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tv   New Day  CNN  April 7, 2017 3:00am-4:01am PDT

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own citizens began in syria. the united states is calling it retaliation for killing those people, including all those children. >> this was the base as chris said they believe was used for the attack. president trump seems to have made a stunning reversal in the course of one week. now the president waited 24 hours to speak out against the chemical attack. his administration opposed the removal of the brutal dictator of assad. today, does president trump need congress and/or a coalition of nations to make his next move. we have the global resources of cnn covering the story. we have our correspondent jim sciutto live in washington. >> reporter: good morning, alisyn. this was a devastating u.s. military strike, but focused. 59 tomahawk cruise missiles focused on the syrian air base.
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al shayrat. which is where the chemical weapons were launched from. we see the pictures of the damage of the attack. targeted aircraft and aircraft shelters and fuel and ammo stora storage. all of the things you need to use for the attack that has already taken place, but if you want to launch a future attack. what was not targeted with the strikes, not saran gas depot. it is believed saran gas was used in the an attack this week. the concern is you hit the depot and the chemicals were released. reports of six syrian troops killed as well. at the same time these attacks happened, the u.s. military releasing some of the photos and intelligence. the way it is established the base used to carry out the
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attacks and established they believe it was syrian air force that carried out attacks, including the flight path. they tracked the planes from the base as they went on to target. they looked at craters and impacts and known munitions. i should say that the russians were given advance warning of the attack. the u.s. did not want to hit russian assets or russian personnel. there were reports that russian military forces were seen leaving the base in the hours in the day before the attack took place. they heeded that warning. i should note that russia calls this an act of aggression. they suspended a deconfliction agreement the u.s. had with russia for a number of months. you have u.s. planes and russian planes over syria. you don't want them to shoot at each other. that agreement has been
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suspended for now. alisyn. >> that is key. we need to watch what happens. jim, thank you. donald trump calling the strikes vital to national security and necessary to stop assad from carrying out more attacks. the trump administration says assad's future is up to the syrian people to now bombing the assad regime hours ago. cnn's athena jones is in florida where president trump is. athena. >> reporter: hi, alisyn. this first direct military action by the u.s. against the assad regime was meant to deliver the message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tore rated. it is a turn around for the president who was slow to respond to the attack and strong against military intervention in syria. >> tonight, i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield
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in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. >> reporter: president trump announcing for the first time the united states has taken direct military action against the syrian regime. >> using a deadly nerve agent, assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. it was a slow and brutal death for so many. even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. >> reporter: the president citing the disturbing video of the chemical attack as the major influence on his decision. the escalation from the white house a dizzying turn around for the administration that just days ago declared the privaorit
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was not to oust bashar al assad from power. >> longer term status will be decided by the people. >> reporter: secretary of state rex tillerson now saying the opposite. confirming steps are under way to oust the syrian dictator. >> assad's rule in the future is uncertain with acts he has taken. it seems there is no role for him to govern the syrian people. >> reporter: the attack also a startling about face for trump who argued against military intervention in syria. >> why can't we let isis and syria fight. let russia, let them fight isis. >> reporter: tweeting after the last major chemical attack in syria four year as that the united states should stay out of the conflict and insisting president obama needs congressional approval before taking action. a step trump did not take before
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launching last night's strikes. the white house did inform two dozen lawmakers before taking action. legislators are urging the president to involve congress if more needs to be done. concerned with the humanitarian situation on the ground in syria also starkly different from his campaign rhetoric. >> if i win, they're going back. >> reporter: in which he argued against allowing syrian refugees into the united states. >> i always say trojan horse. what happens? >> reporter: the situation also evolving in the wake of the strikes. either russia has been complicit or incompetent on the promise to destroy chemical weapons in syria. strong words for russia from the secretary of state. secretary tillerson is set to travel to moscow next week to
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meet with sergei lavrov. syria will be on the agenda. that meeting was announced wednesday. chris. >> athena, what a difference a day makes. russia now back on its heels condemning the u.s. missile strike in syria as an act of aggression. that is a phrase trying to undermine any legal justification. the bold move was president vladimir putin calling the strikes trumped up. this is the first apparent insult of president trump by putin. how big will this missile strike be on future relations? cnn's matthew chance live in moscow with more. matthew. >> reporter: chris, thanks very much. there's been on the face of it a furious response from the kremlin. statement issued on behalf of vladimir putin saying president putin regards the american attacks on syria as aggression against the sovereign state
