tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN April 8, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
thanks so much for being with me. i'm fredricka whitfield. president trump sends a rare warning to russian president vladimir putin. he will have a big price to pay after a chemical attack in war-torn syria, killing and injuring dozens of women and children. activists say syrian military helicopters dropped barrel bombs filled with toxic gas, sufficient indicati suffocating residents and sending others into convulsions. this comes one year after other chemical attacks in syria. this happened outside the capital of damascus, and we want to warn you some of the images you're about to see are graphic and they are disturbing. cnn can't independently verify these images taken from anti-government, and you can see the hospitals overwhelmed with
injured people, many just small children. president trump is not just pointing the finger at president putin but also iran and even former president barack obama. meanwhile, russia is denying the attack ever happened saying the reports of the chemical attack are a hoax. the united nations is saying these reports are alarming while lawmakers in washington are calling on trump to take action. >> it's a defining moment in his presidency because he has challenged assad in the past not to use chemical weapons. we had a warning done, a missile attack, so assad is at it again. >> last time this happened the president did a targeted attack to take out some of the facilities th facilities. that may be an option that we should consider now. >> cnn correspondent fred pleitgen is on the ground in syria. he's the only correspondent on the ground in syria.
we are getting word of a chemical attack. we want to warn our viewers of its graphic nature. what can you tell us? >> reporter: they certainly are disturbing, fredricka. all of this only happened about eight miles from where i am now in a place called douma, dhas suburb of damascus east of that city. apparently all of this happened at around 8:20 p.m. last night when, as you mentioned, helicopters of the syrian military were hovering over that place and then apparently dropped some canisters. after those canisters were dropped, the organizations of the opposition are saying that apparently then people started getting these respiratory problems and some people started dying as well. it's almost impossible right now for us to see what exactly the death toll is. it seems to be somewhere in the 40s but still the situation seems very fluid. we have those pictures, and as you noted, they are very graphic ask very disturbing to see.
it's something we always have to remind our viewers of again, but they also show what ensued after all of that took place. the syrian government as well as the russians are denying being involved in any of this. first of all, they say they didn't do it. they had no reason to do it because that area was encircled, anyway w anyway, that they were making gains on the battlefield and no reason to use chemical weapons. as you can see, you have all sides trading barbs about this making accusation. and once again like so many times we've reported, fredricka, civilians bearing the brunt of what's been going on here in syria, fredricka. >> frederick pleitgen, thank you so much in damascus. we have cnn national correspondent abby phillips with us and senior diplomatic editor rick lizza with us from the
action. abby, what's the latest? >> reporter: the president is giving assad a new nickname, calling him an animal, and the president issuing a new warning that there could be a big price to pay for assad's latest provocation in syria, using chemical weapons against the citizenry. in a series of tweets this morning, president trump issued this warning and also criticized his predecessor, barack obama. he called on assad to open the area immediately for medical help and verification, but then he said that if president obama had crossed the stated red line in the sand, the syrian disaster would have ended long ago. animal assad would have been history. all of this comes at a time when president trump had just said he wanted to pull u.s. troops out of syria, and then his national security team convened with him,
briefed him, and they came up with a new approach to syria that said they would eventually look at a path to reducing the u.s. involvement there in response to the president's comments. but now with this new latest attack, the attention is back on president trump with critics saying there is no way the united states can pull back at this moment. not only that, criticizing president obama for issuing a red line and then allowing assad to cross it is essentially where president trump is now. just a year ago, he authorized airstrikes in syria, and today he faces a prospect that assad has defied him and the international community yet again by using chemical weapons in this way. president trump's 2013 warnings against obama going into syria have popped up again because the president is now in almost exactly the same position. back in 2013, here's what he said. again, to our very foolish leader, do not attack syria. if you do, many bad things will
happen and from that fight the u.s. gets nothing. this is a tough spot the white house is in. there is no word yet on where president trump is going to go. we know that he wants to pull out, but obviously folks in the intelligence community and at the defense department think, particularly now that assad has shown he's willing to use chemical weapons over and over again, now is not the time for him to do that or to signal to assad that the united states does not have a commitment to that region, does not have a commitment to leading this coalition, fred. >> all right, abby phillip at the white house, thank you so much. in a rare jab, president trump is calling out putin by name, putting some blame on russia for that alleged attack. cnn's international diplomatic editor joins us from washington, so what is the reaction there? >> reporter: nothing yet from president putin about this from
donald trump. pushing back very hard, calling the allegations of a chemical attack in douma and syria, calling it a hoax. likening the ngo, the white helmets. they have those medical relief workers that go out on the ground in those dangerous situations in syria to try to help the injured civilians there, saying that these white helmets are essentially terrorists. but the foreign ministry goes on very clearly here and very strongly, and it seems to be positioning this particular statement towards what president trump has been saying. i'll read it for you here. it's very strongly worded. it says, we have warned of such dangerous provocations many times before. the purpose of these false conjectures which are without basis, is to shield the terrorists and the
irreconcilable radical opposition, which reject a political settlement while trying to justify possible military strikes from outside. we're hearing all the allegations about chemical strikes in syria remind him of the poisoning of the former russian spy in salisbury, england in the past month or so. he said it's saall made to look like russia, so blame russia. what we're hearing from russia is a very heavy pushback, and it sounds like a hint of concern as they're worried about what president trump might do. >> let's talk more about this now with aaron david miller. he is a cnn global affairs analyst and a former adviser to several secretaries of state. aaron, good to see you. russia is maintaining this appears to be a hoax. you've got the president of the united states who is calling out putin by name.
