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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  January 3, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PST

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thank you so much. you can tweet the show at "the lead." . cnn continues right now. happening now. breaking news. pelosi takes control. there's a new reality here in washington, and for president trump as democrats take charge of the house and nancy pelosi returns as speaker, democrats are already flexing their muscles. how far will they go in investigating the president and his administration? oejt shutdown. after claiming that he'd owned the government shutdowns, the president now blames democrats for the nearly two-week closure. funding for his border spal at the heart of the dispute. will either side budge? charged with spying. an american arrested in moscow has now been charged with espionage. his lawyer says the charges run founded, but a russian news site claimed he was in possession of
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classified material. and north korean defection? a top north korean diplomat and his wife have reportedly disappeared from the streets of rome. could they have been kidnapped by kim jong-un's regime and brought back home? or did they defect and seek asylum in the west? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news. president trump's world just changed dramatically. the new congress has been sworn in and democrats are now in being chast house. nancy pelosi is the new speaker, the first in more than half a century to reclaim the gavel after losing power. house democrats are prepared to use their new power to launch investigations of the president and his administration and it's an open discussion about whether
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a sitting president can be indicted. democrats are already pushing legislation to reopen parts of the government that have been shut down for nearly two weeks. the package contains no new funding for the president's border wall. the house speaker democratic congressman of the judiciary committee and our correspondents and analysts have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's get right to the breaking news from capitol hill. kaitlan collins is over at the white house, and let's again with cnn congressional correspondent phil mattingly. what will democrats do with this new pou new power, and how concerned shouldn't the president be? >> you can see the members and family behind me and there's a new reality, with democratic power comes a new level of oversight and subpoena power that the trump administration simply has not had to deal with the for the first two years in
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office wand that democrats pledge a lot of work in the days and weeks and months ahead, something new speaker nancy pelosi alluded to on the floor. >> our nation is at an historic moment. two months ago the american people spoke and demanded a new dawn. they called upon the beauty of our constitution, that our system of checks and balances that protects our democracy, remembering that the legislative branch is article i, the first branch of government, co-equal to the presidency and to the judiciary. >> wolf, democrats plan to deploy those checks and balances and the subpoena power that comes with them in spades, targeting cabinet officials, targeting the white house and targeting president's own business interests in the weeks and months ahead. obviously hanging over all of this is the continued conversation inside the new democratic caucus about how far they wanted to go, an issue democratic leaders have batted
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away the last couple of months and this is how speaker pelosi addressed the impeachment issue earlier today. >> we have to wait and see what happens with the mueller report. we shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment. for a political reason so we'll have to see how it comes. >> the key i'm hearing repeatedly from democratic members and staffers is they want to wait until the special counsel robert mueller puts out his report before they decide to do anything, but reality is it's certainly on the table if merited. we'll have to see if it's merited in democrats' minds in the months ahead. >> the government shutdown new approaching the two-week mark. do democrats have a plan? >> reporter: they do, and they are actually going to vote on that plan, a plan of two bills in just a few hours. house democrats will vote on and pass a package of funding bills to reopen a large majority of the government through the fiscal year until the end of september. the most contentious bill still out there to reopen the department of homeland security. democrats will vote to reopen
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that for a month. they say to continue negotiations over the issue that has divided democrats and over the course of the last couple of weeks, the border wall. now we've spoken to republican leader mitch mcconnell and he said they are not willing to take up anything on the senate floor unless the president will support it. even if mcconnell says no right now, they believe this will put pressure on his gnomes sign of course, particularly has the bite of this shutdown starts to grow, as paychecks start to become missed so with a meeting scheduled at the white house with congressional leaders tomorrow, the house plan that they will pass tonight is expected to be the democratic position for at least the next couple of days to come. >> phil mattingly up on capitol hill, thanks very much. the 116th congress is the most diverse in history with a record number of women and minorities. let's go to our congressional correspondent sunland surfatti.
