Return to Transcripts main page


Trump to Deliver Televised Speech On Wall Tuesday; Kim Jong-un in China Amid Talk of Second U.S. Summit; U.K. Tests Traffic Plans For "No-Deal" Brexit. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 8, 2019 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): North Korea's leader is in Beijing at this hour, a previously unannounced guest for China's president Xi Jinping, amid talk of a second Trump-Kim meeting later this year.

The U.S. government shutdown into week three as President Trump plans to address nation from the Oval Office and the White House lies and misleads to create the illusion of a crisis on the southern border.

And Nissan's former chairman hears the charges against him, telling a Tokyo judge he is innocent.

Hello and welcome, I am John Vause and you are watching CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: Kim Jong-un has arrived for an unannounced visit to China as preparations continue for a second summit between the North Korean leader and the U.S. president Donald Trump. Neither Beijing nor Pyongyang had announced the itinerary for Kim's four-day visit but he will reportedly meet with China's president, who extended the invitation.

This is Kim's fourth visit to China and comes as sources tell CNN the U.S. is actively looking for a location, including Bangkok, Hanoi and Hawaii, for the upcoming Trump-Kim summit.

CNN's Matt Rivers live this hour in Beijing, also Paula Hancocks live in Seoul, South Korea.

Matt, first to you, at this point, there are a bunch of reasons why Xi invited Kim to Beijing. We can strike off one, to throw a party for his birthday on Tuesday. He turns 35.

So with that out of the way what's the most likely reason why he's in town?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you can point to what we've seen happen in the past. Two meetings they had in 2018 occurred within the months leading up to that summit with Trump and Kim Jong-un that happened in June of 2018.

Then the third meeting they had in 2018 was one week after that summit. So if you are looking at previous precedent, I think you could make a very strong argument that Kim Jong-un is here because he wants to have a summit with President Trump in the near future.

And that being said, he is planning to meet again with Moon Jae-in at some point. And I think it is a good reminder to everyone that it is China that is the ally, the major ally for North Korea and that relationship has been cemented over the past year or so.

And it makes a lot of sense that Kim Jong-un would come here, see Xi Jinping before his second high-stakes meeting with Donald Trump for a strategy session, to make sure China's interests are being represented at the table whenever that summit happens and if, in fact, it happens.

VAUSE: Paula, to you, the South Koreans had known about this trip, that it was in the works, they knew about it ahead of time and they see this as very much a positive step.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the assessment that we're making at this point is it is quite possible South Korea didn't know this summit was going to happen.

Now we know they had the same indications we had, that there was increased security at the border and potentially that meant a high- level visit from North Korea to China was going to happen and then on to Beijing.

So we know there is a Blue House briefing going on right now and the spokesperson was asked, did you know about it?

And he fudged the answer. So really it is what we have seen in the past as well. Neither China or North Korea feel they need to tell South Korea, a close U.S. ally, because that's effectively giving Washington a heads-up as well, that this kind of summit will happen.

But as you said, they are taking this as a very positive development, hoping this will be a stepping stone towards another U.S.-North Korean summit.

It is interesting, though, that just a month ago, we talked about Kim Jong-un was coming to Seoul, the first leader of North Korea to come to the South Korean capital and how significant that is.

That didn't happen although potentially it will happen in the coming months. But the fact we were expecting this visit to Seoul and now you see this visit to Beijing, potentially showing that U.S.-North Korea summit is going to be the next one, is obviously going to be noted by South Korean officials.

VAUSE: And Matt, actually, visit number four to China seems to remove any question about where the relationship is right now between Beijing and Pyongyang.

But any idea where things stands with the U.S. and North Korea? RIVERS: I think maybe not a lot has changed between the U.S. and North Korea since that summit happened. What has actually happened toward the --


RIVERS: -- complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, specifically in North Korea, and you could argue nothing much has happened. The fact that North Korea is coming here to China, that Kim Jong-un is meeting with Xi Jinping, to be a fly on the wall in that meeting, we all would love to be.

But what will they be talking about that is fundamentally different than the last time they did this?

Obviously a lot has happened; there was the summit that happened in June. But I think if you are the North Korean leader or the Chinese leader, you can say this status quo, this stalemate has existed between the United States and North Korea since that summit. Nothing has really changed.

How do we strategize and how do we move forward?

