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Syrian People "Crying, Begging" For U.S. Action; Bee Keeping Company Delivers Honey By Bicycle; W.H.: U.S. China Had "Positive, Productive" Meetings; Gorsuch Confirmation Could Tilt Court For Decades; Families Still Suffer From Flint Led Poison. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 8, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No sane person would welcome war or destruction or bombing to their country, to their country, to their homeland, to anywhere. No sane person would welcome that but the fact that Syrians are happy about this airstrike just speaks to the desperation of the situation for the last six years.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, Victor, I also spoke to one Syrian restaurant owner here in the states, and he pointed out, he said that it's ironic that Trump wants to do this strike and on the other hand, block Syrian refugees from coming into this country. He also went on to underscore how he believes that this is a political move. He said that Donald Trump is killing the chicken to scare the cow, in this instance the cow being North Korea, as I pointed out. A lot of mixed emotions here but from the Syrians that we've spoken to, many are simply grateful that any action has taken place.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, there is this optimism after this airstrike or this strike rather, but I wonder if now that we know that this is linked specifically to a chemical attack and it will not be linked to any other type of conventional bombing, is that optimism going to last?

CRANE: Well, that's the question here. And -- but as I pointed out, many are still clinging to that optimism that they have right now, hoping that it continues, but, of course, that's the big question mark right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes, what will the strategy be moving forward. Rachel Crane, thanks so much. Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Victor. My next guests are Syrian sisters who say the chemical attack was a torturous way to kill. And they doing what they can to help out friends and families left behind. Now, they are praising the administration for launching these strikes against the regime. I'd like to welcome Huda and Heba Saeb joining me now. And we actually do not have your sister Sibel with us. You are two of triplets, I would like to point that out. But just tell me about your reaction to the chemical attack, what you thought when you saw those pictures, and also, what went through your mind when you saw this strike happened on the Syrian base? HEBA SAEB, SYRIAN REFUGEE: So, of course, seeing this chemical attack, it's such a torturous way to kill and it's a horrific way to act on your own people. And we just want to focus on the children that went through this and are going -- and are stuck in the middle of this war. So these children, they're stuck in Syria. They're being under threat for their lives, they are being bombed, now chemical attacks. It just seems like this situation keeps escalating more and more and they have no other way out, which is why we think the administration and the United States should go further in letting these kids who are stuck in this situation and because they can't move on with their lives.

KEILAR: Oh, and certainly, I want to talk to you about that, especially you can speak to that as Syrian refugees. But Huda, I wonder, when you saw that this strike had taken place, were you surprised? What was your reaction?

HUDA SAEB, SYRIAN REFUGEE: I was surprised that the airstrike had taken place because after six years, more than six years of kind of silence from America, this is a positive step towards Syria and it's a good leadership and initiative that's happening for the Syrian people.

KEILAR: And what did you think, Heba?

HEBA SAEB: Well, we were completely surprised that something like this has ever happened. For us, any chemical attack on its people, any danger to people is something horrific and something completely no one should ever stand for. As Americans and as the ability that we have as American people to help these Syrian refugees, we -- I think that we have so much resources here, so many resources here that we can use to help Syrian children and further their education, help them, and just save these people.

KEILAR: So, you're glad, and if you can speak to something, you're certainly glad to have seen this attack, I know so many people, certainly your family members must have felt like this was a long-time coming but to your point, to your sister's point, how do you square this with President Trump's policy when it comes to refugees and what do you want to see?

HUDA SAEB: This -- the airstrike and this kind of warning towards the Syrian government, it kind of contradicts with his policy towards the Syrian refugees. You can't sympathize with the Syrian people to the point where you have an airstrike and at the same time keep them in that kind of situation because you're keeping them locked in and forcing them under these bombs and under the chemical attacks.

KEILAR: Heba, what do you think about that?

HEBA SAEB: I do agree with that. I do think that a part of helping these people, it's not just by using these chemical attacks but also and striking them as by bringing them in, helping them, bringing them into our country.

[08:34:57] KEILAR: You, Heba, I'm sure -- or tell me if you have not, have you or your parents been in touch with your family back home? What are you hearing?

HEBA SAEB: Yes, we are -- they're currently in Damascus, so they're in the safe zone for where they are, but they're all just completely shocked that something like this has happened and are hoping for the best.

KEILAR: Well, we're certainly thinking of you and your family at this time. Thank you so much. Huda and Heba Saeb, we do appreciate you joining us. And if you do want to help the people in Syria, you can go to and click on Impact Your World.

