Return to Transcripts main page


Police Officer and Suspect Killed in Paris Shooting; Trump Weighs in on North Korea, Iran; Sessions Slams 'Judge Sitting on an Island'; North Korea Threatens U.S.: 'Only Ashes Will Be Left'. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 17:00   ET


[17:00:07] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Paris shooting. A gunman fires on a police van with an automatic weapon, killing one police officer, injuring more before being taken down by police. What was the motive?

The president's promises. President Trump voices optimism on a new Republican move to repeal and replace Obamacare and efforts to avoid a government shutdown next week. Will congressional Republicans be able to deliver?

High alert. As U.S. and South Korean troops conduct drills, North Korea warns of a preemptive strike that it claims would reduce America's military to ashes. Why is China now putting its war planes on high alert?

And the Trump factor. President Trump is silent so far on the stunning downfall of his long-time friend Bill O'Reilly. After the president's strong defense of the former FOX host against sexual harassment allegations, what are the political implications?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. A deadly shooting in Paris now being investigated as a possible terror attack. Officials there say a car pulled up next to a police van and opened fire with an automatic weapon. One police officer was killed, at least two others injured before the shooter was killed.

Over at the White House, meanwhile, President Trump just expressed condolences to France and said the shooting, quote, "looks like another terrorist attack."

The president also criticized Iran, which he says is not living up to the spirit of the nuclear agreement. And he expressed confidence that China's president is working to contain what Mr. Trump calls "the menace of North Korea."

Also tonight, the Kim Jong-un regime is making new threats against the United States, vowing -- and I'm quoting now -- "complete destruction that will leave the country in ashes." We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests,

including Congressman Ruben Gallego of the House Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by.

Let's get straight to Paris, though, first with the breaking news. Our CNN international correspondent, Melissa Bell, is on the scene for us. Melissa, this is unfolding right now on the city's busiest streets. Tell us the latest.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Champs-Elysees is still completely cut off, just over two hours after this attack took place. A lot of the details of what happened have been cleared up by authorities. You know, since then we heard what we now know were these gunshots from up here on the CNN terrace, overlooking, as you say, what is one of the busiest avenues in France, also one of the most heavily policed.

Now, we are still under a state of emergency here in France as a result of the terrorist attacks of the last couple of years. The Champs-Elysees in particular, this iconic avenue in Paris is always heavily policed.

What we now know is that one of the many police vans who patrol this street, it was just outside one of those police vans that that attacker pulled up in his car and opened fire, tragically killing one of those policemen, Wolf. Those are the facts we now know, also that France has opened an anti-terror investigation, the clearest indication so far that French authorities believe this was terror- related.

BLITZER: Melissa, the French elections are this Sunday, the national elections. This clearly could have an impact. Explain the possible impact.

BELL: We are just a couple of days, as you say, from a presidential election that is likely to prove not just fundamentally redefining the future of France, but that it was already proving extremely unpredictable.

The specter of the far right has really hung over the race over the course of the last few months in the shape of Marine Le Pen, the far- right leader. She has already tweeted out about this. She's really been presenting herself as the law and order candidate.

Now you have this extra layer of a terror investigation being opened. That also plays into her narrative. The nature of who this suspect were and -- was, and particularly what his motivations were, are going to be extremely important over the coming hours.

And clearly, this election campaign in which so many French voters, historic numbers, Wolf, of French votes have yet to make up their minds, is now going to be dominated in the last 48 hours by the images of the Champs-Elysees closed off tonight and by the death of that policeman at the hands of this attacker. What were his motivations? Who was he? If it turns out that, indeed,

this was terror-related, Marine Le Pen is likely to really kind of use that in the run-up to the election, and it is likely to play into what was looking already like an extremely uncertain vote.

BLITZER: Yes. We'll be watching every step of the way together with you. Melissa Bell in Paris for us. Thank you very much.

I want to bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. Jim, you're picking up some additional information. What else are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it does appear that this assailant was previously known to French authorities, specifically to the GDSI. That's the General Directorate for Internal Security in France, among whose duties is counterterrorism.

That's not to definitively say that this was a terrorist attack because they are still investigating that, but it does appears that his identity was known prior to this. That, of course, is telling, because this has been the case with many of these attacks. If you remember, Charlie Hebdo, the Kouachi brothers who carried that attack out as well as some of the attackers during the Paris attacks in November 2015, prior known to French authorities.

