Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY SATURDAY

Donald Trump Unveils His Impeachment Defense Team; Donald Trump Reveals New Details Behind Airstrike That Killed Qasem Soleimani; Virginia Governor Ralph Northam Temporarily Bans Firearms Near State Capital And Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Pro-Gun Rally After Multiple Threats From Neo-Nazis; Delta Airlines Accidentally Dumped 15,000 Gallons Of Jet Fuel Over L.A. Schools; California Highlights $1.4 Billion Plan To Help Homeless; Andrew Yang's Wife, Evelyn Shares Her Story of Sexual Assault; Blizzard Conditions Make Travel Treacherous Across the U.S. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired January 18, 2020 - 06:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Democrats released new documents on Friday night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could these newly released text messages shed fresh light on apparent attempts to surveil the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impeachment document dump comes as new lawyers are named for the president's defense team.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former independent counsel Ken Starr, constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER: I've been asked to prepare and deliver the case, the constitutional case, against impeachment that benefits the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Donald Trump offering a new reason why he authorized the killing of Iran's top general.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was saying like, we're going to attack your country, we're going to kill your people. I said look, how much of this (expletive word) do we have to listen to?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Happening today, the House of Representatives has a 5:00 P.M. deadline to file their impeachment trial brief. Good morning to you. We're so grateful for your company. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. Soon, House Democrats are expected to send over their legal arguments. That is ahead of President Trump's impeachment trial. Late last night, House Democrats released new documents and text messages from indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. They appear to show surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch. She is the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was fired by President Trump.

PAUL: All of this happening as the president's beefed up legal team filled with made-for-TV lawyers is preparing to defend him. Want to begin with CNN's Kristen Holmes. She's traveling with the president in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Kristen, good morning to you. We know the House released these new documents from Lev Parnas. We want to start there. What do they tell us?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Martin. Well, there are two main takeaways. You kind of touched on this a second ago. This is about the apparent surveillance of that former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and just to remind our viewers, she was the ambassador who was ousted by the Trump administration last May after a smear campaign led by President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Now, in this first document dump, we saw this apparent surveillance really walked through here as Parnas communicated with a man, a congressional candidate from Connecticut, named Robert Hyde about Yovanovitch's movements.

Now, this second dump that we just saw last night really shows a step further. It is a communication between Hyde and Parnas once again, but Hyde is screenshotting conversations he's having with an unknown Belgian number about Yovanovitch's movements. Now, Hyde himself gave an interview last night saying that none of this was real, that this was just done in jest. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT HYDE, CONNECTICUT LANDSCAPER: So when they're sending me these texts and I'm like whatever, dude, yes, under surveillance, just joking, nobody ever really knew that -- I never pictured anything was real. I didn't -- I didn't think anything was real. Who would be surveilling a U.S. ambassador? Like who could do that? I never -- I never imagined you'd like -- these jokers that you'd meet at fundraisers, that, you know -- legit people were like, Rob, pulled me aside, stay away from these people. You never -- I never thought like anything they were saying was real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Yes. So he says he didn't think it was real, but those text messages seemed so real that the State Department has announced they will launch an investigation into this apparent surveillance. And the other big takeaway from these documents was the involvement of Devin Nunes and one of his top aides.

We knew that there had been communication between Nunes between his aide and Lez Parnas, but this shows a deeper involvement as the two of them, Nunes and his aide and Parnas, were working together to try and dig up dirt, dirt that the president wanted, dirt that Republicans on Capitol Hill wanted all on the Bidens.

SAVIDGE: Kristen, Alan Dershowitz, he's joined the president's legal team. What more are we learning about his role?

HOLMES: Well, that's right. So we have a new legal team that was announced yesterday and I kind of want to pull it up here so I can show you the structure because we have the two people who are leading it which we have known for some time. We know it's Jay Sekulow who is the president's personal attorney as well as Pat Cipollone who is the White House counsel. They will lead it, but they did announce some big TV star names yesterday.

