tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN April 7, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
eey and that which you can only see with a microscope, one system after another completely reshaped. >> do not miss "unseen enemy." it airs tonight here on cnn at 10:00 eastern and pacific. i'm brooke baldwin. thanks for being with me. have a wonderful weekend. don't move. "the lead" with jake tapper starts now. thanks, brooke. you know it's a busy news day when a new supreme court justice is confirmed, and that's not even close to our top story. "the lead" starts right now. the commander in chief all therizing the biggest military action of his presidency, green lighting missile strikes against the syrian regime. now the u.s. ambassador to the united nations says the united states is ready to do more. it is? what is it? what's the next move for the president? then, is russia at all complicit in the deadly chemical attack from earlier this week? the u.s. military says it is now looking for evidence that the kremlin bombed a hospital in
syria to destroy evidence. is there any proof of this charge? we'll talk to a senator who was just briefed by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. plus, screaming and running for their lives as a hijacked truck plowed through a crowded street. now at least four people are dead after another likely terrorist attack turning a vehicle into a weapon. good afternoon, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm jake tapper. president trump campaigned, as you know, on a platform of removing america from foreign entanglements. last week his foreign policy team said that mindset extended to syria where they would not push for the removal of brutal dictator bashar al assad, and then assad appeared, again, to use chemical weapons against his own people. it was hardly the first time he had done so. it frankie will wasn't even the deadliest attack.
that was in 2013, and citizen trump at that point opposed any intervention, but this time president trump, well, he threw his long-standing position out the window. his decision to fire 59 tomahawk missiles into syria is drawing praise from lawmakers from both parties and from heads of state and syrian activists around the world, even as many ask what are the next steps? what is the strategy, if any, and why the change of position? u.n. ambassador nikki haley is warning that the u.s. is prepared to do more if a political solution is not reached while the white house will not say definitively whether president trump believes assad needs to be pushed from power. cnn chief national security correspondent jim sciutto joins me now. putin, the government of russia, objected to its strike. what are they saying and what are their objections? >>. >> reporter: there's an open question as to whether russia might have been complicit in this strike. remember, secretary of state tillerson russia was either
competition or complicit in allowing syria to carry out this chemical weapons attack. now the pentagon saying it has evidence that the russian military forces either knew about this attack in advance or possibly even took part in an explosive. they are still investigating. a reminder to our viewers that some of these images that you'll see are disturbing. tonight the u.s. military is investigating whether russia was complicit in the syrian regime's gruesome chemical weapons attack on civilians earlier this week. specifically whether a russian warplane dropped a bomb on a hospital treating victims of the attack five hours later, perhaps to destroy evidence. the probe comes after president trump ordered a barrage of missiles on a syrian air base in retaliation for the deadly attack. the first u.s. military strike against the assad regime in the country's bloody six-year civil war. today u.n. ambassador nikki haley warned of possible further
u.s. military action. >> the united states took a very measured step last night. we are prepared to do more. p but we hope that will not be necessary. >> reporter: target of the strikes was syria's sharate air base, launch point for the syrian warplanes that carried out the chemical attack. the pentagon says 59 of 60 tomahawk cruise missiles severely degraded or destroyed their targets, including aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, fuel and ammunition dumps and air defense systems. the pentagon estimates some 20 aircraft were destroyed, though video of the aftermath shows several shelters still standing and military aircraft undamaged. u.s. missiles left the runway intact and avoided chemical weapons storage to prevent civilian casualties. and u.s. commanders warned the russian military one hour in advance to avoid accidentally
striking russian military personnel or assets. still, russian president vladimir putin, assad's primary backer diplomatically and militarily, immediately declared the u.s. air strikes, quote, an act of aggression that, quote, dealt a serious blow to russia-u.s. relations. syria, which says nine people were killed in the strikes, claimed the u.s. has undermined the fight against terrorism. >> translator: this condemnable u.s. aggression confirms the continuation of the flawed u.s. strategy, and it undermines the process of combating terrorism. it makes the u.s. a partner of the islamic state and al nusra and other terrorist organizations. >> reporter: march to military action took little more than 48 hours. the planning began tuesday, the day the world saw the first images of victims, many of them children of the chemical weapons attack. on thursday before president trump sat down to dinner with the chinese president, he met with his national security team
