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Brief Tenure for Gen. Mike Flynn; U.S. Officials Believe North Korea Has Improved Its Missile Technology; Rejecting Online Petition; Border Jumpers. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 14, 2017 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and, of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Michael HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes in Los Angeles. Thanks for your company.

We are of course following the breaking news this hour, the resignation of U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. He stepped down on Monday after allegations that he inappropriately discussed U.S. sanctions on Moscow with Russia's ambassador.

And just Monday, CNN learning the Justice Department had warned the White House in January that Flynn might be vulnerable to blackmail by Russia over that information.

Now in his resignation letter, Flynn said, quote, "Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others, with incomplete information regarding my phone calls to the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology."

I spoke earlier with CNN's Jim Acosta. Jim, I suppose his position had been untenable or growing that way. But wasn't this sort of accusation of potential blackmail that was the turning point? Or was it that he misled Mike Pence, the Vice President?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that revelation that the Justice Department had warned the Trump administration a month ago, Michael. I think that was certainly a turning point in all of this.

I think also, this feeling inside the White House, that it just was unacceptable that the National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, now the former National Security Adviser, had misled either intentionally or unintentionally, the Vice President, Mike Pence, about whether he had contacts with the Russian ambassador, that he discussed the Russian sanctions that were handed down by the Obama administration. Originally, Michael Flynn said he did not have that conversations

about the sanctions. It turns out later that he did have that conversation. And I think, Michael, the big turning point earlier today, was when Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the president said, that the president had full confidence in Michael Flynn.

And within an hour of that, the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, brought reporters into his office, and said, no, that was not the case. That the president was evaluating the situation. Evaluating Michael Flynn's future.

And then I had heard later on in the evening, just a few hours ago, that really, his status was a, quote, "gray area." Michael, as you know, from observing what happens here in Washington, once a top official at administration gets to that point, where the president cannot express he has full confidence in that individual, it's pretty difficult to walk that back. And for that person to once again have the confidence of the president.

And so, it did become an untenable situation. Now we can tell you that they're already starting to talk about the possible replacement for Michael Flynn, Keith Kellogg, the retired general. He has now going to be the acting National Security Adviser. He had been working in the National Security Council Office already. And so, he is going to be the acting National Security Adviser.

But David Petraeus, the retired general, is now a front-runner for this job. He was of course involved in the Obama administration. Was a top official in the Obama administration but resigned from that position because he had shared classified secrets with his mistress.

And then another retired admiral, Bob Harward is apparently also under consideration for the title of National Security Adviser. And this is going to get sorted out, probably not right away. It's probably going to take several days.

But what we're hearing from the Trump White House this evening is that the president has already moved on from all of this. And that General Flynn did not get fired. He resigned, according to senior administration officials. President Trump tried to hang in there as long as he could, we're told. But eventually, what you saw happen tonight, simply became, as you said, an untenable situation.

CHURCH: Many thanks to Jim Acosta there. And we spoke with CNN chief political analyst about Flynn's resignation and the possible contenders to replace him, including David Petraeus.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: One source says that General Petraeus is going to go to the White House tomorrow, and that he is, quote, "making a run for the job." But this source also indicates that Petraeus has, what the source calls, a lot of baggage.

[03:04:59] And we know what that is. And we've spoken about it this evening, which is that he shared classified information with his mistress. And we talked about the people in running for the job. Obviously, Petraeus is in the running for the job. General Kellogg who

is now acting head of the National Security Agency is also solid, I'm told, with K.T. McFarland, who is the number two.

And just to say that I think this took so long, because, you know, General Flynn was hanging out there for quite some time. And I think it took longer because of the president himself.

And I think both Jim Acosta and I have been talking about tonight, because the president doesn't like to fire people. And in the end, I was told, that there was a flood of information that finally made it clear that Flynn had to resign.

What that was remains unclear. Was it related to the stories that broke tonight in The Post and The New York Times? Was it related to transcriptions of his conversations with the Russians? Or was it simply related in a large sense to the fact that in his conversations with the vice president, he did not tell him what actually occurred, in his conversations with the Russians?

