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Military Parade U.S. Version; White House Official Accused of Domestic Violence; Netanyahu Proclaims Innocence; NATO Allies Fighting Each Other; Winter Olympics; Russian Athletes Banned From This Year's Games; North Korea's Massive Military Parade. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 8, 2018 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: Our first look at the military parade planned to scare the hell out of the Americas on the eve of the Olympics, it's not a warm message from North Korea.

Meanwhile, on-site for Olympic preparations, it's a whole lot a kind of cold. We are live in Pyeongchang.

Plus, scandal in the White House, a closer look at the top staffer, leaving a storm of allegations.

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

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics games is a day away. But with a defiant show of force in North Korea's annual military parade, a diplomatic breakthrough seems unlikely. The U.S. vice president will attend the opening ceremony and so will a high-ranking North Korean delegation.

A meeting between the two, though, seems possible at one it did. But North Korea's foreign ministry made it clear that won't happen, saying this. "We have never begged for dialogue with the U.S. and will continue to do so in the future. I clearly state that we have no intention to meet the U.S. side during our visit to South Korea.


PAULA NEWTON, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: ... last time this happened in April, Rosemary, what experts noticed was launchers. Launchers that were much larger than anything they'd seen before. And sure enough, those launchers were put into action in subsequent missile launches.

So a lot to see there. But you of that to assume, Rosemary, that we're only going to see exactly what the North Korean government wants us to see, and that was the point of the fact of them barring foreign media from actually going to Pyongyang for this military parade.

[03:04:58] CHURCH: Indeed. And of course, we will keep an eye out for that video. We've just seen those stills. But once that video comes in, of course that's when the analysts will be very interested to see if there's anything new in that.

Paula Newton joining us live from Seoul, many thanks.

While North Korea held its military parade, the Pentagon was planning an American version. President Trump told military leaders he wants a celebration like the one he saw in Paris on Bastille Day last year.

Washington's mayor says if the president wants a parade, he will have to pay for it. Reaction in Congress has been mixed with critics calling the idea a huge waste of money.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I don't mind having a parade honoring the service and sacrifice of our military members. I'm not looking for a Soviet-style hardware display. That's not who we are. It's kind of cheesy and I think shows weakness, quite frankly.

JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think we're all aware in this country of the president's affection and respect for the military. We've been putting together some options. We'll send them up to the White House for a decision.


CHURCH: A top White House aide has resigned after allegations he abuse his two ex-wives. Rob Porter was the staff secretary, the right- hand man to Chief of Staff John Kelly. Although Porter denies the allegations, the White House is under fire for how it handled the situation.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Few people stood closer to President Trump. From the White House colonnade to the Oval Office, even a handshake with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The White House scrambled to defend staff secretary Rob Porter.

As CNN learned, some top officials knew about the abuse allegations for months.


SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can tell you that Rob has been an effective in his role as staff secretary and the president and chief of staff have had full confidence and trust in his abilities and his performance.


ZELENY: Porter was responsible for nearly every document that came into the president's hands. Even some classified ones. Despite not having a permanent security clearance.

Tonight CNN has learned the FBI denied his security clearance last fall after reports of abuse were discovered during a background check. Yet Porter was still able to keep his post through a temporary waiver authorized by the White House. White House communications director Hope Hicks, one of the most

influential advisers in the West Wing, has been in a romantic relationship with Porter, aides tell CNN. Despite that, CNN has learned Hicks was involved in crafting the initial denial to the abuse allegations first reported Tuesday night by

Porter's first wife Colbie Holderness told CNN the abuse started shortly after their wedding in 2003. She said she was choked, punched and emotionally abused. She showed us these pictures of her bruised eye from a 2005 trip to Italy.

In a statement of resignation Porter said these outrageous allegations are simply false. He acknowledged the authenticity of the photos but said "The reality behind them is nowhere close to what is being described."

But his second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, sought an emergency protective order against him a year after their 2009 marriage. She wrote this after he refused to leave their apartment.

