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Theresa May Announces Mid-January Vote on Brexit Plan; Dramatic Rise in Teen Vaping; Elderly Crime Rate Soars in South Korea; De Niro Speaks Out on His Feud with Trum; Yemeni Mother Prevented From Seeing Dying Son; Goldman Sachs Charged In 1MDB Corruption Probe. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired December 18, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, and on, and on, and on she prods, the British prime minister set a date for a do-over parliament vote on her plan for leaving the E.U., all the while refusing to give in to growing calls for a second national referendum.

It now seems the only cyber attack greater in scope than the Russian hack before the 2016 U.S. election is the Russian hacking, since the election. Almost all of it focused on supporting just one man, Donald J. Trump.

And today's teens, drinking and smoking less than ever before, only to take up vaping, in record numbers, sparking new health concerns for this younger generation.

Well, British parliament continues to be deadlocked over the Prime Minister's Brexit deal, but Theresa May is pushing on, announcing a parliamentary vote on her Brexit plan for mid-January, between now and then, she'll try, once again, for assurances from the European Union, which might satisfy her critics of this deal. All the while, May is adamant despite growing support there will not be a second referendum.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF U.K.: Another vote which will do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy, that our democracy does not deliver. Another vote which would likely leave us no further forward than the last, and another vote which would further divide our country. At the very moment, we should be working to unite it.


VAUSE: Opposition Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called the vote delay a cynical ploy to run down the clock until the Brexit deadline of March 29th.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: That is very bad, unacceptable, that we should be waiting almost a month before we have a meaningful vote on the crucial issue facing the future of this country. The Prime Minister has obdurately refused to ensure that a vote -- a vote took place on the date she agreed.

She refuses to allow a vote to take place this week, and is now, I assume, thinking the vote will be on the 14th of January, almost a month way. This is unacceptable in any way, whatsoever.


VAUSE: Corbyn called for a symbolic no confidence vote in the Prime Minister, a move which Downing Street described as a political stunt.

CNN's European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas, is with us now from Los Angeles. Oh, Brexit, just keeps going, it never ends, another horror day for the British Prime Minister. How many within her own Conservative Party are now asking, why they voted last week to keep her as leader.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, it's incredible, John. And, of course, since that vote last week, which she got the number of two-thirds in favor, a third against, she's been to the European Union and come back empty handed. At the time of the vote last week, she announced essentially, or negotiated she would not run again in 2022.

So, there's a, sort of, race for the leadership taking place now, as different Conservative M.P.s are strategizing the future. Of course, she keeps going on about having a vote on her deal, which we know all will never make it through parliament.

So, to answer your question, I guess the absolute best number is 200 out of 650 M.P.s currently sitting in the houses of parliament, or 200 out of her party, a number which we, most certainly, is going south every day.

VAUSE: And amid all of this, the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, table at no confidence motion in Theresa May, personally, not the government. You know, it seems to be, you know, a little more than a stunt, as Downing Street said.

You know, in the days before Brexit, this may be even considered (INAUDIBLE) typical political tactics, you know, to try and embarrass Theresa may. But right now, it just seems to be kind of almost churlish and child-like, adding more confusion and uncertainty into what is already a confusing and uncertain moment.

THOMAS: Right. Yes, he's been standing by all along which has so frustrated the opposition, in general, even beyond the Labour Party. You're just hoping that the Conservative Party would implode and this would be the path to a -- to a general election.

Now, one could argue that pushing the issue of the vote and essentially saying why wait until January for Theresa May's deal, which we all know will be voted down, why not give us an option of doing this now. But actually, what he did today is, as the leader of the opposition, he had the opportunity to propose a motion of no confidence in her majesty's government.

And by choosing to target it not at the government, but at her, he essentially paved the way for the Brexiteers and the DUP to come out and express support for the Prime Minister and not for his motion. So, it completely backfired in that respect.

VAUSE: Yes. I want you to listen to Theresa May, this is the vicar's daughter from (INAUDIBLE) parliament, Monday. She's just pushing on and on, as we've seen so often with this Brexit plan of hers. Listen to this.


MAY: We must honor our duty to finish the job. I know -- I know this is not everyone's perfect deal. It is a compromise. But if we let the perfect be the enemy of the good, then, we risk leaving the E.U. with no deal.


[01:05:12] VAUSE: OK. She describes this deal, you know, an imperfect compromise. Is there any deal out there? We're just going to have enough support among, you know, lawmakers actually pass through parliament?

And if it doesn't pass, which is likely, you know, after a week-long debate, is it then up to those members of parliament to come up with what they want, their own version?

THOMAS: Yes. Well, I mean, this is something that should have started 2-1/2 years ago, would've been, sort of, cross party consultation to come up with a deal that you could then take to the European Union and begin the process of negotiating.

