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tv   Wolf  CNN  February 20, 2018 10:00am-11:00am PST

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a place for mom is a free service that pairs you with a local advisor to help you sort through your options and find a perfect place. a place for mom. you know your family we know senior living. together we'll make the right choice. hello, i'm wolf blitzer. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. they attacked the world's election and by all accounts are doing it again right now. but despite all the proof that's been put out there, the president of the united states still refusing to condemn the russians. instead he's attacking many others, including his predecessor. on the move. students, many who survived the florida school shooting, are leading the charge for tougher gun laws. the question now is will congress and the president act? and breaking news in the russia investigation. the special counsel charging a lawyer linked to a former trump campaign adviser with lying.
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what this signals for the rest of the president's campaign team. all that coming up. but up first, president trump attacks former president barack obama over russia election meddling while the president has yet to confront russia or condemn vladimir putin. the president pointed fingers at the obama administration, tweeting this. i have been much tougher on russia than obama. just look at the facts. in an earlier post he tweeted, quote, obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election so why didn't he do something about russian meddling, closed quote. in fact, president obama personally warned putin against interfering with the election, posed sanctions on russian individuals and entities, expelled 35 russian diplomats and closed two russian diplomatic compounds here in the united states. on the other hand, trump refuses to condemn russian interference and has not imposed sanctions overwhelmingly approved by the house and the senate.
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signed into law by the president himself. let's bring in our white house reporter kaitlyn collins. she's over at the white house. kaitlyn, so what's behind the president's latest refusal to call out russia and instead condemn his predecessor, president obama? >> reporter: well, wolf, the president says he's been much tougher on russia than obama never was, but that's just simply not the case here, because for well over a year here that trump has been in office he has repeatedly dogged russian interference in the election calling it phony, a witch hunt, fake news, a hoax. there are those things. then he's also given weight to these denials by vladimir putin that russia meddle ld d in the e house as well. they said they are not going to telegraph what the president's moves would be to punish russia, but why won't they condemn what we saw in that stunning indictment by the special counsel on friday? to answer your question there,
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wolf, the president believes any admission that russia did interfere in the 2016 election, they are simply undermining his win, his legitimacy in the fact that he is president now. >> kaitlyn collins at the white house, thanks very much. we're also following another important development on the russia investigation here in washington. the special counsel robert mueller is charging a lawyer named alex vanderszmedt over lying about rick gates' dealings in 2016. our correspondent jessica schneider is here outside the courthouse. jessica, what is this lawyer now accused of doing? >> reporter: quite simply, wolf, alex vanderschwann is accused of lying about his communications with rick gates who was a former
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chairman of the trump campaign. but rather than the charges themselves, it might be who alex vanderschwann is and what he might know. he was at the prominent law firm skaten and arps in 2016. they've been cooperating with lawyers. at the time he was terminated from his law firm, he actually married into a prominent russian family. he married the daughter of herman khan. herman khan is a very prominent businessman in russia. he was recently named to the top oligarch list. he's a billionaire in russia and he's also a co-founder of alpha group, so that's significant as well. in addition, back in 2012, alex vanderschwann actually authored a report. this report was used by allies of the pro-russian ukranian president to justify jailing one of their political rivals. so we know vanderschwann has
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this connection with paul manafort and rick gates. paul manafort and rick gates, in their indictment issued back in late october, that all relates to their lobbying work in the pro-government as well as money laundering charges. the interesting thing here, could these charges against alex vanderschwann and his appearance in just about an hour and a half in district court, could that contribute to the support and could this put pressure on paul manafort since this might be another person in his orbit who might potentially be willing to work with the special counsel? when it comes to rick gates, he's been in talks, plea negotiations with the special counsel's office for at least a month now. he could well be close to a plea deal. so wolf, the name alex vanderschwann seems to have come out of nowhere. he may be a bit player, but he could also offer some crucial information, perhaps, to the
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special counsel. we will see him in court today at 2:30. he is expected to plead guilty. wolf? >> we'll follow that together with you, jessica. thank you. jessica schneider at the federal courthouse here in washington. cnn has also learned that the special counsel robert mueller is interested in the president's adviser and son-in-law jared kushner is expanding beyond just his russian contacts. the investigation now includes kushner's efforts to secure financing for his company from various foreign investors during the presidential transition. mueller's investigators have been asking questions about kushner's attempts to find financing for a huge new york city real estate property that was having serious financial troubles. kushner was a lead contact to foreign governments during the trump transition and now he's a senior adviser to the president. let's get some perspective on all these late-breaking russian developments. joining us amanda carpenter is
