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CNN NEWSROOM

Dems Remain at Odds with Trump over Border Wall; Brazil Shifts to the Right with Jair Bolsonaro; Migrants Attempt Dangerous Trip across the Channel; Whelan Family Rejects Claims of Espionagel; Brazil's New President Has Been Sworn In To Office; Chinese President Called On Taiwan To Rejfect Independence And Embrace Reunification With China; Theresa May Beginning The Year Facing A Near Mission Impossible To Deliver On That Vote To Leave The European Union. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 2, 2019 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): On the 12th day of the U.S. government shutdown, Trump says let's make a deal. The U.S. president has invited congressional leaders to talk as both sides blame one another.

A populist is now the leader of South America's largest nation, we'll look at Jair Bolsonaro's vision for Brazil.

Plus: he's not a spy. The family of the U.S. man detained in Russia speaks out.

Hello and welcome to the viewers joining us from around the world. I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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NEWTON: There's a battle in Washington over border security while some actual clashes were happening at the border with Mexico. Now early Tuesday, U.S. authorities used tear gas and pepper spray, as you see there, as migrants were trying to cross the border near Tijuana.

According to a government spokesperson, they were violent and throwing rocks. This comes as a partial shutdown of the U.S. government enters its 12th day now. Hundreds of thousands of workers, federal workers, aren't being paid, with Democrats set to take control of the House. They promised to end the shutdown but insist they won't fund the border wall. CNN's Jessica Dean has more from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is day 11 of the partial government shutdown here in Washington, D.C., and here at the White House, we are just learning that the White House and President Trump has invited senior leadership from both parties to the White House on Wednesday.

We're also learning that there will be a presentation, an update, from the Department of Homeland Security during that meeting.

Of course, the border wall and it's funding right in the middle of this disagreement, this stalemate that has brought part of the government to a halt over the last, almost two weeks, so they will be discussing that tomorrow.

This, as the president continues to tweet on this New Year's Day. He's tweeting about the shutdown and Nancy Pelosi's speakership.

This is something that the White House has been going back to over and over again, talking about how Nancy Pelosi is unwilling to deal in this deal because she wants to get the votes to be speaker on Thursday. In all likelihood she does have the votes and all likelihood she will be Speaker.

She said that they've - the Democrats have given them three opportunities to reopen the government, but they haven't taken it. At the end of the day, it's still a wide area between the two sides on this.

The Republicans, President Trump saying, "I want the wall a $5 billion to fund it."

The Democrats saying, "We want to reopen the government with $1.3 billion for border security, but no funding for a wall a no wall within that."

We'll see what happens tomorrow -- Jessica Dean, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger joins me now.

David, happy New Year. We're tempted to say that nothing has changed but in fact for Donald Trump a lot has. That's going to a new session with a Democratic House. We're in the midst of a shutdown. It looks like Trump wants to end it. He's saying let's make a deal.

Do you see this as a defining issue, a moment about the character and tone of what this will look like in his second two years, in the second phase of his presidency?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it marks a turning point, but I don't think that the battle over the wall and the shutdown is necessarily going to be what we -- indicative of what we're seeing.

And what we're going to see over the next year is going to have to do with the president's recognition. But basically his domestic agenda, to the degree that it involves Congress, is over, just as it was for Barack Obama after he lost control of Congress at exactly the same point in his presidency. That tends to make a president turn more toward foreign policy, an area where they can operate completely by themselves. But the complicating factor here, of course, is the Mueller investigation.

We don't know where that's going to take us, but we do know that if the president feels threatened by both that investigation and the many investigations that'll start up in the Democratically controlled House, they'll probably lash out at the institutions and the people who are behind the investigation.

NEWTON: Many would say he's been doing with law enforcement, in terms of calling out the CIA, the FBI and the Mueller investigation itself and as you said --

[02:05:00]

NEWTON: -- it may be something that continues in the new year.

I want to talk about Mitt Romney opening a page as his tenure in the Senate begins. Mitt Romney, of course, a candidate in 2012 did not endorse Donald Trump for his campaign in 2016.

He writes in an op-ed in "The Washington Post" that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office. What I find interesting -- and you let me know what you think. It seems as though Mitt Romney is setting the parameters of not just what a Democratically controlled House will do but what a Republican controlled Senate will do in terms of trying to temper Trump's instincts really and his impulses when it comes to domestic and foreign affairs.