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against the norms of international law. under a far fetched pre-text. there was no chemical weapons strike carried out by the syrian military against the area in southern idlib province. it was a regular air strikes. against the storage facility in which rebels were keeping their chemical munitions. that's what caused the horrific loss of life. that's the version of events the russians are sticking to. the kremlin saying the syrian army has no chemical weapons. there has been action taken, though, by the russians in response. not just strong words. air safety agreement, which is crucial in syria, we knbetween united states and russian military to prevent the airplanes from contacting each other in the skies as they carry out strikes. that is now suspended. it is an important conduit by
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which the russian military was warned by the u.s. of the forthcoming tomahawk strikes. that telephone will no longer ring. no mechanism in the future for the united states to warn the russians if they are going to strike at targets inside syria at the ally in the middle east. >> thank you, matthew. jim sciutto is back with us. also joining us is david gregory. associate editor is a.b. stoddard. and military analyst james "spider" marks. thank you for being with us this morning. a.b., let's talk about the political picture right you now. people are just waking up. it happened less than 12 hours ago. members of congress are weighing in. is it your impression there is a consensus thus far in the u.s., basically, and that both sides of the aisle and congress think this was the right move? >> i think there is a bipartisan
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consensus this was a reversal for president trump as he campaigned as interventionist, but acted swiftly in he narrowed it not as attack on the country to take out the president bashar al assad, but to speak directly to the use of chemical weapons in violation of international norms. i think that so far has been applauded. it is the question of escalation in the days to come as our allies in the region applaud this and urge like turkey that we begin no-fly zone and stuff like that. that is where the concern will come in and that's debate in congress whether or not they want to complain or actually have a hand in approvipproving further escalation. the talk of possibility of
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organizing a coalition to topple assad will make congress nervous. you could see on social media, many trump supporters are upset. they saw him as non interventionist. they think he has been captured by the hawk republicans like john mccain and stepping into a situation that will escalate out of control. that's going to be interesting to see in the days to come. just how much the criticism of his own most fervent supporters see what will be done. >> interesting, a.b. the diehard proof of the trump supporters. now the president is saying syria did this and i'm going to act. that is one political dynamic we watch. jim sciutto, does this tailored attack politically mitigate the now what question? the concern is you start
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something you don't want to finish? was this a good compromise keeping it that way? >> it all depends on what happens next. this was a very targeted attack in military terms. a base really just parts of that base. you didn't go after the runways. you went after the aircraft. you went after the fuel depots. you didn't go after the saran gas. that would spread around and hurt civilians. in military terms, it is focused. also strategically. the syrian military's ability to wage war in the country has not been significantly altered here. it doesn't change the course of the war at least based on this one strike. if this signals a bigger change in u.s. intervention in the conflict, that's a bigger question. it doesn't in military terms and i know general marks knows more about this than me. fundamentally change the course on the ground nunless there is
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decision to do that. to target other military capabilities of the syrian government. chris, the other point is this, as this is all happening, the chinese president is here in the u.s. the message here, i think you could say is not just to syria and not just to russia, but perhaps intended for a broader audience in the world that this is. th there is a new sheriff in town. if pushed, we will use force. >> "spider?" >> this is significant. this is a limited and narrow strike. this opens the door for additional strikes that i would anticipate we would see over the course of time. >> additional strikes by the u.s. on air bases? >> a whole host of targets. where we could go after multiple capabilities that assad used in the past and has available to use again. what the united states will probably do is simply be
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reactive. we're in a punching match. they punched with chemical weapons. we decided to punch back. what happens next? we lose if we do that ultimat y ultimately. assad is weak. i'm not suggesting he is immediately. over the course of time, he may be labeled a pariah or too tough to bolster. iran, however, would probably not. that could over the course of time weaken assad. the united states should and must take advantage. >> david gregory. >> if you are waking up this morning, the obvious question is what is next? where does this go from here? so we have to take a step back. for all of the president's pl bluster and blaming promise aob is done. he supported obama and not striking. he has cover.
