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Prime Minister Theresa May on Plan B for Brexit; Terrorist's Response to Trump; May Survives No-Confidence Vote, Urges Compromise; ISIS Claimed Bombing Kills 19, Including Four Americans; Political Power Play; Georgia Man Arrested In Plot To Blow Up White House; Fears Grow For Child Trapped In Well; North Korea Top Envoy To Deliver New Letter To Trump; Back-To-Back Storms In California. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 17, 2019 - 03:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: British Prime Minister Theresa May calls for unity just hours after winning a vote of no-confidence, but now she must deliver a Brexit plan B in just a few days.

And the deadly attack in Syria. ISIS claims responsibility as the White House repeats its claims ISIS has been defeated.

Plus, the US state of the union stalemate between Nancy Pelosi and President Trump. The house speaker ups the ante and her shutdown battle with Donald Trump.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

Well, it is back to the drawing board for Theresa May. The British Prime Minister survived a no-confidence vote in parliament one day after MPs overwhelmingly rejected her Brexit deal with the E.U. And now, she's got until Monday to come up with an alternative plan.

Mrs. May says MPs have made it clear what they don't want now they have to work together to set out what parliament does want.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: In a historic vote in 2016, the country decided to leave the E.U. In 2017, 80 percent of people voted for parties but stood on manifestoes promising to respect that result. Now, over two and half years later, it's time for us to come together, put the national interest first and deliver on the referendum.


CHURCH: Now, Mrs. May plans to hold cross-party talks in the days ahead, but the opposition Labour Party leader issued this ultimatum.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: Before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward the government -- the government must remove -- must remove clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no deal Brexit of the E.U. and all the chaos that would come as a result of that. And I invite the prime minister to confirm now that the government will not count (ph) a no deal Brexit from the European Union.


CHURCH: Hadas Gold is live this hour outside 10 Downing Street, and our Melissa Bell is standing by in Brussels. They join us now. So, Hadas, we'll start with you. Theresa May's government won the no- confidence vote but Brexit remains the real challenge here.

How is the prime Minister going to come up with a compromise Brexit deal by Monday given all the political divisions that exist, and will she take a no deal Brexit off the table as Jeremy Corbyn is demanding then?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Rosemary, the situations here in London is very similar to the weather right now, rather bleak.

Theresa May did survive that confidence vote last night here in London but just by 19 votes and that help illustrate the dilemma she finds herself in. She is in power, but essentially powerless because, thus far, she's been unable to convince enough members of parliament to back her deal.

Now, as you noted, she is reaching out to members across different parties trying them to talk but Jeremy Corbyn and her are in the sort of standoff. He says he won't talk to her unless she agrees to take no deal off the table. What that means is that she would have to agree that the U.K. would not crush out of the European Union on March 29 with any sort of deal in place.

That would probably mean extending Article 50, extending the deadline going back to the European Union and asking them for more time and would have to agree to that.

Jeremy Corbyn also is the one who issue that no-confidence vote because he wants to be prime minister. He wants to be in power. There is now a question of why now, why is Theresa May now reaching across to all these parties to ask them what they want, why didn't she do this months ago. There is some frustration there.

There is also a lot of frustration in the European Union, which I'm sure Melissa will talk to. The question is what can May get together in the next few days. She has to come back to parliament on Monday with an updated statement.

And of course, we continue barreling towards that March 29 deadline unless we see something change thus far. Theresa May has said she will not take no deal off the table. Rosemary?

CHURCH: So little time to get this all figured out. Melissa, to you now, and Prime Minister May says she will go back to Brussels if necessary, for talks with the E.U. But European leaders, they are not happy about that. They want Britain to figure this out for itself. So, what does come next?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're suggesting really, and this is something that we hearing both from European capitals and from the European institutions and their leadership, is that the ball was very much in United Kingdom's camp. They want to wait to see what London has to offer next.

[03:05:03] But once that happened, I think this will happen there for beyond Monday once parliament has agreed on something on the next thing since Brussels has been clear there will be no concessions until then.

There is this possibility this question this talk of an extension of Article 50, which would allow for more time beyond March 29 to avoid that crashing out of the E.U. by the United Kingdom that everyone wants to avoid.

