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Shutdown Day Two, No Breakthrough in Sight; Thousands Protest for Women's Rights across the U.S.; At Least Five Killed in Kabul Hotel Siege; Turkish Forces Enter Syria's Afrin Region; Israel Seeks Out and Destroys Gaza Tunnels; Vice President Pence to Meet with King of Jordan; Melania Trump's First Year in the White House. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired January 21, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Shifting blame, the U.S. government shuts down. It enters its second day. No sign of a resolution yet.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Out in force: women across the United States mark Donald Trump's one-year anniversary, calling for change.
HOWELL (voice-over): And a new front in Syria's war as Turkish airstrikes hit an area in Northern Syria.
ALLEN (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, these stories are all ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. We're live in Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters. NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. Around the world, good day to you.
Day number two of this U.S. government shutdown and, in Washington, D.C., it's all about the blame game and pretty stiff finger pointing.
ALLEN: While across the country, the real effects of the shutdown are starting to be felt. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, now closed. Some national parks are accessible but services like restrooms and trash collection are not.
The Senate will convene at 1:00 pm. The House at 2:00 pm in rare Sunday sessions. And yes, Congress is still getting paid while thousands of other federal workers are not.
HOWELL: All right. Before all of this, though, the President of the United States, he planned to be at his resort in Florida. He was scheduled to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office with high-dollar donors. Instead, the president canceled those plans and is at the White House.
ALLEN: We have not seen the president in public since the shutdown began. The White House did release a photo of him, along with smiling senior staff members. And his re-election campaign released an ad, lambasting Democrats.
HOWELL: And that is just part of the finger pointing, as our Jim Acosta explains.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conceding they don't know how long the shutdown will last, aides to President Trump are shaming Democrats for closing down the government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a 2-year-old temper tantrum to say I'm going to take my toys and go home because I'm upset about something else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorite is still the Schumer shutdown. It's got that nice little ring to it.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But privately CNN has learned President Trump has confided to aides and allies he worries he will ultimately take the blame as the shutdown is happening exactly one year after he was sworn in to office.
ACOSTA: This is the one-year anniversary of the president being sworn into office.
How does this White House feel to have a shutdown one year after the president was sworn in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Jim, I think it's disappointing that Congress has chosen to shut down the government and particularly Senate Democrats have, at the one-year anniversary. But I --
ACOSTA: No reflection at all of the leadership coming out of the White House?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a reflection, candidly, of the position that many in the Democrat party find themselves in.
ACOSTA (voice-over): On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue ...
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), MINORITY LEADER: Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-o.
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is complaining Mr. Trump rejected his offer to start paying for the wall as a last-ditch gesture to prevent a shutdown during their Friday meeting at the White House.
SCHUMER: It's next to impossible to strike a deal with the president because he can't stick to the terms. I have found this out. Leader McConnell has found this out. Speaker Ryan has found this out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we want?
ACOSTA (voice-over): Democrats have dug in their heels, insisting on an agreement to protect the young, undocumented immigrants known as the DREAMers in exchange for their help in reopening the government, outraging Republicans.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: There is no reason for this shutdown. We have been and we continue to be willing to work together in good faith on immigration. But that deadline, that deadline is weeks away.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president stayed behind closed doors, making calls to Republicans while using his phone to blast away at Democrats, tweeting "Democrats are holding our military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can't let that happen."
The president is escalating his rhetoric on the DREAMers, a far cry from the compassionate tone he used earlier this month.
DONALD TRUMP: This should be a bipartisan bill. This should be a bill of love. Truly, it should be a bill of love.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But Democrats are constantly reminding the president of his past comments on shutdowns.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: He said what this country needs is a good shutdown. We don't agree.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Especially when Barack Obama was president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's going to bear the brunt of the responsibility if indeed there is a shutdown of our government?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, let me say, who gets fired?
It always has to be the top. I mean problems start from the top and they have to get solved from the top. And the president's the leader.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president was supposed to be at Mar-a-lago this weekend, celebrating the one-year anniversary of being sworn in to office. Instead, he can hear the protests from the Women's March --
ACOSTA (voice-over): -- in Washington right outside the White House.
