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U.S. Watching Syria; Russia Sends General to Syria; ISIS Losing Raqqa; Republicans Regroup After Vote Delay; Venezuelan Court Attacked; Ransomware Shuts Down Computers Worldwide. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 28, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:30:16] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. military ships and aircrafts keeping watch on Syria, waiting to see if Bashar al Assad will carry out another chemical attack. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee next hour and she issued a stern warning yesterday, not only to Assad, but also to Russia and Iran.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now, CNN's Barbara Start at the Pentagon. Also with us, CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.

Barbara, first to you. What's the situation on the ground and in the air over Syria?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're beginning to hear is that while the U.S. military is still watching very, very closely, for now it does not look like Assad has made additional moves on preparations for a chemical weapons attack. So, you know, has he paid heed to this warning? The old cliche is true, time will tell.

But, right now, U.S. - the U.S. military has everything in place, all the options ready if there was to be any indication that Assad is moving towards that chemical weapons attack, they are prepared to give President Trump all the options to carry out a U.S. strike. And it's everything you would think of. You know, ships and aircraft in the Mediterranean, aircraft on station already in the region dealing with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But what they are really doing at this point is keeping intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over that Syrian air base 24/7 to make sure that he really is pulling back and is he pulling back, not moving ahead with another chemical weapons attack.

HARLOW: And, Nic, to you. One of the president's top advisors last night on this network said Syria should not push the Trump administration. Listen to this.


SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: The president was sending a very clear message, under this administration of Donald J. Trump, red lines mean red lines.

What would you do, Erin, in his position, if the most powerful nation in the world demonstrated to you that we can see what you are doing? Wouldn't you think again about actually executing on that decision? I know I would. I wouldn't test Donald J. Trump.


HARLOW: So, Nic, what has been the international reaction of all of this in the last 24 hours?

ROBERTSON: Yes, I think the biggest international reaction we've seen is the fact that the Russian chief of general staff (ph), General Valery Gerasimov, has actually been to Syria, met with Assad at one of Russia's air bases inside Syria. And you can't underestimate the strength of the Russians sending their principle military player to Assad. And as the Kremlin said, to discuss coordination between Syrian ground forces and Russian planes in the sky. You can't underestimate that.

And when you analyze Russia's rational in all of this - and I think what Ambassador Haley said was very poignant, that this was a message for Russia as well. When Russia has reacted the most strongly about potential for international engagement in Syria, it's been over Syria/Assad's use of chemical weapons. Remember Obama's red line. That long press conference not long after between Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, right at the end Kerry opened the door to give Lavrov the opportunity to say that Russia could do something to get Assad's chemical weapons out of the country, and they did it. They went in by and large, not a complete job because Assad's not totally aligned with Russia, but the Russians were so keen to get chemical weapons off the table.

Look at the April situation, where Assad uses chemical weapons. To this day, Russia is denying that he did that. They're still calling for an international - an independent, international investigation. There's been several. It's very clear, sarin or something like it was used. Russia refused to believe that.

Why? Why does Russia get so exercised about chemical weapons? Because it knows if Assad uses them, that rapidly ratchets up the potential for bigger international engagement inside Syria. It's not just missile strikes against Assad. It's Russia's game plan in Syria is potentially broken or damaged, their strategy from the Middle East, potentially damaged or broken. They don't want to risk that.

So although we don't know what Gerasimov said to Assad, you can imagine from the Kremlin's perspective they don't want him using chemical weapons and escalating the situation.

BERMAN: All right, Nic Robertson for us, Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

We have a CNN exclusive now from inside Syria. Secret video from the de facto capitol, Raqqa. HARLOW: For years anyone caught with material like this would have

been killed by the terror group. We have more now from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what a reign of terror looks like when it's in collapse. Yes, the traffic's normal. So is the market. But you can tell, ISIS is losing here on the streets of Raqqa, the capital of their fast shrinking caliphate from one thing. It's actually pretty easy to film them in secret. Using a hidden body camera could be a death sentence for this activist. But in these besieged streets lined with sandbags, encircled by American-backed Syrian fighters, they just don't fear ISIS anymore.

[09:35:25] To even this foreign fighter, Abu Isha (ph) from Belgium is a target as he makes a front line fashion choice. And elsewhere, two Russian-speaking fighters appear to discuss air strikes.

MAN ON LEFT (through translator): We have a problem at the moment. I forgot even the radios. I said to Khalid, do you have them? I thought he returned them to the base. I said, Let's go there. But apparently they've already attacked and the battle's been going for a day already.

MAN ON RIGHT (through translator): The planes have been striking the whole day, crushing them. It hit them right on the nose. Planes have been striking, vehicles are striking, deliberately.

