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UN Security Council Meets on Syria; Lawmakers Split Over Legality of Syria Strike. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 7, 2017 - 12:30   ET



[12:31:03] JOHN KING, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Live pictures here at the United Nations. That's the Japanese ambassador to the United Nation speaking at an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss the Syria crisis including President Trump's decision to launch military action last night. The Russian ambassador due to speak soon, we'll take you there live for that. Also U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley will speak. We'll take you there live for that.

In the meantime, back here in Washington, most members of Congress supporting the President's action, most members. A lot of questions about what would come next but most supporting the strikes, not all though. Tim Kaine, Democratic senator from Virginia. You might remember he was Hillary Clinton's running mate in the 2016 -- campaign. He says the president had no right to do this.


REP. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: There is no legal justification for this. Does the constitution matter? Does it matter? It says that congress needs to declare a war. And what's Donald Trump said when he was a citizen. When you say it doesn't matter, I know you're, kind of, blasting Congress. It matters. There's 1.6 million families, like mine, that have a kid in the military. It matters. You can't put people in the harms way without a political consensus.


KING: You can see it's clearly personal to Senator Kaine because of his son in the military. But this is a minority position if it's just one strike, right? It's just one strike. The Russian ambassador to United Nation speaking at the Security Council, let's listen.

VLADIMIR SAFRONKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATION (through translator): The consequences of this for regional and international stability could be extremely serious. This attack was a flagrant violation of the 2015 memorandum on preventing incidents and ensuring security during our operations in Syrian air space. And the Ministry of Defense of Russia had stopped its cooperation with Pentagon under that memorandum. Of recent times the United States administration has often talked about the need to combat international terrorism and this was just -- these justified American troops and their allies being present on Syrian territory. Although they were there without the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria and without the approval of the Security Council of the United Nations, manipulating studies -- articles of the United Nations charter beyond any criticism. The aggression by the U.S. has only facilitated the strengthening of terrorism. The attack came against Syrian armed forces infrastructure and its air force. That is against those who overall these years have been combating terrorism.

It's not difficult to imagine how much the spirits of these terrorists have been raised after the support from Washington immediately after the attack. There were massive attacks by ISIL and Anustra (ph) against -- Syrian military sights.

Once again, we repeat, and once again we repeat that the Syrian armed forces will and will continue to be the main antiterrorist institute of the Syrian-Arab Republic. Who will fight against terrorism? These illegal armed groups who have come to Syria in hundreds of thousands?

You've destroyed Syria -- Iraqi military institute -- Libyan military bases, and see what's happened? In fact, these actions contradict international decisions including the Geneva Communicate which we designed together with you and there it says. It talks about settlement while maintaining national institutions. Is that the sort of international institutions that you are supporting?

[12:35:07] The Russian Federation from the United Nations organization has stated the need to establish an international coalition to counteract terrorism, which would be on the basis of international law. And on many occasions we have sent signals to Washington of our readiness to undertake such cooperation.

As we see it, you have chosen a different path. We must recall when you take your own path that this leads to horrible tragedies for countries in the region and the people living there. Think of the consequences. Remember that you -- what you have produced in the Middle East. Think of your steps and how they have impacted on the political settlement process in Syria.

Now, today's appeal to move forward the political process, they are hypocritical after this military attack unfortunately. Now, on the stamina and Geneva tracks over recent days there has been clear progress. Now, what aims guided you when you undertook -- you undermined this progress? And the progress that was achieved does not thanks to you at all.

Now, returning to the history of chemical weapons. Now in Syria, the U.S. and the U.K. and France came up with a draft resolution. It was great in -- erroneous and it's very logic. It was based on pre- determining Damascus being guilty. But where is your principle of assuming innocence? Why don't your capitals recall this in east -- in Middle East and other regions, why do you forget the presumption of innocence in these cases?

Now, all this is taking place because Washington, London and Paris, I would -- I have spoke about this in close consultation and I say this again, what have this paranoiac idea of over throwing the legitimate government in sovereign Syria? And this was clearly shown by the non- diplomatic actions and the states -- statements made by the U.K. primer act. Mr. Rycroft, stop doing this -- putting forward these unprofessional arguments and accusations against my country.

These are not diplomatic. They are lies. Once again, I warn, don't even try to get into fights with the Arab in the Arab world. Nothing will work and nothing will be achieved. That's why you're getting annoyed. All Arab countries recall your colonial hypocrisy. Now, the Ambassador Rycroft in his statement talked about issues and I'd like to recall exactly what has happened. Now, the -- those who undertook this attack are in now way interested in an impartial investigation by the -- a competent international authority to find out exactly what took place in Khan Shaykhun.

