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Trump White House; Koreas Tensions; A Dangerous Precedent; Concerns on Repatriation; Myanmar Violence; Rohingya Crisis Plan; California Couple Due In Court In Torture Case; Large Price Drops For Bitcoin Other Digital Currencies. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 18, 2018 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is "CNN Newsroom" live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY,CNN ANCHOR: The president's chief of staff admitting the Mexican government will not directly pay for Donald Trump's wall after all. He said that the Mr. President's campaign promise is "uninformed."

VAUSE: Plus, the self-described stable genius now boasting his perfect result on a cognitive test, is why he can now deal with North Korea.

SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) behind some of Time magazine's most controversial covers will join us.

VAUSE: It is very great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. "Newsroom L.A." starts right now.

VAUSE: With a possible government shutdown now just days away, U.S. President Donald Trump might just be changing his hard line position on one of his key campaign promises, immigration.

SESAY: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly says Mr. Trump has changed his attitude on the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. And Kelly admits that candidate Trump may not have been fully informed about his proposed border wall with Mexico. Kelly says the administration is looking at ways to pay for the wall.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We have some ideas on how things like visa fees, renegotiation on after what that would mean to our economy. So, in one way or another, it's possible that we could get the revenue from Mexico but not directly from their government.


VAUSE: Joining us now, David Siders, senior reporter for Politico. Ethan Bearman, California talk radio host. And Lanhee Chen, research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former public policy director for Mitt Romney.

Lanhee, let's start with you. It appears the White House chief of staff is undercutting the president on what was a rallying cry during his campaign. Kelly also told Fox News there would be no wall that the Mexican government will actually directly pay for.

He also went to say it will be 700 miles long, not the length of the border. Does this raise the questions who is actually running the show here? Is it John Kelly or is it Donald Trump?

LANHEE CHEN, FORMER MITT ROMNEY PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR: Well, you know, these were all known facts for a while, that first of all, building an actual physical barrier along the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border is incredibly challenging and incredibly costly. It was known frankly that Mexico was not going to pay for this so as the Mexican government.

Now, there are some liberties people take during campaigns, but obviously in this situation, what we are seeing is that where the rubber hits the road, when it actually comes time to govern, it is a little bit more difficult.

So, I think the challenge here for the president is that so much of his image has been built around these campaign promises, been built around these issues. What happens now that the base is actually being told these things may actually not happen, that's the big challenge.

VAUSE: It could be a wake-up call. John Kelly also told the Hispanic caucus that some of those campaign promises made by the president were not fully informed. Let's listen.


KELLY: As we talked about things, where this president is and how much he wants to deal with this DACA issue and take it off the -- take it off the -- take it away, I told them that, you know, there's been an evolutionary process that this president has gone through as the campaign and I pointed out to all the members that were in the room that they all say things during the course of campaigns that may or may not be fully informed.


VAUSE: David, it was originally reported that the president's campaign promises were uninformed but not fully informed, I guess, is a little softer. And to Lanhee's point, there is that saying campaign in poetry, govern in prose, but does this go beyond that?

DAVID SIDERS, SENIOR REPORTER, POLITICO: These were two substantial issues on the campaign clearly, and a campaign built on racial rhetoric and on talking about a wall. I think Lanhee is right that he needs to -- his concern or one of his concerns has to be the base and how they respond here.

But he is also dealing with the realities of governs, which I guess do require what he called -- what General Kelly called an evolution.

VAUSE: Here's part of The New York Times report from a few hours ago. But in telling lawmakers that Mr. Trump had essentially erred from the staff in promoting a wall and by claiming credit for dissuading him, Mr. Kelly appeared to voicing a sentiment some in the west wing have heard him express privately, that it is his job to tutor a sometimes ill-informed president who has never served in public office before.

Ethan, one thing this president does not like is being thought of as being ill-informed or not informed. Is the clock now ticking on John Kelly is he too valuable in the White House or will he feel the ire of Donald Trump at some point?

ETHAN BEARMAN, CALIFORNIA TALK RADIO HOST: I think he's going to feel the ire of Donald Trump at some point.

[02:05:00] Here is what is so interesting. Because the right always wants to attack -- especially the conspiratorial right wants to attack on things like the deep state, well, here is John Kelly. He is acting as a shadow government right now.

Is that what we want here in the United States, or would we rather have a bombastic loose cannon on a president like President Trump who, I have to object to something that was said earlier, the realities of presidency has never hit President Trump yet.

He chooses to continue to ignore it. In this case, maybe it's better off that we let General Kelly have a little bit more power in the White House to counterbalance some of the border line insanity that comes out of President Trump on Twitter.

VAUSE: I guess Kelly was pointing to discipline to the White House. Is society bringing some discipline to the president?