WALSH: Here, Abu Lukman (ph), the Egyptian, looks with his military police for a Tunisian man named Abu Mariam (ph). They don't find him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm his brother.


WALSH: The streets are covered with canopies meant to shelter ISIS fighters from prying coalition drones above. But despite the war, the market's brimming. Even the wounded hobbling around.

Under siege, why is there so much food? Well, it's shipped in from nearby regime held areas, we're told. Commerce alive and well in the caliphate. This shop even seems to offer to change dollars.

Sandbags give shelter from air strikes, but also defensive positions when street to street fighting reaches here. But some locals have already made this hostile terrain. One activist from the group Ahra Alforat (ph) telling us how he pinned night letters, death threats, to the doors of ISIS informants.

We can only get to them, he says, by leaving messages on their door like, we know who you are. This soon stops them. And some of our friends started writing the word "free" on the walls of ISIS buildings. Then locals started. The elderly writing it on walls and children on chalk boards, making ISIS wonder, who are these people. It's getting ugly for ISIS here. They've moved their prisoners out.

Top commanders have fled. Their lieutenants only drive around in low profile, normal cars. Their enemy is literally at the gate. ISIS' world vanishing fast. And this may be among the last times we glimpse into their warped way of life.

Nic Paton Walsh, CNN, Erbil, northern Iraq.


HARLOW: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for that fascinating report.

Coming up, Republicans recalibrating on health care now. One Democrats saying no more hail Marys. But will Democrats step in to help at this point, and does Republican leadership even want them to?


[09:41:59] HARLOW: A delayed vote and a mountain of challenges ahead and Senate Republicans regroup on health care. The major task for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, bridge the divide that is pretty wide between more conservative members and moderates.

BERMAN: That's of his own party, the Republicans. But what are Democrats -

HARLOW: Yes, by - by the way.

BERMAN: What are Democrats going to do about this, other than just fight? Joining us right now, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell.

Thank you so much for being with us, senator.

Do you think this is dead? Do you think the Republican health care bill is dead?

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: No, I don't. I think that as long as people are going to keep bringing up this idea of just trying to get, you know, the 50th, 51st vote and people are going to continue to talk about capitating and cutting people off of Medicaid as the centerpiece, this is something that we have to make sure that we're strongly opposed to. It's not a smart idea. It won't lower the individual market premiums. And we have to get off of this concept.

HARLOW: One of the things that you wrote, you tweeted a lot about this and talked a lot about this. You wrote, quote, "now it's time to work together. So give us an example of where you think realistically you, as a Democratic senator, and your peers, can do that and propose a change to Obamacare that the Republicans would accept. What are your proposals?

CANTWELL: Well, actually, there's some things in the Affordable Care Act that we should put pedal to the metal, we should go faster on. One of them is this concept of focusing on getting people out of nursing home care to community-based care. This is something that we saved $2 billion doing in the state of Washington. And we incented in the Affordable Care Act - a few states have taken us up on it - but if we would do that together, we would help expedite huge savings. And who doesn't want to stay in their home in the last years of their life.

BERMAN: Right.

CANTWELL: So it's a win-win situation. So that's a perfect example of huge savings people should be able to come together on.

BERMAN: What about when you're dealing with premiums? That, I think, deals a little bit in the realm of Medicaid there. What about premiums? What proposals do you have to reduce premiums, because that's been a big concern here? For instance, would you allow people to buy insurance over state lines, for instance?

CANTWELL: Well, yes. Their concept is basically cut people off or cut benefits. What I'm a little bit more in favor of is what I call the Costco model, when you buy in bulk, you get a discount. And New York has done this using the Affordable Care Act. They bundled up the individual market population above Medicaid rates and basically were successful in creating 650,000 people who are buying affordable insurance there. That's what we'd also like to push out and get other people to do as well.

HARLOW: You have vowed to fight the Republicans plan with, quote, "every tool we have." How does that jive with, it's time to work together? I mean it's one - you fight them, you fight them, you fight them, or it's the other. Which is it?

CANTWELL: Well, I'm - I believe in the information age. And I come from a state where we innovate. So the tools that I'm going to use is the court of public opinion. Information, data, statistics and better ideas. And when you can show people, like I just talked about, rebalancing off of nursing home care to community-based care, come to the floor and debate and tell me what's wrong with that idea because it saves billions and it's a win-win situation.

[09:45:26] If you want to tell me about the individual market, let's discuss this idea of the basic health plan. Tell me what's wrong with it. Let's debate that.

So when I say use every tool, you would - you know, I've gone to my state, many, many different locations, hearing from my constituents talking about this. They're probably pretty much for all these things, but they're also giving me examples. And we keep posting them. We want to have the debate.

