Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Interview with Republican Senator Marco Rubio; Venezuela's Economic, Political, Humanitarian Crisis Reaches Critical Level; Democrats Plan to Vote to Overturn Emergency Declaration. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired February 17, 2019 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:00] MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR COLIN KAEPERNICK: -- like you would not believe, and a protector. A fierce protector.

I think the issue was hijacked by the President. I think that people kind of cowered in the face of that. And I think, ultimately, at the end of the day, there was a brave voice -- brave two or three voices in various spots that said, no, America is better than this and we're going to do the right thing.

I think you're going to see -- I'll make the bold prediction, you can save the tape. I think you're going to see within the next two weeks that somebody is going to step up. Somebody is going to do the right thing.

And you want me to predict two? I will tell you besides the Panthers, it would not surprise me if Bob Kraft makes a move.

CABRERA: Oh, yes?

GERAGOS: Yes, I would -- that would not surprise me. And it would not surprise me if his former coach -- I'll test your knowledge -- also makes a move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: It's 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Right now, two countries, both in crisis at the highest level. One is the United States, launched into a state of national emergency by President Trump, who insists that drugs and deadly crime are pouring in from Mexico and that only a wall can stop them. Democrats in Congress call this crisis fake. They are pushing back.

Another national emergency in our hemisphere, a little more obvious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHANTING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Venezuela. Crippling poverty and political unrest there created a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe. And this weekend, U.S. Air Force cargo planes are again delivering food, medicine, and relief supplies to areas just outside Venezuela's border.

Joining me now, in a U.S. network exclusive, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. He is in Cucuta, Colombia, where U.S. humanitarian aid just arrived yesterday.

Senator, tell us, what are you doing there on the Venezuela border today, and why was it important for you to be there?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, I mean, the first thing is, obviously, the United States has made a big contribution, thanks to USAID, in prepositioning all of this aid that's ready to go to help the people of Venezuela who desperately need it.

The second, obviously, is to thank our Colombian allies who have done a phenomenal job. I cannot say enough about President Duque and how the Colombian people and the Colombian government have stepped forward and just done extraordinary things for their neighbors.

And third is to speak to the people of Venezuela -- we're just, you know, less than a mile away from the Venezuelan border -- and to be able to let them know not to give up, that the world is with them. That we will stand with them, the United States and the international community, every step of the way no matter how long this takes until freedom is restored in Venezuela.

But this really -- the number one issue right now is how do we get food and medicine to people who are dying of preventable diseases and starving to death because the regime and the dictator do not allow humanitarian aid to reach them.

CABRERA: And so on that note, Nicolas Maduro has said he believes the U.S. aid is a Trojan horse intended to oust him from power. What happens if he doesn't let that aid through?

RUBIO: Well, look, the aid is going to get through, and I think, ultimately, the question is whether it gets through in a way that he's cooperative with or in a way that he's not. But there's no way you're going to stand, ultimately, in the way of a people whose children are starving to death, whose families are dying in hospitals, because of preventable diseases and they don't have the medicine for it.

So, obviously, tactics are something I'm not going to publicly announce to allow the regime and their allies to do -- make efforts to block it, but I would say this. Imagine for a moment if you're a member of the National Guard or the Venezuelan military.

Your own family is hungry. Your own family is starving. Your own relatives are dying because they can't get dialysis or HIV medications. And you're going to follow an order to block that from reaching the people?

I think the bigger threat comes from these criminal bands that he's empowered. These -- literally, these street thugs that he's given guns to. They're the ones that present a greater danger, but I will say this to you.

We know -- if there is violence next week and people are harmed here, we know who is responsible for it, and every single one of them will pay a price. They will face justice and they will spend -- or they would spend the rest of their lives worried about justice catching up to them.

CABRERA: President Trump has said nothing is off the table. Would you support any military intervention, and do you believe it will come to that?

RUBIO: Well, the only military intervention that's happening now in Venezuela is the Cuban government, the Cubans that are controlling everything that's happening, the security forces and everything else.

