tv Inside Politics CNN January 8, 2020 9:00am-10:00am PST
this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to "inside politics." thank you for sharing this incredibly important day with us. president trump just moments ago responded to the iranian air strikes on two u.s. installations in iraq. the biggest headline, he sees an opportunity to step back from military confrontation. >> no americans were harmed in last night's attack by the iranian regime.
we suffered no casualties. all of off soldiers are safe. iran appears to be standing down which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. >> the commander in chief spoke for just over nine minutes. his military and national security leadership team behind him. the message somewhat confusing. on the one hand, he said there were opportunities to work with iran and he looked forward to those and yet he announced new economic sanctions would be put on place immediately and he called on the allies to walk away from the nuclear agreement negotiated during the obama administration. >> for far too long, all the way back to 1979 to be exact, nations have tolerated iran's destructive and destabilizing behavior in the middle east and beyond. those days are over. iran has been the leading
sponsor of terrorism in their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. we will never let that happen. your campaign of terror, mayhem, murder, will not be tolerated any longer. it will not be allowed to go forward. >> comprehensive coverage in the hour ahead. we have kaitlan collins and fred pleitgen and nic robertson is live in riyadh. the president said he wanted diplomacy and it was a bit mixed. what did he accomplish? >> he seemed to signal that the attack launched by iran is not a military one. he said the united states has powerful military equipment but it doesn't always have to use it and john, that's notable because for the last five days the president has been saying that if iran retaliated against the
americans or american assets he wound responding. you heard similar messages coming out of secretary of state mike pompeo in several of the interviews he did on sunday. but for now, the president is signaling it is not going to be a military response. instead, he said he's going to impose more sanctions on iran, economic sanctions so he didn't elaborate what they will look like. we haven't gotten a notice from treasury, we should make that clear and he's reaching out the nato. another point that the president offered but did not elaborate on further so we'll be waiting to see if there's a briefing that happens here at the white house. where we get further details on what exactly that's going to look like. but john, of course the ultimate question walking away here, what is the long term strategy going to be? for the short term the president said he wouldn't pursue a military response but the question is what does iran do
next and how does the united states respond to that? you heard the president say in the past he thinks that iran changed the behavior since he came into office and imposed the sanctions on iran though we have seen the tensions escalate and that was crafted by the obama administration, making clear he does not regret withdrawing from the iran nuclear deal. so the question going forward f the president is going to pursue diplomacy here is he still willing to sit down with iran's leaders as he said in the past and is secretary of state pompeo going to play a big role in that? >> cailtyn collins, appreciate the reporting to that point. the president was not specific about any diplomatic efforts. he was not specific about u.s. troop levels in the region. let's go to frederik pleitgen in iran. you can be encouraged and you can look at other parts and be
dig couraged. from your long experience in covering this where do we bo next? >> i think you're right, john. i think on the whole the iranians this is exactly the response that they wanted from the trump administration they didn't want this to escalate any this was on the cusp of becoming very dangerous for the u.n. they demonstrated they have the capability to strike back at the united states and showed they have sophisticated military equipment they developed themselves which they can launch cross border attacks on american facilities. they have shown at least to their own public they believe the u.s. can be quite vulnerable in all of this. the iranians from the very beginning, i spoke about this yesterday with iranian's foreign minister. he tweeted the iranians have struck back. now time for the u.s. to come to their senses and not escalate
this any further. they feel the u.s. has killed one of their top generals and iranians struck back and want to leave it at that. it looks like that's exactly what's happening and exactly what the president did. discouraging signs, one of the things the iranians have been telling me, excuse me, foreign minister of iran. the big issue is the nuclear agreement and u.s. leaving the nuclear agreement and crippling sanctions iran has been hit with. the iranians call it economic terrorism and economic warfare. they believe they have been in a state of war with the united states ever since the u.s. left the nuclear agreement. they want the u.s. to lift all those sanctions and if possible, to go back to the nuclear agreement. one of the things they've been saying, if you want to renegotiate this whole thing, come back to it first. that doesn't look like it's in the cards. from a negative perspective in
