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Trump Denies He Ever Worked For Russia; Source: Trump Letter Hand Delivered To Kim; Antarctica CE Melt Has Increased By 280 percent in Last 40 Years; Geographical Bloopers Can Happen To Anyone. Aired 2- 3a ET
Aired January 15, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I am Rosemary Church with your next two hours of CNN NEWSROOM. Let's get started.
The U.K. Parliament set to hold a make or break vote on Brexit. And the odds are stacked against Theresa May's plan for leaving the European Union.
Plus, Donald Trump initially refused to answer but now the American president says he never worked for Russia. This after revelations that the FBI had looked in to whether Mr. Trump was taking directions from Moscow.
And a Canadian man sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking. A ruling that could have larger implications for relations between the two countries.
CHURCH: It's decision day in the U.K. for prime minister Theresa May and her Brexit deal with the European Union, lawmakers are expected to reject the plan when they vote in the coming hours.
If that happens Britain could be forced to leave the E.U. at the end of march with no deal at all. Others are pushing hard for a second Brexit referendum; opposition leaders say if the vote fails, Ms. May's government should go but she is refusing to budge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So I say to members on all sides of this house, whatever you may have previously concluded, over these next 24 hours, give this deal a second look.
No, it is not perfect and, yes, it is a compromise. But when the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this house tomorrow and ask, did we deliver on the country's vote to leave the European Union? Did we safeguard our economy, our security and our union or did we let
the British people down?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: The government is in disarray. It is clear. If the prime minister's deal is rejected tomorrow, it is time for a general election. It is time for a new government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Let's get more on all of this, CNN business reporter Hadas Gold is live this hour outside 10 Downing Street in London. And our Melissa Bell is standing by in Brussels.
Good to have you both with us.
So, Hadas, let's start with you, how bad is this defeat for Theresa May likely to be and what are the options ahead defending on the margin of defeat?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, so we seem to be heading to a crushing defeat for Theresa May in a few hours during that vote in Parliament here tonight. But the margin of defeat will be important. She could lose anywhere from 100-200 votes.
If there's a smaller margin then she might go back to the European Union and ask for some extra concessions. She can say you can give me these three things and maybe I can convince enough members of parliament onto my side.
Remember there was a recent amendment passed, that's she only has three days to come back with a new statement or new plan. If the margin of defeat is larger, then we could see her maybe abandon her deal altogether, go for a different plan, maybe a Norway style.
It's not entirely clear which direction she will go. She will be having a cabinet meeting here in the next few hours, I am sure that will be discussed. But if she is defeated, there will be a lot of other things happening in the background.
Jeremy Corbyn has indicated that he may table a no confidence vote and try to trigger a general election and kick Theresa May and the Conservative Party out of power.
But there is one of the few consensus we have in Parliament is nobody really wants a no-deal scenario other than the more harder Brexiteers. What that means is of all these scenarios, we'll probably need an extension to the March 29th exit date.
So that means some talks with the European Union to somehow extend that date forward. But we are in clearly uncharted territory.
CHURCH: Let's talk about that with Melissa, who joins us from Brussels.
So how is the European Union reacting to all of this and how likely is it that the E.U. will allow an extension of time so Britain can figure it all out?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brussels is watching very closely. One the things interesting this morning, given all the focus and talk we have had the last few days in the United Kingdom about this, is that the rest of Europe is not looking at terribly much.
Neither are the German press nor the French are preoccupied with anything other than internal political matters. When you look at the --
BELL: -- Belgian press there is more interest. The Flemish and the Francophone-Belgian press, two years of negotiations now in peril. So a lot of interest here in Brussels but not much in the rest of the Europe, where, frankly, the Brexit has fairly well been factored in and they have really stopped paying that much attention, as preoccupied as they are with their internal matters.
But, of course, a great deal of interest here. Hadas was mentioning in fact, depending on this size of the defeat, that's where we are, that's what we are talking about this morning as we watch developments in Westminster, preparing for that vote tonight, it is the size of that defeat that will determine what strength Theresa May has when she gets to Brussels after the vote, possibly later this week.
But it's very difficult to see regardless of what her position is and the state of her political fragility what more the European Union can do. The letter that was published yesterday from Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk was as far as the E.U. could go to reassure the skeptical MPs, especially on the right of the Conservative Party, and the crucial Ulster Unionist Party of the importance that is attached in the E.U. to finding a quick solution that would avoid that controversial backstop for lasting too long or being as awkward as some MPs imagine that it might be for them.