What is the game plan moving forward?

I think instead of talking about some sort of concrete steps that both the United States and North Korea have come to over the last months, they will actually just talk about not that much has happened that has changed the relationship between the United States and North Korea since that summit in June 2018.

VAUSE: The new path forward for the North Koreans haven't changed.

But Paula, Kim spent four days in Beijing. I think that's his longest visit so far. His arrival was announced on state media. Both countries, of course, will wait until after he leaves and this seems to be the sign of a leader who is very comfortable and very secure with his grip on power back home.

HANCOCKS: Absolutely. This is a leader who was, a year ago, a global pariah. Now he is making these visits and summits quite regularly to China. Certainly there have been regular visits and summits between himself and the South Korean leader as well and one with the U.S. president, Donald Trump.

He within 12 months has really become a hand at these kinds of summits at this international travel although it is just across the border into China. But the fact that he is comfortable enough to leave his own country -- we didn't see that for the first six years of his reign, even though China was a very close ally.

He didn't even go that short distance to see the main trading partner, the country effectively keeping his own country afloat. So it certainly shows he is confident in himself and the fact that he is still sending these letters to the U.S. president Donald Trump when it appears a stalemate is coming a little more tricky, when it appears as though the U.S. officials are voicing real frustration at the perceived lack of any kind of movement in the denuclearization of North Korea.

He then sends a letter to the U.S. president. So he's showing himself to be a fairly adept political player on the international stage as well, which is quite remarkable, when you think he only joined the international stage in effect 12 months ago.

VAUSE: Interesting he will be there for such a long time, his wife was with him and a whole bunch of other officials as well. It's almost like a regular international visit from one country to the other.

A lot to get to with this story and we will do that next hour as well. We'll be back with you, Matt and Paula. So thank you very much. We'll talk to you then.

With both sides dug in and no end in sight to the government shutdown, the U.S. president plans to take his message directly to the American people. Donald Trump will make a nationally televised address Tuesday night, outlining his case for the border wall with Mexico. Then he plans a trip to the southern border.

Democrats are refusing to fund the wall. One aide says the next step could be to block all the legislation in the Senate until there is a vote to reopen the government. Here is the very latest from the White House from Pamela Brown.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump now considering an unprecedented move to get his border wall.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I may declare a national emergency dependent on what's going to happen over the next few days.

BROWN: Trump suggesting to reporters he could declare a national emergency to bypass Congress to get the wall funds he requested.

TRUMP: We have a absolute crisis and criminals and gang members coming through. It is national security. It's a national emergency.

BROWN: Arguing for those emergency powers, the president quoted Democrat Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, tweeting: "Yes, there is a provision in law that says a president can declare an emergency."

The quote from Smith's ABC appearance on Sunday where he also said:

REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge, saying, where's the emergency? You have to establish that in order to do this.

BROWN: Smith telling CNN today:

SMITH: I think it would be a huge mistake to declare a national right emergency. There is no national emergency.

BROWN: Trump is now planning a prime time address on Tuesday and a trip to the border on Thursday, in hopes to persuade Americans to support his border wall proposal.

But a weekend of staff level negotiations led by Vice President Mike Pence didn't bring either side closer to a deal, sources tell CNN, the White House outlining its requests in a letter, including more money for urgent humanitarian needs, extra attention beds, additional law enforcement personnel and changing the --


BROWN (voice-over): -- wall from concrete to steel, something some Democrats prefer.

TRUMP: They don't like concrete, so we will give them steel.

BROWN: But on day 17 of the shutdown, it doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon, with both sides pointing the finger at the other.

TRUMP: Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and myself can solve this in 20 minutes if they want to. If they don't want to, it's going to go on for a long time. There's not going to be any bend right here.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Here we are in the third week of the Trump shutdown.


It's only because of one person and that is President Trump.

BROWN: But as negotiations continue at a stalemate, the pain inflicted by the shutdown will get worse for those federal workers who won't get a paycheck on Friday.

TRUMP: I can relate. And I'm sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments . They always do. And they will make adjustment. People understand exactly what's going on.

But many of those people that won't be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I'm doing.

BROWN: The president continues to say that he could declare a national emergency over the border wall funding and we have learned the White House counsel's office has yet to determine if he has the legal standing to do so -- Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: A nationally televised address from the Oval Office was once considered a symbol of presidential gravitas, usually reserved for major announcements at often pivotal moments in U.S. history, like President Eisenhower in 1957, explaining why he sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce school desegregation.

