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Democrats Seek TO Force Votes On Witnesses, Documents; Harry And Meghan Break Ties With House Of Windsor; Beirut Faces Second Night Of Violent Protest; Trump to Attend World Economic Forum; China Confirms 139 New Cases of Pneumonia Linked to Virus; China Traces New Strain of Virus to Seafood Market; Australian Open Underway Despite Air Quality Concerns; Hollywood Celebrates Best of Film and TV. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired January 20, 2020 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers joining us1 here in the United States and all around the world, I'm Natalie Allen.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, U.S. lawmakers preparing for a battle as Trump's impeachment trial is near. A top Democrat says he will force votes on witnesses and documents.
ALLEN: Also this hour, Prince Harry saying he is sad but that there was no other option. His reaction to the announcement that he and Meghan will no longer represent the Queen.
HOLMES: And China is reporting more cases of a new strain of coronavirus as the outbreak spreads beyond the city where it was first identified.
ALLEN: There you have it. We are at 36 hours and counting until the impeachment trial of Donald Trump is set to begin.
HOLMES: Yes, both sides already making the case. The Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, promising a battle. Chuck Schumer telling reporters Sunday night, he will push for more evidence on the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges against the president. He needs 51 votes to succeed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We will force votes on witnesses and documents. And it will be up to four Republicans to side with the constitution, to side with our democracy, to side with rule of law, and not side and blind obedience to President Trump and his desire to suppress the truth because, in my judgment, he probably thinks he's guilty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Well, speaking earlier at a Farm Bureau conference where he boasted about recent trade agreements, President Trump got a standing ovation when he attacked the impeachment process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're achieving what no administration has ever achieved before. And what do I get out of it? Tell me. I get impeached. That's what I get at it. By these radical left lunatics, I get impeached. But that's OK. The farmers are sticking with Trump. They're sticking with Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Alan Dershowitz is a recent addition to President Trump's defense team. He's making it clear he's onboard to handle one specific issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, LAWYER: I'm not involved in the day to day issues. I was asked by the President's defense team to become of counsel on this specific issue of the criteria, the constitutional criteria for impeachment. That's a very important issue. I will be making that argument as an advocate, not as an expert witness. I will be advocating against impeachment of this president based on the constitutional criteria in the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: While we're getting a preview of the legal arguments on both sides, how they will lay it out, Kaitlan Collins with details of the pre-trial briefs filed over the weekend.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is making this argument that we were expecting them to make saying that they believe this is this dangerous and "unlawful effort to remove the president from office to nullify his election victory."
And then this argument that they're making about what Democrats are doing, they say they're not denying the core of the Democrat's case against them, about this military aid, the withhold of it, withholding that White House meeting for the Ukrainians, and even, of course, that demand for the investigations into the Biden.
But what they're denying in this seven-page memo written by the President's top two attorneys that you're going to see on the Senate floor this week, they are saying that what he did is not worthy of impeachment. And they go on to lay out this argument talking about the Democrats here.
And it's really notable because it's a very different argument than what you're seeing in the Democrats filing yesterday, that was about 40 pages long, with an additional 60-page list of what they say or their facts against the president, where they're laying out in detail exactly what you saw in those House hearings. The White House is just generally in this six-page or in six-seven-page argument, rejecting what the Democrats are saying.
Now, this is notable also given what Alan Dershowitz is saying, this is one of the President's four attorneys that he personally wanted on his team. And you're seeing Alan Dershowitz starting on Friday when we first reported that they were going to be joining the team, of course, along with Ken Starr and Robert Wray.
Alan Dershowitz trying to distance himself from this saying that that memo that came out yesterday, that legal briefing, saying he did not sign off on it and didn't even see it before it was filed, which is really notable given the fact that he is expected to be one of the attorneys presenting on the President's behalf on the Senate floor this week.
Now yesterday was essentially just a taste of what's to come. You're going to see that fight play out this week. But we're expecting to get a lengthier, more detailed legal briefing from the White House tomorrow. That's the deadline for them to file it, laying out exactly how they were going to argue against the President's impeachment this week.
