Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Diplomatic Teams Prepare for Upcoming Trump-Kim Summit; Freshman Democrats Shaking Up Washington; Report: White House Asks Abe for Nobel Nomination; Laureus Awards Bestowed on Top Athletes; Race Horses Compete on St. Moritz' 'White Turf'. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 19, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Trump promises a new day for Latin America, the political unrest in Venezuela, he says, will pave the way for the collapse of socialist regimes across the region and he has stark warning for Venezuela's generals: switch sides and back the opposition or lose everything.

After nearly two weeks of violent protests demanding the president resign, the streets of Haiti's capital are relatively calm. But reasons for the rage are still there, including corruption and skyrocketing food prices.

Also diplomatic liaisons on the eve of a second Trump and Kim meeting comes word the U.S. is looking to open a diplomatic office in Pyongyang. It will be the biggest and most significant step toward normalization of relations in more than a decade.

But are the North Koreans playing hard to get?

Hello, everybody, great to have you with us, whenever you are around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm John Vause.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VAUSE: Donald Trump has laid out his vision for a Western Hemisphere free of socialism and begins with the end of the Maduro regime in Venezuela. The U.S. president had a stark warning for the generals backing President Maduro. If they continue to support him, they will lose everything. Trump spoke in Miami on Monday, urging the military to allow humanitarian aid into the country. He called Maduro a Cuban puppet who would rather see his people starve than help them. And he said military leaders must support the opposition leader and self- declared interim president, Juan Guaido.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you choose this path, you have the opportunity to help forge a safe and prosperous future for all of the people of Venezuela or you can choose the second path continuing to support Maduro. If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: In response, Maduro criticize Donald Trump for what he called an almost Nazi style speech in Miami. He said the U.S. president should worry about his own affairs and what Maduro called the white supremacist in the White House. We have more now on the crisis from CNN's senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The aid crisis here on the border between Venezuela and Colombia mounting simply and tension by the day. And Donald Trump's speech in Miami frankly doing what it can to amplify the sense of concern here, certainly.

We'll deal with a rhetoric of it in a minute which was extraordinary in its ambition and sort of geopolitical overtone, but the nub of it really was a direct appeal to the Venezuelan military to essentially turn against the government of Nicolas Maduro and possibly through doing that get some sense of reward.

The U.S. president making it absolutely clear that America knew where military leadership money was in fact hidden, essentially saying they might be potentially targeting it and saying you can have pretty much everything or you can lose everything if you continue to block this humanitarian aid.

Now the speech was given of course to a large audience of Venezuelan ex pats, but Donald Trump also pointed out continually the ails of what he referred to as socialism, pointing towards it in Cuba, Nicaragua too, to trying potentially to combine there appealing to the Hispanic communities of Florida where he needs a victory in 2020, but also potentially casting those more left-leaning Democrats he is likely to face in 2020 as being potentially also allies of socialism as well.

In fact, the most striking quote I remember from him speech was to say that he hopes to soon see the first free hemisphere in human history.

Essentially, sounding like someone for the 1980's facing towards the Berlin Wall hoping to cast off the yoke of socialism or communism from all of South America even though really only two or three countries still have remnants --

[00:05:00]

WALSH: -- of that in its administration.

But the tension is building here day by day. We are seeing a deadline now next weekend set by the opposition to get humanitarian aid in. USAID has flown extra aid in here. It isn't enough to change the plight of the tens of millions of people inside Venezuela behind me. But Juan Guaido, the self-declared interim president and opposition leader, has said that aid will enter at the weekend regardless or in the days after it setting the stage for a significant standoff and showdown here.

Donald Trump's rhetoric trying to tear the military away from Maduro. It may well not work. And the question will be, will that deadline pass. Many hopes so without some sense of certainly a volatility if not potential for violence -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, on the border between Venezuela and Colombia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: For more on the U.S. president's speech, we head to New York this hour and CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd, who served on the National Security Council during the Obama administration.

OK, Sam, the president made it very clear, this coming Saturday will be decision day for the military and in particular the Venezuelan soldiers on the Colombian border.

Accept that offer of amnesty from Juan Guaido or face serious consequences. Here's a little more from the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Guaido does not seek retribution against you and neither do we but you must not follow Maduro's orders to block your humanitarian and you must not threaten any form of violence against peaceful protesters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK, I'm kind of mixed on this because it does seem like a smart move to put that out there so they know the rules of the road, the red lines. but by being so vocally supportive of the opposition on Juan Guaido. Does that sort of strengthen the resolve of the pro- Maduro factions and forces?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's -- that is one argument, John. But I think the fact that there are what, 50-plus countries now that have expressed support for Guaido weakens that line of argument a little bit. It is clear that the majority of free nations and frankly wealthy nations in the world our siding with Juan Guaido as the legitimate president in Venezuela.

