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President Obama's Surprise Decision on Chelsea Manning; Putin in Defense of Trump; Donald Trump Punching Back at Critics; 52 Dead After Nigerian Military Fighter Mistakenly Bombed; Boycotting Trump's Inauguration. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 18, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A well-deserved victory or a grave mistake? Barack Obama commutes the sentence of the soldier behind a huge government data breach drawing mixed reactions from around the globe.

Finally, European leaders and negotiators react after Theresa May sets out her Brexit plan.

And punching back. With two days until his inauguration, Donald Trump takes on his critics and sagging poll numbers.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

In a controversial move just days before leaving the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama has commuted the sentence of a U.S. soldier convicted of leaking U.S. secrets. Many lawmakers are furious saying Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning is a traitor. But the White House is defending the decision.

CNN's Pamela Brown reports.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In a shocking move, President Obama is allowing Chelsea Manning, the army private convicted of stealing and leaking hundreds of thousands of documents and videos to be a free woman in May. The reaction on Capitol Hill and beyond has been swift.


TOM COTTON, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: For the president, especially the president who's made so much recently about the danger that WikiLeaks has posed to our national security to commute Private Manning's sentence I think is very disappointing.


BROWN: In 2009, then known as Bradley Manning stole hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive military files as a 22-year-old army intelligence analyst. He then gave them to the web site, WikiLeaks which published causing a massive ripple effect in the United States and around the world, and putting WikiLeaks on the map for future leakers such as Edward Snowden.

Many disclosures included videos of U.S. air strikes in Baghdad that launched worldwide discussions about the morality. The stolen filed also included embarrassing diplomatic cables. Manning confided in an online associate about the disclosures who then alerted authorities in 2010.

During the court martial trial prosecutors argued Manning was the traitor to the United States, but the defense said Manning was a naive whistleblower who wanted to shed lights on human rights violations.

Manning pleaded guilty and delivering apology to the court before the sentencing. Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy but found guilty on 20 other counts including violations under the Espionage Act and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The day after the sentencing Manning announced she wanted to live life as a woman. And a year later, a judge granted Manning to request for a formal name change from Bradley to Chelsea. Behind bars Manning was place on suicide watch after trying to kill herself twice in the last year.

Tonight, the White House is defending Manning's sentence commutation by drawing a distinction between Manning's case and Edward Snowden who remain in exile.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process. She was exposed to due process and was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes.

And she acknowledged wrongdoing. Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of -- into the arms of an adversary and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine our confidence in our democracy.


BROWN: Over the years, Manning who was incarcerated at a men's military prison had petitioned unsuccessfully to be place in civilian prison and to be given gender reassignment treatment. She will be released from prison May 7th after serving seven years of her 35-year sentence.

Pamela Brown, CNN. Washington.

CHURCH: So, let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson now live from London. And Nic, WikiLeaks is celebrating Chelsea manning's commutation calling it a victory. What else is Julian Assange is saying about this.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, he's saying that this is a victory and congratulating to all those who supported the calls for the commutation of Chelsea Manning sentence. And what Julian Assange has said in recent days though, is interesting. And we'll need to see what he -- what steps he takes beyond this.

But he had said, he had tweeted in the days before this that if President Obama commutes Chelsea Manning her sentence, then he would surrender himself to U.S. authorities.

[03:04:59] He's been hiding in the Ecuadorean embassy since August 2012, facing extradition to Sweden to face questions on separate charges there but always at the back of that his fear that ultimately he would then be sent to the United States.

So, this on the face of it, he would seem to be saying, well, OK, now I'll leave the Ecuadorean embassy, but I think from what we've heard from his lawyer from what we've heard from him subsequent to this commutation is that his lawyer is saying that the lawyer has asked the Department of Justice in the United States to clarify their position that there should be no charges brought against him from the Department of Justice.

There have been no formal charges filed but we do know from U.S. authorities that he is under investigation. So from Julian Assange, it's been -- it's been a call for victory. But is that likely to change his position? Well, there's a whole new administration coming in so that doesn't seem immediately likely. Of course he has been in the spotlight with that administration as well.

