tv CNN Newsroom With Ana Cabrera CNN April 8, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
kremlin threatening serious consequences after president trump sends a warning directly to vladimir putin, blaming russia for backing syria's president who's accused of unleashing another chemical attack on civilians, the images we are about to show you are incredibly disturbing and graphic, but they are essential to understanding the horror that's bombarding eastern syria, under the leadership of bashar al assad, he says he's trying to rid his country of terrorists and end the now four year long civil war. the national security council is calling a meeting after helicopters dropped chemicals on the town of duma. an estimated 500 have symptoms of expose sure, doctors desperately try to wash the skin and hair of young children, their cries only quieted by gasps for air.
>> while cnn cannot yet independently verify these disturbing videos, we have the only western tv reporter in damascus and we will take you there live. but first, let's go to the white house, cnn's abbey phillips is there for us. this may be the first time ever trump has called out vladimir putin by name and he's also criticizing his own predecessor, barack obama.
>> reporter: he sent out several tweets about this horrific attack in syria. he called out putin, as you mentioned for the first time, really pinning the blame on russia and putin for supporting bashar al assad. here's what he wrote, there's a big price to pay, he called for opening the area for medical help and verification. but he goes on to say if president obama had kroscrossed red line in the sand this would have ended years ago. president trump is now drawing another line, he says there is going to be a price to pay, the question is a what? and this comes after the president authorized air strikes in syria against assad for a
very similar attack. now he faces the same choice. back in 2013, president trump before he was a politician, before he was president had actually criticized obama for making threats to assad, drawing a line to assad that he ended up not enforcing. here's what he wrote back in 2013 on twitter. he said again to our very foolish leader, do not attack syria, if you do many very bad things will happen. from that fight the united states gets nothing. it's an open question how far president trump is willing to go here. he tried once air strikes that were limit in the nature and assad has come back a year later and done essentially the same thing. republican leaders are warning him not to back down because if he does that may only further embolden assad and also to add to all of a this, president trump said a week ago he wanted to pull u.s. troops out of syria, some say that message may
have emboldened assad this time around giving him a sense that the united states wasn't fully committed to this fight. we're waiting to see what exactly president trump is going to do here, but there are no really great choices for him given what he has said himself in the last several days and also that assad doesn't seem to be responding for the last year. >> also of note here, this new attack on syria comes almost exactly one year after president trump launched 50 -- last time president trump said he responded with military action because the chemical attack crossed a lot of lines for him. so how might the u.s. respond this time? homeland security advisor tom bossert says nothing is off the table. >> is it possible there will be another missile attack? >> i wouldn't take anything off
the table, these are horrible photos, we're looking into this attack at this point, the state department put out a statement last night and the homeland security department have been talking all night and this morning and myself included. >> joining us now cnn political analyst josh rogan and cnn global affairs continue elise labbot. the difference between last year and now, michael bolton is now national security advisor. >> it could affect the strategy going forward, a lot of people are saying that this attack could have a direct correlation to president trump's comments earlier this week that the u.s. was going to get out of syria. john bolton has written about how the u.s. has to have a strong international presence in syria and elsewhere in the region to make sure that russia
and iran do not get a foothold. i think you might see john bolton look for some kind of strong response, i think the discussions right now, though, the immediate discussions, a small group of national security advisors meeting tomorrow will be limited to this attack. >> i went back and look, it was march 29, so a week ago thursday, president trump said he wanted u.s. troops out of syria soon, josh, republicans have said that is possible that may have triggered this attack. john mccain saying last week's signal to the world that the united states would prematurely withdraw from syria, assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children. so josh, why would assad launch an attack like this that could in turn give the u.s. a reason
to get more involved if trump was signaling he was ready to leave? >> you know, we here in the united states tend to view these actions by the assad regime in the context of what he's doing to us or in reaction to what we're doing. that's not exactly true. the assad regime, this is not the first chemical attack since last year. they've been doing chemical attacks there whole time. the assad regime has a clearly state and well executed strategy which is to commit atrocities, war crime s against any country that oppose his rule. they're taking back their territory in the most brutal and criminal way possible, including torture and detention of thousands of civilians in custody, starvation sieges, attacks on hospitals, all with russia's help. so when president trump comes out and says, it's not america's
job to handle syria, let's let others handle it. he's doing it because he wants to win the war and will continue to do it unless he's stopped or coerced to come to the negotiating table. >> a war against who, though? because it's 500,000 plus syrians who have been killed. it's his own people. >> a that's kind of my point, his mass murder of his own people is not about us, it's about him committing the worse atrocities of the modern era. people talk about the troops levels going up or down. that's one small part of the range of options that the u.s. could lead to stop this slaughter. but no one's doing anything -- there's not a high prospect that trump is going to strike syria again, what that's actually a process within the u.s. government that takes
