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Water Main Break at JFK Shuts Down International Flights; Sessions' Decision Sparks Confusion on Marijuana; Legal Marijuana: Colorado Governor on What's Next; First Cross-Border Talks in Korea Set for Tuesday. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 7, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:00] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But if an official vehicle of any sort were to be in the air, that would be the only air traffic you'll see because the FAA has instituted flight restrictions for this air space and the area.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
HARTUNG: And of course you can't forget activity on the ground like bomb-sniffing dogs or even robots that could investigate any suspicious packages that are found, Ana. A lot of moving pieces here and a lot of moving people on the ground tomorrow.
CABRERA: Kaylee Hartung, in Atlanta, thank you.
Top of the hour, you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Glad to have you with us.
People close to the president this weekend are safe to say not big fans of the new book that describes the Oval Office as out of control, the president as mentally unstable, and an inner circle that supposedly talks about the mechanism that could be invoked to remove the president from office.
I'm talking of course about "Fire and Fury" by Michael Wolff. President Trump's legal team tried and failed to block this book from either being released. One of the White House's senior policy advisers was on CNN earlier today, shredding the book, and describing the man who wrote it as garbage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: The book is best understood as a work of very poorly written fiction. And I also will say that the author is a garbage author of a garbage book. And the tragic thing about this book, and there are many things about it that are unfortunate, but the portrayal of the president in the book is so contrary to reality, to the experience of those who work with him, to my own experience having spent the last two years with him.
You know, on the campaign, I had a chance to travel all across the country with the president on Trump Force Once, it would be the president, me, Dan Scavino, Hope Hicks, a few other people. Going from rally to rally to rally to rally. And I saw a man who was a political genius.
The allegations and insinuations in this book, which are a pure work of fiction, are nothing but a pile of trash through and through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us from the White House now.
Boris, we don't expect Stephen Miller to have anything nice to say about this book. But after that interview aired we received a statement from Steve Bannon, the president's one-time closest adviser who has evidently fallen from grace. What is he saying today?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana. Yes. It's actually the first time that we've heard from Steve Bannon since excerpts from "Fire and Fury" were released that were really explosive and drew into question Steve Bannon's relationship with not only the president but also the first family as well.
Today Steve Bannon put out this statement essentially apologizing for the delay in taking so long to respond to those excerpts, what he calls inaccurate reporting in the book, specifically one section in which he is quoted as having called the meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian nationals at Trump Tower back in June of 2016, not only unpatriotic but also treasonous.
In the statement today Steve Bannon says that he was directing those comments not at Donald Trump Jr., who he calls patriotic, but rather at Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman who he says should have known better than to have taken that meeting with Russians.
We should point out, though, there is a long trail of e-mails that indicate that it was actually Donald Trump Jr. that not only brokered that meeting with Russian nationals but then also looped in Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. And there's even an e-mail that indicates that he said that he loved the idea of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton which these Russian nationals were providing.
Beyond all of that, perhaps the most fascinating part of this statement from Steve Bannon is the portion in which he seems to extend an olive branch to the president saying that Donald Trump took down Hillary Clinton. He was the only candidate who could have done it. And then he also touts his own abilities as a messenger for the president saying that he's gone as far as Tokyo and Hong Kong to spread the president's words.
Beyond that, though, we have to look at the circumstances surrounding Steve Bannon. You not only have the president's surrogates sending negative messages about the former White House chief strategist but also the president himself attacking him as "Sloppy Steve."
SANCHEZ: And Steve Bannon's biggest financial backer, Rebekah Mercer, this week making comments, putting space between herself and the Breitbart CEO saying that they hadn't spoken in months. So you get the sense that Steve Bannon perhaps feels that his influence is waning and this statement possibly is a way to get in the president's good graces and potentially save his political career -- Ana.
CABRERA: Will it work is yet to be seen.
Boris, the president's own response has been to defend himself against the accusations made in the book that he calls phony and boring. He has tweeted how stable he is, how much of a genius he is, never mind the weekend gathering at Camp David, that was supposed to be all about the political agenda for the upcoming year. Do people at the White House feel this book is distracting the president?
[18:05:06] SANCHEZ: Certainly not. They feel that the media is driving questions about this book and therefore forcing the president to respond to questions about his mental fitness. He did make news this week not only on immigration but also on North Korea and potentially the next steps for the 2018 agenda but what has drawn the most attention is this conversation about the president's mental state and it really isn't a new one.
If you go back several months, there were conversations led by Steve Bannon about potentially invoking the 25th Amendment to get the president out of the White House. And beyond that there were even some dozen lawmakers that were briefed by Yale psychiatrist last month on the president's mental state. So it's not exactly as if this is a new narrative but it's clear that the president has taken the statements in this book. Many of them coming from members of his own administration personally.
CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez, at the White House, thanks.
Let's bring in our panel. CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter and CNN political analyst, Patrick Healy. He is also deputy culture editor at the "New York Times."
OK, so, Bannon has been filing for days, guys, not denying any of these direct quotes in "Fire and Fury" that have caused such an uproar, political firestorm of sorts, and now we have this rather bizarre about-face trying to say he was just criticizing Paul Manafort, not the Trump family members.
Brian, what do you make of it?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He's really apologizing, not -- he's saying he's regretful about the Don Jr. comments and he's trying to pledge allegiance to Trump the same way Stephen Miller was trying to do that on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning.
I think it's notable that Bannon is not walking back his comments about Jared, he's not walking his comments back about Ivanka. Most of what's in the book he's not even trying to challenge. He's not saying he was misquote. He's saying maybe it was taken out of context a couple of times. But what's notable to me is Bannon is actually really not taking it back. I mean, yes, he's saying he regrets some of it, he's saying he thinks President Trump is the greatest but he's really not --
CABRERA: Right. He's doubling down on (INAUDIBLE) all of a sudden.
STELTER: Right. Right. But he's not taking back the harsh, harsh comments about Jared and Ivanka who it's well known he was kind of on the opposite side of many arguments with them. This book essentially says according to Bannon, the Trump presidency didn't work out and it's over and it finished. And there's a good chance Robert Mueller is going to catch and indict him. That's what the book says and Bannon is not refuting that.
CABRERA: Let's listen to what senior policy adviser Stephen Miller had to say about Bannon today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: It's tragic and unfortunate that Steve would make these grotesque comments so out of touch with reality and obviously so vindictive and the whole White House staff is deeply disappointed in his comments which were grotesque.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Patrick, is it possible for the president and Bannon to make up after all of this?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's probably a stretch. I mean, Donald Trump has a pretty long memory, long enemy's list as he's talked about him. And there are people who basically have crossed him and he's never reconciled with them. The first line of Steve Bannon's apology today mentioned Don Jr. I mean, it was very specific. It wasn't apologizing as President Trump but in focusing on Don Jr. and calling him a patriot and a good man, he was trying to certainly send a signal to President Trump and the Trump family.
But, look, right now, Steve Bannon is also trying to save himself and the media empire that he has built.
HEALY: He's seen one of his major patrons, the Mercer family, withdraw from him. He had grand plans of running all of these Republican insurgents against incumbents this year.
CABRERA: Now we're seeing a lot of those candidates who were supposed to be challenging some of these establishment Republicans in primaries.
CABRERA: Now try to kind of distance themselves from Bannon.
HEALY: Backing off. So right now, I mean, I think you're seeing frankly a lot of spin in this very long statement from Steve Bannon, really focusing on Don Jr. because that, again, goes to the heart of what bothers President Trump so much, which is the sense of collusion by the campaign with the Russians and it's Don Jr. that Steve Bannon was saying very memorably.
HEALY: You know, he was going to be cracked like an egg over this Russian meeting.
STELTER: So I wonder who's laughing? I think Vladimir Putin is laughing.
STELTER: Because here we are, more than a year after the election, there are still infighting, there are still this feud going on. Denials about what Russia really did in the election. And now we're closer to the midterms which are likely going to be targeted by the Russians, than we are to the 2016 election.
CABRERA: And Brian, what about Breitbart, Steve Bannon's day job? Does this statement today help him keep his job there because of the pressure building for him to be fired?
STELTER: I think TBD, to be determined. It's too soon to tell for sure. Certainly as of the last few days Bannon is still a part of Breitbart, but there's been questions about whether he's going to last there or not.
Breitbart like other pro-Trump news outlet, you know, it depends on that kind of daily reliable support of the president. And if they had to choose sides, so far we've seen them choose Trump's side.
HEALY: And Bannon was trying to get bigger than Breitbart. Right? Then even talked about --
STELTER: Right. Right.
HEALY: -- running for president potentially.
CABRERA: Right. He was going to trying to get bigger than the president himself.
HEALY: Very much building that political agenda.
[18:10:03] STELTER: Well, that's what he believes. He believes that Trump is just an imperfect vessel for a much more important movement, what Wolff calls a revolution. And didn't work out with Trump for Bannon, so he'll try to find other candidates. But will other candidates want to work with him, is the question.
CABRERA: You know, the White House has now been trying to distance itself or downplay Bannon's role within the administration, within the campaign. I mean, watch Sarah Sanders what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not aware that they were ever particularly close. I would certainly say that they've spoken a few times since he left the White House but it's not like there were regularly scheduled calls or -- and certainly no meetings between the two of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And yet here's the president on Bannon back in October.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I have a very good relationship as you know with Steve Bannon. Steve has been a friend of mine for a long time. I like Steve a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: OK, so, Patrick, which is it?