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with us. they are charging a major law firm for lying to investigators. alex vanderschwann is expected to plead guilty later this afternoon. that's sending a very strong signal. >> it is. mueller is sending a strong signal. don't lie to him and don't try to defraud the government of the united states, period. it doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what law firm you might have worked for, and he no longer is with skat and archbishop arps. he's saying if you lie to me, i'm going to call you out on it, and jessica says, yes, this can also aid him into his investigation into rick gates and to paul manafort, obviously,
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but first and foremost, i think this sends a very strong signal to anybody going before the special counsel. >> april, it does send a very strong signal, especially to paul manafort who is pleading not guilty. so far rick gates is expected to plead guilty, cop a plea, flip and cooperate with investigators. the pressure is on manafort to do the same. mueller's hope is if he does, others could be implicated. >> when you do a plea bargain, it's to get someone higher. and who is higher? the question is, what's manafort seeing when he sees this? what is he thinking? because this is now getting dairk the tentacles of this are spreading out more so. you're seeing people who are allegedly lying. this is something manafort is looking at, but now that these people are in the broader scope, they could actually flip and say
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something against manafort or someone even higher to keep themselves out of trouble. this investigation is continuing, it's not stopping, even though the president has made it clear he doesn't like it and he wants change. let me switch gears because i want you to view some live pictures we're getting in from florida. there is a whole bunch of student getting ready to board that bus headed over to tallahassee. they're protesting right now what happened last week. in florida, killed 14 students, three adults. they want action. the question is this. how far is the president? he's going to be meeting with some students tomorrow. how far is the president willing to go on tightening gun laws in the united states. >> at this point he hasn't expressed any willingness to do so. it's on the people to persuade the president. it's my hope that we don't get
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trapped on this debate. people do want change as a gun grabber or someone who hates the second amendment. republicans really have an opportunity to do some out of the box thinking that doesn't take gun rights out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, particularly when it deals with social media and giving people the tools to make threatening social media. now there are personalities saying dismiss the cries of these students. they're going through a trauma, they don't know what they're saying, they don't deserve to be listened to. i disagree with that in the strongest terms. we need to listen to the raw fear to truly confront the problems that deal with us today. >> those are survivors of that massacre last week down in florida. diane, set the scene for us. >> reporter: yeah, and right now, wolf, you guys are looking
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at jacqueline corwin. she is a junior, a 16-year-old who helped organize this trip. they are giving instructions telling students which buses they will be getting on. they are also bringing people who witnessed the massacre. this is a lot more attention than they were expecting to get in a short amount of time, but they are determined, they are ready. you can't see him, but i want you to hear from another student standing near me, 16-year-old kai korber. he will explain what their goal is and why they think this willie effect some kind of change. >> people are beginning to talk about why school shootings are what they are and why it is that they need to stop. you know -- >> do you think that a bunch of teenagers on a bus is going to actually affect this change, or do you think it's going to be kind of like it unfortunately
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has been after a lot of other shootings? what makes this one different? >> i think this one is different because we're all united together, past, present and future. we're here to secure the futures of our son's daughters and everything else that's yet to come. the promises of yesterday mean nothing because we're here today. we're all here because we need to strive for change and the legislation needs to change, because we've fallen on a lazy legislation for far too long. >> i was talking to kai wolf a little while ago, and he said before this happened, politics wasn't even under the engineer. now i'm very active in my community and i feel like that's the moets important thing st im right now. >> thank you. we're going to be on this bus for 17 hours as they try to
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affect some change. gloria, we've heard this so much in the aftermath of shootings. they don't change. are things about to change this time? >> i can't answer that, wolf. we heard after the vegas shooting that congress would do something about bump stock. that never happened. we'll see if that now happens. i think we have a president who says, well, maybe they want to look into this. his son is now proponent on the nra, so he's got that level with his father. you have john cornyn in the senate, a republican, who wants to change the background check laws. so we're going to have to see what happens. i hesitate to predict anything here because nothing happened after newtown, i mean nothing. so how can you possibly say for sure it's going to happen this time? >> i agree with you, gloria. on the federal level it will be very modest.
