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U.S. & S. Korea Hold Talks On N. Korea Negotiations; CNN Visits Once-Rich Oil Region, Now In Shambles; Israeli Spacecraft Crashes On Lunar Surface; Spacex Puts Satellite Into Orbit With Heavy Rockets; Turning Britain's Political Tragicomedy Into Art; WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested; Sudan's Longtime Dictator Ousted in Military Coup; Trump's Immigration Retaliation Plan; Pence: Migrant Family Separations Will Not Return. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 12, 2019 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A dramatic moment seven years in the making. Julian Assange is arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He now faces extradition to the United States.

A dictator is toppled after three decades of rule. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrested and forced from power in a military coup. We will have a live report about that.

Also this hour, the U.S. and South Korean presidents hold talks at the White House, and those talks about the possibility of a third Trump- Kim summit. We will get into that as well with a live report for you.

Hello, welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. We appreciate you watching. I'm Natalie Allen. This is "CNN Newsroom."

Thanks again for joining us. Our top story, one of the big unanswered questions over the past few years has been, when will Julian Assange be arrested, and for what? The answer came Thursday when the bearded founder of WikiLeaks was hauled out of his self-imposed exile where he had been hiding in plain asylum protected site. His stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy is costing that government more than $6 million.

And when he appeared in court, the judge called Assange a narcissist, who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest. He was found guilty of breaking his bail conditions and faces up to a year in jail. But Assange also faces extradition to the U.S. on one count of conspiring to steal military secrets and possibly other charges down the road.

Our Isa Soares is in London, live for us. Good morning to you, Isa. It's really amazing how this ended after seven years there in the embassy where you are. Julian Assange is out and behind bars. Talk more about how this unfolded.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Natalie. Very much a dramatic turn of events for Julian Assange after more than 2,487 days inside a very tiny (INAUDIBLE) inside the embassy behind me of Ecuador, seven years in total. All this unfolded in a dramatic fashion, as you pointed out, Natalie, in the early hours of Thursday morning, yesterday morning around 9:15 local. Arresting officers arrived here behind me and that's when they met the head of the embassy, the ambassador. At 10:00 a.m. local, he was revoked. His status was revoked inside the embassy. And then the officers tried to introduce themselves to him after taking his asylum, trying to introduce themselves, and he barged passed them into his private room.

It was then that he was told what he was being arrested with. One is skipping bail back in 2012, the other on the charge that you mentioned, that U.S. extradition charge. He refused. He had to be really put -- reprimanded in many ways.

And he was that image that everyone recognizes, of course, as him just coming down the stairs, on the steps just behind me here, and then that's when we see him being dragged out by police, looking rather old. Of course, he has clearly aged after seven years, a long beard, looking rather (INAUDIBLE) as well, and being dragged into the van.

After that, around 2:00 local, he then appeared -- 2:15, I should add -- he appeared at a magistrates court where he was charged for skipping bail, can get as much as 12 months. And now we are waiting for the extradition hearing which is now taking place on the 2nd of May, Natalie, from now until then, the next three weeks. He will have to pay via video link to the court to be seen (ph).

So, he's really now, Natalie, waiting his fate. But his lawyers speaking to CNN said they will fight every aspect of this extradition. Take a listen.


KRISTINN HRAFNSSON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WIKILEAKS: Illegally of course the extradition will be fought in the courts here. That's with every means possible. It will be exposed that this is a politically motivated prosecution and therefore a persecution.


SOARES: The lawyer went on to say that this sets a dangerous precedent to journalists and journalism right around the world, Natalie.

ALLEN: Right. Many people see him as a hero. Many people see him as a villain. It depends on who you ask and certainly WikiLeaks new territory that he started with that campaign.

[02:04:59] Isa Soares for us outside the embassy there, thank you so much.

Ecuador's foreign minister says that Assange's physical and mental health were seriously declining after living almost seven years in that building. And when you consider his living quarters, that may not be surprising. His room measures just 18 square meters. It was packed with a desk, a dresser, a meeting table, a treadmill, a bookcase, and a mattress. The foreign minister says Assange also rode scooters and played soccer inside the embassy and blasted loudspeakers well after midnight. He says Assange also tried to block security cameras and used an unauthorized cell phone.

