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House Speaker Wants to Delay State of the Union; South Korean Speed Skating Rocked by Abuse Claims; Rescuers Trying to Reach Toddler Trapped in Well in Spain; Record Snowfall Triggers Deadly Avalanches in Alps; World's Loneliest Frog Finally Gets Potential Mate. Aired 1- 2a ET

Aired January 17, 2019 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Fight another day. Theresa May survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament and will continue to lead the U.K. as it faces an existential crisis of its own making. All the while the clock ticks down to the Brexit deadline. About an hour after official confirmation from the U.S. that Isis killed four Americans in Syria. The U.S. Vice President call a gathering of diplomats this.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The caliphate has crumbled and Isis has been defeated.


VAUSE: And whose House is it anyway? The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives tells the President either delay his State of the Union address, take it someplace else because of security concerns caused by the parts of government shutdown. Hello! Welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

She's been called the cockroach in a nuclear winter. The algae which survives seven miles beneath the surface of the ocean where there is no daylight. She's the May bot. The indestructible British Prime Minister Theresa May who survived yet another vote of no-confidence a day after her Brexit plan suffered a crushing defeat in Parliament. Now she has five days to do what was not done in two years, come up with a Plan B which will win the support of a majority of lawmakers. What that actually looks like? Who knows.

And if she can't get Parliament on board on this, U.K. will crash out of the European Union at the end of March.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: I believe it is my duty to deliver on the British people's instruction to leave the European Union and I intend to do so. This is now the time to put self- interest aside. Now over two and a half years later, it's time for us to come together. Put the national interest first and deliver on the referendum.


VAUSE: The Prime Minister is now consulting with the leaders of other political parties but the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says he won't agree to those talks until they no deal breaks it is off the table. More details now from CNN's Nick Glass.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another sunrise over the Gothic splendors of the Palace of Westminster, the tantalizing promise yet more drama inside somewhere behind those leaded windows there'd be an attempt to unseat the government. But first, the morning papers wasn't cheerless prime ministerial reading, a complete humiliation. (INAUDIBLE) and glum Mrs. May on the front of the Daily Telegraph and precisely the same picture in the Daily Mirror. No Deal, no hope, no clue, no confidence.

May's Brexit deal crushed by Commons declare the Financial Times. The European press wasn't much kinder. A Dutch paper, a Spanish one, and a French. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was quickly on the attack.

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: Is it the case Mr. Speaker that with every other previous Prime Minister faced with a scale of defeat last night, they would have resigned and the country would be able to choose the government that they want.

MAY: On Sunday when he was asked in a general election, would he campaign to leave the European Union, he refused to answer Not once, not twice, not three times, but five times he refused to answer. So on what he himself describes as the key issue facing this country, he has no answer.

This exchange was soon followed by the debate proper on a motion of no confidence in the government and inevitably the issue of what to do next about Brexit.

CORBYN: Mr. Speaker, there has been no offer of all-party talks. There had been no communication on all-party talks. All the prime minister said was she might talk to some members of the House. That isn't reaching out.

MAY: The point I had made last night, the point I have here today is that I will be talking to people across this house, talking to my own colleagues, talking to the DUP, talking to other parties and finding what will secure the support of this house for the way in which we deliver Brexit.

GLASS: Mrs. May clearly intends to battle on. She seemed strangely reinvigorated by last night's historic defeat relishing the debate, confident that she would have the better of the Labour leader, confident this was the vote that she would win. So it proved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right 306, the no's to the left 325. GLASS: A narrow victory just 19 votes but a victory nonetheless.

Mrs. May promptly offered to begin immediate discussions with individual party leaders about Brexit. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have indicated they'll decline unless certain conditions are met. She also pledged to return to the Commons on Monday with a Brexit motion that the Parliament will be able to amend and to make a statement about a way forward. Nick Glass, CNN Westminster.


[01:05:20] VAUSE: CNN Business Reporter Hadas Gold is live once again this hour outside Number 10 and CNN's European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas in Los Angeles. But Hadas first to you. How exactly will Theresa May now come up with this Plan B, a withdrawal deal which the E.U. will find acceptable, the parliament will find acceptable, the European leaders actually going to like, the country will approve of. What is wiggle room here? What are the areas that -- where there could be some kind of compromises?

HADAS GOLD, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: It's definitely like trying to thread a very, very small needle with a rope because that seems like where we are now. Theresa May is talking -- trying to talk to members across all the parties. But as we heard in the package just there is that she's running into people like Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party who have said they will not come and talk to her unless she takes the possibility of no deal off the table.