Or 1962, when JFK briefed the nation on the Cuban missile crisis.

Or the night after 9/11, George W. Bush delivered a message of reassurance after the terror attacks in New York and Washington.

But here's the problem ahead of President Trump's first Oval Office address.

Will it be fact-based and deal with a major policy issue or just another political stunt filled with misleading or incorrect facts?

Bill Carter is a CNN media analyst and before that spent 25 years at "The New York Times," a savvy media reporter and he joins us from Los Angeles.

Bill, the television executives are apparently all on board with this, even though they're not legally required to carry the address. Seems to be a tough call. One TV executive told CNN's Brian Stelter, "He calls us fake news all the time but needs access to airwaves.

"If we give him the time, he will deliver a fact-free screed without rebuttal. And if we don't give him the time, he'll call every network partisan. So we're damned if we do and damned if we don't."

Has there ever been this sort of dilemma when it comes to a U.S. president who simply just doesn't tell the truth as often as Donald Trump does?

And this is a decision by the administration, an indication that they're losing the argument.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: No, I think that this was forced on them. He has never given an address before. So it is hard for them to say no. And they don't know exactly what he is going to say and there is the threat that he will declare a national emergency over the border thing, which would be massive news.

I would suspect they went back and forth about this because he is so unreliable with what he says that they have to have means to then at least comment afterwards, saying he said this and it is not true.

They have to provide that or they are not doing their jobs. But in the end, I think on balance, they had to say, if we don't do it and he does make news, it will look like we only did it because we are biased against him. And I feel like they think they can't do that.

VAUSE: And Pelosi and Schumer and the Democrats are demanding equal time after Trump delivers his address.

Will they get it?

CARTER: Well, they should get it. Normally they don't get it because it is not a political thing. They get equal time when it is a State of the Union address but not over this because it is a political speech. However, in this case, I would expect him to attack the Democrats and

then you really think they have a right to come back and say, no, he is not representing the facts and here are the real facts.

Somebody has to respond to this. You can't trust what he says. He has proven this over and over again. In this case, over the immigration thing, there have been so many misrepresentations and false information given out, it's imperative that you come forward with clarifying information. You have to do that as a journalist.

VAUSE: All of the administrations are guilty of spinning but usually it's (INAUDIBLE) facts which support a policy position or an argument or downplaying those facts which don't. And then there is the Trump administration. Here is FOX News' Chris Wallace fact-checking press secretary Sarah Sanders over the weekend.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We know that roughly nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Wait, wait, wait. But I know this statistic. I didn't know if you were going to use it, but I studied up on this.

Do you know where those 4,000 people come -- were they're captured?


SANDERS: Not always.

WALLACE: Airports.

SANDERS: Certainly, a large number --

WALLACE: The State Department says there --


WALLACE: -- hasn't been any terrorists that they found coming across the southern border from Mexico.

SANDERS: It's by air, it's by land and it's by sea. It's all of the above.


VAUSE: Repeatedly implemented by this administration to muddy the waters and to confuse the public over what is real and what is not.

CARTER: It is not just muddying the waters, it's scaring people. The idea is, how can we frighten people into thinking they have to support this really ludicrous idea of a wall, which is, what is it, 5th century technology? It is not a smart idea so you would think that rational minds would say let's not do that. But he is so committed that he has to then pile some other information on top of that to justify it, including apparently calling it a national emergency.

It is obviously not a national emergency if there aren't not 4,000 terrorists; in fact there' are not 14 terrorists that are crossing.

So it's obviously not a national emergency. VAUSE: OK, beyond this immediate sort of (INAUDIBLE) that we're looking at here where you know, the president lies, he says that and says this, there are consequences here in the bigger picture.

What happens when there is a real national emergency and members of the administration get up there and you know, tell the -- tell the country what's going on and they have no credibility and the president has no credibility?

CARTER: This has been an issue that has been floated before.

What happens when there is some reason why he needs to call the country together to do something together?

He has so divided everyone and he has so muddied the waters as you say, with factual information that he doesn't believe in. He -- there's facts that he just eradicates and there's others that he makes up.