HOLMES: Now, Thomas Gift is a political science lecturer at University College London joining us so from Stanford, California. Good to see you again. I mean, let's -- I just want to set something up. We're getting a sense of the Republican strategy when this gets underway, and I want to talk about part of it. On the State of the Union, Alan Dershowitz said the Framers of the Constitution intended for impeachable conduct to me criminal-like conduct. He was quoting a defense used in 1868 by Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis. Let's have a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DERSHOWITZ: The Senate refused to remove Andrew Johnson because Justice Curtis successfully argued that you need a crime. Without a crime, there can be no impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Without a crime, there could be no impeachment. In 1998, Dershowitz said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DERSHOWITZ: Certainly, it doesn't have to be a crime. If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president, and who abuses trust, and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don't need a technical crime. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: It needs to be a crime in 2020, not 1998. I mean, the thought of Government Accountability Office, of course, we talked about this yesterday, they say the law was broken when it comes to Ukraine. I'm curious, what do you make of the Dershowitz argument, how it might hold up. What do you make of the strategy given his previous positions?
THOMAS GIFT, POLITICAL SCIENCE LECTURER, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, it does seem to suggest that there's some degree of hypocrisy among the Republican argument here in favor of Donald Trump. And so you're right, as we discussed before, Michael, a crime isn't a prerequisite for impeachment. And executive that subverts the integrity of elections can't truly be held to account by that.
So Democrats are trying to make the case that simply leaving a question up to the American people isn't a satisfactory solution.
HOLMES: Yes, absolutely. I mean, Dershowitz also argued that, you know, presidential abuse of power isn't impeachable, obstruction of Congress. But I guess that leaves a question, what then is impeachable? I mean, if a foreign leader was asked to investigate a political rival, and that's not impeachable, what is?
GIFT: Well, I think that is the big question. I mean, all crimes are not impeachable offense, not all impeachable offenses are crimes. But at the same time, it really does beg the question that if this scenario does not constitute an impeachable offense, what really does?
Michael, I almost feel like the question isn't then, you know, will Republicans turn on Trump at the state of the trial as it is. But instead, is there anything that could possibly change their mind? They've been so solidly behind Trump since the very outset. It's almost like they seem relatively indifferent to the facts. They're just supporting him, because they're supporting.
HOLMES: Yes. If you take that broader view, though, and then let's, you know, look down the line a bit. I mean, what precedent is set if those actions aren't impeachable? I mean, if what we've seen unfold is deemed OK in the Senate trial, if obstruction of Congress isn't considered impeachable, abuse of power, or any of the other things, then what future precedents, what sort of leeway will they have in how they behave?
GIFT: Well, I think that is exactly the point. These are such serious issue, issues of election, issues with foreign interference. And if Trump's actions don't constitute an impeachable offense, I think it does provide significant leeway or future president to also act in ways that are inconsistent with the constitution.
Michael, it's not just the future presidents, it can also be Donald Trump himself if he does get another four years. And so if he's not held to account in this instance, then by all accounts of his record, he may feel that he's free to do the same thing going forward. HOLMES: It's nearly about to get underway, Tuesday, of course. A lot of talk still about witnesses or not. I'm wondering your thoughts on whether there are risks for Democrats on witnesses. I mean, if Republicans allow, say, former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, to testify, even if he claims privilege, Democrats would then be forced to allow perhaps Hunter Biden, even Joe Biden, any number of other witnesses who could hurt Democrats. Is that a quid pro quo worth taking? How do you think that discussions going on?
GIFT: Well, I think all in all Democrats would prefer to have witnesses rather than not to have witnesses. You know, Republicans have essentially claimed that if Democrats already have such an airtight case, there's no additional need for witnesses. But I think that that seriously disregard the point that Congress has a fundamental oversight role that's been challenged from the very outset by a president who's refused to cooperate on every single level.
And so I think Democrats do want to hear from John Bolton who's calling from the reported actions in Ukraine a drug deal. They want to hear from Mick Mulvaney, the chief of staff, and others close to the President. Because ultimately, Michael, this really is a fact-finding mission. It shouldn't be just a partisan exercise. It should be about figuring out what happened, how much the president knew, how he was involved, and so on. And so I think, all in all, Democrats would prefer to see witnesses are called.
HOLMES: This is, of course, going to be the first impeachment in history where the impeached will have Twitter. This is a president who thinks he's a victim. He's been hounded. Do you see or how do you see him handling the actual trial in this age of Twitter?
