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Dozens Killed In Apparent Chemical Attack In Syria; Kimmel And Hannity Argue Over The First Lady; 15 Dead After Bus Carrying Junior Hockey Team Crashes In Canada; Severe Weather In Northern California; "Pope The Most Powerful Man In History" Aired 6-7a ET

Aired April 8, 2018 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:00:21]

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We are beginning with breaking news out of Syria. There is in video from Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, shows several people, Syrian activists say were attacked with a suspected chemical agent.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are talking about dozens of people who have reportedly died. Local doctors saying those numbers expected to go up. CNN cannot independently verify those videos that were taken by anti-government activists and doctors.

But we do want to forewarn you, we have them for you. They are very graphic, and we just want you to know that before going into this. So, if you feel you have to look away now, if you don't want to see this, please do so.

(VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: These are the men and women and children of Duma in Eastern Ghouta lying on the floor of this underground shelter. What you see around their mouths appears to be foam. It's a sign of a chemical attack. This is not the first time chemical attacks have been reported in Syria.

PAUL: The government has been accused of on at least three other occasions in the last six years. The Syrian government, however, denies being behind this incident.

BLACKWELL: CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen is live from Damascus, the only western TV journalist there. Fred, get us up to speed what we know about this incident.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Certainly, some troubling images coming from that area, which actually is only about 8 miles from where I'm standing right now, Victor. All of this happened at around 8:30 p.m. last night when those Syrian anti-government activists say that a helicopter dropped some sort of large-scale improvised explosive device, which they say contained that toxic gas. After that, they say many people came down with those big respiratory problems. They say hundreds of people were affected and dozens of people have been killed. As you guys have been pointing out, it is very difficult to get a handle on what exactly the numbers are. However, we do expect that those numbers are continuously going to rise.

And you're also look like right. It's impossible to independently verify the information and videos coming out of there, but they are very, very troubling and are certainly something that is a big topic here as well.

Now as far as the Syrian government is concerned they do deny being behind this attack. They point out this area of Eastern Ghouta is surrounded by government forces. They've been making big gains against the rebels there.

They say they had absolutely no reason to use these chemical weapons especially in that specific area because they also suspect that the rebels are actually holding some pro-government prisoners there.

So, as you can see, all sides really trading barbs on this and as we have seen in the past the civilians really the ones who are suffering what is going on in Syria and has been going on for such long period of time. But, of course, when you have the use of chemicals, it makes everything all that much worse -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Frederik Pleitgen for us there in Damascus. Fred, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you. Now, the U.S. has condemned the apparent chemical attack there on civilians in Syria. The State Department released a statement in fact.

BLACKWELL: "These reports, if confirmed, are horrifying and demand an immediate response by the international community. The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable. Any further attacks prevented immediately. Russia, with its unwavering support of the regime, ultimately bears responsibility for these brutal attacks."

PAUL: Joining us now Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst and Lt. General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and former Army commanding general of the Europe and Seventh Army. Gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.

General, I wanted to ask you first and foremost, what is the appropriate international response to this, outside of, you know, the verbal condemnation that we are hearing?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It would be difficult to say right now, Christi, because we are dealing with the difference between the facts, which we think we know, and a narrative which is pushed by both sides. If, in fact, chemical weapons have been used there should certainly be some type of investigation by an international body on that whether the U.N. or several other nations that could go in and actually determine. But what we do know is that the attacks against Duma in Eastern Ghouta have been unrelenting and extremely intense the last few days. The report says the use of chemical weapons, but as Fred Pleitgen just said, we don't really know who used them or if they were used at all or if this just a narrative by one side or the other.

[06:05:11] But we do know that Syria, supported by Russia, has used chemical weapons in the past on several occasions and some say up to 200 occasions since 2012. If the use is proven, it is a war crime against both the Geneva Convention and the Chemical Weapons Conference Committee of 1993.

And it should be in international law violation punishable in international court as a war crime, but we have to ascertain those facts and that will be very difficult. I think it's also important to note, though, Christi, that it was one year ago yesterday when the United States attacks Syria with 59 Tomahawk whistles because of a chemical attack on April 7th, 2017.

