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America's Top Two Diplomats Using Very Different Language on Syria; U.S. Mounts Show of Force in Korean Peninsula; ISIS Claiming Responsibility for Two Church Bombings in Egypt. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 9, 2017 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You know live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Ana Cabrera.

Allies and adversaries around the world have their eye on the White House. They are searching for a signal as to what it may do next in Syria particularly when it comes to the fate of this man, President Bashar al-Assad, the man blamed for last week's chemical attack on his own people. But how much of a priority is it to oust Assad? Well, it seems to depend on which administration official you ask. Listen.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are hopeful that we can work with Russia and use their influence to achieve areas of stabilization throughout Syria and create the conditions for a political process through Geneva in which we can engage all of the parties all the way forward. And it is through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will ultimately be able to decide the fate of Bashar al- Assad.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: There is not any sort of option where it will help with Assad as the head of the regime. It's just - if you look at his actions, if you look at the situation it is going to be hard to see a government that's peaceful and stable with Assad.


CABRERA: Those contrasting messages from Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and secretary of state Rex Tillerson from just days before secretary Tillerson heads to Moscow to meet with top Russian officials there. And as of right now Russia is very clear on its position. Syrian state media citing a joint statement for Moscow and Tehran saying quote "we will respond strongly to any aggression on Syria. Russia and Iran will not allow America to dominate the world."

That warning comes as the Trump administration tackles yet another potential threat, North Korea. Right now an aircraft carrier led strike group is deploying toward the Korean peninsula. A U.S. official confirms to CNN this is move is in a direct response to recent North Korean provocations.

Meanwhile, as the White House tries to navigate all kinds of mine fields, the national security council, the very people who are helping to advise the president is seeing another shakeup.

K.T. McFarland is leaving just days after chief strategist Steve Bannon was booted from the NSC. The impact it could have still unclear.

CNN is covering this that only CNN can. We have a team of reporters and analysts standing by. From the Syrian border to Pyongyang, where we have the only American TV correspondent inside North Korea, let's begin with CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward along the Turkish Syrian border.

Clarissa, how are Syria and its allies now responding?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, we definitely are hearing some tough words from the regime of the president of Bashar al-Assad and also it's Russian and Iranian backers essentially saying if the U.S. pulls something like this again, there will be real consequences.

Now, this was always the argument that the Obama administration had given for not intervening more forcefully or militarily inside Syria. That perhaps in doing so it could precipitate or escalate an actual clash between U.S. forces and Russian forces potentially leading to some kind of a global conflict or a World War III. That would be a worst case scenario.

But at this stage, we still don't really know exactly what Trump's policy in Syria is going to look like. We have seen some glimpses of it today hearing from U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley who said Assad is definitely one of our priorities in the sense that he should go. Hearing frankly different message from secretary state Tillerson that our priority fundamentally is the fight against ISIS.

And of course the concern from some is that it's difficult to engage in that fight against ISIS without some fundamental level of cooperation with the Russians. A very complex situation in Syria. A lot of very nuanced issues to be taken into account. And these are exactly the sorts of issues that secretary of state Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov will be hashing out later this week -- Ana.

CABRERA: All Right. Clarissa Ward, reporting from the Turkey/Syrian border. Thank you.

Let's turn to CNN's Will Ripley now, live in Pyongyang, the only American journalist inside North Korea.

Will, how is North Korea responding to this deployment of the Navy strike group?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are certainly not backing down, which is not surprising when you look at the track record of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un. Even as the world has increased the pressure on his government to stop missile testing and stop nuclear testing. He has only accelerated and ramped it up. They have written it into their constitution, the North Korean constitution, that they will be a nuclear power. And so, I was meeting with some officials yesterday when news came in that this carrier strike group is being rerouted towards the Korean peninsula. It was in the region just a few weeks ago for joint military exercises as they due to provocative behavior missile launches by Kim Jong-Un. President Trump has ordered his top military advisers have ordered that this strike group turn around and come back into the region.