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today, tony blinken praised this action. hitting assad over the use of chemical weapons. is the goal here to stop assad from using chemical weapons again? president trump wants to do what president obama was unwilgs lino do? rex tillerson says they will push to try to get assad out. it will involve tough diplomacy. the larger strategy here has not been to mess with assad or that six-year civil war or do anything meaningful of the refugees. millions created by targeting of assad. it is to fight isis. now we have to wonder does trump want to go bigger? does he want to fight isis? take over russia over assad?
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>> we are not saying this. how will assad respond? jim sciutto, this is a guy who just a few days ago thought the u.s. was functionally giving him a pass. this is a guy who watched him do something worse in 2013 and the united states gave him a pass. >> and senator marco rubio said that chemical attack was a result of the secretary of state saying we no longer prioritize getting rid of assad. >> it is possible assad doesn't do much different, right? this was a targeted attack on one air base. specific to chemical weapons abilities. assad still has tremendous power to inflict damage and death. the principle way he killed people was barrel bombs. not chemical weapons. none of that has been effective by this. in terms of waging war on his own people, that hasn't changed.
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unless general marks said something followings. it makes him think if i push too far, i might pay this price. if it is isolated, doesn't change what he does. it doesn't change his capabilities and not change the way he is waging war at home. >> speaking of at home. a.b., this changes how mr. trump's critics and his diehard supporters see his relationship with russia. this is obviously a bold more that many people wondered if he would be able to take and rex tillerson using strong language. either russia is complicit or incompetent on the ability to deliver on the promise to destroy chemical weapons in syria. >> interesting. the administration had been putting that on obama. now they shift to russia which is where the blame properly belongs. >> i think the russia aspect is the biggest headline of all of this.
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that not only trump and tillerson are standing up to russia like this and tillerson's comments are very bold basically saying they are either complicit in helping assad hide chemical weapons they pledged to get rid of in 2013 or can't control him. i manage when tillerson is in moscow next week, the push or ask, because in the document that josh rogin saw last night, the government says the russian posture into syria must change. we are imagining that tillerson will ask them. you either clean up the rest of the weapons in the country or you do this and that to control assad. i don't think the russians willis evwil will listen. they want to get out of the conflict agreement. that is the most dangerous thing. that's where there's potential for rapid escalation if we have an accidental strike on a
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russian, they are embedded throughout the country. that is the danger. even dplomestically and politically, this will win over skeptics of trump, but militarily, this reaction from russia is where the danger lies in some kind of mission creep and escalation. >> thank you, panel for being part of our coverage. >> we have new information coming in consistently as we get it and process it. we bring it to you. stay with the special edition of "new day." we'll be right back. i noticed it as soon as we moved into the new house.
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so every couple can get the best sleep ever. does your bed do that? for a limited time find clearance prices on the cse bed. now only $1399 - save $500. only at a sleep number store or sleepnumber.com this is cnn breaking news. >> we have breaking news at this hour. russia's defense minister announcing it plans to bolster the air defense system in syria. the u.s. fired nearly 60 missiles last night at syrian government air base. that is where u.s. officials say the assad regime launched the deadly chemical attack on tuesday. cnn's ben wedeman is live on the
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turkey/syria border with the breaking details. ben, what is the latest? >> reporter: alisyn, we heard positive responses to the strike from turkey. turkey said the foreign minister said it is a positive response to what happened on tuesday morning. the foreign minister of jordan said it was appropriate and necessary measure following that attack. now i've been in touch with syrians who are in turkey watching all of this. and some of them are saying yes, this was a necessary measure to retaliate against this for this chemical attack, but some worry it is a media response to the incident. others believe it is a fundamental change in american policy. keeping in mind, of course, for the last six years as the civil war raged in syria, no measures were taken. no action was taken against the
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regime. they say finally something has been done against the regime of bashar al assad. alisyn. chris. >> ben, appreciate it. let's bring back the panel. david gregory, jim sciutto, a.b. stoddard and retired general"sp. they have the ability to shoot down the tomahawks, they didn't do this. they said this should not affect our relationship. then putin said it was trumped up. now we have this message from the defense ministry saying we're going to boost our capabilities basically to shoot things down in syria. what do you think? >> you know this as well as me. as the public message and private message here. there's a public audience that
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vladimir putin has to speak to. certainly at home he has to show strength. i'm sure and we know this. there were private communications yesterday. the u.s. made it clear to the russians that it did not want to kill or injury or hurt or strike russian capabilities or people on the ground there. the u.s. wanted to make that clear. the reports from the ground that russian forces were seen leaving before the strikes took place. so russia has to say something. it does have an effect. the u.s. has taken military action against its client state on the ground there. in addition, russia had syria kind of to it self. a big show of military force by russia in recent years. russia's first deployment in the post soviet era away from the borders.