The United States retains the right to utilize military force in its national security interest anywhere in the world. That's not just Venezuela. That's anywhere on the planet. But that's not what we're here to do today.

There is no military aid here. This is food. This is high-energy bars for starving children. This is rice. This is beans and lentils. This is sanitary kits. This is medicine. That's what we're here to do, and none of that has anything to do with military intervention.

CABRERA: Right.

RUBIO: Feeding people is not anything to do with the military. And, in fact, it is a crime against humanity to deny food and medicine to unarmed and innocent civilians.

[19:05:04] CABRERA: I understand that and I agree with you on that, but would you support military intervention ultimately?

RUBIO: Well, it's not my decision to make. I, ultimately, will tell you I support defending the national interests and the national security of the United States anywhere in the world where that's being threatened. And ultimately, I'll leave it at that because that's not what we're focused on right now.

CABRERA: OK.

RUBIO: I will say this -- and I won't go any further than to say this to you -- there are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are. And if they are crossed, there will -- I am confident, based on everything I've heard from this administration and everything I know about this administration, that the consequences will be severe. And they'll be swift. And he's aware of that.

But, again, our focus here is nothing to do with that. It has to do with food and medicine. That's what we're hoping will happen and we expect to happen starting next week.

CABRERA: You're at the Colombia/Venezuela border. President Trump just declared a national emergency to build a wall to protect the southern U.S. border. It's a move I know you have opposed. Would you vote for a resolution disapproving the emergency declaration?

RUBIO: Well, let me tell you something I did since the beginning of my time in the Senate. And that is, when I'm overseas, I don't care -- whether President Obama was president or now, a president from my own party, I don't discuss, debate, or in any way attack any administration when I'm overseas doing work that's overseas.

I'm on the record talking about how I feel about that. I refer you back to it. I'm not trying to -- you can ask me on Monday when I'm back stateside, and I'm more than happy to answer it there. But when I'm overseas, I just don't criticize our government nor do I speak about domestic political issues while we're here.

CABRERA: You don't have to criticize the government. Are there enough Republican senators to get a supermajority overriding a potential presidential veto?

RUBIO: I don't know. As I said, I have no idea. I mean, we'll find out. And maybe we won't but, as I said, right here today, we're here focused on Venezuela and on this bipartisan support that exists for this.

It's another important point to make. There is extraordinary bipartisan support for what U.S. policy towards Venezuela is, and that's important for the Venezuelan people to know.

CABRERA: You are still a U.S. senator, and the President just declared a U.S. national emergency. Is there a national emergency happening right now in the U.S. at the U.S. southern border?

RUBIO: Well --

(LAUGHTER)

RUBIO: Well, that's the third time you asked me the same question, and it's going to be the same answer. I've made public statements on this. They're out there. I've tweeted about it. I encourage you to refer to those.

And I'm more than happy to talk about it again on Monday when I'm back, but when I'm overseas, I just don't talk about domestic politics. It's a practice that, frankly, has been a tradition of U.S. office-holders for a long time.

CABRERA: OK. Before I let you go back to Venezuela, for one more moment, you said there is a red line in this situation in Venezuela. What is that red line?

RUBIO: Well, I think some are obvious. We have U.S. personnel still working inside of Venezuela. Should any harm come to them, they'll be -- I believe, based on everything I know about this administration, the consequences will be severe and swift.

We expect the legitimate government, the National Assembly and its Interim President Juan Guaido's freedom and liberties to be respected, not to mention his life. And, of course, innocent people, people that are doing nothing -- if

you come -- if you're walking down the street carrying humanitarian aid peacefully -- food, medicine and nothing else -- you should not be the target of violence. And if you are, I don't just think the U.S. would respond to something like that. I think the world would, and -- but, obviously, we hope it doesn't come to it.

Because, at the end of the day, I think there are, hopefully, enough good people left in that regime or around it, I should say, in the security forces at the ground level, at the rank and file level, who are not going to deny their own parents, their own neighbors, their own mothers and fathers, their own children, food and medicine.