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on a state level in florida, it's possible they could make some significant changes. for example, in florida, if you're 18 years old, you can go buy an ar-15 style assault weapon. but you can't buy legally a can of beer. that's a problem in florida. >> wolf, this is the piece that i wanted to talk about. the fact that what we heard from this young man, he was saying he wanted to be an aerospace person. but the problem is that people don't realize, and we know this, politics is personal. it's now personal for them. these young people are concerned. they feel threatened. they feel like if i go to school, i could be in harm's way. we've seen what happened at pulse. florida has been hit. not only that we were working together at the white house when columbine happened. we watched when those kids looked like rag dogs after being shot, falling out windows trying to escape. this has been going on over and over and over, and yes, if there
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wasn't a change in newtown federally, we wonder if something has happened. but you have to remember, the major movements that happened in this nation globally, change happens with our young kids. if we are older and cynical, major movements from city rights to what's happened around the world overseas, when they were threatening to take facebook away. who was it? the young people. >> some floridians have suggested to me they're deeply concerned right now, potentially as far as tourism to florida is concerned. how much of the economy in florida, tourists coming in and relaxing in south florida and other parts of the florida. given the gun laws that currently exist in florida, people are wondering, is it worth it to go to florida or new york or other states in the northern part of the country. unless they go ahead and tighten up some of these gun restrictions.
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>> i have to tell you last week when you interviewed the florida governor, you pressed him repeatedly about why someone can purchase a rifle at the age of 18 but have to wait until they're 21 for a handgun. he couldn't articulate the reason for that. the reason is you can conceal a handg handgun, but this young man concealed a rifle, came into the school and unloaded it. for people with debates about gun policy, they have to look at the detail. these details matter and they're important. you need to be able to explain why that might exist and why it might be time to change it. along with that, you have to take a look at the ar-15. this is a highly customizable weapon. do we have to make people customize them in a way that meets federal law. you have to break down these specifics. >> and we have children who want to go to school. that's the bottom line here.
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it's the children who are afraid to go and the parents who are afraid to send them, and these are articulate young people who can describe their fear and -- and i think that the politicians have to kind of listen to that at a certain point. >> you're right, we are a reactionary society. it's not the adults that are reacting, it's these kids getting on a bus saying, we're not going to take this anymore. >> these kids are amazing. if something happens, we give these kids the credit because they really are doing an amazing job. everybody stand by. stand by, amanda and gloria. a program reminder to our viewers. the state demands action on gun violence. don't miss our cnn town hall. it's called "stand up." it will be hosted by jake tapper tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m.
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eastern. you will want to see this town hall. president obama will respond to president trump's claim that he is tougher on russia than obama was. critics say trump jr. is dangerously close to violating ethics rules. we'll talk about that. a toddler caught on video as the syria regime escalates attacks against civilians including hundreds of children. cnn takes you inside. we'll be right back.
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president trump reacting to former president obama for not blaming vladimir putin for interfering in the 2016 election. he said, quote, i have been much tougher on russia than obama, just look at the facts.