So, on one hand, the E.U. is saying, look, we're stepping up our preparations for this eventuality, but they are also beginning to look at what could be done, how an extension could be organized. But there also been quite hard line on what an extension could mean, essentially saying look -- and we heard this from the French European Affairs Ministry yesterday saying look, if we do look at an extension, the British are going to have to be quite clear about why we're extending this Article 50, why we're allowing for this delay.

There can be no question of renegotiating the backstop. There could be no changes made to what Europe has offered so far, but we could explore this possibility of allowing for more time if it can be put to good use in order to organize an orderly exit from the E.U. or indeed to reconsider the entire question by the British.

So, more time, possibly with that crucial question of how much extra time might be accorded to the British, would it be simply up until the European elections at the end of May, could it be up until the new parliament comes in, in early July or could it be considered for even longer than that to get the British more time to be absolutely clear of what they want.

That will take unanimity of the 27. It will take a fresh summit here in Brussels to organize, but it is something that is on the cards and being considered.

CHURCH: So many questions, so few answers. We should just have to watch this and see. Melissa Bell reporting there from Brussels, Hadas Gold at 10 Downing Street. Many thanks to you both.

All right. So, let's try and get some answers. Joining me now from London John Rentoul, chief political commentator for The Independent, good to have you with us.

JOHN RENTOUL, CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, THE INDEPENDENT: Hello, there. CHURCH: So, worth pointing out many of the lawmakers who voted for the government to survive Wednesday with the very same people who voted against Theresa May's Brexit plan, talk to us about what they're planning and what was behind that, the politics perhaps, and where this is all going.

RENTOUL: Well, yes. It's a paradoxical situation, isn't it? Because I mean, last month conservative MPs voted by two to one to keep Theresa May as prime minister. And last night, the whole of parliament voted by a fairly narrow margin to keep her government in as the government and not have a general election.

And yet, parliament rejected her central policy, her deal that she's negotiated so painstakingly over the cutover, the two years with the E.U. Parliament rejected that by an overwhelming margin this week. So, that is the dilemma of British politics.

Theresa May is remarkably inflexible politician. That's one of her strengths but is also a weakness. We saw it after the general election in 2017. She carried on as if nothing really had happened although she lost her majority in parliament, and we saw it after the defeat in the House of Commons on her Brexit deal. She seems to be carrying on as if nothing has happened, as if, if she just keeps trying, eventually MPs will accept it. That may -- that may happen. We just don't know.

CHURCH: Right.

RENTOUL: But there are two other possibilities.

CHURCH: Indeed. And how likely is it do you think that Britain will crash out of the E.U. without a deal come March 29th, or do you think there is enough pressure being brought to bear to come up with some sort of compromise deal by Monday, which seems extraordinary?

RENTOUL: I was hoping you won't get to ask me how likely various outcomes were because -- I mean, to be frank, I don't think anybody knows. I don't think Theresa May has the slightest idea what's going to happen.

There are, as I say, three outcomes. We could leave without an agreement, which she's only supported by a minority of MPs, 130 out of 600. But it's the legal default if parliament can't agree anything else.

And it is all very well Jeremy Corbyn demanding that Theresa May take a no deal Brexit off the table. The only way she could take it off the table is by getting a deal through parliament or by postponing the whole thing. And that's not something she wants to do.

[03:09:54] And the other possibility again of course, is that, if parliament can't agree, if it doesn't want to leave without a deal then we do postpone the whole thing and we have -- another referendum. But whether that would solve the question is open to doubt as well because supposed the second referendum again votes to leave.

CHURCH: And it's possible, but there is certainly the sense that a lot of Brits didn't really know what they were voting for with that first referendum. They certainly have more of an idea of what's going on now. What are the numbers looking like for the possibility of a second referendum?

RENTOUL: Well, there aren't the votes there for within the House of Commons yet. I mean, there are a lot of people who say, well, you know, the House of Commons is deadlocked, therefore let's give it back to the -- back to the people to decide. But the problem is giving it back to the people to decide is one of the options for which there is not a majority in the House of Commons.

So, until those numbers start to shift -- and I don't think they will shift until MPs actually face a real deadline and we're getting quite close to the point where decisions about whether to extend the Brexit deadline are going to have to be taken.

