tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 12, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
boom baby! rated pg-13. [ screams ] >> happening now, discord deepens between the u.s. and syria. rex tillerson closhing in moscow with vladimir putin saying relations are at a low point. can the two nuclear powers bridge their wide rift. no longer obsolete. president trump meets with head of nato and reaffirms the commitment to the u.s. organization which he called into question on the campaign trail. we will get details of the meeting this hour in my exclusive interview with the nato secretary-general stoltenberg. >> carter page speaks out to cnn
about reports the fbi obtained a secret court order to monitor communications. now sources tell us former campaign manager paul manafort is expected to register as foreign agent. both men say they are willing to talk to congressional investigators. what would their testimony reveal? and mixed messages. president trump says the u.s. is sending a powerful armada amid growing concern of a nuclear test by north korea. but secretary of state says u.s. warships now heading to the region are on a routine mission. will china heed mr. trump's request to step up and hip reign in kim jong-un. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news -- >> we're following breaking
news. president trump and top diplomat speaking bluntly about the worsening relationship between the u.s. and russia following a white house meeting between the secretary-general a little while ago. ties with moscow quote may be at an all time low. the president also reverse course on nato which he routinely slammed saying the organization is quote no longer obsolete. deep divisions between the u.s. and russia were on full display as secretary of state rex tillerson met with russia's foreign minister and president vladimir putin in moscow. frosty talks yielding no agreement on syria with tillerson lamenting what he called a low level of trust and declaring relations at low point. the administration may be seeing results from its pressure on china to help reign in north korea and growing nuclear threat. with a weapons test expected at any time, china is signaling is may restrict oil exports to the kim jong-un regime and following phone call with china's
president, mr. trump says tonight he believes china want to do the right thing. we are covering all of that and much more this hour with our guest, including nato secretary-general stoeltenberg and our experts are standing by. let's begin with president trump's grim assessment of the u.s./russian relations. jim acosta has the very latest. ties with moscow may be at an all time low. >> that's right, wolf. president trump defending his actions in syria over the last week at this news conference today and sounded surprisingly negative about russia. something rarely heard from this president who used to talk up his relationship with vladimir putin. still touting his decision to call in missile strikes in syria, president trump made his feelings clear about bar sha r l assad. >> that a butcher. a butcher. i have no doubt we did the right thing. >> standing with nato
secretary-general, the president did offer something of a shift in his tone toward russia. >> right now we're not getting along with russia at all. we may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with russia. >> but the president stopped short of any criticism of the man who is the biggest backer, russian president vladimir putin. >> putin is the heard of russia. russia is a strong country. we're a very, very strong country. we are going to see how that all works out. >> despite the fact that u.s. officials suspect russia has been trying to cover up syria's use of chemical weapons. even announcing the trump administration is investigating whether there were chemical weapons attack prompted last week's missile strikes. >> i think it is possible. probably unlikely. and i know they are doing investigation niece that right now. and i would like to think that they didn't know but certainly they could have. they were there. so we will find out. >> syria has placed the
president in a tough spot when it comes to putin. >> wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along with russia? >> during the campaign and transition mr. trump held out hope for better relations between the u.s. and russia. >> if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset, not a liability. we have a horrible relationship with russia. russia could help us fight isis. which, by the way, is number one, tricky. if you look, this administration created isis. by leaving at the wrong time. the void was created. isis was formed. if putin likes donald trump, guess what, folks? that's called an asset, an liability pch not a liability. >> saying it was aimed at preventing deaths of children. >> you see these beautiful kids dead in their father's arms or kids gasping for life. you know it's over. it's over for them. >> in december of 2015, then candidate trump scoffed at
saddam hussein's use of chemical wap weapons. >> he throwes a little gas. >> then the sudden support for nato, an organization trump once described as obsolete. >> i said it is obsolete. it is no longer obsolete. >> speaking of changes and tone the president spoke rather glowingly of chinese president xi jinping. the president held out hope that he could craft a trade agreement with china and secure chinese cooperation when it comes to dealing with north korea. we will have to wait and see if it happens. >> jim acosta, thanks very much. in addition, president shifts on russia and nato and is changing his tone on china. pressuring the country's president to help contain the nuclear threat. jeff zeleny is joining us on that. jeff, the president spoke with the chinese president earlier by phone. >> he did, wolf, indeed. he had a phone conversation with him last evening but wolf some
of the biggest changes in this president's language comes toward china. no question about it. he delivered tough talk on the campaign trail, accused china, in fact blamed them of taking manufacturing jobs away from america's heartland and accusing them at one point of raping the u.s. his tone today though far more different, far more conciliatory. you might even say diplomatic. >> last night, separately i spoke with a man that i had gotten to know. i don't know putin, but i do know this gentleman, i've spent a lot of time with him over the last two days and he is the president of china. you were there, most of you were there, and it was quite an interesting period of time. president xi wants to do the right thing. we had a very good bonding. very good chemistry together.
