tv Inside Politics CNN June 19, 2017 9:00am-10:01am PDT
welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. two terror investigations unfolding in the uk and in france. more on exactly what we know in just a second. plus the united states and russia exchange sharp words after an american jet shoots down a syrian war plane. the pentagon says the shooting was justified. the kremlin says it will now consider u.s. war planes targets. new developments in the russia election meddling investigation including this. one of the president's attorneys says mr. trump is not under investigation. he says he can't be completely sure. we begin the hour with breaking
news. two new attacks in europe that authorities are labeling as terrorism. the most recent, just a few hours ago in paris, where a suspect rammed his car into a mobile police unit before being taken down by the authorities. cnn's melissa bell is there. what do we know right now? >> reporter: well, that anti-terror investigation is now under way and the suspect you describe has now died. that's been confirmed by french authorities. i would just like to show you the image of the car that just over two hours ago now rammed into that police vehicle. you can see it there. it is the white car that's currently being gone through with a fine tooth comb, as you can imagine we now know according to france's interior ministry that as it was driven down the road and rammed into that police truck, it contained enough explosives to blow up the car, also high levels, large numbers of weapons. we don't -- we will know more soon about the precise nature of those weapons, but both weapons and large quantities of explosives, enough to blow up
the car. we are hoping to bring to you fairly soon some fairly dramatic footage. you can see the smoke emerging from the car. the man was at the wheel, has now died from his injuries. we don't yet know more about precisely what he was hoping to achieve but as it was, and it is now an anti-terror investigation that's been opened, authorities believe it was deliberate and it was terrorist in nature. this is not the first time. this really comes as part of a long string now of terror-related incidents, attacks that have clearly targeted police forces. that was the case once again today. >> because of those attacks, because of the spate of recent attacks, france under a state of emergency, what does this mean in terms of police presence around the capital? could that be one reason they were targeted here? >> reporter: that's right. a state of emergency has existed since november 2015. we just heard from france's interior minister who said that state of emergency is going to be extended or a movement to
extend it will be put before parliament as a result of this string of attacks there. have now been five in as many months that targeted both security forces and tourist areas like the champs-elysees. this is the second, it was in april the last one on the champs-elysees, the second time a police van has been attacked on this road so many tourists know, one of the most iconic in the world. >> any change in the police posture or national government's posture since the change in administration, since the new president took office? >> reporter: well, emanuel ma macron wasted no time saying there would be a review in its intelligence forces. one big question will be whether this man was on the government watch list as a suspected terrorist. of course, that's something that's come back over and over again. the difficulty authorities face to keep an eye, to keep track of all these individuals who are on their terror watch list who for some reason or another have come to their attention.
in that recent string of attacks, remember what's happening here in france is quite different to what we have been seeing in the united kingdom over the course of the last few weeks. these are not civilians being attacked. you have to go back to last july to go back to a time when civilians were deliberately attacked. these are security forces being attacked, often by a single person acting alone. very difficult for authorities to keep track of the many thousands of people that are on their watch list, as much as they would need to to prevent this sort of attack, particularly when a car is involved. as i say, this one also contained weapons and explosives. >> melissa bell, thank you very much. we will come back there as authorities give us more information. turning to london now, where another act of terror has shocked citizens. a white man turned his van into a weapon, plowed into a crowd of evening worshippers who had just finished evening prayers. at least one person is dead. the attack sent eight hours to the hospital. our senior international correspondent fred pleitgen is in london. is there any doubt at all, this attack being outside a busy mosque, this was somebody
targeting muslims? >> reporter: no. it doesn't seem as though in the eyes of the authorities there's any doubt. actually, in the past couple minutes, while we were on air, the police have come out with a new statement, saying this 47-year-old man has now or is now being investigated for terrorism-related offenses. this is now officially an investigation for terrorism that is going on here. it's interesting because there's actually an address in wales that's being searched because the van he used for all this was rented in wales. the police are now searching that as well. of course, this is something that has deeply shaken the muslim community but of course, all of london, after we have seen a spate of terror attacks and the large fire over the past couple weeks. the mayor paid tribute to that when he went in front of the press earlier today. let's listen. >> there will be a zero tolerance towards hate crime. these have been a terrible few weeks for london. unprecedented in recent times.
we will ensure that we aren't cowed by terrorism and we will not be defeated. we are united today and will carry on being a united city. >> reporter: he's talking about the city being united and that's certainly something that we are seeing out here on the streets as well. you have members of the jewish community, for instance, who are coming out and paying their respects. of course, members of other communities coming out as well. still, some of the folks we have been speaking to from the muslim community say they did see there has been a rise in what they call islamophobia. that's something britain's prime minister spoke about today as well. >> there has been far too much tolerance of extremism in our country over many years, and that means extremism of any kind, including islamophobia. that is why this government will act to stamp out extremist and hateful ideology, both across society and on the internet. so it is denied a safe space to grow.
