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Trump's New Remarks On Russia Sanctions; Lawmakers Take First Steps To Repeal Obamacare; Europe And U.S. Hit By Frigid Temperatures; Trump: One China Policy Up for Negotiations; FBI Comey Facing Political Firestorm; U.S.; Ivory Coast Government: Deal Reached With Soldiers; Poland Set To Formally Welcome Added U.S. Troops; Hungarian Camerawoman Sentenced For Tripping Migrants; Pence Family's Colorful Cast of Pets; Presidential Pets Throughout U.S. History. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired January 14, 2017 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:13] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: And Donald Trump weighs in on Russia sanctions. What the U.S. president-elect is now saying about how he might respond to alleged election hacking.

Taking the knife to one of Barack Obama's biggest achievements. Republican lawmakers move to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. >

Plus, deadly cold weather moves across Europe and the U.S. we'll be tell you where it's headed next.

Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier live from Atlanta and CNN Newsroom starts right now. We're less than a week away from Donald Trump taking the oath of office to become the next president of the United States. And a new article in "The Wall Street Journal" is giving us another glimpse into Trump's presidency.

In an hour long interview with the paper, and the president-elect suggested that he is open to lifting sanctions on Russia. This is what Donald Trump said. If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody's doing really great things?

However, he also said that he would keep the Russia sanctions for a period of time. He didn't say how long. The U.S. placed additional sanctions on Russia last month for alleged hacking during the presidential election. Intelligence agencies say that Russia ordered the hacks to help Trump win.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is planning to hold hearings to investigate those claims and senators will also be looking into any connections between Russia and the political campaigns.

For his part, Donald Trump seems to think this is all a conspiracy against him. Sara Murray looks back at another busy week in the Trump transition.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump is capping off a fiery week with an early morning Twitter tirade.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: It's all fake news. It's phony stuff. It didn't happen.

MURRAY: The president-elect still stewing over allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising information on him. CNN isn't reporting the details of those allegation because it is not independently confirmed them.

But Trump took to Twitter to call the allegations totally made up facts by sleazebag bag political operatives. Both Democrats and Republicans. Fake news. Russia says nothing exists. Probably released by "Intelligence" even knowing there is no proof and never will be. Trump's latest swipe at U.S. Intelligence agencies coming after the director of national intelligence James Clapper said he assured Trump the intelligence community wasn't the source for the dossier outling unsubstantiated allegations against the president- elect.

As Trump publicly feuds with the Intelligence Community, privately, his top advisors have done their own Russian outreach. Trump's team confirming that Michael Flynn. Trump's pick for National Security Advisor, recently exchanged calls and texts with the Russian ambassador. Their goal, according to the Trump transition was simply to arrange a chat between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump once he's in the White House.

Meanwhile, the Twitter aficionado is also aiming fire at Hillary Clinton. Trump tweeting what are Hillary Clinton's people complaining about with respect to the FBI? Based on the information they had, she should never have been allowed to run. Guilty as hell. That's as Clinton allies applauded the decision by the justice department's inspector general to launch a probe into the way the department and the FBI handled the investigation into Clinton's private e-mail server.

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN SECRETARY: I think those tweets are just the latest indication that Donald Trump is someone who's very insecure in his victory and I understand why every day there are new developments, new shoes dropping so to speak. They kind of call into question the legitimacy of his win.

MURRAY: As Trump bares his grievances on twitter, at least some are being spared. His cabinet picks who are starting to express disagreement between Trump's views and theirs.

TRUMP: We want them to be themselves. And I told them be yourselves and say what you want to say. Don't worry about me.

MURRAY: Another potential area of disagreement may be emerging. House Speaker Paul Ryan told an undocumented immigrant at CNN's Townhall that he hopes her future is in America. She was brought to the U.S. by her parents as a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that I should be deported. PAUL RYAN, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: No, (inaudible) first of all, I can see that you love your daughter and you're a nice person who has a great future ahead of you. And I hope your future is here.

MURRAY: And he insisted the deportation force Trump once promised won't become a reality.

RYAN: And I'm here to tell you in Congress, it's not happening.

MURRAY: And of course it's a very busy week ahead for Donald Trump. On Friday, he will take the oath of office in Washington, D.C. But between now and then, there's also a jam-packed schedule of confirmation hearings for his cabinet picks and then it's off on the Trump agenda. And he and his team are making one thing clear. On the top of the agenda, they want to see Ivanka's proposals to overhaul child care. That including maternity leave as well as a new child care tax credit.

Sara Murray, CNN, New York.


[02:05:09] VANIER: And the President-elect Trump is also speaking out about the United States long-standing One China policy. Under that policy, the U.S. has formal ties with China but not with Taiwan which Beijing views as a breakaway province. But Trump told "The Wall Street Journal" everything including One China is up for negotiation.