SANGER: It is no surprise that Romney separated himself right away from President Trump. As you said, he didn't endorse him. The president dangled him for secretary of state before choosing Rex Tillerson. You may remember those dinners they went off to. It was almost humiliating I think in some ways for Mr. Romney because he was a former nominee of his own party, basically being told, sorry, we're not even going to pick you for secretary of state.

Then the president picked someone who he fired a year later. So there's no love lost here. I'm not sure, though, that it necessarily indicates that the president will lose much support in the Senate.

Mitt Romney comes in as a doubter about the president but he's sort of replacing Jeff Flake in that role, who is leaving the Senate, from Arizona. So at the end of the day, I'm not sure that the numbers will change much, unless something in the Mueller investigation or another move like Syria,, where president lost some support he had among Republican senators, even Lindsey Graham crops up.

NEWTON: Extraordinary that in the last couple of days he stepped back and said, it won't a 30-day withdrawal from Syria; it's going to be four months. We will see if that changes going forward.

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SANGER: Makes you wonder why he couldn't have done that at the beginning. You had a lot of people saying, if you do this you -- I'm not sure it's a bad idea to pull out of Syria if you do it the right way. But if you're going to do this, you have to give notice to the allies and those counting on your support.

NEWTON: There was no reason to stay three days he said because -- they don't have to tell anyone ahead of time. It could take six months or 30 days.

Why tell anyone?

That brings us, you made a very interesting point, now that he has lost control of the House, that in terms of that domestic agenda likely not being able to get a lot done will then turn it to foreign affairs.

Top of mind going into his presidency is North Korea. You have new reporting out of "The New York Times" now, saying that, look, there has not been much progress when it comes to North Korea.

And, David, just before we get to the recent developments, I know you've done so much work on this in the last year since, as we can see there, the new diplomacy started between North Korea and the United States.

When you say that they're back at square one materially in terms of capability and in terms of getting back to that nuclear program, you're saying, a snap of the fingers and, you know, North Korea's back where they wanted to be in terms of nuclear capability?

SANGER: Well, what's changed here, Paula, is the tone of the relationship, which is certainly a lot friendlier. We've gone from the president threatening fire and fury to the president saying during a campaign rally that he and Kim Jong-un fell in love. The fire and fury was probably too far on the hawkish side.

The fall in love is not necessarily something you want to do with a dictator, right?

The answer's probably somewhere in between. The president takes the change in tone as a significant piece of progress and there is some progress to that. He also takes the fact that there's been a freeze -- a de facto freeze on missile tests and nuclear tests now for more than 13 months as a sign of some goodwill.

But what the administration watches over is that, during that time, North Korea has been continuing to produce nuclear fuel. It's been continuing, U.S. intelligence believes, to build nuclear weapons although yesterday Kim Jong-un said he was not doing that, and it has continued to improve its missile fleet, not test them, but improve them and expand them.

And so, that part of capability is really where we're back at square one, as I argued in a news analysis that's in "The Times" tomorrow and online now.

[02:10:00] SANGER: And the reason for that is that the key to this was denuclearization. The strategic goal was to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, its materials and its missiles. There hasn't been a bit of that in the six months-plus since Singapore.

NEWTON: And it brings into question whether or not they even have the same definition as you pointed out before of what denuclearization means. They can't come to agreement on that.

SANGER: They don't. The president believes North Korea gives up nuclear weapons and they believe the Americans also pull back their nuclear capability from Asia.

NEWTON: And that's still a huge stumbling block. I want to talk about a tweet from the president. His reaction to Kim Jong-un's statement there, on New Year's.

He said Kim Jong-un says North Korea won't make or test nuclear weapons or give them to others and he's ready to meet President Trump anytime. I also look forward to meeting Chairman Kim who realizes so well that North Korea possesses great economic potential.

Not much new there. The president trying to put a smarter face on what really was a little bit of a hardline position from Kim Jong-un. I want to replay some of what he said in the new year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): If the U.S. doesn't keep the promise it made in front of the world and misinterprets our people's patience and makes one-sided demands and continues down the path of sanctions and pressure on our republic, then we have no choice but to defend our country's sovereignty and supreme interests and find a new way to settle peace on the peninsula.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: So striking there, David.

How much do you think this regime, how close will they come to giving up all of the new tone, as you call it, if they believe they won't get what they want, which is the lifting of sanctions and some type of economic stability in their own country?

SANGER: It is a good question. You have a giant game of chicken going on here, reminiscent in some ways of the early nuclear talks between the Soviet Union and the United States.