SIDERS: I think the fact that he is making these comments public is rather remarkable and uncommon to hear from somebody on staff. Staffs don't do that. They don't say about the president that he was uninformed. They don't talk about the differences between reality and governing in the way that you and I do, just because of the point you're making. That's really the remarkable thing here.

VAUSE: It also seems that Kelly is the one who had a lot of influence on the president, some flip-flop on a compromise deal on immigration and also on the deal with the so-called "dreamers," the children who were brought to this country by their parents, the statuses about to expire because of an executive order by Donald Trump.

And because of that, if Democrats are reluctant to support a funding bill to keep the government open beyond Friday, shutdown when it actually runs out of money. So, Lanhee, to you, the White House actually believes that Democrats will get the blame for any shutdown if it does, in fact, happen. But is that a stretch?

CHEN: Well, the challenge here is that Republicans are in control of the House and the Senate. They have the White House. So from a public opinion point of view, I think they're in a difficult position. Now factually this is the case. Republicans do not have 60 votes in the United States Senate. They will need 60 votes in order to get this funding bill through. They're going to need some help from some Democrats.

The factual element of this is there. The problem is that public opinion isn't always necessarily focused on the fact of what is there. What they're focused on the fact is Republicans are in charge of government and if they can't get it funded, I do think Republicans will be the ones to pay a price.

VAUSE: David, is there a possibility the Democrats will handle this?

SIDERS: I think both parties can pay a price. These parties should not forget that the American people don't need to choose between one party or the other to unleash their hatred and their (INAUDIBLE) demonstrated before. They are more than capable of hating everybody in Washington.

BEARMAN: I think there was actually a really huge vote that happened in Wisconsin yesterday that does indicate that the Republicans are in bigger trouble than the Democrats right now. And that state Senate seat in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, that one huge for Trump by 16 points lost to the Democrat, the Democrat won by nine points, a 25- point swing in a key district.

VAUSE: Governor Walker said it was a wake-up call, which was putting it mildly, I guess. We have two Republican senators on Wednesday calling on the president to end his war on the media. We had John McCain running an op-ed in The Washington Post. Jeff Flake made a speech on the floor of the Senate. Both had a similar message. This is part of what Flake had to say.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies. An American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame, is charting a very dangerous path.


VAUSE: Lanhee, the problem here seems to be that Flake and McCain are pretty much on their own in the GOP, not only fellow Republican congressmen staying silent but they're actually helping the president in some way, for example, trying to delegitimize the Russian investigation or the FBI. And other times they're actually enabling the president, giving him cover, as we saw over the weekend with the S-hole controversy.

CHEN: Yes, well, you know, I think you are looking at two senators. You know, Jeff Flake is not running for re-election. John McCain is encountering some health difficulties. Certainly both of them probably anticipate that their time in Washington, one way or the other, may be ending soon. And I think that gives them maybe some element freedom to speak their minds on this. But it shouldn't be surprising to anybody that the president's strategy has to do with going up against the media. This has been Donald Trump's M.O. from day one and frankly, I think the reasons why many of his supporters actually like him is because he is willing to challenge these institutions, and that's something for better or for worse he is going to keep doing.

VAUSE: Here's the response to the Flake speech from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Listen to this.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's not criticizing the president because he is against repression, he is criticizing the president because has terrible poll numbers. And he is, I think, looking for some attention.


VAUSE: Ethan, why would a retiring senator like Flake care about poll numbers?

[02:10:00] BEARMAN: He doesn't. That is an absolutely ludicrous response from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary. He is what is going on. We need more smart conservatives to step up. Those with principle, those with values and morals. I'm glad to see Lanhee stepping up here and people like Mitt Romney who Lanhee worked for.

It's insane right now, what's going on in the country, attacking the press. It really feels like the 1930s leading up to McCarthyism. We had an isolationist American first policy that was having, really was rooted in racism back then. That's what we're seeing right now as well. We really need actual value-based conservatives to step up and retake their party.

VAUSE: Very quickly, let's (INAUDIBLE) one thing both sides of politics can agree on. Everyone hates Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist and Trump campaign manager. He testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and refused to talk about his time at the White House.

There is some interesting reporting from Axios. Bannon admitted that he had a conversation with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Don Junior's infamous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016.

David, how big of a problem could that be for the Trump administration?

SIDERS: I think this could be a big problem in the -- depending on what was said and what he knew about it. It could be a bigger problem. The bigger issue I think is that the problem that that was a problem. And that is the reason everybody's upset with him is because he is talking with his lawyer who's conferring with the White House --

VAUSE: Right. SIDERS: -- while this is going on. That doesn't look good for the Trump administration. I think that's the political problem.

VAUSE: OK. David, Ethan, and Lanhee, we appreciate you all being with us. Thank you.