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>> reporter: many of the members now carroty with them the title of historic first, congresswoman deb holland and shareece david, they had moments before they were sworn in, such ap touching moment, embracing and wiping away tears, one not fully grasping everything that's happened for her and another first, the first somali-american in corporation and among first two muslim-american women in congress. now she talked about how she had a moment with her father arriving here in washington. she said the last time that they were together at this airport in washington, d.c., is when they came here as refugees 23 years ago and here's what she told me earlier today. >> reporter: as we exited our planes, we realized that him and i had not returned on that same
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airport since the day we first landed here as ref geez. so it's -- it's a -- it's a really overwhelming and emotional time for us, and i don't think -- as my dad said, he had high hopes for us, the opportunities that we would have when we came to this country, but i don't think he imagined that some day his baby would be going to congress 20 years after he arrived here. >> reporter: that was his father there in the background, and he choking up and i asked him what he thought of her journey from refugee to congresswoman in a little over 20 years and he called it amazing. she's one of the many new faces as part of this new congress, this new record-breaking make up the fact that now this is the most racially diverse congress in history with a record-breaking number of women. i want to show you just the changes in the house of representatives alone, but notably you can see here the
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breakdown. a big divide the parties here. the number of women, african-americans, hispanic, lbgtq members going up for the democrats but not the republicans but certainly, wolf, again, a new day and a lot of new members up here from a range of backgrounds and perspectives and certainly bringing in that experience up they're washington. wolf? >> good point. thank you very much. while the balance of power in washington now has tilted, a certain amount, poet sides are still dug in on the government shutdown and funding for the president's border wall. let's go to our white house correspondent kaitlan collins. kaitlan, we just saw president trump show up in the white house briefing room for the first time to make a pitch for the wall. what was that all about? >> reporter: well, wolf, he showed up in the with respect briefing room but neither the president for the press secretary took any questions from the reporters who had gathered in that room pretty abruptly when the white house announced overhead there would be a press briefing in five minutes. instead, the president came out, he made brief remarks about his
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argument for why he believes it's worth shutting the government down other funding his much-promised board eller wall, and then he invited members of the national border patrol council to come up and also make some brief remarks after what the president said was a meeting in the oval office but then the president, the press secretary and white house communications director all turned on their heels and left the room without taking any questions from the reporters in the room about the government shutdowns, and, wolf, that comes as the white house and democrats very much remain in a deadlock in these negotiations. today, no progress has been made, and we're no closer to seeing the government reopen. the blame game for who owns the government shutdown continues to shift tonight when president trump now faulting the politics of the upcoming 2020 presidential election, claiming democrats are going all out on the desperately needed wall and border security so they can win. that despite white house officials telling reporters last night nancy pelosi wanted to keep the government shut down so she could win enough votes to
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become house speaker even though she ran unchallenged. the president's aides now trying to place the blame squarely on democrats. >> he doesn't own the shutdown any long sneer despite trump saying this in front of the cameras in the oval office last month. >> i will take the man. i'll be the one who shut it doubt. i'm not going to blame you for it. >> reporter: sources telling cnn trump doesn't want to lose face with his base by caving on his signature campaign promise to build a wall. though what that wall will look like is now an open question. >> if you listened to him yesterday he clarified that. he said you can call it whatever you want. in other words, we need border security. it may include a wall, may include steel slats. >> reporter: democrats still enjoying their new-found power are vowing not to give up any ground. >> this is the trump shutdown through and through. >> reporter: but before even being officially elected today, pelosi throwing a punch suggesting in an interview with nbc news that a sitting president can be indicted.
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>> it's not the law. everything indicates that he can be indicted after he's no longer president of the united states. >> what about a sitting snmt. >> a president who is no longer president of the united states. >> could robert mueller come back and say i'm speaking an indictment for a sitting president? >> i think that's an open discussion in terms of the law. >> reporter: that wasn't her only jab. pelosi denied telling members her congress that the wall is, quote, a manhood issue for trump. >> i wish my members had not repeat that had outside the room, but there's no justification for this wall. it is not the way to protect our border. >> reporter: cnn has told the white house has formally invited congressional leaders back for further talks on friday, but expectations for a quick fix remain low after talks went nowhere this week. >> nancy pelosi can ignore, yesterday they just ignored and interrupted and it was frankly very rude and dismissive of our secretary of homeland security. >> reporter: white house
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officials telling cnn they are strapping in for a lengthy shutdown with one aide adding we could be here a while. now, wolf, just to give you a sense of how unpromising the negotiations between the white house and democrats have truly been in week, we are now being told by two sources who were in the room for the president's meeting for those congressional leaders yesterday that as soon as it commenced the president started complaining about the state of his administration's nominees to smart my north leader chuck schumer. they were talking about that and then the president reached into his jacket and pulled out the letter from the north korean dictator, kim jong-un and toss it had to chuck schumer and said read this. chuck schumer started reading the let irwhich is with pun page long and while reading it the president signaled to the homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen to go ahead and start with her briefing on the border. she started on that briefing but hadn't gone long into it when chuck schumer interrupted and instructed nancy pelosi to go ahead with the democrat proposal to reopen the government,
