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Jared Kushner Is Accused Of Using White House Role For His Family Business' Advantage; FBI Is Now Investigating At One Of Ivanka Trump's International Business Deals; President Donald Trump Talked About China's President Consolidating Power; Russian "Sex Guru" Claims She Holds Trump-Russia Secrets; Jailed Model Vows to Spill Alleged Trump-Russia Secrets; El Paso Residents Debate Necessity of Trump's Border Wall; Snowboarder Rescued from Avalanche. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 4, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: It is 8:00 eastern, 5:00 in the evening out west. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Glad you are with us.
To call it chaos an understatement. To call it crisis simply doesn't cover it. It is a west wing adrift, embroiled in resignation, sandals and feuds. Not to mention the increasing pressure of the Russia investigation. But even for this administration led by a man who has embraced chaos as a way of life, the havoc in the White House is taking its toll. What I am about to tell you would have been much for a year of any presidency. But this all happened in one week.
Monday, Trump meets with governors to talk guns saying he would have run into the Stoneman Douglas high school to help even without a weapon. The same day his daughter Ivanka reprimanded a reporter for asking her about her father's accusers, calling it pretty inappropriate.
Then Tuesday, Hope Hicks, the day before her shocking resignation is interviewed by Robert Mueller admitting she has told white lies for Trump. Jared Kushner, after weeks of questions after his security clearance downgraded. And federal charges against former Trump campaign official Rick Gates dropped after he agreed to a plea deal.
On Wednesday, Trump campaign original Hope Hicks calls it quits. HUD secretary Ben Carson apologizes after his agency spends $31,000 on a dining set. And we learned the Mueller probe is looking into President's business dealings pre-2016.
Now, Thursday, despite advice from his own party and close aids, President Trump announces an increase on medal terrors. Also chief of staff John Kelly is reportedly asked by the President to push Ivanka back to New York.
And finally on Friday, President Trump defends his tariff plan saying trade war is a good thing. And the White House revolving door keeps spinning as H.R. McMaster is expected to resign soon.
Not even on this list, the bizarre bipartisan meeting on guns in which the President (INAUDIBLE) Democrat taking his very own party's attack. Now, President Trump is back in Washington tonight after a brief one-
day trip to south Florida. And tonight, he is joining reporters and politicians at the historic grid iron club where he and the first lady are attending the annual dinner. More about that dinner just a second.
But the President did speak at a fundraiser earlier today when he was in Florida. And he talked about a few things pressing on his administration, perhaps on his mind right now.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is at the club. Tell us what the President said.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. The President not expected to speak here at the Grin Iron club dinner for another hour and 45 minutes, but it is comments that he made at this fundraiser at his resort in Florida that is already starting to get quite a bit of attention.
The President spoke on a number of different topics. This was a speech that was not given on the teleprompter. So it was the President to a certain extent ripping on some of his favorite topics. And he got on the topic of the Chinese President Xi Jinping. And the news that President Xi had successfully earned the right to run for re-election again. And basically suspended the term limits that were in place for the Chinese leader. And the President spoke kindly of that and suggested that it was a good idea that President Xi made that move.
Take a listen to this audio obtained by CNN from that fundraiser.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)\
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't forget China is great and Xi is a great gentleman. He is now President for life. (INAUDIBLE). And, look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we will give that a shot someday. He is the most powerful President in 100 years. You know, person in 100 years. You know, he treated us tremendously well when I went over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Of course, the President has spoke glowingly about President Xi in the past. They have had a very good relationship in the early days of the Trump administration. And this despite the fact that during the campaign, the President was very critical of China. In particular their trade practices. So this certainly an about face from that position.
But Ana, even though it did seem as though these comments came in somewhat of a sarcastic or jokey tone, the President talking glowingly about an authoritarian move by the world leader to consolidate power behind them and then suggesting that perhaps that is something that he would want to practice here in the United States is certainly going to raise eyebrows, especially because this is not the first time we have heard President Trump talk glowingly about an autocrat o the world stage -- Ana. [20:05:01] CABRERA: All right. Ryan Nobles joining us from the Grid
Iron dinner tonight. Thank you.
Let's get straight to our panel now. Joining us to discuss CNN political commentator Catherine Rampell, columnist from "the Washington Post," CNN political analyst Rachel Bade, the congressional reporter from "Politico" and CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio has written a biography of Donald Trump.