GIFT: Well, I think it's going to be more of the same. He's going to double down on the strategy that he's done at the very beginning. He's going to be pin this process as a witch hunt, he's going to call it presidential harassment. And to some extent, this has been successful for Trump at least in galvanizing and rallying his base.
He's used this as a fundraising tool. For example, we saw that he's talked about this extensively in various campaign events that he's been doing across the country. And so, you know, Donald Trump is going to do what Donald Trump is going to take Twitter, he's going to find other ways do to demean which processes as a partisan (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES: Always good to chat. Thomas Gift with the University College London, thanks so much joining us in.
GIFT: Thanks, Michael.
ALLEN: Well, Prince Harry is speaking out for the first time on why he and his wife Meghan are stepping back from their Royal duties.
HOLMES: Yes. This comes of course after Buckingham Palace made that stunning announcement that the couple would no longer represent the Queen or the working members of the Royal Family. With great sadness, the Duke of Sussex spoke at a charity event on Sunday about why he believes he had no option, but to walk away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: The U.K. is my home, and a place that I love. That will never change. I've grown up feeling supported from so many of you. And I watched as you welcomed Meghan with open arms as you -- as you saw me find the love and happiness that I'd heard for all my life.
Finally, the second son of Diana, go hitched. Hurray. We hope to do everything we can to fly the flag and carry out all roles for this country with pride. Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited, we were hurtful and we were here to serve. For those reasons and brings me great sadness that it has come to this.
The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not what I made lightly. There was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges. And I know I haven't always done it right, but as far as this goes, there really was no other option. Our hope was to continue serving the Queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible.
I've accepted this knowing that it doesn't change who I am, or how committed I am. But I hope that helps you understand what it come to. That I would set my family back from all I've ever known to take -- to take a step forward into what I hope can be a more peaceful life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: But the couple has talked about splitting their time between the U.S. and North America, but many questions remain regarding what their future will look like.
HOLMES: Yes, CNN's Royal Correspondent Max Foster takes a look for us now at what is changing and how the Queen is responding.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: This was meant to be the slimmed- down monarchy of the future. But this week, it became even slimmer, with Prince Harry effectively abdicating his Royal role. This is what tourists outside Buckingham Palace had to say about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was brave of them to do. I'm glad they could do that and feel comfortable with themselves, and that they have their blessing from grandma.
FOSTER: The Queen's remarkable statements on Saturday was written as a grandmother, Harry, Meghan, and Archie will always be much-loved members of my family, she wrote. But arguably, it's also a peace treaty, reaching out to Meghan who clearly hasn't enjoyed Royal Life. Her Majesty said she's particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. But the warm tone of this statement belies the steeliness beneath it. The Sussex's had early declared that they would be starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
The Queen rejected that and made them choose whether they want to stay or go. The couple agree to give up their Royal roles altogether, they'll stop using their full titles, and they'll repay the millions they were given to renovate the home in Windsor. There are still discussions ongoing about whether they should be allowed to continue using their brand Sussex Royal.
In return, they get what they crave for most freedom to live their lives how and where they want to. And they'll be able to sign commercial deals without getting palace approval.
DICKIE ARBITER, FORMER SPOKESMAN, BUCKINGHAM PALACE: Harry doesn't know what it's like on the outside and one of the things that will probably disappoint him, he spent 10 years in the Army, he's losing his military connection. And I think the biggest disappointment of lot will be for the Prince Philip having been Captain-General of the Royal Marines for 50 years handing it over to the very man he thought would be perfect and ideal as Captain-General the Royal Marines, Prince Harry, who's now walked away from as he walked away and had to walk away from the rest of his military commitments.
FOSTER: The Queen has been tested many times during her long reign. But once again, she's shown her determination to put her duty to protect the crown above all other considerations, even if it means saying no to her beloved grandson. Max Foster, CNN, Buckingham Palace, London.
ALLEN: All right, next here, fresh calls for peace in the United States. The state of Virginia is on edge hours ahead of a controversial gun rally.
HOLMES: We will have more on who is stepping in to help keep things in check. We'll also have tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets. Violence ramping up as the week of rage continues in Lebanon. We'll be right back.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Patrick Snell with your World Sport headlines. We began in England where Premier League champions Liverpool have taken another big step towards a first top-flight title in three decades.