what is this setting the stage for? >> i think it's tempting mr. trump to want to respond in a tougher manner. the russians have threatened grave consequences at a time when we're at least on a roll in terms of adopting tougher sanctions against the russians for wanton interference in our election system. the president may well believe that a response is required. let's not forget, in april of 2017, driven largely, i think, by his desire to be the un-obama and to enforce a red line and presumably reportedly by pictures with the effects of serin gas on civilians, mr. trump took 36 hours to respond with a one-off important strike against syria and an airfield. that strike did very little to preempt or deter assad's use of these weapons. now you have a situation in
which syrian helicopters, 14 miles from damascus, presumably dropped a chemical agent, so mr. trump is having to figure out a tougher response. so the prospects of a military strike, i think, are quite real. >> interesting, because the president did win points and he won a lot of praise for that strike a year ago. now there are concerns about the president's plan to pull u.s. troops out of syria. listen. >> what happens when you leave too soon. we pulled our troops out of iraq, isis came back. >> so what do you think the president is doing right now,
weighing the right thing. >> they made the parallels to iraq. how does this president plan based on what's unfolding? >> we saw this on several other issues, both on. the president manifests during the campaign and afterwards a strong opposition to these policies. his advisers persuade him, in his own mind, begrudgingly not to react. he eventually acts. this time, i suspect, if there is a compelling argument to use, it will be, do not withdraw from syria. isis has not yet defeated, and you cannot afford to put yourself in the same position who, in mr. trump's line, did not cross the red line.
right now, fred, he really is in a conundrum. he says he wants to withdraw. you now have the use of these weapons against civilians, horrific pictures. putin is now calling his bluff by threatening grave consequences if he doesn't respond, and you heard lindsey graham and skbrjohn mccain who argued we have to respond, and i think in these circumstances we need to. >> we just learned that the national security council principals are meeting tomorrow on syria, and the meeting will be led by newly appointed national security adviser john bolton and will likely go over the options this president has. what do you suppose some of those options might be? will this be a potentially strategic and pivotal listening session for the president to take the advice of these advisers as opposed to what we have seen, taking the lead?
>> well, remember, we have a new foreign policy team in the process of formation. gone rex tillerson. gone h.r. mcmaster. arriving, mr. bolton whose instincts are very tough, particularly on iran, and the iran i ro irani role in syria. pompeo hasn't been confirmed but his intentions are equal as bad. they have to know something they don't know and they have to be in a hurry to find out. >> and defer to those who know. >> presumably, and we can't forget jim mattis who is going to offer, i think, very sound and sober advice. there has got to be not to essentially paralyze the administration, but you've got to think these things through. and without thinking before acting gets the united states into heaps of trouble if it's not careful. >> stock market sdwron bolton's first day. is this an opportunity for him as national security adviser to
set the tone, you know, essentially establish there is a new sheriff in town, so to speak? or is it likely that his appointment is an acknowledgment that he wants to please the president and do what the president has brought him on to do? >> knowing john bolton, i'm not sure i would ever look at him in a position of wanting to please anyone. but he has his own views that are extremely strong, he's in a bureaucratic maneuver and knows how to play the system. as we know, watching mr. trump for a year-plus now, his advisers have one constituency and one constituency only. the fact is if there bolton wants to be successful, he's going to have to strike that fine balance between hopefully giving the president honest and sober advice on one hand and creating some sort of functional, productive relationship with mr. trump on the other. if he doesn't do that, he's going to end up like mr.