So, this seems to be coincidental, but we have to be very careful in conflating the narrative with facts.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about the investigation, Peter, and you know, particularly in the U.N. Last year, Russia vetoed, I believe in October an extension of the mechanism through which the chemical attacks in Syria are investigated.

So, are you expecting, at this point, so early what will be the investigation to be more resistance from Russia? Because most agree this agree that this could not happen if it's a chemical attack without at least the knowledge or assistance of Russia.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think leaving that question aside. The Trump administration has shown it is willing to take action pretty quickly in the case of the use of sarin, which is a nerve agent, more lethal than chlorine, which appears to be the gas used in this attack.

According to a State Department spokesman in February, the regime has used chlorine gas on six occasions just this year. The Trump administration repeatedly said these are violations of international law.

On Monday, tomorrow, John Bolton takes over as national security adviser, not somebody who is, you know, prone to taking sort of a diplomatic approach necessarily to this kind of thing. You have to ask the question who has the capacity to carry out this kind of attack?

The rebels don't have air power. The accounts that we are hearing are of chlorine gas dropped from some kind of airplane or helicopter. So, I suspect that the Trump administration, this time, given the scale of the attack, the fact this is near the capital, the pictures, after all, this is a president who reacts to the images.

And the images we are seeing coming out of here are kids dying or dead. I think that this time maybe a little different. This one feels different than an attack that doesn't kill that many people, happens a long way away from the capital. So, I'd anticipate perhaps some real action by the Trump administration including military action.

PAUL: Let's go back to 2017 real quickly. General Hertling, you mentioned it. Let's listen to what President Trump had to say after what happened last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A chemical attack that was so horrific in Syria against innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies, their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: He mentioned the Assad regime there. That was one moment that the president did seem really genuinely moved by what had happened. As you mentioned, there was then that military strike on the air field there afterwards.

But President Trump, this week, had said he is ready to pull out of Syria. How does he now reconcile those two things, and do you think that what we are seeing happening here in the last 24 hours will change anything for the president?

HERTLING: Yes, the somewhat schizophrenic foreign policy regarding Syria that, by the way, Christi, as we know, hasn't just started with this administration. There was challenges and ambiguities in the last administration as well in terms of what to do about Syria.

It seems to be more problematic today than it was even if we go back a week ago. Because of what President Trump said about wanting to pull out as fast as possible, about the obvious contention that there existed between the State Department, the Department of Defense, the Central Command saying they were, in fact, increasing the number of troops in Syria.

And you also have to consider what has happened in Russia this week with the banning of diplomats and the Skripal incident using chemical weapons to assassinate and it was known that Russia did this to assassinate a foreign individual.

[06:10:13] So all of those things contribute to make this much more complex. I'm not so sure I agree with Peter that this seemed to indicate the use of military force because truthfully there is confusion in the administration right now.

You add to all that, General McMaster left yesterday and as Peter said, Ambassador Bolton doesn't get into office until tomorrow, so you have a little bit of dither within the national security team driving this action. There should an NSC or primary committees meeting today. We will see if that happens. I'm not sure if it will, given the kinds of things that this administration has done to address this issue. I'm torn between whether or not there will be military, diplomatic, economic, or any other type of action to counter this most recent violence.

But you also have to recall, too, that while it's horrific what we are seeing on tv, there have been hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in this conflict over the last couple of years. It's just that this one has been by chemical weapons.

PAUL: All righty. I'm so sorry we have run out of time. Peter Bergen and lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always appreciate your insights. Thank, Gentlemen.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come, a four-alarm fire at Trump Tower, at least one person dead, six firefighters injured. An update on what happened from New York City's fire commissioner next.

PAUL: Also, President Trump tweets his support of Scott Pruitt just as new questions emerge about how much Pruitt's security detail is costing taxpayers.

BLACKWELL: Also, the rhetorical war between Sean Hannity and Jimmy Kimmel over the first lady.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What a disgrace. Hey, Mr. Kimmel, that is her fifth language. How many do you speak?

JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Six. I speak six languages. Exactly one more than Melania.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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[06:16:07]

PAUL: One man is dead, and six firefighters are recovering this morning from injuries after a four-alarm fire broke out on the 50th floor of Trump Tower in New York.