intelligence finding, there has to be a level of confirmation that the attack happened, which trump said today is impossible because no one has access to the area. so we'll see a lot of hand wringing when both the obama and trump administration have done similar things, which is talk loudly and carry a small stick. >> trump did ultimately launch tomahawk missiles against the syrian air base last time around when this happened last year. >> since you brought that up, he launched missiles against one airstrip that was up and running the next day, he gave russia a warning and that exact air base was used to commit atrocities continually from there. president trump can do piecemeal things like i enforced the red line. but in fact what he's done is
continuing the obama administration policy which is to continue to protect american civilians. i don't see any hope that that's going to change. >> and bottom line, assad, if it is determined to be the responsibility of the syrian government, this latest chemical attack was not deterred by that last strike by the u.s. but president trump is also blaming pue ining putin for thi what options does the u.s. have when it comes to putting pressure on russia? >> i mean there's not a lot of options, seriously. obviously president trump has made a distinction between being semitough on russia for its policies in its international -- he's made a distinction between that and election meddling. when he took the strike last year, he did say this was not only about, you know, the syrian
people and a response to the government, but it was also a message to russia in terms of its support for assad. it could go after russia's support for assad. you can put more sanctions on russia, you can shame them at the united nations, but is there any action that's large enough that would make a difference against russia that president trump would be willing to support, i'm not necessarily sure, but that's something they'll be talking about tomorrow. >> josh, we have seen strong language from both the u.s. and russia, trump saying big price to pay, russia threatening most serious consequences. you seem to think that this is all a lot of talk and no real action is going to come from it? >> well, president trump said last week, let others have handle it, we're getting out of syria, a month ago standing alongside the -- i take
president trumped a his word that he believes that these are horrible atrocities and he believes it's not america's job to solve it. and that can only lead you to one conclusion is that today's bluster leads to his stance that american intervention ask not the solution to this problem is how he feels. we have seen over and over again a bunch of advisors from h.r. mcmaster, to john bolton trying to explain to the president if you want to have pro american outcomes, you have to be in the game. not troops, troops, troops. it's a red herring, there's lots of things that america can do. our greatest tool is to marshall people around the world and countries around the world who agree with us to bring their power to bear and protect civilians who are on the ground
who suffer these atrocities. president trump hasn't committed to doing any of these things, and until he does, i'm going to stick to what he has said which is he thinks america shouldn't do anything. >> i agree with my friend josh, but at the same time, i do think that when it comes to international atrocities of this nature, and you look towards last year, with the attack in syria, and i think in terms of yemen, just small things that president trump does, he is affected by these pictures on television, he is affected by children being gassed, he saw some of the, you know, humanitarian conditions in yemen and moved the saudis a little bit. i'm not saying that is a wholesale reason for him to change his policies, but i do think in a case like this, when he sees these little children in on television, i think it does cause him to act very surgical and very small, and ultimately as josh said, i don't think it
will have a long-term impact on the policy or assad's calculations, but i disagree in the sense that i do think you're going to see something surgical and pointed from this administration in response. >> thank you both. >> i don't disagree with elise either, but if we're waiting on president trump to see pictures of atrocities to prompt him to actually have a strategy, that's a sad commentary on united states foreign policy. >> that's another conversation, josh. >> it is another conversation, but i do recall after the chemical attack last year, that is what led president trump to take action. coming up, the syrians and the russians deny anything to do with this apparent chemical attacks, but most syrian leaders
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they didn't do it. the russian government says they didn't do it. a chemical attack in a town held by the syrian government. syrian officials have their own explanation that the rebels did it. that they poisoned and killed those children in such a horrific way to convince other countries to get their milita militaries involved in this civil war, fred planken is the only american reporter in damascus. >> reporter: i don't think anybody's buying that the rebels themselves were behind this. it's interesting because we were speaking about there last night and how this whole event unfolded. witnesses said that a syrian government helicopter flew over
and dropped some sort of canister and after that people started complaining of respiratory problems and many, many people died. in those images that we're seeing, there are some of those people, dozens were apparently killed. we're still not sure now how many people succumbed to this. right now the number seems to be stabilizing, with number in the 40s, with the situation stabilizing on the ground. the syrian government said they had an operation going on at that time, but they were making so much head way in that operation they didn't need any chemicals to aid their advances. they also said those chemicals were used in places that were pretty far away from the front line so it wouldn't have helped them advance either. both sides are offering different explanations. nobody's buying the explanation
