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CONNECT THE WORLD
Global Fallout Continues Over Alleged Chemical Attack in Syria; Russia Claims No Trace of Chemical Weapons Use in Douma; Legal Battle Over Imprisoned ISIS Fighters; John Bolton's First Day as National Security Adviser; Right-Wing Hungarian Prime Minister Wins Fourth Term. Aired 11a- 12n ET
Aired April 9, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN HOST: Welcome to show. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live in London for
you. Sitting in for Becky Anderson.
Today, we begin connecting the battlefields of Syria. Let's begin with the country and the suspected chemical weapons attack. We are tracking major
developments from around the world and the fallout from this. In the United States, Defense Secretary, James Mattis, says he isn't ruling out
action against the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime. We'll have more from our team of correspondence soon. But first let's remind you what
started all of this.
We are told the attack took place in the suburbs of Damascus on Saturday. We're about to show you graphic video that claims to show the aftermath of
that attack. You may want to turn away now. This is shot by rescuers and activists. Anti-government activists say they were hit with a toxic gas.
The Syrian government denies using chemical weapons and CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the horrific images.
We have every angle of this story covered with our team of correspondence around the world. Nic Robertson is in Moscow. Oren Liebermann is in
Jerusalem. Fred Pleitgen is in Damascus. Kaitlan Collins is at the White House and Richard Roth is standing by at the United Nations in New York for
us. So, let's get out to Moscow first for the Russian reaction. Nic Robertson is there for us. Nic, so far, the Russians are say that they
want more evidence. But instead of actually criticizing or pointing any blame at Assad for the attack, they are already calling out Israel for the
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They are. They said that Israel used two F-15 fighter jets. Flew them over -- in the early
hours of the morning. Flew them over Lebanese air space firing eight missiles at an air base known as T-4, this is an air base that Israel has
struck before where Israeli says there are Iranian military bases on that Syrian air base. According to the Russians, five of the missiles were shot
down. Three of them reach their target. That there were casualties on the ground, but the Russians say none of their soldiers were injured in that.
So, Russia is being very clear, they're saying it's Israel. The United States saying not them. Francine not them. And Israel maintaining a quiet
posture on this.
JONES: And Nic, just days ago, of course, Donald Trump was talking about pulling out of Syria. That would have left some sort of a void at least
four perhaps Russia to fill. Now it seems that the dynamic has changed very much indeed. What is the Kremlin saying about next steps?
ROBERTSON: What we're hearing is a number of different narratives. Interestingly, what we've heard from the foreign ministry is saying that
this is a hoax. That it's terrorists on the ground that they had intelligence from sources in the past few weeks indicating that these
groups on the ground might try to fabricate something. That's the thrust of what they're saying. The spokesperson for the Russian President,
Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman, who has said that it is actually too soon without a thorough investigation to be able to say
precisely what happened. However, that said coming from the Kremlin, the foreign minister himself Sergey Lavrov has today said, actually no,
Russia's had its own military experts on the ground and there was no evidence of use chlorine or other chemical weapons. This is how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Our military experts already went there as well as the representatives of the Syrian Red
Crescent who had a very high reputation among international organizations such as the UN and the international Red Cross committee. They didn't find
any traces of chlorine or other chemical substances used against civilians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: And the foreign ministry is saying that this could be used -- these claims of a chemical attack -- could be used as a pretext for strikes
by the United States. And Russian's military here has said if that happens they will hit the U.S. missiles. Hit the carriers from which they are
launched from. That this is a very dangerous situation -- Hannah.
JONES: Nic, appreciate it. Nic's in Moscow for us. Well meanwhile, let's lay out the details on something that will we mentioned just a moment ago.
Syria and Russia blaming Israel now for a deadly air strike at an air base. Syrian state television has been airing this video claiming it shows a
missile flying toward the facility. Again, CNN cannot verify the authenticity of this footage.
[11:05:01] Iranian media report that four of their country's fighters were killed during the strike. Israel has not yet responded to the accusations.
So as if the story wasn't complicated enough, then let's get out to Jerusalem and speak to Oren Liebermann who is standing by for us with more
on this. Oren, how is Israel reacting to the growing view that it could have only been an Israeli strike?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The same way as it has before. It's not uncommon for Israel not to comment on strikes or operations in Syria.
Although it's worth pointing out that the current defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, had said just a couple of weeks ago that Israel has resumed
operations in Syria. Now a former Israeli air force commander speaking as an analyst on Israeli radio said there are only two countries that have the
capability and the reason to carry out such a strike. One is the U.S. and two is Israel. For U.S. it would have been quite difficult for a number of
reasons. First, because of the distances covered, and second, because of the quick planning required to have carried out a retaliation for a
suspected use of chemical weapons. Therefore, he concluded it is almost certainly Israel. But again, there has been no comment from the prime
minister's office, the army, the ministry of foreign affairs. We've reached out to all of them. It's not uncommon that were hearing no
comment. Still the international community, Russia especially saying, look, this strike was carried out by the Israelis.
