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NEW DAY SATURDAY

America And Allies Strike Syria Targets; Putin Calls U.N. Meeting On Syria Air Strikes; Exclusive: FBI Seized Recordings Between Trump's Lawyer And Stormy Daniel's Former Lawyer; Michael Cohen Facilitated $1.6 Million Agreement On Behalf Of GOP Fundraiser; Putin Calls For U.N. Meeting On Syria Airstrikes. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 14, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[07:00:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. To Iran and to Russia, the nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Cohen had tapes, we don't yet know what is on them. But this is only getting worse for the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Michael Cohen flips, he knows all the secrets, he knows all the dirt. This may open up a wide universe of illegal conduct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. This morning, the United States is promising to keep up pressure on Syria after launching a military attack on the country overnight.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We want to show you some of the latest pictures we're getting in from Syria and what's on the ground there. American, French, and British warships and planes targeted sites connected to Syria's chemical weapons program just days after dozens of innocent people were killed in a suspected chemical attack. Now, Syria is claiming it intercepted some of those missiles. These are some of the new pictures coming in now showing what is left there, at least in one city in Syria. The British prime minister this morning calling the strikes successful.

BLACKWELL: And now, Russia has called a meeting of the United Nations Security Council over what it calls an act of aggression. But President Trump says, he's prepared to continue the strikes if necessary.

PAUL: And again, we want to show some of the brand-new video we're getting in -- our first look at some of the damage on the ground there in Syria. This is in the Barzeh District around Damascus. Damascus, we know was a site there because there is a research and development center there, as well as stockpiles of chemical weapons according, of course, to intelligence. And you can just see here how much damage these missiles actually did. And it's interesting to see this when you hear from both Russia and Syria, they claim that most of the missiles were intercepted.

BLACWELL: Yes. Not an official number of missiles launched yet by the U.S., the U.K., and France, but Syrian forces say that 110, total, were launched. And again, they say most will be intercepted. This is one of three sites that that we knew that were targeted. We'll talk more about this and get you more video as we get it in.

PAUL: We're covering the story like only CNN can. Our correspondents and analysts are across the globe. We want to start with CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, he is live in Northern Syria. Nick, what are you hearing from there this hour?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At this point, I think we're dealing with a Syrian regime that tries to show an element of celebration. The feel they have defeated parts of this incoming missile wave whether that's true or not. You showed just the pictures of Barzeh. Well, that is the key research center, presumably the same one referenced by General Dunford which was hit by some of the missiles that gets inside the capital's major air defenses.

I should point out that yesterday, General Mattis and General Dunford -- sorry, Secretary Mattis and General Dunford -- double the number of missiles used in April, were used last night. So, that's over 118 or so. So, clearly an escalation in the volume of firepower. Quite how many got through? We don't know. We do know the U.S. has said that some surface-to-air missile retaliation was used by Syrian air force -- presumably with a lot of Russian assistance there for it to have any chance of success. But we have no idea whether or not the suggestion that's 70 out of 110 may have been intercepted on the way out. To say personally, that would be remarkably success for a missile defense system.

But today also, we see Bashar al-Assad, the Syria President, receiving phone calls from his Iranian counterpart, but also walking very calmly into work. The marbled entrance hall into which he sort of he seems to glide. He's going to just clearly put out to show that they haven't skipped a beat, has not lost a moment's sleep. I have to say, though, Russia and Iran, possibly -- while putting out the usual rhetoric, the Kremlin demanding a U.N. Security Council meeting suggesting that international norms have been broken. We're not see seeing anything actually on the ground personally in terms of that retaliation so far at this point. They don't appear to have been hit. They don't appear to be angry at that at this stage.