One of them being, as you said, Alan Dershowitz. He is a celebrity lawyer. You know, he became famous from the OJ Simpson trial. He's represented Mike Tyson and most recently, he carries a lot of baggage from representing Jeffrey Epstein. Here's what he said about his role in the legal team.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERSHOWITZ: I think it would be unconstitutional, it would set a terrible precedent for this president to be impeached for these alleged articles of impeachment. So I feel very strongly I will make a strong argument against impeachment, but I'm not part of the regular team that will be making strategic decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[06:05:02]

HOLMES: So even though he says he's not part of the regular team that will be making these strategic decisions, he was announced by the White House as joining the legal team and if we can pull up that show -- that visual there again so I can go through some of the other members so we can talk about it, we have Ken Starr there who is arguably the most well known name. Of course he is the independent counsel whose investigation led to the eventual impeachment of Bill Clinton.

He also comes with a lot of baggage. We know that he was ousted. He resigned from his position as president of Baylor after an investigation showed that the school officials were not handling appropriately responses to accusations of sexual assault by football players.

Now, as we continue down the list, you have Robert Ray. He was the independent counsel who took over from Ken Starr. You have Pam Bondi who is a former Florida attorney general, a big fan of President Trump's, a supporter of his and then you have Jane Raskin. She was someone who was really working behind the scenes with President Trump going over the Mueller report, helping him form reaction to that, helping his legal team through that entire process. And then in addition to that, you have Eric Hirschmann.

So this is a big TV explosive team here, people who are household names who carry a lot of baggage, but as we've talked about, we know President Trump wanted a show and this will certainly give it to him even if no witnesses are called.

PAUL: All righty. Kristen Holmes, appreciate the update so much. Thank you.

SAVIDGE: President Trump's impeachment trial will pick up on Tuesday, but there is a lot going on between now and then leading up. There are several steps that have to be taken. The House has until 5:00 P.M. today to file their trial brief which lays out the facts, the evidence and the legal arguments they plan to present. The president then must respond to the secretary of the Senate by 6:00 P.M.

Then on Monday, President Trump's team will need to file their trial brief by noon laying out their defense. The House will then have a chance to file a rebuttal and refute any evidence presented by Trump's team, that document due by 12:00 P.M. on Tuesday. Once that's done, the Senate will reconvene at 1:00 P.M., kicking off the impeachment trial with opening arguments.

PAUL: Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" last night. She told the host President Trump gave the House, quote, "no choice," but to he is impeach him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He is impeached forever because he used the office of president to try to influence a foreign country for his personal and political benefit. In doing so, he undermined our national security ...

BILL MAHER, HOSE, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: Right.

PELOSI: ... he was disloyal to his oath of office to protect the Constitution and he placed in jeopardy the integrity of our election and that -- I mean, really he gave us no choice. Earlier on with some of the charges that came forward which were violations of the law, I said he's not worth it, but once he crossed that bridge, it wasn't a question of his being worth it. The Constitution was worth it. He had to be impeached. Over 70 percent of the American people want to see witnesses and documentation to come forward ...

MAHER: OK.

PELOSI: ... and that places a burden on those senators. They will either come down in favor of transparency and accountability to the Constitution or we will hold them accountable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: All right. Here's a good chance to break it all down, the headlines and the additions to the legal team, with our own CNN Legal Analyst, Shan Wu.

Good morning to you, Shan.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning, Martin. SAVIDGE: Let me start with the obvious. What do you think of the addition of Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr to the president's legal team here? What does that signal to you from the obvious experience you have?

WU: These are not trial lawyers, Martin. They are constitutional lawyers. Starr was an appellate judge, Dershowitz is an appellate lawyer and it signals more of what McConnell's folks really need is they need something that's very non fact-based, more like an appeal. They want to review the record coldly, no witnesses, no documents and Starr and Dershowitz can provide that.

They can talk about constitutional issues in the sense of they can argue the framers didn't intend for this kind of conduct to be covered, a little bit of a sort of an idiot defense. Maybe you think Trump's an idiot, maybe you don't like him, but that's not impeachable and that can give these senators some rationale to justify what looks like is going to be their deliberate ignorance of the facts of the case.