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something the white house and republicans have roundly rejected. now, bomb, those leaders are supposed to come back here to the white house tomorrow, but outlook -- the outlook is not good, and it doesn't seem any more promising than it was when the president randomly hand that had letter from kim jong-un to chuck schunler. >> meantime, the partial government shutdown continues and the ramifications are clearly there. kaitlan collins at the white house, thank you. joining us now, democratic congressman ted lew of california. congressman, thanks so much for joining us. now that you're officially back in the majority in the house of representatives, your party is going to face some very tough choices. some democrats want to immediately move ahead with aggressive investigations of the president and his administration. potential impeachment proceedings and others want to focus on passion legislation. what would you like to see the democratic majority in the house prioritize? >> thank you, wolf, for that question. we can do both. the constitution charges the
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legislature, article i of the constitution, with both oversight as well as passing legislation, so we're going to pass legislation on healthcare, on infrastructure, on getting rid of corruption and at the same time we'll conduct oversight responsibility and hold the trump administration accountable >> you heard speaker pelosi, she's taking a rather cautious approach to impeachment, but some democrats, as you know, they want to pursue a very aggressive strategy on impeachment. do you worry that impeachment could become a contentious divide within your own democratic party? >> i do not. my view of impeachment is that like the power to declare war, it is one of the gravest responsibilities of congress. it should never be our first option. we should wait until special counsel mueller completes list version and i think all democrats are in line with waiting for the investigation to complete before we make a decision. >> the top democrat on your house judiciary committee jerry
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nadler just introduced a bill to protect the mueller investigation. is there any chance though that that bill will garner enough support to override a presidential veto? tham luang that i do not know. it will definitely pass the house of representatives. the u.s. senate on a bipartisan basis has also introduced legislation to protect special counsel mueller. i think we can put a bill on the president's desk, and if donald trump wants to clear his name, he would sign that legislation. >> as you know, the government shutdown is still out there. president trump has formally invited congressional leaders back to the white house for another meeting tomorrow. should democrats come prepared with a compromise? >> wolf, elections have consequences. last year republicans ran on building the wall. democrats ran on healthcare and infrastructure and republicans lost the popular vote in mid
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terms by the greatest margin in history. democrats will support border security. we can compromise and work on funding border security. i think it's what we should do. >> one proposal that is out there, as you know, should democrats offer funding for the president's border wall in exchange for protection of the so-called dreamers here in the united states, people brought here as little kids into the country illegally, brought here as children and have grown up here in the united states and would like to remain, of course, in the united states and have a pathway to citizenship, would you bean to providing some funding for a border wall in order to protect these dreamers? is. >> that's a great question, wolf. i would be open to a comprehensive package that deals with different elements of immigration. however, we can't do that in the context of a government shutdown. democrats will never cave to donald trump's demands in a government shutdown because if we do, it's just going to
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incentivize him to do it again any time he doesn't get his way. we can't talk about wall funding in the context of a government shutdown. once we figure out the government shutdown and fix it, then we can talk about the discussions that the president wants. that's what we night to do. >> we'll see how that works out. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. up next, han american held by russia has now been channelled with spying. his lawyer says the charges run founded. will the russians offer any evidence? (danny) let me get this straight. after a long day of hard work... have to do more work? every day you're nearly fried to a crisp, professionally! can someone turn on the ac?! no? oh right... ...'cause there isn't any. here- (vo) automatically sort your expenses and save over 40 hours a month. without you, we wouldn't have electricity. our hobby would be going to bed early. (vo) you earned it, we're here to make sure you get it. (danny) it's time to get yours! (vo) quickbooks. backing you. if you have postmenopausal osteoporosis
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russia has now formally charged an american with espionage. his family rejects the accusation and the russian lawyer has filed an appeal but a russian news site reports whelan
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was found with classified information. let's go to moscow and our senior international correspondent matthew chance is all over this story. what are you learning? >> reporter: well, within the past hour, wolf, we've spoken by telephone with that russian lawyer who has been assigned to defend paul whelan here in moscow. he's confirmed to us that the charges had espionage have been formally aflied paul whelan. he's also given us the first public account of the condition of mr. whelan, where he's languishing behind bars in a former kgb prison in a suburb of moscow. he said that he looks cheerful. he's got no press and he said there are, you know, he's holding up pretty well despite everything that he's going through. take a listen. >> the only thing is there's a problem with hygiene items such as a razor, shaving foam, toothpaste, toothpaste, underwear. paul asked for these items, and
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investigators will request task prison administration to supply them. >> the other big question hanging over this case are the circumstances around the detention, what mr. whelan is actually accused from. all we've got from the fsb, the a minute counterintelligence agency in russia is that mr. whelan was caught spying. there's been no further announcement officially on what that actually involved, but a russian news agency has filed a report which has been picked up broadly in this country, and i'm quoting an jens source saying what actually happened was quite interesting. had a five-star hotel in downtown moscow, the met polho tell in, his room he accepted a flash drive and was arrested shortly after that. that flash drive contained a list of employees working at a classified russian security agency. the report which we haven't been able to verify also makes reference to whelan's social
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media accounts in russia which as we know he's been engaged in in for several years. the source quoted in this report said that whelan south out russian internet users, tracked and selected in advance by american intelligence special services, and so that's the kind of narrative that is being built perhaps with some ulterior moment by this security source. the point is whether it's true or not. if whelan is convicted of this serious crime in russia, he could face up to 20 years behind bars. >> going to get more on the story later. i know you're working your sources. thank you very much. matthew chance reporting from moscow. we want to get more on all the breaking news with our correspondents and analysts. we want all of to you stand by. we've got a lot of news unfolding on this important historic day here in washington. let's take a quick break. we'll be right back. (burke) parking splat. and we covered it.