So I think it's really going to be a crisis if that comes up. And you know, an awful lot of the public now is just not going to go with him. It's the boy who cried wolf in spades. I mean, you know, if he -- if he really has a serious issue, people are going to be doubtful about it.

VAUSE: Yes, and it all started on the day of the inauguration. Bill, thanks for coming in. Good to see you.

CARTER: Good to see you, too.

VAUSE: And you can watch President Trump's primetime address as well as the response by the Democrats right here on CNN. Starts at 9:00 pm Tuesday in Washington, 2:00 in the morning, Wednesday in London. That's 10:00 am in Hong Kong.

White House officials have been scrambling to reassure allies that there is no plan for the U.S. to cut and run from Syria. Both secretary of state Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton are in the region this week with the message that the U.S. remains committed to containing Iran, even though the president suggested last week Iran can do whatever it wants in Syria.

These officials have also promised they won't leave Kurdish allies in Syria, like the YPG, to the mercy of Turkey. But in a "New York Times" op-ed, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan notably referred to YPG fighters as terrorists and said his country is committed to defeating all terrorists in Syria. As for President Trump, he claims his plans for Syria have not changed

but now says the U.S. will leave at a proper pace and continue to fight ISIS. According to "The New Yorker," he has given military leaders about four months for troop withdrawal.

Here's Egypt's president in an interview he did with the news program, "60 Minutes." Here is part of what Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said.


ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISI, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT (voice-over): We don't have political prisoners nor prisoners of opinion. We are trying to stand against extremists who impose their ideology on the people. Now they are subject to a fair trial and it may take years, but we have to follow the law.


VAUSE: Human Rights Watch responded with this statement.

"President el-Sisi's misinformation is laughable, fools no one and is a poor attempt to conceal serious abuses under his authority, including possible crimes against humanity. Several of his answers even contradicted the government's own official statements."

CBS aired the interview on Sunday, despite a request from the Egyptian government that it be withheld from broadcast.

Still ahead, after 51 days in detention, Carlos Ghosn makes his first appearance in court in Tokyo, a chance for the former auto industry tycoon to proclaim his innocence of allegations of financial wrongdoing.

Also the very latest on a Saudi teen who barricaded herself in an Bangkok airport hotel room, how she fears for her life and what is being done now to protect her.





VAUSE: The former head of Nissan, a multimillionaire titan of the auto industry, was led into a Tokyo courtroom in handcuffs and shackles. Carlos Ghosn heard the charges against him. He has been held since his November 19th arrest under allegations of financial misconduct.

Ghosn told the judge he is innocent and that he's always acted with the knowledge and approval of Nissan executives. The allegations are the result of an internal investigation, charged with reporting his income by millions of dollars along with passing the losses along to the company. Kaori Enjoji is with us now, live from Tokyo.

Kaori, lawyers for Ghosn actually request one of the prosecutors to explain why he had not been granted bail after 51 days but this is also a member of the court with a lot of details surrounding the allegations of financial misconduct.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: That's right, this is the first time in seven weeks since Carlos Ghosn was arrested that we have seen him in public and it's the first time we're getting a look at potentially the physical toll his detention has had.

But as you pointed out, Carlos Ghosn has denied all the allegations made against him. He read a statement in the Tokyo district court this morning that lasted 20 minutes, speaking in England, saying I am innocent of the accusations against me and I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.

He made the remarks in court and he was carried in in handcuffs and with a rope around his waist, which is the custom in Japanese court proceedings. His voice was clear and strong, but he usually has jet black hair but you could see some graying around the temples.

And although there were no cameras permitted inside the courtroom, artist sketches of Carlos Ghosn in court today show his cheeks sunken in, possibly suggesting that he may have lost weight over the last seven weeks of detention in a Tokyo cell.

We also know some of these details that are going to be the key sticking points in the investigation, which have been have very, very murky until now. He has been arrested three times, indicted just once and his current detention lasts until this Friday, January 11th.

There are two main issues that people are talking about. Number one is financial misconduct, underreporting his salary. He said he has never underreported his salary, everything that was owed to him from Nissan is on the books. So flatly denying that but saying, adding in his prepared statements, if there was a "binding" agreement between Nissan and himself, it would have been included.

So it was interesting that he used the word "binding."