And whether that was an oversight or whether he just didn't tell the truth about it, we really -- we really haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet. But in the end, I think the president and the staff finally decided that General Flynn had to go. And so, he resigned.

CHURCH: So let's head to Moscow now and CNN's senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, joins us live. So let's start with the reaction there, Matthew, from Russia. What's being said about this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple of things. But first of all, I think we have to remember that this is a major embarrassment for the Kremlin. Because repeatedly they've been denial -- denying that any conversations took place about sanctions between Michael Flynn and their ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak back in late December when these conversations are acknowledge to have taken place.

That, now, appears to have been untrue. And these conversations, it seems, did take place, which is why Michael Flynn would have resigned. I spoke to the Kremlin about this morning. First of all, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov saying he is not going to comments on the resignation of Michael Flynn directly because that's a matter internally for the United States.

And when I asked him about whether he now acknowledges that sanctions were discussed between him and the Russian ambassador, he said, look, I can refer back to the multiple statements we've made earlier, all of which, by the way were, as I say, categorical rejections that those conversations take place.

It's been other reactions, as well. Notably from a senior Russian lawmaker Aleksey Pushkov who tweeted earlier, that this is the earliest resignation of a national security aide in history.

And he went on to say, that "The target is not Flynn, but the relationship with Russia." And that's, I think, cuts to the real concern here in Russia. That, you know, the relationship that Donald Trump has or the sympathy that Donald Trump has with Russia and the sympathies that those around him have with Russia, have become a political liability for him.

His enemies, politically in the Democratic Party, particularly in the Republican Party, as well, have made it clear that they're going to exploit those sympathies, to their benefit and to discredit the Trump administration.

And that worries the Russians for a couple of reasons. The first is that they work for the main reasons, I supposed. Is that they're concerned that Donald Trump will see the writing on the wall as it were when it comes to his administration. And you know, for the sake of political survival, do a political U-turn, and instead of being the Kremlin's candidate, as he once dubbed, he will become anti-Russian, adopt very anti-Russian policies opportunistically.

And that's something I think that the Russian officials at the very high level are concerned about now. What will this lead to when it comes to the Trump administration's stance towards Russia?

CHURCH: All right. We'll continue to watch that. Matthew Chance, joining us live from Moscow. Just after 11 o'clock in the morning. Many thanks.

HOLMES: Well, Jacob Parakilas joins us now from London. He is the assistant head of the U.S. and America's program at Chatham House. And thanks for doing so. You know, I guess when you think about it, for General Flynn, do you think this is it? Or do you think it's far from over?

There are of course other investigations going on into the links between Russia and the U.S. election. And one imagines democrats want to make some hay out of all of this.

[03:10:08] JACOB PARAKILAS, CHATHAM HOUSE ASSISTANT PROJECT DIRECTOR: The problem for the democrats is that they don't have majority in either the House or the Senate. And to some extent, the republicans I think are going to want to compartmentalize this story to Flynn and move on from it and proceed with their legislative agenda.

So, I suspect that in the absence of other major revelations, Flynn will probably be fine for the next couple of years. It's possible that the democrats, if they take the House back in 2018, take the House and Senate, or the presidency back in 2020 they want to come back to this, but that's a long way from now. And it's also much more likely they'll simply want to move on at that stage.

HOLMES: What about the investigation though, that is going to happen into Russia's involvement or otherwise, in the election? Is there a chance he could be called to that?

PARAKILAS: Yes. I mean, there's certainly a chance. And especially with the latest revelations with the news that there are transcripts of these calls. I think it's very likely that he'll be called. Whether that's a -- whether the transcripts of those conversations are released? It's entirely possible that those will be private conversations between himself and the Senate investigators, and that those will never make it into the public domain.

HOLMES: You know, especially and one of the key questions that's going to be dominating now, is who knew what and when did they know it? You know, we've been talking the last couple of hours. It's interesting that Donald Trump on Air Force One just last Friday, said he didn't know about these allegations.

And yet, you've got the Department of Justice saying they told the Trump administration last month about these blackmail concerns and the content of the phone calls. So, you know, it doesn't really add up?