And what the president I think did right today in this speech is really lay the groundwork for the next couple of days in the build-up to Saturday when there may be a massive confrontation between Maduro base, the security forces and members of the opposition by clearly laying out the choices for the military and security forces while sanctions are in place. And essentially they're getting less money from Maduro. He's able to line their pockets less because of sanctions. The president is hopefully trying to lay out a way forward for the security forces so that on Saturday, when they're forced to make a choice between letting the opposition aid in and laying down their arms, they have a better frame of reference.

VAUSE: This sort of confrontation scheduled for Saturday, it's kind of -- obviously it's a man-made confrontation which is looming this coming weekend. You know, the aid which the U.S. has sent there, the food and the medical supplies sitting on the border, you know, that was not actually requested specifically by the international aid groups.

In fact, earlier this month, the United Nations had warned the U.S. about the risks of this strategy that follow a similar warning which been made earlier by the International Red Cross which was also reported. It was increasing its own operations independently within Venezuela.

So if this is to be that moment of truth in deciding Venezuela's future, does it matter that it's kind of totally stage-managed, almost made-for-T.V. moment?

VINOGRAD: Well, I don't completely agree that it's a made-for-T.V. moment. I work with a lot of the nonprofit's. You and I discussed a lot of humanitarian needs within Venezuela. It is clear that there are babies that are starving and in desperate need of pediatric care and many of these organizations have not been able to fully fund their emergency appeals for Venezuela.

Now, this bilateral assistance is a made-for-T.V. moment in the sense that Juan Guaido has decided that this Saturday is the day when there's going to be some kind of secret operation to bring this aid into the country. And if we have to take a step back and think about what the United States, what the president said is our ultimate goal in Venezuela.

The humanitarian assistance piece for this president is secondary. The primary purpose is to reduce remove Maduro from power because according to the president, he is a socialist threat. And setting up this confrontation on Saturday is really setting up the military and security forces to have to make a choice between sticking with Maduro and/or laying down their arms in backing the opposition.

So we do have to look at this February 23rd delivery of assistance through that lens of the United States trying to unseat Maduro.

VAUSE: And with that sort of mind, we're hearing you know, from a number of senior officials within the White House you know, specifically that this regime change has a lot to do always being driven mostly by oil. Here's John Bolton, the National Security Adviser quoted by Time Magazine. They're doing a piece on him. But he says this. The article says this.

"Perhaps most brazenly, Bolton appeared in an interview on Fox Business and disclosed that the U.S. government was in talks with American corporations on how to capitalize on --

[00:10:00]

VAUSE: -- "Venezuela's oil reserves which are proven to be the world's largest." "It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest and produce the oil capability in Venezuela." Bolton was quoted as saying.

You know, Trump apparently been talking of invading Venezuela few years controlling the oil reserves. He said, that's where the oil is. That's where we need to go. You know, so this sort of plays into this flashpoint which has been created on Saturday. I know it's not entirely man-made but -- and with that backdrop, you have Juan Guaido appearing by video link at what essentially is a campaign-style rally by the U.S. president.

VINOGRAD: Yes and these comments by Ambassador Bolton are ridiculous. But unfortunately, they track with previous comments by President Trump about what we should have done with Iraq's' oil reserves right? So it is not inconsistent with what the president has said himself about what we want to do with foreign countries where we have -- where we have control over.

But the real question is -- and it actually raises a real question of what will happen after Maduro leaves. The United States has said that we want to unseat Maduro. Juan Guaido is the interim president but President Trump doesn't really have a record of investing in stabilization efforts on the ground in countries where we have the military presence like Syria or Iraq so who is going to work with Juan Guaido and interim government if and when Maduro is pushed out of power. It doesn't look like it's going to be the United States.

And based upon how we've acted elsewhere around the world, we're going to be asking others to fill our shoes in that regard.

VAUSE: Well, he also uses speech as an all-out attack on socialism. Again, here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The twilight hour' of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere and frankly in many, many places around the world. The days of socialism and communists are numbered not only in Venezuela but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And for sure, you know, those countries are struggling but almost 30 countries identify democratic socialists around the world. Here's a comparison between the United States and three European countries, the Netherlands France and Denmark, all democratic socialist countries. In terms of national debt, the U.S. we're number one, 107 percent of GDP, really France is close almost 99 percent but the others are you know, way lower than that. Unemployment an easy win to France. France has always had high numbers. If you look at the other two the U.S., the Netherlands and then also Denmark you know, the other three I should say, you know, they're all in the same ballpark. Homicide rate per 100,000, no contest U.S. has a lot on that. And just in sheer numbers, the U.S. count, their homicides in the thousands, the others don't. All three democratic socialist countries, they live longer.

You know it's not exactly what the president instead of making out his speech, his socialist hellholes where they have you know, governments provided health care, subsidized tertiary education and the numbers are you know by large much better for many of these countries so you know, what was the purpose of calling out socialism as this sort of system of tyranny if you like.