But until MPs come up against a hard deadline I can't see the numbers changing. And that means that no option in the House of Commons has a majority and that isn't going to change on Monday. On Monday, the prime minister will simply put an anodyne motion forward to the House of Commons which MPs can then amend with all their favorite options.

But at the moment, all those options looks there to be defeated and the parliament will be back to square one.

CHURCH: It's become very tribal. Everyone is digging their heels and we'll see what happens Monday. That is the next deadline. John Rentoul, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your analysis. I appreciate it.

RENTOUL: My pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, ISIS is claiming responsibility for a suicide attack in northern Syria that killed four Americans just as the U.S. military has begun to pull out of the region.

Now, we should warn you the video of the blast is disturbing to watch. It was caused by a man in a suicide vest outside the restaurant where Americans were known to gather. Two of the victims were U.S. troops and others worked with the U.S. Defense Department. The attack happened without warning on a busy street in the city of Manbij.

A Syrian human rights group put the total death toll at 19. Right now, Manbij is controlled by Kurdish forces. And you can see it there in yellow, the sectarian tensions are souring.

And CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is covering this story from Istanbul. Jomana, the images of course horrifying, disturbing. ISIS claiming responsibility for this deadly attack. Is there any doubt though -- any reason to doubt that they were behind the suicide bombing and what more are you learning about this attack?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, Rosemary, we can't be certain that they carried out the attack. What we do know is the U.S. military has not said who they believe was behind this deadly blast. ISIS as you mentioned, claimed responsibility, but in the past, this doesn't necessarily mean responsibility. They have claimed the attacks that they have not carried out. But if you look at the attack, the method of this attack, the target how this unfolded, it does bear the hallmarks of an ISIS type attack or any of the other Islamist militant groups as we've seen in the past in Iraq and Syria, the use of a suicide bomber in a busy, crowded area targeting coalition forces

And of course, there's also the timing here. Some observers, some security experts believe that this may have been ISIS responding to the U.S. president, a message that when the president four weeks ago said that ISIS had been defeated that the U.S. had won the war against ISIS that this is perhaps the group saying that they are still around and there's still capable of carrying out attacks.

Now, there's no doubt that they have been as security experts will put it, their capabilities have been downgraded. They have lost the control of the territory, that vast amount of territory they once controlled in Iraq and Syria, that so-called caliphate, but that does not mean that this group is not capable of carrying out this sort of deadly and devastating attacks.

As we have seen in recent months, they've carried out attacks in eastern Syria that have killed a large number of civilians. And now, now you have this attack in an area, Rosemary, that is not even close to the pockets that ISISI still controls.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Jomana Karadsheh joining us there live from Istanbul.

I want to bring in retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt to talk more about this. General, thank you so much for joining us.


CHURCH: Now, this deadly terror attack in Syria comes in the wake of President Trump announcing that ISIS has been defeated in Syria and declaring that U.S. troops are coming home.

[03:15:06] Is this ISIS's way of telling Mr. Trump that is very wrong, that he is very wrong about defeating the militants?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, it hasn't been established that ISIS was, in fact, the perpetrator of this attack. It could well be other groups that have great reason to keep the Americans inside of Syria. So, we should not jump to the conclusion that ISIS conducted this attack.

CHURCH: Right. They have claimed responsibility, but you're saying don't take them at their word on that.

KIMMITT: ISIS has claimed responsibility for every attack that's happened around the world for the last five years. In many cases, that's correct. In most cases, it's not.

CHURCH: Right. And a big problem, perhaps, is that these U.S. soldiers, servicemen, were going to this restaurant on a regular basis. It was a known hangout for American servicemen. There was also a civilian from the Department of Defense there and a contractor. Is it dangerous when you're in Syria and you make a particular restaurant the place that you are going to all hang out?

KIMMITT: Look, I spent much more time in the Middle East. I just got back from Baghdad two days ago. I would simply tell you that standard procedure is that you vary your routine, you vary your routes, you vary your locations. Anytime you're predictable you become a target.

CHURCH: All right. I do want to go back -- we were talking about President Trump declaring that ISIS have been defeated and that the U.S. and its allies had reclaimed the land of ISIS and the troops were coming home.