>> reporter: at the same time, of course, this investigation is still very much going on. one of the things the authorities are now looking into is whether or not some sort of wider network might have been involved in all of this. the police are saying they believe the driver was at the wheel of the van and inside that van alone, however they do want to see whether or not other people were involved as well. >> uk officials telling cnn at least in the initial research, this attacker was not known to the authorities, meaning not on a terror watch or terror suspect list. that's always a big question early in the weak of these investigations. in some ways it makes them relieved they didn't miss a clue or not connect some dots but in other ways it can often complicate the investigation, can't it? >> reporter: it certainly can. of course, this is also something where they now have to look and try and question this man. what we are hearing so far is that apparently the authorities at least are not done questioning him yet. but again, that's one of the things they want to find out. they want to see whether or not
someone might have helped in the logistics of all of this. of course, one of the things the authorities here especially in london have been warning about for a very long time is that plots like this one, ones that are very low tech, involving a vehicle instead of high tech weapons or explosives, they are very difficult to detect beforehand, especially if this man was not known to authorities. we do expect them to come out with further information later but at this point, they say there's not any indication whether or not this man or what they say at this point in time they believe this man was not known to authorities beforehand. as you noted, that is something that makes it very very difficult to preecht somethiven like this. >> fred pleitgen, thanks very much. we will keep an eye on both those stories brang you details as they come in. up next, is the president under investigation? who better to ask than his lawyer? but the answer might confuse you.
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mr. president, are you under investigation by the special counsel? >> i would like to thank president trump -- i would like to thank president -- >> that's moments ago inside the oval office, reporters trying to ask the president of the united states are you rnd investigatun investigation by the special counsel. the president ignoring those questions. it seems like a simple question but often you get a confusing answer. is president trump being investigated for possible obstruction of justice? >> if you are going to spend so much time on this, why not pick up the phone and get the answer? then you can actually say i asked mueller, he said no, i'm not. we are not looking at this. >> why not pick up the phone?
>> look, you are asking me to pick up the phone on an investigation that right now we don't know exists. >> no, i'm not. of course you know it exists. you know mueller's looking at this. why didn't you just pick up the phone and find out if it matters so much to the president whether or not he's being looked at? find out. >> you know there's a difference between investigations, inquiries. there's a whole series of matters you look at before you get to the level of investigation. >> i'm saying you could get the answer. >> i don't know what they are doing. i haven't made that call. that's the end of that line of inquiry. >> that's the end of that for now. with us to share the reporting, jackie collins of the new york times, manu ra ashgraju and mar katherine ham. what was mr. trump's lawyer suggesting there? remember, the president vented his displeasure at his own attorney general, saying i'm being investigated for firing
the fbi director by the man who wanted me to fire the fbi director. here's another of the attorney's suggestions. >> that response on social media was in response to the "washington post" piece. it's that simple. the president is not under investigation. >> is it that simple? the president is not under investigation? one would assume the president's attorneys would know if the special counsel requested documents, requested information or requested what we expect will happen weeks, if not months and months from now, a conversation with the president of the united states. but at this point, robert mueller is under no obligation to tell them anything. by every indication, former director comey's testimony to congress, the deputy attorney general's testimony to congress, both of them have said publicly they believe the special counsel is looking into the circumstances around the firing of james comey. >> and also there are several interviews scheduled with bob mueller about people who presumably had conversations,
reportedly had conversations with the president, the president urging those senior officials like dan coats, mike rogers, rick ledgett, we know mueller wants to talk to them, presumably about what the president told them pertaining to the ongoing fbi investigation and james comey himself, testifying, saying that i'm not going to say whether or not obstruction of justice happened because that's something bob mueller is probably going to look at and turning over the memos as well. >> it would have made sense for the white house and the president's legal team to push back against the idea that the president is under investigation by saying look, there's no evidence of that or we haven't been informed of that or nobody knows for sure. but for the fact the president himself tweeted and had the president not tweeted that he is under investigation, in fact, it's not just that one tweet. every time he calls it a witch hunt, he confirms essentially that there is something kind of
nefarious in his view going on aimed at him. so it's hard for the legal team to push back when the president has said xexactly the opposite >> shouldn't they push back a consistent message in the sense a good lawyer would have a practiced answer and say the president is not under investigation, stop. instead, he says the president is not under investigation, then when pressed, says i can't read their minds, i don't know what they're doing. there with chris cuomo he says there's investigations, inquiries. are we back into the from another time, i don't mean to bring you back there, depends on your definition of "is"? >> it's such a silly fight because even if the president and his attorneys are correct in insisting he's not under investigation, in this moment, he may be a minute from now. but there's nobody who could have heard james comey testify and rod rosenstein, it's just -- and not think of the president at some point is not under investigation.