JONES: Yes, Oren, we're hearing from Iranian state television that a number of their civilians were killed in this airstrike -- or say civilians
or Iranian nationals at least. What is Israel's primary interest in Syria? Is it to keep Iran at bay?
LIEBERMANN: So, that would be the primary interest. One of the interesting comments coming from the former Air Force commander was that
the use of chemical weapons cannot go without a response. But that wouldn't have been the primary reason here. Israel has made clear its red
lines when it comes to Syria or actions in Syria. And one of those is that Israel will work to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in
Syria. As for this air base, known as the T-4 base. This is an air base that has both the Syrian military and Iranian military. Which Iran
effectively confirmed when it said -- what their news agency said, Iranian nationals have been killed at this air base.
This is also where just a couple of months ago an Iranian drone was launched and conflict patrolled from, that entered Israeli air space. This
is a base that has also been struck by Israel in the past. So, it seems that Iran's presence at the base, Iran's growing influence in Syria was the
reason for the strike. Even if the suspected use of chemical weapons was the cover for it, essentially, happening now.
JONES: Oren Liebermann live for us in Jerusalem. Thanks very much indeed.
Well let's get to the place where all of this of course happening. Our correspondent, Frederik Pleitgen is on the ground in the Syrian capital,
Damascus joins us now live. Fred, the regime there has been denying its involved in this attack. But is it still denying that the attack happened
at all, that chemical weapons were used at all?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're official line is they say that this was essentially a fabrication. They
are not outright saying that there weren't chemicals used. But they're saying that they are the ones being framed and they did not use any
chemical companies on the battle front. Now it is interesting because, of course, we were here in Damascus when this incident unfolded. It happened
at -- on Saturday at around 8:20 p.m. only a couple of miles really from where I am right now. And the opposition said that it was a Syrian
government helicopter that dropped a canister on the Douma area, which at that time was in the hand of rebel forces and that after that people
started having severe respiratory problems.
And we've see the horrifying images of people sort of struggling to breathe. Of course, we always have to remind our viewers that they are
very difficult to watch and traumatizing images really to watch. And that dozens of people then were killed, the opposition says. The Syrian
government for its part acknowledges it was prosecuting an offensive on that area at that time. But they also say that that offensive was moving
forward so quickly they had no reason to use chemical weapons. And the other thing they are saying as well, is that at that point in time the
rebel forces still had thousands of pro-government prisoners in their hands. And so, simply therefore, they say, they had no incentive to use
chemical weapons because they still had some of their own folks on the ground as well there -- Hannah.
JONES: And so, Fred, we're looking at the pictures at the moment. They are truly horrifying. If it is found that Assad or the regime is
responsible for this, does this show his complete disregard not just for human life for but also for the implications and the consequences of his
PLEITGEN: Well, I mean, if that were the case then presumably. But at this point in time, it's still very, very early in the game. However, one
of the things I think, Hannah, that we need to point out and that is quite interesting in all of this, is that there is the possibility that there
could be an investigation into this. Because one of the things that happened since this strike -- this alleged strike took place is that this
neighbor, Douma, has essentially changed hand.
[11:10:00] The rebels that were in there are being bused out and the Russian forces are moving in, as are some aid groups as well. Now the
Russians say they have operatives on the ground there are ready. They say they haven't found any traced of chemicals but there's nothing that would
stop the Russians from allowing international organizations into that area to do real testing. And wait to see whether or not that's going to happen.
The Russians have certainly themselves said that they believe that an investigation is necessary.
But right now, there is nothing that would stop them from doing that, that would certainly bring some certainty as to what exactly happened there.
Because right now the facts as you said -- as we've all said -- are still somewhat murky as to what exactly the situation was on the ground there.
Is on the ground there and certainly one that has been changing ever since this attack happened -- Hannah.
JONES: Fred, so crucial to get your reporting on this from inside of Syria. Thanks very much indeed.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well that's exactly right. We're waiting to hear from the President today. He actually has not
remarked on this since he said yesterday that they were going to pay a big price. And since he called out Russian President, Vladimir Putin, by name,
very critically. Something that we don't often hear from this president. But the hard facts of the matter are just last week the President was
saying he wants to lessen the U.S. involvement in Syria. And now the question of the day is does that change in light of this very grisly
COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump warning that there will be a big price to pay for a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. One year
after authorizing missile strikes against the Syrian air base after a sarin gas attack left dozens dead.