And I will say even more you are afraid of such an investigation. You are afraid of a real genuine independent investigation. What would happen if the outcome of this investigation would contradict your anti-government paradigm? The -- You would be afraid of investigations of what took place in other places in not from Shaykhun. The permanent representative of the USA said that there is witness from the intelligence services of the USA. that the government forces used chemical weapons and we said, "Show us." Specialists will see whether this is the case or not.

[12:40:09] But we will recall the general power. I believe in this very room he talked about chemical weapons specialist were not found. Let's work either with professionals or just work with ultimatums. We're living in a very complex and multipolar world. It's difficult to live in this world. But Russia has proposed to its partners on the Security Council constructive alternative. But you have nothing to accept. There was no professional alternative. You didn't put forward any good arguments to us. And specifically our initiative was based on the appeal for specialists on a geographical basis and the OPCW fact finding mechanism and the OPCW U.N. investigation mission for chemical weapons in Syria to call that group together on our initiative, and to visit this site where this incident took place in Khan Shaykhun and the neighboring areas to conduct professional investigation.

Now, at all of Syrian parties were -- were asked to give immediate access to where the events took place. It's not irrelevant to recall that the Syrian government does not control this area of Idlib province. That there are a battle hardened groups from outside who are closely related to terrorist groups of Mosul. And they have things to hide including in the context of the chemical dossier, but you're trying to hide this again.

How is -- how -- again, as you showed in Aleppo. But when Aleppo was freed, everything became clear. It's no coincidence that the complaints against Syria of chemical weapons and there storage by extremists in special warehouses and they're being used by the army and civilians has just been ignored or it's been studied for month after month without any outcome.

The OPCW -- the fact finding mission -- does not work in a conscientious manner. They prefer to come up with statements of opposition groups, internet blogs, social networks, and a whole range of NGOs of a very doubtful reputation. And they work with information and evidence on -- from the areas of where the events took place. They don't even look at that evidence. And they want us to agree with this information? It's not even worth looking at.

Now, in our draft we also set out the need to establish a balanced, in geographical times, staffing of the investigation group. It's an important point and it has a direct relationship to the initial of impartiality and trust. So far the fact finding mission experts have been made up of group -- representatives from one country who are in the forefront of the anti-Damascus Parties.

Now, proof of the blatant double standards is the ignoring of the chemical attack carried out by terrorists in the Middle East as a whole. Recall the recent events in Mosul in Iraq. What is the international community's reaction? Where was your warning? First and foremost to those who are establishing this headline actions in Khan Shaykhun, are these victims of a different category, second class victims?

Why do we not see on -- in the headlines of your newspapers the tragedy in this be besieged town of Mosul. And we're talking about 100,000 of people. Therefore, this attack in Syria isn't attempted, just fact attention from the many victims amongst the peaceful population in Iraq and Syria caused by unilateral actions.

[12:45:02] And they are attacking homes and civilian targets. So humanitarian cargos make no sense. Let's recall the little girl Hawra (ph). She lived in Mosul.

You didn't say absolutely any word about this little girl who became a symbol of this tragedy. And when a coalition bomb fell on her house, everybody around her was killed. Thanks -- thank God the girl remained alive but her life was -- had to be fought for. Now her life is out of danger but she's almost blind.

We will not in this room set-up a cynical show and holdup photographs but the Mosul tragedy must be publicized. People must know about it. Nothing is said about Mosul. And we do not want when we talk about Mosul draw attention from Syria. Those who know opposition on this, we know that this is a lie.

We do not wish to draw attention of anybody from anything, particularly what terrorists are doing. We just merely want to tell you that if we are fighting terrorism, let's do it on standards where principles or any other principles -- don't try. Let me once again to argue with ourselves and Iraq. You will not get us involved in that. Look at what you are doing in Iraq and what we are doing.

The 10 nonpermanent members of the Security Council did attempt to find a compromise last evening on the consultation which we called for. They thanked the American delegation for the fact that a vote had been postponed, but there's nothing to thank them for. Our colleagues didn't even imagine that the decision was made with totally different ideas in mind. It was not with the idea of continuing constructive dialogue. Washington had already chosen to take military action which was undertaken when members of the Security Council had hardly left the U.N. building. We call upon the United States to immediately cease its aggression and to join those efforts being made for a political settlement in Syria, and to work together to combat the terrorist threat.