Michael, I have to ask you first about those comments we just heard from the President. And he made today in Florida, this is at a Republican fundraiser. President Trump was talking about China's President consolidating power. And I want to read you the quote again because it was difficult to hear in that.
He says he is now President for life, President for life. No, he's great. And, look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we will give that a shot someday. He is the most powerful President in 100 years. You know, person in 100 years.
So Michael, how do you interpret this comment? Does this not an upfront to our democracy?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, DONALD TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: Well, it is. But it is also an example of Donald Trump going through his greatest hits routine. He has just added this little bit about Xi to a long list of greatest hits that he played for that same audience. So it's almost like watching a (INAUDIBLE) comedian, coddle out on stage, say all these outrageous things. He uses words like, I got to tell you folks and like you wouldn't believe. This is all ripping. And I think he's happy doing it.
We all know that he has affection for authoritarian regimes around the world. Vladimir Putin is the object of his admiration. President Duterte in the Philippines seems to be a great guy in the President's estimation. So this jealousy that I think he is expressing where Xi is concerned is something that comes naturally to him. And I think he is frustrated probably to imagine that it's not possible to get the same thing here. But, you know, this was playing to the hometown crowd of Trump loyalists. And you could hear them whooping it up. They loved it.
CABRERA: They loved it. And, yet, it's just kind of surprising to me, Rachel, to hear them cheering as he is saying, maybe I'll give that a try, consolidate power in the U.S. How would you expect Republican lawmakers to react to this?
RACHEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not well. Look, Republicans have spent the latter part of the last two years trying to explain Trump's controversial comments or sort of try to say he didn't really mean that. He is just sort of speaking out of turn. They would do the same thing here.
Look. This is just -- what a way to end a crazy week here for the White House. The White House has always been full of drama, sort of a mini soap opera. But this week in particular was totally crazy, even by the White House's standards, right?
You now, you have the President talking right now about wanting to do away with term limits, one of the central parts of the U.S. constitution and what makes America very special, something that George Washington specifically put in place when he first became President. And this just comes after him attacking his attorney general because he doesn't like the way he is handling the Russia investigation and not going after his former democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. There has also been a bunch of rumors about people leaving the White House in the next coming days from his national security advisor to a top economic advisor. And you know, and that's after totally changing GOP orthodoxy or going again GOP orthodoxy on guns and on trade this week. It has been quite a roller coaster.
CABRERA: I want to play another sound bite from this Republican fundraiser earlier in Florida. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That was Bush, another real genius. No, that was Bush. Let's go into the Middle East. They have weapons of mass destruction. Well, that turned out to be wonderful intelligence. Great intelligence agency there, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Great intelligence agency there, too, he says, Catherine. Why go there?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because he loves hating on the Republican establishment. He loves hating on the Bushes who, you know, quite openly did not support him when he ran for - when he secured the Republican nomination for President, not just when he ran for president, when he was among the field of many people running for the nomination.
Look, this President, you know, he just like blows my mind day after day with the norms that he decides to just explode.
CABRERA: And he's going after members of his own team.
RAMPELL: Of his own team.
CABRERA: Not just the party, but he's talking about the intel agencies, too.
RAMPELL: Look. This is all a piece of taking plays out of the want to be tyrants play book, right? He wants the military parade. He is going after the independent of the judiciary. He is going after the independence of our law enforcement agency. He is going after the independent press, right. So he is -- basically, everything that he can do to cut back on agencies and organizations that could have any sort of check on him, provide any source of independent accountability, he is trying to destroy.
And I just think it is astonishing that a few years ago, like half of America was losing its mind over Obama being a tyrant. And then we have now our sitting President openly using about wanting to become a dictator. And you know, not only that, but sort of not stepping in and trying to promote democratic values around the world by saying anything negative or even neutral for that matter about the fact that we have this authoritarian regime that is consolidating power. In a different administration, he would seek something completely different. Not only would see - not see praise, you would see an attack. You would see in an American President standing up for American values.
[20:11:05] CABRERA: You know, it is interesting, Michael, because you talked about how this President operates. These comments don't surprise you. We also heard from some of the President's supporters earlier tonight saying the President is just not politically correct. That was before he made these comments. But they come on the heels of what's been a very chaotic week.
CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger reports that Trump allies are actually quite worried about this President. They are scared that he may be unraveling. One even quoted as saying, something is very wrong. Are you concerned that something has changed?
D'ANTONIO: Well, it is true that something is very wrong. But something has been very wrong with this person for at least 30 years. You know, people who have followed him throughout his career saw that this was a guy who was often unhinged, who defied norms at every turn. He ripped off the people who lent him money, ripped off investors who bought bonds and stock in Trump companies, ripped off subcontractors on his projects. Everything he's done throughout his life has been bizarre and disruptive.
So we elected this person or the electoral college elected him and now we are dealing with the weakest presidency we've had in over a century. He has not able to manage the White House. He is at war with his own party in the so-called deep state. You know, this may be the end result of all the effort that began in the 1990s to delegitimize the regular Republican Party and move it to an extreme. So now we have this extreme wing of the Republican Party coalesce behind Donald Trump that's really ineffective. And I do think he is unraveling, but, you know, maybe we were wrong to think he even had it together in the first place.
RAMPELL: Yes. I mean, I think to be unraveling you have to have once been ravels. And then that's the issue here. When was he together? When was he coherent? When have we seen him in any recent month, week, year where he has had like clear policy positions, where he has stood for anything other than what's good for Donald Trump.
CABRERA: And now, we hear that some of the members of his team who may be stabilizing forces within the White House are on the way out. When we look at the road ahead, we know Hope Hicks is resigning. So she will be leaving soon. And according to the "New York Times" the President even trying to have Jared and Ivanka pushed out.
So, Rachel, who does the President have in his corner right now as he shapes policy? BADE: Well, it sounds like he is sort of hunkering down, right? We
have seen a lot of reports. Maggie Haberman of the "New York Times" had a really great story just Friday talking about how the President felt like he was being attacked and that's why he in part rolled out this huge tariff push, this whole thing about going back to the campaign. He promised that he was going to slap tariffs on a bunch of goods coming from other countries. And he was feeling like there was an attack on his White House and an attack on himself. And he sort of hunkered down and returned to the fundamentals of sort of how he feels which is the sort of protection mode. Even though tariffs go 100 percent against GOP orthodoxy and free trade and things that Republicans stand for.
Look. You know, we talk about Donald Trump changing his mind. He is saying a lot of these very controversial things off the cuff. I almost feel like Republicans in a way while they are really concerned about his comments and it might undercut them keep the majorities in Congress, they have almost become immune about this, you know.
When he talked about gun control and sort of embraced gun control earlier this week, by, you know, couple of hours later, we were hearing from Republican sources to saying even though they were outraged and they totally disagreed with what he was saying they weren't worried about it because they thought we can bring him in. We can get him to change his mind or had changed his mind himself.
So, there are sort of like even though a lot of people are, you know, a gasp by some of things they hear, it is almost like people have become a little immune to it over the past year at the same time.
[20:15:16] CABRERA: And Michael, I have to read you something one of the close acquaintances of President Trump had said. (INAUDIBLE) made this prediction this week telling the "Financial Times" quote "if the Democrats win the House, Trump might find more of his inner democrat. There is a lot he agrees with them about. Could you see President Trump running as a Democrat in 2020?"
He's so unpredictable, right? It doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility.
D'ANTONIO: We do live in bizarre world, you know. He could run as a Democrat. He could start his own party. He could decide he is not going to run after all. And I think it is a lifetime between now and this time next week. I think imaging what could happen in a couple of years is pretty much impossible.
I also think, although Chris is right that there are many things that Trump is at heart a democrat on, you know, this issue of guns is something he was concerned about 15 years ago, and he thought there should be tighter restrictions on gun purchases and the types of guns that civilians could carry. He's so ineffectual, though. I think that it is hard to imagine him getting it together with anybody.
You know, the Republicans carried him over the line on the tax cut plan. I don't think that they are going to tolerate him working with the Democrats on their agenda. So we could be in for gridlock with a democratic House investigating him with subpoena power and even more intense sense of chaos for the country.
CABRERA: Michael D'Antonio, Rachel Bade and Catherine Rampell, thank you all.