THOMAS BOSSERT, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Every nation, all peoples have all agreed and have agreed since World War II, is an unacceptable
practice. So, I went take anything off the table.
COLLINS: The President calling out, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, by name for the first time. Blaming Russia and Iran for backing the Syrian
president who Mr. Trump nicknamed "animal" Assad.
Syria denying involvement and Russia firing back calling the reported chemical attack a hoax and warning that using far-fetched and fabricated
pretext for a military intervention in Syria is absolutely unacceptable and lead to the most serious consequences. President Trump also pointing the
finger at his predecessor for not following through on his threat that use of chemical weapons would be crossing a, quote, red line.
But in 2013 Mr. Trump also opposed a strike. Repeatedly tweeting, do not attack Syria. The suspected chemical attack coming just days after
President Trump said he wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, ignoring near unanimous advice from his military advisers.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home.
We'll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.
COLLINS: Senator John McCain faulting the President for those public statements saying that Assad and his backers heard him and have been
emboldened by American inaction.
SEN LINDSAY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It is a defining moment in his presidency, they see us -- our resolve breaking. They see our
determination to stay in Syria waning and this is no accident they use chemical weapons, but President Trump can re-set the table here.
SEN SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I think the President is going to have to reconsider his plan for an early withdrawal in light of what has happened.
COLLINS: President Trump speaking about the Syrian attack with leaders of France and Iraq. The White House's read out of the call with France,
noting that the two leaders agreed to exchange information and coordinate a strong joint response.
COLLINS: Now, it is a very busy day here at the White House. Several military officials going back and forth. Also, the new national security
adviser, John Bolton, whose first day on the job is today. And we would likely hear from the president at the cabinet meeting here in the next hour
before he meets and has a briefing with senior military officials later today.
JONES: Kaitlin, thank you.
Now it feels like the last thing that Syria needs is more talking. Yet talks seem to be the only hope of inspiring any action to stem the flow of
blood. In just a few hours' time Syria is expected to take center stage at the United Nation Security Council in New York. Russia and the U.S. and
eight other countries asked for a meeting. CNN's Richard Roth is live at the UN headquarters in New York for us where all of this is due to go down.
Richard, two meetings now rolled in one. What can we expect to hear from the delegates today?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: I think we've had over 70 or 90 Syrian meetings at the United Nations Security Council.
[11:15:00] Seven-year war and all the talking and nothing has managed to change things. Deeply, bitterly divided security council. Russia lined up
against the all the Western countries. I think you'll hear forceful speeches on what happened. We've been talking to some security council
members, Kuwait, Peru. They want an investigation into what happened on the ground. The U.S. is circulating a new resolution that will press for
the re-establishment of a mechanism to determines what happens with these chemical weapons attacks? Who is responsible?
Russia blocked an attempt to renew the mandate of an existing investigation that had been well established by the security council. Russia did not
like the findings of the panel which concluded that the majority of the chemical attacks were direct by the Syrian government. So, we expect no
progress on the talking front here at the security council. But you could expect firm, harsh word from Nikki Haley who wants first responders to be
allowed in immediately, and for the council to be able to establish an investigation as to what happened in Douma -- Hannah.
JONES: And Richard, how crucial is this issue of Syria to a body to like the United Nations given the fact that, you know, they've had so many talks
on it and by not taking any action as a result of those talks makes the body itself, the organization seen void of purpose.
ROTH: It's horrible. One security council diplomat said the very existence of the council is practically a thread. I mean, what is the
point this diplomat said. And yet we've seen these types of deadlocks during the cold war. But the carnage, the hundreds of thousands killed,
the millions injured, the refugees and the impact surrounding countries is just devastating. And that is what the U.N. was established for but not
really established when he country implodes. It was designed when country A attacked country B. Yet the UN is becoming well versed in these types of
imploding civil wars and can't seem to really do anything about it when you have major powers lined up against each other and proxy wars and other
forces supporting rebels and what Syria calls terrorists inside its territories.
JONES: Absolutely. Richard Roth, for us as the day proceedings unveil, thanks very much indeed, Richard.
Well staying with Syria and we have just taken you around the world with our reporters covering this very, very important story. Richard Roth, you
just saw there at the UN. And our Nic Robertson in Moscow, Orin Liebermann in Jerusalem, and Fred Pleitgen in Damascus and Kaitlan Collins was at the
White House for you.
Much more on Syria ahead this hour. Including this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDA KOTEY, BRITISH ISIS DETAINEE: My experience with British judges is that they're quite fair and just. I might miss the fish and chips for
it to be --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Known as the "Beatles," their accused of ISIS's most heinous crimes. Now they're in limbo. CNN's jailhouse interview is ahead.