And all of it was costing Ecuador a small fortune. The foreign minister says it costs more than $6 million dollars to house Assange all these years. Most of that went towards security expenses, some $5.8 million there. And Ecuador reportedly spent roughly $400,000 dollars on Assange's food, medical, laundry and legal expenses. It seems in many ways, for Ecuador, sheltering Assange became too high a price to pay.

And sometimes the story is just right themselves, especially when it comes to President Trump over this story and his changing stories on the subject, for instance, WikiLeaks and the arrest of Julian Assange. Here's Mr. Trump before his election as president.



This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You got to read it.

It's been amazing what's coming out on WikiLeaks.

This WikiLeaks is fascinating.

This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove.

Getting off the plane, they were just announcing new WikiLeaks, and I wanted to stay there but I didn't want to keep you waiting.

Well, I love reading those WikiLeaks.


ALLEN: Well, here is this from Thursday, just after Assange's arrest from the U.S. president.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Mr. President, do you still love WikiLeaks?

TRUMP: I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It's not my thing. I know there is something having to do with Julian Assange. I've been seeing what happened with Assange. That will be a determination, I would imagine, mostly by the attorney general, who is doing an excellent job. So, he'll be making a determination. I know nothing really about it. It's not my deal in life.


ALLEN: Joining me now to talk about this is CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers. Jennifer, thanks for being with us, good to see you.


ALLEN: Let's begin with the Ecuador embassy where Julian Assange was safely (INAUDIBLE) for some seven years. Why suddenly release him?

RODGERS: Well, it sounds like it has to do with his relationship with the Ecuadorians, and we know that Ecuador had a government change recently. It seems like they just weren't getting along and so it had really nothing to do with the Americans or the Brits.

It sounds like it was just a decision by the Ecuadorian government to eject him essentially from the embassy and that then allowed the Brits to pick him up on an outstanding warrant that they had for a bail jumping essentially.

ALLEN: As we see him being taken away, he certainly didn't go lightly. No one probably expected that for Julian Assange. Can you reflect a little bit on what he has been through and what he is facing now?

RODGERS: Well, you know, I don't really know what he's been through although I think we can all imagine how it would be to stay inside a building for seven years like he did. He did that of course to avoid being criminally charged or facing criminal charges.

What he's facing now is essentially two things, potentially three things. One, of course, is the British charge of not going to a judicial proceeding which is a small matter that I think probably they won't really try to proceed with in the face of the U.S. charges.

United States charges of conspiring to hack into a computer with classified information on it. And then potentially a third thing -- really four things, I guess, third thing being the Swedish charges that have been brought against him and were dropped for rape. It is unclear whether that will resurface. They apparently are thinking about whether to re-file those charges.

And then the U.S. is reportedly considering additional charges against Assange and those may be related to the 2016 release of information by WikiLeaks in connection with the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta's e-mails.

ALLEN: Right. That was a really big deal and the question is will this uncover what we don't know about what may or may not happen there?

RODGERS: Yeah, that's really kind of what a lot of folks here are looking out for.

[02:10:02] If he is charged with releasing that information or conspiring with Russian intelligence assets to hack those e-mails for their ultimate release, that will be very interesting to see what information surfaces in connection with that. We have one of President Trump's close associates, Roger Stone, currently charged here in his role with respect to that information. So, we are all kind of waiting for additional facts on that. If Assange is charged with that and once he appears here to face those charges, we may learn more details about that, that whole incident.

ALLEN: Let's talk about the other big issue when it relates to Julian Assange, Jennifer, and that is the case of free speech. It's also always been about spree speech. One of his lawyers suggested in a statement the indictment could chill press freedoms and journalists should be deeply troubled by the unprecedented charges.

And that was an issue also at the U.S. Justice Department which debated whether prosecuting Assange would indeed encroach on First Amendment protection. So, will that debate be a part of the case?

RODGERS: I think it inevitably will be a part of the case. But they were very careful in the way that they charged him here. They have not charged him with disseminating information that is classified. That would be your kind of classic free speech defense, right? All I've done is publicize information that is classified. That's not what they've charged him with. They've charged him with conspired to hack into computers.

So that is an offense. It really has nothing to do with whether someone is a journalist or any other sort of person with a First Amendment claim. I think they obviously did that purposely. They didn't want to charge him with something that he would have a legitimate First Amendment claim to. So, that was done on purpose.

There are still people saying that it could chill journalist but, you know, really the truth is journalists, of course, should not be involved in conspiracies to hack computers and to steal classified information. If you steer clear of those things, you should steer clear of criminal liability.

