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World Leaders Weigh Syria Response; Comey Unleashes Character Assault on Trump; Ex-Doorman Speaks Out on Trump Rumor; Atletico Edge Sporting 2-1 On Aggregate; UEFA Champions Europa League Draws Friday. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 13, 2018 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour, a killer blow, a small strike or perhaps nothing at all. We look at the military options the U.S. and its allies are weighing in response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria.

Trade turnaround: Donald Trump once called the Trans-Pacific Partnership a disaster. So why is the U.S. president talking about putting the deal back on the table?

Plus a porn star, a Playmate, tabloids and hush money and now a doorman?

A new report fitting the pattern around the people around Donald Trump paying others to shut up.

Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

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SESAY: The international community is weighing the next moves again Syria. In Britain, prime minister Theresa May met with her senior ministers Thursday, agreeing that actions need to be taken. Britain said it is, quote, "highly likely" Syria did use chemical weapons on its people.

Ms. May also spoke with the U.S. president, Donald Trump. French President Emmanuel Macron says France has proof Syria was behind the attack and he's in contact with the U.S. president.

For his part, President Trump met again with military leaders and appeared to dial back his earlier rhetoric.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are looking very, very seriously, very closely at the whole situation. And we'll see what happens, folks. We will see what happens. It is too bad that, that, the world puts us in a position like that.

But, you know as I said this morning, we have done a great job with ISIS. We have absolutely decimated ISIS. But, now we have to make some further decisions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, CNN international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is live in Beirut, Lebanon.

Fred, as we wait what comes next on the part of the U.S., U.K. and France, the underlying question is still is what would any possible military strike actually achieve when it comes to the situation in Syria?

What's the view where you are?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think a lot of that, Isha, would depend on how bug a military strike that was and how concerted the action would be and how prolonged.

If this was a one-off strike on the battlefield as far as the situation between the Assad government and the rebels fighting against it are concerned, it probably wouldn't make very much of a difference.

And then the big question also is would it make a difference as far as the deterrence of the use of chemical weapons is concerned? Maybe yes, maybe no. Again, that depends on how big the strike is actually going to be.

But I think one of the things that the U.S. has been saying and also the European countries as well, not just Britain and France but also Germany, is they're saying one of the things the international community cannot allow is for the use of chemical weapon or weaponized chemicals, sort of precursors, to become normalized in conflict once again. They say there's a ban on chemical weapons for a reason and that these weapons need to remain outlawed.

And no response, if there really was a chemical attack that went on, would probably be something that would quite dangerous, because that could stop deterring the use of chemical weapons, not just in this conflict but other conflict as well.

So I think a lot of it is about setting a precedent here, saying we're not going to allow this to happen if indeed it did happen. I think that's one of the reasons also why you have a lot of parties now saying they need to establish the full facts of what actually happened on the ground as far as possible.

That's one of the reasons why it's so important for that mission by the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is sort of now getting underway there in Damascus, to try and find out what happened, for that mission to go forward -- Isha. SESAY: To stay with the OPCW and their mission, what's our level of understanding of cooperation they'll receive from Syria and how freely they'll be able to move around and get the facts?

PLEITGEN: That's going to be the big question. One of the things we know is that both Russia and the Syrian government had said they're willing to cooperate with the mission of the OPCW. They're willing to let them go there and willing to let them work independently.

Is that really going to be the case on the ground?

That's going to be one of the big questions that presumably will be answered by this weekend. On Saturday, apparently the OPCW wants to begin its work on the ground there. I covered the last time the OPCW worked around the Damascus area in 2013 with that chemical weapons attack there, which was actually fairly close to the area with its new alleged chemical weapons attack happened as well.

And the situation, Isha, at least on the fact of it, is a lot easier this time than it was back then.

Back then they had to cross front lines into rebel-held territory. The Syrian government had to make that possible. The rebels had to make that and there was a lot of political problems that needed be solved first.

Now in this case --

[02:05:00]

PLEITGEN: -- that area has essentially been taken over by the Russians and by the Syrian military. In fact, we heard this morning apparently the Russian military police have now been deployed to that area.

On the face of it, there is no reason why these inspectors should not have full access to that site and shouldn't be able to work without any sort of things getting in their way. Whether or not that is going to happen, though, and we have to keep in mind it is Syria and we have seen a lot of things happen in the past. We think that things should be easy but in fact they are not. So people are going to be keeping a close eye on it.

But at least as far as any sort of deterrence is concerned, there really shouldn't be any there for them to start working.

SESAY: Never has a truer word been said, as Fred just said, it is Syria and anything could happen. Fred Pleitgen there in Beirut, we appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's bring in CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona and CNN contributor, Jill Dougherty, a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and former CNN Moscow bureau chief.