HEALY: They were close. I mean, and Steve Bannon, when he came in, in the summer of 2016, he righted the campaign in so many ways, especially in terms of messaging. Steve Bannon's base essentially became very much Donald Trump's base. I mean, there was a lot of overlap to begin with. But Steve Bannon very much said doubling down on the nationalist sort of angry message that we heard at the Republican convention and we heard through the debates, you know, against Hillary Clinton, the lock her up, sort of, fire was very much came from Steve Bannon.
And Sarah Sanders and Stephen Miller are just defying reality. They know better than even the three of us sitting up there --
STELTER: They were there.
HEALY: -- how close they -- they were there, and how close President Trump was. And President Trump very much relies on a certain tight knit set of advisers who he believes can help just as he did with "The Apprentice" on NBC, people he feels like understands his cultural connection to the rest of the country and Steve Bannon was first among equals.
CABRERA: And Brian, you touched on this earlier, but we're learning from Boris that he is hearing that now Trump and his team are actually making calls to some of these supporters of his, saying you're either with me or you're with Bannon, which one are you going to pick, that everybody is picking the president. I mean, does Bannon have influence? Is there Bannonism anymore for 2018 moving forward?
STELTER: I think the Stephen Miller interview, his appearance, his performance on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning was an example of having to choose sides, being -- whether he was told to do it or not, choosing between Bannon and Trump and clearly choosing Trump. That interview today, if we can call it that, it was a Trump pledge of allegiance. It was Stephen Miller desperately playing to Donald Trump's ego, trying to appease the president. It's not what you expect from White House officials. I think the
public deserves better than that kind of interview today but it is an example of the choosing, Bannon or Trump, Bannon or Trump, and almost everybody so far publicly has chosen President Trump. Even if -- even if they have concerns privately. I mean, look, Wolff's book yes, it had some errors but a lot of it has also been corroborated, a lot of it rings true, according to Trump experts.
Wolff's book says 100 percent of the people around Donald Trump don't think he's capable of being president and that included Steve Bannon.
CABRERA: Patrick --
STELTER: So Stephen Miller may say on the record, he may praise President Trump on the record. We don't know what these folks are saying privately to reporters off the record.
CABRERA: Patrick, before I let you go, because I have you here, you guys, your team at the "New York Times" broke the Harvey Weinstein story.
CABRERA: And of course today is the Golden Globes and a lot of people are looking to see how the show is handled in light of all these sexual harassment, sexual assault allegations that had hit Hollywood hard this year. What will you be watching?
HEALY: Right. I mean, the "New York Times" is on the red carpet right now and we'll be covering it closely at NYTimes.com.
HEALY: And we're going to be watching, this is the first time that Hollywood is convening, you know, since the Weinstein story broke. Harvey Weinstein created essentially the red carpet. He created campaigning for Golden Globes, for Oscars. He created this system. And the question is there are a lot of actresses, actors who are wearing black tonight. They are Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, several other actresses --
CABRERA: By the way, these are live pictures from the red carpet wearing black.
HEALY: They are bringing harassment -- women who suffer from sexual harassment advocates as their guests to the Golden Globes but the big question I think for a lot of people is, you know, does sort of the pageantry, does the way Hollywood likes to rah-rah itself, and does essentially the silence that really followed for years a lot of these predators who had been in the spotlight, been on the red carpet, there had been rumors about them and fears, and should that continue?
CABRERA: Right. HEALY: Should that sort of celebratory atmosphere continue? And what
is going to change a year from now? Really is this just a political message, you know, on the carpet right now or is there anything that's going to change? The "Times" has this great ad that's going to be in first half hour of the show that I think really sort of powerfully gets that, actually the sort of the coverage, and why frankly the attention needs to continue.
CABRERA: Well, Patrick Healy and Brian Stelter, thank you both for being here.
As always, don't forget Brian Stelter's show on Sundays at 11:00 a.m., it's "RELIABLE SOURCES."
OK, with a growing list of foreign policy challenges for this president, we will show you how the world is now responding to these new questions surrounding his mental fitness after the release of the "Fire and Fury" book.
[18:15:06] And we'll discuss whether the president's response is giving it more fuel, next.
CABRERA: A day after the president declared that his two greatest assets are his, quote, "mental stability" and being "like really smart," the world is reacting. From headlines in Spain declaring that the biggest risk for 2018 is Trump, to Germany's biggest newspaper referring to the Trump White House as a cage full of fools.
There's no doubt this bombshell book that has the president defending his mental fitness is also making waves far beyond the United States.
Joining us now, CNN political analyst and national security correspondent for the "New York Times" David Sanger and White House reporter for the "Washington Post," David Nakamura.