I just want to listen to what Senator Lindsey Graham said about all of this. Let's pull it up.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: My concern by the statements made by President Trump is that you would set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we're fighting. You make people who were trying to help wonder about us. And as they get bolder, the people we're trying to help are going to get more uncertain. I saw this in Iraq, and I'm now seeing it in Syria.


CHURCH: General, is Senator Graham right that the statements of Mr. Trump embolden ISIS and worry those that the U.S. is trying to help?

KIMMITT: I sort of see that as a false analogy. I don't really understand how you can link one event to the other. I think it's important to understand that ISIS has been greatly reduced, the caliphate no longer exists, their ability to operate as a military force no longer exists.

So, in many ways this could simply be an attack by ISIS or another perpetrator to simply say we're still viable. We are still a threat. Don't count us out. We can still come at you.

CHURCH: So, do think that this is a message. Whether it comes from ISIS or not, it's a message to say we are viable.


CHURCH: So, I do want to just go back to those statements from President Trump. Do you stand by him when he says that ISIS has been defeated so let's bring the troops home?

KIMMITT: Well, look, I think we're getting hung up on terminology. From someone with military background, we would say that the enemy is defeated. The enemy no longer has its capability to conduct its primary mission, which is to occupy a terrain and conduct military operations. But I don't want to get into that discussion. The fact remains is that the president made this decision based on the fact that ISIS has been degraded to the point where it is no longer an existential threat to the United States of America.

And his view is it's time to pass that mission on to other countries that bear more of a responsibility and bear more of a threat from ISIS than we do.

CHURCH: So, you would support President Trump bringing the troops home from Syria?

KIMMITT: Look, and I've write -- I've written numerous articles saying that I could have gone either way. But I believe that if the president makes a decision, he has sound reasons for making that decision. Despite the chattering class in Washington, D.C., many who condemned the decision simply because Trump made it.

Sadly, I think the death of these four Americans today ought to cause people to wake up and have a serious discussion not a superficial discussion of what we're doing in Syria and should we be staying.

CHURCH: General Kimmitt, thank you so much for joining us.

KIMMITT: Thank you.

CHURCH: And after a quick break, stories of survival and loss from the terror attack in Nairobi.

[03:19:59] We will see video from inside the assault and hear from those who were able to escape.

Plus, a political power play in Washington, will Nancy Pelosi cancel the president's state of the union address?

And North Korea's top nuclear negotiator heads to Washington with a message for Mr. Trump. Will a letter from Kim Jong-un get things moving for a second summit?


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

Surveillance video shows the moment one of the terrorists detonated a suicide bomb. The images are graphic. At least 21 people were killed in that assault, among them an American who survived the 9/11 terror attacks in New York. Seven hundred people were able to escape.

We go live now to Nairobi and our Sam Kiley. So, Sam, at least 21 people killed in this deadly attack and now Al-Shabaab is revealing what motivated the assault. It has surprised some. What are you learning?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary. I think having studied Al-Shabaab pretty much the last 15 years, I can tell you they don't have much of an international agenda, but they are very good at seeking attention.

And I know that if they attached the Trump brand to anything that we will start talking about it, which is exactly what has happened, tying their campaign to the campaign on the Palestinians liberation front a page (ph) by the Israelis is something new for Al-Shabaab, but it is a way of getting attention.

By they are, nonetheless, meticulous in their planning. Behind me is the car that were -- some of them used to get into the hotel to arrive at the hotel. It was seen by locals doing reconnaissance for a week before this very well-planned and ruthlessly executed attack, Rosemary. And this is how it unfolded.



KILEY: Trapped by terrorists in the luxury hotel compound.


[03:24:59] Gunmen pick up 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, AFRICAN SECURITY ADVISER: I got the call. I jump in the vehicle with two of my friends and work colleagues went across to 14 river side where we got right to the front of the gate.

KILEY: How did you get your guys out?

MATTOCK: The GSU 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 arm protection.

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

MOUAMUD YASSIN JAMA, SURVIVOR: I was afraid but don't stay please (ph), don't fold up and just make sure you're out of this.

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

JAMA: You started asking ourselves where are they, where are they.

KILEY: And Faisal (ph) and Abdulla (ph) were shot dead inside the hotel over lunch, both were ethic Somalis, both work for an aid agency serving Somalia.