the pattern of behavior that suggests at least looking at obstruction of justice is just too large. >> so a lot of lawyers in town say they can't understand the legal strategy there. set that aside. members of the legal team can be part of the political strategy. but what might they be trying to achieve? >> i think the problem is there often isn't a strategy. this is the tension you see between a principal, the president, who is a very unorthodox actor and somebody like jay sekulow who is trying to do the normal thing you would do in this situation, would have preferred to say we don't have evidence of that type at this point, we don't know, we haven't been informed of these things and further, here are the things we do know about this investigation, about no evidence of collusion, whathave you, whatever positives they want to put out and that would be the message if not for the fact trump had tweeted. i do think there's a way he could have said the president often gets things wrong in tweets and in this case he feels under fire but isn't technically under investigation. if he feels under fire he is going to say that. >> once again, when the
president puts out this tweet, then his lawyer tries to clean it up and you can debate whether you think he did or didn't, that will probably be shaped by your political views, he has another visiting dignitary, the president of panama and we have seen every time he walks to the helicopter or sits down with somebody, the media is within shouting distance, are you under investigation, are you going to fire the special counsel or the deputy attorney general. all of that when health care, tax reform, election in georgia tomorrow. this is a big week in the russian meddling investigation. the white house promises an answer, was there a recording system in the white house or some recordings of the james comey conversation. there will be big hearings in congress including testimony from the obama administration's homeland security secretary jeh johnson. trump has hired, a lot of criticism has been he had a new york attorney or jay sekulow, has hired a big white collar d.c. attorney and jared kushner is looking around potentially for a new attorney. he has a former colleague of bob mueller at a law firm, someone who worked in the clinton
administration and there's been -- she's had pushback for working for him which is partisan politics but the idea that maybe jared kushner needs better counsel. this is monday. where will we be on friday? >> well, the amazing thing is your whole list there and everything we are talking about, none of it is health care, infrastructure or anything else and there's some major budget bills they have got to get through. the president is just, sure, you could say congress can do that, two things at once, whatever, they can just ignore the president. fact is, they can't ignore the president. >> i will be interested to also hear, you mentioned jeh johnson's testimony before the house intelligence committee. he's already privately met with the house intelligence committee, senate intelligence committee. when he goes out and speaks publicly, it will be interesting to hear his perspective because he was one of the signatories to that assessment in october in which the intelligence community believed there was russian meddling occurring in the election. at that point they hadn't
reached a conclusion about whether or not putin was involved. but this, him going public will once again put the spotlight on the white house, put them probably in an uncomfortable position about some of these issues about coordination. >> i think one thing, to your question about what will we know by week's end, one thing that seems to be sinking in at the white house and frustrating the president to no end is that this isn't going to be over soon. right? these things, there has been chatter about bob mueller may be moving more quickly than some thought he might, hiring attorneys really quickly. still, regardless, this is going to take weeks, months, potentially years and that's frustrating to the president because he wants it to be over. >> ironically, his team is always talking about the power of his social media to drive things, to drive stories, to reach out to his base. it also has have single media figure in washington following that twitter feed. if he tweeted relentlessly about infrastructure for awhile, it would not be the same amount of coverage but people would know more about that.