And they don't appear, according to (INAUDIBLE 04:51) to be that many human losses -- three injured they are saying, partially, because missiles were intercepted, and that could be because the U.S. commander in chief telegraphed so extensively the likelihood of strikes. And that it could also be because some of these sites in (INAUDIBLE 05:06), and also this one in Damascus would have been hit before, according to reports, often by the Israeli air force. They've been hitting targets inside Syria they see as a threat quite regularly over the past years. We don't know how effective this has been. We do know that actual sort of jammed it all around, faced off on the ground. The escalation seems to be minimal for now, and we do know the Syrian regime is trying to make light of this. Back to you.

[07:05:28] BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Paton Walsh for us there in Northern Syria. Thank you so much. Now, let's get the view from Washington.

PAUL: Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon, Caitlyn Collins is in our bureau. Barbara, first to you, what assessments are you hearing from the military regarding the success of these strikes?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. We actually do expect a military briefing hereat the Pentagon in just about two hours. And what we were told last night is that this briefing will begin to give more detail on the results that they were collecting overnight as to what exactly the success was. So, we expect to hear more about whether or not any U.S. missiles were, in fact, intercepted and shot down, and rate of success about the targets. I'm going to be very cautious and say we expect to hear that. We were told by Secretary Mattis last night, he wanted to see transparency on this matter because he felt that the Russians or the Syrians would come out with some propaganda on all of this. So, we will be looking for those answers. One of the big issues right now is whether or not this situation will have some kind of military escalation and whether the Russians are going to take any action. What we know from last night is that the U.S. military took significant steps to try and assure the Russians that the U.S. was not coming after them. I want to have a listen for a minute to what General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had to say last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS: We specifically identified these targets to mitigate the risk of Russian forces being involved, and we used our normal deconfliction channels, those were active this week, to work flew through the airspace issues and so forth. We did not do any coordination with the Russians on the strikes, not did we pre-notify them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: So, laid it all out there. And as I said, just in about two hours we're having another briefing here at the pentagon. We will hope to learn much more about what happened. Back to you guys.

BLACKWELL: All right. Barbara, thank you. Caitlyn, let's go to you now. The White House is getting response from lawmakers, some pushback from some and support from others. What are you hearing?

CAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the early reaction to this seems to be breaking down among party lines, of course. Republicans seem mostly supportive of this so far. Democrats are raising questions about what the president's long-term strategy in Syria is, and just how well thought out these strikes were. We've got Tim Kane, of course, a Democrat from Virginia, who ran as Hillary Clinton's running mate in the last election saying that Trump's decision to launch activities against -- air strikes, excuse me, against Syria without Congress' approval is illegal. He says, we need to stop giving the president a blank check to wage war. Today it's Syria, but what's going to stop him from bombing Iran or North Korea next?

Now, Senator John McCain, a Republican, of course, from Arizona, had a different response. He applauded the president for those air strikes that were launched last night, but he did say that the president needs to lay out our goals, not just with regard to ISIS but also the ongoing conflict in Syria. And if Syria is in the line, Russia and Iranian influence in the region. Now, the question going forward here is also how does the president's base react to this? Because, of course, the president was someone who long advocated for not getting involved in Syria, who's very critical of Barack Obama for that, as well. And you have to look at what he said just days before this chemical attack happened, which is what he said he wanted the U.S. to withdraw from Syria. So, how does this square with the president's plan there; what does he want to do in Syria going forward? Those are the questions that people will be looking for answer today.

PAUL: All right. Barbara Starr, Caitlyn Collins, we appreciate it so much. Thank you. Now, Russia and Syria have condemned the U.S.-led military strikes. Moscow's calling for an immediate meeting of the United Nation Security Council, in fact.

BLACKWELL: The CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour is here with the global reaction. Christiane, good morning to you. And we know that the E.U.'s foreign policy chief just came out and said that the European Union is in support of, of course, stopping all chemical weapons used. What has been the global response to these strikes?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, as you all have been discussing, obviously Syria's allies have rejected these strikes -- Russia, Iran, et cetera. But just about everybody else has supported them; those who have been public. And whether it's Turkey who is very close to Russia and Iran has said that this was an appropriate strike given the circumstances. Israel, obviously, has said the same thing, that we need to see this international low regarding banning the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction needs to be upheld, and that is what this was about. And you've by what the president has said, by what the British prime minister has said, by what the French president has said, by what the Secretary of Defense, General Mattis, and General Dunford have said. That this was very precisely targeted against just those specific chemical weapons-related targets.