all of this, one is president trump also announced those tough new sanctions he will hit iran with. the iranians saying very clearly, as long as the u.s. is out of the nuclear agreement and those sanctions are in place this conflict will keep going on and simmering, john. >> interesting to see as kaitlan noted earlier, we will see what the president has in mind with sanctions. thank you for being here at this critical time. let's go to nic robertson. you were in the capitol waiting for the president of the united states and encouraged by the announcement to step back from military confrontation and waiting for a road map of what comes next. what is the administration's longer term strategy. did they get any of that? >> reporter: i think they got as much as we all got, john, not much clarity. the question on everyone's mind
here is the simple question where we are at now is this, does iran recognize the rules of the game have changed. president trump, this is what he said, president trump was very clear, more sanctions are going on. >> the united states will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the iranian regime. these powerful sanctions will remain until iran changes its behavior. >> reporter: what the president is saying there is nothing has changed from the united states side. we're essentially watching another part of this long playing out game of ping-pong. the united states puts on additional sanctions, iran attacks tankers in the gulf. united states puts on additional sanctions and iran attacks an oil facility in the middle east and the united states puts on
additional sanctions and they take out an american. and then the united states takes out qassem soleimani. more has changed and the killing of qassem soleimani, the united states is saying, you cannot come back at me with military action over the issue of sanctions. you have to essentially give in and negotiate. that's the question on the iranians mind. the question gave the ball back to the iranians. he wants the british and germans to pull out of the nuclear deal. they don't like it. only the brits seem to waiver at all. the others are pretty firm they want to stay with the deal. john. >> stay with it unless they're convinced they can get something better and we all know how difficult it was to get something better. thank you for the live
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welcome back. more now on the day's big breaking news. president trump announcing moments ago, in his view, iran appears to be standing down from military confrontation. republicans quickly rushing to shower praise on the president. these tweets from lindsey graham calling the president's tweet a home run and congressman shelby and even congressman from other states. please welcome these with us. if the white house wanted one big take away from this, what is it? that we're stepping back?
>> both a take away? i think it's clear the immediate top line responses, peace through sanctions, not peace through war, the president does not want to escalate this militarily at this time. that's the most important take away and you saw the beginning of overtures from the iranians last night when the foreign minister said the attacks had been proportionate and concluded and the white house saying we're not looking to make this worse. we could have hit in a different way and we didn't. this was the president following suit. what's not clear yet is what he's saying about sanctions and messaging we will not allow iran to get a nuclear weapon. whether that was domestic politics or real signal to tehran, the next wave of aggressions is important. >> it will matter in terms of
the political situation and you're right, the president wanted to step back but not just step back and have some flak with the sanctions. the next question, is this realistic? it took years to negotiate the nuclear deal around the world. the president never liked that deal. everyone knew it was limited. it did not stop the nuclear missile program and around the reason. the president saying now is the moment after the united states takes out an iranian general and iranians fire back with 15 missiles. now is the moment the country refused to go his way and walk away from the deal should do so. >> the time has come for the united kingdom, germany, france, russia, and china, to recognize this reality. they must now break away from the remnants of the iran deal or
jcpoa. and we must all work together toward making a deal with iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. >> is there any reasonable expectation that that will happen? >> look, i mean, part of the problem, i spent much of the morning on capitol hill talking to the president's adversaries, the democrats, their concern is what next? right? where is the strategy? that was what was really missing from the president's speech. it was, you know, we're going to impose economic sanctions, now, we're not going to respond immediately in the near term, at least militarily. to what end? democrats were asking this morning is where is the long term plan that the president could lay out, the administration could lay out that says, these are the steps we're going to take and here is what we hope to achieve and there was that last line at the end of the president's speech, openness of peace with anyone
