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Trump Furious for FBI's Raid to Cohen; Zuckerberg's Big Day in Congress; U.S. to Respond Chemical Attack in Syria; President Xi Invites More Foreign Investors; Major Decisions On Syria In 24-48 Hours; Michael Cohen, Trump's Fixer; Queen Elizabeth's Effort To Conserve Tree Canopy. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The war in Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump is vowing to respond forcefully to a suspected chemical attack in a Damascus suburb.
Meanwhile, legal experts are watching to see what the president will do after an FBI raid on the offices of his long-time personal attorney.
And Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington, he will tell lawmakers he's sorry for not better protecting the data of millions of Facebook users.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he will decide how to respond to the suspected chemical attack in Syria in the next 24 to 48 hours. He warns nothing if off the table including military action. Meeting with military leaders Monday, Mr. Trump added that whoever was behind the allege attack will pay the price, whether it's the Syria regime, Russia, or Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be met and it will be met forcefully. We're going to make a decision tonight or very shortly thereafter and you'll be hearing the decision. But we can' let atrocities like we all witnessed. And you can see that and it's horrible. We can't let that happen, in our world we can't let that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: The U.N. Security Council also met in emergency session Monday. The U.S. accused Russia of standing with the Assad regime and allowing senseless slaughter. And the British ambassador to the U.N. said Moscow is trying to divert attention from what's happening in Syria by portraying itself as a victim of the west.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN PIERCE, U.K. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The responsibility for the cruelty in Syria belongs to Syria and its backers in Russia and Iran. Use of chemical weapons is an oscillatory and a diabolic collapse. What Russia is trying to do strike for Mr. President is to turn this, the debate in this council, away from a discussion of the use of C.W. into a dispute between east and west presenting itself as the victim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And this comes as Syria and Russia are blaming Israel for carrying air strikes on an air base is central Syria. Israel has not responded to the claims.
A lot to untangle here. CNN's senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman joins us now from Beirut in Lebanon, and international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is in Moscow. Ben, let's start with you.
So, U.S. President Donald Trump says he will respond forcefully but air strikes last year did not stop the Assad regime attacking its own people. Why would it be any different this time if indeed that is the way the Trump administration responds?
BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: All right. It's not at all clear, Rosemary, how different it would be that the air strike which happened a year ago after the allege chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun it was on an air base in central Syria called Shayrat and the United States fired 59 cruise missiles in that instance.
But it really didn't influence the course of the war in Syria. There's no indication that some sort of a strike might do the same this time around. I think one of the commentators on our air yesterday said that an air strike is not a strategy.
And what we've seen really since the beginning of the uprising in Syria in 2011 is the absence of a real strategy which contrasts rather starkly with the position of Russia which for decades has been an ally of the Syria government, first as the Soviet Union and now Russia.
And Russia, of course, interview -- intervene decisively in Syria in September 2015 and has pursued a course of supporting the Syrian government as it has regained more and more territory from various opposition groups.
So, a strike certainly would satisfy perhaps, in many of the President Trump's domestic critics, but in terms of reality in Syria, it would be at best pin prick. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right, Ben, let's bring in Nic Robertson now who joins us from Moscow. Nic, we heard from the Russian ambassador to the U.N. insisting there was no chemical gas attack at all. Let's just take a quick listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [03:05:01] VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Our military radiological biological chemical unit was on site within that chemical accident and it's confirmed that there was no chemical substance found in the ground. There were no dead bodies found. There were no poisoned people in the hospitals. The doctors in Douma denied that they were -- that there people who came to the hospital claiming that they were under the chemical attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Nic, no chemical attack, no dead bodies. Images from the region appear to tell a very different story though. So how is the international community going to deal with this denial from Russia than any chemical attack that even took place?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, one attacker take from Russia at least seems to try -- seem to try to divide the international community by, you know, when the Russian ambassador was speaking at the United Nations. He talked about how people in Russia sort of stand behind Britain and France's position.
But he also warned it appeared to be the United States that the United States essentially was responsible for bringing the world to a very, very dangerous place and that Russia was being threatened in an unpardonable way.
So, how to deal with this issue at the United Nations is to find unanimity and that seems to be what's happening behind the scenes, what is the legal text, what is the language that can be work out that can be agreed.
The Russian representative to the Union while denying there was an attack a chemical attack on the ground and we heard that from Russian officials from the foreign ministry here as well saying that their competent teams their medics, the Russian military medics, the Russian military WMD team had been on the ground and had found no evidence.