ALLEN: Right. By doing that, like you say, by design, does that mean as we see this case move forward that there is still a big question about how do entities like WikiLeaks operate, and whether it's legal for these type of entities (ph) to operate and do what they do, which is expose certain government secrets?

RODGERS: I think it is risky to do that. I mean, there's no question that folks were talking about whether WikiLeaks or Julian Assange would be charged for just the dissemination of classified information or dissemination of hacked information. But that hasn't happened yet. And I think if he is charged for the 2016, WikiLeaks releases, it will also be not just for the dissemination but as a conspiracy with Russian intelligence to hack the information in the first place.

So, yes, if I were a journalist and I were in the business of releasing classified information, I would continue to be worried, but they haven't taken a step here to make me more worried than I would have been yesterday or the day before.

ALLEN: Final question for you, how big of a deal is this case? Finally, the United States looks like they've got Julian Assange and they are going to bring him before them, he's been indicted, and they are going to get him. How big is this?

RODGERS: Well, I think it depends, you know. He's just one person, so it's not that big of a deal as far as the scheme of things, when you look at the Justice Department in the cases they bring. I do think it could be a big deal if it allows us to learn more about what happened in 2016.

Certainly the Russian interference in our election is still a topic that is of great importance to the United States in terms of national security and the more we learn about their efforts, the better. So in that sense, I think it could be a big deal. And I hope that we do learn more through this case and through other means to make sure that that doesn't continue to happen.

ALLEN: We appreciate your insights, Jennifer Rogers for us. Thank you, Jennifer.

RODGERS: Thank you.

ALLEN: We'll have more discussions about this in our next hour. I will interview an expert from Australia on international law. Of course, Julian Assange is an Australian citizen.

Our next story reverts to Sudan which is facing an uncertain future now after its long-term dictator, Omar al-Bashir, was ousted in coup and a military council took over. For months, nationwide protests had demanded he stepped down.


ALLEN (voice-over): And activists now say they won't rest until the military hands over power to a civilian government. They plan to keep the demonstrations going until that happens. CNN's Farai Sevenzo is following this for us.

[02:15:00] He is in Nairobi, Kenya for us.


ALLEN: Hello to you, Farai. The president is out in Sudan after 30 years. The question, who might take his place? Will the political system change in the citizens' favor?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely not, Natalie. This morning, a day after, a man who had ruled Sudan was thrown away after 30 years in power. The military is still in charge. We are hearing reports that defense minister, who is also vice president, Mr. Ahmed Awad lbn Auf, has been sworn in as the man in charge of the Military Transitional Council, which will take charge for about two years.

We also know that there is going to be several months of -- three months, I believe, of state of emergency. For another month, between the hours of 10:00 to 4:00 a.m., there will be a curfew in the city of Khartoum. Now, of course, the Sudanese people are very unhappy about this, especially people who organized these protests that have been going on since December 2018, remember, Natalie. They're saying this is not what the people have been coming out on the streets for. They want a move to civilian transition.

At the moment, things are very tense, indeed. Then you put on top of all of that mixture, the idea that this new man in charge of the Military Transitional Council is under United States sanctions for his part in the atrocities and therefore -- and then of course, we know that Mr. Omar al-Bashir himself is wanted by the international criminal court.

So there are a lot of people within that military Kabul (ph) that ran this country for over 30 years, that the people of Sudan said they do not trust, Natalie.

ALLEN: And as you mentioned, the young people that are out on the streets, they are reportedly going to defy a curfew and stay out on the streets. This has been a peaceful protest, but is there concern as this drags on for their safety?

SEVENZO: Absolutely. The issue of youth, this is very important, as you pointed out, Natalie. Remember, many of these people that are going out, this new generation, are under 30. All the universities are close. They are very young people who are defying this. I mean, the other day, we saw horrific images of gunfire everywhere, but they still stay despite the gunfire.

And when the military, some of the soldiers went on their side, they still stayed. So there's a great deal of concern about safety, Natalie. Consider this: If there's going to be a curfew for the next month and the new military authorities wiped (ph) these people off the streets, and the people refused to leave, we are heading of course to an obvious confrontation. Let's see how the day turns out.

ALLEN: And we thank. We will stay in close contact with you as we follow the story, Farai Sevenzo for us. Thank you, Farai.

