently, that this probably isn't a good idea.

That could really come back to hurt us later on. But they keep siding with Trump again and again and again. There are so many instances where I thought the Republicans would decide, enough is enough. There have been too many abuses of power that have taken place. But it looks like this is going to go through and it will probably end up in the courts.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt following this story with context and perspective, thank you.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me. N. ALLEN: Tens of millions of people in Nigeria went to vote or were about to vote and all of a sudden there is no election being held. Elections there have been postponed and political parties are furious. So are citizens. We'll have a live report from Nigeria about what's behind it.




HOWELL: The president of Haiti is standing firm, refusing to step down as that country spirals deeper into chaos.

For more than a week now, violent anti-government protests have gripped that nation, one of the poorest nations. Protesters set off car fires, looted stores and clashed with police.

N. ALLEN: They are angry about soaring inflation and government corruption allegations. Local media reports several people have been killed since the violence began. Canada is working to evacuate more than 100 of its citizens, who are trapped at a hotel. And the United States is advising travelers to stay away from the country.

HOWELL: To Nigeria we take you next, where the top political parties are condemning --


HOWELL: -- election officials after they delayed the presidential elections by one week. It was a surprise to many people.

N. ALLEN: Right. Voters were supposed to head to the polls Saturday but the elections were postponed at the last minute, leaving polling stations across the country empty.

HOWELL: The electoral commission says the delay was necessary to ensure fair elections. Voting will now be held February 23rd. Following our story, David McKenzie is live in Abuja.

You show up to vote, you think you are there to do it. All of a sudden you are told, hey, not this week. It's still unclear for many people, many wondering when it will happen. Tell us about why this delay and what's the reaction to it there?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The reaction is disappointment and frustration. Many people would have come to these polling stations, in fact, seven polling stations were in this primary and secondary school. You see now, kids playing some soccer here. There should have been hundreds of people lined up to vote.

Some people even, George, slept overnight. Traveled across the country to get to the home areas to be a part of this crucial vote. More than 80 million people disappointment. A recent statement from the president, Muhammadu Buhari, says he is

deeply disappointed. He is coming here to the capital. He says they were assured, as he put it, hour by hour, day-by-day, the electoral commission would be ready to go ahead with the vote.

Right now the country is mostly calm. There have been pockets of some tension. But there have been delays of votes both in 2011 and 2015. So some Nigerians will take this into their stride, though, it is deeply inconvenient and leads to worries of the legitimacy of the vote because of the uncertainty of this process.

HOWELL: David, keeping in mind, we have seen no violence before. So the concern about this question now, as far as this vote being delayed, are people very upset to hear this?

MCKENZIE: Well, certainly they're upset. They've inconvenienced themselves, the streets were closed. The border is shut down. People were told they had to come to vote and that it was a democratic right and then that right is, if not taken away, certainly delayed.

The opposition party are saying they are asking people to keep calm, of course. Also, starting to raise questions about the legitimacy of the electoral commission and its independence.

The president again just recently assured the nation of its independence and said they need to carry out their work. So a huge amount of pressure on the electoral commission to get the right.

They say they had logistical challenges, getting ballot boxes, ballots to the various polling stations. We spoke to some people this morning who were supposed to run this election on the local level. They said that everything they needed, not the ballots, they came to work, some of them sleeping overnight to put through this critical election. And then were told basically to go home and come back in a week's time -- George.

HOWELL: It's left some people scratching their heads for sure. David McKenzie following this story live in Abuja, thank you.

ALLEN: We will take you to the snowy western United States to show you a different way to enjoy all that powder.

That might be Derek Van Dam there.

HOWELL: I think it is.





(MUSIC PLAYING) ALLEN: Our own Derek Van Dam an avid snowboarder, fresh back from

fresh powder out West. George and I just look like losers after this story.

HOWELL: Pretty much. Derek will tell us about all the fun he had along with the science in the backcountry.



N. ALLEN: We have no life.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I tell you what, I think everyone will appreciate this. We are in the midst of winter right now and a lot of us, I'm not the only one, enthusiasts of skiing and snowboarding, look at the computer models, they want to know when will the snow be the deepest?

And when can we have that addiction for skiing and snowboarding?

But somewhere outside of the long lines of the resorts, somewhere in the backcountry. And I have that answer right here in this package. By the way, I am the guy in the brown and yellow jacket.

HOWELL: Smiling.

VAN DAM: That's right, ear-to-ear.


VAN DAM: As a meteorologist, I thought I had the inside track on when the snow would dump. But here with the Steamboat Powdercats, they know when the big snow is coming. So we have perfect conditions for backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Come on.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The allure of backcountry skiing comes from people's desire to skip the long lines at resorts while virtually guaranteeing the deepest, softest, powdery turns one can imagine.

But traversing untouched mountainous terrain comes with its challenges. That's why Steamboat Powdercats enlists expert guides and specialized machinery to transport the customers to the best snow of their lives.

BRITNI JOHNSON, STEAMBOAT POWDERCATS: I guess I'd liken a Sno-Cat to have a bulldozer on track so that we can move through deep powder without getting stuck so to speak.

VAN DAM (voice-over): It is no coincidence that Northwest Colorado consistently receives some of the highest snowfall totals in the state.

JOHNSON: Buff Pass (ph) is known for having some really special orographics. It's one of the deeper snow packs throughout the state of Colorado. VAN DAM: This is a trademark champagne powder they keep talking about, low density and high fluff and maximum fun.


VAN DAM: Nice.

VAN DAM (voice-over): As if skiing perfect snow all day long wasn't enough, there's even a gourmet meal and a warm drink waiting for us at this private cabin deep in the wilderness. The 11 others who joined me on this adventure clearly knew what they were doing. Me, on the other hand, could have benefited from another day on the mountain.




N. ALLEN: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For our viewers around the world "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is next. Thanks, for watching CNN the world's news leader.

N. ALLEN: See you later.