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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Warns U.S. Government Shutdown May Go on a Year, Hundreds Working without Pay; American Detainee in Russia Has No Connections to Intel Operations; U.S. Scouts Sites for Second Trump-Kim Summit; Elizabeth Warren Tests Political Waters in Iowa; Texas Family Recalls Shooting that Killed 7-Year Old; Kidnapping Suspect Chases Woman into Karate Studio. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired January 5, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


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PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Shutdown shocker: U.S. president Donald Trump now says he's ready to keep the government closed for weeks or months or even longer.

The U.K.'s migrant crisis: the British government deploys more resources to find and rescue migrants crossing the dangerous English Channel.

And tropical storm aftermath: Thailand starts cleaning up after a rare storm hits the region.

Live from CNN Center, I'm Paula Newton. So nice to have you with us.

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NEWTON: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday is expected to lead talks with congressional staffers from both parties. The aim, of course, is to end the partial government shutdown, now in its third week.

The U.S. president warns the shutdown may drag on for a year or more. You didn't hear that wrong. Unless Congress funds his border wall. If they don't, Trump says he could get the Pentagon to pay for it. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more from the White House.

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DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I can do it if I want.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump amping up his threats over funding for his border wall, declaring he's considering using emergency powers to build it.

TRUMP: I may do it. But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. COLLINS (voice-over): After a two-hour meeting with congressional leaders that Democrats described as contentious, Trump threatened to leave the government shut down for years if it comes down to it.

TRUMP: Absolutely, I said that. If we have to stay out for a very long period of time, we're going to do that.

COLLINS (voice-over): Asked if he still owns the government shutdown, the president said he's no longer calling it one.

TRUMP: I'm very proud of doing what I'm doing. I don't call it a shutdown.

COLLINS (voice-over): On the campaign trail, Trump promised his supporters a concrete wall paid for by Mexico. Now with the government shut down over a demand from his administration that the American taxpayer fund it, he says it could be made of steel.

COLLINS: So how can you say you're not failing on that promise to your supporters?

TRUMP: We just made it a trade deal. And we will take in billions and billions of dollars. Far more than the cost of the wall. The wall is peanuts compared to what the value of this trade deal is to the United States. As far as concrete, I said I was going to build a wall. I never said, "I'm going to build a concrete."

I said, "I'm going to build a wall."

COLLINS (voice-over): Even though he did.

TRUMP: No windows, no nothing. Precast concrete, going very high. Let's see, about a little higher than that.

COLLINS: But the president continued.

TRUMP: Steel is stronger than concrete. If I build this wall or fence or anything the Democrats need to call it, because I'm not into names, I'm into production.

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump claiming the recently renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico will pay for the wall, even though it hasn't passed Congress yet and he didn't explain why the government is shut down if USMCA is paying for it.

A redo in the Rose Garden after Trump took no questions from reporters during his first appearance in the Briefing Room yesterday. The president describing his meeting with Democrats as productive, though that's not what they said.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We really cannot resolve this until we open up government and we made that very clear to the president.

COLLINS: Friday ending with no solution to the government shutdown in sight. But the president said he's assigned a team to huddle with Hill staffers over the weekend.

Asked about his message to those federal employees who won't receive a paycheck during the shutdown...

TRUMP: Those people, in many cases, are the biggest fan of what we're doing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you know that, sir?

Do you have evidence to support that?

TRUMP: All right, please, Major, go ahead.

COLLINS: After several rank-and-file House Democrats brought up impeaching the president, Trump said he discussed it directly with Speaker Pelosi today.

TRUMP: Well, you can't impeach somebody that's doing a great job.

I said, "Why don't you use this for impeachment?"

And Nancy said, "We're not looking to impeach you."

COLLINS: But the bottom line regarding the shutdown is that it is going to come down to two people: Trump and Pelosi. And right now, judging on the comments they made today, neither are feeling the political pressure to come up with a compromise to reopen the government at this time -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: CNN learned hundreds of U.S. transportation safety officers have called out sick from work this week. The Transportation Security Administration officers are required to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.

According to several senior agency and union officials, the sickout has affected at least four major U.S. airports. A TSA spokesperson said in the statement, "Callouts began over the holiday period and have increased but are causing minimal impact, given there are 51,739 employees supporting the --

[03:05:00]

NEWTON: -- "screening process. Security effectiveness will not be compromised and performance standards will not change."

Now earlier I spoke with political analyst Bill Schneider about the real-world consequences of the shutdown. We began the conversation with how both sides might try and reach an elusive face-saving compromise.

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BILL SCHNEIDER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they can fund something that looks like a fence. And the president will call it a wall. And the Democrats in Congress will call it a fence. And they'll disagree to use different names for it. That's about the only compromise I can figure.