In that sort of cooperation, we are ready to undertake such cooperation. Today, many insulting words have been heard with regard to our rights to veto, our rights which we have used in a responsible manner. But we use it only in such circumstances when you, you try in the Security Council to impose your irresponsible geopolitical project.

The Security Council must develop agreed international decisions. But this -- these geopolitical adventures will never be supported. Thank you very much.

NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR: Thank you to the representative of the Russian federation. And now we will give to the floor to the representative of Senegal.

KING: That's Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She's chairing this meeting of the Security Council. She just listened patiently and quietly as the Russian representative, the deputy ambassador to United Nations called the Untied States military strikes in Syria last night a flagrant violation of international law.

He also criticized Ambassador Haley for what he called a cynical show holding up photographs the other day in another emergency Security Council meeting. Inside Politics back in just a minute after a quick break.


[12:53:24] KING: Welcome back. As we noted earlier, broad bipartisan support for the most part in Congress for the president's decision to launch military strikes in Syria last night. But, members of Congress in both parties also want an explanation from the president about what comes next. Here's Seth Moulton, a Democrat of Massachusetts and Iraq war veteran.


REP. SETH MOULTON (D), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: This is the simplest thing just throwing a few Tomahawk missiles. It's an important message to send and it's a fine first step, but what comes next gets a lot harder. When young Americans start losing their lives, when we start having conflicts in the air space with Russia, this is going to get a lot more complicated very quickly. And that's why we need to have a clear strategy from the president.


KING: What is the congressional role in this if this is a one off, does it just go away or that they stir for more?

KAREN TUMULTY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, the constitution as Senator Kaine noted earlier gives the Congress the power to declare war. But there's also reserve for the commander in chief everything short of war and there is a big, big difference between the two. It is a helpful exercise to go to the Congress even though every president since Nixon has said the war powers act is unconstitutional, it's a helpful exercise because it really does force a national conversation on what your goal is here and what your strategy should be for achieving it.

KING: And yet the Congress has shied away from that conversation in recent years because of the unpopularity of the end of the Iraq war, the unpopularity that Afghanistan took so long, that the deployment is so long. Congress really going to gave up on this one?

MARY KATHERINE HAM, THE FEDERALIST: Well, it's a hard thing to do and sometimes they don't like to do hard things. But look, we as a country we are always sort of a famously schizophrenic country. We are a country that is into decisive leadership and will probably support this one off strike. But it's chasing by interventionism in the past.

[12:55:06] So making the case for exactly what you want to do I think is important and increases your probability of success. Because you know what you're goals are and you have political buy and perhaps from both sides to keep it going until you reach success, whatever that looks like.

KIGN: Whatever that looks in the hawks like John McCain and Marco Rubio, and Lindsey Graham, they're already pushing for more.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it but they're also pushing to have that conversation. They're willing to have the conversation, the question is will everybody else have this conversation? You just have to pay attention to where we are right now, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq. The justification for all of those is the 2002 authorization for use of military force.

It is pure political cowardice that there has not been a debate on a new AUMF to attack or fight ISIS over the course of the last couple years. And I think candid members of Congress will acknowledge that. They don't win politically if they have that debate. But it's a debate that they are constitutionally suppose to have. It's a debate that they should have and it's a debate that frankly the country should take part of if they're going to be sending military options, U.S. troops into battle.

KING: And what's the president's perspective as I said from one take is, I'm the president, I'm the commander-in-chief, these are my decisions as long as they're short of war. The other one is, you know, if we have this conversation, you guys are buying in and that means you're sharing the political risks.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it will be interesting to see what kind of political pressure he gets behind the scenes, and how many of these people who are publicly saying you need our permission to do this. Or privately saying but we don't actually want to vote on it because there's a whole lot of that that's going to be happening. But I do think, you know, when you look at this first action, we have seen this CEO president sort of look at one thing that he could do unilaterally at a time when his other priorities have been hammed strung by having to deal with Congress.

This is a moment where he was briefed by his advisers, what was his decision, what he could act or he felt like he could do something targeted about a situation and he did it. Again, everything that comes next gets a lot harder.

KING: And what's next for me is a question. Thanks to all of you for coming on a moving (ph) part today. Little hectic in here.

A lot is still going on that United Nations session still going on. The president sitting across the table from the Chinese President. We might hear more from that meeting. Inside Politic is done for today. See you back here Monday, also Sunday morning. After a quick break, Wolf Blitzer picks up our coverage.