No deal being the idea that Brexit would leave the -- Britain would leave the European Union on March 29th without any deal and then would default world trade organization deals -- world trade organization rules which would then -- sorry, potentially cause backups at the border, cause trucks to be sitting by waiting for extra customs checks. That's the scenario that a lot of people want to avoid and that's clearly what Jeremy Corbyn is dangling in front of Theresa May before he comes to the table.

She, of course, needs him, needs his vote, needs the Labour Party to try and get this through because parliament is so split and Theresa May has such a slim majority right now propped up by a smaller party called the DUP. And that's actually partly how she won that no- confidence vote by 19 votes last night. That give you an idea of the numbers that she's working with. The numbers are just not in her favor so far.

The other difficult thing is that members of parliament complained that Theresa May is not willing to budge on so far some of her red lines. These are things unlike whether the U.K. will be part of some sort of customs union which will be closer to the European Union. Thus far, she's not indicated she's willing to live. And that's why people are saying we don't see what you could change here that would be different. And you also have to always keep in mind that Europe still has to agree to negotiate that.

VAUSE: Good point. And Dominic, you know, a little bit more now on this you know, this no Brexit option. There's no deal option rather, I should say. Jeremy Corbyn wants to takes it off the table before he'll talk directly to the Prime Minister. Also, listen to what the French president said about the you know, no deal Brexit. He believes the U.K. is actually bluffing when its warning about a no deal Brexit. Here he is.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): I'm going to tell you how I see things after the Brexit vote. First option, today the British go towards a no deal so they say there's no agreement. It scares everybody. The first losers of this are the British people. So in this content, they will have to without any transition period negotiate a future relationship.


VAUSE: And that brings us to the latest reporting from the deputy political editor of the Telegraph. He tweeted his paper has obtained a leaked recording of a briefing Philip Hammond gave business leaders in the aftermath of the Prime Minister's defeat. Hammond said the threat of a no deal Brexit could be off the table within days.

OK, so you know, given the reporting that we have and the you know, from the telegraph and what we're hearing from other parties, and the consequences of a no deal Brexit, economic consequences in particular, it does seem to make a lot of sense to remove that as possible outcome. But what, is it downside here that Theresa May loses what, some leverage in these negotiations?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: No. I mean, I think that you know, strategically, and this is what it's all about now is every member, every constituency, every view of Brexit is trying to outstrategyize the other one in this complex board game that is -- that is Brexit.

Actually for Jeremy Corbyn to ask for the red line to be a no deal removed from the table is very -- is very interesting because for Theresa May, the further she goes towards catering to the right fringe of her party, in other words, the Brexiters, the greater likelihood is that she will not be able to achieve a deal. And the default position is a no deal. And the only group within parliament that really could be content with that would be the Brexiters.

So of course then ironically, the further she goes to the center towards a discussion of softer Brexit, the more likely she is to enlists remainers, enlist some of the members of the opposition and so on and to arrive a deal that ironically of course, the European Union will agree with it a little bit more.

So taking the no deal off and at lease compromising over the discussion moving forward of it at least being a Brexit of some kind is a fairly big and substantial overture towards Theresa May. But as we've seen in the voting both in December and now, within her party, there is a significant number, a large enough group of over 100 MPs that at any moment can potentially bring down this government.

And they've made this very clear in the sort of two ways in which they voted, to vote down her amendment and then on the other hand to -- the withdrawal agreement and then to vote to supporter her. So by talking about and Hadas has said, not be willing to go along with the customs union, she's appealing to that particular group there but it doesn't solve the issues as Emmanuel Macron pointed out.

And really if you keep watching Macron in the town hall meeting, its extension remains the keyword here. And that is something that she could potentially bring back to them next week.

[01:10:53] VAUSE: Dominic, what's interesting here though is that the bigger picture. It's how alone Britain appears to be toward the end of March. You know, the original visions seem the rose-colored glasses which were you know, London to leave the E.U. Release of all the European bureaucracy, make trade deals, you know, initially with Washington. But you know, the special relationship is not what it once was with Donald Trump as president and even beyond that. You know, the colonies, Australia and New Zealand, they aligned to make trade deals to the E.U., not the U.K.

So it seems you know, the vision of all these trade deals and you know, the promising future that the leavers had hoped for, those trade deals just aren't there.

THOMAS: Yes, absolutely. And you see these international organizations and bodies like the E.U. 27 coming together and demonstrating signs unity whereas in the U.K. we have the complete opposite going on. Now, of course, the European Union has its issues with certain political parties, certain governments and so on that reflects some of the conversations and discussions that are going on in the U.K. But the U.K. is really kind of stuck within this political system, this political crisis whereas you see a proliferation of political parties in Italy and Germany where these extended coalition talks.