But right now the public is being increasingly impatient because it is beginning to affect food stamps and tax refunds, it is affecting the TSA at the airports. That could have very serious consequences.

NEWTON: Do you think that is essentially what's going to bring both the GOP and the Democrats to the bargaining table?

At the end of the day, they're dealing with a president that says, I want the wall. If I don't get the wall, I won't sign the deal.

SCHNEIDER: He almost signed a deal without the wall about a month ago until he heard screaming from a lot of people in his base, including some well-known radio commentators.

The president governs to his base, those are the 25 percent to 30 percent of the Americans that are his hardcore supporters. They're the only people he cares about. He believes they're the reason he won. And there's some argument for that because a lot of Democrats stayed home.

But he believes he could win again by catering to his base and by solidifying his support. He doesn't care about any other Americans but there could be a price for that.

NEWTON: What is the price?

Donald Trump relies on his political instincts that say, I can't have campaigned for almost two years on a wall and not give them something that at least passes for a wall.

SCHNEIDER: Right. That's something his base cares deeply about. What happened, when he almost signed a deal passed by Congress to fund the government without the wall, he heard screaming from his core supporters, who felt betrayed.

The Right has a long history of being sensitive to betrayal. And when they believe the president has betrayed them, they'll abandon him. He realized that quickly. So he said I'm not going to sign any deal without the wall. There was a lot of political pressure on him to do that.

And there still is. The problem is there's a lot of pressure in the other direction as well. I wrote a book about this called "Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable." We are seeing it played out right now. We don't even have a federal government in a lot of places.

NEWTON: Your argument in the book was the fact this is no way to govern and we've just seen escalation of this and this passes for public policy.

I don't see it changing, do you?

SCHNEIDER: No, I don't. The only way it's likely to change is a financial crisis. One of the points I make in the book is that our system was designed to be ungovernable because the founders of the Constitution had checks and balances and separations of power and a federal system. They made it very difficult to govern.

But it works very well but it requires a crisis. Whenever there's a crisis, whether it's the financial crash or 9/11 or the Great Depression or a war, World War I or World War II, Americans work together. They mobilize and they rally and suddenly feel an impulse to make government work.

That's the way it has always been. Without a crisis, it doesn't work very well at all. This is not yet a crisis.

NEWTON: It feels like it. Two public policy points I want to bring up. One is the president is actually suggesting, look, I can say this is an emergency, emergency measures. I can do that by executive order and I'll take my money for the wall.

Can he do that?

SCHNEIDER: He can certainly try. But my feeling is he'll be quickly taken to court and the federal courts will probably -- will probably block him from doing that because there's a real question about whether this could be called a national emergency.

The issue of border security is a national emergency to his base. They believe we're being invaded by these caravans coming up from Mexico. They believe they're an invading army. The courts may have a different opinion. They have the final say.

NEWTON: To end this on a positive note, if we get to what is real negotiation and the facts of both parties are meeting again throughout the weekend, what about if DACA were there, those DREAMers, those people that were brought to the United States and were underage and they want a path to staying in the country legally and getting citizenship?

What if the GOP says, is that even possible?

Give us some semblance of a wall and we'll give you for what you have wanted for years and that's a deal on DREAMers.

SCHNEIDER: I think that deal is very likely to happen. It is a very astute point. DACA, the DREAMers are very important to Democrats. And they want to do something to treat these people fairly.

If something can be done to keep DACA, the DREAMers in the United States, then the Democrats may fund something that the president calls a wall and the Democrats may call it a fence or a barrier and but they will fund something. That's the beginnings of the --

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SCHNEIDER: -- makings of a real deal.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NEWTON: That's veteran political analyst Bill Schneider, a bit of a curtain raiser there for those talks.

If President Trump hoped the Russia probe would end soon, not so much. He just got some bad news. Special counsel Robert Mueller's federal grand jury has been extended. Our Kara Scannell has more details.

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KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The grand jury hearing add-ins from special counsel Robert Mueller has been extended, allowing the investigation to continue. The chief judge of the district court in Washington agreed to request that Mueller's term extend the grand jury's term.

That 18-month term, which began in July of 2017, was set to expire this weekend. Under federal rules, the judge could extend the term up to six months if she finds it is in the public interest.

Mueller's grand jury has voted to indict roughly 3 dozen individuals and so far on charges raining from hacking to lying to the FBI. They have heard testimony from multiple witnesses. The extension means the grand jury will continue to hear evidence in the investigation and Bob Mueller is not finished -- Kara Scannell, CNN, Washington.

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NEWTON: A source tells CNN arrested the American arrested in Russia for spying does not appear to have connections to any national intelligence operations. Paul Whelan has been charged with espionage but his brother denies he's a spy.