On Sunday, the red speed arch-rivals Manchester United two-nil early on through Virgil van Dijk's habit but had to wait until stoppage time before adding another through Mo Salah. Jurgen Klopp's team now with a huge 16-point lead over second-place and outgoing champs Man City and a game in hand too.
To Italy where Serie A champs events have enjoyed a productive weekend with the results very much going their way. On Sunday they soar up Parma, 2-1 (INAUDIBLE) thanks to two goals from you know who Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, second place into held to (INAUDIBLE). They now with a four-point lead atop the summit as they continue that quest for nine straight (INAUDIBLE).
And we can tell you the British golfer Lee Westwood celebrating a big career win after seeding victory Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Championship, now ensuring he's won titles in four different decades. The 46-year- old, finishing two shots clear of his numerous challenges after a final round 67 in the UAE. It's Westwood's 44th professional victory and his 25th on the European tour. The Englishman is very emotional indeed after his win. He's now expected to rise into the top 30 in the World Golf Rankings.
Those are your sports headlines, I'm Patrick Snell.
HOLMES: The FBI is working with local law enforcement in Virginia as that state braces for a contentious gun rights rally in the coming hours. Authorities tightening security after hate groups threatened violence at the event and they have arrested several suspected neo- Nazis believed to be planning violent acts.
ALLEN: This as calls for peace role in. Prominent faith leaders released this statement saying, "On the very day we set aside to honor the life and enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. These dark and dangerous forces threatened to converge on our city and our Commonwealth, bringing hate and violence. In this difficult moment and in the face of these threats, we seek to muster Dr. King's moral courage." Meantime, a pro-gun activist had this say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM ANDERSON, PRO-GUN RIGHTS ATTORNEY: What worries me most about tomorrow is there's going to be a bad act, right? Not a Virginia gun owner, not somebody who's lawfully owning and possessing a firearm. There's going to be a bad actor, and there's going to be something that happens in here.
I just hope that people just truly understand that Virginia gun owners are peaceful people. We've peacefully demonstrated this is not -- this didn't start today. This started back in November. We peacefully demonstrated throughout the Commonwealth.
And what -- if anything bad comes out of tomorrow, I hope that the world understands that it's not Virginia gun owners that are causing this. It is -- it is the same kind of terrorist organizations that have caused unrest in other and other places.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: A state of emergency is in effect in Virginia and will last into Tuesday evening. Well, Lebanon is trying to restore calm as a week of rage intensifies in its capital. HOLMES: Anti-government protesters clashing with police for the second straight night on Sunday. Officials say hundreds of people have been injured. The military now deployed in an attempt to bring calm. CNN's Ben Wedeman on the ground with a look at why protesters are so angry.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Protesters charged the riot police in Beirut's Martyrs' Square. The Lebanese Capital witness the most violent clashes yet in a mass uprising that until this week had been largely peaceful. But peaceful no more.
For months, the country's politicians have deterred and bickered over the formation of a new government while the faltering economy has gone from bad to worse. The state is ours says this young man. But in this political vacuum, the state is barely functioning.
The protesters and police battled it out throughout downtown Beirut. Police fired hundreds of rounds of tear gas, sprayed the demonstrators with water cannons, and eventually fired rubber bullets into the crowd. The demonstrators responded lobbing fireworks and rocks.
Emergency Services report hundreds were wounded Saturday night including many members the security forces. Protesters surrounded and beat one policeman who managed to escape although not without serious injury. Late in the evening, Lebanese President Michel Aoun ordered the security forces including the army to impose order. Dozens were arrested, order was restored for now. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
ALLEN: U.S. politics is sure to be a concern at this year's World Economic Forum. We'll have more as Donald Trump prepares to make a rare trip to Davos as his impeachment trial is set to begin.
HOLMES: Also, a mysterious pneumonia outbreak has spread to a second country. We'll have the latest on the coronavirus coming up.
HOLMES: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I'm Michael Holmes.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top news this hour. Prince Harry is speaking out in the wake of the Buckingham Palace announcement that he and his wife Meghan will no longer be working members of the royal family. Harry expressed great sadness over the decision at a charity event on Sunday but said there really was no other option but to step back.