[07:10:17] They did step it up from the last time -- they needed to. Because after the last time President Trump responded when Assad crossed the red line, of course, the Syrians were back at it again. But this now comes at a time when the world seems more united against the use of these chemical weapons, not only has Assad been using them with impunity, but his back up, Russia, let's face it, the British believe that it was Russia that was responsible for the nerve agent attack on the Skripals -- the Russian father and daughter here in England. And so, there is a coordinated now feeling that we cannot, they cannot let this proceed any further, and this lesson has to be laid down right now to once again establish the baseline, the foundation, of this red line. At the same time, they have said this is not about regime change. This is not about getting involved in the other parts of the war. And the French president and indeed General Mattis and President Trump, basically threw the ball back into Syria's court -- and Russia and Iran, saying that if there are other uses of chemical weapons from now own, they will get a response. So, the board is back in their court.

PAUL: Prime Minister Theresa May, (INAUDIBLE 11:26) spoke earlier today and said there must also be a wider diplomatic effort. Is there even space for that, Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Well, this is the thing that's bedeviled the international community since this war began. Because the United States has a process called the Geneva process -- and that's been sort of limping along to the point where it's completely, practically -- well, to all intents and purposes, it doesn't exist. So, the Syrian president has never engaged properly in that and the Russians have not pushed him to do that. Instead, they've an alternate political channel which they, the Russians, the Iranians, Turkey, and Syria seem to be, you know, talking about. But again, nothing has come of it. And this is the problem, that even though Syria now has pretty much won the war, given the help from Russia and Iran, won the war on the ground, it has still not come to any political solution or any effort to resolve and stop the killing on the ground. So, you know, this is an issue, and frankly, the analysis of that chemical attack on Duma was just a spiteful, last-minute gesture by the Syrians when negotiations with the rebels there broke down, and they said, OK, well, let's just, you know, barrel bomb them. And sure enough, the next day, the rebels left and that town/city surrendered, and Assad has got it. So, yes, there needs to be a political track. And in fact, you know, President Trump and General Mattis and, of course, the British prime minister and the others have -- have talked about how necessary that is.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll wait to see how the rest of the world responds, and how they respond to the strikes overnight. Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much.

PAUL: Dozens of missiles rained down on Syria, though, at the end of the day, we know that much. As the U.S. and its allies strike Syria to try and take out those chemical weapons storage sites and development sites. Where did they strike from, however? What was the main point there? That military strategy is coming up next.

BLACK: Plus, after searching cell phones in safety deposit boxes, an office, and an hotel room, more details now on the key evidence the FBI seized from President Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Welcome back. More now on our breaking news this hour. The U.S., U.K., and France warships and planes targeted sites connected to Syria's chemical weapons program -- this happened overnight. Just days, of course, after dozens of innocent people were killed in a chemical attack.

BLACKWELL: Major General James "Spider" Marks explains where the strikes came from and the movements of the ally troops in the area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Most of the strikes probably came from this location here, where both the French and U.S. are located, because of the proximity to targets within targets to Syria and the closure time on the targets. The U.S. has presence in Turkey, the Brits were in Cypress, the U.S. always maintains presence in the Mediterranean. We also know now that the U.S. is transiting up through the red sea. It doesn't have to go through the Suez and join the forces here in the med -- that could get a little bit crowded but could stay in the Red Sea to go either north or could go south and get back into to the Indian Ocean. And we also have forces that are down here. This is where the strikes came from. I think what's important to realize here, as well, is that Russian forces in Syria are co- located in many locations where Syrian forces are. What we see here, this indicates, this indicates that Russian forces are here and it's a location of where Syrian forces are. So, you have strike packages that might be going into locations like this or in Damascus where you have proximity. You need to have standoff. We do not want to go to war with Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona with us now, CNN Military Analyst and former U.S. Military Attache in Damascus, Syria; and Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, Senior Fellow and Military Expert. Gentlemen, we appreciate you being here. Thank you. Col. Francona, the U.S. has that it specifically identified these targets to avoid Russian forces without compromising anything, obviously, can you help us understand how that's determined?

RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST AND FORMER U.S. MILITARY ATTACHE: Yes. Well, of course, you know, the intelligence collection is ongoing on all of these facilities. We're pretty aware of the chemical weapons program. That's what the target set was. Most of the places where the chemical weapons are produced and stored is primarily a Syrian operation. They've done this indigenous for years. They've had a chemical weapons capability going back decades. So, it's not surprising that the Russians would not be at some of these facilities. The target set, in which the Syrian media laid out where the targets were hit, are all part of the chemical weapons program. It includes the production facilities, storage facilities, the air bases where the helicopters dropped the bombs operated from, as well as some of the command and control. It's important that when they select these targets that they minimize any target that might include Russians. Of course, we don't want to get into a super power confrontation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

[07:20:39] PAUL: Col. Davis, if you had a strike on a facility that produces or stockpiles these chemical weapons, do you not risk the disbursement of those weapons into the air?

DANIEL DAVIS, SENIOR FELLOW AND MILITARY EXPERT: Well, you certainly do. If there was, you know, any amount of chemical weapons actually in the facilities at the time, it is certainly unclear whether those were storage facilities, as well. But you know, I think the bigger question we're going to ask right now is what's the significance of all this, what was the intent of the missile strikes. Because if it was supposed to be to send the message: you know, don't use chemical weapons, I'm not sure that that message was fully received because the damage appears to have been pretty light. And at least at a Russian press conference this morning at the defense ministry they claim that they shot down 71 of the 100. We can expect that that was probably some exaggeration but it doesn't appear, at least so far from what we've seen that the damage has been too severe. So, if this was just kind of a light attack, it may have a negative response from what we would like.

PAUL: So, Col. Francona, to that point, and I want to know: can we put up some of the video that we're getting in? Some of the newest video we've gotten in of at least one area, the Barzeh District there in Damascus where there is research and development and stockpiles, we understand, based on intel. This is the damage that we're seeing being done. So, we may not have full scope of exactly what was successfully struck here. But Col. Francona, when you look at the damage that's been done, if you don't get all of the chemical weapons out of Syria in one fell swoop, do you not risk them being used again?

FRANCONA: The purpose of this as Col. Davis says, was to send a message. And the message was not only sent to the Syrians, the message was sent to the Russians. The message is stop your client state from doing this. If you would look at the attack last Saturday, it's incomprehensible to why the Syrians did this -- they don't need to. They're on the verge of a victory. They've retaken those eastern suburbs. They've bottled up the rest of the opposition pretty much in Idlib. They're on a role. They didn't need to do this. And I'm sure the Russians are shaking their heads because they'd invited all of this external attention that they did not need. So, I believe the Russians are going put pressure on the Syrians not to do this again. So, if that was the intent of the operation, then it would be successful. As for what we actually damaged, yes, we blew up some buildings, but remember, we've been talking about this for days. If they had any high-value things in those research facilities, I would have moved them if I was a Syrian. And the Syrians are pretty good at moving stuff around. I would suspect that we blew up a lot of buildings, maybe not a lot of impact on a chemical weapons program R and D, but that wasn't the point; the point was sending that message. And I said, I think the Russians got the message.

PAUL: Well, and Theresa May wanted to hone in on a point this morning about the fact that this strike was not -- what it was not about, and that was about regime change. Let's listen together here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This was not about interfering in a civil war, and it was not about regime change. As I discussed with President Trump and President Macron, it was a limited, targeted, and effective strike with clear boundaries that expressly sought to avoid escalation and did everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Col. Davis, Russia this morning still calling for an immediate U.N. Security Council meeting, calling it aggressive action. Do those words to say that this is not about interference, this is not about regime change, do they matter at this point?