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even after robert mueller's indictments last week of 13 russians, trump argues that the indictments actually show a lack of collusion on the part of his campaign. joining us now to discuss this, tom donlin, he's a former national security adviser. when you hear the current president attack the former president, his predecessor, and insisting he has done more to go after russia than president obama did, your reaction. >> my reaction is it's the most inexplicable aspect of president trump's foreign policy, his refusal to acknowledge the acts of the russians, to criticize putin, to force sanctions. president obama did initiate, the intelligence community and the law enforcement community had tough investigations into what the russians were up to. they confronted the russians on october 7, 2016. they issued an extraordinary statement in the middle of the
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campaign that the russian administration was responsible for hacking e-mails and releasing them strategically. we then had, in december of 2016, sanctions put on russia by the obama administration. on january 6, you had another extraordinary statement. >> the president himself makes the point this is all very late. it started in 2014, according to mueller's latest indictments of these russian citizens, yet he waited until at least midway through 2016 and near the end of his presidency to take these very strong measures against the russians. >> what the indictment says, and by the way, the indictment is an extraordinary document. it's a 35-page document. >> 35 pages. >> yes. >> and what director mueller has done is what the u.s. government should be doing, which is basically to lay out the facts here for the american people. what the indictment says are the discussions within the russian government began in 2014 and 2015 and the actions took place in the 2016 election cycle.
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>> but even the democrat in the house intelligence committee said obama could have done more, but i have to tell you in 13 months president trump is in office, he really hasn't done anything. he signed into law this legislation overwhelmingly passed by the house and senate to increase sanctions on russia because of its meddling. it's now law of the land but he really hasn't implemented it. >> two things happened in the summer. congress made administration to restrict trump from making sanctions because his statement and the oddity of not criticizing the russian federation, and it did put strength and power to put sanctions against them. the russians said they were deterred and no additional sanctions were needed. we now know last week the intelligence chief of the government went forward and said they haven't been deterred, it's
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continuing and they'll continue in the elections. it is part of a broader strategic problem. we are in an actively hostile posture with the russian as cross the board and it needs to be confronted. whether it's in crimea, ukraine, here, syria, libya, interference in europe. across the board we have a very serious problem with the russians. >> i think the president's national security advisers understand that. the president is reluctant to speak out about that or didn't even mention that fear in his state of the union address before a joint session of congress. you were the national security adviser to president obama. the current national security adviser, h.r. mcmaster, he's a three-star general. he spoke at a conference in munich the other day and he basically said what the russians did and what they're doing is beyond a doubt. the president went after him publicly in a statement on twitter. president trump wrote this: general mcmaster forgot to say the results of the 2016 election
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were not impacted or changed by the russians and that the only collusion was between russia and crooked h, hillary, the dnc and the dems. when the president slaps them publicly, what goes through your mind? >> you're not going to pull the rug out from under your national security adviser who was at a prominent security meeting, what general mcmaster said now the facts are incontrovertible given what director mueller has laid out. it was not really a controversial statement that needed to be said, and it was really uncalled for. irresponsible for him, really. >> do you think he's going to be gone pretty soon? >> i don't have any idea about that. he's a very, very solid officer and national servant.
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>> but if president obama would have done that to you, if you had gone to munich and made a statement of fact, which general mcmaster did do, and then the president were to tweet or issue a statement saying, tom donlin should have said x, y and z, what would you have done? >> that wouldn't have happened. we would have had coordinated statements. this is a differenproblem with administration. there is a difference between what the national security says and what the president says. it gives a lot of uncertainty to the world because you don't know what to make of it. you don't know who really speaks for him. what is also an important challenge here, as i said, i think we have a serious challenge to our system to the west by the russians and others in the world. the president's failure to confront a really serious problem, and a big part of the problem is the president has the platform to speak about this, to talk about the challenges, to do things that could really make us
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a lot more resilient in terms of digital literacy, in terms of, i think, civic education, but in terms of reminding us what the values are. >> his aides, his national security team, all of them are anxious to do that. he's the only one reluctant to do it for whatever reason. >> they went in front of the intelligence committee last week and were asked if the president had directed them to direct this. and they said he hadn't. there hasn't even been a national security meeting on this. this is reallien ty not the way united states government should be acting and i think it's dangerous for our society. >> thank you for coming in. the white house is set to be drilled on many fronts since the school shooting as students go out to florida. we'll see what press secretary
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sarah sanders has to say today. and swimming pools, public cafes, bars and bistros even pet care services. and there's never been an easier way to get great advice. a place for mom is a free service that pairs you with a local advisor to help you sort through your options and find a perfect place. a place for mom. you know your family we know senior living. together we'll make the right choice. the morning walk until... it... wasn't. don't let type 2 diabetes get between you and your heart. even if you reach your a1c goal you are still at risk for heart attack or stroke. talk to your health care provider today about diabetic heart disease. and find out more at your heart and type 2 diabetes. make the connection.