[11:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back. As we continue to talk about Syria, let's not forget ISIS and its reign of terror. Now two members of the British cell
nicknamed the "Beatles" known for some of the group's worse atrocities are in custody. But Britain doesn't want them back. CNN's Nick Payton Walsh
talked with them in an extraordinary interview. Nick joins us now from northern Syria. Nick, ISIS may be all but defeated but seemingly many of
its soldiers remain defiant.
NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it is important, I'm standing in Kobane to remind us ourselves of how and when
the fight against ISIS was underway. Their strategy of exuding fear may people think they were sort of somehow ten foot tall. But the two men we
met, the two last to be captured of the British cell known as the "Beatles" accused by the U.S. of being involved in mock executions, crucifixions,
waterboarding, accessory for the beheadings of many Western journalists and aid workers held hostages by ISIS. These two men frankly at times were
just ordinary -- sat on a couch and sniggering at times, bad jokes, confused about exactly what they're positions were. Sometimes incoherent,
sometimes plain angry. Kind of unextraordinary people frankly. But still as we spoke to them, capable of some extraordinary statements.
WALSH (voice-over): Once some of the most worlds wanted but now nobody wants them. The last two of the British ISIS cell dubbed the Beatles, now
jailed in Syria and suddenly fond of the home they spurned.
(on camera): Would you prefer to be tried anywhere in particular? Like the U.K.?
ALEXANDA KOTEY, BRITISH ISIS DETAINEE: Definitely -- familiarity is the easier option. My experience with British judges is that they're quite
fair and just. I might miss the fish and chips.
WALSH (voice-over): They revel in the rights like presumed innocence when I tell them several Westerners they allegedly imprisoned and abused in ISIS
jails like these have identified their voices and faces.
EL SHAFEE ELSHEIKH, BRITISH ISIS DETAINEE: It is just an accusation, vaguely speaking.
If Britain said we're going to deal with you, with barbaric law or with law from the medieval ages, then, yes, (INAUDIBLE) caught me. Right? That's
not the case. I'm just merely pointing that out. I don't believe in democracy. But I am being subjected to democratic law. So, it is only
right for those who claim to uphold this to fully uphold it. Because it's their mistake not me, really.
KOTEY: The American administration, all of the British in government, they decided they want to be champions of the sharia Islamic law and apply
Islamic law upon myself and Shafee, then by all means. If not, then they should adhere to that which they claim to be champions of.
WALSH: ISIS is nearly defeated. But the arrogance of their beliefs is not.
(on camera): What keeps you awake at night?
KOTEY: There's this lice in my clothes and the place I'm sleeping.
WALSH: So, there will be some people who see you make a joke of that question and think whatever gone before to use sort of being a bit of a
laugh. Are you saying that there is nothing that you witnessed here in Syria or been involved in that troubles you?
KOTEY: No. If I want to talk about why I was in the Islamic state, the kind of things that keep you up at night is the sound of a F-16 jet flying
in the sky and some Syria neighbors with his kids crying.
WALSH (voice-over): There is so much bravado it's hard to see if they really think at all -- the videos of the savage beheadings went too far.
(on camera): Do you regret that sort of messaging?
KOTEY: Yes, definitely. It would be damaging and it's regrettable that -- that families had to see that.
WALSH: So Jihadi John is dead now. What kind of a guy was he?
ELSHEIKH: He was a friend of mine.
WALSH: For what reasons?
ELSHEIKH: For what reasons was he my friend? You need to have a reason to be a friend of somebody.
WALSH: I'm just asking you to describe him as a person.
ELSHEIKH: Oh, to describe him as a person. Hum, obviously coming other people in the Western world are not going want to hear this. But truth has
to be said the way it is true and he's one of the most loyal friends I've had, trustworthy, honest, upstanding.
[11:25:10] WALSH: Were you surprised when you saw videos of him cutting off people's heads.
ELSHEIKH: Surprising, yes.
WALSH: Did you approve?
ELSHEIKH: Did I approve of the act or did I approve of the video?
WALSH: Did you approve the act by a friend?
ELSHEIKH: I would rather not answer that question.
WALSH: Extraordinary that he needs really to have clarity as to whether he's condemning the video of a barbaric act or the act itself. You know,
you have to remember, that these are men who were part of a group that worked tirelessly to undermine Western institutions as part of ISIS, but
now oddly appear to be somewhat hypocritically looking to them to some degree to provide a safe judicial pass for them going forward. But this is
really the issue here in northern Syria. U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds find themselves now having the custody of dozens if not hundreds of foreign ISIS
fighters, many of whom host nations do not want them back. They're unable to detain such a dangerous man here and definitely. And that's a big issue
with the U.S. wondering exactly to some degree where so many of its allies who sit, and fight are now the more difficult issue of the clean-up
JONES: Yes, Nick, just so chilling hearing the comments then of those two individuals. They said quite clearly in your report though that they did
want to be tried and go through the judicial system in the U.K. Is that their first formal plea to the U.K. then to consider their cases?