PARAKILAS: No. And that's the problem with the idea that this story will end with Flynn's resignation. Because the questions, the broader story of all this, the questions of potential links between the Trump administration and Russia, the question of why the Trump administration is willing to take a much different line on Russia than other republicans, or other parts of the national security establishment in Washington has sort of ebbed and flowed.

And until Flynn's resignation, it seemed to be a relatively low- ranking story, given everything else that's going on. This brings it right back up to the top of the headlines, so that will refocus attention on it.

HOLMES: Yes. On that general concern, that persist that Donald Trump will criticize even allies, but hasn't virtually said a word against Russia.

PARAKILAS: Yes, absolutely. I mean, the degree to which Trump has been willing to sort of propose a friendlier, more open, more level relationship with Russia has been really striking. It was one of the ways in which he was most distance from, not only his democratic opponent of the general, but all of his republican opponents in the primary election. So this will draw attention back to that.

HOLMES: Yes, I supposed the national security advisers has got to be one of the most key appointments that a president can make. It is a vital job. How vital is it, now, who the replacement is?

PARAKILAS: It's very, very important. Especially because large parts of the state and Defense Department are still not staffed up. You still have very important coordinating jobs that are either done by acting staff or are just completely absent of the moment.

So the National Security Council is filling a lot of gaps in terms of making sure that the flow of information from the agencies to the president, is uninterrupted. That national security decision-making can proceed the pace.

So he really needs somebody in there very quickly who is a capable coordinator. Who, not necessarily will be at the center of the news, but will be an effective manager and effective sort of conduit of information from the intelligence community, from the Defense Department, from the State Department, and from these other agencies, into the White House for the making of effective national policy.

HOLMES: Jacob Parakilas, in London, thanks so much.

CHURCH: And joining me now is criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Troy Slaten. Troy, always good to talk with you. Of course, the big legal question here, is whether Michael Flynn committed any crime when he discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia's ambassador in Washington before the Trump administration took office. What is your assessment of that?

TROY SLATEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: (AUDIO GAP) for having. There's a 1799 law called the Logan Act. And it provides that unless you are a member of the U.S. government, and authorized to do so, that you can't negotiate with any foreign countries on behalf of the United States.

The allegation here being that retired General Flynn, as he was in the transition, was having unauthorized negotiations with the Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

[03:15:02] And so that is a potential violation of the Logan Act. Now, no one has ever been prosecuted under that statue, but that doesn't mean that he can't be. It is a felony.

CHURCH: Yes. But given the Logan Act is an old, obscure federal statute, what are the likely legal consequences in reality for Michael Flynn here?

SLATEN: I think it's unlikely that he'll be prosecuted under that statute. He has retired. I think the bigger issue in question for me is, how is it that General Flynn didn't know that his conversation with the Russian ambassador was having listened to by U.S. intelligence officials?

The director of national intelligence, and acting attorney general, Yates, the CIA Director Brennan, all during the transition were in agreement that this information needed to go to the incoming Trump administration. And it was FBI Director Comey that said that he didn't want that information transmitted because it would affect his investigation. And the FBI only investigates criminal acts.

CHURCH: Interesting. And of course, the next legal question that has to be asked is, who else likely knew about these discussions on sanctions? And when did they know about them? Given the Justice Department warned the Trump administration a month ago, or last month at least, that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail as a result of his communication with the Russian ambassador? How does that get resolved? And how big might this be?

SLATEN: Well, that's a very good question. And if the Trump administration knew that their National Security Adviser, who is the person who is responsible for coordinating all the intelligence, from all of the intelligence agencies from the vast intelligence infrastructure that we have in this country, it would appear to me, that that would be striking to congressional investigators. So, I imagine that General Flynn will be called up to testify both on

the record and off the record, with congressional investigators. And they, most definitely, have a transcript of his entire conversation with the Russian ambassador.

CHURCH: Yes. His resignation doesn't signal the end of this. Troy Slaten, thanks so much for joining us and bringing us up to date on legal matters. I appreciate it.

SLATEN: Thanks for having me.