Let's go now to Beijing. Steven Jiang is stand standing by. Steven, it was really looks like Donald Trump is set on getting what he calls a better deal out of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Cyril, if business tycoon Donald Trump thinks everything the world is negotiable. He may be reminded soon as the next U.S. president that at least in the eyes of the Beijing government, there is one thing that's absolutely not negotiable. That is One China policy.

Now Beijing officials have reminded him and his team time again in the past few weeks that Taiwan is China's core interest. And the One China policy is the cornerstone of this bilateral relationship between Beijing and Washington.

They like to remind him that every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter has committed to this policy. And stuck to it. And they certainly hope the Trump White House would do the same instead of derailing four decades of cooperation and achievements.

But Mr. Trump does have a point by saying the U.S. does sell billions of dollars worth of arms to Taiwan to let it defend itself against a potential Chinese attack. But it's exactly this kind of strategic ambiguity in the One China policy that allowed Beijing, Washington, as well as Taipei to maintain relative peace and the stability in past decades. So at least on this very sensitive issue what's being said matter as enough just what's being done, Cyril. VANIER: So look, if Donald Trump continues down there path of wanting, demanding concessions outs of China, what wind of reaction are we likely to see out of Beijing?

JIANG: You know, I have put in a request for the foreign ministry officials to comment on his latest comments to "The Wall Street Journal." For example, and I haven't heard back. This being Saturday. But based on what they've been saying in the past few weeks, their response to issues other than Taiwan has been relatively measured because that they have been stressing the mutually beneficial nature of this relationship on a wide range of issues including trade and cyber security and climate change, for example.

They have been saying this relationship has so much going for it because cooperation has been the key, has been the main theme. So they hope this will be the same when Trump takes office. But they have also said because Mr. Trump has not taken office, what's he's been saying so far is not official policy. So they paid less that he thinks to that. They are still adopting a wait and see approach.

But interestingly, probably not surprisingly, Cyril, privately many Chinese officials expressed to me they're unsure about how to deal with this new U.S. president who likes to conduct foreign policy online. They have even some of them even asked me for suggestion. And my answer usually is, follow him on Twitter. Read his tweets and have a response ready for reporters like us. Cyril?

VANIER: All right, Steven Jiang in Beijing, thank you very much.

FBI Chief James Comey is at the center of a little firestorm yet again. Democrats are furious about his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. Some even saying that he helped swing the election in Trump's favor and at a confidential briefing today, they let him know that they're angry.

More now from CNN Justice correspondent Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: FBI Director James Comey is facing renewed scrutiny on both sides of the aisle. House Democrats left a confidential briefing with Comey on Russia hacking fuming.

MAXINE WATERS, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: It's classifieds. And we can't tell you anything. All I can tell is the FBI Director has no credibility.

BROWN: The Republican leaning "Wall Street Journal" editorial board says "The best service Mr. Comey could render his country now is to resign," calling him too political for a position that's supposed to be a political.

This while, the department of justice inspector general investigates Comey's actions before the election. His decision to hold an unprecedented press conference last July closing the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails and then breaking with DOJ policy by sending a letter just before the election alerting Congress he was renewing a probe into her private server.

Democrats mad about his decision not to sign on to an October letter from the Intelligence Community saying Russia was behind the election hacks. And refusal to speak publicly about on going investigations into people formerly connected to the Trump campaign and Russia.

ANGUS KING, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: You didn't say one way or another whether even there's an investigation underway.

[02:10:00] JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: Correct, I don't, especially in a public forum, we never confirm or deny a pending investigation.

KING: The irony of your making that statement here I cannot avoid. But I'll move on.

BROWN: Other Democrats who have recently had a briefing with Comey, a registered Republican appointed by President Obama are coming to his defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim Comey is an honorable person who I think made a bad decision.

BROWN: Comey is at the center of another political firestorm for briefing the president-elect on unsubstantiated allegations against him last week. CNN has learned Comey had a one-on-one conversation with Trump after the Intel meeting to brief him on the allegations. At a November interview with "60 Minutes," Trump left Comey's future hanging in the balance.

LESLEY STAHL, CBC HOS: FBI Direct James Comey, are you going to ask for his resignation?

TRUMP: I think that I would rather not excellent on that yet. I haven't made up my mind.

BROWN: Well, as of now, Director Comey is only 3 1/2 years into the ten-year FBI director tenure and people familiar with the matter say he has no regrets about the decision he has made surrounding the recent investigations and has no plans to step down. He also released a statement saying he's grateful for the inspector general investigation and hopes the results will be shared with the public.

Pamela brown, CNN, Washington.


VANIER: As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to leave office, his signature health care law is under fire from the Republican-led Congress. Voting mostly along party lines, the House on Friday passed a resolution to begin repealing the Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare.