Beyond that it's difficult to see what they can do. The European Union has been very hardline, very intransigent about renegotiating any of the terms and concessions. You have to remember politically, from this side, from the European Union side, we are heading in to European elections and the signal from E.U. leaders has to be that leaving the E.U., especially given the rise of populism, is never going to be an easy matter.
It was never going to be a piece of cake. There was no reason for the Europeans to make it any easier and that remains true today. Possibly the only things that can be done is an extension of time. That is probably the only thing the E.U. could give Theresa May when she comes back to Brussels asking for more, is more time.
The current parliamentary session ends in July and the speculation is that perhaps European Union leaders could say, you have a little bit more time to figure it out.
But even then, what more does that give Theresa May or the British political establishment other than an extended period of uncertainty and perhaps further questions about precisely what will happen, whether Brexit will or will not happen and what kind of Brexit we are going to be dealing with?
CHURCH: Exactly right. We'll know in a few hours, a little bit more, at least. Melissa Bell, many thanks to you in Brussels, and Hadas Gold at 10 Downing Street. Thanks for that.
You can stay with CNN for special Brexit coverage all day leading up to the vote and well after it. We will have live reports from London, Brussels and around the world on the impact of Parliament's decision.
An angry and combative Donald Trump came out swinging after several explosive reports surfaced over the weekend. The subject: his dealings with Russia. On Monday, Mr. Trump was forced to reassure his country that, no, he has never worked for Russia. Jessica Schneider has the details.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A weekend of bombshell reports casting questions about President Trump's real relationship with Russia, prompting this response from the president on the White House lawn this morning.
TRUMP: I never worked for Russia. Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The president's pushback coming after several stunning reports about Russia, including "The Washington Post's" revelation that the president confiscated his interpreter's notes following a meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany in 2017.
Current and former U.S. officials also tell "The Post," the president instructed his interpreter not to discuss the meeting with other administration officials.
TRUMP: It's great to be with you.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Trump and Putin have met five times in the past two years and while it's unknown if the president gave similar instructions to his interpreter every time, officials say they were not able to get a reliable readout of the two leaders' two-hour meeting in Helsinki this past summer where no aides or other cabinet officials were present.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA.), VICE CHAIR, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The American government does not know what was discussed between Trump and Vladimir Putin in that frankly pathetic, embarrassing encounter, where Trump was kowtowing on the world stage to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Now two House committees plan to subpoena the interpreter's records from the G20 meeting in 2017.
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), N.Y.: What we are not going to do is sit back and do nothing. We are going try to get to the bottom of this.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The president characterizing it all as business as usual.
TRUMP: I have those meetings one-on-one with all leaders, including the president of China, including prime minister --
TRUMP: -- of Japan, Abe, we have those meetings all the time. No big deal.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): CNN is also learning new details about the FBI investigation into the firing of James Comey. Transcripts from closed-door congressional testimony with several FBI officials detail how the bureau considered the possibility that the president fired Comey at the behest of the Russian government.
Then FBI general counsel James Baker told Congress about discussions at the time, saying, "We need to investigate because we don't know whether the worst case scenario is possibly true or the president is totally innocent."
After the firing a source tells CNN the FBI opened an obstruction of justice investigation into the president that also had a counter intelligence component to investigate why the president was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia. Today, the president slammed the FBI for opening both facets of that investigation.
TRUMP: The people doing that investigation were people that have been caught, that are known scoundrels, they're, I guess you could say they are dirty cops.
SCHNEIDER: The president seeming to refer there in part to former FBI officials like James Comey and Andrew McCabe. McCabe is the one who decided to open the counterintelligence part of the probe.
But it's worth noting that McCabe was actually fired from the FBI last March for misleading investigators about leaks to the media, in part concerning an investigation related to The Clinton Foundation and nothing to do with President Trump -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: And we are joined now by CNN contributor and former Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty.
Good to have you with us, Jill.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rosemary.
CHURCH: It's an unprecedented moment in American presidential history with the leader of this country forced to answer whether he was working for the Russians. Vladimir Putin must be smiling right now.
What's the reaction in Russia both officially and in the media?
DOUGHERTY: Officially they continue to say this is so ridiculous to even talk about that you know, that would there is no way that Russia ever was complicit with Donald Trump in anything, that they did not influence the election, et cetera.
Officially, you continue to hear pretty much what you have heard before. But then you get down to less official or, lets say, newspaper sites with experts who have their opinions.