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>> that's an open question. we certainly see a variety of perspectives inside with house democrats. i was struck inside watches nancy pelosi taking back that gavel. when she did it in 2007, boy, was that a different moment, the foreign policy is not dividing this democratic policy as it was then. it's largely domestic issues. look, all of them, all of the new faces of the democratic party who are going to meet them over the coming months came here for a reason, largely healthcare. a domestic agenda, but what they are going to be faced with initially is the government shutdown, so there are many differences inside and among democrats, you know, the word impeachment, of course, was thrown out today by brad sherman, a california democrat. he's talking about this, said he wants to make it part of a conversation. leader do not want to go there, but this is going to be a central challenge for speaker pelosi. will she be able to control her
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house democrats at the same time dealing with president trump so an entirely different situation for her as she assumed that mantle today. >> the impeachment process begins in the house of representatives. if impeachment is passed it then goes to the senate where there was a full-scale trial and potentially conviction. you know, jeffrey, we've covered impeople ofments and we remember what happened during the clinton administration. nancy pelosi did give us some clues in this interview that she granted to nbc news about impeachment. listen to this. >> we have to wait and see what happens with the mueller report. we shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment for a political reason, so we'll just have to wait to see how it comes. >> do you believe the special counsel should honor and observe the department of justice guidance that states a sitting president cannot be indicted? >> i do not think that that is conclusive, no, i do not. >> a president who is in office? >> no. >> could robert mueller come back and say i am seeking an
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indictment? >> i think that that is an open discussion. i think that that is an open discussion in terms of the law. >> jeffrey, what do you make of her approach? >> well, you know, i -- i've interviewed nancy pelosi and jerry nadler, the incoming chairman of the judiciary committee. they are not impeaching donald trump unless they are very confident they can get 67 votes in the senate to have him removed. that is not on the horizon at the moment. we'll see what happens when mueller gives his report. very unlikely that that will change. as for the comment about whether a president can be indicted, nancy pelosi is right. it's not the law that a president cannot be indicted, but it is justice department policy. one person who has absolutely no say over whether a president can or should be indicted is nancy pelosi. i mean, this is completely outside her jurisdiction, but i think it's a way of stirring the pot and needling the president,
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but to no real effect because she will have no -- nothing to do with that decision. >> april, how is the new speaker going to deal with all these conflicting pressures she's understand from within her own party? >> well, you know, i hate to ask that question -- that question to even be asked in 2019 for a woman. she's been in this position before. we're in different times. the stakes are higher. we have so much on the table, things that are real and then some things that are made up and things that are, you know, that shiny ball to distract attention, but she's got people like elijah cummings in oversight and government reform who happens an agenda. she has people in different segments of the how is that are going to help her work through this. she is capable. she can walk and chew gum at the same time, but she is someone who cuts through all of that have fluff, cuts through all of the icing and gets to the cake, gets to the meat to go in and do what she has to do. there's so much on the table beyond the cr, beyond this wallisch uthere. are issues that really impact
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america and she's ready for that. >> you think she's going to be able to come up with some sort of specific plan to deal with this, because a whole bunch of democrats want to go forward quickly on impeachment. >> that's right, wolf. it's not just impeachment. i mean, name your issue. >> always. >> in any majority when you add to your ranks, you have a wider spectrum of beliefs within the republican party, within the democratic party. this is something that speaker ryan had to grapple with, speaker boehner before him. he said getting his members in line was herding cats, and so this is what nancy pelosi is going to be faced with as speaker now, and in her democratic party you have these very progressive and very liberal members like alexandria ocasio cortez, almost like the freedom caucus of the republican party and then you have a very swing district who will have to
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toe the line and compromise on some things and balancing those demands and listening to the concerns of all of your smememb makes it so challenging. >> one way to have a unified caucus is to have a very small caucus. she has a big one >> exactly. >> that's a great problem to have, having to manage your majority. compare that to the problem she had as minority leader. she will take these problems as paul ryan would take these problems any compared to the old problems. >> because jeff zeleny, as you know, the -- forget about impeachment for a moment. the oversight that the democratic majority in the house is going to be doing deal with the president and his campaign and maybe his family, his business, his tax returns, all of that, you know, that -- does the president -- you cover the white house for us. fully appreciate what's in store for him? >> it doesn't seem like he does. that's the much more press issue, the more concerning issue