he wants to help us with north korea. we talked trade and i said the way you make a good trade deal is to help us with north korea. otherwise we just go it alone and that's all right too. going it alone means going it with lots of other nations. but i was very impressed with with president xi and i think he means well and i think he wants to help. >> wolf, just a complete reversal there in the tenor and tone of his remarks. also today in an interview with the wall street journal, he said he would no longer label china a currency manipulator, something he talked about so often on the campaign trail. >> and jeff, the president sounding different than candidate trump used to sound on some other issues as well. tell us about that. >> he is indeed, wolf. the export/import bank is one of those examples. talking against that on the campaign trail. so many times he told the wall street journal in a 70-minute interview that he supports the import bank. that's the public/private
partnership that brings in foreign business. also he now supports janet yellen, head of the fed. he was such a strong opponent of hers, critic of hers. but today telling the wall street journal he supports janet yellen. >> interesting shift indeed. thank you very much. the president's grim assessment of u.s./russia relations ek yog the view of the secretary of state rex tillerson after meeting with his russian counterpart and president vladimir putin. relations between the new countries right now are at a low point. >> michelle kozinski is in moscow for us tonight, michelle, putin is saying relations for the united states have grown worse under president trump. update our viewers. >> yeah, nobody today wanted to gloss that over. this relationship has deinvolved past that. and tillerson just laid it right out there. >> i express the view that the current state of u.s./russia
relations is at a low point. there is a when level of trust between our two countries. the world's two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship. >> good news is that u.s. and russia are talking about doing more talking. they are establishing a working group to tackle these issues and think there needs to be more communication at senior level and reopening that channel that had been suspended to keep u.s. and russia planes from getting in each other's ways over syria. you can see the diplomatic a data and they didn't want this to be a fight or step backwards but still needed to make their point. but tillerson did that by getting right to the point, being very succinct, he want going to keep hammering it home. they didn't outright blame others and didn't deny assad
could have had a role. his deflection here is to keep saying there needs to be an investigation, we need more information, more information. and he did the same thing when talking about russia's meddling in the u.s. election. the bad news of course is, even through these responses, you still keep seeing seeping through the deep shades of the divisions that still exist. whether they can be resolved is a question. how long that could take is another. and what you don't hear is russ russia backing away from supporting president bashar al assad any time soon, wolf. >> pretty comfortable in this role as secretary of state. as you know michelle, he was chairman and ceo of exxon. now he is america's top diplomat. he seems to come across as pretty serious and pretty much informed on all the key issues. >> i thought so too. he was measured in his responses. i think this is one prime example that could go for
everybody, including this administration, that sometimes just stating your case, getting right to the point, being brief works very well. and it was a good foil to lavrov's lengthy explanations, finger-pointing and blaming the obama administration. i think tillerson came out looking like more after statesman here. >> michelle kosinski reporting from moscow for us. thank you very much. let's get more on all of this. secretary-general of nato stoltenberg is joining us here. secretary-general, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> you had a very extensive day of talks with the president of the united states. we saw your news conference. first of all, he no longer thinks nato is obsolete. i assume you are happy about that. >> yes, i am. i think that reflect the reality that nato is adapting when the world is changing. we have been able to change -- >> he told you, he is not happy. it is not moving as quickly as
he would like. he still upsbet that, right? >> i told him about he is pushing for more adap nation that nato has to continue to change especially when it comes to stepping up efforts and fighting international terrorism. we do but we can do more and also it comes to sharing inside the lines and many allies have to invest more in defense. >> let's start off now with russia. do you believe russia knew that syria was going to launch the chemical weapons attack against the civilians killing all these children? i assume you agree with the united states that syrian regime of bashar al assad was responsibility for this chemical weapons attack. >> any use of chemical weapon says totally unacceptable. we have seen the syrian regime use chemical weapons against its own population before. and i have trust intelligence coming from the united states. this is a u.s. operation based on u.s. intelligence.