It was one year ago when the president promised fundamental changes for the U.S.
DONALD TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
ACOSTA (voice-over): That combative tone from that January weekend has lasted throughout the president's first year in office in ways the nation won't soon forget.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.
ACOSTA: The president was supposed to celebrate his one-year in office at a fund-raiser at Mar-a-lago but instead he's spending the night here at the White House and sending a video message instead, a video he uses once again to blame Democrats for the shutdown -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
ALLEN: More now on the women's march that Jim referenced. On Saturday, huge crowds of women in the U.S. marked Mr. Trump's first year in office with protests and a clear message to the president that it's time to take women's rights seriously.
Mr. Trump tweeted out an attempt to redirect the conversation.
HOWELL: He encouraged women to celebrate the, quote, "economic success and wealth creation" that happened during the first year of his presidency. CNN's Alex Marquardt reports the protesters say Mr. Trump is far off the mark.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands protesting for the second year of Donald Trump's presidency. Mostly women and girls, but also men and boys. Marching not just for gender equality, but for issues ranging from gay rights to immigration and religious freedom. Across the country and around the world, they took to the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that it's important to show Congress and the President that we need to be heard.
MARQUARDT: The demonstrators trying to keep the momentum of the movement going. Many of them hoping to turn this enthusiasm into electoral victories in this year's midterm elections.
In New York crowds gathered near the Trump hotel spilling into Central Park, among them (INAUDIBLE) a refugee from Cuba.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be accepted and welcome when you have nowhere else to go and no other recourse in this world is a very big thing. And for now to say you are not welcome here is against everything this country stands for.
MARQUARDT: In Philadelphia, women droned their message.
Chicago members of the cast of "Hamilton" sang to hundreds of thousands.
And in Los Angeles, celebrities like actresses Natalie Portman and Viola Davis were among the protesters. VIOLA DAVIS, ACTOR: I am speaking today not just for the #MeToos because I was a #MeToo. But when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence.
MARQUARDT: In Washington, D.C., crowds marched to the White House. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi pushing for more women to get involved.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Nothing is more wholesome to a government, to a country, to a society than the increased participation of women.
ALLEN: Well, in just a few hours we're expecting to see more women's marches. They're going global in cities like London and Paris.
Well, the government shutdown was just one of the things that marchers in U.S. cities were upset about. Let's take a closer look at the shutdown and at President Trump's first year in office with Steven Erlanger in Brussels, the chief diplomatic correspondent at "The New York Times."
Steven, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.
STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Thanks, Natalie.
ALLEN: Well, after a year of upheavals and tumult inside the White House, the first year wraps up with the shutting down of the federal government. It is a tad surreal.
What do you make of it?
ERLANGER: Well, we've been here before. And we will be here again, I suspect. We have a very divided country, which everybody knows. Washington's a very partisan place, which everybody knows. The president has spent his first year basically living on partisanship.
I mean, he has been very, very strong in trying, as he keeps saying, to drain the swamp. But a government shutdown is kind of like the definition of the swamp. This is Washington politics. And each party is trying to use the pressure of the shutdown to get some things that it wants.
And it's also a test of President Trump's self-styled image as the great negotiator. This is a negotiation that obviously hasn't gone perfectly for either side. Chuck Schumer, who knows Trump pretty well, says it's like negotiating with Jell-o.
Views change. But, this is -- this is basically politics. It looks not good from the outside. But the world has seen it before and, you know, one of these days -- it may be today, it may be tomorrow, it may be the next day -- some deal will be done.
ALLEN: Well, with Republicans controlling the House, the Senate and the White House, can -- can Mr. Trump -- [04:10:00]
ALLEN: -- be successful in blaming Democrats for the shutdown?
ERLANGER: Well, people have to decide that. I mean, usually it's the president who gets blamed. Certainly, when there was a shutdown under President Obama, Trump himself blamed the president. As everyone, you know, he talked about leadership.
But, to be honest, he is doing what you'd expect. He's blaming the other side. The Democrats are blaming him. I'm not inside the room. And from what I've read of people who've been inside the room, who are talking, there's no question there's frustration, because deals seem to be done, seem to fade away and hard to know.