In "The Washington Post," he wrote, "Paul is a kind and consolidate brother, son and uncle and a loyal friend. He travels as often as he can, both for work and pleasure. He is many things to many people but he is not a spy."

Whelan's brother is also calling on Trump to intervene as countries join the effort to help. CNN's Matthew Chance has more from Moscow.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the details emerging about Paul Whelan may go some way to explaining why he appeared on the radar of Russian counterespionage agents.

He is former military, serving with the U.S. Marines for 14 years, including two tours of duty in Iraq. He had multiple passports, U.S., British, Canadian and Irish, something Russian intelligence may have seen as suspicious.

And he friended dozens of ordinary Russians on social media, many of them military vets like himself, something that may also have rung alarm bells.

But as we learn more, the less Whelan appears to fit the profile of a spy. He was kicked out of the military for, amongst other crimes, trying to steal more than 10,000 dollars while he was in Iraq. His passports are a product of his complicated family, born in Canada to British parents with Irish grandparents, then becoming an American.

A diplomatic source familiar with the Whelan case tells CNN he does not appear to have any connection with any national intelligence operation. Earlier Whelan's Russian lawyer confirmed to CNN that charges of espionage have now been formally made.

If convicted, Whelan could face 20 years in a Russian jail. Whelan's family are now calling on Trump to break his silence on the issue, urging him in a newspaper op-ed to intercede on Paul's behalf, as government action from the United States will reinforce that Americans traveling abroad should not do so in fear and ensure that other American families are less likely to have their loved ones go missing -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: An American military operation is believed to have killed a terrorist behind the deadly attack on the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000. U.S. administration officials tell CNN the man is identified as Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Ali Al Badawi. He's an Al Qaeda operative.

The U.S. Naval official says he was targeted with a precision airstrike on Tuesday but there's still no official confirmation of his death. The attack on the U.S. Naval destroyer in Yemen killed 17 American sailors and wounded 39 others.

Al Badawi was taken into Yemeni custody twice after the attack and escaped both times.

Now more and more migrants make the dangerous trip to get to Britain. We'll hear from a boat captain that rescued a number of them.

And as tropical storm Pabuk moves away from Thailand, it has left behind a deadly path and the danger is not over yet. Details when we return from the Weather Center.

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NEWTON: Since November, some 240 migrants have made the dangerous trip across the English Channel to get to Britain, most in small boats. Control ships have been dispatched to try and stop the crossings. Our Phil Black met a charter boat captain who rescued a number of the migrants.

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PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stand on England's southern coast in the right light and you can see France, those dark shadows against the golden haze. Between them lies a formidable boundary. The Channel is at least 19 nautical miles of open water, although there are big swells, powerful tides, ships and ferries going up, down and across it.

But recently much smaller vessels have been crossing, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need help?

BLACK (voice-over): Tiny inflatable boats, carrying people from far away. The desperate and determined, risking everything to reach Dover's white cliffs and make the United Kingdom their home.

Out on the Channel, charter boat operator Matthew Coker tells us he had has contact with five migrant boats in recent months. He recorded video at this moment last year. A small inflatable drifting near the coast.

MATTHEW COKER, CHARTER BOAT OPERATOR: We seen them waving some oars, with some T-shirts tied to them. Obviously, it was -- you know, they were in distress.

BLACK (voice-over): The three men, one woman and their tiny boat were brought on board but they lost their engine. They were exhausted and dehydrated and lucky to be alive.

BLACK: Were you able to talk to these people?

COKER: I tried to communicate but they didn't speak English. But they were saying they were from Cape Sandoval (ph).

BLACK (voice-over): Many of those crossing say they're Iranian. Every civilian boat operator is now under orders to look out for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mariners are requested to report any unusual activity or sightings of small vessels transiting the Dover Strait.

BLACK (voice-over): The British government is also deploying its resources to find and rescue migrants.

BLACK: We'll soon be three of these larger border forces, trolling this stretch of the coast. The government was initially reluctant to bring in extra safety boats because they feared that could encourage more migrants to attempt to cross it. But they decided saving lives must be the priority.

BLACK (voice-over): The minister responsible has questioned whether the migrants are genuine refugees and some people, including the area's local MP, want those rescued by British vessels to be returned to France.

CHARLIE ELPHICKE, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: That way, the migrants and the traffickers who are really driving this, who are behind this, get the message that there's no point in trying.

BLACK (voice-over): All this is being described by some British newspapers as a migrant crisis, even though the numbers of people arriving on this coast are relatively small, especially compared to migrant crossings in the Mediterranean.