but nato allies expressed support and understanding because chemical weapons -- >> do 28 nato allies all agree that bashar al assad's regime killed all those civilianes with a chemical weapons attack? >> this is a u.s. operation based on u.s. intelligence. but nato allies expressed understanding and also expressing strong support. >> as an organization, is there a consensus that syrians did it? >> nato's alliance is not present inside syria. this is not an issue we have in a way but all nato allies are effective because nato allies are participating and we are concerned about the situation in syria. so therefore we have condemned the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime before and we have expressed also that we need
a fact-finding mission which established to sort of actually -- >> so i know nato as an organization is not involved in the horrendous humanitarian crisis, the six-year war and half a a million people killed and millions homeless. nato isn't involved in afghanistan but why isn't nato involved in fighting terrorism in syria or iraq? >> nato is involved also in supporting the fight against terrorism in both syria and iraq. we provide support to coalition fighting isil. we have planes helping over syria and iraq. and train iraqi officers to help them fight international terrorism. >> what is nato doing in syria? >> we are helping with air picture, with the air operation with our awacs planes. but all allies participate in different ways.
>> there are about a you this ground troops in syria right now. how many other nato troops are in syria -- >> nato allies, united states and united kingdom and some others have trainers inside syria but nato alliance is not on the ground in syria. what we do is deploy support with our surveillance -- >> you know the president repeatedly said president trump that he is upset with nato because nato as an organization is not doing enough to fight terror. did he say that to you today? >> he said that he would like nato to do more and i totally agree with him. nato plays a key role in afghanistan and the reason why we are in afghanistan is to fight in national terrorism. have a safe haven in terrorism. then we are present in iraq and we are scaling up training activities there. i agree the best way to fight terrorism is to enable local forces to fight terrorism themselves and we are in the
wider middle east region helping partners like jordan to stabilize the country and to fight terrorism. then we help also with the air operations over syria with our awacs planes. i believe nato can do more and that's what we are looking into. >> is there a new cold war between the u.s. and russia? >> it's not a new cold war but we have seen increased tensions and the relationship between nato and russia has been worse for many years. and for me, that just underlines the importance of what we call dual approach for nato. we need to have stronger fence credible deterrence combined with russia. russia is our biggest neighbor. russia is here to stay. we have to find a way to manage a relationship with them and how to avoid the new cold war and arms race and therefore what
nato does is -- >> but the president, president trump says there is fear in europe. fear among nato alliance among nato allies of russia right now. is that fear justified? >> we don't see any imminent threat against any nato ally country. but we see more in russia which has used military force against the european neighbor, ukraine. and which is using hybrid warfare, cyberattacks, to intimidate also nato ally countries. and therefore we are stepping up our collective defense and we have the biggest reinforcement collective defense in the cold war and at least we are working on, for instance, cyber owe fens. >> the whole alliance is built under the assumption you know, secretary-general, if one nato ally is attacked, it is an attack on all nato allies. is that still applicable now if russians for example were to take steps against one of the nato allies closest to russia
with all of the other nato allies including u.s. and canada and britain and everyone else respond immediately? >> yes. that's the core responsibility. based on one for all and all for one. >> so what's your message it putin? there is a lot of fear on the alliances closer to russia and putin could take steps as he did with ukraine, take steps that would be rather provocative? >> well, ukraine is not a member of nato. we provide support but ukraine is not nato security guarantee. >> correct. >> so poland, other eastern -- >> a lot of nervousness in poland right now. >> yes. but it is important now to react in a measured and responsible way. we see increased tensions and see more aggressive russia but we don't see any imminent threat for military attack against any nato ally country.