"He wanted to hug and make up but was angry when I asked that he get his things and leave. I asked him several times to leave with his things. I took his clothes and put them in a suitcase on the front porch. When he returned a few minutes later he punches in the glass on the door. I called the police afraid he would break in. When he heard me on the phone with the police, he apologized and begged me not to involve them. When he heard me give my name and address to 911 dispatcher, he drove off."

The White House sidestepped questions about his security clearance.


SANDERS: As has always been the policy at the White House, we don't discuss security clearances one way or the other.


ZELENY: Now even as the White House worked to defend Rob Porter, we are now told President Trump was furious when he actually learned about these allegations. They were brought to him after that first story came out in the Daily Mail.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: And since that report, CNN has learned Porter will out of the White House within the coming day. Two sources tell CNN senior White House officials knew of the domestic abuse allegations for months.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has issued a new statement saying this. "I was shocked by the new allegation released today against Rob Porter. There's no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming chief of staff and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today and will ensure a swift and orderly transition."

And we have also now heard from Porter's second wife via Washington Post.


[03:10:00] JENNIFER WILLOUGHBY, ROB PORTER'S EX-WIFE: I'm not at all surprised that people who work with him in a professional capacity see him as a model of discretion and integrity and character. Because like I mentioned, I believe that he is.

And I think professionally, he is intelligent and he is measured and he is certainly someone that I would trust in that professional position. And in his personal life, he is also abusive and angry.


CHURCH: CNN political analyst Ryan Lizza joins us now from Washington. Ryan, thanks so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So, the overriding question here is, what did John Kelly know about the domestic abuse allegations against White House staff secretary Rob Porter, and when did he know it?

LIZZA: That is -- that is exactly the question. It's been reported tonight that the FBI informed the White House in November. Now remember, the FBI does background checks for senior White House officials. And these allegations of domestic abuse came up in those background checks because the FBI, as they often do in a background check, interviewed his two ex-wives and they both alleged domestic abuse.

And Kelly suggested tonight in his public statement that he didn't quite know the series of the allegations. The statement was a bit vague. And so that's what needs to be determined is what did the White House do with this information and do they just decide, well, we don't care, he can still work here? Or did they not have the full story?

CHURCH: Yes, this is the problem, isn't it? Because after initially scrambling to protect Rob Porter, a White House official says Porter misled them by saying his ex-wives were trying to smear him.

But of course as you point out in the fall of 2017, the FBI told the White House why Porter's security clearance was denied, and still the White House approved his temporary clearance. How can the White House explain that?

LIZZA: Well, they need to -- if they want to explain it they have to -- they have to tell the public exactly what information the FBI passed on to them. Did they do any kind of internal investigation? And did Mr. Porter deceive them in any way?

One of his ex-wives' statements, it was anonymous, but her -- or actually it wasn't anonymous, she had a blog post about the domestic abuse. So this was sort of hiding in plain sight. And it's -- it would be hard to believe that if the FBI went to the chief of staff and described episodes of domestic violence that that would not trigger a more serious investigation for such a senior White House official.

So, you know, all through these stories, the person resigns and everyone moves on to the next story and we don't get the answers to these questions. But tomorrow the deputy press secretary Raj Shah is going to be doing a briefing. And so he better be prepared to lay out the time line of what really happened here.

CHURCH: Yes. This is not going to go away any time soon. Another issue I want to cover with you, CNN understands that President Trump will likely authorize the release of the democrats' rebuttal memo in the wake of the release of the controversial Nunes memo that accuses the FBI of anti-Trump bias.

If it is released, how likely is it that parts of it will be redacted, and what might that signal if that happens?

LIZZA: Well, it's a great question. It's a longer memo, it's a 10- page memo. Some of the republicans have said that they believe there is more sensitive information in this memo which maybe they were saying that to sort of nudge the president to redact more of it.

Now politically, this puts the White House in a very tricky position. They did not redact anything in the republican memo. And there are going to be a lot of questions raised if they redact anything in this minority memo.


LIZZA: But a lot of -- frankly, most of the arguments rebutting the Nunes memo have been laid out by people in the press and plenty of democrats. And the Nunes memo really hasn't fared very well the arguments it made have really been demolished.

So a 10-page detailed memo drawing on top secret information, you know, could only spell more trouble for that original memo.

