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Theresa May Under Pressure After Gove Rejects Brexit Secretary Job; 66 Dead And More Than 600 Missing In California; Melania Trump

November 19, 2018

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<Date: November 16, 2018>

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<Head: Theresa May Under Pressure After Gove Rejects Brexit Secretary

Job; 66 Dead And More Than 600 Missing In California; Melania Trump

Takes On Critics; A Cornered Trump = A Raging Trump. Aired 2-3a ET - Part 1>

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[02:00:01] THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: (Inaudible) interest first, and certainly not my own political interests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NATALIE ALLEN, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: Brexit deal fallout. The political fight ahead for Theresa May as she faces rebellion within her party. Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia reveal new details about how Jamal Khashoggi was killed and who they hold responsible. And refusing to go home, displaced Rohingya Muslims tell us why they feel safer in refugee camps than they would in Myanmar.

These stories are all ahead here this hour. Welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I’m Natalie Allen. You are watching CNN Newsroom. Well, just one day after British Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly won her cabinet’s approval of a draft proposal to leave the European Union, she is now battling for her political life. The Brexit deal she negotiated is hugely unpopular and has poisoned her relationships with friends and foes alike.

Seven members of her government quit on Thursday, including the Brexit Secretary. Even some of the most influential members of her own party are voicing their displeasure with calls of no confidence. It is an open question whether she can hang on. Yet, Mrs. May, remains as defiant as ever. She insists she can and will deliver what is best for the country. CNN’s Nina dos Santos is covering the drama for us in London.

Good morning to you, Nina. And, you know, Ms. May remains steadfast even though her political house seems to be crumbling around her, doesn’t it?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes. This is probably the most acute time that we’ve seen the Prime Minister face since, of course, calling that 2017 general election, and spectacularly losing her majority in the House of Commons, which is one of the reasons why this situation is being precipitated. It means that she doesn’t really have the votes to try and get this deal through parliament. And she also doesn’t have the support of her own party when it comes to the -- about 50 pro-Brexit (Inaudible) members, but also the fact that the Labour Party as well is deeply divided on the issue of whether or not it would support her bill. Many of them say that they won’t. And then, of course, she’s in an ad hoc arrangement with a Northern Irish party that has 10 votes to make up the numbers in parliament.

And they are very unlikely to see this bill through. So essentially, the parliamentary arithmetic means that she’s on very, very shaky ground. The split between pro and anti-Brexit factions aside, her party are growing by the day. And a lot of people have become disillusioned with these different statements, contradictory statements that the Prime Minister’s made, starting out with the year and a half ago.

Brexit means Brexit. I will deliver a Brexit that is a good deal for the country. But remember Brussels. I will not sign off on any old deal. This messaging seems to be softened over the course over the last 18 months. And that is what has caused the frustration. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOS SANTOS: It was the guiding principle of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations for a year and a half.

MAY: No deal is better than a bad deal.

DOS SANTOS: But now, her tune has changed. Suddenly, any deal it seems is better than a no deal or a no Brexit at all.

MAY: We can choose to leave with no deal. We can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated.

DOS SANTOS: After the Prime Minister forced a compromise through the cabinet on Wednesday night, by morning, both sides believed that they had been handed a raw deal. What is wrong with this deal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gives us a choice between vassalage and chaos. It is the worst of all possible worlds.

DOS SANTOS: Resignations followed, including that of the Brexit Secretary. The pound plunged and the sparring in parliament began.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order. Everybody will be heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government, Mr. Speaker is in chaos, the deal risk leaving the country in a definite halfway house without a real say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hotel California Brexit deal. The stark reality, Prime Minister, is that it was dead on arrival at St. Tommie’s before you stood up. DOS SANTOS: Among the pills that seem too bitter for some to swallow, the customs agreement over Northern Ireland, which some say could risk splitting the U.K. and a potentially unlimited transition period which Brexiters reckon could rob the country of its sovereignty. The PM is now betting that the alternative will be worse.

MAY: Leadership is about taking the right decisions, not the easy ones.

