tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN April 7, 2017 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
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, steve bannon, almost out
of frame behind the president. what to make of it? well, anybody's guess, but it does come on a day when there's a slew of reporting that bannon could be on his way out of the white house. as you know, the decision to strike -- have said about syria. some of it as recently as just a few day ago. was it warranted, was it wise? is it part of a larger strategy for syria and if so what is it? in short, what exactly is next? tonight we have new reporting on much of this expert analysis on all of it we have news making gue guests, including senator john mccain and we have information on that possible russian collusion. >> reporter: tonight the u.s. military is investigating whether russia was complicit in
the syrian regime's gruesome chemical weapons attack on its citizens earlier in week. whether a russian warplane dropped a come on a hospital treating victims of the attack just five hours later. a russian drone flew over the hospital site just before the bombing. the probe comes after president trump ordered a barrage of missiles on a syrian air base in retaliation for the deadly attack. the first u.s. military strike against the assad regime in the country's bloody six-year civil war. today u.n. ambassador nikki haley warned of possible further u.s. military action. >> the united states took a very measured step last night. we are prepared to do more. but we hope that will not be necessary. >> reporter: the target of the strikes was syria's sherat air
base, the pentagon says 59 of 60 tomahawk cruise missiles, severely degraded or destroyed their targets, including aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, fuel and ammunition jump dumps. there's several shelters still standing and military aircraft undamaged. u.s. missiles left the run way intact and avoided chemical weapons storage to prevent civilian casualties. the march to military action took little more than 48 hours. the planning began tuesday, the day the world saw the first images of victims, many of them children of the chemical weapons attack. on thursday before president trump sat down to dinner with
the chinese president. in the middle of night in syria, the attack began. donald trump sat through dinner alongside the chinese president as the attack was under way. then just 35 minutes later, at approximately 9:15 eastern time, the president's national security team briefed him on the mission's results. >> jim joins us now. we saw satellite images from after the strike, does it seem like the pentagon is content with the results? >> reporter: the pentagon is content with the narrow boundaries of what this attack was supposed to do. they lost one missile in the eastern med, and launched another in effect to replace that, destroyed about 20 aircraft, as you saw in those pictures, some of those hardened shelters, et cetera, but the run way is still operational.
in fact we heard reports there might have been planes tacking off in the last 24 hours. when the pentagon talked about that, they said it was not intended to destroy this base entirely for everybody, it was intended to send a message that there will be a price if assad uses chemical weapons and that definition of success, the pentagon view this is as a successful operation. >> more on this message that the white house hopes to send, jim acosta has more on that. is the white house discussing what if any the next steps may be? >> reporter: they're not telegraphing the next steps, that's by design, the president doesn't want to send a message to assad that more air strikes may or may not be coming. i talked to a senior administration official about this today. this mission that went down last night, it should not be interpreted as a wider campaign to remove assad from power, but what they are saying clearly,
and the message they were driving home again and again when we were talking to officials today, is if bashar al assad decides to use chemical weapons against his own people, he runs the risk of being attacked by the united states and they feel like that was made very clear last night. they're hoping assad does not come away from this without fully understanding the consequences of doing this again. >> jim, sit clear what the white house trump administration policy is on whether or not the u.s. still is looking for the removal of bashar al assad, which is the previous administration's policy, but last week, tillerson said it's up to the syrian people. is it clear what the policy is now? >> i think that's a clear question and i think you're going to see the secretary of state on the sunday talk shows giving his policy on this. he was saying before these air strikes were carried out is that
yes, the -- force assad from power. but what you heard today from administration officials was that this was a measured response, proportional response, you heard the secretary of state say, well, they went after this airfield that jim sciuto was just talking about, because they wanted to make it clear that this was about condemning the use of chemical weapons against a civilian population. but at the same time, they're making it very clear, anderson, at this point is that assad sort of is in charge of his own destiny, if he chooses to use chemical weapons against his own people, as i understand clearly from the administration officials, he is putting hiss own life, his own future at risk. but at the same time, i asked white house press secretary sean spicer today and other administration officials do they want assad to go. sean spicer said what they want is to see assad not use chem wl
weapons. they're going to be taking a serious look at how the syrians respond to all of this. they're making it very clear, assad is almost in charge of his own future, another slipup with chemical weapons and that might seal his fate. >> but something like barrel bombs which hthey had used wiz can kill large numbers of people, i assume that can continue at a pace without u.s. military involvement? >> reporter: i think this is where it becomes a very serious question, because you heard members of congress up on capitol hill today saying that if the president wants to go further with this, he needs to consult with congress. and we heard similar discussions during the obama administration, the question is how far can assad go in slaughtering his own people? you heard the president during his campaign talk about toppling
