Skip to main content

tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  August 28, 2014 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

1:00 pm
going to very strategic city nz on that southern coastline, the fighting is said to be under way. those troops were, you know, within 50 miles or so of the russian border. so it was always the case that they could move very quickly at any point to cross the border. the latest estimate is that moscow has 18,000 to 20,000 troops on the border so this part of the crisis may be far from over, jake. >> jim sciutto, i want to ask you if you expect president obama to do more than announce this concern, his disapproval at what russia has done, allegedly done we should say because they are, of course, denying it. are you expecting the president to announce some actions? s. >> that's the big question. i frankly doubt it. on both these crises. you have isis isis in syria and iraq and you have the ukraine, both situations that are escalating in a bad direction. but in both cases, there's been some hesitancy from the
1:01 pm
administration on taking quick action. you have this meeting this afternoon to discuss next steps on isis but you have the president going to nato next week, perhaps some reluctance to announce major decisions before he goes there. he needs international cooperation. the same can be said on the reaction to ukraine. the trouble is events on the ground are moving quickly, and frankly, others are getting ahead of the administration, for instance, you have ukraine itself calling russian action there in the words of the president a full-scale invasion. the white house still calls it an incursion. and for obvious reasons. an invasion would require an immediate decision about next steps. but interestingly, jim acosta mentioned ambassador samantha powers' comments on ukraine. she has in the last several weeks often been just a step ahead of the administration on the level of her criticism of russia and calling a spade a said if you will about russian military activity as has nato. comments coming out of nato have
1:02 pm
been highlighting russian military steps forward there as a real escalation. so the question is, when will the administration take action when it comes to ukraine, but also was isis? is it just going to be further consideration of military strikes or will much of this wait till next week when the president is together with his nato allies. >> indeed, jim, it was august 8th when samantha powers said if russia sent in that convoy that supposedly will humanitarian aid for the pro-russian rebels, if that crossed the line, that would be considered an invasion by the united states. that happened friday. we know according to samantha power the invasion took place long before today. gloria borger, this is a very war weary american public. they are not enthusiastic about the united states getting mired down in iraq, in syria, in ukraine, in russia. is president obama feeling any pressure. >> sure. >> and if so from whom? >> i think he's feeling internal pressure.
1:03 pm
i think he agrees with the american public. his narrative was ended two wars, killed osama bin laden, and that's it. now he finds himself talking to the american public at first about a humanitarian effort and then an effort to save american personnel over in iraq. you see the mission creep on that. you see the secretary of defense saying that isis is beyond anything we've ever seen. so there are questions now about whether he's going to have to broaden that mission, would air strikes do anything at all, would allies join him. how would he explain that as a national security threat. to the american people, which by the way, he has not done. then on ukraine, same situation. he's got a question here where actually he's been leading with the european union on sanctions against russia and i think it's going to be caused upon to lead again. he's going to estonia, will he speak there. >> will he speak today about
1:04 pm
this? and will he in concert with nato step up those economic sanctions. >> of course, one of the big fears here is not about just russia and ukraine but about we're assuming they put -- now they have crimea, the scalp of crimea on their wall. then they go ukraine. what's next? do they then go after a country that is in nato. jim acosta in the white house briefing room as we're waiting for president obama to deliver remarks on we assume ukraine, perhaps even iraq, syria, and the threat of the terrorist group isis, what are you hearing in terms of what the president feels he needs to do in terms of looping in congress, if he decides to do more military action in iraq? in syria? yesterday the senate minority leader mitch mcconnell encouraged president obama to come to the congress to make a request. congress would vote on it. he sounded very hawkish. what does did the white house feel it needs to do?
1:05 pm
>> that is a key question. you'll recall last year when the president came to the very edge of ordering air strikes against assad's forces in syria and then ed back, the president said he wanted to go to congress and wanted congress to vote on that kind of military operation and really that will mission fell apart in the weeks that followed. this time around what the white house is saying this is a different situation. the president may not necessarily go to congress to ask for their authorization. i was talking to a senior are administration official last night. they feel right now the president is legally protected through his powers as commander in chief to conduct military operations in iraq because they've handed over these war powers resolution letters, reports over to the congress alerting this em to what is taking place in iraq, just today, there were more air strikes on isis targets around mosul dam. when it comes to syria and expanding isis operation noose syria, obviously -- that would not be protected under the current war powers letters handed over from the white house to speaker john boehner.