And the reason that's possible there is is that they have so many jihadis or suspected jihadis or people tied to them, numbering in the thousands which make it just impossible, frankly, for the French authorities to track all of them.

Again, not a definitive answer. They've opened a terror investigation. They don't know for sure the motivation of this, but we are learning that he was known prior to this attack to French authorities.

The other point I would make, Wolf, is this. The police, sadly, a frequent target of these kinds of attacks, and certainly the Champs- Elysees, there have been a number of threats focused on the Champs- Elysees in the months following the Paris attacks.

BLITZER: You were there in Paris during the November 2015 attacks. You were throughout the city. What does it tell you, as someone who has covered these attacks in Paris, that the police were specifically targeted today?

SCIUTTO: It's a frequent target of groups like this. Again, if we lead -- if police find information to back up that this was an attack motivated by terrorism, that they are frequently a target of attacks like that. Police authorities, official buildings, et cetera.

And it does get to the wider point of the challenge that France has here. We've heard of a number of thwarted plots in advance of these presidential elections, but the trouble with counterterror -- and the same is true here in the U.S. -- you often don't hear about the plots that are thwarted, and there are many in both countries. Sadly, the ones that you do hear about are the ones that get through.

And it is impossible, as they say, the police have to be right all the time. And it's actors like this only have to be right once.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Thank you.

President Trump meanwhile spoke about the situation in Paris just a little while ago during a news conference with Italy's prime minister. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, you were there at the news conference. The president did comment on this incident in Paris. Tell us what he said.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he did indeed. The president in the East Room of the White House offering his concern and condolences for the people of Paris and perhaps getting out slightly ahead of the French authorities. He did not mince words. He said it looked like a terrorist attack.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, our condolences from our country to the people of France. Again, it's happening, it seems. I just saw it as I was walking in, so that's a terrible thing. And it's a very, very terrible thing that's going on in the world today, but it looks like another terrorist attack, and what can you say? Just never ends. We have to be strong, and we have to be vigilant, and I've been saying it for a long time.


ZELENY: So certainly, the president there getting that early information, that early word. It was the subject of at least a bit of the discussion there with the Italian prime minister, who he was meeting with today at the White House, Wolf.

BLITZER: He also spoke about North Korea, the president, Jeff. He mentioned what he called unusual moves going on right now. Tell us about that.

ZELENY: Wolf, this was very interesting. He talked, of course, about the emerging threat of North Korea, but he talked about these unusual moves. That he was holding out the hope that China is going to be his ally here, the ally and the partner here. He did not ever say what those unusual moves that China is sort of doing to the regime of North Korea, but listen to what he said right here.


TRUMP: I have great respect for the president of China. As you know, we had a great summit in Florida, in Palm Beach, and got to know each other and I think like each other. I can say from my standpoint I liked him very much; I respect him very much.

And I think he's working very hard. I can say that all of the pundits out there are saying they never have seen China work like they're working right now. Many coal ships have sent back. Many other things have happened. Some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours, and I really have confidence that the president will try very hard. We don't know whether or not they're able to do that, but I have absolute confidence that he will be trying very, very hard.


ZELENY: And, Wolf, such a difference in tone and tenor of his comments there toward the president of China, Xi Jinping, holding out hope that they will be helping with the threat of North Korea, but again did not clarify what those unusual moves were in the last couple hours. Perhaps we'll get a sense of that going forward here.

But China, indeed, trying to put the screws on economically and otherwise to the North Korean regime, Wolf.

[17:10:07] BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. He also issued a warning of sorts to Iran. Tell us about that.

ZELENY: He did, indeed, Wolf. Talking and indeed asked about the Iran nuclear agreement, which he talked about, you know, how opposed he was to this during the course of the campaign, you know, initially said he would rip it up once he came to the White House.

Well, that has not yet happened. In fact, earlier this week his secretary of state also said it was not a good agreement, but said for now they're sticking with it. But listen to what the president said about that agreement.


TRUMP: As far as Iran is concerned, I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed. It was a terrible agreement. It shouldn't have been signed. It shouldn't have been negotiated the way it was negotiated. I'm all for agreements, but that was a bad one, as bad as I've ever seen negotiated. They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that.

And we're analyzing it very, very carefully, and we'll have something to say about it in the not too distant future. But Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement, and they have to do that. They have to do that. So we will see what happens.