HOLMES: Well, President Trump now under scrutiny for how he has handled a big foreign policy test. Why he's being criticized for his response to North Korea's latest missile launch. We'll have a live report.

[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Don Riddell with your CNN World Sport headlines.

We're about two-thirds of the way through the Premier League season. Time for club to get serious about chasing Chelsea. We haven't been done a big league in the top.

One of the sides for the chance Manchester City were on action on Monday against Bournemouth City. Fine goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero as they secure their third consecutive league win taking a 2-nil, and moving into second in the league, 8 point behind Chelsea.

The round of 16 kicks off in the Champions League Tuesday with one of the match featuring the Portuguese title holder Benfica hosting Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund a pretty much out of Bundesliga a contention that have found trouble at home having been ordered to close their iconic Yellow Wall at West ham Stadium for the next home game against Wolfsburg.

The club were also fined just over $100,000 for the crowd trouble that broke out in the recent match against RB Leipzig when supporters crashed outside the ground. Twenty eight people were arrested.

Now have you ever wondered how boxers choose their next opponents? Well, Manny Pacquiao asked his Twitter followers who he should fight next. Pacquiao is rumored to be fighting Jeff Horn. But in a choice between Horn, Kell Brook, Amir Khan, and Terence Crawford, an overwhelming majority went for Khan. We'll see what happens next if the two boxers will agree to fight.

That is a quick look at your sports headlines. I'm Don Riddell.

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. Returning to our top story. The U.S. National Security Adviser has resigned over a controversy over his Russian contacts. Reports say the Justice Department warned the White House that Michael Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail over his communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Two democratic leaders are calling for a classified briefing on the situation. Flynn was one of President Trump's closest advisers.

CHURCH: These photos show President Trump moments after he learned about North Korea's latest missile launch. Mr. Trump is being criticized for discussing potentially sensitive information, surrounded by guests at his Florida resort.

He was there with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The photo shows aides using cell phone flashlights to read documents. The White House says the leaders did not discuss classified information at their dinner table.

Well, Mr. Trump has not clarified exactly how he will deal with his first major foreign policy crisis courtesy of North Korea. U.S. Officials now believe the North has improved its missile technology, requiring less time to refuel. That makes it harder to detect a possible launch.

Meanwhile, a familiar scene in the United Nations Security Council. More condemnations that have done little to stop leader Kim Jong-un.

HOLMES: Well, our Matt Rivers joins us now from Seoul in South Korea. And Rosemary was talking there about the advances. Matt, just how much progress has North Korea made in terms of the technology and how significant is it?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It appears to be strategically pretty significant, first made public on Sunday morning here local time, we were told this was an intermediate range ballistic missile. And all of us shrugged our shoulders in a way. Not that it isn't important of course, but that is something that we had seen before in terms of the range of this kind of missile.

In fact, there were 24 different missile tests with different ranges throughout the year in 2016. but as details started to come out, we heard from both the U.S. and South Korean officials about just what this particular missile is made up of.

So this is a version of the KN-11, that's a submarine launch ballistic missile that was tested last year. And it's obviously a land-based version. But it's really about how this missile is propelled up into the sky. This is with a solid fuel.

And what that does is it appears this missile to be more mobile. So you saw in the video there, which is the first time we've actually seen video of this kind of a missile, from North Korea. You saw that7 missile was a actually launched from the back of a truck, using a hydraulic system. And that inherently makes it harder for other countries to track.

You can much more easily to hide this missile. And when you choose to deploy it, you can then just drive it out, find a spot and launch it into the sky. The solid fuel comes into play because you don't have to fuel it with liquid fuel. That takes time.

So if you have a rocket that's using a liquid fuel sometimes it can take days to fuel a larger missile. And that allows other countries to figure out what's going on.

So strategically here, the North Koreans do appear to have taken a step further. The next step of course will be trying to figure out how to develop a missile that can go further, that can be a long-range missile. An intercontinental missile that could one day perhaps hit a target like the continental United States.

[03:25:08] HOLMES: You mentioned next steps. Let's talk about next steps for the rest of the world. The U.N. Security Council denouncing again. But what could be another step for the outside world to react?