CABRERA: All right, Senator Marco Rubio, again, joining us from the Colombia/Venezuela border. Thank you very much for taking the time.

RUBIO: Thank you.

CABRERA: Let's bring in CNN's Nick Valencia.

Now, Nick, you went down to the border this weekend as well between Venezuela and Colombia on one of those U.S. military aid flights. What is the plan to make sure the people who need them most get those supplies?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, how and when these supplies get delivered to Venezuela is, ultimately, Ana, up to the Venezuelan military, military whose families are also affected by the crisis: the food shortage, shortage of medicine supplies -- medical supplies.

I spoke to Lester Toledo who is a representative for Interim President Juan Guido, and he believes that the military, he says, will do the right thing, the moral thing, and allow the supplies in.

Guaido, for his part, has called for the borders to be opened on February 23rd, so all eyes will be on next weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA (voice-over): It isn't just a mission to deliver basic goods. It's a mission to deliver hope. Over the weekend, three planes carrying 66 metric tons of humanitarian relief made its way to the Venezuelan border with Colombia. The supplies, part of an effort led by the USAID and both the Departments of Defense and State.

JULIE CHUNG, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY IN THE BUREAU OF WESTERN HEMISPHERE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE: These are just the basic necessities.

VALENCIA (voice-over): State Department official Julie Chung helped lead the mission to assist the millions impacted by what she called a man-made crisis created by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

[19:10:07] CHUNG: The only thing that's stopping us is the Maduro regime. We've seen them block the bridges, block the roads. And it's an abomination to humanity to stop basic necessities and goods from entering your country to help your own people.

VALENCIA (on camera): Is there any concern that something like this would provoke him from doing something even more drastic, that this could, perhaps, be seen as further politicizing a crisis?

CHUNG: If anyone is politicizing the crisis, it's Maduro.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Lester Toledo, a representative of self- declared Interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaido, joined the U.S. officials on the trip to the border. He was there when the first stage of U.S. aid arrived on the Venezuelan border February 8th. I asked him if this is the year Venezuela will turn the corner.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

VALENCIA (voice-over): He said he thinks it will happen in a matter of weeks.

VALENCIA (on camera): This is the second shipment of humanitarian aid sent by the U.S. government to help Venezuela in the last two weeks. They say it's part of their commitment to Interim President Juan Guaido. And inside these pallets, they say, is enough to feed 3,500 children and up to 25,000 adults.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Landing in Colombia, the humanitarian convoy was greeted by USAID Director Mark Green. He said the aid is arriving at the most critical time.

MARK GREEN, ADMINISTRATOR, UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: The crisis Venezuelans are fleeing is man-made.

VALENCIA (voice-over): In a matter of minutes, the supplies were offloaded and driven to this warehouse in Cucuta, Colombia, positioned only a few hundred yards from Venezuela. The question now, with the border closed and Maduro's regime showing no sign of backing down, how to get the supplies to the people who need it most.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: And U.S. Administrator for -- USAID Administrator Mark Green says that this aid is coming at the most critical time, a time when children are starving in the country, children who don't have to starve. Hospitals are struggling to stay open.

And this is now a regional crisis. However, there is concern, Ana, that the U.S. involvement in this crisis could now provoke Nicolas Maduro. And we know how unpredictable he can be -- Ana.

CABRERA: Nick Valencia, in Miami, thank you.

Three days into President Trump's national emergency in America, a curious development: a fund-raising effort by his campaign based off his latest executive move.

Plus, she's no stranger to sparring with the President. And now, Senator Amy Klobuchar is taking him on as the latest Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race. We'll take you live to the early primary state of New Hampshire.

And it was a remarkable struggle for survival, how this man fought a mountain lion and won. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:43] CABRERA: It's now day three of what the President has called a national emergency over his border wall. The backlash pouring in with Democrats slamming the President's move to get the wall built as unconstitutional, and they're planning a joint resolution to disapprove it. But can they stop it?