VINOGRAD: Well, John, the president has certain trigger words that he uses to really energize his base. You just have to look at his Twitter feed and it's witch-hunt, it's rigged, it's crooked Hillary and now we're going to have to add socialism to that list because when he uses these kinds of words, his base gets energized and he hopes I think that he'll get more support.

But let's keep in mind, the U.S. intelligence community just issued a worldwide threat assessment about the most strategic threats facing our country. Guess what didn't make it in there, socialism. It was not as if the Intel chief said, oh watch out. Maduro is trying to export his socialism to the United States.

President Trump is worried about the far left of the Democratic Party and what may be very socialist agendas that are part of 2020 presidential candidates agendas. That's why he's bringing up socialism in this context and in that way he kind of and very inappropriately mixed trying to unseat an illegitimate ruler with trying to campaign for 2020.

VAUSE: And I think if I'm not mistaken the Venezuela speech finish with his campaign tune they you know, played in 2016, not very subtle.

VINOGRAD: It did. Not subtle at all.

VAUSE: Good to see you. Thank you.

VINOGRAD: Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Officials in Haiti say eight people are being held on illegal weapons charges, including five Americans. Adding to the chaos already crippling the country. Violent protests began almost two weeks ago with demands for the resignations of the president and his prime minister over soaring inflation and allegations of corruption.

And now amid the unrest and violence, CNN's Sam Kiley is reporting the death of a little boy has only added to the widespread mistrust so many have with their government and their security forces.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Borne by violence and riots for almost a week, opposition supporters rampage and demand of the president and his government.

No official figures exist for the death toll but one family is certain that Roberto died here. He was 14 and shot debt they claim during the riots by Haitian police. Unable to protect him in life --

[00:15:00]

No official figures exist for the death toll, but one family is certain that Roberto Thelusma died here. He was 14 and shot dead they claim during the riots by Haitian police. Unable to protect him in life --

[00:15:00]

KILEY (voice-over): -- she defends him in death. He was shot packing up her cookie stool outside the hospital.

Roberto's death provoke condemnation at the highest level.

JEAN-HENRY CEANT, PRIME MINISTER, HAITI (through translator): I sent a special message to the mother of a young boy Roberto Badio Thelusma who'd died in front of the State Hospital. Today, I am the Prime Minister who knows what Roberto could have become in this country.

KILEY: But in the mural slum where Roberto lived, his words carry no weight.

It's sadly often the case that the poorest of the poor suffer most in these sorts of conflagrations. But in this case, the victims are being further threatened.

DIMITRI JOURNAL, BROTHER OF ROBERTO BADIO THELUSMA (through translator): Since my little brother died, we've been threatened. We are not safe here. We want the Prime Minister to be more responsible and keep us safe. My other little brother receives calls from blocked numbers, text saying that if we don't close the case, there will be consequences.

KILEY: Brazil says she saw a riot policemen gunned him down.

PRICIL JOURNAL, MOTHER OF ROBERTO BADIO THELUSMA (through translator): When he was done killing my son, he swapped his gun with another nearby cop and then he went into the hospital to hide.

KILEY: She is now afraid to leave her home.

JOURNAL: The people that are making those threats I'm guessing are the ones who killed my son.

KILEY: These slums are no-go areas for police and Roberto's death has driven home the belief among many people here that the state is their enemy -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Port-au-Prince. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Haiti's overall security situation seems to be mixed; shops and businesses are starting to reopen. Government employees are returning to work but on Monday schools remained closed and more anti- government demonstrations have been planned for the coming week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: To Port-au-Prince now, we're joined by Jacqueline Charles, the Caribbean Correspondent with the "Miami Herald."

Jacqueline, thanks so much for taking the time. I'm going to -- at this point is it possible to know if the relative quiet of the past couple of days is the sign that the protesters may have run out of steam or is this the eye of the storm and there's much more -- much worse to come?

JACQUELINE CHARLES, CARIBBEAN CORRESPONDENT, MIAMI HERALD: Well, interesting enough. I just spoke to a group of young people and they told me that in fact more is to come.

Now, will they be able to gather the momentum that they have in recent days?

We don't yet know.

VAUSE: You know, at this point, you know, the protesters are being driven by the anger this which is felt over the billions of dollars which have gone missing from an oil subsidy scheme which was set up by Venezuela. But that scandal it's been public knowledge years.

So was there any one particular event, a trigger for this you know, the latest round of demonstrations which began you know, by most accounts about a week and a half ago?

CHARLES: Well, Petrocaribe has been around but I think you know people didn't really understand what it was or didn't understand the repercussions of it. So in the last couple of years, what we've seen is that the avocation on the street has been started to talk about Petrocaribe.

When they can't get health care they say you know what it's because of Petrocaribe. When they can't get a decent education, it's because of Petrocaribe.