Welcome to both of you.

Col. Francona, let's start with you.

How pleased are you that the rhetoric about strikes from the U.S. president has seemingly been dialed back if you will and we have not seen an attack on Syria in the immediate aftermath of those comments he made on Monday?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I think this is a good thing. This now looks like a more deliberate process. We are taking the time to consult our allies. If there is going to be any action, it is going to be in concert with those allies. And I think that just provides a much better international picture for everyone.

It doesn't look like the Americans running off and acting unilaterally again, like we did last year. I think that's a good thing.

I also think it's good that we are also bringing in -- talking to the Russians. Because there may be a way to come up with a diplomatic solution to this. One can always hope.

Like we did, two years ago -- or sorry, in 2013, when there was that agreement with the Syrians, were supposed to get rid of all their chemical weapon. We know that that didn't actually happen. But you know, it's always better to have the options available to you.

SESAY: Col. Francona, appreciate that. Want to go to Jill.

Jill, take a listen to the Russian ambassador to the U.N.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot exclude any possibilities unfortunately because we saw, we saw messages that they're coming from Washington. They were very bellicose. They know we are there. I hope, I wish there was a dialect through proper channels from this to prevent any dangerous, any dangerous developments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Jill, those comments made by the Russian ambassador to U.N., are they part of a broader effort on the part of Moscow to also dial down the rhetoric, dial back the tension of recent days?

How do you read it?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, they have been pushing, the Russians have been making it very clear in everything that they say that the United States should not do this. So they have been warning off the Americans.

And now, when you hear that there kind of a pullback on the part of President Trump and his administration, at least to think about it and evaluate what is going on, I think the Russians are relieved.

But that doesn't mean they're not reacting. They have moved their ships apparently out of Tartus, the naval base that they have. They're taking other steps in preparation for any type of possible attack.

And I think the one things, when the ambassador talks about the danger of war, that is something that the Russians have done, because, they -- militarily, if you just took military action around the world, conventional military action, the Russians would certainly be not as strong as the United States and NATO conventionally.

But, when it comes to nuclear weapons, they are. They're at parity with the United States. So they tend to sometimes rhetorically escalate things to a warning that, you know, this could lead to nuclear war type of thing.

But, that said, it is a dangerous situation. And I think, at least to this point, they're hoping that, you know, as they, as President Putin said, calm and rational thought will prevail and that they will be able to get some type of agreement at least not to have a direct conflict between the United States and Russia.

SESAY: Rick Francona to you. I want you to listen to the challenge facing the United States and allies, all of which are contemplating action. Listen to Defense Secretary Mattis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTIS: There is a tactical concern, ma'am, that innocent people, we don't --

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MATTIS: -- add to any civilian deaths and do everything humanly possible to avoid that. We are trying to stop the murder of innocent people.

But on a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Col. Francona, that's the question here.

How do you mount a response that is tough and yet doesn't escalate things?

FRANCONA: Well, it's your target selection and how well you execute any kind of planning. You know, if you hit an airfield and you hit the right spots on airfield -- and the cruise missiles that we use, the air launched weapons we would use, virtually everything we use is precision guided now. We can hit specific parts of an airfield, parts of a specific facility. And that lessens the possibility of any civilian casualties.

But I think he's also making reference to the fact that there's virtually no military installation in Syria that doesn't have some sort of Russian presence. When the Russians came there in 2015, they started off, just up in their base area and they were operating from there. Now they've pretty much moved out and come down to almost a battalion

level in the Syrian army. They're everywhere. And we see the Iranian presence as well. So we don't want to be in the position of killing a bunch of Russian troops on a Syrian airfield. Because then that pushes the Russians into some sort of a response.

And, as Jill said, we don't want to escalate this any further. What we don't need is, you know, a U.S.-Russian armed confrontation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

SESAY: Indeed.

Jill, you were listening to our Fred Pleitgen, who brought us the news the OPCW inspectors are currently in Lebanon. They will be making their way to Syria and obviously to get to Douma to do their investigations, to figure out what exactly happened there.

The report that they produce, again, to stress to our viewers, won't assign blame, responsibility, who was responsible, for that suspected chemical attack. But it will lay out the facts as they find them.

How important is that report to what happens next in terms of the decisions made by France and the U.K.?

DOUGHERTY: I think it is important. But, you know, the Russians are very likely to -- if they -- let's say, the OPCW say it was chemical weapons. It doesn't say who did it. And so, the Russians might take a page from what they have done in other cases and I'll mention one in a second, to say, you know, well it wasn't the Syrian government.