DAVIS: Well, I mean, they're -- they're certainly fully expected. There's really no other response that they could have. But again, I go back to that that may be our intent. And Prime Minister May, that may be exactly what she wanted to have happen. But the reaction so far from Damascus has been defiance, the people have been out celebrating like they achieved some kind of victory for just having stood up. And you know, I've never seen a situation where using a bombing strike, especially one that doesn't really cause that much damage, is going to cause the recipient to capitulate and to give in. I think if anything this may cause them to actually bow up a little bit more. So, this may not work out the way we wanted.

PAUL: Col. Francona?

[07:25:12] FRANCONA: Well, I hope it does, but I'm not sure. I've been in a lot of these situations in Syria and, you know, they can put a lot of people in the street on a moment's notice to come out and chant for the government. So, this will unify the Syrian people, but it doesn't matter. What matters is, is what the Syrian government is going to in response. Now, they're going to talk a good game, they're going to show defiance, but in the end, I do not think that they're going to use chemical weapons again because militarily it's just unnecessary. They don't need the chemical weapons. They're going to win. We observers of the Middle East know how this end. Bashar al- Assad stays in power, the Russians become the key power player in the country, and the Syrians -- I'm sorry, the Iranians, Russians, and Turks have a seat at the table to decide the future of Syria minus the United States.

PAUL: Lieutenant Colonels Rick Francona and Daniel Davis, we appreciate your insights and we appreciate your perspective as always. Thank you, gentlemen.

BLACKWELL: Michael Cohen under investigation. The latest evidence in the case against the president's personal attorney.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:31:01] PAUL: Glad to have you with us. 30 minutes past the hour right now, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. A source tells CNN, the FBI now has recordings of President Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen apparently, recorded his conversation with the lawyer for two women who say they had affairs with the president. PAUL: All of this event folding, of course, and meanwhile, a source says Cohen got a call from the president yesterday. A White House spokesman says Cohen is still the president's personal attorney even though he's under criminal investigation. According to a warrant, Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance issues. So far, Cohen has admitted no wrongdoings and we need to point out, he has not been charged.

BLACKWELL: So we have learned a lot in the last 24 hours. Joining us now, Joey Jackson, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney. And Kelly Jane Torrance, deputy managing editor for The Weekly Standard. Good morning to both of you.

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Good morning.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Joey, let's start here with these recordings, the CNN exclusive that there are the recordings of the calls between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson, who represented both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. The value those could add to this case is what?

JACKSON: The value is everything, right? So, think about this, Victor. How many times do we say wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall? Right? To the extent that you have recordings that gives you insight to exactly what was happening. What were the conversations about? Who were they about? Who did you indicate that you were representing?

And you know, what was the agreement about? When did it start? When did it begin? What were the terms? What were the conditions? And so, it will tell us everything. The larger question for me, Victor, is why you would record such a thing. I thought we learned that the days of Nixon that, that wasn't such a smart thing to do for a lawyer.

Why? I mean, on the one hand, if the recordings exonerate you, the prosecutors are going to say, Aha! The reason you recorded it is to set it up. You knew you were guilty and you have proof to establish that you would doing nothing wrong.

On the other hand, if the recordings implicate you, you know, look, it speaks for itself. And so that's problematic. Last thing I'll say is this, I think we should have any discussion concerning Michael Cohen, under the backdrop of the Scooter Libby pardon, right? I mean, we're talking about Michael Cohen, who is so close to the president, who gets a phone call from the president no matter what they spoke about, right? Oh, the weather is changing, whatever else. I think the code is, listen, you know the power that I have, you know what I can do, I know you know my secrets, don't say a word, and I got your back. And so --

BLACKWELL: Yes, you really don't have to talk about the topic of the day, just the call at the right time may send message enough. Let me come to you, Kelly Jane, because this recordings may not be exclusive to the conversations between Cohen and Davidson. We understand that this was a practice that Cohen employed for some time.

