Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Signs Sweeping Order On Refugees; Trump and May Meeting; Actor John Hurt Died At 77; Trump; Christian Refugees Should Have Priority; Syrian Family In The U.S. Reacts To Visa Ban; Trump and Putin To Talk About Terrorism; Williams Sisters Play For Aussie Open Title; Trump Cites Unverified Data In Election Fraud; Anti-Abortion Activists Rally In D.C.; Ringing In The Lunar New Year. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired January 28, 2017 - 04:00   ET



[04:01:21] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: A temporary ban on refugees. President Donald Trump promised to protect American borders during the campaign and now he says he is delivering on that.

Plus, the President fine with NATO for now. A different tone for President Trump after his meeting with the British Prime Minister Theresa May. And he gave us the elephant man and so many other great performances. Veteran British film actor Sir John Hurt has passed away.

From CNN, world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

It is 4:01 on the U.S. East Coast. A new executive order from the U.S. President with a stroke of a pen, people from seven, predominantly, Muslim nations are barred from entering the United States for three months. The countries in question. We show you the map here.

According to a White House official, the list includes Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran. President Donald Trump says it is design to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States. His quote," Critics don't say the move travels on fundamental American values."

The order also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for four months. Syrian refugees are barred from the U.S. indefinitely. Also, people holding certain visas will now have to undergo in-person interviews in order to renew them. And CNN's Jim Acosta says a number of the companies on the U.S. visa suspension list may grow.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And one thing that we should point out about this 90-day suspension of visas coming in from seven countries that have ties to terrorism. Those seven countries may not be all of them. We've been talking to White House officials this evening who said that there may be more countries added to this list.

And so, make no mistake. This is a very aggressive action that's been taken by the Trump administration. They talk at length during this executive order, at the top of this executive order about 9/11, something that occurred 16 years ago.

And so President Trump campaigned during that election cycle as someone who was going to crack down and ramp up the war on terrorism, the war on ISIS. And this is just the beginning of that process I think.


HOWELL: There is, however, a different stance for Christians from Muslim majority countries. They could now have an easier time getting into the U.S. The President says, they should be prioritized because they have been persecuted. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S PRESIDENT: They have been horribly treated. You know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very -- at least very, very tough to get into the United States. If you were a Muslim you could come in. But if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.

And the reason that was so unfair is that everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.


HOWELL: More than two million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Turkey since the civil war began in their homeland some six years ago.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has been following the story for many years joining us now live in Istanbul, Turkey. Ben, this new executive order, how is that being perceived throughout the region?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, with shock and dismay. In fact, I spoke with one Syrian refugee who lives along near the Syrian border who described this decree as racist and shameful.

[04:05:08Many people -- you know, it's important to keep in mind, the reason why people fled Syria was that they were caught between Iraq and a hard place, between a brutal regime that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people on the one hand and mad terrorists on the other who, yes, President Trump rightly pointed it out, behead people among other things.

But if you look at the numbers, the total numbers of people who have been killed by ISIS are Muslims. The majority are Muslims. Christian, of course, make up a part of it. And therefore, when people see this decision, they really feel that this is a sledgehammer being taken to a very difficult problem.

I've been in touch with people in Iraq. One man, apparently, a Kurdish man, who had received a refugee visa to the United States. When they went to the airport, they were informed by the airport authorities that they would not be able to get on the plane, and so they've had to go back home, obviously, extremely distraught at this last minute change in policy by the United States.

Now, we've heard, for instance, members of the Iraqi parliament saying that they may impose reciprocal majors on Americans trying to go to Iraq. So, this decision has huge implications across the region. And obviously, it's going to complicate American policy in a country like Iraq, where there are more than 5,000 American service men and women helping Iraqi forces in their fight against ISIS. And this certainly sends all the wrong signals to people who we are supposed to be friends with when it comes to the United States. George?

HOWELL: So, Ben, those thoughts on the allies, the people, as you have pointed out before, given your extensive experience reporting in that region, the people who have risked their lives, in fact, to protect the United States. Many of those people finding themselves barred from the United States.