SAVIDGE: So that's interesting because many have made out that these are, you know -- I don't want to say TV attorneys, it's not really fair, but they have very high celebrity profile and yet you're arguing here that really their advantage on this legal team is to argue the Constitution, which really, other than outline the basic instructions of impeachment, doesn't go into the mechanics too much.

WU: Exactly right, Martin. I think to the president, there's a lot of appeal to the fact that they're well known, they can handle themselves in front of a camera, sometimes to their detriment as, you know, Starr suffered some sanctions.

[06:10:00]

His ethics advisor quit during the Whitewater independent counsel investigation because he was talking about so much grand jury material, but on the mechanics of it, it's beyond just the plain language of the Constitution. There is sort of legislative history if you look at the Federalist Papers. Importantly, the framers did not want a president to be impeached for malfeasance, meaning doing a bad job. They felt that might be too political, so that's why they came up with this term high crimes and misdemeanors. So there's a lot of depth there for constitutional scholars to explore.

SAVIDGE: There have been some talk that there have been Republican House members that might come over and be a part of the president's legal team. That didn't happen and ardent supporters of the president say the reason they were wanted was that you don't have any real fire- breathers on the president's defense team. What would you say to that?

WU: I don't know that they need any fire-breathers for the Senate trial. If McConnell gets his way, it's going to be a very staid procedure. He doesn't want live testimony and so what they need is some folks who can bring some dignity to the trial and put out some arguments for the senators to rely on and I think they'll get that with Cipollone leading the team and by bringing on folks like Dershowitz and Starr. But again, the president's instinct on messaging is good and marketing is good. Both of them are very happy to talk to cameras and do grandstanding in their own way.

SAVIDGE: Yes. We know that for sure. Let me ask you about Chief Justice John Roberts. There are going to be some anticipated critical votes that will take place, including whether or not to allow witnesses, and those votes could potentially be close if some Republicans join with the Democrats here. Would the Supreme Court justice then be the tiebreaker? How does that work?

WU: Yes. That's an interesting question. He could be a tiebreaker and it sort of depends on chicken and the egg, which comes first. If they were to first ask him to rule, he could theoretically make a ruling, things like relevance or whether witnesses will be called or not. The Senate could then overrule him, but the ultimate power is really with the Senate majority vote and they're going to control that. If it's a tie, there's some question as to whether he could be the tiebreaker or not help.

SAVIDGE: Well, that remains to be seen and it could put him in a very difficult position.

WU: Absolutely.

SAVIDGE: Shan Wu, thank you very much. Always good to talk to you.

WU: Good to talk to you, Martin.

PAUL: Well, a former congressman is set to spend a little more than two years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges in an insider trading case. Former New York representative Chris Collins was sentenced to 26 months in prison. That sentence was yesterday. He admitted to sharing non-public information with his son about a failed drug trial that they were investing in.

The judge said Collins, quote, "betrayed his duty as a congressman" and added on a $200,000 fine and a year of supervised probation. Collins emotionally addressed the court saying in part, "Now I stand here today," this is a quote, "as a disgraced former member of Congress." Collins has been ordered to report to jail March 17th.

SAVIDGE: New this morning, audio recordings of President Trump giving new details about the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani to high dollar donors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. Thirty seconds, 10, nine, eight, then all of a sudden, boom. They're gone, sir. Cutting off. I said, where is this guy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Also, Virginia is under a state of emergency over fears of violence flaring at a gun rights rally. We're learning now the FBI has arrested another three alleged Neo-Nazis, what they're accused of plotting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: President Trump was at a major fundraiser last night at Mar- a-Lago and while he was there, the president gave a minute-by-minute account and details of the operation that killed Iran's top military commander.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He was supposed to be invincible. He was saying bad things about our country. He was saying like, we're going to attack your country, we're going to kill your people, we're going to -- you know, I said, look, how much of this s*** do we have to listen to, right? How much are we going to listen to?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Now, the president did not mention an imminent threat, which the administration has said justified that airstrike, but instead he did describe in detail watching remotely as Soleimani arrived at Baghdad International Airport. The president mistakenly claimed Soleimani was meeting with the head of Hezbollah. Soleimani we know was not.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They said sir, and this is from, you know, cameras that are miles in the sky. They're together, sir. Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds. No emotion. They have two minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They're in the car. They're in an armored vehicle going. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. Thirty seconds, sir, 10, nine, eight, then all of a sudden, boom. They're gone, sir. Cutting off. I said where is this guy? That was the last I heard from him.