So it -- that lack of conclusion, yes, you know, it is chemical weapon of some type perhaps. But they won't say who did it. That leaves a question open.

Note that in the other plot, the subplot that has been going on back in London, with the poisoning of the Skripals, that former spy and daughter, the OPCW did actually find that -- that the -- a chemical weapon of some type, of substance, a toxic substance, was used.

And Russia is accepting that. But they're also in the same breath saying, yes, but they didn't say it was a so-called Novichok. And it doesn't say where it came from. So I think you can probably, you know, expect that there would be the same type of approach on this issue with the OPCW in Syria.

SESAY: Yes. It's probably a report that all parties can use to -- with their own designs, if you will.

Col. Francona, joining us there from Oregon and Jill Dougherty in Seattle, my thanks to both of you.

A quick break here and then a bombshell new book is about to hit. Fired FBI director James Comey has some choice words for President Trump. What he's saying and the Republican plan to fight back.

Plus we're learning about another alleged Trump related hush payment. What the president's former doorman is saying about it next.

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SESAY: We are following a lot of big stories for you right now. First, a waiting game is on as world leaders decide whether to bomb Syria over that suspected chemical attack.

Also another alleged Trump related hush payment has come to light. This one is about a former Trump doorman reportedly paid by the "National Inquirer" to keep quiet about an alleged affair Mr. Trump had with his housekeeper and a rumor that he fathered a child with her. An allegation that has never been proven and a story the "Inquirer" denies.

We're also learning more about those FBI raids on Michael Cohen, the president's personal attorney. A source says Cohen often recorded telephone conversations and it is likely they were scooped up by federal agents.

And, yes, there is more. Newly released excerpts from fired FBI director James Comey's new book slam President Trump's character. Comey describes Mr. Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader.

And he describes what happened during a private dinner, when the president brought up the most salacious detail from that infamous Russia dossier.

Comey writes, "He brought up what he called the golden showers thing, adding that it bothered him if there was even a 1 percent chance his wife, Melania, thought it was true. He just rolled on unprompted, explaining why it couldn't possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him.

Joining me now is CNN political commentator and Republican consultant, John Thomas, who was snickering through that.

Also with me, Mo' Kelly, a political commentator and host of "The Mo' Kelly Show."

So John, I guess I should start with you. Not only does James Comey lay out President Trump's irritation with this element of the dossier, Comey also explains how the president repeatedly tried to explain why it couldn't possibly be true.

I just want to give one of the reasons as laid out by Comey in this book, seen by "The Washington Post." He says, I am a germophobe. There's no way I would let people pee on each other around me.

(CROSSTALK) JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He is, actually, he is. He's a germophobe.

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: Seriously, Comey is pulling back the curtain on this presidency as he lays it out in this book. And it's not a pretty picture.

THOMAS: Yes, he's showering us with details, some could say.

SESAY: Really?

THOMAS: This tell-all reminds me of a disgruntled employee who is selling books.

SESAY: Except he's a former head of the FBI.

THOMAS: Absolutely, who was widely discredited by both Republicans and Democrats, let's not forget. Saying he, that he, I think Chuck Schumer attacked him saying he lost his confidence. Maxine Waters says he needs to be fired. Republicans said he needs to be fired.

Look, haven't read the book. So I can't wait to look at it. And I know how the news media works, that we lock on to salacious details more than we might other substance of the book.

But this guy is clearly ticked off. He thinks he shouldn't have been fired. And he is ready to burn down the president over it.

SESAY: Mo', from what you know and I will read some other quotes...

MO' KELLY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There have been problems with James Comey as far as how he did his job. And we can make the argument that he should be fired. But I don't think we can make the argument that he has been untruthful.

We can question his decision making in the moment but I'm not so sure he can question his integrity. And just because a former employee may be disgruntled, it doesn't mean that they're lying.

SESAY: Let me read another excerpt. And then you can let rip. This, also from the book, from Comey.

"Flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the mob," he's saying this what his engagements with Trump brought to mind.

"Flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the mob, the silent circle of assent, the boss --

[00:20:00]

SESAY: -- "in complete control, the loyalist oaths, the us versus them world view, the lying about all things large and small in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality --

[02:20:00]

SESAY: -- "and above the truth."

I hear what you're saying, that people weren't happy with him. But this is still damning.

THOMAS: Yes it is, certainly it's going to spin the news cycle for at least a week on this. And I read an excerpt where he said he went into Trump Tower trying to brief the president. And all the president and Sean Spicer could talk about was how to spin this. And that was appalling to the FBI director, that perhaps Trump and his team were thinking of political ramifications of this.

