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 syrian air base.
the strikes in retaliation for president assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people that killed dozens. including children. >> the latest from the u.s. military. they say they hit their target. the base, they believe, was used by syria to launch war planes and carry out the deadly chemical attack. russian officials will bolster air defenses in syria adding that the risk of a collision with the u.s. could not be higher. this is a stunning reversal for president trump. the president gone from 2013 warning obama to stay out to having his secretary of state and ambassador to the u.n. saying assad is a serious problem and now a missile strike. we have the global resources of cnn covering the story. let's start with cnn's jim sciutto live in d.c. what a difference 24 hours
makes. >> no question, chris. we are getting our first battle damage assessment as the military calls them from the strike. the military saying of the 59 tomahawks fired, 58 of them severely damaged or degraded the intended targets. this was a devastating strike, but narrow one. a targeted one. to target the air base that the u.s. believed was used to launch the chemical weapons. they have damage to the hardened areas and shelters and destroyed a number of aircraft. targeted fuel depots and ammo depots and radar installations. all things that were used, the u.s. believes, for the chemical weapons attack, but used for future attacks. degrading that ability. it is important to note what it did not target. it did not target chemical weapons facilities there. that was intentional.
the u.s. did not want to hit saran gas depots and spread that around. it did not degrade or destroy the syria military ability to wage war on its own people. it has a powerful army. it has an air force. the ability to drop barrel bombs. this strike, it seems, to affect their chemical weapons ability and importantly to send a message to syria. if you use these things, the u.s. is going to react. and send that message not just to syria, but to the world. one other thing i should note, certainly not on this target list was russia. we know that russia was warned in advance. multiple conversations with the u.s. and russia officials to let them know that something was coming so they had advanced warning to get forces out of the way. the u.s. target list certainly considered where russian forces would be.
they did not want to accidentally hit russian forces. that said, chris, alisyn, protesting this military action and calling it an act of aggression and suspending this crucial deconfliction agreement the u.s. has with russia. that is a way to keep communication open so the u.s. and russian military assets there. war planes don't run into each other and don't happen to shoot at each other. that has been suspended for now. that is significant. >> that is getting a lot of attenti attention. we will see what it means. jim, thank you for your reporting. president trump calling the strikes quote vital to national security and necessary to stop assad from carrying out more attacks. the trump administration gone from saying assad's future was up to the syrian people. he said that earlier this week. his administration did. to now bombing the regime. cnn's athena jones is live in palm beach, florida where president trump is now.
athena. >> reporter: hi, alisyn. this first direct u.s. military action against the assad regime is meant to send a message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. it represents a major turn around for a president who was initially slow to respond to the latest chemical attack and once argued against military intervention in syria. >> tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. >> reporter: president trump announcing that 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 again citing the disturbing video of the tuesday chemical attack as the influence on his decision. the escalation from the white house a dizzying turn around for the administration that just days ago declared the priority was not to oust syrian president bashar al assad from power. >> longer term status is decided by the syrian people. >> reporter: secretary of state rex tillerson now saying the opposite. confirming steps are under way to organize an effort to oust the syrian dictator. >> assad's role in the future is unclear with acts he has taken and it seems there is no role for him to govern the syrian people.
>> reporter: this is also a startling about face for president trump. he repeatedly argued against military action in syria. >> why can't we let isis and syria fight and let russia, they're in syria already, let them fight isis? >> reporter: tweeting repeatedly after the last chemical weapons attack four years ago, that the u.s. should stay out of the conflict and suggesting that president obama needed congressional action before taking action. a step that donald trump did not take last night. the white house did inform two dozen lawmakers before taking action. legislators on both sides of the aisle are urging the president to involve congress if the administration decides to do more. the president stated concern 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 refugee into the united states. >> i always say trojan horse.
watch what's going to happen. >> reporter: the administration stance toward russia advancing. the america's top diplomat saying russia has been complicit or incompetent on the ability to deliver 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 meet with sergei lavrov and other officials. syria will certainly be on the agenda. alisyn and chris. >> athena, thank you. russia has sent mixed messages. they stood down when warned of the u.s. strikes. since they have condemned the strikes. suspended communications. warned that chances of air
incidents could not be higher. yet, no word of what athena was talking about. cancelling the huge meeting with the u.s. secretary of state and russian counterpart. that takes us to russia with cnn's matthew chance live ins moscow. what is the latest in terms of what this means for relations? >> reporter: i mean, it is an interesting issue because the relationship was already rocky. was already in the kremlin's words at zero point. the kremlin now saying it is damaged further. the russian foreign minister sergei lavrov saying he is disappoint how this damages u.s./russian relations. he added the comment. which i don't think will lead to an irreversible situation. he hopes it doesn't. the foreign minister leaving the door open for some kind of reproach with the united states and talk about that with rex tillerson when he comes to the country next week.