SESAY: In a moment of criticism, the U.S. president is pointing the finger at Russia for helping North Korea work around international sanctions. Donald Trump told Reuters that China is largely complying with international restrictions on Pyongyang, because Russia is, in his words, denting China's action. The comment was an apparent reference to report that Russian tankers at sea has a (INAUDIBLE) to North Korea.

Mr. Trump won't comment on whether he has had any direct contact with the North Korean leader, saying, quote, I'd sit down, but I'm not sure that sitting down will solve the problem. He added, we are playing a very, very hard game of poker, and you don't want to reveal your hand.

For more of this, we are joined by Paula Newton in Moscow and another Paula, Paula Hancocks in Seoul. To two Paulas, welcome. I will start with you, Paula Newton. Rare direct public criticism of Russia from President Trump. Has there been any response from Moscow?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not yet as of this morning but I can tell you we just talk to them about it a few days ago, at issues specifically migrant labor, North Korean workers that are here in Russia and working. And all they continue to say is that they abide by these sanctions and that they refer us to their website, their policy, their North Korea policy on the website.

I was here in April. I did this story again about the violations of the sanctions. And what's so startling is that when you go back even to the U.N., the U.N. that continually methodically spells out exactly how Russia is contravening those sanctions, they say, look, if Russia doesn't enforce them, there's nothing we can do about that. If China doesn't enforce them, there's nothing we an do about that.

What's interesting here is that President Trump has been finally briefed on this and has bee told that, look, even if China is cooperating, Russia, in his words, may be making up for it. And the reason Russia is doing this is because it does give it more leverage. It's not that Russia is condoning any of these missile tests or any of these nuclear tests. The fact is, they want in on this negotiation with North Korea. They want to keep that leverage and influence in the pacific.

SESAY: Paula Hancocks, to you, to focus on China, the president praising China for stepping up its pressure on Pyongyang, but at the same time Mr. Trump raised the prospect of retaliatory trade action against China for what he said was theft of U.S. intellectual property. Can he take on China for trade and if not, impact China's continued commitment to putting the squeeze on North Korea?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, I'd say it's unlikely. The U.S. president himself has acknowledged that that would be tricky in the past, saying that the U.S. needs China and China's help when dealing with North Korea. Now what he was saying against Russia in that interview, he has been slamming China in the past for not having done enough on North Korea.

So, really, when it comes to China, Mr. Trump have a tendency to go hot and cold. He's saying once again now that China is doing what it needs to do when it comes to North Korea and then he turns back to the trade issue. I think the overall assumption is that you can't necessarily, if you're the U.S. president, slam China for trade and assume that they will help in the North Korea situation.

An interesting thing, we did hear from China, from the foreign ministry spokesperson yesterday about that meeting, that summit meeting in Vancouver in Canada, 20 countries talking about North Korea,

[02:15:00] talking about more sanctions, more pressure, what needed to be done. You must be clear eyed about the motivation North Korea has when it comes to talking to South Korea (INAUDIBLE) that's a cold war mentality. So, it's not smooth sailing between the U.S. and China. Clearly, it never has been. But even though he's saying nice things about China in regards to North Korea, there's a lot underneath that that could derail it. Isha?

SESAY: Yes, indeed. Paula Newton, as Paula Hancocks says, not smooth sailing between the U.S. and China. Of course, not smooth sailing between the U.S. and Russia. I mean, clearly one would assume, I should say, the president was making a calculation by pointing the finger of blame at Russia in such a public manner, that maybe the hope was that it would turn the pressure up on Moscow.

But you just made the point that when it comes to Russia, they want in on these negotiations wit North Korea. So, I mean, really, are we essentially saying this is a misreading of Vladimir Putin by President Trump once again?

NEWTON: It's not necessarily a misreading but it was definitely him actually looking at the facts of the situation finally. Again, I repeat, I covered the story when I was here in April, the violations of the sanctions. We're there in black and white. One key difference, Isha, and this is something I'm sure his advisers are telling him, it's not like the China relationship with the United States.

There's a thriving trade relationship there. The White House -- the U.S. administration has some levers. As we've been saying for months now, Russia-U.S. relations are at an all-time low. Vladimir Putin said that himself a few days ago. Again, what leverage point does the White House have in order to bring Russia to the table, especially when right now the U.S. is considering still further sanctions against Russia for its involvement not just in Ukraine but obviously in the U.S. election?

This is not the same relationship and you are not going to be able to pressure Russia to help on North Korea or to at least not damage anything that is going on with North Korea by violating those sanctions with the same pressure points. I think one thing that many can agree on, that when Vladimir Putin says that relations are at an all-time low, they are certainly there right now and that does not help the situation with North Korea.