The North Koreans don't seem particularly phased by this. They say it's in fact the United States that is acting provocatively here. And they say it will motivate them to only increase the phase of their nuclear weapons development. We know that the end game for the North Koreans is to have a workable and kind of ballistic missile with the nuclear warhead capable of striking the mainland U.S. In order to get there, they still have more testing of missiles to do. They recently tested a potential rocket engine that experts say could be placed on an ICBM.

And according to satellites imagery, a lot of analysts think that North Korea might be ready to push the button at any moment on what would be their sixth nuclear test. So they are getting closer to have a miniaturized warhead that could be placed on that ICBM which is certainly more concerning to not only south Korea, the United States and Japan, but U.S. allies around the world that this country's weapons capabilities which were for a long time kind of written off as not a serious threat, and now it is a very pressing and urging threat for the Trump administration.

North Korea is perhaps the most dynamic and dangerous threat right now that the U.S. is facing. Thank you very much, Will Ripley. Reporting live in North Korea. CNN Ryan Nobles joins us from Washington. Another person now leaving the White House National Security Council. What more are you learning?

[19:06:03] CABRERA: And you talked to experts who say North Korea perhaps is the most dynamic and dangerous threat right now that the U.S. is facing.

Thank you very much, Will Ripley reporting live in North Korea tonight.

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us from Washington now.

Ryan, a bunch of diplomatic minefields have yet another person now leaving the White House, National Security Council. What more are you learning?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we know that K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security advisor is going to step down from her role in the near future and take on the role as the next ambassador to Singapore. The White House is describing this as a promotion. But essentially the stopwatch on McFarland's career at the White House started the second that Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor, was forced to step down after it was revealed that he had had meetings with some Russian officials that weren't previously disclosed. Now, McFarland's decision to step away or the White House's decision

to remove her from that post probably tells us that H.R. McMaster, the new national security adviser is really exerting his influence. If you add that to the news that Steve Bannon, one of the president's top advisers was removed from the principles committee of the National Security Council, it's clear that McMaster who comes from a more traditional viewpoint in the national security apparatus is really taking control and his influence within the White House is becoming a pretty important.

So we know that McMaster was running point on this decision to attack Syria during the week. And Ana, as time goes on you can bet that his opinion is going to become one of the most important when those meetings happen in the oval office about how to proceed with some of these hot button issues around the world.

CABRERA: All right. Thanks to you, Ryan Nobles, Clarissa Ward and Will Ripley as well.

Let's bring in our panel. Joining us to discuss further CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker," Ryan Lizza. CNN political analyst and columnist for the "Washington Post" Josh Rogin and CNN political commentator and writer Jeffrey Lord.

Ryan, as all these different messages from the White House on these Sunday morning shows today. What do you make of that?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they - they have not resolved what their policy towards Syria is, right. President Trump made a very quick decision that the chemical weapons attack by Assad required some kind of military response and we don't know what that means going forward. It could simply mean that Assad is now put on notice that the one thing that he cannot do is use chemical weapons. And that is the one and only red line for the United States.

That's certainly, you know, an important strategic decision if that's as far as the Trump administration wants to go. It does raise the question about what all of the other obvious human rights abuses and killing of innocents in Syria and why those don't meet a similar test. But I just -- I don't think we know what it means in terms of our further engagement, especially military engagement in Syria. I don't think the administration knows, because frankly, President Trump changed his mind dramatically when he decided to strike that air field. That was not previously his position.

CABRERA: It wasn't just, though, what to do about Assad that we heard mixed messages.

Josh, Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson also took different tones when it comes to the responsibility that Russian bares for this chemical attack. Ambassador Haley saying Russia must answer for this very firm while Tillerson seems reluctant to draw a direct connection between Russia and this chemical attack in Syria earlier this week. Do you think Tillerson is being more cautious than his narrative because of this upcoming meeting in Moscow this week? JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. I also think that Rex

Tillerson and Nikki Haley simply have different views and different -- are advocating different positions on the way forward in dealing with both Syria and Russia. I mean it's pretty normal for people in an administration to disagree with each other. It's somewhat unusual for them to disagree with each other so publicly in the same exact day on different Sunday shows.