The Senate passed a measure on Thursday. Repealing the law was a key campaign promise of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump and Republicans say they're going to replace it with their own plan. All right. We go to a quick break and then a show of strength for nervous allies. U.S. troops tell the Baltic states, we've got your back.

Also coming up, why migrants are facing new dangers from a brutal winter in Europe.


VANIER: Welcome back. Let's go to West Africa. We're getting word that Ivory Coast government has reached an agreement with mutinying soldiers. That's according to the defense ministry although CNN has not been able to confirm troops accept the deal. The agreement would end a dispute over bonus payments. Some soldier say they were promised about $8,000 plus a house for helping bring the current president to power after this after disputed elections in 2010.

And Poland is getting ready to hold a welcome ceremony for more than 3,000 American troops. This is the largest set of American military reinforcements to arrive in Europe in decades. President Obama says it's meant to affirm ties with its NATO allies. That could be a message to the incoming President Donald Trump who suggested weakening the alliance throughout his campaign may be a possibility. The Kremlin is calling the deployments a threat to Russian interests and security.

[02:15:09] And Poland's neighbors, the Baltic states are also worried about what Russia might do next and uncertainty about how President- elect Trump will deal with NATO is not helping. There too, American troops are doing their part to show these nervous nations that the U.S. has their back.

Ivan Watson reports.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: War games in the snowy fields of Eastern Europe as U.S. soldiers train in Latvia. 25 years ago, this was part of the Soviet Union. Today Latvia is part of the European Union.

And also where U.S. military ally in NATO. These are live fire exercises. That's why I've got wear all there extra protective armor. Military commanders say they're trying to show that they're a force of deterrence and their number one potential threat Latvia's much bigger neighbor to the east.

COL. GREGORY ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY: The origins were really a response to Russian activity in 2014 when the strategic situation changed.

WATSON: He's talking about Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula after Russian forces drove Ukrainian troops out of this corner of Ukraine in 2014. Russia's land grab frightens people in former soviet republics like Latvia where there are still bitter memories after a half century of soviet occupation. JANIS GARISONS, LATVIAN MINISTRY OF DEFENSE: Our main aim is to protect our surrounding and I always think protect our statehood. If Russia is so peaceful and regards us as neighbors, good neighbors why you should put more forces on your borders?

WATSON: But there are two sides to this tension. We traveled from Latvia across Lithuania to Kaliningrad. A Russian enclave in Europe that's cut off from mainland Russia. In soviet times, this was a heavily militarized place closed off from the outside world. Kaliningrad was recently thrust back into the spotlight after Russia deployed nuclear capable missiles here. Russia's top diplomat defended the move arguing it's the U.S. that's threatening Russia.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, it's our territory. But the plans of the United States not only to, well, they quadrupled I think the money allocated to support military deployment in Eastern Europe. Then they moved NATO infrastructure next to our borders.

WATSON: Kaliningrad is still the headquarters of the Russian neighbor's Baltic fleet and Moscow's been flexing its own muscles performing military drills in the region. In 2014, western governments punished Russia's actions in Ukraine with economic sanctions. They've contributed to a broader economic crisis in Russia that's got everyone we talked to worried about the future.

Of course, I feel bad when they always blame for Russia for everything that's gone wrong in the world. This confrontation he tells me is not good for anyone says Konstantin Smernov. This confrontation he tells me is not good for any one.

Rival militaries maneuvering along opposite sides have been increasingly tense borders in a land that still bears scars from the last time armies fought here.

The countryside around Kaliningrad is dotted with dozens of old german churches like this one. Abandoned and in ruins after the soviet army invaded and conquered this land. Reminders of what happened the last time tensions spun out of control in this part of Europe.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Kaliningrad, Russia.


VANIER: A Hungarian camerawoman has been sentenced to three years probation for tripping up desperate refugees on the run. Petra Laszlo stoked outrage around the world when this footage surfaced in 2015. What you're seeing right there, that's the moment that was caught on camera. It show her tripping a Syrian man holding his child even as the family was fleeing from police near the Hungarian/Serbian border.

Her T.V. station at the time fired her. Laszlo heard her sentence in court on Thursday. This happened just as Hungary announced new measures to crack down on migrants. The Prime Minister Viktor Orban swearing in a new team of border hunters to patrol the country's frontier. And the bitter cold sweeping much of Europe is also threatening migrants. More than 1,000 men are sleeping in the open in Belgrade. The U.N. says at least five migrants have died in the first weeks of the New Year. UNICEF says Europe needs to do more to protect the migrants especially the most vulnerable.


SARAH CROWE, UNICEF SPOKESPERSON: Right now the weather has improved. But it will only take one more snowstorm or another cold snap and we're going to see some children, you know, in a very dire situation.

[02:20:09] Children are particularly prone to respiratory illnesses at a time like this. We do not want to see this happen. It's about saving lives, not about red tape and keeping to bureaucratic arrangements at the moment.


VANIER: So let's finds out more on what the weather is going to be like across Europe in the coming hours, in the coming days.

Alison Chinchar joins us now from CNN's International Weather Center. Alison?

ALISON CHINCAR, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER CENTER: And he talked about, you know, one of the worst scenarios going forward would be another big snowstorm or another big cold snap. And unfortunately we're going to get both in the coming days.

Starting yesterday and the day before in the U.K., now starting to make its way into mainland Europe, we take a look this coming out of Belgium. Again, where we had a lot of snow coming down and obviously causing travel concerns and travel problems throughout Brussels and some of the other outlying areas.

Again, it wasn't necessarily the amount of snow that fell that caused issues. It was the fact that it came down so quickly. And this system is going to be making its way off to the east bringing more snow to places like Germany, Poland, even as far as south as we go down towards Albania.

Now, down there it will be a mix of rain and snow. The temperatures will just be a little bit on the warm side. But that's actually a good thing because had the system come in a few days later when we have the colder air come in, it would be all snow.

Here you can see it going forward. Now widespread, we're talking accumulations around ten centimeters of snow. Nothing major. But there will be some pockets mixed in especially as you go into some of the higher elevations where we could see 20 plus centimeters of additional snow. And remember this is on top of what we've already had.

Then we talk about the cold blast. See those pink and purple colors mixed in there? That's where we're really going to see temperatures drop. Now take a look for example into Prague, the average high right now is one. We will be there today. But as we go through the rest of the week, we're talking seeing temperatures dropping five as much as 10 degrees celsius in the coming days.

And then fortunately, you see the little uptick there on Friday? But it's not going to uptick much more than that. For the forceable future, these temperatures are expected to remain well below average and not just in Prague.

On the other side of the Atlantic, we were keeping an eye on the potential dangerous ice storm across areas of the central U.S. This stretching from Texas all the way over towards Washington, D.C. if you have any travel plans in the United States in the next two to three days, please check with your air carrier, because a lot of flights likely to be canceled especially in Washington, D.C. Cincinnati, and even Oklahoma City.

Speak of Oklahoma City. This is where we expect to have some of the highest ice accumulation amounts. Now, widespread, we're talking maybe up to about a half a centimeter. But this bull's eye area here, we're talking 1.5 centimeters of ice.

Again, the impacts that are caused by a lot of that, you're talking not just widespread power outages and tree damage but also the impact it has on travel. And again, we have the power out ands and then the cold air behind it. And if you don't have heat in your home for several days, that can having other problems ensue because of that, as well.

VANIER: Alison Chincar from the CNN International Weather Center, thank you very much. You're staying across as cold snaps -- so both in Europe and the U.S. then.

CHINCAR: Correct.

VANIER: All right, thanks a lot.

Incoming Vice President Mike Pence is about to enter the public eye like never before and he will be sharing the spotlight with a motley crew (ph)of family pets. There they are. More on Marlon Bundo the Rabbit, next.


[02:25:13] VANIER: The U.S. Vice President-elect and his family are heading to Washington and they are not going alone. The pets are in for the ride.

Jeanne Moos delves into the -- it turns out rich history of presidential or in this case vice presidential pets who enter the spotlight.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Meet the VPP. The Vice Presidential Pets. The pets bunny actually got to deplane before the vice president. This is Marlon Bundo, one political strategist tweeted "OK, I've been a Pence skeptic but the fact that he has a rabbit called Marlon Bundo has softened me." The family's two cats Oreo and Pickle were carried out by the Vice President-elect's wife and daughter. Pickle the beige and white one got air sick aboard the plane. But at least the cat didn't nip anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he get you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He totally got me.


MOOS: Oh, my god.

President George W. Bush's Scottish Terrier Barney nailed a Reuter's reporter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got bite by Barney.

MOOS: And Bill Clinton's cat Socks had a turf war with Buddy.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I did better with the Arabs and Palestinians and the Israelis than I've done with Socks and Buddy.

MOOS: Franklin Roosevelt was so close with his dog Fala that they're together forever as statues. While LBJ got flap from animal lovers for picking up his beagle by the ears. And President Bush once accidentally dropped Barney. You never know with presidential pets who's going to take home for a walk. But we know where Bo wasn't sleeping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he going to be in a bed?


MOOS: But why stop the an dogs and cats. Woodrow Wilson used sheep to mow the White House lawn during World War I. First Lady Grace Coolidge is seen here with her pet raccoon Rebecca at an Easter egg roll and Teddy Roosevelt had a virtual zoo at the White House.

The Pences also have a pet snake. But we didn't see any snakes on the plane. For Pickle and Oreo and Marlon Bundo, this was their first VPP motorcade.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


VANIER: And probably their first appearance on global news. Thanks for watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment. Stay with us.