to discuss military options, deciding then to order the strike that night. at 8:40 p.m. eastern time, the middle of the night in syria, the attack began. two u.s. warships in the eastern mediterranean, the "uss porter" and "the uss ross" launched the 60 tomahawk missiles towards the syrian air base. trump sat through dinner alongside the chinese president as the attack was underway and 35 minutes later at approximately 9:15 p.m. eastern time, the president's national security team briefed him on the mission's results. syria says the nine people they claimed were killed in the attack they were principally military personnel but this was a tailored military attack focused on one air base. part of that air base and the parts of the air base that the u.s. military helped carry out this chemical weapons attack. we should know that the syrian military maintains enormous conventional military capacity, and that's been the principal way that it's been waging war on
its own people, for instance, dropping barrel bombs, et cetera, chemical weapons, horrible weapon, but most of the deaths in that war caused by conventional weapons which the syrian military very much maintains. >> and which no government seems to think is atrocity worth intervening when it comes to barrel bombs even though they are deadlier in some cases. thanks so much. if investigators do manage to find evidence that russia was in any way complicit in the chemical weapons attack, that would add seemingly even more tension to what the russians are describing as an already fragile relationship between them and the united states. let's bring in cnn correspondent paula newton from moscow. paula, how is the putin government responding? snoof >> reporter: well, you know, officially they are saying this is an aggressive action. you had the prime minister, dmitry medvedev, saying, look, how does this help us fight isis? they are saying the united states and russia are this close to a conflict in syria, and behind the scenes, you know, this is a few days that the kremlin wants to forget.
they had everything they wanted in syria. they were the brokers. you know, it was notable last week, jake, when they were bringing together the parties in the cease-fire the united states was nowhere to be found and you had secretary of state tillerson and nikki haley saying perhaps assad need to give in power. what does this give russia, geopolitically the foothold back in the middle east that they have been trying to get a year and a half. it was mission accomplished until this happened and the explosive allegations out of the pentagon yet to be proven will definitely heat things up for when tillerson comes here the middle of next week. >> all right. paula newton, thank you so much. key members of the house and senate were just briefed by the administration on these strikes against the syrian regime. what did they learn? we'll ask a member of the senate armed services committee next. ♪ ♪ ♪
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but now it's finally back home where it belongs. aw man. hey, wait up. where you goin'? here we go again. i'm jake tapper. welcome back to" the lead." the day offer president trump ordered a military strike against the syrian regime, members of both parties of congress are learning about the results as well as how the decision was made. joining me is joanie ernst, a republican, who serves now on the senate armed services
committee. thanks for being with us. >> good to be with you. >> you came out of a briefing on the attack. what more can you tell us? >> we did sit down with general dunford who gave us an overview and time frame of the events as they occurred and also good discussion about who was involved in that decision process in advising the white house. i think the president did make a good assessment, a good call on the situation, and it was a very surgical strike on the assets that were in syria that were involved with this chemical attack against assad's population. >> and what did the administration officials have to stay or general dunford about any sort of larger plan, larger strategy and nynex steps? >> well, of course, they will be game-planning that in the days to come. they have already started that assessment, but this was, again, i just want to remind everyone, that this was a one-time attack on the assets that were used in a chemical weapons attack against the people of syria, so
it was in response to a very specific attack? it's not an ongoing operation. >> did began dunford have anything to say about the possibility, and the pentagon is looking into the possibility, that russian forces were actually involved in the chemical weapon attack against syria, syrian individuals earlier this week? >> that investigation will continue. however, at this time they don't have any concrete evidence that shows that russia was involved. they have been complacent i think in a number of operations that have gone on in syria, but there is no evidence to say that they worked with syria on the specific attack. >> as president obama was taking action against assad's forces in 2013 after a chemical weapons attack killed more than 1,400 syrians in the suburbs of damascus, then citizen trump treated the warning, quote, the president must get congressional approval before attacking syria. big mistake if he does not. obviously president trump did not get congressional approval
before launching the attack yesterday. what about this situation has changed, do you think? >> well, i can't speak for the folks in 2013 or for the then citizen trump's comments. however, i can say that i do think it was appropriate. he did involve discussions with members of congress as well as his national security team. in moving forward we do know that the vice president will be coming back to congress in upcoming days and laying out the case and the reasons they did engage on this particular mission. so, again, i can't speak to citizen trump's comments at that time, but i do believe in this specific instance that the president made the appropriate call. >> president trump said that the attack on syria was in the vital national security interest of the united states n.2013 after the large chemical weapons attack you said that president obama had failed to explain, quote, why it is in our vital interests to use force in the midst of syria's ongoing civil