CHURCH: Yes. We'll see what happens with that. But also the top democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, says it's time to enforce the subpoena on former White House aide Steve Bannon and compel Corey Lewandowski's testimony due to their lack of cooperation with the committee on the Russia investigation.

[03:15:04] How likely is it that the White House is playing a role in Bannon and Lewandowski's reluctance to answer any questions?

LIZZA: I think it's very likely. They're both two people that are known to be in regular contact with White House officials. And you know, frankly, brag about that fact.

One of the thing we're learning with these congressional investigations is that a congressional subpoena is not nearly as powerful as it sounds. There's a lot of wiggle room. You can hire a good lawyer and you don't have to testify to the satisfaction of what most members of Congress want when someone is his drag before Congress.

And they made this very unusual argument. You know, in the American system there is this thing called executive privilege where communications with the president, some communications with the president, are protected.

The White House is not citing executive privilege, but some of the White House officials going up before Congress are saying, well, we're not going to tell you about conversations with the president just in case the White House down the line wants to cite executive privilege.

So it's a very unusual, tricky, tricky argument. That's what's happening, especially in the Bannon case. Usually these things get worked out between lawyers for the committee and the witness, and they do eventually testify, but maybe there's some periods or subjects that remain off limits.

CHURCH: Ryan Lizza, as always many issues to cover. Thank you so much.

LIZZA: Never dull here in Washington. Thank you.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, in a video on social media, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaims his innocence in two criminal investigations, and acknowledges reports that police will likely recommend his indictment. The cases involve allegations of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

[03:19:59] Ultimately, the attorney general will decide whether to indict.

So let's bring in our Ian Lee who joins us live from Jerusalem. Good to see you, Ian.

So Prime Minister Netanyahu insists he's innocent in these two criminal investigations. But if the attorney general does indict him, what happens then?

IAN LEE, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Rosemary, it goes to the courts then and it will be up to them to decide. And this is a process that could take years to get to a final conclusion.

The prime minister has, from the very beginning of this investigation said that he's innocent. And he took to social media to reassure that reassure his followers and reaffirm his innocence. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The recommendations will come. Signs that read Netanyahu is guilty until proven innocent will come. There will be improper pressure. That will also come. Bu I am certain that at the end of the day, the qualified legal experts will arrive at one conclusion of the simple truth -- there is nothing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: So, Rosemary, it does -- it is about these two cases that the prime minister has been investigated and he's been questioned by the police multiple times.

First you have case 1,000. And that is essentially the prime minister allegedly receiving gifts from a businessman. Then there's case 2,000. And this alleges that the prime minister colluded with the owner of a newspaper for more favorable coverage.

In return, the prime minister allegedly would reduce the circulation of a rival newspaper. Again, the prime minister has denied this. And the police have yet to recommend any indictment. We haven't heard from them yet. So we'll be waiting for that.

So the process would go if the police do recommend an indictment, it goes to the attorney general. It's up to the attorney general whether to bring it forward.

And something that the prime minister said in his statement also is that, you know, when these cases are brought up, the police have these recommendations for indictments. And the prime minister said about half the time that this lead to nothing. So he's also trying to cast doubt in that way as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And, Ian, as you mentioned, this could take years in the courts. But how bad could it be for Netanyahu? What are the people of Israel think about all this?

LEE: So there has been growing political pressure against the prime minister. On a weekly basis we do see protests against him. Protests outside the attorney general's office. You know, the one thing that could happen is that if this does -- if the attorney general does bring an indictment, there will be a lot of political pressure on the prime minister, especially because there's precedent.

There was the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who was also charged with corruption, later found guilty and went to prison. But when he was indicted by the attorney general, he stepped down saying that he wanted to attack these allegations head-on.

So the Prime Minister Netanyahu will also come under similar pressure. He is already coming under it from the opposition. But he has reiterated that he is innocent and that he's going to stay in his position as the prime minister. Even if he is indicted.

You know, Rosemary, the prime minister also has a large support base. We've been out to the rallies where the prime minister has talked about these allegations. The people say these are politically motivated against him. And so, you know, he does have a lot larger base than his predecessor, who did step down to face these charges.