i think he sort of overlooks his own power in that way to draw things in a more positive way. >> or they could have told sunday shows we aren't putting our lawyers out, we are putting out the transportation secretary or treasury secretary fan the sh show said no, they could make a decision. instead they decided to do what they did. i want to bring into the conversation the former speaker of the house, newt gingrich. he thinks all of this russia stuff is overblown. he also thinks the president maybe should slow down when it comes to the tweets. >> trump has a compulsion to counter attack. he's very pugnacious. i don't think it serves him well. i don't think that tweet helped him. but it's almost like it's who he's been his whole life. he's been a fighter his whole life. he's infuriated and legitimately, in my judgment, by this whole russian baloney. >> newt gingrich cautioning people against being pugnacious.
okay. >> i was thinking something about pots and kettles calling each other black. >> there is gambling in the casino. >> here's one solution for the president. anything he says, we are going to listen to and pay attention to and talk about. how about answering some questions from the press? he has not had a news conference, an actual full-fledged news conference, in months. other than having a couple, some bilateral news conferences where he takes two or four questions. that would be one way. he may of course step on his message there but at least don't look like you are hiding from something. >> the last one was a work of performance art that lasted several days. >> right. >> he tweets, his tweets carry more prominence when he's not speaking publicly. up next, georgia's sixth congressional district once represented by newt gingrich. most recently by president trump's health secretary. color it red today. but democrats hope to turn it blue tomorrow. if they do, that would send a giant message.
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to the wire. the former georgia secretary of sta state, karen handel is the republican. jon ossoff, the democrat. the battleground, a suburban atlanta district held by republicans since the carter administration. the stakes, huge. to borrow a favorite term of the president, who is very much the issue in this race regardless of whether the candidates like that. >> you look at what's going on in washington right now, the gridlock, dysfunction, atmosphere of scandal and uncertainty, the last thing we need to do is send another career politician to washington. we need some fresh leaders and i offer humbly fresh leadership for this community. >> he talks about reaching across the aisle and being able to persuade those who might disagree to come along with your proposals. i did it. >> karen handel saying as secretary of state, also fulton county commissioner, she has the experience jon ossoff doesn't. they tried to make this about fresh blood in washington, they
tried to have the health care debate as part of this race. the undercurrent is the unpopularity of the president of the united states, particularly the democrats putting to test can we win over in a suburban district that has a lot of republicans, can we get a lot of republicans to send a message to the president by voting democratic. want to make a bet? >> i think it is entirely possible this is the special election where they do pull it over the line by just a couple of points, maybe very close, and the resistance gets its win at long last. we have seen them creeping ever closer saying look, the margins are closing which doesn't count as a "w" in politics. in this case, handel seems to be down a bit. ossoff has raised an insane amount of money in the past couple months. i'm sure liberals will get back to decrying that right after they take the seat. but i think you have seen also in the virginia primary this week, 50% more democrats request ballots than republicans in that primary. a lot of this has been clearly nationalized and shows sort of a
move in that direction. >> i want to show the demographics before you jump in. the democrats are 0 for 2 and their base is upset because they lost special elections in kansas and montana, pretty solid republican seats. but the democrats were fired up and thought their party should do more. they thought they should have been able to pull a rabbit out of a hat. look at the residents with college degrees, nearly 60% in this georgia district, lower in the other districts. those are the voters if you go back to election day 2016. that's why democrats think they have a chance here. yes, these are republicans but they are not trump republicans. >> yeah. they want those crossover voters. that's going to be of course critical but those are highly educated suburban republican voters. early vote suggests this is going to be -- trump is going to be rather significant. more so than a typical special election. more presumably on par with what you would see in a midterm election. the republicans actually, they feel okay about the midterm or the turnout numbers so far but the question is whether or not those republicans are coming out
early, voting for os soff instead. i will probably be pretty close. >> the last minute, the horror of last week here in washington, the shooting, has been brought into this race. it seems to be republicans are hoping it helps them gin up turnout. a sentence i never thought i would speak, some republicans think a tragedy will help them. here's the republican chairman in the neighboring congressional district. i think the shooting is going to win this election for us. it won't be a blowout, it will be close but we'll win it. i really do think the congressional baseball shooting will decide the election. that's his opinion. he gave that there. now here's an ad on television by a pac that got involved in this race. again, fact-check this yourself but trying to seize on the shooting. >> the unhinged left is applauding and endorsing shooting republicans. when does it stop? it won't if jon ossoff wins on tuesday because the same unhinged leftists cheering last week's shooting are all backing jon ossoff.