We are also following an attack that has occurred in Pakistan. Police tell CNN a bomb blast at a fruit market in Quetta has killed 16 people, wounded more than two dozen others. So far, no immediate claim of responsibility. One government official said in a statement, "We will not bow before terrorists."

The White House came out with the plan to send crowds of detained migrants to certain American cities. Just let them go. Well, why the U.S. president thought that would be a message and a punishment for his political rivals. We will delve into that coming up here.

Also, an Israeli spacecraft almost makes it safely to the moon. Then the worst happened. We will explain.


ALLEN: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." A source tells CNN that U.S. President Donald Trump personally pushed a plan to release detained immigrants into so-called American sanctuary cities. The White House proposed the idea to the Department of Homeland Security as a way to retaliate against Democrats who opposed his border wall. But Homeland Security lawyers stopped that plan, saying it would likely be illegal.

Let's get more details on this with senior U.S. justice correspondent Evan Perez, joining us now. Evan, what are you hearing about this plan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, this is a plan that was considered inside the Homeland Security Department. It came from the White House. At one point, even President Trump raised it was pushing for the secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, to carry it out.

The idea was to alleviate some of the pressure on a very full facility that had a lot of people in it by essentially bashing immigrants to what are known as "sanctuary cities," the cities in the United States that do not cooperate in turning over illegal immigrants to the Homeland Security Department to immigration authorities.

And so the idea was to punish some of these cities which are largely democratic-leaning. They are not supporters of Donald Trump. The idea was to politically punish those places, including members of Congress who don't support President Trump's border wall by essentially flooding them with these immigrants, releasing them in those cities.

Obviously, that is something that is not only politically unpalatable to the Homeland Security Department, but also the lawyers there thought that it would be likely illegal for them to do that, to carry it out. They said this is something that has angered members of Congress, especially Democrats who feel that essentially immigrants and children were going to be used as pawns as part of a political retribution against the president's opponents and the president's critics on his immigration policy.

ALLEN: Right. And to that, we had a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whose district is in a sanctuary city saying, "Using human beings including little children as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable." So we know this isn't going to happen, but is this related somewhat to the White House pushing out the head of Homeland Security?

PEREZ (via telephone): It's definitely one of the things that was adding to the dissatisfaction by the president as well as his senior adviser, Stephen Miller, who was behind a lot of these very hardline policies. The president looks at these policies as a key to his reelection. The idea of a crackdown on immigration is something that is popular with a small segment of the American electorate, and so he believes that this is the way for him to be re-elected. And so that's what's driving a lot of these policies and these ideas.

Kirstjen Nielsen obviously was in a very tough position because even though she went along with some of the policies including the separation of families, there were things that the Homeland Security Department felt were too far for them to go along with.

[02:25:05] And so that led to a lot of the president's dissatisfaction with her and why there had been a purge of some of the officials at the Homeland Security Apartment. Bear in mind that some of the lawyers including the general counsel of the Homeland Security Department who refused to go along with this plan of bashing immigrants to the sanctuary cities are among the people who Stephen Miller and the White House officials are still trying to get fired from the Homeland Security Department.

ALLEN: We know that the White House is rebuilding Homeland Security, so it will be interesting to see what policies they look to try and push through with a new team. Evan Perez, talking with us about this developing story. Thanks very much, Evan.

PEREZ (via telephone): Thank you.

ALLEN: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump administration will not bring back the policy of separating migrant families at the border. Pence spent the day touring the border in Arizona and stressed that America needs to fix its broken immigration system.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no question that the people are suffering on both sides of the border. I just finished walking through the detention center, and every American has a heavy heart. The fact that we have loopholes in our laws today, the human traffickers and drug cartels are using to entice vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous journey from Central America to come in to our country illegally.


ALLEN: Customs and Border Protection says 92,000 undocumented migrants were arrested along the southern border in March alone. That's one month. And that's up 37,000 from last year.

When we come back, Julian Assange, the Russia connection, just how did he get those Democratic e-mails and there's something curious about this.

Also, the U.S. and South Korea are talking about the possibility of talking again with North Korea, but Mr. Trump says it all depends on the North's unpredictable leader. That story ahead in a live report. Stay with us.


ALLEN: Welcome back. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top news this hour. Protesters in Sudan are urging anti-government demonstrators to stay in the streets even after the ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. The military is now in control of the country.