willing to do it. what does that look like? a new negotiation for a new deal? and if so, where is the administration. >> what's the deal? >> what's the deal. >> what are the steps they can at least foreshadow and say this is how we -- >> maybe the morning after they land missiles in your military bases, the president decided he did not want to be specific. that is my question. is there something new here or are we going back to a week ago before the hit on soleimani. iran is imposed by sanctions and they're a bad region and we will accept that world and hope other nations come with us or what. >> i would argue, it's almost a stepping back to june, when we were on the precipice of launching strikes on iran after they shot down our drone. some people were in favor of that. other people said we need to pump the brakes, sanctions are crippling iran. the worst thing we can do right now, push this farther, let the sanctions do what sanctions do
and try to bring them to the table. >> i want to go back to michael's point about particularly capitol hill, it's difficult to get into in a public situation, what was the threat from soleimani? how imminent was an attack and that was what a lot of lawmakers are asking since the strike and perhaps they can get answers in classified briefings this afternoon, like in covering these briefings they don't go into a lot of details. john mccain used to come out all the time saying i learn more than the press do during these briefings. the notification they sent over to capitol hill on saturday, that was completely classified and did not give a lot of public information why the strike was justified. i would suspect those lawmakers will leave those briefings with a little of questions about the actions. >> his remarks did not get into any details at all, if there was
an imminent threat and said this is a bad guy and everyone should be happy. >> his tone appears to change, on one hand, iran should step back, i would like to negotiate with iran and want a prosperous iran and then you're a menace and we have a military much bigger and stronger than yours. >> our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast. the fact we have this great military equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. we do not want to use it. american strength both military and economic is the best deterrent. >> this is where he -- at times he appears to be -- i don't say this cynically, he appears to be having a debate with himself. we know his instinct as a candidate was my predecessors were stupid and we have these wars in the middle east, time to
bring them home and leave them to theirselves, now more than 70,000 troops in the circle around iran and the president is growing in this. >> the president was saying we have 52 targets and some are cultural. this was today's version of that. it was a much more constrained threat. the language and rhetoric was much more careful. the nato piece of this is very interesting. perhaps nato would be happy the president wants this to be a multilateral decision. on the other hand, if the we ward for nato involvement in the middle east is everyone has to go along with the u.s. position on the iran deal, it won't work. what is that piece about? what was the president hoping to accomplish by trying to say this should be a nato coordinated plan or mission at this point? >> again, back to realistic, is there any evidence on the table, especially after iran proved it has the ability to land military missiles with pretty good decision with most accounts they missed on purpose. they proved they could get close
and didn't get closer because they didn't want to escalate. nato going to say, sure, we will send more troops to iraq? >> and whatever compromise nato might be involved in, will the trump administration accept that guidance? >> exactly. >> and excellent point. up next, iraq once again finds itself caught rite in the middle. when you move homes, you move more than just yourself.
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iraq today finds itself in an all too familiar position, caught in a tug-of-war between the united states and iran. last night's missile strikes targeted iraqi bases and both sides have used the country in days and weeks as a battleground and the premier condemning any violation of his country's sovereignty and to prevent a war in which iraq in the region will be among the first victims. what are leaders saying not only about last night's strikes but is there any reaction in this short hour since it happened to the president's response today? >> reporter: so far no reaction to what donald trump said. i think we can safely say or predict there be some degree of relief, given there was a very severe danger had the u.s. president not essentially taken a pretty conciliatory line, really, with regard to iran
following air strikes, missile strikes against the united states locations, co-locations with the iraqi armed forces. it could have been a lot worse. these are carefully calibrated strikes so they didn't target people or damage a great deal of equipment. on top of that, they tipped off the iraqis who tipped off the americans so people could get into a safe location. what the iranians did was demonstrate capability but not bloodlust in revenge. that is in somewhat contrast from what we're hearing from the two main iranian-backed militia groups here, hezbollah, that lost its leader in the same air strike that killed captain soleimani. they have said they will continue their policy and
