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Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital; Pence Seemingly Kept Out of Loop on Russia Contacts; Russia Barred from Winter Olympics; Largest California Fire Quickly Grows to Massive Threat; Millions at Risk of Famine, Disease in Yemeni Civil War. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: We're hours away from a decision that could rock the Middle East. Donald Trump will soon announce that the U.S. is recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

VAUSE: Russia banned from competing in next year's Winter Olympics, accused by the IOC of an unprecedented attack on sport.

SESAY: And here in southern California, ferocious wildfires growing by an acre a second.

VAUSE: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. It's great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: Well, we're hours away now from President Trump's announcement that the U.S. will recognize all of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

SESAY: Senior administration officials say Mr. Trump will also signal his intention the move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The U.S. State Department is warning of violence ahead of the decision.

VAUSE: Also ahead of this announcement, Trump called Mideast leaders. They had expressed concern. They've also warned of a potential violent backlash. Palestinian groups are now calling for three days of rage.

For more on this joining us now, former L.A. city councilwoman Wendy Greuel, CNN political commentator and Trump supporter John Phillips, Middle East expert with the Rand Corporation Dalia Dassa Kaye. So thank you all for being with us.

We are now learning a lot more about the reasons for this decision by the President. A senior administration official has told CNN it seems clear now that the physical location of the American embassy is not material to a peace deal. It's not an impediment to peace and it's only a facilitator to peace. After having tried this for 22 years an acknowledgement of reality seems like an important thing.

Ok. So Dalia - to you, with regards to where the embassy is actually located, moving it to Jerusalem seems like that the administration official has left out a third option, which seems that this move could provoke violence and outrage across the Muslim world and could have long term consequences for the United States.

DALIA DASSA KAYE, RAND CORPORATION: Yes, absolutely. It is not just a question of jeopardizing a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace process which is already in a difficult position but it is the broader implication for U.S. interests and regional stability that this move could lead to.

So there's a lot of worry that this step, recognizing all of Jerusalem and not even accepting Palestinian claims over East Jerusalem if that is the decision will be, will inflame the Muslim world and possibly, we don't know for sure, but could lead to protests and potentially violence that could harm U.S. Interests in the region.

VAUSE: And John - it seems this decision was not driven by diplomacy. It was drive by a desire to keep a campaign promise that Donald Trump made last year.

Sheldon Addison for one the big casino owner down in Las Vegas, very pro-Israeli. He donated $25 million to the Trump campaign. He's going to be very happy. Good return on investment.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's keeping a campaign promise. I will say this, this is not something that's unique to Donald Trump or unique to the Republican Party. This is a promise that politicians in both parties have been making for some time.

It reminds me of everyone making a New Year's resolution to lose weight. Well, Donald Trump is the only guy on the treadmill. He's the first one to actually keep his word to actually what he said he was going to do.

And I would add that in many ways, whenever the country has a bipartisan consensus, it's usually bad for the average person, it's usually bad for the voter.

One issue where there is a bipartisan consensus in this country and I think it's very good, is support for the state of Israel. The fact that the Israeli government is behind this, American politics in both parties are behind this. I think it is a good thing and I think it's long overdue.

VAUSE: Wendy, President Obama did not make this decision -- this promise rather. President Clinton was in favor of it in principle. President Bush certainly made his decision to move the embassy. But once they got into office, W. Bush and Clinton, they realized the huge ramifications that come with this. And they realized it was not a good idea. WENDY GREUEL, FORMER LOS ANGELES COUNCILWOMAN: Well, I think you saw

Senator Schumer just in October say he believes that it should be in Jerusalem.

VAUSE: He said he's going to (INAUDIBLE).

GREUEL: I think that the important part of this is how is President Trump going to implement this? I mean, you know, his foreign policy accolades or what he has been able to do have not necessarily been so great as how is implementation and I think that's a lot of questions people have.

How will this occur in a way that will be seen by both Republicans and Democrats? And hopefully he has been communicating with the Israelis about how this is going to be implemented.

[00:05:01] That I think is what people are going to be interested in as well.