I mean, the fact is that the Democrats are using their power on this issue, as they don't have power on every other issue, to try to get some things done for themselves. And that's OK. That's how politics works.
ALLEN: As far as Donald Trump and his negotiating skills, Republican and Democratic leaders have both complained that he doesn't stick to his guns; he waffles, he agrees with something, then he has a meeting with someone else, he walks away from that something, he sends out tweets based on what sometimes he sees on FOX News, even if it goes counter to something his party has agreed on. It seems like neither party knows how to work with this president.
How can they fix that moving forward?
ERLANGER: Well, I think it would take a sort of character change to fix it. But it also -- you know, Trump would argue this is the best way to negotiate. Surprising to the, you know, to keep your real aims behind your back, to change your mind from time to time, to put the other side off.
I mean, I'm certainly willing to give the president that degree of doubt. But it is also true his own staff is frustrated because they would present a proposal. He says, well, actually that's not what I meant. It's not clear; he's always read these proposals in advance.
So you have these two competing narratives. One is the master negotiator, putting the other side off its game. And on the other hand is the man who isn't quite sure of what he's negotiating.
ALLEN: Right. And I know you say that we've been here before with government shutdowns and this is the way Washington works sometimes to try to get things done.
But Mr. Trump did come into power in part because his supporters were sick of politics as usual and they thought that this guy, who was Mr. Anti-Establishment, that it would be different. But it doesn't look like it's different. And it doesn't look like year two is going to change politics as usual.
ERLANGER: Well, this is right. I mean, the fact is, you know, Trump ran against what Obama people called the blob. which is basic Washington. But the blob is very powerful. It is really how the way the U.S. government works.
And it is very difficult for a president, which, you know, who's very powerful but not nearly as powerful as I think Trump thought the presidency was, to do a different kind of politics.
Jimmy Carter found that out. Other presidents have found that out. The presidents often who seem to do best are the ones who either have a big majority in both houses, like Obama's first term, or people like Lyndon Johnson, who simply negotiate very, very carefully with each congressman and take Congress very seriously.
I don't think Trump took Congress very seriously. I mean his first year, he's had wars with his own party's leaders in both the House and Senate. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, he's embarrassed them at different times.
So this is not the best way to get things done or actually to get things changed. He's talked about a revolution. Washington tends to absorb revolutions and spit them out the other end.
I mean, the Washington process is a long process, it's a digestive process and, if I could say this, what comes out is not the same as what goes in. Trump is finding this out.
ALLEN: Yes. The blob is alive and well in Washington.
ERLANGER: It is indeed.
ALLEN: All right, Steven Erlanger, we thank you. Thanks for joining us.
ERLANGER: Thanks, Natalie.
HOWELL: And Steven's talk of digestion, how about that.
HOWELL: NEWSROOM pushes on. The hotel siege that we've been following in the Afghan capital. We know that it's ended after more than 12 hours. Some people there, they used bed sheets to try to escape. Next, who's behind it.
ALLEN: Also ahead here, one U.S. ally bombs another in Syria. The latest on a Turkish operation against Kurdish militia, which, you know, backed by the United States. It's complicated. More ahead.
ALLEN: We continue to follow a developing story out of the Afghan capital, a siege of an international hotel there. An eyewitness is now telling CNN he has heard more explosions at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul.
Government officials said earlier they had retaken control of the hotel. They say six people were killed, including a foreigner, and more than 100 others were rescued.
HOWELL: Just look at the image there. You see people. You see this fire that took place there in the building and people used bed sheets to try to escape, very desperate situation. Officials say all four attackers, though, have been killed.
The Taliban had claimed responsibility for this attack. Let's now bring in our senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley, following the story from Abu Dhabi.
It's great to have you with us this hour. Let's talk more about this. Earlier we heard that the siege that lasted for several hours, that it was over. But clearly we're hearing some conflicting reports now. What can you tell us?
SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just that. They're conflicting reports. There have been eyewitnesses and local media, have reported that there have been some follow-up explosions, following the government announcement that the Afghan special forces had killed --
KILEY: -- the four attackers. Now the government put this attack down to the Haqqani Network, which is different from the Taliban. The Taliban have since claimed responsibility and saying that they sent five attackers into the Hotel Intercontinental to conduct this attack more than 12 hours ago.