Joining us now to discuss, former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings; and former presidential adviser to Nixon, Reagan, Ford and Clinton, David Gergen.

David, Trump is not the first president to declare a national emergency, but how does this one stack up?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he's not the first. There have been nearly 60 national emergencies declared in recent years. But this is the first that really is about a declared emergency over a border, and that is as controversial as this one is. Most of them have been fairly -- most of the past emergencies have been straightforward.

This one is causing a storm. It's causing a -- Scott will say, I think, that it's causing heartburn within the Republican Party because there are a number of senators who think this -- and indeed many in the House, who believe this is an unprecedented and inappropriate, if not illegal, grab of power by the President.

CABRERA: Scott, you worked for George W. Bush. He declared 13 national emergencies, notably in the aftermath of 9/11. Trump declared this national emergency and then he spent the weekend playing golf. What message does that send?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I actually think these kinds of -- you know, what are you doing with your time after you declare one of these things is kind of silly.

The reality is the national emergency is a little different than the ones that other presidents have done. But what's not different is that this president is doing what Obama, Bush, Clinton, and other presidents have done, and that's try to expand the office of the presidency. To try to expand executive power.

The question here is, is Congress going to stand up to him? As Mr. Gergen said, there are Republicans that have heartburn, not only because of the hypocrisy of it -- we spent eight years criticizing Obama for his executive action going around Congress -- but also because of the future precedent that it could set.

If a Democratic president decides to take these powers and run with them, who knows what they might do on climate change or gun control or health care or anything else that would cause a conservative to freak out? So there's a lot of heartburn, especially among the Senate Republicans.

And we -- you know, I think a simple majority exists in both chambers to overrule this emergency declaration. I'm not sure there are enough votes to override a presidential veto. And anyone who tells you they know a vote count is lying because it is really up in the air, in my opinion.

CABRERA: But, Scott, why wouldn't there be enough Republicans to overrule a veto, given what you just said about the Republican Party being united against President Obama's use of executive authority?

JENNINGS: Well, Republican members of Congress know that their voters, Republican voters, trust President Trump more than they trust them to solve the nation's problems. That's number one.

Number two, Donald Trump has a higher job approval rating than the Congress does. And so the American people look upon him more favorably than they look upon the Congress, generally.

And so there's a lot of political implications here for siding against the President of your own party, especially as everybody is going into a re-election campaign, not just the President but a number of senators and, obviously, all the Republicans in the U.S. House.

[19:20:04] So there are policy implications. There are governing implications. And then there are the political implications of facing down Republican voters who want Donald Trump to secure the border and build a wall.

CABRERA: And so as the President goes golfing, we also see his campaign now fund-raising off of this. David, if this is a national emergency, does that make sense to you?

GERGEN: No. I think it's a real mistake to go out and be raising money at this point. It says, very loudly and very clearly, this whole exercise is about politics more than it is about some sort of invasion that threatens the existence of the country.

And, you know, the President himself in that rambling news conference on Monday -- on Friday made it clear he thought this was about politics. He was blaming the Democrats for the politics, but here he comes to raise money on the back of this.

You just don't do that, typically, and I think the heartburn for the Republicans is exactly what Scott said. But they've been asked, time and time again, to choose between the President and supporting their president versus what they think is right. And those kinds of conflicts get really old.

And they especially get old as you're looking to your own re-election, and you realize it's splitting your vote back in your own home state. And it's dangerous for people like that, and I think you're going to see more of this, more Republicans breaking away.

That's been the pattern with past presidents. As you get near the next election, those who are in -- you know, in purple states are going to get further and further away from the President.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about this sense of urgency that the President, at first, tried to explain, but then, you know, a lot of people highlighted President Trump saying this, which seems to contradict it. So watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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'd rather do it much faster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: So here's how Stephen Miller, who was out there on the networks today, defended those comments for the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I didn't need to do this. How does that justify a national emergency?

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What the President was saying is, is that, like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have, but that's not what he's going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: David, how did he do there? Did he do a good job defending the President's move, his action, his comments?