now, of course, tillerson won't be coming as the man who received from putin a medal of friendship for his activities here. he is coming as the secretary of state and the administration that struck hard against russ russia's many ally in the middle east. that strikes the kocord of beina poodle of the administration. >> absolutely. we have seen quite a turnabout this past week on lots of levels. matthew, thank you. world leaders are reacting to the strikes. iran's foreign minister tweeted not even two decades after 9/11, u.s. military fighting on the same side as al qaeda and isis in syria. time to stop the hype and cover ups. joining me now with reaction to all of this is democrat congress member on the house armed services committee. he is the veteran of the war in
iraq. you served four tours. >> good to be here. >> do you want to respond? this means if you are fighting isis, the u.s. is working in tandem with the terrorists. >> syria is a complicated situation. there are more bad guys in the world than one group. we are opposed to isis, but opposed to assad. we should be clear that we're not going to stand for him massacring his own people. >> are you pleased with what the president did? >> what the president did was an important first step to send a message that using chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction is not acceptable. we will not stabbnd by when it happens. he that's come to congress and convince us to support it in a bipartisan way. >> let's talk about that. did he have the authority to do what he did? the missile strikes. >> my understanding is he had
the authority to take the initial strike. war doesn't get easier. it will get a lot harder. he will have a lot of questions to answer. most of all, we have to explain the goal for the american troops that we're asking to risk their lives. i remember in 2003 when general petraeus says tell me how this ends. we don't know what we're really fighting for in syria. fundamentally that is not fair to our troops. >> senator tim kaine said what the president did was unlawful by not going to congress. do you agree? >> i don't know about the details. my understanding is he has 48 hours to notify us if he is using troops. that is you wiis up for debate. there is no question the role of congress, the constitutional authority is to decide if we go to war. going forward, we have to have
debate and approve the plans. >> would you approve it? does congress now have the stomach to do some sort of military action in syria? in 2013 they didn't. >> that is right. many people forget. when president obama said here is the red line. don't cross it. he went back to congress and congress ultimately said no. we're not going to go to war in syria. i don't know how that may have changed in congress. that's why we have to have this debate. for me, personally, what matters is to have a clear goal and strategy. i don't want to support an open-ended conflict. if we can help end the terrible disastrous civil war in syria and we ask help move in that direction, we should do. when i go to visit the troops in iraq, the ones going into syria, and i ask them what exactly are you fighting for and what is the end game? how does this end? they don't know. we need that strategy and plan. we owe it to the young men and
women. >> how do you define the goal? what do you think the goal should be in syria? >> we have to have some political end game. when i was a marine fighting in iraq, i understood that every time i went on a raid or patrol, i was fighting to empower the government of iraq. we understood what that meant. there was debate of if we should divide iraq or keep as one. we decided a single state. that is what we fought for. >> is the political goal to topple assad? >> it has to be more detailed than that. there is a lot of debate if we should divide syria. whether syria can continue to exist as a country. the point is we need to make that decision. we need to have that political strategy clear because that is what we're fighting to achieve. every time we send troops into a new city in syria to kick isis out or shoot missiles against assad's air force, we have to understand how does that end and where does it go. >> sure.
we have our goal and it doesn't always go as planned. what's russia's goal? what is iran's goal? what is syria's goal? >> alisyn, that is a great question. that's why this is complicated. this is the simplest thing. throw a few tomahawk missiles. what comes next gets harder. when young americans start losing lives and we start having conflicts in the air space with russia, this is going to get more complicated quickly. that is why we need to have a clear strategy from the president. >> from your experience as a marine and serving four tours in iraq, what do you think is the next step? >> president trump has to come to congress and he has to say here is my strategy. here is my plan for where i see syria going. if he says look, we will have safe zones in syria or perhaps we push for dividing the country. then he needs to make that clear and needs to develop a political and military strategy to achieve that. when secretary kerry was
fighting so hard to develop a political strategy in syria and get the rest of the obama administration behind him. that is what he was trying to do. trying to give a goal to the troops. we had a goal last night which was sending a message to assad. a goal to end the conflict is complicated. that is the plan we have to develop. >> not all of your fellow lawmakers feel the way that you do and in fact, your fellow iraq war veteran has used the strongest language we heard yet how this was a big mistake. it angers and saddens me that donald trump has taken the advice of war hawks to try to overthrow the syrian government. this is short sighted. it will lead to more dead civilians and refugees. it is a direct confrontation with the united states and russia which could lead to nuclear war. is she going too far?