So they have now started to associate the lack of social services or social programs or basically the misery in the country with the fact that money that should have gone into social programs never arrived.

And you also have young people that are saying, "You know what, we can't leave, we're not going to leave. This is the country that we have to be in and we want a different kind of country."

So, that's really been the momentum behind the corruption allegations. And then you saw it colliding into what the traditional politicians say, it's time for the president to go. And you add to that the economic situation because today this country is in a dire economic situation.

VAUSE: You know, over the weekend the prime minister promised there would be a thorough investigation to try and find money and those who took it. But Haiti senate has already carried out its own investigation, produced a report a couple of years ago.

Why do another?

CHARLES: Well, you know, the prime minister, you know, introduced several financial measures but some will say that it was not a real economic plan because there are serious problems today.

If you think about it, the inflation rate is 15 percent. That means that Haitians purchasing power has gone down. As one young man told me yesterday, somebody will have to work three days in order to afford cooking oil and rice. Because the minimum wage today is the quota of $6.12 U.S.

So, imagine having to work three days just to afford cooking and oil and rice. And so, again, I mean, if the focus has been on the president and somewhat on the prime minister. But when you talk to people on the street, they tell you the whole system is rotten.

They have no confidence even in their lawmakers because these guys have enjoyed perks. They get to rent -- you know, second homes. They get to ride around in rental cars. I mean, this is a country that is poor. Its budget is only $2 billion. And at the end of the day, so much of it is going to either pay the debt that they owe --

[00:20:00]

CHARLES: -- countries like Venezuela or to take care of politicians.

VAUSE: Yes, you know, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake back in 2010 and there was a hurricane in 2016, which brought misery on top of misery, $2 billion which is how much they're talking is gone, missing in this fund. That would go a long way to fixing a lot of problems in Haiti.

CHARLES: Well, yes. $2 billion, yes. It would go and it hasn't gone. I mean, the reality is almost 10 years after the earthquake, we still have people living in tent cities. Actually, living underneath the original tarps that they were given days after the quake.

You know, new housing has not been -- has been built. Some of the houses that were built, but the construction was shoddy. You drive around downtown Port-au-Prince. And you either see government building that's missing or you see half constructed.

And yet, you hear base on the recent audit that the government auditors did, the contracts were written things for sign, money was staled out but the population is saying, "Where is the money? Where is the Petrocaribe money?" VAUSE: Yes, it's a -- it's an old story sadly for Haiti. One which I say, maybe this is a moment of generational change when things will actually, you know, make a difference.

CHARLES: Well, that's what the young people are saying.

VAUSE: Well, yes. Good luck to them and good luck to you, Jacqueline. Thank you so much.

CHARLES: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Now to the war in Syria. A double attack with an IED and a car bomb has killed at least 16 people in rebel-held Idlib. The White Helmets volunteer rescue group says 82 were injured.

This follows a report of artillery shelling on civilian areas in Idlib that killed 18 people in the last few days. No word who is responsible for the attacks. Idlib is the last major enclave held by the Syrian opposition rebels.

Despite the ongoing violence in Syria, the head of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, confirmed U.S. troops will be withdrawing from the country. During an unannounced visit to Northern Syria on Monday, Votel also told CNN's Barbara Starr that the threat from ISIS is not over and the militants could yet regroup.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, CENTCOM COMMANDER: They have demonstrated the ability to do this in the past. So we should expect that they will attempt to maybe do that in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Votel also stopped in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, part of a two-week farewell tour as he prepares to retire after nearly 40 years of service.

ISIS fighters are still clinging to a small piece of real estate in Syria almost completely surrounded by U.S.-backed forces. CNN's Ben Wedeman has been inside what's left of Baghouz al-Fawqani and filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Through a telephoto lens, people in vehicles are clearly visible, moving in the last areas still controlled by ISIS.

Curiously, no one appears to be moving as if in danger of being shot or bombed. This the last half-square mile of the so-called Islamic State that once ruled over a territory the size of Britain.

From a rooftop manned by troops from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Commander Baram Hasiki (ph) explains the lay of the land.

"We are between 600 and 700 meters away from the ISIS positions," he says. "We surround them on three sides; on the fourth side is the Syrian army. ISIS is totally surrounded."

More than a thousand people may be inside the ISIS pocket; fighters and hundreds of civilians, including hostages. Days before ISIS occupied this building.

WEDEMAN: This appears to have been some sort of makeshift field hospital. You have got these bags for fluid and I here, down here, we have a rubbish bin that's got used hypodermic needles, tongue depressors and others and there's a sign outside that calls this a pharmacy.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): For now, most of the guns have fallen silent. We saw no airstrikes, although we could hear coalition airplanes overhead. The soldiers were relaxed, in a jovial mood. Many have fought in the war against ISIS across this part of Syria. Until this final battle, not yet over, that has reduced this town to a moonscape of wreckage and rubble -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, inside Baghouz al-Fawqani, Eastern Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: As the pressure of a looming Brexit deadline hits critical, it's the Labour Party which is the first to crack. Seven rebel MPs deserting a party and they might just be the first of many. More on and why after the break.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:25:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

VAUSE: Britain's opposition leader Labour's Jeremy Corbyn is facing a mutiny within the party. Seven Labour MPs have quit in protest over his handling of Brexit and also the rise of anti-Semitism within the party under his leadership.