CHURCH: Yes, we'll be watching that part of the story. But Nic, it was one of the biggest leaks of classified information in U.S. history. So what impact did Manning's leaks have in the end and just how big a deal is her commutation?

ROBERTSON: It's a big deal. Without any shadow of a doubt it's already causing, you know, consternation if you are on both sides of the political aisle in the United States or both sides of the sort of aisle of what should happen to people who've had extended sentences, who have long sentences in this position with psychological problems.

President Obama's clearly made a case for the release here. But what impact has it had? I don't think where at the end potentially of what impact it had. I mean, when journalists are working on stories today they'll often turn to WikiLeaks to see if there's information in there that relates to stories that they're currently working on.

And it was a massive expose of diplomatic correspondence of exposes of military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of them that later showed the military actions in a negative light and instances that shooting in 2007, the helicopter shooting that involved killing journalists in Iraq in 2007.

Those sorts of things have perhaps run their course. But there are still, it is such a massive trove of information that it still provides a repository and a place to look for research. Looking for small amounts of detail, perhaps about United States' relationship with a particular country, with a particular diplomat.

That said the criticism that WikiLeaks published information without checking it thoroughly to see who could have been harmed who could have been hurt is still a very live issue.

CHURCH: All right. Our Nic Robertson joining us live from London where it's just after 8 o'clock in the morning. Many thanks to you.

And Russia's foreign ministry says it will let Edward Snowden stay in the country for a couple more years. The WikiLeaks whistleblower has been in living in asylum in Russia since June 2013.

So, let's bring in CNN contributor now Jill Dougherty joining us live from Moscow. Because, Jill, what's interesting about this, of course, is the timing. This, coming right after the commutation by President Obama of Chelsea Manning. So talk to us about that and the significance, perhaps of that.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Rosemary, I think we have to look into it a little bit more deeply in terms of the timing. Because there was this came out it came out on Facebook as far as I can tell. In a posting by a Maria Zakharova who is spokesperson for the foreign ministry.

And it started, as she puts in that post, with an editorial that was written by Mike Morell, the former CIA Director saying basically that Putin, President Putin should extradite Snowden to the United States. You know, there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.

But he should do that because it would be, Mike Morell said, basically a gift to the incoming President Trump and it would also be a way of kind of poking President Obama in the eye. And Ms. Zakharova she said that that is the ideology of treachery and went on to kind of criticize Morell and the, you know, leaders of the Intel services in the United States for that type of approach.

And then she said you don't understand Russia, Mr. Morell. So, then in the context of that, she said he doesn't even know that Snowden is being allowed to stay for another couple of years. So this could already be out there, perhaps we're just weren't aware of it.

[03:10:02] But now we do know, thanks to the Facebook posting that Snowden will be allowed to stay.

CHURCH: Interesting.


DOUGHERTY: For a couple of years.

CHURCH: Absolutely. So, stand by, Jill because all of this comes as President Putin is leaping to Donald Trump's defense.

CNN's Jim Sciutto has a report on that.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissing allegations that the Kremlin has compromising personal and financial information on the president- elect.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): What do you think? We have special security services running after every American millionaire? Of course not. It is complete nonsense. This is rubbish.


SCIUTTO: Even joking about some of the more salacious and unsubstantiated details of such allegations which many news organizations including CNN have declined to report on in detail.


PUTIN (through translator): It is hard to believe that he rent to a hotel to meet with our girls of a low social class, although they are the best in the world.


SCIUTTO: And attacking those who prepared and published the dossier.


PUTIN (through translator): People who order false information and spread this information against the elected president who fabricate it and use it in a political fight, they are worse than prostitutes.


SCIUTTO: President Obama's spokesman took a parting shot in his final briefing, to note that Putin's comments defending Trump's legitimacy echo those of the president-elect.


EARNEST: First of all, it sounds like he got his copy of the talking points. Second.


EARNEST: Well, I don't know. It certainly sounds a lot like what the incoming administration's team is saying. But it is not the first time that the Russian president has called into question the veracity of the United States government.


SCIUTTO: Three days to his inauguration, the president-elect's rhetoric is unsettling allies and adversaries alike. China's President Xi Jinping apparently warning Mr. Trump.


XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.


SCIUTTO: This after Trump has repeatedly vowed to get tough with China on trade.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: They haven't played by the rules and I know it's time that they're going to start. They're going to start. They are going to start. They've got to.


SCIUTTO: U.S. Allies in Europe also pushing back. Germany expressing disbelief at Trump's dismissal of NATO as obsolete.


FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I can't believe an American administration would follow the thought process that Europe is not somehow important to the U.S. with the history of the U.S., I just can't believe this.


CHURCH: Jim Sciutto with that report. So, let's go back to Jill Dougherty now in Moscow. And Jill, it is unprecedented, a Russian president defending an incoming U.S. president even going so far as to call Trump's distracters worse than prostitutes. What do you make of that, and what has been the reaction to President Putin's comments there about Trump across Russia?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think you know if you look at what happened yesterday, it came out kind of unexpectedly at the end of a news conference and then I noted that within an hour the media that had been broadcasting that press conference replayed the sound from the president.

So obviously they wanted it to get out. It has been repeated and it's being widely reported. Now you know, why would that be? Well, obviously that's what President Putin said. It's news worthy and that's probably what he believes.

But I think as you look at this, there are a lot of things he's doing in that. Number one, he is criticizing President Obama essentially for saying that, you know, the outgoing President Obama is trying to tie the hands and feet, he put, of Trump not allowing him to do what he wanted to do.

So the message there is that, you know, Trump is a scheming leader. Then also he's holding out a hand to President Trump -- incoming President Trump.

He's also making the United States look very chaotic and pretty politically corrupt, which is another message that the Russian media and President Putin himself have been getting across, and then also he got a chance to kind of get a big swipe at, as he would call it, you know, fake news, idiotic, you know, absolutely untrue news.

So, that is -- there are lots of levels that this is playing and it's interesting that it's playing out not only on television but in the social media. Every other way of the story really is huge here in Russia.

CHURCH: Yes. And so much more to talk about. We're going to have to end it there. Jill Dougherty joining us there from Moscow.

[03:15:03] We'll take a short break but still to come the British Prime Minister made her biggest speech on Brexit yet, but soon she will be answering for it at home and abroad.

And Turkey's president stands to gain a lot more power. The vote in parliament is preparing to take. We'll explain when we come back.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, British Prime Minister Theresa May will appear before parliament in just a few hours from now after she laid out her plans for the Brexit in a highly anticipated speech. She promised the U.K. would not take any half measures.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership or anything that leaves us half in, half out. We seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not hope to hold on to bits of membership as we leave. No, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.


CHURCH: But May also said she would not allow the U.K.'s departure to become a cautionary tale.


MAY: I know there are some voices calling for a punitive deal that punishes Britain and discourages other countries from taking the same path. That would be an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe and it would be not the act of a friend. Britain would not, indeed we could not accept such an approach.


CHURCH: And after that speech, one of the E.U.'s main negotiators for this deal is a very simple message "We're ready when you are."

Nina dos Santos joins us now live from London with more on this. So, Nina, how is Britain responding to Prime Minister Theresa may's speech on Brexit.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPPONDENT: Good morning to you, Rosemary. Well, it's largely positive and a lot of it coming from politicians on both sides of the political spectrum and saying what we appreciate there is the clarity of Theresa May's message.

But the problem here is that obviously the devil will be in the detail when eventually she does enacts those negotiations by which she has to leave the European Union.

She's set to do so by the end of March. So there's some time between now and then. But as you were saying before there, Brussels and various E.U. heads of state and heads of government applauding yet again her clarity here but saying well, look, we don't want to discuss the details on all of this and pronounce judgment on it because you haven't actually handed in the formal paperwork.

Only then will we be able to give you an idea on whether or not you could cherry picking some of these parts of the agreements that you want to stay.

[03:20:06] And I'm talking in particular about access to customs union. Teresa May was very clear yesterday in her speech that she doesn't want access to the single market. That's a forgoing conclusion that she tries to control immigration. She's probably going to have to lose access to the market for goods, capitals and services across the region.