this regime on the ground in syria. but to go to the point of regime change, that would be another evolution on the part of this president that i don't think administration officials are indicating at this point, anderson. as we. this did not forestall a sharp reaction from moscow. there's that and potentially much larger story emerging about the investigation into russia possibly being complicit in the chemical attack. as jim mentioned, jim sciuto mentioned in his piece, the military is investigating whether russia bombed a hospital treating victims of the chemical attack to destroy evidence, you just heard from the kremlin, what did they say? >> reporter: they're categorically denying any kind of involvement in that, any kind of knowledge of any chemical weapons being used, the president spoke just a few minutes ago about this
suggestion and allegations being made by u.s. officials they could have been come police sit and the answer back is that is just not true. they're also denying any sense that the syrian military has chemical weapons, they're denying even that a chemical attack took place. they're calling on rebel held chemical munitions. it's also not the first time that the russians have shielded the syrians from criticism because of their use of chemical weapons in february. there was a security council resolution condemning the assad regime for carrying out multiple chemical attacks. that investigation because carried out by an independent chemical weapons organization. these denials i think have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
>> what has the russian reaction been to the strike? >> reporter: well, i mean, the initial reaction has been pretty furious, certainly vladimir putin through his spokes marine said there was a violation of international law, he said it was an act of aggression against the -- they're going to be putting more surface-to-air missiles in, they have also said thaw that they're going to suspend, or have suspended the air safety agreement. which me vents u.s. and russian spy planes from colliding, the russians say they're suspending it. so that's something we're looking at. it's also fair to say that the
russians a s ars are giving sig they're prepared to take this on the chin. they didn't intervene to stop these airstrikes when they could have. >> there's talk of russian war planes near the hospital where the victims were being treated last night. any information about that or any significance to that? >> reporter: yeah, it's one of russia's most modern warships. it's been deployed to this region in the eastern mediterranean before, it's being done so now again, part of it is just a rotation of russian naval vessels that provide additional protection to russian forces inside syria. but this ship has been used to bombard with its own arsenal of cruise missiles targets inside syria in the past so it could mark a possible intensification of the russian bombardment of
syria, or it might just be a sign that russia despite these missile -- 3 million syrians now live in turkey. so what's been the response by assad over this u.s. attack over the last 24 hours? >> reporter: well, so far, what we have heard, anderson, from president bashar al assad is more what you would expect to kind of define a bombastic statement, accusing the u.s. of being reckless and short sighted. but i think it will be more clear in the next few days what the real reaction is. and the real reaction i should add is unlikely to be -- syrian regime, whose army is on the brink of collapse. so it's probably fair to air
that the russians will have a very strong part in deciding how the regime of bashar al assad r reacts to this. matthew chance just said it looks like the russians may be willing to take this one on the chin, but at this stage, it is still early days, we have heard reports of air strikes taking place in idlib province, from air strikes on the ground. but certainly everyone is going to be watching very closely to see whether or not this changes the face of the battlefield, whether bashar al assad at the very least stops using chemical weapons and more optimistically starts to lower the amount of crude munitions, barrel bombs, et cetera that he uses on syrian
civilians. >> what about -- >> >> reporter: i never thought there would be a day when syrian opposition activists and rebel fighters would be referring to donald trump a name which means father of ivanka, the american, it's a kind of take on a rebel fighter. nor did i think we would see a day when syrian activists would be posting as their "avatar" on social media with the writing underneath saying we love you. clearly these are surreal and unusual times that we are witnessing. i would say that while there has been some pleasant surprise and even happiness and welcoming of these u.s. strikes, there's also pragmatism that comes with that, no one on the ground who supports the opposition believes that this is really a significant intervention and the
question i get asked over and over again is why does the u.s. community become involved when the regime uses chemical weapons to kill children and why do they not get outraged in the same way when it's barrel bombs that's killing children. the children are still dying, the war is still going on and there's no end in sight, anderson. coming up next, we'll talk to senator john mccain on the russians and what more he wants president trump to do beyond last night's operation and he does want more. what if technology
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breaking news tonight, the u.s. is probing whether russia might have been complicit in thursday's chemical attack. it's criticized presidents obama and trump alike on this. tonight he's taking a different tone. i spoke to him early this evening. >> a u.s. defense official tells cnn that there was a russian plane flying over that hospital before the attack occurred. is russia complicit in that attack?