HOLMES: Authorities in Hawaii say a man fatally shot two police officers on Sunday as they responded to a call at a residence. At some point, the house caught fire as did other homes in the neighborhood. Three people unaccounted for including the suspect. Police say they'll continue searching for him until they determine if he was indeed in the house that burned.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. President Trump has until noon to file a trial brief with the U.S. Senate. It will contain detailed material from his lawyers on the abuse of power and obstruction charges against him. The reply from the house is due 24 hours later. It's all about the impeachment trial which begins Tuesday.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, Mr. Trump will be heading to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
ALLEN: He's expected to deliver a special address to the world's richest and most powerful people.
Nina Dos Santos takes a look at some of the issues the U.S. President may have to navigate.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Presidents are rare sightings in Davos even among the elite crowd the event draws. But when Donald Trump turns up as he did two years ago he is impossible to miss.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a tremendous crowd and a crowd like they have never had before.
DOS SANTOS: The World Economic Forum with its globalist agenda is thousands of miles away from the President's populist base.
TRUMP: We are going to drain the swamp.
DOS SANTOS: Both geographically and politically. But Davos is first and foremost a business gathering and Donald Trump is keen to attract outside investments.
TRUMP: I'm going to be going to Davos. I'll be meeting the biggest business leaders in the world, getting them to come here.
DOS SANTOS: With the ink now dry on its trade truce with China, a victory lap is also the (INAUDIBLE).
GREG SWENSON, REPUBLICANS OVERSEAS: What better place to talk about global trade and global economics than Davos?
DOS SANTOS: This year's summit focuses on how to create a sustainable and cohesive world. Among the attendees, Greta Thunberg, who has clashed with President Trump on climate change; and Angela Merkel, berated by him for spending too little on defense and too much on (INAUDIBLE).
After the U.S. killed Tehran's top general, Iran's delegation has decided to pull out.
SWENSON: If everybody else was to talk about climate change or Iran, that is where he could get into some spats. I think we have to anticipate that there could be some cringe-worthy moments. But we hope that the President gets all of his tweets done before the doors of Air Force One open on the tarmac.
DOS SANTS: The triple will be the President's first foreign event in what is set to be a politically year on the home front. It coincides with his impeachment trial in the Senate and it comes two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, kicking off the primary season to determine his likely Democratic opponent.
As such, it's little wonder that a survey commissioned ahead of Davos rated U.S. politics as one of the global business communities biggest concerns.
Trump first went (ph) to Davos in 2018, only the second sitting president to attend after Bill Clinton.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
DOS SANTOS: He may not yet have scored a standing ovation but this president's actions continue to keep Davos' decision-makers on the edge of their seats.
Nina Dos Santos, CNN -- Davos.
ALLEN: A pneumonia outbreak caused by a new strain of coronavirus is spreading across Asia and affecting more people. South Korea now has just confirmed its first case of the virus, weeks after it was first identified in China.
HOLMES: Yes. Chinese officials confirming 139 new cases of pneumonia linked to the virus. A third person has died from it. Now concerns about the spread of the virus come as millions of people are on the move ahead of the lunar new year.
CNN's David Culver joins us now with more from Beijing.
I mean, the timing could not be worse -- disease spreading around and millions on the move.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question -- Michael.
And you think about this, the lunar new year is not only a big travel season for Chinese tourists but really regionwide. And so that is the biggest concern, is that if you have a virus that is potentially transmitted human to human -- they still haven't confirmed that. They are working to confirm that transmission. But even so still the potential alone is creating some unease and some concern.
But I have to be honest. As we give you a live look here, this is the Beijing railway station, you can see some of the crowds. We expect hundreds of millions of people to be taking the train, about 440 million trips are estimated. But I've noticed a lot of the folks aren't wearing the masks or
coverings, a few people have, but the vast majority that we have seen have not.
And part of that is also the concern that's expressed on Chinese social media here. It's the lack of guidelines, the lack of information. What should they be doing? Those are answers that they are still trying to seek.
Here is what we do know, according to officials. You do mention that number of new cases that rose over the weekend. The current number here in China is 201 cases. For the first time, we have learned that it is outside of Wuhan. That it's now two cases in Beijing and one in Shenzhen. Those numbers are potentially expected to arise as you go up even further.