AHMED RASHID DAHIR, VICTIM'S FATHER: His wife is expecting seven month -- seven month pregnant.

KILEY: I'm so sorry.

DAHIR: A boy (ph).

KILEY: So, he's expecting his first child?


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


KILEY: Now, Rosemary, there is in all probability a likelihood of continued attacks not least because Kenya is an integral part of the Pan-African force that is fighting Al-Shabaab (Technical Difficulty).

CHURCH: All right. Few problems there, but Sam Kiley reporting live from Nairobi on that attack, many thanks to him.

While there is Brexit chaos in the British Parliament, the pound is keeping a stiff upper lip. We'll have the details for you, next.

Plus, Nancy Pelosi and the art of political gamesmanship telling President Trump your state of the union speech not in my House.

Back with that in just a moment.


[03:30:02] CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church with the check of the headlines this hour.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is expected to present an alternate Brexit plan to Parliament on Monday. She survived a no- confidence vote on Wednesday, one day after MPs rejected her original 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, Syria, which killed at least 19 people, including four Americans, two of whom was service members. Now, this comes just a few weeks after President Trump said ISIS was defeated and U.S. troops would start coming home from Syria.

Al-Shabaab militants say their assault on a hotel complex in Nairobi was a response to Donald Trump's decision to recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A warning, these next images you will see are graphic, surveillance video shows the moment one of the terrorists detonated a suicide bomb at the hotel, men armed with guns and explosives then burst into the complex, at least 21 people were killed in that attack.

More now on Brexit and you might expect only uncertainty around Britain's exit from the European Union to bring economic chaos, but just hours after Prime Minister May survived a no-confidence vote, the Europe markets are now starting to react.

So, let's bring in our Anna Stewart, who is live this hour in London. We got a little peak at the numbers. It looks like there's been a little bit of a negative response.

ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, we are seeing some negative sentiment on the European market. Today, you will see all of them there in the red. But to be honest, I think, a lot of this just follows on from Asia, which also had a lower trading day and a lot of that has to do with other elements that play an alleged investigation from the U.S. into Huawei, the continued trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

But more interesting really, Rosemary, when we think about Brexit, is the British pound and how that reacts because this has been a lot more sensitive throughout the last 2.5 years. But as you'll see, it's fairly stable and it has been all week before the vote, after the vote came through last night as well. It's really interesting to see the lack of reaction there.

And there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the overwhelming crushing defeat for the Prime Minister shows several things. Firstly, no deal is looking less likely because Parliament is likely state more control of the process. From the vote we had last week in Parliament, it's quite clear that the majority of people there do not want to see a no deal Brexit and that is the biggest short-term risk for markets.

So, that seems to ease those tensions a little bit. Also, there's more optimism that Article 50 will be extended that, if Theresa May has to get any deals together, if she has to get cross party support, that's going to take time. So, potentially, the risk is also just move back further into the year.

So, that's the reaction with the markets, very, very different story altogether when it comes to reaction from business leaders. Now, they have really lambasted this week's developments in Parliament. They are very frustrated that Parliament couldn't come to any agreement yet.

And it just means that a period of uncertainty has really been extended. There was a phone call between the U.K. finance ministers right after the big vote on Tuesday night hundreds of business leaders, also on that call, the Brexit Secretary, also in that call the Treasury Secretary.

Now, we knew yesterday from speaking to some of the business leaders on that call that there was a great sense of frustration, that they didn't feel like it was the very unified message, but we're finding out a lot more about the Cord statement (ph).

This is the Telegraph newspaper. Now, they say they have a leaked tape of the conversation that went on and have a transcript in state's paper and part of it is showing that the Finance Minister has essentially told business leaders, according to this, that no-deal is very likely off the table, that they can -- they don't have to worry about that, that Article 50 is likely to be extended, except the problem was we got a very different message on the same call from that Brexit minister. He says if we don't have a no deal option, it's going to be harder for the U.K. to negotiate.

So, you have to fill business here. You have to make investments. You have to plan, forge ahead on all this level of uncertainty. And frankly, some of them went on this call and said we already spent a huge amount planning for no-deal Brexit. Do we have to keep planning for this? Do we have to keep spending our capital? All boards need, you know, more information. We need to know what's going to happen next. And they just didn't get any sense that the government was unified in this.