And that's where I think you get some very interesting approaches, which really are a lot of criticism of President Trump. Some -- I was reading one article, where they talked about him as the U.S. leader, famous for his explosive temperament.
They talk about the attack by the deep state on Donald Trump, trying to remove him from office. But I think the difficulty for Russia right now is that they realize that, in a way, they are not getting directly what they wanted, which was the removal of sanctions.
But indirectly, by actually not doing much of anything and just letting Donald Trump do what he is doing, that they are actually getting a lot more than they ever expected. I mean, you know, this debate in the United States, regardless of what you think about it, is really disastrous for the image of the United States around the world.
And the fact that we are debating that the president could be an agent of Russia is also so explosive and crazy that Russia can essentially -- and that is what they are doing -- stand back and say, look at the United States, they are completely out of control. Their politics don't work, they are not example of democracy for the rest of the world, as they have been saying all along. So a many levels Russia benefits from this. And really Putin doesn't have to do anything but stand back and watch.
CHURCH: And enjoy it. It's stunning.
How is Russia taking advantage of the chaos at the White House?
And what could be the possible ramifications of a U.S. president failing to keep a record of his discussions with a Russian president, essentially allowing the Kremlin to be the only ones in possession of details of that presidential meeting?
DOUGHERTY: On that specific point, it is a real problem. Because again, several layers of things to think about.
The president is involved in a direct discussion with the leader of another country and he can make commitments, statements, he can commit the United States to do something that goes far beyond what the United States should do or what the policy is.
Mr. Putin is very persuasive, Mr. --
DOUGHERTY: -- Putin actually does know these subjects inside and out. So there is a definite advantage in his court. You get into the president's team, not knowing what he may have committed to or even spoken about. It makes it very difficult for them for know how can they support him in what he is trying to do.
And then finally, you know, as you mentioned, President Putin has a notetaker and an interpreter and coordinates as far as we know with them. And he also speaks English and Donald Trump, as far as I know, does not speak Russian.
So there is an advantage there. And then finally, long-term, it's very bad for history and understanding where the United States is going with all of this and, specifically, with the foreign policy of Donald Trump.
CHURCH: Jill Dougherty, it is extraordinary. And I know you have been following events from Moscow and here in the United States for many, many years. This is totally unprecedented we'll watch to see what happens, Jill Dougherty, again, thank you so very much.
Speaking of Trump and Russia, Donald Trump's team has rebuffed special counsel Robert Mueller's recent request for an in-person interview with the president. Mueller wants to ask follow-up questions after the president's team submitted written answers to a limited number of queries.
One source familiar with the matter says Mueller is not satisfied, if Mueller were to subpoena Mr. Trump, legal precedence suggests that he has to answer questions under oath.
The Mueller investigation will likely come up in Tuesday's confirmation hearing for William Barr. He is President Trump's pick for attorney general. Barr, as a private citizen, wrote a 19-page memo about the Mueller investigation.
That memo was shared with Mr. Trump's lawyers and others last year. Barr concluded that the president's interactions with his former FBI director, James Comey, did not constitute obstruction of justice.
This news just in to CNN. In Japan, bail has been denied for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn. The Tokyo district court took the action just a short time ago. Ghosn was indicted on two more allegations of financial misconduct on Friday. He has been in jail since his rearrest in December.
A death sentence is sparking accusations from Canada. Why China says this man deserves to die.
Plus, new details on why the U.S. National Security Council, headed by John Bolton, was asking for plans to strike Iran last year. We'll have details on that when we come back.
CHURCH: Poland is in mourning after the brazen killing of the mayor of Gdansk. Pawel Adamowicz was stabbed in front of thousands of people at a charity event on Sunday. A 27-year-old suspect is in custody.
Authorities say he has a criminal record, including bank robbery, and that he blamed the mayor and his party for being sent to prison.
The mayor was a progressive who championed immigrants, minorities and gay rights. People have been honoring him with vigils they are also condemning the hostile rhetoric in Polish politics. The European Council President, Donald Tusk, was born in Gdansk. Here is what he told the city on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL (through translator): And today I want to promise to dear God, in all names, the people of Gdansk, Poles and Europeans, that for you and for everyone, we will protect our Gdansk, our Poland and our Europe, that hatred will not prevail. We will stand up against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Donald Tusk there.
A court in China has sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug trafficking in a case that could further strain diplomatic ties between the two countries. Robert Schellenberg was found guilty of trying to struggle more than 200 kilograms of meth to Australia.