1:06 pm
and so the question becomes, does the president go to congress and ask for that and talking to a senior administration official, jake, it is just not clear at this point because they say, one, the president has not made a decision on air strikes in syria, but two, they've not resolved that question as to whether or not they will seek congressional authorization from members of congress. i was talking toed an dam schiff, a fellow democrat who was saying this is a weak legal case for the president. he can't continue to deliver war powers letters to the congress in expanding this mission. he has to come out to the american people. john mccain and others have said this, as well. he has to lay out a larger strategy for how to deal with isis, not only in iraq but in syria and other places to make sure that this threat does not spread. but what we're not hearing from this white house is whether or not they're going to make a commitment to doing that and asking for that vote. and quite frankly, jake, the longer this drags on, the more difficult it becomes for the president. we're getting a two-minute
1:07 pm
warninging >> some final thoughts, gloria. you wanted to weigh in. >> the irony is if the president were to go to congress, he would get a lot of support from the republican party, dana bash was with senator mish mcconnell until kentucky who said, yeah, he would support the president on that. the president would be doing the right thing when it comes to air strikes. so i think that normally a republican congress might it be recalcitrant would be right behind him. it would be the democrats a lot more reluctant on this. >> barbara starr, just thinking about the fact that these twos crisises are so very different both in terms of who the actors are, the role of our allies in the region but there is one through line as you and i have discussed which is, what is the role of the united states and the u.s. military in the 21st century? >> i think that's right, jake. quickly, strip away all the words. what the american people want to know is do these crises involve
1:08 pm
sending u.s. troops into battle. in ukraine certainly not. there might be a decision to provide arms to the ukrainian military. the problem is if russia keeps going, it gets into nato and then the u.s. does have an obligation to militarily defend other nato countries. if the president chooses air strikes in syria, that does involve u.s. troops, he will have to make the case, what is the threat that isis poses to the united states and why it is important torn send u.s. troops into harm's way. if for so many u.s. military families and i think for most americans, the key question is, does it involve sending u.s. troops into battle. what is the threat, and why are we doing it. >> of course, jim sciutto we know already americans have fallen victim to the threat from isis with the journalist james foley killed last week. >> no question. and the big question for the administration, is isis an imminent threat to the u.s. today. there's been back and forth from
1:09 pm
administration officials in recent days. some have called an imminent threat to the u.s. homeland, some called it a regional threat. brent mcguirk i pressed him last night and he said it is indeed a serious threat to the "uss homeland today. if it is, that would beg the question whether the u.s. needs to take action immediately little to protect the u.s. homeland. that's the question the president hasn't answered yet. >> we know there are americans fighting on the side of isis. >> good afternoon, everybody. i want to say a few words on a number of topics and take a few questions before the long labor day weekend. first, beginning with the number one thing that most americans care about, the economy. this morning, we found out that our economy actually grew at a stronger clip in the second quarter than we orally thought. companies are investing. consumers are spending. over the past four and a half years, our businesses have now created nearly 10 million new jobs. so there are reasons to feel good about the direction we're headed. but as everybody knows, there's
1:10 pm
a lot more that we should be doing to make sure that all americans benefit from the progress that we've made. and i'm going to be pushing congress hard on this when they return next week. second, in iraq it, our dedicated pilots and crews continue to carry out the targeted strikes that i authorized to protect americans there and to address it the humanitarian cab situation on the ground. as commander in chief, i will always does what is necessary to protect the american people. and defend against evolving threats to our homeland. because of our strikes, the terrorists of isil are losing arms and equipment. in some areas iraqi government and kurdish forces have begun to push them back, and we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission. now, isil poses an immediate threat to the people of iraq and the people throughout the region. and that's why our military action in iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy
1:11 pm
to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to isil. and that starts with iraq's leaders building on the progress that they've made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront isil. any successful strategy though also needs strong regional partners. i'm encouraged so far that countries in the region, countries that don't always agree on many things increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that isil poses to all of them. and i've asked secretary kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that's needed to meet this threat. as i've said, rooting out a cancer like isil will not be quick or easy, but i'm confident that we can and we will working closely with our allies and partners. i've directed secretary haggle and the joint chiefs of staff to prepare a range of options. i'll be meeting with my national
1:12 pm
security council this even as we continue to develop that strategy and i've been consulting with members of congress and i'll continue to do so in the days ahead. finally i just spoke with chancellor merkel of germany on the situation in ukraine. we agree if there was ever any doubt that russia is responsible for the violence in eastern ukraine. the violence is encouraged by russia. the separatists are trained by russia. they are armed by russia. they are funded by russia. russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of ukraine, and the new images of russian forces inside ukraine make that plain for the world to see. this comes as ukrainian forces are making progress against the separatists. now, as a result of the actions, russia has already taken and the major sanctions we've imposed with our european and international partners, russia is already more isolated than at
1:13 pm
any time since the end of the cold war. the capital is fleeing. investors are increasingly staying out. its economy is in decline. and this ongoing russian incursion into ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for russia. next week i'll be in europe to coordinate with our closest allies and partners. ness tonyia, il reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense of nato allies. at the naught toe summit we'll focus on the additional steps we can take to ensure the alliance remains prepared for any challenge. our meeting of the nato ukraine commission will be another opportunity for our alliance to continue our partnership with ukraine and i look forward to reaffirming the unwavering commitment of the united states to ukraine and its people when i welcome president pore chen coto the white house next month. so, with that, i'm going to take a few questions, and i'm going to start with somebody who i guess is now a big cheese.