RIVERS: Well, the first thing everyone think of is sanctions, Michael. And then, you know, that could very well be a step forward here.

But consider the two times in 2016, that the U.N. Security Council actually moved forward with sanctions. That would be after the first nuclear test in 2016 in January. And then, the second time, North Korea tested a nuclear device, and that was in August.

Those were the only two times you saw sanctions be brought forward, when all five members, all five members of the U.N. Security Council that have veto power actually agreed on new sanctions. You haven't seen that happen when there's just been a missile test.

So, the odds of sanctions being levied just because of this one particular test, probably pretty small. You never know really what can happen. And it will be a good test to see just how much the Trump administration will push for sanctions in this first real instance it has to deal with the (AUDIO GAP) North Korean situations.

HOLMES: Yes, indeed. Especially after coming into after saying they were going to get tough on North Korea. Matt Rivers in Seoul. Thanks so much.

CHURCH: We'll take a very short break here. But still to come, much more on Michael Flynn's resignation as U.S. National Security Adviser. The Washington Post reporter who helped break the story that the Justice Department was worried Russia might blackmail Flynn talks to CNN. That's next.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CHURCH: A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes in Los Angeles, where it is 12.30 a.m. We have been following breaking news.

U.S. President Donald Trump looking for a new national security adviser, a key post in an administration. Michael Flynn resigning late Monday after growing controversy over his contacts with Russia. Flynn says he inadvertently briefed Vice President Mike Pence and

others with what he called incomplete information about his conversations with Russia's U.S. ambassador.

It also says Flynn inappropriately discussed U.S. sanctions on Moscow. And just Monday, CNN learning the Justice Department had warned the White House in January about the calls and saying that Flynn might be vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.

CHURCH: The Washington Post first broke the news about the sanctions being discussed and the Justice Department's concern that Flynn could be blackmailed. Now we want to play you part of an interview with one of the paper's reporters who helped break the story. And he mentioned the number high-profile figures.

You see them here. They are, of course, Michael Flynn, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of national Intelligence, James Clapper, and FBI Director, James Comey.

Washington Post reporter Adam Entous talked just a short time ago with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADAM ENTOUS, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: This came to head at the end of the Obama administration, literally on the last full day Obama was in office on the 19th of January. And there was a debate within the intelligence community, and the Justice Department and the FBI.

And basically you had the Intel Chiefs, Brennan and Clapper and Sally Yates who was the deputy Attorney General, wanted to basically go to the Trump White House after the inauguration and let them know that the way Pence, the Vice President-elect and other administration officials in the incoming administration were mischaracterizing based on a conversation they had with Flynn, his conversation with Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador.

And so, Comey, the FBI Director, initially on the 19th of January opposed going to the Trump White House, to let them know this conversation. After, you know, Trump comes to office, Sally Yates, who's then acting attorney general, makes the case again and convinces Comey sometime after the 23rd of January, and before the 31st, that this information needed to be passed on. And so, they shared it with the White House.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So, they in terms of the intersects between of the conversations of Flynn with the Russian ambassador, those were looked at once, according to your article, after intelligence officials were surprise that Russia didn't retaliate for U.S. actions against Russia, is that correct?

ENTOUS: Correct. So the FBI has a wiretap on the Russian ambassador and other diplomats. And they collect that all the time. And so after Putin didn't respond, as many officials had expected, Intel analysts were scratching their heads, trying to understand what happened.

Why didn't Putin do what was expected? When they looked through the intelligence, they saw these communications between Kislyak and Flynn. When Sally Yates who was, again, at that point, the deputy attorney general, when she saw them she was really alarmed.

She felt like Flynn had crossed the line, in particular, the Logan Act, which is in a very obscure statute, which would bar a U.S. person, like Flynn, before that person becomes part of the government, from trying to lobby or influence the policies in another government.

[03:35:00] She, but she knew that the Logan Act was something that was not going to be pursued and that the FBI had an ongoing investigation looking at, basically Trump associates and their ties to Russia.