Remember what's interesting about the frame of how Comey is telling this story is he's almost telling it as a non-partisan, like he's is above it all, that he's just trying to set the record straight.

I just don't think that's fair. Remember, here's a guy who said that he has never has been an anonymous source to a reporter before but it turns out that he had. He leaked to his friend, a professor, that then leaked a story.

I just -- the thing smacks to me of revenge. I also think an interesting component is that he's so hung up on the president's style of how he behaves in office. That is so abhorrent to him. And it will be interesting to see if he actually talks about the policies that the president has enacted.

SESAY: Well, Mo', James Comey does also say that this is a president who doesn't understand the role of the FBI in America, in American life. I think is it -- does it make it of less value if the book, to John's point, focuses more on the president's behavior and demeanor and carriage in office?

Isn't that part of the whole thing of being president and being presidential?

KELLY: Absolutely. There is style and there is substance. And this is not going to change anyone's minds. If you believe James Comey, you will believe the book. If you don't believe James Comey, you will not believe the book.

But we're grading this on a bell curve in a sense that we're holding Donald Trump to one standard and not applying that same standard to James Comey. There are people who have strained relationships with the truth. And then there are people who are not on speaking terms with the truth, like Donald Trump. And I don't think we can say that about James Comey. He doesn't have a history of habitual lying.

THOMAS: You're right. The unintended consequence I think of this book may have, besides it's a bad news cycle for Trump, is the comparisons to the mob. While James Comey thinks he is portraying this bad picture of Donald Trump, it in a way, feeds into Trump's victim narrative that he is being treated like a member of the mob.

(CROSSTALK) THOMAS: His attorney's office is raided.

KELLY: And if there are charges that come out of that, it might then fit the picture.

THOMAS: But they're treating him like they would attack a mobster, some might say unfairly.

KELLY: You mean like paying off people and trying to hide --

THOMAS: Raiding his private attorney's office.

SESAY: You say they're treating him like someone in the mob. I think people would say they're treating him in the way they would treat any one where there is a suspicion that something nefarious has gone on, unproven. But they're investigating that, that under this country, this Constitution, no one is above the law, including the President of the United States.

THOMAS: That's true, but in the aggressive tactics that they use against President Trump are the same ones they use against members of the mob because they want to win at all costs.

I think Mo''s right, if you like James Comey and you like what he has to say, you're going to agree with him. If you like President Trump and you think he is getting screwed, you're going to disagree with Comey. And this mob narrative will do nothing but reinforce the Republicans' view that Mueller and the guys are unfairly treating Donald Trump.

SESAY: But this is the day it came out that Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, his fixer, as he has been widely described, had been recording conversations while serving the president.

And they were looking for communications when they raided his office, his hotel and his home. And now, Trump allies are concerned about what could have been on the recordings.

I mean, Mo', what is the picture being built here now?

KELLY: Well, if anything, it goes back to when James Comey was praying that there were tapes. We may actually get some tapes which may confirm this mob narrative unproven. But, what we don't know, as I say last night, is what we don't know.

The only thing is we can say -- and the book is very finite in nature. What may be unearthed, allegations are not what Donald Trump seems to be almost exponential in nature.

There's more and more we don't know that he has to defend against, saying nothing of what is going on in Syria, North Korea, and so forth. So I wonder whether this president is going to be able to emotionally weather this moment beyond the week-long news cycle.

(CROSSTALK) THOMAS: I cannot imagine what President Trump is going through right now because he is looking at his entire life. Not his presidency, but his entire life being flipped upside down and anything he has said or has done, that could come back and whether it's illegal or not it might not optically be a conversation that he wants to have. And he is looking at that, playing out, publicly for all to see. He wouldn't want that as a private citizen, never mind president. I think he is feeling that he is more than ever that he's unfairly being treated -- he's being treated unfairly. And I think there is --

[02:25:00]

THOMAS: -- an element of truth to that.

SESAY: Well, as you talk about the uncovering, the digging that continues to go on, we also learned on the same Thursday of this doorman who alleges that he was paid by the parent company of the "National Enquirer" to basically hush up about a story involving the president and his housekeeper and a child being born. CNN has not confirmed this. The "National Enquirer" denies it. Ronan Farrow broke the story. Take a listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONAN FARROW, "THE NEW YORKER": Throughout reporting of all of these stories, sources have said over and over again, including sources close to AMI, we are concerned about the national security implications because we have seen how this company uses dirt it has on other celebrities to influence them.

And that now may be playing out in their eyes with the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: I also want to read the statement from the doorman in question. He put out this statement.