The second point of contention is whether or not he transferred personal investment losses to Nissan. This stretches back to the Lehman crisis in 2008-09 and he said he did no such thing and he was under some --


ENJOJI: -- contracts transferred initially to Nissan but that they were transferred back to him. So he is denying all of the allegations that have been made against him so far.

VAUSE: OK, Kaori, thank you for the update, Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo.

Well, a Saudi teen who claims her life is in danger if she is forced to return home is now under U.N. protection in Thailand. The 18-year old had barricaded herself inside a Bangkok hotel room. She then used social media to make desperate pleas for asylum and says she fears she will be killed if she is sent back.

The U.N. Refugee Agency is now assessing her claim of asylum. To Hong Kong for the latest, CNN's Alexandra Field.

How does this all play out now that she has this temporary visa to enter Thailand but clearly this has a long way to go to be resolved?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this process could take days if not weeks to find a resolution. But this young woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun was able to buy herself the time she needed to make herself heard, which she was not able to do when she landed in Thailand for the two days following.

Right now she is with the U.N. Refugee Agency, they are assessing her claims of familial abuse, the fear that if she is sent back home she could be killed or face other dangers. Then they will work to find an immediate solution that could mean working with Thai authorities to find a way for her to stay in Thailand or identifying a third party solution, which would mean she would go on to another country.

These are things that the U.N. will work with Thailand and the other authorities to hammer out. But this is only possible because Thai authorities reversed course within the past day. They had initially planned to put her on a plane and send her back on Monday morning.

They finally heard her pleas and her appeals she was making online and they were under pressure from human rights groups, international outrage was mounting and ultimately they decided to reverse their decision, to allow her to stay and have access to these U.N. officials.

VAUSE: So on Saturday, when her passport was seized by officials in Bangkok, she had a valid visa for Australia, which was her original plan. She wanted to go to Australia to claim asylum.

So how was it that she was stopped in Bangkok and ended up in that hotel room in the first place?

FIELD: Everyone who's looking into this case will be looking into the details now from the Thai perspective, from the Saudi perspective and also from al-Qunun's perspective. She has been able to document her story, because of social media, because of talking to the media.

She says ultimately she fled her family while they were traveling in Kuwait. She wanted to go on to Australia but when she was changing planes in Bangkok, she says she was confronted by officials from the Saudi embassy, who seized her passport. The Saudi foreign ministry has issued a statement that denies those claims. But she says she was then stopped from Thai immigration authorities from going onward or from entering the country, those immigration authorities citing a lack of proper documentation.

They are the ones who put her in a transit hotel room in the airport with plans to deport her but ultimately she fought back, barricading herself in that hotel room, refusing to get on the plane until help arrived and those Thai authorities reconsidered the case and said they were looking to adhere to human rights principles and that they had to consider the fact that she could be facing very real danger at home.

VAUSE: And her father reportedly on the way to Thailand in the coming hours. Alexandra, thank you.

Still to come, this is no ordinary traffic jam but rather a sign the U.K. is bracing and preparing for a potential no-deal on Brexit. We'll explain


[00:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, this is CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump will make his pitch for funding a border wall, on a televised address, Tuesday night, followed that with a trip to the southern border on Thursday.

Democrats are refusing to fund his wall and the dispute has caused a partial government shut down, and now into its third week.

Kim Jong-un, a surprised visit to Beijing, for talks with Chinese president, Xi Jinping. The trip comes as U.S. officials are said to be scouting locations for a second summit between the North Korean leader and President Donald Trump.

The actual head of Nissan was lead into a Japanese courtroom in handcuffs (INAUDIBLE) accused Carlos Ghosn of financial misconduct, including underreporting his salary by millions of dollars. He's been in a Tokyo jail for nearly two months. In his statement to the judge, Ghosn proclaimed his innocence.

Well, it might just be a date with disaster, Britain's Prime Minister is expected to vote next week, on the prime minister's Brexit deal, a vote she is expected to lose. And on Monday, officials state a rehearsal for traffic management, heading to the E.U., in the event of a disruption caused by a no deal Brexit exit.

The move is being mocked by the prime minister's opponents, the same day on a trip to the United States, the British Global Trade Secretary insisted there needs to be an agreed-upon divorce.


LIAM FOX, SECRETARY, BRITISH INTERNATIONAL TRADE: The consequences of rejecting the prime minister's deal will be -- either we leave the European Union without a deal at all, or that we betray the voters in terms of not leaving the European Union. I don't find either of those palatable outcomes.