GERGEN: I must say I found the logic of several of his comments hard to follow. It just -- I don't know quite what he was trying to say. I'm sure the President enjoyed whatever it was, but I think it left the public confused.

And I think that, you know, we're going to have to wait and see how this all breaks down, but my bet is the public is not going to be happy with this. They -- you know, they're not -- the President's numbers have been low, as we know, all along, but this is the kind of excess that really does have implications for our structure of government and how we do business.

To go back to the point that if a Republican president does this now, the next Democratic president is going to feel very emboldened to set similar -- you know, to cite this as precedent and then do things, you know, declare a national emergency instead of working with the Congress, to go around Congress. And that really is a -- is an attack on the constitutional structure itself.

CABRERA: And so that actually brings me to this comment from Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. Here's what he said earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: If we give away, if we surrender

the power of the purse, which is our most important power, there will be little check and no balance left. It'll not be a separation of powers anymore, just a separation of parties. So this is going to be a moment of truth for my GOP colleagues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Scott, is this a moment of truth?

JENNINGS: Well, I think it's a moment of truth for the Congress and the courts as it -- as they deal with the executive branch.

The presidential powers have been expanding over time. This is not the first president to try to expand them. All previous presidents, you know, in the modern era have tried to expand these powers. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.

But the office of the president is much more powerful today than it ever has been, thanks to this building expansion over time. And so I think he raises an interesting question about the power of the purse.

The political problem for that position is the American people almost always give the president higher job approval than they do the Congress. So the average person is looking at this system saying, well, the President took power. Who did he take it from? Well, he took it from people that I don't approve of, and I trust him more than I trust the Congress to deal with certain policy issues.

GERGEN: Yes.

JENNINGS: So I think the legal and the constitutional implications may run up against the sheer political implications of a Congress that's weak by virtue of its popular standing or lack of popularity with the American people.

[19:24:58] CABRERA: But when you talk about the popularity of this move, all of the polls -- CNN's most recent, Fox News' most recent -- the majority of Americans disagree with this action that the President just took.

And frankly, the facts don't match the President's justification. The majority of drugs come through legal ports of entry.

Walls don't work 100 percent of the time. In fact, we have some video from border patrol that is case in point of people climbing over a wall along the Arizona/Mexico border. We know border crossings have dropped dramatically since 2000. There is that video I was just referencing.

We also know the majority of new undocumented immigrants, according to the data provided by the government, are people who are overstaying their visas, not the people who are crossing the border illegally.

So, David, why does President Trump continue to overlook these facts and not listen to the majority of Americans? GERGEN: It's in his DNA. You know, nothing has changed since he got

elected. He is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how -- whether it's legal or illegal -- popular or unpopular to pursue courses of action that others think are unjustified and wrong-headed. And that's why we have such a divided country.

Listen, I want to go back to this question that Scott raised. Yes, it is true that the President has -- this president enjoys a much higher rating than the Congress. But if the day comes when we decide how much power a president can exercise based on polling, how favorable a polling he has, our constitution is in real trouble.

We simply cannot -- you know, we have a declared constitution. And conservatives have said, you know, let's go with the original meaning of the constitution. They're called originalists, and they are the ones who have stood up for the constitutional arrangements all along.

So when a Lamar Alexander and some of this other people come out and say, I am against what he's doing because I think it's an excessive use of power, we should pay attention. This is something that's really serious.

Other presidents, Scott is absolutely right, have tried to exercise more power, OK. And Scott -- and Barack Obama was right there among them, especially with DACA. But nonetheless, this is a power grab that we have not seen -- the likes of which we have not seen before.

CABRERA: David Gergen, Scott Jennings, really great to have both of you with us.

GERGEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: I appreciate both of your expertise, experience, and perspective.

JENNINGS: Thank you.

CABRERA: Thanks, guys.