do you see the same domino or series of possible catastrophic repercussions she does? >> here is where i disagree with congresswoman gabbard. i think it was the right decision to attack syria with the missiles. to show we are not going to stand with the use of chemical weapons. when she talks of russia and the united states could get into a larger conflict with the issue and it is important to have a strategy. she is right. i have raised alarm about russia and they have been in violation of our nuclear weapons treaty in europe. we have had zero response. the trump administration hasn't doing anything about that. these are reasons that we have to be concerned about where the conflict with russia is going. frankly, the fact we have to ask why some people have said -- why did president trump call russia, but didn't go to congress. the fact we have to ask those questions shows there is real problems with the
administration. >> congress member moulton, thank you for coming in. >> thank you. >> let's get to chris. >> it shows we now have a historic tradition of congress abdicating its constitutional duty to debate and declare war of two american presidents. how will that play out? president trump does seem politically to make a huge shift. america first. stay out of meddling abroad. now he takes a military strike at syria. how does he justify it? how does it impact his position on refugees? we have an adviser to the president next. ♪ energy is amazing. how we use it is only limited by our imagination.
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out the video on your screen you are looking at right now. damage to the air base. the president's decisive action is such a big change from his actions and words earlier this week. let's discuss what caused the change and how deep does it go? we have anthony scaramucci. always good to have you on the show. >> good to be here. >> the simple question is what happened? what changed? >> this is a super compassionate man. when he sees the atrocities going on and the human rights indictment of the syrian government as a responsible agent for america and commander in chief and what lincoln said about the country. the last best hope for mankind. he looks at that and he says i have to have a measured response and i need to send a message to people around the world that the united states is not going to
stand by idly of the moral atrocities happening. for me, it was a bold, diseaeci action. it sends a message, chris, this is like the air traffic controller message where ronald reagan said listen, don't do this stuff. if you do it, i'll fire you. this message is resonating globally. i think president assad hears the message. i think the russian's response to this thing. they knew the united states was pinned in here and had to do something particularly after what happened in 2013. so my guess is that this will not distort our relationship with russia and i think it sends a message about who president trump is. he is a moral man and decisive person. he is a person that you don't really want to scrum with, chris. he is not the type of guy to back down in a fight. >> let's unpack what you just said. first, how do you reconcile
president trump with citizen trump in 2013? basically going out of his way to abdicate not going after syria. reaching out and saying don't do this. how do you reconcile? >> i think at that time, he is a pragmatic person as well. mike tyson had a great line. everybody has a plan until they're punched in the face. every general has a plan until contacted with the enemy. what the president is looking at as '13 was cautious. the line was moving in syria. the president said he was drawing the red line and took it away. that sends the wrong message not just to the syrian government, but people around the world. he had to adapt the play. one thing you will find about the president, i saw this on the campaign trail. he is a great quarterback. he could call the play at the line of scrimmage.
he can change tactics. you and i both know very smart people will change when facts change. >> right. you have reaction and long-term strategy. do you believe the president now owns an obligation to be involved in syria? which he studiously avoided as of two or three dayss ago. >> i think there is a per pet situation of the moral atrocities. he is sending a message whatever your civil war is or inn tern personal conflict, this is something that is around the world. nikki haley said moral people will not stand for this type of inhumane treatment. you saw the babies. i saw the babies. men and women. it's a heart wrenching thing. >> we see it every year. we saw it in greater numbers in 2013. >> he wasn't president in 2013. president today.