And then we had, you know, breaking news. But he got hit hard and he deserved to be hit hard because he was bad. He killed many, many thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, but thousands of Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could be subpoenaed to testify about the administration's policy in Iran, Iraq and the Middle East.

SAVIDGE: The House Foreign Affairs Committee has re-invited Pompeo to appear before them later this month. The secretary did not show up for a hearing on the same matter this week. In a litter -- letter, that is, Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said that lawmakers want more information about what led up to that air strike that killed Iran's top general Qasem Soleimani and he threatened to use, quote, "all legal means," unquote, to make sure the secretary shows up.

[06:20:04]

PAUL: Let's talk about North Korea because they're building new missiles and new weapons, quote, "as fast as anybody on the planet." That quote is the warning from the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He says North Korea's quickly developing its arsenal, despite having a weak economy.

SAVIDGE: Earlier this month, leader Kim Jong-un suggested North Korea may resume testing nuclear weapons and other missiles that could be capable of hitting the U.S.. The two countries broke off diplomatic negotiations back in October.

The FBI has arrested three men in Georgia who are suspected members of the right-wing extremist group called The Base. They allegedly had plans to overthrow the government and commit murder. Three other suspected members of the Neo-Nazi group were arrested earlier this week. The FBI says these men were planning to travel to Richmond, Virginia for a pro-gun rally that's set for Monday.

PAUL: Yes. The state expects extremist groups to show up and demonstrate in front of the Capitol building and the governor is taking specific steps to make sure there's no violence at the event. Here's Alexandra Field.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Richmond, Virginia, extra security measures are already being put in place days before a pro-gun rally that is scheduled for Martin Luther King Day. Officials here say they have received credible threats and they're doing everything in their power to stop the kind of violence, the kind of conflict that we saw just two years ago at an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Alarming accusations in Washington's backyard, the FBI arresting these three men in Maryland and Delaware, tying them to a radical white supremacist group and alleging they were heavily armed and headed to a pro-gun rally in Virginia according to law enforcement. Prosecutors slapping them with multiple firearm and immigration related charges because one of them a Canadian citizen is accused of illegally crossing from Canada into the U.S.. According to court documents, the men had more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition and built their own gun, even bragging, "Oh, oops, it looks like I accidentally made a machine gun."

Prosecutors say two of the men smashed their cell phones and threw them in the toilet before agents took them into custody. The FBI says the three are members of an international white supremacy group called The Base which claims to be training its members to fight in a race war according to a top counter-extremism group, prosecutors even showing a picture of one of them training with the group, long guns raised and at the ready.

Court documents also state members of The Base use encrypted chat rooms to discuss creating a white ethno state and attacking African- Americans and Jewish people as well as building bombs. The men were planning to attend a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia being held on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to authorities.

The rally, coming just days after Virginia lawmakers passed three gun reform bills, has led Governor Ralph Northam to temporarily ban firearms on state capitol grounds and to invoke a temporary state of emergency.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): State intelligence analysts have identified threats and violent rhetoric similar to what has been seen before other major events such as Charlottesville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jews will not replace us.

FIELD: The memory of the Unite the Right rally still haunting the state more than two years later. It quickly turned violent, leading to a clash between Neo-Nazis and counter protesters and left one woman dead.

NORTHAM: No one wants another incident like the one we saw in Charlottesville in 2017. We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here.