tillerson, presumably, with a closed for the season sign on his record. that would be a shame, because presidents at least need to listen and to hear the arguments of those with sufficient experience at least to think through the consequences of their actions. >> but would that mean this is a turning point? that would be a new president trump based on pattern. >> not going to be a reset. i think i'm learning that the hard way. >> all right, aaron david miller, thanks so much. appreciate it. >> thank you. president trump is vigorously pushing back on reports that his chief of staff could soon be out the door. coming up, new details about john kelly's standing and influence with the president and why he might ultimately decide to walk away from that post. how do you win at business? stay at laquinta. where we're changing with contemporary make-overs.
welcome back. i'm fredricka whitfield. we're following new development out of syria and the aftermath of a reported chemical attack that left dozens dead. we just learned that national security council principals are meeting tomorrow on syria. the meeting will be led by newly appointed national security adviser john bolton and will likely tackle what options the president has in a meeting at the white house. we're also learning the united nations security council will also meet tomorrow in an emergency session. u.s. ambassador to the u.n. nikki haley released a statement saying this. quote, yet again there are reports of what appears to be a chemical weapons attack in syria. unfortunately chemical weapons used to injure and kill innocent syrian civilians has become an all too common occurrence. the skufecurity council has com together and demanded mediate access for first responders and
hold accountable for those involved in this atrocious attack. of course, we'll continue to follow these breaking news developments. meanwhile, a new report suggesting the president's white house chief of staff recently threatened to quit. the "washington post" quoted john kelly as saying, i'm out of here, in a fit of anger last month. a few aides saw those words as a threat to resign. another says kelly was just venting his frustration. it's the latest sign of tension between the two men. cnn has previously reported on kelly airing his frustrations and threatening to quit as he sees his influence in the west wing diminishing. well, this morning trump bashed the "washington post" in a tweet, calling it just another hit job. close aides say kelly isn't going anywhere. >> john kelly has been great to me. he is in charge. he's operating a much improved process, and every time the president and i talk and that
subject comes up, the president has nothing but good things to say about john kelly. that's what i'll say. i don't personally think this is a real story. the president trumped about it -- the president tweeted about it -- >> you're using that as a synonym for tweet now. >> political analyst and white house reporter for the "washington post" josh dossey. josh, not surprised you're not getting great reviews from your reporting. we talked about how you're able to obtain this kind of information, the sourcing -- of course, without revealing a lot of your sources, but why do you stand behind this reporting? >> reporter: of course we do. we worked on this for several weeks. we had 16 interviews with various officials in the white house, people close to the president inside and outside the bh white house. we reviewed our reporting
extensively at the white house before reporting. neither of them wanted to comment, and neither me nor my colleagues today have gotten complaint from the white house asking for question or clarification or anything wrong regarding the president's tweet. it seems to me the president has the right to make his opinion on twitter and express it, but we stand behind the reporting 100%. >> josh, when general kelly arrived at the white house, what, eight months ago or so, many said he was the one to bring some order back into the west wing. has that order been brought, and is that what his expectation was? >> he cut down on the size of meetings, close the door to the oval office, put new rules in that kind of ban people walking into the oval office talking on their cell phones. he's instilling some positive time for the president and looking deeper on issues, and really has kind of kept the
erroneous materials that were getting to the president, but the president has become chafing. they said, this will not last long. the president has lived his life away and we've seen that increasingly happen. the president has been in on major hiring positions. he's often not on phone calls anymore, he's spending less time in the oval office. making policy pronounce mts, like sending national guard troops on the fly, tweeting major announcements and kind of going it alone like he's going to do for his campaign. his successful campaign, i might add. >> so josh, your reporting to the "washington post" and cnn reporting, there have been heated discussions, if not debates and arguments between john kelly and the prisoner.
are those indicators that the chief of staff. some say for the heat swearing at times, shows that he wants to give the president good advice. others say the. what we do know is there has been a ramped-up number of fights between the chief of staff and the president, where john kelly said he may be leaving, he may be quitting. a point of that was always to be expected to some degree. you have a president who is a measu mercurial businessman. you have a chief of staff who believes in rigor and discipline
and wants it to be run in demand and order. >> is this gossip or is this meaningful? >> i would argue that the relationship between the president of the united states and the chief of staff, of course it's meaningful. it's how he runs the country. it's how policy is made. it it' >> john dosse yerks of ty of th "washington post." thank you very much. president trump threatens more tariffs on china and stocks take a nose dive. is the u.s. and china on the verge of a trade war? and what would that mean for the american economy? are you done yet?