Lawyers for "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett responding to reports that police have evidence he staged his own attack. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:54] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned Chicago police are examining new evidence in the Jussie Smollett case. This after law enforcement sources told CNN that police believe Smollett paid two men to carry out a staged attack last month. Smollett initially told authorities the men yelled racial and homophobic slurs and at one point put a rope around his neck during the alleged assault.

This follows a tearful interview Thursday with "Good Morning America" in which Smollett gave a detailed account of the attack and expressed anger about not being believed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR/SINGER: I'm pissed off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it that has you so angry? Is it the attackers?

SMOLLETT: It is the attackers, but it's also the attacks. It's like, you know, at first, it was a thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth, then that's it because it's the truth. Then it became a thing of like, oh, how can you doubt that? Like how do you not believe that? It's the truth. And then it became a thing of like, oh, it's not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth. You don't even want to see the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN's Ryan Young is in Chicago continuing to follow this story very closely.

Ryan, what exactly is this new evidence police are examining?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, new information according to a source familiar with the investigation, detectives have now obtained and are examining the cell phones of two brothers they suspect that Smollett paid to orchestrate the attack.

Now in a statement to CNN last night, Smollett's attorneys wrote in part, as a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with police investigation, Jussie Smollett was angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that say Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.

Now, of course, you can understand the lawyers putting out a strong statement like this. We do know 12 detectives continue to work this case around the clock, and they are looking to speak to Jussie once again. This all turn of events, the twists and turns in this case are quite amazing at this point - Ana.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. We understand that investigators now want to talk to Smollett again. Any word on when that may happen?

YOUNG: Yes. Well, one of the things that we were told is they are reaching out to him. They are hoping that his lawyers can set something up sometime soon. But anyone's guess in terms of when that may happen again -- I think the real development here is that we have been talking about, of course, those two brothers who they first arrested, and then released are the ones who are helping them out in this case so far.

CABRERA: All right. Ryan Young in Chicago, thank you for that. Keep us posted.

It's a crime against humanity. The words of Senator Marco Rubio while on a U.S. aid mission to Venezuela. What he just told me about the crisis there in a U.S. network exclusive, next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:38:54] CABRERA: The 2020 race is heating up fast. Democrats are hitting the campaign trail in full swing. Today at least six presidential candidates are on the road. This hour Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is holding a campaign rally in Las Vegas. These are live pictures for you now.

Earlier today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Cory Booker made appearances in New Hampshire. The Iowa caucuses now less than one year away. And that's where you will find Minnesota senator, Amy Klobuchar, this evening. She will be headed to New Hampshire next for a CNN town hall tomorrow night.

And that's where we find CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, what can we expect to hear from Senator Klobuchar?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, there is a lot of excitement and anticipation about this. This is really an opportunity for her to talk directly to folks in a spontaneous format, whether it is students or faculty or Democratic activists, those who are likely to participate in a Democratic primary process here.

She is very folksy. She pivots very easily from subject to subject. So it will be fascinating to see her in this particular format. She has had a very busy weekend, leading up to this. Three stops in Iowa, the last one at a spaghetti dinner. And before that, the critical stop in the state of Wisconsin. Now that, as you know, 2012 is when Barack Obama won that by 12 percentage points, but it was Hillary Clinton who lost that state to Trump by one percentage point, because she never visited the state in the general election. And Senator Klobuchar telling me the last couple days, that was a real missed opportunity there.

The kinds of things that she has been focused on is not so much this idea of Minnesota nice, as we have heard before, but really what she is emphasizing is heartland economics. This idea, the notion that people in the rural areas of America should have the same kind of jobs, education and health care as everybody else, particularly those on the coast. That has been the focus that she has been talking about. She is also talking about bipartisanship, big things like tackling climate change. But also legislation that she believes can get things done, whether it is privacy online, election security, voting rights or prescription drugs. Those are the things that she is building her campaign around.