1:14 pm
he's moved on. but understand this is go to be his last chance to ask me a question in the press room. i want to congratulate chuck todd and give him first dibs. >> thank you. >> let me start with syria. the decision that you have to make between first of all, is it a if or when situation about going after isil in syria? can you defeat isis or isil without going after them in syria? and how do you prioritize that assad has lost legitimacy to lead defeating isis cos help assad keep power? talking about how you prioritize those two pieces of your foreign policy. >> first of all, i want to make sure who everybody's clear on what we're doing now because it is limited. our focus right now is to protect american personnel on the ground in iraq, to protect
1:15 pm
our embassy, to protect our consulates. to make sure that critical infrastructure that could adversely affect our personnel is protected. where we see an opportunity that allows us with very modest risk to help the humanitarian situation there as we did in sinjar mountain, we will take those opportunities. after having consulted with congress, but our core priority right now is just to make sure that our folks are safe. and to do an effective assessment of iraqi and kurdish capabilities. as i said, i think in the last press conference, in order for us to be successful, we've got to have an iraqi government na is unified and inclusive. so we are continuing to push them to get that job done. as soon as we have an iraqi government in place, the
1:16 pm
likelihood of the iraqi security forces being more effective in taking the fight to isil significantly increases. and the options that i'm asking for from the joint chiefs focuses primarily on making sure that isil is not overrunning iraq. what is true though is that the violence that's been taking place in syria has obviously given isil a safe haven there in ungoverned spaces, and in order for us to degrade isil over the long-term, we're going to have to build a regional strategy. now we're not going to do that alone. we're going to have to do that with other partners in particular little sunni partners because part of the goal here is to make sure that sunnis both in syria and in iraq feel as if they've got an investment in a government that actually
1:17 pm
functions, a government that can protect them, a government that makes sure that their families are safe from the barbaric acts that we've seen in isil. and right now, those structures are not in place. and that's why the issue with respect to syria is not simply a military issue. it's also a political issue. it's also an issue that involves all the sunni states in the region and sunni leadership, recognizing that this cancer that has developed is one that they have to be just as invested in defeating as we are. and so you know, to cut to the chase in terms of what may be your specific concerns, chuck, my priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that isil made in iraq are rolled back and that iraq has the opportunity to govern itself
1:18 pm
effectively and secure itself. but when we look at a broader strategy that is consistent with what i said at west point, that's consistent with what i said at the national defense college, clearly isil has come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively. and that's going to be a long-term project. it's going to require us to stabilize syria in some fashion and stabilize in syria in some fashion means we've got to the get who had rat sunnis who are able to govern and offer a real alternative and be competition to what isil's been doing in some of these spaces. now, last point with respect tote assad, it's not just my opinion. i think it would be international opinion that assad's lost legitimacy in terms of dropping barrel bombs on
1:19 pm
innocent families and killing tens of thousands of people. and right now what we're seeing is the areas that isil is occupying are not controlled by assad anyway. and frankly, assad doesn't seem to have the capability or reach to get into those areas. so you know, i don't think this is a situation where we have to choose between assad or the kinds of people who carry on the incredible violence that we've been seeing there. we will continue to support a moderate opposition inside of syria in part because we have to give people inside of syria a choice other than isil or assad. and i don't see any scenario in which assad somehow is able to bring peace and stability to a
1:20 pm