But, I think, as you clearly -- you're pointing, is there are so many different sides and factions in here, that it seems almost impossible to come up with something. So, the latest thing is, after all these 2-1/2 years of talking about, you know, blind Brexit, no deal, and Chequers and all sorts.

We're talking about now, about something called indicative voting, which is in other words, deal by deal, or issue by issue, presenting it to the parliament for a nonbinding vote, to see whether or not one can move ahead on this.

But as you've said, at the end of the day, there is not going to be support for Theresa May's deal, and because of all of these cross- party divisions, it's very unlikely that we are going to come up with something that is really going to make its way through parliament.

VAUSE: And you know, it was only a matter of time, but grab the popcorn, grab the butter, settle in for Brexit, the movie. Here is a look at the trailer.


BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, ACTOR: Let's take back control. Let's take back control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the fight for Britain begins.

CUMBERBATCH: You are feeding a toxic culture of fear and pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't close the box once it's been opened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your edge, whatever you found?

CUMBERBATCH: There is new politics in town, one that you cannot control.


VAUSE: It really does seem like Brexit has broken the political system. And at this point, you know, a second referendum which Theresa May imposes, would that actually resolve the crisis or would just set the country spiralling out of control and in a different direction?

THOMAS: Right, yes, you're right. It's spiralling out of control. The question with the -- with the referendum and the resistance, look, at the end of the day, you know, a referendum is not a general election, it is simply asking the British people, which seemed to be forgotten in this, and parliamentarians seemed to be forgetting, as well, that they are there to represent the people.

It's simply to take the pulse of the people on a particular issue at a moment in time. We are now 2 1/2 years down the road, where the average person living in the U.K. now has a PhD, in Brexit talk, and should be much better informed on this.

And I think that at the end of the day, the politicians would benefit enormously from seeing what it is and where it is the British people stand. Of course, in this spectrum and Theresa May's opposition to this, is precisely because the Brexiteers and the U.K. Independence Party people made this the single issue of their generation.

They won the vote and they are absolutely terrified to go back to the people, but going back to the people would give them this opportunity, right now, and if anything, the prospect of a no deal is even more terrifying when you see the ways in which the parliamentarians are behaving at this particular moment.

And if anything, they would be very wise to think about the ways in which the European Union, with these rules and regulations, is actually keeping the U.K. together at this moment in history.

VAUSE: It's extraordinary right now. And as we keep saying here, that clock continues tick, tick, tick, just counting down until that deadline. Dominic, thank you, good to see you.

THOMAS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: With the Russia investigation moving closer to the Oval Office of the U.S. president, and his outside lawyer, Rudy Giuliani are increasingly lashing out, especially with anyone cooperating with federal investigators. It's a strategy which has created a bizarre denying nothing strategy from Giuliani, arguing that no crimes have been committed.

Jim Acosta reports now from Washington.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President's legal team isn't exactly spreading yuletide cheer, when asked whether Mr. Trump will sit down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in the Russia investigation.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY OF DONALD TRUMP: Over my dead body. But, you know, I could be dead.

ACOSTA: President's outside attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested without any evidence, that Mueller's investigators are now digging deeper into Mr. Trump's business dealings, complaining the Russia probe is now out of control.

GIULIANI: This is a witch hunt. They are going back now, they're going back to 1982, 1983. They're going through business records, my goodness! They went from collusion to obstruction, no evidence. Now, campaign and finance --

ACOSTA: Giuliani is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. When asked whether one of the President's associates, Roger Stone, gave Mr. Trump advance warnings that WikiLeaks was about to dump damaging information about Hillary Clinton during the campaign, Giuliani said no, but then, added, it wouldn't be a crime either way.

GIULIANI: Not at all. I don't believe so. But again, if Roger Stone gave anybody heads up about WikiLeaks, leaks, that's not a crime. It would be like giving him heads up that the Times is going to print something. Once the crime -- this is why this thing is so weird, strange, the crime is conspiracy to hack. Collusion is not a crime. It doesn't exist.

[01:10:21] ACOSTA: Giuliani also seemed to offer a new detail about the Trump Tower Moscow Project, the President's Former Attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project, admitting discussions about the proposal lasted until June 2016. But Giuliani suggested that Mr. Trump may have had discussions which went on longer than that.

GIULIANI: According to the answer that he gave, it would have covered all the way up to November of -- covered all the way to November of 2016, said he had conversations, but the President didn't hide this.

ACOSTA: While Giuliani hit the Sunday talk shows, the President worked over Cohen on Twitter, tweeting, his one-time fixer only became a rat after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable and unheard of, until the witch hunt is illegally started. They broke into an attorney's office. But that's not true. Cohen later said, those federal investigators were courteous and professional. House Democrats are eager to hear more of Cohen's story when they take control of Congress, next year.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: I'm hoping that Mr. Cohen will come before the Congress, where he can tell the American public exactly what he has been saying to Mueller and others, without interfering with the Mueller investigation.