>> kathy griffin did a reprehensible thing there. i don't think she cheered last week's shooting. ads often conflate things and go off the facts. is there some reason to think that can change the dynamic of the race? does that tell you that's sort of a desperate effort? >> i think my experience, i'm sure we all had the same experience covering these races, ads that kind of cross the line of acceptability in most people's minds generally backfire. they generally don't work the way folks think, the folks that are producing them think they might. and because this race has had so much money and there have been so many ads, it feels like this one is sort of going to get lost in the bigger picture of the nationalized race and the donald trump and everything else. but i guess at the end of the day you sort of never know. >> let's start, what is this about? what will we be talking about on wednesday in the sense democrats say if we win this, it's proof the bottom has collapsed on
republicans, the house is gettable next year because a lot of those, democrats have to win a lot of republican seats and when they look at the map they think there are a lot of seats like this, that are republican, that trump carried but not by huge margins and you have a lot of suburbanites who want to send a message. >> barring karen handel winning by a lot larger margin than anybody is predicting, i think even for jon ossoff to come close, that he's come this close is already sending tremors through the republican conference in the senate and caucus in the house. i just think this is a real turning point. it couldn't come at a worse time. the president has squandered his honeymoon, major legislation has not even come to a vote, and has not cleared congress and this will put scare into a lot of republican voters. >> let's listen to that point. a cabinet member, trump cabinet member, agriculture secretary,
used to be the governor of georgia, down there campaigning for karen handel this week and acknowledging some republicans aren't happy with the white house. >> i know some of you out there, some of you, some republicans may even be turned off by our president. i don't think you are. i'm not, because let me tell you, let me tell you, i know it's hard. let me just share, i was in miami yesterday with him. the president keeps his promises. >> ending there by being positive about the president, but the fact that a trump ally and cabinet member who is the former governor of the state has to look people in the eye and say i know a lot of you aren't happy, that speaks volumes. >> that's going to be part of the language of 2018. it has to be. if they are going to do this. i do think special elections don't mean as much as we make them mean, but this would mean something if ossoff was able to pull it over the line. on the other hand, demoralization once again if he's not able to.
because this was -- >> with all the money that went into it, if the democrats don't win this one, you will see air come out of that balloon. if the democrat does win this, will it be overhype, yes. but will republicans, that technical term bedwetting they call it in washington, i suspect we will see some of that. putting together a giant health care bill in secret. that's a horrible idea, republicans say. that's what they used to say. managing blood sugar is not a marathon. it's a series of smart choices. and when you replace one meal or snack a day with glucerna made with carbsteady to help minimize blood sugar spikes you can really feel it. glucerna. everyday progress.
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welcome back. the work week is off to a contentious start in the united states senate. democrats are mad at what they call a shameful secret republican health care negotiation and say they will demonstrate their displeasure by using procedural rules to stall most senate business starting tonight. >> we have an insane process. insane. here you have legislation which deals with one-sixth of the american economy. that's the health care situation. and there are republicans who
haven't even seen this legislation and certainly no member in the democratic caucus has. what kind of process is it that when you deal with an issue that impacts tens of millions of people in this country, republicans don't even have the guts to allow it to go to a committee where we can have an open hearing, where questions can be asked? >> republicans call the democratic stalling tactics a stunt. republican marco rubio of florida says it's okay to work on complicated stuff in private up to a point. >> that has to at least have a vote in the senate. i hope it's a vote that allows plenty of time for debate, analysis, changes and input. if that's the process we follow it will be fine. if it is an effort to rush it from a instasmall group of peop straight to the floor on an up or down vote, that would be a problem. >> the process comes as republicans race against the calendar. they want to vote on their version of obamacare revepeal a replace before the summer recess. there's nothing official on paper as we speak this hour.