BLACKWELL: So, this incident prompted a response from the president, although no members of the Trump family were at the tower during the fire. Our affiliate WPIX in New York has more for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: It was an automatic alarm from an alarm company at 5:35 p.m. that alerted the FDNY that there was a fire on the 50th floor of Trump Tower. Within 5 minutes the first firefighters on the scene in what the fire commissioner called a very large apartment with lots of furniture 50 stories up. DANIEL A. NIGRO, NEW YORK CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER: Units made their way up to the 50th floor. The apartment was virtually entirely on fire. They pushed in heroically. They were knocking down the fire and found one occupant.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The 51-year-old male resident later was pronounced dead at St. Lukes. More than 200 firefighters and EMS battled this four-alarm fire with lots of smoke damaging other apartments above.

President Trump and his family were not in the building and the president tweeted just an hour after the fire broke out, "Fire at Trump Tower is out. Very confined. Well-built building. Fire men and women did a great job. Thank you." The fire commissioner talked about how difficult it was to fight this fire.

NIGOR: The units have to get there and have to hook up to a stand pipe system with their hose, takes a little longer. The fire, of course, the building is -- it contains the heat, it contains the smoke. It was extremely hot in the apartment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Several groups of tourists were inside Trump Tower walking near the Trump store and shared their videos of the fire and their stories of being evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a little scary. I'm not going to lie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could see the fire and the flames coming out. I was scared for a while. Glad I got out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were downstairs in the cafe. We saw one truck pull up and then, a gentleman came down, and told us to evacuate and we came outside and we saw it was on fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: President Trump is doubling down on his defense of his embattled EPA chief.

BLACKWELL: The president says that Scott Pruitt is doing a great job, despite the new questions about how much Scott Pruitt's unprecedented security detail is costing taxpayers.

CNN's Dan Merica is live in Washington. It seemed, Dan, that Secretary Pruitt might have been on his way out, but now the president is coming to his defense.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. Good morning. It seems like a week of really bruising headlines for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, haven't warned on his boss, President Donald Trump. These headlines have been increasingly negative over the last few days.

Ranging from his sweetheart deal what is called his sweetheart rental agreement with a lobbyist. The fact that he went around the White House to promote and give raises to certain EPA officials. And possibly the most damaging, the fact in the cost of his 24/7 security detail which CNN has reported went to Disneyland to the Rose Bowl with the EPA administrator at a cost of at least $2 million to taxpayers.

We are told that security detail comes with about 19 agents, 19 vehicles, and was 24/7. President Trump said, last night in a tweet, that he is dismissing that and is supporting Scott Pruitt. Here is what he said.

"While security spending was somewhat more than his predecessors, Scott Pruitt, has received death threats because of his bold actions at EPA. Record clean air and water while saving U.S.A. billions of dollars, rent was about market rate. Travel expenses OK. Scott is doing a great job."

Now this comes a few days after Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that President Trump was not OK with what was going on at the EPA and the White House was looking into it.

[06:20:02] There are a few things at play here. President Trump often likes to zig when everyone else is zagging so while many people are talking about criticisms of Scott Pruitt, he seems to want to zag and back him up certainly because he is carrying out a lot of what President Trump ran on in 2016.

Additionally, many Trump aides, former Trump aides and advisers have gone on TV and have talked about the fact they support what Scott Pruitt. They support what he is doing and think that he shouldn't be fired.

Just yesterday that happened with Reince Priebus, who went on Fox News, an outlet we know President Trump often watches, and said he didn't think Scott Pruitt should be fired. So, this is going to continue into next week to see exactly what happens. But, right now, it seems like Scott Pruitt has the support of his boss, President Donald Trump.

BLACKWELL: All right. Dan Merica in Washington for us. Dan, thank you.

PAUL: With us now, commentary writer and editor at "The Washington Examiner," Siraj Hashmi, and CNN political analyst and historian and professor at Princeton University, Julian Zelizer. Good morning, Gentlemen. How are you both? Hope everything is going well. Thank you.

I want to jump off what Dan was just talking about in terms of the new information this morning, the security team that consists of 19 agents, 19 vehicles. Last October, CNN had already reported that his security team salaries at that point cost about $2 million.

No previous EPA chief has ever received a 24/7 security detail. You heard President Trump there in his tweet talking about the death threats that the EPA has gotten. Julian, to you, wondering if there is anything to justify this kind of security. JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's hard to justify on face value. This seems excessive. It does seem that the secretary was moving around with quite an entourage. We don't know all of the details of the threats he faced.