ACOSTA: The President spent much of the weekend airing his grievances about the Russia probe, blaming it all on Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tweeting, Jeff Sessions should be ashamed of himself for allowing this total hoax to get started in the first place.

ACOSTA: With the President staying behind closed doors, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was one of several administration officials stopping by the White House, from outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is suddenly leaving the Trump team, to incoming Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, who has some explaining to do after this video surfaced from just before the 2016 election.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, I'm doing so as enthusiastically as I can given the fact that I think he's a terrible human being. But the choice on the other side is just as bad.

ACOSTA: The President hasn't lashed out at Mulvaney, but he did vent his frustrations on Saturday Night Live, tweeting, the show is nothing less than unfair news coverage Dem commercials. Should be tested in courts, can't be legal?

That may have something to do with the SNL sketch showing what life would be like if Mr. Trump had never been elected.

BEN STILLER, ACTOR: I would never ever flip on you, you are my best friend.

ACOSTA: The President's outside Attorney Rudy Giuliani also seems to be conceding that Mr. Trump did not initially tell the truth when he said he didn't know about the payments made to his alleged mistresses before the 2016 election. The President, Giuliani pointed out, was not under oath when he denied knowledge of those payments to reporters.

So, as far as the President's legal team is concerned, it's just fine for the President to change his story, as long as it's to the media.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: So, it turns out Russian internet trolls were just trying to get Donald Trump elected. Two new reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee showed widespread evidence to create political, religious and racial division across the United States. All the major social media platforms were targeted. One report says companies including Facebook and Twitter, may have provided only the bare minimum of information when investigators asked exactly what was going on.

With us now from Los Angeles, is Lori Schwartz, who is not just a technology expert, but also a technology futurist. Good to have you. It's been a while, Lori, nice to see you.

LORI SCHWARTZ, TECHNOLOGY FUTURIST: Nice to be seen, thank you. Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: OK. It seems there are three choices here for regulating social media and, you know, in, sort of, relation to that report we just heard about. That there's self-regulation by the big social media giants, there's government regulation and then there's the China model.

Self-regulation, the social media companies have shown very little interest at doing anything of meaning. The second option, government regulation; lawmakers, especially in the U.S., have an embarrassing lack of understanding of how the technology works, and then, there's the China model. I just closed it all down, control what goes in and what goes out. So, is there an option four?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I think there is the people option, which is that we have to be responsible and to fact check and to look at what we're reading and what we are passing on. Just as parents check, you know -- their children's browsers and things like that, just -- we all have to be responsible Americans and not just forward anything that we read.

VAUSE: OK, so, the people's model. And, you know, ideally, it's great. Twenty-eight years ago, when Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet, he had visions of sharing and caring and how open data would make the world, you know, a better place. I want you to listen to him back in 2010, in California, a ted talk shortly after the earthquake which devastated Haiti's capital. Listen to this.


[01:14:53] TIM BERNERS-LEE, INVENTOR OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB: After the earthquake, immediately, people all over the world, mappers, who wanted to help and could, looked at that imagery, built the map, quickly building up. We're focusing now on Port-au-Prince. The blue is refugee camps, these volunteers have spotted from the air, so now, we have immediately, a real time map showing where there are refugee camps rapidly became the best map to use if you're doing relief work.


VAUSE: You know, he cites that example a lot. But seems for every positive example like that in Haiti, there's about 100 others of how, you know, the open and free nature of the web is being used against open and free societies. SCHWARTZ: Yes, it's a good point. It's a balance, right? It's always going to be a balance. The more that we open up things, the more that other things will come in. And we have to -- it's the -- it's the yin and the yang.

I think it's very similar to some of the things that are happening in the MeToo movement with things going too far in one direction. So, we're going to have to learn a balance here. And I think it's actually going to be a combination of many of the things that you listed.

Maybe not the China government way, but I definitely think they will -- there needs to be regulation from the government. There needs to be more responsibility from these social media companies. I think they need to be working together, really sharing data in a way that will surface a lot of the false information.

And they also need to provide data to the government when it asks for it in a way that they can decipher. And also, our Senators and our Congress need to actually start using social media and understanding it, as opposed to just asking their grandchildren what this all means, right?

VAUSE: Yes. Can you get me on Facebook son? Because -- yes, how does -- how do the Twitter's work? You know, just feel a lot of focus on, you know, Russia and election interference.

But here's the headline from The Daily Beast. "How YouTube built a radicalization machine for the far-right?" And the sub-headline is former extremists say, "They were sucked in by propaganda as teenagers. Thanks to an algorithms dark side."