So, David Nakamura, I'll start with you. Would the rest of the world even be paying attention to this book if the president hadn't come out so forcefully against it?
DAVID NAKAMURA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: I think they might have been paying attention but certainly this president, as he wants to do, has amplified the attention on it and as Michael -- author Michael Wolff has been making rounds, he said, look, the president is sort of validating what I wrote, that he's unfit for office, that he, you know, flies off the handle, that he's unpredictable. And that he sort of reacts emotionally.
Those are things, though, that I think foreign leaders and foreign governments have come to know already in the first year. You know, I remember when the Japanese prime minister was coming, the Japanese diplomats were doing a psychological evaluation of Trump through sort of public records, anything they could get their hands on, and books. They told me this was way back in February. So that's not unusual. You know, Trump made some news yesterday that was overshadowed by his
own talk in defense of his own mental fitness, when he said that he would be open to talks with Kim Jong-un, which was, you know, sort of a big -- any other president saying that would be big and news worthy and we certainly wrote about it, but it was overshadowed and it's not clear because he had --
NAKAMURA: In the past said he's not open to such talks. So he's being unpredictable once again.
CABRERA: David Sanger, it's not just the president, though, and his team, who've had to answer questions about this book. Take a listen to British Prime Minister Theresa May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[18:20:07] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In the States there are quite there are quite serious questions being raised by some people about his mental state. Do you think they are serious?
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As I say, when I deal with President Trump, what I see is somebody who is committed to ensuring that he is taking decisions in the best interest of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: How awkward is this for our allies?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's awkward because, Ana, there is a disconnect between the seriousness of the problems we're beginning to face around the world, particularly in this coming year, and the increasing concerns that you're hearing about the president and the allies are trying to figure out how do you work out both sides of this equation.
And Korea, as David mentioned before, is perhaps the prime example. You have North-South talks that are going to begin later this week but we also know that we're within months probably of the big decision points about whether or not diplomacy can resolve the nuclear crisis or whether we may be tempted to go off into some kind of covert or military action. And that's when foreign leaders get particularly nervous because they don't understand the clear policy path.
They don't understand what benchmarks the president has got to pass. Other presidents might lay these out fairly quickly, fairly clearly. President Trump, of course, says that he values unpredictability. Now unpredictability is a great thing when you're dealing with your adversaries. It's a pretty damaging thing when you're dealing with your allies. And that I think is the core problem here.
CABRERA: David Nakamura, you both have talked about this phone call potentially with North Korea, that the president of the United States said he would be willing to have, and I want to talk about that in just a moment. But first, going back to the domestic policy end, what the president was supposed to be doing this weekend, I mean, he's coming off a huge year, win at the end of the year at least on tax reform. But with this book, it's already proving a distraction.
How do you think that's going to affect his chances to get, for example, a DACA deal done, that includes this $18 billion border wall, David Nakamura?
NAKAMURA: Right. It was such an awkward scene yesterday because he's at Camp David with the Republican leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and others, along with his Cabinet, Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson, were there. And they were there to talk about that agenda as you mentioned. And instead these, you know, Republican leaders are standing behind him while he's defending himself and calling himself smart and attacking Michael Wolff.
And, you know, the question on something like DACA is really interesting because Steve Bannon is one of those folks, as is Stephen Miller in the White House, who has pushed a harder line on immigration as we know. And whether that somehow, you know, sort of isolates Bannon and Bannon doesn't talk to Trump and get in his ear, we know that Trump tends to take in a lot of people through phone calls and tends to sort of sometimes come away, you know, with the last argument he's heard of.
He's not talking to Bannon, could that affect it? Maybe. The bigger question, I think, is he on the same page and pushing forward as the president can to give cover to Republicans who may want to support some sort of DACA deal?
What people don't really seem to know is where does he really stand on getting this done. And he talked about this border wall which Democrats are lining up against. How much is Trump going to fight for that? How much is he going to hold the line? Does he really want a deal? It's not clear. He seems to be focused mostly on this personality dispute with his former aide.
CABRERA: Well, we did see him kind of shift and change tunes on the tax reform when it came to the corporate tax rate when everyone thought he wasn't going to give on that. And he ended up giving a little bit.
David Sanger, on this potential phone call with North Korea, how would that go between the president of the U.S. and Kim Jong-un, potentially?
SANGER: You know, it's not first time, Ana, the president has said that he would be willing to talk to Kim Jong-un. During the campaign he said he was willing to sit down and have a hamburger with him. When I interviewed him with Maggie Haberman, my colleague at the "Times" and a fellow CNN contributor for the network here, he said at that time he was willing to go talk with him.