The siege went on for 12 hours. There now have been -- eyewitnesses have told CNN that there have been more explosions. It's not clear what those explosions may relate to.
But there is this discrepancy not only between who is being blamed or claiming responsibility for the attack but also the number of attackers involved. Earlier on this week, the State Department had issued a warning against attacks that could follow on particularly Western occupied hotels.
And sure enough that has come through. And that was also based on intelligence from the Afghans blaming the Haqqani Network back then. The two are closely allied but they are separate organizations.
HOWELL: It is important to point that context out, Sam. Thank you so much.
Also, just for our viewers, we looked at these images of this building. I don't know if we can show the images again, because again it was just a very desperate situation for the people involved, Sam. Tell us about what was happening, this fire that took place on the top floor of this building that we see and then people just trying to get out.
KILEY: Yes, 153 people were evacuated, among them 41 foreigners. That is pretty good going from the Intercontinental. It's an isolated building on top of a hill. It has been attacked before, back in 2011, when a gunman did a very similar thing. They came in and began shooting and killed more than a dozen, I think over 20 people back then.
So it could have been a great deal worse. These gunmen are reported to have come in through the kitchens and very quickly moved on the attack. But because the level of security in Kabul is at a very high level of threat, there are special forces on standby at all times, not only Afghan but foreign.
There are British and American special forces. New Zealanders are often involved in these counterterrorism operations. Special forces move very, very quickly and we're able, it would seem, at least to isolate or to close down this attack fairly rapidly.
The first three, according to Afghan spokesmen, government spokesmen, the first three attackers were killed fairly quickly and the fourth earlier on today, just two or three hours ago.
But -- and this is the big but -- is it really over?
We are hearing these reports of more explosions and the Taliban seemed to indicate there could be one more gunman on the loose.
But I have to say, in Afghanistan, whilst the Taliban do have a reputation, actually, of telling the truth about these sorts of things, so-called Islamic State does not, for example, and the Haqqani Network are also quite prone to claiming responsibility for things they haven't done.
HOWELL: A lot to keep up with here. But again, the important point that we're hearing, possibly, that this may still be ongoing. I know that you're in touch with your sources, Sam. We'll stay in touch with you, our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley following the story in Abu Dhabi.
ALLEN: Well, Turkey says rockets fired from Syria have hit inside its territory. It's not clear who fired the rockets but the attack came one day after Turkey launched airstrikes on Syria's Kurdish-held Afrin region.
HOWELL: The Turkish operation appears to be aimed at ousting the Kurdish YPG. Turkey says it's also targeting ISIS. The YPG are a key U.S. ally against ISIS and Turkey says they are terrorists.
ALLEN: CNN's Ben Wedeman is following the story for us in Egypt. He joins us from Cairo. Ben this issue highlights one of the many complexities of the Syrian
conflict. And Turkey had also threatened to maybe send in ground forces and it looks like, from what we're hearing, that might be happening.
What are you hearing?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Natalie, according to the Anadolu (ph), the state-run Turkish news agency, Turkish ground forces have entered the Afrin region, which is just north of Aleppo. And we understand this operation actually began at about 5:00 pm yesterday.
The Turks have dubbed it Operation Olive Branch, something of an Orwellian twist to call a military operation by that name.
The entry of their ground forces was preceded by, according to both the Kurdish forces on the ground as well as the Turkish authorities, more than 100 airstrikes on targets, including one on, according to the Turkish media, one on a tunnel being used by these YPG fighters.
Also this morning, as you mentioned earlier, a rocket landed in the town of Kilis, which is near -- a Turkish town near the Syrian --
WEDEMAN: -- border leaving one person injured.
Now, of course, the Turks have launched this operation because this area, which is predominantly Kurdish, is controlled by the YPG, which the Kurds -- or rather the Turks claim is affiliated with the Kurdish Workers Party, the PKK, based in Turkey, which has been fighting a war against the Turkish state since 1984.