ZELENY: So a bit of a cliffhanger there, you know, saying that Iran has not lived up to the agreement, which he has said many times before. We don't know the next step. What now? What if, you know, they do not do this here? But certainly, sounding an ominous and critical note of Iran.

And Wolf, quickly on the domestic front, the president also asked, next week of course marks the 100th day of his presidency, a big week on Capitol Hill, a funding deadline. The government could shut down by the end of the week if the funding is not approved. He was asked directly if he would like to see his healthcare bill

revived or the government stay open. He said he would like to see both, and he talked more optimistically about health care, Wolf. He said that he would -- you know, he believes it will get passed at some point, if not next week perhaps shortly after. We'll see about that.

BLITZER: We shall see. A week from Saturday marks day 100 of his presidency. Jeff Zeleny at the White House. Thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona is joining us. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee, an Iraq War veteran, as well.

In the Marine Corps, right?


BLITZER: Thanks so much for joining us.

Let me get your quick reaction. This incident, which looks like it was a terrorist incident, shooting of a police officer, injuring a couple others, what's your reaction?

GALLEGO: Of course our prayers go out to the police and to the people of France, and hopefully, they have caught everybody or will catch everybody, and of course, we will be here to help out however we can. It's always a tragedy when these things occur, especially so close to an election.

BLITZER: Yes. We're still waiting to get official word, but the indications from Paris are that it looks like a terrorist incident.

On Iran, you just heard the president say the Iranians are not living up to, quote, "the spirit" of the Iran nuclear agreement. Do you believe they are?

GALLEGO: So far from what we've seen, they have been living up to the agreement. I think the word "spirit" is something that needs to be a little more defined. The president needs to be a little more refined with his words, especially when he's dealing with, you know, an agreement that involves so many nations with so many allies.

It's one of our biggest concerns that he hasn't actually staffed the secretary of state's office, the State Department, I should say, with the professionals that could actually help him analyze this.

And before he starts, you know, making these unilateral decisions, he should actually involve some of the partners that, you know, were initially involved in putting together this very important deal.

Iran is a bad actor, but as long as they're agreeing to the agreement when it comes the nuclear deal, we can still take care of them on other ends, especially when it comes to the concerns with -- of all their involvement in the Middle East right now.

BLITZER: We heard from the secretary of state yesterday, the State Department has certified that Iran is adhering to the agreement, but he then went on to describe Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, an awful human rights record, getting involved in Syria, elsewhere against U.S. interests. You agree with him on all of that?

GALLEGO: I agree with him, and we can take care of that separate and apart from this. What we want to make sure is we can deal with Iran, their terrorist actions, their influence in the Middle East, without them having the ability to get a bomb.

If at least they're complying with JCPOA, then we can still fight the fight when it comes to the other areas, whether it's through military action or through our diplomatic efforts, to make sure that they're not having as much influence in the Middle East, especially when it comes to Syria and Iraq.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction to several other issues, including what the attorney general -- we're shifting gears right now -- Jeff Sessions said last night, defending the president's executive order on banning travel from certain Muslim majority countries. I want you to listen to this.


JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL (via phone): We are confident that the president will prevail on appeal, and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the 9th Circuit.

So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional powers.


[17:15:07] BLITZER: All right. That federal judge sitting on an island in the Pacific, Judge Derrick Watson, that island in the Pacific happens to be the state of Hawaii. Your reaction when you hear the attorney general speak like this about "that federal judge sitting somewhere out in the Pacific"?

GALLEGO: I'm not surprised at all. You know, Sessions and, you know, President Trump were also questioning where the president of the United States was born, because he was born in Hawaii, whether he was a legitimate citizen or not. And this is what causes a lot of consternation and, for us, also hesitancy when it comes to trusting this administration, when it comes to anything of issues of civil rights or immigration.

We don't know what the genesis or where the origin of their ideas come from. As a matter of fact, the first executive order was clearly a Muslim ban, something that, you know, severely impacted, you know, the world view of the United States and I'm convinced also this is also a continuation of that. And, if anything, it only gives us even more reason why we should make sure that this ban is rejected, because this is the kind of... BLITZER: But it is pretty shocking that the attorney general of the United States is degrading the state of Hawaii and a federal judge, sort of blandly calling it -- "I'm amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific." Senator Mazie Hirono, the U.S. senator from Hawaii, she said, "Hey, Jeff Sessions, this #islandinthePacific has been the 50th state for going on 58 years, and we won't succumb to your dog whistle politics."