TORRANCE: Yes, and let's face it, Victor. There might be a good reason that Michael Cohen was recording his conversations, and that's because he's doing a lot of unsavory business with some unsavory people. You know, I have to say, Donald Trump, talks about how he always hires the best people.

Well, Michael Cohen is not your typical high powered lawyer. I mean, this guy did not graduate from a Harvard or Yale law school. He graduated from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, which apparently a couple of years ago had the worst entering class that legal academia had ever seen. And this is a guy who deals with a lot of sectors not known for transparency and not known for great dealing. We're talking taxicab medallions, things like that.

And so, the fact that he's recording his calls might mean he's dealing with a lot of unsavory people. But look, when you think about it, these recordings could be very big because the things that the search warrant said they're investigating is wire fraud, bank fraud, possible campaign finance violations.

Well, we know Keith Davidson is already under fire from one of his former clients, Karen McDougal, who she argues he actually collaborated with Michael Cohen to help Donald Trump's interests and not her interests. Which of course, he's her lawyer, he's supposed to be. So, those recordings, if they are, you know, honest and they were made and nobody keep this and didn't know they were being made. Apparently, they could really establish that Donald Trump's lawyer engaged in fraud or possibly extortion to get these women to remain silent.

[07:35:16] BLACKWELL: So, Joey, let me come to you with the work that Michael Cohen's lawyers have to do over the weekend. Cohen's attorneys, obviously, were in court yesterday, asking the judge to block prosecutors from using the information, the data that they got during this raid on Monday, in part because of attorney-client privilege. Well, the judge asked, who were the other clients? Give me a list. And his attorneys couldn't give an answer. They've got until 10:00 a.m., Monday to give that list. Why is that important?

JACKSON: Well, it's significant for a number of reasons. Let me say this, first of all, I think Judge Kimba Wood, the federal court judge is right on point. The (INAUDIBLE) before Kimba Wood, previously, just last year, I was in front of her. I think she listens, I think she wants to get to what the ultimate facts are. I think that she wants to know a bevy of information before she makes a ruling. And most of all, as a defense attorney, to me, she listens to what I have to say. Doesn't necessarily agreeing with me, and that (INAUDIBLE), but listens in renders fair rulings.

So, first of all, you want all the information. The next thing is that if you want to discuss privilege, you want to make sure that the contents are indeed privileged. So, what's privileged about it? Attorney-client relationships are privilege generally with some exceptions we've talked about, right? Crime-fraud exception, you can't do it for that purpose. But the reality is, is that if it's not a privileged communication as in attorney to client, right? If it's attorney to attorney, and in the event that attorney speaking to a client but not necessarily regarding a legal issue --

BLACKWELL: Yes.

JACKSON: Then, you know, the judge has to rule accordingly. So, I think this judge in keeping with her background and experience is being careful, wants to get it right and wants the information necessary in orders to do just that.

BLACKWELL: Kelly Jane, finally to you. We've also learned, in addition to the hush agreements as related to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that were negotiated in connection with president. Of course, President Trump denies those affairs, that Cohen facilitated these $1.6 million dollar hush payment last year to a former Playboy model who says she was impregnated by a top GOP fundraiser, Elliott Broidy. I mean, a pattern here, but is it -- is the value more than the pattern? Is the value in this beyond just there being a third here?

TORRANCE: Yes, I do think so. First of all, the fact that -- you know, Michael Cohen seems to be the guy handling this kind of cases certainly says something. And Elliott Broidy, of course, just stepped down as one of the deputy finance chairman of the GOP over this issue. And what's really interesting is that how did Michael Cohen, hear about this Playboy Playmate with these claim? It was from Keith Davidson, he actually, was the lawyer for this woman.