And certainly what has raised tensions dramatically in recent weeks, Natalie, was the announcement by the United States that it would be training a 30,000-strong force from the YPG to act as some sort of border security force. President Erdogan of Turkey calling this a terrorist army and vowing that they would crush it before it went into action.
Now the Afrin area is very mountainous, very woody. And so it's questionable that the Turks are really going to go dramatically inside the Afrin area.
But certainly, this does complicate a situation whereby you have the -- Turkey, which is a member of NATO, an ally at least in word, of the United States, fighting the American-backed and trained and armed YPG. So complication upon complication when it comes to Syria -- Natalie.
ALLEN: Absolutely. Ben Wedeman, thank you, from Cairo.
HOWELL: Coast to coast here, in the United States and around the world live you're watching NEWSROOM. Still ahead, finger pointing and name calling and not talking about the other guy.
Is there any end in sight to the U.S. government shutdown?
ALLEN: Also the U.S. vice president is in the Middle East trying to shore up relations with key allies in the wake of President Trump declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel. We'll a live report from Jordan as we push on.
ALLEN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta, I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with headlines.
HOWELL: Returning to the U.S. government shutdown, both sides digging in their heels. Both sides blaming one another for this impasse. No end in sight at this point.
ALLEN: President Trump says Democrats are holding the military hostage. Senator Tammy Duckworth, though, who lost both her legs serving in Iraq, calls the president a five-deferment draft dodger.
HOWELL: Our Phil Mattingly has this story for us.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, day one of the government shutdown was defined much more by what didn't happen than what did: most notably, negotiations. This was the day that was defined by lawmakers more or less settling into their positions.
On the House floor, on the Senate floor, more partisan talking points, blame to be passed around, the natural negotiations trying to figure something out. Here's the reality as it currently stands.
Republicans, they have a House passed bill. It's a four-week stopgap funding bill and they're very comfortable in that position. You talk to aides in both the House and Senate side and they say, look, we've done something. Something is out there for Democrats to consider. It's time for them to consider that.
Democrats, they've made very clear this isn't about the four-week resolution, this isn't about shortening that from four weeks to three weeks. They want some type of firm commitment on the DACA issue that will get them to a resolution. There is a trust deficit on the Democratic side and that is really driving their position at this point.
As to those partisan talking points, well, if you want a flavor of them, take a listen to what Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had to say on the floor.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), MINORITY LEADER: Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-o. That's why this compromise will be called the Trump shutdown.
MATTINGLY: The big question now obviously is how is this actually going to play out going forward. Is there an actual end game?
Well, if Saturday defines things it doesn't look like things are going to be ending anytime soon. Senate majority leader Mitch McDonnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, they didn't even speak throughout the day. President Trump and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, they didn't speak, either.
Lawmakers more talking past one another than anything else. Here's where something might actually be triggered though. The government shutdown really starts to bite on Monday morning, when hundreds of thousands of federal workers won't be allowed to go into work. They will be furloughed.
That's when the pressure will really pick up. And because of that, aides on both sides say, if there is a deal to be made in the near term, it would happen on Sunday. However, at this point, there's still no Senate vote scheduled on Sunday.
Talks still at the preliminary stage at best. So if something's going to happen, it's going to have to happen pretty quickly -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.
ALLEN: Just seems cuckoo when you shut down the government doesn't it?
HOWELL: A lot of people affected.
ALLEN: Just think of the people working to figure out who is supposed to be furloughed. All of that.
Well, as we mentioned the Women's March took place in cities across the United States on Saturday. Large crowds filling the streets, marching, protesting and having a lot to say about the current administration.
HOWELL: A lot of people came together for this. They were joined by men, by children, by celebrities, all raising their voices for women's rights. Here's some of what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINN.: The women of America, you said, you know what?
We going to march. On January 21st, we're going to inspire this country. We're going to get people rising up, organizing and getting out there and changing this situation. WHOOPI GOLDBERG, COMEDIAN AND ACTOR: The only way --
GOLDBERG: -- that we are going to make a change is if we commit to change.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.), HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: Nothing is more wholesome to a government, to a country, to a society, than the increased participation of women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's important to show Congress and the president that we need to be heard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year, how do you feel, one year later, how are things different for you, your cause and what brought you out here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This feels like a protest today. Last year it felt more like a funeral. We were all in mourning, we all got together. There was this quiet solidarity. This feels like anger and resistance.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CONN.), MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We need to keep fighting. We need to keep working. We need to keep marching so that we can uphold what makes America truly great.