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war planes, et cetera. the u.s., in a limited way, troops on the ground, but in a very limited way. it is taking military action against its client state. it will have an effect. i think the u.s. in limiting the strike and warning the russians and signals both sides don't want to blow up the entire issue. i have to think neither side wants this to escalate. >> "spider" this meeting that was previously scheduled with secretary of state rex tillerson and moscow has gotten more interesting. at the moment, it is not canceled. it will happen next week. how do you now decipher this relationship? >> you certainly change the agenda. you walk in the door, you have different topics. the fact that the deconfliction charter. the agreement where the united states said there would be open
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communications down to the military commanders on the grounds. that would allow you to if you conduct an operation, call up your counterpart. saying i need you to stand down for 15 minutes. i need to do something. that was suspended. we need to make sure that is not pulled out and thrown at the wall. the other thing which i think is important is russia indicated it increased air defense capabil y capabilities in syria. my view of that they have a robust air defense capability already. any place where russia goes. if we have aircraft, soldiers. if we have one soldier on the ground, we put a bubble over that guy. >> they have to shot down our missiles. >> yes. >> now them saying they will bolster is it bluster? >> they may try it, but they have a capability. this is a political message going back to the united states saying we hear you. >> "spider," what do you make of
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this? i'm reading something of the kremlin right now. the spokesperson. he seems to be heightening the negative joust cooutcomes. the risks of it. that this was carried out for the benefit of isis and other terrorist organizations. so let's leave the political propaganda aside. obviously u.s. has zero interest of doing anything for isis. we will hit each other in the air. they suspended that non conflict channel for right now. how big a deal is that? who losing? >> first of all, the deconfliction capability -- i'm about to do something. i want to coordinate and let you know. that is important. in terms of our running into or bumping into russians in the air space over syria or in the contiguous areas, as they say in the military, that ain't going to happen. >> why? >> we have the ability to reach
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much farther. our abilities allow us to see more deeply and more clearly than the russian counterparts. and if there was a choice to engage, we would have immediate overmatch. we could strike them at greater distance. we may win that kind of engagement. >> david. >> there may be agreement with russia and the u.s. to limit the use of chemical weapons. that may be the first stage there could be agreement on. russia has the answer for the fact that the chief meteorologist chemical weapons were in the country. you can put the blame on the obama and trump administration saying we will leave assad to his own devices here. russia is supposed to get the chemical weapons out of there in the deal struck with the united states. go back to 2001 and the aftermath of 9/11. and vladimir putin calls
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president bush and says we're going to stand down here and go to that lower threat level. bush appreciated that. that was cynically done by putin. he wakes up and what he really did is he took advantage of that situation to crackdown on chechnya and islamic terrorists in chechnya. the chechnya separatists. now that is why there is the issue with the administration. >> russia is spending time hitting assad enemies and not isis. a strong point by all the panel. what a blessing to have you with us this morning. we'll take a quick break on "new day." we will have several members of congress. they are in the focus right now. what do they think of this move? was it lawful? will they own their constitutional duty when it comes to war acts? you see them on the screen. they will be on the show next. stay with cnn. you do all this research
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this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news on the heels of 59 tomahawk missiles being shot from the mediterranean into
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syria. specifically the base where the u.s. believed the chemical weapons originated. now we see the russian response. they will bolster the air defense systems in seyria. they will suspend the deconfliction channel with the united states. suggesting more trouble in the skies. what does this mean? the action taken by the syrian regime. this is from russian television what you are seeing right now. this is the effect on the air base. syria put out word there were fatalities there. the kremlin saying the risks of the u.s./russia could liellisioe sky could not be higher. support from the americans is strong. france and germany issuing a statement. bashar al assad bears a full responsibility for the u.s. strike. alisyn. >> let's look at where the strikes were happening. joining me on the giant map is
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major general james "spider" marks. where was the chemical attack? >> it came. we launched -- the chemical attack. >> it started all of this. >> it was in idlib in northern syria. >> okay. u.s. intel. >> intelligence. >> determined that chemical attack was launched from an air base where? >> al shayrat. located right here. below our feet. this is an airfield with great confidence. we know the strike against idlib originated here. this is in the middle of nowhere. this is a good deal. there was minimal damage against civilian property and most importantly casualties. that was important to us. >> absolutely. the u.s. telegraphed to russia -- >> we told russia in advance, we're launching this thing. >> the u.s. missiles came from where we are standing.