The story goes on about this algorithm, which was originally written simply to keep users watching for longer because that increases profits. So, when revenue is involved, you know, this brave new world of new breed tech CEOs who meant to be sort of idealistic and altruistic. Yes, it turns out that a lot like the old breed of CEOs.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, yes, I think that large media companies are always going to have a revenue goal. And, you know, for them to pretend that, that is not the case is just completely false. And I think anytime a large media company also pushes back on an artist, so they're going to generate another hero.

And so, it's the same as anything else, right? It's they're after money, and if they try and manage any of what's happening on YouTube, you know, users are going to rebel against it. And then, you have young minds that are very easy to convert into a political movement.

VAUSE: Yes, there is all those -- there is also, what, 8 million, almost 8 million offensive videos, which YouTube removed last quarter because they violated that -- you know, the site's rules on spam or adult content for child safety. They also remove something like 200 million comments as well. Yes, this is not the caring and sharing environment. We've so many hopeful back in 1990, there was this, this hope of a -- of a new future of a better world. It just seemed in the last -- I guess last five to 10 years, everything took actually turn for the worst. And everything that had hoped for, everything I thought that it could be somehow it went backwards. And it went in the opposite direction.

Is there one reason why it was a -- was a tipping point that turned everything around or was this always going to work out this way because of human nature?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I think that the human nature pieces it. And I think when it comes to revenue, and to profit. And there is an emotional piece to this, right? There's a real emotional piece to this. So, you're dealing with corporate greed, and then you're also dealing with human beings.

And so, those two things can go to the dark side. But I don't think it's all doom. I really don't. I think we need to again find a middle ground where we could still leverage these platforms in the way that they were originally conceived but put some checks and balances in.

And I do think, again, and I'll bring up being a parent that it's up to us to from the get-go manage the type of content that our children watch. And so, they grow up in a -- in a world where they're not already tainted by content that can get them leaning in the wrong way per se.

VAUSE: You know, the paragraph -- the first paragraph on Colin Powell's biography is "Things are never as bad as they seem, things are never as good as they seem, and everything looks better by morning."


VAUSE: Lori, thank you.

SCHWARTZ: I love technology. So, I would never say it's a bad thing.

VAUSE: OK. Well, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.


VAUSE: Well, a grown corruption scandal in Malaysia now tied to U.S. investment bank, Goldman Sachs. The outlandish ways prosecutors say those responsible laundered and stolen money.

Also, a mother and her dying son kept apart. Why the family says she is blocked seeing her son one last time?


[01:22:48] VAUSE: Well, right now, a little boy is on life support. Doctor say he could have just days to live. Despite that, his mother who is from Yemen but living in Egypt may be prevented from seeing her son before he dies. Family say, it's because of the Trump administration's travel ban. CNN's Dan Simon has this report.


ALI HASSAN, FATHER OF ABDULLAH HASSAN: Time is -- time is running out. Please help us get my family together again.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As 2-year-old Abdullah Hassan, lay dying in Auckland, his mother is thousands of miles away, unable to see him due to the Trump administration's travel ban. Which includes five predominantly Muslim countries.

SAAD SWEILEM, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: This is a United States citizen who is going to die, separated from his mother because of our own hateful and bigoted policies.

SIMON: The toddler is on life support. He has a fatal brain condition and is in the final stages. His American father now pleading with U.S. officials to show compassion.

HASSAN: My wife is calling me every day wanting to kiss and hold her son for the one last time.

SIMON: Abdullah was born in Yemen and brought to the U.S. for care. His parents never thought they would spend his final days apart.

HASSAN: He's about to die soon. His mother just is unable to touch him, to see him, to even give him a kiss before he go.

SIMON: How was your wife holding up?

HASSAN: Crying and crying every single day.

SIMON: The family says the State Department is processing their application for a travel waiver. The Council on American-Islamic relations now plans to file court documents to expedite the request.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are ready to fly her out at a moment's notice as soon as we receive this waiver, hopefully, today.

SIMON: The family says they've been trying for over a year to get a waiver from the State Department. But basically, they've been trapped in the bureaucracy. They say they keep getting the same response that the department is reviewing the application.

Meantime, the boy's condition continues to worsen. We did reach out to the State Department. They say they do not comment on individual cases. They say they look at each and every case though on the merits. Dan Simon, CNN, Sacramento, California.


[01:25:03] VAUSE: Anger is growing in Hungary over fears that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government is becoming increasingly authoritarian. Thousands protested in Budapest for a sixth straight night on Monday.

There's also concerned on what they call this labor law, which allow employers to ask workers for up to 400 hours of overtime a year. Alongside that fears of another controversial new law, or which they say what chip away at the independence of the courts.

A huge corruption scandal is brewing in Malaysia. Involving more than $4 billion in stolen funds. The U.S. investment firm, Goldman Sachs, and an International Playboy who allegedly helped launder the money. Details now from CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have to be held accountable. Those are the words of Malaysia's Attorney General when he announced he was pressing criminal charges against one of Wall Street's largest investment banks Goldman Sachs, as well as four individuals.