>> understood. that can always make a big difference. you said several times moral man. his heart is big. he felt the humanity of this. must those also apply to his feelings about the refugees? he went out of his way during the campaign to say specifically, those syrian refugees, i want them to know if they come here, they are going home. he now knows what he would send them home to. will we see a shift there as well? >> i think let me give broad context of what he was saying as i was with him during the campaign. he was basically suggesting the conflict with isis that led to the refugee problem with the right foreign policy and military strategy, we could have put down isis. we both know i was in iraq in 2011. meeting with general austin where the troop force recommendation was 15,000 troops. going town going down to 900 troops was wrong. we now have 8,000 troops in
iraq. we don't have agreement. we have 8,000 troops in iraq. this was a political strategy overlayed on the military that led to the isis situation and the cause of the refugee problems. what the president was saying or the candidate at the time, create safe zones in syria so syrians can live in syria. >> there are no safe zones. >> we know that. we still have to think about a process of trying to create peace and allowing the syrian people to live in syria. what the president is concerned about as it relates to any refugee from hostile actors to the united states is harm to the american people. >> i hear you. anthony, let me knock you off message. those women, those children that broke his heart. that's the group he says poses a risk to the united states. that's why people have been pointing out to him, refugees in general don't pose a risk.
specifically these people are running for their lives. why villainize them? >> he is basically looking at the situation and being a good intuitive person and there are potentially bad actors in the refugee community that could end up in the united states. >> a potential you have never seen. >> want to harm our children. >> that happens in small numbers. i'm saying how does that weigh against what is now breaking his heart? >> you may disagree. >> it is the numbers. it is not about objective disagreement. >> a lot of people say you know what? enough is enough. we need a strong vigorous commander in chief that will protect the american people here on our homeland and he is probably saying things controversial to you that sound great to the american people that voted for him about protecting the american homeland and protecting innocent children. >> i hear you about that.
i get why it works. so much of his base. you could argue fringe components of his base. fair point. they are saying there was no proof. this wasn't syria. this wasn't the media ginning it up. isolationism. he now did a 180. >> i don't think so. >> right or wrong. it is 180. >> i don't think so. i think the people that voted for him trust him. i think the portfolio information he has in front of him, he knows decisively what happened there. he hit the air bases where the attacks came from. i think it is a very bold divisive thing. the american people are waking up this morning satisfied in their president. saying we have a guy here that has the ronald reagan-like muscle. what did reagan say 30 years ago? we get peace through strength. wars do not get started globely with a weaken -- with a stronger american military. where we are weak and defensive
and liediead be from behind, adversaries can take advantage. we have the most powerful military in the world. we are a be neff lant moral nation. and particularly the american people. this is a big air traffic controller message to everybody. including the president of china who he is sitting down with. i said this week they will have a great series of meetings. my guess is a lot of positives will come out of that meeting this week. people need to know around the world what he did which is strength. >> no question what he authorized overnight will have reveb rations on many levels. anthony. pleasure. >> thank you. alisyn. >> let's get the other side of the aisle. joining us is senator ben cardin. good morning, senator. >> alisyn, good to be with you.
>> good to have you this morning. i want to ask you about a phone call you got last night from the white house. who called you? >> it was a member on the national security council to let me know that an attack was taking place in response to the chemical weapons use by syria. and told me the specifics and when the president would be addressing the nation. >> and how do you explain that the -- with all due respect -- that the white house called you individually rather than taking this to congress as a whole? >> the president has certain discretions under article ii. it does require consultation with congress. there is requirement to submit to us what he wants to do in regards to force. the question is what comes next. if he is going to continue to use force, he really needs to consult with congress and tell us what authorization he would like to have on the use of
force. then we need to consider that. we need to see what the broader policy is. how do we get rid of president assad? how will he be held accountable? how do we end the civil war? we can only do that through political negotiations. i think congress will ask how do we bring the syrian conflict to an end? >> you got the phone call from someone on the national security team. what was your response? >> well, certainly not surprised. what syria did and president assad did required action. we all understand. i understood that. the question is what is the mission? what are we trying to accomplish? how do we get assad out of syria and end the civil war? we don't know the president's policies in that regard. the congress would like answers. >> you got the phone call last
night. the president did not take it to congress. i understand you believe that he has latitude to do that. if now, say today, next week, he comes to congress because he wants to have some more military action against syria, does congress have the stomach for authorizing something like that? >> it's too early. we have to see what the president will ask for. i think congress wants to be part of unified foreign policy. we want to end the war in syria. we want to concentrate on isis and terrorists. we want assad out and a government to represent all of the people of syria. it is not just our desire. that is what the international community is looking to because six years is how long this war has been going on. we need to give the president the authority he needs to work with the international partners to end this conflict. the question is there is no military solution here. you will not be able to bomb
your way to peace in syria. syrians must work out their problems. president assad must be held accountable for war crimes. he lost credibility as a leader. he must leave the presidency. this is not just what america thinks, but the international community. the question is how does the united states and president trump lead in that? if he gives us the comprehensive way to bring the conflict to an end, i know congress is anxious to work with the president. >> if you think president trump end with went to congress and said here is my plan for overthrowing bashar al assad. the congress would green light that? >> it is not overthrowing assad. it is bringing peace to syria. a political solution. >> i sor'm sorry to interrupt. you have to get rid of assad. >> assad could not bring peace to syria.