BERMAN: Do you - you know, Senator Bernie Sanders keeps on pushing a single player plan. Warren Buffet -


BERMAN: Who could afford really any type of plan, now says he thinks that a single payer plan may be the best for the country. Would you be in favor of single payer - a single payer plan?

CANTWELL: Well, I think that we should have that flexibility and that states should pursue that and we should make sure that that is very, very available to people. I'm concerned right now that we also get a solution. And I don't know that we can get our Republican colleagues to be for that right now. So this New York plan, which is basically an option to bundle up the public and give individuals in the marketplace clout to get an affordable insurance premium, just like somebody who worked for a big employer, I think is a - I don't know if you would call it an in-between step, but it certainly is something I think we could get done today.

HARLOW: Just a quick follow on that. Where do you think - how - where can you point to that you think a single - single payer plan has worked exceptionally well? And are - just to clarify, you're saying you think a single player plan would be the best option moving forward, even though it's not politically viable right now?

CANTWELL: I'm - what I'm saying is, there is a viable option that's working in New York and we should be laser beam about it and we should focus on it. And as I said, when you think about the individual market, you want to be able to bundle people up and have them have the same clout that if they worked for a major employer that they get health insurance at a lower cost. That's what we want to do for the individual market. I think the innovation of the Affordable Care Act, I've always supported states continuing to innovate and I think that states who want to pursue that as an option, the single payer structure, and want to experiment with that, they should do it.

BERMAN: Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your time.

CANTWELL: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, the giant cyberattack hitting companies around the world. We will give you the very latest on that and tell you what businesses are doing to prepare.


[09:52:15] HARLOW: A really important story for you now out of Venezuela. A police helicopter lobs grenades and fires gunshots on the Venezuelan supreme court. So the helicopter was apparently stolen by a member of the police. And though the country's president is describing this as a terrorist attack, no one was injured. None of the grenades actually detonated.

BERMAN: Yes, President Maduro has condemned the incident as a failed coup and is vowing to hunt down the suspect.

Stefano Pozzebon has been following this story for us.

What have you learned?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, what we know so far about Caracas (ph), that the situation is extremely confusing. We know that the helicopter was able to fly for more than an hour over the center of Caracas and was able to throw up to four grenades on this supreme court building. As you said, nobody was injured, but the government is holding the opposition responsible for what he said was an attempted military coup.

The current whereabouts of the helicopter pilot are unknown and both sides, both the opposition and the government, are accusing each other of staging a coup and trying to bring an end to democracy in Venezuela and trying to escalate the tension. The situation in Caracas stays very, very confusing and very, very tense. The opposition is marching once again today. Later today they will take to the streets once again as they have done for many, many days in the last three months. And the death toll is still rising. That number's been almost 80 people have been killed so far since these latest wave of protests started on the 1st of April.

HARLOW: Stefano Pozzebon with that for us, thank you very much for the reporting.

Meantime, businesses around the world on high alert this morning after another big cyberattack. Many companies still concerned their networks may not be secure enough to resist it.

Our CNN Money editor Nina dos Santos is in London with more details.

How is this different than the attack just a few weeks ago?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: That's a great question, Poppy. Well, the attack a few weeks ago that was the WannaCry virus that was responsible for that took out 200,000 computers in 150 countries around the world, but it was shut down pretty quickly, within about 24 hours. Yes, it was devastating, but there was a kill switch that was found.

What's different with this Petya virus, as it's being dubbed here, or at least a variant of this destructive Petya virus, is that there is no kill switch. It seems to be able to sit on people's systems, lie dormant and spread in a worm-like fashion before it can be shut down. And it doesn't just take down the files and encrypt them on your computer system. It actually takes out the whole hard drive.

But what is similar to WannaCry is that a game - what we're talking about here is something that has been spread probably via attacks software updates. Cyber security experts think that originally it was sent out to companies in Ukraine. Once they downloaded that, well, it got into their system, it got into their clients' system and spread beyond the Ukraine to Russia and so on and so forth.

[09:55:12] We've seen it in Europe. Just this afternoon, the maker of Nivea face cream in Germany, Beiersdorf, said that it was still subject to attack. And we also saw companies in the United States like Pfizer that were also coming under attack this time yesterday. What is different is that the big question is, even if you pay the ransom with this one, maybe you may not be able to get access to your data and it could continue to spread.

BERMAN: All right, you've got these people now battling as best they can to beat this as quickly as they can.

Nina dos Santos, thank you so much. A new Republican scramble to pass a health care bill after delaying the vote. There are signs this morning that Republicans are trying to hammer out a new plan. We have new developments this morning. Details, next.