CHURCH: All right, we'll see what the attorney general decides on this. Ian Lee joining us live from Jerusalem. Many thanks to you. Well, U.S.-led coalition forces battling ISIS in Syria say they came

under attack on Wednesday from about 500 troops loyal to the Syrian regime. It's not clear who the pro-regime forces were, but according to various U.S. officials, they crossed the Euphrates River in Russian-made tanks and artillery.

U.S. air strikes and artillery repelled what has been described as an unprovoked assault.

Well, Syrian forces have also been very active against rebels in Eastern Syria, especially the enclave of Ghouta near the capital. Hundreds of thousands of civilians there are in desperate circumstances with little humanitarian aid.

Our Ben Wedeman has the latest.

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The situation in the rebel-controlled eastern Ghouta just outside of Damascus is increasingly dire. For three days now Syrian war planes have pummeled the area, killing as many as 80 people Tuesday, almost 30 Wednesday, according to the U.K.-based Syrian observatory for human rights.

[03:25:07] Tuesday, opposition forces fired artillery rounds from the Eastern Ghouta into Damascus, killing five civilians, according to the official Syrian Arab news agency.

This rebel-controlled area has a population of around 400,000 who have been under siege for the past five years. No aid has reached eastern Ghouta since November of last year, putting the people there at risk of starvation and disease.

The U.N. is calling for an immediate one-month cease-fire to allow humanitarian relief into the area and to evacuate the sick and the wounded. So far, that appeal has fallen on deaf ears.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut.

CHURCH: And in northern Syria, there are growing fears of a clash between forces backed by Turkey and Kurdish militia, backed by the U.S.

Turkey began a military offensive last month targeting the city of Afrin. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows to push eastern Mambij and has demanded that U.S. forces leave the area.

Both cities are under Kurdish control, shown here in the green, although I don't think we can pull out our maps. We are having some technical difficulties, you probably realize that.

But our Nick Paton Walsh traveled to the area and has this exclusive report.


NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: They've been trying to stay out of the dust and chaos here for years. But it hasn't worked. And now American Special Forces give us the first access to their daily risky patrols in Syria. They're here despite unprecedented threat from a supposed friend, Turkey, whose forces are just over the hill.

A NATO ally whose president has demanded only hours earlier that the U.S. withdraw immediately. These Syrian Kurdish fighters are the reason why. America fought with them to defeat ISIS across northern Syria. But Turkey thinks they are terrorists, linked to Turkish Kurds fighters.

So here they are barrel to barrel. This is a strange new world in Syria. In the end game of the fight against ISIS NATO ally facing NATO ally here. American troops very much on the front line after years, you might say, of trying to stay out of this messy civil war.

A new chapter of which is now beginning. This is the scramble for the land ISIS built and lost. In fact, in the last hour, the rebels from over there have fired on a nearby checkpoint. As if they heard the Turkish demand the U.S. leave.

Bu still, the Americans send their highest-ranking officer yet. The message, we're not going anywhere.

When you take fire from this direction three or four times a week we're being told.

And that's from forces supported by your NATO ally, Turkey?


WALSH: Which is by definition bizarre?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is. Absolutely. You said that, that's exactly right. It is bizarre. I would say that the people to fought to take Raqqah back from ISIS, no matter what nationality they were, no matter what their beliefs, were heroes.

WALSH: Turkey say some of them are terrorists.


WALSH: But that's the complexity of where we are right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is. That's exactly right.

WALSH: What's your biggest worry about what's going on here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miscalculation. Could be anybody's.

WALSH: And if these two sides end up in open conflict, what do you do about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We de-escalate.

WALSH: But don't pretend this battle row for America goes anywhere good fast. Turkish and Kurds hate each other perhaps more than they did ISIS. And they won't fight ISIS if they're fighting each other.

"The coalition's goal," this commander says, "was to finish ISIS in the area, but Turkey with their actions and statements is giving life to ISIS again."

And this is just the beginning. We drive past a huge convoy in support of Kurdish fighters in nearby Kurdish enclave to the west called Afrin, that Turkey has invaded, despite American pleas they don't.