His legal team plans to appeal. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau criticized the court's decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply death penalty in cases facing -- as in this case facing a Canadian.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Now this comes as China protests Canada's arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou. The U.S. accuses the Huawei CFO of violating sanctions against Iran.
For more, CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing and joins us now.
Steven, how much of this is about payback for the arrest of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada as some critics suggest? Or is there sufficient evidence against Schellenberg to support the drug smuggling case against him?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: Rosemary, what stands out in this case is the timing. Because Schellenberg was actually arrested back in December 2014. And it took almost four years for a Chinese court to hand down his first conviction as an accessory to drug smuggling and a sentence of 15 years in prison last November, even though he had insisted all along that he was an innocent tourist being framed.
But after he appealed that decision, however, what happened was the Meng arrest in Canada. Then his case has become fast tracked. He got an appeal hearing during which the court sided with the prosecution, who claimed they had uncovered new evidence to prove that he was a principal offender not just an accessory.
Then two weeks later on Monday, yesterday, he stood a new trial and was then quickly convicted and sentenced to death.
One thing to keep in mind of course is the ruling Community Party is in absolute control of the judicial system and officials and state media here have warned all along that Canada would face serious consequences if it does not release Ms. Meng.
That's why the latest conviction has convinced more people that Schellenberg has become a pawn in this increasingly nasty diplomatic fight.
CHURCH: It is unfortunate timing.
Schellenberg's lawyers plan to appeal his death penalty.
What will likely come of such a move?
JIANG: Well, unfortunately, chances of this kind of a conviction being overturned on appeal is extremely low. And also keep in mind, as Schellenberg is not the only Canadian facing this kind of serious consequences, Chinese authorities have detained two other Canadian citizens on national security grounds after Meng's arrest, even though Beijing denied any links between these cases involving Canadians and Meng's arrest.
But it's increasingly clear there is a connection with even China's own ambassador to Canada last week, who wrote in an op-ed piece, saying these detentions are China's quote-unquote "self-defense" -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: All right, many thanks to Steven Jiang, joining us live --
CHURCH: -- from Beijing.
Well, U.S. President Donald Trump may be trying to patch things up with Turkey. The White House says he spoke with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, this just a day after he threatened in a tweet to devastate Turkey's economy if it attacks the Kurds.
The Kurdish YPG in Syria are U.S. allies against ISIS. But Turkey considers them terrorists. The White House says President Trump told Mr. Erdogan he wants to address Turkey's security concerns. But he still stressed that Turkey should not mistreat the Kurds.
New developments now on a request from the U.S. National Security Council, which had asked the Pentagon last year for options to strike Iran. For more on what led to those plans and the potential consequences of such a strike, here is CNN's Barbara Starr.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last September, mortar shells landed inside Baghdad's fortified security zone where the U.S. embassy and military headquarters are located. There were no injuries or damage.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded Iranian-backed militias were to blame; suddenly just days later, this on Iran.
JOHN BOLTON, TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Let my message today be very clear, we are watching and we will come after you.
STARR (voice-over): What the public did not know at the time; the National Security Council, led by John Bolton, was asking the Pentagon for military options to strike back, according to officials and as first reported by "The Wall Street Journal." It wasn't clear if Bolton was just looking for payback for the mortars or something more.
The Pentagon has options to strike Iran but cautioned, no one can predict how Iran might react.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: If it is a full all-out attack, the risks are considerable.
STARR (voice-over): Secretary of state Mike Pompeo has tough new words which, Bolton has also called for, saying the U.S. objective now is to get Iran out of Syria.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: In Syria, the United States will use diplomacy to work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot.
STARR (voice-over): So far, the president is not publicly calling for a strike on Iran. Iran's foreign minister tweeting, "Whenever, wherever U.S. interferes, chaos, repression and resentment follow. The day Iran mimics U.S. client and Secretary Pompeo's human rights models, be it the shah or current butchers, to become a normal country, is the day hell freezes over."
The White House says it will continue to consider the full range of options to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq. But whether President Trump, who often makes impulsive decisions, has really ordered up Iran options himself, is unclear. HERTLING: When you are talking about being requested to do something, where that request comes from, is it truly a request of the president; it to provide options for the national security adviser?
STARR: Defense officials tell CNN there is still one matter, a critical matter, that remains very unclear to them.
What is President Trump's military objective against Iran? -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
CHURCH: Theresa May is pulling out all of the stops ahead of a vote on her Brexit deal. What she told people in a Midlands town once branded the Brexit capital of Britain.
And pack your patience, how the government shutdown is playing out at U.S. airports. We are back in just a moment.