They may not be the last. Phil Black has details now, reporting from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brexit looms over this dramatic development, as it does almost every aspect of British politics. At the moment, these resigning seven resigning MPs all strongly believe there should be yet another referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union.

That's an idea the Labour Party leadership has been reluctant to get excited about. But it was one motivation for these MPs deciding to resign. It's not the only reason. The problems in the Labour Party are bigger and deeper than just that one enormous issue.

Anti-Semitism is another. And in particular what they see as the party's profound failure at wiping it out from the party membership. These resigning MPs are also on the wrong side of an ideological chasm that really opened up when Jeremy Corbyn first became the leader of the party and began driving the party strongly to the left.

So these seven MPs stood up before the British media to say their political values have not changed. But the party they joined decades ago, the party they have loved, served and dedicated their lives to, they say it's changed beyond recognition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS LESLIE, BRITISH MP: British politics is now well and truly broken. The evidence of Labour's betrayal on Europe is now visible for all to see.

LUCIANA BERGER, BRITISH MP: I cannot remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti- Semitic.

CHUKA UMUNNA, BRITISH MP: The last few years have shown the established parties are simply not up to this challenge. They can't be the change because they have become the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: These MPs say they are not setting up a new political party -- not yet, anyway -- but they are working together. They are coordinating. They have a new website. They will meet regularly. They will sit in parliament as the Independent Group. It's a hugely dramatic development for the British Labour Party.

Some Labour Party loyalists say it's very sad; others say it is highly damaging to the party. It is also very significant to British politics generally. Just how significant will be determined by what happens next and crucially how many other MPs from Labour and potentially other parties are also prepared to resign and join them -- Phil Black, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, on the eve of a second U.S.-North Korea summit comes word, both sides may be ready for the biggest step in more than a decade towards diplomatic normalization.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update of our top news this hour.

[00:31:14] Donald Trump is warning Venezuela's military leaders not to stand in the way of humanitarian assistance. The U.S. president told a crowd in Miami the military must abandon President Nicolas Maduro and support the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, or they will lose everything.

Following nearly two weeks of violent anti-government protests, the Haitian government says it has arrested eight people, five of them Americans. This video shows them at a Port-au-Prince police station. Local authorities say they may be charged with illegal possession of firearms.

The top U.S. general in the Middle East has been visiting U.S. troops and their allies in Northern Syria. General Joseph Votel's trip comes as ISIS is under siege in its last Syrian enclave. Votel says ISIS will remain a threat, but the U.S. still plans on pulling its ground troops out of Syria.

The groundwork is being laid ahead of a second summit between the U.S. president and the North Korean leader. Preliminary talks are expected to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, this week. Both sides are said to be working on a joint statement to be signed by the two leaders at the end of next week's meeting.

And sources tell CNN the U.S. and North Korea are considering exchanging liaison offices, which would be a step towards building normal diplomatic relations.

Will Ripley joins us now with the very latest from Hong Kong.

So Will, the U.S. and North Korea have been down this road before. They've done the dance in the mid-90s, basically agreed to an exchange, but then the North Koreans shot down an American chopper and reneged on the deal.

You broke this story on Monday, Monday morning. There's been a lot of follow-up reporting, including some suggestions suggestions that maybe the North Koreans aren't that interested.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But Kim Jong-un is a different leader. The circumstances are different. There's more at stake, given North Korea's nuclear program.

And so could it happen? Could the U.S. and North Korea take the step to, you know, move towards opening liaison offices in each other's respective capitals? It would be the first time that has ever happened. Yes. It fell apart in 1994 when they were -- this was during the time period of the agreed framework. Probably the closest that the U.S. and North Korea have ever been to normalize diplomatic ties up until now.

The issue that some critics might point out is that if the U.S. opens a liaison office in Pyongyang and vice versa, the North Koreans open a liaison office in Washington, which allows direct communication, the resolution of disputes in a much more efficient and effective way, then you know, traveling back and forth and diplomatic back channels, is the U.S. giving North Korea something that critics say they haven't earned, because they haven't taken any steps, arguably, to get rid of the nuclear weapons, which of course, is the ultimate goal?

But there are a lot of up sides to it, and that's why you have, you know, Joe Yun, the former U.S. envoy, and many other analysts, you know, calling for this. And they have been ever since talks really fell apart after Singapore.

