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U.S. Government Shuts Down, Senate Budget Vote Soon; Some Protests Near PyeongChang Olympic Venues; Russians Lose Appeal to Participate in Olympics; Rob Porter's Ex-Wife Claims He Will Abuse Hope Hicks; Russian Athletes Lose Last-Ditch Appeal; Anticipation Builds For Friday's Opening Ceremony; North Korean Flag Raised At Winter Olympics. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 9, 2018 - 02:00   ET




ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour: The U.S. government is officially shut down for the second time in less than a month.

Also let the games begin. We're now just hours away from the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

And the Dow's sharp drop also has Asia markets seeing red.

Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.


SESAY: So for the second time in three weeks, the U.S. federal government has shut down but the Senate moved forward with a plan to get it open again. They finally approved a bipartisan two-year spending bill. But Republican Rand Paul held up the vote for hours, objecting to the increase in spending and its impact on the deficit.

The bill now goes to the House where its future is uncertain. Let's get right to Capitol Hill and CNN's congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

Phil, I want to say the end is in sight for you, that you could start thinking about your bed but I don't think I should go that far just yet.

It is passed the Senate but, boy, oh boy, with or without drama.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let's not get a little too presumptuous at this point in time. Still a couple of steps to go here. But look, what just happened in the Senate was something that we expected to happen, Isha, hours ago.

Instead, we're two hours into a government shutdown and there are still those multiple steps left to actually get the government back open. However, the Senate vote is an extremely important one in this process, in the scale and size of the Senate vote, 71 yes votes, 28 no votes; bipartisan, really underscoring how this deal all came together and why senators were willing to move forward on this.

And I think kind of sending a message, too, to the House Democrats. There were a lot of Democrats in the Senate that voted for this proposal, that like this proposal because of what it does on the spending side, particularly on nondefense, domestic issues. This is now moving forward to the House.

But, Isha, you made the crucial point here, the House is still a question mark. Here's what I'm being told behind the scenes right now. House Republican leaders feel like they are in a good place and they can get this across the finish line. They believe -- and they have been told through back channels, I'm told -- that there are enough Democrats that want to vote for this proposal, that support this budget proposal, to give them the votes they need to move this forward.

Now why do they need Democratic votes? Democrats are in the majority (INAUDIBLE) simple majority moves forward type of operation and Republicans hold 240-plus seats. It's because this is a spending deal and it is very large, $300 billion in increases on spending over the next two years.

In total the package costs about $500 billion. That means fiscal conservatives on the Right are opposed to this deal for dozens of them, maybe 50, 60 at some point. That means Speaker Ryan is going to have to dip in to the Democratic caucus and try and get their votes to come over and push them across the finish line.

The key issue has been immigration. House Democrats have made very clear they oppose this bill on the grounds that they don't have a firm enough commitment, they say, from Speaker Ryan to address the DACA issue, to find some kind of issue related to the deferred action program for individuals that were brought into this country illegally by their parents.

So where do things stand right now?

Well, the big question is, how many yes votes can Speaker Paul Ryan get out of that caucus? Throughout the course of the last 15-16 hours, Democrats have held their cards very close to the vest. That's a leverage issue. They want to try and force the Speaker to give a firmer commitment.

As of this point Republican aides say very clearly, that's not coming anytime soon and House Republicans are moving forward on this bill as soon as they get it from the Senate. That means someone is calling someone else's bluff right now and we're eventually going to have to see how this all ends up.

Again, Republican leaders feel like they are in a good spot, that they can get this across the finish line and this shutdown will just be a minor one, just a few hours. But we don't have a firm idea yet of where things are which means we're going to have to do some more reporting over the next couple of hours -- Isha.

SESAY: Oh, dear, Phil Mattingly, you've been nothing but a trooper as we said. This vote is going to the House, as you made the point repeatedly and excellently, they don't quite know whether they have the votes. But they're going to move on ahead anyway.

Talk to me about first of all why there's the delay, why not just have the vote right now if they feel pretty confident that they can make this thing get across the line?

Why the several hours' delay to getting the vote in the House?

MATTINGLY: Well, like everything else on Capitol Hill and in this building, the Capitol building, it's process and that's exactly what it is. Basically the Senate finishes the vote, they can't just walk it directly over to the House. There's a process to actually move the papers over to the House. You have to queue up rules in the House to actually make this actually happen.

That's why they can't do it immediately and, frankly, this underscores the reality of the last 24 hours or so. We thought the Senate vote was going to be at some point in the early afternoon. As you know, Senator Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky, held --


MATTINGLY: -- that vote up. He wanted an amendment. He essentially wanted to unravel the spending deal or at least have the opportunity to.

Leaders refused to give him that vote. They didn't want one amendment because then they knew a bunch of others were going to come on board and that would be potentially problematic.