GALLEGO: Look, they're taking an example from the president. This is the same president that accused a Latino-American judge of not being sufficiently American. This is -- you know, he's taking a cue from the president who said that Barack -- President Barack Obama was probably not born in the United States, and created a dog-whistle campaign to basically try to convince people, and he at least convinced some voters, that the president was not born here.

Why are we surprised that Jeff Sessions was also selected to be part of this administration? They all think one and the same. It is not just dog-whistle politics; it is outright insensitive and anti- American to say that somehow Hawaii is not part of the United States.

BLITZER: And now there's a case that involves a DREAMer, someone who was brought here at the age of nine to the United States, who was deported. And this seems to be the first case of someone deported. And it's now before that same judge who has to consider whether or not documents can be released from the Department of Homeland Security which would back up the administration's position that this person went to Mexico illegally, then tried to come back in, violating the terms of being a DREAMer, and the authority that he should have, the safety he should have to live here.

GALLEGO: Well, Judge Curiel is a very well-respected jurist. I'm sure he'll look at all the facts here and make sure that, you know, a good decision comes down.

I think a lot of us are more worried about the precedent of, you know, DREAMers essentially being deported when we were told and have been told repeatedly that they're going to be a protected class. I hope that's not the case, but this is why we're all intently watching what the next actions are from this administration.

BLITZER: It's interesting that Judge Curiel is the one who got, just by a lottery, randomly this case that he has to be involved in.

GALLEGO: Karma is funny that way.

BLITZER: Yes, certainly is.

Congressman, stand by. We're going to have a lot more to talk about. More information coming in. We'll be right back.


[17:22:40] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in Paris. We're going to have more on the deadly shooting there. That's coming up. Also, we're back with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona.

He's a member of the Armed Services Committee. We're going to talk to him about North Korea threatening the U.S. with, quote, "total destruction" in retaliation for any preemptive strike.

But first, let's get the latest from our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott. She's joining us from the State Department right now.

Elise, tension with North Korea is clearly reaching troubling new levels.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Well, President Trump just called North Korea a menace and pointed to some very unusual moves by China in the past few hours, with the Chinese military on high alert.

This as Kim Jong-un threatens a strike against his enemies that will leave the U.S. in ashes.


LABOTT (voice-over): Tonight China is already preparing for the worst. U.S. officials tell CNN Beijing is putting missile-capable bombers and other military aircraft on, quote, "high alert."

This as more than 1,000 U.S. troops team up with South Korean forces for Operation Max Thunder, one of the largest military exercises between the two countries.

As tensions with North Korea boil over, Kim Jong-un vowing to meet U.S. threats of a preemptive strike. An op-ed in a North Korean state newspaper warns, quote, "Our preemptive strike towards U.S. and its followers will be the most merciless strike, aiming for a complete destruction that doesn't allow for the survival of the enemies. If the super powerful strike goes forward," they add, "the U.S. mainland will be completely destroyed in an instant. Only ashes will be left."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump administration is trying to force North Korea to the negotiating table for a political solution to the crisis.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're reviewing all of the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism, as well as all of the other ways in which we can bring pressure to bear on the regime in Pyongyang to reengage, but reengage with us on a different footing than the past talks have been held.

LABOTT: It's never worked before, but U.S. officials say the strategy hinges on China putting the pressure on Kim's regime. Beijing has already banned imports of North Korean coal and stopped Air China flights to Pyongyang. And today China supported a tough U.N. Security Council resolution, condemning North Korea's missile tests.

[17:25:07] Now President Trump wants President Xi Jinping to limit trade and cut oil imports to North Korea in exchange for a better trade deal with the U.S. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: All of this chest

thumping on our part is probably less designed to influence the North Koreans than it is designed to influence the Chinese, who do not want us disturbing the equilibrium in that part of the world, so maybe we can use this as a lever against them to get them to do more.

LABOTT: The North Korean monitoring service 38 North warns the country's nuclear test site is, quote, "primed and ready."

But in an odd development, the group released satellite imagery of what appears to be three volleyball games under way at different locations at the site, though U.S. officials tell CNN they are still bracing for a nuclear test at any time.


LABOTT: And Wolf, after those military exercises with Australia, the American carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, is now headed towards the Korean Peninsula. The Navy has extended the deployment of the soldiers on board, and the carrier will remain stationed near the Korean Peninsula at least until the end of June, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Elise. Thank you. Elise Labott over at the State Department.

Congressman Gallego, you've been watching it very closely. You're a member of the Armed Services Committee. The rhetorical escalation from the Trump administration as far as North Korea is concerned, is it appropriate?

GALLEGO: Not necessary that it's appropriate or not. I think what we have to worry about whether it's dangerous or not.

You know, Teddy Roosevelt laid out a very good doctrine for us: you know, speak softly and carry a big stick. Right now, we're talking very loudly and losing aircraft carriers on the way to North Korea; and that's creating a lot of tension with our allies in South Korea. Right now, the South Korean media is making fun of the United States, particularly the Trump administration, for losing an aircraft carrier.

BLITZER: But is it having an impact on China, which does have leverage, influence on the North Koreans?

GALLEGO: Well, I hope it does. The problem is, I don't see the overall strategy of how this is going to bring this to a peaceful conclusion. What we need to do right now is ensure that we're coordinating very closely with South Korea, Japan and China to make sure that this ends up in a non- shooting situation for the whole world. I have, you know, confidence in our military. I don't have the diplomatic confidence in the Trump administration.

BLITZER: It's interesting. At the news conference that the president just had had with the visiting Italian prime minister, the president basically said, as far as the Chinese are concerned, you want better trade deals with the United States, you better work harder to prevent North Korea from engaging in these nuclear threats. GALLEGO: Well, I don't think that's necessarily a very good precedent

for us to start with any other nation, too. When they start thinking about trying to get better trade deals with us, and they need to create a situation to make that happen, you know, you don't want them to look at China as a good example. We want a good stabilized are, because it's good for the region...

BLITZER: But the Chinese have done some positive things from the U.S. perspective of reducing coal imports from North Korea, suspending all flights involving Air China between China and North Korea.

GALLEGO: Absolutely.

BLITZER: They've been doing things that will put some pressure on North Korea. You welcome that?

GALLEGO: Oh, absolutely. I mean, again, we want stability in the region. We want everyone to act like adults and not end up in a shooting war, which is also why it's important for the Trump administration to also be part of that solution.

You know, again, don't lose aircraft carrier groups going to Korea. Don't insult South Koreans by saying that they are of -- or Korea in general by saying that they're ethnically Chinese. These kinds of things really -- and this time, especially when they don't have a president right now in South Korea, makes it very difficult for us to conclude this in a peaceful manner.

BLITZER: It's interesting that China voted with the United States at the United Nations Security Council on this anti-North Korean resolution. The Russians voted against it. What do you make of that?

GALLEGO: Well, if you look at the history, especially the Korean conflict, the Chinese have always -- have always wanted a stable Korean Peninsula, and the last thing they want is...

BLITZER: What about the Russians?

GALLEGO: The Russians are acting like mad Russians, as usual. But at this point let's be very happy what's happening with China. But China wants a stable Korea. They do not want the United States back on their border. We saw what happened during the Korean War. And at this point the best thing that's in the interests of China is for there to be a stable Korean Peninsula, status quo as it is right now.

BLITZER: Yes, you served in the Iraq war. You're a United States Marine. When you saw the Russian, those bombers on two days in a row, buzzing the Alaska coastline and U.S. fighter jets had to go up and intercept, tell those Russian plane, "Get out of here." Those are nuclear-capable bombers that the Russians were buzzing the Alaska coastline with. That's a big deal.

GALLEGO: Absolutely it is a big deal, and they should not be entering our sovereign space.

BLITZER: They didn't enter U.S. sovereign space. They were in international waters. One day, they were 100 miles off the coast of Alaska, next day 36 miles, in international space but pretty close.

GALLEGO: Well, I mean, they're basically trying to, you know, just antagonize us. Look, Russia is a country that is trying to push its agenda. It is internally weak, economically weak, and right now, they need to project an aura of power just to keep control within its own country, and they'll be doing acts like this. And of course, we have to match every action of theirs with a positive reaction.

I question right now, you know, a lot of things that are actions that - or with the Secretary of State visiting with Putin. There's a lot of conversations happening about lifting sanctions, and I hope that they will remember these types of actions before we lift any sanctions on Russia.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM ANCHOR: Congressman Gallego, you know war, you've served in the United States Marine Corps in a war situation. This is a tense situation all around.

GALLEGO: It makes sense.

BLITZER: Thanks so much for joining us.