nato is strong and nato has increased our military presence in eastern part of alliance. with u.s. troops with canadian troops and german troops and troops on the united kingdom. so we are increasing presence to send the signal or -- >> i know in baltic states, there's a lot of tension and nervousness. do you believe ukraine should be a member of nato? >> that's for ukraine to decide whether they want to apply. then for nato to decide whether ukraine qualify. they are now focused on reforming their defense secretary to meet and later decide on whether they will apply for membership. we have stated that nato status is open but you have to qualify or meet nato standard. >> the whole notion of nato
commanding is one you clearly support, right? you're about to admit maybe another country? >> yes, we are very close to admit mont ne gro. >> and president trump would support that. >> yes. the application process is finish end complete in the united states. >> we have a lot more to discuss. very quickly, when will all of the 28 nato allies spend at least 2% of their gdp on defense? right now only a handful do. >> when we decided in 2014 was to stop cuts and gradually increase and move towards spending 2% within a decade and i expect all allies to make good on that promise. >> when? >> a decade. >> right now only five of 28 countries do that. >> good news is that next we go from 5 to 8 or more important we see those that do not meet 2% increase defense spending.
after many years of decline, 2016 was first year we saw significant increase in defense spending. >> i have interviewed president trump, this is a big issue as you well know, i'm sure he was railing on it at the white house today. >> absolutely. and i agree with him. nate why allies made a promise. they should deliver it. but didn't promise to meet 2% next year. moving towards 2% from decade from 2014. >> when does he mean, the president, when he says nato allies have to repay for money he didn't spend in years past. he raised that with you today, too. >> yes. expressed the same view in meetings with european leaders. i have stated that i expect nato allies to start defense spending and they have started to move in the right direction after many years of defense spending. >> secretary-general, there are more issues i need to raise with you. we will take a quick break and resume our conversation right after this. think again.
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example, the u creekraine. and we are taking the brunt of it. maybe we have to pay less towards nato itself. >> today the president said he no longer believes nato is obsolete. did you ask him at the white house to make that statement? >> i didn't ask him. we discussed how joey is adapting, is responding and changing because the world is changing and nato is the most successful alliance in history because we have been able to change when the world is changing. but i agree with president trump that european allies have to invest more in our collective defense. >> secretary-general, when he called -- >> well, he has said that during election campaign i was, i knew well that nato has responded, has proven that we are not obsolete by changing the way we
respond to a changing world. >> he said it also after he was elected, before he took office. >> the important thing for me is important that he stated today in the regard nato is obsolete. but second it is good he has been focused on how nato can change and adapt and respond to different security. >> do you trust him? >> i welcome his very strong message on defense spending, on burden sharing, and on nato's role in fighting terrorism that we have to step up and do more and these are issues we discussed today. >> do you trust him? >> i trust his strong commitment to nato, of course. he has shown not only in words but also in deeds, u.s. increasing military presence in europe for the first time for many, many years. and he has expressed very strong support for nato.
this is important for europe and also for the united states. and in a more unpredictable world, u.s. needs friends and allies and in nato, united states gets the best friends and best allies. this is a big advantage strategic advantage for the united states. that they have friends and allies like they have in nato. >> do you trust them as a leader? >> i trust them as leader because he was elected by the people of america, elected by a democratic process in a nato country. an important part of nato is that we are 28 democracies and democracies, elect different peoples. different people with different views, different positions. but the strength of nato is that we have always been able to agr agree that we protect each other and we stand together and we are stronger together. >> the only time nato banded together and acted with the self-defense claws is after 9/11