>> they were complicit in those attacks in aleppo. that's a gross violation of the rules of war, we have to understand who vladimir putin is, what he's all about and what he will do and what he understands and what he understands is strength. and the best way to avoid further escalation is to show vladimir putin, the benefits he might accrue from doing these kinds of things are not worth the penalty he would pay. >> is it clear to you what the trump administration policy is regarding bashar al assad, the previous administration, they talked, i guess, they officially said that assad had to go. obviously there's a lot of criticism they didn't really move much in that direction. is it -- do you believe that is the current policy of the donald trump administration? because last week, the secretary of state, rex tillerson when
asked about it said it was up to the syrian people. >> i was puzzled by that because the syrian people play no role in bashar al assad remaining in power, it's the military guard and russia and hezbollah and the iranians. i think that secretary tillerson has modified that view in light of these chemical attacks and i don't mean to be cynical. but i say with respect, if a mother's child is killed, i'm not sure that the mother is concerned as how that child is killed. so i view barrel bombs and some of the other outrageous, terrible activities that are engaged in by both russians and syrians as terrible and unacceptable as well as chemical weapons, and that's maybe where there's a departure between my view and rex tillerson.
>> do you think they're going to be working on a plan or is this kind of a one off, sending a message, you crossed a line on using chemical weapons, and now things continue on as normal? >> well, it can't be a one off in my view, i know they are planning and making plans, not only in this situation, but also for ukraine, for taking what post mosul, post raqqa, they've got a lot of plans to make to make up for the last eight years, i am convinced they are working on an overall strategy, i have great confidence in this team around the president of the united states. if i would have been asked to name a team i couldn't have named a better one that the one we have got. but there are also, and you've got to know this, and i'm sure you do, there are tensions within the white house, just as there are tensions within
president trump himself. >> you talked about some tensions in the administration, the white house and within the president himself, clearly, it seems like the president changed his mind, obviously, you know, he said a lot of stuff as a civilian, it's obviously very different when you're president, but he tweeted a lot about don't go into syria, even during the campaign, said a number of things about not trying to go into syria or not wanting to get militarily involved in syria. what do you think it is that created this change? there have been some who have said, it was the images of the attacks, it was the reality of that attack, obviously there's some people, you know, who say this is political opportunity to flex american military power, there may be some politics involved here. where do you see the change? >> i think three things, it's very different being a candidate and being president. almost every incoming president
has learned that lesson one way or another. second of all, i think that he has a team around him that he respects and gives him advice and counsel, by those that picture all of us were deeply moved. >> finally to those in the united states who are concerned about getting deeply involved in syria, committing to an ongoing, you know, whether it's -- well, i guess it would be a military fight, however that would look, what do you -- what do you say to them in terms of what the end game would be, how -- who would replace bashar al assad, there are a lot of folks who think this could just be a quagmire, how do you resolve their concerns? >> i hope we pay attention to the lessons in history, we pulled everybody out of iraq, al
qaeda moved to syria, al qaeda became isis, bashar assad, there was an uprising against him, he used the most brutal of tactics in repressing it. then the iranian revolutionary guard came in, hezbollah and then later on russia and we see the con flag grags and the only 4,000 killed and the refugees destabilizing other parts of the world, including parts of europe. if you ignore the lessons of history, you know it is not in our interest eventually to sit by and see this kind of turmoil and genocide that's taking place. >> senator mccain, i appreciate talking to you as always, thank you. >> thank you. just ahead, how the world is reacting to the u.s. missile strike in syria and what to make of the policy reversal?