[02:05:00] DOS SANTOS: Yesterday, the IMF projected a no deal would slice as much as eight percent off the U.K.’s economic output.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of those very rare moments, where political decisions are being watched extremely closely by a large number of people across the business world.

DOS SANTOS: May is staking her entire premiership on getting her deal through parliament next month.

MAY: I do not pretend that this has been a comfortable process.

DOS SANTOS: But having lost her majority in the last election, she’s unlikely to see it pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Prime Minister is desperate and is increasingly looking defeated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOS SANTOS: Well, Natalie, after a day of, as you said before in your introduction, really high drama, during which many people assumed that Theresa May, may well be facing a leadership contest by yesterday evening. As you pointed out, the Prime Minister came out fighting yet again, saying she rejected. She was sorry about the resignations of some of those key cabinet members, but she would plow on, and the British people just wanted to see Brexit done.

Now she’s trying to sell that message to the people. She’s going to be going on a radio talk show in about an hour or so. It’s time to take questions from the people. She took a lengthy number of questions at an impromptu press conference yesterday evening, during which she said that she had no intention of resigning. So this is the idea. The Prime Minister on a charm offensive, when it comes to those concerns of hers seeing a challenge so far.

Remember that you have to have about 48 members of the conservative party to write to a specific back bench committee to table a motion of no confidence. They haven’t done that yet, despite all of the bluff and bluster.

ALLEN: Seven o’clock in the morning there in London. It could be a raucous day. We know you’ll be covering it for us. Nina dos Santos, thanks so much. We appreciated your report, Nina. Well, members of the European Union don’t seem to like the draft Brexit agreement either but are resigned to whatever Britain chooses. Take a listen to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: It is not for me to comment on the latest development in London. All I can say is that we are prepared for a final deal with the United Kingdom in November. We also prepared for a no deal scenario. But, of course, we are best prepared for another Brexit scenario.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: We’ll continue to explore Brexit over the next two hours. We’ll have much more on this critically important story coming up here. In other news we’re following, Saudi prosecutors have come up with another gruesome explanation of how Jamal Khashoggi was killed. They say the journalist died after he was injected with a deadly dose of a sedative after a fight at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

They also say they will seek the death penalty for five of the people charged. The Saudis have told shifting stories about Khashoggi’s death, and Turkey is skeptical of this story. But Saudi officials have always insisted the Crown Prince had nothing to do with it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a rogue operation. We have a better sense of what happened. This was individuals exceeding their authority and going beyond their mandate. And these individuals made a tremendous mistake. And for this mistake, they will pay a price.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Our Jomana Karadsheh joins me now from Istanbul, Turkey with the latest. And you know, Jomana, as the news of Mr. Khashoggi’s death trickles out, it just seems it sounds worse and worse.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And you know, Natalie, the feeling amongst officials here that what they’re hearing coming out of Saudi Arabia is a little -- you know, it’s too little too late. They don’t think they are getting convincing answers out of the Saudis, and also feeling that this is repackaging all the information that they’ve heard. And they really unconvinced of some of these lines that came out from the Saudi prosecution, for example, when it comes to this whole notion that this was an operation to try and take Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia.

And it is an operation that went wrong. They just say it doesn’t add up. Take a listen to what the Foreign Minister had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally want to say that I don’t find some comments satisfying. They say the person was killed because he resisted to be returned back to the country. But as we mentioned before, this murder was premeditated. The necessary equipment and people were previously brought in to kill and later dismember him. So it was planned beforehand how this person will be killed and dismembered, also that 15 people who came to Turkey according to Turkish laws.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[02:09:59] KARADSHEH: Well, Natalie, we expect that he was referring there to the fact that there was a forensic expert amongst the 15 Saudis who came out here to carry out that operation. Something else the Turkish officials say is that some of the key straightforward questions that they have put forward to Saudi Arabia remain unanswered. And that is where is the body. Where are the remains?

The Foreign Minister saying if it was burned, if it was destroyed, it was buried, just tell us where it is. And, you know, we’ve heard from the Saudis saying that it was handed over to a local collaborator, a story again that has changed several times, according to Turkish officials. They say who is this local collaborator and why wouldn’t Saudi Arabia give them more information about this.