But with some differences. Neither side wants to give up leverage. The North Koreans realize their only leverage is their nuclear arsenal. While they may give up some of it in coming years, it is almost inconceivable they would give up all of it because all their leverage would go with it and they would be a forgotten nation.

The Americans view the economic sanctions as their only leverage. Those have been undercut by the fact that China and Russia have, in the past six months, begun to step up their trade. The maximum pressure the president used to boast about is over because the Russians and the Chinese are not joining in it.

So I think the question right now is, does the president back down on his objective?

Does he say, really we're not out to get rid of all of Kim Jong-un's nuclear weapons, we're out to mitigate this, to contain it, to make it no longer as threatening?

The problem with that it sounds a lot like what President Obama was doing in the 2015 agreement with Iran, an agreement that the president walked away from. He'll be judged on North Korea by whether or not whatever agreement he reached is as tough or tougher than what President Obama reached with the Iranians, who didn't have weapons.

NEWTON: It'll be interesting to see if President Trump feels that way going into 2020 campaign, thinking I'm going to go out there and campaign on the fact I made the world safer.

(CROSSTALK)

SANGER: When you go to his rallies, people, there are some Trump supporters, not all, who say, he already made peace with the North Koreans. That's -- it comes from that moment, where after Singapore, the president tweeted out, North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.

NEWTON: It has that mission accomplished ring to it. But I'll leave it there. David, thank you so much for joining us. Always appreciate it.

SANGER: Thank you. Always great to be with you.

NEWTON: The right-wing populist known as the Trump of the tropics has been sworn in as Brazil's new president. Jair Bolsonaro has promised to restore order and bring prosperity to Brazil. His supporters see a no-nonsense leader who will drain the swamp -- sound familiar? -- and tackle the violence in the country. Our Amara Walker looks at his plans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Promising to take the country on a shift to the right, Jair Bolsonaro was inaugurated as Brazil's new president on New Years Day.

JAIR BOLSONARO, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): With humility and honor, I present myself to everyone as President of Brazil and I stand in front of our nation as we liberate ourselves from socialism today.

WALKER: Before a crowd of supporters in the capital of Brasilia, Bolsonaro also vowed to liberate --

[02:15:00]

WALKER: -- Brazil from political correctness and to rebuild the economy.

BOLSONARO: Our elections give a voice to those whose voice was silent and the voices from the streets and polling booths were clear. I am here to respond and, once again, commit myself to this change.

WALKER: Before his speech, the former army captain and far-right congressman took a ride through the crowds with his wife, Michelle, and received the presidential sash from outgoing President Michel Temer.

Earlier in the day, Bolsonaro was officially sworn in during a ceremony at the National Congress Building where he spoke about his intended economic reforms.

BOLSONARO: We will make structural reforms that are key for financial health and sustainability with public accounts, transforming our economic scenario and opening new opportunities. We need to create a new cycle for the economy so that we could open our markets internationally.

WALKER: His supporters see him as a no-nonsense leader who will drain the swamp and tackle the ramped violence plaguing the country. His opponents fear that four years of a Bolsonaro presidency will threaten human rights and ecological preservation in the sixth largest country in the world by size and by population.

After his speech, Bolsonaro, who's been compared to Donald Trump, got a shout out from the U.S. president who tweeted, "The USA is with you."

Bolsonaro tweeted back, "Together under God's protection we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people." -- Amara Walker, CNN.

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NEWTON: Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on Taiwan to reject independence and embrace reunification with China. He took a hard line on the self-governing island's political sovereignty and freedoms.

He said nothing can change the fact that Taiwan is part of China and can't be changed by anyone or -- key here -- any force. This came during a speech marking the 40th anniversary of a statement known as the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan that led to a thaw in relations.

The family of American man detained in Russia denies he's a spy. They say Paul Whelan was doing in Moscow when he was arrested.

Plus, it's just over 17 nautical miles but crossing the freezing English Channel in tiny boats is, of course, dangerous. So why are more migrants taking the risk?

We'll explore that next.

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NEWTON: From Spain, footage showing how desperate some migrants are to reach Europe and the extreme measures they're taking.

Spanish police arrested two men after they were discovered hiding inside mattresses on top of a van. You see that there. The vehicle was stopped as it crossed from Morocco. A Spanish senator tweeted this video and said, as long as there are no safe routes for asylum seekers, situations like this will continue to occur.

You could only imagine how dangerous that was for those men. Meantime, the U.K. Is adding more patrols in the English Channel to deal with the surge in the number of migrants willing to risk the crossing from France. Details now from CNN's Melissa Bell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twelve Iranian migrants intercepted by British border force officials just as they made it to shore. Others have been rescued further out to sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old is your daughter?