But she does want access to certain elements of the customs union and that's the kind of negotiating tactic that she's going to take from here. Whether or not she's going to be able to achieve that we'll have to see. But she did have some pointed messages as you heard there for other countries across the E.U.

Saying that if you play hardball, well, the U.K. can drastically change its business model to become if you like a tax haven to try and makeup the economic difference from the loss trade with the other countries. That hasn't gone down well in Brussels.

In fact, the E.U. parliament the chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt has said, look, the U.K. becoming a tax haven just on the other side of the channel. Please, it's a laughable idea and the U.K. really shouldn't go down that route because the Europeans will fight it with all they have. Rosemary?

CHURCH: So, Nina, how difficult is this whole negotiation likely to be?

DOS SANTOS: Well, it's unprecedented territory really, Rosemary. Nobody has enacted the so-called article 50 get out clause of the European Union to leave as yet, and the real fear across other European capital with key elections taking place in places like France, Germany, and the Netherlands with separatist parties making advances in those countries as well, is that this could lead to the fragmentation of Europe.

So, on the one hand, for a political reason, many of the European countries are likely to fight this with all they have and what they're going to is try to use these economic tools to try and deter the U.K. from managing to get concessions that could encourage other countries to go for the same thing. The Europeans may ask for a lot of money in these so-called divorce

negotiations and they may also try to take and away the right of the city of London. The financial community in the U.K. to possible financial transactions that could be one of the crown jewels that the U.K. may have to kiss goodbye to. So, there's a lot for grabs here.

CHURCH: Yes. Most definitely. Eight twenty two in the morning there in London. Nina dos Santos joining us with reaction there from Britain. I appreciate that.

And this just in. Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is in hospital in Houston, Texas. His chief of staff tells the Houston Chronicle newspaper and TV KHOU that Bush is doing fine but did not give details on his condition.

The 92-year-old was the 41st president of the United States. Elected in 1988. He's had several hospital stays over the past few years, and we will of course update you on Bush's condition as we get more information here at CNN.

At least 52 people are dead after a Nigerian military fighter jet mistakenly bombed a refugee camp. Doctors Without Borders says 120 people were wounded Tuesday. The Nigerian army said the jet was targeting the terrorist group, Boko Haram.

Farai Sevenzo joins us now from Nairobi with the very latest on this. And Farai, 52 people killed, 120 wounded. Just astonishing statistics there. How does a mistake like this happen?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, in June 2016, the Nigerian government purchased six new aircraft from rising three jets, three MI-F7 jets in an operation they were calling, I beg your pardon, they were calling Gama Aiki, which means end the job.

And that's where we are at the moment. Their effort to end the job of trying to wipe on Boko Haram is completely violent and utterly merciless group of terrorists in northwest Nigeria. They have hit upon an internally displacement of people camp, and as you say, 52 people, and we really expected the numbers to rise.

CHURCH: Yes. It's just horrifying. And the Nigerian government as you say, the strike was meant for Boko Haram. So where is the fight against these militants? Where does it stand right now?

SEVENZO: It has to be said that in the last two years, since President Buhari took over, the fight against Boko Haram has really intensified and therefore you have this -- to use the vile phrase, collateral damage or friendly fire. You know, you have so many people displaced. And they are not refugees. The refugees within their own country. They internally displaced Nigerians.

Trying for the last two years to farm their crops and to get their kids to school. And as our viewers will know, this is the very same group that kidnapped 200 girls back in April 2014.

So, they falsely mistaken in a hard place. And the government trying to eradicate the terrorists and the terrorist trying to change themselves and fighting very hard like a beast with their backs against the wall.

[03:25:00] CHURCH: And of course, six Nigerian Red Cross workers were killed and more than a dozen volunteers wounded when this refugee camp was mistakenly hit. So, what's going to happen to the refugees who are so dependent upon these aid workers to help them?

SEVENZO: You know, Rosemary, the miracle of course is that they're still volunteers in areas like the northeast of Nigeria. Volunteers for the Red Cross, top of whom were wounded and airlifted by helicopter last night.