WALSH: Well they didn't sort of have the courage to say that is what they wanted. They sort of said well that would be OK if it was available to us.
Because I kind of know it's familiar. And when I pushed Elsheikh on the issue, he was much more on the lines of just putting out the fact these
options are available. They have seemed to suggest by American interrogators that they could end up in the international criminal court or
Guantanamo Bay or continue to be here or potentially the United Kingdom. It really is unclear where this goes. Because we know Britain doesn't
really want them back. Guantanamo Bay doesn't seem to be an option at this point.
It is the Syrian Kurds don't have an indefinite capacity to detain them. So, many are speculating that perhaps the U.S. will clean up this mess
somehow in its detention and judicial system. But it is really unclear, frankly, and what was so remarkable was to hear them in one hand talk about
how they still have this very strong belief in what they thought were the values of ISIS. So quite clear it's not Western values. It is a whole
separate mindset, almost antialien to some degree end word of values. But the same time too, talk about they're worried about their rights being
protected. Sort of an odd form of logic to behold there and one that left you kind of confused as to how they began this journey in the first place.
JONES: Yes, it certainly would. Nick Payton Walsh live for us in Kobane, northern Syria, thanks very much indeed.
And still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD making sure all options are on the table. How will the U.S. respond to the alleged chemical weapons attack in
Syria? Here what America's Defense Secretary had to say in the past few hours.
[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Live from the British capital. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on the world's news leader, CNN. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones, welcome back to
Now let's get more on our top story and the alleged chemical attack in Syria. In the past couple of hours, the U.S. Secretary of Defense has said
he's not ruling out air strikes against the Assad regime. James Mattis was speaking while hosting the Emir of Qatar at the Pentagon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The first thing we have to look at is why a chemical weapon is being used at all when Russia was the framework
here of removing some of the chemical weapons. And so, working with our allies and partners from NATO to Qatar and elsewhere, we are going to
address this issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we rule out taking action, launching air-strikes against the Assad, Mr. Secretary?
MATTIS: I don't rule out anything right now. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Ryan Browne is the at Pentagon with more on this for us. Ryan, all options seemingly on the table. But of course, last year with this
targeted strike, that seemingly didn't work. So, what could they do now?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Hannah, as always, military has a range of options that they've been planning for some time. This is a
recurring issue in Syria, as you mentioned, going back to all the way to last April when the U.S. launched those tomahawk missiles at Shayrat
airbase. And so, the military has been developing targets, conducting intelligence for a long time. They have a range of targets. A lot of it
depends on what the President orders them to do. The military always preparing options that a president will be meeting with senior military
leaders at the White House. It's actually a long-scheduled meeting. But they will be meeting today at the White House. And in addition to meetings
with the national security council.
So, the military has these options should the President decide to proceed in that direction. As you saw, Secretary Mattis mentioned working with
NATO and other partners. France has already issued a statement saying the -- Macron spoke with President Trump. That they agreed to coordinate a
response on this issue. So, working with partners and allies will definitely be part of this kind of assessment of what to do moving forward.
JONES: And, Ryan, how damaging do you think, Donald Trump, the President's comments were when he said we'll be out of Syria, quote, very soon. How
damaging was that as far as the Pentagon is concerned with the U.S. preparedness for military action?
BROWNE: Well he has received some criticism for those comments, mostly from Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee in
the Senate. He said that those comments emboldened the Assad regime and are partly to blame for why the regime felt confident enough to conduct an
alleged chemical weapons attack and not fear retaliation. So, others have made that comment -- the military though has long said that the fight
against ISIS in Syria continues. It will continue for some time. And so, they've been conducting that ISIS operation ir-regardless of what the
President said about pulling out. They're continuing to pursue that operation. Which means they have forces in the region which could
potentially be used for some kind of retaliatory response should the U.S. decide to do one.
JONES: Ryan Browne at the Pentagon for us. Thanks very much, Ryan.
[11:35:00] Well starting today, a new voice will carry a lot of weight when it comes to Donald Trump's approach to the war in Syria and foreign affairs
in general. John Bolton is beginning work as America's national security adviser. You're looking at pictures of him. I believe now coming up.
