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Juan Guaido May Soon Re-enter Venezuela, Encouraging Opposition to Nicolas Maduro; Justice Department Disputes Hoda Muthana's Citizenship Status; John Hickenlooper Enters 2020 Presidential Race; Democratic Congressmen Calling Out Ilhan Omar After More Public Comments on U.S.-Israel Relationship; Part Two of HBO Documentary "Leaving Neverland" Airs Tonight. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired March 4, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now if they don't arrest him, Jim, you know, that makes Maduro look weak. You know, there are obviously some in his government that wish that he'd arrested Guaido some weeks back.
But, again, there's really no good decision here because Juan Guaido knows, one way or the other, if he is able to get back into the country, as we expect he will very shortly, if he is not already, that that is going to have a major impact on the opposition. It's going to breathe new life into the opposition against the socialist government here in Venezuela.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes. And the U.S. warning a very strong reaction if Guaido is arrested. Patrick Oppmann, we know you're going to stay on top of it. Thanks very much.
When the summit with North Korea collapsed last week, the president said, "Sometimes you have to walk." But now he is suggesting it was the Democrats' fault that he didn't make a deal.
[10:35:19] SCIUTTO: After saying for days it was the right thing to do, to walk away from the summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam without any deal, President Trump now says that it was the Democrats' fault that the negotiations collapsed, all because of the timing of the Cohen hearings back in Washington.
TEXT: Donald J. Trump: For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the "walk." Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!
SCIUTTO: In a tweet, he says the hearings were, quote, "a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the walk."
Joining me now, Mike Rogers, Republican and former House Intelligence chairman.
Always good to have you on, Sir.
MIKE ROGERS, FORMER MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (R-LA), CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Jim, great to see you.
SCIUTTO: His advisors told the president, before he went and while he was out there, that North Korea was digging in on its positions. That's our reporting. It's been the reporting of other publications.
The president is saying it was the Cohen hearing's fault. Is there any substance to that claim?
ROGERS: No, I don't think it was their fault. Listen, I never think it's helpful to have -- I don't care what president's in office -- to have contentious hearings like that when there's some serious negotiations happening overseas. But I don't believe for one second, that's why the talks collapsed.
You know, one of the things that we've said all along, Jim -- and I think you and I have had this conversation -- that setting Kim Jong (ph) up as an international player is really risky because, you know, he went from that isolation -- you know, had no -- saw no light of day outside of the borders of North Korea, to now this kind of international player, certainly in the region.
And that gave him stature for him to walk in and do what he did in those hearings. And that, to me, was probably the -- the most -- it was risky. I'm not -- you know, we could debate if it was worth that risk or not. But now you've got a very different Kim Jong Un you're going to have to deal with. And I think that led more to the walk-out of Kim Jong Un than anything.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Twice, now, the U.S. president has flown around the world to meet him and, in effect, legitimize him as the leader of North Korea.
You know, there were no significant North Korean concessions on its nuclear program. And yet the president has now, once again, cancelled large-scale military exercises with South Korea.
You know this -- this issue better than I do. I mean, this is central to the defense agreement between the U.S. and South Korea. It's also about sending a message to the region. And yet the president has pulled them back.
TEXT: Donald J. Trump: The reason I do not want military drills with South Korea is to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. for which we are not reimbursed. That was my position long before I became President. Also, reducing tensions with North Korea at this time is a good thing!
SCIUTTO: He says it's about saving money. But is this not a concession, in effect, to North Korea?
ROGERS: Oh, completely. Oh, completely. I disagreed with it when they offered that up the last go-around and got, really, nothing for it. And now we're going to get nothing for it again. And Kim Jong Un is not going to read this -- I don't care how the
administration spins this, that's not how Kim Jong Un is going to read it. And, you know, your adversary gets a vote in these decisions.
And he's going to see this as a minor victory for him. Which is why I -- again, I believe he walked in with such a hard stance. "I want X and Y," and he wanted sanctions relief for he's doing nothing.