VAUSE: CNN's European Affairs Commentator, Dominic Thomas is with us, this hour, from Los Angeles. So, Dominic, you know, critics (INAUDIBLE) the point here that, you know, up to 10,000 trucks pass through the Port of Dover, every day.

So, 89 lorries rolling through the country side doesn't seem to be even close to replicate the types of delaying a no deal Brexit would cause, which leaves, you know, option B to explain what happened here. Was it a stunt? But if it was a stunt, what did it prove?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Right. Well, actually, we proved very little, and this has been going on the past few weeks, really, since the holidays ongoing. The government has engaged in a kind of campaign of fear mongering, you know, to try and terrify the British public into the consequences of a no deal, as a way of trying to bolster support for Theresa May's deal.

So, this manifested itself with the whole range of discussions about, you know, threats at the border and so on. And of course, the, kind of, the chaos that they -- that they keep talking about. They attempted to do it by essentially renting, hiring these lorries to show the, sort of, the chaos that would -- that would come along with it. But I don't think that any of these measures have really -- have really worked and how they desired impact.

The politicians have returned to parliament, they are as entrenched in their positions, as they were, when they took off for the holidays. And this latest stunt, if anything, weakens Theresa May's position by pointing to, sort of, the desperate range of measures that she is having to take to make sure that she gets some kind of Brexit deal over the next few weeks.

VAUSE: Yes. And part of that, sort of a quite a hysteria over the last couple of weeks for this (INAUDIBLE) the prime minister consistently out there warning about the dangers ahead, you know, of this possible no deal, if they leave without a deal in place. This was, you know, part of what she said over the weekend. Listen to this.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF U.K.: We've got people who are promoting a second referendum, in order to stop Brexit, and we've got people who are -- want to see their perfect Brexit. And I would say don't let the search for the perfect become the enemy of the good, because the danger there -- the danger there, is actually we end up with no Brexit at all.


VAUSE: Why has it been so easy not just for lawmakers, but it seems for the, you know, the general public as well, to ignore these warnings which have come out not just from Theresa May, but, you know, the (INAUDIBLE) England, the IMF, business groups, the list just goes on and on and on.

THOMAS: Well, I think, that what's so interesting is that the one area in parliament, where there seems to be consensus, is over the fact of avoiding a no-deal. And so, as we, sort of, moving nearer, nearer, nearer to the, sort of, the cliff edge, and which was postponed over the holidays.

[00:35:04] Now, we have a date that's been provided for next week, where there'll be a vote on her -- on her withdrawal agreement for which there does not seem to be any kind of shift in, sort of, support, that each side is playing a, kind of, game of strategy.

On the one hand, with the understanding that Theresa May will not be around forever, and so, there's a, kind of, strategizing going on in the Conservative Party, over a potential leadership takeover down the road.

But on all sides of the political spectrum, each particular group is pushing it as far as possible to, sort of, see what they can get away with, with the understanding that at the end of the day, they can pull the plug and at least, avoid some kind of no deal.

Now, what that will mean for the Brexiteers or the remainers or the Labour Party and so on, we have yet to see. The good news is, is that in the next 10 days, we're going to have a much better idea as to where we're going to end up with this.

You know, whether there's going to be a referendum, a general election, a transition period, that is extended with the European Union, that we will get some kind of greater clarity out of it. It's just almost impossible, at this stage, to sort of -- to figure out which -- what it will be and what direction we're going to be taking in here.

VAUSE: Yes, you were talking about nothing really has changed over the last couple of weeks and that's true for the most part, at least, in terms of support for Theresa May's Brexit plan, for the withdrawal. But there is one big factor which has changed.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but under the Tory Party rules, because May was challenged for the leadership before Christmas last year, I mean, isn't she immune from a party leadership challenge for at least the next 12 months?

So, that gives us, at least, some kind of security in the job, at least, as far as, you know, the Conservatives are concerned. Does that, in any way, sort of, free her hand or give her more options in trying to force this deal through parliament?

THOMAS: Well, it might be. And you've just made the argument that, you know, that ultimately what the Conservative parties want, least of all, is a Jeremy Corbyn government, right? And so, there's a good chance together that the one thing that will unite them will be that possible scenario.