The U.S. President says this move is design to protect the nation from ISIS and from terrorism. But there are critics, Ben, who say that this will plays directly into ISIS hands?

WEDEMAN: It does. It sort of frames the United States in the eyes of many people as an enemy, not of ISIS alone but Islam as a religion. And we've heard statements to that effect from many people, for instance, in Iraq, in Jordan and elsewhere. And it's important to keep in mind that in his executive order, President Trump mentioned the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

But the three countries -- rather the four countries to which the attackers came from, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates in Lebanon are not on his list of those countries affected by the visa ban. So it sort of lacks as a logical foundation, this decision, and certainly it's going to go down very badly in the region. Anybody who has lived and worked in this region for any amount of time realizes just how sensitive this topic is and just how counterproductive this executive order can be. George.

HOWELL: Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman live for us in Istanbul, Turkey. Ben, thank you so much for the reporting. We'll see and touch with you.

President Trump's temporary ban on immigrants and refugees has provoked several angry responses. And as we see in the statement from the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, "These policies", he says, "do not reflect the values of the United States or New York City. We must continue to embrace refugees in need who are victims of terror not terrorists. We must protect and celebrate religious pluralism. In this great city of immigrants, we will remain true to our values and always welcome all who yearn to breathe free." Then this from Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, "I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants. The people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life."

And from the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society which aids refugees from Muslim countries, "By halting immigration and refugee resettlement from targeted countries, the administration would be splitting up families who have parents and children in the process of approval for immigration and refugee resettlement."

A family in the United States and the State of Georgia says that Mr. Trump's ban is not fair to people like them. The war in Syria forced them to run for their live at the seek safety here in the United States. My colleague Carol Costello has their story.


[04:10:03] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thousands of refugees live here in Clarkson, Georgia. The locals say it's the most diverse square mile in America.

Do you feel lucky that you are here?

SAMER, SRYIAN REFUGEE (Through translator): Certainly, I'm lucky. I am safe now. Safety is everyone's wish.

COSTELLO: Samer and his wife Dania paid a smuggler $100 to sneak them out of home Syria. They don't talk about it much, because most of their family died in Syria's relentless civil war.

When you guys had to leave Syria, leave your home, leave your family, leave what all was familiar to you to go somewhere, I just wonder what that's like.

SAMER: Your heart bleeds from the inside when you have to leave your country. But at the same time, you're leaving to seek safety and stability for your family. You want to live to stay away from problems.

COSTELLO: If you could go home, would you?

SAMER: Yes, everybody would prefer to go back to his or her country if it's safe. I'm happy living in the U.S., but nonetheless, I always miss my home country. My country is still at war. We don't want to go back.

COSTELLO: The non-profit new American pathway helped Samer him find a home. It provides his family with English class and Samer job in a Middle Eastern restaurant. Trump's executive order will suspend programs like this.

SAMER: It's not a humane approach to protect the people who have fleeing the war. Instead, the president should bring in and rescue more people for humanitarian reasons.

COSTELLO: Some Americans are afraid of people from the Middle East, from Syria. Why do you think that is?

DANIA, SYRIAN REFUGEE (Through translator): To the contrary, we love the American people. We want them to reciprocate our feeling. We came seem to help. We want them to love us. We all love them back.

COSTELLO: After fleeing Syria, Samer's family wild up in Jordan. They registered as refugees with United Nations refugee agency. They were vetted bring the FBI, the Defense Department, the National Counterterrorism Center, Homeland Security and United Nations. And along the way, Dania had two more babies.

So your children, each child was born in a different country?

DANIA: Yes. Each of my kids was born in a different country. My oldest son was born in Syria. My next child was born Jordan. And the youngest in the U.S.

COSTELLO: What can you say to the American people?

SAMER: If you left the country and the war, you are only seeking safety. You don't want anything to do with war and terrorism. If what you want is terror, then your country which is at war is the perfect ground for you.

COSTELLO: Still, Samer's family yearns to go home, but they can't. There is no home in Syria anymore. So like many refugees before them, they're working to create their own American dream.