There's no way to go with the U.K. parliament. You're in power or you're in the opposition. And we see within the Labour Party and the conservative at least two different political configuration trying to sort of negotiate their way out of this. And when you look at all the proposals on the table, whether it's the Norway deal or the Canada plus deal, at the end of the day, the deal that looks the best and that gives the U.K., the greater say and participation is just remaining in the European Union.

All of the others, all of the others involve a level of compromise over the amount of say that you have, the funds that you contribute, your control over migration and so on. Being in the E.U. is a great deal. And 27 countries that are members agree with that.

VAUSE: Sorry, I shouldn't laugh. But it is a bizarre twist scenario at the end of the day really. Dominic in Los Angeles and Hadas there outside Number 10, I appreciate you both being with us. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Isis has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack Wednesday which killed four Americans in Syria including two U.S. service members. Syrian observers say a total of nine people where a man blew up his suicide vest in the northern city of Manbij. This is four weeks after President Trump declared Isis defeated and said U.S. forces would begin to withdraw from Syria.

Now, those some are questioning whether the President's words emboldened the terrorist to strike. More details now from CNN's Barbara Starr and a warning her story has images with some people will find disturbing.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Without warning, a suicide blast on the busy street of Manbij in northern Syria. U.S. troops and civilians killed and wounded. People suddenly thrown to the ground. Devastation in this commercial area where U.S. troops had been on the what the U.S. military originally called a routine patrol. CNN has learned from U.S. officials that troops had a civilian intelligence expert with them actually hoping to collect information about security and adversaries in the area.

Two U.S. troops along with that civilian intelligence expert and a contractor were killed. Three service members were wounded. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan offering condolences.

PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY, UNITED STATES: Allow me to extend on behalf of the Department of Defense our thoughts and prayers to the families and team members of those killed and wounded during today's attack.

STARR: The U.S. has not said who is responsible although Isis quickly claimed responsibility. The military for its part has told the President Isis in not defeated, pushing back against Trump's claim in recent weeks.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have won against Isis. We have beaten them and we have beaten them badly.

STARR: But the consequences of the withdrawal now becoming more clear.

[01:15:01] SETH JONES, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Losing territory does not end groups historically, it just means they have to shift strategies to a guerilla style campaign, and that is exactly what ISIS has now done.

STARR: U.S. officials say currently there are no plans to change the president's strategy to bring U.S. troops home from Syria. Barbara Starr, CNN, The Pentagon.


VAUSE: The U.S. Army Major General Mark MacCarley is with us from Los Angeles. Mark, it is been a while. So, thank you for coming in. Good to see you.

MAJ. GEN. MARK MACCARLEY (RET), UNITED STATES ARMY: Thank you. VAUSE: Just to follow up on that statement we heard from Senator Graham about an emboldened ISIS and a demoralized U.S. ally. Here is what the president of Turkey said after the attack. Listen to this.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack and this may affect the decision that the U.S. Mr. Trump has taken. But because I saw honorable Trump's determination on this point, I do not think he will step back against this kind of terrorist attack.


VAUSE: He also basically said that you know, this sort of attack was to be expected. Because of that decision to leave, he hedged a little but the idea is the same. But let's leave the armchairs behind for a moment. I want to ask you is someone who's confronted a terrorist insurgency? This was Afghanistan on Syria but, you know, this was an attack. It was -- this something which you expected, and would say is the direct result of that presidential tweet last month announcing the U.S. troops would be coming home from Syria?

MACCARLEY: You know, John, the short direct answer is, yes. It's something that is anticipated. It's a tactical error for any leader to come forth and tell an enemy that has not yet really been defeated that we are evacuating from the battlefield. Because what it prompts is the type of terrorist activity that we saw today. It creates this vacuum and within this vacuum Russia's fourth, ISIS. And Russia's fourth what we saw this afternoon. There's a something I wanted to bring up and it's an appropriate statement that describes what took place.

Our Secretary of Defense, our most recent Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was a man of multiple words, had a lot of affirmisms. A lot of little statements that if you listen to them, resonated with truth. And one of the things that I recall him saying was, and you have to apologize for the manner in which I'm going to deliver it.

But the statement was, "A war ain't over until the enemy says it's over." And if you dissect that, that's exactly what we have seen today. We can declare our leadership can declare that we have completely crushed ISIS, that the caliphate is no longer, that we have pushed these terrorists out of Syria.

And yet, there has been no negotiation. There has been no resolution with ISIS and ISIS has not stood up and capitulated and surrendered and accepted the fact that we have prevailed on the battlefield.

ISIS is there, ISIS will continue. It might have been pushed out of Raqqa, Manbij, parts of Syria. It still has significant areas. And it's still a war that we have to continue to engage.

VAUSE: Yes, I realize I'm saying you. The enemy gets a vote in all this, as well.

MACCARLEY: That's exactly right.