[02:31:08] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we're following this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump says he has never worked for Russia. Now, this comes after some bombshell new reporting about his unusual dealings with Russia. Mr. Trump calls the investigation a big fat hoax and blasted the FBI for being known scoundrels and dirty cops.
Canada is criticizing a Chinese death sentence handed to a Canadian citizen, Robert Schellenberg was found guilty of trying to struggle more than 200 kilograms of meth to Australia. His legal team plans to appeal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused China of arbitrarily applying the death penalty. Well, British Prime Minister Theresa May is urging lawmakers to take a second look at her Brexit deal with the E.U.
Parliament is expected to reject the proposal when it votes in the hours ahead. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says if the deal doesn't pass, it's time for a new government. Well, the Bank of England is warning of disastrous consequences if Britain leaves the E.U. without a deal. It's a big reason why some are pushing for a second Brexit referendum. CNN's Anna Stewart traveled with the prime minister to the heart of Brexit country to gauge reaction.
ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: It's affectionately known as The Potteries, an area of England's midlands that in it's a heyday was a hotspot for pot making and coal mining. The mines have since closed, but it remains a hub for ceramics brands some of which are hundreds of years old. And it's where the prime minister chose to make a last ditch plea with her withdrawal agreement presenting it as the only deal possible.
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The only ways to guarantee we do not leave without a deal are to abandon Brexit, betraying the vote of the British people, or to leave with a deal. And the only deal on the table is the one M.P.'s will vote on tomorrow night. You can take no deal off the table by voting for that deal.
STEWART: A message perhaps more aimed at lawmakers back in Westminster than the work is here. The (INAUDIBLE) is one of the many ceramics factories in this area. This one has (INAUDIBLE) under its umbrella. Unlike many of these businesses, it exports the vast majority of its products all around the world including the E.U. And, yes, the uncertainty of what the future trading relationship will look like between the U.K. and the E.U. didn't stop this area for voting overwhelmingly to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd still vote out, yes, because we shouldn't have nothing to do with the European, you know, they've got their own government. They've got their own rules and regulations. People coming here, they don't abide by these rules and regulations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They should get out, yes, yes. If they're not -- they haven't given us a good deal.
STEWART: And sentiment doesn't seem to have shifted much. If anything, there's a sense of confusion as people struggle to follow the twists and turns of the Brexit process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's being treated terribly to be quite honest by her own M.P.'s.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's trying to do the best she can with what she's got.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's done --
STEWART: Brexiters in tune on one thing at least, Brexit is easiest said than done. Anna Stewart, CNN Stoke-on-Trent.
CHURCH: Well, with parliament's Brexit vote just hours way, we want to remind you of some of the provisions and sticking points. Under the proposed deal, the U.K. would remain in the E.U.'s single market until December 31st of next year, but would lose all E.U. voting rights.
[02:35:07] Now, during this transition period, the U.K. would still be subject to E.U. laws and regulations avoiding the need for a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. E.U. citizens arriving in the U.K. during the transition would have the option to stay there and vice versa. The U.K. would pay its outstanding E.U. budget commitments in a divorce bill that could total around $60 billion. If the transition period extends into 2021, a backstop solution would kick in.
The U.K. would remain in a customs territory with the E.U., but controversially it could only leave with permission from Brussels. So let's head to Brussels now. And Shada Islam, director of Europe and Geopolitics at the think tank Friends of Europe. So what do you think as we await this vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal? It's looking more like a matter of how much is going to lose by. So if we're looking at the margins of defeat here, what do you think will be the outcome and the consequences and the options ahead?
SHADA ISLAM, DIRECTOR, EUROPE AND GEOPOLITICS, FRIENDS OF EUROPE: Well, you know, we're just as confused as one of the people you were speaking to in the interview. We're concerned and, you know, it is a great deal of consternation here in Brussels as well because we don't expect things to turn out the way they are. It is so turbulent at the moment in the U.K. and, you know, the (INAUDIBLE) it's going to be a very difficult plan. A lot is at stake, of course, it's Premier Theresa May's future.
So but more than that, it's what happens to Britain after it leaves the European Union. What kind of a Britain will it be? What kind of a Europe will it be? And most of all, I have to say, Rosemary, it's about what happens to the people. The British people and the Europeans, will they have freedom of movement? Will they be able to work and live where they like or will there be visas and travel bags and the rest of it? So we're really looking with a great deal of concern at what's going to happen.
It's not clear to us at all what's going to happen today in the commons.