FIELD: Governor Northam's state of emergency as well as his temporary ban on weapons around the Capitol have already gone into effect. Groups supporting the pro-gun rally challenged the governor in court. A judge ultimately sided with the governor. In Richmond, Alexandra Field, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: The homeless population in California had jumped more than 16 percent last year. Coming up, details on the steps that state officials are taking to get people off the streets and into safer housing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAVIDGE: Delta Airlines is facing some fairly serious backlash after one of their flights dumped jet fuel over several schools in Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like I said --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: Parents and frustrated community members booed a Delta representative at a town hall meeting last night. The airline apologized for the fuel dump which happened as the plane made an emergency landing in Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.

PAUL: Sixty people, including several children, were treated for injuries. Now, although the injuries weren't severe, there's concern about long-term consequences obviously of being sprayed by jet fuel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For them to look at me in my face and tell me just wash your -- just wash your hands with soap and water and they're going to be OK. My daughters have been in and out of the doctors since Tuesday. My aunt is in the hospital. All of us have been suffering.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Now the air lines facing a lawsuit from four elementary school teachers. They say the fuel got in their noses and their mouths. Delta was also hit with an air pollution violation by Southern California air pollution regulators. They say 15,000 gallons of jet fuel in the form of mist were dropped.

And listen, California is struggling to really get a handle of its homelessness crisis. This week, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a $1.4 billion plan, including using trailers to temporarily house some of the 150,000 homeless people throughout the state. The pictures are just heartbreaking.

[06:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We did an executive order a couple of weeks ago, providing 100 of these trailers. This is a preview on the first 58 that will be out in the next few weeks. An additional 42 are being procured currently up in Chico around the airport related to our response to help support the infrastructure to rebuild the lives of those torn asunder in Butte County because of the camp fire. One hundred of these trailers made available.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: But in one city, there is contentious debate over where to put the temporary housing. Santa Rosa is home to one of the largest homeless encampments in the state. CNN affiliate "KGO" reports that by the end of the month, up to 60 of the more than 200 people living there could be moved to a temporary outdoor shelter. Nearby residents say they're worried about where that new housing will be. CNN's Dan Simon has the story for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He uses spare parts to make bikes.

(on camera): Are you able to make money out here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I don't live out here. I thrive out here. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drug size, come check it out, perfume!

SIMON (voice-over): She hopes dole out the steady stream of donations.

NICKY EDWARDS, LIVES IN ENCAMPMENT: The other day I had a whole bunch of nice Nikes up here, and I gave them out in the morning.

SIMON: Nicky Edwards and Bicycle Dave as he is called are part of the more than 200 homeless people at one of California's largest encampments. And according to local officials, the largest ever in Sonoma County history.

(on camera): Despite all of this, you seem like a really positive, happy person.

EDWARDS: You have to be positive. If you're down, it doesn't help anyone.

SIMON (voice-over): Nicky, 30 years old, says she worked as a nurse's aide in her home state of Nebraska. She says she followed a boyfriend to California, but a bad breakup last year left her broke and homeless.

EDWARDS: Just got to survive, and you get through the bad things. Makes you a better person and closer to people.

SIMON: Dave, 40 years old, says he's been living on the streets since the age of 16.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess this is kind of like my rebellion against society's judgment.

SIMON: Just miles away from the opulence of California's wine country, the encampment, which has grown dramatically over the past six months, stretches well over a mile. Tent after tent lining part of a popular biking trail in the heart of Santa Rosa, a gated community sits directly behind it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an occupation. I mean, it's taken over our neighborhood.

SIMON: Community frustration boiling over the piles of trash, junk and drug needles. Residents jamming county board meetings, demanding action. Stuart Kiehl among them.

STUART KIEHL, SANTA ROSA RESIDENT: You've got 200 people out there defecating and urinating every day, and you're not doing anything about it?

SIMON: In fairness, there are now porta-potties on the trail. But one of the main issues, the city is legally prohibited from clearing the encampment, as it's done with others in the past. That's because a pair of federal court rulings including this controversial one in 2018 from San Francisco's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says that West Coast cities like Santa Rosa are not allowed to prosecute people for sleeping outdoors if there is no shelter available. Doing so, the court found, would violate the constitution's eighth

amendment which bars cruel and unusual punishment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of the folks that we see on the trail are struggling with mental illness.

