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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Trump Won't Approve Release Of Democratic Memo; Second White House Official Resigns Over Domestic Abuse Allegations; Kim Jong Un Invites South Korean President To Pyongyang; Frigid Temperatures Strong Winds To Impact PyeongChang; Dow's Worst Week In Two Years. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired February 10, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has decided he is not going to declassify the Adam Schiff memo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The unfairness is so obvious, and so egregious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm upset because this is a clear abuse.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We wish him well. He worked very hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The victims here are the women.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no tolerance in this White House and no place in America for domestic abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a second White House official who has resigned over domestic abuse allegations, David Sorenson who is a speech writer for the administration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that this will continue to dog the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a unprecedented move, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is significant. Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader has extended a personal invitation to the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. This morning, any sense of bipartisanship felt in Washington after passing a major budget deal is history. CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats are attacking the president for refusing to release their memo, a rebuttal of the Republican memo that he had released just last week.
BLACKWELL: Now, on the same day, a second White House official accused of domestic abuse, out, the third in line at the Justice Department, out. The deputy chief of staff, out, and the chief of staff is willing to leave now, too.
PAUL: CNN's Abby Phillip live in Washington to help us break down all of these major events that have been happening here, these developments. So, Abby, first of all, why is the president is blocking the Democratic memo from being released. What he's saying?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, Christi. The president is sighting national security concerns and concerns specifically about classified sections in this memo.
Now the president declined to declassify the memo and has actually sent it back to Congress for them to work with the intelligence community to redact the sectioning that may need to be redacted.
But of course, Democrats are crying foul and you can see the reason why, President Trump when he was faced with a similar memo from the Republican side, decided to declassify despite the objections of his own intelligence community.
Including the FBI which put out an extraordinary statement at the time saying that they had grave concerns about the accuracy of the Republican memo. Now on the Democratic side, this Democratic memo is being sent back to Congress sighting national security concerns.
The president is asking Democrats to work with the FBI and others to redact sections of the memo that he believes threatens national security and then send it back to him, or there are other options including Congress, the entirety of the House voting to release the memo.
It's unclear how Democrats are going to respond, but already we're hearing from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who has called this a blatantly political move on the president's part.
And that it shows that the decision to release the Nunes memo was in fact about putting his thumb on the scale on the Mueller investigation and he is not willing to give the Democratic memo the same kind of consideration that he gave the Republican one.
PAUL: OK, that's what they are saying. Talk to us as well about this other development, this second White House staffer that resigned over allegations of domestic abuse.
PHILLIP: That's right. Just hours after the White House lost one senior staffer, a second, David Sorenson, who is a speech writer at the White House, tendered his resignation. Now this case is we know much less about it, frankly, Christi, than we did on the other case of Rob Porter, who was the staff secretary who resigned.
In this case, David Sorenson, is pushing back. He released a statement to CNN last night that says that he denies the allegations vehemently and he claims that was the victim of domestic violence.
He said, "I was a victim of repeated physical violence during our marriage, not her." His ex-wife claims that he was violent with her during their marriage. They are now divorced. The White House is not even engaging in the details of this dispute especially in the wake of the Rob Porter scandal, which they have acknowledged they handled poorly.
They moved very quickly to remove Sorenson. The principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, released a statement saying that, "Before we were contacted by the media, we learned that there were allegations." He said, "We immediately confronted the staffer, he denied the allegations and he resigned today."
[06:05:04] So, the White House does not want to get into another situation in which there were, you know, hours and hours of delay in dealing with these accusations. But, frankly, the details of Sorenson's case seemed to be a little bit more complex and we know far less about it. His ex-wife has spoken publicly about the allegations that she is making against her ex-husband.
PAUL: All right. Abby Phillip, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: All right. Joining me now is CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, and White House correspondent at "The Washington Examiner," Sarah Westwood. Good morning to you both.
All right. So, the deputy chief of staff is leaving to become the drug czar for the administration, Rachel Brand, the third in line at the Department of Justice, going to become one of the corporate attorneys at Walmart. We talked about Sorenson as well.