Walking from the West Wing to Eisenhower executive office building. John Bolton is known for being outspoken and direct, but as you could see here
he began the role with little ceremony. CNN, Stephen Collinson, believes that John Bolton's appointment comes at a defining moment for this White
House. Stephen joins us now from Washington. Day one in the job for John Bolton. Something of a baptism of fire with everything going on in Syria
at the moment. How big a test is this for him?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think it is a huge test. And is a test and is a test of whether he can bring some coherency really
to the Trump White House as it comes to foreign policy. Bolton is somebody that shares the President's hawkish aggressive instincts and that's one of
the big fears of his critics, is that he's going to lead the United States toward dangerous situation against Iran, for example, North Korea and
various other places.
But the idea that Bolton is simply a war monger is also a bit of a caricature. Although he's suspicious of international diplomatic
bureaucracy, he has worked with allies in the past. And so, you've got this kind of this duality between Bolton who speaks very aggressively.
He's very anti-Iran. He's very hawkish, but he's somebody that knows how to move the structure, the infrastructure of the U.S. foreign policy
establishment to get what he wants done.
That of course, is one of the reasons why people are concerned. They think that Bolton not only will not temper the President's most dangerous
aggressive impulses, he will actually encourage them. And because he's such a master of the bureaucratic process and he will be able to put Donald
Trump's foreign policy vision into implementation in a better way than anyone has managed so far.
JONES: Stephen, a lot of people, a lot of critics will say that John Bolton is something of a bull in a china shop. But he does have some
impressive credentials which we should point out to our viewers as well. John Bolton has the American ambassador to the United Nations, and Under
Secretary of State. He was also a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney and informally advised Ted Cruz, as well. He's also been a regular on the
Donald Trump apparent news channel of choice, Fox News. So, Stephen, with all of those credentials behind him, what exactly are critics really
COLLINSON: Well first of all, they're worried -- you mentioned that he was ambassador to the UN. He got that as a recess appointment from President
George W. Bush because the Senate wouldn't confirm him to have the job permanently. There were allegations of bullying of sorts, subordinates in
his past. His critics accused him of manipulating intelligence on weapons of mass destruction issues. He's still a strong supporter of the Iraq war
when many other people in the Republican foreign policy establishment have repudiated this. So, there's absolutely no doubt that he's an extremely
conservative, extremely aggressive proponent of the use of U.S. force abroad. He's very skeptical that negotiations with states like North Korea
and Iran on their nuclear programs can actually work. He's muted military action against both of those nations to dismantle the nuclear program.
So, this is someone that's deeply conservative, very much to the right of the foreign policy spectrum in the United States. But he's not just
somebody that goes off on TV and spouts off about these issues. He's exceedingly well read. He's a ravenous consumer of intelligence and he has
logical coherent views. It's just that those views and the way he has of them implement them, scare a lot of the more moderate proponents of foreign
policy in Washington.
JONES: Yes, I mean, as to whether he might push the U.S. into some sort of conflict in Syria, it's interesting to note that he had a different tone to
sort of hawkish aggressive manner that you've been speaking about, Stephen. Just a couple of years ago this is what he told Fox News five years ago
when there was previous talk about a chemical weapons use. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I would not have referred the matter to Congress. And I think if I were a member
of Congress I would vote against an authorization to use force here. I don't think it is in America's interest. I don't think we should in effect
take sides in the Syrian conflict.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Well he arguably pushed U.S. into the conflict in Iraq. Is that a major concern that he'll do exactly the same in Syria despite his views
five years ago that the U.S. should step back and not get involved?
COLLINSON: Well that quote is interesting because he was talking about attacks when Barack Obama was president. The idea of striking Syria to
enforce a red line of chemical weapons. When Trump did the exact same thing, attacking Syria as you referred to earlier, a year ago, Bolton came
out as a strong proponent of those attacks. So, you can see how he's able to shift his positions as the political moment might allow. He was saying
those attacks then were a message to Iran.
[11:40:00] But if you talk to Bolton's former close aides -- as I've been doing -- they say that whatever Bolton said in the past now is not really
comparable. He knows that in order to have a good relationship with the President, to stay his national security advisor for any length of time, he
must emerge as somebody who's trusted by Trump and who's willing to implement what Trump wants to do. So, while Bolton has many views on the
record, at least he's going into this job saying that it is what the President wants to be done is what is important and that is what he'll do.
JONES: Yes, but you know, it's day one in this job for him today. Given the fact that we can expect American policy on what happens in Syria to
emerge in the next couple of days you would've thought. I guess today for Bolton is really about how much sway he has with the President. Whether he
can shape a U.S. policy given the amount of sway that he holds with Donald Trump.
COLLINSON: Right. And I think it is going to take him a while to build that relationship. So, I think it's probably unlikely that Bolton is going
to go in there with a very, very strong directive view of how the U.S. should respond to this. I think it is more likely he'll gather the options
that the Pentagon is going to provide the President, look at the diplomatic side of this, talk to U.S. allies. If Bolton goes in there and has a
strong view and tells Trump what to do, it will not work, and it will really damage his long-term prospects on the job. So, I think I would look
for him to be fairly sort of methodical on what to do about these Syria strikes because he's playing the long game. He's not just playing for the
next few weeks.