So it wasn't an issue, really, until you started to have the mischaracterizations publicly. And so the idea is that the Russians knew what Flynn and Kislyak had spoken about. And they could tell from the way Pence, Sean Spicer and the chief of staff, were talking that they were mischaracterizing based on what Flynn was telling them, what was discussed in that -- in those calls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: All right. Well, attorney Ron Bamieh joins us now from Santa Maria in California. He is also a former assistant chief deputy at the U.S. Justice Department. Thank you so much for being with us.

RON BAMIEH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Now our guest earlier this hour, suggested that General Michael Flynn may have violated an old obscure federal statute. We heard it mentioned just then, the Logan Act, if he discussed the lifting of U.S. sanctions with the ambassador to the U.S., before President Trump took office. What is your response to that? Was there any crime committed here at all, do you think?

BAMIEH: No. And I'll tell you the reason why especially the Logan Act was passed in 1799. In over 200 years, nobody has ever been prosecuted for it. If anybody looked at the Logan Act, they would realize it's probably unconstitutional. As a matter of fact we had a number of people who weren't elected who talk to foreign diplomats.

So, President Obama, when he was a candidate flew to the Middle East, spoke to Afghanistan leaders, Israeli leaders, Palestinian leaders, flew to Germany, spoke to Merkel. All these things he was doing as not even president-elect, as candidate for the office.

There's no way that you could prosecute somebody under this act that it would be unconstitutional. Private citizen talking to a government person. We have freedom of speech in our country.

CHURCH: All right.

BAMIEH: I don't think the Logan Act is constitutional. Nobody has bothered to prosecute in 200 years. Only the most partisan of advocates, would suggest that somehow there would be some criminal violation and somehow some statute was been violated.

There's never ever been prosecuted ever before. This would be the first the case of first impression, case that on a law that appears to be unconstitutional on its face. I just don't see that happening.

CHURCH: All right. So you've worked in the Justice Department, it was some years ago. But you know how this all works. So what was your reaction when you heard that the Justice Department actually warned the Trump administration last month, that General Michael Flynn misled the administration, regarding his contact with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by Russia? Should something more have been done sooner, do you think?

BAMIEH: Well, I have two things when I first heard that story. One is that, Mr. Flynn was a private citizen. And he had a conversation with a Russian ambassador. And he was recorded. In United States you can't wiretap a private citizen.

So, I'd be curious to see the legal authority they had to do that. Additionally, it appears that somebody in the White House or in the Department of Justice, is leaking classified information to the press. That's also a crime. You can't do that. And nobody seems to be interested in that.

The more troubling thing for the Trump administration is that Mr. Flynn misled the vice president and the administration officials. So when that became clear he had to go.

The blackmail aspect of it that sounds more like something you would see in the movies. Or read in the comics. The chance of that happening is seem pretty slim. Eventually, the truth does come out. And when it did, you know, Flynn had to go. And he did.

CHURCH: All right. Ron Bamieh, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

BAMIEH: My pleasure. Thank you.

CHURCH: All right. And this news just in to CNN. The British government had rejected an online petition to cancel U.S. President Trump's state visit. London has seen a number of large protests against President Trump's policies.

But the statement from the foreign and commonwealth office posted online, says the government recognizes the strong views expressed by the many signatures of this petition, but does not support this petition.

More than 1.8 million people have signed the petition, easily crossing the 100,000 signature-threshold required for it to be debated in parliament. That debate is scheduled for February 20th. No dates have been set yet for a Trump visit.

HOLMES: Well, asylum-seekers search for refuge in Canada after being unable to find it in the U.S. The only thing standing in their way, bitter freezing temperatures. We'll have a report when we come back. [03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. Let's recap the top story for you. Michael Flynn resigning as the U.S. National Security Adviser. This coming after reports that the Justice Department warned he could be vulnerable to blackmail over communications he had with the Russian ambassador.

Reports also said Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions with the ambassador, after Russia allegedly interfered with the presidential election and while Barack Obama was still President.