VAUSE: So you guys seem to agree that there really is no political cost here for the President domestically.

GREUEL: I think we do agree shockingly -- John. And I actually agree on that.

VAUSE: Write this date down.

PHILLIPS: I'm taping the back of that.

GREUEL: And it is -- he is fulfilling that campaign promise.


PHILLIPS: I also don't think that you should be able to be bullied by people who are promising three days of rage if you don't give them what they want. If suddenly we start tailoring American diplomacy to violent mobs then we're going to end up making all kinds of bad decisions.

VAUSE: Dalia -- I'd like to bring you on that because clearly this decision has ramifications and quite often there's always been the issue that Jerusalem had special status, has had special status, you know, since 1948 because it's the center of religion for the three monolithic faiths.

By Donald Trump making this decision, he said that he would make it clear that the United States is not taking a position on whether or how Jerusalem is divided between Israel and the Palestinians. But by making this announcement hasn't he already done that? And isn't that the problem here?

KAYE: Yes, absolutely. You know, there is a reason that for decades no U.S. President, Republican or Democrat despite campaign pledges and rhetoric has ever actually done this before.

So I think we should not underestimate what a radical move this will be for U.S. foreign policy, putting domestic politics aside. And in fact, recent polling actually shows the majority of Americans are not particularly in favor of this move.

So, it is, I think, a critical issue for regional stability and the reason that previous presidents -- Democrat and Republican -- have not done this and the reason why many national security advisors and reportedly even State Department officials are opposed to this is because it does risk inflaming regional violence.

And it's not that we're being bullied. This is a sensitive issue in the region. Jerusalem is a key issue to identity, to the Palestinians, to the broader Muslim community. It's a key identity issue to Israelis so it's important to recognize this capital is of importance to both sides and that's why traditional U.S. policy had said this is an issue we need to leave for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate on a peace process. This is not a decision to impose on one party or the other.

VAUSE: And even for the international (INAUDIBLE). Before you go - John, Turkey's president for one, among those who are expected, you know, to have some anger at this, there's outrage. And Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he's warning there will be consequences.


RECAP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): I would like to reiterate my sadness over the reports that the United States is getting ready to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Mr. Trump -- Jerusalem is the red line for Muslims. Our struggle on this matter will continue with resolve. As a matter of fact, this can go as far as breaking off our diplomatic relations with Israel.


VAUSE: So John -- I guess the point here is, John, ok it may be good domestic politics but it's not good globally. And a lot of people say it does not move these two sides closer to a peace deal - the Israelis and the Palestinians.

PHILLIPS: Many of the countries in that region don't recognize Israel's right to exist.

VAUSE: Turkey's one of them. And then they're talking about breaking diplomatic relations.

PHILLIPS: Right. But it's not just them. There are many other countries in that part of the world that are criticizing this move.

I don't think we should back down. I don't think we should alter our policy because they're threatening three days of violence or they're threatening any number of other things.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, you know, we have heard from the Arab and the Muslim world. We also heard from top diplomats with the E.U. who are concerned about what this means for America's position in the world. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FEDERICA MOGHERINI, EUROPEAN UNION: The European Union supports the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution. We believe that any action that would undermine these efforts must be absolutely be avoided.

A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states so that the aspiration of both parties can be fulfilled.


VAUSE: And Wendy - you know, where does this leave America's leadership when it comes to the -- not just the Israeli-Palestinian issue but, you know, within the Arab-Muslim world? I mean is there now a credibility problem for Donald Trump?

Some within the administration say it gives him credibility because he keeps his word. But how do you see it?

GREUEL: Well, I think it is - again, if you look historically at all of the presidents who have said they're going to do this and the time is going to take precedent.

Trump has not said it's going to take three to four years. The issue is how you facilitate that implementation. The negotiations and discussions you have with those other countries. This is the beginning of that process.

My concern is whether or not this administration has the ability to do it in a way that is going to not cause that kind of consternation with all those other --

VAUSE: Apparently there's been no groundwork laid -- called other. It also came out of the blue which is why so many people have been taken by surprise and the timing.

GREUEL: Yes, definitely.