HOWELL: My colleague Carol Costello reporting there. Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, Donald Trump has had an incredibly busy week as president of the United States engaging with world leaders. Up next, details on his discussion with the British Prime Minister about the future of NATO and trade between trade and the United States.

Plus, the U.S. President says he wants better ties with Russia. What that means for his upcoming phone call with this man. Stay with us.


[04:15:54] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Richard Quest in this for the top business headlines. Theresa May and Donald Trump have discussed the next steps of a central trade deal between the United States and Great Britain. Speaking of the talks with the U.S. President at the White House, the British Prime Minister said a deal would benefit both nations.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are discussing how we can establish trade negotiation agreements, take forward immediate high level talks, lay the groundwork for U.K.-U.S. trade agreement, and identify the practical steps we can now in order to enable companies in both countries to trade and do business with one another more easily. And I'm convinced that a trade deal between the U.S. and the U.K. is in the national interest of both countries and will cement the crucial relationship as it exists between us particularly as the U.K. leaves the European Union and reaches out to the world.


QUEST: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke to Mr. Trump the day after cancelling his visit to Washington. The two presidents discuss trade in two countries for more than an hour. But Mexico and the U.S. described the talks as constructive.

The U.S. is in another year of sluggish growth. The annual GDP for last year came in at 1.6 percent according to (inaudible) figures as low as basic growth since 2011.

Year-to-date, where the business news headlines, I'm Richard Quest in New York.

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm George Howell. The new U.S. President, Donald Trump held his first meeting with the world leader since taking office. He hosted the British Prime Minister Theresa May, a key ally to NATO at the White House on Friday.

Mr. Trump has been critical of NATO in the past but Ms. May said that the U.S. still backs the alliance 100 percent she said.


MAY: On defense and security cooperation, we're united in our recognition of NATO as the bulwark of our collective defense. And today we've reaffirmed our unshakeable commitment to this alliance. Mr. President, I think you said, you confirmed that you're 100 behind NATO. But we're also discussion the importance of NATO continuing to ensure it is as equipped to fight terrorism and cyber warfare as it is to fight more conventional forms of war.


HOWELL: Mr. Trump also spoke with the President of Mexico on Friday, a day after Enrique Pena Nieto canceled his trip to Washington. The U.S. President had spoke with the Mexican leader by phone and claim that it was, "a very warm conversation." That despite Mr. Trump's harsh rhetoric about Mexican immigrants and a proposed border on the southern part of the United States between these countries.

Both governments say the leaders agreed to work out their difference over that wall that Donald Trump wants to build and Mexico claims they decided not to discuss the dispute further in public. The president talks with the leaders of Mexico and the United Kingdom came just the day ahead of his planned call with the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For more on this story, let's go to my colleague, Ivan Watson live in Moscow within this hour. Ivan, it's good to have you. So, the Kremlin has really played down the significance of this call calling it really more proper protocol than looking for any major significant changes. Donald Trump also saying today that it could be too early to talk about sanctions. What more do we know about this phone call?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as we know, this will be the first direct encounter between the two presidents since Donald Trump was inaugurated. So there are a lot of questions about where things could go since, of course, Trump has made it clear that he's interested in cooperating with Russia on issues like fighting terror, on issues like fighting ISIS.

And, of course, he was asked about this at the press conference with the British Prime Minister on Friday in Washington. And here's a taste of what he had to say at that press conference.


[04:20:01] TRUMP: As far as again Putin and Russia, I don't say good, bad or indifferent. I don't know the gentleman. I hope we have a fantastic relationship, that's possible. And it's also possible that we won't. I've had many times where I thought I'd get along with people and I don't like them at all. And I've had somewhere I didn't think I was going to have much of a relationship and it turned out to be a great relationship.


WATSON: He was asked whether or not he would consider lifting sanctions against Russia and Donald Trump said it was too early to start talking about that the spokesman for the Kremlin was also asked about that. And he said that it was unlikely that issues like sanctions or even the conflict in Ukraine would be discussed in this basically introductory phone call between the two presidents. George?