I want you to take a listen to one of the things that she has been asking people across the country to do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:41:17] SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it means looking at the challenges that are right in front of us. Not looking down at our phones all of the time, as much as we love them, right? Not looking away when we don't want to watch what's on the news in the morning. It means looking at each other, dealing with what we don't agree with, and looking up at those challenges and meeting them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: And one of the things that she has managed to do, Ana, in short order, the first 48 hours after announcing her campaign, raising a million-dollars from small online donations, 95 percent of those donations, 100 bucks or less. And she is tweeting out, saying that those donations coming from all 50 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.

What she needs to do -- what her challenge is here, is to try to get on that debate stage the first couple of debates, the DNC already outlining the criteria for that. That would be hitting one percent for a series of polls if she can hit that. But also 65,000 different people donating to the campaign over 20 different states.

And so that is what she's trying to do. Get the fund-raising in. Her campaign saying she has got to try to raise close to $25 million by the Iowa caucuses to get the kind of support that she needs. But she will be doing a lot of traveling. She will be back here multiple times. We will be seeing her. And, of course, she will try to make a very favorable impression in her first town hall tomorrow-Ana.

CABRERA: And America will get to know her a lot better.

Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much.

Again, it is tomorrow night. Don't miss Amy Klobuchar as she takes questions from New Hampshire voters and discusses what's at stake in the next election. Our Don Lemon moderates a CNN Presidential town hall tomorrow night at 10:00, only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:47:26] CABRERA: As the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela continues, the U.S. and the embattled Venezuelan government are trading threats.

Here's what Senator Marco Rubio told me earlier about possible U.S. military action in the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: There are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are. And if they are crossed, I am confident based on everything I have heard from this administration and everything I know about this administration, that the consequences will be severe and they will be swift. And he is aware of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: And this comes less than a week after President Nicolas Maduro told the BBC that the battle against Venezuela is aggression against a peaceful country.

And that brings us to your weekend presidential brief, a segment we bring you every Sunday night, highlighting some of the most pressing national security information the President will need when he wakes up tomorrow.

And joining me now is CNN natural security analyst, Samantha Vinograd. She helped prepare the presidential daily brief when Barack Obama was president.

Sam, President Trump is expected to give a speech on Venezuela tomorrow. What can we expect?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I hope that to save a rattling stops because right now, there is probably some diplomatic activity under way. Nicolas Maduro is one of the few despots that President Trump ironically won't speak with. But he does have a special envoy, Elliot Abrams, who maybe - talking with Maduro, about what it will take for Maduro to relinquish power.

Based upon my experience in somewhat similar circumstances, that could include assurances for Maduro's safety or even facilitating his departure to a third country. Any discussions that we are having, however, are probably also focused on Maduro's weaponization of humanitarian assistance. He was refusing to let in U.S. estimates assistants sitting at the Colombian border and instead turning to his few remaining friends, China and Cuba, for humanitarian aid.

Castro and President Xi are not known for their philanthropy or humanitarian pro-acts (ph). And next Saturday, February 23rd, could be a flashpoint or a turning point for Venezuela. That's when the interim President has said volunteers are going to carry aid across the Colombian border. Maduro security forces are currently blocking that aid. So the question really is, will there be a direct confrontation that could be violent or are the security forces going to lay down arms, withdraw their support for Maduro and support the opposition?

CABRERA: Let's move to what's happening at the U.S. border right now. The President declaring a national emergency on Friday. You say this emergency declaration actually creates a threat to national security. Why?

VINOGRAD: Well, even if his emergency is never implemented, it's already costing us from a national security perspective. We just came out of a shutdown that led to hundreds of thousands of federal employees not being able to do national security work for over a month. We now have a scenario where many of those same employees, and employees of the defense department had department of homeland security, White House lawyers and others had to prepare, declare and now defend a national emergency. That is a major human resource strain.

And at the same time, there's a financial cost even while this national emergency is winding its way through the courts. The funds that the President has tried to re-appropriate for the national emergency are frozen right now. They are not being spent where the Pentagon originally intended them on security projects like military readiness, infrastructure and counter narcotics.