those families who have seen their children choked to death will not allow assad be president. he has to go. >> again, the devil is in the details. do you believe that your colleagues in congress would authorize something like that? because as you know, heretofore, you have not been comfortable with that. you voted in 2013 for president obama to take military action in syria after the last big chemical attack. your colleagues in congress were not all on board. >> two questions here. we're not going to be able to use military to win a war in syria that can bring peace. there's no military solution. it will have to be a political solution. congress will bes cautious on the use of military force. congress can help the president achieve the political success of bringing the parties together.
let's have -- we need a plan first. we don't have a plan from the president. we don't know his strategy in s syria. how does he deal with russia? how does he deal with iran? that is part of the crisis. how do we concentrate on the terrorists? we don't have a game plan. we are not only fighting assad in syria, but we are in conflict with russia and iran in syria and with isis. it is a complicated situation. we need to have a plan from the president. i don't think -- i know i don't know and i'm not sure if any member of congress who really understands president trump's strategies in regard to syria. it is too early to say we weigh in with a specific authorization when we don't have that request from the president. >> understood. senator ben cardin, thank you. >> chris. >> what will president trump do next? does he now own an obligation for more military action in syria? we have new information next.
we have breaking news. syr syria's leader speaking out on the strikes on the air base. he calls the u.s. strikes unjust, foolish and irresponsible. the u.s. firing nearly 60 missiles at the syrian air base. this is what has been left behind at that base. you see the damage from the video that just aired on russian television. cnn's ben wedeman is live on the turkey/syrian border.
ben. >> reporter: alisyn, we have seen this on the syrian arab news agenagency. which the syrian presidency put out a statement saying the attack on the air base in syria is unjust and blat ant aggression and short sighted. not a surprising reaction from the syrian presidency. we earlier saw the syrian air news agency saying on the strike on the base, nine civilians and four children were killed. obviously we cannot confirm these claims. the regime in todays madamascus clearly angry on the air base attack overnight. >> ben, i appreciate it. let us know if you get more information. this is a developing situation. let's bring in reporter for cnn politics is chris cillizza and
we have david gregory and correspondent jim sciutto and military analyst for the state department john kirby and retired general james "spider" marks. brother kirby, welcome to the team. as you can see, you join a very re-doubtable group of minds. what a difference 24 hours makes. in terms of your analysis, what matters right now? >> i think what matters now is what reaction we get on the ground from russia and from assad. you see that turkey is obviously in support. many european allies came out in support. sunni arab allies are in support. this has a strong tactical effect. we need to see what happens in the next and coming days and whether or not this had to deterrent effect it was designed to have on assad.
if it doesn't, is the administration willing to use military force again? >> jim sciutto, has russia given any clues to what the response will be to this? >> they clearly said they don't like it. they called it an act of aggression, et cetera. the question is that public message and how is it followed on the ground because the u.s. attacked their client state there. does it change russian military action there? probably unlikely. i want to bring up an operation that we may have forgotten. operation infinite reach in 1998. it followed the embassy bombings in kenya and tanzania. like then, with this, it depends how it is followed up. is it a one-time message spending strike that targeted al qaeda after the embassy
bombings? didn't have a significant effect on al qaeda and didn't get the leaders and 9/11 followed three years later. does this change bashar al assad's military action against his own people? not just the use of chemical weapons. does he continue to drop barrel bombs, et cetera? it hasn't dpl n'n' n'n't dimini military aspects. does the u.s. show willingness to show military action if he doesn't change his behavior on the ground? is this the first of many attacks? is it about message sending? a lot of that we will know after the fact after today. that's the test going forward. >> and that '98 example is another example of dubious legal authority for military action taken unilaterally. david gregory, we will see how that plays out. the idea the president needs to go to congress. how does that play politically?