JONES: So good to talk to you, Stephen, as always. Stephen Collinson, live in Washington. Thank you.
Well as we mentioned, as we've been talking through the whole program so far, the Assad regime has been accused of using chemical weapons on
multiple occasions. Kassem Eid, says he survived a 2013 sarin gas attack on a Damascus suburb. He said the whole world should take responsibility
for allowing the latest attack to occur.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASSEM EID, 2013 SYRIAN GAS ATTACK SURVIVOR: My message to the international community is that you should be ashamed. You are as guilty
as Assad and Putin and Iran for all of the atrocities in Syria for more than seven years. More than, I don't know, maybe 700,000 people got killed
and millions of people got displaced. It is not just about the chemical weapons. I lived for two years under siege and bombardment. I used to eat
from the trash can alongside the other civilians under siege just like the people in Douma, in Eastern Ghouta, who've been enduring siege for many
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Kassem Eid speaking there.
Still to come on connect the world, Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister is celebrating another electoral victory. While human rights activists fear
for that nations democracy. The story of that is coming up next.
[11:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back. Hungary Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, is calling his re-election on Sunday a destiny deciding victory. Mr. Orban is Hungary's
longest serving leader in 30 years and this win will bring him his fourth term. His anti-immigration platform helped win his coalition a sizable
lead and voter turnout was also high. CNN's Phil Black has more.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The crushing electoral victory for a man many consider an enemy of European democracy. And the
Hungarian Primer, Vicktor Orban, supporters cheered loudly as he thanked them for a third consecutive term. He told them there is a big battle
behind us. We have won a crucial victory created for ourselves a chance to defend Hungary.
But defend from whom? Long before this election campaign, Orban declared immigrants to be Hungary's enemy, especially Muslim immigrants. In 2015,
as huge numbers of people fled the Syrian war seeking refuge in Europe, Orban declared they would not be welcome in Hungary. And built a razor
wire fence along the border to make sure there could be no doubt. It's proved to be a politically powerful message that Hungary has the third
lowest levels of immigration in the European Union. And even before that Orban was considered the awkward guest at EU leader gatherings. The EU
officials in Brussels have accused Hungarian government policies of undermining democracy, human rights, rule of law, independent media, and
nongovernmental organizations. Orban's politically successful response is to dismiss such criticisms as attacks on Hungary's sovereignty.
VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER: We are a member of the U.N. We are loyal member of all international delegation and we are standing of the
bills of the interests of our country. Because we love our country and we are fighting for the future of our country.
BLACK: Orban's other key message, Hungary's economy is performing strongly. The lines were long for this vote and high turnout is often a
good sign for opposition parties but not here. The vote against Orban's Fidesz party was split among various divided opposition groups but failed
to rally around one idea or leader. European electoral observers say opponents had another disadvantage. This wasn't an equal contest because
state resources were used to Orban's advantage. Hungary's Prime Minister has spoken in his believe in what he calls il-liberal democracy. Which
critics say is a small step from autocracy. He hasn't been shy in courting a close relationship with a powerful strong man to the East, Vladimir
Putin. And now Viktor Orban has a large parliament majority to continue shaping his country in ways that are increasingly uncomfortable for his
allies in the West. Phil Black, CNN.
JONES: Phil, thanks very much indeed.
Live from London, you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come on the program. You may not have known much about him until now, but Patrick Reed
is the new master in golf. More on his dramatic win coming up next.
And a scary experience in South Dakota as a plane skids off a runway in the middle of a blizzard. We'll have the details on that after the break.
[11:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD.
American Patrick Reed is donning golf's much coveted green jacket. He is the new champion of the Masters, one of the most elite tournaments of
course in professional golf. Not bad considering that it is the 27-year- old's first major victory and he beat some of the biggest names in the game to get there. Reed is now, of course, one of those big names himself and
quite a controversial one as well. "WORLD SPORT" Don Riddell caught up with him At Augustine National in Georgia.
DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Hannah, it really was a thrilling final day here at Augusta National. Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler making a charge,
but it was Patrick Reed who held on. He absolutely deserves his first major title. He is the Masters champion. But the victory has been rather
overshadowed by his back story. He is not at all popular with fans, his professionals or the media. And there are a number of reasons for that.
The one that really stood out to me on the final day was the story about his family. He's been estranged from them for a number of years. And
remarkably his mom and dad actually live in Augusta just a few miles from the course. But they played no part in his victory or his celebrations and
that is too unusual to ignore. I got a few minutes with Patrick Reed on Sunday evening after his triumph and I asked how he feels about the fact
his full story may now been told and it is not necessarily all that positive.