Coming up, blurred line. Did Jared Kushner's company lend mega loans after wheeling and dealing at the White House? CNN digs into this controversy.
Plus, take a look at this aircraft. No match for the wind of a ferocious nor'easter. We will show you what happens.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.
[20:21:31] CABRERA: It is a CNN exclusive. Sources confirm the FBI is now investigating one of Ivanka Trump's international business deals, specifically the negotiations and finances surrounding Trump international hotel and tower in Vancouver, Canada. The extra attention could make it harder for Ivanka Trump to get the full security clearance she needs as a full security adviser to the President. And all of this comes as the White House defends her husband Jared Kushner after it was revealed that his family businesses scored $500 million in loans after Kushner personally met with lenders at the White House.
CNN Cristina Alesci reports.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Chicago Skyscraper is majority owned by Jared Kushner and his family. Mortgage documents show a fund link to New York City private equity power house Apollo Global Management, provided them with $184 million mortgage for the building.
Apollo was founded by Josh Harris. Months earlier, that same executive was in talks with the White House about an advisory role, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. Jared stepped down as CEO of his family's business, Kushner companies, since going to Washington. But questions of conflicts still persist.
Also at the White House, Jared met with Citibank CEO Michael Corbett last year. Around the same time, Citibank made a $325 million loan to Kushner companies and its partners.
Spokespeople for both Apollo and Citibank said their executives were not involved in granting those loans.
NOAH BOOKBINDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: You also have to worry about whether he has an incentive to use his official power, to use the power of the White House, to help people that he has business relations with.
ALESCI: A Kushner company spokesperson said there was nothing inappropriate. And stories like these attempt to make insinuating connections that do not exist to disparage the financial institutions and the companies involved.
Just last week, CNN reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is inquiring about Kushner approaching foreign investors during the transition, including a Chinese insurance company and a Qatari investor for the family's biggest bet, 666 Fifth Avenue. The building hasn't generating enough profit to cover its debts.
HITEN SAMTANI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DIGITAL THE REAL DEAL: $1.8 billion was a record price for a Manhattan skyscraper. It was a highly, highly leveraged deal, which means the income in the building wasn't close to covering what they would have to pay in interest. So it was a deal that a lot of people say was doomed from the start.
ALESCI: About $1.2 billion in debt on the tower comes due next year. But sources say that negotiations with lenders and new sources of capital need to start soon. Kushner companies confirmed it's in talks to buy out its partner in the project, but the question remains, how will they pay for it? When asked by CNN, they declined to comment.
SAMTANI: They are always looking for loans and construction loans and development loans and acquisition loans. So I would say it's an active business.
ALESCI: Kushner companies also needs to find investors for a development in Jersey City. The company scuttled a plan to use a government program that would help foreigners get U.S. visas in exchange for investment after Jared's sister was reportedly referencing him during a presentation in China.
Another deal raising questions, "The New York Times" reported that Kushner companies received $30 million from one of Israel's largest financial institutions just before Jared's first diplomatic trip to the country.
Last week, "the Washington Post" reported officials from at least four countries, Mexico, Israel, China, and the United Arab Emirates, discussed ways to manipulate Jared because of his family's finances. The constant search for capital, which is normal for any real estate firm, cast a cloud over Jared's White House role, because like his father-in-law, he has refused to fully divest from his holdings.
[20:25:30] CABRERA: That's Cristina Alesci reporting.
I want to talk more about ethics and the Trump White House. Joining us now, CNN contributor Norm Eisen, former White House special counsel for ethics under President Obama and also U.S. former ambassador.
So Ambassador, Jared Kushner's lawyers said Kushner hasn't had any business dealings or role in the company since he joined the government. Isn't it possible this could all just be a coincidence?
AMB. NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Ana, thanks for having me back. And I think it's a lot for us to be asked to accept the assertions of Kushner's spokes people when you have these very troubling sets of facts where Kushner is talking to Apollo, talking to Citi. He is talking -- for heaven's sakes, he is talking to the Apollo CEO about a job, about giving him something and then the Kushner businesses get half a billion dollars in exchange and we are just going to say, the spokesman says there is no there there. Move along.