HOWELL: Ivan, when it comes to lifting sanctions, though, the Russian economy has been suffering for several years, how important would it be for that nation to see these sanctions lifted?

WATSON: It would be a very symbolic move in large part. There -- we have to point out that there are several levels of U.S. sanctions against Russia going back years now. It would be a symbolic move and probably welcomed, of course, by the Kremlin and it would also be a sign if this were to happen of the U.S. diverging from Europe, which has also imposed parallel sanctions against Moscow.

At that press conference, it's important to note that the British Prime Minister made it clear that the United Kingdom is not going to be lifting sanctions against Russia until certain steps are made in the Ukrainian peace process, the so-called a Minsk accords. She made that very clear. And that is a point that Donald Trump at least at the press conference seemed to at least passively agree with. George.

HOWELL: Ivan Watson, live for us in Moscow. Ivan, thank you so much for your reporting.

Again, Mr. Trump has spoken to several leaders for more on his meetings. Let's bring in CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott. He's live at London. Mr. Trump has spoken to several leaders Eugene. So, let's first talk about Mr. Trump's conversation with the British Prime Minister. He had a lot to accomplish in this meeting with the U.S. president, from reassuring but there is a strong relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, also reaffirming that the two nations are solidly in support of NATO. How is her meeting being received across the pond (ph).

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it depends on who you are speaking with. There are certainly people who are hoping some that the prime minister focuses on establishing the best trade relationship with the United States moving forward for the time being when the United Kingdom is no longer a part of the European Union. But there are also people here affiliated with the Labor Party who would hope that the Prime Minister would be more aggressive with the president on issues related to climate change, some of these past comments on women and torture.

HOWELL: On that topic of torture, one of the topics that these two leaders do not see eye-to-eye on, the president said that he is -- this defense secretary would be able to override him on that. The British Prime Minister though actually chimed in to say though it is OK for these two leaders to disagree and still maintain a strong relationship.

SCOTT: Yes, that is true, as we know many heads of state disagree. But the United States and the United Kingdom, as has been emphasized repeatedly throughout the past several days are joining forces and have joined forces when it comes to National Security and defeating terrorism globally. And so that's why this issue receives so much special attention from both sides of the pond.

HOWELL: Donald Trump also has been invited to visit the United Kingdom. What more do we know about this visit?

SCOTT: Well, we do know that the queen extended in the invitation and the president and the first lady accept it. We do know what will happen later this year, details have not yet been finalize. Donald Trump was very enthusiastic about the invitation. He told the media that his mother who was born in Scotland was a "big fan of the queen." And he also expressed gratitude because despite at least more than 10 presidents who have been in office since the queen's reign only about half of them have actually received the invitations to visit Buckingham Palace.

And so, this is something that the president is taking as something, a unique invitation for him that perhaps seem somewhat seems affirming.

HOWELL: Eugene, I'd also like to ask you about the upcoming call between the president of the United States and the Russian president. President Donald Trump saying that he would like a closer relationship with Russia when it comes to fighting terrorism, when it comes to fighting ISIS, but Eugene, look, over the past when you talked about Russia's involvement in Syria, it has been to back the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and focusing in on many of the cities like Aleppo. [04:25:09] Russia has been criticized for many civilian casualties. The United States has been focusing on other aspects in Syria. Would it -- the conflict for the United States working closer together with Russia on the issue of terrorism?

SCOTT: Yes, it's worth noting that almost every United States president has won a more positive and closer relationship with Russia. But fundamentally and ideologically, the two countries see things very differently. And these are the words that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. And so, whether or not that will actually be able to happen remains to be seen.

It's also worth mentioning that many Republican lawmakers for -- who are -- and obviously Donald Trump's party have gone -- come forward to say that Russia is one of the United States biggest foreign policy enemies, when it comes to defeating terrorism and addressing international affairs. And so, how Donald Trump will go about forming this closer tie that many people before him were not able to do, it's not quite clear yet.

HOWELL: The world will be watching closely for the take always from this upcoming phone call between these two presidents of superpowers. Eugene, thank you so much for your time.

