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Report: Trump's Son-In-Law Likely to Testify Under Oath; Top U.S. Commander Says Fair Chance Strike Killed Civilians; Gorsuch Confirmation Vote Next Friday. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 28, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's son-in-law and trusted adviser, Jared Kushner, will face questions about a meeting with a Russian banker. CNN has learned today that Kushner's testimony will be a private interview likely under oath. Today, the kremlin claimed it was, quote, unquote, not aware of this meeting. The white house trying to downplay the meeting sending this out, quote, Jared attended the meeting in his capacity as a transition official, nothing of substance was discussed. There was no follow up. End quote.

Let's go to Matthew Chance in Moscow for us this evening. Tell me more about who this Russian banker is?

MATHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His name is Sergey Gorkov. He is very close to Vladmir Putin, who picked him out as the man he wanted to head this important bank, VEB, as it is called. To turn it around because it had so many outstanding loans. He was brought in to turn that around. A lot of the crisis and the problems of the bank have been caused by the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. Mr. Gorkov is a big advocate of getting those lifted and he has spoken about it on several occasions. The bank, itself, is controversial, because it has been sanctioned by the United States. It has been key in financing, industries in eastern Ukraine where there is conflict and in industries in Crimea which Russia annexed in 2014 it is seen as an extension. It was the VEB bank that foot the bill for the Sochi Olympics which cost an estimated $50 billion. It is in the business of making true the dreams of the Russian President.

BALDWIN: Mathew Chane, thank you in Moscow. A top U.S. commander is now telling reporters there was a, quote, unquote, fair chance that that U.S. led coalition was responsible for the air strike that killed dozens of civilians in Iraq. We will show you what's happening there on the ground. CNN is there.


BALDWIN: Breaking news out of Iraq. The top U.S. commander says there is a fair chance that a U.S. air strike in west Mosul killed civilians 11 days ago. We are learning as we are getting devastating new video into CNN showing all this destruction. Iraqi officials say the bodies of 112 men, women, and children were pulled from the rubble. Many hid in their homes following repeated instruction to stay put. CNN's Arwa Damon went into Mosul near the neighborhood absolutely devastated by that strike.


ARWA DAMON, CNN Senior INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The destruction here in western Mosul appears to be significantly more vast and widespread than it was in the eastern side. You also see that there are a lot of these really narrow alleyways that winded deeper into the neighborhoods. This is one of the main challenges that the security forces are facing.

You barely see any civilians but you do see the traces of the life that was, of how bustling these particular areas would have normally been. Part of the challenge when it is civilian population is that even though the Iraqi government encouraged people to stay put, if they wanted to leave, they wouldn't be able to, because it would not allow them to leave. They were holding them across this city as human shields.

He is saying that ISIS really began to decrease its presence so at least this family felt that they could stay. The other reason why they couldn't go, obviously, because it is very difficult for them to try to flee.

The day before this area was is really began to decrease its presence so at least this family felt that they could stay. The other reason why they couldn't go, obviously, because it is very difficult for them to try to flee.

The day before this area was liberated, ISIS took her husband away. They had no food left. He went out to buy food and ISIS took him away. She is still here waiting for her husband, the little girl's uncle to come back. She is hoping somehow, he is going to return home. People here are trying to get information as to which route may or may not be safe and where there are possible sniper positions. The sounds of battle are still all around. Just in being in this one small part of western Mosul, you begin to get a little bit of appreciation for the intensity of the battle, how terrifying it must have been for those civilians that is were stuck here amidst all of this and how phenomenally massive the task of eventually rebuilding this city is going to be. Arwa Damon, CNN, Mosul, Iraq.


BALDWIN: Let me bring in Barbara Starr, who was in on this phone briefing with the general in charge. Barbara, what did he say?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Lieutenant General Steven Townsend wrapped up a lengthy phone call with pentagon press. He was very blunt. It is difficult to hear such candor from many. He made it very clear, the U.S. military was there in that neighborhood. Listen to a bit of what he talked about.


STEVEN TOWNSEND, LIEUTENANT GENERAL, ARMY: If we didn't strike in that area, I would be telling you it is unlikely. Because we struck in that area, there is a fair chance that we did it. My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties. Here is what I don't know. What I don't know is where they gathered there by the enemy. We still have some assessments to do. I would say this. It sure looks like they were. The Iraqis firmly believe that they were gathered there by the enemy. The people we're talking to say that they were gathered there. Whether that was attempting to lure us deliberately or using them as human shields to protect their fighting position, we know they were fight from that position, from that building. There were people you really can't account for in any other way why they would all be there unless they were forced there. That's my initial impression, the enemy had a hand in this. There is also a fair chance that our strike had some role in it.

[15:40:00] (END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: So, one of the working theories, if you will, is what actually brought the house down. Where so many people were. They didn't use a bomb that should have devastated and brought down a whole building. The question may well turn out to be, was that house boobytrapped, were additional explosives set off by a U.S. air strike? All these things are things they are looking at. What kind of ammunition and what kind of explosive? They hope it will help them piece together all the puzzles of this terrible tragedy.

BALDWIN: On the point of boobytraps, let me ask my next guest, she is Donatella Rivera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International who was actually in Mosul one day before the air strike carrying out field investigations on the civilian toll. Thanks for calling in to CNN. On the human side, you talked to so many families there in Mosul.

One man whose 3-year-old son was killed in an air strike. What did they tell you about ISIS, potential boobytraps in homes and snipers on the roofs?

DONATELLA RIVERA, SENIOR CRISIS RESPONSE ADVISER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: I spent the week in Mosul and spoke to many families. None spoke of any boobytraps in the homes. These were families in their homes who loved their loved ones as a result of air strike. The Iraqi government advised them to stay in their homes. They did so by radio announcement. And they did so by throwing leaflets. The homes were struck. They were killed when the houses were destroyed. In most of the cases there were ISIS snipers on the roof. The families were extremely angry. Wondering why the ISIS militants were not targeted rather the whole house was targeted and destroyed with the families inside. This is a series of attacks that could play in east Mosul from as early as November through January. The incident that has happened more recently that has been reported in west Mosul it is something that we have not yet investigated but we have investigated other attacks that have occurred over the past several months where scores of civilians were killed in air strikes.

[15:45:00] BALDWIN: I just saw a young child's glove in the rubble. You talked that when you were there, this one family, who literally shared the last glass of water they had.

RIVERA: Can you repeat your question?

BALDWIN: You talked to a family who told you about having to share -- just in terms of the toll of war and the struggle for resources, they had one last glass of water.

RIVERA: I am sorry. I don't know what you are asking me.

BALDWIN: It's OK. You are far away. I am just glad I could get you as long as I could. Thank you so much, Donatella Rivera, Amnesty International who had been in Mosul recently. The Senate majority leader says Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed next Friday. Will they have the votes? It's going to be a real uphill climb for him to get those 60 votes.


BALDWIN: We now have heard that the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is saying that the Senate will vote on supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch such next Friday and he will be confirm. A lot of Democrats though are planning to filibuster which means the Senate Republicans may invoke the nuclear option. Republicans need 60 votes to block that expected filibuster which would require the support of at least eight Democrats if they can't get there. That's when Republicans may totally change Senate rules invoking the so-called controversial nuclear option. That would require only a simple majority to confirm Judge Gorsuch. CNN's Washington correspondent Brianna Keilar is covering that story for us. How is the road to 60 coming?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Not looking good and looking worse, Brooke. Keep in mind we still have some time to go before this key vote, so there is that. A lot of Democrats are sitting on the fence who aren't necessarily committing to an answer, but the thought at first was that you had Democrats who were up for re-election here in a couple of years in states that Donald Trump won. They would go along with this and get Neil Gorsuch such to 60 votes. That's not quite looking that way and here's one of the data points. Here's Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate today.


CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATOR, NEW YORK: You look at his history. He didn't answer questions. We know that. When you can't answer whether brown v. Board was decided right which even Judge Roberts who is very rite sent didn't, something is really wrong, and you look at his history. You look at his early writings, and then you look at how he got here so they are going to do the right thing, and it's going to be a real uphill climb for him to get those 60 votes.


KEILAR: And it certainly is because you would need eight Democrats or independents who go along generally with Democrats in the Senate, and right now today was a very busy day on Capitol Hill. I've been talking to Democrats and Republicans. I've been talking to our team up there who really was canvassing all of the senators, and right now that's not looking great for 60 votes.

BALDWIN: How much of this, and you've touched on this, but the whole Merrick Garland issue and how Democrats are still irked by what the Republicans did not too long ago and how much of that is going to come back to bite them?

KEILAR: They are burnt by Merrick Garland for sure. That's a really good point, and they generally just oppose Donald Trump, and a lot of their base doesn't want anything that would be good for Donald Trump to happen and then listening to some of these senators they actually have real misgivings about some. Decisions that Neil Gorsuch has made from the bench, keeping in mind though he is someone who is seen as more of a centrist. This is someone who you will hear jurists say, look, this is -- this is the best really in terms of a nominee that Democrats could hope for. He's not extreme.

BALDWIN: Yes, and I thought Gloria made a whole point in this whole vote to keep sure we keep in mind looking at the Democrats in the red states where the President handily won to see where they go on this vote. Brianna Keilar, thank you very much.

KEILAR: You bet.

BALDWIN: A new invitation to testify. Chairman of the house intelligence committee Devin Nunes is directing FBI Director James Comey to come back and testify before house investigators. Nunes originally planned to have Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers testify in private Tuesday. That meeting was cancelled, and more on that in just a moment.


BALDWIN: The white house says if the President ordered Russian dressing, somehow that would come off as a Russian connection. Now the house is investigating some guy named Ruben. "The Lead" starts right now.