He says, "I was instructed not to criticize President Trump's former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child."

He is standing by the statement.

Again, I know that, you know you have said that, that, you know, the comparisons to the mob are unflattering, unfair and add to the president's sense of victimhood. But these stories surely again do him no favors and lead to more questions being asked about what kind of operation is being run in that Trump orbit of stories being quashed, money being paid, a pattern.

THOMAS: Yes, that's possible. I wouldn't be surprised if in fact those kinds of things happened. I don't know about the child accusation. I know Arnold Schwarzenegger had a problem with that. But I don't know that we don't know anything.

It could have been, quite frankly, there could be a pattern of extortion that people see Donald Trump a billionaire, that may have dirt, that try to extort Donald Trump and this is how they deal with extortion. They pay people off. It may be that side of things, too. We just don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: We do know that he cheats on his wife. We do know that.

OK, after denials, he did cheat on his wife with Stormy and also Karen McDougal.

Can we acknowledge that?

THOMAS: Yes, of course.

KELLY: And we can acknowledge that after 50 years of being a playboy billionaire, there are probably some untoward things in his background which, now that he is trying to, on some level, disassociate himself with or prevent that from coming to the surface, how he might have gone about it in terms of payments or any other behavior is the issue here. And what we may find out --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: Why is that?

But beside the potential, you know, election in kind contributions --

SESAY: But that's important.

THOMAS: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: Well, the fine is actually quite minimal related to it --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- it happens actually all the time.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: No, it does happen all the time. But the issue at hand is, OK, you are going to go back in his whole career about these are how he handles these incidents. You're going to relitigate all the affairs he's had and all the women, how is that relevant to what we are doing in 2018?

KELLY: It isn't. But he made it relevant by making the payment in the days before the election.

THOMAS: For one woman. That's right.

KELLY: But that means that we can also ask the question, I believe in the roach theory, just because you see one, you have to worry about the ones in the walls. And because Karen McDougal, no disrespect to her, and we know that there was a payment made days before the election.

It is fair to surmise there might likely be other women that were paid off in a similar fashion right before the election. We may not be talking about one incident. We may be talking about a pattern, to use your word, of many women, of many incidents, of many issues.

THOMAS: All in 2016.

SESAY: After you brought roaches into it, we are going to end it right here.

KELLY: Oh, so you are worried about roaches after talking about golden showers.

SESAY: I wasn't willingly talking about those. Thank you very much.

Mo' Kelly. This has gone downhill very quickly. Mo' Kelly, John Thomas, thank you, I think.

All right, I want to make a quick correction to something I mistakenly said just a few moments ago, saying that Michael Cohen had described Mr. Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader. Of course, we're talking about Mr. Comey who made those comments.

So quick correction there. Let's take a quick break.

U.S. allies consider joining the military response in Syria. What British and French leaders are saying about a potential strike -- just ahead.

And friends and relatives are demanding answers about their massacred loved ones as they take part in a moving tribute.

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[02:31:44] SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour. Washington is bracing for former FBI Director James Comey's new book that releases next week. According to one expert reported in "The Washington Post" Comey describes President Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego. The president's allies are preparing an extensive campaign to fight back to be overseen by Republican National Committee.

The former doorman at one of Donald Trump's buildings is speaking out. Dino Sajudin says he had an agreement with the owner of the National Enquirer not to go public about a rumor alleging Mr. Trump fathered a love child with a former employee in the late 1980s. The tabloid's parent company denies they paid Sajudin to shut down the story. A chemical weapons watch dog confirms the U.K. government claimed that the nerve agent Novichok was used against the former Russian double agent and his daughter. Russia says it won't accept the report on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons until its experts get access to the victims and the evidence.

Powers are slowly returning to Puerto Rico after electricity was cut to 870,000 customers. Areas affected include parts of the Capital of San Juan. The power authority says it happened when a tree fell on a transmission line. Well, a grim waiting game is still playing out in the skies over Syria. The U.S. is considering how and if it will respond to an alleged chemical attack and it's not alone. France and the U.K. are also weighing military options. Donald Trump says an attack on Syria could come very soon or not so soon at all. CNNs Nick Paton Walsh has more from Northern Syria.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been a day frankly of messaging where Donald Trump's tweets suggesting strikes may not happen soon at all has been something of an out liar French President Emmanuel Macron being quite blunt that he has proof that chemical weapons or at least chlorine was used. Secretary Jim Mattis of defense of the U.S. saying that he's looking for evidence but hoping that any action that comes out of this will not escalate matters on the ground. But the U.K. cabinet too saying they believe there needs to be a response of what they say is a chemical attack by the Assad regime.