SCOTT: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on CNN News. Thousands of people gather in Washington, D.C. to rally against abortions and in his first major appearance as vice president, we hear what Mike Pence had to say at this event.

We are live from Atlanta broadcasting to our viewers here in the United States and around the world at this hour. You are watching CNN "Newsroom."


[04:30:09] HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN "Newsroom." It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this

President Donald Trump is tightening U.S. borders in a move he says is necessary to keep out for Islamic terrorists. He signed an executive order barring anyone from seven predominantly Muslim nations for entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also prevents Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely.

President Trump also told Britain's Prime Minister that Brexit will be good for the U.K. allowing it to do its own deals. His comments came during Theresa May's visit to the White House Friday. Mr. Trump said that he was "honored" to host her and predicted that they will build a strong partnership together.

Serena and Venus Williams are playing for the Australian open title right now. Serena won the first set and they're fighting it out for the second set. If Serena can pull it off, it will give her 23 grand slam titles, a new open air record.

Two time Oscar nominee John Hurt has died. The British actor performed for six decades in movies and on television. His credits include "Alien" "Midnight Express", "The Elephant Man", "1984", and the first to "Harry Potter" movies. John Hurt was 77 years old.

Fair to say it has been a very busy week for the new U.S. President Donald Trump. He signed several executive actions related to his campaign promises. Keep up, here's a quick look at what he's done. There was Friday's executive order on new vetting measures to "keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the U.S." He also checked off perhaps his biggest pledge to all to directing the government to start using federal resource to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall. He ordered more border control forces and an increase in deportations of undocumented immigrants.

He also signed actions to revive the Keystone X.L. and Dakota excess pipelines. Mr. Trump also effectively torpedoed the Transpacific Partnership, TPP, by ordering the U.S. to withdraw. An hours after his inauguration, he signed an executive order aimed at loosening the governments implementation of the Affordable Care Act, even though that law still remains on the books.

President Trump's executive order that limits the flow of refugees in the country is among the most controversial. The leader of one humanitarian group says it will hinder thousands of innocent people trying to flee war and persecution in their own home countries.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: America is no safer than it was 24 hours ago, but 60,000 people who have been through the vetting process around the world, victims of terror around the world, aren't going to be able to come here. What's more America's reputation as a humanitarian leader has been lost and propaganda gift for those extremist whom to say America doesn't want Muslims to come here.

So, I think this is a dangerous day really, a hasty and harmful set of tradition -- decisions. Always remember, it's harder to get to America's refugee than through any other route at the moment. These are victims of terror who are seeking haven.

DON LEMON, "CNN TONIGHT" HOST: You say that won't make us safer. Explain to our audience why it won't make us safer, so many after watching say, you know, the people who come in and can possibly harm our country. They're looking to, you know, Sharia law and all of that and to (inaudible) and the bomb us and hurt us, they won't be getting in --


MCKENZIE: The one thing I can get on the (inaudible) and explain what the current system already is. It takes up to 36 months for a refugee to be vetted outside this country by American authorities. Twelve to 15 government departments of the U.S., including the CIA, their individual case, biometric testing that was referred to in your previous segment means America chooses the refugees who're going to come here and become productive residents and then patriotic citizens and the record of this countries of successful refugee resettlement.

Look, my organization, we work in war zones around the world delivering humanitarian aid and we resettle refugees here. And the experience that I met refugees today from Iran, from Syria, they've arrived in the last couple weeks. They're here and grateful to the chance to make a new start for themselves.


HOWELL: President Trump is also turning to a new source for his unverified claims that more than three million people voted illegally for his opponent Hillary Clinton. Our Drew Griffin has details.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPNDENT: Where does Donald Trump get his information of massive voter fraud? Not from study after study, report after report, analysis after analysis that has found no evidence. But from a non-profit group that has released no evidence. Its leading voice is the former Executive Director of the Mississippi Republican Party. He's now CEO of a Health Data Company based in Texas and a conspiracy theorist.

[04:35:05] And this morning on CNN's "New Day," Greg Philips wouldn't say what his proof actually is.