GALLEGO: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Breaking news ahead, that deadly attack in - on police in Paris, we're getting new information. Plus, why President Trump is now optimistic that republicans will, he believes, repeal and replace Obamacare and will do it soon.


DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We'll see what happens. I can't ask -- answer your --


[17:35:26] BLITZER: House republicans may be nearing a potential break through on the healthcare issue according to a source familiar with the talks, and President Trump just expressed optimism that they'll be able to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare soon. Let's dig deeper with our experts and analysts.

And David Chalian, let me play the clip for what the President said. He is optimistic that Obamacare will soon be gone. Listen to this.


TRUMP: The plan gets better and better and better, and it's gotten really, really good. And a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon. I'd like to say next week, but it will be - I believe we will get it, and whether it's next week or shortly thereafter.


BLITZER: A lot of republicans are still pretty skeptical that they've got a deal. What are you hearing?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: They are skeptical. Well, clearly, the White House is pushing very hard to get some action next week. They see that 100-day mark on the calendar, they want to be able to take this off their list. There's no legislative language, yet, and we're not going to get it at earliest over the weekend. So to think that there's going to be a vote next week on language that doesn't yet exist for something so complicated and divisive inside the Republican Party that failed. I think is a stretch, while you're also trying to fund the government. But did you hear what the President said there, he left himself a little wiggle room at the end, saying, "Well, it doesn't have to be next week." And I think the thing to pay attention here, Wolf, that the White House feels is really important, the effort is as important as the result. They want to repeal and replace Obamacare, but they want to show their voters that they're not giving up fighting to repeal and replace Obamacare, which is why I think you see even though there's not a clear path to the vote passing, yet, why you see this fight renewed.

BLITZER: Even if they come up with new language for legislation, Mark Preston, the Congressional Budget Office presumably has to, what they call, score it. They have to report on the impact of this legislation, and they usually do that before a vote. That takes a while.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It certainly takes a while. And look, there's no indication right now that there's going to be enough votes anyway in the House. And let's not forget that's just one step in multiple steps. We then have to go to the senate and then we have to pass the Senate. To the point of trying to get this done as quickly as possible is really strategically wrong, and I think David is right that they want to try to get a win right before the 100-day Mark, but they already had a major loss. So, just take what they learned from the major loss and try to get it done right than rather try to get it done quick, especially at a time when they're trying to fund the government next week. And that is going to be very contentious here in Washington.

BLITZER: Mark makes a good point, Rebecca, that even if it does narrowly pass, gets 216 votes on the floor of the House of Representatives, no guarantee it will get a majority in the Senate.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, not at all. And Mark mentions the lessons that the White House learned from the first time this healthcare process failed. This indicates to me that they didn't learn very much at all because here the White House is the one calling the vote, setting the timetable for a vote in the House of Representatives when the house leadership hasn't indicated that there would be votes for this new proposal that they have put out. So, it really shows to me that they are not very organized in this process, but it also emphasizes and I think reflects the fact not only are they looking at the calendar and this 100-day mark in their administration, but they're also beginning to reemphasize that healthcare is as Mick Mulvaney told me recently, a linchpin in their larger agenda. This is what they need for tax reform and everything to follow. BLITZER: We're getting reaction to the very controversial comments that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last night. Let me play the clip once again. He degraded the State of Hawaii as well as the federal judge. Listen to this.


JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal, and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops, I mean, the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional powers.


BLITZER: That federal Judge Derrick Watson issuing that order involving putting a hold on Travel Ban 2. But you're getting reaction now from the Justice Department.

CHALIAN: Well, right. They put out a statement just now, Wolf. They said, "Not walking back at all what Jeff Sessions said," and saying, "Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific, yes. A beautiful one where the Attorney General's granddaughter was born." He goes out - they go on to say that the point he's trying to make is he doesn't think just, you know, one judge should have any ability to halt the President's executive authority here.

[17:40:01] That may be Jeff Sessions' interpretation, but for somebody who served in the United States Senate, it's odd that he would sort of just say an island in the Pacific when he knows it's a state, one of the 50 states and has two senators just like the rest of his colleagues in the United States Senate. So why he would sort of dismissively do that doesn't make much sense. I understand he was trying to say that he didn't think this judge rightly decided the case, but that's not what he was saying.

BLITZER: And that Judge Derrick Watson, he was confirmed by the United States Senate, what, 94 to nothing.