Now there is this reporting from CNN that General Kelly, the chief of staff, is willing to resign his position if the president wants him to but has not made this formal offer. Sarah, first to you, politically would that bring some element of accountability in this entire Rob Porter situation or is it too chaotic? What's the view from the White House?
SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, I think it is a really difficult situation because on the one hand, this response from the west wing was obviously handled very poorly. It is not clear how much John Kelly is to blame for that.
Potentially, that could have been a messaging problem from the communications department. There have been questions about the extent to which the communications director recused herself from a situation in which he may have had a personal conflict of interest.
But John Kelly offering his resignation shows that he is willing to impose that kind of accountability on himself. It is not totally clear, though, that there is a viable alternative to John Kelly waiting to go. We've heard names floating like Mick Mulvaney, the budget director.
But he is engaged in a fight right now to get a budget deal passed and implemented, and it's necessarily a good time for him to make a transition. We've heard that President Trump in the past has been interested in CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Again, there's not a clear line of succession to take over that intelligence agency. So, it would create a major shuffle if John Kelly was to leave. This might potentially sap the goodwill that he had and maybe put some strikes on his record, but it's not clear that the president really wants to accept that resignation.
BLACKWELL: All right. Errol, to you, I want you to listen to Vice President Mike Pence in an interview last night with Lester Holt of NBC News. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I was appalled when I learned of the allegations against Rob Porter. The time that he resigned is when I first became aware of the allegations of domestic abuse. There is no tolerance for abuse in this White House, and no place in America for domestic abuse. That being said, I think the White House has acknowledged that they could have handled it better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Interesting use of the term, they, in reference to White House handling it better by the vice president of the United States. But I wonder from your perspective, how this assertion for no tolerance for domestic abuse corresponds with what we know about the timeline when White House Counsel Don McGahn and General Kelly, the chief of staff learned of these allegations in 2017.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. It is interesting. You point out the pronoun they instead of we. The reality is it was known for quite a while that this was at least a question. There was a glaring fact that Rob Porter had not passed a security clearance background check.
That there were questions that were being raised. The women had gone quite public with this information. This was not a closely hidden secret in a lot of ways, and they have nobody to blame but themselves in the White House for letting the vetting process get so out of hand.
Where they didn't use the tools that were at their disposal to really bring forward the information. They're saying now that, well, Rob Porter mentioned that there had been problems, but he didn't go into details.
Well, that's not really his job. I mean, that's what the background check is there for. The FBI was really sort of giving the White House leadership a very clear signal by not giving him the full clearance that he sought. That in itself should have been a signal to Kelly and to others that there was something seriously wrong here. BLACKWELL: All right. Let's move on to the Democratic memo that was in response to the Nunes memo on the FBI and the FISA process as well. The president decided not to release it last night. I want to read this tweet from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
"This move by Donald Trump confirms what we have known for weeks, that his decision to release the Nunes memo was a blatantly political move made without concern for national security. The hypocrisy is on full display. What does the president have to hide?"
Errol, I'm going to star with you on this. When we spoke last Saturday about the release of the Nunes memo, I asked your expectation that the Democratic memo would be released, and you were an outlier and saying that it's not going to be released. What do you make of the president's explanation or Don McGahn's explanation of why this was not released yet?
[06:10:13] LOUIS: Well, I mean the explanation on its face is absolutely credible. Meaning you don't just do this kind of thing, you check with the FBI, you look at vital information on sources and methods. You don't want to endanger national security.
All of that is true. However, it was all disregarded last week in a rush to put out the Nunes memo. So, the double standard is obvious. The goal here is obvious, which is to bury the criticism of that first memo.
And let's keep in mind, that is really what the problem is here for the White House. The Democratic memo goes point by point through the Nunes memo and pokes holes in it. In some ways it's not quite as necessary as we might have expected, Victor, because the Nunes memo in some ways is sort of self-impeaching.
It was sort of flimsy, self-contradictory, and left out a lot of information. The Democratic memo apparently points that out in greater detail.