[02:30:00] ALLEN: Protesters want them to step aside for a new civilian government.

CNN has learned the White House of U.S. President Trump pushed the Department of Homeland Security to implement a plan that would send detained immigrants to so-called sanctuary cities across the country. It was intended in part to retaliate against Democrats who oppose Mr. Trump's border wall. But Homeland Security lawyer said the plan would likely be illegal.

WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, taken into custody in London, Thursday. He resisted arrest and was carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy where he has spent the past seven years in self-imposed exile.

A British judge found him guilty of violating his bail. Assange now faces possible extradition to the United States on one count of conspiring to steal military secrets.

But Assange could very well face other charges in the United States, in particular for his role and posting hacked democratic e-mails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And, of course, how he got those e-mails. That is where Russia comes in.

For more about that, here's Matthew Chance for us in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the posting of this classified footage of a deadly American airstrike killing Iraqi journalists in 2007 that earned WikiLeaks and Julian Assange of with the United States.

The U.S. have tried to keep the incident under wraps, calling it a tragic accident. Only after it was posted online for all to see.


CHANCE: Later, embarrassing damps of classified U.S. diplomatic cables and secret files on Guantanamo Bay, have now left the WikiLeaks founder facing U.S. criminal charges, and request to the United Kingdom his extradition.

But there are other U.S. suspicions too.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

CHANCE: Of malign Kremlin contacts after WikiLeaks dumped thousands of hacked Democratic Party e-mails in 2016 amplifying alleged Russian- U.S. election interference.

Although in his last CNN interview later in 2016, Julian Assange from his Ecuadorian embassy hiding place, categorically refused to tell me the source of his leaks.

CHANCE (on-camera): I mean, how concerned are you that the e-mails that WikiLeaks has released? Could have been hacked by the Russian secret services and could have been released to you as a way of manipulating or influencing the U.S. presidential election.

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: Well, what we try and do as a source protection organization is, we like to create maximum ambiguity as to who our sources are. Because maybe it was a hard drive that came from e-bay, maybe consultants, maybe activists, maybe state actors, maybe --

CHANCE: But you're not specifically ruling out the Russian secret services, are you? So, who are you protecting?

ASSANGE: Well, perhaps one day, the source or sources will step forward and that might be an interesting moment. Some people will have egg on their faces. It will be interesting.

CHANCE (voce-over): But the only face with egg on it, so far, is the Kremlin's. The U.S. Justice Department says Russian military intelligence transferred the democratic e-mails to WikiLeaks. Twelve of its serving agents have been indicted. Despite the fact Russia denies any official involvement. Casting the hackers instead as patriotic freelances.

Free like artists. The Russian president explained when confronted on the issue. If they're patriotic, they fight against those who speak badly about Russia, he added, inclusively.

It's probably coincidental that the only camera recording the Assange arrest in London was from Russian state television. But the condemnation from Moscow seems carefully calculated. The Russian foreign ministry calling this the hand of democracy squeezing the throat of freedom.

But for his critics, this controversial whistle blower is a tool of the Kremlin. A coconspirator employed to disrupt democracy. And finally getting his just desserts.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


ALLEN: The U.S. president suggested he is open to a third summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. But the ball is in Mr. Kim's court. And that comes as South Korea's leader is pushing for new talks.

President Moon Je-in met with Mr. Trump at the White House Thursday to discuss the possibility. One important issue, U.S. sanctions.

[02:35:02] This week, North Korea warned, "It would deal a telling blow to hostile forces," that's a quote, a telling blow to hostile forces who thinks sanctions can crippled the country. But Mr. Trump says he's happy to keep him in place, because they're at a fair level.

Let's talk about these developments with Paula Hancocks, as always. She is in Seoul, South Korea for us. And, Paula, hello to you.

I want to talk about first what the president said about keeping sanctions in place, but not doing anything further about it. What might the response be from North Korea?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, the North Koreans won't be happy with that. Mr. Trump clearly thought that by saying that he wasn't going to increase sanctions that have been suggested by, for example, his national security advisor, John Bolton. He assume that that is some kind of a concession.

But for North Korea, they don't believe that these sanctions are at a fair level as the U.S. president said. They want to see sanctions lifted. So that is a real key difference.

We did see potentially some more wiggle room in what the U.S. president was saying. Saying that there could be potentially a step by step process. But saying it is not going to be a fast process.