SESAY: It certainly doesn't. Paula Hancocks, the president is making clear in this interview that the stakes are high when it comes to North Korea, referring to this as a game of poker, and clearly says that this situation could possibly be resolved peacefully, but then again, very possibly it might not be.

There has been no softening of the U.S. president's position on North Korea. And from my read of the interview and I want to get your sense, there's nothing in this interview that could be seen as an inducement to North Korea to return to the negotiating table.

HANCOCKS: No, certainly not. The thing to remember at this point is the United States is effectively sidelined when it comes to any kind of talks at this point. North Korea made that very clear. The leader, Kim Jong-un, in his new year's address, slammed the United States. He said that his nuclear weapons could hit the main city on mainland United States and then said that they wanted to start talking to the South Koreans, they want to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Now this was a very calculated move by the North Korean leader. We have agreement between North and South Korea that there is going to be marching of both sides, both Koreas, under unified flag. They are going to, if the IOC agrees, have this inter-Korean women's ice hockey team. Where is the United States? The United States won't see talks going on, having a separate meeting in Vancouver, Canada where China and Russia are not even attending.

So, what North Korea has done has almost sidelined Washington when it comes to these talks. So certainly it is a difficult position for the United States to be in at this point to sit back, see how the talks go with South Korea. He is publicly supporting them. Obviously, with this interview, he can't help slam them at the same time.

SESAY: Yes, very true. The two Paulas, Paula Newton and Paula Hancocks, my thanks to you both. Very much appreciate it, ladies.

VAUSE: Well, the more Donald Trump attacks the media as fake news, the more it seems to embolden dictators and autocrats around the world to try to silence journalists in their own country.

SESAY: Lynda Kinkade reports on the growing popularity of President Trump's favorite phrase.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Critics say President Trump has set a troubling example and a dangerous president regarding freedom of the press.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We had a very, very good call. That was a bit of fake news.

KINKADE (voice over): Many authoritarian leaders have now taken up the phrase fake news to denounce their critics and discredit accusations against them.

Case in point. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in reference to an amnesty international report accusing leader of human rights abuses last year. Assad responded.

BASHAR AL-ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA: They haven't been to Syria. They only based their reports on allegations.

[02:20:00] They can break anyone. Doesn't matter what. You can forge anything these days. We're living in a fake news era, as you know.

KINKADE (voice over): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is also known to call the media fake news, especially if the reports are critical of him or his government like online news outlet Rappler.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: Your articles are rife with innuendos and pregnant with falsity. You can stop your suspicious mind from roaming somewhere else. But since you are a fake news outlet, then I am not surprised that your articles are also fake.

KINKADE (voice over): Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro discussed the issue in an interview today.

NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Venezuela (INAUDIBLE) global media persecution. He spread lies and deceptions about us. This is the real fake news. The post truth era.

KINKADE (voice over): And when CNN's Matthew Chance attempted to interview a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, he was met with just two words.


KINKADE (voice over): With social media and the intentional publication of propaganda, fake news is not a new problem. The Trump's fake news narrative applied to traditional and credible news organizations, has dangerous implications on freedom of the press and the press's ability to hold governments accountable for their actions.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


VAUSE: Just ahead on "Newsroom L.A.," growing concerns among Rohingya refugees over a deal of their return to the country they fled during a brutal army crackdown.


SESAY: One more violence in Myanmar's troubled Rakhine State, only this time the victims are Buddhist protesters instead of Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar state media say police opened fire on the demonstrators, killing seven people earlier this week. The United Nations is urging Myanmar to, quote, investigate any disproportionate use of force or other illegal actions that occurred there.

U.N. human rights investigator Yanghee Lee has tried to get into Rakhine State to see conditions for herself, especially concerning the Rohingya, but she has been barred by the Myanmar government. She travels to Bangladesh Thursday to hear from Rohingya themselves. This comes only days before Myanmar and Bangladesh plan to start repatriating the refugees who were displaced by an army crackdown. And concern is growing over that deal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the Bangladesh government, to the U.S., to the human rights organization, please do your intentions for the people as human beings in the wild because Myanmar is not a healthy country for us.

[02:25:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translator): Myanmar must give us the compensations for those Muslims they killed, looted, destroyed our fields and cattle. They must return our houses and if they show justice to us, then we can go back.


SESAY: Let's bring in Brad Adams now who is with Human Rights Watch Asia. He joins me live via Skype from Berkeley, California. Brad, good to see you once again. I want to talk with reports of more violence in Rakhine State, this time targeting the ethnic Buddhists. More than half a dozen killed. What does this incident tell us about the Myanmar army and its use of violence against its people?

BRAD ADAMS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ASIA: Well, it shows that while they can discriminate by targeting the Rohingya they have with their ethnic cleansing campaign, they also don't tolerate the sent of any kind.