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>> they did. >> from the mediterranean. >> eastern mediterranean. they have the ability to launch the cruise missiles. "the porter" and "the ross." our navy is here in the mediterranean routinely. >> what exactly did the tomahawk missiles take out there? >> what the united states wanted to do is to reduce the capability or eliminate completely. you never eliminate completely. you want to nullify assad ability. very limited in terms of the nature of the strike. >> right. it was more than just cratering the runways. we heard some people suggesting that yesterday. this went further. >> it did. we wanted to hit any aircraft that were there. that means we go after hangars where the aircraft would be protected. these are reinforced concrete and thick hangar ws and
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helicopters. i suggest the fixed aircraft left. >> if you telegraph russia, it is a chance that russia alerted them. >> yes. >> we have russian state tv of the aftermath. what do you don't see? >> i don't see the runway crater. >> i don't either. >> t-lams. cruise missiles don't have the ability to crater the runway. you can create damage and rough stuff up. the concrete facilities can be damaged. you can soften them with a single hit. >> it was disabled for the time being or could have gone farther? >> it could have gone farther if weadditional types of weapon systems. the issue was keep it narrow and make a political statement and
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say don't touch your chemical weapons again. that will be the successful result of this. >> thank you, "spider." thank you for being with us through the special edition. chris. alisyn, general, make your way from the mediterranean back here. let's get our panel going. joining us is counterterrorism analy analyst phil mudd. former chairman of the house intel committee mike rogers. and author of "besieged." anthony j.tata. it is good to have you with us. mike rogers. what a difference a day makes. we went from a posture of pacivity. how how does this change? >> this is significant not only for the message it sends to assad, this sent a message to
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the arab league partners. this was their alka-seltzer to the hangover. they taublked about boxing in assad for years. this was a plan four or five years ago when the other chemical weapons happened. you can't look at it as the strike on this air base. it was surgical. it was designed to strike facilitate loading and unloading and delivery of chemical weapons. that message was sent. assad got that one. it also told the russians. put them on notice. it told arab league partners the united states is serious about getting this right. i think this is a very important step for a host of reasons. >> general tata, how do you see what happened with what transpired last night? >> i think this was exactly the right thing to do, alisyn.