SIMON: Sonoma County supervisor Linda Hopkins represents the area where the trailer is located, and has been working to come up with solutions. But for some, progress hasn't been fast enough. She's become the target of a recall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I absolutely acknowledge the tremendous anger and frustration in the community and in the neighborhood. And it's warranted.

SIMON: Until the county is able to offer suitable shelter, it's working to make the trail more habitable. On this day, we found pest control installing rat traps after infrared video from the Sonoma County sheriff's office revealed a major rodent problem. How many traps are we talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three hundred and forty.

SIMON: Police patrols also common now, which are not exactly welcome to some.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We try to keep the cops out of here as much as possible just because we like our way of life, you know. We don't want it interfered with.

SIMON: People like Bicycle Dave say they never want to feel forced out. Setting the stage for a long-term battle between Santa Rosa's homeless and residents who want their trail back. Dan Simon, CNN, Santa Rosa, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Well, Andrew Yang's wife Evelyn says she was sexually assaulted by her doctor while she was pregnant. Now, her attorney says more than a dozen women have come forward with similar allegations just after hearing her story. Coming up at our legal brief, the plea bargain the doctor has reached or the doctor reached that some are calling a sweetheart deal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:35:00]

PAUL: Topping this morning's legal briefs, opening statements in the Harvey Weinstein trial set to begin this coming week in New York on Wednesday, in fact. The disgraced Hollywood producer faces five felony counts including rape and predatory sexual assault. These are based on claims by two women.

But there are a lot of women who have accused him of sexual abuse, assault, harassment. He denies all the allegations, we should point out. Criminal defense Attorney Janet Johnson with us right now. Janet, so good to have you with us. The big news this week is the fact that the jury has been set, seven men, five women.

[06:40:00]

And I want to show you one of the headlines this morning, though, regarding that jury. There have been a lot of questions and a lot of drama around who was chosen. But this one from "The New York Times" talks about the headlines of only two white women being on that jury. But what stood out to me is there are five women who are on the jury.

What is the significance of calling out the fact that there's white women because women of all color can certainly relate to this issue.

JANET JOHNSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right, good morning Christi. The prosecutors objected at striking white women by the defense. So, both sides seem to agree that those are the crucial jurors that the prosecution wants and the defense does not want. I assume that they're saying because the victims in this case are white women, they think that white women will relate better.

But I'm not sure that pans out. You know, in jury selection, you try to guess who's going to be the best juror for your theory of the case. But sometimes, you know, there's a theory that women are harsher judgers and men are more sympathetic. And you know, I don't know that it's directly related to that.

But the prosecution did object because they have a right to get jurors who represent the community and white women have a right to serve on juries. So, I think, you know, there was definitely a strategy, and I guess the defense kind of won that strategy battle.

PAUL: OK, so speaking of strategy, I want to read you what Weinstein's Attorney Arthur Aidala asked one of the last groups as they were trying to whittle down who's going to serve on this jury. He said, according to -- again, "The Washington Post", he said, "who here thinks someone would have consensual sexual relations with someone at work to get ahead at work?"

And "The Washington Post" says at least ten hands went up. It kind of gives us a good sense of where this defense is going to go with this, right?

JOHNSON: Yes, and jury selection is the only time that lawyers get to speak directly to the jury, ask them questions and have a back-and- forth. It's sometimes awkward because you're saying things that are sort of outrageous when you first meet somebody to say, but that's clearly their defense. And there were people who apparently were receptive to that.

There were probably also people who thought oh, this is ridiculous, and weren't receptive. And the defense is going to try to get the people who were open to it. That's going to be their argument, and they're airing it in jury selection. Even if they don't get people who believe that, they've now gotten a discussion going about the possibility that someone could do that. And that's going to second- guess what the victims are saying.