GRIFFIN: -- he said, we --


GRIFFIN: -- we know that three million illegally voted.


GRIFFIN: You did that already.

PHILLIPS: We didn't name a (inaudible). We didn't name a person.

GRIFFIN: Right. And you still have it.

PHILLIPS: But we will.

GRIFFIN: Do have you the proof?


GRIFFIN: Will you provide it?


GRIFFIN: Can I have it? PHILLIPS: No.


PHILLIPS: We're going to release everything to the public.


PHILLIPS: As soon as we get done with the checks.

GRIFFIN: President Trump apparently can't wait either. After Gregg Phillips appearance on "New Day," the president tweeted. "Look forward to seeing the final results of the VoteStand." Gregg Phillips "At least three million vote were illegal. We must do better." VoteStand is Gregg Phillips mostly empty app site, with no proof of everything. It's affiliated with through to vote, a non-profit that raised a million dollars in 2014 according to its latest tax filing, paid half of that amount in salaries including $120,000 to its director Catherine Engelbrecht, who raises money by hiring private fund raisers and posting frightening but vague YouTube posts like this.

CATHERINE ENGELRECHT, VOTER ACTIVIST: Is election fraud a real problem? Yes. How bad is it? Well, we have over 800 convictions listed in our online election crimes database. But that number does not scratch the surface. Because for every case of fraud that's actually run through the multi-year gauntlet of litigation, it's generally necessary to get a conviction, another hundred cases are never prosecuted at all.

PHILLIPS: How does she know that? Good question. Here are the facts. There is no proof of widespread voter fraud in the United States. In study after study, Republican-led, Democratic-led, independent-led, academic led, going back years and years, no one has been able to prove there is systemic vote fraud in U.S. elections. And we've been down this road before.

In 2002, Republican President George Bush with his Republican Attorney General John Ashcroft watched the ballot access and voting integrity initiative, to crack down on election crimes including voter fraud. After six years, the total number of people convicted for voter fraud, less than 150. A Rutgers professor who analyzed data from the initiative concluded the percentage of illegal votes was statistically zero.

And as for the elected secretaries of state who actually run elections in their states, not one Republican or Democrat has voiced any concern about massive voter fraud in the November 8th election, prompting the National Association of Secretaries of State to say, "We are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump."

Apparently all of that is not enough evidence for the President, despite no evidence, despite many Republicans saying there is no evidence, the President has tweeted he will call for a major investigation into voter fraud. Drew griffin, CNN, Atlanta. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Drew Griffin, thank you.

Thousands of demonstrators stood against abortion at the annual march for life in Washington. The rally is held each year around the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision making abortions legal. The Vice President of the United States Mike Pence made his first appearance in front of those crowds. As Vice President, he promised to work on ending federal funding for organizations that perform abortions and assure the activists there, that their movement is gaining ground.


MIKE PENCE, (R) U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Because of all of you, and the many thousands who stand with us in marches like this all across the nation, life is winning again in America.

It is no more evident in anyway than in the historic election of a president who stands for a stronger America, a more prosperous America, and a president who I proudly say stands for the right to life President Donald Trump.


HOWELL: The Vice President there also vowed to help the president appoint a new Supreme Court justice who opposes abortion.

This is CNN "Newsroom." And still ahead 2017 is the year of the rooster. Coming up how Asian cultures around the world are celebrating the lunar New Year. Stay with us.


[04:42:48] HOWELL: It's a sad news to share with you. Veteran British actor John Hurt has died. He played one Garrick Ollivander in the first two Harry Potter movies. Hurt became a prominent film actor in the 1960s cited for a breakout role for a "Man for All Seasons." Among his extensive movie and T.V. credits were the "Elephant Man, " "Midnight Express," "1984", "Alien" and "Indiana Jones," other with numerous awards of his long career. Hurt was knighted in 2015. No specific reason was disclosed for his death, John Hurt was 77-years- old.

Switching now to weather, several recent storms are paying off for residents in the state of California, who had been suffering under an extreme drought now for a couple of years. Our meteorologist Julie Martin is here with more on that. We have been talking about Julie about that drought for some time --


HOWELL: -- this rain is been really helping.