>> i think the political calculus right now from president trump is several-fold. he wants the contrast with president obama. obama had a red line. didn't back it up. there were those in the obama white house, national security team, who supported then what donald trump has done now. president trump wants to look strong on the world stage. he wants to look different on the world stage. he wants a relationship with russia that is based on strength and not perceived weakness. he wants the chinese president with whom he is meeting to see and when i tell you to act in north korea, look what i did in syria. we mean business. we reassert u.s. muscular ty diplomatically in this part of the world as well as here and asia. what is unclear is what the president wants. countering cruelty in syria for six years and death on an ala
alarming scale. that has been countenance to this degree. does he want to stop assad from using chemical weapons in the future? it sounds like the administration wants to push him out and pursue that diplomatically. that is the next step forward. >> "spider," there are a lot of steps to look forward to that the panel laid out. two pressing questions. does this change assad's actions against his people and does this change russia's actions? >> let's talk about assad first. let's go back to 1999. operation allied force. going after slobedan milosovich. we kept his forces completely
sm smothered. after about 90 days, he capitulat capitulated. >> that is not this. this is a targeted strike. >> if we continued. that is my point. what questiwe talked about is t regime change is not possible simply with this. everybody agrees to that. my point is if you were to increase it, could you possibly do it without having to put an increased number of boots on the ground. that is a false narrative we have been moving down the path. as a military and army guy with boots on the ground all the time. i understand that powerful message. >> and russia. >> russia has to understand what do they get out of this. if we want russia's behavior to change, what do we give to russia? this is a quid pro quo discussion. i'm not certain. >> cillizzia, let's talk about that. what does this give with trump with leverage with china and
north korea and russia? >> david makes a really important point. you are always governed as president by the guy who came before you. i think trump despite his comments that should not get involved in syria. he saw obama as weak and feckless on the world stage and did not back it up. some of this is clearly meant to say look world leaders, this is not the last president. if we say we're going to do it, we're going to do it. the other thing is health care, tax reform. building of the wall. appropriations process. all of those things took a back burner. may have dropped off the stove entirely. at least in the near term and possibly as the general makes the point. if there is more beyond this for the mid term and long term. this will now be the central focus of both congress and this white house. so this is always a thing. the presidency you plan for is not necessarily the presidency you get.
donald trump finding that out not only have we seen this action, which is so different than what president trump's critics and his supporters thought that he would do in terms of russia because, as you know, he's been overly cozy. and then rex tillerson, who has been called a friend of vladimir putin used very strong language against russia and putin. let me play a portion of it. >> there is no doubt in our minds and the information we have supports that syria, the syrian regime under the leadership under assad are responsible for this attack. and i think further it is very important that the russian government consider carefully their continued support of the assad regime. assad's role in the future is uncertain clearly and with the
acts he has taken, it would seem there would be no role for him to govern the syrian people. >> there was another sound bite he went on to say russia was incompetent because they couldn't control the chemical weapons assad had used. >> it's a big turn around for secretary tillerson. when he talks about assad leaving and not having legacy, that is exactly the obama administration's position, which was very consistent. they have certainly come around and by all accounts it was the sarin gas attack that did it. the one thing i will say, ambassador haley, secretary tillerson, it is welcome to my ears for them to be as strong on this as they have been. i think that tone and tenor will continue right with tillerson as he goes to moscow next week, as
it should. >> david gregory, yes, there are a lot of heavy issues motivating this. his heart was moved. he was broken inside watching those kids. there are other dynamics at play that may influence him as well. you have his poll numbers and then you have putin picks his words very quickly. he called this a trump attack. that's the first time we have heard him seeming to personally insult the president and we know he's very sensitive to that. could those words wind up motivating a move? >> anything is possible with president trump and i think one of the biggest concerning anybody should be is the president's temperament and his credibility. you know, when the president of the united states says things that are not true over and other again, when he gets into conspiracy theories, when he uses a social media platform like twitter as sloppy as he