They now stand accused in Malaysia of corruption and fraud involved in three bond sales in 2012 and 2013, involving Malaysia's now disgraced sovereign investment fund 1MDB. And the accusations are that all of these individuals and Goldman and -- Goldman Sachs, helped misappropriated some $2.7 billion in connection with the bond sales. And that Goldman Sachs, then proceeded to charge Malaysia some $600 million in fees several times above market rates.

While also bribing Malaysian officials to get this business in the first place. Well, Goldman Sachs in a statement to CNN denies the charges. Saying, "We believe these charges are misdirected and we will vigorously defend them and look forward to the opportunity to present our case." Saying, Goldman Sachs, is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

Malaysian authorities are demanding $3.3 billion in fines and up to 10 years in prison for the four individuals. Now, one of them is Goldman Sachs' former Southeast Asia director, Tim Leissner. And he's already pled guilty to American authorities in connection with this corruption scandal and suggesting that some of it had to do with Goldman Sachs corporate culture.

Again, corporate -- Goldman Sachs, pleading innocence here. The scandal has helped bring down Malaysia's former prime minister. There have been hundreds of millions of dollars in assets seized by both Malaysian and American investigators.

And the laundry list of these luxuries is quite astounding. They include a $250 million yacht, a Bombardier private jet, paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, and even the rights to a Hollywood film, The Wolf of Wall Street,

The bad news for Goldman Sachs is not likely to end with these criminal charges coming from Malaysia. Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.

VAUSE: Still to come, what was once the distant home for so many is now looking to be maybe the only way out of this self-inflicted crisis called Brexit. And while a second referendum is now supported by a majority of many polls, the Prime Minister continues to insist it is a nonstarter.


[01:30:59] VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines this hour.

Malaysia has filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs over its dealings with a state investment fund. Prosecutors say senior officials stole more than $4 billion, laundered it through condos, jets --- yachts rather, a jet and the rights to the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street". Goldman Sachs says the charges are misdirected.

Russian trolls used every social media platform to support Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Two new reports from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee also showed the groups tried to suppress the African-American vote and discredit Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she'll bring her Brexit deal to a vote in parliament by mid-January. She's rejecting growing calls to hold a second referendum. The leader of the opposition Labour Party called for a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister. Downing Street says that won't allow time for a debate on that because it's just a political stunt.

For more now on a Brexit do-over and a possible second referendum Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington is with us now.

So, Amanda -- Theresa May, she didn't support leaving the E.U. Even though she has what seems to be an impossible job of trying to win support for this withdrawal agreement which pleases no one, and even though a second referendum would be the quickest and the easiest way to end this nightmare for her, the British Prime Minister remains steadfast telling parliament why it won't happen.

This is how she explained it.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum. Another vote which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics.


VAUSE: I mean, given just how divided the country is, what does she mean by harm to the faith and break the faith of the British public? What is she talking about given the fact that, you know, popularity here and demands for a second referendum is on the rise?

AMANDA SLOAT, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: I assume what she means is that the British people already had a chance to vote once and there was a result. And a certain number of people are not happy with the result. And so it's this question of do you keep voting until you get the answer that you like? That's I assume what the critics would argue.

VAUSE: But in this instance though, there seems to be so much, you know, regret about the outcome. People didn't take it seriously. Others didn't turn up to vote. And essentially now that so many more people are aware of the implications and the fall out and what it actually means, isn't there a good argument there to be made for this second referendum?

SLOAT: Yes, there certainly is a case to be made that now that people have fuller information than what they did two years ago, you could let people vote from a much more knowledgeable position.

There was suggestions of Russian interference in the referendum campaign. There was also a lot of disinformation, misinformation, that was given to people in terms of what the benefits of Brexit would be, not sufficient information about what the costs of it would be. And certainly now that we have been in the midst of this process for two years, people are much more aware of the reality of what they're voting on.

VAUSE: And over the weekend former Prime Minister Tony Blair, he outlined what seemed to be a fairly rational argument for a second vote. This is what he said.


TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So what seemed a few months ago unlikely is now I would say above a 50 percent likelihood. We will go back to the people.

Ultimately this could even make sense to the Prime Minister who could perfectly legitimately say I did my best, my deal was rejected by parliament, and you the people must give direction because parliament cannot.


VAUSE: You know, Theresa May savaged Blair for those comments. But what is wrong with what he's saying there? It seems to make a lot of sense.

SLOAT: There is an argument that it's a little crazy for the representatives of the people not to be able to reach a decision and so you go back to the people themselves.

Essentially what politicians are elected to do is to represent the people and to make these decisions.