PHILLIPS: He coordinated with the Israelis.

VAUSE: Right. And they're happy. Well, they are.

PHILLIPS: Most of them. I mean

VAUSE: Anyway. It is good to see you, guys. Thank you - John and Wendy and also Dalia. Thank you very much.

KAYE: Thank you.

[00:10:05] VAUSE: Well, there has been one very senior official within the Trump administration who, no matter what happens in the Russia investigation regardless of sensational revelations, indictments or controversial tweets, there is one person who seems to remain above the fray. Clean hands, no knowledge - that's Vice President Mike Pence.

It started in January when Pence said then national security advisor Michael Flynn told him sanctions were not discussed during a conversation with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked to General Flynn about that conversation. It actually was initiated when on Christmas day he had sent a text to the Russian ambassador to express not only Christmas wishes but sympathy for the loss of life in the airplane crash that took place.

It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against Russia.


VAUSE: Details of Michael Flynn's plea deal with the special counsel revealed that to be false. Flynn talked about sanctions with Ambassador Kislyak and Pence says he was repeating that bad information that he was given.

And when it comes to any contact with Russian officials and the possibility of collusion the Vice President claims no knowledge.


PENCE: I was not aware of any contacts or any collusion with Russian officials.


VAUSE: And keep in mind Mike Pence is overseeing the transition team at the same time Flynn was talking to the Russian ambassador. So Pence appears to be at least out of the loop almost blissfully unaware even though Flynn's court documents reveal a wide circle of Trump advisers - they all knew about the Flynn-Kislyak conversation.

Now, some of the Vice President's inner circle think he could be called in for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. But a spokesperson for Pence says nothing could be further from the truth.

For more, Seth Abramson, a lawyer and professor at the University of New Hampshire joins us now. Seth - it seems Pence wasn't just lied to by Michael Flynn about those conversations with the Russian ambassador but multiple senior members of that transition team, I guess they conspired, maybe outright lied to the then Vice President-elect to keep him out of the loop.

SETH ABRAMSON, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, based on the statement of events in the Flynn case the number of people who would have had to lie to Mike Pence or at least keep from him the fact that Mike Flynn was conducting negotiations with the Russians in December 2016 would be an extraordinarily long list. Most -- possibly even all of the rest of the transition team as well as Mr. Trump himself, who found out on January 24th the truth of the matter.

And it seems clear that he didn't pass on that information, if you believe Mr. Pence, to the Vice President. And so this has to be either the most out of the loop vice president in U.S. history or someone who has not been candid with the American people.

VAUSE: I guess that there is nothing inappropriate about these Russia contacts -- why were so many people lying or trying to cover them up?

ABRAMSON: I don't think it is the case actually that there was nothing inappropriate about them. I know that the President has tweeted that they were legal. In fact, negotiating with a foreign government under color of authority to negotiate an inter-governmental dispute is a violation of the Logan Act, which is a federal felony.

So I think one of the reasons that people like K.T. McFarland, Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, possibly the President himself, have not been honest about these December 2016 contacts is I don't think that they were legal.

The Logan Act is not regularly applied. In fact only a couple of people have been prosecuted under it. But this is an extraordinary situation and the Logan Act was written for extraordinary situations just like this one.

VAUSE: There's also the ongoing problem of that weekend tweet from the President. He said "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President," and the key point of this, "and the FBI."

What is extraordinary is that Donald Trump has since disowned that tweet. His lawyer has taken the fall. He says he transcribed that tweet to an aide and he sent it out which is a bit like those, you know, stars who say that their accounts were hacked, they had nothing to do with it.

On Tuesday White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, she wouldn't directly answer if in fact the President knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI. Listen to this.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, the President knew that he lied to the Vice President. That was the reason for his firing.


VAUSE: So when you try to put all this together it just doesn't seem to add up.

ABRAMSON: No, it doesn't. And I will say that actually the President has not himself directly disowned that tweet. As you mentioned, Sarah Huckabee Sanders simply referred people to John Dowd's statement that he wrote the tweet.