So what the Russians have been hinting at is that there's a possibility here that the OPCW, the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons could get access on the ground to make their own analysis of was there an attack and what chemicals would be used.
But it's very clear that the discussion and debate behind the scenes is that that doesn't go far enough and it has to be to authorize a body that used to exist at the U.N. the JIM, the Joint Investigative Mission that would be able to go in and say who was responsible.
So that seems to be sticking point. So unanimity from the international position to try to get Russia to agree to this piece of, if you will, an investigation, an independent international investigation to see who was responsible. And every indication so far is that Russia will reject something like that.
So this potentially later today may prove to be an impasse of the United nations. We still don't know the language and detail in the text as they work on. CHURCH: But Nic, if access is given to this area what's to stop whoever is involved behind this from cleaning that particular location so there would be no indication that a chemical attack has taken place?
ROBERTSON: Look, trust is absolutely out of the window here. I mean, but neither side trust each other in this. You know, the United States, France, Britain, all those allies that we saw just recently in the case of Sergei Skripal poisoning in the U.K. that, you know, 28 different nations that expelled Russian diplomats because they didn't trust what Russia was saying.
We're in a very similar scenario with a similar dynamic over the -- over this case in Douma. So even if the team were to go in on the ground I think there would be a broad international expectation that they perhaps wouldn't get the access that they need or it would be or at least they couldn't, there would be a trust deficit over what they were finding and what they were able to do.
So, you know, I think there is going to be a technical analysis of what can best be understood from the nature of the bombing and how does that -- and how does that correlates with the facts from the ground. Is it possible as the Russians has essentially alleged here that this was a fake job that they picked up intelligence on the ground weeks before that they said terrorist organization were going to try and perpetrate some sort of fake attack.
And again, the trust deficit leads the international community not to trust Russia on that issue. They frankly would look at that say, well that was just Russian knowing that there was likely going to be a chemical attack by the Assad regime and just preparing the ground in advance to say this could be the terrorist on the ground.
So we're at the position of such a trust deficit at the moment. It's very hard to see how this is going to be easily resolved.
[03:10:01] And we're certainly are standing at the moment on a point where it appears the United States is trying to build support from France, from Britain, perhaps from others for a more sustained or larger scale broader military response to this situation.
So even if there's access on the ground it's not necessarily going to -- going to bring the parties together because the trust deficit and we've seen this in the past month very clearly the trust deficit just too big to bridge at the moment.
CHURCH: Yes. And we await that response, perhaps just hours away. We shall see what happens.
Nic Robertson joining us there from Moscow, and earlier, Ben Wedeman in Beirut. Many thanks to both of you.
We return to the United States now. And a livid Donald Trump calls the raid on his lawyer's office an attack on our country. FBI agents armed with search warrants stormed the office of Michael Cohen, Trump's long-time confidante and personal attorney. A source tells the New York Times they seize e-mails, tax documents, business records and communications with clients.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just heard that they broke in to the office of one of my personal attorneys, a good man. And it's a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch hunt. I've been saying it for a long time. It's a disgrace. It's frankly a real disgrace. It's an attack on country in a true sense. It's an attack in what we all stand for.
So when I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did, I said that is really now in a whole new level of unfairness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And contrary to what Mr. Trump said, a source tells CNN, the raid was not related to the Russia probe, but rather the Stormy Daniels situation. She is the adult film star who was paid $130,000 by Cohen to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Donald Trump. Regardless, the president is still furious at Mueller's investigation?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Why don't I just fire Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, fire the guy.
TRUMP: Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens, but I think it's a really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, you should fire him. Again, they found nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger has been following the developments from Washington and has this report.
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: These raids were really extraordinary. About a dozen FBI agents search multiple locations, including Michael Cohen's office and a hotel room where he had been staying.
A source tells me the raids were largely about the payment Cohen made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 elections but also concern election laws, as well as smaller Cohen personal investments.
This all came as a result of the special counsel's office referring an investigation to prosecutors in New York and that's according to Michael Cohen's own attorney. We know that the bank red flag Cohen $130,000 payment to Daniels last October and the warrant involve the payment of the porn star Cohen's communications with the president and the campaign. As a result, it's likely Cohen's computer, his phone, and his personal
financial records were a part of the search. Cohen's attorney Stephen Ryan called the raids, quote, completely inappropriate and unnecessary." And people close to the president say he sees this as special counsel's office really crossing a red line.
And he's furious with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and right now maybe even more in the special counsel bob Mueller. So what does this mean for their futures, only the president knows?
Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: CNN legal analyst Page Pate joins me now in the studio to talk more about this. Always great to have you with us.
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.
CHURCH: So we know at this point that the FBI raided the hotel and office of Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen. They seized documents relating to Stormy Daniels, and bank accounts and bank documents. What is the situation from a legal perspective here what they have done?
PATE: This is an incredibly unusual search warrant. In the United States it is very difficult to get a judge to approve a search warrant for a lawyer's office. And the reason is because most of the communication between a lawyer and his or her client is going to be privileged. It's the kind of material that the government cannot see.
So for a judge to authorize the search warrant and a judge did in this case. The judge found cause, that number one there was a crime that was committed, and two, evidence of that crime would be found at the lawyer's office.
[03:14:59] So, we know they took documents relating to the Stormy Daniels situation. They took bank account records which presumably may relate to payments made to her and they also took communication between Cohen and President Trump. That is extraordinarily unusual.
CHURCH: So if a crime has been committed and then you're saying that presumably that's what we're dealing with for them to have go on this far.
CHURCH: Then it must be in relation to Stormy Daniels.
PATE: You would think so. And we can only speculate at this point because what we haven't seen and what is critically important is the affidavit supporting the search warrant. That's where the agent basically outlines the case with the judge, it explains why he or she believes there's going to be good evidence found at this location. That affidavit remains under seal at this point, but somewhere in that
affidavit, we will find specific examples of why the agents thought that there would be solid evidence of a crime at this location.
We don't know a crime it is yet, but if it relates to the Stormy Daniels payment, it relates to bank accounts, it relates to communications between Cohen and Trumpet then that must have had something to do with that situation.
CHURCH: So someone will go to prison as a result of this.
PATE: In the cases that I've been involved with over 24 years of handling federal criminal matters when a search warrant is executed against the subject of the investigation. Over 90 percent of the time that somebody is going to be charged. It may not be the subject of that particular search warrant.
But we know at this point that a judge has already passed on the case as far as finding enough probable cause to say you guys go and raid the lawyer's office. That really is exceptional.
CHURCH: Now Present Trump has responded by saying this is a witch hunt. He says that this is an attack on our country. What do you say to that again from a legal perspective?
PATE: In reality, this is how our country is supposed to work. I mean, what happened in this case it's not some rogue prosecutor. It's not even Robert Mueller who got the search warrant. What happened is the search warrant was approved by United States attorney sitting in New York who was appointed by President Trump and that it had to be reviewed by the Justice Department, of course run by Jeff Sessions appointed by President Trump, and then it had to be approved by a federal judge.
So for this to be considered a witch hunt it's very misplaced type of argument because it's not being controlled by Mueller. I mean, President Trump can criticize Bob Mueller all he wants. Mueller had nothing to do with the execution of the search warrant.
CHURCH: In fact, Present Trumpet has gone so far again to raise the specter of possibly sacking special counsel Robert Mueller. If he does go ahead and do that could it very well trigger a constitutional crisis do you think?
PATE: It all depends on what Congress does, I mean, it would be extraordinary because I think we've heard from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that that would be the final straw that they feel very strongly that whatever Robert Mueller is going to find he needs to be able to find it. Let him complete his investigation.
But from what I heard the president say today I would not all be surprised if he tries to remove Robert Mueller.
CHURCH: Page Pate, we thank you would again for your legal analysis.
PATE: Thank you. CHURCH: And we'll take a very short break here, but still to come, Chinese President Xi Jinping is promising to lower some tariffs criticized by U.S. President Trump. But will this be enough to prevent a trade war. We'll discuss that.
And Facebook CEO for first stayed behind-the-scenes, but Mark Zuckerberg's first appearance on Capitol Hill could signal a turning point for him and social media. We're back with that and more in just a moment.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, Chinese President Xi Jinping is again promising to open up his country's markets further.
As an economic forum in China, President Xi pledge to low import tariffs on vehicles and other products to welcome foreign investment and to protect international property rights.
That addresses at least some of the reasoning the Trump administration gave for threatening China with tariffs, and markets in Asia are reacting positively to the new economic reforms announced by President Xi.
So our Matt Rivers is following the Boao Forum from Beijing. He joins us now live. Matt, as we saw there, markets across Asia responding well to President Xi's new economic measures but will this be enough to avert a trade war with the United States.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not only Donald Trump and his cabinet knows that at this point, and really it depends on how they're going to respond because I would argue there's kind of two separate tracks to the speech. If you look at the positive side of things I think then what the Trump administration could look to the speech for is that there was a lot of positive things there that the Trump administration would like to see change.