But we have Rex Tillerson who is very clear in laying out what the Syria strategy was last week, right. And that was we have got to work with Russia and in a way work with the Assad regime to establish ceasefires, to lead to then a political solution and that ISIS is the priority, not the Assad regime.

And Nikki Haley gave a totally contradictory message. I mean, H.R. McMaster on another show tried to say that these were the same things but that's not really true. And anyone watching this two could plainly see that.

What Nikki Haley is saying is that no, the Assad regime's removal is one of the priorities for United States policy, not the second priority, not after ISIS, not as some part of ceasefire agreement.

Those two policies are the basic choice that Trump has to make. And it's clear that he hasn't made that choice. But again, it's sort of, like, very confusing not just for people in Washington, but for people all over the world who want to know is this strike going to be followed up but a big change in U.S. policy or not.

[19:11:08] CABRERA: Jeffrey, why isn't the administration on the same page on this?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one of the things that I would point out here is that the ambassador to the United States nations, no matter who they are, is to a considerable extent a creature of the state department. And you can bet that ambassador Haley did not say what she said without some consultation with the state department. Now, who said what and who approved what, I don't know. But I know that just as a matter of course, that's the way -- that's the way this works. So in itself this may be the way they are operating and operating deliberately. I mean --.

CABRERA: So you think it's intentional to send these two different messages.

LORD: Good cop bad cop, if you will.


ROGIN: Right. That's one possibility. But the truth is, and I know this from my own reporting, that there are many times when Nikki Haley is giving speeches, they are not cleared through the inter agency process. The inter agency messaging process is not working the way it typically would. So sure there is like some value to having a good cop/bad cop if you are doing it deliberately, but we don't have any evidence that they are doing it deliberately. And my only point shows that at least in some cases, it is not deliberate.

LIZZA: And we some evidence that Trump -

CABRERA: Go ahead, Ryan.

LIZZA: Some evidence in Trump's previous statements where he has said he wants his cabinet members to be out there saying what they think rather than what the administration's policy is.

Now, on foreign policy, you know, that often doesn't work. Maybe on domestic policy it's a little easier. And really this is McMaster's job. McMaster at the national Security Council, he is the one that's supposed to coordinate policy and come up with decisions for the president to make and then get everyone on the same page. But these are pretty sensitive matters, right. So it's not great foreign policy if your secretary of state and your U.N. ambassador are trying not to oppose on one of the trickiest foreign policy issues in the world.

ROGIN: Yes. And it's not just that. It is that - so this is a policy that came after we decided to launch the attack which seems like it's the wrong priority.

CABRERA: Jeffrey, who would be the audience for these mixed messages? Who are they talking to?

LORD: Vladimir Putin without doubt. Other world leaders without doubt. In the past presidents have had a history -- I was looking at one from President Kennedy the other day. He sent out a deputy secretary of defense to speak to a group of Virginia businessmen about the situation with Russia in the day. Knowing full well that the Virginia businessmen could have cared less. His real audience was an audience of one (INAUDIBLE) that he knew the message would get back to. I think that's what's going on here.

CABRERA: So we have the tough talk against Russia by secretary Tillerson, Ambassador Nikki Haley, but yet we have not seen President Trump talk tough with Putin. Why is that, Jeffrey?

LORD: Well, I think the missile strike was pretty tough. I mean, I think this obliterates the argument.

CABRERA: But that wasn't to Putin directly.

LORD: I would have loved to have had him elected. I mean, if ever there was a message, its cruise missiles raining down on your ally which Syria has been to Russia. I mean, this is very, very serious stuff.

LIZZA: Jeffrey, I'm not criticizing --

LORD: To tolerate gas attacks.