CHURCH: It seems nobody really knows what's going to happen. But Britain will be turning to the European Union looking for an extension of time, so that they can sort this all out. What is likely to be the response to that?
ISLAM: Well, as you -- the European Union is being quite accommodating and, you know, there have been letters sent yesterday I think by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commision president, by Donald Tusk, the E.U. Council President, European Parliamentarians about 130 of them have within to their counterparts in Britain saying, please, stop this Brexit catastrophe. Stop this disaster. We want you. We regret the decision. We respect it.
But really when (INAUDIBLE) we want Britain to stay in the E.U. That message has gone across. Now, it's really up to what happens in the commons, what happens with the M.P.'s, what they decide to do. So there are several options there. I think you look at them. I mean it's five or six options about what happens. There could be new elections in the U.K. There could be a new government. The government could ask for extension of article 50 which means, you know, there will be more time to negotiate a reasonable, a sensible Brexit deal.
And then there could be a second referendum, a people's vote. I think the European Union will let their -- the British decide --
CHURCH: Oh, dear. Do we still got that connection? Are you still with us, or we lost for you a moment there. You mentioned one of the options there, the second referendum, and some suggest that there are many compelling arguments to support such a move because for a lot of British people, they didn't necessarily know what they were voting for in that first referendum. If that is an option, if they do move in that direction, how would that work at this very late stage?
ISLAM: It would be challenging. It would be very difficult. But, you know, everything is possible at this stage. We didn't expect this to be such an unpredictable process. There is going to be one major challenge and that is we have European Parliament elections coming up in May. And, you know, if there is an extension, it will take the British government about a year to try and organize the referendum, the second referendum if you like. But I think, you know, these are details.
These are details that we can play with. We can find accommodation and arrangement. But for my point of view here at Friends of Europe, I think this is the only option. You know, the last referendum, the first referendum was based on misleading information to put it gently. And I think now that things are a bit clearer, what the British public knows a little bit more about let's say the damage that could be incurred by a Brexit.
[02:40:09] I think they may rethink. I'm not sure -- I'm not sure that's going to happen. But let's give it a chance.
CHURCH: Yes. That does appear to be an element of buyer's remorse right knew when it comes to Brexit. We'll see what happens. Shada Islam, Many thanks to you for your analysis. We appreciate it.
ISLAM: Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, U.S. Senators are trying to reach a bipartisan agreement to end the government shutdown. But there's no sign of a solution just yet. More than a dozen senators met Monday night, Democrats leaving the meeting said they can't negotiate on border security until the government reopens. One source said the senators will keep talking, but, "It was rough going." Despite President Trump's efforts to make the Democrats responsible for the shutdown, a new poll shows a majority of Americans blame the president and Republicans.
Meantime, the lines at airports are getting longer as more airport security screeners stay off the job now that paychecks have stopped. White House staff chefs are furloughed as well, so the meal honoring the U.S. college football champions was a fast food feast. The White House said President Trump himself paid the bill to feed the Clemson Tigers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have pizzas. We have 300 hamburgers, many, many French fries, all of our favorite foods. I want to see what's here while we leave because I don't think it's going to be much. The reason we did this is because of the shutdown. We want to make sure that everything is right, so we sent out. We got this. And we have some wonderful people working at the White House. They helped us out with this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: I think (INAUDIBLE) element there, isn't it? And Mr. Trump told the players he didn't want to postpone the event until after the shutdown. It's now in its 25th day, the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Well, a letter from the White House hand delivered coming up, a message from the U.S. president to North Korea's leader in the latest push for another summit. Plus, Antarctica is literally melting away. Why some alarmed scientists say that's just the tip of the iceberg and that is no joke. Back in a moment.
[02:44:58] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, moves toward a second U.S.-North Korea Summit are picking up pace. A source says a letter from President Trump was flown to Pyongyang, then hand- delivered to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over the weekend.
The source says North Korea's former spy chief and top negotiator could visit Washington this week to finalize details of the summit. So, for more on this, let's turn to CNN's Will Ripley who joins us now from Tokyo. So, Will, what more are you learning about all of this?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rosemary. It looks like things are really moving pretty quickly now towards this second summit between the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the U.S. President Donald Trump.
If Kim Yong-chol does indeed visit Washington this week, that would be pretty significant. Because if you recall, it was back in June -- on June 1st, when Kim Yong-chol visited Washington and met with President Trump. And then, 11 days later you had that historic first summit in Singapore between Trump and Kim.