A real sense of the drum beat gathering here and another element to potentially placing a timetable on all of this. We are hearing that the U.N.'s chemical weapons inspector, the OPCW are due to start work on Saturday and potentially arrive in Syria even now or at some point during Friday. It's going to be hard frankly for the U.S. or its allies to launch strikes while these investigators are at work inside Syria. That's not good optic, so they have a small window potentially until they risk doing that. It's hard to know exactly what the Syrian regime has done in the days warning they've had since Donald Trump made his intentions potentially clear. They've certainly moved assets away from the obvious targets perhaps closer to Russian airbases.

But we're into a potentially troubling world here. The U.S. has said openly it feels like the last time it did this in April even though it claimed it took out 17 percent of Syria's air force, but it didn't really inflict enough of a lesson up on Damascus. But they need to do more but they're clear they can do so much that they risk aggravating this already nasty six year war. (INAUDIBLE) hours ahead here in a sense early to the messaging from the U.S. and its allies. It's picking up pace here and a window for action before the OPCW gets into their investigations on the ground is tight. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN in Northern Syria.

[02:35:18] SESAY: Well, from the congress in Syria to a different one now. The loved ones of ten Rohingya men in Myanmar who were shot or hacked to death in a shocking active ethnic violence have gathered for a powerful photo. They lined up at a refugee camp in Bangladesh in the same position as their Muslim relatives who were bound together and then murdered by Myanmar military soldiers in Buddhist villages last September. The men were told they were going to a meeting instead they ended up in a mass grave. Outraged family members are demanding justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): I really want to get justice from the U.N. The perpetrators should be killed like my husband was. The U.N. have to avenge my husband without fail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, two Reuters journalists documenting the atrocities have been jailed since December. Earlier this week a judge again denied them bail. They face up to 14 years behind bars. Quick break here, and once called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement a disaster, so why is President Trump now signaling rather, he wants the deal back on the table? We'll discuss just ahead.

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SESAY: Well, back when he was running for President Donald Trump called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement a disaster that would kill American jobs. But following a White House meeting Thursday, he asked his top economic advisers to take new look at the deal. A prominent senator at the meeting says things have changed now that other TPP countries have negotiated an agreement on their own.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is a guy who likes to blue sky a lot and entertain a lot of different ideas, but he multiple times reaffirmed the point that TPP might be easier for us to join now once the TPP 11 is aligned, and we might be the 12th party to those negotiations as opposed to the long process it took to get to TPP. I'm sure there are lots of particulars and I obviously don't speak for the administration at all on any of that. I'm sure there are lots of particulars that they'd want to negotiate. But the president multiple times reaffirmed in general to all of us and looked right at Larry Kudlow and said, Larry, go, get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Another White House spokesman says President Trump wants to look at the newly negotiated deal to see whether it's an improvement over the original plan. CNN producer Anna Stewart joins me now from Tokyo and she's going to help us figure out what about this turnaround with TPP. Anna?

ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'll do my best to help you, Isha. It's a pretty confused message there. I mean President Trump did spend his entire presidential campaign railing against TPP. He hates it. He said it was raping the country and in his very first week in office he took the U.S. out.

[02:40:05] But, yes, now, we're seeing this huge about turn why. OK. Well, first of all, let's look at the China-U.S. tariff spat that certainly is a big factor here. Firstly, because the market turned. Well, it sparked in the last two weeks and, secondly, for the political pressure that has put on Donald Trump and the administration at large particularly from the sort of farmland, the Trump heartlands, lots of Republicans there very unhappy about the potential tariffs that China would wage upon them. TPP could help communicate many of those political factions and also it may help him with his ultimate goal which is to challenge China. One trade expert we spoke to earlier today said, wow, the administration is waking up to the fact that a bilateral pressure approaching China won't work.

But a multilateral approach might. Now, as to why we're seeing it right now that could be explained by a tweet we have from Donald Trump just a few hours ago. He actually said not only he'd join the deal if it was substantially better than the deal offered to Obama. We already have bilateral deals with six of the eleven nations of TPP and we're working hard to make a deal with the biggest of those nations Japan who has hit U.S. hard on trade for years. Well, Isha, next week, President Trump is meeting the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, and trade will certainly going to be on the table for those discussions. Japan has always said it really doesn't want a bilateral trade deal which is -- which is what Trump has been pushing as a sort of replacement for TPP. So perhaps the timing of all of this is ahead of that big meeting, Isha.

SESAY: Yes, I know. A very good point. Do we have any sense, any indications of what Trump is going to want to add or change?