VAUSE: About an hour or so, after we had that public confirmation that ISIS actually carried out the attack in Syria, the U.S. vice president went into a gathering of diplomats at the State Department and said this.


PENCE: And we are bringing our troops home. The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated.


VAUSE: Not a word about the dead, all the wounded. Even though he'd supposedly be briefed. Anyway, to your point about, you know, what U.S. leaders can say as much about winning this war as they want.

You know they can have this insistence and a hope that, you know, if you say ISIS to be totally defeated enough times, it might come true. But Lyndon Johnson tried that strategy during Vietnam, and it didn't work out.

MACCARLEY: It didn't work out, you're exactly right. Didn't work out in Vietnam, it didn't work out interestingly in 1989. When we, Americans assisted the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and routed the Taliban at that particular -- or the Russians at that particular point in time.

And then, all of a sudden into that vacuum flooded the Taliban. It didn't really work in 2011 when our President Obama at that particular point made an arbitrary decision. And that decision was to come out of Iraq.

And I remember, the personal recollection it was the last week of December 2011 and all American combat troops were supposed to be out of Iraq. And I was physically standing real close to the border between Iraq and Kuwait as our American forces, Armed Forces, ground forces we're coming across that border.

And I talked to my boss and we basically said, "Yes, we're not going to be out of here very long, it will be another year or so, and we're going to be back because what was taking place in Iraq was not resolved. We might have made inroads, we might have had a temporary lull in activity. And sure enough, if you call that thing a prophecy, a year or so, later, we have the rise of ISIS, we have all that debacle that resulted from 2012, 13, 14. Up until the most recent times with ISIS as a resurgent power.

And quite frankly, a resurgent power which is nothing but a further extension of al-Qaeda, which is nothing more than a resurgent entity of previous terrorist groups. So, you can't keep your eye off the ball.


[01:20:54] VAUSE: Mark, what was that -- Thankfully, (INAUDIBLE) and very quickly, I want to take you back to 2017 which we go to map. The parts in red that's terribly ISIS had actually was in control of, they've been on a roll that were seizing real estate across Syria and Iraq.

Here's ISIS of 2019, you can barely see it. Just a small sliver of red there. You know, but for a terrorist group, you know, territory -- you know, it may be a tactical advantage but this is like World War II. You know, they lose enough land and they drown out the white flag.

You know, they are not ideology. They go to the Internet, they have cells all around the world. Losing territory is not the endgame.

MACCARLEY: Absolutely. You're addressing anon-state adversary. And holding land -- although that was the express intention of Baghdadi as the current -- then, and current leader of ISIS to hold this caliphate.

At the end of the day, it's about an ideology and the propagation of this ideology around the Middle East and even further afield as we've seen Shabaab in Kenya over the last day with the explosions and terrorist activities.

So, it's not something that is immediately crushed merely because the tactical map that you put forward shows that the red blotches have somehow dissolved or disappeared from the map. Doesn't say anything about the thousands of ISIS supporters and true soldiers who have well evacuated from Raqqa and other major cities in that northeastern part of Syria have not gone away.

They still maintain that further, they're still going to be out there, and they still constitute a threat, which is why our continued presence is an absolute necessity.

VAUSE: Yes, and of course, you have -- we've heard from -- you know, John Bolton, national security advisor, saying they'll stay there and they'll continue to fight ISIS, and -- you know, until the job is done. So, I guess we'll have to see how this plays out.

But Mark, thank you for walking us through some of that. We appreciate that, and all of your experience as well.

MACCARLEY: Thank you, sir.

VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, just over a year since the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And it seems the daily consequences of that decision are now playing out on Kenyan capital.

Also ahead, the annual State of the Union Address in the U.S. may be put on hold, and other consequence of the possible government shutdown. And some argue it has a lot more to do with politics.


[01:25:23] VAUSE: Just over a year since the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Now, al-Shabaab militants say, their attack on a hotel complex in Nairobi was retaliation.

It was well-planned and meticulously executed starting with a suicide bombing which was recorded on security video. And a warning, the images you're about to see are graphic. The death toll stands at 21 that includes an American who survives a 9/11 terror attacks in New York. Live now to Nairobi, CNN's Sam Kiley standing by with very latest. Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, overnight, the al-Shabaab came out with this somewhat bizarre claim of -- explained over two pages that this attack was in retaliation for the United States recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy there.

Now, al-Shabaab is not really known as an internationalist organization with passionate support for the Palestinian cause. So, they clearly trying to internationalize their brand, if you like. They are, of course, a part of the wider al-Qaeda movement.

But as he was saying there, John, now, this was a very meticulously planned operation. Because above all, al-Shabaab does have experience in form, in terms of planning and carrying out terrorist attacks in this town. The last one before this being the last major one being the Westgate massacre of a few years back.