You heard Xi Jinping talk about strengthening intellectual property rights. You heard him talk about improving market access from foreign companies playing to those kind of fears that other countries including United States have that's play you a little bit of President Xi Jinping's speech on Hainan Island early this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator) China will continue to adhere to its fundamental national policy of opening up and pursue development with its stores wide open. I wish to make it clear to you all that China's store of opening up will not be close and would only open even wider.
We must refrain from beggar thy neighbor and reject power politics or hegemony while the strong bullies the weak. Instead, we must properly manage differences and work together for enduring peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP) RIVERS: You know, the other thing that Donald Trump could look at as a win here is that Xi Jinping did specifically bring up auto tariffs currently very high in China. If you want to import a car here you are going to pay 25 percent tax on that. That's something that Donald Trump tweeted about as recently as Monday in the U.S.
And Xi Jinping specifically said that they would be significantly lowering those tariffs by the end of this year. But we need to remember that all of these economic reforms, Rosemary, that Xi Jinping laid they're not really new. This is exactly the kind of rhetoric with a few new details sprinkled in that we've heard Chinese leaders promise for years and years and years.
And most experts will tell you that none of it or hardly any of it is come to fruition in terms of actually opening up market access here in China, in terms of truly protecting intellectual property rights. That hasn't happened yet.
There's a boy who cried wolf situation going on here in China. There's a lot of promise fatigue amongst people that we looked -- that we speak to here in China. And so it depends on what the Trump administration wants to pull out of the speech.
If they want to look at the rhetoric that China promises to do all of these things, or do they want to look at the recent history and say China has promised this kind of stuff before but they haven't followed through.
CHURCH: We'll just have to wait and see how President Trump responds to all of this. Matt Rivers joining us live from Beijing where it is very close to 3.30 in the afternoon. Many thanks to you.
Well, Mark Zuckerberg is hours away from a high-stakes appearance before Congress. The Facebook CEO met with U.S. lawmakers Monday ahead of his testimony. He's been under growing pressure to testify out after a data firm with links to President Trump's 2016 campaign reportedly accessed Facebook user's information without their knowledge. Regulations on social media are on the table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL NELSON, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: My sense is that he take it seriously because he knows that there is going to be a hard look at regulation. If it's not his site someone else can be misuse for people who are trying to do us harm and at least he understands that regulation could be right around the corner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[03:24:59] CHURCH: And for more on what we can expect in this hearing CNN's money, technology, and business correspondent Samuel Burke joins us now live from Jerusalem. Good to see you, Samuel. So, just how risky could this proved to be for Mark Zuckerberg and what's expected to come out of his testimony?
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mark Zuckerberg is the first person to admit that he's very uncomfortable in these situations. He told us in his exclusive TV interview just a couple weeks ago that in all likelihood he would not be the person from Facebook who would show up that Congress that he didn't think he was the right person for this that he doesn't like being in front of TV cameras.
But there's been so much pressure on the stock price and so much of the world spotlight shined on him that he realized he had to do this.
Now we know there are reports that stated he's been propping with P.R. teams, people from Republicans and Democrat, a former White House administration officials. So, he's going to come to this situation prepared when you have the type of experience that he has being a CEO, the type of money that he has at his disposal -- at his disposal to prepare for something like this.
We've never seen Mark Zuckerberg flounder, but the line that we expect to hear over and over again, Rosemary, it's my fault. There's no reason for him to argue with any of these members of Congress at this point. The company is already fallen on its order.
We've seen the prepared remarks say that he's going to say listen, at the end of the day I am the face of a face -- I'm the face of Facebook, I'm responsible for everything that happened here so this is my fault. At the end of the day expect to hear that line over and over again not just today but also tomorrow when he testifies in front of the House as well.
CHURCH: Yes, indeed, and Facebook of course has shown it's not able to police itself sufficiently so U.S. lawmakers are considering social media regulations.
The latest example, the biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is actually fake, we have learned. So what sort of regulations might we see come out of this to tackle problems like that?
BURKE: This issue with the Facebook page for a Black Lives Matter one of the most popular ones out there actually being run by a middle-aged white guy in Australia. Lots of fundraising had been done around this page, maybe even $100,000 of money sent to accounts linked to this page going to accounts in Australia really is another major dent for Facebook because what it shows that Facebook doesn't really had control over the platform.