PAUL: OK, I want to move on to Evelyn Yang and her revelation that she was sexually assaulted by a doctor. There is renewed focus on that plea deal between Manhattan's District Attorney and Yang's former doctor this morning. We should also point out -- and I -- this is such an important story, we're going to air it later in its entirety in the show.

But we should point out that since it ran, according to her attorney, more than a dozen women have come forward with their own allegations against this doctor, as well. Of course, Evelyn Yang is the wife of presidential candidate Andrew Yang. She says she was assaulted by her ob-gyn Dr. Robert Hadden, back in 2012 while she was pregnant with her first child, seven months pregnant, in fact.

Dr. Hadden cut a deal with the District Attorney's office, he pleaded guilty to two of the nine charges, surrendered his medical license, he served no prison time. Despite an initial recommendation that he receives at least four years behind bars. He did have to register as a sex offender, though, with the low level -- lowest level of sex offenders.

So, as we said, her attorney says about 15 women have come forward since Mrs. Yang very bravely told her story. I want to ask you about what she's doing now because she is one of many who are suing Columbia University, that is where Dr. Hadden ran his -- the facility where he ran his practice. He was arrested approximately 6 weeks before what Mrs. Yang says happened to her.

And his arrest was voided, he went back to work. Here's what she said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EVELYN YANG, WIFE OF ANDREW YANG: What happened to me should have never happened. He was arrested in his office, and he was led back to work. And that's what's very painful is knowing that actually what happened to me could have been prevented.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Now, Columbia responded, saying the allegations against Hadden are abhorrent and they deeply apologize to those whose trust was violated. It doesn't answer any questions about why he was allowed to practice in their facility again, unchaperoned, by the way. How strong is her case against him -- against Columbia?

[06:45:00]

JOHNSON: Oh, it's very strong. I mean, that interview is, you know, gut-wrenching to listen to because she's right. It was preventable. And even if he wasn't prosecuted, that's a high standard beyond a reasonable doubt. Columbia was on notice that he should at least have been suspended, investigated, reprimanded and possibly terminated.

And it appears that none of those things were done. So they could have avoided this. They were on notice presumably that he was arrested in their facility, and they let him come back and violate somebody else. And she's probably not the only person we're finding out.

I think she has a very strong case. And you know, I think the DA also is going to have to answer for why they dropped the charges --

PAUL: I wanted to ask you about that real quickly. We only have a couple of seconds. But Cy Vance --

JOHNSON: Yes --

PAUL: Is the Manhattan DA in this case, he's the same DA that was lenient with Jeffrey Epstein registering as a sex offender. He initially failed to prosecute Weinstein. Does he have some answers to give here?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. And if you're going to run against somebody, he'd be a good target and you wouldn't run on that theory because these people all went on to re-offend. It could have all been avoided, and they all look like sweetheart deals. He actually -- this doctor was offered a misdemeanor and his lawyer negotiated so heavily that they went back and pressed the felony. So, it could have even been more lenient.

PAUL: Right --

JOHNSON: It's outrageous.

PAUL: Janet Johnson, always appreciate your insight. Thank you, ma'am.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Christi.

SAVIDGE: In other news this morning, tens of millions of people are under Winter weather alerts, and heavy snow in some parts of the U.S. has made travel conditions extremely treacherous. When we come back, unbelievable video of a narrow escape in Iowa as a truck goes crashing off the road in deep snow. You'll see what happens next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:00]

SAVIDGE: All right, getting back to that video we showed you just before the break. A close call for a state trooper and a truck drug driver in Iowa. You have to see the video. Emergency crews were helping a delivery truck that crashed into a ditch on the side of the interstate.

PAUL: So, you see this officer walking around in front of the truck. Another man walking around the truck, and then seconds later, look at this thing -- the truck loses control, it's obviously an icy road, slams into the truck in the ditch. The state trooper and the truck driver were not seriously hurt.

I am happy to tell you. But oh, my gosh, I feel like this is the second week in a row we've seen something like this -- SAVIDGE: So close.

PAUL: Yes --

SAVIDGE: So close.