Now there are a number of things to say about that. One of them is the fact that it would be extraordinary, and I say this as someone who's a criminal defense attorney for a long time, for a criminal defense attorney to be writing tweets on behalf of a client let alone tweets that ultimately seem to incriminate that client in a serious federal felony, in this case obstruction of justice.

[00:15:07] And then secondly, we have to note the fact that Donald Trump allowed that tweet to stand. Even if he didn't know about it when it was posted, he allowed it to stand.

The White House has previously said that presidential tweets are in fact presidential declaration and they are official. So Mr. Trump, whether or not he knew the tweet had been written or posted at the time it was written and posted, he adopted that tweet and he is culpable for it.

VAUSE: And of course, this all goes to the issue of obstruction of justice. As far as Mike Pence is concerned, you know, he keeps using this Sergeant Schultz defense. I know nothing, I see nothing. How is that going to hold up if he is in fact interviewed by the special counsel, especially now that Flynn is a cooperating witness?

ABRAMSON: Well, I think that we should expect that he will ultimately be interviewed by the special counsel. I know that Senator Blumenthal just said today that he wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to speak to Mr. Pence. If Mr. Pence in fact did know about what Mr. Flynn was doing in December and he was not honest when on January 15 of this year, he told "Face the Nation" that he didn't know anything about it then he's going to be in a real catch point too when he talks to Bob Mueller, when he talks to the Senate because in both cases should he lied he would be charged with making false statements much like Mike Flynn was and much like earlier George Papadopoulos was.

VAUSE: What do you make of this sort of unique ability that Mike Pence has to sort of go MIA at all these key moments. He was at his son's wedding when Flynn was talking to Kislyak. Apparently visiting a homeless shelter in Indiana when Flynn and Kushner got wrapped up in that U.N. resolution over Israel which proved to be very controversial, and he's been radio silent last week at least, you know, when Flynn was pleading guilty for lying to the FBI.

ABRAMSON: Well, you know, I saw a news article recently that said that either Mike Pence is a knave or he is naive. And I think it is one of the two. If he is naive he is historically naive because he kept himself aloof from the most important conversations that were happening on the presidential transition team that he was in charge of for 50 days.

Or in fact, he did know about these statements that were made by Michael Flynn to the FBI, he did know about what Michael Flynn is actually doing, and in that case he really is going to find himself in some trouble when he sits down with Bob Mueller and when he sits down presumably with the Senate Judiciary Committee at some point.

VAUSE: Interesting days ahead for the Vice President who we don't get to see a lot of. Seth - good to see you. Thank you.

ABRAMSON: Thank you.

SESAY: We're going to hit pause and take a quick break.

No uniforms, no flag, no anthem -- Russia is banned from the Winter Olympic games. But some of its athletes may still be allowed to compete. More on that next.


SESAY: Well, the International Olympic Committee has banned Russia from the upcoming winter Olympics in South Korea.

VAUSE: It is an unprecedented punishment for the country's state- sponsored widespread doping scheme in the 2014 winter games.


[00:19:59] THOMAS BACH, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: The commission members have produced a comprehensive and I must say excellent report addressing the systemic manipulation of the anti- doping system in Russia.

The IOC executive board has based its decision today on this report. The report clearly lays out an unprecedented attack on the integrity of the Olympic games and sports.


SESAY: Well, our CNN correspondents are following this story for us. Paula Newton joins us from Seoul, South Korea and Clare Sebastian is there for us in Moscow. Ladies -- welcome.

Clare - to you first, Russia is no doubt dismayed by this decision but the question is how are they going to respond -- some of the official Russian reaction for us?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha -- so far a conspicuous silence from the Kremlin. But as for others political quarters, there was a swift and frankly angry reaction. One Russian member of parliament called it a humiliation and an insult. Another called it a political provocation.

The spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry also was very quick to respond in a long and slightly philosophical statement. She said they are constantly trying to prove the absurdity of our way of life, our culture our history and now sport. She said we will survive - so certainly a sense of defiance there.