VIOLA DAVIS, ACTOR: I am speaking today not just for the #MeToos, because I was a #MeToo. But when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is our work done?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got one more year, two more years, three more years. In fact, we have our children's future in front of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stand here because of all the mothers and the sisters and the daughters. The world would be nothing without a woman. Thank you, ladies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: They also had a government shutdown to talk about in protest, as well, when they took to the streets.
Of course as we mentioned, it is in now the second day. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, he's out of the country. He's not shut down at all. In fact, he's now in Jordan, the second part of his trip to the Middle East. Mr. Pence is expected to meet with King Abdullah at any moment. And later Sunday, he flies to Israel.
HOWELL: The vice president's first stop was in Cairo, Egypt; during his meeting with the Egyptian leader, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Mr. Pence said he raised the issue of two Americans jailed in Egypt. Let's talk more about all of this with CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, following the story live in the Jordanian capital.
Good to have you with us, Jomana. Let's talk first of all about this trip. It can be viewed by two perspectives, right?
The people that the vice president is meeting with and the people that he is not meeting with. Let's start with that, given the very divisive decision by this administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
What's the plus-minus of this visit by the U.S. vice president?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, George, there were people he was supposed to meet with when this trip was scheduled to take place last month and that was delayed. He did not meet with religious leaders in Cairo like he was supposed to.
He's not meeting with the Palestinian leadership, who have refused to meet with him following the U.S.' declaration announcing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Then you have Jordan as a stop that was added to this trip, a meeting with King Abdullah. While, yes, you do have the issue of Jerusalem -- and the Israel-Palestinian issue is the most contentious part probably of this visit -- there are also issues of mutual interest when it comes to counterterrorism, the situation in Syria.
There are also on the agenda when it comes to talks with King Abdullah here and also President Sisi, yesterday, when it comes to the issue of Jerusalem, the issue of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, we've heard from senior White House officials and from the vice president, saying that he is going to, during this visit and from this region, also reaffirm yet again the U.S.' position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
That is likely to be welcomed by the Israelis. And you're going to see probably statements and angry statements by Arab leaders and also by others here. We've seen George, some protests taking place.
You know, it's worth noting, since President Trump's announcement last month, we've seen near daily protests here outside the U.S. embassy for more than 40 days against the decision. They've really dwindled recently.
But in the past few days, we've seen some coming out, saying that the vice president is not welcome and saying that he should go home.
Another thing that White House officials say that he will be doing is, you know, reaffirming the U.S.' commitment to a peace process and wanting to move beyond the declaration, what happens next.
It's something really hard to see how the U.S. is going to play a role. You've heard from Palestinians --
KARADSHEH: -- saying that the United States can no longer be a mutual broker when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And then you have Arab countries, including Jordan, who have been, you know, leading this diplomatic push and offensive to try and gather support for the Palestinians, looking at alternatives to the U.S.
HOWELL: It is a thorny issue, especially for some allies there in the region. Jomana Karadsheh, live for us in Amman, Jordan, thank you for reporting.
Still ahead here on NEWSROOM, 29 years after Romania's revolution, protesters are again filling the streets of the capital city. Coming up, what's fueling that anger there.
ALLEN: Plus, she's a notoriously private person in one of the most public positions in the world. How Melania Trump handled her first year as first lady. We'll take a look.
ALLEN: Welcome back. Thousands of Romanians took to the streets of Bucharest to protest government corruption.
HOWELL: That was what's happening there on the streets in this video, some 50,000 people marched toward University Square. That's where all major protests have taken place since the 1989 revolution.
They're angry about the governing coalition's attempt to overhaul parliament, weaken judicial oversight. Romania's president as well as the European Commission and the United States State Department have criticized that move.
In Honduras, military and police clashed with anti-government protesters in several cities across the Central American country on Saturday. Security forces fired tear gas on demonstrators who blocked roads and lit tires on fire. U.N. officials in Honduras say at least one man was killed.