They’re very skeptical about the existence of a local collaborator. And we’ve heard this from various government officials. Now, the other key question they say is who gave the orders to carry out this operation. They are unconvinced that this is a rogue operation, as we’ve heard from President Erdogan in recent days, saying that the orders came from the highest levels of the Saudi government.

So the feeling here, Natalie, is they feel that there’s some sort of a cover-up taking place in Saudi Arabia. That is why they feel the Kingdom will not be able to deliver a credible and transparent investigation. They have been calling for the extradition of suspects to face justice here where the crime took place. They say something that is unlikely going to happen, according to Saudi officials.

And that is why, you know, after this frustration we’re seeing amongst Turkish officials. They say there’s a lot of -- there’s no real cooperation from the Saudi side, at least that’s what Turkey says. They now feel it is time to move this into an international investigation, Natalie.

ALLEN: Sounds like that would be the appropriate course. They can’t even say where the body is. And, you know, his grieving family, in a tearful interview, appealed for closure and for their father’s body. Has his fiance said anything about this latest news?

KARADSHEH: Well, you know, Natalie, his family, whether it is his fiance, his Turkish fiance here in Istanbul or his children, his other children outside of this country. They are devastated by this news. And we heard this. All they want is to give him a proper burial. But I think everyone has gotten to a point right now where they’ve just accepted the fact that they are not going to be able to do this, especially after Saudi Arabia also coming out yesterday and saying that the body was dismembered, as Turkish officials were saying.

So we know that today, his friends, his fiance, and others have called for funeral prayers, a funeral (Inaudible) to take place after the Muslim Friday prayers here in Istanbul. Calls for other prayers from his sons to take place in Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia where Jamal Khashoggi wanted to be buried. ALLEN: Hopefully that will at least help them somewhat, to be able to have a service like that. Jomana Karadsheh, we know this is such a difficult story to continue to cover. Thank you so much. Well, the U.S. is backing off from a key demand ahead of President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Vice President Mike Pence told NBC news the U.S. will not require Pyongyang to provide a complete list of its nuclear weapons and missile sites before the leaders meet for a second time likely early next year.

But Mr. Pence says the U.S. will insist on a verifiable plan to disclose nuclear information during the summit. Well, this comes as North Korea state media report Kim Jong-Un supervised a test of yet a new weapon. Alexandra Field joins us now. Hello, Alex, what do we know about this?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: OK. Well, Natalie, look. North Korean state news announces they gave it some pomp. They gave it some circumstances presented on television. And basically the bottom line from North Korea was that they had tested successfully, a tactical weapons system that had been in development for some time. What was notable about this was the fact that Kim Jong-Un was out there supervising this himself.

Of course, the world hasn’t been aware of Kim Jong-Un personally supervising a test of a weapon system since about a year ago when North Korea tested an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missile. That of course, was a highly provocative move, this test certainly not in the same scope or scale as that previous test at all. So you’re not getting much of a strong response. It is interesting that North Korea conducted this test.

It is interesting that Kim Jong-Un was there. It is interesting that they wanted to draw attention to this through the state news agency. But it is prompting very little response from international officials. South Korea says they’re looking into this. They’re working to determine what exactly the weapons system was. As for U.S. officials, they’re holding that line that we’ve heard from them repeatedly over the last 24 hours.

Which is that they are confident President Trump and Kim Jong-Un can work together to fulfill the promises that they made in Singapore.

[02:15:00] And certainly, Natalie, as you saw from Vice President Mike Pence while he’s traveling here in the region right now, he is working in a dedicated way to make sure that a second summit happens between Kim and Trump, Natalie.

ALLEN: So what you’re saying is the latest indication is this latest test, it is not seen as a particularly new provocation that could complicate the upcoming summit.

FIELD: It appears to be a little bit of North Korea flexing its muscle. At least, that’s the way the analysts are looking at this right now. In recent weeks, we have seen North Korea ratcheting up the rhetoric. They have expressed that they’re angry and that they’re frustrated with the pace of talks with the U.S. Certainly, they have come to an impasse.