So, if Kim Yong-chol does make it to D.C., if he does meet with President Trump, it seems as if that would be perhaps the final step before the two leaders move forward with this meeting. Whether it be in Hanoi or Bangkok or Hawaii. Those are the three destinations that are being floated around.
I would say Hanoi is probably the most likely, give in a lot of different factors that we've been looking at. But nothing official has been announced just yet. Perhaps, that announcement could come after this meeting in Washington. But yes, we know that this letter from Trump was flown to Pyongyang, given to Kim Jong-un. We don't know what the letter said, but based on what we've learned about the communications between the two, these letters -- love letters, I think President Trump called a one-point back-and-forth.
That the communications have been cordial and friendly. What we don't know has there been some sort of agreement between the U.S. and North Korea about what is going to be decided upon and agreed upon at this second summit. If they just walk away with another vaguely worded statement and no tangible steps toward denuclearization, which is what the U.S. wants or economic relief in terms of lifting sanctions which is what the North Koreans want.
Then a lot of people are going to be scratching their heads. Wondering, you know, what's the point of these meetings? Are they're just treading water here or are they're actually going to be substantive progress?
But when you think about the fact that President Trump, you know, over a year ago was blasting Kim Jong-un repeatedly on Twitter, really insulting him and now they're exchanging these friendly lovey-dovey letters. It was truly extraordinary, but is that going to mean North Korea giving out nukes and getting sanctions relief? Well, that really is the open question. Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, it certainly makes for a good photo opportunity, doesn't it? Do we have any idea about a time frame here? And also all of the things that need to be worked out. As you mentioned, we don't know where this is like to take place, they're trying to figure that out. But there would be a whole lot of things that have to be worked out before the two leaders get together.
RIPLEY: Yes. I have one source tell me today that this summit could happen by the end of this month or next month. Which would be pretty quickly -- you know, both sides would have to pull together all of the logistical details.
Hanoi would make sense in that. It's pretty easy for Kim Jong-un to get there. It's a country that's not particularly friendly with the United States. Which would make the North Koreans comfortable. They'd feel a little bit more like they were on neutral ground as opposed to a place like Thailand, which is regarded as a refuge for North Korean defectors who go there, and then, go to South Korea, and of course, there is very strong economic ties with the U.S.
Hawaii as a location for the summit seems like a real long shot to me. I can't imagine Kim Jong-un agreeing to go there. But hey, this is 2019, and you really never know what's going to happen.
In terms of what -- you know, they need to agree on. We know how far apart the U.S. and North Korea are. On this key issue of what the denuclearization should look like and the timeline for it, the North Koreans want economic relief right away, and exchange for step-by-step incremental denuclearization.
If they haven't even given the U.S. a list of a -- of the warheads that they have yet, and the missiles that they have, that would be step number one. But, of course, the U.S. had it has long been digging in its heels and insisting that they're not going to give anything in terms of sanctions relief until the North Korean's fully denuclearize.
That's why these talks have been at a standstill. That's why, you know, Mike Pompeo left Pyongyang over the summer after this disastrous visit, and was blasted in North Korean state media, accused of making gangster-like demands. And neither side wants to see a repeat of that, it really would be, perhaps -- you know, detrimental or even, you know, perhaps killing the entire process if this second summit happens. And they don't make any, any progress yet again.
CHURCH: Right. We certainly live in unpredictable times with surprises around every corner. We will see and watch of this story very closely. Our Will Ripley, joining us there from Tokyo. Many thanks.
Well, small gas suffocating several cities in Asia with a thick blanket of pollution. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is covering that, and some other stories. He joins us now. Of course, this end isn't new news, isn't it? I mean this happens a lot in Asia but bring us up to date on the current circumstances there.
[02:49:57] PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely, to you. You know, in January, Rosemary, is often that when we talk about this most, it's January in February the cool season when you have some of these factories, not only cranking out a tremendous amount of pollutants. But also homes that are using coal to generate heat for their properties.
But you take a look, this particular corridor, what we call the -- especially, the pollution alley of the world. You take it from Pakistan, up towards the Indian subcontinent. Even on into Bangladesh. 17 of the world's top 20 most polluted cities reside in this particular region, brought not the perspective, you've got one city in China that is not top 20 lists. Two cities there across Africa that are on this list, as well.
And then, you work your way towards where we've seen in the past several days in particular in the capital city of Thailand there, Bangkok. You have an air quality index of 394. Comfortably into the unhealthy zone here on Sunday afternoon. And kind of hovered into that dangerous zone Monday, Tuesday, going on into Wednesday.