But even more importantly, people see these types of stories and they start to think about what they're doing on social media, are they actually interacting with real human beings do these pages actually come from the United States whatever country your interest is being orchestrated. In St. Petersburg or in Australia in this case, and that's the more fundamental question here.
Because it's not really Cambridge Analytica that's on trial here this whole scale. This is about the whole bigger picture of what Facebook's business model is and that's big data.
And so what's really under the microscope here is how we interact with technology. I'm in Israel which is known for having so many startups and all the CEOs I've been talking to here, Rosemary, are saying, listen, they know that Facebook if having to change how they do business the biggest tech company in the world that's going to trickle down all these tech companies are having to take a second look at what they do with data and how they interact with us the users, the consumer.
CHURCH: Yes, and those users are becoming more discerning as they see stories like this--
CHURCH: -- at the spotlight on them. Samuel Burke, thanks so much, joining as there live from Jerusalem.
We'll take a short break here, but still to come on CNN Newsroom, Syria and Russia are pointing the finger at Israel over missile attack and we will tell you how Israel is responding in a live report.
Plus, CNN face with two members of a brutal ISIS cell dubbed "The Beatles" by their hostages. They display arrogance and little remorse for the atrocities they were accused of carrying out in Syria.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: A very warm welcome back to you all, I'm Rosemary Church, I want to update you now on the main stories we have been following in this hour. FBI agents raided the offices and hotel room of Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer. A source tells CNN, some of the documents seized relate to Stormy Daniels. She is the adult film star who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump back in 2006 and said she was paid by Cohen to keep it quiet.
China's President Xi Jinping, is promising to lower import tariffs on vehicles and other products as an economic forum in China, President Xi also pledge to protect international property rights. As address at least some of the criticism the Trump administration cited when threatening China with tariffs.
President Trump warns nothing is off the table in response to the suspected chemical attack in Syria. And he also suggested that he would take action against Syria's allies, Russia and Iran very soon. Nikki Haley the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. also called Russia out of its involvement in Syria's conflict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The Russian regime whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims. We have tried that before. We must not overlook Russia and Iran's roles in enabling the Assad regime's murderous destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Meanwhile, Russia is blaming Israel for striking a Syrian air base, the Russian defense ministry claims two Israeli F-15 war planes launched guided missiles from Lebanese territory. Syrian state media said that a number of people were killed or injured in the strike. Israel has not confirm or denied its involvement. Syria's U.N. ambassador says the U.S. is also complicit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (TRANSLATOR): Though this aggression would not have occurred were if not for the unlimited and consistent support by the American administration to Israel. The American administration guarantees immunity so that Israel is not held accountable. This allows Israel to continue to practice state terrorism and threaten peace and security in the region and in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: CNN's Oren Liebermann joins me now from Jerusalem, so, Oren, Syria and Russia blame Israel for deadly airstrikes on a Syrian air base, but not a word from Israel. How likely is it that anything will be said about this in the hours and days ahead?
OREN LEIBERMANN, CNN CORESPONDENT: Well, it's worth pointing out that Iran and Lebanon have also blamed Israel in this strike, but as you pointed out that this does not change the fact that nobody here officially has made any comment. Not the Prime Minister's office, not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not the army and it's not likely to change. That is generally Israel's policy if and when it operates in Syria. The idea being that if you claim responsibility, it could appears as boasting and give Syria or other countries even more incentive to respond.
But the former commander of the Israeli air force speaking as analyst said, look there's little doubt at this point it was Israel who acted in Syria. The question is, what was the targeted? It was the chemical weapon as suspected used of chemical weapons, the air force commander said that cannot go without a response, but the real target here may be very well been Iran as the T-4 air base is a joint Syrian- Iranian military air base.
Iran effectively made that clear or confirmed that, when the semiofficial as far as news agencies said that four Iranians were killed in that strike on the base. Rosemary, it's worth pointing out that Syria -- I'm sorry, Israel and Russia have coordination -- military coordination over the skies of Syria.
[03:35:04] So, if Russia outed Israel's carrying out the strike, that leaves little doubt and it was in fact, Israeli Air Force that acted there.
CHURCH: Many thanks to Oren Liebermann, joining us live there from Jerusalem.
Joining me now to talk more about this retired U.S. Army Colonel Peter Mansoor. Thank you, sir, for being with us.
RET. COL. PETER MANSOOR, U.S. ARMY: My pleasure. CHURCH: Now, President Trump is right now considering how to respond
to the suspected chemical weapons attack all citizens in Douma, Syria, as a military man yourself, how do you think the U.S. should respond to this and what are the best military options on the table for Mr. Trump?
MANSOOR: Well, I think what he will do is some sort of limited strike as he did a year ago in response to a chemical attack, but if he really wanted to be effective in his response, he would reconsider pulling U.S. troops out of the conflict. And he will say, right, well, we suggested that the U.S. should leave, but this was the response of the government in Damascus to, you know, our olive branch, and so we are staying and we are going to help rebuild this country and make sure that this sort of thing doesn't happen in future.
CHURCH: And I wanted to ask you something on that very point, because of course, Senator John McCain and indeed, other critics blame Mr. Trump's recent comments about pulling U.S. Troops in Syria for this alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma. Senator McCain said, Mr. Trump actually emboldened President Bashar al Assad, do you agree with the assessment?
MANSOOR: I think that Assad was emboldened and it also could be -- him sticking his finger in the eye of the Trump administration for the strike that occurred a year ago. And saying OK, well, we are going to be here forever, and you will be gone in six months. So, we are not afraid of you. I think that hopefully this will make the Trump administration reconsider its timeline for withdrawal in Syria, but we will see.
CHURCH: Well, White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, responded to those criticisms from Senator McCain and others, let's us just listen to what she had to say on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And I think that it is outrageous to say that the president of the United States greenlit something that is atrocious as the actions that had taken place over the last several days. The president once again made very clear how he feels about those types of actions, when this took place roughly a year ago and we are going to continue looking at all of our options on the table currently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So, what do you say to that? And is it possible to say that troops need to come home, but the U.S. needs to send a military message to President Assad to stop chemical weapons attacks. Does that military approach work, because earlier we are in that news conference, she implied that that was perfectly OK, to have that separation, to have the troops pulled out, but send this military message?
MANSOOR: I think, what we are seeing over the past 17 years or so of conflict in the Middle East is that the only thing that sends a concrete message is the willingness to see conflicts through to their conclusion. Whenever American troops come home as they did in 2011, terrorists are emboldened. In 2011, it was the rise of ISIS. Who knows, if we are going to have ISIS 2.0 with the withdrawal of American troops this time around?
You know, you can't just strike with cruise missiles every now and then and expect the governments to behave, so, hopefully the Trump administration will learn from this, but we will see.
CHURCH: And just very quickly, when the president says he will decide on a response in the next 24 to 48 hours, is it wise to signal a timeframe like that? Does it remove the element of surprise perhaps?
MANSOOR: Well, you know, I think it's -- somewhat humorous, because during the campaign, he criticized the Obama administration for telegraphing its plan by announcing military plans ahead of time and here now, he is in the same position. This is also going to be interesting, it will be one of the first decision points for the new National Security Adviser, John Bolton. So, we will see perhaps a little bit of where the future of the administration lies in the days ahead.
CHURCH: Thank you so much for being with us, and offering your military analysis. We appreciate it.
MANSOOR: Thank you.
CHURCH: And we will keep a very close eye on that story of course. But, I want to bring you this, CNN has spoken with members of a brutal sell of British ISIS Spiders known by their hostages as the Beatles. They are accused of beheading, water boarding and crucifying aid workers and journalist in Syria. Those horrors were often paraded in barbaric videos, distributed on social media. The last two members of the cell captured by the U.S. backed Syrian Kurds agreed to speak to CNN, amid international paralysis on where they should face trial and imprisonment. Our Nick Paton Walsh, spoke with them in Northern Syria.
[03:40:11] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Once on the worlds most wanted, but now nobody wants them. The last two of the British ISIS cell, dubbed the Beatles accuse of waterboarding, crucifixion, accessory to the beheadings of Western hostages jailed in Syria. Have a face justice is now a matter of hot debates and a suddenly with bare phase hypocrisy fond of the home they spawn.
Would you prefer to be tried anywhere in particular, like the U.K.?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely from familiar -- familiarity is the easier option. My experience with the British judges is that there quite fair and just, beyond my matter, fishing ships.
PATON WALSH: In fact they revel in their rights, like presumed innocence, when I told him several Westerners they allegedly imprinted an abused in ISIS jails like these have identified their voices and faces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just accusation, legally speaking. You know, if Britain said we are going to deal with you by with barbaric law or with law from the medieval ages, then, yes, hang drawn, court me, tight?
That is not the case, I'm just merely pointing that out. I don't believe in democracy, but I'm 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American administration or the British government, they decided they want to be champions of the Sharia, Islamic law and apply Islamic law upon myself and him, by all means. If not, then they should adhere to that which they claimed to be champions of.
PATON WALSH: ISIS is nearly defeated, but the arrogance of their beliefs is not.
What keeps you awake at night?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This lice in my clothes. In the place I'm sleeping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there will be some people saying you make a joke of the question, saying that, what has gone before to you is being a bit of a laugh. You are saying, there's nothing that you have witnessed here in Syria or been involved in that has troubled you?
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 an F-16 jet flying in the sky. And some Syrian neighbors with these kids crying.
PATON WALSH: There's so much bravado, it is hard to see if they really think at all of the videos, the savage beheadings were as sickening as the rest of humanity thought.
Do you regret that sort of messaging?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, definitely. It would have be damaging and this regrettable that families had to see that.
PATON WALSH: So (inaudible) is dead now, what kind of a guy was he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a friend of mine.
PATON WALSH: For what reasons some.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For what reasons was he my friend? Do you need to be a reason to be a friend of somebody?
PATON WALSH: I was just asking to describe him as a person?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, describe him as a person. Obviously I know people in the western world will not going to want to hear this, but, the truth has to be said. He is one of the most loyal friends I have had. Trustworthy, honest, outstanding.
PATON WALSH: Were you surprised when you saw the videos of him cutting off people's head?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprising, yes.
PATON WALSH: You didn't approve?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did I approve of the act or did I approve of the video?
PATON WALSH: Did you approve the act by your friend?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would rather not answer that question.
CHURCH: And the British government has not confirmed what it plans to do with the two main or whether it has revoked the British citizenship, some say they should face justice in the U.K. Others object saying they must never come back to the country they have disgraced.
We will take a short break, but coming up next, an FBI raid hits close to U.S. President Donald Trump, he will see his furious response and what could come next.
[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. The Special Counsel in the Russia investigation is reportedly looking at a payment, a Ukrainian billionaire made to President Trump foundation. The New York Times reports Victor Pinchuk made a $150,000 donation in exchange for Mr. Trump's 20 minute video appearance at a conference in here, back in 2015. The report says the Special Counsel is taking a broader look could sources of foreign money to Mr. Trump and his associates in the years leading up to the election.
Well, speaking of Robert Mueller, he passed along information to a New York prosecutor that led to Monday's FBI raid on Michael Cohen's office. Cohen is personal attorney to U.S. President Donald Trump. Now according to the New York Times, agents seize emails, tax documents, business records and communications between Cohen and Mr. Trump. A source tells CNN, some of the documents seized relate to porn style Stormy Daniels. She alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and was paid by Cohen to keep it quiet.
Well, Michael Cohen has been on Mr. Trump's team for more than a decade now, why does the president keep them around, well, two possible reasons. His is loyal to a folds and he takes care of business. Brian Todd, takes a closer look at Donald Trump sometimes worthless fixer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And yet the president of United States -- AUDIENCE: Yes.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michael Cohen's says he will always protect his client, Donald Trump.
MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: He is a good man. He is the man who cares deeply about this country.
TODD: For 12 years Cohen has been Trump's personal attorney or as many call him, trump's fixer. One former Trump campaign officials says Cohen is a less cool version of Ray Donovan, Showtime's fictional Hollywood fixer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh Jesus, Ray.
TODD: But if Cohen is less cool than Donovan, observers say his every bit as tenacious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Cohen is not averse to threatening people, he is a guy who carries a pistol and an ankle holster. He makes it clear to people that he's a tough guy.
TODD: From sometimes ruthlessly maneuvering against people who have damaging information on Trump to try to facilitate business deals for his boss, observers say Michael Cohen, consistently doggedly displays the one characteristic Donald Trump values most.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is very little in the world that is more important to Donald Trump than loyalty and Michael Cohen has shown for more than a decade that he will hold confidences and that he will fight for Trump in a way that Trump likes and that is to hear hard, to always hit back harder than you had been hit.
TODD: But Cohen has been criticized for his legal handling of the Stormy Daniels case. Daniel's attorney says the agreement Cohen drew up for Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair was quote sloppy.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIEL'S ATTORNEY: The way that this was handled in the documentation quite honestly this was amateur hour.
TODD: Cohen, recently said he used his own personal funds to quote, facilitate a payment to the porn star, shortly before the 2016 election without Trump's knowledge or reimbursement. Something legal experts say is almost unheard of.