region that is majority sunni and has not so far shown any willingness to share power with them or in any kind of significant way deal with the long-standing grievances that they have there. >> [ inaudible question ] >> i have consulted with congress throughout this this process. i am confident that as commander in chief i have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. as our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with congress and i do think it will be important for congress to weigh in and or that our consultations with congress continue to develop so that the american people are part of the debate. but i don't want to put the cart before the horse. we don't have a strategy yet. i think what i've seen in some
1:21 pm
of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we're at than we currently are. and i think that's not just my assessment but the assessment of our military, as well. we need to make sure that we've got clear plans so that we're developing them. at that point, i will consult with congress and make sure that their voices are heard. but there's no point in me asking for action on the part of congress before i know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done. >> colleen mccain nelson. there you are. >> do you consider today's escalation in ukraine an invasion, and when is you talk about additional costs to russia, are you ready at this point to impose broader economic sanctions or are you considering other responses that go beyond sanctions? >> i consider the actions that
1:22 pm
we've seen in the last week a continuation of what's been taking place for months now. as i said in my opening statement, there is no doubt that this is not a homegrown indigenous uprising in eastern ukraine. the separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by russia. throughout this process, we've seen deep russian involvement in everything that we've done. i think in part because of the progress you had seen by the ukrainians around donetsk and luhansk, russia determined that it had to be a little more overt in what it had already been doing, but it's not really a shift. what we have seen though is that
1:23 pm
president putin and russia have repeatedly passed by potential off-ramps to resolve this diplomatically. and so, in our consultations with the -- our european allies and partners, my expectation is that we will take additional steps primarily because we have not seen any meaningful action on the part of russia to actually try to resolve this in diplomatic fashion. and i think that the sanctions that we've already applied have been effective. our intelligence shows that the russians know they've been effective even though it may not appear on russian television, and i think there are ways for us to deepen or expand the scope of some of that work. but ultimately i think what's important to recognize is the
1:24 pm
degree to which russian decision making is isolating russia. they're doing this to themselves. and what i've been encouraged by is the degree to which our european partners recognize even though they are bearing a cost in implementing these sanctions, they understand that a broader principle is at stake. and so i look forward to the consultations that we'll have when i see them next week. >> thank you, mr. president. last year, you said you believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of congress. you said you don't have the strategy yet but you'll reconsider that going forward. why did you go to congress before this current amount of strikes in iraq? do you not believe that's the case anymore what you said last year? throughout your career, you've also said -- you've raised concerns with the expansion of
1:25 pm
powers of the executive. are you concerned your recent actions unilaterally have cut against that? >> no, and here's why. it is not just part of my responsibility but it is a sacred duty for me as commander in chief to protect the american people. and that requires me to act fast based on information i receive if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened. the decisions i made were based on very concrete assessments about the possibility that our -- that erbil might be overrun in the kurdish region and that our consulate could be in danger. and i can't afford to wait in order to make sure that those folks are protected. but throughout this process, we've consulted closely with
1:26 pm
congress and the feedback i've gotten from congress is that we're doing the right thing. now, as we go forward, as i described to chuck, and look at a broader regional strategy with an international coalition and partners to systematically degrade isil's capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they've been engaging in, not just in syria, not just in iraq but potentially elsewhere if we don't nip this at the bud, then those consultations with congress for something that is longer term i think become more relevant. and you know, it is my intention that congress has to have some buy-in as representatives of the american people and by the way, the american people need to hear what that strategy is. but as i said to chuck, i don't want to put the cart before the horse.