that it was the rebels themselves. what's clear is that so
many times in the syrian civil war, it is the civilians that are suffering the most. >> regardless of who launched this attack, what is happening in duma today, what is being done to help these people, to get the injured out to safety? >> reporter: well, it's one of the interesting things that happened since this attack took place is that the syrian government has essentially won that district back. what's going on right now as we speak, anna, is that the rebels who were in there are being bussed out along with families to other parts of syria. the russians negotiated this deal. they say about 8,000 rebel fighters are coming out, 40,000 of their family members and also some people who the rebels themselves held as prisoners as well. they say the civilians are going to be able to stay behind and medical help will come in, but all of that, anna, is controlled
by the russians. they are by far the most powerful player inside syria. they're the ones that are going to call can shots on the ground. so right now we need to get investigative teams and medical help as this large operation to bus these rebels out continues. one thing that i want to point out, what you're seeing right now, those rebels exiting that area, that's one of the biggest victories by the assad government in this war, outside of the assad government winning back aleppo in 2016. which obviously shows how strong they are on the ground here and the way that the u.s. has been marginalized in the past couple of years and especially in the past couple months. i want to bring in nicholas
christoph, he's a columnist for the "new york times" who's written extensively about the plight of the syrian people during this awful civil war. nick, what's your reaction to what we're hearing and seeing out of syria? >> it's unconscionable of syria to use these weapons and in some sense maybe one could argue that the technology by which assad kills people, doesn't matter so much whether it's bullets or bayonets or poisoned gas. but it does breach an international norm when he goes ahead and does this and he does that because he can get away with it. and the first reports of use of poisoned gas were back in 2012 and since then the international community has not responded effectively. and so at one level, it's syria and iran and russia that bear the central responsibility and in a larger sense, i think it's all of us in the international
community who essentially averted their eyes and let this
happen time and again. >> you have written a lot about the syrian people and their daily plight. the u.n. stopped counting deaths from the syrian civil war after it topped 500,000 in 2014, who is looking out for the people, the innocent in syria? >> unfortunately, i think really nobody is. u.n. agencies and ngos are trying to help. some of the neighbors have taken in vast numbers of refugees and they deserve credit for that. but in terms of really making assad pay a price, nobody has been willing to do that. and i guess i'm concerned at this juncture that i think we may well end up striking syria with some kind of military strike. and at one level, it would be nice to see syria pay a price, i fear that it would be just
something not harnessed a larger stat testrategic goal. a one off strike doesn't have a larger strategy to it doesn't really accomplish anything. and we have the inverse of what we had under president obama, president obama tried the diplomatic toolbox and wasn't willing to use the military toolbox. president trump is willing to use the military toolbox but not the diplomatic toolbox. >> you said last we're when president trump launched those tomahawk missiles, why do you think thats a sa as tomahawk missiles, why do you think thats a sa sad is still b. >> he's been trying to get control of eastern ghouta and he
has limited control at this point. and poisoned gas can be an effective way of forcing people to submit. and i think he saw that the price was one he was unwilling to pay, and i think that's a really unfortunate lesson the world has sent not only to syria, but to any other regime that might be thinking about this. and in a larger sense we need to be thinking about what comes next. and how it looks as if assad is fundamentally winning the war in syria, we have to think about what a post war syria is going to be like, we should be having negotiations to help resolve that, the u.s. is indispensable in that process, and possibly, military strikes could be part of that legacy. i don't see the trump administration using that in
this context. i think it would be something that would happen and be overt and incur risks of complications, risks of hitting russians, iranians, retaliation, without bringing obvious benefits. >> it is so complicated. nicholas christoph, we appreciate your expertise and knowledge of what's happening in the region. coming up, mixed messages, two white house advisors taking two very different tones on china and trade. we'll discuss in the cnn newsroom. as a control enthusiast,
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sign of what's coming next on tariffs, finding little arepriee on trump administration voices conflicting their narrative from two of the president's advisors on whether to taken threats on tariffs to china seriously or literally. >> every american understands that every day of the week, china comes into our homes, our businesses and our government agencies and the damage is on the order of about a billion dollars a day. when you add to that the trade deficit, this country is losing its strength and wealth. >> this process may turn out to be very benign, you have to take certain risks as you go in, we're making them, nothing's happened so far, we're looking at future actions, you have comment periods for the next few months on our proposals, maybe china will want to come around