That -- that is -- that just really -- I mean, I didn't think this went well for the president at all. More importantly, for the U.S. national security. Because now we're dealing with a Kim Jong Un who now doesn't have military, you know, training exercises happening in -- in South Korea with U.S. and allied forces, that's gone.
What else do we have to get him back to the table? Now he's dealing with China in a very different way. He's dealing with Vietnam, other regional players. He can leave North Korea and have these meetings. That -- now we're -- now we're in a very different spot, if we're going to get concessions on -- on his nuclear program.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you on another topic, if I can. And that is, of course, the president's national emergency declaration here at home. With Rand Paul's vote, you now have the Republican-controlled Senate likely to do as the Democratically controlled Congress has, which is to oppose the president's emergency declaration, though not with a veto-proof majority, which means the president will likely veto it.
What happens then? And how dangerous a precedent is this in your view?
ROGERS: I don't -- I really don't think this is the end of the world. I disagree with the president's decision to use this tactic on this particular issue.
Listen, I think he's frustrated. There's a lot of players on Capitol Hill that are frustrated. We don't have this comprehensive immigration reform and a comprehensive national security position on securing the southern border.
SCIUTTO: I hear you on the substance, but you know the way our government is set up, is that Congress has to vote the money. And Congress didn't stay silent here --
ROGERS: Oh, no --
SCIUTTO: -- Congress, you know, explicitly --
ROGERS: -- don't take me the wrong way, Jim --
SCIUTTO: -- did not give him the money he wants.
ROGERS: Don't take it the wrong way. I disagree with the president's decision on this, and I think this is going to cost him politically. And I think you can see the -- I think the result of all this is because of all that tension that's going on on Capitol Hill. [10:39:58] He would have been better off -- there's something called
-- as a chairman of a committee, if you would have told me you were taking away my ability to sign off on something called "reprogramming dollars," that we would go painstakingly over in Congress to appropriate to different agencies -- in this case, it would have been intelligence agencies.
Every fall, they come back and say, "Hey, we have a little extra money here. We'd like to spend it here. Can we have your permission?" That's exactly how you do proper oversight. That gives you the ability to get into these programs, making sure the government's doing what it's supposed to do.
So when you do -- when Congress gives this up, I hope they're thinking about this. That's why you need the president to work with Congress on these things --
ROGERS: -- even where you disagree. And so that's where I think he's going to get in trouble, although I -- again, that being said, that would mean the next president, you know, whoever that might be, would have to take this pretty bold step. I'm just not sure that they would do that. And, again, I don't think it was appropriate in this circumstance. There's other ways to get what he wanted --
ROGERS: -- rather than this.
SCIUTTO: Mike Rogers, thanks for coming on.
ROGERS: Hey, thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: In just a few moments, attorneys for an Alabama woman who joined ICIS will be in federal court, trying to convince a judge that she is a U.S. citizen and therefore should be allowed to return home to the U.S.
This morning, the Justice Department responded to a lawsuit brought by Hoda Muthana's father. He says that he left his diplomatic post with Yemen before Muthana was born in New Jersey, therefore making her a U.S. citizen.
Prosecutors say that the U.N. did not tell American authorities that her father was no longer a diplomat until after Muthana's birth, and that that means she was never a U.S. citizen. Muthana left the U.S. in 2014, eventually married three ISIS fighters there. Her attorneys say that she is prepared to return to the U.S. and face whatever charges are filed against her.
Still ahead, infighting in the Democratic Party after Congresswoman Ilhan Omar makes more comments that some are describing as anti- Semitic. We'll have more on that story next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:46:21] SCIUTTO: Another governor from a western state is now joining the race for the White House. John Hickenlooper, former Democratic governor from Colorado, kicked off his campaign early this morning by releasing this video.
How will he stand out in the crowded and very diverse field of Democratic candidates? For that, I want to bring in Scott McLean from Denver.
Hickenlooper, he's got a good record in a western state. Former businessman. What message is he trying to run on?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So Hickenlooper, Jim, is yet to make his specific policy plans clear, but he's got some serious challenges right off the hop (ph). Of course he doesn't have very much national name recognition. He's not the party establishment choice. And of course, he is a moderate candidate in a party that seems to be moving further and further to the left.