a -- cla -clause is after 9/11. since then it hasn't. >> we send to any potential adversary. we haven't been attacked. so the success of nato is that we haven't been attacked. then with we had 9/11. the first and so far only time we have collective defense clause. and in afghanistan fighting shoulder to shoulder with u.s. soldiers and thousands have paid the price. this shows that nato is there also to help and protect united states. because we envoc article 5 after an attack on the united states. >> secretary-general, good of you to come here in the situation room. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> ahead, carter page now speaking out to cnn's jake tapper about reports that fbi
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low. even after rex tillerson met with putin in moscow. dana, looks like a very different donald trump speaking about russian/u.s. relations than during the campaign. >> more realistic, no question about it. much more so from his secretary of state, from moscow, in moscow, sitting next to the foreign minister there. much more blunt than we should have or would have or could have expected from the very first visit from rex tillerson, beaten over the head by fellow republicans during his confirmation hearings for being too cozy. i think, wolf, as sort of realistic as donald trump sounded and heard today with regard to russia/u.s. relations, he declined more than one time. i think three times all together to criticize vladimir putin
personally. that frankly is what struck me. even before what happened in syria, you heard republican leaders across the board from mitch mcconnell, others calling putin a thug, cia agent, terrorist and killer. when it came to the president, he was asked specifically about his feelings about vladimir putin and he tried to kill him with kindness. again despite the fact that relationship has definitely not great. >> first time we heard david and the president say that the u.s.-russian relationship in his words may be an at all-time low. is there a new cold war we are witnessing? >> it seems there could be one. if there is one, it's coming from the most unexpected quarters if anyone was paying attention to donald trump's public statements over the last two years. i will say this. this is what public diplomacy
with a choreography of public diplomacy looks like. you have tillerson delivering very same low-point message in moscow. donald trump doing that here whether that is a negotiating k tactic to start in place or clear sense of frustration. this is the president who not that long ago, wolf, was hoping for a warmer more hope relationship with russia today calls it a low point. >> he certainly does. and president also shifted his position on nato, used to call it obsolete, today he says, nato is no longer obsolete. >> just another example of trump moving way from sort of that steve bannon nationalist platform that he spouted on the campaign trail. a wall street journal interview said he would not label china -- sorry -- >> manipulator. >> thank you. so you just keep on seeing, the
xm bank seems like it is in good shape. his budget director said that this week. you are seeing steps where he is going much more toward being a normal republican rather than what the populous that he was elected as. >> he also said janet yellen may be asked to stay on as federal reserve. he was really tough on bashar al assad calling him a butcher, a monster. how is that going to play? >> this is interesting that this is a president who didn't talk much about human rights abroad. he didn't talk much about values. very much about narrow national self interest. now you get this instinctive sense that he is moved by these images in syria. calling bashar al assad a butcher. over the past week we didn't hear him referring to the word values and really making that a focus which he hadn't done before. that subjects ggests to me that
is more flexible than we perhaps thought initially and he is going back to this idea of america upholding international liberal order, fact that he values and interest have to be balanced. that's a shift from last week where he had president who is -- a repressive dictator, there was no mention of human rights in that meeting. and with the syria strikes we see the shift. the question for me is how long will he sustain this. is this a flip on the screen or is this a new donald trump that will stay with us for some time? >> spending a lot of time studying syria, are bashar al assad's days numbered? >> it is hard to see how he will leave any time soon. he has been having battlefield victories over the past two years or so. so the question now is what is the broader strategy for trump. we have these punitive strikes. does it end there or will he tie this to a broader strategy to
push to come to the table and to actually make real compromises. that's what we haven't quite seen yet. that's why it is hard, it has become a full-time job to follow trump's syria policy. he is all over the place, right? so i think there's a real -- a real need for him and his senior advisors to really make clear what happens next. >> we will watch -- quickly. >> quickly. i have a different take on his nato is no longer obsolete statement, which is he doesn't think it is obsolete because he has his imprint on it. he feels he was able to change it. it is not obsolete because of him. >> it is evolving. stay with us. the investigation to trump's former adviser, speaks out here on cnn. stay with us.