Saying that if they do a fast deal, then it's not going to be a good deal. We did though, within this meeting between President Moon and President Trump, see a fundamental difference in how they want to proceed.

We heard Mr. Trump say that he wants the big deal. He wants to have complete denuclearization and that is what he is working towards. The South Koreans, however, has said that they would be happier with a small deal. A small deal is better than no-deal, they say. They want to have momentum. And President Moon clearly wants to get the relationship back on track between Washington and Pyongyang.

So it's a real fundamental differences to the way that they want to go forward. They both did agree though, according to the -- at the meeting afterwards, that they don't believe North Korea is going to go back to the nuclear path. They do believe that Kim Jong-un is going to continue along the economic path.

More interesting thing that Moon Jae-in said is that he will try and push for another inter-Korean summit. That as soon as he gets back to Seoul from Washington, he will try to get in touch with North Koreans, suggest that they do meet once again.

ALLEN: And is that seen as an important steppingstone, perhaps to this third summit that Mr. Trump talked about with North Korea? Because we certainly know that the first two didn't achieve anything concrete for denuclearization. So, what would be on the line with the objectives in the third meeting? And what role might South Korea play?

HANCOCKS: Well, critics would argue that you didn't achieve anything in the first two summits, as you say, so why have a third summit? We did hear from the two leaders that they agreed to top down approach is the best approach. That the leaders should be meeting and hammering out the details as opposed to working level talks, which is what you usually see in these kind of scenarios in summits between leaders.

So what President Moon wants at this point is to keep these talks alive. That he has staked a huge amount of his credibility on making sure that the U.S. and North Korea are talking on making sure that the inter-Korean relationship is improving. But recently, the cooperation between North and South Korea has been at a standstill since the Hanoi summit and since that ended with any kind of agreement. South Korea, at this point, is carrying out searches along the DMZ for remains of fighters from the Korean War on its own. That was supposed to be a joint effort and it was up until Hanoi.

So certainly from President Moon's point of view, he's in a tricky situation. But he wants to try and push the situation forward by saying he is happy and wants to have further talks with North Korea. He's then going to try and lay the groundwork for a potential third U.S. North Korea summit.

And President Trump has been very clear that he wants President Moon to walk -- work towards that as well and get back to him as soon as he has any kind of information.

ALLEN: All right. We will see what happens next. We always appreciate it. Paula Hancocks for us there in Seoul. Thanks, Paula.

More pressure from Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro. The International Monetary Fund says Venezuela isn't getting one penny of 400 million dollars in IMF aid money, because of the political chaos gripping the country.

The IMF, along with the World Bank, still is not sure whether to recognize Venezuelan assembly president, Juan Guaido, as the country's leader.

More than 50 nations, including the U.S. have already thrown their support behind Guaido.

Well this comes as U.S. has been stopping imports of the Maduro government's main source of revenue that, of course, oil.

CNN traveled to western Venezuela to visit the heart of oil country. Once a thriving region, its rigs are now in shambles.

[02:40:06] Our David McKenzie spoke with some oil workers and brings us their stories.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Venezuelan oil workers giving us a rare look inside their crumbling industry.

They brought to the Salina's oil fields. It's risky speaking out, they could be fired or detained by Venezuelan intelligence, but they want the truth to get out.

"Populism finished all of this," he says, "Do you see this? Nothing works anymore. The government finished us completely."

They say successive Venezuelan regimes used state oil company, PDVSA as a slush fund for socialist programs and their own personal gain. MCKENZIE (on-camera): This entire coast line is just covered in oil sludge. The regime blames the collapse of the oil industry on the U.S. But it's been collapsing for years.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Trump administration sanctions could make it worse. The U.S. was PDVSA's biggest customer. In March, the U.S. bought zero barrels of oil. The first time since the 70's.

And the retired oil workers would help build this company say they gave decades of their lives for almost nothing. Some say they are forced to eat dog food. They say their pensions worth five dollars a month.

"It's outrageous. Outrageous. Look at us," he says. We don't have money for medication, for food. Soon, we'll have to bring our dead colleagues to this protest."

"Normal? Well, normal if you're living in this country," he says.

"I want America to take out Maduro, to get him out of here," he says. He's stealing from the people. He's taking food from us."

Now, they're taking for themselves. Last week, looters ransacked this pharmacy looking for medicine.

And nearby a Maracaibo, a mob spent two days tearing a hotel apart. They even ripped out the carpets.