So, it looks shady on so many different levels. And when you look at the fact it's not just Donald Trump now, it's somebody else in the GOP. You do have to wonder how much was going on before the election, and how much of it was involving information they wanted to suppress because of the election.

And you know, the pattern is certainly concerning. And I -- again, if you look at the search warrant, it says wire fraud, bank fraud, campaign finance violations. And that has to do with all of this stuff. And the fact that the same lawyer's involved in getting hush money for these women, and apparently, again, the argument Karen McDougal made is he was working against her interests --

BLACKWELL: Yes.

TORRANCE: -- and for the president's interests. It's very suspicious, and you can see exactly why prosecutors got the search warrant. It's an outrage as some in the White House are trying to say.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We've got to wrap it thee because we got the breaking news this morning. But we know that Michael Cohen is ordered to be in court on Monday. Kelly Jane Torrance, Joey Jackson, thank you both.

TORRANCE: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you so much. BLACKWELL: Yes.

PAUL: So, the U.S. considers an air strike on Syria a success. What about Syria's allies? We have more from our reporters in Russia and Iran, live for you. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:41:26] PAUL: Well, now, this is important to you. Here are your mortgage rate this week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: More on the "BREAKING NEWS" now out of Syria. The U.S. along with France and the U.K. fired missiles there in response to a deadly chemical attack.

PAUL: Secretary of Defense James Mattis, says they wanted to send a strong message to President Bashar al Assad. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: -- that right now this is a one-time shot, and I believe that it sent a very strong message to dissuade him, to deter him from doing this again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: The Pentagon scheduled to update everyone on the strike in Syria, and a little more than an hour from now, we'll bring you that live when it happens. Right now, let's get reactions from some of Syria's allies. CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Moscow, and Amir Daftari is in Tehran. Nic, let's start with you and how Russia is framing their reaction to these strikes. They say that Syria was finally moving toward peace when this happened.

[07:44:38] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, they're saying that they managed to shoot down most of the missiles that were fired at Syria. I think what we're hearing here from Moscow is no indication that President Putin is going to make that change in direction that President Trump talked about. Turning away from the dark path supporting Assad. No indication that there's going to be any movement from Moscow as General Mattis -- Secretary of Defense Mattis said that the situation should now move towards peace talks in Geneva. No indication of that at all. We've heard from President Putin, we've heard from the Ministry of Defense.

The Ministry of Defense, in fact, is almost sort of doubling down in their support for Assad, saying that they're considering now upgrading his missile defense capabilities. So they'd be better prepared for another scenario like this.

President Putin has said that these actions or strikes destabilize the situation the region just as the country was beginning to recover and get out from under the threat of terrorists. His called for a U.N. Security Council emergency meeting. Later, we're due to hear from the foreign minister here in a couple of hours' time. But I think what we're hearing at the moment, is not the anger and bellicosity that we've heard from Russian officials in recent days. More perhaps of toned down rhetoric. But absolutely, they're spinning it here as a victory for their missile systems. In their eyes, their claims that they're able to shoot down a lot of the U.S., French, and British missiles flying at Syria.

PAUL: All right, Nic. Here, Amir, Iran's supreme leader we know has called the -- these air strikes, major crimes. Are you hearing anything there about movement or what's next in that regard?

AMIR DAFTARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL SENIOR PRODUCER: You're right, harsh words from here in Iran, but that is to be expected. And there's nothing unusual about that, either. As you say, just harsh words, for now, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Just a few hours ago, in a televised address, did call the attacks a criminal act, saying that Syria's national sovereignty must be respected under international law. He did add that the U.S. will not benefit from these attacks, the same way they didn't benefit from going into Iraq.

Now, the foreign ministry has also come out and responded. They have been looking closely at those chemical gas attacks in Douma, saying there's still a lot of question marks over that. And the U.S., the U.K., and France should have waited until there was a more comprehensive investigation before going in.

President Hassan Rouhani, also condemning the attack blaming his support to the people of Syria, saying that Iran will stand side by side with the Syrians. But overall, as Nick has also said, quite calm and quite -- I think many people here were expecting a far bigger and more destructive attack than the one they've seen.

BLACKWELL: All right, we'll see more of the destruction as we get more video. And Amir Daftari in Tehran, Nic Robertson in Moscow. Thank you both.

And we're just getting this in from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, supporting the air strikes led by the U.S., U.K., and France. I'm going to read just a couple of sentences here -- a sentence here from her statement she says, "We support that our American, British, and French allies as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have taken on responsibility in this way. The military operation was necessary and appropriate to preserve the effectiveness of the international ban on the use of chemical weapons and to warn the Syrian regime of further violations." Now, as we get more reaction in from world leaders. We, of course, will bring that to you.

PAUL: And this was a very strategic strike in the sense that the U.S. was very careful not to go near Russian forces in Syria. The question is, will that strategy work? Our analyst had something about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:52:26] PAUL: Well, the targets in these latest air strike in Syria were clear. They wanted to focus on any of the buildings that had anything to do with the making or stockpiling of chemical weapons. CNN's Global Affairs Analyst Aaron David Miller, with us now. Aaron, thank you for being here. You tweeted this last night, "Let's see what targets are actually hit, but the tone suggests attacks on chemical weapons, a clear effort on Trump's part to steer clear of intervention in Civil War. Purpose was to deter, punish and degrade chemical weapons. Steer clear of Russia and Iran." Aaron, do you believe that was done?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I do. And I think, Christi, the main takeaway for me is that in Trump plan, Jim Mattis, still rules. Whatever debate there was within the administration about a more aggressive, comprehensive approach. Either to fundamentally degrade the Syrian military and hit military sites as opposed to C.W. ones. Clearly, this was focused proportional, and frankly, quite prudent. Whether it will work ultimately to deter over time is impossible to say.

PAUL: Defense Secretary Mattis, have said right now, this is a one- time shot. The president, on the other hand, said we are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents. If there is another chemical agent attack, Aaron, has the U.S. now pinned themselves in the corner? Will they have to react and would they have to react solo?

MILLER: I think, they'll try to work with the Brits and the French, maybe involve in air partner too if possible. But, I think we are locked in, there's no question about it. I mean, this is going to be like mowing the grass, Christi. The grass is going to grow back, and over time as the Syrians grow more confident, maybe Assad will deploy chlorine gas, he's used it more than 15 times. Or maybe even sarin, the nerve agent which was used in Douma.

No, I think that there probably will be more strikes, but what this was not was a three-day campaign designed basically to cripple, fundamentally alter the battlefield balance on the ground. That was clearly not the intent here.

PAUL: John McCain, tweeted that they need to lay out goals in Syria and he praised this move. Do you believe -- are you confident that there is a solid plan moving forward?

MILLER: I admire and respect John McCain, and I talk to him about this. The reality is, no. We have no plan, there may will be no plan for a comprehensive solution, unless the Iranians and the Russians are prepared to fundamentally alter their views of what the end game here is. I think, clearly, these attacks sent a clear message. This president, like the last one -- like the last one has no intention of getting stuck with a check for Syria and the billions of dollars that will be required and the deployment of peacekeepers and leading role for years to come in order to somehow repair the Syrian State.

[07:55:23] PAUL: All right, Aaron David Miller, always good to get your perspective. Thank you, sir. MILLER: Thanks, Christi.

BLACKWELL: And we seeing other details around the U.S. and ally strikes in Syria as we get closer to an update from the Pentagon and to monitor a U.N. Security Council meeting that we've just learned, will take place at 11:00 this morning.

PAUL: Stay with us after a short break, we'll going to take you live back to Syria.

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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN "BREAKING NEWS".

PAUL: Always so great for to have you company, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. The "BREAKING NEWS" this morning, the United States launches a military attack against Syria and promises to keep up the pressure.