is mitch mcconnell going to prove his legacy as harry houdini here? >> he could. that's one thing when you talk to democrats, they say you don't want to rule out mitch mcconnell's ability to get legislation through. but that being said, they have problems in their own conference getting the support. they cannot lose more than two votes. they have already, almost certainly they will lose rand paul and susan collins. then you have a whole bunch of senators who come from medicaid expansion states who are concerned about the cuts they are talking about here. people who are up for re-election like dean heller on a difficult position as well as conservatives like mike lee of utah, ted cruz, if this bill moves to the left in certain areas in order to placate more moderate members. mcconnell, that being said, mcconnell still wants a vote by next week. marco rubio says it should be open and a deliberate process. the procedure they are using is designed to short-circuit the process under the budget procedures.
they can pass it if they do have the votes in just a matter of a couple days in the senate because of the rules they are employing. >> you mentioned some of the key senators, three or four on the conservative side, that should be this way, to my right, four or five over here, moderate, more moderate or from states with opioid issues who want some money put in there. among them, lisa murkowski of alaska who doesn't like how they are doing this. >> i have got a problem with it. if i'm not going to see a bill before we have a vote on it, that's just not a good way to handle something that is as significant and important as health care. >> i think the great irony here as you mentioned at the top of the show, the republicans had just hammered the democrats for not being open enough about their health care bill, yet i remember covering president obama, how many health care town halls and efforts did i sort of follow the president around all
over the country? that health care bill was kind of out and in the public for months and months and months while they all debated and that allowed folks to take shots at it. but this is a matter of days. >> we can still remember how angry democrats got that the obama white house was leaving the process open and allowing then chairman max baucus of the finance committee to work with chuck grassley, the republican, and other republicans to try to get their input. it just went on and on and on, to the point where it was nearly fatal to the bill. it's bringing, as we are reliving this, it's putting -- there has been all this talk about how they rammed health care bill through which was never true. now those facts are coming out because we have to relive it to contrast it with what we are seeing now. i cannot understate how important this is, this secret process. this is going to change further the way congress operates.
>> they also passed it on reconciliation explicitly to avoid the public message that massachusetts of all places sent by sending scott brown to the senate that they were not happy with this, and further it was sold on a giant lie, that you can keep your doctor and your plan if you want to. let's not rewrite exactly how perfectly that went down. i share the concerns nonetheless of republicans who think this should not go down in private. i don't think it should. it is a big deal. there are problems with especially individual market obamacare exchanges still exist, rising premiums, people dropping out, people opting not to buy even though they are forced to, that continues to be a problem. you aren't going to solve it by doing this entirely in secret. mcconnell does get it done. >> it will almost be a dare to republicans who are concerned about it saying this is your one chance to repeal and replace even if it doesn't repeal the law fully. that's the argument the leadership will make. this is your opportunity. the republicans who are
concerned about am i going to be the person to prevent this from going forward and keeping obamacare, that will be the question the leadership wants them to consider. >> quickly, let's bring the history in here when it comes to the secretive process. mitch mcconnell was against it before he was for it. >> democrats on capitol hill are working behind the scenes on a plan aimed at jamming this massive health care spending bill through congress against the clear wishes of an unsuspecting public. what they have in mind is a last ditch legislative sleight of hand called reconciliation that would enable them to impose government-run health care for all on the american people, whether americans want it or not. look, we have been dealing with this issue for seven years. it's not a new thing. we spent a lot of time on it, all of us, both sides, over the last seven years. we know a lot about the subject. we know how complicated it is.
nobody's hiding the ball here. you are free to ask anybody anything. but there have been gazillions of hearings on this subject. >> one of the things about these debates is sorry, senators of both parties, we keep the tapes. everybody sit tight. up next, an american jet shoots down a syrian war plane and russia says it will now consider u.s. war planes targets. from the moment you met you wanted to surround them in comfort and protection
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it's me and it's you. don't stop now, it's easy to add to the routine. join energy upgrade california and do your thing. welcome back to the world stage. the u.s. military downed a syrian fighter jet and russia is responding by putting crosshairs on any coalition plane that violates its air space. cnn's barbara starr is at the pentagon. the russian military says it will now consider u.s. planes crossing into center air space as targets. u.s. commanders take that seriously and do they view it as a real escalation?