1:27 pm
and in some of the media reports the suggestion seems to have been that you know, we're about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy and for defeating isil and the suggestion i guess has been that we'll start moving forward imminently and somehow congress still out of town is going to be left in the dark. that's not what's going to happen. we are going to continue to focus on protecting the american people. we're going to continue where we can to engage in the sort of humanitarian acts that saved so many folks who were trapped on a mountain. we are going to work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region. and we're going to cobble together the kind of coalition we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political, and economic components of that the strategy,
1:28 pm
there will be a military aspect to that. and it's going to be important for congress to know what that is in part because it may cost some money. okay. i'll take -- i'll just take a couple more. >> reporter: mr. president, do you regret on not moving on isis earlier? most of the u.s. weapons we have, there are reports they got it after the fall of mosul. the iraqi president said today that the iraqi forces are in no position to stand up to isis. why would you think that forming a new government will change the situation? >> well, once isil got into mosul, that posed a big problem because there's no doubt that they were able to capture some weapons and resources that they've been used to finance additional operations and at that stage, we immediately contacted the iraqi government, keep in mind, we have been in communications with the iraqi
1:29 pm
government for more than a year indicating that we saw significant problems in the sunni areas, prime minister malaki was not as responsive perhaps as we would have liked some of the underlying political grievances that exists at the time. there is no doubt that in order for iraq, iraq's security forces to be successful, they're going to need help. they're going to need help from us, they're going to need help from our international partners. they're going to need additional training. they're going to need additional equipment. and we are going to be prepared to offer that support. there may be a role for an international coalition providing additional air superior for their operations. but the reason it's so important that an iraqi government be in place is this is not simply a military problem. the problem we have had
1:30 pm
consistently is a sunni population that feels alienated from baghdad and does not feel invested in what's happening. and does not feel as if anybody is looking out for them. if we can get a government in place that provides sunnis some hope that a national government serves their interests, if they can regain some confidence and trust that it will follow through on commitments that were made way back in 2006 and 2007 and 2008 and earlier about how you arrive at, for example, you know, de-baathification laws and give people opportunities so they're not locked out of government positions. if those things are followed through on and we are able to combine it with a sound military
1:31 pm
strategy, then i think we can be successful. if we can't, then the idea that the united states or any outside power would perpetually defeat isis i think is unrealistic. as i've said before, i that i i said it in the previous press conference. our military is the best in the world. we can rout isis on the ground and keep a lid on things temporarily, but then as soon as we leave, the same problems come back again. so we've got to make sure that iraqis understand in the end, they're going to be responsible for their own security. and part of that is the capacity for them to make compromises. it also means that states in the region stop being ambivalent about these extremist groups. i mean the truth is we've had
1:32 pm
state actors who at times have thought that the way to advance their interests is well, financing some of these groups as proxies is not such a bad strategy. and part of our message to the entire region is this should be a wake-up call to sunni, to shia. to everybody that a group like isis is beyond the pale. that they have no vision or ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people, and as a consequence, we've got to all join together, even if we have differences on a range of political issues to make sure that they're rooted out. okay? last -- last question. >> mr. president, despite all of the actions the west has taken top get russia to pull back from
1:33 pm
ukraine, russia seems intent on taking one step after another, convoys, transports of arms. at what point do sanctions no longer work? would you envisage the possibility of necessity of military action to get russia be to pull back from ukraine? >> we are not taking military action to solve the ukrainian problem. what we're doing is to mobilize the international community it on the apply pressure on russia. but i think it is very important to recognize that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming. now, the fact that russia has taken these actions in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the ukrainians has resulted, i believe, in a weakening of russia, not a strengthening of
1:34 pm
russia. that may not be apparently immediately but i think it will become increasingly apparent. what it's also done is isolated russia from its trading partners, it's commercial partners, international business in ways that i think are going to be very difficult to recover from. and be we will continue to stand firm with our allies and partners that what is happening is wrong, that there is a solution that allows ukraine and russia to live peacefully. but it is not in the cards for us to see a military confrontation between russia and the united states in this region. keep in mind, however, that i'm about to go to a nato conference. ukraine is not a member of nato. but a number of those states that are close by are. and we take our article 5
1:35 pm
commitments to defend each other very seriously. and that includes the smallest nato member as well as the largest nato member and so part of the reason i think this nato meeting is going to be so important is to refocus attention on the critical function that nato plays to make sure that every country is contributing in order to deliver on the promise of our article 5 assurances, part of the reason i'll be going to estonia is to let the estonians know that we mean what we say with respect to our treaty obligations. we don't have those treaty obligations with ukraine. we do, however, stand shoulder to shoulder with them and we're doing not just a lot of work diplomatically but also financially in order to make sure that they have the best chance at dealing with what is admittedly a very difficult situation. >> how about sending arms to
1:36 pm
ukraine. >> thank you very much. thank you guys. >> president -- >> mr. president, how -- executive decision making going to impact your decision? some people say you're going to delay this. >> let me just say this. i've been very clear about the fact that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. and my preference continues to be that be congress act. i don't think anybody thinks that congress is going to act in the short term but hopes springs eternal that after the midterm elections they may act. in the meantime, what i've asked jeh johnson to do is to look at what kinds of executive authorities we have in order to make the system work better. and you know, we've had a lot of stakeholder discussions that set of proposals is being worked up.