Because of that, Senator Paul objected to having an earlier vote. That's why we're here now, that's why it took until 2:00 am to get this passed. We got a little bit more process left; luckily the House moves a little bit faster than the Senate so it shouldn't take as long as the course of the last 15 hours have taken.

But right now we're expecting some type of resolution in between the 3:00 am and 5:00 am hour. Things are still fluid, trying to figure out what happens. And of course the big question is, do they have the votes?

And if they have the votes, they'll push it through. If they don't, everybody's going to have to figure something out quick because, as you noted, the government currently is shut down.

SESAY: It is indeed and over two hours into that shutdown.

Phil Mattingly, go find yourself a quiet spot, get yourself a cup of coffee, close your eyes for a little bit and we will speak you soon.


SESAY: Thank you.

Joining us now, CNN political commentators, Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson; Republican consultant John Thomas. Also with us, Jessica Levinson, professor of law and government at Loyola Law School.

Thank you, thank you for being with us.

Let me start with you, Dave, it's passed the Senate. It can take that off the list. But the House, it is far from certain and it does seem, from what our Phil Mattingly is saying, that Speaker Ryan (INAUDIBLE) he is in a pretty good place.

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's possible, right, he has still got like 30 or 40 Republicans of the House Freedom Caucus who have not committed to this. They strictly opposed this bill. So he does the bipartisan support.

The question is can Nancy Pelosi hold the line with Democrats and force the hand of Paul Ryan to make a firm commitment to do something on DACA that doesn't necessarily have to be tied to whatever President Trump wants to do?

I think that's the big issue; she generally believes that this is a good bill. Her staff helped to craft it. But I think it's smart politics to exploit this issue and try and leverage it to get Paul Ryan to make a commitment.


JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Pelosi has been squishy on this issue. She says she's a no vote but she said explicitly, I'm not telling my fellow members how to vote on this issue. So she's giving her fellow members an out to vote for a great bipartisan bill.

Let's not forget, Nancy Pelosi's district is in liberal San Francisco. She can afford to vote no on this bill. If you're in one of those swing districts, you need an opportunity to show a win, that you're not obstructionist to get the bipartisan bill that many people and many Americans would like to see passed.

SESAY: Jessica, this (INAUDIBLE) case of I'm calling your bluff if we're to go with the fact that Speaker Ryan feels pretty confident he's going to take this to the floor for a vote.

JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: I think that's right. And I think that he likely is very confident that this will pass and, frankly, Nancy Pelosi is kind of dancing on the head of a pin because she is saying, well, I'm going to vote no because she has to vote no because has said, I deeply care about finding a fix to DACA.

But she was involved in drafting the bill and she's not whipping votes, at least aggressively, to get people to vote no. And so I think that she as the leader of the Democratic Party in the House really has to say, well, I'm against it but kind with a wink and a nod. You should do what you feel like you need to do. And because of what we've seen Democrats do in the past, where they

caved on DACA with respect to the first shutdown about three weeks ago, I think all indications are that there will be another cave and that they will say, well, we will take this up separately.

Let's be honest that's when they'll have much less leverage and will talk about DACA separately.

THOMAS: Make no mistake, this is -- today's vote is all about the midterms. That's what it's about. It's not even about the bill. As that generic ballot continues to tighten, congress men and women on both sides of the aisle are sweating in those tight districts. So they need to get through this shutdown and as -- Jessica's right. The Democrats don't have as much leverage on DACA and the DREAMers.

But that's not quite as important as the political theater of stomping your feet and holding strong, as strong as you can and then blaming the evil Republicans --

SESAY: Dave, you've got to give him some -- there is some truth to --


SESAY: -- this is part of the theater and this is smoke and mirrors.

JACOBSON: A lot of it is the optics and playing to the base and creating that narrative that you're standing up and you're digging your heels in, fighting the good fight and trying to move the ball forward --

SESAY: But who's buying that?

Knowing that Nancy Pelosi said -- she basically -- you can vote as you choose; I'm voting no.

JACOBSON: I think, look, Nancy ultimately wants to get to yes, right, like her -- it would be disingenuous to say that she totally opposes this bill under all circumstances. Her staff helped to craft it.

And, by the way, there's some really great things in there for Democrats. There's a CHIP extension to 10 years, the Child Health Insurance Program. There is a carbon technology tax credit where, if you're a polluting factory, whatever, and you capture carbon, you can actually get a tax credit --


JACOBSON: -- for biodiesel and --


JACOBSON: -- biofuel cell vehicles that are purchased. So like there's a lot of environmental benefits. There's infrastructure investment. There's health care benefits. So there's a lot of really good elements to this bill. I think all Nancy is trying to do is say, look, let's try to prevent Paul Ryan from bringing this to the floor as long as possible, try to leverage this so we can get some form of a commitment.

But at the end of the day, this bill's going to pass. The question is, how long is it going to take to get to goal.