And you also mentioned the South Korea case. What is happening now is that now authorities are creating screening processes. So we've got some here where they are checking temperatures at the railway stations, also at the airports. And they're also creating a list so as to keep track of any new cases.
CULVER: So part of the concern is detecting these as well. And they've created these testing kits that they're apparently distributing in Wuhan.
Now social media in Wuhan is showing that there's almost Hazmat-like NASA suits that people are wearing, mostly authorities and health officials, so as to try to keep this is as contained as possible.
But that in of itself is of course, evoking some fears of 2002, 2003 which the SARS outbreak. So all of this is just adding to the concern, the uncertainty and the lack of clarity that is yet to come from officials here that it's still being pushed for -- Michael.
HOLMES: All right. David Culver -- thanks so much. Appreciate that there in Beijing.
ALLEN: Officials in China think they know where the virus originated. We have a warning for you, some of the images in this story you're going to see are graphic.
Here is Kristie Lu Stout.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Barricaded and guarded by police with masks, Chinese authorities have traced a new deadly virus back to this seafood market in the city of Wuhan. They say a new strain of coronavirus originated here has struck dozens of people and put an entire region on edge.
CNN has obtained this video filmed inside the market, showing that more than seafood was on offer for sale. Images of the market from early December taken by a concerned customer indicate it was apparently selling other live wild animals including skinned birds, snakes and raccoon dogs sparking concern that the virus might have been transmitted from animals to humans.
CNN has not independently verified this footage posted on Chinese social media site Weibo, which has since been deleted by government censors, according to the poster.
When CNN contacted the market, they would not comment. The school of public health here in Hong Kong University is a leading authority in the study of emerging viral diseases. Professor Leo Poon is a virologist at the university and was among the first to decode the SARS coronavirus.
PROFESSOR LEO POON, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY: I believe that this Wuhan outbreak was caused by an animal virus and then the animal actually carried this toxin (ph) and spread to humans. And what we know is causing pneumonia and then they don't respond to normal antibiotic treatment, which is not surprising. But then in terms of mortality, SARS killed 10 percent of the infected individuals.
STOUT: Between 2002 and 2003, SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 in a pandemic that reached 37 countries.
Officials say the new virus was first detected in Wuhan on December the 12th. Some of the initial patients were employed at the seafood market.
Hundreds of kilometers south of Wuhan, at this market in the southern city of Qingyuan, wild animals are crammed inside cages. Mallard ducks, rodents, even porcupine to be sold for consumption. It is not a unique sight in markets across China where both animals and humans are in close contact.
This footage, not independently verified by CNN, is from Hong Kong broadcaster I-Cable filmed on the 6th and 7th of January as the new strain was discovered. No indications any disease is lurking here, but according to the World Health Organization, scenes like this point at the potential risk of a new virus spreading.
POON: These animals, we don't know their history, we don't know what type of pathogens or viruses that they are having in their body.
DR. GAUDEN GALEA, WHO REPRESENTATIVE, CHINA: Now with the interface with the animal world there will always be the danger of spillover. As long as people eat meat, there is going to be some risk of infection.
STOUT: The coronavirus that causes SARS was traced to the civet cat -- a wild animal considered a delicacy in some parts of China. After the SARS outbreak China outright banned the slaughter and consumption of civet cats in 2004.
Local authorities in both Wuhan and Qingyuan tell CNN they don't know anything about the sale of illegal animals at such markets and there are no open investigations. But 15 years after the ban, in this market in southern China civet cats are seen lying inside cages and this stall keeper says he is selling them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this wild?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's wild.
STOUT: Ready for purchase.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN -- Hong Kong.
ALLEN: That is just disgusting and disturbing.
HOLMES: Unbelievably disturbing -- yes.
ALLEN: Well, next here, a CNN exclusive -- the mother of an American imprisoned in Iran hears a recording of the conversation with her son. Hear about the harsh conditions she says he is facing, right after this.
HOLMES: I want to take you now to Baghdad in Iraq where demonstrators are on the streets of the Iraqi capital demanding political reform as they have been now for weeks and also demanding a new prime minister.
ALLEN: Several activists tell CNN that today is the deadline for Baghdad to choose a new caretaker prime minister. Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned last year during anti-government protests over Iraq's struggling economy. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is asking for respect for protesters' wishes.