CHURCH: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has a different view than Donald Trump on the U.S. president's travel ban. Mr. Trudeau visited the White House Monday. And the leaders agreed to strengthen trade between their countries. But Mr. Trump took the opportunity to defend his travel ban saying the U.S. cannot let the wrong people in.

Here's the Canadian leader's response.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, after President Trump announced his travel ban, a wave of refugees began fleeing the U.S. and heading to Canada. And they are facing some incredible dangers in order to do it.

[03:45:03] Sara Sidner with that.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the middle of the night, this is when refugees are choosing to try and escape the U.S. to Canada. Just behind me is Minnesota. To the left of me is North Dakota. And this is Emerson, Canada. It's pretty easy to cross here. There's not much to stop you, except for the snow.

Men, women and children, picked up in the middle of the night, in the dead of winter looking for refuge after being denied in the U.S. This is the latest wave of asylum sneakers who have snuck across the United States border, not trying to get into the U.S., but trying to get out. Destination, Canada. These four men were among them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: What was it like trying to get here?

HUSSEIN AHMED, SOMALI ASYLUM SEEKER: I can't believe now speaking to you that I'm alive. I was almost dead to be freezing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very, very difficult.

SIDNER: At one point, they all thought they were going to freeze to death. This is an easy entry way into Canada, because this is a decommissioned border crossing. This is actually one of the routes. People were walking in knee-deep snow in subzero temperatures for hours. And they did it all in the dead of winter, in a panic, for one reason.

AHMED: Donald Trump was elected, so, I fear I will not have an opportunity to be granted and to live as an asylum or refugee in the United States because Donald Trump hates the refugee.

MOHAMED HOSSAIN, SOMALI ASYLUM SEEKER: They don't want immigrants, especially from my country, Somalia, they ban.

SIDNER: How many of you left the United States because of Donald Trump's executive order? All of you.

All of them ended up stumbling into the small border town of Emerson, Canada. And calling 911. Here, border jumpers are nothing new but the numbers coming over are.

BRENDA PIETT, CANADA RESIDENT: I guess it started with a trickle. And now, it's increased to like a flood stage.

SIDNER: We witnessed 21 people, including an entire family, come into Canada near Emerson in just 24 hours. The mayor of Emerson says he feels for the asylum seekers. But he's also worried about the safety of his town.

Are you worried about terrorism? Are you worried about the people coming across the border?

GREG JANZEN, MAYOR OF EMERSON CANADA: Well, I mean, that's always in the back of your mind. When you're getting these people coming across, for one thing, they're breaking the law when they jump the border. So, right away, they're criminals.

SIDNER: Not everyone we saw was from the list of banned countries. But they all had their reasons for making the journey. Saidu is from Ghana.

SAIDU MOHAMMED, GHANIAN ASYLUM SEEKER: Right now, I'm wanted in my country.

SIDNER: Wanted, he says, for the crime of being gay. What would they do if they caught you?

MOHAMMED: I would be -- if they didn't kill me, I would go to jail.

SIDNER: Tell me how this happened to you. How did you lose your fingers? They had never heard of frostbite until all of their fingers had to be amputated, save one thumb. When asked if it was worth it, they said they have no choice.

RAZAK LOYAL, GHANIAN ASYLUM SEEKER: We feel like we are home. And the Canadian people, open their hearts for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: But even though two men from Ghana, who lost their fingers

except for one thumb, they have no guaranty that they will be given refugee status here in Canada. But more people keep coming and hoping.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Emerson, Canada.

HOLMES: Immigration advocates and democrats representing the affected areas are questioning a series of raids around the country. The Department of Homeland Security said nearly 700 people were arrested in the operation in five U.S. cities.

The agency says the raids targeted convicted criminals, gang members and people who re-entered the country after being deported. But advocates say the executive order vastly expanded these raids to include any undocumented immigrant in the U.S., and not just serious criminals.

CHURCH: And we'll take another short break. But still to come, crews in northern California are scrambling to prevent water from spilling uncontrollably at the nation's tallest dam site. Thousands have been forced to evacuate. And we will have the latest on the situation there. Back in a moment.

[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The Valentine's Day. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri for CNN Weather Watch.