PRESTON: Right. And David and I were just looking back at the vote and guess who voted for the judge? Jeff Sessions voted for the judge. But, you know, and to David's point, too, the fact of the matter is Jeff Sessions is a smart politician. He knows that Hawaii is not some island out there where liberals are living just to try to obstruct the Trump agenda and whoever allowed that reaction to his statement to go out, it really was malpractice.

BLITZER: You know, the President of the United States, he's had some negative things to say about federal judges as well. It's not just the Attorney General of the United States.

BERG: He has. And, of course, that federal judge that the president had some negative things to say about --

BLITZER: Judge Curiel. BERG: -- Judge Curiel is coming back into the spotlight. He will be

hearing this case over a dreamer who says he was deported, wrongfully so. And so, lots of questions at the forefront about how this administration views the judiciary and these comments they're making. But when the Attorney General is coming out and saying something like this about a federal judge, it's really astounding to me. The Justice Department you would expect to support the judges in the federal system.

CHALIAN: It seems like not a complete understanding of the separation of powers, how it works. Actually, a judge can issue a ruling that does halt something the executive is doing. I mean, that's the way -


BLITZER: There are three - there's three branches of the government.

CHALIAN: Exactly.


PRESTON: But any statement that begins, as I steal it from David, Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific. Thank you for the sixth grade geography lesson. Why can't he just come out, Wolf, and say, "Listen, he's upset by this, he believes the president is being wronged. You know, he misspoke. That would be (INAUDIBLE)

BLITZER: But you're not going to hear the President of the United States or the Attorney General necessarily say that very often, that they made a mistake.

PRESTON: No, it's not certainly in the lexicon of this administration.

BLITZER: A tough situation. All right, guys, thanks very much. We've got some more news coming up. We have some breaking news that we're following. That shooting targeting police in Paris, we're going to go live to the French capital. Much more coming up.


[17:46:57] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in Paris. We're going back to the scene momentarily. Take a look at this live pictures coming in from the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe. There has been a police cordon put over the area. One police officer was shot and killed, others injured. It looks according to Paris police like a terror incident. The President of the United States said looks like a terror incident. We'll have full coverage of that. That's coming up.

In the meantime, let's get back to our political panel. The whole -- hold on one second. I'm just getting told that the information we're getting from Paris -- yes, we will be updating that momentarily, and we'll have much more coming up on this, what looks like a terror attack in Paris. In the meantime, there's other news that we're following including the fallout, the stunning downfall of the former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, that could have some significant implications for one of his most prominent supporters. We're talking about the President of the United States. CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look for us. So, Brian, both men have benefitted from their friendship.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have, Wolf, certainly. Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly both built their support on their appeal to the forgotten voter. Each seemed to feed off the other's popularity, but tonight, O'Reilly is gone. Trump is being criticized for supporting him, and republican leaders are, again, worried about fallout at the polls.


TRUMP: Bill O'Reilly said -- a lot of respect for Bill O'Reilly, tough guy, smart guy.

TODD: Their success over the past 20 years is almost intertwined, their friendship well-documented. Donald Trump and Bill O'Reilly have gone to sporting events together, been seen sipping milkshakes.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS THE O'REILLY FACTOR HOST: And I'll give you a compliment.

TODD: Since 2003, Trump has appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" more than 20 times by CNN's count.

O'REILLY: A good week for President Trump.

TODD: As the interview during this year's Super Bowl coverage showed, O'Reilly didn't always fawn over Trump.

O'REILLY: And as the President, you say, for example, that there are three million illegal aliens who voted, and then you don't have the data to back it up, some people are going to say that's irresponsible for a President to say that. Is there any validity to that?

TRUMP: Well, many people have come out and said I'm right, you know that.


O'REILLY: I know, but you've got to have data to back that up.

TODD: It's a relationship that helped boost the popularity of both men.

JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: The populism of Bill O'Reilly, I do think is in some ways linked to the play that Donald Trump made, "I'm for your, you're voiceless, the mainstream media aren't for you, we're going to drain the swamp." That all fits with the rhetoric of, "I'm for you," you know, "I'm in the no spin zone."

TODD: Now, they're tied together in a more troubling way, both accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct. Both vehemently deny the allegations. Trump in an extraordinary move for President defended O'Reilly to The New York Times a couple of weeks ago after The Times' expose on the accusations against the Fox host.

TRUMP: He's a good person. I think he may - you know, I think he shouldn't have settled. Personally, he shouldn't have settled. I don't think Bill would do anything wrong.