MARTIN: Yeah the drought has been going on now since 2014. It's still technically in effect (ph). The governor the not saying, hey, we're out of the drought completely. So you have to follow those restrictions, but this has helped out millions of folks in California. Let's take a look at those storms that brought in all of that rain now, for the first time in three years, that worst category of drought is gone in California.

It has taken this much rain though. I'll take you out to the maps here. Where you see all of the pink and the red on the maps, places like Los Angeles, they have actually picked up seven to eight inches of rain. Just to give you some perspective, they only usually get about 14 inches of rain a year in Los Angeles.

So this has been a tremendous help to the people here in California. This plume of moisture just storm after storm bringing heavy rain, snow to the sierra, which was really lacking in terms of the snow pack. And of course, that's where the water supply comes from in California. So that's going to be very beneficial as we do move forward, taking a look here at the numbers, though, exceptional drought as of January 17th rather, two percent.

What a difference a week makes, down to zero percent just one week later, thanks to those storms. And we are going to be looking even better, actually, as we move through the next couple of weeks.

[04:45:05] Take a look at those pictures, though this colors really tells the story back in December, a latter right here on map. We will be going to eating away a little bit at January 3rd.

And now, most of the state still in some drought but looking much, much better in terms of the worst of it. So that is some good news. 238,000 square kilometers of drought pack in December and now we are down to much less than that.

In terms of that snow depth as well, 68 feet here, very common in the sierra, some places picking up as much as 20 feet of snow, Mammoth Mountain. So that is certainly going to filter into the water supply over the coming weeks and that's going help out folks tremendously.

Future radar not showing any more rain coming in for now in California. You could see a little bit more coming in next week. But for right now we are going to be dealing with Santa Ana wind kicking up this morning. Since you're waking up, I want to aware of that Ventura, Los Angeles counties; all will be experiencing impacts wind and gust in excess of 60 miles per hour across, George, gusting across places like Los Angeles for the morning.

HOWELL: Wow, Julie Martin, thank you so much. Well, millions of people around the world are spending the next couple of weeks celebrating the lunar New Year. Beijing started off the year of the rooster with fire work at midnight. Wow, look at that. Again it's first day of the New Year good year. Our David McKenzie is following this story live in the Chinese capitol. David, glad to have you with us. So, look we've heard about fireworks celebrations from New York to Beijing, all around the world. What is the significance of the year of the rooster? DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the year of the rooster means we are entering the zodiac symbol for those people born in this year. They come around every 12 years. If you are a rooster, meaning you are born in the year of the rooster, then you are punctual, popular, and generally well liked. It's a good zodiac sign from the Chinese perspective.

You know, you mention those fireworks. It's a bit different than fireworks you might see in other capitals around the world. Because many of those you see on those images are led off by private citizens. You can go to a place to get fireworks from a stand off the side of the street and let off these industrial amazing fireworks.

I remember when I first moved to Beijing, they were bursting right outside our apartment window. Not as much worry about safety here on that front. They have been trying to curve the fireworks because of the pollution in Beijing, but that certainly didn't seem to stop people. This thing everyone does is to get around the T. V. and watch this gala show, the CCTV, state medias spectacular last more than four hours; it's a mix of dancing, singing, and Chinese comedy. People kind of love to hate it at times but it is definitely a tradition they have more than 700 million tune in, in China alone, kind of making the super bowl not exactly a big draw, George.

HOWELL: All right, David well, look, so with the New Year comes new uncertainty, there is a new president of the United States. A quick question, how is China feeling moving into this New Year?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think everyone, every ordinary Chinese just celebrated the New Year. But in the official halls of power here, there is nervousness. I've spoken to academics who been part of those government meeting ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration. They are concerned about what might happen next. During the Trump campaign he certainly was forthright about his anger at China and his perceived trade issues with the Chinese-U.S. trade relationship.

That is something not shared, of course, by Chinese economists and leaders here. They are asking President Trump to exercise caution and not to start a trade war. The ministry of foreign affairs is generally closed at this time of year, but I can promise you, there are officials waiting to see what might happen next.