And we went out on the streets just within half an hour of this ruling coming out. We wanted to see how Russians there were feeling about it and very much echoing the thoughts there of their politicians. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our country should be able to participate. All the doping stuff has been twisted by international organizations. And I don't think that's right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without Russia it's not going to be the Olympics. It's all politics and it's not fair. And it's a pity our sportsmen have to suffer.

SEBASTIAN: They have said the individual athlete can compete under a neutral flag. How do you feel about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, Olympic Games is about unity but it's about (INAUDIBLE) of different nations. If you perform under like some neutral flag, it's just like about nothing.


SEBASTIAN: There's certainly a sense of dismay on the streets there. But as you say, the real question is what will they do to respond? Could they appeal? Could they boycott?

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee himself suspended from the IOC said that they are not ready to talk about an appeal yet. As for a boycott, what the Kremlin said before this decision they weren't considering that but we have, as I still said, haven't heard from them yet. We expect possibly to hear from them later today -- Isha.

SESAY: All right. Clare -- thank you.

Let me bring in Paula. Paula - so what's the reaction to all of this there in Seoul? And as Clare makes the point we haven't heard recent reaction - we haven't heard any reaction really from the Kremlin and specifically after this question of a boycott. How great are fears of a Russian boycott where you are?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean look, the relief that the South Koreans had was the fact that Russian athletes could compete if they could prove that they were clean even though they weren't showing signs of being from Russia necessarily with an anthem or uniform.

I want to give you the official statement thought from the Olympic Committee here. "We accept and respect the decisions of the IOC executive board that Russia may compete under a neutral flag. We will work with the IOC and other relevant stakeholders accordingly to ensure that the athletes and officials attending the games as part of the team are given the best possible experience."

So what is clear here though is that the organizing committee did express some surprise that they had gone this far. You know, there is a lot of adversity ahead of these games - Isha. I mean you have to think about the security situation. We talk about that every day.

And on top of that ticket sales have been less than brisk. Now one area where that's not true is figure skating. And what's so interesting here is that Russia did get Yevgenia Medvedeva who is basically the star figure skater for Russia. She's not just a star in Russia. She's basically the star of these Olympic Games.

She's 18, two-time world defender in figure skating. She appealed to the IOC on Tuesday to not take this decision. She has said publicly that it would seem very strange for her to not be able to compete for her country using her country's uniform. She, in fact, has not made a decision about whether or not to compete.

And a decision like hers is really crucial - Isha because it means a lot in terms of the kind of popularity of these games in the end will have. And in terms of TV viewership you cannot overstate how important some of those Russian athletes are.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely. And Clare -- to that point, you know, what is being said in Russia, in terms of Russian athletes wanting to go ahead and compete under a neutral flag and neutral uniforms? I mean do you expect significant numbers to attempt to go down that path?

[00:25:00] SEBASTIAN: Well, actually, the short answer is that no firm decision has been taken yet. We expect it's been reported that meeting will be held on December the 12th for all Russian perspective Winter Olympians so they can make a firm decision.

A couple have already spoken to state media with a range of views, one saying that athletes shouldn't be condemned for competing under the neutral flag and others saying that it would be unsportsmanlike, you know.

I do want to point out that in terms of the popularity of this, the Russian main state-owned TV conglomerate has said that they won't broadcast the games. You know, I think, they certainly telegraphed that ahead of time. But to Paula's point about, you know, the difference that it makes for the Russian athletes not being there and not under the Russian flag, that is certainly speaking to that point as well -- Isha.

SESAY: Yes. And Paula just quickly to you -- I guess the question is now that the decision has been made, does this decision draw a line under this entire episode? I mean does everyone move forward with the South Korean Olympics and put this at the back of their minds, so to speak?

NEWTON: Yes. Not at all, Isha, unfortunately. And you can see a situation where Russian athletes that do come here and compete may obviously voice, you know, their displeasure with the fact that this was the decision, especially athletes that vehemently say that this kind of collective punishment is not fair.

All of this worries South Korean officials here and we have to say everything seems to be going well from an operations point of view in the Olympics. But also key to this is whether or not they can get a few, very few North Korean athletes to participate as well.

So a lot of things still to be decided here in terms of what those Winter Games will end up looking like.