How old?

BELL (voice-over): And in greater and greater numbers. In 2018, 539 migrants tried to reach Britain on small boats; 80 percent of those attempts were made in the last three months of the year, according to the British home office.

On Monday, the home secretary held a press conference, having cut short his holiday.

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SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: I want to send a very strong signal to people who do think about making this journey, is that we will do everything we can to make sure it is not a success.

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BELL: The home secretary said that two extra border force boats would be brought from the Mediterranean to the Channel and that greater cooperation would be sought with the French.

Already the French Coast Guard has redoubled its patrols and now says it's rescuing migrants everyday.

INGRID PARROT, SPOKESWOMAN, FRENCH COAST GUARD: So these people, when we found them, they are in this state of hypothermia and also they are just so frightened because we thought that they saw deaths and we don't want to have corpse on the beach or to have collision with a big boat.

BELL: This is the part of the French coast that is the closest to England. From here, you can see the cliffs of Dover. It's only 17 nautical miles across. And so it is from these beaches, from this part of the coast that the migrants set off in whatever they can find, in fishing boats in dinghies and sometimes even in kayaks.

BELL (voice-over): It was with a dinghy that Ahmed tried and failed, not once, but twice. He spoke to us from the woods of Northern France that he calls the jungle. He told us that the risk was worth it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHMED, IRANIAN MIGRANT (from captions): You can go to England to two hours, three hours if you have a motor. If you have a strong motor, you can go.

BELL: But there are big ships, there are waves, there are currents, it's very dangerous. You could die in the water.

AHMED: Yes, I know. But to die, is better off love a life in the jungle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL (voice-over): Ahmed left Iran more than two years ago. More recently, fellow Iranians have been arriving in greater numbers say aid workers, speaking of economic hardship and political persecution. All are in a hurry to get across.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The New Year's, the U.K. leads the Europe and the police and everything is going to be hard and no one can go to U.K.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need help?

BELL (voice-over): Which means a worsening struggle for the French and British coast guards as they seek to rescue migrants from waters so cold that no one could survive them for more than an hour -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: The family of an American man detained in Russia insists he is not a spy. Marine veteran Paul Whelan was arrested Friday in Moscow. His brother says Whelan was there for a wedding. But as CNN's Matthew Chance reports, the Kremlin may have had other plans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The timing of this arrest is, to say the least, suspicious.

It was just a few weeks ago that a Russian gun enthusiast Maria Butina, who's being held in the U.S., pleaded guilty to conspiracy after prosecutors accused her of attempting to infiltrate conservative groups like the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party to influence prominent members.

She now faces a potential prison sentence in an American jail, something that has angered Russian officials who insist that she's innocent of any kind of espionage and was unknown to Russian intelligence services.

In his annual news conference last month, Putin actually referred to the case insisting there be no retribution --

[02:25:00]

CHANCE: -- that no innocent person, he said, would be arrested simply to exchange them for Butina.

Yet that now seems to be something that is being speculated about. It is too early to talk about a prisoner swap of course but there are precedents for it.

Back in 2010, 10 Russians suspected of espionage in the U.S. including, you may remember, Anna Chapman, who went on to become a minor celebrity in Russia, were returned to Moscow in exchange for the release of four Russians convicted of spying for the West.

It is possible that the Kremlin may have something like that in mind again -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Whelan's family say they're concerned for his safety and relying on U.S. authorities to help secure his release. His brother tells CNN Whelan had been acting as a tour guide for wedding guests in Moscow on Friday but then he never showed up to the ceremony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID WHELAN, PAUL'S BROTHER: He had a request from a friend and he thought he could help out because he had been to Russia. He thought he could help other Americans from the family, who hadn't been to Russia, to navigate their way around and get on the metro and that sort of thing. But he's a very kind person.

Paul is a very capable person. He's physically a large person. He has a background in law enforcement. He was a Marine. He does corporate security and he travels regularly.

So he's not the sort of person who would stumble into a strange environment or make -- or make poor choices that could cause him risks.

But particularly he wouldn't make choices that would have gotten him sideways of the Russian government and its espionage act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: Obviously a complicated story. It appears Whelan had been posting to a Russian social media network similar to Facebook for the past 13 years.

Next on CNN NEWSROOM, why thousands of women were driven to form this human chain, spanning more than 600 kilometers across India.

Plus British prime minister Theresa May has weathered the Brexit storm so far. But new challenges and a final deadline are just around the corner.