In a nearby town of Manbij American Special Forces commander strolls around the market liberated from ISIS 18 months ago, where life is just about becoming life again. Where hotels are trying to open. But where businesses hamstrung by the fear Turkey will make good on its threat to send its NATO-equipped army to invade too.

They thought they were getting over the war here, but it looms again. Another possible ugly chapter. An ally against erstwhile ally is nothing new to brutalized Syria.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, near Manbij, Syria.


[03:29:59] CHURCH: And we'll take a very short break here. CNN Newsroom is back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back. "CNN newsroom." I am Rosemary Church. Russia may not be part of this year's winter Olympics but some Russian athletes are. And more want to be. The court of arbitration for sport, or CAS is hearing appeals from more Russian athletes banned from this year's games, because of doping. Oren Lieberman joins us from Moscow with more on this. Oren, how likely is it that some or perhaps all of these Russian athletes will win their appeals and take part in is year's games?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: So those are two different questions, Rosemary, and they're not directly intertwined. So there are four separate cases now at the court of arbitration for sport in essentially the last 24 or so hours before the opening ceremonies of the games and the Olympics officially begin. In these, Russian athletes are trying to have their bans overturned. Will the court of arbitration for sport decide for them? We'll wait and see, but we do know the court just last week overturned lifetime bans for one-quarter of them, for 15 of these Russian athletes. There seems to be some indication the court could very well side with the Russians. But even if they side with all 60 of them, and it's a combination of athletes and coaches across a number of different sports, that doesn't mean the international Olympic committee has to let them compete in the games that is because court decisions are not binding on the IOC. The President for the international Olympic committee kind of took a swipe at the Russians saying it's bigger than that, it's bigger than individual athletes, and perhaps it's bigger than the court. Here what is the President of the IOC had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian athletes can be ambassadors of a new generation. They can be the new role models for a change in culture in Russian sports. They can demonstrate to their fellow athletes that if you are clean, you're reward and not punished for the rule violations of others. Now it is up to Russia whether they want to be welcomed back to the Olympic movement.


LIEBERMANN: Here you set a sense of the court and the international Olympic committee being on two different pages. The court itself looked at individual cases, the individual athletes, if you will. While the international Olympic committee in banning Russia from the games, looked at overall Russia, what they see as a systemic problem of Russian doping. So they really are looking at different aspects here and that is where you get the problem. Russian athletes are stuck in the middle.

[03:35:02] CHURCH: Yes. Indeed. Oren Lieberman bringing us up to date on that situation from Moscow, we thank you very much.

Well we want to show you these pictures that are just coming in of North Korea's massive military parade. You know this took place some hours ago. So we're told that this was supposed to scare the hell out of Americans it's an annual event marking the 70th anniversary of the military's founding. But this year the parade actually took place on the eve of the Olympics. Of course it didn't go out live this time, it was taped. And what happens in Pyongyang gets carefully edited. This is very well choreographed. 13,000 soldiers took part here. And then once it is shown to the world, analysts in the United States and elsewhere are very eager to see what sort of hardware is out there on display on the streets. But of course it's very carefully edited as I said. And that means that you don't get real close-ups of this hardware. So what they're able to ascertain from this, we'll just have to see in the coming hours and days.

All right. We've got Paula Hancocks joining us live from Pyeongchang. As this was playing out, Paula, this was sending the message to America in the hope it would scare the hell out of Americans as we heard. As this was all happening, of course, they're preparing for the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics. So talk to us about the mood there and what people think there about what's happening in Pyeongchang, what happened some hours ago.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the most part officials certainly are not even acknowledge anything about the military parade that you are seeing pictures of now. They're not mentioning anything about it at all. They're saying they're happy North Korea is part of what they're calling the peace Olympics. We're hearing from the Presidential office as well saying that President Moon Jae-in of South Korea will meet with Kim Jong-un's sister when she gets here between the 9th and the 11th with that VIP delegation from North Korea. They will be sitting down for a lunch on February 10th. Certainly they will in the blue house and ministries throughout the country be watching closely this military parade as they will around the world, very interesting this was a parade that did actually happen earlier in the day. But North Korea decided not to play these images live, as they have done in the past. They also decided not to allow any international media into the country to be able to film it for themselves this time. That is unusual. And certainly a sign that they wanted to control the message. They wanted to make sure there were no questions about which missiles they were parading. There were no questions about whether there were mockups. They just wanted to control the message and make sure that it was highly choreographed, as everything else that comes out of North Korea. But here in Pyeongchang there's no mention of this military parade. Officials know about it, officials are unlikely to be happy it happens on the eve of Monday, but they're not commenting.