ALLEN: The demonstrators are protesting the upcoming swearing-in of President Juan Orlando Hernandez. He was declared the winner of November's --
ALLEN: -- election, despite widespread fraud allegations. Saturday was the first day of a week of planned nationwide protests.
HOWELL: We continue following Pope Francis, headed back to Rome Sunday after his week-long trip to South America. Throughout the tour, the pope has drawn attention to violence against women.
ALLEN: While visiting the Peruvian coastal town of Trujillo, he called for a culture that repudiates every form of violence.
Another fierce winter storm will track across the central U.S. Sunday.
ALLEN: Athletes from North and South Korea will march under a single flag at the Olympic opening ceremony on February 9th.
HOWELL: This after the International Olympic Committee approved the addition of North Korean athletes. North and South Korea will form a unified women's ice hockey team for the games; 22 North Korean athletes will compete in ice skating, skiing and ice hockey.
ALLEN: Meantime an advance team from the North arrived in Seoul Saturday to begin work. The Olympic competition begins in South Korea on February 8th with curling, everyone's favorite, and ski jumping.
HOWELL: It's good to see cooperation, though, isn't it?
ALLEN: Yes, it is.
Coming up, she is an immigrant, a former fashion model and first lady of the United States.
HOWELL: We look back at the first year of Melania Trump's time in the White House. Stay with us.
HOWELL: We're doing a great deal of reporting on the first year of the Trump presidency, the focus of course on the president. But now we're also looking at the first lady's time in the White House.
ALLEN: Melania Trump has remained a mysterious figure in the Trump orbit and relatively independent from some of what we have seen swirling around the White House. CNN's Kate Bennett takes a look at her first year as first lady.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One year in Donald Trump's presidency and Melania Trump is settling in as first lady.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE U.S.: Welcome to the White House. BENNETT (voice-over): Ms. Trump didn't officially move into the White House until June of last year, opting to stay in New York until son, Barron, could finish out the school year. That unprecedented decision only served to enhance the mystery of the new first lady.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In actual modern terms she is the most reluctant first lady that we've had. I don't think she's shy. And she's talked about not being shy. But I think she's private.
BENNETT (voice-over): Once Melania Trump made the move to Washington, her transition from fashion model, wife and mother to full-time first lady began in earnest.
MELANIA TRUMP: It's a very exciting life and it's a lot of things that you need to take care of, a lot of responsibilities. And it's part of being a first lady.
BENNETT (voice-over): It was on her first overseas trip in May, accompanying her husband, that the world saw Melania Trump in the spotlight, winning over the foreign press with her fashion sense and a show of confidence on the global stage.
Back at home, Ms. Trump decided that helping children would be the backbone of the first lady's platform, a point she made in a rare public speech last fall.
MELANIA TRUMP: No children should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid with nowhere to turn.
BENNETT (voice-over): With a husband prone to frequent Twitter outbursts, the year for Melania Trump meant focusing on being the compassionate voice of the family...
MELANIA TRUMP: How are you?
BENNETT (voice-over): -- connecting with kids and, at the White House, from the Easter egg roll, to the annual turkey pardon and her very first White House Christmas.
One thing missing from the first lady's first year, a signature cause. In the coming months, that will change. Ms. Trump will champion issues affecting children, including bullying, drug abuse and helping kids succeed.
In China last November, I asked the first lady about that. And she provided some hints.
BENNETT: How are you feeling one year in to this role as first lady?
How has it been for you?
MELANIA TRUMP: Well, it's my honor to be a first lady of the United States. And it was a very busy year. And we love to live in Washington. We have a very busy life. And it's exciting, as well. And I'm looking forward to work on behalf of the children.
HOWELL: Ms. Trump took a page out of her husband's book, marking her first year in the White House with a tweet.
ALLEN: Here's what she said.
"This has been a year filled with many wonderful moments. I've enjoyed the people I've been lucky enough to meet throughout our great country and the world."
That's a good one to end on this hour. Thanks for watching, I'm Natalie Allen
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Let's do it again. We'll be right back after the break with the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.