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we're just moments away from a highly anticipated white house briefing. this is the first one in a week and sarah sanders, the white house press secretary, has a lot of questions to answer. just this time last week the white house was engulfed in major scandal. the president's lawyer claimed he personally paid $130,000 to stormy daniels, the ex-porn star who allegedly had an affair with president trump, then a prooit s -- private citizen, back in 2006. and rob porter facing domestic abuse allegations and john kelly under fire for what he knew and how he handled it. kelly was supposed to speak at that briefing last week but it was canceled when the florida school shooting happened. then just two days later the
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russian probe intensified dramatically when robert mueller indicted 13 russians on charges of trying to defy the united states. then the president goes on a twitter rant over the weekend, hitting on everything with the fbi and the probe. chris lizza is joining us right now. sarnl lot has happened since that last white house briefing. you've got five questions you would like to see answered. >> there is more than five but let's go through the top five. number one, and i think this will be number one on most people's list, is donald trump and the gun debate. over the weekend, the white house made clear that donald trump supported legislation and was up last year. john cornyn, republican from texas, chris murphy, a proponent on gun issues. how far is he willing to go?
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there is a reason we haven't had gun legislation in quite some time, so how much capital does the president want to put in? number two, rachel crooks. donald trump supposedly kissed her, groped her in the trump tower on the 23rd floor. he has denied everything. does he deny this? a lot of details in that story. next one. this is obviously a story that was huge a few weeks ago and i think remains so. this is rob porter, obviously. john kelly, the chief of staff, still has not -- it doesn't seem to me we're getting the full story timeline from john kelly about how this was handled. remember, rob porter extremely close to the president, literally handing him documents every single day. he didn't have a security clearance. why? was he fired? did he resign? we need more. donald trump tweets, we could ask this question every time in every press conference. over the weekend he suggested yet again that this is all sort
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of a hoax, collusion. he didn't say it was a hoax, he said it was barack obama's fault. like you talked about with tom donlin in the last segment, he said he didn't totally represent his interests as it relates to the 2016 election. today he's been doing even more on twitter. and the old one we always come back to, donald trump and russia. we have a 37-page charging document that alleges a widespread strategy aimed at helping to elect donald trump and not elect or hurt hillary clinton. donald trump seems to be the person in the administration who doesn't believe that. the intelligence community does, chris wray does, mike pompeo does. can sarah sanders be more definitive, and if she can't, will she undermine the subjects
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the way he does? donald trump jr., meanwhile, pulling out all the stops on a visit to india, promoting luxury apartments under the trump brand name. but his meetings there are raising ethical concerns about the links between the president and his family business. take a look. this is a live picture of buses taking the students from parkland, florida. they are going to meet state lawmakers in tallahassee to call for action on gun violence. we'll be right back. a. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats psoriasis differently. with otezla, 75% clearer skin is achievable after just 4 months, ... with reduced redness, thickness, and scaliness of plaques. and the otezla prescribing information has no requirement for routine lab monitoring. don't use if you're allergic to otezla. otezla may cause severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. tell your doctor if these occur.
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is donald trump jr. mixing business with politics? it is a question plaguing him as he heads to india.