But of course, we don't know if the U.S. and North Korea are going to agree to it at this stage. It is somewhat encouraging, as we watch all of this, that they're working on a joint statement now. That hopefully will have some actual specific tangible items in there, unlike the Singapore statement, which had a lot of grand words and nothing in terms of actual specifics, other than the hand-over of U.S. remains from the Korean War, which did happen. A few dozen sets were handed over.

But still, John, to this day no steps by North Korea to irreversibly denuclearize. We'll have to see what happens. It should be a very interesting couple of days in Hanoi.

VAUSE: Yes, we're out of time. But yes, the comment has been made that, as long as they're talking, as long as they have these open channels of communication, then that's obviously a good, positive development. I guess we'll see what happens.

Will, thank you. Will Ripley, live from Hong Kong.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, they're the insurgent freshmen in the U.S. Congress, unbowed, uncompromised, shaking up the political status quo and pushing their party further to the left. And seems they're only getting started.

Plus does a nomination for Nobel Peace Prize count if you ask someone to do it for you?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:37:10] VAUSE: There has never been a U.S. Congress quite like the 116th, which was gaveled in at the beginning of year. Diverse in age, religion, ethnicity and especially gender.

A record number of women are part of the freshman class, sworn in less than two months ago, and they are shaking up the establishment and unashamedly pushing an aggressive agenda. Here's Sunlen Serfaty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Capitol Hill, the freshmen are flipping the script --

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I am so incredibly excited.

SERFATY: -- cutting through the noise --

REP. LUCY MCBATH (D), GEORGIA: A lot of this around here is white noise.

SERFATY: -- commandeering the conversation and, in many ways, now driving the agenda. Among those leading and pushing the agenda, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, breaking free of the formulaic approach of most lawmakers.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And it's already super legal, as we've seen, for me to be a pretty bad guy. So it's even easier for the president of United States to be one, I would assume.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: This is about unity.

SERFATY: And her Green New Deal resolution not only prompting quick Capitol Hill movement --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: We are in this together.

SERFATY: -- but becoming something of a litmus test for 2020 Democrats.

REP. JENNIFER WEXTON (D), VIRGINIA: It helps that we come in, and we don't have any preconceived notions about what we should be doing and following the rules.

SERFATY: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, too, is creating viral moments, becoming one of the most vocal voices of the new class.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D), MINNESOTA: I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could respond to that --

OMAR: It wasn't a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I --

OMAR: On February -- that was not -- that was not a question. I reserve the right to my time.

SERFATY: And Congresswoman Lucy McBath, who lost her son, Jordan Davis, to gun violence, leading the House Judiciary Committee to advance its first gun control legislation in years.

MCBATH: It was very bittersweet, because I've been able to do something and achieve something that's really profound and really makes a difference for people like my son, even though I wasn't able to save him. I think each and every one of us, in so many different ways, is making our mark.

SERFATY: In just two short months, these women, along with the rest of the diverse young new class, are drawing strength from their record-setting numbers.

REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D), ILLINOIS: We did not get here by being weak, by being wallflowers, by waiting our turn.

SERFATY: Making it clear they're doing things their own way. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is so much courage, but there's also rawness and realness. I think that's the difference, is you're feeling that connection, because these are people that are speaking differently and talking about issues differently.

SERFATY: The waves they have made so far --

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: I think they're a very, very -- force to reckon with. And we're trying to reckon with them.

SERFATY: -- not always sitting well with leadership --

[00:40:03] REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: That's the word. It's viral, viral, viral.

SERFATY: -- who have had to manage the growing power of this freshman class.

PELOSI: Welcome to the Democratic Party. We are not a rubber stamp for anybody. The members come. They bring their enthusiasms, their their priorities. We welcome that. And they are not programmed; they are spontaneous, prepared. And I'm proud of them.

SERFATY (on camera): Now at the same time, Speaker Pelosi was also asked if these new members have an outsized influence, and she said point blank "no."

One new member quipping back to me, telling me that Pelosi knows her math, and the math here is very clear, that leadership, "they need us freshmen to get their legislative priorities through." That dynamic within the House Democrats will certainly be something to watch going forward.

And it's also worth remembering that we have seen this sort of thing before. Think back to the Tea Party in 2010, when they forced their leaders, Republicans in this case, in a new direction, as well.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, it's probably one of the most treasured awards, the biggest honor in the world, and it seems the U.S. president really wants one. So here's question. Did the White House ask Japan's prime minister to nominate Donald Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize? As Jeanne Moos reports Donald Trump's dream might just be Shinzo Abe's nightmare.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember the famous eye roll, the one that we want viral after a 19-second handshake. Well, now it's Japanese Prime Minister Abe himself who's eliciting eye rolls after President Trump spoke of a letter the Japanese leader wrote, nominating Trump. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That he sent to the

people who give out a thing called Nobel Prize. It's the most beautiful five-letter -- five-page letter.