And then of course, during the middle of 2017, we got the very fiery comments about him and the change of the name to rocket man. I think that less important than the question of will the president talk is what's our strategic objective when those sets of talks begin? Right now the position of the United States is North Korea must agree in any talks as a precondition to be giving up all of its nuclear weapons and its missiles and that's simply not going to happen.
So is the president willing to go down a partial deal? A freeze for a freeze? Is he willing to put off the question of ultimate denuclearization? His past statements have always been he was going to solve this problem.
[18:25:05] Well, if it was solvable, it probably would have been solved before he got to office as he himself has pointed out. So I'm less worried about whether or not he gets engaged in the conversation than whether or not this administration comes to a common view about what it is they would accomplish in that phone call.
CABRERA: David Sanger and David Nakamura, thank you both for your insight and thoughts.
Coming up, if frigid weather that caused massive delays at New York's JFK airport weren't enough, a water main break is now causing even more misery in one of its terminals. What a mess. You can see these pictures. We'll take you there live, next.
But first, what will Wall Street do for an encore after sending the Dow past another historic milestone?
CNN's Christine Romans shows us what to expect to drive the financial markets in this week's edition of "Before the Bell" -- Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. It was a really big week in the stock market. I mean, you had 25,000 in the Dow for the first time ever, fastest thousand points in the Dow in history. Record after record.
And you had the jobs report, which gives us a really good sense of how 2017 ended. You saw 148,000 net new jobs created in December, bringing the year to 2.05 million new jobs. That's a great performance, another good solid performance, nine years into an economic expansion.
But a little bit of a note there, it is the slowest job growth in about six years. We had some very, very good strong jobs years in the past few years. The unemployment rate is still about 4.1 percent, that's the lowest in 17 years.
Now huge corporate profits have helped drive that rally on Wall Street that's at historic levels and this week coming up, companies begin reporting earnings for the final three months of the year. Overall earnings growth for S&P 500 companies forecast at nearly 11 percent.
The new tax law of course expected to juice corporate America's bottom line even more. Bank of America predicts business tax cuts will boost earnings for S&P 500 companies by 10.5 percent in 2018.
In New York, for CNN Money, I'm Christine Romans.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:30:53] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, what a mess! The FAA says Terminal 4 at JFK Airport is closed right now following a water main break. This video showing what's happening there -- water pouring into one of the baggage holding areas in terminal four, soaking the bags that are being stored there.
Polo Sandoval is monitoring the situation at JFK. Polo, the situation doesn't sound like it's getting any better.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it seems to have gotten worse a little while ago, especially with that water main break. This is the main point, the main information the viewers need to know right now.
At this point, officials here at JFK have suspended all international flights coming into JFK's Terminal 4. That is at least until 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. tonight as they clean up this massive mess that's been left behind.
You've been showing some of these pictures here, some of the video that was captured about 1:30 Eastern Time here, showing water literally cascading down one of the interior walls, quickly filling up the arrivals hall here at Terminal 4. Not far from there, some of the customs processing centers.
I've flown into this airport from international flight. Many people have. They know that not far from where this is taking place -- where this took place is where the customs officers process some of those arrivals. So no doubt that could potentially be playing a role in why some of the international flights have been put on hold, for now, coming into.
If there is, perhaps, a silver lining here, it is that the outbound flights are still happening as scheduled according to officials. All of those departing flights out of Terminal 4, international flights, are still happening.
Also, they did at least land in -- at least about a thousand flights landed and departed earlier this morning before this mess. That is some progress after what has been a very difficult three days for folks here at JFK.
The effects of this, Ana, obviously, not going to be felt just here in Queens but beyond. This is a major airport where the main way is in or out of the country if you're flying.
So at this point, officials are scrambling to clean up the mess, assess the damage, figure out why this happened, and, of course, most importantly, try to reunite some of these people with some of their bags that have been lost now for a couple of days.
CABRERA: I feel for those travelers. Polo Sandoval, thank you, at JFK airport.
Coming up, with the Attorney General now declaring a war on marijuana, how are states like Colorado that allow the use of recreational marijuana and medicinal marijuana responding? Colorado's Governor joins us next.
[18:36:20] CABRERA: States with marijuana-friendly laws are now in a tricky position. This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era noninterference policy for states allowing sales of recreational and medicinal marijuana.
CNN's Scott McLean takes a closer look at what this means.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a family company.
ANDY WILLIAMS, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, MEDICINE MAN: It is.
MCLEAN: Nine members of your family.
WILLIAMS: Three generations.
MCLEAN: Andy Williams owns a growing marijuana enterprise, a business that exists because Colorado legalized pot and because of a handful of Obama-era memos.
WILLIAMS: I give him credit. We would not be here without President Obama right now.
MCLEAN: Pot may be legal in Colorado but federal law puts it in the same category as heroin and LSD. The Obama administration never changed the law but essentially told Colorado that it would look the other way.
But this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote his own memo to U.S. attorneys, rescinding those guidelines and putting the multibillion-dollar marijuana industry back into a legal gray area.
WILLIAMS: I had an employee come up to me today worried about her job. I have investors calling and saying, oh, what's going to happen with our investment?
MCLEAN: Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner called the news extremely alarming and accused Sessions of going back on his word. Sessions' Deputy didn't offer much clarity.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: What the Attorney General has done is simply to say that the Department of Justice has full discretion to enforce the law.
MCLEAN: Those decisions will be left to U.S. attorneys like Colorado's Bob Troyer who promised there will be no changes in enforcement.
In conservative-leaning Greeley, Colorado where marijuana dispensaries have been outlawed, Police Chief Jerry Garner is no fan of legal pot, and he likes Sessions' law and order approach. But even he is in no rush to crackdown. JERRY GARNER, CHIEF OF POLICE, GREELEY, COLORADO POLICE DEPARTMENT:
I've got other things that are more important, quite frankly, for my officers to be doing than chasing this guy down with a joint. I don't have enough time for my officers to be federal drug agents.
CYNTHIA COFFMAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF COLORADO: We didn't have any warning that it was coming.
MCLEAN: The news came out of the blue for Colorado's Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. For now, she says the status quo will remain but maybe not forever.
COFFMAN: That's true because it's not in the hands of the State Attorney General. It's in the hands of the U.S. Attorney General.
MCLEAN: She's promised to defend the growers and dispensaries that make up Colorado's marijuana industry, even in court, but she can't guarantee the outcome.
COFFMAN: These folks didn't go into business with marijuana lightly, I don't think, or without the realization that things could change. But the reality of it is still a shock.
MCLEAN: Andy Williams agrees. But despite the news, he's not bracing for impact, he's planning for expansion.
WILLIAMS: If you don't have a high-risk tolerance in this industry, you probably shouldn't be in it.
MCLEAN: McLean, CNN, Denver, Colorado.
CABRERA: I want to talk more about Jeff Sessions' decision concerning legal marijuana. And joining us now, Colorado's Governor John Hickenlooper.
Governor, good to see, and thank you for being here with us. I know you did not support legalizing marijuana for recreational use initially, but voters passed it so you accepted it. You had to move forward with regulating it. Did this latest move by Jeff Sessions come as a surprise?
GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: A little bit just because I had gone and met him last spring in Washington, and he was very direct and, I think, candid.
And he said -- I mean, his opinion was that he doesn't believe having more people consume more drug of any kind, marijuana, whatever, makes this country stronger. He thinks it makes it weaker.
And he said we have higher priorities. We've got heroin issues. We've got sex trafficking. We don't have the resources to pursue the marijuana, but I'm not going to do anything that encourages, in any way, more people to get into the marijuana industry and more people to think it's a good idea. So -- [18:40:08] CABRERA: So do you feel like you were betrayed in some way?
HICKENLOOPER: Yes. I mean, I saw Senator Gardner's comments, and he -- you know, you were led one way and then led the other. What he really said in this -- you know, last week was that the U.S. attorneys are free to go ahead and prosecute if they want to.
Our -- you know, Bob Troyer, who is the U.S. attorney in Colorado, said I've got this -- I want to go for the black markets and the gray markets and guys who are growing marijuana and shipping it out of state. The big -- the real threats.
I think that's what most of the U.S. attorneys are going to do. So I think this was a shot over the bow, but it may be -- I don't know, it may be more bark than bite is what I'm -- certainly what I'm hoping.
CABRERA: So when we look at how this has become such a huge economic boost for Colorado with the marijuana legalization, with Colorado alone selling more than a billion dollars in marijuana last year alone, do you see that at risk at all?
HICKENLOOPER: No. I mean, A, it might get -- I mean, there's going to be some more caution but I don't see it as a risk. Just to be clear, it's not a big economic boon. I mean, we're hundreds of billions of dollars, so a $1 billion addition to the economy is not that big a deal, to be blunt.
CABRERA: It helps.
HICKENLOOPER: Well, it helps but more importantly, it changes. All those same jobs of growing or procuring marijuana, packaging it, selling it, they were all done as criminals before. Now, roughly, the same jobs are done and people are paying taxes.
And that's a big difference, to get people to obey the law and to have a system where it's not common -- it's not a common activity to be criminal. And I think that's a step in the -- I mean I was against this in the beginning, but we haven't seen a big spike in teenage consumption.
We've now got tax money we use to market to teenagers to say when your brain is growing rapidly, this high TSC marijuana can take a sliver of your long-term memory everything you use it. I mean, we can really connect with kids.