Absolutely not. For one thing there is a rule of ethics, Ana. No appearance of conflict. And from the beginning, on both sides of the aisle, this is not partisan. Both Democrat and Republican ethics experts have said Kushner can't be dealing with these companies and dealing with these countries when he is getting these flows of money and he has maintained ties to many of his businesses, so, no, it is not all right.
CABRERA: Ivanka Trump, meantime, also in the spotlight. Her security clearance held up as well and apparently it is because the FBI is looking into her international business ties, specifically the Trump international hotel and tower in Vancouver. We don't know of any specific allegations of wrongdoing. So there is all these different investigations into Trump family members' finances. Fair game?
EISEN: Ana, this saddens me as an American, as somebody that worked in the White House and as an ethicist. But it is fair game. The Trump family, starting with the President himself, needed to make a clean break with all their businesses to get away from these questions and these appearances of conflict.
You know, an appearance isn't just a bad thing, whether it's Ivanka, Jared, Mr. Trump himself. An appearance is the yellow light. You have -- that is what tells you stop here. When they see that light, they are putting the pedal to the metal and going through the intersection. Now we are seeing that there may be some collisions with the ethics rules.
It gets even worse than that. This, the investigation of Ivanka is a counter intelligence investigation. Who is she doing business with? What are the risks to our country by this enterprise she's been involved with in Vancouver?
Now, I do think that we need to let that play out. The FBI looks a lot of things. But it is totally fair game and the country shouldn't have been put in this situation. They should have walk away from their businesses.
CABRERA: And what I hear you saying is they put themselves in the crosshair of investigations by being in the situation that they are in as members of this administration.
I want to ask you also about comments the President just made today at a fundraiser that he held at Mar-a-Lago, the President talking about China's President consolidating power. And listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Don't forget China is great and Xi is a great gentleman. He is now President for life. And, look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we will give that a shot someday. He is the most powerful President in 100 years. You know, person in 100 years. You know, he treated us tremendously well when I went over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So for those who may be home and didn't catch all of that because it was hard to hear, ambassador. He says that China's President is now President for life. And he goes on to say, maybe I'll give that a shot someday. Is this a President who values democracy?
[20:30:01] EISEN: Ana, he is not a President who cherishes our most precious American ideals. I don't know what was more sickening, the President's declaration amusing that he might like to be a dictator for life, his admiration. This is a Chinese communist tyrant who he's admiring here, or the cheers of his friends behind closed doors, not realizing -- the crowd not realizing they were on tape. I had the privilege of serving our country in Central Europe where the communist dictators held sway for decades. That is the opposite of our American values. And it's deeply, deeply disturbing that the president shows so little awareness of history and indeed of the crushing human rights abuses of the Chinese regime. That is nothing to admire.
CABRERA: Ambassador Norman Eisen, good to see you. Thank you for being here.
EISEN: Always, Ana. Thanks for having me.
CABRERA: Up next, a self-described seductress that she hoped the key to the Russian investigation, linking Trump directly to the Kremlin. But the secrets come at a price. More after the break.
[20:35:44] CABRERA: She claims she is the missing link between Russia and President Trump. A Russian woman who describes herself as a seductress and a mistress to a powerful Russian oligarch, says she will provide evidence of connections and collusion to anyone who can help her get out of a prison in Thailand. CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has more.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this is an extraordinary story which offers us a rare glimpse into the secretive world of Russian politics and business and how the two meet and it also may shed some light on to the allegations of collusion. It also happens to involve a young Russian woman who describes herself as a sex coach and who is now promising to reveal information that she says is relevant to the Mueller investigation. We're a bit skeptical, but take a look.
CHANCE: She promotes herself endlessly on social media. It's Nastya Rybka, the kind of self-styled Russian sex guru who supposedly teach you the art of seduction for a fee, of course.
NASTYA RYBKA, BELARUSIAN MODEL (through translator): Even if we're interacting with men who are famous, actors, lawmakers, oligarchs, scientists, very few of these men when they interact with a woman discuss highbrow topics with them. If you want to seduce a man like that, he needs to be holed by his basic sexual instinct.
CHANCE: Amid snaps and titillating videos of her frolicking on yachts and exotic beaches, she brags of liaisons with billionaires. And one billionaire in particular.
These are the images that have thrust Nastya Rybka into the spotlight she didn't expect. It shows her relaxing on a boat with two men. One of them is Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia's richest men. The other a senior Russian official, deputy prime minister, Sergey Prikhodko.