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what we have is flexible deterrent options. when you look at an objective you want to achieve from u.s. military standpoint when our vital interests are threatened and weapons of mass destruction are used, we can do more. to me. this is exactly the right response because we have to remember that warfare is politics by another means. there is a political outcome we want which is for assad not to use chemical weapons. i would take it a step further. we have to have a plan now. i'm sure that plan is already in the works or not already done to enact a coalition to pull together a coalition to get those chemical weapons and destroy them as the russians said they were going to do back in 2013 when president obama decided not to do this type of
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action and deferred to the russians who said they would take care of it. >> mike, let me bounce back to you for a second. you talk about the political implications. you try to get your head around how broad the context. you have the missile strike. where is the president? he is in mar-a-lago meeting with the president of china. supposedly dealing with north korea. that was supposed to be the biggest test. now this happens. you have the russian interference investigation going on at the same time that you have the new dynamic with russia and the united states. all of this going on at the same time. how do you handle that? >> you know, an old saying in the army that if your map doesn't match the terrain, go with the terrain. the international incidents will dictate the pace of this. i don't think the president had a choice of laying out all of the other issues. our military is complicated. we can deal with more than one thing at a time. that is what are you seeing
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happen here. this will help issues in the middle east. it will bring back our arab league partners who are doubtful of u.s. resolve in helping solve this isis problem in western iraq and syria. in a way they hadn't seen in years. that's a good step. it allows us to remind folks like kim jong-un that we're serious. when we say we're going to do something, we will do something. that is a good place to get to good diplomatic outcome. we need to reset that table in the united states. this to me feeds into that narrative that there is something different happening in our foreign policy and you need to understand that when we say something, it's going to happen. that helps our diplomatic effort in a place like north korea. instead of ramping it up, this could serve to tone it down. same with china. it needs to understand. that was an important event. while china was here, they have
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been expand in the south china sea. they had international protests. this gives us a position now to walk in with the little bit more authority and negotiate a better outcome. i think this was a relatively small thing when you look at the threats around the world, but a very important statement. not just to bashar al assad and the russians, but the rest of the world as well. >> interesting perspective. phil, do you agree this could actually tam actually tamp down something rather than ramp it up? >> absolutely. i don't see it as that significant yet. it could shift. the reason i see this as mode modestly significant is because we are not talking about taking out bashar al assad. after six years of civil war with 400,000 people dead, we respond with one incident with less than five minutes of strikes on one airfield. if you are in russia, you are saying this is not a game
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changer yet until i talk to rex tillerson on tuesday and see if there are more serious implications. they will talk about safe zones? will they talk about regime targets or is this a deterrent attack saying you can kill civilians arebombs, but not chemical weapons? i think this is the right step to deter assad from chemical weapons. this is not a clear indication that america will take another big step in another middle eastern country. >> "spider" you have the message and you have in phil mudd it wasn't that big a step. for every action, there is a reaction. that is the plus/minus. what is the good outcome and what is the possible negative outcome? >> this was a message. this was not a whisper. this was a significant message we made because we chose to act. as mike rogers indicated, we raised our hand and said we will
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not stand for that anymore. that's important. the extent we went to at this point an agagain is not signifi. they had minimal damage which is significant. we sent a powerful message. this says don't use your chemical weapons again. as phil indicated, you have a whole array of options out there. you can use those. it is a cynical view, but we were clear in the terms of the message. >> gentlemen, thank you very much for all of the expertise. we will check back with you. we have other news because the strikes in syria, of course, putting north korea and its nuclear ambitions on notice as president trump meets again today with china's president. cnn's will ripley is live in beijing with more. what is the reaction? what is the latest, will? >> reporter: on the chinese side, they are saying they oppose the use of chemical weapons even though they veto
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u.n. sanctions over the use of chemical weapons. they are saying in beijing, they oppose the use of force in dealing with international matters. we don't know. we were not given an answer if president trump and president xi sitting at the dinner table at mar-a-lago if they had a conversation about it. those details not released. some chinese state media are calling the air strike hasty and inconsistent with the president's previous views which left a deep impression here in china given the unpredictability of the trump administration. i know kim jong-un is watching this closely. next week, a new round of joint military exercises kicking off. there is the most important holiday of the year in north korea next week. we don't have an official response from north korea yet, my em prii am prig impression i
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acceleration of testing nuclear weapons. >> will, thank you for weighing in on the complex situation. simple act sending the tomahawks reverberates in so many ways. we have another take for you after this break. is this a good start? that is the take of nick christoff. he will tell you why this is the first step and why much more needs to be done to avert further crisis in syria. plus, details of his conversation with hillary clinton on this very subject last night. next. hey allergy muddlers
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breaking news. for the first time, the u.s. launched nearly 60 u.s. missiles last night hitting an air base that u.s. officials say was the one used to carry out the deadly chemical weapons attack. joining us is nicholas christoff. he interviewed hillary clinton yesterday. nick, great to have you here. >> good to be here. >> in august, you wrote about syria and what was going on. it is a stain on all of us. analogous and to the eyes averted from bosnia and rwanda
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in the '90s and in the 2000s. >> i start off with a deep suspicion with anything that president trump does. in this case, i think this was the right thing. this is very similar to the plan that the obama administration originally had in 2013. when a country uses chemical weapons in taboo that the world has had for years, it is important to reinforce that taboo. the question is where do we go from here and do we use this leverage to reinforce that, i a taboo. >> do we need to take a step back and analyze? you think you can make a compelling case this was lawful
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under the u.s. constitution? international or domestic by president trump? >> i think this is was dubious legali legality. i think it was also somewhat hypocritical given the previous comments about syria. his opposition to strikes very much like this. i think it raises all kinds of difficulties ahead. i think it was absolutely the right thing to do. >> how do you square those two? how is it right if it could be illegal and congress should have been involved and you don't have international precedent for this? >> all of these arguments have been used all along in syria. basically as a reason for pasivity. we had more than 300,000 people killed and 5 million refugees. the birth of isis. there are risks and downsides of engagement. there are real risks and down sides of pacivity. one strike doesn't solve things.