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NEWTON: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton.

[02:30:00]

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL: House majority can quickly end the, quote, "irresponsible Trump shutdown."

Brazil's new president has been sworn in to office. Right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro promises to restore order and policies that protect criminals and political correctness and bring prosperity to Brazil. Former Army Captain, Mr. Bolsonaro, has been called "the Trump of the tropics." Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on Taiwan to reject

independence and embrace reunification with China. And he took a hard line on the self-governing island's political sovereignty and freedoms and says nothing can change the fact that Taiwan is part of China and cannot be changed by anyone or any force.

In India, meantime, early Wednesday morning, two women entered a revered Hindu temple after a centuries-long ban on women going inside of it. They're believed to be the first women to enter the temple since that ban was overturned back in September now by the country's top court sparking protests.

Nikhil Kumar joins us now from New Delhi with more. And such a complicated story is - good to see you, so you can give us some context here. We've been looking at those very emotive pictures of those Indian women really, making up that human change (ph). Just explain, you know, the emotions at work here and the factions. Because it seems it doesn't matter which side of this you're on, it is incredibly contentious.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: It is, Paula, absolutely. Very contentious and very emotive on both sides. As you point out, there was this protest just yesterday, which saw human chain more than -- almost 400 miles long formed in the state of Kerala with one -- women coming out asking the authorities to implement the order from this country's highest court, the Supreme Court in September, to scrap this ban to allow women of all ages to enter into this very revered temple and -- and pay home homage to the deity enshrined over there.

They've been failing to do so over the past few months. This morning, as you say, two women managed to enter and that's what many of these women in Kerala, many other -- many men, Hindu devotees have been calling for. But on the other side, there are people who are also devotees at this temple, including many, many women, who say that, no, that this is an area where the court should not have intervened, that this is not a matter of law, this is a matter of tradition, this is a matter of religion, and the court has no business intervening in this area.

And in fact as it happens, when that order was handed down, there was one dissenting judge in that judgment. That judge happened to be the lone female judge on the bench in this case. So very emotive on both sides. And there's also a layer of politics. This country is just months away from general elections.

The party of the prime minister, the BJP, has traditionally struggled in the south of India where this temple is located. Ahead of the elections, they have said that they think that the courts should not intervene in this case. And many commentators here see that as a way for them to rally the conservative Hindu base in that state in that region ahead of the election. So a mix of issues. You have gender equality, you have questions about

the rule of law, and you have this very, very important political angle as well as this country works its way to general elections. Paula.

NEWTON: How do you think this is going to move going forward, in terms of there does seem to be a standoff here, this temple obviously being very symbolic in general of the kind of abuse and outright violence that many women in India suffer?

KUMAR: Well, the next step, Paula, is that later this month, on the 22nd of January, the Supreme Court will hear a bunch of petitions that have been filed with that court calling on it to review its ruling from September. This is a procedure that we've seen in other important cases.

You - you know, a few years ago it was the Supreme Court which upheld a colonial era ban on homosexuality. People filed petitions, calling on it to revisit that judgment. It did and it scrapped that last year.

And so in this case, people have filed petitions calling on the court to go back, look at that judgment, and consider this argument again and to listen to people who say that, look, this is a matter of tradition and that if you start doing this with this one temple, are you going to do this with other temples, are you going to do this with other religions?

And that's the argument that people are making, which will now be heard again in court later this month. So we'll see how that plays out. Either way, as you say, it's a contentious topic. Whatever the court decides, there will be many, many devotees on both sides who will be left disappointed. Paula.

NEWTON: Contentions and politicized now as well, as you point out, with those general elections coming. Appreciate the update on this important story. Now meantime, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is in Singapore

where he's to speak in the coming hours about Brexit. Now Hunt wrote an op-ed in "The Daily Mail" about how he's, quote, "looking east for his vision of post-Brexit prosperity." And some Brexiteers consider Singapore an economic model for post-Brexit Britain.

[02:35:02]

All the while, though, that clock is ticking, folks, toward that March deadline when the U.K. leaves the European Union with or without a deal. CNN's Anna Stewart reports on the challenges now facing Prime Minister Theresa May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, UNITED KINGDOM: Whichever way you voted in the referendum.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Theresa May beginning the year facing a near mission impossible to deliver on that vote to leave the European Union.

MAY: Most people just want the government to get on and deliver a good Brexit. And that's exactly what we are doing.

STEWART: May lays out her vision for U.K. with more control of its sovereignty and building a new relationship with the EU.