"Russia's main opposition leader seized on the images as evidence of official corruption, also suggesting the two men could be heard discussing U.S.-Russia relations may have served as a link between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Prihodko has refused to comment on the allegation. Deripaska has dismissed it as a story far from any truth.
In a statement to CNN, his spokesperson said he's suing Rybka and her business partner because they maliciously made his private photos and personal information public.
It's not the first time the Russian oligarch known to be close to the Kremlin has fended off allegations of collusion. CNN confronted him last year after it was revealed Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort who once worked with Deripaska offered him private briefings. Deripaska told CNN he never received any communications about it.
CHANCE: Did he give you millions of dollars?
OLEG DEPRISKA, RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN AND PHILANTHROPIST: it's a news for (INAUDIBLE)
CHANCE: But it was after the promise of more detail, more information from her Nastya Rybka who was holding one of her sex and seduction classes on this beach in Thailand that this extraordinary story appears to have taken a spy novel turn. She was arrested by Thai police for violating the terms of her tourist visa managing to record this quick tantalizing message aimed at the American media as she was driven away.
NASTYA (through translator): I'm ready to give you all the missing pieces of the puzzle. Support them with videos and audio regarding the connections of our respected lawmakers with Trump, Manafort and the rest. I know a lot. I'm waiting for your offers in a Thai prison.
CHANCE: They're probably just the words of a desperate woman hoping to avoid deportation to Russia, but her promise with no evidence so far to unlock the mysteries of the Trump-Russia scandal have certainly gotten Nastya Rybka the attention she so often craved.
CHANCE: Well then as Nastya Rybka awaits her fate in Thailand, CNN has actually managed to make contact with her. And she tells us that she has 18 hours of audio recordings that she says could be useful to the Mueller investigation. She also says that she has a photograph of an unnamed American businessman who with Deripaska and who asked her to delete the image. So nothing substantial as such as such at the moment. But this case is generating a lot of interest in Russia and it's worth us keeping a close eye on what else Nastya Rybka may reveal. Back to you, Ana.
[20:40:34] CABRERA: We know you will keep watching for us. Thank you, Matthew Chance.
So this week a judge ruled that construction on Trump's border wall can begin. I travelled to the border to the town of El Paso to ask those living there how they see it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[20:45:50] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Build that wall, build that wall, build that wall, build that wall. So, we're going to build it. Who's going to pay for the wall?
(CROWD YELLING "MEXICANS")
TRUMP: 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That was candidate Trump's rallying cry, build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and force Mexico to pay for it. Well, now one year into his presidency, Mexico refuses to fund that wall and the Trump administration is seeking billions from congress to begin construction. I recently went to a border city, El Paso, Texas and brought together a group of residents who have different opinions on the issue of immigration and reform and I wanted to ask them about the wall.
CABRERA: Well, look, the wall is going to require money. Who's going to pay for the wall?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
HANS SASSENFIELD, EL PASO RESIDENT: Probably the same people that paid for the $8 trillion under Obama that he spent that we didn't have. People bring up the cost of the wall. We are so far in debt, that's a whole another topic of discussion.
CABRERA: It is a different topic when it comes to the cost, right? But that's connected, right? But the president promised Mexico
SASSENFIELD: They spend more than drunken sailors.
CABRERA: But remember, the president promised Mexico would pay for it all. We know that's not going to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can the president of the United States force Mexico to pay? It's ridiculous.
CONNIE VASQUEZ, EL PASO RESIDENT: It is ridiculous.
CABRERA: Are you OK paying? Since I know that the wall is something that support. Are you OK paying for that wall?
SASSENFIELD: Yes. And increase overall security. Not just the wall.
CABRERA: So, Connie, should there be a trade of the wall for Dreamer protection?
VASQUEZ: You're not -- they're totally two different things. Dreamer protection is something else and the wall is something else.
CABRERA: But if it's a negotiation to make sure Dreamers end up protected, should those who want Dreamers to be protected agree to building a border wall which would appease some of the people on the other side?
VASQUEZ: Well, I think the Dreamers, and I think you agree with that, you know, then we want protection as well. You know, we don't want the drug lords of Mexico to come here, do you?
SASSENFIELD: No, of course not.
