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U.S. Blames Assad for Deadly Chemical Attack; Trump & Chinese President to Hold First Meeting Thursday; U.S. & China Reverse Roles on Climate; More Advertisers Pull Out of Bill O'Reilly Show. Aired 2- 3a ET
Aired April 6, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:06] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour --
VAUSE: Hello, everybody. Thank you for joining us for the third hour of NEWSROOM L.A. I'm John Vause.
Despite what Russia says, the U.S. and its allies are blaming Syria for the deadly chemical attack in Idlib Province. Moscow claims a Syrian air strike hit a chemical workshop run by terrorists, releasing the gas.
CNN's Michelle Kosinski reports.
And a warning, the images in her report are graphic.
MICHELLE KOSINKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRSEPONDENT (voice-over): The world right now seeing these pictures of what many are calling another war crime in Syria by the Assad regime against its own people, the worst chemical weapons attack in Syria in years, killing dozens. Families and children left gasping for breath and dying.
KOSINKI: The president clearly moved.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The attack on children yesterday had an impact on me. Big impact. It was a horrible, horrible thing. And I've been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn't get any worse than that. My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KOSINKI: But in a stark departure from Obama, President Trump doesn't call for Assad to go. The administration says it's for the Syria people to decide.
As for action, in 2013, Trump tweeted that President Obama's red lines against chemical was "very dumb. Do not attack Syria. There's no upside and tremendous down side. Save your powder for another and more important day."
Now President Trump must plan his own response. Today, he blamed Assad. When asked about it, he again blamed Obama's policies but did not mention Russia, backer of the Assad regime, and they were supposed to guarantee chemical weapons were gone from a Syria.
Secretary of State Tillerson, in a rare moment, taking a question from the press, did address Russia's role.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We think it's time the Russians careful reconsider their continued support of the Assad regime.
KOSINKI: But at an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council today, an emotional showdown between Russia and the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED RUSSIAN U.N. REPRESENTATIVE (through translation): (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
KOSINKI: The Russian representative angrily shouting about what he called fake reports on the gas attack, blaming the Syrian rescue group, The White Helmets for spreading lies, prompting the U.S. ambassador, Nikki Haley, who brought photos of the murdered children, to unleash on Russia.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: They made an unconscionable choice. They chose to close their eyes to the barbarity. They defied the conscious of the world. There's an obvious truth here that must be spoken. The truth is that Assad, Russia, and Iran had no interest in peace. How many more children have to die before Russia cares?
KOSINSKI: The U.N. Security Council tried to take action against Syria for its repeated chemical attacks at the end of February with sanctions. Russia and China blocked them.
Haley says after this latest atrocity the time has come.
HALEY: There are times when we are compelled to take collective action. I will now add this, when the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.
(on camera): We heard from some top military experts through CNN's Barbara Starr who talked about, if there were a U.S. military response to Syria, what it could look like. One option would be to send a message or warning. Take some Syrian command and control, maybe some key airfields. A stronger goal might be to target the regime's ability to deliver, and that would hit things like aircraft, storage sites and artillery. Also, they weren't too concerned about Syrian air defenses or any potential response from Russia.
Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.
VAUSE: CNN's Muhammad Lila joins us now from Istanbul; as well as senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, in Moscow.
Matthew, clearly, a lot of expectation that the U.S. is at least considering military action in Syria, some kind of unilateral action. Has there any comment from the Kremlin there and how would the Russian forces inside Syria respond if it does get to that point?
[02:05:19] MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's certainly one of the implications, one of the possibilities from what we've been hearing out of Washington and New York, that the U.S. could consider some kind of military action. It obviously would be extremely tricky, not least, of course, despite what U.S. officials are told Michelle Kosinski in the Pentagon, there would be concerns about the fact Russia has one of the world's most sophisticated anti- aircraft systems in place in Syrian, and has said it would use it to defend Syrian airspace. So any attempt to carry out air strikes against Syrian targets by the U.S. or its allies would have to be done in conjunction with the tacit approval of the Russians in order for it to get thought, at least for it not to be attempted to be prevented by the Russians and their anti-aircraft system. Perhaps there's back channels on the way between Moscow and Washington, but perhaps not.
What we did hear strongly, John, coming out of the comments from Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador from the U.S., Rex Tillerson as well, is strong condemnation of Russian for its continued support of Bashar al Assad. This is the staunchest criticism we've heard from Trump's officials towards Russia since the inauguration of Trump.
VAUSE: With that in mind, Muhammad Lila, clearly, the U.S. administration, including the president, has a different position when it comes to Syria not just looking at ISIS but also looking at Bashar al Assad and his role in all of this. What's been the reaction in the region as far as potentially significant policy shifts?
MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRSPONDENT: Well, it's been very interesting in terms of timing. Just moments ago, the office of Syrian president published online an interview he had given with a Croatian newspaper. It's not clear if this was done before or after the chemical strike. There were some interesting comments he made. He specifically was asked about the possibility of American troops on the ground or America having some role to play in establishing some peace in Syria, and he reiterated, Bashar al Assad, a position he has maintained for quite some time, saying unequivocally, the presence of any foreign troops on the ground not invited by the Syrian government would constitute an invasion. Those were the words he used. Saying if other countries want to cooperate with Syria, they have to be invited and be part of the process, but if they come uninvited, regardless what country they're from, Syria would consider it an invasion. VAUSE: And, Matthew, back to you, asking where did Assad get the
nerve agent in the first place. The stock pile of chemical weapons was to be destroy in 2013, a deal negotiated by Moscow, they drove this deal. There's accusations now there was some deception by Russia.
CHANCE: There's certainly an allegation that Russia hasn't done enough to force its ally, Bashar al Assad, to conform and comply with the deal he signed up to, to get rid of his chemical weapons. That criticism has been levelled at Russia for some time now because there's been consistent incidents documented by various U.N.-linked groups of various attacks carried out inside Syria by the Syrian government. And although Russia hasn't been implicated directly in those chemical attacks, the fact it's such a strong supporter militarily and politically of Bashar al Assad gives it kind of a moral responsibility, and that's the what the criticism against Russia is focused on, that the Kremlin should do more to put pressure on its ally to comply with its international obligations and to hold it back from these kinds of excesses.
VAUSE: Clearly, the Russians made a case it was rebels responsible for the spread of this gas. There's an active investigation ongoing to find out what happened.
Muhammad, how are they piecing together how this took place in an area that is essentially a war zone.
LILA: It's not just a war zone but you have to remember, even within Syria, there's competing regions where different people are in control. This area where this air strike happened, Idlib, this particular town, has a strong rebel presence. Within the rebel groups, you have groups fighting amongst each other. You also have ISIS and al Qaeda. And you have the Syrian army. One of the biggest challenges would be, OK, let's say the Syrian government allows international troops on the ground. That's only one of the parties of the conflict. Then you have to arrange access to the area that was hit through the rebel groups as well. When you're talking about the rebel groups, there's no umbrella coalition that will open its door and say, OK, we'll allow international investigators. So it is very, very difficult thing getting some sort of independent neutral party to the scene to piece together what happens. And until that happens, unfortunately, all of the information on the ground is coming from groups that already have a vested interest in a particular outcome of this conflict.
[02:10:50] VAUSE: OK, Muhammad.
Muhammad there in Istanbul and our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, live this hour in Moscow. Thanks to you both.
For more, Justin Byworth is the World Vision representative to the European Union. He joins us now live from Brussels.
Justin, thank you for being with us.
How many of these victims are receiving treatment right now, especially when you look at the infrastructure in the rebel-held areas in Syria that have been targeted by the Assad regime?
JUSTIN BYWORTH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, WORLD VISION, U.K.: Yeah, this tragic attack, horrific attack is just another tragic example of too many times that children, innocent civilians, and especially children, which we're concerned with, have suffered greatly. I was in the room and there's been a conference on Syria with a lot of leaders and organizations in Brussels and I was in the room when the news broke and news also of the attacks on the very hospitals that were treating the victims. Tragically, every week, a school has been bombed in Syria. That's just one of the examples of what's been the worst year of the conflict, entering the seventh year. Worse is on the children and the effects of violence on them.
VAUSE: We found some of the details of how this played out. First came the gas and then, when the eight workers, the medical teams arrived, there were at least three or four maybe five air strikes targeting those who were trying to help the people, who were effected by what may have been sarin gas. This is unbelievable.
BYWORTH: We're working with over a million children, two million people in and around Syria in response to this. Huge humanitarian effort. I met a family that fled from a chemical weapons attack in 2013 and a girl who was just eight at the time -- I will never forget her face. Her name Tazmin. She told me what it was like. Her brothers realized it was a gas attack and took her on top of the roof of the block rather than down to the bomb shelters where many people had gone and died because gas was heavier than the air. And they put a towel on her mouth with Coca-Cola on it to stop her. You could see the tragic loss she had suffered from friends and family. Also you know that these things, they live with people, like Tazmin and many other children that World Vision is working with. They live with them for their lives ahead. And so the damage is not just physical but emotional, psychological. It's hard to describe. Yeah. You can just imagine it's hard to describe.
VAUSE: A lot of the victims are children, and if they do manage to survive, what is the long-term effects of this?
BYWORTH: We are looking at a generational impact in Syria. I mean, from the things we just mentioned about seeing and receiving impacts of violence. One school a week bombed in the last year. Also seeing the greatest number in the last year of violations of children's rights. Violence, we've seen 90 percent of areas in Syria recruiting children into armed groups. People think it is safer for girls to get married young. We're seeing a rise in dangerous child labor. All of these are just examples of the kind of impact. There's 2.5 million Syrians out of school. Hundreds of thousands have been born as refugees outside of Syria. While World Vision and other humanitarian nations have tried to bring immediate assistance, we also want to make sure kids are back in school and protected, to have some normality in place to play and learn. And ultimately, we need a political solution, we need peace.
[02:14:57] VAUSE: We are now to year seven, and a political solution and peace doesn't look on the horizon.
Thank you, Justin, for being with us. Justin Byworth, with World Vision.
A short break. When we come back, the U.S./China summit just hours away. One of the biggest issues the leaders will tackle when meeting for the first time.
Also, a shakeup at the National Security Council. We will have details on Steve Bannon's demotion -- that's demotion -- just ahead.
VAUSE: Chinese President XI Jinping arrives in the U.S. on Thursday for a summit with President Trump. The two leaders will not meet in Washington, but rather at Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The growing threat from North Korea and trade expected to dominate these talks.
Paula Hancocks standing by live in Seoul, South Korea; also Matt Rivers in Beijing.
Matt, if you look at the situation in China, close to election year, and got a big Congress leadership decision coming later in the year. So Xi Jinping a good successful summit, won't do him any harm.
[02:19:50] MATT RIVERS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: No, absolutely not. He is in the middle of trying to consolidate his political power in China ahead of that big Congress later this year. He's trying to get the people loyal to him to hire positions within the Communist Party. To do so, he has to walk a very fine line when he goes to Florida. On the one hand, he has to appease his party's hardliners who are not thrilled with the kind of rhetoric we heard from Candidate Trump and President Trump about China. He has to stand up to President Trump in the eyes of hardliners in China. On the other hand, President XI is overseeing an economy that is gradually slowing down and it needs the United States and that economic relationship that China depends on with the U.S., the exports it sends the U.S., to make sure China's economy doesn't have a hard-crash landing and rather has a gradual transition into a more mature economy. So President XI has to play both sides. He has to look every bit the statesman, the strong leader, the strong man the hardliners in China want. On the other hand, he can't go too far because he doesn't want to goad President Trump into putting up protectionist trade barriers that could hurt China's economy in the long run.
VAUSE: Paula, the U.S. president made it clear he wants China to do more to try and rein in Pyongyang. That's hardly a new headline now. Every administration going back to Bill Clinton has been asking that of Beijing. What's different this time around?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we've been hearing from Beijing consistently over recent months, if not further, was they wanted dialogue. They wanted there to be negotiations between North Korea and the other parties. The six-party talk, the talks between the six nation that's had the most input into this crisis, that hasn't been going for many, many years. But China wants Washington to talk to Pyongyang. We've heard from the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was in the region that it's not the time to do that, it's not practical to expect that. What we're hearing from President Trump would suggest that's the last thing on his mind at this point. Although, of course, we're yet to see exactly what the North Korean policy of the Trump administration will be. That hasn't been laid out yet. But obviously, what President Xi would like to see if very unlikely to happen. So Donald Trump will be asking him to push North Korea further, to push sanctions further to try to put the squeeze on North Korea more at a time when Donald Trump isn't willing to do what President Xi wants, which is to negotiate. So it will be a tricky conversation as President Trump himself said.
VAUSE: At the same time, we're seeing the North Koreans continue to fire ballistic missiles and there's concern the North is gearing up for another nuclear test.
HANCOCKS: That's right. North Korean doesn't seem to be slowing down in any shape or form. The North Koran leader, Kim Jong-Un, has made it clear he wants to perfect his capabilities, when it comes to nuclear, when it comes to missiles. He has said he will keep testing and he's also said he's close to test launching an intercontinental missile that could potentially hit mainland United States. And he carried out this ballistic missile test on the eve of this meeting. As U.S. officials saying it looked like a spectacular failure, we're not hearing about it in North Korea media, so you would assume it's a failure. The just the fact that North Korea will carry out these missile tests despite what is, or maybe because of what's happening between the U.S. and China, puts China again in a tricky position.
VAUSE: Matt, back to you. The summit is being held in Donald Trump's golf resort in Florida. Why is this seen as a bit of an honor or a bit of a win for President XI, even though we know he may not be playing golf.
RIVERS: Just look at the fact that Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, was given a relatively cold reception by the president at the White House. This is, by going down to what the president calls his southern White House, it could signal a friendlier atmosphere between both sides, that he hasn't brought other leaders there, other than Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from Japan. That's very important to the Chinese leader because there is some animosity that remains between Japan and China, and so it's very important for the Chinse leader to be seen at the very least on equal footing with the prime minister of Japan. So between those couple factors, certainly a win for President XI to go to the so-called southern White House.
VAUSE: Matt Rivers in Beijing, Paula Hancocks in Seoul, thanks to you both.
Well, President Trump and President XI won't be talking climate change during the summit. It's one area where the United States and China have actually reversed roles.
Will Ripley has the details.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRSPONDENT (voice-over): Two dramatically different photo ops hours apart. Chinese President Xi Jinping planting trees in Beijing, talking about protecting nature. President Trump signing an executive order in Washington dismantling President Obama's climate change policy. The leaders of the world's two biggest polluters switching sides. China ready to take the lead on going green.
[02:25:09] "I'm shocked," says this Beijing resident. "But that's OK, our national leaders are paying much more attention than before."
"I don't feel like President XI has done much," he says. "We're not seeing the results."
(on camera): It's true there are still smoggy days in China cities like Beijing but as the U.S. seems to be reversing course on climate change, China is changing its approach.
Even hardline state newspaper "Global Times" is calling out Trump and urging Americans to stop his climate policies.
(voice-over): For years, Chinese policy misled the public on pollution and suppressed environmental activists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the factories are not in compliance -
RIPLEY: Now they are working together, creating this app showing real-time pollution data, pressuring violators to clean up their act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, finally, there's a real political will to try to control the pollution.
RIPLEY: Times have definitely changed. As the U.S. rolls back environmental regulations, China is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy, like this wind turbine factory and a Chinese tech firm buying into Tesla.
Many Chinese are fed up with toxic smog, a deadly by product of economic growth, believed to kill more than two million people in China each year.
"Other countries have experienced pollution," says this man, "so we have examples how to deal with it."
The world's biggest polluter hopes to put bad air in the past as the second biggest now faces an uncertain environmental future.
Will Ripley, CNN, Beijing.
VAUSE: Coming up next, "State of America" with Kate Bolduan for those watching in Asia.
And for everyone else, after the break, why more and more companies are yanking their commercials from Bill O'Reilly's show on the FOX News channel.
[02:30:14] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN news line from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
The headlines this hour --
VAUSE: President Donald Trump removed chief strategist, Steve Bannon, from his permanent seat on the National Security Council, reversing his own controversial decision to put Bannon there in the first place. There's another big change. The director of National Intelligence and chairman of the Joint Chiefs will once attend the meeting of the Principals Committee.
Also Mr. Trump is making a stunning claim that Obama's former national security advisor may have committed a crime. Susan Rice reportedly asked to unmask or reveal the name of Trump associates speaking with foreign officials under surveillance. This is not illegal. The president offered no evidence but told "The New York Times," "I think it's going to be important story. It's such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time."
CNN asked a lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee about Donald Trump's claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do you think about the president saying she may have broken the law?
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Hopefully, he has evidence and facts to back that up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: A spokesperson for Susan Rice refusing to comment on what they call a ludicrous charge.
To FOX News, facing a rapidly growing exodus of advertisers from "The O'Reilly Factor," amid a scandal involving the host, Bill O'Reilly. It comes after "The New York Times" reported settlements with five women who allege sexual harassment or verbal abuse by O'Reilly. Even though 47 companies have now pulled their ads, Bill O'Reilly still has not made any public comment about the scandal.
With me now is CNN's senior reporter for media and politics, Dylan Byers.
Dylan, good to see you.
So we've got this growing list of companies pulling out very, very quickly.
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA & POLITICS: I feel bad for whoever has to write the headlines. The numbers keep changing sometimes by the minute.
VAUSE: It's fluid. What's also noticeable about the companies pulling out, as they are leaving they are issuing very strongly worded statements against O'Reilly. In many ways, that would make it very difficult for them to actually go back and buy advertising.
BYERS: Right. If you say that you find the charges disconcerting, if you say you find them troubling, if you say you don't want to be involved with that sort of -- in that climate or environment of sexual harassment allegations, it will be hard to see how those companies back unless 21st Century FOX has some explanation what took place something more than four days of silence since their initial remarks when they stood behind Bill O'Reilly and when Bill O'Reilly himself said he disputed the merits of the accusations.
VAUSE: He was victim of these lawsuits.
VAUSE: These advertiser boycotts, they have mixed results in the past. 10 years ago, the radio show host, Don Imus, made a racial slur and advertisers pulled out and he was taken off it's air after a week. On the other hand, conservative, he survived through 2012. What determines who survives who dies?
BYERS: There's a comedian who recently and very controversially said talent was more important than morals. In this case, money may be more important than morals. I honestly believe, if there was so much smoke surrounding another anchor at FOX News
VAUSE: They'd be gone.
BYERS: -- they'd be gone. People have left cable television for controversies.
VAUSE: Far less than this.
BYERS: Far less than this, that pale in comparison to this. The issue is, we've discussed this before, he's the number-one rated show on cable television. Brings in over $100 million in advertising revenue for 21st Century FOX. And by the way, more than that, he is the face of FOX News.
VAUSE: He also props up their ratings. Gets fabulous numbers.
[02:35:12] BYERS: You and I both know there's what's called the lead in. If his show does well, the others around his will do well.
VAUSE: OK, well, April is Sexual Harassment Awareness Month so naturally it's a good time for the president to come out and defend O'Reilly.
BYERS: And by the way, six days after the president himself declared April 2017 Sexual Harassment Month, April, 2017.
VAUSE: This is what he said about O'Reilly: "I think he's a person I know well. He's a good person. Personally, I think he shouldn't have settled because he should have taken it all the way. I don't think Bill did anything wrong."
What are the issues here, for the president of the United States expressing personal opinion of an ongoing civil case?
BYERS: Which he doesn't have any of the facts. It's really troubling. The issue, when Bill O'Reilly came out and defended Roger Ailes, before Ailes left the company, the issue there was, in a way, O'Reilly was participating in silencing women who did have issues with sexual harassment issues in the FOX News workplace, women who did want to speak up but felt they couldn't because powerful men saying they shouldn't go after a good man like Roger Ailes, or in this case, Bill O'Reilly. When it is the president of the United States saying that, you are not just sending a message to the women at FOX News, but to women across the country. It is yet another example where the president of the United States does not understand his role as a spokesman and as a leader and as a sort of guiding figure at almost a moral and ethical level for the country he leads.
VAUSE: You mentioned Donald Trump speaking out for Roger Ailes, former FOX News founder, chairman, who was also let go under a cloud of sexual harassment. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell that you some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he has helped them. And even recently, and when they write their books that are fairly recently released, they say wonderful things, and now, all of a sudden, saying horrible things about him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Interesting, the timing of those statements and what happened next, also like the kiss of death.
BYERS: Yeah, one week later Roger was ousted from the company. And you question, is the same thing going to happen with Bill O'Reilly. One might argue -- and I've had this discussion with some sources at FOX News. One might argue it is harder to get rid of Bill O'Reilly than Roger Ailes. Ailes created FOX news. He was FOX News. Everything that happened, he had a hand in. Bill O'Reilly is the on- air talent. He's driving the ratings. FOX News has done well even after Roger Ailes left. Can it do well if Bill leaves? That's the question.
VAUSE: There seems to be a struggle between Rupert Murdoch and his sons?
BYERS: Absolutely. Rupert Murdoch is very old fashioned.
(CROSSTALK) BYERS: They also understand the cultural and political realities we live in in the 21st Century.
VAUSE: Dylan, thank you. Appreciate it.
BYERS: Thank you.
VAUSE: Up next on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. first lady and queen of Jordan hitting it off as they promote education at a local Washington school.
[02:40:33] VAUSE: Facebook is taking action against so-called revenge porn making it easy to report intimate photos posted on the social network without consent. Founder Mark Zuckerberg with this to say sharing intimate photos online as a means of shaming an individual is, quote, "wrong. It's hurtful and, if you report it to us, we will now A.I. and image recognition to prevent it from being shared across all of our platforms."
And Pepsi has pulled a controversial ad and apologized after a huge backlash. In the commercial, Kendal Jenner joins a street protest, gives an officer a Pepsi. There is it. Critic slammed the company for attempting to exploit the Black Lives Matter movement, trivializing the danger protesters sometimes face. In a statement, Pepsi saying it was trying to project global unity and peace and understanding, and just wanted people to drink sugary soft drinks, but missed the mark.
They never met before but the queen of Jordan and the U.S. first lady looked like besties as they toured a Washington school to promote education.
Here's Jeannie Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You would be over excited, too, fidgeting, fixing your hair, bopping up and down, if you were about to present flowers to a first lady and a queen.
MOOS: It was the Melania and Rania show. The first lady and the queen of Jordan visiting an all-girl charter school.
They stopped by an art class and science. Kids dissect owl pellets, a/k/a, owl poop.
MOOS: The former model and the queen who made it into "Vanity Fair's" best-dressed list Hall of Fame made eye-catching pair. Posing with her husband, strolling the White House colonnade, sitting in front-row seats for the joint press conference, with the king of Jordan perched on a box for added height.
TRUMP: We're both leaders on that. Believe me. Believe me. And believe me.
MOOS: Believe me. These two even dress alike once in a while. We've had Bradgelina. We've had Benaffer.
(on camera): So when Melania Trump meets Queen Rania, why not MelRania?
(voice-over): The queen has been in the public eye for almost two decades.
QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN: People were very mesmerized by the whole queen thing.
MOOS: She told Oprah how terrifying it was at first.
QUEEN RANIA: They look at me and they look at me, and I'm like, are these people for real.
They're taking me seriously.
I'm only a kid. But you grow into the role.
MOOS: Good advice from Melania, who has been taking her licks.
UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIAN: The White House released First Lady Melania Trump's official portrait today, but since she's never at the White House, they had to get a little creative.
MOOS: The former model and the monarch seemed comfortable. The first lady even teased the queen.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: You got very tall.
QUEEN RANIA: No, I think it's my hair.
MOOS: Queen Rania opted to lower her throne.
MOOS: But when you're busy looking at owl pellets through safety goggles, even royally doesn't leave you googly-eyed.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEOTAPE)
VAUSE: A glamorous couple.
You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
Please stay with us. "World Sport" will be up after a very short break.
[03:00:09] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria crossed a lot of lines.