We'll keep an eye on that one.
ALLEN: Canada's foreign minister is calling on Iran to turn over the recorders from the Flight 752 for expert analysis.
HOLMES: The foreign minister met with his Iranian counterpart in Oman over the weekend. There had been media reports Iran was backtracking on its pledge to hand over the recorders. Iran says it's military accidentally shot down the Ukrainian airliner two weeks ago, killing all 176 people on board.
And in the midst of the extremely-strained relations between the U.S. and Iran, one American family is hoping for good news. U.S. Navy veteran Michael White is serving a ten-year sentence in Iran.
ALLEN: His mother fears President Trump's hardline approach to Iran could hurt efforts to free her son.
Nick Valencia got exclusive access to White's recent call home. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In July 2018, Michael White took a trip from California to Iran and never came back. His mother says he was going to visit a woman he called his girlfriend.
According to his attorney, on that trip, White, who was a U.S. Navy veteran was detained on charges he publicly posted a private photograph. Details about the trial are slim but his lawyer also says that the then 46-year-old was convicted of insulting the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
According to his attorney, he was sentenced to ten years in prison. His family says the last time they heard from him was a phone call just after Christmas.
MICHAEL WHITE, AMERICAN IMPRISONED IN IRAN: They've done everything to press me. They really have. I mean they put me in isolation.
They, like I said, they subjected me to torture conditions. Deprivation of food and water numerous times.
VALENCIA: This is the first time we're hearing White's voice from behind bars. The audio was recorded by his mother with his consent. It was given exclusively to CNN.
WHITE: I'm going crazy. I mean this place is a junk hole. And right now, I'm in a cell that's overcrowded big time.
Here's the thing. They don't really bring me food. The prisoners have to pay for it. But I don't have money to be paying for that.
VALENCIA: According to his family, White Has reoccurring cancer and other undisclosed chronic health problems.
WHITE: There's another thing I didn't tell you, Mom. It got so bad, I didn't know they were ever going to let me out. I tried to hang myself there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God.
WHITE: I wanted to kill myself. I was that distraught.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so sorry -- Michael. That just breaks my heart. It really does.
WHITE: I went to this appellate court thing supposedly. And they had a phony hearing.
Then they bring up allegations of spying that they said before. I'm like, "What the hell are these guys doing?" they have zero evidence. They made stuff up.
VALENCIA: CNN reached out to Iran for comment about White's allegations, they did not respond. But in a statement a year ago called similar claims, "untrue".
JOANNE WHITE, MOTHER OF MICHAEL WHITE: It's like they're having a nightmare at night but you never wake up from that nightmare.
VALENCIA: His mother Joanne White is overcome with grief and worry.
J. WHITE: What Michael told me is they took a whip to his raw (ph) feet and he now has problems with his feet. He also had a gun held to his head.
I want my son brought home before it's too late.
VALENCIA: White is believed to have been the first American imprisoned by Iran during the Trump administration. Earlier this month in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked about bringing home imprisoned Americans.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We continue to work on that process, to get every American held anywhere in the world, including by the kleptocrats and theocrats in Iran, to get them to return American hostages. We will never give up on that mission.
VALENCIA: That may be but White' family worries President Trump's hardline approach to Iran isn't helping. The irony, White's mother says, is that her son is a Trump supporter. In his last phone call home, he even defended Trump against impeachment, saying it's making it harder to bring him home.
WHITE: Let's put the blame where it belongs -- on Iran, not Trump.
J. WHITE: He's supposed to be a negotiator, tell him to get my son out of there then.
VALENCIA: In a statement sent exclusively to CNN, the State Department this. "We are aware of press reports that a U.S. citizen was charged and convicted in the city of Mashad in northeast Iran."
They went on to say, "We condemn Iran's continued use of secretive sham trials in defiance of international norms. We call on the Iranian regime to conduct open, transparent trials before a fair and impartial judge in all criminal cases."
They went on to say that they have no further comment because of privacy considerations.
Nick Valencia, CNN -- Atlanta.
HOLMES: All right, in the shadow of an inferno, the world's top tennis players are holding court at the first Grand Slam event of the decade. We will take you live to Melbourne where the air quality from those bushfires is a big concern at the Aussie Open.