CHURCH: Paula Hancocks just stand by there in Pyeongchang, I do want to go to Paula Newton who joins us from Seoul. Paula, we've been waiting for this video to come out. Sure enough, we're seeing close- ups of the troops there. We're not seeing close-ups of the hardware. Exactly what was predicted here? Carefully choreographed and of course edited and sanitized for the world. What are you seeing when you look at this pictures?

NEWTON: Certainly as you guys have been saying, carefully choreographed and a lot of soldiers, South Korean government estimates about 13,000. Again, very ceremonial and apparently smaller than it has been in other years. It lasted about an hour. We're not exactly sure how long this edited version will last. Any kind of hardware that they bring out will be examined by experts to see if there is anything new. And many experts expect that there would be something, that the North Korean government, no matter how much more low key this parade might be will be anxious to show their military prowess somehow. Again this was for their anniversary of their army. It's now -- they're saying they are celebrating that anniversary. But very clearly coming the day before the opening ceremonies, there is definitely an underlying message in all of this. They said as much to CNN a couple of weeks ago when they said that this kind of parade was designed to scare the United States. I can tell you, U.S. Officials saying that there is nothing in this that intimidates them whatsoever, and Mike Pence, the Vice President, now in the region having just landed here in Seoul about to start a bilateral meeting with the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, then followed up by a dinner. He said over and over again that anything like this will not intimidate him. Again, though, experts waiting to see if they actually do roll out any video of that hardware.

[03:40:15] CHURCH: Very important there. Many thanks to Paula Newton in Seoul. Let us go to Paula Hancocks again in Pyeongchang. Paula, let us talk about that snow and the cold temperatures. Because it's cold, but the problem is there's no precipitation. When there's no precipitation, there's less likely to be any natural snow. So what does that mean for events going forward?

HANCOCKS: That is right, Rosemary. Traditionally, this is the dry season. Korea does have winter as the dry season, summer as the wet season. So you don't often have a huge amount of natural snow here. But we do understand that there is a lot of manmade snow. Traditionally, not just for the Olympics. We spoke to one expert who said he is been working or his company's been working in Korea for about 17 years making artificial snow to make sure tourists and athletes can go skiing when they want to. So certainly it is an issue there's no natural snow, but of course it is very cold as well.

This is concerning officials are more than the lack of natural snow in press conferences from officials and press releases many of them All right not talking just about the opening and closing ceremonies or the athletes and the games, they are warning about the extreme weather. I've been here for many years and I have not known a winter like this. It has been brutal over the past couple of weeks. We're expecting it to warm up little bit. But of course the opening ceremony is in a stadium that has no roof, it has no heating. There will be people sitting in there for a number of hours. So they're going to be giving out heat packs and heat cushions, blankets, to those going in with tickets to make sure that they can withstand the cold. It is something that officials are very aware of, Rosemary.

CHURCH: That sounds pretty tough for certainly for tourists who wouldn't be used to this at all. All right, we want to go back to this video. Let's bring out this video of the military parade. We see Kim Jong-un there inspecting the troops. Paula Newton, I want to go back to you this is what we see every year. We're still waiting to see the hardware. We know that the actual military parade took about an hour. So it will be interesting to see how long the actual tape is that is revealed to the world.

NEWTON: Well, I can tell you they have several angles going. And this is highly edited footage, which is in no way, shape or form sequential. So clearly whatever we're seeing is exactly what they want to see, when they want to see it, and perhaps why there was such a delay in actually broadcasting this right now. I can't help but notice the juxtaposition, Rosemary, I mean Vice President Pence just landed here a little while ago. So the Korean TV has got split screens going of the parade along with the arrival of Vice President Pence. And you have to think that if you're North Korea right now, you are thinking this is what they wanted from a propaganda perspective. Again, nothing of substance yet that I can see from the pictures. But again, this may be what North Korea wanted, meaning not wanting to show their hand, but as I said, the video, highly edited and not sequential in any way, shape or form.