And of course the entire human aid organization from UNICEF to the United Nations the Humanitarian Affairs Office, they are all grief stricken this morning as they realize that the effort to help people in such desperate means, means they themselves are very much on the front line. It's a sad day for the Red Cross and indeed Medecins Sans Frontieres people.

CHURCH: It must definitely is. Farai Sevenzo, thank you so much for that live report from Nairobi. We appreciate that.

And there is a state of emergency in Gambia. President Yahya Jammeh made the declaration Tuesday after refusing to step down from office. Appositionally, Adama Barrow won the election last month. Mr. Jammeh is just the second president of the West African country since independence in 1965. The political turmoil is sending hundreds of Gambians fleeing to Senegal. Regional leaders are threatening military intervention if President Jammeh doesn't surrender power.

We'll take a short break here but still to come, President Barack Obama commutes the sentence off a former soldier convicted of leaking U.S. secrets. Why one organization supports that decision. That's next.

Plus, Donald Trump's approval rating are historically low ahead of inauguration. What he has to say about the polls. That's coming your way just a little later.


CHURCH: And a warm welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check our main headline right now.

Many U.S. lawmakers are outraged over President Barack Obama's decision to commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning. The former soldier was convicted of U.S. secrets to WikiLeaks. A former intelligence official calls the move hypocritical since Mr. Obama has denounced WikiLeaks hacking in the past.

Let's talk more about this with Dinah PoKempner, she is general counsel for Human Rights Watch which wrote a letter to President Obama asking to commute Manning's sentence. Thanks so much for being with us. Good to talk with you.

So, first, could you explain to us why human rights watched advocated for Manning and your response to the outcome?

DINAH POKEMPNER, GENERAL COUNSEL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, we're delighted by the outcome and the reason is that Chelsea Manning is serving the longest sentence of any government leaker today by orders of magnitude. Her sentence was enormous, unexpected. And we believe imposed to make an example out of her rather than in true consideration of what punishment was merited on the charges.

We're also delighted because she didn't have a chance to defend herself under the charges laid against her. The Espionage Act doesn't allow you to argue, well, what I did was really for the public good. It only cares about whether you disclose classified information.

There are also good humanitarian reasons to be happy. Chelsea, as most people know is transgender. She has not received appropriate treatment and support for gender dysphonia. She has been suicidal, she has been inappropriately kept in solitary which aggravates all of this distress and suffering.

So, the commutation of this sentence could really be a life saving measure in this case. Another reason to be very glad.

CHURCH: All right. Even so though, some U.S. senators are not happy with President Obama's decision. Let's just take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do have in espionage driven 35 years.




CHURCH: ... that this constitutional changes will happen.

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary, we'll be watching parliament closely to see if another brawl breaks out like last time. It's just underscore how contentious this constitutional change is.

Now, by the numbers what has to happen is that there has to be over 330 votes for these constitutional changes to go to a nationwide referendum. If parliamentarians can get over 367 votes then it will just flat-out become the law of the land immediately.

Now the two parties, the A.K. Party and M.H. Party say that have about somewhere in between those two numbers. So, it looks likely that through all the discussion today that this will be voted on. It will pass through some sort of constitutional referendum that they expect to take place later in the year.

CHURCH: All right. So, if it does go to this referendum, which as you say it looks like that will be the case, what is the feeling on the street? Do the Turkish people want to see their president more empowered like this.

LEE: Well, Rosemary, this country is deeply divided. That the ruling A.K. Party has a slim majority and people who are for this say, that it gives me more power to push along lives to make the people's voice heard, but the detractors and there are a lot of them and they're allowed they say that this guts the checks and balance system t give the president too much power.

To give you some examples. There is a government body that appoints the judges and the prosecutors. Well, the president, if this passes will be able to appoint half of the members of that government body. He will also have powers in parliament where his political party he will be the one that determines who is on the list of that party when it runs for election.

So, it does give him quite a bit of power. And so, there is lot of concern that their country will move towards more of an authoritarian regime. Those are the concerns we're hearing although the A.K. Party denies that saying that it just gives the people more of a direct voice.

CHURCH: All right. A little over two hours away from that debate. It is critical for that country. Our Ian Lee will be watching it very closely, joining us there from Istanbul in Turkey. Many thanks.