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breaking news, the u.s. is leaving open the possibility of more strikes on syria. nikki haley also said she hopes they're not necessary. we're learning more about how last night's missile strikes went and the damage they went. why this time when syrian civilians have been targeted with chemical weapons before, why now when the suffering of syrians under siege in aleppo didn't seem to move the needle for then-candidate donald trump when asked about it in the october debate in missouri. >> what would you do about syria and the humanitarian crisis in aleppo and i want to remind you, what your running mate said, he
said provocations by russia need to be met with american strength and that if russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the syrian government of assad, the united states of america should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the assad regime. >> okay, he and i haven't spoken and i disagree. >> that was six months ago, now candidate trump is president trump and the questions are no longer hypothetical. joining me to talk about all this is my panel. tony, you were part of the obama administration during syria's civil war, you have been praising these missile strikes saying president trump should be commended, why? >> anderson, he did the right thing, not only did we see these horrific images of syrian men, women and children who were gassed to death, but what the syrian regime did in using sarin
yet again was violate the most sacred international norms that we have had since the end of world war i, and that is using biological or chemical weapons in armed conflict. it's vitally important to the international communitya we do so, so the president was right to stand up and take action. >> gloria, it is a reversal for president trump, he had a very clear inward looking foreign polic policy--did not directly involve the u.s., does that fit? >> no. it doesn't fit. and that's what has people particularly a lot of his supporters on the right scratching their heads. hillary clinton for example praised the air strikes today. and i think that it doesn't fit in with what we thought was his isolationist strategy and so,
you know, you have rex tillerson just under a week ago, saying that the syrian people ought to decide what assad stays or goes. now there seems to be a very different message from the u.n. ambassador, and from tillerson himself. and so people are wondering why this president turned on a dime, looking at those whorrific pictures that we also saw after the attack in 2013. is he going to do more in syria? is he going to establish safe zones there? is he going to arm the rebels? or is this just a one off? >> many presidents have had ideas as they campaign or as civilians and then when they're in office and they have the responsibility, it, you know, they end up basically reversing themselves. what do you make of the shift in the trump administration.
>> you know, without question, that's true, anderson, and we spoke last night about the fact that the gravity of the things that you face and the sense of responsibility that you encounter when you sit in that chair is like nothing anyone has ever experienced other than another president. bt i think what makes it so striking in the case of donald trump and so pronounced is that he really didn't come to office with a defined philosophy, with a real ideology. one of the things that worried conservatives on the right was, they weren't really sure where he was. and what we seem to be seeing now is him trying to discover who he is, in this office and it's not just in foreign policy, you see this shake-up on his staff where more traditional corporate right republicans and some would suggest not even republicans, are ascended and steve bannon seems to be rece
receding in terms of the influence that he leverages here. >> the difficulty of course is what happens next and is there a strategy for that, is that something that's been thought out? i doesn't seem like at this stage that there is. and look, it's difficult for any administration to try to figure out what to do in syria, but just last week, rex tillerson was talking about leaving this up to the people of syria, and, you know, blaming the obama administration, and some of the earlier statements and now it's on their shoulders. >> yeah, i think there's both opportunity and peril. the opportunity is to try to use this as leverage with the syrian regime, and especially with russia, to try to move the syrian civil war to a better place. secretary tillerson is going to moscow next week and i think he should move that up and say we're going to hold you responsible for all of assad's
actions, you need to get him book to the table, you can forget any counter terrorism cooperation and you need to work with us to end this conflict. the peril and danger is there are a lot of unintended consequences that can flow from this. we want to make sure that russia doesn't make our life more difficult, for example for our pilots, in helping to defeat the islamic state. and we want to make sure that resources that were dedicated to dealing with assad also remain in place. so there's a real balance to get right here. >> it's interesting, donald trump as a citizen back in 2013 or therearound in some of these tweets, in which he was saying don't go into syria, don't attack syria. he was also indicating that president obama, that politics might be involved in this, in order to kind of overcome the embarrassment over the red line, that he was thinking of military
action. now you have democrats and others raising questions about trump's motive in this and are mo politics playing a role in this? >> i take him at his word that he was alarmed by what he saw and reacted to it. it could -- both things could be true, it could be politically strengthening for him at least in the short run for him to do what he did and he could also have felt it. i think the interesting thing is we're told well it was on instinct that he did this. and that's the way trump operates and in certain ways, that's what people bought, they were tired of deliberation, they were tired of gray areas, they wanted somebody who would would just act. it can also be very dangerous in international relations. >> david, tony, gloria, thank you. when president trump orde d ed last night's strike on sere