MAY: I am confident that we can reach agreement. We both want good access to each other's markets. We have a shared interest in getting this right. So let's get on with it.

STEWART: A key sticking point for an exit, how to avoid a hard border between northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and Ireland, part of the EU. A backstop border as an EU compromise, keeping the border open in a transition period. But with the U.K. still following EU rules.

MAY: We don't want the backstop to be necessary.

STEWART: That same month, Theresa May confronted with her biggest international crisis of the year on British soil.

MAY: Today 18 countries have announced their intention to expel more than 100 Russian intelligence officers from their countries.

STEWART: A former Russian spy and his daughter, both living in Britain, poisoned by a nerve agent. U.K. government accuses Russian intelligence for the attack, an allegation the Russians deny. Brexit continue to dominate public debate with less than a year to go. EU officials also impatient to see a Brexit plan.

MICHEL BARNIER, EU CHIEF NEGOTIATOR (through translator): There is a request for a status quo, a sort of continuity which is quite paradoxical since it was their country which took the decision to leave the European Union. STEWART: The biggest commotion coming from her own cabinet, though,

when two ministers, her Brexit negotiator and her foreign secretary quit in protest over a deal they claim gives too many concessions to the EU.

JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: How can anyone have faith in the prime minister getting a good deal with 27 European Union governments when she can't even broker a deal within her own cabinet?

STEWART: President Trump, while visiting the U.K., second guesses May's handling of Brexit in a newspaper interview, only to later apologize.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES: I said (ph) I want to apologize because I said such good things about you. She said, don't worry, it's only the press.

STEWART: A dancing queen who's urged on by party supporters saying her deal is the only deal for the U.K.

MAY: If we are going to leave with a deal, this is it. It is in the interests of the EU as well as the U.K. to get this over the line.

STEWART: A 585-page plan for divorce that the EU agrees to. But in parliament, Theresa May faces a hostile reception, even calls for a new referendum, lacking a majority, she delays the vote. Attacks on her leadership didn't stop there. Members of her party casting secret ballots in a vote of no confidence. Theresa May survives the vote but her leadership is damaged.

MAY: This has been a long and challenging day. A significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me and I have listened to what they said.

STEWART: Now the prime minister heads into the new year with a clock running down to that March deadline when the U.K. will leave the EU with or without a deal.

(on camera): One thing is certain, however, and that is her political legacy will be defined by Brexit. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: 2019 marks the end of an era in Japan. Meantime, Emperor Akihito will step down from the throne in April ending his three decade-long reign. Now he made a final New Years appearance on Wednesday and said he was praying for peace. More than 100,000 people reportedly came to see the 85-year-old mar (ph). The widely-adored emperor will be the first to abdicate more than two centuries.

Now, it's a new year and that means new laws are going into effect right around the world. Some notable ones. In Germany, a third gender option will now be offered on official documents. Now this applies to intersex people, those who do not fit biologically as either male or female. They'll be able to register as "divers" or miscellaneous. A ban on plastic bags, meantime, has taken effect in South Korea.

Single use plastic bags will not be available at discount stores or supermarkets. Stores are being advised to use recyclable containers or face a very stiff fine.

And Australia is doing away with the so-called tampon tax. Now the tax on menstrual products has been long-viewed as controversial and women's rights groups successfully campaign to have it removed.

Okay, coming up, a huge first for scientists and what they saw on those outer reaches of earth's solar system.

[02:40:04]

Plus, former Cuban President Raul Castro takes some shots at the U.S. as his country celebrates a milestone.

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NEWTON: Former Cuban President Raul Castro slammed the U.S. during a speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. Now he accused members of the government of spreading lies and portraying Cuba as a threat to the region. Now he also criticized the U.S. blockade saying new economic and financial restrictions are hindering Cuba's development. Castro did, though, extend an olive branch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAUL CASTRO, FORMER CUBAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I reiterate our willingness to live together civilly, despite our differences, and a relationship that is based on peace and respect and is mutually beneficial. We've also shown that Cuba is prepared to resist any confrontational situations that we do not want. We hope for more sound minds from the U.S. government to also avoid this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more now on the very complicated history between the U.S. and Cuba.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba, few thought the revolution he led would endure for 60 years. Castro was just 33 years old on New Year's Eve 1958, putting him on a collision course with U.S. government, which considered the Caribbean island to be part of Washington's sphere of influence. In a 1959 interview with CBS's Edward R. Murrow, Castro initially sought to ease American concerns about which side of the Cold War he was on.