CHURCH: Certainly as you point out, very interesting timing there with the parade on one side and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the other. And of course this was designed to, as they say, scare the hell out of American, but from what we're seeing, it's not particularly scary, is it?

NEWTON: No. And I think that Americans -- the American officials said quite clearly it didn't matter what they trotted out. I think again, it makes the point Rosemary, I know western officials I've spoken to in this City have told me over and over again, no one is expecting anything to change after these Olympics in terms of the posture from North Korea or the reciprocal posture from the United States and its alliance with South Korea. Having said that, South Korea was much more hopeful in terms of dialogue. That's why we've had the announcement as Paula mentioned of Moon Jae-in meeting with a high-level North Korean delegation they will meet a day after the opening ceremonies at a luncheon. Again, the intention is to continue the goodwill at least that is what we've heard from the blue house the presidents spokesperson told us they intend to continue the goodwill. You know as Paula Hancocks has reported from this country for so many months up to the Olympics, the tension involved in the 1988 Olympics couldn't have been higher. There were terrorist acts involved.

[03:45:00] Most notably a plane being shot down. So at this point in time, South Korea has what it considers to be the peace Olympics. I think United States is a bit skeptical as to whether or not this will change anything in the weeks after the Olympics are over.

CHURCH: Paula, as you've been talking to us, we continue to look at this footage of the military parade. What stands out, we've seen Kim Jong-un we've seen the officials, we've seen the troops, we see it on a loop almost. But no hardware. Which is interesting. Because that when we compare it to parades of years gone by, it's very different, isn't it?

NEWTON: Yes, I mean no hardware as of yet. The pictures seem to be repeating at this point in time. And again, not sequential. I mean, one thing that experts have pointed out is that during the last parade, one thing that they wanted us to see and that we saw was a much large launcher which was then used for an ICBM. Nothing like that so far. Considering the pictures are developed on a loop here, I'm not exactly sure if they will eventually get to that. As you pointed out, the parade was an hour and this is so highly edited from so many different angles, not exactly sure how long this is going to go on. We've waited for it for several hours already.

CHURCH: Yes. As you say, it is very repetitive from what we've been seeing. Paula Hancocks, let us go back to you. As Paula mentioned you've been there for so many years. What do you think when you look at this footage and compare to it years gone by?

HANCOCKS: Certainly at the moment what we're seeing is the military personnel -- almost a celebration of the military. It's not what we're used to. It's not the stereotypical military parade that you see and expect from North Korea. Of course, we know that usually that is the first thing that they will show that what they want people to, be able to see. They want to show off what they have. They want to show off what they want people to think they have. Even if experts believe that is a mock-up, it gives them idea what they're pushing towards. The ICBM's were paraded before they were actually believed to have the capability. It showed the rest of the world what their intentions were, that that is what they wanted and then shortly afterwards they were testing those intercontinental ballistic missiles which they say can hit mainland United States. So the fact is, North Korea does these military parades for a very definite reason. It is to show the world what they are able to do. It is meant to be as part of a deterrent to show that you shouldn't attack North Korea. This is what we have and that we can launch against you. North Korea consistently saying they need these missiles, they need this nuclear program, because they feel under threat, because they believe the U.S. is hostile towards them, because they believe that they are doing this in self-defense. That is certainly the public message that they are giving. But it's interesting that all the way in, it's hard to tell whether it is on a loop or just repeating, that we haven't actually seen a missile yet, as far as I can tell.

CHURCH: Very unusual indeed. Many thanks to Paula Hancocks covering the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and to Paula Newton who is there in Seoul. We thank you very much.

We're going to take a short break. We'll be back in just a moment.