>> reporter: well, tensions are rising and rising throughout this very day. a short time ago a spokesman for the u.s.-led coalition told us that in fact, aircraft, coalition aircraft which largely means u.s. war planes are being repositioned over syrian air space, that they will fly, they are not detailing it, but they will fly differently because of the rising threat and this is in response to what the russians have been saying and doing and to what the regime is saying and doing. so we are now within hours of the kremlin making that statement, that threat against the u.s. military. we are seeing the u.s. military essentially respond with a very public statement, sending a message back to the kremlin that they will reposition their aircraft, they will be very cautious, but we are told they will continue to conduct operations against isis and the u.s. wants to keep that so-called deconfliction line, the communications channel, with moscow open. so both u.s. and russian
military officials every day continue to talk about where they are flying so there is not a disaster. but this is a day when we saw the kremlin threaten the united states and the u.s. respond. it's verbal right now but nerves are a bit frayed. >> barbara starr, thank you. we will keep an eye on that. consider what barbara just said and what's happening in syria, i want to take you back last week, a hearing on afghanistan. the president of thend h united states has given his defense secretary authority to set troop levels. john mccain is not happy. >> do you agree we are not winning in afghanistan? >> sir, i understand the urgency. i understand it's my responsibility. we are not winning in afghanistan right now and we will correct this as soon as possible. >> that was last week. senator mccain also writing an op-ed saying six months into the new administration, it still has
not delivered a strategy. we cannot keep going like this. if the administration fails to develop a strategy for success, congress will need to play a greater role. we are five months into the administration. whether you are talking about the very tense situation in syria now or the president essentially outsourcing the decision about troop levels in afghanistan, is it fair to say the president has not been articulate enough about how he plans to conduct all these things, or do people think this approach of let the pentagon, this is a general, this is a seasoned guy, it's his, is that the right approach? >> ultimately, the president -- i mean, there's not a policy yet, a strategy yet, for afghanistan or syria. he had said there would be one for defeating isis on his first day in office. we haven't seen it. the military to some extent can applaud the fact the president has loosened the restrictions, has given them more freedom to make decisions. at the same time, that also has had, we have seen it already where hit's had the effect of
letting the president distance himself from things. when the s.e.a.l. incident went back in yemen, he said that was the fault of the generals. you need the president to have buy-in and he needs to be enunciating the policies for the american people. we don't have declarations of war or strategy. we need to hear from him. >> pressure is going to grow on him to get authorization for use of military force, particularly if this becomes more u.s. involvement. ground troops is potentially escalating, increasing ground troops in afghanistan. that will come with an increasing amount of pressure. clearly giving mattis this authority caught a lot of people on the hill by surprise. some felt okay about it because a lot of them trust james mattis. >> candidate trump said let's get out of afghanistan. he tweeted this. this is before he was candidate, time to get out of afghanistan,
we are building road and schools for people who hate us. it's not in our national interest. in some ways this is part of learning on the job. that's not picking on the president. a lot of people before they run for office say things and they get the job and it gets very hard. you hear senator mccain and others saying mr. president, you can give jim mattis the decision but outloin tine the plan so we the umbrella strategy. >> that's what's striking about this. you had several previous presidents, you had a march towards more presidential power. presidents that want to bring the decision making into the white house, into the national security council away from the pentagon, away from congress. the debate over whether or not presidents should have to go to congress more often to conduct the military strikes that sort of fall short of all-out war. this is the first time you have seen a president kind of shrug off some of this responsibility, which both from a political perspective is kind of strange and also, congress is going to start reasserting itself if the president continues down this path. >> he's walking a strange line here. because he's got, i think his
sort of ethos is to show american strength but not a ton of interventionism. that's what he promised. he also trusts his generals and folks on the hill trust them as well, but i think there's a question always in this white house of where's the message coming from and who is authorized to give it. that's a problem when you talk about military actions. you have to sell them to the american people. >> absolutely. that's why they call him the commander in chief. thanks for joining us. see you back here tomorrow. it's just a burst pipe, i co(laugh) it. no. with claim rateguard your rates won't go up just because of a claim. i totally could've - no! switching to allstate is worth it.
hello. i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. in washington, 6:00 p.m. in london, 8:00 p.m. in moscow. wherever you are watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. we are following three major stories right now. first, president trump trying to get back to business as usual over at the white house, as his legal team fights back against allegations in the russia investigation. the white house press secretary sean spicer will likely face lots of questions on that investigation later this hour in an off-camera briefing. earlier, president trump welcomed the president of panama to the white house and during their oval office meeting, a re