Watching the pattern across the United States where plenty of mild temperatures built in across the southern portion of the United States southerly flow. Some thunderstorm pushing in behind. It's a different story, some wintery weather. And cold air still locks in place around the northeast.

But there is a severe weather potential across parts of eastern Texas associated with this. And still looking at a possibility there for some isolated tornado, and certainly, damaging winds and large hail not ruled out as well in places such as Houston, that's one of the main areas of concern.

Notice the complex of thunderstorm, this is going to be late in the afternoon hours where they begin pushing in towards the Houston metro area. So certainly a lot of people in the roadways as the storm begin to move in. While around the northeastern U.S. another round of snow showers this particular time even farther north, a little north of Boston there for the heaviest amounts that's slated to come in in the middle portion of the week.

We go with minus five in Montreal, in Denver around 10 degrees. San Francisco, sunshine comes back and around 18 degrees. And notice the shots of cold there they're very little and very short lived. You can find to the northeastern U.S. and parts of southern Canada.

Beyond this it is just about mile for everyone you see how uniformed the colors of green and yellow are in place there. Those indicate temps into the teens. And Atlanta certainly is in store even for the 20's over the next 24 hours. While Charlotte looks like a warming trend is in store once we cool off after this particular storm system. Well, the eastern U.S. bracing for another storm.

HOLMES: Welcome back. Urgent efforts are underway of California's Oroville Dam to repair the damaged spillways that have forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate as a precaution.

The area had suffered years of drought. But heavy rainfall and snowfall that is melting suddenly pushed the dam past its limit. Engineers cautiously optimistic they can contain the potential flooding risk. But more rain is on the way.

CHURCH: And joining me now in the studio, Pedram Javaheri, our meteorologist. As Michael mentioned more rain and snow is underway.

JAVAHERI: Correct.

CHURCH: And this is a big problem, isn't it

(CROSSTALK)

JAVAHERI: It is a big problem. It's far from over as well. You know, we know people have been evacuated. They're not been allowed back for one reason, in particular. There's a lot more rain coming and a lot more snow potentially.

But the concern is, Rosemary, if this emergency spillway were to fail, it is essentially the same thing as if the dam were to fail in its entirety. And I said that before, the number one loss of life in California state history was the 1906 San Francisco quake. The number two loss of life was the St. Francis Dam failure in 1928.

So, it has the potential to be disastrous if people are not out of the path. Officials are not messing around with it as well.

And you see perspective. The images that we've shared with you of the lake itself, of course, the tallest lake in the -- the tallest dam in the United States, at 770 feet. But sitting there as the second- largest reservoir, as well.

But there's the damage that is been occurring there across the main spillway just to the left of the screen there, the emergency spillway. It is an earthen dam. Meaning it is the earth itself that's supporting much of the weight of the initial top area of the dam.

[03:55:04] So, if that fails, it's a disaster scenario. And the projections are such, if the Cal Fire has done the calculations on the same, within one hour, 10 feet to 100 feet of water, for Oroville, it would be upward of 100 feet of water. That would inundate the community.

Some seven hours later, even as much as 10 feet high waters it would reach places such as Morrisville or Yuba City. So, again, it puts in perspective of why about 200,000 people out of these communities and neighboring areas have been evacuated. And storms come in one after another. One comes in Wednesday into

Thursday. Minimal rainfall accumulations associated with this one. It is the second one that's slated to come in Friday into Sunday. Heavy rainfall, high-elevation snowfall.

And the pattern resembles will be call an atmospheric river pattern. You may have the term pineapple express, meaning the moisture originates out of the Hawaiian islands, so there's plenty of it to go around. That's why officials are trying to do what they can to reduce the water levels as quickly as possible. So, it's going to rise again by this weekend.

CHURCH: Right. Of course, environmentalists did warn about this, didn't they?

JAVAHERI: Absolutely.

CHURCH: All right. Thanks so much, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: I appreciate it. And thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. And I'll be back next hour.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes in Los Angeles. I will not. It's all you, Rosemary. Early Start is next for our viewers here in the United States. For everyone else, thanks for watching.

[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)