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we are following breaking news. paul manafort is expected to register as foreign agent to help resolve questions about his past work for ukraine. this as another former trump adviser is speaking out to cnn about his russian ties in a new report that the fbi got a fisa court warrant to monitor him. jessica, former trump adviser, carter page, spoke to our own jake tapper just a little while ago. >> he did, wolf. carter page stated emphatically he never talked with russians
about the campaign and in particular never discussed the possibility of the trump team removing russian sanctions. all of this on a day when secretary of state rex tillerson says russia's attempt to interfere in the u.s. elections were a serious issue that could attract additional sanctions. carter page denies he ever act he as a foreign agent for russia telling jake tapper -- >> just such a joke it is beyond words. >> the fbi obtained foreign intelligence surveillance court order to monitor page during the campaign last summer. something that would have required a showing of probable cause that page was conducting clandestine activity on behalf of the russian government. he acknowledged he spoke with a russian man at the u.n. office in 2013. >> i never gave him any information which is material or classified or in any way improper and the assumption is that it would go back. >> this fbi complaint detailed
how russian spies worked to recruit page as an intelligence source. carter page described himself as junior member on the foreign policy advisory team during the trump campaign. president trump's team tried to distance itself from page but then candidate trump acknowledged page was joining the team in this march 2016 interview. >> we heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team soon. >> carter page, ph.d. >> feds are investigating possible ties between the trump campaign and russia but comey declined to discuss details only explaining the amount of evidence it take to get a fisa warrant is significant. >> it is a pain in the neck to get permission to conduct electronic surveillance in the united states. a pain in the neck. and that's great. >> carter page has offered to testify before the senate and house intelligence committees. >> i can't comment on the fisa warrant. but if a fisa warrant has been
issues, it is a very, very serious matter. >> intelligence committees plan it talk to former trump campaign manager paul manafort whose sources say is expected to register as a foreign agent. past consult work defor pro russia political party was completely transparent. mr. manafort's work was appropriate and wire transfers for international work are perfectly legal. this as sources tell cnn that documents house intelligence chair devin nunes show improper massing shows nothing illegal or improper. democrat and republican lawmakers say obama national security adviser rice followed protocol when following certain people are apologizing. they say you were right when you said that. perhaps i didn't know how right
i was. it's such a big story and i'm sure it will continue forward. what they did is horrible. >> president trump has not revealed which reports he's relying on to they're now calling on the white house to declassify the material to make crystal clear there's not alarming about the documents. >> just ahead, china warns kim jong un. [burke] billy-goat ruffians. seen it. covered it. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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. tonight president trump says he believes china's leader wants to do the right thing and act to diffuse the north korea threat. china issued a new warning to kim jong un's jet stream. brian is looking into this for us. the u.s. is pressuring china to confront what he calls the north korea menace. >> reporter: president trump is promising to send a strong message militarily, economically. he says kim jong un is doing the wrong thing and is signalling to china that they've got to do more to get them to halt their nuclear program. tonight, a high stakes game of chicken between president trump
and kim jong un has china squarely in the middle with american aircraft carrier and other warships steaming towards the korean peninsula. >> we are extending ining an ar. very dangerous. >> reporter: mr. trump spoke with his chinese counter part on the phone. the chinese later issue a statement calling for a peaceful resolution. >> i think china is under tremendous pressure. they need to move forward. the trump administration said they don't want a lengthy action by china. >> reporter: president trump talked about how he are leaned on president xi. >> i think he wants to help us with north korea. i said the way you're going to
make a good trade deal is to deal with north korea. otherwise, we'll go it alone. >> reporter: the chinese society %-ps restricting oil imports to the north. analysts say the global times likely would have not printed that without at least tacit approval from chinese leaders. >> if china would reduce oil exports, how much would it hurt the north? >> i think it would hurt the north korean economy. >> reporter: despite china's economic leverage over kim, would the brash young leader care if beijing tries to big foot him? >> china's responsible for 90% of north korea's economic engagement with the outside world.
if beijing were to take steps, it could significantly put pressure on the regime, but they've always failed to do that so far. >> reporter: experts say china will likely continue to feel pressure from the trump administration to clamp down on kim but that beijing probably won't pressure north korea to completely shut down the nuclear program. they'd rather see kim with nuclear weapons. >> the strike force that's moving towards the korean peninsula. >> a short time ago secretary of state rex tillerson said he'd not read too much into the deployment of the ship. it's frequently in the region. but president trump specifically said he is kwoept sending an armada in the context of what
they've been doing lately and someone told cnn that the movement of the vinson is in response to the recent messages. >> that's it for me. thanks for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." erin burnett "out front" starts right now. >> up next, breaking news. president trump tough talks called syria's leader 3wu67er. is this the same trump we heard days ago? plus another astonishing turnaround. saying china is not a currency flip-flopper. why the change in position now? let's go "out front." good evening. i'm erin burnett. "out front" breaking news, all time low. president trump declaring the united states is not getting along with russia at all, saying the situation could be the worst in y.