[01:35:04] But you're absolutely right that parliament is stuck. The problem is that there is not currently a majority for anything. There is not a majority for no deal. There is not a majority for Theresa May's deal. And there is not a majority for any other form of deal.

And so that really brings us to one of the biggest challenges with the referendum which is what is the question that you would actually ask people to vote on? Do they do a rerun of the Brexit referendum from two years ago which is essentially a yes, no on whether or not you want to stay in the European Union? Do you have a referendum on the deal that Theresa May has negotiated?

Or do you try and have something that's more complicated with a series of questions asking people if they want to stay or leave and then if they choose to leave, select from either this deal, no deal or to try and renegotiate a different type of deal.

VAUSE: Is there also concern about, you know, for those who do not want a second referendum, the question of precedent. If you go down this road on this issue where do you stop?

SLOAT: Yes, absolutely. So the hard Brexiteers in Theresa May's party and interestingly Jeremy Corbyn who is the leader of the opposition Labour Party and a clear Euro skeptic are not entirely sure that they actually want to have a second referendum. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader would prefer to have a general election where he would become Prime Minister, he hopes and believes that he could negotiate a better deal.

And for the hard Brexiteers in Theresa May's party, they want to go forward with Brexit. And so their concern is if you reopen the possibility of a vote, you might end up with a different result and then Brexit doesn't happen.

VAUSE: There's also timing here. They say it takes at least 22 weeks to hold a meaningful national referendum. The Brexit deadline is just 14 weeks away.

But all this turmoil which is facing Britain and the Prime Minister there, it made the cut for, you know, a comedy skit over the weekend on "Saturday Night Live" here in the U.S. Here's some of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome former Prime Minister David Cameron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Theresa. Merry Christmas, how are you? You seem stressed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me. You look well rested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been on vacation in the Maldives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just so nice to get away. You really must go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bit tied up at the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, right. Brexit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gosh I'm such a nob. How is that going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been a joy.


VAUSE: Oh, it's been a joy.

You know, David Cameron, the former Prime Minister, he lit the fuse and then ran away from all of this. Back in 2015 when he promised this referendum, you know, it helped him win that election, but could he have taken a different approach? He structured the vote in a much higher threshold maybe a 90 percent turnout of eligible voters if that didn't happen then 70 percent on the yes.

There needed to be a much higher bar than a typical election which could basically be reversed five years later with another vote. This time unless there is a second referendum there is no do over.

SLOAT: Sure. There was lots of things that could have been done differently with the last referendum. As you said the threshold could have been higher. There could have been a decision to let British nationals who were living outside of the U.K. vote.

And frankly, I'm not sure that he actually expected to lose the referendum. He thought this was going to be a way to preserve his leadership of the party. And he thought it was going to be a way to end the decades-old debate within the Conservative Party about membership in the European Union. And instead it's left us in this very difficult situation that we are in now.

VAUSE: David Cameron, you know, very relaxed, very casual. Theresa May is the one with all the stress and the headaches.

Amanda -- thank you.

SLOAT: Indeed. And actually saying that he has no regrets for calling this referendum. If it was me I think I would be having some sleepless nights.

VAUSE: Yes. At least a few. Amanda -- thank you.

Next up here on CNN NEWSROOM, there is -- they are smoking and drinking less but teenagers in the U.S. have taken up one habit at an alarming and record-setting rate. Details when we come back.


VAUSE: It's called vaping. It's the big thing right now with teenagers in the U.S. They're drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes less than ever. But at the same time setting a record in the uptake of these e-cigarettes which can be used to inhale anything from nicotine to marijuana. The Food and Drug Administration calls it an epidemic.

More now from Meredith Wood.


MEREDITH WOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vaping is now second only to alcohol as the most frequently used substance by teens. That's according to a new Monitoring the Future Report published by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. It says "Nearly 40 percent of high school seniors have tried vaping in the past year with nicotine as the most commonly reported substance used by 12the graders followed by flavoring and then marijuana."

Flavoring though is the most common reported substance used by eighth graders.

DR. WILLIAM COMPTON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE: In 2018 we saw a dramatic increase in the use of vaping devices by teens in all the different grades. So we were really quite surprised by how commonly teens are using vaping devices to administer nicotine and other substances.

WOOD: One positive trend a report did find is drug and alcohol use among teens is the lowest it's been in many years even though alcohol was still the most frequently used substance reported.

For today's "Health Minute" I'm Meredith Wood.


VAUSE: Richard Miech (ph) with the University of Michigan is the lead author of that study and he's with us right now from Ann Arbor in Michigan. So, Richard -- overall, this isn't all bad news in terms of what teenagers are doing in terms of drinking and smoking and, you know, illicit (ph) substances, in fact, put the vaping to one side the reality is the number of teenagers who are smoking or drinking alcohol or taking illicit (ph) substances is either at historic lows or falling in that direction.