VASQUEZ: No. So we, of course, we want the fence to protect us. You know, but the wall is something. You know, it's so ridiculous. What are you going to do? In the middle of the river you are going to put a huge wall, like the China wall?
SASSENFIELD: We, as a sovereign nation, have a right to put up a wall and say who can and cannot come into this country.
VASQUEZ: We understand that. We don't dispute that whatsoever.
SASSENFIELD: So I'm not against Mexicans. My wife is Mexican, OK. Don't come off with that we don't want people from Mexico or that I'm afraid of Mexicans. No. Mexicans are going to stay in their houses and they're going to live their lives. But there are criminal elements that are going to come over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump says we need to build a wall. It will block people from Mexico coming in. Well, what he fails to understand is even with just having fences, having high security, people are still managing to get through that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So with the wall, you don't think there's a way to get through that wall? You don't think -- and I just think it's like -- he's just picturing a wall just to separate us.
SASSENFIELD: You may say the wall is not going to work and other people will come in. But politically, if they passed a bill that had increased border security with DACA, what is wrong with that? Because then Trump can say, hey, I put up the wall. I met my promise, right? And we get DACA, we get something we want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what is the purpose of the wall?
SASSENFIELD: Why not compromise?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not bargaining chips. Those Dreamers were --
SASSENFIELD: I'm not saying you are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we should not be. And I don't feel like we should be in that position. If he feels he wants to use it as a bargaining chips, then what he's doing is scapegoating. And he's doing that to the utmost extent.
SASSENFIELD: He's using you guys a bargaining chip. I think that's pretty obvious. But congress, you know, if congress doesn't want that, they can pass a Clean Dream Act, but they're not going to do that. I don't think there's the political will right now to do that.
CABRERA: Would you support it if they were to do that?
SASSENFIELD: Yes. Yes. I would support it if they were to have a Clean Dream Act. But I think in reality, they're going to have to compromise. They're going to have to give Trump something he wants to get DACA.
VASQUEZ: I think he's playing the devil's advocate. I really do that Trump is playing the devil's advocate to propel us to do something. And that's why I'm hoping.
SASSENFIELD: Yes, yes. I think that's what he's doing.
VASQUEZ: The more outrageous he gets with the comments, the most anger and maybe the Democrats will agree and the hardcore Republicans will do something about it.
SASSENFIELD: I agree with you. I don't want to blame the Democrats or the Republicans. I think they're all failings because they have not passed any law in 20 years to clear up this situation to help the people that need it.
VASQUEZ: We as conservatives, as DACA members, as Americans, we have to demand congress to do something about it.
VASQUEZ: Bottom line.
[20:50:59] CABRERA: Different opinions coming together and thinking about this issue. Coming up, an incredible rescue of a snowboarder buried alive by an avalanche all caught on camera. Stay with us.
CABRERA: Right now, nearly a million people in the northeast are still without power in the wake of a deadly storm. The ferocious nor'easter developed into a bomb cyclone, killing at least five people. All killed by falling trees. The winds along the Massachusetts coast whipped up to more than 90 miles an hour. Now, the hurricane-force gusts forced a lot of flights to be cancelled. You can see this plane attempting to land at Reagan National Airport. The pilot had to abort landing at the last minute because of the wind.
[20:55:04] Another frightening moment here after an avalanche hit a California ski resort. And watch this, rescuers using their bare hands to help dig out a man buried by the snow. The only clue to his location, a tip of his snowboard was poking through the piles of snow. And one first responder says the man's lips were blue when they uncovered his face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BREAULT, HELPED RESCUED BURIED MAN: And he's looking right at me and he says, where's my wife?
CABRERA: Amazing story of survival. Police say five people were hit by this avalanche, leaving one seriously injured. The man's wife was unharmed.
And a fund for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting now exceeds $31 million. The distribution of this money will begin on Monday. The fund, which was set up in the wake of that October 1st shooting, will benefit the families of the 58 people killed and hundreds of injured survivors. A $275,000 pay-out will go to the families of those killed, paralyzed or suffering permanent brain damage.
I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for joining me tonight. I'll be back tomorrow night at 5:00 eastern here in "CNN Newsroom." Meantime, a "HISTORY OF COMEDY" marathon starts right after this. Good night.