SESAY: Jessica, I mean, with that being the reality, that this bill is going to pass, what does any kind of DACA negotiation look like?

LEVINSON: Well, I think that it doesn't look like a real negotiation right now. I think it looks like what we've just said, which is that the Democrats are going to say we were really pushing about DACA and I want you constituents to know I cared about DACA so much that we almost kept the government shut down.

And it's all about symbolism and it's all about trying to explain to people and people in the great majorities favor DACA. They think that people who are brought here as children, who are productive members of society, should have a way to stay and that we should not support these people.

But I absolutely do not think that the Democrats will dig in and say, we think it's so important that we're going to shut the government down.

THOMAS: Well, in the next round of DACA negotiations, that is the leverage that the Democrats have: public opinion.

That public opinion wants the Congress to come to some kind of agreement. Now the devil is in the details --


THOMAS: -- but Trump letting it simply expire would be bucking public opinion and that would hurt the Republicans.

SESAY: The question is, what are Democrats willing to give up to get that DACA deal -- Dave?

JACOBSON: And that's the question, we're losing a lot of leverage once we let this bill sail through the Congress. And so that the open question. I think that if this does -- if there's no DACA fix as we move through 2018, it's going to be an explosive issue for a lot of Republicans and frankly in key states the Democrats want to flip in the Senate red to blue, particularly in Arizona and Nevada where you've got Jeff Flake, who's leaving his seat, of course, and then Dean Heller in Nevada, who's very vulnerable, very large Latino populations in both of those states.

Those are states -- Nevada, Hillary won; Arizona, Hillary came within a razor thin margins. I think she lost by four percentage points and so Democrats are going to capitalize on if there's no DACA fix. They're going to move forward and try to do everything that they can to flip those seats red to blue.

And I think DACA not getting solved is going to give us the upper hand in those elections.

SESAY: Many, many ifs. Dave, John and Jessica, appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much.

OK. There was no animation so let's move on.


SESAY: There you have it. You have the animation. We're talking about the Olympics the 23rd Winter Olympic Games officially kick off just hours from now with the opening ceremony. Among those in the VIP section will be the youngest sister of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. Her private jet touched down outside of Seoul just a couple of hours ago.

On Saturday, Kim Yo-jong is expected to sit down for an informal lunch with South Korea's leader. Diplomatic sources tell CNN she may invite President Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang.

CNN's Ivan Watson joins us now from PyeongChang, South Korea.

Ivan, we'll get to the matter of Kim Jong-un's sister in just a moment. But we're counting down to the opening ceremony. Give us a sense of the atmosphere and what we're looking forward to.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this small town is revving up. You can just feel the festivities kicking off today, Isha. The Olympic torch just passed through here within the last hour, with all this music and drums going on as well, this kind of music echoing over this small town as Koreans kind of start the party in true Korean style, with lots of music.

The opening ceremony will be in that stadium over in the distance there. The theme will be "Peace in Motion." The government here has called these the Peace Games and that's really one of the themes here.

We are probably expecting to see a lot of performances from those famous K-pop style stars, Korean music, of course, a really big industry here and a big export as well.

Another little thing I'd like to point out here, in this circle, demonstrators, protesters, some of them against North Korea's participation in the Games. We've see them at many other locations around Korea in the past week, every time the North Korean delegations show up somewhere.

And some of them protesting against the U.S. with a sign over there called, "Yankee, go home."

And I think what that illustrates basically is that this is taking place in a democracy with freedom of assembly, freedom of opinion, something that doesn't quite exist on the northern side of the demilitarized zone.


SESAY: Very, very good point, Ivan, but the North Korean leader's sister is there in PyeongChang attending these games.

What do we know of the choreography, if you will, of this visit and how it will be orchestrated, the hours ahead?

WATSON: Well, certainly she has this lunch scheduled with the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. She is not the leader of the delegation actually from North Korea. It's a man named Kim Jong-nam, who is the ceremonial head of state of North Korea. And she's shown publicly deference to him since she landed here. She

will presumably be in that stadium, along with thousands of other spectators, who are going to be equipped with blankets and warm hats and heaters because it's so cold here, as will the U.S. V.P. Mike Pence, who has been touring South Korea today, trying to draw attention to North Korea's dismal human rights record and its record of provocations against South Korea.

Very interesting that a visiting American official is trying to -- trying to drum up of provocations against South Korea from North Korea rather than a South Korean official trying to do.

Pence had dinner with Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president last night and the South Koreans are in the delicate position of having to balance their very important American ally with their guests from North Korea, who only just agreed to join in the Olympics within a matter of weeks ago.

So that's a very high wire act, a balancing act that the South Koreans are having to conduct amid all of this pageantry and this sports festival here.

SESAY: It is very much a fine line that they have to walk. Talk to us about the North Korean-South Korean athletes coming together, walking, marching under this unification flag.