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for the white house. one, the white house counsel's office is not fully staffed. it hasn't been for a long time. they are about to get -- if the paperwork is not already going from capitol hill to the white house, it is going to be soon with subpoenas and other matters, so the oversight function of the house of representatives is much, much more dangerous and important than any talk of impeachment and a lot of wise democrats in this town and elsewhere are urging house democrats not to talk about impeachment, just to go through the oversight process but the president has never given up his tax returns as we know. look for house democrats to go after them. adam schiff, as jeffrey wrote about in his excellent profile in the "new yorker" talking about phone records that adam schiff is going to go over. of course, he's the chairman of the intelligence commit, so there are a lot of things that investigative in nature that we're going to find out, that the white house is not going to be comfortable, and they can do nothing about it in most cases. that's why the second half of this -- of the trump presidency, the first term, will be entirely different, a new rule book.
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i don't know he knows what's coming. >> dems are definitely going to follow money trail, you're absolutely right. that's something that -- the tentacles are there, and they want to find out what's what, and that's going to happen in this -- in this new congress. >> let me let jeffrey weigh in. >> i hear a lot more talk about impeachment from us in the news media than i do from members of congress. >> trump loves talking impeachment. >> they rarely recognize that they don't want to make the mistake that republicans made in 1998 to push impeachment when it's not going to go anywhere. as they pointed out, getting the bank records of dyceutsche bank and see where the money was coming and going. >> but there are democratic members of the house who are talking about impeachment, brad sherman, adam schiff, and a whole bunch of others. we'll continue to talk about it
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obviously. we'll see what happens. >> i will. >> much more on the breaking news right after this.
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. there's more breaking news this hour. a russian news site is reporting that a michigan man charged with spying in moscow was found with classified information. jeffr jeffrey toobin, i want your analysis of this. paul wheel an, the american detained, he's been charged with espionage now. do you believe, as i suspected from the beginning, that the russians were looking to arrest someone, possibly as an exchange
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for maria butina, the russian woman arrested here in washington. >> that's certainly been the pattern going back to the cold war that these espionage arrests usually end in trades rather than in long prison terms, but it's a very scary business, and it is certainly not resolved at this point, but that sort of trade would be the rule, not the exception. >> what do you make, april, of the fact that the president, he's not said a word, hasn't tweeted a word, nothing about this american detained in moscow? >> you know why anything russia is a death knell for him. russia is an albatross around his neck, and he doesn't want to talk about it unless he has a victory behind his statement. >> we did get a statement from the secretary of state mike pompeo, and obviously the u.s. ambassador in moscow, jon huntsman. he actually went and visited with whelan. >> they are acting in the ways that you would expect the american government to act in this situation, saying it's unacceptable that russia has detained this american, that
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they are working on this, saying that it's getting the attention of the highest levels of government and, of course, a very symbolic gesture by huntsman visiting wholean himself, but, again, nothing from the top man, the president, the commander in chief. >> normally a lower level consular official or embassy official would pay a visit like this, but the fact that the u.s. ambassador himself went to this prison outside of moscow and made this visit, that's significant. >> it is significant, and it's a sign that the trump administration writ large is focused on this with the secretary of state and the ambassador. the president's silence on this is a bit of a mystery. >> it's deafening. >> but it definitely continues a pattern in which he's conducted virtually anything related with vladimir putin here, but we'll see if he says anything in the come days. he has every channel in which to speak on twitter. he can make -- >> the briefing room. >> he hose not said a thing. >> it's interesting that maria butina was charged with not filing as a foreign agent, stuff like that. the russians went a big step forward, jeffrey toobin, and charged whelan with espionage, which carries this enormous
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prison sentence. >> yeah. it's just -- it's extremely worrisome for him, of course, and for his family. they don't play games over there, and it's also -- you don't go to a country club prison in russia either. i mean, this is a very dangerous situation, and that's why there is so much high level attention, the ambassador going to see him, but the -- these matters are usually resolved diplomatically, that is with exchanges rather than the criminal justice system. at least that's certainly what all his relatives will be hoping for. >> are you surprised that the president has been mum, silent on this? >> the president only likes to announce victories. and there's no victory here, and he doesn't like to have say -- say nasty things about vladimir putin, so both of those seem to argue for silence. he'd rather talk about his wall. he talks about it a lot. >> yeah, he certainly does. guys, everybody stick around.