war. has president trump sufficiently explained in this instance why this attack is in our national interests and makes us safer? >> i think he has. he has laid out the case. humanitarian atrocities, of course, the use of the chemical weapons, but we also have isis engaged in that region, and we simply don't want to see chemicals fall into the hands of isis operators. there's an ongoing civil war, but that paired with the isis threat makes it even more imperative that we make sure we're destroying any of those delivery systems, but then we also need to engage the united nations and make sure that we can push for investigation throughout syria and make sure that if there are residual chemical weapons that the united nations is engaging finding those weapons and making sure they are disposed of. >> lastly, senator, president trump said the other day the images of beautiful little babies suffering after the chemical weapons attack changed his -- his calculus on syria and on assad.
listen to what hillary clinton just said about that. . >> we cannot in one breath speak of protecting syrian babies and in the next close america's doors to them. >> do you think that president trump should also change his position on allowing syrian refugee babies, children and their mothers perhaps, into the united states? >> well, that is up to president trump. however, i would state that many of those families that are coming from those countries, especially syria, they wish to stay in their homelands, and i have spoken with syrian refugees. i've done that in the past, and all of those that i spoke with had emphasized to me that they would stay in their home country if they knew they were safe, so i think it's important that we are interrupting what's going on, making sure that there are no more chemical attacks but also getting to the root cause of the problem and making sure that they are protected from
isis and from this horrible regime. i do support the use of safe zones. i think that's a wise decision and something we need to explore further. however, we need to have an overarching strategy with how we deal with syria and other issues in the middle east. we've got to get the root cause of the problem under control. >> indeed. the secretary of defense once said that the middle east, including syria, was a strategy-free zone. senator joanie ernst, we thank you for your time. >> thanks, jake. the white house now revealing more details about when the president decided to take this action. stick around. we all have more. ma ♪
welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. president trump's dramatic decision to order a military strike played out in front of a rather unusual audience of one. china's president xi jinping as a high-stakes summit between the two world superpowers became the backdrop to the president's first military strike. cnn senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny is traveling with the president in palm beach. >> reporter: president trump's biggest commander in chief moment, launching air strikes in
syria, dramatically changing the tone for his first meeting today with chinese president xi jinping. >> the relationship developed by president xi and myself i think is outstanding. we look forward to being together many times in the future, and i believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away. >> reporter: meeting today at his mar-a-lago resort, the. letting the missile strikes speak for themselves. >> mr. president, what's the end goal with the strikes on syria? >> thank you very much. >> reporter: the president's decision to strike thursday evening was a dramatic turnaround in his posture towards syria. >> it is in this vital national security interest of the united states to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. >> reporter: white house aides said the decision unfolded like this over a three-day period
this week. at 10:30 a.m. tuesday, the president learns of the chemical attack in syria. at 3:00 p.m. wednesday the president is briefed on options by his national security team. at 1:00 p.m. thursday the president convening a meeting of his top advisers aboard air force i before coming back to tell reporters this. >> i think what happened in syria is a disgrace to humanity, and he's there and i guess he's running things so something will have to happen. >> reporter: and at 4:00 p.m. thursday after arriving at mar-a-lago he gave authorization to strike after his fourth meeting with the national security team, the most consequential move of the young trump presidency over syria and the broader direction of the white house. the chief strategist steve bannon, demoted from his seat on the national security council earlier this week, argued against the syria strikes, cnn has learned. he's increasingly at odds with jared kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser
who now has had a more prominent seat at the table as these behind-the-scenes photographs show. the strikes in syria are a departure from the president's america first agenda, crafted by bannon. while widely praised for taking action, republicans and democrats today called on the white house to explain its new stand towards syria. i don't think they have a policy yet but they better have one because things probably are not going to get better in the syria area there. >> reporter: now a few moments ago secretary of state rex tillerson told reporters here at mar-a-lago that the future of any u.s. action in syria depends on the regime. jake, he said this, and i quote, the future will be guided by how we see their reaction meaning if there's any retaliation, the u.s., of course, reserves the right to do the same. jake? >> all right. jeff zeleny, thank you so much. another possible terrorist attack using a truck to plow into a crowd of innocent people. now police have made an arrest.
stay with us. the disaster that strikes a country, you do see that people care. people were dying. we have to do something about this. we have something in development, so we'll accelerate. i think it was really necessary for people, companies to step up and try to do something about this. but they're different.d kind it's nice to remove artificial ingredients. kind never had to. we've used real ingredients, whole nuts, and natural flavors from the very beginning. give kind a try.
welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we have more breaking news. cnn is learning one person has been arrested in that deadly truck attack in stockholm, sweed efnt the prime minister said, quote, everything indicates it was an act of terror. a swedish official told cnn. at least four people were killed and 15 others seriously injured after the truck rammed into pedestrians this morning in the busy heart of the city. let's bring in a journalist from stockholm and shortly after the attacks stockholm police released a photo of a person of interest. is the person arrested the same and what do we know about the arrest? >> reporter: jake, it's the same person in the photo who was arrested. the guy matches the person in the photo. however, we don't know whether or not he was the actual driver of the -- of the truck. police are saying they don't want to confirm it just yet.
they need more witnesses to come forward and tell what they said or what they saw from this attack before they can 100% for sure say this was in fact the driver. >> from what you're saying and what police are saying it sounds like police are not sure that there was just one person involved. this could have been multiple terrorists? >> reporter: absolutely. i mean, the police are saying that there's still full force trying to search through buildings just around us. i mean, the -- the central stockholm, there's a huge area that's been cordoned off standing just about 100 yards away from where the truck is still at. this is the center, the heart of stockholm. you've got the main train station just over there, and police are -- have also closed the borders so they are checking everyone leaving the swedish territory to make sure they are not one of the terrorists. so the police are working full force trying to identify the guy they arrested and also looking for any other terrorists. >> there have not been a lot of
terrorist attacks in sweden unlike in other european countries. are swedish police, swedish officials prepared to carry out an investigation like this? >> reporter: i mean, that's what they are saying. just a few days ago they actually had a big training exercise between the security service, stockholm police and also the army. they all had a big training exercise together. they have seen what happened in london. they have seen what happened in berlin. they have seen what happened in nice, so this type of attack was actually not unexpected, that's what police said today during a press conference. they have trained for this type of scenario. you know, immediately they closed off large parts of stockholm working to try to find this driver, and it looks like they may have actually now arrested the driver. however, they still don't know. >> all right. that report from sweden, thanks so much. a u.s. official now saying
intelligence suggests a russian drone over the hospital in idlib that was treating victims of the chemical attack before that same site was later bombed by an unknown aircraft. now the russians often operate drones in the area, so the pentagon says it cannot be certain that the operator knew what was happening. also this afternoon, new images showing the damage done by last night's u.s. military strike in syria. the pentagon now says that 59 of the 60 tomahawk missiles fired at shayrat airfield just outside the city of homs. you can see supplier birngs and what appears to be planes charred and blown to pieces. cnn's tom foreman is over at the magic wall with a closer look at the airfield. tom, russia says as a result of this strike it will bolster its air defense system in syria. exactly, what is that system? >> reporter: that system is a system that has militaries all
over the world paying attention because it is something to behold. yeah, we have new images of the damage that went on there at this airfield. the syrians are losing something that they real very to value which is their fighter jets. they can't easily replace them. they need to keep the ones they have operational and yet the russians stood by and let this happen when they could have stopped it with this or possibly stopped it with this. this is the s-300 missile system. there's also the s-400 which is an upgrade or as it's often known the grumble. it's a highly mobile system. it was put into syria last fall, and the russians then said we can stop anything coming into this country, including cruise missiles, because this launches defensive missiles that fly at hypersonic speed. they are touted as being able to hit something as small as a football traveling at very high speeds as well, and theoretically if this had been activated, with all of its radar there, would have been some
resistance to these cruise missiles coming in, but that was not the case. it looks like the russians simply stood by and let the missiles come sailing in, even though they had a system that could have done something about it. that's one of the big mysteries here, jake. why did the russians do it? what is simply not a big enough target for them to engage? were they being complicit in the some way saying the white house gave them warning so they will step aside or did they simply not want to reveal the full capabilities of this system that has so many militaries around the world wondering how much it can actually do in an operational setting. >> but the russian presence at this base, tom, also suggests that they would have known about the assad regime planes involved in tuesday's chemical weapons attack against the innocence of the city of idlib. >> reporter: not just there, jake, but in other places as well. if you look around the country, these are all different spots where there may be sizable numbers of russian troops. we know of at least four morals
permanent bases that had been built up by the russians there. and, yeah, we had this idea, as the obama administration was ending, an official of that administration said, look, our program to make syria give up all their chemical weapons worked. they are all gone and others said we think they held on to some. it certainly looked like the russians had a lot of reason to know that they were there and a lot of reason to know that an attack was under way. >> tom foreman, thank you so much. what do the strikes in syria and russia condemning the united states mean for congress' investigation into russia's meddling in the 2016 election? we'll talking about that with a member of the house intelligence committee next. stay with us. it's nice to remove artificial ingredients. kind never had to. we've used real ingredients, whole nuts, and natural flavors from the very beginning. give kind a try.
welcome back. we're sticking with the world lead. the u.s. military strike against the syrian regime in response to tuesday's chemical weapons attack against innocent people in syria. joining me now democratic congressman jim himes of connecticut and also a member of the senate intelligence committee. thanks for joining us. you have called on president trump to explain the situation going forward. what do you see him doing? >> there's really only one long-term answer in syria to get all the involved parties which i mean some pretty unsavory folks, the russians, the iranians, the syrians, the various countries in the region that have an interest together to come to an agreement about what syria looks like going forward. there is no end game military solution here, and, in fact, you know, while i saw the utility of
the strike taking out some of assad's machinery of death, you know, they are apparently already flying airplanes off of the air strip there, and this was, you know, in the strategic sense really not anything that alters the chessboard much. >> you said that it doesn't -- it doesn't alter the chessboard much. i've heard you say that before. in 2013 you were one of the supporters of the deal brokered between the u.s. and russia to remove syria's chemical weapons. clearly that didn't work. do you in any way wish that president obama in 2013 had done what president trump did last night? >> you know, i've been asking myself that a lot today and i sort of one add. i felt this way at the time. i felt when former president obama went into libya, these kinds of military incursions have to be done in concert and
with approval of congress, and so i don't like any of those raids or the possibility of the raids when they haven't been done, but i will say i couldn't help but think that this raid, had it happened many years ago, had assad had a lot fewer tools at his dispose al overa lengthy period there, would probably be thousand of more syrians alive today than are because the decision was taken not to take that strike. >> so in a way it sounds like you do wish that president obama had done in 2013 what president trump did last night. >> well, you know, it's hard to look back on that. that was a time a little closer to -- to the libyan -- the libyan incursion which did not go well. libya is now chaotic. i -- at the time, if you had told me i guess, and this is with the virtue of today's look-back, if you had told me that we could take out the tools that assad would use to gas his own people to commit the crimes he has, i -- i might have ended
up voting yes for it provided that it had come before the congress and it had been so limited and wasn't going to grow into a decapitation strike like we saw in libya. >> 86 people were killed in the tuesday chemical weapons attack. according to the united nations an estimated 400,000 syrians have been killed since this civil war started in 2011. do you think the u.s. needs to commit to doing more than taking a stand when it comes to chemical weapons attacks? >> well, this is another reason why i think last night's raid was warranted. we have to respond more aggressively when we see somebody going over a line which in this case has existed for 100 years which is that you do not use chemical weapons. now, the counter to that which i think is also fair is that, you know, we saw an awful lot more people killed over the -- by three orders of magnitude,
hundreds of thousands of people killed, and to the poor individual, to the poor victim i'm not sure it matters a whole lot whether that individual dies by barrel bomb or by chemical weapon, so there is a powerful question that can be asked of the united states. what -- apart from the fact that we should stabbed up and oppose the use of chemical weapons, why these particular deaths after so long and after hundreds of thousands of deaths? what, as you asked, could have been done earlier to try to stem a conflict that has been so bloody in the region? >> congressman, as you know, the response from russia has been quite adversarial with criticisms coming from the kremlin about this move by president trump. what, if any, effect do you think this might have on the investigations by the house intelligence commit and the senate intelligence committee on the possible collusion by officials near the trump campaign with russians known to u.s. intelligence and the clear interference by russia in the
2016 election? >> yeah, jake, i think no effect at all. just because the president might have done something that the russians would prefer not to have happened doesn't mean that the questions around the paul manafort or roger stone or all the lengthy list of people associated with the president who have had contacts with the russians who have not been honest about the contacts with the russians, those questions still remain, and, jake, if i can offer a theory. i -- i really don't think the russians in any real way mind what had happened last night. you know, putin himself did not speak about it. you know, even though -- even though they have supported assad i think the russians are embarrassed by assad. i think it's hard even for the russians to be in bed with a man who gases his own people and, remember, this is a man who also humiliated putin and the russians because the russians were the primary guarantor of the original get the gas out of syria deal, and assad just stuck his finger in putin's eye, so i don't think the russians at all
minded in a real way. of course, they had to object, at least in word, but i don't think they minded this strike at all. >> all right. congressman jim himes, democrat of connecticut. have a great weekend. >> thanks, jake. >> couple, a syrian activist says he's been waiting six years for the united states to act as he did last night. he'll join me along with others to discuss what next.
earlier. >> let me start with you. you were born and raised in syria. you've long advocated for american intervention in syria, and you're rejoicing over what happened last night. tell us why. >> absolutely. i honestly i want to start off by thanking the president of the united states for taking actions in response to the use of chemical weapons by the assad regime against children, and i think that this might be the first step to what i urge for the end to all killing in syria. >> these strikes still leave much of the syrian military's capabilities in attack. >> one, i agree for the men and women we lost in this chemical strike, and i would expect the president of the united states will convert teleprompter empathy to actual refugee flow back into the united states akin to what president obama went for, and the second point is
this was far more messaging than it was a military outcome. this was a message delivered by tomahawk that it's time for the adults to sit down and solve what really is a political problem. >> is that such a bad thing, jen psaki? i was just asking congressman himes who was taking great pains to say that he wished president obama had done in 2013 what president trump did last night, but he seemed to feel that he wished that president obama had done this back in 2013. >> sure, and he's not alone. look, i've talked to a lot of my former colleagues in the national security arena, and a lot of them support this action, and there's a little bit of a hangover from 2013. now, there's a lot that has happened -- that happened since the -- since president obama's decision not to move forward in 2013 that trump conveniently leaves out, but the real question now is what is next and what was this about? what are you trying to achieve in the next big moment is probably when secretary tillerson goes to russia, and we'll see if this actually had
an impact or not. >> what do you want to see happen next? what should happen next for there to be any reasonable change, meaningful change, in syria? >> well, the problem was this was a limited military strike. it doesn't change the military balance, and it doesn't answer any of the broader questions. we're no closer at the end of a war that's created the greatest humanitarian crisis since world war ii. it's the messiest modern middle east civil war, and there's no movement towards finding a peace process that would get us to end the war or in identifying people who might be alternatives, viable alternatives, credible leaders to president assad. the russians and the iranians have said the united states, well, if you don't want assad, who do you have, and neither the rebels nor the political opposition forces have come up with someone who is an alternative, so it's great that people feel better perhaps that the world has said that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, but we are no closer to ending a war that will -- that could kill, you