SESAY: Yes, indeed. It's just a few months happening in February. We'll see what happens between now and then.

Paula Newton in Seoul and Clare Sebastian there in Moscow - my thanks to you both.

VAUSE: A short break -- when we come back for the second time in just eight weeks, California is battling raging wildfires, incredibly strong winds. Many of the fires are growing at a terrifying pace. Tens of thousands of acres have been blackened and scorched. It happened in just hours forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.


VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.


[00:30:00] VAUSE: At one point the biggest of the fires was destroying an acre of land every second, to make that point that's almost the size of a football field going up in flames every second.

SESAY: Hundreds of homes and buildings have been chury (ph), including a hospital, have all been destroyed. That city will be under curfew in less than an hour. Our own CNN's Sara Sidner was there.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You hear the numbers, you're talking about tens of thousands of acres burned. You're talking about more than 96 square miles that have been burned.

But then you see the reality, the thing that hurts when the residents have to come back into an area like this. This was a home. We ourselves watched it burn to the ground after embers came flying over. You look up at those hills, flying over from there on to this home. And it just goes up like a matchbox. We have seen that time and time again, you are seeing fires all over this city here in Ventura.

This is where the largest of four fires were burning throughout the day. Firefighters having a very difficult time getting it contained because of the Santa Ana winds that we normally see in October but that are here now in an unusual way, going very fast, at some points upwards of 70 miles an hour, making it very difficult to get in front of the fire.

Plus, it's extremely dry and that is why, for hours and hours, this particular home and many others are just smoldering. You see them smoldering there, the firefighters have been out here for much of the day, coming back and forth, trying to put out those small fires that keep popping up.

But so has the neighbor, who is terrified that the fire will jump over this wall just here and land on his home. So he has spent time with his own hose coming over and trying to make sure he can wet down the area as much as possible. He's been calling over firefighters to say, hey, it's burning again.

This is a dangerous situation and everyone in this neighborhood is fearful that their home could be next. It has been a very rough time here in Ventura for those who live in and around this neighborhood -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Ventura, California.


SESAY: You see it's still smoldering behind her there.

VAUSE: It's incredible. The smoke is visible from everywhere. A short time ago one of the fires jumped the 101 Freeway, which is causing all sorts of problems.

SESAY: It is moving very quickly.

We want to turn now to a stinging conclusion about the Manchester terror attack, an official report suggests the tragedy might have been averted if, quote, "the cards had fallen differently." The findings indicate security services didn't pursue relevant intelligence about the attacker, Salman Abedi, because its significance was not fully appreciated at the time.

VAUSE: The report didn't reveal what the intelligence actually was. Abedi killed 22 people at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last year.

To Brexit negotiations now. The chaotic day for the British prime minister, Theresa May, she was in Brussels to showcase the U.K.'s progress with the talks. But everything hit a big roadblock on Tuesday. That roadblock was the Irish border. Bianca Nobilo has more on the pressure Ms. May is now facing on multiple fronts.


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another day and more turmoil and delays to the Brexit negotiations. Ireland remains the biggest sticking point and we learned today that the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, only found out the exact wording of the Brexit draft deal yesterday after pushing to see it for five weeks.

It's Foster's and the DUP's resistance to the prime minister's draft deal for Northern Ireland (INAUDIBLE) Brexit that is preventing talks from moving forward to the next stage. Meantime, Theresa May's government's Brexit negotiating strategy was heavily criticized by the opposition Labour Party in the House of Commons today.

Shadow Brexit secretary Kiers Donha (ph) called it embarrassing and that it gave a new meaning to coalition of chaos.

But it wasn't just criticism from the opposition that the prime minister had to contend with today. Members of her own party, like former business minister, Anna Soubry (ph), were also criticizing the government's strategy.

ANNA SOUBRY, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: The British people are fed up to the back teeth with all of this. They want a solution. Now it may be that regulatory alignment is the solution. But if it's good enough for Northern Ireland, it's good enough for the rest of the country.

NOBILO: How the prime minister will reconcile all of these opposing forces on the Brexit negotiations remains to be seen. But Theresa May and --


NOBILO: -- David Davis maintain that progress on to phase two is possible by the end of this week -- Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.