The true scale of Venezuela's crisis becomes clear when the sun sets. Business leaders say it's like the walking dead. A zombie economy with 80 percent of businesses closed here. And this energy-rich region, people are left a shelter in their homes in darkness.

David McKenzie, CNN, Maracaibo, Venezuela.


ALLEN: Coming up here, a mission to the moon, a successful launch. But the arrival, well, let's put it this way, Israel, we have a problem. We'll explain coming up here.

Also, British lawmakers have a bit of breathing room before Brexit. But the rest of Britain is losing patience. How a dose of dry humor is keeping the public staying. That's next as well. Stay with us.


[02:45:35] ALLEN,: Well, they tried. An Israeli spacecraft made it tantalizingly close to a soft landing on the moon. The scientists suddenly had to deal with some hard facts. CNN's Oren Liebermann has that for us.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Moments before the Israeli spacecraft called Beresheet was supposed to land on the moon. The team in the control room in Israel lost communications with the craft. At the same time, it was experiencing issues with its main engine.

The $100 million privately funded spacecraft was well into its landing sequence, traveling at more than 2,100 miles an hour, about 75 miles from its intended landing site, according to the telemetry data being fed in live in the problems began and escalated quickly.

There was a moment of silence in the control room, and one of those monitoring the landing sequence said, "There is a suspicion that we did not land on the moon in the best fashion. We're trying to clarify the matter."

Just a short time later, one of the team leader said, "I'm sorry to say, we didn't make it to the moon in one piece. Beresheet spacecraft had crashed." Trying to put a positive spin on the accomplishment, the team leader said, "We made it all the way to the moon, we're the seventh country to make it all the way to the moon.

Had this been successful? Will, they made Israel the fourth country to ever soft land a spacecraft on the moon, essentially a controlled landing on the lunar surface? The other countries, the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and China -- all world powers. Israel would have been by far the smallest country and the smallest program.

Some even joke that instead of calling the spacecraft, Beresheet, which means in Hebrew, the beginning of the Bible, in the beginning, it should have been called Chutzpah, for Israel believing it had the goal to pull this one off.

In the end, to keep the weight of the craft down, there were very few redundancy's built in, and the landing was always going to be the most difficult part. And it was in that landing sequence that Beresheet crash on the lunar surface. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

ALLEN: Had to be quite the disappointment. But elsewhere in the solar system, an American company is celebrating. SpaceX launched its first ever mission for a paying customer with its Falcon Heavy rocket on Thursday.

There she goes. It's in a satellite into orbit for a Saudi Arabian company. What makes the mission unique? Is that its three massively powerful rocket boosters returned to earth -- here they come back. Making them reusable and thereby lowering future cost. Pretty cool stuff.

We're also learning more about being in space, extended stays there can change the human body in many ways right down to the genetic level. A NASA study reach that conclusion after comparing American astronauts Scott Kelly on the right there, with his identical brother, Mark.

Scott, spent almost a year in space while his twin remained on earth. Researcher state that the study suggests human health can be mostly sustained for a year in space despite changes in weight, gut bacteria, and cognitive abilities. Astronaut Kelly's body return to normal six months after he came back to earth. Well, Brexit has been delayed given lawmakers a few extra months to see if they can dig themselves out of the unholy mess they've created. Nick Glass takes a look at a how humorous an artists are turning the country's mess into masterpieces.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were all also familiar now what the B-word, just to animate the cartoons, and he has a movie franchise, Theresa May crashed the pilot. Also from the Guardian, May plucked. From the New Yorker, walk on part Big Ben has cuckoo clock.

So, what are they all looking at here, why all the mobile phones? Well, a simple reason, a big painting by the street artist Banksy is back on show in Bristol. His version of the House of Commons. The image has been widely disseminated on Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so tropical I think we go, yes.

GLASS: Sorry, sorry, out. Sorry out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wondering why it's actually not based on that actual photo from Parliament. You can imagine that they probably are that (INAUDIBLE), and picking the noses, and as it loaded among screaming over there.

[02:50:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think they're all monkeys. I think Parliament are doing a good job of not passing a mess, not making a big mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way they're behaving recently, I don't think he's gone far enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the country has developed now around the political situation is the kind of God help us all. We've got to laugh, there's nothing left to do.