When will they enter the stadium, what are the expectations of what that will look like, who will be carrying the flag?

WATSON: Well, we know that one of the flag bearers from the South Korean side will be the bobsledder named Won Yun Jong (ph). We don't yet know who the North Korean flag bearer will be; we're told that that could be announced sometime in the future.

The North Koreans have kind of left some of these details to the last minute as their decision was to join in the Olympics themselves. We know that they're coming in under a unification flag, that is this is blue and white flag that shows a map of the Korean Peninsula.

One of the teams of athletes, the women's ice hockey team, has been a unified team; that's attracted some controversy here in South Korea with some critics saying, that wasn't fair. You basically slammed the South Korean athletes in with complete strangers just a few days before the Olympics.

And we saw a demonstration match, where it was clear that, while this was an experiment in unity, there was a vast gulf, a cultural gulf and even a linguistic gulf between some of the North and South Korean athletes.

So this is very much a work in progress, trying to bring these people together. It is not the first time North and South Korean athletes have marched together at the Olympics; it's happened three times before in decades past.

We will all be looking indeed. Ivan, we will be looking to their body language, how they move together as a group in this opening ceremony, are there smiles. We will all be watching very, very closely as the opening ceremony gets underway.

Ivan Watson, there in PyeongChang, Ivan, get a hat. It looks very, very cold. Thank you. Thank you for joining us.

We're going to take a very quick break. Still to come, why dozens of Russian athletes lost a last-minute appeal to participate in those Winter Games.





SESAY: Forty-five Russian athletes and two coaches lost a last-minute bid to compete in the Winter Games. The Court of Arbitration for Sport just rejected their appeal. You'll recall the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from participating as a national team after it found the country committed widespread doping violations.

However, 168 Russians were able to prove they were clean and will compete under a mutual flag. CNN's Oren Liebermann is following the story live from Moscow.

Oren, one can only assume that there is a great amount of anger as well as disappointment at the fact that this appeal was lost.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we've seen both of those words in responses that we're now getting, not only from Russian athletes who were hoping to compete and the Russian athletes who were allowed to compete under this neutral flag but also now from Russian politicians who were weighing in.

The deputy prime minister said, look, this was disappointing and to some extent expected because of how the IOC works. He says it's a not transparent process and the IOC essentially has all of the leverage there and all of the decision-making power so it's very difficult to challenge them.

We've also seen accusations that the IOC, the International Olympic Committee decision is political in nature and that's an accusation that's come from, for example, the coach of the Russian bobsled team.

It's not a surprise, Isha, that Russia's so angry about this. They have been from the very beginning. And they've seen this from the broader perspective of sort of the West against Russia. The IOC being the West there; making decisions that are political in nature, controversial, conspiratorial in nature.

We've seen those accusations lobbed as well, nonetheless, disappointing for dozens of athletes who were hoping to compete with this last-second reprieve.

SESAY: And, Oren, the dozens of athletes that will be participating, the 160-plus. Talk to me first of all about what that means, the fact that this is a much smaller contingent, whether or not they're participating under the Russian flag, they will be treated as such by those back at home.

What are we thanking in terms of their medal chances?

What are we thinking in terms of the amount of support they'll get from the general public in Russia?

LIEBERMANN: The general public absolutely supports them. Olympics in general and Winter Olympics in particular are very important for Russian national pride and Russian prestige. And they these very seriously. They have 160 some odd athletes going. But that's out of a contingent of 500 they were hoping to send.

So a much reduced number and yet these are national heroes, whether they are in some of the bigger sports or some of the more obscure sports, they are all considered national heroes here because of how much the games mean.

They will be competing under a neutral Olympic athlete from Russia flag. But if the games go well, there's an expectation that at the closing ceremony they may be able to wave a Russian flag and have some sort of Russian symbol.

Still Russian (INAUDIBLE) as well as athletes who've (INAUDIBLE) state news agencies here have said, look, everyone from -- everyone knows who we're competing for and, more importantly, everyone knows that if we win, those medals are going back home to Russia.

So there is that defiant aspect to all of this, that even if you won't let us compete under a Russian flag, we're still very much Russian and that's who the medals will belong to in the end, even if the official count doesn't list Russia as one of the medal winning countries.

SESAY: Let's see how many medals they get. Oren Liebermann joining us there from Moscow, always appreciate it, thank you.

Most Winter Olympic athletes are used to training in cold weather, which may prove useful. That's because low temperatures in PyeongChang will plummet in the next few days.



SESAY: Next on CNN NEWSROOM L.A., a top White House aide has resigned amid domestic abuse allegations.

What other aides knew about Rob Porter and when. Those are the big questions. We'll try and answer them after the break.


[02:30:00] SESAY: -- in the game. Russia was barred from sending a national team because we remember of that doping scandal.