Now, we're going to see conditions that remain really unsettled across this region when it comes to the air quality concerns and these are all the P.M. 2.5. That essentially is the unit of measure here for the diameter of these particular particulates.
So, you put this into the air, small enough here. And we're talking about four times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. About25 times smaller than say, dust or over 50 times smaller than a grain of sand.
So, you put this into the air easily gets into your lungs, easily gets into your bloodstreams. In fact, in 2017, officials with a study there recently saying that in Bangkok alone in 2017, $800 million in medical expenses spent there because of air quality concerns there just a couple of years ago.
Here is the perspective right now. Notice the colors of yellow, red, and purple. These are the highest levels of concern there for air quality for all of Asia into the Korean Peninsula, even down towards parts of Thailand, and of course, India, as well. And we know this pattern potentially expected to continue for, at
least, the next three to four weeks across this region as the winds have been very, very calm and the pattern has been very stagnant across that part of the world.
The other part of the world we take you out towards California because of a significant weather maker in the works across this region. And we're talking about months' worth of rainfall in line here for portions of Southern California, for Santa Barbara County into Los Angeles County. And the rainfall just keeps coming down here.
And we're talking about the wettest spot in the United States. Look at the forecast there, Rosemary. Out of Los Angeles, heavy rainfall in the forecast, each of the next three days before finally some California weather returns there with sunny skies into the weekend.
CHURCH: Wow. I mean, we've been talking about the things being unpredictable. There it is. All right. Thank you so much. Appreciated, Pedram.
In Antarctica, scientists say the ice is melting even faster than they thought, and that's bad news for global sea levels. New studies show the ice melt has accelerated 280 percent in the last four decades.
Antarctica holds most of the planet's ice. And if it all melted, it would cause the average sea level to rise by an incredible 57 meters. Imagine the ramifications of that.
Well, legend has it. If you toss a coin into Rome's Trevi Fountain, you will return to the city someday. But it's where that money goes that recently stirred up a controversy? We'll have the details for you, next.
[02:54:47] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, in Rome, the clash over coins is coming to a happy conclusion. The mayor is backing down on the city's move to take control of money thrown into the famed Trevi Fountain. And it's no poultry some adding up to more than $1- 1/2 million a year. The cash is traditionally gone to a Catholic charity. But last December, the City Council decided to take over administering the money.
Now, the mayor is guaranteeing the charity will still get its full funding. Well, you don't have to be great at geography to find a path to the White House. Our Jeanne Moos decided to take a look at some presidential bloopers that literally have no sense of place.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When President Trump arrived on stage.
TRUMP: I'm thrilled to be here.
MOOS: Here, wasn't where he first said he'd appear when he tweeted in the morning that he would be addressing the Farm Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. "Love our farmers, love Tennessee, a great combination." Great but wrong, the convention was in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tweet was deleted. Pesky geography, so many countries to get wrong twice.
TRUMP: Nambia, Nambia's health system
MOOS: And with all those 50 states, easy to miscalculate.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've now been in 57 States.
MOOS: It's understandable when you're on the road so much that a president in Kansas City might say.
TRUMP: Right here in St. Louis.
MOOS: Or a vice president in Virginia might plead.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With you, we can win North Carolina again.
MOOS: Even Bruce Springsteen, once gave Pittsburgh a shout-out.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, LEADER, E STREET BAND: Party noises Pittsburgh!
MOOS: At a concert in Cleveland.
SPRINGSTEEN: Cleveland, too!
MOOS: Springsteen caught himself to took others to catch President Trump's mistake when he toured the fire-ravaged community of Paradise, California.
TRUMP: And what we saw at Pleasure, what a name right now.
MOOS: Unfortunately, the wrong name.
TRUMP: Oh, we just left Pleasure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paradise, yes.
TRUMP: Well, Paradise.
MOOS: Some geographical bloopers seem to be contagious. Passed on from politician to politician.
GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Africa's the nation that suffers from incredible disease.
BIDEN: There's no reasons a nation of Africa --
MOOS: Continents get called nations, countries get called cities.
TRUMP: So, Belgium is a beautiful city.
MOOS: Sarah Palin got branded as geographically clueless.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: And I can see Russia from my house. MOOS: Then, she actually had her geography straight.
PALIN: You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.
MOOS: But there's one place no U.S. president could possibly mess up, right?
TRUMP: And God bless the United States. Thank you. Thank you.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
CHURCH: What was that? I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. Do stick around.