1:37 pm
and the one thing that i think has happened was the issue with unaccompanied children that got so much attention a couple of months back. and part of the reason that was important was not because that is represented a huge unprecedented surge in overall immigration at the border, but i do think that it changed the perception of the american people about what's happening at the borders. and so one of the things we've have had to do is to work through systematically to make sure that that specific problem in a fairly defined area of the border that we're starting to deal with that in a serious way. and the good news is we've started to make some progress. what we've seen so far is that throughout the summer, the number of apprehensions have been decreasing. maybe that's counter intuitive but that's a good thing because that means that fewer folks are
1:38 pm
coming across. the number of apprehensions in august are down from july and they're actually lower than they were august of last year, apprehensions in july were half of what they were in june so we're seeing a significant downwardward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children and what that i think allows us to do is to make sure that those kids are being taken care of properly with due process. at the same time, it's allowed us to then engage in i abroader conversation about what we need to do to get more resources down at the border. it would have been helped along if congress had voted for the supplemental that i asked for. they did not. that means we've got to make some administrative and executive choices about for example getting more immigration judges down there. so that has kept us busy. but it has not stopped the process of looking more broadly
1:39 pm
about how do we get a smart immigration system in place while we'rity waing for congress to act. and it continues to be my belief that if i can't see the congressional action, that i need to do at least what i can in order to make the system work better. but you know, some of these things do affect time lines and we're going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done. but have no doubt in the sbechbs congressional action, i'm going to do what i can to make sure the system, would better. all right? thank you. >> president obama leaving the white house briefing room after roughly 32 minutes of giving a statement and talking to reporters making two main points. one that russian troops are in ukraine although he begged off using the word invasion and two, that he will be considering a range of options when it comes to how to deal with the threat of the terrorist group isis but he wanted to caution people that
1:40 pm
reports out there were getting way ahead of the reality of where the planning is. let's go to chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. jim, it didn't sound as though president obama was planning on any imminent actions. >> not at all. i think you see the president here throwing the brakes on, right? saying that folks are getting ahead of things on action in syria, in fact, the most remarkable words in the press conference jake, that i heard were these. we don't have a strategy yet on the response to isis. you know which is, of course, the criticism leveled at the president. why the isn't there a strategy. there's a tactical response, not a strategic response but the president saying that as a justification for delay in action saying he wants, one, to build something of a regional coalition to act against isis before taking further military action. not quite taking military action in syria off the table but taking it away as anything imminent. of course, he said he's going to dispatch john kerry to help build that coalition but
1:41 pm
similarly, to take people off the idea ta there will be immediate action against russia as well. saying that as you say, he's not going to call it an invasion and making the case that so far, raising the economic costs on russia through sanctions has been working but frankly jake, as you see, russia continued to take take military moves inside ukraine. i just don't see and many of the president's critics don't see the evidence for the president's statement that that strategy is working with regards to ukraine. >> barbara starr at the pentagon, president obama saying that there is no military solution to the problem in ukraine for the united states. and interestingly, defining the u.s. strategy in iraq right now when it comes to the threat of isis very narrowly. he used the term limited and he said number one, we're focusing on protecting the american people, people in the -- not the embassy but the place where u.s. citizens are and two, that humanitarian acts will be taken
1:42 pm
such as the one on the mountain he said "where we can," a very limited role he was describing. >> it's really, you know, sort of, this is the president that doesn't beat the war drum but you have to wonder exactly what message he was sending here today. let's be very clear. isis heard all of this. so the president of the united states says we have no strategy yet. this is a little surprising because of course, the pentagon has openly acknowledged they are working on military options. military options to pursue what strategy? there must it be something out there or what are these options the pentagon's been scribbling away at for weeks now. where are they headed? the president talked about degrading isis. remember it was chuck hagel a couple of days ago that said isis was like no threat we've ever seen. there has been concern about a homeland threat from isis down the road. and yet, no strategy to deal with it. very blunt, very honest, absolutely where is the president is on all of this no
1:43 pm
question about that. but perhaps worth remembering that isis fighters, isis leadership will hear this statement that the u.s. right now has no strategy to deal with them. i don't think anybody thought a military strategy was the whole answer but no strategy? a little odd perhaps. on ukraine, the same thing. the problem is, he has perhaps now sent putin a message. no one thought the u.s. was going to send troops into ukraine to fight the russians. but was there any middle ground? the ukrainians have been asking for u.s. arms. the pentagon the state department not willing to go that far. so i'm not sure where all of this leaves us today other than to say it seems in both cases, nothing's happening for a while. >> jim accost ta at the white house, jim, the president began his remarks by delivering news on he said the issue that most americans are concerned about and that is of course, the
1:44 pm