Well, incoming U.S. president is facing a rocky transition and low approval ratings. What's behind the numbers? That's next.

Plus, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, a look at how the U.S. presidency has aged these leaders over the years. Back in a moment.


CHURCH: This just in to CNN. An Israeli police officer was killed in a ramming attack in southern Israel just a short time ago. He was part of a group of officers working security for home demolitions in the desert village. Police say the attack happened before demonstrators surrounded the demolitions. We'll keep an eye on that story and bring you more details as they come in to us.

On Friday, Donald Trump goes from U.S. president elect to president. He kicked off his inaugural celebrations on Tuesday with a black tie gala. Trump's inaugural committee is expected to receive more than $90 million in gifts from these events.

Meanwhile, the incoming president is facing historically low approval ratings before his swearing in.

Jeff Zeleny explains.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: There's no honeymoon awaiting Donald Trump in Washington. Three days before taking office, the president-elect's approval rating stands at 40 percent with the majority saying they disapprove.

A new CNN/ORC poll also finds the confidence in Trump's transition is lower than the last three presidents. Much lower.

Eight years ago, President Obama came into office with 84 percent of Americans approving of his transition. George W. Bush, 61 percent. Bill Clinton, 67 percent. Tonight, Trump is taking issue with the findings saying on Twitter, "The same people who did the phony election polls and were so wrong are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before".

But a majority of Americans do believe will deliver on his biggest promise of all, jobs. Sixty percent say it's likely President Trump will create good paying jobs, 39 percent disagree.

At Trump Tower today another big name CEO meeting with the president- elect. This time, the chairman of Boeing who Trump tangled with last month over the cost of a new Air Force One.


DENNIS MUILENBURG, BOEING CEO I think Mr. Trump is doing a great job of engaging with business. We're all on the same page here.


ZELENY: Corporate America is trying to stay on Trump's good side. With General Motors announcing a $1 billion investment in factories to save or create 1500 jobs. And Wal-Mart announcing 10,000 new jobs this year. And Trump noticed responding on Twitter, "Thank you to General Motors and Wal-Mart for starting the big jobs push back into the U.S."

As Washington puts on the finishing touches for Friday's inauguration, some republicans are apprehensive about Trump's rocky transition. Senator John McCain told CNN he's not surprise Trump's approval ratings are far lower than his predecessors.



TRUMP: I think for him to have grand standing because I think he just grandstanded, John Lewis, and then he got caught in a very bad lie. So, let's see what happens. As far as other people not going, that's OK because we need seats so badly. I hope they give me their tickets. Are they going to give us their tickets or are they going them to other people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're OK with them not going.

TRUMP: No. What happens to their tickets? I hope they are going to give us their tickets.


CHURCH: So Josh, how is this likely spot likely to impact trump's first days in office? And how is this boycott being viewed in Washington? JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Very simply, having over 50 by the

current count democratic lawmakers boycott the inauguration is completely unprecedented. And although we've had partisan divides in past administrations and although the inaugurations of people like George W. Bush was very contentious and there was a lot of ill-will following that election.

The situation that Trump finds himself is worse than we've seen in previous transition. And Donald's Trumps approach to that as we talk about before is simply to double down. And he seems enable to put the idea of reaching out to his adversaries above his personal sort of sense of persecution.

And that is a characteristic that we've seen from Donald Trump throughout the campaign, throughout the transition and will likely continue well into his presidency.

CHURCH: And Josh, I want to switch into Trump's relations overseas. He's not even president yet but he has tangled with China over trade, insulted Angela Merkel and she puts chaos in the European Union. On Tuesday, he had President Vladimir Putin going out of his way to defend Trump from critics here in the United States, which I think we can say is a first.

Are these pre-inaugural exchanges going to have permanent impact on relations overseas do you think?

ROGIN: I think they will. I've been talking with foreign diplomats especially those from Europe. There was again, an unprecedented level of concern about the things that Donald Trump is saying and the policies that he's planning to implement.