ALLEN: Also ahead here, film and television was honored at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. The movie making history, coming next.
("CNN SPORT NOW")
HOLMES: All right.
Let's turn to Australia now where the first Grand Slam tennis event of the decade is underway and there's just been a big upset. So if you are recording the Open and want to watch it later like you, stop listening. Well, it's not going to work for you. You're about to read this.
ALLEN: Give me three seconds to turn the channel. Ok.
15-year-old, you guessed it, Coco Gauff just defeated Venus Williams in the first round to advance, just as she did at Wimbledon last year. There is our spoiler alert.
HOLMES: That was the spoiler alert. You weren't recording it, too.
All right. Well, some players at the Aussie Open, they have been worried about the level of air pollution, of course, as the country continues to battle it's bushfire crisis, not to mention some extreme weather.
ALLEN: Melbourne was hit by hailstorms a short time ago.
CNN's Will Ripley joins us live from Alberta. I don't know what you're going to start with -- the heat, the pollution, tennis, hail. Just take it away. It's all yours -- Will.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is just a buffet of wild weather being served up hot and cold and everything else here in Australia -- Natalie and Michael.
And I take umbrage with Michael's comment last hour that I'm on holiday here. I am working so hard. Can you believe in the last week -- in the last week I landed in the city, we've got the worst air quality in the world ok? Then the temperatures plummet.
Now we are getting pelted with golf ball sized hail. There was this huge dust storm earlier. I mean, these videos are just incredible. And you know, Australia is known for extreme weather. Let's face it -- it is the dead of summer here so extreme heat. That's something people are used to. They're used to dust storms. They're certainly used to hail and heavy rain.
What Australia is not used to, of course, has been this unprecedented bushfire seasons. And so all of this extreme that we're, you know, standing the middle of right now is actually very welcome news for this country because with every raindrop, and every degree that the temperature drops as a result of this weather, you've got the fires getting smaller and smaller and smaller.
And that is very good news for firefighters who say that there are still a number of fires that are burning out of control here. However, it continues to rain and they're welcoming the rain here even though it has caused outdoor tennis play to be suspended, you know, for the time being. We don't when they're going to be able to start playing again.
But the tennis center behind me does have a closed roof and so as Michael alluded to, the tennis action is continuing, the eyes of the world are watching. I guess the thing that we don't know, guys, is how long is this going to last because inevitably the temperatures will climb back up.
It is Australia. It's Melbourne. It's known for extreme weather and if the temperatures climb back up and the wind shifts, it could blow all that smoke right back here into the city. And you have two weeks of tennis play. So obviously there is a lot of concern among some of the players that the conditions could be unsafe if we get back to those hazardous air quality levels that we saw here last week.
RIPLEY: But for the time being, I mean the fact that I'm wearing a hoodie in the dead of summer -- that is very good news and Australians overall are really, really happy about it.
ALLEN: Well, Michael Holmes knows that you are working now, for sure -- Will, don't you?
HOLMES: He can't be working that hard, I've been emailing with him for the last ten minutes.
He is a good man that Will Ripley. Yes, I mean -- Will, you're loving it down there I know. I mean it's a horrible story with the bushfires and the rain, the hail and everything but I know Will is really enjoying being down there.
ALLEN: He's been a (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES: He is. He's a good man. Melbourne is an interesting city, though. I did live there for a while. They say there are four seasons in one day and so it can be sunny, then raining, and then hot then cold.
HOLMES: If you don't like the weather at the moment just wait a minute, it will change.
ALLEN: Got it.
All right. History was made Sunday night at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards. The South Korean film "Parasite" became the first foreign language movie to win the coveted Best Ensemble prize and the Best Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. HOLMES: Joaquin Phoenix took home the Best Actor for his role in the
super villain -- as the super villain in the film "The Joker". And "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's" Brad Pitt and "Marriage Story's" Laura Dern won Best Supporting Actor and Actress.
ALLEN: Brad Pitt racking them up.
HOLMES: So with "Parasite" our director Zain (ph) says it's fabulous.
ALLEN: Go see it. All right.
Thanks -- Zain.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes.
Rosemary Church will pick it up after the break.
ALLEN: See you around.