BLACKWELL: President Trump says he has an outstanding relationship with the Chinese President, but just months ago, he accused China of raping the United States. Will this camaraderie continue or are we headed for a showdown? We'll talk about that in a moment.

But first, this week starts small, think big looks at a beekeeping company that produces honey and all sorts of other bee products. Watch.


CHRISTIE ALLEN, FOUNDER AND HEAD BEEKEEPER, THE BEE'S KNEES: It really started with putting this helmet on and riding a bike that is painted like a bee. My name is Christie Allen. I am founder and head beekeeper at The Bee's Knees. We sell raw honey, meaning it's never been heated. When you heat honey really hot, you lose a lot of the flavor from the flowers.

The Bee's Knees is a small beekeeping business that does honey production, honey delivery by bicycles. We also sell T-shirts, bandanas, candles. The honey house serves hobby beekeepers. We rent out these pedal-powered honey extractors that we designed and built. The Bee's Knees is a success financially because we continue to diversify and grow. We have partnerships where you put the bees. We label it by the ZIP code and the organization. So, they're getting the benefit of the marketing tool. We get the benefit of reaching their communities with our message. Reviving the hive for healthy bees, healthy lives.

So, all I did here was drill a little hole in between the wood big enough for a bee to get through. The education program, the Camp Bees Knees, it's a really good way to build a community of beekeepers and strengthen it. As long as the bees are still around, the business will thrive.



[08:41:43] KEILAR: After a two-day summit in Florida, President Trump has nothing but good things to say about China's President. He called the meetings between the two, productive, and says that he has an outstanding relationship with President Xi. To cap it all off, President Trump made it a family affair. He brought his grandchildren, two of Ivanka's young children, to perform a song for the first couple of China, but it was not long ago when the president was singing a different tune. China was one of his favorite targets on the campaign trail where he accused the country of robbing and abusing the United States. So what can we expect for the future of the relationship between the two countries? Here's CNN International Correspondent Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you would be forgiven if you thought that this first meeting between President Xi Jinping of China and President Donald Trump of the United States would have been a bit more awkward than it seemed given what candidate Trump said frequently throughout the 2016 campaign. China, of course, was one of his most frequent targets and specifically the unfair trade practices as he put it that China engages in, again, according to Donald Trump. But this meeting, by all accounts, appears to go off without a hitch, really. It was very diplomatic.

Both sides appearing to be quite happy with the outcome of the meeting even if there were no concrete results that both sides could point to after this meeting was over. But in terms of what was talked about, we know from the White House that President Trump said that he brought up the fact that he does have concerns over the Chinese economic treatment of the United States. He told Xi Jinping that he is afraid that there's not a level playing field for American workers. Then, of course, they discussed North Korea, that being the most urgent topic shared between both countries. They agreed to work together on North Korea despite their differences in viewpoints over how best to solve the North Korean crises.

The readout from the White House basically just said that both countries agreed to work together to solve it without giving any more specifics. And the other big point out of the readout from the White House would be that both sides discussed the ongoing confrontation in the South China Sea, China, of course, aggressively building up artificial islands there, militarizing those islands, and the United States generally opposed to that. So, apparently, they did discuss that there as well. And so, those are the big three topics here, but again, the overall tone of this meeting very, very friendly.

We also were told by the South Koreans earlier today that Donald Trump actually had about a 20-minute phone call on Saturday morning local time with the acting President of South Korea, and during that phone call, President Trump said that he told President Xi during that meeting that the United States remained committed to deploying that anti-missile defense system in South Korea that has really gotten China upset over the past year or so, but President Trump apparently standing by the United States' position there moving forward.

So even though there are a lot of differences between these two countries, and even though Donald Trump frequently targeted China on the campaign trail, it does appear that this meeting was diplomatic if being totally overshadowed by those airstrikes that were launched by the United States into Syria. That certainly was the main theme over the past few days, but it does appear that this meeting between these two leaders for the first time went off without a hitch. Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing.


[08:45:02] BLACKWELL: With the Senate's confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, the court now has a justice to break any deadlocked votes. We'll take a look at what major cases his vote could play a role in. That's coming up.

KEILAR: But first, the EPA recently awarded $100 million to Flint, Michigan for water infrastructure upgrades but many families still suffer from the effects of lead poisoning. CNN's Chris Cuomo looks at how one organization is making an impact on people affected by the water crises.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Many people may have forgotten about the Flint water crises, but for families like LeeAnne Walters, her twin boys are a daily reminder of the effects of lead poisoning.

LEEANNE WALTERS, MOTHER OF THE VICTIMS: They both have hand-eye coordination issues, their speech is severely impaired, and they're being retaught all these things now.