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where we need to go in the long run in syria is some kind of a de facto partition and cease-fire. there is talk about ousting assad. that's not going to happen. we're stuck with assad. we can perhaps achieve a de facto cease-fire. john kerry was pleading for leverage to hepa chil help achi. he wanted the ability to use military force and hold something against putin. now the state department has leverage. we don't have an administration that believes in diplomacy or secretary of state who may be up to the task. >> what you see as leverage, others see as the start of a domino effect. what will russia's response be? what will iran's? you think as we sit here, the u.s. has the upper hand at this hour? >> i think russia does not want to escalate. i think there are real advantages of trying to ground
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syrian airs assets. it has a small air force. russia doesn't want to be the air force for syria. we can't stop all of the slaughter that assad engaged in. we can limit his ability to drop barrel bombs on people and chemical weapons on people. if that is done right, it can reduce. we focused on isis. isis is responsible for much less than 10% of the slaughter in syria over the years. >> it's so interesting how everything has changed in 24 hours. you had candidate trump and even president trump up until 24 hours. stay out. you have done nothing but make situations worse. cost blood and treasure that the united states did not want to spend. hillary clinton said you can't go soft on russia. you have to go in. very hawksish. what was her take on the state of play with russia? >> i spoke to her a few hours before the strike and asking her
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how we should respond to the as s sad use of chemical weapons. she responded exactly with the action of donald trump. >> i really believe that we should have and still should take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop saran gas on them. >> very interesting. again, president trump could have taken a cue from her from listening to how forceful she was and the crowd seemed to appreciate that. >> absolutely. one of the under lying problems here is president trump has, frankly lied so often and so much about so many topics, he doesn't have a lot of credit credibility on an issue like this where he needs it globally.
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this is helpful that people who worked for the obama administration and secretary clinton endorsed the same measure. it gives him cover in a case that may not be true with china or the south china sea. >> what do you see about this as an overwhelming moment? we will have in all likelihood a new supreme court justice today. we have devin nunes stepping away from an investigation that seemed to be at the center of our democracy. we have the president at mar-a-lago with the president of china. that was supposed to be the biggest test. now this happens and all of that seems to be moving away. how big a moment is this? >> i think there is a lesson here for the news media and all of us in the press. as i look back over the last year or so, i think one of our historic mistakes is we spent much too much time chasing the latest shiny object and distracted from what is
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happening in the campaign and country in the world. we absolutely need to follow what is happening in syria and the opportunities and risks it creates. let's not be diverted from the russia investigation from it. an attack on our electoral system and who was behind that and issues of north korea which probably in the administration presents the greatest risk of awful conflagration. let's focus on the big things. >> nick kristof, thank you. we are following obviously all of the breaking news. let's get the latest. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> we welcome viewers in the united states and around the world. this is "new day." we do have breaking news. president trump ordering military strikes in syria. the u.s. firing 59 cruise missiles at a

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