STEWART: I mean does Trump know himself what he wants to add or change? We will all be over the weekend trying to figure this one out. Of course it's very hard to add anything at this stage. This deal is signed. It's on its way to being ratified. This is very 11th hour to suddenly decide may want to revisit it. However, it' likely that they will be able to make some amendments. The U.S. is a pretty powerful ally to have and this block without the U.S. represents some 14 percent of global GDP. With the U.S., it accounts for 40 percent, so it's a much more powerful block with the U.S., so they certainly have some leverage there. Now, what we really expecting to see from Trump is protectionist measures, perhaps protecting America's manufacturing perhaps cars. That was a big deal part of NAFTA where he wanted to make sure that if there were any tariffs lowered or take it away for U.S. cars being traded around the world, he wanted to make sure a certain proportion of those cars were actually made in North America. So we could see some slightly complicated policies like that coming up in the pipeline.

SESAY: So much to look for. Anna Stewart, we'll be counting on you. Anna Stewart there in Tokyo. Thank you. Well, the man who owns the largest land of farm in Italy always wanted to go on a pilgrimage to the Vatican, so when the time came to actually make the journey he decided to take his three llamas with him as you do and that is how he ended up or we ended up rather with these images of Pope Francis blessing the beasts. Walter Mair and his llamas started their journey in February and they walked more than a thousand kilometers to the Vatican City. Thankfully, the return trip to Northern Italy will be quicker. They'll be riding in the back of a truck. The llamas I'm sure are very, very grateful. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angles. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.

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[02:45:31] KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Hello and welcome along to WORLD SPORT. I'm Kate Riley at CNN Center. Well, what a week of European football. We have had dramatic doesn't even seem to sum it up, does it? We'll be getting to the European League action in just a bit. But first, we are still talking about Real Madrid's penalty on Wednesday night which saw them through to the semis in the final moments of their match against Juventus.

It was the new miraculous quarter-final come back from Juve, which ultimately ended in heartbreak for the Syria giants. The match had a burn about absolutely everything including a hotly disputed 97-minute penalty awarded to Real and converted by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The goal enough to take lost blank holes into the semis (INAUDIBLE) aggregate. The whole chain of events left Juve skipper and veteran goalie Gianluigi Buffon, seething with rage, he was so angry. He was then sent off by English referee Michael Oliver. It sent Twitter into overdrive as you can imagine. And it seems that everyone from current players to former players some sounds alike have all had an opinion, and plenty of opinion in the office as well here at CNN. So, ultimately was it a penalty?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZINEDINE ZIDANE, HEAD COACH, REAL MADRID (through translator): if it was a penalty, it was penalty, and that's it. We will not talk about it, we passed through, we are at the semifinals, and we are happy about it. If we want to talk about the match, there was a penalty, but they played a very good match, and we weren't that good. But we believed until the end. And I think that's over the two matches, we deserve to reach the semifinals.

ANDREA AGNELLI, CHAIRMAN, JUVENTUS FOOTBALL CLUB (through translator): It wasn't a penalty for me, but it doesn't make a lot of difference because it's over. What we can see is nowadays, we have the technology to watch the play immediately. The referee has the technology to watch it immediately because what happened today a mistake at the end of the match means for us, we're out of the competition.

If we have the technology, the referee can look at it back. It wasn't a penalty for me, but everyone can have their own opinion. But if you have the technology, you can watch back the plays and it should be good. Your way for introduced as the video assistant referee as soon as possible on European competitions.

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RILEY: Well, after all that drama in the Champions League, it was time for the Europa League on Thursday, a reminder of why this tournament is just so important. The winner gets direct entry into the lucrative pot of gold that is the Champions League for the following season. So, on Thursday, CSKA Moscow, hosting England's Arsenal who were 4-1 up from the first game in London. This match playing out against the backdrop of tense relations between the U.K. and Russia as the fallout from the recent nerve agent poisoning in England continues. And The Gunners' head coach says, that at times like these, sport can be a good thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARSENE WENGER, MANAGER, ARSENAL FOOTBALL CLUB: I think, (INAUDIBLE), we've been no talking, we've been -- we'll come here, and we had no problems to come here. And I don't think that it will affect, the game. And as we're be done, not redeem for what's what I think what's wrong. So, it's best for us to stay out of that. Sport can always play a positive role in our life, and in between countries as well. And that's why if we voice a great opportunity always to facilitate relations, and I'm convinced that tomorrow night will be absolutely normal. And then, work up will be perfectly well organized, I have no problem about that and, by the sport -- maybe sport will have even a more active role during this period than ever.