economy talking about how the most recent quarter had 4% growth, very strong much stronger than people had believed. i get the feeling that he would have rather talked about that for the entire press conference than been ukraine and iraq and syria, jim. >> that's right. and this is a white house, jake, that has been sort of starved for good news lately, but getting back to what you were talking about there with barbara starr and jim sciutto, i think this takes us back to something we've observed about the president before, that he is a cautious commander in chief. critics say he's a reluctant worrier but he is cautious. we were getting rumblings all week long that perhaps and the president said sort of boldly we don't have a strategy or a plan, he may have been talking about just the situation in syria but not the overall isis strategy. it will be interesting what the president exactly meant when he said that. but i think what you heard from the president there during his press conference and believe me,
1:45 pm
this was supposed to be a statement. it turned into a press conference. they've canceled the meeting with josh earnest because the president took so many questions. he time and again said we need to work with regional partners. he's sending john kerry into the region. he also chastised what he called state actors in the region ambivalent about this threat posed by isis. the president not exactly trusting of all the actors in that area. no surprise to this white house that that would be the case. but jake, i think the big news here is that the president once again went right up to the edge where at least it appeared to be going right up to the edge of taking military action in syria and decided that it was better off to wait and to look at this a bit longer. he's going to be meeting with his national security team to go over all of this. and the president did make the remarks during this press conference that the white house that the united states is making some gains when it comes to going after isis targets in
1:46 pm
iraq. i think the president wants to see the progress from that a little bit more before opening up a new military exercise in syria. they're just not there the yet. as for russia and ukraine, it was very interesting the president is inviting the ukrainian president poroshenko to the white house next month after he meets with nato allies. he once again said article 5 of the nato chart ser sacrosanct to the united states. that was a message to estonia and those other smaller nato countries that the united states will be by their side. >> gloria, there seemed to be different messages coming out from the administration. have you chuck hagel the defense secretary saying the threat from isis is like nothing we've seen and you have president obama saying our core priority when it comes to isis making sure our folks are safe. a reference to the u.s. personnel and the consulate in erbil. >> yet, at the same time, he also said if you look at the broader strategy which he kind of hinted at, he said we have to
1:47 pm
stabilize syria in some fashion. we don't know what that means. if you take a step back, look where we were a year ago, we you know, a year ago, this is the president who drew a red line on chemical weapons, walked up to the red line and then pulled back. his vice president got out in front. his secretary of state got out in front and then he pulled back. that was not a great political moment for him and i think what he's trying to do now is not get himself in that same situation. so he's saying to everybody, just hold back. we're clearly doing a lot of intelligence and figure out whether these air strikes in syria can be effective. and so you know, this is a president who doesn't want to make that same mistake twice. so he's kind of telling everybody to hold off and hold off and hold off. he's going to do it as long as he possibly can. >> polls would indicate that the american people are with president obama on this issue on using u.s. force. coming up next, we've now
1:48 pm
learned the name of the second american supposedly killed while fighting for isis in syria. we're reveal the startling common link between him and the other american isis member douglas mcauthur mccain. good family. so we gave her purina cat chow complete. it's great because it has the four cornerstones of nutrition. everything a cat needs for the first step to a healthy, happy life. purina cat chow complete. share your rescue story and join us in building better lives. one rescue at a time. will you be a sound sleeper, or a mouth breather? a mouth breather! [ whimpers ] how do you sleep like that? well, put on a breathe right strip and shut your mouth. allergy medicines open your nose over time, but add a breathe right strip and pow! it instantly opens your nose up to 38% more.
1:49 pm
so you can breathe and do the one thing you want to do -- sleep. add breathe right to your allergy medicine. shut your mouth and sleep right. breathe right. when folks think about wthey think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well: jobs all over america. engineering and innovation jobs. advanced safety systems & technology. shipping and manufacturing. across the united states, bp supports more than a quarter million jobs. when we set up operation in one part of the country, people in other parts go to work. that's not a coincidence. it's one more part of our commitment to america. i'm spending too much time hiring and not enough time in my kitchen. [ female announcer ] need to hire fast? go to and post your job to over 30 of the web's leading job boards with a single click; then simply select the best candidates from one easy to review list. you put up one post and the next day you have all these candidates. makes my job a lot easier.
1:50 pm
[ female announcer ] over 100,000 businesses have already used zip recruiter and now you can use zip recruiter for free at a special site for tv viewers; go to co: until you're sure you need a hotel room bartender: thanks, captain obvious. co: which is why i put the mobile app on my mobile phone. i don't need it right now.
1:51 pm
exists 150 years of swedish coffee experience. that's 150 years of experience in perfecting the rich, never bitter taste of gevalia. and we do it for this very experience. this very second. this exact moment. that's good. i know right? cheers to that. gevalia. 150 years of rich, never bitter coffee. cozy or cool? exactly the way you want it ... until boom, it's bedtime! your mattress is a battleground of thwarted desire. enter the sleep number bed. right now, all beds are on sale. he's the softy. his sleep number setting is 35. you're the rock, at 60. and snoring? sleep number's even got an adjustment for that.