LIZZA: Yes, I agree with that. It should be consequences for gas attacks, but we did actually tell Russia what we were doing for very good reason. So we in some way coordinate the attack with Russia. ROGIN: Plus is an attack that sort of doesn't even disable the base

for more than 24 hours really a tough message? Look how the Russians have responded. Look how the Syrians have responded. They are using the base to bomb the same place where the chemical weapons attack happened. Two days later Russia is now raising the ante. They are escalating. They are testing Trump to see if he is really going to back this new aggressive policy and nobody knows including Trump whether or not he will.

[19:15:11] CABRERA: And Josh, I know, you spoke with a former Syrian prime minister who I know told you that if the Trump administration does not respond further that it's possible Iran, Russia, Syria will actually see this situation as a win for them.

ROGIN: Right. Which is -- ironically is exactly what reading Republicans said when President Obama was threatening to strike Syria in 2013. And that plan is 2013. That was much bigger and much more aggressive than what Trump did last week.

You know, what the Syrian opposition, the hawks in Congress and a lot of other people are saying is OK, this is a great move if it means that we are going to have a policy where we restore American credibility in Syria and American support to the people who were trying to empower in Syria. If, right. And if that doesn't happen, then all we have done is escalate without any real plan to do what's next and that could raise expectations and then leave all of these people in the lurch if we don't follow through. The Syrian opposition is saying wow, this is great, you know. We hope that it's not a one off.

LIZZA: So from my view --

LORD: You have to send a message. You know, you were talking earlier to Doug Brinkley about President Reagan's attack at Gaddafi. I was there that night waiting for him to get into a motorcade and go to a hotel for a speech for a friend. Senator Paul lux (ph) off and he was late. Uncharacteristically, nobody could figure out why. It turned out that he was waiting the results of a 12-minute attack on Libya because the Libyans had blown up a West German discotheque that had killed American soldiers and he was going to respond. It is very, very important to do that.

CABRERA: Hold your thought for just a second, Ryan, have you respond. But I do want to play a sound bite that we have from Senator Lindsey Graham today. As we know Syrian planes are already flying out of that air base that Trump targeted. So listen to what Graham had to say.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Here's what I think Assad is telling Trump by flying from this base - F-U. And I think he is making a serious mistake. Because if you are adversary of the United States and you don't worry about what Trump may do on any given day, then you are crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Ryan, does that resonate with you?

LIZZA: Look. You know, as Josh laid out, the hawks in Congress and the Syrian opposition may have very different goals than what the Trump administration is thinking right now. If you listen to the president's statement after this attack and Rex Tillerson's statement after the attack, it was fairly narrowly about a chemical weapons, right? So it may be that Trump does not want to intervene in any more way. He does not want to be the military force that ends Assad's regime even though he has called for Assad to go. It may just be that he is trying to stop Assad from any future use of chemical weapons and that's it. So he might be in a different place than some of the hawks.

Now that's based on if you just listen to what Trump said and listen to what Tillerson said. It was very much about the violation of the chemical weapons treaty that Syria signed and the violation of security council resolution 2118 that banned chemical weapons from Syria when Syria agreed to give them up. That maybe that's as far as he wants to go.

CABRERA: Jeffrey?

LORD: One other thing here. You know, if I -- Lindsey Graham, senator Graham had in essence is rephrasing what president Nixon called the mad man theory. And President Trump has said virtually the same thing in terms of saying he wants to be unpredictable. President Nixon's theory was in foreign policy always make them fear what the American president can or cannot do or will do and that he is unpredictable. And, you know, that had great results for President Nixon in terms of his relationships with China, the Soviet Union and ending the war in Vietnam.

ROGIN: I mean, unpredictability is good if it's deliberate, if is just a result of having a mass policy then it is not good. And if the allies don't understand it, that is very bad for the allies. I mean, the bottom line here is we are all trying to figure out did these strikes work, OK. And if the goal was to send a message, it didn't work because nobody understands the message. If the goal was to degrade serious capability, it didn't work because we didn't degrade the capability. If the goal was just to deter them from using chemical weapons, well, then, we just don't know yet and we will have to wait and see.

LORD: If you'll recall President Obama and Secretary Kerry specifically and national security adviser Susan Rice specifically on record saying that they thought that they had negotiated and ends in the chemical weapons for Syrians and they were both wrong.

ROGIN: At some point we're going to have to stop using President Obama's administration as a punching bag for President Trump's policy.

[19:20:6] LORD: Well, history counts.

ROGIN: But this is Trump's --

CABRERA: I will let Ryan have the last work.

LIZZA: I was going to say, frankly, in a way that this is a defense of that policy, right, Jeffrey. This is saying wait a second, you promised to give up those weapons. You didn't do it. You only gave up what you declared. You obviously retained some capability and now there's a consequence for that.

LORD: That's right.

CABRERA: All right. Ryan Lizza, Josh Rogin and Jeffrey Lord, we have to leave it there. But thanks to all of you. Great discussion.

Ahead this hour, much more developing on the international front to Egypt where explosions ripped through two churches on Palm Sunday. Details on who is now claiming responsibility.

In Syria where coalition forces including members of the U.S. military fought off an attack by ISIS fighters today.

And in Russia where secretary Tillerson a trip to Moscow is on the horizon. Why mix messages from the White House could create new hurdles on that trip.

And then later North Korea, CNN takes you live inside the reclusive country.

And you don't want to go anywhere. We have got a live report.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:25:15] CABRERA: A devastating attack on Palm Sunday targeting Christians in Egypt, 43 people died and more than 100 were wounded when bomb is tore through two Coptic churches this morning. ISIS is now claiming responsibility for these attack on the worshipers who were gathered in Tanta and Alexandria. And I want to warn on the video you are about to see is graphic.

We begin in Tanta where the first blast abruptly cut off the video that was during a televised mass.


CABRERA: The powerful explosion ripped through the service at St. George's church. State TV says 27 people died in the blast. Another 78 were wounded there. The explosive device was reportedly planted under a seat in the main prayer hall.

Then in Alexandria, just soon after that first blast, a suicide bomber killed at least 16 people and injured 41 others. The head of Egypt's Coptic Church was inside that church during the attack but wasn't hurt.

Let's bring in CNN Ian Lee joining us from Tanta, Egypt with more on the blast there. Ian, President Trump called the Egyptian president from air force one

this evening to offer condolences, the two having met in Washington just days ago. So how is the Egyptian president just now responding to this attack?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, he came out hard on state TV talking about it saying that he will do whatever is necessary to bring the people to justice who carried out these two deadly attacks. He also declared a three month state of emergency which gives the police and the army who are now helping the police secure areas across Egypt. It gives them extra powers to arrest, to search. Also to detain people without charges for an extended period of time. Something that rights groups have criticized in the past, but definitely after these two explosions a lot of people here understanding the reasons behind it.

But there is a lot of anger here because people will say that don't believe the government is doing enough to secure Coptic churches and the Coptic population here in Egypt which is roughly about nine million people. And they say that when you go to churches like this here in Tanta where the attack happened that the security out front was lax. Then that's how you got a bomb hat was able to be snuck into the front of church.

So there's a lot of confusion. There is a lot of anger here. There is a lot of sadness. I spoke with one man, David Sajid (ph), who was in the back of this church when that bomb went off and he said he saw smoke. He saw fire. He saw ashes. But it was his friend. His friend was right in front of him. Body parts everywhere. He tried to save his friend. And he showed us his shirt and you could see the blood of his friend on the front of his shirt. He said he tried to get him to a hospital but he just wasn't in enough time. And then another man he said when will I be able to pray in peace? And tonight in Egypt that really is a question with no answer -- Ana.

CABRERA: That is such a shame. And you are right. We saw David with that bloody shirt, that image will not be forgotten by me anytime soon.

Now, I have to ask, because as we mentioned, today's blast happened after the president of the Egypt met with President Trump here in Washington. And given everything else that is going on in the world right now, the U.S. sort of front and center, is there any connection? Was there a message sent to President Trump through this?

LEE: Well, it's definitely a message sent to the president of Egypt. And possibly one to the president of the United States. We have seen an increase in attacks by ISIS on Christians over the past few months really starting in December where there was an attack, a bombing at a church in Cairo at the main cathedral there killing over two dozen people.

And then just a couple months, I spoke with Christians who fled (INAUDIBLE) ISIS killing them and threatening them. They said they just didn't feel safe anymore. There was a large exodus (ph) there. And then you have tonight's attacks, too. Definitely ISIS showing the president, showing the security forces here in Egypt that they can still strike, that they are still a presence here. And that is something that the president is going to try to tackle, but it is very difficult as we've seen.

CABRERA: All right, Ian Lee reporting tonight from Tanta, Egypt. Thank you.

Coming up, dozens of ISIS militants armed with suicide vests try to take over a military base in Syria. U.S. forces were there when this happened. Details on the battle when we come back.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for being with us.


[19:34:17] CABRERA: Overseas today, a terrorist attack involving American troops deployed to southern Syria. We can't forget about the war the U.S. is fighting there right now. Today's deadly confrontation happened at a joint base not far from the border with Jordan. A coalition spokesman said ISIS sent a car bomb. And more than 20 fighters wearing suicide vest into that base.

Let's get more now from our Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne.

Ryan, what happened exactly and how -- more importantly how are those U.S. service members who are there?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Sure thing, Ana. We understand that there were no coalition casualties, no U.S. forces wounded or killed in the confrontation as we know right now. And this was an intense battle as you said involving multiple suicide bombers. This vehicle born IED. The U.S. had to call airstrikes against this ISIS assault in order to help repel it.

Now, this base, you know, it's not really where a lot of the attention and the ISIS fight has been in receipt months. In fact, most of that fighting has occurred further north where U.S. Arab and Kurdish allies are making a push on Raqqa, ISIS' self-declared capital, that by U.S. troops.

So this has kind of been along the Jordan border towards the south a little out of the way of the main fighting. So a little bit of the surprise this attack by ISIS. But the coalition and its local allies were able to fight it off successfully in this case.

[19:35:38] CABRERA: And Senator Lindsey Graham said today he would like to see more American troops in Syria. How many are there now and what are they doing exactly?

BROWNE: Well, the Pentagon doesn't publicly disclose how many actual boots on the ground, but our sources tell us somewhere in about 1,000 to 1,200 at any given time. And most of those forces are advising America's local Kurdish and Arab allies as they battle ISIS.

Now, we saw a little bit of a pause in operations over the course of 24 hours following this risk in cruise missiles strikes against the regime. The coalition was taking some precautions making sure there was no retaliation. We have seen since seen that kind of ramp back up in terms of airstrikes against ISIS. So that campaign is going on despite these issues with the Assad regime. The campaign against ISIS is kind of resumed kind of full throttle in the last 24 hours.

CABRERA: Ryan, based on your knowledge and those you have been talking to inside the Pentagon in that circle, would American troops welcome more involvement in Syria?

BROWNE: Well, I think, you know, the allies, they are providing some critical kind of -- they're not leading in the front necessarily. We have Special Forces trainers and other critical capabilities like artillery, apache helicopters that are local forces on the ground don't necessarily have. So I think this is the -- that's the strategy that both military planners in the U.S. as well as a lot of local allies who wanted to keep pursuing is this kind of providing this unique capabilities that only the U.S. can provide. They would like to see more of that, the fighters on the ground of course. So it's going to -- weighing what that right mixture of U.S. kind of support plus local fighters on the ground, what that right mixture will be moving forward as ISIS continues to put up a tough fight as they lose more and more territory.

CABRERA: All right, Ryan Browne, reporting. Thank you.

And just ahead, two of President Trump's top diplomats can't seem to agree on what to do about Syria. Now that secretary of state is heading to Russian, what message is the Trump's team going to defend.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:41:53] CABRERA: Secretary of state Rex Tillerson is promising a serious discussion about Syria when he visits Russia later this week. Now earlier today, he called the Kremlin's actions to date incompetent. That has been echoed by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. But the two diplomats seem to disagree on what to do about Assad in Syria.

Here's what Haley had to say during an interview with CNN.


HALEY: You saw this terrible tragedy on innocent people, a lot of them children. And the first reaction from Russia wasn't how horrible. It wasn't how could they do this. It wasn't how did this happen. It was Assad didn't do it. Assad didn't do it. Why was that the reaction? And so all of that is in play. That's why you are seeing the investigation on Russia. That's why you are seeing the fact that we know the evidence on Assad, we have seen it. We know exactly what happened. And so, we are calling them out.


CABRERA: Let's bring in our Matthew Chance. Matthew, what are you hearing in Moscow after all this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are hearing a certain amount of anger and frustration being expressed by Russian officials that these allegations by the United States continue to be made. In terms of the missile strikes they have been widely condemned here in Moscow, of course. President Putin saying they were an act of aggression against the sovereign state and in violation of the norms of international law and also sort of based on a false pretext.

In other words, the Russians are sticking to their line, their version of events, that this was not a chemical weapons attack carried out by their ally, the Syrian government at all. It was instead a regular airstrike carried out by the Syrian air force on a facility which was used by the rebels to manufacture their own chemical weapons and that's what the Russians say caused this horrific loss of life. The fact that these rebel chemical weapons were destroyed in a Syrian military air strike. Of course, western governments and rebels and weapons experts for that matter dispute that. But nevertheless, it's the line the kremlin is sticking to.

CABRERA: The two dueling narratives now between the U.S. and Russia as we gear up for this big visit which was planned by the way before the events of the past week. So now what should we expect out of the discussions between secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Russian officials?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, I think clearly, I mean, the visit is going to be dominated obviously by the aftermath of the U.S. missile strikes in Syria. Rex Tillerson is expected to press the Kremlin or rather press his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister on the use of chemical weapons inside Syria.

But you are right. This was a preplanned visit. His first visit to Moscow as secretary of state. But of course, he is no stranger to Russia. Just in 2013 when he was the CEO of the oil company, Exxon, Rex Tillerson was awarded the order of friendship by Vladimir Putin himself. He is one of a few thousand people that have got that sort of friendship medal for Russia. And so he is very close to Russia, very close to the Russian leadership. Indeed his critics have said he is too close just like Donald Trump, the candidate who was -- as candidate was promising to build a better relationship with Russia.

Of course, it's much harder to cast Tillerson and Trump as puppets of the Kremlin when they are in an administration that has just carried out massive missile strikes on Russia's main ally in the Middle East.

[19:45:45] CABRERA: Will secretary Tillerson meet with Putin?

CHANCE: That's not clear. Initially, we were told here by the U.S. embassy in Moscow that there was going to be a photo opportunity at the Kremlin with Rex Tillerson meeting president Putin. It was only said to be tentative, but it was definitely on the preliminary schedule. We are not sure whether that's going to go ahead right now. If he doesn't meet Putin, that might be seen as something of a snub because in the past other U.S. secretary of states like John Kerry of course met Putin repeatedly. We will see what happens next week.

CABRERA: All right. Sounds good. Matthew Chance, thank you for your report.

We are back in just a moment.


[19:00:42] CABRERA: The Chinese presidential visit all wrapped up. And today first daughter Ivanka Trump sent out this tweet. Show smiling presidents Trump and Xi, their wives with Ivanka standing on the far left. She thanked the Chinese leader and his wife for their visit to the U.S. Now, if during their visit the two leaders discussed Trump's call for American companies to bring jobs back to the U.S., perhaps President Trump should be talking to his own daughter.

CNN Matt Rivers takes us to the Chinese factory where Ivanka's pricey shoes continue to be manufactured.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This worker in southern China earns only about $400 a month making shoes for American brands like Ivanka Trump, and yet the first daughter's shoes usually sell in the U.S. for at least $100 a pair. It is a common story in China's manufacturing heartland, make them cheap, sell them for a lot more.