There's a long history of the Burmese military using force against protesters all over the country, including against the Buddhist population in Rakhine State, which not only has grievances against the Rohingya and they discriminate against them and attack them, but they've also long felt estranged from Naypyidaw, the capital of Burma, and felt like the rest of the Burmese population even though they're also Buddhists look down on them and discriminate against them.

They feel like they're the forgotten population. This is essentially a kind of case where Yanghee Lee, the U.N. special rapporteur, as you mentioned, should be able to go into the country and perform her mandate and investigate exactly what happened but the Burmese authorities are barring her from entering the country right now.

SESAY: Yes, as you say, she is not going to Rakhine State. She will be in Bangladesh and talking to the refugees there. So talk to me, given that reality and ability to see for herself the situation on the ground in Myanmar, what should she be focusing on achieving from the visit to Bangladesh as she speaks with refugees?

ADAMS: We're back to the bad old days before the reform period when there was just the military government instead of the turned military civilian coalition government. We all had to do our work, United Nations and others from outside the country because we were never allowed in.

Now Yanghee Lee has to go back and do her work from outside the borders. She will be able to interview a lot of Rohingya. She will be able to interview the victims of sexual violence, of burning of villages, the killings, the relatives. She will be able to see the trauma they faced. And she will be able to find out first hand why it's not time for people to go back.

But this is an (INAUDIBLE) for the government because what she can't do is she can't report on what the government thinks, what the government's arguments are, what the government's evidence is, if any, about what is happening inside the country. And so she will have to present the facts that she hears from Bangladesh and Thailand when she goes there afterwards. They're not going to be very pretty for the government.

SESAY: No,they certainly are not. But you did touch on something just now. You made a point about the repatriation process, which many have said is premature and is moving far too quickly. We just heard from two refugees before our conversation, Brad, talking about their desire for citizenship and for justice.

You know, this is what they all want. They want to go back to a situation that's going to be markedly different. But do you see a durable solution contained in this agreement that Bangladesh and Myanmar have settled on?

ADAMS: No, of course not. I mean, the purpose of pushing all the Rohingya into Bangladesh was ethnic cleansing. It was to clean the country of Rohingya. So, the idea that the Rohingya will be welcomed back with open arms, that they will be protected, that they will be safe, that they will have adequate food and shelter is ridiculous.

It is sort of like -- I don't want to sound like I'm over the top, but it's sort of like saying that Jews should be returned from outside of Germany at the end of World War II of the Nazis who are still in power. The people who committed these abuses, people in the Burmese military, are still there.

They're still armed. They've gone unpunished. There have been no serious investigation. The Burmese government is in complete denial. It would be very, very dangerous to return Rohingya to Burma right now.

SESAY: It doesn't look like there is anything to do to stop that from happening. The process is set to begin in days. So, what's next? I mean, what's next with groups such as your own?

ADAMS: Well, I don't think that the Rohingya can be forced back. There are too many people. There are 650,000 new arrivals, just close to a million in total. In the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled Burma. The Bangladesh government didn't welcome them, tried to push them back. And Rohingya said no, we are not going. You simply cannot move that many people against their will. The fear is too great. Our staff have met so many traumatized Rohingya.

[02:30:00] You've interviewed them. Others have interviewed them. They're not going to go back willingly unless things changed dramatically inside Burma.

SESAY: It seems to be a long way from that. Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch, always a pleasure, thank you. Thank you for joining us.

ADAMS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, still to come here with the U.S. President about to mark his first year in office. It's become clear the very Democratic State of California is leading the charge against Trump's America. Details when we come back.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isa Sesay. The headlines this hour. U.S. President Trump is accusing Russia of helping North Korea evade international sanctions. Donald Trump told Reuters's agency China is stepping up pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program but Russia is offsetting those games. Russian tank -- Russian tankers rather have reportedly supplied fuels to North Korea at sea.

VAUSE: The White House Chief of Staff has publicly conceded the Mexican government will not directly pay for the Donald Trump's border wall. John Kelly told lawmakers as a candidate of Mr. Trump's positions were not fully informed.

SESAY: Another story on Wall Street. The Dow closed above 26,000 for the first time ever. It's sold another 323 points Wednesday, the biggest one-day percentage game since November. The NASDAQ and S&P also rose to record highs.

VAUSE: Well, the Trump presidency has been like no other, political norms have been destroyed. Traditions and expectations obliterated. Days feel like weeks, weeks feel like months. And it hasn't even been a year. That will be marked this weekend.

SESAY: And it feels like a lot longer.


SESAY: And it would lead up to that anniversary, CNN is taking a closer look at how Americans feel about the first year of this administration. Today, we head to California, a Democrat stronghold where state lawmakers have opposed the president on everything from immigration to taxes to the environment. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The California Republic versus President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The resistance is legion.