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the financial markets are bracing for what could be another turbulent day tomorrow. the president looking to slap another billion dollars of tariffs on china. the stocks plummeted on friday and the president said it could end up in a trade war. this man came to the president's defense, larry kudlow. >> china's behavior, it's 20 years now, it's more than unfair
trading practices, it's illegal trading practices. they're stealing our intellectual property rights. china has been getting away from this for decades. and i think it's going to generate very positive results, which will grow our american economy. >> tom stire is a billionaire democratic donor calling for the impeachment of president trump. so the president believes these new tariffs will help the american economy, and you heard from kudlow, he believes it, too. do you agree? >> well, fred, i don't agree and the u.s. stock market doesn't agree, and there are no economists who agree. the fact of the matter is this is an ill-considered, reckless and dangerous move that the president has made, and of course we're within days of a trade war. >> how about give it time? >> well, the fact of the matter is, what we've seen in wars
before is that the worst wars in history have started with the people in charge assuming that they would be short, they would be easily won, and, in fact, they would result in great out co outcome. it's never happened in the past and it won't happen now, either. >> so tell me what steve mnuchin said about the attack of these terrorists. >> it's only about $25 billion of goods in a $10 trillion economy. if we can open up their $10 trillion economy to operate fairly, this is long term for these companies. whatever happens in trade, i don't expect it. >> he's speaking in terms of hypothetical, so do you buy his argument that these tariffs
could force china to buy more american products in the future and, thereby, stimulate the american economy? >> if you listen to what the president says, that we need to defend our economy, that doesn't sound like people giving in to his threats. so we can go after the country aggressively, but that country gets up on their high horse, feeling threatened and pushing that cart. so when we hear it's only a small part of the economy, you don't have to worry about it, it will certainly work, the fact of the matter is that's what people always say when they start an aggression on the assumption that the other side will see it from their point of view and back down. we're not seeing that at all. >> the president is threatening to potentially up the ante and his trade adviser was also
pushing for these tariffs today. listen. >> we want fair and reciprocal trade. we want him to stop stealing our stuff, we want him to guard intellectual property, not take it from us, and in your monologue at the beginning of this, you played a clip from the president. he said we had already lost the trade war. well, bush and obama, over the course of 16 years, basically stood by while we lost over 70,000 factories, millions of manufacturing jobs and much of our traditional manufacturing base. >> all right, guarding intellectual property. does he have a point that previous administrations didn't take a stronger stance against china to protect intellectual property of the u.s.? >> actually, he does have a point about intellectual property that i agree with. that, in fact, there is cheating on the other side. what i am saying is this is not a smart way to go about it, fred. the fact of the matter is what we're seeing is we're putting
tariffs on steel and aluminum to get back at people for taking intellectual property in technology. we are escalating a war trying to get them to back down. >> what would you suggest to carry a punishing blow? >> the fact of the matter is they do steal intellectual property directly, and they don't open up their markets. but we should be dealing with that directly and specifically where we're in the right. the fact of the matter is, what we're doing is punishing the overall chinese economy to get back specific instances that we should be dealing with directly. it's very hard to give this president credibility on this when he fights so hard for us not t move forward in clean energy and build jobs there. this is something where i believe he has an incoherent and very ill-thought-out economic policy from start to finish, and
this is a perfect example of why he is seeing an actual problem and responding in a very reckless and dangerous way and one that will not address the problem directly. >> you agree with the problem, just not the solution. tom stire, thank you so much. >> thank you for having me. >> we'll be right back. if you've been diagnosed with cancer,
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that data firm, the amount may be higher than initially thought and the data may be stored in russia. >> i think that there is a genuine -- you know, a genuine risk that this data has been accessed by quite a few people and it could be stored in various parts of the world, including russia, given the fact that the professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forth between the u.k. and russia. >> cnn's senior tech correspondent lori seagull joins me now. what should we learn from zuckerberg this week? >> i've been to facebook many times. they used to have signs up that said move things and break things. over the last year, things have been broken. you've seen russian influence. we wonder what happens to our data and our privacy. you saw the number go up in the
cambridge political scandal, and zuckerberg saying it could be as high as 190 million. people asking, can we even trust the platform? i actually sat down with mark a couple weeks ago and i asked him the fundamental question of, can users trust their data? this is what he said. >> this was a major, major breach of trust and i'm really sorry this happened. we have a basic responsibility to protect people's data. if we can't do that, we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. so our responsibility now is to make sure this doesn't happen again. >> you know, for so long we didn't hear from mark zuckerberg. even in the last year we didn't hear from carol sandberg taking tough questions from journalists. it's going to be interesting to watch the stage set in this very public setting, watching him answer questions about impact. is the u.s. data capitalizing on
it? is it fundamentally broken? and this idea -- this incredibly large platform that can zuckerberg is prepping for this conditioningly step forward that shows you don't have to be behind the scenes, you have to answer to the power of your platform, fred. >> this will be a big week indeed. i know you'll be guiding us throughout the week as wellment appreciate it. we'll be right back. can prt from delivering the color you want. so we got rid of them, and that made our paint color more durable, more fade resistant, and truer. it's a simpler paint formula, thanks to our exclusive gennex color technology.