TEXT: John Hickenlooper; Moderate Democrat; Former Colorado Governor, 2011-2019; Former mayor of Denver, 2003-2011; Former brewery owner, Co-founded and operated Wynkoop Brewing
MCLEAN: I asked his former advisor and speechwriter if he has any plans to move in that direction further, more toward the progressive part of the party. And he said he just cannot imagine it. He can't envision that scenario. He will likely remain close to the center.
But he says that that should be appealing to a broad base of the party because he thinks that someone who is more of a moderate could actually beat Donald Trump.
Now, Hickenlooper does have a pretty strong resume. He was the governor for the last eight years. Before that, he was the mayor of Denver for the last eight years before that. And then he is also a successful entrepreneur. He started a brew pub in a once-dingy part of Denver. It's actually still open today.
But John Hickenlooper is probably not going to drop the gloves and duke it out with Donald Trump. At least he's not going to probably get into the mud with Donald Trump. He says that he's never run a negative ad campaign and he doesn't plan to now.
In fact, he's billing himself as a guy who can work with Republicans. Here's what he said this morning on "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HICKENLOOPER, FORMER COLORADO GOVERNOR: I think this is a crisis of division. And I think it's probably the worst period of division that we've had in this country since the Civil War. And ultimately, I'm running for president because I believe that not only can I beat Donald Trump, but that I am the person that can bring people together on the other side and actually get stuff done.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MCLEAN: So Hickenlooper is the first guy from Colorado -- or the first candidate from Colorado -- to declare, but he might not be the only one. His former chief of staff when he was in the mayor's office, Senator Michael Bennet, he has also publicly said that he is considering a run for president.
Also interesting to note, Jim, one thing that Hickenlooper didn't mention in that interview, he didn't mention it in his video is marijuana, which is probably the thing that he is best known for, outside of the state of Colorado.
Of course, he voted against it -- or he campaigned against it -- initially, but then became the reluctant champion for the legal system here in Colorado -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well, they make a lot of tax revenue there off that. Scott McLean, thanks very much.
Another round of controversial comments by freshman congresswoman, sparking backlash from some within her own party. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, under fire after she criticized America's relationship with Israel during an event Wednesday.
The Minnesota Democrat said, quote, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country."
Now, a top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is demanding an apology for that comment. I want to bring in Sunlen Serfaty on the Hill.
Tell us what lawmakers are saying today about this. And are you seeing similar outrage to previous remarks from Congresswoman Omar?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CONN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very similar outrage, Jim. Many are not happy. They're calling these latest round of comments from the congresswoman "deeply offensive," and many are calling for her to apologize for them.
As you said, these comments came from a progressive town hall here in Washington, D.C. last week. And the congresswoman was talking about the fact that she did have all this fallout from her original statements about AIPAC.
[10:50:01] And she said at that town hall, quote, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiances to a foreign country."
And that comment specifically, not sitting well at all with her Democratic colleagues. Congressman Eliot Engel, who is the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, he blasted her in his statement and he's calling for her to apologize.
He says, quote, "I welcome debate in Congress based on the merits of policy, but it's unacceptable and deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. We all take the same oath. Worse, Representative Omar's comments leveled that charge by invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur."
Similar comments from Congresswoman Nita Lowey. She says that Omar's comments are "hurtful," in her words, and that she's saddened that she has a tendency to mischaracterize support for Israel from American lawmakers.
TEXT: Nita Lowey: "Lawmakers must be able to debate w/o prejudice or bigotry. I am saddened that Rep. Omar continues to mischaracterize support for Israel. I urge her to retract this statement and engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful."
SERFATY: And that specific word, "mischaracterize," seemed to set of Congresswoman Omar who really released a tweetstorm online over the weekend, saying, "I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel. I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end."
Jim, very clear that this is just one more chapter, one more round in this controversy, including -- involving the new freshman congresswoman. Very clear this is just one more step in that, very clear. Also that there would be a lot of scrutiny on each and every word.