CASTRO: I'm not worried because (INAUDIBLE) there is no threat (ph) about (INAUDIBLE) here in Cuba.

OPPMANN: But as Castro nationalized U.S. properties and executed hundreds of enemies in show trials, U.S. government decided the Cuban rebel leader had to go. A U.S.-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs failed, though. Castro was now firmly aligned with the Soviet Union. The Cuban leader would rail against the U.S. for hours. And end marathon speeches by declaring -

CASTRO: (Speaking foreign language).

OPPMANN: "Socialism or death." In 1962, the CIA discovered that Castro had secretly allowed the Soviets to place nuclear missiles throughout Cuba, reducing the time that Moscow would need to strike the U.S. After a tense standoff that many feared would lead to nuclear war, the Russians pulled the missiles back. Castro would continue to be a thorn in the side of U.S. throughout the Cold War.

[02:45:02]

Many thought that the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba's largest trading partner, would lead the end of Cuban communism and Castro. The Cuban economy cratered, but Castro remained in Power. The CIA tried to assassinate Castro countless times, but it was a mystery stomach ailment that in 2006 nearly killed him. Two years later he stepped down for good and turned over the reins to his younger brother Raul.

RAUL CASTRO, FIRST SECRETARY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA: (Foreign language).

OPPMANN: Well, hardly a reformer, Raul Castro opened some areas that tightly controlled Cuban economy and signaled he wanted a less confrontational relationship with the United States.

The suddenly warming U.S.-Cuban relationship led to the openings of embassies, reestablished direct flights and the first visit of the U.S. president to Cuba since the revolution. Ties, though, with the U.S. under President Trump cooled just as Raul Castro announced a handpicked successor to succeed him as president.

Born after the Cuban Revolution, Miguel Diaz-Canel, is the first Cuban Head of State in the 60 years not named Castro. He was on Twitter and promised to govern with greater transparency, but he is a staunch defender of Fidel Castro's ideology.

MIGUEL DIAZ-CANEL, PRESIDENT OF CUBA: (Foreign language).

OPPMANN: We are defending our process, we are defending or revolution he says, which continues to be threatened, which continues to be attacked.

Sixty years later Cuba is still beset by severe economic problems and a love-hate relationship with the United States. And the future of Cuba's revolution remains unclear.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

NEWTON: Heavy rains trigger a series of landslides in Indonesia's West Java, killing at least 15 people. As many as 20 more are missing. Now, the rain hasn't stopped and it could further hamper the rescue efforts.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has our full forecast.

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NEWTON: Yes, Pedram, I know that it is the season, it's still -- really wishing the best for those people, especially in Indonesia that have already been so much. And I didn't wish you a happy New Year. So, good to see you and a happy New Year.

JAVAHERI: Thank you. Likewise, thanks.

NEWTON: Right. Now the nuclear tests in North Korea conducted in September 2017, was so powerful, this is interesting, it's still causing earthquakes. South Korean monitors say a small tremor struck Wednesday about 11 kilometers east of the Punggye-ri test site where a six nuclear test occurred more than a year ago. More than a year ago.

There are no major fault lines in North Korea, so it's presumed the quake was a result of that test. Now, North Korea claims to have closed that specific test site, but questions remain if the site has now been fully shutdown.

Now, it's an incredible milestone in space history and it was reached on New Year's Day. An object billions of kilometers away, I can't even fathom that, on the outer reaches of the solar system was photographed in a fly-by.

For a little perspective on how remarkable that is, listen to this.

JACKIE FAHERTY, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: If you think about it, we just launched a little, relatively little object from the earth many years ago. It was launched in 2006 and it just did a fly- by of something that's four billion miles away and it came within 2,200 miles of it. Like that's shooting a hole in one like no one has ever done before.

[02:50:00]

FAHERTY: So, let's just like take that as humans have just done an outstanding achievement in engineering.

This object that we flew by is something we've never looked at before. It's one of these objects that is a clue to the way the solar system looked like, to an object that helped formed the solar system, and so we haven't gotten the data really back yet. We're getting our first glimpses now, but these are the objects that tell us the history of our solar system.

Think of this, like in "Empire Strikes Back," in "Star Wars," Hans flies through this asteroid belt. That is not what it's like at all in space. Objects are not like right next to each other in a very dense arena. It's not like that.

The Kuiper belt where New Horizon's is flying through is not dense. There's not objects everywhere for you to look at. And so, this fly- by was also really exciting because they found the object while New Horizon was already on it's way to Pluto and past Pluto.