MOOS (on camera): But is a beautiful 5-page letter just as beautiful when you have to ask someone to write it?

(voice-over): One of Japan's biggest newspapers, "Asahi Shimbun," reported the nomination came at the behest of Washington, an informal request. When the prime minister was asked in parliament if he had nominated President Trump for the Nobel Prize, he answered, "I'm not saying that it is not the fact," citing the Nobel committee's policy of not confirming nominees until 50 years have passed.

Read one tweet, "Shinzo Abe should get the Nobel prize in (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kissing."

Cartoonist Ed Hall tweeted, "Giving Donald Trump a Nobel Peace Prize would be like giving Jeffrey Dahmer a Michelin star."

But chanting Trump rally-goers were hungry for a prize, mainly due to the president's efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobel! Nobel!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobel! Nobel!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobel! Nobel!

MOOS: They think the last U.S. president to get one didn't deserve it.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did get the Nobel Peace Prize.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS'S "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Oh, really? What was that for?

OBAMA: To be honest, I still don't know.

MOOS: But Trump critics skewer his chances of winning. "We didn't say Nobel Prize. We said, 'No bail, surprise!'"

Dana Carvey has already imagined Trump's Nobel acceptance speech.

DANA CARVEY, COMEDIAN: We have to, right? He'd be up there: "I love -- I love the Nobelians. I love them."

MOOS: President Trump seems to think it's a noble calling, calling for himself to win the --

TRUMP: Nobel.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay

tuned WORLD SPORT is next. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, and welcome to WORLD SPORT. I'm Kate Riley at CNN Center.

We're going to start over in England for a moment.

When the draw was made for the F.A. Cup fifth round of the eight fixtures drawn out of the hat, none were bigger than the Chelsea up against Manchester United tie. Two teams separated by just a point in the English Premier League but each riding a very different wave of momentum.

Chelsea, who are undefeated through the first 12 league games, but have lost three of their last four, including that humiliating 6-0 loss at Manchester City.

Whereas Manchester United's fortunes are quite the opposite. But on Monday, who was more up for the cup as they say? Well, to Stamford Bridge we go. And true to form it was the in-form visitors who struck first. Paul Pogba finding Ander Herrera, who heads it make it 1-0 United. And his last last two F.A. Cup goals coming in London, so clearly loves a clash in the capital.

And it was Pogba who then doubled the lead. Rashford with an inch- perfect cross for the Frenchman and World Cup winner who blasts the header through the keeper. United 2-0 winners. And Sarri saying after the final whistle that his side played "confused football."

We now know the final eight teams and who they will be facing. Both Manchester City and Manchester United will be away at Swansea and Wolves, respectively. Watford hosting Crystal Palace and Millwall of the championship up against EPL site Brighton concludes the quarter final draw there.

Well, away from the F.A. Cup for a moment, and it's officially awards season. On Sunday, Hollywood will be playing host to the biggest awards ceremony of them all, the Academy Awards. And as the biggest names on the silver screen descended on the Oscars, it was the biggest names in sport heading to Monaco for the Laureus Awards, the so-called Oscars of sport.

Well, Simone Biles won the Sports Woman of The Year Award, after becoming the first gymnast of any gender to win 14 world championship gold medals. Novak Djokovic is the Sports Man of The Year. A stellar year, 2018, saw him capture two of the four men's tennis majors, not to mention this year's Australian Open, as well.

Well, easy to pick as Team of the Year. Yes, that's France after a World Cup victory. And the young Japanese tennis star, Naomi Osaka, earning Breakthrough of the Year after that controversial U.S. Open win over Serena Williams. The golfer Tiger Woods, who won the first of two Sportsman of the Year

awards almost two decades ago, now takes home the Comeback Award after winning the tour championship after four back surgeries. And the Sports Person of the Year with a Disability went to Henrietta Farkasova. And the snowboard gold medalist Chloe Kim was named Action Sportsperson of the Year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RILEY: All right, plenty of glitz and glamor on display and that's exactly where he find our very own Alex Thomas. So what was it like being there, Alex?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you come to Laureus Sports Awards, it's perfect that it's held in Monaco, Kate, the millionaires' playground, because there's plenty of razzamatazz and just a sprinkling of stardust.

Former and current Olympians and Paralympians everywhere you look. If you're a sport fan, it's basically like being a kid in a sweet shop. So lots of fun. Very fascinating to see how all the different great athletic stars and athletes and sports celebrities from all walks of life treat each other with great respect and really get something out of the night beyond it being just another awards ceremony.

RILEY: And Alex, you've been getting reaction tonight to those winners.

THOMAS: Yes, the big winners, obviously, the Sportsman and Sports Woman of the Year, Simone Biles was Sports Woman of the Year, wasn't here to receive her award on the night. But Novak Djokovic was, becoming Sportsman Of The Year. You could argue that he could have won Comeback Award of the year, as well, although that went to Tiger Woods. Because of course, Djokovic, his Wimbledon win last year was his first grand slam singles title for two years. And he did reveal in his speech that he got close to quitting the game together.