And we also have to keep in mind, abusing power has a cause and it sets a president. What starts with Trump doesn't end with Trump. And if there -- if he is, in fact, encroaching on Congress' constitutionally mandated power of the purse, that could really send a signal globally that he is willing to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants and future Presidents could follow his example.

[19:51:03] CABRERA: You and I have talked. And you talked about how so much of this requires a lot coordination internally. Does it matter this administration has a lot of open cabinet positions?

VINOGRAD: Well, we have an unconstitutional cabinet right now in many ways. The constitution requires that cabinet secretaries get confirmed by the U.S. Senate. And we can't even count how many acting secretaries we have right now. And that means that the U.S. Senate has not had an opportunity to really vet them as to whether they are qualified to hold that position. Instead we are relying on President Trump's word that all these acting officials can fulfill their roles and responsibilities. That doesn't make me sleep very well at night.

And we currently have a gap at the United Nations. Heather Nauert has withdrawn her nomination, after several weeks, I think about two months, of waiting to see if she would even go for it for confirmation. This is at a time when Russia and China are really trying to throw their weight around even more around the U.N. Security Council and we don't have someone there, representing the United States.

CABRERA: Sam Vinograd, always good to have you with us.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Thanks for the good information.

This sounds like a scene out of a movie. Up next, hear next from a man who fought a mountain lion and lived to tell the tale.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:56:27] CABRERA: If 2019 is the campaign year of the woman, 2020 may be the year women take the lead.

Here is CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you all ready to make a ruckus?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's something a little different in the hallways of Congress and on the campaign trail. Women leaders are starting to feel less like the exception and more like the rule.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth is if we change who is at the decision-making table? Who change everything?

BASH: Three years after a woman made history as the first female major party nominee, now half of the Democratic 2020 field is female and many view their gender as a selling point.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My mother used to say to me, Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.

BASH: In the White House and on Capitol Hill, powerful women are smashing expectations.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: I want women to see that you do not get pushed around.

BASH: And seizing control of the political conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Often times the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.

BASH: To be sure, sexism still exists.

Michigan governor Gretchen Witmer just called on a local news station to focus on women's ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance, after a report on the buzz about her dress at a recent speech.

But if 2018 was the year of women getting elected, is 2019 the year women get things done? The historic female duo leading the House appropriations committee, Democratic chairwoman Nita Lowey and Republican ranking member Kay Granger say just watch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to show how well two women can get this done. We are going to disagree but not be disagreeable and work things out.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Now listen to this, Travis Kaufman was out for a run when he was attacked by a mountain lion. He says adrenaline then kicked in as he fought for his life.

Here is CNN's Scott McLean.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRAVIS KAUFMAN, SURVIVED MOUNTAIN LION ATTACK: I ended up hearing some pine needles rustle, like a stick break, I turned around and just was pretty bummed out to see a mountain lion chasing after me.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Travis Kaufman never imagined the first time running this trail near Ft. Collins, Colorado, would lead to an intense fight for his life. With injuries still covering his face ten days after the attack, the 31-year-old recounted his terrifying encounter.

KAUFMAN: I remember looking down and seeing the claws.

MCLEAN: Kaufman spotted a mountain lion like this one about ten feet away. He tried to yell and waved his arms to scare it. That didn't work.

KAUFMAN: It just kind of kept running and lunged at me. It was going toward my face. So I threw up my hands to kind of block my face at which point it grabbed on to my hand and wrist. That's when kind of my fear response turned into more of a fight response because I realized how close it was getting to my eyes.

MCLEAN: Kaufman tried everything from sticks to a rock. Again no, success.

KAUFMAN: At that point, more drastic measures were necessary.

MCLEAN: At 5' 10" and about 150 pounds, Kaufman managed to pin down the 5-month-old nearly 40-pound animal.

KAUFMAN: I was able to kind of shift my weight and get a foot on its neck. And at that point, I stepped on it on its neck with my right foot. A couple of minutes later, it finally stopped moving and then jaws opened and I was able to kind of scramble back up the hill and get the heck out of dodge.

(END VIDEOTAPE)