MARQUEZ: One year into his administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is a wakeup call.

MARQUEZ: The world's sixth largest economy fighting Trump administration policies on everything from legal marijuana to taxes to the environments.

JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: California is not waiting for Trump. We're not waiting for all the deniers.

MARQUEZ: And the escalating fight over immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to fight and we're going to win.

MARQUEZ: California now and immigrants sanctuary states, a new law limiting cooperation between local state and federal law enforcement prank road signs welcome drivers to seemingly another country, the land of illegals.

[02:35:10] THOMAS HOMAN, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT ACTING HEAD: If the politicians in California don't want to protect their communities then ICE will.

MARQUEZ: The acting Head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of Fox News said California politicians who made the law should be held personally accountable. Politicos here aren't worried. Have you ever seen the enmity between California and D.C. like it is today?

JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: I wouldn't call it enmity. There are certain policies that are radical departures from the norm and California will fight those.

MARQUEZ: The immigrant community finding its voice in the fight.

LYDIA AVILA, EAT L.A. ACTIVIST: We're actually working harder and galvanizing more people.

MARQUEZ: A daughter of Mexican immigrants East L.A. activist, Lydia Avila says the president his rhetoric and policies have only emboldened her community.

AVILA: This is a movement that's not going to be stopped. The president cannot win, he may be there now but he's not going to be there forever. We're going to win.

MARQUEZ: Equally galvanized the entertainment with its deep pockets and powerful voice. JEREMY ZIMMER, UNITED TALENT AGENCY, CEO: The power of an idea to change the way people think and change the way people feel, it's really what's important. That's really what we're fighting for.

MARQUEZ: Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of United Talent Agency, one of the worlds' largest says Trump represents a threat to the idea of America.

ZIMMER: We all see that the freedoms and the life we assume we have, the incredible privileges we have to be, you know, raise in this country, to live in this country we all see that you know how fragile it can be.


MARQUEZ: Cheryl Conte and activist in the tech community says it is a fight over principles.

CONTE: I think that you're going to find Californians be completely unapologetic about, you know, fighting for what we see as California values.

MARQUEZ: Working from home on heddle desk, one-foot soldier among millions across the Golden State countering resisting Trump. Miguel Marquez, CNN in the California Republic.


VAUSE: OK. We're looking at President Trump in a different way when we come back the man behind those unique (INAUDIBLE) of the U.S. President which have grace to covers on Time magazine.


VAUSE: Saturday will mark one year since President Trump was sworn into office. For the White House, it's been a year clouded by allegations and investigations with one overriding question did the Trump campaign conspire with Russia we say some hell of questionings and what role with Russia play in the 2016 election.

SESAY: You know, for Russia, we can say it's been a year of high expectations. How did they play out? Matthew Chance from Moscow.


[02:40:09] MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It didn't take too long for the high hopes to fade for the disillusionment towards Trump and Russia to really set in. He may have been portrayed as the Kremlin's preferred candidates but his vision of better relations with Moscow never materialized victim of an anti-Russian media witch hunt according to frustrated Russian officials.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: Stop spreading lie and false news. This is a good advice for CNN.

CHANCE: Are you concerned that the investigations into Russia will going to turn up secret more meetings? More investigations

ZAKHAROVA: Please stop spread lie and false news.

CHANCE: Can you give us a question?

TRUMP: I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news.

CHANCE: But it's not just insults Russia and Trump shared despite denials of contacts, details emerged of private meetings between Russian nationals and Trump campaign figures. Why did you arrange that meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come join me for the show tonight.

CHANCE: Yes, we will definitely. Like one organize it at Trump Tower set up by a representative of a Russian pop star Emin, Donald Trump Jr. released his own e-mails showed that he'd been told the meeting was to pass on damaging intelligence about Hillary Clinton. Did the Russian authorities give your family information to pass on to the Trump Administration?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk to my lawyer.

CHANCE: I already talked to him. He said you wouldn't comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I wouldn't comment.

TRUMP: Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn't that -- wouldn't be nice?

CHANCE: It was that promise to transform U.S. Russian relations that was one of Trump's most consistent campaign themes. His criticism of NATO calls for security cooperation with Russia and hints at ending sanctions all made him Russia's preferred candidate. Trump's failure to deliver amid investigations and to collusion and tightening sanctions was all the more disappointing to the Kremlin despite two meetings and numerous phone calls between the two leaders.

Do you sometimes sit in your office in the Kremlin thinking about how badly U.S.-Russian relations are going and regretting the day that Donald Trump was elected?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (via translator): What we see is merely the growth of anti-Russian hysteria and yes, I regret it. It's a pity because acting together we are more able to solve the acute problems that exist in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.