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hi and welcome back. tonight on an all new episode of the c nrks nrnn american dynast. >> one week after jack's death, jackie begins to shape her late husband's legacy. >> jackie invites theodore white, a prominent journalist to do a piece for "life" magazine. she tells him that those thousand days were camelot. >> she spins this tale about the legend of this place known as
camelot that she believed was perfectly suited to representing the kennedy administration. the kennedys were human like the rest of us, but jackie wanted the family to be seen as epic and royal and heroic. that's what camelot did. >> two weeks later, the article is published. >> jackie oversaw every word of it. she thoroughly edited it, she annotated it and camelot continues to be the defining word for the kennedy presidency. >> joining us now is barbara perry, she's the presidential studies director. when focusing on jackie kennedy, because she is an enigma to an extent. how much did the image that jackie kennedy wanted to
project -- >> for example the lyric that jackie said to theodore wright when he came up to hiyannis, its from the play camelot, and the line is don't let it be forgot for once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment is camelot. and that was the truth of the camelot legend around the kennedys is that they were shining, they were effervescent and the presidency was indeed brief. so that part was absolute true and accurate. >> what else did jackie do both publicly and privately to shape jfk's time in the white house would be remembered? >> oh, she did so many things, first of all, the funeral itself
to the martyred president, following the lincoln funeral from 1865 when he was assassinated. so she made sure that everything that was in that funeral could be in president kennedy's funeral and people remember that to this day from television. the gravesite, i just happened to visit it last sunday. a beautiful site overlooking washington. and then -- >> and she picked that space, didn't she? i mean she walked through grounds. >> she walked the grounds, it's just down from thehe mansion in arlington scemetery so to this day you can see the eternal flame as you cross the potomac. and the point overlooking boston harbor, with the president's
sailboat in the lawn. she knew that would be a legacy. and she helped to find the john f. kennedy will -- to train educators to train undergraduates and journalists about politics as she thought her husband would have wanted. his brother bobby was also facing pressure to kind of maintain the family's political prominence, so tell me about bobby kennedy's decision to run for president in 1968 and how that story's being told. >> it was a difficult decision for him. first of all he was utterly devastated by his brother jack's assassination and the horror of it. it took him months to come out of that grief. he ran in 1964 and became a senator and worked with his
brother ted. so the now two surviving kennedy brothers -- by 1966 and '67 bobby began to turn against the war in vietnam and entered the race in 1968 as not only a peace candidate, but helping the poor, the urban poor and the rural poor of this country. >> barbara perry, thanks so much for bringing it to us in this thumbnail sketch. you don't want to miss the all new episode of "the kennedys, an american dynasty." we have more from the newsroom right after this. but what a powerful life lesson. and don't worry i have everything handled. i already spoke to our allstate agent, and i know that we have accident forgiveness.
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all right, hello again, everyone. thanks for being with me this sunday. we're following news out of syria where there are reports of a chemical attack that killed dozens and injured hundreds. national security council will likely discuss president trump's possible options for the nation. all of this while president trump is pointing the finger at president putin, iran and even former president barack obama but members of his own party are pointing the finger back at trump. saying this, qu