But, nonetheless, let's take a look in my report, John, as to how this all unfolded.


KILEY: Trapped by terrorists in a luxury hotel compound. Gunmen pick off victims. Dozens of civilians flee the carnage claimed by the Somali based terror group, al-Shabaab.

British Special Forces were training Kenyans and rushed to help. But many people were trapped in the Dusit Hotel complex, using their phones to call for help.

SAM MATTOCK, DIRECTOR, HALLIDAY FINCH SECURITY: I got the call. I jumped in the vehicle with two of my friends and work colleagues. And went across 214 Riverside where we got right to the front of the gate.

KILEY: How did you get your guys out?

MATTOCK: The CSU got into the building we were in, and got them all of the whole crew in that building out. Everyone is helping everyone. There were security professionals, the Kenyan Red Cross, they were in there in every single building with and without armed protection.

KILEY: Rescues went on throughout the 20-hour gun battle, which ended when terrorists were finally killed.

MOUAMUD YASSIN JAMA, SURVIVE AL-SHABAAB TERROR ATTACK: My main thought were, I was afraid but don't (INAUDIBLE), don't fall out with this. Make sure you (INAUDIBLE).

KILEY: In the end, 700 people escaped the complex, at least 21 did not. Among them, Mouamud's two friends.

JAMA: We are started asking ourselves, where are they, where they?

KILEY: Imbecile and Abdullah was shot dead inside the hotel over lunch. Both were ethnic Somalis, both worked for an aid agency, serving Somalia.


KILEY: I'm so sorry. So, he's expecting his first child.

DAHIR: His child, yes.

KILEY: Ahmed, like so many other Kenyans caught in this tragedy, is left to mourn and pray that another attack never comes.


KILEY: Now, John, clearly, the al-Shabaab would love to carry out another attack. They have been under a heavy pressure from U.S. airstrikes and drone strikes inside Somalia. But on the ground in terms of their infantry operations, you could say that they've been pretty effective. They were able to drop six mortar bombs very accurately inside the U.N. compounds accommodation block in Mogadishu over Christmas and New Year. And they have been a successful in inverted commas in terms of their terrorist operations inside the Somali capital.

But clearly, this was an attempt to hit back at the Americans. Dusit Hotel in the landscape behind me is very popular with Western visitors with Western embassies of the U.N. has regular meetings here, and clearly, they did want to kill a number of foreigners.

Well, so far, actually, the majority of those killed have been confirmed is Kenyans with one American and one Briton understood to have also died. John?


VAUSE: Sam -- thank you. Very disturbing report just with that security camera video. Thank you.

Well, it's a highlight of a president's year delivering the State of the Union. But this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won't be inviting Donald Trump to Congress for the annual address until the government shutdown is over. Very surprising political power play. That's next.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

And I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to present an alternate Brexit plan to parliament on Monday. This after she survived a no- confidence vote on Wednesday. That was the day after MPs rejected her original Brexit deal. Mrs. May is calling on all political parties to work together on a compromise.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack Wednesday in Manbij in Syria which killed at least 19 people including four Americans, two were service members. This comes just a few weeks after President Trump said ISIS had been defeated and so U.S. troops could start coming home from Syria.

Al Shabaab militants say their attack on a hotel complex in Nairobi was a response to Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A warning -- the images you're about to see are graphic. They're from a surveillance video which shows the moment one of the terrorists had detonated the suicide bomb in the hotel. At least 21 people are known to have been killed in the terrorist attack.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is sending a message to President Trump -- "This is my house". Speaker Pelosi has told the President because of security concerns caused by the government shutdown, he should delay the State of the Union address set for the end of January or deliver it to Congress in writing just like in the old days.

As CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports from the White House, the Speaker is accused of playing politics.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The State of the Union to be determined after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested President Trump postpone his scheduled address until the government reopens or deliver it in writing.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is for hundreds of people working on logistics and the security of it. Most of the people are either furloughed or victims of the shutdown.

COLLINS: Pelosi citing security concerns in her letter to the President adding he's still welcome to make the address just not on Capitol Hill.

[01:35:03] PELOSI: He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants.

COLLINS: The Department of Homeland Security secretary pushing back on Pelosi's claim, tweeting that the Department and Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.

Canceling the State of the Union means Trump won't be able to make his case for the border wall during the prime time television address as aides were planning on if the shutdown was still going.

But Pelosi's letter, which she said was just a suggestion, creating confusion on Capitol Hill.

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: She has said as long as government is shut down we're not going to be doing business as usual and --

COLLINS (on camera): So the State of the Union is off.

HOYER: The State of the Union is off.

COLLINS (voice over): Despite CNN reading the letter to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the congressman's aide now saying he misspoke.