You're absolutely right that she survived the leadership challenge within her party. This does not mean that a leadership challenge cannot be brought by the Labour Party. Of course, getting a vote on that is highly unpredictable, but it is in the realm of possibility.

But, of course, next week, when she puts the vote for a meaningful vote in front of the parliament, if that vote does not go through, she finds herself in a very difficult position. She'll have an opportunity to bring it back for a vote. She can go back to the European Union and so on.

But, I think, that her position will be weakened even further than it was, when there was a leadership challenge put to her, by the members of her -- of her own party. And so, next Wednesday, is an important date and it is not impossible that she could herself step down or even trigger a mechanism to allow for a general election.

So, there are just so many different doors that remain unopened but they could potentially take us down these different roads as we move along. So, we're exactly where we were a few weeks ago. And we're back talking about it again and it's the story, you know.

VAUSE: It is head-spinning, at the moment, where this could possibly end up. Dominic, thank you. Good to see you.

THOMAS: Thanks, good to see you.

VAUSE: Well, next here on CNN NEWSROOM, actor Kevin Spacey heads to court. The two-time Oscar winner charged with sexual assault, groping an 18-year-old boy, I'll have all the details in a moment. Also, ahead, what do you do when your Pink Floyd Cover Band gets a gig in Israel? Well, the leader of the band (INAUDIBLE) says to stay home. Find out what the tribute band chose to do.



VAUSE: Kevin Spacey has pleaded not guilty to a charge of sexual assault. He was in court on Monday, in Massachusetts, accused of groping an 18-year-old bus boy at a bar in Nantucket in 2016. The judge ordered Spacey to stay away from his accuser.

The two-time Oscar winner is known for his roles in The Usual Suspects, American Beauty, as well as popular Netflix series, House of Cards. His career has collapsed, though, after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. This is the first time it has actually gone all the way to trial.

U.K. Pink Floyd cover band was caught between a paying gig in Israel, and a plea from the former lead singer of the real Pink Floyd, to boycott the country. And then, lawyers came involved, and the Cover Band actually came up with a way to resolve the situation, at least, musically. Here's Ian Lee.


PINK FLOYD: What do you want from me?

IAN LEE, CNN FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: What do you want from me? Well, if you are Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, that answer is simple, to boycott Israel or stop playing his music.

U.K. Pink Floyd experienced a group of super fan musicians, became the latest target of the legendary rocker, after they announced their tour in Israel. Waters took to Facebook, urging the band to cancel because of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

His voice has divided the music world. Lana Del Ray and Lorde both cancelled shows after facing pressure from boycott advocates, while Radiohead ignored it, playing in Tel Aviv.

ZIV RUBINSTEIN, EGOEAST PRODUCTIONS: Every third artist that we are connected with said no event, and not because the policy of Israel, because they're afraid of what's happening in Facebook and what's happening, you know, in the internet.

LEE: Having Waters call them out, put U.K. Pink Floyd experience in a tight spot. So, they cancelled their three shows, only to abruptly reverse that decision, lawyers apparently winning the argument. We're obliged to fulfill our contractual obligation to perform, ran a statement from the band, with the concert's profits, going to UNICEF.

RUBINSTEIN: You know, we won, let's face it. We won.

LEE: Maybe, but with Waters' disapproving stares still hanging over them, the band came up with a fix. The experience would not play any of the Pink Floyd songs he penned, so, no Money, Time or Another Brick in the Wall.

Instead, those tunes were played by an Israeli cover band who joined them onstage.

PINK FLOYD: Some of these guys are on YouTube and so on, and I thought (INAUDIBLE) so, we asked if we could do something together to kind of cement the U.K. and Israeli relationships, and make music, the power of love.

LEE: Some fans, though, weren't feeling the love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came for Dark Side of the Moon and that was already played by an Israeli band. It's just quite weird.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Ekho band from Israel was better than the guys coming from U.K.

LEE: Is that why you're leaving early?


BAR SANITOVSKY, LEAD SINGER, EKHO: Do you want my tears? What do you want?

LEE: It may not have been the performance they wanted, but it's the performance they got. And from the reaction of the crowd, at least for many, it was worth the money.

PINK FLOYD: Thank you for making us so welcome again. Good night.

LEE: Ian Lee, CNN, Tel Aviv.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us now. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.


[00:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)