and talk in ernest, so far it hasn't, i hope it does. >> steven, a couple of different postures there from this administration, who are we supposed to believe, larry kudlow or peter navarro. >> i talk to larry almost every day, he's been thrown in the middle of this. the one thing that there's complete agreement on in the trump white house among the entire economic team is that the current situation with china is completely untenable. peter navarro was exactly right there, that they were cheating, they're stealing, it's costing the american economy, we can't go forward with the american -- the question is what is the best way to achieve that? is it tariffs? is it some other -- trump can't
stand down here, he has to force china to change their behavior. and most americans agree that china both mill tarristicly and the fact that they steal 3$350 billion of our technology every year without paying for it. that can't continue. >> i hear what you're saying on china, but you argue alongside larry kudlow that tariffs are tax hikes. do you think these tariffs undo some of the good will the tax cuts brought to voters? >> the question is that cost worth it? now there's no question that if you get into a tit for tat situation with china, the one ace in the hole that america is indisputable is that china needs access our markets more than we
need access to theirs. china is going to have to start to make some real concessions with respect to the technology that they're stealing, not just technology, our drugs, our vaccines, our computer software, that's all being stolen at a record pace and also the fact that china does not allow access to american companies the kind of access that we give chinese companies to our markets. it's just not a level playing field. >> at what cost is it worth? because these tariffs on soybeans and pork, we know they're already hitting donald trump and the u.s. minnesota has millions at stake as china targets soybean exports. how do you argue to voters seeing their profits shrink or their livelihoods at risk but
these tariffs could pay off? >> the point i would make is that if we don't stop china right now, i mean like tomorrow, with their, you know, increasingly aggressive behavior and behavior that is just not in america's security or economic interests, it's going to get worse not better. i just don't think donald trump can back down right now, you're right, anna, this will cause -- we have to probably reimburse the farmers, there was a story today about how the soybean farmers and the wheat farmers have access to other markets. there are many other countries who want our agricultural products. but this isn't going to be easy and it isn't going to be painless, but we have to win now, we can't back down, even the farmers, i think would agree with trump's position on this. facebook's mark zuckerberg is cramming for his two-day
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facebook ceo mark zuckerberg's moment of reckoning is now just a couple of days away, zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before congress on tuesday and wednesday. first what were the policies with cambridge analytica. >> this was a major breach of trust and i'm really sorry that this happened. we have a basic responsibility
to protect people's data and if we can't do that, then we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. so our responsibility now is to make sure that this doesn't happen again. >> now keep in mind, the 33-year-old rarely puts himself out there for interviews, facebook meantime admitted this week up to 87 million facebook users' private data may have been compromised. that is up from 50 million, now 87 million is the number. how is zuckerberg prepping for this big meeting with congress where he's going to get a lot of tough questions? >> first of all, you know, lots of test questioning. since we had that interview, since we spoke and everyone's wondering where is zuckerberg on this? he's been speaking quite a bit, he did a press conference with reporters and he took all different hard questions from reporters. we have seen sheryl sandberg
come out and talk, so you see this policy tour, this transparency tour that facebook is trying to be more transparent. this is the ceo of one of the most powerful companies in the world, and he's not been outward facing. i sensed that walking into facebook headquarters in a time of crisis, there's a somber feeling there, he almost seemed young to a degree, he was visibly nervous. as good as he is behind the scenes, he has a good reputation within the company, he hasn't been outward, he's been protected by his own filter bubble. >> you said he's young, he is 33 which i think is pretty young. >> you can sense that too. >> and he has all of this power wrapped up in something that he created that's taken on a life of its own in many ways. and now the question is, how is he going to fix it? >> i think we have seen over the
last couple of weeks, they put out a bunch of different things, they talked about more transparency when it comes to ads, when you see political ads, they'll be labelled. you see all this transparency so you can see where the data is going, those are all good steps and that's also what he's going to be able to go to congress and testify about. but the issue is we're seeing that now, and we're seeing that because there was a huge public backlash against the company in the wake of the cambridge analytica scandal, this isn't just about cambridge analytica, you have people wondering what are they looking at on the platform, are they being manipulated, are they being targeted, and this has been a year where we didn't really get answers from a front facing ceo, we got blog posts and facebook live and facebook almost seems
like a democratic institution, but they're ruling it in a way where it's not a two-way conversation about the impact of the task. so it's going to be a water shed moment with lawmakers who aren't going to go easy on him. it is a political stage, it will be polarizing, and someone said within the company, this is a maturity moment for zuckerberg. >> just this morning we heard from louisiana senator john kennedy from the senate judiciary committee. >> i don't want to hurt facebook, i don't want to regulate them half to death. but we have a problem. our promised digital utopia has mine fields in it. mr. zuckerberg has not exhausted himself being forthcoming. we had one hearing.