ZHANG HUARONG, CHAIRMAN, HUAJIAN GROUP (through translator): Ivanka is a very good client. But of course, I never imagined her father would become president.

RIVERS: Zhang's workers are busy churning out high end brands at several locations, polishing, screwing, hammering, pair after pair, hour after hour, six days a week. They get meals here and many live here, too. A whole life inside one compound. The company Zhang says makes Ivanka's shoes at a similar factory a few hours away.

Though they are not made here, Ivanka Trump brand shoes do come through this facility before being exported. They are among some of the 12 million pairs each year that get loaded on to trucks like this one bound for ships, most of which are headed to the United States.

CNN asked to see the factory where Ivanka's shoes are made, but our request was declined. Zhang said that's in part because the brand doesn't want to publicize its China's operations. The brand didn't respond to requests for comment.

Now an official member of his father's White House, Ivanka has stepped down from managing her clothing line, retaining an ownership stake, but the potential for conflicts of interest remain. Her lawyer told CNN quote "if there were a trade agreement that was specific enough to focus on a tariff in a country where her clothing is being made, she should not participate in that." Given what the president campaigned on, that could be more than a hypothetical.

TRUMP: China is taking our jobs, our money.

China which has been ripping us off.

We have a trade deficit with China, $500 billion a year.

RIVERS: The president regularly threatens slapping tariffs on Chinese imports throughout the 2016 campaign. He has not done so since taking office. Trump argues tariffs could send factory jobs like these back to the U.S.

BEN SCHWALL, AMERICAN BUSINESSMAN: It is not a binary choice, it is not China or America. There's a lot of in between.

RIVERS: Ben Schwall helps American businesses produce goods in China. He agrees a tariff on Chinese imports could force these jobs elsewhere, not to the U.S. but to countries like Bangladesh or Vietnam instead where production costs are lower than China. As for tariffs, Schwall says they are an easy campaign talking point but in the end they make imports more expensive.

SCHWALL: You're going to pay more. You're going to pay more. There's no free lunch. There's a reason why goods are made here.

RIVERS: For now, that includes Ivanka Trump's shoes, but if her father makes good on the tariff threat the man who makes her shoes knows where his factory is headed.

Would you ever consider moving manufacturing jobs that are based in China to the United States?

HUARONG (through translator): That's unlikely. I would move my production to Africa.

RIVERS: Potential tariffs, a looming trade war and heels made in Ethiopia instead.

Matt Rivers, CNN, China.


CABRERA: Straight ahead, as U.S. warships turned toward the Korean peninsula. CNN takes you inside North Korea. We are live in Pyongyang coming up.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


[19:53:47] CABRERA: The quest for the coveted green jacket has now come to a close. It was quite the Sunday night nail-biter at this year's masters.

CNN sports Andy Scholes is joining us from Augusta national.

Andy, a well-known Spaniard finally captured his first major. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Sergio Garcia finally, Ana,

finally coming through and winning the very first major after going 0 for 73 in tries. Now, I tell you what you couldn't have scripted a better finish here in Augusta this year.

Ana, just incredible, between the weather and drama. It is one of the better finishes we have seen to a masters. And it all came down at the end between Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, both of them having their chances on the 18th hole to win it. But both of them missing pretty rather short birdie putt. So we went to one playoff hole. And luckily for Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose's tee shot went into the trees. It gave Sergio a kind of put it maybe at ease, wasn't that much pressure. He got on to the green, hit down a pretty nice birdie putt. And once he did, you could just see the joy in his face. You know, he once said in 2012 he thought he would never win a major, and he finally gets one after 19 years and 73 tries. But he can finally say he is a major champion winning this year's masters tournament. It is really fascinating.

CABRERA: In fact, first if you don't succeed, try, try again.

Andy Scholes, thanks to you.

The next hour of NEWSROOM starts now.