does, then you're on the world stage and then your credibility matters and this is what comes to the test. as chris said before, this is not the presidency he planned for, but this could define his presidency, what he does now, what he does moving forward. i'm sorry. you had one of his friends with the campaign on before. it is ridiculous. the idea he just woke up and found out there were atrocities in syria? come on. pay attention to what's been going on. now he's made a change, fine. so let's get into what the policy is. there's lots of tough questions that have to be answered. i thought those chemical weapons were gone, so what happened to those? how are they still there? is that all on russia or did the previous administration get duped, too. there is going to have to be some changes and the president
has to say, yeah, there is a change. let's see what he does. >> go ahead, john. >> i would say clearly we knew that we got the vast majority of the declared stockpiles out. at the time we said, as well as opcw, we couldn't guarantee there weren't undeclared tok piles in the country hr he couldn't create more. it is something we were mindful at the time. it is obviously carried out to disastrous effect here this week. we were careful at the time not to say we knew we got every single stockpile of every single chemical weapon out of syria. >> it is interesting, jim. similarly now, action creates reaction. how can the president's open eyes -- let's give him full
benefit of seeing it differently now. how can that not extend to those same people as refugees? you know, anthony was wrestling with that. he says well it was different messages about keeping the homeland safe. i don't get it logically or emotionally. how does he not reconcile those positions? >> listen, it is a test because is president trump willing to take the next step, which would be a safe zone, right? and the safe zone would require a much greater military investment here in terms of aircraft and also risk because you are talking about protecting people on the ground from both syrian and russian air assets. that requires a lot of u.s. war planes. it requires from the pentagon view taking out missile defenses, et cetera, and really standing up to not just the syrian regime but russia in a way that has enormous inherent risks. that's a test going forward.
we know hillary clinton supported that idea while in office and during the campaign. we know that is an option on the table for the president. does he take that step? that would be an extremely significant step. >> we know that the trump position is really the same as the obama position, which is target isis and don't interfere in syria's civil war. that's still what's on the table right now and i will be very interested to hear the conversation between tillerson and putin, whether it's russia saying, look, let's keep our focus on isis, leave the regime where it is, that may be where trump wants to come down in the end. that would be consistent with what he said. you may want to enforce this line about chemicaling weapons because, to his credit, the american president with moral leadership upon the world stage says you cannot allow that line to be crossed. >> and chris, i want to ask you about this para dox dox we're s
playing out right now on social media. all of the political types say when something big happens, the fact that president trump has played fast and loose with the facts will come back to haunt him. people won't necessarily trust what he's doing or believe what he's saying. here we are. it turns out the democrats we've had on thus far do trust what he's saying. but his supports, this is fake news, this isn't happening. >> yeah. >> i mean, that is mind blowing. it did end up having a repercussion, but not the one we thought it was. >> i think that is the result, alison, of the fact that a lot of his supporters think that he is someone who i don't think he fundamentally is. you know, i think there is a sense of he's an idealog and he's really not. this is something who was a democrat five years ago. he has taken a wide variety of
positions on virtually every issue. he has said something if not the opposite of close to what he is saying. so i think a lot of people who supported -- and this happens all the time. many democrats were disillusioned with barack obama because they thought on day one he would close guantanamo bay. at root he is a pragmatic deal maker who is, to his own words, flexible. that's what he values. he values flexibility and uncertainty. that i think is going to alienate some of those people. but it is not really his fault. it is what they thought he was, as opposed to who he really is. >> donald trump, october 2012, now that obama poll numbers are in tail spin, watch him to strike libya and ir iran.
we have lots more. there is breaking news. let's get after it right now. >> this is cnn breaking news. good morning to your owe viewers in the u.s. and around the world. this is a special edition of new day. president trump ordering military strikes in syria. 59 tom ma hawk missiles striking a syrian air base. the president says this is retaliation for assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people that killed dozens, including children. >> the missiles hit a base used by syrian war planes to carry out that horrific chemical attack. russian officials say they are bolstering their air defenses in syria adding that a risk of collision in the u.s. could not
be higher. the president has gone from initially not talking about the chemical attack to now bombing the brutal dictator's regime. we have the global resources of cnn covering this story. we begin with jim sciutto. what's the latest. >> they're saying that 58 of those 59 cruise missiles hit their targets, did damage or significant damage to their targets there. this was a major attack. dozens of cruise missiles but also a very focussed attack on a very narrow target. that target being this one syrian air base, the one base the u.s. believes was used to launch these chemical weapons attack earlier in the week. we are seeing pictures from the ground now. it hit hardened air shelters there. it hit the taxi way. it hit