Well, the International Criminal Court is looking into allegations that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte committed crimes against humanity as part of his anti-drug campaign. Thousands of people have died in the drug war since Mr. Duterte took office in June 2016 (INAUDIBLE) Of the President said that he thinks the inquiry is a waste of time.

The U.S. Senate is parted by partisan budget deal that it has come too late to prevent a government shutdown the second in three weeks. The bill now goes to the House when future is uncertain. Democrats want protections from undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Now, the other big political headline of the day, the White House is scrambling to explain why it keeps Staff Secretary Rob Porter on the job after allegations of domestic violence. Porter resigned on Wednesday and he's denying the charges. A source says the White House council and the Chief of Staff were aware of the claims after the FBI interviewed Porter last four. His first ex-wife release a picture of herself with a black eye. She says Porter punched her. The FBI spoke with both of Porter's ex-wives as part of the security clearance which was never approved. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly send an email to stop (INAUDIBLE) saying "while we are all protesting the shocking and troubling allegations made against a former White House staffer, I want you to know that we all take matters of domestic violence seriously. Domestic violence is apparent and has no place in our society.


RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's fair to say that it -- that, you know, we all could have done better over the last few hours or last few days in dealing with the situation but, you know, this is a rapport that I and many others have dealt with, that Sarah dealt with, that other officials including the Chief of Staff had dealt with. And the emerging reports were not reflective of the individual who we had come to know.


SESAY: Rob Porter's second ex-wife Jennie Willoughby has also opened up about their marriage. She told CNN's Anderson Cooper that Porter contacted her about a blog post she wrote detailing her abuse claims.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It just sound like he asking to deny what you had.

JENNIE WILLOUGHBY, ROB PORTER'S EX-WIFE: He was asking me to downplay it and he was asking me to emphasize more of the relationship that he and I have enough as opposed to what I experience in our marriage.

COOPER: Have you talked to him in the last couple of days?

WILLOUGHBY: I haven't. I haven't spoken to him since that conversation.

COOPER: The rapports now in a -- in a relationship with the White House Press Secretary Hope Hicks, do you think he's changed?

WILLOUGHBY: I don't think he's changed.

COOPER: Does that worry you?

WILLOUGHBY: It worries me for a lot of reasons, I mean, it definitely worries me because if I'm being frank with you, if he hasn't already been abusive with Hope, he will. And particularly now that he's under a lot of stress and scrutiny. That's when the behaviors come out. And if he hasn't already, he will.

COOPER: Do you think he can't -- he has not gotten help, he can't stop at this point?

WILLOUGHBY: I don't think that he has done a self-reflective work to acknowledge this issue. I don't think that he has really taken the time to deconstruct why it is that he behaves as well until he's able to do that, I have control over it.

COOPER: So you're saying you're worried about Hope Hicks?

WILLOUGHBY: I am worried.


SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) Dave, John, and Jessica. Dave, let's start with you. Listening to Raj Shah, he seems to be echoing when others have said when they came to defense over Porter that, you know, these allegations didn't marry up with the man that they had spent time and had to know. Would, you know, could honestly be said it's quite naive because people who do this kind of things, as soon as if they walk around with a sign on their back or they portray or act out in the workplace in such a manner.

JACOBSON: Yes, Isha. I mean, it's a question, do you believe the woman? Right? That's the question that we've been asking ever since the Weinstein scandal has broken. And overwhelmingly the American people we've seen support the woman in this situation. And so, I think the fact that John Kelly sided with a wife beater was totally appalling and frankly I think -- fact that he has to go. If he -- when the FBI did the security check and clearly didn't move forward on giving him the full comprehensive security clearance, he got the temporary one. Clearly, there was someone in the White House on top of the food chain who had to know about that. This guy was a very high-level official in the White House. He was the person feeding Donald Trump information on a day-to-day basis. And so, I don't know how it would be possible for John Kelly to not know about the situation beforehand. And the fact that locked -- glued himself to Porter, you know, the day before when this issue first come, before the pictures, of course, came out, I think was totally deplorable.

[02:35:04] SESAY: John, was it about this White House with understanding by their man if you will in the face of scandals of, you know, Roy Moore or Mike Flynn or like these people accused of doing, you know, shockingly appalling things, I mean, this is truly awful and I don't want to conflate Mike Flynn and Rob Porter but, you know, let me just taking a stand and coming out so hot and support for these people or he's have to walk it back?

THOMAS: Right. Well, first of all, I thought the White House, the Deputy Spokesperson, you know, really remarkable turn of events, apologized and said that they could have handled things better. So that's a start but --

SESAY: You know, they're unhappy with him for doing that.