But the reason that this is troublesome to many people, it's not the first story about officials who are operating this way, and so it brings up stories of either corruption or it brings up stories of excess that are bothersome even for supporters who saw a president who promised to drain the swamp.

PAUL: Julian, you're never see anything you're saying like this in terms of security detail and this kind of spending?

ZELIZER: Not for someone heading the EPA. I don't know how this compares, for example, with secretaries of defense during war times. I imagine that when security detail is extraordinarily high but not in this particular position.

PAUL: All right. Siraj, an interesting tweet here in the last several hours from Representative Ted Liu of California. I want to read it to you. He said, "As an American, I'm horrified Donald Trump continues to defend swamp monsters, Scott Pruitt. As a Dem, I'm also horrified that part of me is jumping for joy.

Keeping such an awesomely corrupt, arrogant and paranoid cabinet official is another unforced error that helps the Dem wave. If Pruitt stays, how much will Democrats use this going into midterm and how will they use it?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, right now Democrats will probably just use him as another example of President Trump not draining the swamp or delivering on his campaign promises to at least coax a lot of independent voters who voted for President Trump in the 2016 election, who are now dissatisfied and discouraged with the way things have turned out.

Scott Pruitt has a lot of issues of his own with respect to ethical and questionable concerns that possibly deal with corruption. There is no doubt that he is hurting the conservative agenda despite the fact that he's rolled back a lot of unnecessary EPA regulations.

But these things that stand out with respect to his personal travel, his security detail, and possibly even reassigning a security agent for not using a siren in traffic during a nonemergency case, yes, like these are all things that look bad for Scott Pruitt.

However, he hasn't gone against President Trump's agenda and that is probably the main reason why he is still on the cabinet at this point.

PAUL: Julian, with that said, do you think Scott Pruitt, at the end of the day, is safe?

ZELIZER: I don't know if he is safe, but I see the logic for the president of keeping him, meaning for all of the negatives that he brings and for all of the potential damage in the midterm elections, this is a warrior.

This is someone who has been pushing aggressively on part of President Trump's agenda, rolling back environmental regulations and he is someone known for this outside of the Trump administration that is very important to who the president is and there are many Republicans who like this part of the Trump agenda very much.

So, I imagine in Trump's mind, he is not going to let him go easily because he actually serves not just a policy purpose, but a political purpose within the Republican Party. So, he might go but he is not going to let go of him easily.

[06:25:08] PAUL: All right. Siraj Hashmi and Julian Zelizer, appreciate you both being here. Thank you. Sure.

Be sure to watch "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. President Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Senator Susan Collins also a guest. That's "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Up next, the president trolling his own Justice Department on Twitter and hitting the FBI asking, what do they have to hide over allegations of surveillance abuses. We will talk about that.

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[06:30:19]

BLACKWELL: Our breaking news out of Syria, dozens of people have died in an apparent chemical talk in Duma a suburb of Damascus. A Syrian activist say, toxic gas inside barrel bombs dropped by helicopters choked and then killed people. The Syrian government denies being behind this incident.

PAUL: The rebel held area has been bombarded by the Syrian government in recent days and thousands of people have been running from their homes.

BLACKWELL: Joining me now is CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, Jack Kingston; and former Obama administration official, Chris Lu. Chris is also a senior fellow at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.

Good morning to both of you.

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

CHRIS LU, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, Jack, let me start with you. I first want you to hear what President Trump said last year from the Rose Garden right after the chemical attack in Syria and this was the response to his question of if he felt he had a responsibility to respond after the attack. And then right after that, you're going to hear what the president said this week about Syria and U.S. involvement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I now have responsibility and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly. I will tell you that. It is now my responsibility.

We will be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon. Very soon. We are coming out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Jack, reconcile those two. He had a responsibility a year ago. Now he wants to go.

KINGSTON: Yes, I think it's going to be very difficult to maintain one steady course in the Middle East and I think we have seen three presidents now struggling with it.

And, you know, I know as a member of Congress, I served on the Armed Services Committee, we have this schizophrenia about it. We on one hand we say we have been there too long in the Middle East general on the other hand -- and we are spending too much money. And then when you have a chemical weapons attack as we saw a year ago, the president retaliated with tomahawk missiles and bombing.

So, you know, whether he'll do that now right after saying we are going to withdraw, I don't know. General Joe Vitale in charge of central of command had said, we have to stay there, we have to be steady. So it's going to be a big issue, I think, for Congress to deal with as well.

BLACKWELL: Chris, to you. Should Congress deal with this in some authorization of use of military force? We know that back in 2013 right before a deal was struck with Syria and Russia to get rid of their chemical weapons we see how that ended up, that AUMF did not go forward.

What do you make of the argument from the president as well, it's time to go?

LU: Well, you know, it is interesting. We are in the exact same situation we were a year ago. We had a horrifying chemical attack.

The president retaliated last year. And what he has found over the last year is that the campaign rhetoric of America first of pulling out doesn't necessarily work when you're working with complicated situations like this.

The announcement he made the other day that we were going to withdraw was quickly pulled back by the White House. There was a national Security Council meeting his military advisers told him that was a bad idea so he has delayed the withdrawal.

In order to reach a settlement here, and I agree with Jack, this is an issue that has vexed the last couple of presidents and it does require congressional involvement. The challenge that the Trump administration has is that they can't even decide internally what the right strategy is and how best to use the leverage, whatever leverage they might have with Russia on the situation.

BLACKWELL: With that inability to determine internally what the best strategy is as you pointed out, as Jack has pointed out is not exclusive to the Trump administration. Remember back in 2013, President Obama did not act on what he said was that red line that had been crossed, the movement of chemical weapons and utilization of them.

I want you to listen to former secretary of state John Kerry in 2014 talking about the accomplishments of the Obama administration as it relates to the chemical weapons in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: With respect to Syria, we struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the weapons out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Clearly, that is not accurate. What happened to the deal?

Was it naive in some way? Was it misguided to expect that Putin and Assad would hold to their word and get rid of those weapons and not utilize them moving forward?

KINGSTON: You know, I don't blame that on Secretary Kerry or the Obama administration. I blame that on the U.N. because it was a U.N. resolution they acted on in 2118 and the Organization for Prevention (ph) of Chemical Weapons actually won a Nobel peace prize in 2014 for doing what John Kerry said they did which was they claimed and verified that they had gotten rid of all the chemical weapons.

[06:35:02]

So I think the U.N. has a lot of culpability in this and that they need to step up to the plate and work for an international solution. You know, America -- we have 2,000 troops on the ground. And the reason that we do is to maintain ISIS but also to work for the U.N. and support the political solution there.

But as we have seen, the political solution is not moving.

BLACKWELL: Chris, to you. There was bipartisan support and praise for the president's targeted attack, actually one year ago to the day of the potential chemical talk we saw if Duma just yesterday. Question, was it effective, considering the reported but unverified chlorine attacks since and what we saw a few hours ago there?

LU: Well, I think even a day after those attacks last year they were found not to be that effective. The runways at the air base that were attacked were continued to be operational.

The key here is, what is a proportionate response? There was one last year and as you mentioned there was bipartisan support for that. I think the challenge for the president right now is that he has boxed himself in. He has both said that he owns the situation yet he has announced this week that he wants to pull out. Figuring out what that strategy should be, how he can best send a message to the Assad government and as well to the Russian government that he is going to take this seriously will be the issue that he faces.

The challenge he has is that his statement from the other day makes it very confusing for the international partners, including the United Nations, to determine what United States' posture is on this situation.

BLACKWELL: Quickly, and finally to you, Jack. This is what Sarah Sanders said in June of 2017 that, "If Assad conducts another mass murderer attack using chemical weapons he and his military will pay a heavy price." Do you expect that there will be in the near term military action there in Syria?

KINGSTON: You know, I think if it's verified that this was an action of Assad and that's probably what is going to be verified then I think that we will take some steps to retaliate as Chris said in a proportional manner.

But I would say the big challenge here is the administration, as was the Obama administration, is used working off of, I guess, 2001 use of -- of military force. I would love to see Congress step up to the plate and say, what is our mission? What are we doing? And then revote on this to make sure that there is consensus.