CABRERA: Right, you're using that money to help educate --
CABRERA: -- to help enforce, again, more of a state security issue, as well as paying for new school construction. And so you're putting it towards education.
Let me pivot to another issue facing the country and that is, what will lawmakers do about DACA? You know, this is another area that's important to Colorado because of the Hispanic population there.
I want you to listen to Senator Tom Cotton this morning because the issue of immigration and DACA is a sticking point right now in the budget negotiations. So watch.
HICKENLOOPER: I heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: We can have a government shutdown at the end of January?
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARIZONA: I don't expect to have one. I certainly don't want to have one. But if the Democrats want to shut down the government because they can't get amnesty for illegal immigrants, then they are going to have to defend those actions to the American people.
They didn't do that last month. And I suspect they didn't do it because they know that amnesty for illegal immigrants without any real reform is not popular.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Governor, what do you say to Senator Tom Cotton or others who believe protection for Dreamers is amnesty?
HICKENLOOPER: I think they are twisting the facts. Most of these kids came when there were one or two or three or four years old. They didn't have any choice in this. They are certainly not criminals in any sense.
And most of them don't have any home to go home to, right? They never knew another life in another country, so they are a unique subsection of people that don't have the proper documentation.
To make them political pawns and part of a negotiation you give us this or else we're going to do that to these kids, it's grim. It's not the way politics -- you know, it's not the way politics is supposed to work.
CABRERA: Is it worth shutting down the government over DACA?
HICKENLOOPER: No, but it should -- it's not worth making it a bargaining chip, right? I think DACA is something where if you got it on the floor, I'll bet you there are over 320 votes in the House that will support it, and I'll bet you there are 65 or 70 votes in the Senate.
Large majorities in both houses of Congress to support it, so why is it that it's got to be a bargaining chip? There's somebody trying to get something else that's not connected to it. You know, don't get me started. I'll get --
HICKENLOOPER: I'll get into a --
CABRERA: No, get started. We like it when you get started, Governor.
HICKENLOOPER: I'll get into a frenzy.
CABRERA: Do it. Let me ask you -- this might get you into a frenzy or get you excited, the election year and the many predictions from, you know, political experts. The polling showing good news for Democrats, it's looking good. Some are predicting a blue wave.
I know you aren't running again because you're term-limited there in Colorado. I've seen the Democrats find some unity against Trump, but are they defining enough what they are for?
HICKENLOOPER: No, I think they are. And it takes -- when you have a lot of voices and you're trying to have a larger tent, it takes -- it's like having an orchestra, right? The conductor can't immediately make great music. So all those different instruments, all those different voices have got to be harmonized in some way.
[18:44:54] And I think we're beginning to see now common threads, core values, that are about civil rights and social justice. But they're also about jobs and not leaving people behind and making sure that this new economy that's coming forward, that there are jobs for everyone in it.
And I think if you -- at least I've seen this over the last three months or four months, more and more Democrats coming around these same -- again, social justice, everyone -- fairness has got to be part of our landscape. But more and more, we're seeing jobs talked about, and I that's going to be the future for successful Democratic cabinets in all parts of the country.
CABRERA: Who do you see as the leader of the Democratic Party right now?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think we have so many leaders. Obviously, Speaker Pelosi -- former Speaker Pelosi is -- I should say Minority Leader Pelosi -- has been a leader for so long, but there are also so many other leaders and young leaders.
I talked today with a guy named Hakeem Jeffries, a congressman. And he is so thoughtful and so insightful. And we have a whole generation of young leaders coming up.
CABRERA: Do you want to be the next leader of the Democratic Party on the national level? Will you run for president in 2020? I know I've asked you this before, but you haven't ruled it out in the past. So have you made up your mind?
HICKENLOOPER: We've got three -- or one year, 370 days, I think, as of tomorrow, to get -- you know, we're doing some apprenticeship stuff. We're doing economic development stuff. I got to stay focused a hundred percent, like a laser, focused on this last year, and then we'll see.
I obviously want a lot of what we've done in Colorado. I think this has the potential to be a model for the country. And we want to make sure we have a voice. But for the next year, I'm not going to do a big fundraising thing, I'm not going to set up networks. I really want to make sure we finish strong.
CABRERA: All right. Governor, we hope that when you decide to make your decision, you'll announce it right here on my show first.
HICKENLOOPER: Fair enough.
CABRERA: The bid for -- all right, you heard it here first. Governor Hickenlooper, so good to see you. Thank you for coming in.
HICKENLOOPER: Good to see you.
CABRERA: And, of course, Colorado is home, so say hi to my family for me.
Still ahead, the CIA Director says the President's tweets about Kim Jong-un actually helped the situation with North Korea. So how will those same tweets play amid the first talks in years between the North and South? We'll discuss next.