So this is a big concern for businesses and will be going for it. There's huge calls from them for no-deal to be taken out -- taken out of the equation altogether, which is something that is, of course, reflected by many in Parliament, perhaps not the Prime Minister.

CHURCH: Yes, so to be used politically to apply a little bit of pressure, but interesting to see what the business leaders want to see come of this. Anna Stewart, always great to chat with you, many thanks.

The U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sending a message to President Trump, this is my House. Pelosi tells the president to postpone his State of the Union Address set for January 29 or deliver it in writing as president used to do.

{03:35:12] The Speaker cited security concerns due to the government shutdown, but others say the real reason is politics.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports from the White House.


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

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: This is in -- requires hundreds of people working on the logistic and the security of it, most of these people are either furloughed or victims of the shutdown.

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

PELOSI: He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants to.

COLLINS: The Department of Homeland Security secretary pushing back on Pelosi's claims, 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 primetime television address, as aides were planning on it, the shutdown was still going. But Pelosi's letter, which she said was just a suggestion, creating confusion on Capitol Hill.

STENY HOYER, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: She has said as long as government shutdown, we're not going to be doing business as usual and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So the State of the Union is off?

HOYER: The State of the Union is off.

COLLINS: Despite CNN reading the letter to Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, the Congressman's aides are now saying, he misspoke.

On day 26 of the record-breaking shutdown, Trump lunching with a group of bipartisan House members name 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.

SEN. 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know what the White House strategy is to end the government shutdown?

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

COLLINS: 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 the date official. Now, once she does that, both the House and the Senate have to pass it. But if Nancy Pelosi doesn't introduce that resolution, there will be no presidential address to Congress.

It's in several hours since Pelosi publicly released her letter suggesting the president move the date of the State of the Union this morning, yet there is still been no White House response.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: A man in the U.S. State of Georgia is behind bars charged with plotting to blow up the White House and other federal buildings in Washington. Authorities say Hasher Jalall Taheb plan to attack the presidential residence using explosives and an antitank rocket. They executed a search warrant at his home Wednesday night. Law- enforcement had received a tip from the public suspecting to Taheb had become radicalized. He was arrested Wednesday after he tried to trade vehicles for weapons with an undercover FBI agent.

Well, as the Russia Probe continues full steam ahead in the United States and despite his denials, questions linger about whether the American president possibly acted as a witting or unwitting agent for the Kremlin.

As our Fred Pleitgen reports from Moscow, Russia is coming to Mr. Trump's defense.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russian official defending President Trump against those in the U.S., raising questions about his relationship with Moscow, a top Kremlin aide sounding a similar note to the White House and ridiculing the question about Trump possibly working for Russia and the Foreign Minister even arguing that the U.S. Congress is illegally trying to hamper the president's foreign policy agenda.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The U.S. constitution gives the president the right to determine and execute foreign policy. We do know that this right has been coming under attack from the Congress. The issue was covered extensively. However, this does not make these attacks constitutional and it does not make them less illegal either.

PLEITGEN: As the Trump administration grapples with the ongoing government shutdown and one of America's top allies, the United Kingdom, faces a messy exit from the European Union, which President Trump supported, on one of Russia's top political talk shows and analyst claiming President Trump is in the battle against the so- called Deep State in the West.

[03:40:20] ARAIK STEPANYAN, POLITICAL EXPERT (through translator): Battle of the Western world is in the deep crisis, this liberal in capitalistic world is in the deep crisis. Trump and his actions is a saving grace for America because there's that deep state or the Democrats Party wanting to make the USA a global policeman and stick its nose anywhere, but Trump says the American people do not need that.

PLEITGEN: All this as the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign increases in tempo. A top Russian senator telling CNN he believes his country is the victim of political infighting in the U.S. and of President Trump's critics.

ALEKSEY PUSHKOV, RUSSIA SENATOR: Russia is a victim of this anti- Trump campaign. He is -- I think it is the first time that the interest of those who would like to bring down the American president, stand (ph) with the interest of those who would like to have a better relationship with Russia. PLEITGEN: And while improvement of the relations between Russia and the U.S. hardly seems insight, Moscow vowed that American pressure would never make it change its policies.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


CHURCH: Plans for a second summit could be moving forward. Coming up, North Korea's top nuclear negotiator heads to Washington with a message. Plus, a story that's captivated a nation, a race to rescue a small child who fell down a deep well in Spain.


CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. The U.S. and North Korea may be a step closer to setting a date for a second summit. A source tells CNN, North Korea's lead negotiator in the nuclear talks will be carrying a letter from Kim Jong-un to President Trump when he arrives in Washington Thursday. Now, he is to meet with the Secretary of State and the U.S. Representative to North Korea on Friday.

Our Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul in South Korea. Paula, letter writing is apparently back and it seems to be working with a second summit on the agenda. What more are you learning about all this?

[03:45:04] PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, this is certainly something that Kim Jong-un has realized works and has worked for him in the past when there has been a stalemate in these negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

He simply writes a letter to the U.S. President Donald Trump and those letters are extremely well received, Mr. Trump calling them great letters and waxing lyrical about them in the past.

So, what we're seeing here is really following a pattern of what we saw last June, when that Singapore Summit happened between the North Korean and the U.S. leaders. Kim Jong-un has gone to China. He's already met with the leader, Xi Jinping, as he did last year.

He is now sending his top negotiator from North Korea to the United States, Kim Yong-chol. He is expected to arrive there Thursday, staying until Friday, meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, potentially with the U.S. president, that's not been confirmed at this point, but that's certainly will happen before when he deliver that oversize envelope, the message from Kim Jong-un to the U.S. president. And shortly after that, there was that summit in Singapore.

So, clearly we're following a pattern here. Now, the expectation at this point is location wise, it could well be Hanoi, Vietnam, according to sources that familiar with the organization. It could also potentially be Bangkok as well. And at this point, the best assessment from the limited information we have is that it could well be in February. Rosemary? CHURCH: Right. Yes, so they do have to pin down the timing here.

They have to pin down the location. What other things are they working on or will need to work on for this?

HANCOCKS: Well, this is very unusual. Usually, when you have this kind of a big summit, there was an awful lot of working level talks that are hammering out the details and almost hammering out the results before the two leaders even shake hands and even walk in to the same room together.

That is usually the way that diplomacy works, but it's not the way it works with Kim Jong-un, and it's certainly not the way it works for the U.S. President Donald Trump.

This time last year or last June, when that summit happened, there haven't been much that had been organized beforehand. It was all left up to the leaders when they walked in the room together.

Now, Sydney critics say that that was a mistake because the U.S. president, according to many North Korean observers, gave away more than he received from North Korea by agreeing to postpone, at that point, the U.S.-South Korean military drills that annoyed North Korea.

And of course, the same could happen this time that they would be very little pre-arrangement and setup up before the leaders sit down themselves. It really is a top -- a top down process that we are seeing. It starts with the leaders. They make these grand announcements and it's up to everyone else to figure out how to make that happen, Rosemary?

CHURCH: It is fascinating watching. Our Paula Hancocks bringing us the very latest from Seoul in South Korea. Thank you so much.

Well, time is running out to save a little boy who fell down a deep well in Southern Spain while on a family outing last weekend. Rescue crews are being aided by the same private contractors who help save the trapped miners in Chile eight years ago.

We will get the latest now from CNN's 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, fell into 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 research. 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 trap 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 Boar 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 claim is with you. Meanwhile, rescue crews continue their work tirelessly looking and listening for any signs of life.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: And we will continue to watch and follow that story. We'll take a short break here, when we come back, storms moving across California, some areas are getting rain, wind and flooding, others face, mounds of snow, and we will get the latest forecast for these winter storms.

[03:50:05] Plus, Netflix fans, get ready, Space Force is coming, and it will premiere before President Trump gets his actual Space Force up and running. Back in just a moment.


CHURCH: California is dealing with back-to-back Pacific storms, bringing heavy rain and snow and strong winds. Our Meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, joins us now with more on this. And it's been so difficult for California, all the things they have to deal with.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, first the wildfires last year. Now, series of winter storms that are bringing havoc to the entire state, in fact, the entire West Coast, but wait till you see this image. I mean, it really speaks millions here. Picture says a thousand words, right?