CHANCE: But a year on from Trump's inauguration and the grand celebrations held in Moscow as he was sworn in. That dream of a U.S.- Russian partnership seems more distant than ever. Matthew Chance, CNN Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Donald Trump first appeared on the cover of Time in 1989 and over the years he's had a love-hate relationship with the magazine. He's famously hanging fake covers complete with fake headlines in four of his golf clubs. These days as president he regularly makes the cover but often in a striking stylized form which seems to perfectly capture the political moment. The latest issue shows Donald Trump mouth open his hair a raging inferno and the headline year one. Edel Rodriguez is the man responsible for that and many other covers beating the president. He's being described as a preeminent illustrator of the Trump era. He joins us now from New York. Edel, thanks for coming in.


VAUSE: It seems you have this very unique eye when it comes to President Donald Trump. And this cover which you've drawn, it seems to be a progression of that total meltdown cover from October last year. So explain what's going on?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think at this point we've already done what he can do sort of what damage he can do and before it was a possibility. And at this point, it almost feels like a wildfire where he's just jumping from one place to another to another and people are just going after him trying to tamp down these flames or trying to tamp down these fires. And that's where the idea came to me this sort of fire that was out of control and everyone is trying to control it. And even his own staff can't control it at times.

VAUSE: Yes. These are very simple images. Is that you're drawing? There's no physical features. Unlike other illustrators, you don't mock Donald Trump's physical features. And I remember back in what -- I think August last year to Spiegel they used an image which had drawn a Donald Trump, he was a Klan member which is a very hard criticism of all the president. And many were surprised that would turn up on the front cover of a magazine.

RODRIGUEZ: That Klan image was something that I made as well. But I think you have to look at the context. That was published a week after that the events in Charlottesville, Virginia were Trump defended, Neo-Nazis and Klan members as people that were just, you know, people on the other side.

[02:45:08] There were two sides to every story. And I don't think that any president of the United States should be defending Neo-Nazis in any way whatsoever or (INAUDIBLE) clan members.

So, I think at that point, when you -- when you have someone who defends racism and to that agree, at some point, you start thinking, well, maybe they're racist. And I think that's the case here.

VAUSE: These images that go viral, it seems every time they make a cover of Time or Der Spiegel, are you surprised that they -- you'd being so widely received and have essentially caused so much buzz? Because there was one very controversial cover, it was also for Der Spiegel. It was the President cutting off the head of the Statue of Liberty. Did that go too far? RODRIGUEZ: No, I don't think it went too far at all. I think I was trying to get the point across that we have a President that I believe was killing what I -- what I think is the American dream. You know, part of the American dream is to come to this country, create a life, a better life for your children. This country has always been a country of immigrants and with the policies that are being put forth through.

Right now, I think that this idea that there is an American dreamer or that people can come here and live a better life. I think it's over for many people in the world, and even the smallest thing. I'm a professor, I'm a college professor, and can you imagine people from around the world that would want to send their children here now to go to college or to go to school? I think there's a lot of people that are afraid too to do that. And I think that's a shame because I think, in my mind, as an immigrant, this country has always been a beacon to the world and that is changing in many people's minds right now.

VAUSE: Edel, it's been great speaking with you and it's enjoyable to look at your work as it appears on the covers of Time and Der Spiegel and other publications. Thanks for being with us.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, a California couple who allegedly held their 13 children captive, due in court in the day ahead. Louise and David Turpin are facing torture and child endangerment charges. The children, a 2-29 were malnourished, some had been shackled to their beds.

Police then went to see going through the house, the neighbors say they never saw the children playing outside. The Turpin's 17-year-old daughter climbed out through a window on Sunday and alerted police from a deactivated cell phone.

Well, next to NEWSROOM L.A., the lure and the dangers of the digital currency craze.


VAUSE: Well, Wall Street has been celebrating record highs this week, but it has been a different story for so-called cryptocurrencies. Those who volatile digital currencies.

SESAY: Bitcoin hit its lowest level since November. On Tuesday, it is down almost 30 percent this week alone. Part of the region could be the intense regulatory scrutiny it's getting -- causing investment is to play it safe before placing any further bets.

For more, we're joined now by Jeffrey Sachs. Jeffrey is a professor of economics and the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. Professor Sachs, welcome.

JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, EARTH INSTITUTE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Thank you, good to be with you. SESAY: The price of Bitcoin dropped below 10,000 on Wednesday, and is now 50 percent off the crypto currency's all-time high. How much of this is due to fierce of government regulatory control versus the correction of a currency that has been overbought?

[02:50:06] SACHS: There is no intrinsic value to Bitcoin. So, there is no absolute reason to say, why it should be worth 20,000 as it approached or 11,000 as it is, so, approximately, right now or 1,000 as it was a year ago. The whole run-up in Bitcoin value is arbitrary and the collapse or the reversal is perfectly plausible as well.