GLASS: The artist John Springs has worked obsessively on this huge Brexit canvas for almost two years. Jean-Claude Juncker, driving in apparent gravy train in a hellish vision partly inspired by Hieronymus Bosch.

JOHN SPRINGS, ARTIST AND CARICATURIST: He come for the hazel spikes anymore. So, this is all you can do. Through humor, it has a rather comforting effect, and it's the biggest people in that together, about the remainers or Brexiteers.

GLASS: A more sobering response to Brexit, Broxit, We All Fall Down.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brexit. GLASS: The fact is that simply no escaping the B-word, used teasingly to promote bookmakers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brexit, it's like Boris Johnson. He's the only one who doesn't seem to complete disaster. It's why you, my dear British jump must hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

GLASS: And for a television newspaper ad, the Commons turned into an open-plan zoo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could talk to the animals, learned their learners, maybe I take an animal degree.

GLASS: And Edvard Munch exhibition has just opened at the British Museum with an original lithograph of The Scream. The London Evening Standard cartoonists just couldn't resist it.

The museum was so impressed. It acquired his Theresa May version for its collection. The truth is we all need cheering up at this Brexacious time, and being British that means ever darker art wit and satire. Nick Glass, CNN, in London.


ALLEN: There will, of course, be more cartoons to come because Brexit goes on.

All right. We want to show you what springtime looks like in the United States. Well, some states getting pummeled with a blizzard. Derek Van Dam will tell you about the spring snow, right after this.


ALLEN: It might be springtime in the United States, but you couldn't tell it in Minnesota, where there are snow and blizzard conditions. A trooper was directing traffic around a truck on the highway right there. Look at that, when he got knocked down by a gust of wind. The Minnesota state patrol says he wasn't injured. We're happy to say.

The misery from this late-season snowstorm is not quite over, either. Derek Van Dam, joins us with the latest. Have you seen that?

[02:49:32] DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Wow. That's the first time I've seen that video. That's incredible.

ALLEN: Yes. Yes.

VAN DAM: I mean that just shows you the full force behind the system. And if the satellite imagery on the left doesn't explain it all in a million words, I don't know what else does. I mean, this thing is just incredible to look at. It's almost mesmerizing. The low pressure just spinning its way across the central plain states, and a significant amount of moisture associated with this, fortunately, it is slowly starting to ease up and move north within the Canada as well. Let's talk about the impacts that this had on parts of the Midwest because obviously, were significant. You saw the video just a moment ago, but that's not only -- the only social media video that we've seen come out of the region.

Check out this -- well, porch swing getting just completely pushed around in the strong gusty winds. This is coming out of southwestern Minnesota. A lot of flat land there so winds can easily pick up across that region quite quickly. And you know, there's still blizzard conditions taking place across portions of western Minnesota and into the Dakotas.

Remember, in order for a storm to have blizzard conditions, you need to have visibilities under 3/4 of a mile and winds sustained over 35 miles per hour for a three hour period. So that actually is the official definition for blizzard conditions.

Now, Minneapolis is starting to transition into rainfall. They're starting to get into the warmer side of the storm. You can also see a few showers and thunderstorms moving into the Great Lakes region.

So, they've had the entire four seasons all bundled up into about a 24 hour period. So an incredibly powerful storm system, lots of energy. But as I mentioned before, the majority of it is starting to move eastward and kind of break apart as it does so. But, so still, some impressive snowfall totals coming out of South

Dakota right through Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and portions of Minnesota. Here is the storm system rain edges eastward. Here's the wind. You can see how it's starting to die down, although there could still be some travel delays from Chicago, to Detroit, as well as Minneapolis today. So, double-check your flight plans.

Rainfall totals looking pretty impressive. But one thing I want to show you is what's happening a little further to the south as we edge into the early parts of the weekend. And on Saturday, well, it's going to get interesting. This is the next storm that we're monitoring coming out of Texas and into Louisiana, we have the potential for a widespread severe weather outbreak. Especially, Saturday afternoon.

Latest information from the Storm Prediction Center, Natalie, has a moderate risk of severe weather. And when we see that this far in advance, that means that they're becoming more and more certain that severe storms with possible tornadoes could break out Saturday afternoon across this area. So, something will monitor very closely.

ALLEN: All right, it's a teased season for tornadoes. But it's not for snow.

VAN DAM: Teased season. Yes, right.

ALLEN: Derek, thank you. Thank you for joining us this hour. I'm Natalie Allen. I'll be right back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN.