tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN April 7, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
have avoided in large part since 2001 or 2002. so there's a lot of question right now if it will happen. it will be very dependent on what trump decides to do next. there's no question those conversations are ongoing and there will be a lot of pressure to start on if they need it. >> all right. thanks, erin burnett "out front" starts right now. >> next, breaking news. a dire warning of more to come. less than 24 hours after a massive cruise missile strike. plus was russia involved in the gas attack on innocent children? and why would a president gas his own people? was assad testing trump? let's go out front. good evening. i'm erin burnett. we begin "out front" tonight with the breaking news, ready to strike again. we're learning that president trump's stunning missile strike on syria may just be the
beginning. so far 60 tomahawk cruise missiles were launched. 59 of them, we are told, strike their intended targets. targets on the syrian air base where bashar al assad launched an attack on innocent children just 63 hours before. will the strike stop the syrian dictator from gassing his own people again, though? >> reporter: the united states took a very mesh -- the united s took a very measured step last night. we are prepared to do more. >> and russia, which has a massive military presence in syria, including on the very base u.s. missiles hit, upping the ante. the crekremlin says the risk ha increased, this as the pentagon is investigating whether putin's russia was involved in the horrific chemical attack itself. russia moments ago denying that allegation to cnn.
we were covering this breaking story from every angle. our reporters are spread around the world tonight. we begin with barbara star "out front" at the center of it all at the pentagon. barbara, is there evidence of russian involvement? >> reporter: good evening, erin. that's what the white house wants to know. there was a russian drone that flew over the hospital that was attacked. the u.s. is trying to figure out at this hour just how vothd the russians reefld were. this was the message president trump wanted to send to bashar al assad, attack with chemical weapons, the u.s. will attack you back. 59 cruise missiles striking the syrian air base the u.s. says was used to launch aircraft, killing men, women, and children tuesday with a nerve agent-filled bomb. the pentagon said the strikes severely degraded or destroyed their intended target, which included aircraft and aircraft
shelters, fuel, and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers and their defense systems. >> the united states took a very measured step last night. we are prepared to do more. >> reporter: but this was also a message to moscow. which denies that syrian chemical attack even happened. >> translator: to justify its armed action washington has entirely twisted what happened. the american side cannot understand that the syrian troops did not use chemical weapons. damascus simply does not possess it. >> reporter: many of these people died of asphyxiation from what's believed to be sarin gas. the u.s. says it will investigate any possibility of russian complicity including russian troops at the air base where this russian drone captured the aftermath of the u.s. attack. did the russians know anything about the clam bombing? was it a russian warplane that
later bombed a hospital, treating victims, perhaps trying to destroy evidence? and after years of regime chemical attacks, u.s. military officials now say they will more aggressively monitor syria's chemical weapons program and potential russian involvement. the pentagon showed what it says was proof to justice the limited u.s. strike. the track of the syrian plane and bemidji of where did nerve agent bomb hit. the syrian military denied using chemical weapons, blaming terrorist groups. >> translator: this condemnable u.s. immigrati u.s.aggression undermines attempts against terrorism. >> reporter: the key question tonight, erin, is how soorch will that airfield be back up and running and will the
russians return. erin? >> thank you very much. i want to go to jeff zelly at mar-a-lago where the president is tonight. we heard ambassador nickey haley saying in her words, we are prepared to do more. what's next? >> inde >>. >> reporter: nikki haley has been leading the way in recent days in terms of messaging here. the question is reveal what syria does next. we heard in florida from secretary to have state rex tillerson late this afternoon. he said, you know, the future depends on -- help said the future will be guided by their reaction. so throughout the weekend here, in the coming hours, indeed, the united states largely based here with the president at his m mar-a-lago resort. will there be more chemical attacks? will planes start flying again?
this all speaks to what the trump doctrine is, what his policy will be. he's noen shown he's willing to act and act decisively. adds america's first agenda on war and peace where he said, look, syria's not our problem suddenly is his problem. so by acting once he's sure to act again. as you mentioned earlier, all of the focus is also on russia. the secretary of state will be going there next week. that's where this goes next here. but the president and his team standing by tonight and watching angds waiting for the reaction in syria. erin? >> jeff, thank you. let's go to clarissa ward on the syria-turkish border. it fathers that the syrian dictator is defind tonight. roimt we >> reporter: i think assad is issuing a bombast tic statement calling the u.s. shortsighted and we are hearing reports from
activists inside idlib province where the chemical attack took place that there have been air strikes from regime warplanes this evening. at the same time, i don't think there's any doubt that last night's u.s. strikes on the syrian regime had definitely had an impact on the battlefield. not so much perhaps in terms of curtailing the winning streak that the regime of bashar al assad has been on but certainly in temples of re-establishing america as having a prominent voice at the negotiating table, as having leverage and as providing a kind of p counterbalance to the russian domination of the syrian conflict. i don't think anyone this time a week ago would have expected that we would be hearing syrian rebels referring affection nate referring to president president
trump in a fond term. nobody on the ground, erin, is expecting him to stop using those crudely fashioned homemade so-called barrel bombs and other horrific munitions, erin? >> thank you very much, clarissa. to elliott abrams we'll go to now, james spider marks, formatter nato scream commander, wesley clark and david sanger of the new york times. gentlemen, you are the ones we need to hear from. general marks i want to start with what happened here. we have new soimt images we have obtained. i want to show them to everyone. what you're looking at right now is the air base after the strike. in white were the areas damaged. what you can see, though, is apparently no damage to the runways. what do you see here, general? >> what you see is both of the runways, the primary runways were not damaged. let's look back and see that the
t-lambs don't have enough explosives in them to crater the runways. what the intended target were were the hangars for the aircraft that would allow for maintenance and storage and air defense capabilities and so on. those missiles went after facilities that would house aircraft or helicopters or you'll of those support america mechanisms that were necessary. it did not go after the runway. it was not cratered. >> general clark, is that just give the u.s. room to ton ante? they used a missile that didn't do that. if they wanted to do that, they could do that down the line in he used the runway? what do you think the reasoning is. a lie person would say it makes sense to take out the runrunway. >> they wanted to strike with
t-lams. if you take out runways they can be repaired in a couple of days. this bomb was symbolic. it was not a powerful military blow. it was a sign that the united states is engaged, that we object to the use of chemical weapons and that we could do nor and of course we could do more. here's the other thing. apparently we talked to the russians and the russians didn't use their modern air defense systems. they've got systems that might be able to interfere with our t-lams. we've never seen the air defense systems used against us. weapon don't know what the results would be. if we thought they might use them against us, we might use different weapons. there's a lot at stake here in what happens next. >> daifld, let me ask you about that. in terms of what the strike did, we understand that as part of that infrastructure it took out
around the runways, 20 syrian planes were destroyed, but no chemical weapons. the pentagon said this is the base where they loaded those keps on the airplanes and took out to bomb the children. >> if you hit the chemical weapons, you have the possibility that you're creating exactly the kind of chemical disaster that you're trying to avoid. it would be easy for the russians and syrians to turn around and say now it's the americans spreading chemicals around the area. they were looking to avoid that. i think the key to this is it was symbolic. it was supposed to pave the way for secretary of state rex tillerson's trip to moscow, which was previously scheduled for next week and gives them opportunity as we discussed with you last night, erin, to sort of do a two-step of saying this president is willing to get engaged and is willing to keep -- to contain assad and if
necessary, go after him. so let's talk on that basis. you no, i'm not sure the russians are going to be all that impressed with this. because they know in the end, the history that is laid out by president trump as a candidate is that he does not want to get bogged down in the syrian civil war, and so i suspect that the russians will probably say nice try and move on. >> but that's -- obviously, general marks, more easily said than done. once you've sid something is uj acceptable and you've struck as a result of that militarily. when something happens you have to strike again. >> i hope we don't assume a policy of reacting to what happens next. i hope we can take the initiative and shape what we think needs to be done in syria. it's not simply the next step but it's a description of what the desire end state is so that the planners can then walk back from that and determine what are the necessary conditions that have to be in place in order to
achieve this desires instiktd? we want to hear what the strategy is. that could include long term the removal of assad. it could be a regime change, but this strike by itself is unsufficient to come close to that. it opens the door for more. >> elliott, you were critical of trump during the campaign. you said he shouldn't be the president of the united states. he passed you over for the number two spot at the state department. you say you for what he did in syria and strongly. why? >> i think it shows the united states really is going to be much more active than it was in the previous administration. we were allowing these chemical weapons attacks to take place repeatedly in violation of security council resolutions, in violation of the promises we got from russia. we didn't seem to care about any of that. now the president is saying, well, i doom care. you can't do this kind of savagery without the united states reacting.
it's very surprising for donald trump to do this, because he talked about justice and the united states protecting justice and rex tillerson talked about the international community, exactly the kind of words that they didn't -- he didn't use in last year's campaign. i'm reminded of something that ariel sharon said when he was prime minister. what you see from here is not what you see from there. in other words, what you see when you're the head of government, when the responsibility is yours, and 2ru6r7 used the word responsibility repeatedly the last few days. it's different. he's taking that responsibility on his shoulders and saying i'm going to act. >> david, from your reporting, when you hear this administration saying there could be more, is that just talk? >> i certainly think there could be more, but the question you always have to ask for any administration, but particularly for one that came with an argument that they were there to get us out of these conflicts is
more toward what end? is regime change the ultimate end here? certainly that was not in president trump's statement last night. is trying to bring and end to the syrian civil wash a political end? part of it could be. so far we haven't seen much interest in the trump administration in trying to lead an international delegation to do that. i think the bigger question is what is their long-term syrian strategy and do they want to have a long-term syrian strategy. >> that comes down to the collision course tonight. the kremlin tonight saying the chances of a u.s.-russia collision have significantly increased, in their words. are they close to a much bigger war? why would syria's president unleash a horrific gas attack on
his own people. this has been a civil war for almost seven years. is a major white house shakeup in the works tonight? [woman] so beautiful. [man] beautiful just like you. [woman] oh, why thank you. [burke] and we covered it, november sixth, two-thousand-nine. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪ we're out ink,nk! not ink. buying ink doesn't have to be painful. now, during "hp savings month" at staples, buy one hp ink and get the second 40% off.
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just ask your doctor about taltz. . breaking news. russia warning president trump tonight, the kremlin saying a risk of direct collision has "significantly increased" after america's missile strike. russia vowing to bolster president assad's air defense system in syria. that, of course, could be setting the united states on a direct collision course with russia. tom foreman is out front. tom, this is an incredibly sobering thing to be talking about. why does vladimir putin have such deep seated interests in siesh ya. >> reporter: that is an excellent question. they're already there. look, this is the map of syria. everywhere on here, either syrian military bases or rebel military bases, a great struggle
for ground going here. look. here are four big russian bases in this country. there are thousands of russian troops there. we don't have an exact account of how many. we know it's thousands. that means jets and helicopters and transport plaibs and vehicles and radar centers and aircraft defense systems. here's some proof of that. look at the plild flag over here on the far side. that's this area. i want you to watch. this is in 2014 when this picture was taken. look down here and look how it changes through 2015. all of that is a brand-new state of the art russian military base built up there. they're not going anywhere. that's built to stay, not to go anywhere. indeed russia just like the united states is interested in having influence in the middle east. they've had a long history. syria has been a long ally and they want to hold their ground.
erin. >> it's been a long ally and of course the decision by the united states under the prior administration to got get involved perhaps left a vacuum for them to build those structures. when you look at that map, as the united states thinks about striking, and additional strikes but doesn't want to have a war with russia, how hard is it for the united states to strike and not hit russians? >> reporter: it could be very hard. the reductions are saying they don't want to cooperate as much with the u.s. in terms of sharing knowledge. previously they were sharing knowledge in the name of, we're all just here to fight the terrorists. now they don't want to cooperate so much. a few years ago when everyone was worried about the chemical weapons in syria, including russia, there were familiarities all over this country that had to be addressed. the white house and others thought they had been addressed. they thought the chemical weapons threat was gone. now it's clear it's not gone.
we don't know where any chemical facilities are here. if you don't know where the chemical facilities are and you want to strike those or jets that are delivering it and you don't know where the russians are, the potential for an accidental conflict indeed gets a lot higher. if that happens, it's a much bigger deal than just syria. erin? >> it certainly is. all right, tom foreman thank you very much. elliott, the russian prime minister has gone so far today as to say the attack was on the brink of military clashes with russia. those are his words. how tense is this swagsz tonight? >> i would not overrate it. i don't think it's that tense. i think they're trying retorecally to scare us out of the east and i think we should not be scared out of the middle east. we have much greater military presence in the region than they do. they're in the position of backing a guy who's using chemical weapons who they themselves have said is an abomination. we should not be so scared.
this is what happened in the obama administration. everything has a certain degree of risk. you can talk yourself into doing nothing vpt then you create a vacuum and into it moves vladimir putin, who loves advantage umgs. he doesn't take risk. in jordan, he moved. in syria, he doesn't touch nato because he doesn't take risky moves. >> you have the goib tonight looking into whether raerk was implicit in this attack itself which would take this attack to a whole new level. you also say they're increasing air defense systems to assad, obviously in response to u.s. military strikes. when you look at it that way it seems like they are trying to raise tensions. >> well, it does, erin. let me address both of those. they were complicit at the strike. they are present at the arirfied
and throughout the country. they have to be blind to not know the syrians were about to launch an ape tack. that's number one. anybody two, they already -- the russians already have a robust air defense capability. reach, much like the united states, would never deploy one soldiers without a protective dome over that soldier on the ground. that's air defense. so they have a very strong capability. for them to say they're going to thicken air defense is much adoob about nothing. it's already there. >> and of course they opted not to use it when they were given the opportunity, right? they could have upped the ante. >> sure. >> they didn't do that. general clark, marco rubio says not only is russia kpris it. he took it further. here's what he said. >> i think clearly the russians are kplis in it these war crimes. if they were at that facility and they had personnel stragsed at that air base, they had to have known there was sarin gas
being load odd on the to those planes. >> if they knew that, general clark, the united states is saying this is a crime against humidity by the syrians. if they can prove the russians knew that sarin gas was being loaded on to those plaijs, then what? >> i think one of the great we have is international law and public opinion here. i'm fine that we use t-lamms. i'd like to see us use the weapon of international law. let's get russia's complicity out there for all to see. i think this is a very important next step before we escalate militarily. let's get the diplomatic community working around the world to bring other people in to criticize russia's role as we show the ed. and let's goem to china and show the evidence to china and see if china doesn't want to work with us more closely about -- with
this as sort of a prelude to what we're doing in north korea. if we put our chips on the table with the t-lams, let's use diplomacy in a powerful and assertive way to shape this problem and rem solve it without more destruction. >> thank you all very much tonight. next, more breaking nutsz at this moment. the possibility of a major white house shake you have. this is breaking at this moment. we'll get you the very lightest on what we're laerg on that as our reporters break this. also coming up later this hour, we will talk about the same president trump who launched a major strike against syria who once said this -- >> why can't we let isis and syria fight and let russia -- they're in syria already -- let them fight isis? now and at&t, get the ultimate in entertainment plus unlimited data. get directv now for $10 a month when you have the new at&t unlimited plus plan.
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[ [ screams ] ] [ shouting ] brace yourself! this is crazy! [ tires screeching ] whoo! boom baby! rated pg-13. [ screams ] . tonight, the trngs warning the missile strikes on syria could be just the beginning. the president himself today, though, site over his decision to launch the attack. the president refusing to answer reporter questions about the mission today. his silence a sharp contrast to
the man who for years spoke out against nilt action in syria. brianna keelor is "out front." >> reporter: president trump has long said the u.s. should keep to itself. >> i'm not and i don't want to be the president of the world. i'm the president of the united states. >> reporter: that was before his decision to attack syria in response to who isks pictures of a chemical weapons attack on civilians there. >> tonight i ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in syria from where the chemical attack was launched. these heinous actions by if assad regime cannot be tolerated. my attitude toward syria and assad has changed very much. >> reporter: in fact, it has completely reversed. in 2013, when it was first confirmed the syrian government was using chemical weapons on its own people, as pictures came to light of an attack much like
the one we've seen this week, president obama weighed whether to make good on an earlier threat. >> a red line for us is we see a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around. >> reporter: to our very foolish leader, he said, do not attack syria. if you do, very many bad things will happen and from that fight, the u.s. gets nothing. there is no up side and tremendous down side. he told out front -- >> why can't we let isis and syria fight and let russia -- they're in syria already -- let them fight isis. >> reporter: thursday, an about-face. >> 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: and trump's decision to strike syria was a
unilateral one, after once chasening president obama for considering a go it alone approach. big mistake if he does not, trump tweeted in 2013. obama has unable to and scrapped plans to strike syria when arab countries also participated. perhaps this is also classic trump, championing the element of surprise. le. >> i'm not saying i'm doing anything one way or the other. >> reporter: and obsessed with appearing strong. >> if president obama's goal had been to weaken america, he could not have done a better job. >> reporter: it's also changed the narrative playing the trump administration, the drip, drirngs drip about ties to russia and the meetings often undisclo
undisclosed, with russia. >> "out front" now with rick santorum, jen, mark and jamie, our special correspond. you were in the middle of this decision making. to bring an aip's point, the attack we saw overshadowed the ties to russia. apparently he seems to be taking on russia. do you think the reason to strike was political? >> i think there's a lot of questions we don't know the answer to. the decision should never be made politically. a number of democrats supported this action. where there is skepticism here is whether this is part of a larger plan or whether there is political motivation about changing the subject, about appearing strong as breanna touched on. we don't know that, so we need to know a lot more about what
next? are there more military strikes that are going to happen? how are we going going to change assad's calculation. >> this plays into the fact that this is a huge about-face for the. . he said he decided to act because of the suffering and dying children that we all saw, those horrific images. the president saw those images in 2013 when obama said assad crossed a red line. trump said don't attack syria, an attack that will bring nothing but trouble for the u.s. he was definite in that point of view. he was asked about whether he's allow syrian ress jeefs who escaped to the united states to stay here and here's what he said. >> i'm wondering if you would be able to look at these children in the face and tell them they cannot go to school.
>> how long have they been here? >> some of them haven't been here yet. >> i can look in their face and tell them. look, we have a country. i'll look them in the face. >> something has changed? >> he's president now. that changes you. the fact that this outrageous horrific act happened on your watch is now on your conscious. it's now part of your, you know, moral decision making as to how you're going to respond. so i think clearly, that had an impact. you look at the president's statement. it was -- it had an impact on him that this occurred under his watch and that he was now responsible for it. it wasn't somebody else. it wasn't a campaign thing. he was now responsible for making the moral determination as well as the national security determination. and i think he acted correctly. i think it was the proper response. i think two things. number one, up think all this talk about the russians are
going to have an easy timed with donald trump and there must be some deals between krump p trumped and the russians, i think that's hopefully in part put to bed. this is clearly not in russia's interest. this is clearly something donald trump considered and has taken on the russians directly in this attack. so that's important. secondly, i mean, we have a president now who has said he's going to engage and he's going to engage in an area where the united states had an agreement with the russians and the syrians. we had a u.n. resolution. they violated that resolution. we're going to engage and make them stand up to their word and if they don't, the there are glg the to be consequences. >> what he did was contrary to the america first, i will directly interfere. he just did what many on the left were frustrated that president obama did.
reintervened for a morality reason and his views have completely changed. i think that answer in the town hall was pretty incredible to hear. >> right. flippant. it was very flippant and now he's been faced with the crisis ajtd lives are on his hands as senator santorum said. he had to make a very difficult decision last night. his actions caused # people's deaths. when you're the commander in khalif, that's got to be the hardest thing to do other than sending american troops into battle knowing they're not going to return home. he has surrounded himself with the likes of james mattis, we can take comfort in this. >> no one has said it wasn't a cleanly executed exercise. country after country after country supporting what he did. republicans who criticize him constantly, john mccain among
them who are on his side. the editor of "info wars" wrote. i guess he was just another deep state neocon puppet. anne coulter, its always helps our enemies and creates more refugees. then he saw a image on tv. pretty flippant, though. anne coulter, info wars, that is gordon's base. >> one of the things we're hearing is that steve bannon, mart of that base, jim acosta reported that we're told that steve bannon did not want him to make this strike. that being said we're hearing from a senior white house official today that steve bannon is being increasingly isolated. that he is on shaky ground. first you saw the demotion from the nsc, the principle's commission. now he did not win this. and every day there is a news
story about how he and the president's son-in-law jared kushner are at odds. long-term, there's a lot of talk about a white house shakeup, but -- >> something's getting lauded for this. he feeds off that. >> yeah. >> it's worth note that his base, the info wars base and the anne koulters are on the fringe of the base of all the republicans who did support him. what he's done is take a very historic republican stance on the issue of robust military. >> will it hurt him with his base senator santorum? >> you're talking about the fringe here. this was knots the base-elected donald trump. he was elected with a lot of populace things. i think ttd question you said he was flippant was more an immigration question than it was a national security question. so remember that was the core.
there were elements that rand paul, even counter, liber tearist type republicans have sliver of truth. >> is it fair to say that that flippant comment isn't role vant? >> i think it's pretty relevant, because it's leading to the skepticism that you're seeing out there. we haven't seen a consistent world view from donald trump. we haven't seen a view of military action that's consistent. there's understandably a skeptd simple about what this means moving forward and if he has a full understanding of the sequence ep consequences of the further cost of military action and if he's actually thought about that around asked the question. when you have a flip and response like that it contributes 20 the view of the president and whether he has an understanding of the depth of the problems. >> but this was a win for him. >> we're not questioning that. >> nancy nancy, he has gotten support from everywhere. that's what donald trump wants to do. he wants to win. he wants successes.
>> he has that. he got the neal gorsuch today. does this take the wind out of the russians? >> i hope it doesn't. the fact of the matter is i don't think he did this as a diversion ear tactic but i hope the american republic doesn't decide,ee -- >> people are going to see this. >> mark, how does it not take the wind out. this is all about they're -- the russians -- he's going to be a patsy for the russians. >> look at the situation we have right now. you have the national security advisory had to step aside. the chairman of the intelligence committee had to step aside. tough the attorney general had to step aside. it shouldn't. the glare shoonltd be off it. they should try to fulfill the investigation and see where it goes. >> i'm not arguing they shouldn't fulfill the investigation. they of course should make sure that's done. the idea that there was some sna fair yus plan behind this, i think is very much ameliorated
by what we saw in the last 24 hours. >> jen? >> yes, they're involving the same country. we're talking about a country that is still actively trying to, you know, hack the government, hack people in the united states. >> really? >> they're going that around the world. there are a lot of questions we don't have answers to. we need these investigations to continue at a serious level in order to get the answers. republicans could support that. >> i couldn't agree more. the point is, to what end? nerds, we agree that the russians try to do things and disrupt. there's always this well, what was behind all this was to have somebody that's a friend of russia. that's missing. >> that tichl is not the question people should be asking. the question is not just about the 2016 leksz. it's larger that that. >> agree. >> it's what are their capacities, what are they trying to do in our country. russia is not our partner. it shouldn't be a partisan issue
at all. this is a different issue than syria. gentleman thanks to all the. the question is will raugs be behind any attack. next, the big question that many of you may have, which is why is the syrian president poison his own people with a gas? he's been bomb them with conventional wedges. why go out suddenly with sarin gas and poison them and why now? we're take you inside a briefing with the chairman of the joint cleefs of staff. (avo) did you know two areas of your brain can make it hard to lose weight? contrave is an fda-approved weight-loss medicine that may help adults who are overweight or struggle with obesity lose weight and keep it off.