SESAY: A quick break here and then fears of a humanitarian crisis are intensifying with the latest instability in Yemen. We'll talk with a native official in the capital, Sanaa.




SESAY: Yemen has long been one of the poorest countries in the Middle East. But now a civil war which erupted in March of 2015 has brought with it a manmade catastrophe, and according to the U.N., we're currently witnessing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.

Right now at least 7 million men, women and children are on the brink of famine. More than 100 children are dying every single day. The U.N. Security Council is calling on all sides in the conflict to deescalate as more innocent victims fall victim to this fighting.

The prospect of peace further dimmed this week when the war-torn nation's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was killed in Sanaa by his one-time allies, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

In recent days, gunfire and bombing campaigns have paralyzed parts of the country and all the while Yemen's people are suffering, suffering made worse by Saudi Arabia's partial blockade of Yemen's air, sea and land ports, denying millions access to critical supplies they desperately need to survive.

Joining me now is Paulo Turmussi (ph). He's the country director for the International Rescue Committee and joins me from Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

Paulo, thank you so much for being with us. According to the Red Cross, at least 234 people were killed and 400 wounded in five days of fighting.

Can you tell us about the last couple of days and what the situation is like now?

PAULO TURMUSSI (PH), INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: The situation has been very intense with almost consistent fighting over Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday. (INAUDIBLE) firings, on both sides airstrikes from Saudi-led coalition.

And today, the situation seems a little bit quieter. We're not quite sure why there's been a lull in fighting but (INAUDIBLE) allowed people to get out of their homes and restock on basic necessities and basic supplies in case this is the calm before the storm.

SESAY: And that was my question. My next question is what level of freedom the people have to get and find food and other basic necessities, given this bombing campaign. You never know which turn it's going to take.

TURMUSSI (PH): I think over time, people in Sanaa have come almost to terms with the bombing and they will take it almost as an acceptable risk, which is almost --


TURMUSSI (PH): -- ridiculous to think about. But the lull in the fighting yesterday and today (INAUDIBLE) allows people to get out of their houses because (INAUDIBLE) 72 hours before that, there was just no possibility of leaving buildings because of street fighting (INAUDIBLE) fire and the airstrikes combined.

SESAY: The U.N. has called this the world's largest humanitarian crisis. Describe for our viewers how IRC is responding and what you're facing as you work to help the millions in need.

TURMUSSI (PH): So what our response (INAUDIBLE) spends a number of (INAUDIBLE) we provide health care for 10,000 people a week, nutrition support for 500 children per week, clean water for 50,000 individuals.

That's the support quite broadly that we provide to the people of Yemen. It is a difficult context to operate in, we're working with both sides, working in very complicated areas and right now, for example, we've had to halt operations in the north for the past three days because of the uncertainty around these clashes and the escalating conflicts in and around Sanaa.

SESAY: There's 7 million people at least on the brink of famine. And with this Saudi blockade only being loosened and the entry of commercial supplies still restricted, what are we looking at in terms of this famine, can it be averted or are we past the point of no return?

TURMUSSI (PH): I would like to hope we are not past the point of no return yet. But action needs to be taken urgently. As you rightly said, the port needs to completely reopen to humanitarian as well as commercial traffic.

Humanitarian aid alone, which is being allowed (INAUDIBLE) is just not sufficient to cover the needs of the entire Yemeni population. So commercial supplies must be allowed in, alongside the humanitarian aid. And until that happens we will continue to stare down the barrel of famine for Yemen. SESAY: Paulo Turmussi (ph), we appreciate you joining us. Stay safe there in Sanaa. Thank you so much for the update.

TURMUSSI (PH): Great. Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Johnny Hallyday, France's rock 'n' roll icon, has died at 74. Cause of death has not been released but last March he announced he was being treated for cancer.

SESAY: Hallyday's career spanned more than half a century, filling stadiums and selling millions of records. He was known as the French Elvis. France's president Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences, saying the public today is in tears and the whole country mourns.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay tuned. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.