BLACKWELL: Yes, and Nunes himself had to admit that the judges were made aware that the dossier was part of or at least that information was from a politically motivated source, at least to our footnote.
And Sarah to you, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously last week or this week actually to release the Democratic memo. Would it be too cynical to believe that the Republicans, at least some of them on that committee, expected that the president would not declassify it?
And they could, at least through their votes seem like we're all for transparency, but they knew that the president and the White House would take this step.
WESTWOOD: You know, we can't know the motivations behind their vote, but I think that this Democratic memo has sort of become a (inaudible), everybody sees what they want to see in this process.
Republicans have accused Democrats, for example, of including an unnecessary amount of classified information and information that gives away sources and methods in an effort to provoke this kind of response from the White House to give the impression that maybe the Trump administration is trying to suppress this information.
That this is actually all going according to some master Democratic plan, and then on the Democratic side, obviously, they see this as an attempt from the Trump administration to shield what could be contradictory information that takes away this vindication from fields that he obtained through the Nunes memo.
And we don't really know where the truth is, maybe somewhere in the middle, but we will never know what kind of sensitive information the White House and the Justice Department wants to strike out of this memo because the final product, if it ever sees the light of day, will probably look as lean and sparse as the Nunes memo did.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, Errol Louis, thank you both.
LOUIS: Thank you.
PAUL: It is an olive branch from North Korea, Kim Jong-un's sister inviting the South Korean president now to visit Pyongyang on behalf of the Korean leader. We'll look at what her role is in the secretive North Korean hierarchy and what relationship between the North and the South means for the U.S.
BLACKWELL: And this new video of an Israeli fighter pilot bailing out after coming under anti-aircraft fire in the skies over Syria. We got a reporter live near that scene.
PAUL: And the stock market, you know, it just had its worst week in two years, but should we be worried here? In just a little bit, how you should take advantage of the drops depending on your age, we'll break it down for you.
PAUL: So, the Winter Olympic games in full swing. Sweden won the first gold medal of the PyeongChang games for 15-kilometer cross country skiing.
BLACKWELL: Of course, there's a lot more to look forward to especially today's speed skating, biathlon, ski jumping. We'll keep you updated on the medal count throughout the morning.
History is being made at this year's Winter Olympics, not just on the ice but off it as well. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un has invited the South Korean president to visit Pyongyang. He extended this historic invitation through his sister, Kim Yo-jong.
PAUL: Of course, she's visiting South Korea for the games and have lunched with the South Korean president earlier. CNN's Will Ripley live from PyeongChang. So, talk to us, Will, because you broke this story about this historic invitation. What have you learned about what was said? And good morning.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We learned ahead of the meeting at the blue house that it was likely the North Koreans are going to invite President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to visit Pyongyang. It is clear that Kim Jong-un sent his sister on a diplomatic mission.
You know, she is younger, relatively charming, and the United States has accused North Korea of leading a charm offensive with Kim Yo-jong, a rising star in the Workers Party of Korea, has the ear of her broth as the person to lead this charge.
And so, she essentially is, was sent there, sent to the meeting to talk to President Moon, and to tell him that Kim Jong-un is willing to talk. That he wants to engage and what the North Korean's gain by this is they can extend this period of inter-Korean talks.
Just like during the Olympics where there haven't been any joint military drills. They were postponed until after the Olympics. Now, South Korea could perhaps try to pressure the United States to postpone those joint drills even further.
North Korea might want economic sanctions lifted as a result of this. So, North Korea has a lot to gain by making this offer without really having to make any concessions. And at the same time, it's sort of a sidelining the United States.
You had Vice President Pence here saying that the United States should disengage from North Korea after the Olympics and join the U.S. in this campaign of maximum pressure. Clearly, President Moon taking another approach even going to a hockey game with Kim Jong-un's sister, and also with the ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam.
BLACKWELL: Two things, Will, first do we know if the South Korean's have accepted that invitation, and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said that North Korea and the U.S. should talk to improve North and South Korea relations.