RICHARD MIECH, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Yes. And smokings are at historic lows and they've been declining for the past 20 years.

VAUSE: So which is why this very big jump in vaping stands out so much. Is there a simple explanation as for what is driving that increase?

M1: Well, yes and no. I think the proximate cause is that there's a new vaping device out there called a juul, J-U-U-L, which has gained great popularity among youth. If looks like a flash drive -- I don't know if you have seen one before. And you can keep them in your pockets and they come in lots of interesting flavors like mango and cucumber and kids really seem for be gravitating towards this device.

And it's easily concealable so kids can use them without parents knowing what it is that they are doing. So that has a large part do with it I think.

VAUSE: I have also noticed that schools in the U.S. has been incredibly, you know, shown sort of a no tolerance policy for these vaping devices. You know, the school my daughter goes to it's instant expulsion if the kids are caught with these devices.

MIECH: Well yes. That's a little bit extreme, yes.

VAUSE: There is a hard line out there because the schools at least in some instances are cracking down because, you know, vaping, at least, is known to be addictive. But the question is in terms of health consequences -- is it as bad as smoking cigarettes?

MIECH: Well, that's an interesting way to ask the question. There is nothing as bad as smoking a cigarette. I can't think of any commercially available product that if you use on a regular basis is likely to kill you.

[01:45:05] Thousands (ph) of people who smoke cigarettes on a regular basis are likely to die as a result of that. So I don't know. I don't think it's as bad as cigarettes, but that's kind of a low bar.

VAUSE: Right. So if you --


MIECH: I'm sorry go ahead.

VAUSE: So, one of the attractions of vaping for many people, and it's oh, a healthy alternative, you know, their words, to and smoking. What are the dangers here of vaping?

MIECH: Well, in large part we don't know. The kids who are vaping right now, particularly the kids are kind of today's guinea pigs. We'll find out in a couple of years what the long-term consequences are.

You know, the first vaping devices didn't appear in the United States until 2006. That when we first have custom records of vaping devices entering the United States. At that time, you needed to have 24 batteries in your pocket to smoke the equivalent of 1 pack of cigarettes. So they weren't very efficient.

It's only in recent years that they've really done advances in vaping technology to make them more practical and usable on a day to day basis.

So we don't really know what the long-term consequences are. What we do know is that kids who vape are more likely to smoke. That vaping is a risk factor for smoking.

And the way we look at that is we take a bunch of kids who are baseline. None of them have ever smoked cigarettes. And then of those kids some are vaping and some aren't, you follow them up a year later and you would ask have you smoked a cigarette in the past year.

And the kids who were vaping are about four to five times more likely to report that they have used a cigarette. So vaping does seem to be a strong risk factor for future smoking. VAUSE: And what is interesting about the study that you did, you

found more than a million kids in the United States -- this is an extra million kids compared to last year or more than a million who tried vaping over the past 12 months. And among the seniors in that number you found that just over 37 percent said they vaped something in the past year --


VAUSE: -- an increase of almost 10 percent. While the number who vaped nicotine in the past 30 days had almost doubled compared to a year ago. Why is that last number the number which is more concerning to you?

MIECH: Why is that number concerning. Well --

VAUSE: The last one -- the number over the 30-day period for nicotine vaping.

MIECH: Yes. Well, that's a measure of current use -- that's kind of the most conservative measure. So if that jumps, that means that you really have something on your hands. And what we find is this project has been around for 44 years.

And for past 30 day outcomes by which we mean we ask kids every year have you used vaping or some other drug in the past 30 days, we have reported more than a thousand past 30-day increases since 1975 when our project first started.

And this jump, this year in vaping nicotine in the past 30 days, that's the largest jump we have ever seen by far. It's more than twice as large as the second largest jump which is way back in 1975. That was for marijuana use from 1975 to 1976. So this is kind a historic jump. We have sever then anything like it.

VAUSE: Ok. Richard -- it's an interesting study. And you know, it seems the kids are doing well with, you know, everything else. I guess except for this.

MIECH: Yes, that's right.

VAUSE: Well, it's a challenge.


VAUSE: And there's always a challenge. Richard -- good to see you. Thank you so much.

MIECH: All right. Thank you. Good talking to you.

VAUSE: It's not exactly how many see their golden years in South Korea but in recent years there's been a surge in crime committed by the elderly. So many of them are in prison, one facility recently opened a wing specifically for older inmates.

CNN's Paula Hancocks reports now from that prison. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The exercise yard at a South Korean prison -- a typical scene except for one thing. There are no inmates here over the age of 65.

In this prison, older inmates have their own exercises, their own guards, their own wing -- in part because of a massive increase in crime. The number of older Koreans committing crimes has jumped 45 percent in the last four years according to police figures as the overall crime rate is dropping.