mr. zuckerberg september hnt hi very bright, very articulate, could talk a dog off a meat wagon, but he just didn't have any answers. the problem and the issue are both too big for facebook to fix. >> what does zuckerberg have to do to sell his proposals to congress? >> the question i asked, is facebook too powerful? what was surprising to me, is he said we do need the right kind of regulation. and having spent so many years in silicon valley, i think there was a certain hubris there, there used to be a sign that
said move fast and break things. we have seen over the last year, that there's some major implications and i think the right kind of regulation and what facebook's doing right now is trying to get ahead of what the right kind of regulation will be, we need more transparency around political i thing, earn should have this type of transparency, i think they're trying to get ahead of that now because they're pretty behind. they have shown that they don't necessarily take on problems in a pro active way, we'll see what comes out next week, but a huge moment for the company and the future of the company. >> and it sounds like it's prevention versus reaction which is going to be the key going forward. a new study shows an invention to help cigarette smokers kick the habit may now be getting high school kids addicted to nicotine. all that ahead live in the cnn newsroom.
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cigarette smoking is on the decline, but turns out high schoolers are lighting up, anyway. experts say they're picking a different poison. e-cigarettes or vaping. cnn's chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta report reports. sanjay? >> ana, look, again, there are high school fads that come and go, but this one seems to be sticking and there's a lot of concern around it. the biggest one, i think, again, is this perceived harmlessness. this idea that kids think this just isn't that bad. there ne they need to be reminded, there are heavy metals, there are concerns, this isn't water vapor. in hillford, connecticut, he's
desperately trying to snuff out a problem teachers are having all across the country. >> they'd come in here, have four, five kids at a time congregating and start to vape. >> reporter: it's a trend many parents are not even aware of. but e-cigarette use, or vaping, has grown an astonishing 900% among high school students in recent years, according to the surgeon general. in a 2016 national use tobacco survey found nearly 1.7 million high school students and 500,000 middle schoolers had used e-cigarettes in just the 30-day period before the survey was taken. in massachusetts, associate vice principal spencer christy -- >> now it's moved to students vaping in hallways, vaping in classrooms. >> in the back two desks in the corner, they had their hands kind of up like this. and there was a blue light coming from between their hands. >> reporter: the most popular item which is the juul and as you can see, it looks like a
flash drive. it's not. and then the kids can just tuck it away when they're done. so -- >> reporter: it's not just the design of these products. critics say all these flavors also entice kids to start vaping. one study out of harvard found some of the artificial flavors contain a technical linked to severe respiratory disease. >> the kids that i talk to believe that there's nothing in there that's dangerous. they don't think there's anything more than water. >> reporter: it's not water. it's called e-liquid. when heated by the coil, it changes to an aerosol. columbia university researchers using this machine found the vapor has toxic metals like chromi chromium, nickel, zinc, and lead. there's no safe level of lead. with very little regulation, people are not full aware of what they're consuming. i sat down with the fda commissioner scott gottlieb and
asked him about this phenomenon. >> we're going to be taking enforcement actions very soon to target companies that we think are marketing products in ways that they're deliberately appealing to skids. i i'm going to be having conversations with some companies trying to inspire them if i can to take more corrective actions on their own. >> reporter: don't forget, nicotine is one of the most addictive substances out there. >> i think it's the next epidemic among teenagers. also, ana, about a quarter of new eighth graders who are smoking are starting it by using e-cigarettes. so that's obviously going in the wrong direction. and another reason why there's so much attention on this. ana? >> all right, unfortunate to hear. thank you, sanjay gupta. just ahead here in the newsroom, more on our top story. the suspected chemical attacks on civilians in syria. don't go away.
by boosting your white blood cell count, which strengthens your immune system. in a key study, neulasta reduced the risk of infection from 17% to 1%, a 94% decrease. applied the day of chemo, neulasta onpro is designed to deliver neulasta the next day. neulasta is for certain cancer patients receiving strong chemotherapy. do not take neulasta if you're allergic to neulasta or neupogen (filgrastim). ruptured spleen, sometimes fatal as well as serious lung problems, allergic reactions, kidney injuries, and capillary leak syndrome have occurred. report abdominal or shoulder tip pain, trouble breathing or allergic reactions to your doctor right away. in patients with sickle cell disorders, serious, sometimes fatal crises can occur. the most common side effect is bone and muscle ache. so why go back there? if you'd rather be home, ask your doctor about neulasta onpro.
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