They recently canceled at the last moment a scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, expressing that they didn’t think that it would get them anywhere in terms of these talks about denuclearization. So they’ve made their displeasure clear. They’ve been bristling under sanctions. They’ve been calling for the U.S. to work to start to ease some of the sanctions that have been imposed against them.

The U.S. holding their line, saying that while they’re ready to work with North Korea, clearly wanting to continue to engage with North Korea, saying that they’re firmly keeping all sanctions in place, so we should probably put this in a category of what we’ve seen recently from North Korea, which is venting of some frustrations.

But it’s also important to point out, Natalie, that North Korea is not (Inaudible) saying that this latest test has anything to do with those frustrations at all. That wasn’t something that was reported by KCNA, their state news. Often, they have very florid language. They issue threats against the quits United States. We saw none of that. This was simply touted by state news as a test that was successful, and that it was about beefing up the defensive capabilities of North Korea, so important to keep all that in perspective here.

ALLEN: All right. Absolutely, thanks for explaining it to us. Alex Field, thanks, Alex. Well, next here, we focus on one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are protesting, and they say they won’t go back to Myanmar until that country can guarantee their safety. Also ahead, President Trump going on another Twitter tirade, we’ll tell you what is behind his latest outburst about the Russia investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALLEN: More than 2,000 Rohingya Muslims in Bangladesh were supposed to go back to Myanmar on Thursday, but no one volunteered. Instead, hundreds in the refugee camps were out to protest the repatriation plan. Some say they would rather take poison that return to a country where they are guaranteed safety. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled Myanmar, escaping a brutal military crackdown.

[02:20:06] The U.N. Refugee Agency agrees, warning that repatriating the Rohingya to Myanmar would put them back in danger. And although officials in Bangladesh say they cannot force anyone to return, that’s not making the refugees feel any safer. For more about this, here’s CNN’s Matt Rivers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT RIVERS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He didn’t want to leave. Myanmar was home, but the violence was so brutal, so overwhelming. Fleeing to Bangladesh was the only choice.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were slaughtering even young children and killing everyone. We were very much afraid of them shooting us. That’s why we fled. RIVERS: (Inaudible) Mohammad was one of more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims pushed out after the Myanmar military carried out what the top U.N. investigator calls a genocide, killing, raping, and torturing their way through (Inaudible) state, which Myanmar denies. His nephews and other relatives were killed in the violence. Now more than a year since the exodus began last August, some refugees are being asked to return.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was told by the camp leader that my name was on the list, and that I would have to go back immediately.

RIVERS: The fear of going back Myanmar coupled with all he’s been through was just too much. (Inaudible) Mohammad had celebrated his 60th birthday this year, and he decided it would be his last.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt very upset. And I remembered what had happened to my relatives. I couldn’t bear it.

RIVERS: (Inaudible) Mohammad tried to end his own life, but he survived and recovered in the hospital. Now back in his home. It turns out his name wasn’t on the official list of refugees approved for a return. It was just a rumor. Bangladesh officials insist that any returns would be voluntary, but fears are spreading among those who are on the list of more than 2,000 names. And some of them are now moving from camp to camp to avoid being sent back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came here to stay with our relatives. Now I’m unable to get rations and living on the run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We came from a heap of fire, and they’re trying to send us back to that heap of fire. We are afraid. We’re not even eating anymore.

RIVERS: The U.N. and the U.S. have called for the repatriations to halt, as conditions are not safe for the Rohingya to return. On Wednesday, the U.S. Vice President pressed the issue with Myanmar de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi in Singapore.

MIKE PENCE, (R) UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: The violence and persecution by military and vigilantes that resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya from Bangladesh is without excuse.

RIVERS: On a recent government-led trip inside the restricted area of (Inaudible) state, we were shown the border area where refugees would arrive. So the plan would be for refugees to come back from Bangladesh just behind me, and then come through this gate and into one of these booths here, where they would meet an immigration officer for the first time. But if you’re wondering if these are being used at all, well, sure doesn’t look like it.