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is extraordinary and I would tell you that probably 99.9 percent of the lawyers in America would never even contemplate doing this.
TODD: In response Cohen told CNN his legal arguments and documents in the Daniels case or airtight and that he believes its Daniels who is now liable for billions of damages based on her conduct. But Cohen is also been criticized from a pure public relations standpoint. [03:50:11] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the entire thing was either
reckless, naive or completely incompetent.
TODD: Crisis Communications Specialist, Michael Ruben, says it was a bad idea to believe paying Daniels off would make her go away. What should Cohen has told Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell him this sin t going to work. That is what he really should have done, there was nothing they could have done to make this go away. So dealing with it honestly is pretty much the only choice they have.
TODD: Cohen, defends himself on that score as well, telling us he hopes Daniels and her attorney are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame, that he thinks that will diminish significantly when a judgment is entered against her as for the allegations of an affair, Mr. Cohen, reiterated his strong denial of an affair on three separate occasions. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: Well, South African Court has ruled that Osco Pistorius, will have to serve his entire 15 year prison sentence. The Paralympic gold medalist was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend revisiting camp in 2013. The stories was originally sentenced to six years in prison, but prosecutors later got the sentence extended to 15 years. Lawyers for the story is so where appealing that ruling now prosecutors say he has no more legal options available.
Well, Queen Elizabeth love of trees could help fight climate change. Still to come, a look at the new documentary that showcases her ambitious common canopy project. We will be back with that in just a moment.
CHURCH: This is going to be a big spring for the Royals in the United Kingdom, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child later this month. We still don't know the exact due date, but Kensington Palace says, he or she will be born at Mary's Hospital in London, where their other two children were born.
In the meantime, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say they don't need any wedding gifts, their asking well-wishers to make donations instead, they picked seven charities for courses such as women's impoundment, HIV and AIDS, homelessness and the environment. The couple will tie the knot on May 19.
And Queen Elizabeth efforts to establish forest conservation programs across the Commonwealth are featured in a new documentary the Queens Green Planet is next Monday it shows her strolling through Buckingham Palace's Gardens with Sir David Attenborough, she talks about the trees planted there and expresses a hope that if more are planted, that climate could change again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, ENGLISH BROADCASTER: I suppose actually the love
that trees which you will be presented is going to change as our economy changes -- there will be all kinds of different trees during the most 50 years, maybe.
QUEEN ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF UNITED KINGDOM: It maybe use to be -- great to here that.
ATTENBOROUGH: Right here I will say, this is a sundial, neatly parked in the shed.
QUEEN ELIZABETH: Isn't it good dear?
QUEEN ELIZABETH: Have well thought of that?
[03:55:00] That this was park in the shed. It wasn't in the shed, the original, I'm sure. Maybe we could move it.
ATTENBOROUGH: Maybe they are already working on overtime log.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Special moments there. Well, if John Bolton expected his first day on the job as President Trump's National Security Adviser to be a quiet one, it didn't exactly work out that way. His boss is considering military action in Syria and tensions with Russia are close to boiling over. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You probably thought your first day at work was stressful, but John Bolton has to advise on whether to attack Syria and the leader President Trump calls animal Assad, and to mere mention of his own name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember John Bolton, yes. You remember him as the --
MOOS: Bolton get booed on liberal leaning comedy shows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mustache who grew a man.
MOOS: Critic greeted his arrival with tweets like, Happy John Bolton day, we are all going to die. While a supporter posted feeling safer already. You know how that man is summon with the bat signal. That is how Bolton fans portray the White House, sending for its very own Mustachio Crusader, using the volts signal.
John Bolton now has the presidents back, literally. To sitting behind President Trump back at Monday's cabinet meeting. John Bolton's facial hair is even inspired Michael Bolton.
And there's this John Bolton in an actor. Who plays the U.S. Attorney General on Madam Secretary?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And remove the president effective immediately.
MOOS: They voted to temporarily remove the president, because he had a tumor and was about to blow up Russian's satellite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's my National Security team?
MOOS: Here he is, well, the actor John Bolton poke National Security Advisor, John Bolton, by tweeting what we need is a National Maturity Adviser. Want them or hate him, John Bolton seems to press everyone's buttons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's not the nuclear button, Sean. To get Lou Dopson speaker phone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. Hello it is Dopsie.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
CHURCH: And we leave with that. Thanks for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church, connect with me anytime on Twitter at Worlds CNN. The news continues now with Max Foster in London. You are watching CNN. Have a great day.