PATRICK REED, 2018 MASTERS CHAMPION: It doesn't really concern me. You know, I am who I am. You know, the person I was when I was born, you know,
I've evolved into a childhood, childhood into high school, high school into college, college into professional golf and you know, they are just
chapters of my life that, you know, and it is just something that I've always -- you know once you're successful there's going to be good things
and bad things that people say. And honestly, to me it doesn't really matter. As long as I'm happy with who I am and how I am to other people,
honestly, to me that is all I can control.
The press conference afterwards was interesting. Usually it's a very warm celebratory experience. The players come in and they gush about their
achievements. None of that really happened on Sunday night. The questions from the journalists were polite but cold and the end there was a round of
applause, but it was rather muted and frankly pretty halfhearted.
Patrick Reed would not be the first unpopular player to succeed in the game of golf. One might argue that being single minded and selfish is actually
a benefit in being able to succeed at this game. But it is going to be interesting to see where his story goes from this point on, given that he
has achieved a massive level of success and the spotlight will be on him. There is no doubt that he is a terrific player and he earned his victory
here. But it does seem as though many people have already made up their mind about Patrick Reed, the man. Hannah, back to you.
JONES: And as your parting shots. Picture this -- you're on a plane and coming in to land in snowy conditions. Not for the faint hearted amongst
us. If it makes your palm sweat for just hearing it, well then please look away now. Because for the passengers on this plane from Las Vegas, it
doesn't get much scarier than ending up here after -- in the meantime we're going to take you straight over to the White House where a cabinet meeting
has been taking place. This is Donald Trump.
[11:55:00] (WHITE HOUSE CABINET MEETING)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was horrible. You don't see things like that, as bad as the news is around the world. You just
don't see those images. We are studying that situation extremely closely. We are meeting with our military and everybody else. And we'll be making
some major decisions over the next 24 to 48-hours. We are very concerned. When a thing like that can happen, this is about humanity. We're talking
about humanity. And it can't be allowed to happen.
So, we'll be looking at that barbaric act and studying what's going on. We are trying to get people in there. As you know, it's been surrounded. So,
it's very hard to get people in because not only has it been hit, it has been surrounded. And if they're innocent, why aren't they allowing people
to go in and prove, because you know they are claiming they didn't make the attack.
So, if it is Russia, if its Syria, if it Iran, if it's all of them together we'll figure it out. In will know the answers quite soon. So, we're
looking at that very, very strongly and very seriously.
I'd also like to provide an update on trade negotiations. We have a situation with China where we have a very good relationship with China.
And I think will maintain that relationship. I'm very good friends with President Xi. I have great respect for President Xi. And as you know I
spent two days in China. The President spent two days with us at Mar-a- Largo in Florida. And they were four great days.
With that being said, China has been taking advantage of the United States for many years. Really if you look at it, since the start of the World
Trade Organization. And they have really done a number on this country. And I don't blame China. I blame the people running our country. I blame
presidents. I blame representatives. I blame negotiators. We should have been able to do what they did. We didn't do it. They did. And it is the
most lopsided set of trade rules, regulations that anybody has ever seen.
With that being said, we have many of them. NAFTA was a horrible deal. We're renegotiating it, we'll see what happens. But we're strongly
renegotiating NAFTA. If you look at the European Union, they have tremendous barriers -- trade barriers. We essentially have bad deals with
everyone. We're close to finishing a deal with South Korea, which was a horrible deal. It's going to give us 200,000 jobs. Well that didn't
exactly happen. It gave them 200,000 jobs. We lost jobs and it was a horrible deal. And that's being renegotiated.
And we have a long way to go but we've made a tremendous progress. We're fairly close on NAFTA and if we don't make the right deal we'll terminate
NAFTA and will make the right deal after that. But we have a chance to make a deal on NAFTA. And as I said the North Korea and South Korea
situation which complicates it. The deal that we have with South Korea I think is going to be -- I think it will be a very fair deal. We want a
fair deal. And we don't have fair deals.
North Korea, by the way, as you have probably seen, and we've been in touch with North Korea. We'll be meeting with them sometime in May or early
June. And I think they'll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we'll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea.
They've said so. We've said so. Hopefully it will be a relationship that is much different than it has been for many, many years.
This should have been done by other presidents and they decided they didn't do it. They couldn't have done it. But it would have been easier if it
were down five ago, 10 ago, 20 years ago. A lot easier than now. But we have a meeting that is being set up with North Korea so that will be very
exciting I think for the world. I think it's going to be a very exciting thing for the world. We're going to be talking about .