RILEY: As far as the match itself is concerned the Russians giving themselves real hope when Kirill Nababkin, put them 2-0 up on the night to make it 4-3 overall. But The Gunner is were only start in getting started here with 50 minutes to go, (INAUDIBLE) Danny Welbeck, 21 back then hour run the through level and stoppage time 2-2 ends on the night. The North Atlantaners it goes to the semi 6-3 on aggregate.

So, when it comes to the Champions League, all European Cup as it was Atletico Madrid are a club who's experienced a whole series of near misses. Three times they've been runners-up that's certainly not the case when it comes to the Europa League, though, as they have won it twice in recent seasons. And after a first leg, 2-0 win over Portugal Sporting, Diego Simeone's team were caused (INAUDIBLE) to reach the semis once again. They had an uncomfortable night, though, in Lisbon, Fredy Montero, the Columbian with the only goal on the night Sporting win it 1-0. But exit the tournament, 2-1 on aggregate.

Oh, plenty more to talk about in the Europa League. So, Letty joined Arsenal in the semis but who else is there? Well, we can tell you there was another great come back to tell you about. It came in Austria on Thursday night.

Red Bull Salzberg with 4-2 from the first leg against Lazio. The Italian's even scoring first in the second leg. Before the host hit back in style to score four, yes to repeat, found it's correct, four goals in 20 minutes win 6-5 over the two legs. But the other Red Bull team is out, Leipzig, of the German Bundesliga, using 5-2 at Marseille to go down 5-3 overall.

Well, let's take a closer look at the four semi-finalists which just like the Champions League, we'll feature four teams from four different countries. A great night to The Gunners then, who've never won the European Cup or the Champions League, but they did win -- but they did when the now Defunct cup, Winners' Cup, that was back in 1994.

F.C. Salzberg have been rebranded in recent years but have been in existence from many decades. The Austrian Bundesliga side will be hoping to go on better than the runners-up finish in the 1993, '94 UEFA Cup, which is now known, of course, as the Europa League. Well, not only or Atletico Madrid, two-time Europa League champions can they make it three as we mentioned earlier, they're also three-time Champions League runners-up. And with their proud history of winning domestic and European trophies, no one will fancy playing Marseille in the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League either.

And then, there were four, while you'll want to know when the draws of both tournaments are. The Europa League is the first one out the house. That is it 2:00 Central Eastern time than the Champions League an hour later. CNN WORLD SPORT will be right back.

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RILEY: Welcome back to the show. Continuing with the Champions League for a moment, and there are some out there who say that Gianluigi Buffon should have known better. At the 40 years of age, he should not ever reacted in such a frenzy manner to the awarding of that decisive Cristiano Ronaldo penalty in the Champions League Quarterfinals on Wednesday.

But whether you think it was a penalty or not, and he absolutely felt it wasn't, just remember what was at stake for him here. Of course, he's the captain and he indicated last season that this was likely his last before retirement. If so, to end his Champions League career in that matter seeing red clearly hit him very hard.

This is what he said in the immediate aftermath of the game. "A human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation. Clearly, you cannot have a heart in your chest but a trash can." After that, though, came more of this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GIANLUIGI BUFFON, CAPTAIN, SERIE A CLUB, JUVENTUS (through translator): I could have said anything to the referee, and he should have had the sensibility to forgive me anything. Because what he did is to commit a crime against sportsmanship, and that's why I said the words I had to say.

ZIDANE: Honestly, I don't think Buffon deserved that red card, but we cannot change that either. In any event, that thing that happens at the end it is not going to change or erase everything Buffon was for football. And I still think what's I said before, he's an amazing player, and he just needs to think about everything he did throughout his professional career. And maybe he can play in the Champions League next year. Maybe it's not his last match.

[02:56:15] BUFFON: I am not sad at all. I feel proud inside. A great happiness for what we have done and what we did tonight. I really believe that only Juventus could have done that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RILEY: It's clear, Buffon's anger and prostrations were not with Cristiano himself. Look what happens during one of Gianluigi's post- match interviews. CR7 and himself, (INAUDIBLE) the keeper breaks off from talking to share a hug with the Portuguese. That whole night to the Bernabeu just a whole roller coaster of endless emotions evidently.

While away from the Champions League, and Usain Bolt has touched down on Australia's Gold Coast. The man known as the fastest on the planet headed to Commonwealth Game to watch all the action unfold there, and even when he's not competing he's still very much the main attraction.

Bolt has been enjoying the size and sounds of the surface paradise. He even showing off his deejay skills as well. The 31 year old, eight-time Olympic gold medalist is there in his role as games ambassador. And you can only imagine what it means for these athletes to receive their medals from him. All right, that is it from us. Thank you so much for watching. Stay with CNN. The news is next.

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