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there's more news that we're following. a top north korean diplomat goes missing. did he defect, or was he kidnapped by kim jong-un? hey, who are you? oh, hey jeff, i'm a car thief... what?! i'm here to steal your car because, well, that's my job. what? what?? what?! (laughing) what?? what?! what?! [crash] what?! haha, it happens. and if you've got cut-rate car insurance, paying for this could feel like getting robbed twice. so get allstate... and be better protected from mayhem... like me. ♪
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top north korean diplomat is missing sparking speculation about whether he's defected or been kidnapped by the kim regime. bryan todd is working the toir for us.
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this was kim jong-un's top representative in italy. >> he was. in that particular position in rome he was one of the top diplomats anywhere. we have new information on this case and the repercussions for kim's regime. it's an italian mystery with international implications. a top diplomat vanishes into thin air without clues and without a search for months to find him. cnn has learned the most powerful official at north korea's embassy in italy disappeared in early november along with his wife. tonight a prominent north korean super bowl reports jo had sought asylum in the west and the italian officials are protecting him. they said they're not aware of any request. >> i would say this is a defection is quite significant. >> reporter: he would have been
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taken an enormous risk and not just with his own security. >> to try todiplomats, one or mf their children have to be left behind as a hostage. >> what do they do to those anchor children in a diplomat defects? >> family members left behind were punished harshly. they were sent to political prison camps. soc some of them were executed. >> reporter: are whereabouts of his children are unclear. he would have shouldered huge responsibilities and pressures. he would have been north korean's liasion to the world food program in rome. kim would have counted on jo to deliver personal items to him sidestepping sanctions. >> rome is a great place to be if you want to purchase italian
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suits. if you want to purchase luxury italian cars, italian wine. >> reporter: a top north korean diplomat in london who defected three years ago told cnn kim also depends on his embassies to engage in plaque markblack mark trafficking of drugs and other goods. >> they are involved in those activities to raise funds for kim jong-un regime. >> reporter: this would be an inconvenient defection. >> he would down play the significance of it. the discuss would never come up with world leaders. it would seem to be an embarrassment. >> reporter: it's possible he could have been kidnapped and
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brought back to north korea but that does seem unlikely. if he did defect, a key question tonight is how is kim jong-un's regime will respond. it's likely that be try to track him down. try to kidnap him or kill him. they point out even the city like washington may not be the safest place. there could be sleeper agents around the population here. >> scary stuff. there's growing indications that even seoul, south korea might not necessarily be a safe place for him as a defector. >> reporter: we're told seoul is not as welcoming to north korean defectors as it once was. taking in more north korean defectors will anger kim jong-un which the president doesn't want to do now. >> thanks very much. we'll stay on top of this story. coming up, breaking news.
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a new reality for president trump as democrats now take control of the house and nancy pelosi returns as speaker. how far will democrats go in investigating the president and his administration? (burke) parking splat. and we covered it. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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happening now, breaking news. democrats in the house as nan c pelosi takes back the gavel, her party isn't wasting any time taking on president trump. no way out. the government shutdown is about to enter its third week without any progress toward a compromise. the president is asking for
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another meeting with congressional leaders even as he's trying a new way to shirk responsibility for the stalemate. open discussion. speaker pelosi isn't ruling out the possibility president trump could be indicted while in office. she is leaving the door open to impeachment. kremlin spy game. russia charges an american with espionage has a new report claims paul wheland was arrested with classify information. president trump remains silent about the case. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we're following breaking news on the new democratic controlled house


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