know, hundreds of thousands of more people and that the future of the -- of syria is at stake. the stability across the region that has extraordinary consequences for us. the trump administration by acting militarily has now intervened in the civil war. that's what the obama administration wanted to avoid because it knew once you break it you own it. now we own part of the solution, and we have to come up more aggressively and more ambitiously with greater imagination to solutions. >> general, do we own it? i mean, it seems to me that president trump and his famous flexibility would suggest that he thinks that it's possible he could do this strike and then just walk away. >> well, we have a mismatch in level of national interest. syria is not a vital national interest to the united states. it is a vital national interest for the turks, for the iranians, certainly the russians, and we have president assad who views
the outcome as existential. when you have a mismatch of existential to conditional national interests, things are going to go wrong, and you're going to have misunderstandings. we have a political problem. we sent a very clear message to the russians, to the iranians and certainly to the syrians that we have to have a political outcome here >> moaz, let me ask you. what if this is it? what if president trump just walks away from it after that because the signal that he's saying is that was just a limited targeted strike at this air base, and i don't know that there's going to be more than that. what -- what then? >> well, i think that, first of all, what the president has done is he's put a down payment on restoring american leadership and credibility in the world. once again this, regime has used chemical weapons so many times, not just in 2013, big strike and
this one, and never has there been any consequence or accountability whatsoever. i think what needs to happen as the president outlined in his speech when he was declaring the strike is to bring the united states allies, the u.s. and its allies and bring russia to the table whether it a geneva or washington and outline a settlement package that includes an enforcement mechanism that never existed with his predecessor and the killing in syria. >> they would have to have assad leave office, and i'm sure -- >> assad has not been -- look at the deal that was struck with president obama's administration and with the russian guarantees. the russian are complicit in attack and he's just not anyone that he can trust. he kept chemical weapons and used sarin and he used chlorine in the suburbs of damascus and i'm sure that this will come up later. this isn't someone you can trust. we should bring russia. the killing in syria must end. that must be the focus.
>> one other thing, jen, obviously the chemical weapons deal that the russians and the united states and the syrians had signed off on in the obama administration heralded, obviously it was not a success. obviously sum chemical weapons were left behind. it's great that so many were taken out, but, still, syrians continue to be killed at the hands. assad regime by chemical weapons. in that way can it be seen as a failure, that deal? >> well, i don't think that's entirely fair. first of all, it was declared chemical weapons. we always knew there was a possibility that some would still remain. the reality is there was a huge percentage of chemical weapons that were removed. if that had not happened, it is entirely possible that isil could have taken control over chemical weapons, used them against the syrian people. obviously now russia is not holding up their end of the bargain and being a signatory of that deal, so clearly we need to start over and start moving forward from here but i think it's not fair to say it wasn't a success.
haven't had an attack in three and a half years. there's one that needs to happen now. >> there was one in last august. >> they use chlorine regularly. >> chlorine was not included in the deal so i think, you know, it was not perfect, but i don't think saying that it wasn't a success takes into account the fact that isil could have had access to a great deal of chemical weapons. >> let me just ask you because the iranian foreign minister was out thereto tweeting how shocked he is that the united states is doing what they can to side with isis and al qaeda. >> oh, that's ridiculous. obviously, the irony is that the united states and iran and russia want to solve this and that -- and we may be further apart than ever because of what's happened in the last few days, because of the reversal of the peace process or the fact that the russians and the united states looked like they might be able to work together to figure out some kind of transition plan. the trump administration has reversed course, and there is
now, as it says, there is no role for assad. that makes it very hard to figure out a diplomatic outcome. >> all right. thanks one and all for being here. really appreciate it. great conversation. follow me on facebook and twitter @jaketapper and on sunday my guest on "state of the union" u.s. absnikki haley. i'm jake tapper. turning it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now. breaking news. strike on syria. the pentagon is reporting significant damage to a syrian air base after president trump launches a missile strike in response to syria's chemical weapons attack. it's the first direct american assault on the assad regime since the war began six years ago. policy shift. president trump's decision to strike syria is a dramatic shift from his promises not to get involved in the conflict. did the horrific images from syria cause a change in his strategy? what message does the strike send to enemies and allies