1:52 pm
you can only find sleep number at a sleep number store. right now save 50% on the labor day limited edition bed, plus 24-month special financing. hurry ends monday! know better sleep with sleep number. welcome back to "the lead" in more world news, we've now learned the name of the second american said to have been killed while fighting for the terrorist group isis in syria over the weekend. a u.s. official tells cnn he was ab-duran muhammad. we're continuing to learn more about him. we've already reported the name of the other isis american member killed douglas mcauthur mccain. various reports have indicated muhammad had ties to minnesota. let's go to ted rowlands standing by in minnesota. it has to be something besides the climate that would draw americans from minnesota to the battlefield in syria. >> yeah, well, quite frankly,
1:53 pm
jake, they are being recruited, in fact, two of the men who have gone everybody minneapolis to go fight were friends back in high school. >> two americans friends in high school both killed while fighting for extremist groups overseas. douglas mcauthur mccain and troy casty gar reportedly struck up a close friendship while attending high school in new holt, minnesota, a suburb of minneapolis. while neither were raised muslim, they had many friends members of the large population of somali immigrants and eventually they both converted to islam. >> he grew to have like really strong muslim beliefs so much to the fact where like he was almost like turning into a somalian. because had he like a lot of somalian friends. >> in an interview with the new york daily news, his mother reportedly said "i think both of them had a really strong desire
1:54 pm
to be needed and be of value." casty gar was killed five years ago in somalia while fighting for the terror group al shabaab. that group made it clear they were trying to recruit more fighters like him, catty gar and two others kaug themselves the minnesota matters starred in this video. >> if you only knew how much fun we have over here. this is the real disneyland. come here and join us. take pleasure in this fun. we walk amongst the lions. >> before becoming jihadis, mccain and catty gar seemed more like troubled teenagers. while living in the u.s., catty gars had a few run-ins with the law. he was charged with giving false information to police and two dwis. mccain was arrested at least six times all for minor offenses but he went on the u.s. law enforcement authority's radar in early 2000 due to his association with other known terrorists. the state department says they
1:55 pm
knew about mccain's ties so isis. his body was finded when the group who killed him found his u.s. passport. omar jamal says he's worried there are more would be terrorist who have made their way from minnesota to syria and may want to come back. bringing jihad with them. . >> with a u.s. passport but also passports might one day come here and do something. >> and that really is the big fear, jake. that is what the fbi is tracking very closely not only here in minneapolis but across the country trying to find these young men who are being actively recruited. >> ted, thank you so much. coming up after a frantic search, a tragic discovery in a jerusalem forest. stay with us. latte or au lait?
1:56 pm
1:57 pm
cozy or cool? exactly the way you want it ... until boom, it's bedtime! your mattress is a battleground of thwarted desire. enter the sleep number bed. right now, all beds are on sale. he's the softy. his sleep number setting is 35. you're the rock, at 60. and snoring? sleep number's even got an adjustment for that. you can only find sleep number at a sleep number store. right now save 50% on the labor day limited edition bed, plus 24-month special financing. hurry ends monday! know better sleep with sleep number.
1:58 pm
1:59 pm
with. i'm tapper in one other 0 world news story, a sad ending in a region of the world so overrun with tragedy. an israeli police spokesman announced earlier the body of aaron sofer was found in a joourm forest. sofer a student vanished late friday while hiking in the woods with a friend. rescue teams had been combing through the area hoping to find sofer alive. his parents rushed from their lakewood, new jersey, home to aid in the search. sadly to no avail. investigate irs have yet to determine if foul play was in any way a factor. sofer was 23 years old. follow me on twitter @jake tapper. that's all one word and at the lead cnm.
2:00 pm
check out our show page for video, blogs, extras. you can subscribe to our magazine on this crazy new thing called flip board. i'm jake tapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer. he is in "the situation room." he is in "the situation room." wolf? -- captions by vitac -- happening now, breaking news, crisis meeting. president obama speaks out as major world trouble spots explode in fresh violence. new isis horrors. even after a mass slaughter of prisoners in syria, the president says he does not yet have a strategy for dealing with the terror group. and full scale invasion. the u.s. backs ukraine's claim that russian troops and thanks are now fighting inside its territory. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." president obama has just addressed dangerous escalations in two major w