On day 26 of the record-breaking shutdown, Trump lunching with a group of bipartisan House members named the Problem Solvers' Caucus though officials weren't expecting a breakthrough and the White House only issued this statement after saying, "We look forward to more conversations like this."

As the shutdown starts to take a toll on the country, even Republican lawmakers are getting frustrated.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I am sympathetic to strengthening our security at the border but shutting down government is not the way to achieve that goal.

COLLINS: That frustration causing senators to circulate a letter on Capitol Hill today calling on Trump to reopen the government for three weeks and then debate funding the border wall. But that proposal doesn't look promising. And sources tell CNN, White House officials were privately urging lawmakers not to sign it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you what the White House strategy is to end the government shutdown?

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY, (R), LOUISIANA: No, I don't think there is a strategy by either President Trump or Mrs. Pelosi.

COLLINS (on camera): Now, Pelosi had invited President Trump to speak on January 29th. But she hadn't formally introduced the legislation that would make the time and date official. Now once she does that, both the House and the Senate has to pass it.

But if Nancy Pelosi doesn't introduce that resolution, there will be no presidential address to Congress. It's been several hours since Pelosi publicly released her letter suggesting the President move the date of the State of the Union this morning. Yet there has still been no White House response.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN -- the White House.


VAUSE: And joining us now from Washington is Elaina Plott, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "The Atlantic". So Elaina -- thanks for being with us.

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me. VAUSE: You know, right now, it seems in the absence of serious and substantive negotiations -- Republicans and Democrats are basically spending their time by coming out with various stunts like this gem to delay the President's State of the Union address because of this non- existent security concerns.

You know, one of the reasons why the Democrats have the upper hand in this standoff is because for the most part, the President has been the child with a temper tantrum while Chuck and Nancy have acted like the adults. So why risk that? Why take the low road when you control the high road for a stunt which seems not only unnecessary but dumb?

PLOTT: Right now, Speaker Pelosi is getting great feedback from the majority of her caucus especially in the aftermath of this stunt as you call it that she pulled today.

And not just that, as you'll remember yesterday a handful of moderate House Democrats refused Donald Trump's invitation to have lunch in the House. So within the conference itself, you know, even if you do want to calls it an echo chamber the Speaker is receiving a lot of support from her members for, you know, pushing back against Trump as much as possible.

But I will be interested to see going forward whether polling starts to favor Donald Trump and Republicans more as there's more I guess -- out there more that the State of the Union stunt on her part and has gone ahead.

VAUSE: Yes. It just seems to be something like -- something that the President would do and would be roundly criticized for doing it.

We also learned on Wednesday, the partial shutdown of the government is costing the country about $1.2 billion every week in lost economic growth. And this is a lot more than the administration had expected.

Senior economic advisor Kevin Hassett explained why. Here he is.


KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISOR: We made an early estimate right at the beginning of the crisis that was a little bit lower than the estimate you just cited. And you know, we've been studying it hard as this has gone on and they found that actually the damage is a little bit worse because of government contractors, something that was excluded from our first analysis.


VAUSE: Ok. In 2015, one study put the size of the federal workforce at just over 9 million. That included 3.7 million contract employees. That's almost half the workforce. The immediate question is how could you leave them out of any kind of pre-shutdown cost analysis?

[01:39:54] But then to the wider case here this just seems another example of, you know, a rush decision which wasn't really clearly thought through entirely or properly vetted or how you want to describe it. And it just kind of was rushed into action without looking at all of the consequences.

PLOTT: I think that's a great point and I think a really easy analogue to draw from when analyzing this situation is the rollout of the Muslim travel ban. One important thing to remember when viewing anything with relation to the Trump White House is that almost every decision is made through a political lens.

This of course is a White House staffed by people who actually came from the campaign who have (INAUDIBLE) their goals from the moment they got into the White House as winning reelection in 2020. There are not a lot of policy experts peopling the West Wing here today.

And because of that when, you know, decisions are made like shutting down the government which have really drastic and far reaching consequences. When the principals aren't entirely sure what those look like, decisions like this are made strictly because they believe the politics will favor them.

It was that way with the roll out of the Muslim travel ban and I think we're seeing each day the deleterious effects of the shutdown for these minute reasons that senior administration officials never even predicted were on the table.

VAUSE: Yes. And what is interesting is as much as this shutdown actually belongs to Donald Trump it also belongs to those extreme and loud voices from within conservative media like Ann Coulter. And here she is. Listen to this.


ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Recently in the last couple of weeks we reeled them back. I mean the one thing I think, not only with Trump, I do think especially with Trump or with anyone is self- preservation and self-esteem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why is he digging his heels in on immigration now?

COULTER: That's why -- that's why.