[06:20:06] Given Vice President Mike Pence was seated just feet away from Kim Jong-un's sister during the opening ceremony, what is the reaction from the U.S.?
RIPLEY: Yes, so the invitation passed by Kim Yo-jong was accepted immediately. In principle, of course, there is still a lot of details that have to be worked out with timing and what not. As far as the optics for the United States, the vice president was initially supposed to be seated directly in front of the North Korean delegation.
He actually switched seats to try to sit further away and still it was just one row and four seats separating him. Clearly, the optics of that not ideal for the United States. They're trying to show unity with South Koreans and the Japanese, and they were sitting in the front row shoulder to shoulder.
But the North Koreans were right there in the background and that gives Kim Jong-un the legitimacy that he has been seeking here. He is presenting his country on a world stage with two of his top-ranking officials including his own sister saying they are right alongside the president of South Korea and the vice president of the United States.
WHITFIELD: Help us understand the significance of Kim Jong-un's sister and her power. We don't see a lot of women in power in North Korea, she is one of few.
RIPLEY: She is someone who has been a rising star just in the last few years. She's Kim Jong-un's younger sister and a relatively short amount of time, she has had title after title given to her where she's now become one of the most influential and powerful women in the country, if not the most influential and powerful woman in the country.
Clearly what this shows is that she is exceptionally loyal to her brother, and she will follow his instructions to the word. That's how you're successful in North Korea is if you demonstrate loyalty.
And so, while you look at what has happened in some other family members, Kim Jong-un had his own uncle executed a number of years ago for what was considered to be disloyalty, and of course, Kim Jong-un's half-brother was executed in Malaysia, something the North Koreans have denied involvement in.
But there was a cold war nerve agent that was used to carry out that murder. It clearly shows that if you're in the Kim family, it doesn't necessarily mean you will be rising to a position of power. But if you demonstrate loyalty, absolute loyalty, then you will be utilized and that's exactly what we saw happen here in South Korea.
This was an attempt by Kim Jong-un to soften the image of his country by sending someone young, photogenic and charming, and the U.S. saying don't fall for the charm offensive, but clearly, South Korea's president feels that this is going to be the right approach at least for now to try to continue engaging with the North Koreans and possibly make that trip later this year.
BLACKWELL: All right. Will Ripley for us there in PyeongChang. Will, thank you so much.
PAUL: So, of course, competitions at the Winter Olympics may be heating up, but look, it's called the Winter Olympics for a reason.
BLACKWELL: Yes, you need ice and snow, but Olympians are really dealing with one of the coldest ever to host the games.
PAUL: CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, joining us now. This has to be uncomfortable.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is especially if you competed in the last couple of games because when you talk about the previous locations, Italy, Vancouver, Canada, this is going to be much colder than some of those last few Winter Olympics that we have seen.
This may end up going down, it's the fourth coldest Olympics in modern time. Here's what we are talking about. You see this frigid mass of cold air up here? Here is South Korea. That incredibly cold air is going to sink back down by the time we get to the end of the weekend and especially into early portions of the upcoming week.
So, we are not just talking cold temperatures in general, but much colder than average for a lot of these locations. Look at the feels like temperature as we go through much of the morning tomorrow, minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit, minus 5, even two being one of the warmer locations.
So, it's going to be incredibly cold temperatures tomorrow morning, but when you look at the long-term forecast, again even the high temperatures are not even expected to be very high. The other thing to contend with will be the snow. It may not be very much, but the skiers may look forward to that, but some of the tourists traveling may find that not as exciting.
PAUL: All righty. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up next hour, Jordan Greenway, he is 20 years old and as he gets ready to take the ice as a member of Team USA, he represents a very important first for the country and for the Olympics, so has he been feeling the pressure?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN GREENWAY, TEAM USA HOCKEY PLAYER: To be honest, I didn't know I was breaking a color barrier. I didn't find out for a while. You know, I think it's great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: And we're learning more from an autopsy report connected to the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. Still ahead, what is being revealed about the man behind the Las Vegas massacre.
BLACKWELL: Plus, the Dow had its worst week in two years, should you be worried if you're trying to retire soon or if you're 30? We'll show you exactly how to react based on your age.
PAUL: Good Saturday morning with you. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.
The Dow started this week with its worst point loss in history and overall, the week really didn't get much better from there.
PAUL: Yes. Here is CNN correspondent, Alison Kosik. She helps us take a look what the Dow's worst weekend in two years really mean.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. It was a crazy week on Wall Street as volatility gripped the stock market. Despite a late session rally on Friday, stocks suffered their worst weekly losses in two years. The Dow sinking 5 percent for the week. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 also dropping 5 percent on the week.
Wild swings only fueled the anxiety. It began Monday with the biggest point drop in the Dow's history, a plunge of 1,175 points. Tuesday, stocks rebounded jumping more than 500 points. Wednesday saw a small decline but then stocks rose Thursday only to crater at the close with the Dow losing more than 1,000 points yet again. And on Friday, another rebound, surging 330 points in the final hour of trading.
So what's driving all of these wild swings? The severe selling was triggered a week ago when the government's monthly jobs report showed wages rising 2.9 percent over the past year. That got investors worrying about inflation. Thus the bond market began reacting to the new budget deal. That led to fears that the Federal Reserve will have to hike interest rates faster than expected.
It's a fear that fuelled much of the selling this week. And while no one knows what next week will bring for the stock market, the one certainty right now is that uncertainty is here to stay.
Back to you.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alison. Thanks so much.
This week's selloff sent the Dow into correction territory. It recovered late yesterday, so just above that. But that still means that stocks went down about 10 percent from the all-time high hit the last month.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it seems like a steep drop job I know, but if you take a look at the last 10 years, you've got to see corrections are just part of a steady rise. They're not rare by any sense. So what should you be doing to react to what is happening right now?
David Nicholas, manager and president of Nicholas Wealth Management, is with us.
Thank you, sir, for coming in. They wanted me to point out a quote from Warren Buffett, who said, be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful. Does that give us any indication of what we should be doing?
DAVID NICHOLAS, MANAGER AND PRESIDENT, NICHOLAS WEALTH MANAGEMENT: You know, it does. Yours want to be doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. When everyone is fearful, that's the time that you want to buy. And this for many investors is going to be a fantastic buying opportunity. So there's still a silver lining here that I hope we can talk about.
PAUL: OK. And real quickly, what does this mean? I know a lot of people sitting at home thinking, what does this mean for mortgage rates?
NICHOLAS: Yes. PAUL: What does this mean for loan rates?
NICHOLAS: What most of this is about, the fear was that interest rates would be rising and we see rates rising. What that's going to mean is, look, we're going to be paying more when we take out a loan for mortgage. That also may send home prices down a little bit over the next six months.
But, Christi, relatively speaking, back in the '80s, interest rates for mortgage were 15 percent.
NICHOLAS: They're still historically at all time low. So it's still a good time to buy, but you're going to be paying more if you buy -- purchase a house in the next few months.
BLACKWELL: OK. So we promised to tell people what they should do, their reaction, what it should be based on their age group. So let's start with the first group. 30 to 40-year-old, 30-year-old, 40-year- old, this is the time the age group to be aggressive, right?
NICHOLAS: Absolutely. I know it can be kind of nervous when you probably get when you see that the market drops so much. But look, you're putting money into your 401(k) every couple of weeks when you get paid. You're getting into that buy stocks at about a 10 percent discount. That's fantastic. So you want to keep doing that. But you want to make sure you don't own bonds inside the 401(k).
This is the time to own stocks, like you said. You want to be aggressive. So take the bond portion out of the portfolio and be aggressive in investing at age 30. You got 30 plus years to go before retirement.
PAUL: So 40 to 50, you say -- I hate to say this, this is your last chance, we're going to rescue people?
NICHOLAS: Yes. This is -- you still want to get growth, though, but instead of just being on overly aggressive growth stocks, maybe look for value stocks, dividend paying stocks, but this is really -- like you said, Christi -- the last shot. You want to get growth. But you want to be careful as you get closer to that retirement age.
BLACKWELL: OK, so 50 and older, slow it down, be a little more conservative because you're getting closer to retirement.
NICHOLAS: Absolutely. There's a rule that we follow. It's called the rule of 100. You take 100 minus your age. So let's just say you're 60 years old. One hundred minus 60, that gives us 40. That means no more than 40 percent of your portfolio should be in stocks. So you want to look for alternatives. Things that are going to be more conservative, things like bond, ETFs, or even fixed annuities to where your principals can be protected from market losses.
So it's -- this is the time that -- you know, there is a lot of excitement in the markets but we want to remain calm. BLACKWELL: Yes.
NICHOLAS: For many of us we have many years to go for a time and this is a great opportunity to get in and buy great stocks at a discount.
PAUL: OK. So you -- you know, this 10 percent drop that we've seen again just to reiterate, it's not the end of the world, and it's not unusual, and this is just the ebb and flow of how it goes, but once it gets to -- we're listening to one analyst say once you hit 15 percent, maybe up towards 20 percent, that's when it's gets a little dicey.
NICHOLAS: And it's a great point because really the 10 percent correction we can recover from. But when you're pushing retirement, if you get a 15 percent loss, 20 percent, 25 percent, 30 percent loss, that can take years to recover from. So the 10 percent shouldn't scare anybody but we want to be watching that to make sure hey, you cannot absorb a larger loss than about a 12 percent portfolio if you're approaching retirement because that could be pretty tough to recover from.
BLACKWELL: So how I -- you know, we're talking about ways to react to what many people see as bad news. But this is good news for a lot of investors. Who likes what they saw this week?
NICHOLAS: Yes. So it's good news for younger investors.
NICHOLAS: Because they're not going to be pulling out their portfolio for quite awhile. So that is a silver lining. But, you know, the good news is there are still companies that have done well. Twitter was up almost 15 percent on Thursday.
[06:35:13] NICHOLAS: So amidst all of this market turmoil, these companies like Twitter, Snapchat had a great day as well. So there's still companies out there that are performing well. We just want to be able to find those good companies and own them and, you know, be successful, long-term in investing is where we success.
PAUL: All right. David Nicholas, it's so good to have you here.
NICHOLAS: Thank you so much.
PAUL: Thanks for breaking it down for us.
NICHOLAS: Absolutely, thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right.
PAUL: Listen. New insight into the mind of the Las Vegas gunman. What was in his system at the time of the attack that left dozens dead and hundreds more injured. We'll talk about what is being revealed, next.
BLACKWELL: Plus look at this. An Israeli soldier jumping out of his fighter jet after being hit by an anti-aircraft fire. This is over Syria. CNN's Ian Lee is there near the area where it happened. We'll have a live report in a moment.
[06:40:08] PAUL: Forty minutes past the hour right now. And the Last Vegas gunman who carried out the deadliest shooting in modern history have anti-anxiety drugs in his system.
BLACKWELL: Stephen Paddock's autopsy also showed he died of a self- inflicted gunshot wound to the head after he opened fire on thousands during a country music concert last year. 58 people were killed, almost 500 injured. Police found Paddock dead inside his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Authorities have not released a motive for the massacre but Paddock was known as a gambler who visited Las Vegas casinos frequently.
All right. Breaking news, Israel -- Israel, rather, says that an Israeli fighter jet has crashed after coming under massive anti- aircraft fire from Syrian forces and Israel admitted today its forces launched attacks on Iranian targets in Syria.
PAUL: CNN's Ian Lee is live from Golan Heights.
So, Ian, first of all, tell us what happened.
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this, you know, is probably the most dangerous escalation in tensions we've seen in awhile and I'll give you a bit of a timeline. It all started in the early morning hours here around 4:50 a.m. when the Israeli military says they were tracking an Iranian drone that was flying in Syria, and then they tracked it going into Israeli air space. They say they tracked it for awhile before deciding to engage this drone, bringing it down with an attack helicopter.