tomahawk missiles had been fired from two u.s. warships in syria. the missile strikes we're told was one of four options. in choosing it, he joined a long list of commanders in chief who used a military strike to punish adversarieies or to send a message. >> reporter: five years before the 2003 war against a u.s.-led coalition, saddam hussein's iraq was punished by bombing and tomahawk missile strikes, a punitive four-day campaign, ordered by president bill clinton, following iraq's refusal to comply with u.n. security council resolutions, iraq said hundreds of it's troops and civilians were killed. in 1993, two years after the
first gulf war, 23 cruise missiles were launched into downtown baghdad. george h.w. bush was visiting the country he helped liberate during the gulf war. >> should mr. hussein even dream of retaliating, we have more than enough forces to deal with it. >> reporter: punitive attacks have also been used in retaliation for murders of americans. in 1986, moammar gadhafi was said to be behind the bombing of a disco in berlin, two u.s. servicemen were killed. the u.s. military reply. >> my fellow americans, at 7:00 this evening eastern time, air and naval forces of the united states launched a strike against the headquarters, terrorist
facilities and military assets that support moammar gadhafi's subversive activities. >> two of them were injured, the smallest child, an adopted daughter was killed. >> today we have done what we had to do, if necessary, we shall do it again. >> reporter: gadhafi survived, he wasn't at the site. dozens of libyans died, as did two u.s. air force pilots. in 2008, operate infinitive reach -- after u.s. embassies in kenya and tanzania were bombed. these punitive strikes have been used by a long line of u.s. presidents. >> i said that we would act with others if possible and alone if necessary to ensure that terrorists have no sanctuary
anywhere. tonight, we have. >> reporter: gary tuchman, cnn, atlanta. new video shows some of the damage that the u.s. missile strike did to the air base. this video shows five work shoppings before the strike and here they are off the strikes, as you can see, all five structures appear to be hit. this next image shows a bunker on the barse before the attack, here it is after the strike. 20 planes were also sfrdestroyet the air base. i want to discuss this with retired general mark hurtling. general hurtling, the strikes in your experience, how effective are they? >> it depends, anderson, again, it has to do with the mission, the conduct of the mission
analysis, the target, the enemy you're going against and what you want to do in terms of a political, physical and a psychological message. if it meets the requirement of what the president, the commander in chief and his civilian authorities wants the military to do, they can be at times effective. but there have been other times where they have not been effective. air power at large can be devastating if used appropriately. it is a tool in the tool kit. it has to be used sparingly. >> the strike last night, do you see that as basically a strike to send a message, not one that has long-term military consequences for syria? >> i think it has a balance of the three, anderson, to be honest with you, there's been debate that the strike didn't do enough, it didn't crater the run way, it didn't do this or it did do that. what i would tell you is i know how the plans are made at the
pentagon, what they wanted to hit, they hit, what they didn't want to hit, they didn't hit. there's reasons for all of these things, we can't get into the minds of the joint chiefs, but there's probably more rationale for what was struck. >> i think it was a good balance of causing some destruction, but more importantly sendsing a message. 20 aircraft out of the syrian air no, sir is a big deal. their air force is atrophies, it's old, they have trouble keeping the aircraft in the air, they rely on the russians for a lot of their maintenance and support. so taking out 20 of their aircraft is a good thing. we know that the tomahawk cannot crater run ways, we know it can't do that, that's why they didn't strike the run ways. i think the general makes a very
key point there, when you do these strikes, you really don't know what the effect is going to be, you hope you judged it, but each strike is different, you have to determine how much force you're going to use, when you're going to strike, what you're going to strike, how symbolic is the target, we won't know until assad does something or does not do something. >> in terms of the cratering of the run way, i have been in combat where the kmapd ever has the make the call. and i'm sure there was some discussion, do we want to take this run way out of action for some time or do we just want to destroy the radars and the supply depots on that airfield? i'm sure this went back and forth for quite a long time. so anyone who doesn't have a background of the military
experience, can't comment one way or another what it was meant to do. if we wanted to crater that run way, we would have cratered that run way. >> why doesn't a tomahawk -- you know, you would imagine the tomahawk would blow a run way up. why doesn't it crater a run way? is it too specific -- i mean is it too kind of localized, the target? >> it's a specific kind of war head, it's 1,000 pounds and that sounds like a lot of munitions and it is, and it can penetrate a certain amount. but it doesn't have a blast capability that you need to actually crater a run way. >> the blast is not significantly large. >> not only that, but if you just put a hole in a run way, there are teams that are trained to repair those holes very quickly. every air force has that capability. because that's what the enemy does, they crater run wayings and we fix them.
there are's bombs that explode the run way going under and pushing it up. tomahawks are not build for that. if you want to put enough tomahawks on a run way, you could probably disabled it temporarily. they hit the key targets on that base to damage aircraft, workshop, maintenance, fuel, ammunition, that's what you need to hit to close down an airfield. >> do you envision the u.s. -- does it seem to you that that is the line this administration is drawing for now? >> we don't know, anderson, that's the interesting point. we have been talking and we're talking right now about the tactics of a strike. and the media and the american public have been enamored with this all day long, watching tomahawks leave tubes and after action bda, this is a tactical issue, the key question for the administration is, what is the strategy?