This person's private jet was pointed upwards because the snow became too heavy on the back end of the plane.


VAN DAM: I mean, wow, that plane isn't going anywhere, right? Just too much snow quite frankly. This isn't Truckee California, very close to -- the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, and this is the area where we expect the snow to pile up in feet over the next 24 hours.

Incredible amounts of moisture just surging into the West Coast of the U.S. Right now, there's cold front associated with it and significant wind gust creating blizzard conditions, whiteout conditions, quite frankly, and a potential for flooding and even mudslides exists as well. Look at the flood threat here, 25 to 75 millimeters of rain expected along the Coast and the Valleys. The foothills and the mountains, the higher elevations could exceed 100 millimeters. Now, we are talking about snow could exceed 90 centimeters, even more miles as you get to the tops of these mountain peaks.

So, what are the threats, what are the impacts for people living in California? Mud, debris flows, strong winds, toppling trees, taking down power line, of course, power outages expected and of course, travel delays, and a potential for coastal flooding exist as well as waves become very large with these series of storms that continue to batter California.

Look at the radar, lighting up like a Christmas tree. Snowfall indicated in the shade of white. That's the entire spine of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range you see there. The rain fall, however, is becoming extremely heavy. In fact, the National Weather Service has issued flash flood warnings and watches from Los Angeles, all the way to San Francisco and across the Sacramento Valley.

And then here's a look at the winter potential. That shading of red, that's actually blizzard warnings. So, we have to see visibility is reduced to a quarter mile or less for a three-hour period or more. And that would certainly happen with wind gusting over 100 kilometers per hour through the next 12 hours.

Snowfall exists across inner Mountain West over the next several days, making the skiers happy. By the way, that energy pushes east and dumps a significant amount of snow to the East Coast and that is also going to bring us our coldest air of the season.

One last video coming from Los Angeles County, got to show you this because streets returned to rivers here today and also water brought up to the doorway of these people's homes in Long Beach as the heavy rain continues.

CHURCH: Wow. A lot to cover there. Thank you so much.

VAN DAM: Lots to cover across the entire universe.

CHURCH: Incredible images.


CHURCH: Thank you so much, Derek.

VAN DAM: All right.

CHURCH: I appreciate it. All right, where are now to an unlikely love story set in the rain forests of South America. Romeo, thought to be the last living Soyinka's (ph) water frog in the world, meet Juliet. She's not exactly the same species, but researchers caught her under a waterfall in Bolivia, thinking she could end Romeo's 10 year romantic drought. [03:55:02] They say she is full of energy and has beautiful eyes.

Romeo, on the other hand, is shy and a little overweight. Scientists plan to put them together next month on Valentine's Day. If they hit it off, they could save the species. No pressure, right?

And finally President Trump, wants a Space Force and he told the Pentagon to create one. But before it could even get off the ground, so to speak, it's becoming a comedy show. Jeannie Moos has that story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You could tell President Trump likes the ring of it --

TRUMP: The Space Force. The Space Force. Space Force.

MOOS: His supporters like chanting it.

TRUMP: Space Force.

MOOSS: But even though the real Space Force has barely gotten off the ground. Already a comedy series is launching to make fun of it.

As if President Trump has it already been sufficiently marked about the six branch of the Armed Forces, here comes Steve Carell. He and the developer of the U.S. version of The Office are teaming up with Netflix to tell the story of the men and women who have to figure out how to create Space Force.

Fans were stoked. Oh, this sounds like a blast. Carell's previous experience in space -- was as commander of the space station in an SNL skit. An air lock blew in the bio-lab that housed the monkey experiments.

Sadly, it sounds like the show, Space Force, will take place mostly on earth. You know what's really out of this world? Steve Carell's reported salary, likely to be over $1 million per episode of Space Force, according to the Hollywood reporter. Carell has imitated Trump in The Office.

STEVE CARELL, ACTOR: He just made people sad and an office can't function that way.

MOOS: Up on the space station, things weren't functioning so well.

CARELL: Look at that beautiful blue marble called earth. Isn't that --


MOOS: Real professionals will be building a Space Force at the same time that actors will parity building a Space Force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry kids. This is a bad day to space.

TRUMP: Space Force.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: May the force be with you, and thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. The news continues now with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN, have a great day.