COULTER: It is self-preservation because he is dead in the water if he doesn't build that wall -- dead, dead, dead.


VAUSE: Dead, dead, dead. That helps to explain this reporting we have from Bob Costa of the "Washington Post". He says "A couple of senior Republican lawmakers tell me," he writes, "the only way this breaks open is if TSA employees," -- they're, you know, the screeners who basically guarantee the safety of the airports, "if they stay home and Americans get furious about their flight, that's the only out they say and they're close to the White House" he reports.

So if that turns out to be the case and it seems there's a lot pain and a lot of hardship between now and when the government reopening, and that hardship seems at least in part a direct result of a president who listens to the opinion of the ultra-conservative commentators rather than, you know, those within, you know, his own cabinet and his own government.

PLOTT: I think it's instructive when, you know, when talking about something like this to understand that before this shutdown took place Donald Trump had signaled or not even signaled rather, has communicated explicitly to the Senate that if they passed a series of continuing resolutions to keep the government funded, he would sign off on them should those bills reached his desk.

That of course changed the minute that word leaked about the Senate was doing that and you had people suddenly like Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity crying foul saying that the President, you know, had just missed his last chance to secure the border wall that was so central to his 2016 campaign, of course, because Nancy Pelosi and her caucus were coming into power in the House.

That kind of feedback especially as he's watching Hannity at night, "Fox and Friends" in the morning really, really bothers this president and gets to him. So when the cumulative effect of that was such that he called off that deal entirely with the Senate which, of course, leads us to this situation we have today.

So, you know, a lot of people will, you know, quip to me on background on the Hill, lawmakers and aides alike will say, it is not so much that they feel they have negotiate with Donald when trying to reach a conclusion to this shutdown but rather, the likes of Ann Coulter and others throughout the Fox News and conservative media world.

VAUSE: Which is a terrifying idea, a horrific concept (ph) when you think about it.

Elaina -- thanks so much. (INAUDIBLE). Appreciate you being with us.

PLOTT: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Well, speed skating has been one of the few Olympic sports dominated by South Korea but we're learning all that glory comes with a dark side. The grim and sadly familiar details from Seoul right after this break.

Also the frantic rescue of a little boy in Spain after he fell down a well on Sunday.


VAUSE: Allegations of physical abuse, sexual assault and retaliation has wrought speed skating in South Korea, a sport the country has dominated at the Olympics for decades. What began as a slowed (ph) group of accusations is now a steady flow with support groups warning of a possible flood of untold stories from the victims who until now have been too afraid to come forward.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul. Paula -- in many ways this is such a familiar story. Abuse and sexual assault, a cover-up amid a fear or culture of fear often overlooked because it's a successful tally of gold medals.

You know, this (INAUDIBLE) played out in the United States just last year.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well certainly -- John. I mean from South Korea's point of view, short-track speed skating is the one sport that they are really known for. They've won more Olympic medals than any other country.

But there is this very dark side now that is only finally now getting the high level attention that it deserves.


HANCOCKS (voice over): This former speed skater says she was beaten by her coach from the age of 11. She wants to hide her identity for fear of retaliation. She claims physical and verbal assault were a regular part of training and her female coach beat her once a week.

"I used to get called into my coach's room," she says, "where she used to hit me with a skate blade sleeve 10 or 20 times.

(on camera): How does a coach have so much control over an athlete here?

"There's a small and powerful clique," she says. "If I criticize my coach, my career as a skater is over. If I accuse my coach crimes, I won't be accepted to a university or a professional team. That's how it works."

At age 15, training with a new male coach she says physical abuse changed to sexual harassment.

"He kept his knee (ph) on the cheek and close to my lips," she says, "hugging me all the time because I felt he was doing it to everyone and I was young. I didn't tell anybody even though I felt humiliated."

She was inspired by this woman to break her silence. Shim Suk-hee, a gold medalist and a household name in South Korea. Her coach seen here is serving 10 months in prison for physically assaulting her. Shim now says she was repeatedly raped by Cho Jae-Beom's since the age of 17. Cho denies the new allegations.

Outside the court last month, she told reporters she hoped no one else would be victimized as she has been in sports saying the violence must end. A national star comes forward. People in power have no choice but to take notice.

President Moon Jae-in spoke this week of the Korean shame hidden in the sporting glory. The head of the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee has apologized saying coaches should no longer have such power. Shim wanted to publicize her physical abuse before the Pyongchang Winter Olympics last February. Support (ph) for it say it was downplayed for the sake of national glory.

[01:50:01] The International Olympics Committee tells CNN it did not know of Shim's case before the Olympics but would contact Korea's Olympic Association to see how it can help change.

The government says it is setting up a special investigation establishing prevention measures and a lifetime (ph) ban for those found guilty.