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he is going to promote trump-branded condos but he's also set to make a policy speech later this week. nico pumar is on the scene with us. nico, what can you tell us? >> donald trump jr.'s trip is raising some serious ethical concerns. he's going to promote a trump business, but he's also giving a speech at the end of the week at a summit where india's prime minister is going to be present. it sounds like it will be about foreign policy. and that's not all, wolf. while there, trump jr. is also attending dinners with people who bought apartments in these new trump-branded properties, which raises the really troubling question. are these buyers investing in a trump-branded product to access the trump white house via the president's son? this is a country that has been suddenly deepening its ties with
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the u.s. i tried to ask that but got no answer. wolf? >> what's your reaction to this trip by donald trump jr.? >> it raises further questions about just how connected the trump administration is with the trump organization. india is the second largest location for trump businesses outside of the united states, so when the president's son, who we all know he's very close with, goes over there, gives a policy speech and also meets with people paying the business $38,000, it raises questions, are those people trying to influence him? is there an overlap between the president's business and this
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president? >> the president promised there would be no new business dealings for his trump company while he is president of the united states. they make the argument these are existing business dealings, these aren't new ones. is there anything wrong with that? >> so buildings are not new. the buildings, however, were agreements made before the presidency. now they're trying to fill the buildings. the trump organization takes a cut out of everyone who buys a condo and takes a larger cut if they buy a condo over the market price. it's been reported that many of the condos in trump's buildings are selling well above the market price in a bad market, so we have to ask, what are people paying a premium for? >> so you believe it's unethical but not necessarily illegal, right? >> correct. as a private citizen, ethics laws don't apply to don jr., and the ethics laws that apply to the executive branch don't actually apply to the president.
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so while they're problematic and unethical, they're not actually illegal. >> all right, jordan. thanks very much for that explanation. jordan libowitz helping us. horror is unfolding as we speak while children are speaking in a syria town. we have absolutely heartbreaking images. you're going to see what happened. plaque psoriasis can be relentless. your plaques are always there at the worst times.
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devastation and destruction right near syria's capital city. one of the worst days so far in
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the grueling syrian war, more than 100 dead, including many children. that's just outside of damascus. just a warning to all of our viewers, this video is disturbing. [ speaking foreign language ]
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[ child crying ] >> heartbreaking images, indeed. let's not forget hundreds of thousands of syrians have been killed in this brutal, brutal war over the past few years. let's bring in senior international correspondent ben wedeman, joining us from beirut. what can you tell us about this specific attack, as brutal as it was? >> reporter: i can tell you, wolf, the images you just showed are the sanitized version. we've been looking at videos all day long here and they are
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disturbing, to say the least. this has been going on for the last few days. the syrian government and russian warplanes bombarding seemingly indiscriminately in this area just outside of damascus. home to almost 400,000 people. before the war, 2 million people lived there. we heard from the united nations humanitarian coordinator for syria today who said that within the last 48 hours, six hospitals in that area have been struck. he said in his written statement that this nightmare in eastern ghouta must end and must end now. it appears that the syrian government and its russian allies do not intend to stop this offensive. today, according to the official syrian news agency, rockets were fired from the eastern ghouta by rebels into damascus, killing at least five civilians, wounding
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20 others. and it does appear at this point with the syrian government, with the upper hand in the war against the rebels, is pressing its advantage. many of the people we spoke to today in the eastern ghouta say they expect this, really this bombardment, this brutal bombardment is a prelude to clear the rebels out of that area right next to damascus. wolf? >> no end in sight at all to this brutal war that's been going on. ben wedeman, thank you very much for that report. as student survivors head to tallahassee, florida, to meet with lawmakers, we're getting word that 1,500 students have walked out of another school in west boca, boca raton in solidarity with parkland students. we'll update you on that development.
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plus, moments from now, sarah sander, the press secretary, getting ready to face questions on multiple fronts in her first briefing since that school shooting and the russian indictments. hey, need fast heartburn relief?
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fighting words today from u.s. ambassador to the united nations, nikki haley, she criticized the united nations saying she spends a disproportionate amount of time on the israeli/palestinian issues without any results. >> that the united nations spends an altogether disproportionate amount of time on israeli/palestinian issues. it's not that those issues are unimportant. they are certainly very important. the problem is that the u.n. has proven itself, time and again, to be a grocery biased organization when it comes to
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israel. >> despite concerns about his lack of permanent security clearances, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, swrard kushner was there with ambassador haley. kushner has been tasked with trying to broker an elusive israel/palestinian peace. that's it for me. meantime, news continues right now. hi there, i'm brooke baldwin. thavengs for being with me on this tuesday afternoon. you are watching cnn. we are standing by, waiting for the first white house briefing to begin. any moment there, white house picture pictures. myriad of questions since anyone stood at that podium. not just from left-wing activists but these students, young voices who survived the terror themselves at douglas high. moments ago students headed to