THOMAS: Well, yes, yes, yes. But at least he did it, at least somebody did it but look, I think there needs to be consequences whether it's John Kelly or whoever knew and we need to know when they knew it. The next question is probably going to be, should be fired? I don't know. I think as the time evolves will -- the story will tell in public pressure will mount. If in fact, Kelly knew all along, try to cover it up or something like that, absolutely should be fired. But what I can say is that Rob Porter hasn't served for numerous high- ranking elective officials and even his ex-wife to Anderson Cooper said that he's a very smooth operator, that he was a guy who can explain away problems and suspects that's what was going on, doesn't excuse the problem. But I suspect he just kept tapped in, singing, explaining away until of course he couldn't any longer.

SESAY: Jessica, don't you have a responsibility with -- presented with such an allegation to investigate as supposed to just certainly saying, well, he gave me assurances and kind of like manage to explain it away. Didn't the White House have a responsibility here to look into it as it comes out that people knew?

LEVINSON: Well, I mean, the White House has failed on so many fronts. And the fact that they come forward and said, you know, we should have done something better, I think you're right, it's kind of the best you can hope for but what else could they have possibly said? We have someone who has been working in high levels at the White House, Rob Porter who has substantiated allegations of domestic abuse, the FBI looked into it and thought it was serious enough that he was prevented from having permanent security clearance, that means that the chief of staff at the very least must have known about it. Two different chiefs of staff. And so, this is very consistent with what the Trump administration has done with respect to women, with respect to people who have frankly made false statements with respect to people who have been accused of a variety of different criminal acts. And so, sadly I think that look, our president a misogynist and this is so consistent with candidate Trump and you have to a certain type of person to decide to sign up to work for President Trump when you know that he has engaged in sexual assault. And so the idea that they didn't engage in internal investigation which under any normal circumstances regardless of party affiliation is exactly what you should do is so sadly predictable. SESAY: And now we must leave it, we know more will emerge in the days ahead, and we can be certain of it. So, Jessica Levinson, John Thomas, Dave Jacobson, thank you.

Next, on CNN NEWSROOM, the Dow took another tumble on Thursday and it affected in trading in Asia on Friday. We break down the numbers for you when we come back.


[02:40:34] SESAY: Well, the World Financial Markets are making just about everyone nervous lately. On Thursday, the Dow took a thousand- point plunge, second this week, that's a drop of more than four percent. And the unpredictability is also affecting Asia. Let's bring up those numbers for you. The numbers closed down in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Sydney Friday. Hong Kong wrapping up trading in less than 20 minutes (INAUDIBLE) looks like it's also down. Markets in Europe, they will be opening in the next hour and we will be keeping an eye on those numbers for you. Let's break it all down with Ryan Patel. He is a global business executive. And most recently served as the vice president of global development for Pinkberry. Ryan, thank you for being with us. What's happening?


SESAY: I'm just going to the chase.

RYAN PATEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A lot of things. A little lot of unpredictability, right? And you've got -- the biggest things that Wall Street wants is predictability and when people are starting to get inching close that interest rates are going to increase. Last week we're debating about is it going to increase or not, now we're talking about, this is a week later.


PATEL: We're talking about how many times did the interest rate going to increase? Now it's like three times, now it's four times --

SESAY: Yes. Four times. Yes.

PATEL: That's kind of scary. And what changes the Dow, NASDAQ, the S&P are all in the red for the year. So -- and let me say this, we are in a market correction. I'm not sure why we're not using this word in other places that we knew that there was going to be correction. I'm not sure that --

SESAY: It was -- it was too hot, he should say how to kind of find its balance.

PATEL: And maybe tomorrow, you know, maybe tomorrow, it gets up a little more but listen, we are in a correction. This is a correction that you're seeing and now it's time to figure out where it's kind of land back to. But the good thing about this whole thing is, the economy is healthier than it was 2018. So there is a difference between the two. It's like yes, we did a market correction and it's going to grow but I think in this case it really overheated too fast.

SESAY: Because that's about inflation and the volatility, talk to us about that.

PATEL: So the volatility and next time you saw it was the highest I think in a few years. And I think that's what's also concerning unpredictability when that volatility index keeps increasing and you see bonds yield increasing, these are the things that really worried Wall Street.

SESAY: Yes, yes. And as well as the Fed's concern, they're looking at this and thinking what?

PATEL: Well, I hope they're looking at this and really trying to figure out to make a decision very shortly and quickly and say how -- instead of going four times and increasing this Fed interest rates, just be out and clear and say this is what we're going to get to. I know that the cons will tell you, you want to slowly do it but to have more clarity on it is better like we did in 2008, 2009 when it was clear, we weren't going to increase the -- you know, we're going to hold it for -- the interest rates for a long period of time. A lot of investors are kind of really see the predictability of that.

SESAY: Yes. They want direction and want clarity. Ryan Patel, thank you for giving us some clarity. Appreciate it.

PATEL: Appreciate it.