HANCOCKS: And officials said they also need to change the mentality in the sports industry, the attitudes that you have to win above all else.

We're also hearing from support groups that, John, they're concerned these victims we've heard about so far are just the tip of the iceberg.

VAUSE: Paula -- thank you.

Paula Hancocks there, live for us in Seoul with the story which I think we're going to hear a lot more about in the days and weeks ahead.

Thank you.

Well, time is now running out to save a little boy who fell down a well on Sunday while on a family outing in southern Spain. Rescue crews are being helped by the same private contractors who traveled to Chile to rescue the miners who were trapped about eight years ago.

We get the very latest details now from Michael Holmes.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was supposed to be a Sunday picnic quickly turned into a desperate search in the Malaga Province of southern Spain. That's where two-year-old Julen (ph) fell in this hole only about 25 centimeters wide and plunged about 110 meters down. He hasn't been heard from since.

Rescue crews are using cameras to try to locate the boy but it's not that easy. Pieces of soil blocking the way complicating the search.

On Monday rescuers recovered a bag of candy and a plastic cup the toddler was holding when he fell. And then on Wednesday, more evidence, strands of hair, DNA tests confirming they belong to Julen.

At this point, his parents are hoping for a miracle.

JOSE ROSELLO, FATHER OF JULEN (through translator): We are not going to give up. WE have hope that he is not dead. HOLMES: Spanish police say members of the Swedish firm which helped

locate the trapped miners in Chile more than eight years ago are on site helping the search. The operation also brings to mind the miraculous rescue of the Wild Bulls soccer team in Thailand last summer. All 12 boys and their coach made it out safely after more than two weeks being trapped.

Wednesday residents of the Spanish town gathered in support of Julen's family holding up signs and banners reading, "The whole of Spain is with you".

Meanwhile rescue crews continue their work tireless looking and listening for any signs of life.

Michael Holmes, CNN -- Atlanta.


VAUSE: Well just in here on CNN, a group of skiers is also in potentially a deadly danger. We'll have the very latest on the avalanches in Europe.

Also ahead, William Shakespeare once wrote, "It is the east and Juliet is the sun". But in this case Juliet is a frog scientists hope could help save a species to give another frog a little love on the way.


VAUSE: At least 19 people almost died this year in avalanches and heavy snowfall in the Alps of Europe. Parts of Switzerland, Germany and Austria have been experiencing unusually heavy snow.

Meteorologist Tom Sater has details.

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A bird's eye view of the awesome power of nature. Alpine officials are taking measures to reduce the danger of avalanches after record snow falls.

[01:55:01] Here we see a series of controlled avalanches triggered in the Swiss Alps. This region of southern Switzerland has had high snow falls over. This is triggered for slides has had high snow falls over the past week.

Explosives are dropped from a helicopter to trigger for slides which reduce the danger of larger random avalanches. During a similar operation in France, two people died when the avalanche controlled chargers they were trying to set accidentally went off.

Elsewhere in Switzerland, another controlled explosion was carried out in Davos Tuesday. The villages hosts the world's economic summit next week. Residents were advised to stay indoors as helicopters dropped explosives to trigger the snowfall.

Across the border, this video released by the Austrian army shows soldiers digging out a hotel after the building was buried by an avalanche. COLONEL CHRISTIAN FIEDLER, AUSTRIAN ARMY: Last night the offshoots of

an avalanche passed straight through the middle of the dining room. Snow inside the dining room is piled up all the way to the ceiling. Our windows are broken and so are the doors. Tables and chairs are scattered across the room mixed with snow.

SATER: Miraculously the hotel guests weren't injured and were safely evacuated.

And earlier this week, firefighters in central Austria could be seen clearing snow from roofs after record winter snowfalls.

In neighboring German, emergency workers in Bavaria are out in force clearing blocked roads and removing snow from roofs.

ELIZABETH FENT, RESIDENT: I haven't experienced this since 55, 60 years ago when it was also as bad as this. But it hasn't been as extreme as this in a long while.

SATER: Further, heavy snows are expected in the region.

Tom Sater, CNN.


VAUSE: Now to a love story set in the rain forest of South America but it could come from the pages of a Disney script. Romeo, thought to be the last living Sehuencas water frog in the world, there he is, well now it is time to meet Juliet. She's not exactly his type because she's not exactly the same species. Well, in his species girls are dead.

(INAUDIBLE) found her under a waterfall of Bolivia thinking maybe she can end Romeo's 10-year romantic drought. They say she's full of energy with really beautiful eyes. Romeo on the other hand -- a bit shy, carrying around a few -- a little bit extra weight there.

Scientists plan to put them together next month when else but on Valentine's Day. If they hit it off well, they could save the species, no pressure there.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

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