PAUL: More than 110 million of you under Winter weather alerts this morning. This is a powerful storm slamming parts of the U.S., Oklahoma, Maine, snow, rain, sleet, making treacherous conditions, accumulating ice, knocking down trees, power lines, a lot of power outages, too.

SAVIDGE: It is the whole kit and the caboodle, plus, it is making a travel mess, although 1,600 flights canceled overnight across the U.S. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar tracking the system for us in the weather center. And how long is it going to go on?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST: Oh, for at least the next 24 hours. And you have to listen, this is a very large storm. About a third of the U.S. population is being impacted by this storm. Whether it's from rain in the south or you've got the snow, the sleet, the freezing rain on the northern side of this particular storm.

This is likely where we're going to get some of our biggest travel problems today, is on the northern edge. Not only from the heavy snow, but again, you've got sleet, you've got freezing rain moving into cities like Detroit and Cleveland. A little bit of everything for those two cities today. You've got blizzard warnings out for nearly half a dozen states.

And then east of that, Winter weather advisories and Winter storm warnings. And for as we mentioned, several cities, it could be a little bit of everything. A little bit of snow, sleet, freezing rain and even regular rain before the system finally exits. So far in South Dakota and Minnesota, some areas have picked up over 7 inches.

That may not sound like that much, but you have to understand it's still snowing. So, a lot of those areas are going to add several more inches before the system exits. In terms of travel delays, some of the biggest cities that are likely to have problems today will be Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, even stretching over towards Washington D.C., New York and Boston.

And those last three cities, they're likely to have even more travel problems again tomorrow as the system wraps up. But also due to the fact that very strong wind-gusts will linger for the day tomorrow. Here's a look at that system's slides and even Sunday, still looking at some Lake-effect snow for a lot of those areas along the Great Lakes region.

Widespread amounts here, about 6 to 8 inches of snow, but it's not out of the question for some of these areas to pick up 10, if not even 12 inches before the system finally exits. Ice is also still going to be a problem for some spots, especially Northwest of Washington D.C., and around Pittsburgh, stretching over to Philadelphia. So be careful on your travels today. We'll be right back after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:55:00]

SAVIDGE: If you are a fan of football, you know that the Super Bowl will be set this weekend. It is championship weekend.

PAUL: I know a guy who's a fan of Super Bowl.

SAVIDGE: Yes --

PAUL: He's here to talk about it --

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Especially when it's in Miami. But we have to get through this week first. Look, when the Packers played the Niners earlier this season, it was their worst loss of the season. They lost 37-8, so the Packers, they are 7.5-point underdogs. And Martin and Christi up here talking, not many of us giving the Packers a chance, but they do have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Aaron Rodgers, he's embracing this underdog role, even after being reminded about how bad their last loss was to San Francisco.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AARON RODGERS, QUARTERBACK, GREEN BAY PACKERS: We had that one really good touchdown drive.

(LAUGHTER)

Obviously expected to hold court and win. And people know and they're talking about how we played the last time. So I think if you look at pressure, the pressure is in a certain place, and we should be -- we should be nice and loose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: From the AFC, the Chiefs are out for serious revenge. They haven't made it to the Super Bowl in 50 years, but here they are, just one win away. But they have to get through the Titans who beat them earlier this year in a thriller. The Chiefs are 7-point favorites at home over Tennessee. They're led by Patrick Mahomes whose five- touchdown performance last week led them to one of the greatest comebacks in playoff history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK MAHOMES, QUARTERBACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: What I rely on is just going out there and competing. No matter what the score is, winning or losing, I'm going to give my best effort on every single play. That's how I've been. That's how I was raised. And that's how this team kind of flows.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: All right, AFC Championship game last year, the Chiefs lost in overtime to the Patriots. So they are eager to erase that from their memory, getting a big win at Tennessee.

PAUL: Nice --

SAVIDGE: Oh, of course they are.

PAUL: All right, Coy, thank you --

SAVIDGE: Coy Wire, thank you very much. NEW DAY, your next hour starts right now.