[03:50:32] CHURCH: Welcome back everyone, well it is now unmistakably clear how seriously Kim Jong-un is taking his country's mission to the winter Olympics. He is sending a member of his family. Not just some distant relative, but the one person he trusts with his life inside the regime. Here's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Outside of her brother, Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong could be the most powerful person in North Korea. The younger sister of the North Korea dictator, she shares his DNA and vision for the present regime. She is heading across the South Korean border as part of the North Korea's delegation into the winter Olympics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's absolutely significant on quite a number of levels. First just the symbolism, the symbolic of this. She has been relatively cloistered outside of North Korea. We don't know how much she has travel. But she is about to emerge on the world's largest television stage.

TODD: Kim Yo-jong will be the first member of the Kim dynasty ever to visit South Korea. No family member has crossed the border since the Korean War. Her star has rising mediocrely over the past four years. She has been a top official of the propaganda and agitation department which U.S. officials say enforces censorship and she was recently promoted to a position in the politburo, the senior body in the communist Party. Kim Yong-nam, the ceremonial head of state who will also be at the Olympics, wield considerable influence inside the regime, but analysts say Kim Yo-jong is the real power just under her brother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Yo-jong's power exists because of proximity to the leader himself. She is the person that he trust more than anyone else in the regime.

TODD: Experts say one of Kim Yo-jong's top responsibilities now is counter intelligence. Acting as her brother's eyes and ears. Helping him identify who might be plotting against him inside Pyongyang dangerous halls of power. Analysts say she'll be gathering intelligence when she is at the Olympics and she could serve as a high-level back channel for the North Korean government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the United States and South Korea want to reach out and use the Olympics as an opportunity for informal discussions, those discussions can go through an unfiltered direct channel back to Kim Jong-un. And she would provide that direction.

TODD: Meantime, with the world watching the Olympics, she will put a young, telegenic face on the regime. This is a calculated move from Kim Jong-un, experts say, to answer Ivanka Trump's presence at the closing ceremonies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kim Yo-jong is the perfect counterpart to this. It also is a signal that North Korea is not this crazy, weird, former cold war state, but it has too young women that are capable and are the future leadership.

TODD: Brian Todd, CNN Washington.


CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here, we will have more for you when we come back.


[03:55:00] CHURCH: We talked about that cold weather in South Korea, and it may be friendly for the snow, need for the winter sports, but not comfortable for those upcoming opening ceremonies. Let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who joins us from the international weather center. Of course the snow's not any good without the precipitation, right? But what's the outlook like for the winter games?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's actually looking a little bit better finally. We are in the heart of the dry season as we were talking about earlier there. You look at January, February. In fact, February is the second-driest month climatologically speaking. It is really counter to it, a lot of people think if you want significant snowfall, you've got to be cold. Zero degrees that is where you want to be for the perfect amount of moisture and cold air combination, to produce significant snow. You get much, much cooler than that, in fact, the air loses the ability to hold moisture so you're not able to product significant snow. That is been the case. It's been unbelievably cold across the region, wind chills as cold as 15 below. Take a look at the perspectives through Thursday night, in fact, just the past couple of weeks there we've had temps 3.5 to 5 degrees below average for this time of year. The heart of winter, it's supposed to be cold, but this is quite a bit colder than that across this region.

Take a look at the forecast radar, a couple of shots of snow. In particular Friday night into Saturday, a pretty decent shot of snow for the first time in five days. I think accumulations generally a few centimeters, so not a blockbuster system here. But he haven't seen anything in the form of flakes falling out of the skies in a week. That is good news at least across that region. Where there has been plenty of snow and historic amount as well has been in Paris. Look at this. The most snow since 1987 occurring in Paris in the past 24 hours. Road ways in parts of town buckling enough to where folks are trapped in cars for several hours. Major traffic disruptions across a City such as Paris with 12 centimeters in one observation point, down toward Olly as much as 15 centimeters. These are an event that would typically happen for that amount in one day once every 20 to 25 years. So pretty impressive setup of snowfall and look at the forecast here, we get additional chance of snow going into Friday. So if you want the winter games, maybe Paris is the place to head to. A lot more snow potentially coming in on Friday as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Wow that sounds very cold. Pedram thanks for bringing us up to date. Thanks you so much for your company this hour. I am Rosemary Church. The news continues with "Early Start" after this short break don't go anywhere.