[18:50:52] CABRERA: The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations says the U.S. should always remind North Korea that, quote, we can destroy you too.
Nikki Haley is defending President Trump's tweet this morning to the North Koreans, saying it's keeping that country's leader, Kim Jong-un, on his toes.
Now, the Director of the CIA agrees, saying this morning that the President's hard line toward North Korea is working.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I can't tell you that Kim Jong-un has read that tweet because I can't prove it, but I'm confident that he did.
And my guess is that, as he reads it, he's trying to figure out exactly how it is he does what he wants to do, which is keep his nuclear weapons and stay in power. I think that's what you see happening this week, where he has now agreed to have some conversations with the South Koreans.
He is looking for a foothold to walk himself back. This would be entirely consistent with his historical activity. When he sees the threat, he tries to pacify it. And you can be sure that this administration is not going to fall prey to the same trap that previous administrations did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Let me get CNN's Will Ripley in here from Seoul, South Korea.
Will, this coming Tuesday now, a huge day at the DMZ. Negotiators from both North and South Korea will sit down and talk for the first time in years. What are the expectations for these talks?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the expectations are that these talks are going to focus specifically on getting a North Korean delegation here to South Korea for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
But the hope in this city of Seoul where government leaders want to engage with the North is that these talks will lead to more talks after the Olympics and perhaps some sort of diplomatic breakthrough over the nuclear program. But we know that the two sides are so far apart.
Kim Jong-un has said repeatedly he is not giving up his nuclear weapons. The United States and its allies say they'll never accept a nuclear North Korea. But nonetheless, the talks will kick off tomorrow in an area steeped in history and considered one of the most tense potential flashpoints on Earth.
RIPLEY (voice-over): The Korean demilitarized zone. A place where two worlds collide, dictatorship and democracy, staring each other down.
CHAD O'CARROLL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, KOREA RISK GROUP: It's a very, very vivid reminder just what's at stake on the Peninsula.
RIPLEY (voice-over): The first official talks in two years between North and South Korea will be held in Panmunjom, the so-called truce village straddling the 38th Parallel, the tense dividing line between two neighbors still technically at war.
Delegations from both sides of the DMZ will be sitting a stone's throw away from the path a North Korean soldier took in November in a dramatic defection, shot five times running South.
The talks will take place in Peace House, one of three buildings in the truce village built specifically for discussions like this. Two in the South, one in the North.
O'CARROLL: Sometimes the two Koreas have disagreements over which side the talks should be on.
RIPLEY (voice-over): This time, they're on the South side. North Korean officials will likely pass through the same blue huts I first visited in 2015, the year the last round of marathon talks took place, lasting some 44 hours, nearly two days.
To understand the DMZ, we need to go back to the end of World War II. The Soviets and Americans divided Korea just like they did Germany. Most historians say that communist North tried to get it all by invading the South. The North says it was the other way around.
Technically, the war never ended. An armistice agreement put both Koreas back on their side of the dividing line, a standoff nearly 65 years and counting.
Today, North Korea is facing its toughest sanctions ever over leader Kim Jong-un's rapidly advancing nuclear program.
O'CARROLL: For the North Koreans, the motivation to take part in these talks is undoubtedly due to the pressure that is building up on the country.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Pressure that only stands to increase in 2018 unless both sides find a diplomatic path. A path that begins here in Panmunjom, a painful reminder of the region's violent past, tense present, and uncertain future.
[18:55:00] RIPLEY: The facts that these talks came together so quickly may be an indication, according to some experts, that the North Koreans are perhaps getting desperate because sanctions are really going to start kicking in this year.
You know, I was in Pyongyang two years ago when Kim Jong-un ordered a nuclear test on this same week. Today is actually Kim Jong-un's birthday. He's believed to be in his early to mid-30's.
So the nuclear test two years ago; this year, peace talks just one day after his birthday. Of course, many are hoping that that will be a sign of things to come. Diplomacy in 2018 and the not the alternative, Ana.
CABRERA: Will Ripley in Seoul, South Korea. Thank you.
Coming up, we will bring you the latest from New York's JFK Airport where a water main break at one terminal has disrupted travel in a big way.
CABRERA: Sometimes, it takes a crazy play to ignite a crazy come back, and the Tennessee Titans got exactly that during the second half of their NFL wildcard game. Watch this and keep your eye on the bouncing ball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mariota on the line of scrimmage. Maybe across the line. It deflects back to him for a touchdown for the moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: OK. That's worth seeing again because it happened so fast. You may never see anything like this again. That is Marcus Mariota playing quarterback and receiver on the same play, catching his own deflected pass before diving into the end zone for a touchdown.
[19:00:00] And the Kansas City Chiefs never recovered. They squandered their 18-point lead they had at half time and wound up losing, 22 to 21.