SESAY: Thank you. All right. And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay tuned now, we got some world sport for you.


[02:45:13] CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome everyone, I'm Christina Macfarlane, live in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Where we are counting down the hours until the opening ceremony.

But even now, one story is continuing to still the headlines here. In the past few hours, it's been confirmed that 47 Russian athletes and staff will not compete at the Pyeongchang games. This comes after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed their appeal against the IOC's decision to ban them from the Winter Olympics.

The ban against Russian athletes was part of a pull-out from the Russian doping scandal. Six more athletes who tried set the sued case is a task that previously been turned down but the court saying they don't have the jurisdiction. Now, we know definitively that 168 Russian competitors have been cleared and will compete here in Pyeongchang.

Well, the final decision from CAS came just a few hours ago in a packed press conference from here in Pyeongchang where the secretary general Matthieu Reeb, announced that they would not be overturning the IOC's ruling. And within immediately (INAUDIBLE) in the aftermath by Russian media demanding to know more. Take a look at this video, captive by one of our team who was at the event. So, it's certainly, as not been an easy time for sports Supreme Court who've been caught between the IOC and Russia. Earlier, I had a chance to speak to that man of the center of the storm.


MATTHIEU REEB, SECRETARY-GENERAL, COURT OF ARBITRATION FOR SPORT: I have sympathy for all athletes in general. We have done our job here, on one hand we have determined that some of these athletes were not guilty of an anti-doping violation that was a decision last Thursday. And today we determined that the IOC was right in not inviting all Russian athletes who had been proposed by the Russian Olympic Committee or so-called Russian Olympic Committee which is now suspended.

So, all in all, I think we did our job and for these athletes, the situation may be bad. For those who are invited and accepted here, it's a good decision.

MACFARLANE: Have you any point to come under any pressure from Thomas Bach or anyone at the IOC to fall in line with their decision making process on this? Especially in the weeks and months as we've edged closer towards this Winter Olympics.

REEB: We had a lot of comments about these procedures. We feel that we have done exactly what we had to do. That is to say to comply with the time limit which was fixed. First, to deal with the 39 Russian athletes who have been suspended for life from the Olympic Games. We had six weeks to deal with this case. We heard the 39 -- almost 39 at least less two. We had 60 hours of hearing and finally 10,000 -- more than 10,000 pages of documents to read.

I have a full trust in my arbitrators dealing with these cases. Unfortunately, the result does not please the IOC. I understand the reaction as to the verdict, as to the outcome. I think, in fairness, we should wait now for the final decisions. At the IOC chose a difficult path by deciding to impose sanctions on each individual athletes separately, which obliged us to review each individual case also and this was difficult. But they could note, we have completed the work for these two additional games.

MACFARLANE: And would you be feeding back to the IOC after this to encourage them to choose a different path in the future to the one that they have done here?

REEB: I think the situation here is so extraordinary or so exceptional. I'm not sure it will happen again and I hope not. Obviously, we will talk to the IOC, also to the other stakeholders, the federations -- the world anti-doping agency to be able to see if anything could be improved. I think not only on the CAS side but also on the other sides.


MACFARLANE: Mattieu Reeb, speaking to me there. Well, this bring for an end months of limbo for the Russian athletes. And what has been a chaotic situation for the IOC, he welcomed the decision. Well, Jim Walden, lawyer for the Russian whistleblower, Doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, has called the IOC President Thomas Bach to resign. He said, "Today's decision is a small semblance of justice for clean athletes. The International Olympic Committee and CAS have been complicit in enabling Russian doping. I hope IOC President Thomas Bach is listening. For the sake of the Olympic ideal, he needs to resign."

Reaction from Russia has been one of disappointment, to put it mildly. The head of Russia's bobsleigh federation, Parkhomenko, called the decision a political one. He told Russian media, "We're disappointed with CAS decision and we're seeing a political context in it. We believe in better and received instead than what we have received instead. We'll go to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland."

Well, all of this will make for a very interesting opening ceremony tonight. We'll be watching to see the reaction of the athletes marching under the Olympic athletes for Russia banner. Remember no Russia colors and no anthem. It will also be fascinating to watch the North and South Korea teams marching under the Korean Unification Flag. How will they interact together in front of the world? It will be really interesting to see as the crowd reacts towards the presence of Kim Jong-un's sister and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, due to be there as well.

And remember Tongan Pita Taufatofua from Rio, he's here as a cross- country skier. He is the one that bore his bared, his chest in Rio. I wonder if he'll there to do the same here tonight in these temperatures.

There are almost 3,000 athletes from over 90 countries will be competing in 102 gold medal events here. And one in that real sense out in that group is Simidele Adeagbo, the 36-year-old Nigerian is breaking new grounds here. The first African woman who've qualify in the Skeleton. Now, she was formerly a summer athlete in the triple jump, but she failed to qualify for Beijing in the 2008 Games. But after taking up the Skeleton last year and competing on her first race in only November, last month she qualified for Pyeongchang. Earlier, I spoke to her about her long road to the Olympics.