That drone, they said, they were able to gather the pieces of it. They say that this was an Iranian-made drone. It was -- took off from Palmyra which is in the central part of Syria. Well, shortly after that, eight Israeli jets carried out raids inside Syria going after that command and control center that was operating that drone. They say they came under heavy anti-aircraft of fire. One of the planes went down. They say it's probable that the plane was shot down, although they're looking at the crash site right now trying to determine what exactly brought the plane down, but right now it does look like it was brought down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
In response to that, Israel says they launched 12 strikes on 12 different targets inside Syria. Eight of them Syrian government, four of them Iranian. One of those targets going after the Fourth Division of the Syrian Army, which is some outskirts of Damascus which is about 50 kilometers in that direction. They say they went after these targets in retaliation. Those planes also came under heavy anti-aircraft fire but they were
able to return to base safely. The Syrians have said this is a -- this is -- blaming the Israelis for what is going on saying this is Israeli aggression. They also say that they were able to intercept some of those Israeli missiles, although Israel says all the targets they went after, those targets were hit.
Right now it is pretty calm here in the Golan, although earlier in the day there were sirens, rocket sirens going off up here. The Israeli say that really right now the ball is in Syria and Iran's court. Israel says they want to deescalate the situation, and we're just going to have to wait and see.
PAUL: All right, Ian Lee there, in Golan Heights.
And what's interesting when you look at that, and we talk about Syria so much, Syria is right behind him.
PAUL: Ian Lee, thank you. Appreciate it.
BLACKWELL: All right. Next CNN gets exclusives access to U.S. Special Forces on the front line in Syria. We'll be right back.
[06:47:55] BLACKWELL: In recent days, U.S. forces and the Syrian rebels they support have come under fire from both Turkish backed troops and pro-Syria fighters.
Our Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive report from the front lines.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They've been trying to stay out of the dust and the chaos here for years. But it hasn't worked. And now American Special Forces give us the first access to their daily risky patrols in Syria. They're here despite an unprecedented threat from a supposed friend, Turkey, whose forces are just over the hill. A NATO ally whose president has demanded only hours earlier that the U.S. withdraw immediately.
These Syrian Kurdish fighters are the reason why. America fought with them to defeat ISIS across northern Syria. But Turkey thinks they are terrorists, linked to Turkish Kurds fighters. And so here they are barrel-to-barrel.
(On camera): This is a strange new world in Syria. In the end game of the fight against ISIS NATO ally facing NATO ally here. American troops very much on the front line after years, you might say, of trying to stay out of this messy civil war. A new chapter of which is now beginning.
(Voice-over): This is the scramble for the land ISIS built and lost. In fact, in the last hour, the rebels from over there have fired on a nearby checkpoint as if they heard the Turkish demand the U.S. leave. Bu still the Americans send their highest-ranking officer yet. The message, we're not going anywhere.
(On camera): When you take fire from this direction three or four times a week, we're being told. And that's from forces supported by your NATO ally, Turkey?
LT. GENERAL PAUL FUNK, U.S. COMMANDER, ANTI-ISIS COALITION: Right.
WALSH: Which is by definition bizarre, right?
FUNK: Yes, it is. Absolutely. You said that, that's exactly right. It is bizarre. I would say that the people that fought to take Raqqa back from ISIS, no matter what nationality they were, no matter what their beliefs, were heroes.
[06:50:02] WALSH: But Turkey says some of them are terrorists.
FUNK: Well, OK.
WALSH: And that's the complexity of where we are right now.
FUNK: It is. That's exactly right.
WALSH: What's your biggest worry about what's going on here?
FUNK: Miscalculation. Yes. Could be anybody's.
WALSH: And if these two sides end up in open conflict, what do you do about that?
FUNK: We de-escalate.
WALSH (voice-over): But don't pretend this buffer row for America goes anywhere good fast. Turkish and Kurds hate each other perhaps more than they did ISIS. And they won't fight ISIS if they're fighting each other.
"The coalition's goal," this commander says, "was to finish ISIS in the area, but Turkey with their actions and statements, is giving life to ISIS again."