Poverty, socialized relations and an aging population all blamed. One older inmate, Mr. Park has been behind bars for a year and a half. We are not permitted to reveal his crime to protect his identity.

"The government is only focusing on providing work for young people," he tells me. "If it focuses on jobs for the elderly it would lower the crime rate."

Mr. Park will be 72 by the time he's released. He hopes he can find a job because he needs the money.

Mr. No is 70. He says it's key for inmates to be able to earn money inside to cope on the outside.

"Many inmates are afraid of being released. They have nowhere to go or sleep. No money or food to eat."

Some inmates make gift bags in their cells, a job they are paid for on release.

[01:50:01] This is a typical cell here in the correctional facility. It's about eight and a half square meters. Up to four men would live and sleep in this area during the lunch hour. They have the radio playing for the inmates. It's pretty much what the exclusively elderly ward looks like as well. Within that they have 13 cells.

Lee Yun-hwi (ph) is the deputy director of the facility and promotes singing, dancing, vegetable growing for these inmates. "The programs," he says "are designed to provide them with chances to open up their closed mind from being locked up. To relax their body and mind."

The national pension in South Korea was only introduced in 1988. It only became mandatory from the late 1990s. A s a result around 60 percent of all the citizens do not qualify for the pension according to government figures.

More facilities like this one could help but with the OECD an intergovernmental organization predicting one-fifth of the population will be 65 and over by 2026, experts say this cannot be the only solution.

Paula Hancocks, CNN -- South Korea.


VAUSE: Well, Robert De Niro is no fan of President Trump. Trump is no fan of De Niro. When we come back, the legendary actor opens up to CNN about his feud with the U.S. president. And how he thinks the Trump era will be remembered.


VAUSE: "The Godfather Part 2", "The Deer Hunter", "Raging Bull", "Taxi Driver", "Goodfellas" -- this list just goes on and on. All incredible movies, all helped to create this image of De Niro as a living legend.

He still is making movies but recently his opinion on politics have been making headlines, especially his outspoken criticism of the U.S. president at the Tony Awards. That saw Trump hit back.

And now De Niro has a recurring role as Robert Mueller, the special investigator on "Saturday Night Live".


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: I have something for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this a subpoena or your final report?

DE NIRO: No. Report? No, no. It's a picture of my grandson. I have been spending so much more time with him since I don't have to investigate some idiot for treason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, it sounds like you know I used to be president.

DE NIRO: Oh, I know everything. Everything.


VAUSE: CNN's Hala Gorani asked De Niro about this unusual time in U.S. politics and also about his own personal feud with Donald Trump.


DE NIRO: I never thought in my lifetime and I have seen a lot of in my lifetime -- I never thought I was working out with my trainer the other day and I -- we have seen horrible things over the years but this is one of the worst that I have ever seen and that I ever, as I say, ever thought I would see but it's real.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: But why are you so vocal about it though, at this stage in your career? Because you have been very outspoken against the President.

DE NIRO: I just -- you know, I know what kind of person this guy is. He's a New Yorker who I never would want to meet. Never want to meet him and now he's president.

And the reason I wouldn't want to meet him is because of the kind of person that he is, as we all know now. There is nothing new.

[01:55:03] It's just -- it's disgraceful. But we'll get past it. It will be one of those things that will be like a nightmare that you remember. I'll be with my trainer and will be five years from now saying remember all that stuff how terrible it was. And at least I lived to see the time when this will all pass like any nightmare.

GORANI: Do you think that possibly you are basically giving him what he wants by just keeping this, by kind of creating a feud with him where he then replies on Twitter and says you are a low IQ or whatever. You took too many blows to the head. That in a way you are kind of playing his game?

DE NIRO: No, because even his -- his responses, his retorts if you will, are inane. And they are kind of stupid. He doesn't say anything that's either witty or smart. So it doesn't -- it doesn't bother me. It's -- it's -- it's ridiculous.

GORANI: And -- but you have -- you are playing Mueller on SNL --


GORANI: -- I watch it every week and whenever you come out on stage, you immediately get this incredible just round of applause. What made you -- how did that come about, playing Mueller on SNL?

DE NIRO: I think it was -- I think my wife had mentioned to -- we were talking about what could I do? what character could I play in all of this? And I think she said what about Mueller. And I called Lorne Michaels and I said, Lorne, what about playing Mueller. I think that's how it happened. So they came up with something.

GORANI: Is this something you are having fun with?

DE NIRO: Yes, I'm having fun with it. Yes. I mean, I love Saturday -- SNL. And so it's that part of it is always fun to do.


VAUSE: That was Bobby -- Bobby De Niro there speaking with my colleague Hala Gorani.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for your company.

I'm John Vause. Stay with us. The news continues here on CNN after a short break.