SCIUTTO: Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much.
A new documentary with disturbing allegations of sexual abuse by Michael Jackson. The Jackson family calling all of it a public lynching. We'll have more, coming up.
[10:56:05] SCIUTTO: Tonight, HBO will air part two of the Michael Jackson documentary "Leaving Neverland." In it, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now adults, share graphic, really disturbing accounts, alleging that Jackson sexually abused them repeatedly as children.
Warning, we should note the descriptions here are troubling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WADE ROBSON, FEATURED IN "LEAVING NEVERLAND": The first thing I remember is Michael sort of, you know, moving his hands across my legs. We're both clothed in PJs. And then his hands sort of got to, you know, my crotch area.
Being (ph) he's sort of fondling there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how old were you?
ROBSON: I was seven. Seven years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Just seven years old. Let's discuss now with Oliver Darcy of CNN Media. CNN Business -- senior media reporter.
Oliver, I mean, some of the details here. I mean, that one stands for itself. But separating the kids from their parents, you know, in Neverland. I mean, it's really disgusting, frankly. What's the reaction?
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Incredibly disturbing allegations. And they are causing quite a stir. Our own Lisa France wrote, for instance, that this film, "Leaving Neverland," portrays Jackson as a monster.
And others are re-examining his work in light of these allegations.
DARCY: Slate's Jack Hamilton, for instance, wrote that it's difficult to differentiate Jackson as the king of pop and the guy portrayed in this movie. He wrote that "It's in his songs, it's in his videos. You'll never hear him the same way again."
DARCY: This film, part one premiered last night on HBO, and part two is coming up tonight.
SCIUTTO: I mean, it's -- you make comparisons to, like, a Bill Cosby, right? Someone with his legacy, obviously, enormously changed by this.
So there's a lot of money at stake here for the Jackson estate, which is still basically a thriving business almost 10 years after Jackson's death. So how has the Jackson family been pushing back against these allegations?
DARCY: Well, one, they kind of released this counterprogramming the other night, basically allowing people to watch this concert from Michael Jackson. But they also sued HBO -- which, I should note, shares the same parent company as CNN, it's Warner Media -- they sued HBO for $100 million.
HBO basically said that they're going to release the film. They're undeterred. And they said that -- in a statement we -- I can read it to you. That "releasing the film will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves."
TEXT: HBO Statement: "Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged. HBO will move forward with the airing of 'Leaving Neverland,' the two-part documentary, on March 3rd and 4th. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves."
SCIUTTO: The trouble with this -- and some of these allegations have been familiar. After all, Michael Jackson went on trial for similar accusations. But there are new accusations in here --
DARCY: Yes. SCIUTTO: -- from two witnesses here. One of the most disturbing from
one of the -- from the others involved was this idea of -- of a marriage that he staged, and a ring given. And then the parents separated.
You know, sort of increasingly separated from them as they were staying at the house there.
SCIUTTO: Tell us what else was new.
DARCY: And this idea that the kids (ph) had these drills to get dressed before the parents could get there and catch them. I think we have a clip of that if you want to -- want to play it.
SCIUTTO: Let's have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES SAFECHUCK, FEATURED IN "LEAVING NEVERLAND": He would run drills with me where we'd be in the hotel room and he would pretend like somebody was coming in, and you had to get dressed as fast as possible without making noise. So not getting caught was a big, like, just kind of fundamental.
It was very much a secret. And he would tell me that if anybody found out, his life would be over and my life would be over. And that's something he tells you over and over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So he was threatening the kids there --
SCIUTTO: -- saying, "You're going to be punished --
SCIUTTO: -- "if it's discovered."
DARCY: Absolutely disturbing allegations. And I really think, like a lot of critics are saying, it's going to be hard to look at Michael Jackson or to hear his music, next time you walk into a coffee shop, hear him the same way again.
SCIUTTO: Absolutely, absolutely. No question. Oliver Darcy, thanks very much. Disturbing. No question.
[11:00:01] Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Jim Sciutto here in New York. "AT THIS HOUR" with my colleague Kate Bolduan starts right now.