BLACK: The British government says 539 people tried to cross this border and reach the U.K. in 2018. Many didn't even get close. The French stopped around 42 percent. But the fact that has got some people concerned, triggered talk of a crisis and inflamed some passion is the recent increase. Around 80 percent of the total attempts were in the last three months.

BLACK (voice-over): Migrant activist Christine Oliver is more concerned about ensuring people's rights to claim asylum.

CHRISTINE OLIVER, SAMPHIRE PROJECT: We should be able to demonstrate our compassion and our humanity and rather than worrying about the very small numbers that are coming here.

BLACK (voice-over): Britain has a proud history of welcome those in need to their shores. Their control over borders and migration are remoted (ph) often divisive issues here.

[03:20:00]

BLACK (voice-over): They drove many to vote for Brexit and they worry some when they see small boats landing uninvited on British beaches -- Phil Black, CNN, New Dover, in the English Channel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: So-called Yellow Vest protesters promise to return to the streets of France in the next few hours after a leader of the movement was detained Wednesday for organizing an unauthorized protest.

Weekly demonstrations began in November over higher fuel taxes. They have grown to a movement against French president's policies. On Friday, officials dismissed protesters as agitators and accused them of trying to topple the government.

The Democratic Republic of Congo held its long-awaited presidential election last week but the country may have to wait even longer to find out who will succeed long-time president Joseph Kabila. On Thursday, a prominent church group called on the electoral commission to release the election results, suggesting it knows who won.

The commission said the results could be delayed past Sunday's deadline because counting centers had only received 20 percent of local voting tallies. Meantime the U.S. has deployed some 80 troops in response to violent protests in Congo over the presidential election.

Thailand's disaster management agency has blamed at least three deaths on tropical storm Pabuk. It says two people drowned and a third was killed when his fishing boat capsized. The storm pounded Thailand's eastern coast with heavy wind and rain before moving out to sea.

The rain has eased now. Flash floods are still a threat. Thousands on the outlying islands were stranded when airports and ferries closed.

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NEWTON: So we were talking about cats and now apparently we're talking about kittens. These kittens on snow.

This kitten, a police officer in Missouri found himself a brand new sidekick after a somewhat daring rescue. Look at this.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, kitty, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty. Hey.

NEWTON (voice-over): Oh, my gosh, adorable. Officer Jason Smith spotted this tiny kitten trapped in the middle of a busy highway and, look at that, scooped him up. He called for traffic control and then brought this crying kitten to his car, where of course she melted into a puddle of joy. Look at that.

CNN affiliate KNBC reports, of course, Derek, the little kitty is now named Bella and, you guessed it, was adopted by Officer Smith's family.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I love these cat stories with happy endings.

NEWTON: They belong together, look at that.

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NEWTON: Our producer who brought us the story said that he was very gruff when he was calling for traffic control. But then he went up to the kitty and so affectionately said, here, kitty, kitty.

VAN DAM: And he's decided to take it home.

NEWTON: And now we're saying as much about the cats, we have to go because we have a story about movie and TV producers and directors that are getting ready for the Golden Globes. The Hollywood Press Association hosts the Golden Globes every year, CNN's Robyn Curnow looks at the nominees for foreign language films.

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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The awards season kicks off on Sunday with the Golden Globes. The foreign film lineup is a strong mix of drama and diversity from the world's best filmmakers.

"Capernaum" from Lebanon has already won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells a story of a 12-year-old boy who sues his parents for neglect and for bringing him into a world of suffering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

CURNOW (voice-over): This is the second time a film in Lebanon has been nominated in its category. And it is the only nomination as yet for a female director.

Another one to watch is "Girl," a Netflix film out of Belgium. Lara, a 15-year-old girl born in a boy's body dreams of becoming a professional ballerina but she struggles to complete her transition while trying to achieve her dancing goals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

CURNOW (voice-over): The film debuted to a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.

A German romantic drama called, "Never Look Away," is also nominated. It stars Tom Schilling as a painter and follows through his life from childhood in Nazi Germany to post-war East Berlin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

CURNOW (voice-over): The film combines art, history and politics and is loosely based on the life of renowned German artist Gerhard Richter.

There has been a lot of buzz about the Netflix film, "Roma." It looks at a year in the life of a middle class family and their maid in Mexico City. Taking place in the early 1970s, the film has already racked up numerous best film prizes.

In Japan, the movie, "Shoplifters," has already been a hit. The drama features a Tokyo family that relies on shoplifting to cope with life in poverty. But their world changes when they take in a little girl who they find outside in the cold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

CURNOW (voice-over): The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or award. The best of global filmmaking will be honored at the Globes but only one can be the winner -- Robyn Curnow, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. I'll be right back in a moment with the headlines.