But right now, Congress has left both administrations to kind of deal with this on their own and I don't think that is quite the appropriate response from the legislative branch of government and I'm speaking as an alumnus. I think Congress needs to step up to the plate and take responsibility here.

BLACKWELL: We have got Democratic Congressman John Delaney on the show coming up in a few minutes and we will ask him about just that question.

Jack Kingston, Chris Lu, thank you both.

KINGSTON: Thanks.

LU: Thank you.

PAUL: Do stay close. There's fallout over the first lady. Jimmy Kimmel and Sean Hannity seem to be slugging it out on air and online. We will explain why things are getting so heated

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:42:21]

PAUL: So it seemed to be a back and forth battle of he said/he said essentially playing out on television and Twitter. This is between Sean Hannity and Jimmy Kimmel. It began when Hannity took offense to Kimmel making fun of the first lady. Hannity retaliated calling him a -- quote -- "despicable disgrace" on the air. And then the fight moved to social media both of them taking jabs at each other in there Twitter tirade.

CNN's senior media correspondent Oliver Darcy with us now. Do you get the sense, Oliver, that this is a tactic of both of them just trying to discredit each other?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: You know, this is quite the remarkable war of words taking place between FOX News Sean Hannity and Jimmy Kimmel. And honestly I think it's beyond -- the rhetoric has gone beyond what we can repeat on television in some instances. I think that Jimmy Kimmel is certainly enjoying this feud with Sean Hannity and vice versa.

What's interesting is it didn't really start off like this. It started off with Jimmy Kimmel taking a jab at Melania Trump in a joke and Sean Hannity getting upset with that and then Jimmy Kimmel really seeing an opening and going after Hannity in a comedy bit earlier this week. Let's take a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Hannity apparently took issue with a joke I made on the show on Monday night and this is what he had to say about that.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW": This is brutal. Liberal Jimmy Kimmel making fun of the first lady of the United States and her involvement in the White House Easter egg roll. Even her accent.

Jimmy, you're a despicable disgrace. Take a look.

KIMMEL: OK. But before we take a look, I just want to recap what I said. According to him is brutal and here is why I am a despicable disgrace.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Be clever and courteous just like a cat. Ask lots of questions about this and that.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: About these and that.

HANNITY: Ask clown Kimmel. Now, I'm going to tell you something. What at disgrace.

Mr. Kimmel, that is her fifth language. How many do you speak?

KIMMEL: Six. I speak six languages. I speak one more -- exactly one more than Melania.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) DARCY: So this started off, I mean, this was like an innocent joke that -- or a joke that Kimmel had made. Hannity got upset. And after that comedy bit that we just watched, Hannity really went nuclear on Twitter at Kimmel.

He tweeted, I think, at this point, dozens of things, calling Kimmel a disgrace. He has referenced a decades old comedy bit that Kimmel did in which it was, you know, sexual provocative in nature to call Kimmel -- quote -- "Harvey Weinstein Jr."

[06:45:01]

He has tagged Jimmy Kimmel's employer Disney in these tweets. And Kimmel for his part has also gone after Hannity making a number of jokes at the FOX News host.

Both of them seem to be really enjoying this. Like you said, it plays to both of their bases.

So Hannity can say that Kimmel is being -- is a liberal Hollywood elitist. And he's attacking Hannity and Kimmel's audience I think really -- particularly doesn't have much fan fare for Sean Hannity or FOX News.

So it's really benefiting both of them. I don't know if this will blow up any time soon because I think both camps seem to be enjoying it.

PAUL: Well, and it seems like it just took off almost out of almost nowhere. Is there some behind the scenes, back and forth, underlying some sort of acrimony between these two that we are unaware of at this point?

DARCY: You know, I'm not sure if there is anything behind the scenes but can I tell you that again all of this is playing out really in the public sphere.

If you go to Sean Hannity's feed or if you go to Jimmy Kimmel's feed you will see literally they have been tweeting at each other all day Friday. They were just going at it.

They haven't done anything since Friday. But I would expect that Kimmel is probably going to reference this in a show on Monday and Hannity, for his part, said that he is willing to play a video of Kimmel on his program for the rest of his life until he receives some sort of apology from Jimmy Kimmel.

PAUL: Wow.

DARCY: So not letting up any time soon.