It has not gone to notice that the only country that he seems to avoid criticizing is Russia and that the Russian government has avoided criticizing him. What we see now is a calculation in capitals all over the world, especially amongst U.S. allies based on the assumption that the Trump presidency will realign American foreign policy to overlap with Russian interests and Russian policies.

We don't know if that's actually going to be the policy. There's a lot going on inside the Trump transition that will still speak to that. But nevertheless, foreign governments are making their calculations based on what we hear coming out of Donald Trump's mouth.

And what we hear the president-elect is saying is that he will take America away from the Trans-Atlantic alliance, realign U.S policy to be conjunction with the Russian policy and this is something that U.S. Foreign policy types in Washington are reacting to with alarm.

[03:50:07] Yes. And many people still asking that question. What is the relationship between Donald Trump and Russia? Josh Rogin, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

ROGIN: Any time.

CHURCH: And this just in. Reuters reports that China is urging the U.S. not to allow representatives of Taiwan to attend Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday.

Now you may recall Mr. Trump broke precedent last month by accepting a phone call from Taiwan's president which angered China of course. Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China.

We'll take a short break here. We'll be right back. Stay warm.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is Wednesday, the 18th of January. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri for Weather Watch.

And we have a mild perspective that almost makes it feel like middle of March, maybe even April across parts of the southern U.S. But it will come with some wet weather the next few days across that region white the cold air escapes often to the northeast. And that is the trend for at least the next several days.

Very uniform trend, very moderate trend across the southern United States. Temps into the upper teens around Atlanta, Dallas at 13 degrees. Not too bad out of New York City for this time of year with cloudy conditions but around 6 in the forecast there.

But a lot of rainfall in the next 24 or so hours, generally across parts of the south central states, and eventually into the southeast. Northern Alabama and Mississippi could see come floody concerns in the coming few days.

Back out towards the west, the storm door props wide open. The storm is coming in one after another. Winter weather advisory still in place across a pretty expansive area of the western U.S. When you look at how much precipitation we're talking in both aspects, whether it be rainfall or snow fall off the top of the charts in some spots where it can exceed 100 centimeters of fresh snow and easily get two to 300 millimeters of rainfall on the coastal communities as well.

Down towards say, Havana, temps into the uppers 20s. Mexico City and Chihuahua very dry, very comfortable temps into the teens and 20s as well. And we've seen a lot of wet weather in recent days where it belongs around southern portion in South American, way your way out towards place such as La Paz, 14 degrees.

CHURCH: OK. So, we all know the role of U.S. president is a pretty tough gig, right, and all that stress shows up in presidential photos.

Jeanne Moos takes a look.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's that time again. Time for news organization to roll out those before and after photos to show how much our departing president has aged. It's been dubbed the White House effect and it usually involves wrinkles and white hair or a as Michelle Obama puts it.


[03:55:03] MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: My very own silver fox.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your hair is so white, it tried to punch me at a Trump rally.


MOOS: Maybe you've heard there's a formula for presidential aging.


MICHAEL ROIZEN, INTERNIST: A typical president ages two years for every year they're in office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there really is one reason it's the stress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not true. They do not age at twice the normal rate.


MOOS: Longevity expert Professor J. Oshinsky disputes Dr. Michael Roizen's formula.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps the graying of the hair and wrinkling of the skin may grow more rapidly as a result of stress but it's certainly not shortening from their lives.


MOOS: Professor Oshinsky says research shows presidents live way longer than regular citizens. Look at George H.W. Bush sky diving. He and Jimmy Carter, both 92. Sure presidents look like they're going downhill in photos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But guess what. If you take a picture of anybody you're going to see the same changes in the rest of us as you see in the presidents.


MOOS: Really? So what? That's me eight years ago. Do you think the grueling life of a TV humor reporter has taken a toll? Wonder how long it will take 70-year-old Donald Trump's hair to change shades once he's president, although Michelle Obama seems immune from the White House effect.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only way to date her in photos is by looking at me. Here we are in 2008, here we are a few years later and this one is from two weeks ago.


MOS: It's enough to make a president want to avoid mirrors and aging. Big cheese.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: Some great pictures there. And that does it for this hour. There's more news after the break with Hannah Vaughan Jones in London. Have a great day.