what is the policy? what are we going to do next? what are the people in the area expecting us to do? because we conducted a strike does not signal any of those things. do i expect more? i don't know. to be honest, i don't know. i'm not in the decision loop. these something the key civilian authorities have to do and they better be good at it. >> we have to leave it there. up next, we have talked about russia. we talked about assad. next the menace that is isis. michael hade fl jon joins us wi that. ♪ tresiba® ready ♪ tresiba® is a once-daily, long-acting insulin that lasts even longer than 24 hours. i need to shave my a1c. ♪ tresiba® ready ♪ tresiba® works like my body's insulin. releases slow and steady. providing powerful a1c reduction. i'm always on call. an insulin that fits my schedule is key.
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this has been a busy day. the u.s. military investigating possible russian complicity in this week's syrian chemical attack. the u.s. ambassador to the united nations warning of further u.s. military action in syria if necessary. she's calling on the world to seek a political solution. the syrian air base not totally destroyed. of course, there's isis. it's a daunting basket of deplorable options and difficult challenges for any administration, let alone a new and inexperienced one. joining us is michael haden. general, first, what's your reaction to the trump administration launching this strike last night? >> i thought it was quite successful. you got a really sober
assessment from mark and rick in the last segment, anderson, as to how effective operationally this was. i think the armed forces delivered to the president everything that they promised to the president. now as those folks pointed out, what's the strategic affect? frankly, i think we're actually in a point of advantage here, anderson. the equilibrium between assad and all of his friends and his opponents was actually fairly fragile. 15 months ago, assad was on the verge of losing. then the russians intervened. they re-establish eve equilibri. beyond reacting to an atrocity, what we demonstrated yesterday to assad is, we have the means to destroy his battlefield leverage. rick pointed out, he lost 20 aircraft. he doesn't have that many.
so i think this will have a real sobering affect on adventurism from the assad regime. >> is there a benefit in not -- in the regime not being clear on what u.s. policy is, on not being clear on, well, what is the red line? is it just not using chemical weapons? if i'm assad and you use barrel bombs, are they going to intervene? is the lack of clarity, is that a possible intentional benefit? >> yeah. i think so. look, it's clear to me based upon what we have been saying the last 24 hours after the attack, that it's going to take another significant provocation for us to repeat what we did last night. look, as sad as this is, anderson, we part to park the assad problem over here. just let it sit. while we then go solve what we think is the more high priority problem, which is isis. so the strike yesterday was in essence our telling assad,
settle down, you are not going anywhere. now we're going to turn our attention back to problem number one, which is the islamic state. >> i heard some politicians, particularly more republicans who want to see regime change and want much more of an activist u.s. policy in syria say, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. you can try to push assad and also fight isis at the same time. can -- if assad -- there's the concern about a power vacuum if assad is taken out of power one way or another. what role isis then plays in the country. >> yeah. that's an ideal solution. that's the one i favor. frankly, the geometry of the battlefield has changed, anderson, after the russian intervention. the a. ener the amount of energy on our part to take on assad and isis is beyond what any president could now reasonably demand of this country. that's a great sadness.
it is going to be a festering sore for a very long time. but i think, frankly, at best, we're going to have to handle this sequentially. park the assad problem. work on isis. and then go from there. >> how difficult -- the level of russian involvement in syria, it seems like it is even more complicated now than it was during the obama administration before russia got involved. having them on the ground and iran as well, it's much more three dimensional battlefield. >> exactly. again, i would have been right where senator mccain was earlier on your show three years ago, four years ago when everything was more malleable. i think the art of the possible is what we discussed. anderson, forget about the russians being there to fight isis as candidate trump said. they're there to buck up their client state. now we need them to keep their client on side while we go do
some other stuff. that's probably the topic for secretary tillerson in moscow next week. >> do you think there's an advantage in what the trump administration did last night in terms of other bad actors, north korea watching this? >> absolutely. as senator mccain did, he did this because of genuine human moral outrage. i'm glad he reinforced an international norm. but he also gets to send a political message. fra frankly, i'm not the other guy. he was sending that to us in america, our friends in the region and he was sending it to syria, russia and iran. >> appreciate your time. thank you. up next, we will bring the newest developments on everything we have been talking about, from the ground in syria and elsewhere. we'll be right back.