NEWTON: You really can't blame her for the enthusiasm, especially when she puts it this way. Now, as you can image, making this happen was an exercise in serious science and, of course, persistence that paid off.

ALAN STERN, NEW HORIZONS PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: This mission has always been about delayed gratification.

(LAUGHTER)

It took us 12 years to sell it, it took us five years to build it and it took us nine years just to get to the first target, so Corey (ph), you're going to have to wait just a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

We're going to be getting great data this week, but then next week the spacecraft is in solar conjunction, which means, that we can't communicate to download more data because of radio interference from the solar corona. But then following that, in the middle of January we'll pick up the data transmit again and we've made a very detailed plan over the next three months of the first data sets that we want to get to the ground.

NEWTON: All right, just to translate there, we're going to have great pictures in the coming days and weeks from that project.

Now coming up, what was going to be a low-key birthday celebration for a World War II Navy veteran makes waves across the globe. We'll explain.

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NEWTON: Okay, you know tennis fans are really excited about 2019, but it's going to be very hard to beat what we saw on day one, when Roger Federer and Serena Williams played each other for the first time ever.

Now, they were competing in mixed doubles, of course, at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Federer and his partner won 4-2, 4-3, but it hardly mattered to these two champions with a combined 43 grand slams singles titles.

SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: All these years we've actually never done this. So, this super cool that we get to do it at such a pinnacle point in both our careers. And for me it was super cool, like I've literally like wanted to take pictures and I want to bring my baby out, I'm like way too excited, but it was really fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, what stood out for you about coming up against Serena in her game?

ROGER FEDERER, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: Well, I was nervous returning because -- because we just don't know. People talk about her serve so much and I see why it is such a wonderful serve, because you just can't read it. You don't see until the very ... WILLIAMS: I can't read yours either.

(LAUGHTER)

[02:55:00]

FEDERER: Well, we have the same qualities. But yours is a bit better. But, no, it's true, but anyway, for me it was a bit nerve racking too, to be honest, because all of sudden you're servicing, especially the last serve at three all, I'm like I've got to win this point, but it's Serena Williams I was telling myself and I was telling myself, this is maybe what I've always wanted maybe. A big time moment like this and I made the serve, but I actually totally missed the target and thank you for missing the ball (ph).

NEWTON: I'm not sure she wanted to be thanked there. Now, a record 14,000 plus people, of course they did, into this packed arena in Perth to watch the match. I'm upset I wasn't one of them.

Now, a simple birthday request for a U.S. veteran who was reluctant to celebrate has turned into quite a salute. Nicole Comstock of CNN affiliate, KCAL, has this story.

(SINGING)

NICOLE COMSTOCK, KCAL NEWS REPORTER: This is Duane's big day and even though he didn't want it to be big deal ...

(SINGING)

... the world just couldn't stop singing his praises.

DUANE SHERMAN, WORLD WAR II NAVY VETERAN: I get emotional about it.

COMSTOCK: The World War II Navy veteran didn't feel much like celebrating his 96th year on this planet.

SHERMAN: A lot of my old buddies are gone.

(SINGING)

COMSTOCK: Not without his friends to send his birthday cards.

SUE MORSE, DAUGHTER OF DUANE SHERMAN: He doesn't get any mail that's for him other than a bill.

COMSTOCK: Until his daughter, Sue Morse, told CBS L.A. four weeks ago, how much it would mean for people to drop a little something in the mailbox for her dad.

MORSE: Boy, we changed that didn't we?

COMSTOCK: This is what 50,000 birthday cards look like. The envelops are postmarked from every state in this country and 10 countries across the globe, far exceeding what he expected.

SHERMAN: If I do (ph).

COMSTOCK: Ten Navy chiefs from San Diego also came to lean in.

SHERMAN: They needed men in a hurry.

COMSTOCK: And learn about how Sherman got his Purple Heart, surviving a fiery battle in the Philippines, when a kamikaze plane hit his ship.

SHERMAN: At an angle (ph).

JERRY GREEN, SENIOR CHIEF WITH U.S. NAVY: Very humbling and very awesome to see.

COMSTOCK: They wanted to be here for Duane, to remind him that his service was something special.

GREEN: With the U.S. Navy, we're a brotherhood and sisterhood of chiefs and that spans his entire lifetime. So, he still has friends and we're all here to celebrate his birthday with him, so hopefully it's a happy one.

NEWTON: They certainly made it more happy. That was Nicole Comstock of CNN affiliate KCAL reporting. I will be back in a moment with more news.

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