And this is just the beginning. We drive past a huge convoy in support of Kurdish fighters in a nearby Kurdish enclave to the west called Afrin, that Turkey has invaded, despite American pleas they don't.
In a nearby town of Manbij America's Special Forces commander strolls around the market liberated from ISIS 18 months ago, where life is just about becoming life again, where hotels are trying to open. But where businesses hamstrung by the fear Turkey will make good on its threat to send its NATO-equipped army to invade here, too. They thought they were getting over the war here, but it looms again. Another possible ugly chapter. An ally against erstwhile ally is nothing new to brutalized Syria.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, near Manbij, Syria.
BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Nick Paton Walsh.
The dramatic opening ceremony with the big fireworks show is now done. But it's time to wins, the medals in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
PAUL: Yes, and Coy Wire is live in Pyeongchang.
All right. How are you doing, Coy?
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I cannot complain. I won't ever complain. Coming up, we're going to tell you a heartwarming story about an Olympian who's going to make you smile almost as much as Victor and Christi every weekend right here on NEW DAY. You're not going to want to miss it. That's coming up.
[06:56:49] BLACKWELL: Well, the pageantry of the opening ceremony is now done. Now it's time to get down to business in Pyeongchang as the Winter Olympics get into gear and everybody starts competing.
PAUL: Yes. Coy Wire is live from South Korea this morning, and you know if there is an inspirational story somewhere it's on his radar and he's going to find it.
WIRE: Yes. We're going to bring that to you in a morning.
Good morning to you. Happy Saturday. Welcome to South Korea, and perhaps one of the quaintest places in Winter Olympics history. Pyeongchang. A tiny, obscure, laid-back mountain county of about 43,000 people and what some called the alps of Asia. The 35,000-seat stadium was rocking for our opening ceremony. Team U.S., they were led out by four-time Olympian luger Erin Hamlin, just the sixth American female ever to be named flag bearer at a Winter Games.
And despite below freezing temperatures here at the time, it felt like it was in the 20s, Tonga's flag bearer was turning up the heat. 34- year-old Pita Taufatofua, a cross-country skier, strutted out without a shirt, a traditional Tongan matt, a whole lot of baby oil, setting the Internet ablaze once again just as he did -- you may remember the Summer Games in Rio where he competed in taekwondo.
This is a guy who had never even seen snow until about two years ago, but here he is now, the first Tongan to ever qualify to Winter and Summer Games.
Now allow us to introduce you to the positive vibe and always smiling Maame Biney, 18 years old. She loves chemistry, wants to be a chemical engineer. She graduates high school after the Olympics, doesn't even have her driver's license yet, but here in Pyeongchang she and teammate Erin Jackson have become the first female African- American speedskaters in Olympic history. Maame, she came to the U.S. from Ghana with her dad at 5 years old. And when her dad showed her ice for the very first time, Maame fell in love. Her infectious attitude just may make you fall in love with her, too. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAAME BINEY, TEAM USA SPEEDSKATER: I love having people smile and laugh because if you're smiling and laughing then that means you're happy, and being happy, especially in this world with everything that's going on, I think it's like the best present you can ever give to anyone every single day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Maame is competing in the 1500-meter and she just qualified for the 500-meter moments ago. Vice President Pence was there to see it. South Korea's President Moon, she even got a congratulatory tweet from the vice president which he also said that he and his wife will be watching and rooting her on, and we all will.
Maame, good luck to you and the rest of Team USS. All the Olympians who are watching their dreams come true here at the Olympic Games.
BLACKWELL: All right, have fun, Coy Wire there in Pyeongchang, thank you so much.
PAUL: Thank you, Coy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president has decided he is not going to declassify the Adam Schiff memo.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The unfairness is so obvious and so egregious.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm upset because this is a clear abuse.
TRUMP: We wish him well. He worked very hard.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: The victims here are the women.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no tolerance in this White House. No place in America for domestic abuse.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We have a second White House official here who has resigned over domestic abuse allegations, David Sorensen.