Myanmar says some of the returnees would be identified and processed here before being transferred to a different camp within Myanmar. The fear from Rohingya refugees is that if they go back without proper citizenship rights or safety guarantees, they will be vulnerable all over again to abuse and violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They put us in the camps and persecute us.

RIVERS: Mohammad said unless some of these basic conditions are met, he will never return home. Matt Rivers, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: CNN has learned that President Trump and his lawyers have huddled for the past three days reviewing written questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the topics, possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Maybe that explains the President’s angry Twitter tirade Thursday about Mueller, his team, and the investigation. For more about it, here’s CNN’s Pamela Brown at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAMELA BROWN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: President Trump staying on message in front of the cameras, working to quell criticism after skipping Veteran’s day events in Paris and at home over the long weekend.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: It is my honor to be with you and God bless America. Keep up the great work.

BROWN: But lashing out off camera, following three day of going over the Special Counsel’s questions with his legal team. Trump spent his morning tweeting, calling the Russia investigation quote, a disgrace to our nation. And once again, claiming it is a total witch hunt like no other in American history, saying these are angry people, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller who worked for Obama for eight years.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: It is my honor to nominate Robert S. Mueller of California to become Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

[02:24:48] BROWN: Trump, however, failing to mention that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was first appointed by President George W. Bush as FBI Director. And then continued to serving under Obama. He’s also a registered Republican. The President’s attacks on the Mueller investigation come during a week of White House dysfunction after losing power in the House of Representatives.

The First Lady forced the President’s hand in reassigning the Deputy National Security Advisor, with more potential firings on the horizon. Still, the President defended his administration, tweeting, the White House is running very smoothly, and instead called the Mueller investigation a total mess. Tweeting they have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want.

But sources say it is the President that is growing more furious by the day. A White House official telling CNN quote, yes, he’s pissed at damn near everyone. Already, nine cabinet officials have left the Trump administration. Tensions continue rise with his Chief of Staff John Kelly, and the fate of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is still uncertain, a day after Trump said he would he would be making a decision on her post shortly.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is one person some lawmakers are trying to protect from being fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President now has this investigation in his sights. And we all know it.

BROWN: But despite efforts by retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake to force the Senate vote on a bill to protect the investigation, other Republicans say that’s not necessary, despite President’s attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did that. You just get into a big hassle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hassle with the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With him and with a lot of others.

BROWN: And President Trump also met with Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell here at the White House to discuss a range of issues, including the Farm Bill, nominations as well as any funding for the border wall, also a centerpiece of those discussions included a way to avert a government shutdown next month. Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: In the state of Florida, the election for U.S. Senator is heading to a manual recount. That is after election officials completed a machine recount. It is important because incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, here on the right, is a Democrat, his opponent Florida Governor Rick Scott is a Republican. If Scott wins, it would give Republicans a greater majority in the Senate. Right now, Scott leads by almost 13,000 votes.

That is actually a razor thin margin of .15 percent. Counties had until 3 p.m. on Thursday to send in their vote tallies. Broward County in south Florida missed the deadline by two minutes, meaning its initial vote total before the machine recount will be used. The new hand recount will look specifically at ballots where voters chose no candidates or more than one.

Stay tuned for the latest on that one. Still ahead, why the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland became the make or break issue of Brexit. Plus, the death toll from California’s destructive wildfires rises. But sadly, it is expected to increase again as crews search for hundreds still missing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:35] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I’m Natalie Allen and let’s update you on our top news this hour. British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a growing backlash to her Brexit deal. Four ministers including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned just hours after the tentative plan was narrowly approved by her cabinet. She also faces a revolt within her own party with possible looming leadership challenge. The pound and U.K. bank stocks all sank on the news.

Kim Jong-un supervised a testing of a newly developed high-tech weapon according to North Korean state media. It’s not clear what weapon was tested or when, but it marks the first time the North Korean leader has publicly attended such a high profile military event since his summit with Donald Trump and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in earlier this year. The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis over Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

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