HOWELL: David McKenzie, live of course in Beijing. David, thank you so much. All right, so the word Begley or big league, whatever the word is, it is back. The word that President Trump never actually said that comes back to haunt in just at the same time.


[04:46:48] PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS: Hi there I'm Patrick Snell with the CNN world sport headline. You know, the English F. A. Cup is not just the oldest football completion of them all. It's all traditionally fame for join killing upsets and intense local rivalries, too.

On Friday, a pair of East midland foes going head to head as second to Derby County hosting Leicester. And the Rams look like they're going to pull up the upset of the holding two-one lead until four minutes of time.

And that's when Leicester skipper Wes Morgan spared the team blushes (inaudible). They head to replay the king power.

Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger close his fate after last weekend's confrontation with a fourth official in the closing stages of the governor's (inaudible) win over Burnley. The Frenchman handed a full max touch line ban and given a $30,000 fine this after admitting an English F.A. charge of misconduct. It had been alleged the 67-years- old Wenger verbally abused and made physically contact with the official in question, after he standing up the ban starts with immediate effect.

Tiger Woods (inaudible) first start from the official PGA tour event since August 2015. We'll have to wait after (inaudible) to 76. This week's Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. Woods following up with a level part 72 in round two. That means he's cut from the tournament and in his first start of the year after landing at four over. That's world sport headlines, I'm Patrick Snell.

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN "Newsroom" 'm George Howell. The most that famous sisters in tennis, Venus and Serena Williams squaring off in the Australian open final right now. Serena the number two player in the world took the first set as she seeks her record 23rd major title. But she probably didn't expect to be playing her sister, who is currently ranked number 17 in the world. Even more surprising, Sunday's men's final, fierce rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will battle for grand slam title for the ninth time.

Both were thought to be past their glory days. This will be their first meeting at a tennis match since the French open in 2011.

So words have meaning, especially when they're uttered by the president of the United States. Right now we are putting the rest to a debate something Mr. Trump has said on the campaign trail several times and here's a hint. It's big. Jeanne Moos has the story for us.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First President Trump gallon is pulled out the chair for the CEO of General Motors. Then he dropped B word.

DONALD TRUMP, USA ORESIDENT: It's happening; it's happening bigly.

MOOS: Not once but twice.

TRUMP: We're bringing manufacturing back to the United States bigly.

MOOS: Inspiring U. S. news and world report and others to report Trump pushes for big league manufacturing revival. But it was also the revival of bigly, a word often attributed to Trump during the campaign.

TRUMP: I'm going to cut taxes big league and you are going to raise taxes big league.

And we have to solve it big league and strongly. And that what's happen big league.

MOOS: What did he say? What we need is an acoustic wave form and spectra graphic analysis. Actually a linguist of the University of California Berkley did those tests to determine that Trump was saying --

[04:55:07] TRUMP: Big league, bigly.

MOOS: Big league, not bigly. Though bigly is in the dictionary, bigly, bigly, an ad verb meaning in a big manner.

TRUMP: We're going to win bigly.

MOOS: Kill the mockery, win bigly, good grief. We will make America win bigly and grammar loses goodly. Make America bigly again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bigly wrong (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not funny, bigly, not funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is going to start winning and winning bigly.

MOOS: But bigly began losing when an interviewer asks the Donald himself, what he been saying?

TRUMP: I use big league.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was right. Big league, you settled it.


MOOS: But that didn't stop Merriam-Webster from honoring bigly is the most with the most looked up word that was never actually used in 2016. Now President Trump is not using it again.

TRUMP: It's happening bigly.

MOOS: The good the bad and the bigly even made it on to a T-shirt, we need to cut bigly down to size.

TRUMP: Cut taxes bigly

MOOS: Jeanne Moss, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you just say bigly?

TRUMP: That's right.

MOOS: New York.



HOWELL: Thank you for being with us for this hour of CNN "Newsroom." I'm George Howell at the CNN News Center in Atlanta. Another hour of news around the world is ahead, big league, stay with us.