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tonight, more than six years of civil war in syria, one of the most horrific attacks coming just months into president trump's term. why would the syrian president gas his own people and why at this moment? the images we're about to show you are disturbing. nick payton walsh is "out front." >> reporter: when ordinary
syrians spoke out against -- hospitals being bombed, starvation, the rise of isis and even the use of mass chemical weapons by their president, bashar al assad. at least that's what happened when this chemical attack on the idlib province prompted trump toable. the scenes are horrific, children gasping for air, twitching, likely because of a nerve agent. why would assad do this and why here? it wasn't the rebel jihadists here he hit, but women and children too. people who may have fled violence but whose lives in rebel areas he wanted gone. to terrify those who deny him into submission. chemical weapons can do that. >> explosives don't have the
same disburse sal and they're m discriminant. chemical weapons are indiscriminate and people die horrible deaths. >> reporter: the syrian people have been here before, when he used sarin crossing barack obama's red line. obama didn't bomb, but the u.n. did take away syria's chemical weapons. well, most of them. assad may have misread trump's willingness to act, but he may also benefit from this as american allies such as russia now have to stick by him. >> i don't think judging putin's character he will back away from syria, he will not come to a compromise with the trump administration. >> reporter: none of these high stakes chess games any
consolation by those whose lives were torn apart. firstly, bashar al assad, careful not to underestimate him, we should be, he has been a consummate survivor, not worrying about ramifications on the global stage, and of course donald trump as well, he has to be careful, he has lauded praise and has to be careful not -- longer term involvement that will likely be a response from assad or russia. barack obama purposely kept washington out of for eight years. and next, the head of the joint chiefs of staff, briefing senators behind closed doors today. one of those senators up next. . ...that's heard throughout the connected business world.
>> well, what we learned is there is a basis for concern about the dangers of escalation, and potentially the risk to troops in the area. the strike -- >> u.s. troops who are in syria? >> united states troops who are there. but just going by what has been disclosed publicly, not what we learned during the briefing, but there is clearly a need for a comprehensive, cohesive strategy here, because this missile strike cannot be effective unless there's a strategy for what's next, that's the question that's been asked constantly tonight and by my colleagues in the senate, where do we go from here, what are the dangers of escalation and can assad be held accountable by a president who's really done a 1180-degree turn
around. >> did he do the right thing? do you support the strike itself? >> the strike makes sense only if there's a comprehensive strategy which has been lacking so far, and that's what is unknown at this point, that's what needs to be provided and it has to be accompanied by stronger steps against the russians and i rainians awho ar the aiders and abetters here. i think there's mounting effort that the russians were come police sent in one way or another. they should be held accountable. >> how do we do this without military conflict. >> there are other steps that can be taken to make an impression on the russians, including sanctions, forcing them to recognize their responsibility to the world through organizations like the
u.n. and other means behind the scenes, but one way or the other, russia is testing us through violation of the imf treaty, through using cruise missiles and other stepsa have been taken and are on going. >> these are disturbing pictures obviously that i'm going to show you, they are children, children in agony after the attack in syria. the one on the left is a child, 2013, august when assad crossed the red line that president obama had set. the right is yesterday. do you regret that obama didn't do something in 2013 so we never had to see that picture? >> obama reached an agreement with the russians, and the russians failed to uphold their end of the agreement. >> they said they took away assad's chemical weapons.
>> that's part of what the pentagon is now investigating. as it should, there is no basis to draw final conclusions here about the russians or anyone else, but clearly the russians failed to uphold their end of the bargain. and remember, we provided every opportunity for the disposal of these weapons, we provided ships -- >> but ultimately we trusted the russians. and ultimately they didn't do it, right? isn't that the bottom line. >> and that's a lesson here not only in syria, but around the world. >> but do you think this is something serious that donald trump took on putin, who's being investigated for colluding with russia, he took on putin in week. >> part of the reason that assad felt free to use those chemical agents was that rex tillerson said that the future of assad should be up to the syrian
people. and donald trump said when he was a candidate that he would focus elsewhere on isis. and in effect implicitly gave the green light. >> senator blumenthal, appreciate your time tonight. "a.c. 360" with anderson starts now. thank you for joining us, tonight everything we wanted to know but could not possibly know this time last night when the cr cruise missiles were falling. there's late word on what was and what was not hit. there's also troubling new reporting about possible russian involvement in covering up the syrian chemical attack that triggered this. also a new look at the president, cabinet members, jared kushner and others being briefed about 9:15 last night at a makeshift situation room at mar-a-lago. wilbur ross, treasury secretary, newsom, s