[02:51:10] SIMIDELE ADEAGBO, NIGERIAN SKELETON RACER, 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS: It's really going to be special. I mean, it's been a lifelong dream of mine to be an Olympian. And I never expected that it would be winter, but here I am and I'm going to be thrilled to walk out with Nigeria.

MACFARLANE: Yes, tell me about that and what the -- how special that moment is going to be with Nigeria on your chest?

ADEAGBO: That's going to be awesome. Nigeria has never had representation here. So, I'm really proud to have made history with my teammates to be the first ever African team of Skeleton athlete represented in this Olympic Games. It's going to be release history. MACFARLANE: Yes, and one thing I found incredible about your stories that back in November, at you're first ever professional race in the Skeleton Bob. And then, you qualified just two months later for the games. How did this all begin for you? How did you get here?

ADEAGBO: Here, so I heard about the Nigerian Women's Bobsled Team who are now my teammates, and I heard about what they were doing, and their goal to become Africa's first ever bobsled team to make the games. Then I thought, that's really cool. I want to be part of that, I want to make history. I reached out, I went to the try out spec in August. I was invited back and I thought maybe bobsled would work out but I discovered skeleton and I stock with that.

MACFARLANE: Yes, and I going to say, with skeleton, I mean, it's not everyone's first choice for a Winter Olympics sport, when you looking around and thinking, 'Yes, I'll try that.


MACFARLANE: It's pretty hair-raising. Do you remember your first time that you went down (INAUDIBLE) what it felt like?

ADEAGBO: I do. It was October 28th, and I describe it as violent and turbulent. I tell people that nothing can really prepare you for going down the track at 80-kilometer -- 80 miles an hour. It's very fast, it was lots of twist and turns. And my body had never experienced anything like that.


ADEAGBO: So, it was quite jarring, but I can't going back and I tried it over and over and now it feels normal to me.

MACFARLANE: And as a former track and field athlete, how transferable are those skills to the skeleton?

ADEAGBO: Yes. I mean, people were to think there would be any kind of relate-ability. But it's actually quite transferrable especially in the first part of the race which is all about how fast and explosive you are. I was able to transfer my track and field skills, speed power, explosiveness. And that's worth's really well for me. So, there's actually quite a lot of crossover.

MACFARLANE: Yes, and of course, we all have heard the story of the Nigerian bobsleigh ladies team. Were caught your teammates here in Pyeongchang. Have you been on a journey together to this point?

ADEAGBO: We have, there is really been a lot of ups and downs and lots of things along the ways that we've overcome, and together we're making history. So, that feels really special, and we're glad that we have a complete team. Bobsled and skeleton together representing Nigeria.

MACFARLANE: How have you guys helped each other along the way to get to this part? What is the relationship like between you all? ADEAGBO: Yes, I think that sport is really new. In Nigeria, the sport is unknown. So, we will had to learn together, and I think that's bonded us. Trying to figure out and navigate this whole new world together has really brought us closer.

MACFARLANE: Yes, and you've been in the athlete, but it's of course, a first experience for you, a first experience for the bobsleigh ladies team. What is it been like? What is the anticipation like down there building to this opening ceremony this evening?

ADEAGBO: The (INAUDIBLE) is great, I love it. People are looking for the Nigerian, right? Everyone's exchanging opinions, everyone is so excited. The atmosphere is really exciting. So, I think the athletes are ready to get the completion underway, and it's been great just meeting new people from all around the world.


MACFARLANE: The wonderful Simideli Adeagbo, but now the opening ceremony is happened even happened yet. But for one-star figure skater, his hopes for a team gold may already be gone. Find out more after the break.


[02:56:50] MACFARLANE: Welcome back, he is been called a once in a generation talent. He was set to light up the games. But sadly, his off and the dreams stop, the U.S. figure skating star Nathan Chen. Taking to the ice in his debut earlier today, Chen, fell botching a landing during his run in the team event. Sadly, his nightmare performance in the short program got him off to a low score dropping team USA to fourth place. The 18-year-old give his medal favorite for the men's individual event, admitted he was nervous. Saying afterwards, he hopes to come back and be better for the individual. And you've got to feel for him so much expectation on such young shoulders.

Elsewhere, it was a very warm welcome to an icy cold Pyeongchang for the North Korean delegation. Thursday, their flag was raised at the Olympic village. A small taste of what's to come at the opening ceremony in just a couple of hour. Time when 22 athletes will parade under a unified flag with South Korean athletes.

That's it from up here on the ground in Pyeongchang. Delighted to say, I have my opening ceremony ticket with me here and I'll be counting down the hours with more updates in the next few hours to come. Stay with us.