And one of the key reasons he rededicated himself to tennis is now back at the top of the men's game, despite Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer's resurgence, Djokovic says is down to his family, particularly his wife, Elena, who actually recorded a secret video that he got to see after receiving the award. And he paid tribute to her when he spoke to me afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, WORLD NO. 1 TENNIS PLAYER: I did question everything about my career, how I want to go about my life in the future. I did not have the balance, and I did not have the mental clarity. And I feel like she was very helpful and very supportive to, you know, give me advices [SIC] and talk with me and encourage me and empower me to reach, you know, the solutions that I needed at those times in my head.

But also she was, you know -- she was as phenomenal as she is today: a mother and very helpful and, you know, without her support, it would be very difficult for me to play competitive tennis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: The other big tennis winner of the night was Naomi Osaka, the young Japanese player who's taken the women's game by absolute storm, winning that U.S. Open last year, then continuing her success this year, as well.

And we spoke to Patrick Mouratoglou, who, of course, has helped is Serena Williams's hugely successful and historic career. And he talked about what an amazing thing Osaka's emergence has been for women's tennis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK MOURATOGLOU, SERENA WILLIAMS'S COACH: I think what she's achieved this year is unbelievable. I say this year, I mean, last year and this year. I mean, being able to win back-to-back two grand slams after her first one is something that usually never happens. Most of the players, whether it's men or women, need time to digest the first grand slam. And she's been able to do that. Which means a lot. It means that mentally, she has the mental of a champion. It's something that's really rare, and I think that's why she has so many chances to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: There were lots of standing ovations at this Laureus Sports Awards, and one of them, particularly lengthy, was for Lindsey Vonn, America's skiing star who's just announced her retirement, admitting her body just can't keep up to the rigors of top-level skiing.

And she held herself together pretty well on the red carpet, then broke down in tears when she was given that huge standing ovation, to see how much pleasure she'd given to all of those sports fans and fellow legends that respected what she did.

She spoke to me on the red carpet beforehand, which is a bit more composed, and told us about her decision to quit and what she might do next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSEY VONN, RETIRED WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SKIER: Probably away from sport but still, I'm going to be doing a ton of workouts. I've got a lot of projects coming up. And I don't know. Hopefully, my fans will just stay with me for the adventure. I don't entirely know what's going to happen. But I know I'm going to work hard, and hopefully conquer another aspect of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: So Lindsey Vonn getting emotional at all the tributes she received. Definitely one of the many highlights here at this Laureus Sports Awards, the 2019 ceremonies. They're celebrating their 20th year in 12 months' time, Kate, so that will be interesting, too. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RILEY: All right, many thanks, Alex there.

Well, WORLD SPORT will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RILEY: Welcome back.

The Swiss Alps might be, perhaps, best known as a winter playground for the rich and famous. However, every year in February it also plays host to a rather unusual event. Aly Vance now reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALY VANCE, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Known as "White Turf," it has all the hallmarks of a regular race meeting, from glamorous fans, international jockey. The difference is the race horses pound a snow track, and the entire event takes place on ice.

(on camera): International racing has been taking place here on the frozen lake since 1907. Held on three consecutive Sundays, the racing culminates in the Longines Grand Prix, which this year is celebrating its 80th anniversary, and it's the British runners who are this year's favorites.

(voice-over): The John Best-trained Berrahri and Paul Webber's New Agenda came into the 2,000-meter race having already won on the snow this month. They faced a 10-strong field, also featuring entries from Germany and France, but dominated by the Swiss hosts; and they weren't going to make it easy for the visitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As they turned thunder town the chute the home straight here at an St. Moritz, Filous (ph) is out in front. Then he leads.

Now they're approaching the final two furlongs as they turn out the back straight. Berrahri is trying hard to get back into contention. He's gone into second place now. It's Nimrod and Berrahri, last year's first and second, who turn into the home straight in that order. And this year's Berrahri comes storming through and has taken over. Berrahri the leader from Nimrod in second place. And then Jungle Boogie staying on back in third. But Berrahri is going to take the Grand Prix here at St. Moritz here for John Best and Kieren Fox easily.

VANCE: Runner-up in the race in 2018, there was no doubting Berrahri's supremacy this year. The eight-year-old has an enviable record on the snow, with five victories from 14 starts. But this was his first in White Turf's feature race. The local Group Two contest worth 111,000 swiss franks, the country's richest race.

Aly Vance for CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RILEY: Thanks, Aly.

Stay with CNN. The news is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Donald Trump promises a new day for Latin America. The political unrest in Venezuela, he says, will pave the way for the collapse of socialist regimes across the region. And a stark warning for Venezuela's generals: switch sides, back the opposition or lose everything.