[17:50:02] TODD: Tonight, after O'Reilly's dismissal at Fox, the White House isn't saying if the president still feels that way. Some observers believe Trump's election following the Access Hollywood controversy was at least partially a catalyst for O'Reilly's downfall.

HALL: What happened to O'Reilly may be in some ways connected to the dismay of a lot of women who came out on the women's march who said "We won't - we won't - we cannot stand for this anymore.

TODD: Tonight, analysts say the potential fallout from Trump's association with O'Reilly could hurt the Republican Party -


TODD: Now, a lot of this actually depends on how Trump handles the fallout from O'Reilly going forward. If he keeps defending O'Reilly, he and other republicans may lose the support of women voters, but if he stays quiet on O'Reilly and focuses on other issues, voters could look past this, Wolf. A lot of this depends on how the president handles it.

BLITZER: And we're also getting some new information, Brian, tonight on Bill O'Reilly's payout from Fox, what are you learning?

TODD: That's right, Wolf. Our Brian Stelter reporting that it's a staggering amount that O'Reilly's getting paid. A well-placed source telling Brian, O'Reilly is getting $25 million to leave Fox, that's the equivalent of about one year's salary for O'Reilly under the contract that he just signed. 21st Century Fox and O'Reilly representatives not acknowledging the existence of any payout.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much. Let's get back to our panel. And David Chalian, this is a relationship between the President and Bill O'Reilly that's been going on, what, for 20 years.

CHALIAN: That's right. And the relationship between Bill O'Reilly, Fox News more broadly and the Republican Party that's been going on, and I cannot stress to you, Wolf, what an impact Bill O'Reilly has had, talking to voters across this country, you hear recitation of his talking points because it really helps a lot of people in this country who watch Fox and him sharpen their world view. This is a huge shift in the conservative media landscape.

BLITZER: You agree?

PRESTON: Yes. Yes, no question about that. And in many ways, it seemed that while O'Reilly at times was hard on Trump during these interviews, he wasn't hard in a way to try to take him down. He's almost trying to goad him along into trying to bring him along on a plain, Wolf, where that he thought his messaging would be better if Trump listened to O'Reilly.

BLITZER: It wasn't - it wasn't just, Rebecca, the President's relationship with Bill O'Reilly, which was long-standing good friendship. He had a good relationship with Roger Ailes who also was removed from Fox amid these allegations of sexual harassment.

BERG: Absolutely. And after Roger Ailes left Fox News, of course, during the campaign, he went and informally advised Donald Trump in his campaign for President, which was the source of some controversy. For Donald Trump, these are some of his close allies. He views them as friends and he rejects these accusations just as he rejected the accusations against him.

BLITZER: If the President is asked to comment about Bill O'Reilly's departure, what do you think he's going to say now? We'd already told the New York Times a couple of weeks ago that he didn't think he should have settled. He's a great guy. He didn't do anything wrong.

BREG: Who knows? I mean, that was something the President said unsolicited. He wasn't even asked about Bill O'Reilly and he just offered that opinion, so who knows what he would say now. But surely, I think his advisors would hope that he avoids this very controversial subject.

PRESTON: Strategically, she just said this is very unfortunate situation and let's talk about issues that affect the American people. I don't know if he's going to do that.

BLITZER: What do you think?

CHALIAN: I agree with what you're saying, that is a wise advice. I also think there -- he has - he has to be a little careful here, not just the politics of how women may respond or what have you but there's going to be a lot of outrage over $25-million payout. That is something that I think to a lot of American people, even Fox viewers, that will seem very confusing that somebody loses their job and gets paid.

BLITZER: You know, the reports of Roger Ailes got a $40-million payout. So, that's a lot of money.

PRESTON: In many ways that money is hush money because you don't want O'Reilly out there attacking the network and then they could lose those viewers.

BERG: But the important thing, I think, is that Fox News does not appear to be changing very much and Donald Trump still has a friend in that network in their primetime lineup.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much. We're following the breaking news. And we're getting new information about the deadly attack on Paris Police today. We're going to go live to the scene for the very latest. [17:59:36] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Charging Assange.

CNN has learned that U.S. authorities are preparing charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Why now? We're getting new details this hour.

Paris attack. Multiple shots ring out and police are targeted in a city scarred by terror. New details this hour in the deadly violence and whose behind it?

Talking terror. President Trump says the Paris shooting looks like an act of terror as the investigation is just getting underway.