The fact that China is cracking down on Bitcoin and South Korea which is an epicenter of Bitcoin speculation right now, Bitcoin fever. Is also talking about cracking down, certainly is having an hour and hour, and day to day effect on the price.

But if Bitcoin returned to what it was a year ago with thousand or even less, you'd almost have to shrug and say there was no reason for it to go up or to go down as arbitrary as well. Why it has value? It's even a bit of a mystery. Any value.

SESAY: Yes, I know. I think that is -- that is a very, very salient point. One of the things I've been thinking about as I look at the value of Bitcoin and others, the theory I'm in ripple, as well other cryptocurrencies for. Is this question of whether government regulation automatically is a bad thing? I mean, you've already made the point that there's no rhyme or reason, really, to -- the value ascribed to these cryptocurrencies.

But, I mean, the fear is clearly moving some to sell off and I guess my question really more from, you know, your point of view as an economist is government regulation when it comes to currencies always a bad thing?

SACHS: Well, there two kinds of regulations that you can think about, one is that governments can really require that people pay their taxes in the national currency. Our currency is the U.S. dollar in the United States. So, is a legal tender, Bitcoin is not.

So, legal tender has an advantage and governments don't give up that advantage. That's in a way giving resources away from what the government is able to accrue by the monopoly right to issue its legal tender.

So, that's not got to go away, and I think these cryptocurrencies have a hard time competing in the long term with a legal tender of a nation's. The second reason for regulation is to stop all illegal transactions to clamp down on the black market, to stop the movement money for terrorism or for other illegal activities.

And governments, I think have a legitimate interest in doing that as well. And the word on the street or online is that Bitcoin is used for a lot of illicit transactions. It's used for anonymity or pseudonymity, hiding of the name of the real owners, it's a used for dark purposes which are not recorded in government. They'll say, no, we don't want that, we want to have control over, especially large transactions.

SESAY: Let me read one more piece -- one more excerpt from your piece. You say, "As governments tighten their grip, Bitcoin prices will most likely fall and perhaps collapse, though the timing is impossible to judge. Bitcoin seems too prone to illicit use and too vulnerable to government regulation to survive for the long term."

The given all that you've said, that you know, you just -- you don't hold out much hope for Bitcoin, and the end will come at its appointed time. I mean, what would the fallout be from the possible collapse, of Bitcoin? What might that look like? Might it have any implications for traditional financial markets as some have speculated?

SACHS: Anyway, by tomorrow Bitcoin, could have gain value it could collapse. Our point is how arbitrary it is.


SACHS: And therefore, how vulnerable it is to reversal. One thing I've learned as an economist watching financial markets for decades is that when something looks too good to be true or you scratch your head and say, "Why did that happen?" Usually, there is no good reason. So, if you ask why did Bitcoin go up ten times during the year 2017, probably because it's a bubble that will collapse.

When you hear a bit of gobbledygook about why it's said its current value or people are confused but they say, "Boy, it's really an innovation, I need to jump in on that." That's also a sign of a bubble. And I haven't heard a coherent explanation of why it would have this value.

If it collapses, will it have a big effect? No. Not at this stage, because even $200 billion of value which is a lot to get out of basically nothing, it is a lot of money but it's not a huge amount in the global scheme of things. It will make a lot of people very unhappy if will make those who came in late to Bitcoin feel very bad, individuals will suffer and lose their money, especially if they're recent investors that are jumping in at the top of the bubble that is busting if that's indeed what's happening, which I think is probably happening. But it would not have macroeconomic consequences most likely.

[02:56:13] SESAY: Professor Jeffrey Sachs, it's such a pleasure to speak to you and to gain some of your insight into this world of virtual currency, is fascinating. Thank you so much.

SACHS: Pleasure to be with you. Thanks a lot.

VAUSE: It's not worth anything, it could be must-see T.V. or a total bomb depending on your politics. The flow on T.V. rights and the best-selling book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" had been bought by in debit content which plans to make a tell-all television series.

SESAY: And according to the Hollywood Reporter, it's a seven-figure deal. The book's author will be executive producer of the series. No word on who will play President Trump, Steve Bannon, or anyone else to that matter.



VAUSE: Interesting. With all that.

SESAY: That's it. Let's leave it there, shall we?

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause, follow us on Twitter @CNNNewsroomLA. There, you can find highlights and clips from the show. In the meantime, the news continues with Rosemary Church, she is in snowy (INAUDIBLE) through the snow like the trooper and the champion that she is.

SESAY: All just for you.

VAUSE: You're watching CNN.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A rare dig at Russia from the U.S. President. Why Donald Trump is criticizing Moscow.