PAUL: Yes. It seems like there is just something deeper going on here to have that much acrimony going on. All right. Oliver, good to see you. Thank you so much.

DARCY: Thank you. BLACKWELL: Still to come, a strong storm rolling through northern California has shut down Yosemite National Park. Roads and trails are closed because of flooding and there is still more to come. We have got the forecast ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:57]

PAUL: Good morning. Fifty minutes past the hour right now.

And a Canadian community is just trying to understand this morning how this bus crash carrying a junior hockey team happened. Fifteen people were killed. At least 14 others were injured.

It collided with a tractor-trailer in Canada's Saskatchewan province. Coaches and players for the Humboldt Broncos team were on board and they were on their way to a junior league playoff game.

BLACKWELL: Some of the victims posted on social media from their hospital beds. We've got a photo here showing three survivors on gurneys holding each other's hands when this went viral. It was captioned bonding and healing.

Authorities have not yet identified the victims and have not confirmed whether they were the players or the coaches and the cause of this crash still unknown.

PAUL: Well, rivers are flooding, roads are closed, more rain is on the way. We are talking about northern California this morning.

BLACKWELL: CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar has the forecast for us. A lot coming to Yosemite.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Yes. And I would like to point out with regarding Yosemite, they have made a note that if conditions warrant they may open the park back up at noon today but they are not going to make that decision until they can get out and take a look at the park.

So here is what we have. This was that atmospheric river, that plume of moisture that came in over the last 24 to 48 hours. Now the good news is this is going to start to push a little bit farther interior and as it does so, you're going to start to see an end to that rain.

This morning, that's not the case. We have still got rain expected for Washington, Oregon, and into California. But it will start to come to an end by this afternoon and the evening.

This is a good thing. Especially when you consider how much rain has already fallen across these areas. These numbers are just from California.

Take a look at this 8.3, 8, 7.93. You've got a lot of rain that's already out there for a lot of these locations.

Now the other thing you have to keep in mind is that we have been talking about this. There is more rain on the way.

This system that we have today begins to exit but notice this other one out over the pacific. They are only going to get about one day- break before the next system moves in on Tuesday and into Wednesday of the upcoming week. This creates more problems because does it really give those roadways that are covered with debris and mud flows and water, does it give them enough time to clean those up before the next round of rain begins to come back in?

Widespread amounts for this next rain are still likely to be about two to four inches. Now you could have some amounts even higher than that. Although those are expected to be a little bit farther north, Victor and Christi, up say towards Washington state.

BLACKWELL: All right. We will be ready. Allison Chinchar, thank you.

CHINCHAR: Thanks.

PAUL: You know, he faced an impossible decision but in a war against religion, could the Pope have done more?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIAM NEESON, NARRATOR (voice-over): As fascism explodes over Europe Catholics become enemies of the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing about Catholics in particular, Catholics had a relationship, a devotion to something outside of government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is going to be conflict over the status of Catholic youth groups and whether these youth groups ought to be brought under the umbrella fascist organization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some Catholic bishops who were beaten, who had their homes and their offices ransacked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The church, of course, to be able to operate has to be physically secure.

NEESON: The Vatican is faced with an extraordinary dilemma. Because of his experience as a papal diplomat, Pope Pius XI enlists Pacelli's help to negotiate with the fascia's Italian (ph) government. The result is a Lateran Treaty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: You can watch "Pope The Most Powerful Man In History" tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

BLACKWELL: All right. One hour of NEW DAY down and one to go.

PAUL: At the top of the hour the state department called a suspected chemical attack in Syria horrifying.

[06:55:02] Saying, if true an immediate response is necessary.

BLACKWELL: What could that response look like and will this change the president's plan to pull United States troops out of Syria?

PAUL: We will be right back. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY weekend with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.

PAUL: We have breaking news out of Syria this morning. There is new video from Eastern Ghouta, that's a suburb out of Damascus, showing several people -- Syrian activist say, were attacked with a suspected chemical agent.

BLACKWELL: Dozens have died and local doctors say those numbers could go up. CNN cannot independently verify these videos taken by anti- government activists and doctors. But we have to warn you that the video you are about to see is graphic.

If you don't think you can take it look away if you don't want to see it.

[07:00:11]

PAUL: I know it's so hard to look at.