CUOMO: Walter says people can't even tell her sons are twins anymore.

WALTERS: Gavin is not growing properly. He's 39 pounds and almost six years old.

CUOMO: But it's not just the physical and developmental effects. There's also an enormous emotional toll.

WALTERS: It clicked in their little heads, "OK, we were poisoned, or are we going to die?"

CUOMO: Kathi Horton is one of the leaders of the Flint Child Health and Development Fund. It focuses on the short and long-term needs of the city's children exposed to lead.

KATHI HORTON, FLINT CHILD HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT FUND PRESIDENT: We have committed to raising money over the next 10 to 20 years to follow these children into adulthood because sometimes it takes years for the impact of lead exposure to manifest itself.

CUOMO: The Walters family still relies on bottled water for everything, drinking, cooking, baths. Walters says they use about ten cases of water a day.

WALTERS: What's happened to my children, to the children in my community, it's taken away their innocence. That's not okay because it's not something they can get back.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:51:16] BLACKWELL: The senate's confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to become the next Supreme Court Justice could mean a conservative majority on the bench for some time. Friday's vote 54 to 45 for Gorsuch was mainly along party lines with just three democrats siding with the GOP majority, and the court operating with eight justices since Justice Antonin Scalia's death a year ago, and republicans' refusal to consider President Obama's nominee. Let's bring in now our Supreme Court Reporter, Ariane de Vogue. Ariane, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So, senate republicans as we know, we talked about it throughout the week, triggered the so-called "nuclear option" to break the democratic filibuster with just 51 votes. What's the impact moving forward as we see future nominations and the potential impact on the court?

DE VOGUE: Well, it's interesting, right, because everybody talks about the impact on the senate but it will be felt at the court. We could see, for instance, down the road less mainstream nominees. Presidents will also feel more pressure from interest groups, right? They're always pushing their cause and in the back presidents have said in past days, "Look, that person isn't confirmable." Well, that's changed now, so we'll see that.

But Victor, this one thing that I think is important to point out and it's a repercussion that seems superficial, and it's about perception but it's a big deal because the legitimacy of the court is based on this belief that justices are engaged in this good faith effort to go where the law leads them. It's not about politics. So when judges and justices see the display at the senate about the politics involved in this, they say that that's bad because people -- they accept opinions thinking they're based on the law. And if there's some sort of political component, it will make them less likely to accept them, and that's why they worry about shows like we saw last week.

BLACKWELL: So, we know that Gorsuch is a favorite of conservatives. In his speech accepting the nomination, he called the late Justice Antonin Scalia a lion of the law, and he said that he'll miss him. But how does Gorsuch line up next to Scalia? How do they compare and contrast?

DE VOGUE: Well, there's a lot we know about Neil Gorsuch, right, and there's a lot we don't know. One of the reasons he was picked is that he had this long paper trail from his time on the10th Circuit. He has ruled on religious liberty issues, separation of powers, and conservatives both like those opinions. His critics say he's been pro-corporation, although, he pushed back hard on that. But what we don't know about him is several big issues. He's never ruled directly on Roe V. Wade, or gay marriage, or the second amendment, but conservatives say that he aligns with Justice Antonin Scalia's judicial philosophy. So they feel like on those big issues, he will go in the direction that they like using that philosophy. So, that's where we think he stands. But, of course, you never know really until they start ruling. BLACKWELL: Yes, and we know that one of those big topics will be

coming to the court at some point while he's there on the bench. And what else are we expecting that then-Justice Gorsuch will have to decide upon?

DE VOGUE: Well. it's interesting because he's being sworn in on Monday, and I think by Thursday, he'll sit in his first closed-door conference, right. And there's a -- those conferences are for cases that are coming up before the court, and he could discuss a big religious liberty case, as well as a case out of North Carolina about their Voter I.D. law, and there's the second amendment case teed up that the court could consider taking having to do with the issue of concealed carry.

[08:54:58] He also will sit in two weeks and hear arguments on a religious liberty case, and Victor, one other thing, of course, and these are still percolating in the lower court, but President Trump's travel ban is at the lower court level. That could come up to the court, maybe on some kind of emergency motion, and that will put him in an unusual position. There he is, put on the bench by President Trump and he'll be having to review one of Trump's big policies so far. So, that's what we're seeing coming down the pike. The end of the term, the term goes until the end of June.

BLACKWELL: All right, swearing in on Monday. Ariane de Vogue, thanks so much.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an hour of "NEWSROOM".

KEILAR: "SMERCONISH" starts after a quick break.