determination to take revenge and indeed continue to press for the withdrawal of u.s. troops from iraq much more widely across the country, a decision taken by predominantly shia mps in the iraqi parliament. there are a lot of elements in the iraqi political system very resistant to that, not the least because the united states has been critical helping defend iraq and eventually defeat the so-called islamic state within its territory, ironically, a campaign they were on the same side as iran and shia-backed militias, john. >> appreciate the reporting from baghdad. stay safe there. talking to the u.s. ambassador from iraq from 2016-2019 and president of the gulf state institute in washington. part of your service includeded the trump administration. did you hear anything today
about a long term strategy? a mix and some carrots and sticks. what did you hear? >> i'm encouraged the words were mostly conciliatory and he is to some extent, reaching out to american i'll lies to join the need for continued international pressure on iran. i might say there are probably two things i would suggest the american administration do moving forward. first of all, is seek to work with our allies and not only in europe but israel and the arab gulf states israel has very good relations to craft an agreed upon long term strategy. one of the things the trump administration has not been able to do is publicly articulate its goals for iraq. and it would help the united
states regain the high ground and the leadership in this issue. >> help me on your take, then. what was iran doing last night? they clearly wanted to show they have this technology and could strike u.s. military bases and made a shift acknowledging we did this from within our sovereign borders at the united states. there was a message to the united states and they didn't go too far and to iraq, right? >> first, a message to the iranian people. the religious structure has whipped up such fury over the killing of qassem soleimani, they needed to do something. they have defined it as this is the iranian defense response to that killing. secondly, it was very important not to cause enough damage for the united states to retaliate, certainly disproportionately and they seem to have accomplished that based on what the president had to say. and they've been able to put enough fear in the neighborhood,
particularly iraq but gulf states and israel and those countries that want to see the free flow of commerce through the strait of hormuz, to continue to work with the united states with deescalation going forward. one of the things iran did last night was stake a claim to iraq. it was clear in the attacks, choosing both a base in embar province, near sunni and the kurdistan region those iraqis who do not want to see an increase of iranian influence in iraq and those iraqis, kurds, christians, sunnis, who would like to see the continuation of american and coalition force and assistance and training for the iraqi military. >> a bit of a step back today from confrontation but many many levels of questions in the days and weeks ahead. mr. ambassador. hope you come back as we go through all of this.
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there is a bit of silence among democrats. we of course have seen them criticize the president's policies. in the wake of his remarks from the white house, they are trying to assess what he actually means. they are looking for classified briefings this afternoon on capitol hill to see what is next. they certainly like the sound of the restraint. the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell and others republicans, said, look, that is the sign of a super power to show restraint. others criticizing the long term policy of this president, why did he withdraw from the iran nuclear agreement. there are presidential candidates including five u.s. interstat senators, returning to their day jobs on capitol hill, to get those briefings. we have not seen restraint from the democratic party for a while.
that is what bernie sanders wants to have. he wants to have a conversation of our place in the world. joe biden has counted on his experience here. this is a bit of unchartered territory in the four weeks before voting begins for a matter of substance and substance of politics always complicated. even more so when republicans and democrats on capitol hill aren't exactly sure what the president is up to. john. jeff zeleny, live on the hill, a very important day there. a few hours, the house democrats wanted to bring to the floor as quickly as possible a war powers resolution and even though it had zero possibility of passing on the senate, we want to limit your power. does that step back take the gas or energy on capitol hill to do that? >> i don't think so. i talked to some members before the president's address about
that very question, are you going to press ahead with this? the ones eager to press ahead before seem to think they will continue to do that and want to make their philosophical point even though it's unlikely to end up restraining the president in any meaningful way. i think the point jeff made about the long term concerns remains. they, you know -- i don't think that the president's remarks answered many of their questions. >> no. the president's remarks did not answer anything in the long term. your colleague, david sanger, said depending on your perspective, you can find something you liked. there were carrots, you're great people. i want you to be prosperous and there were sticks for the world to go against you. is it inconsistent to what he promised in a tweet saturday and sunday. these media posts will serve as notification to the united
states congress, should iran strike any u.s. person or target, any u.s. person or target, the united states will quickly and fully strike back and perhaps in a disproportionate manner. saturday, they attacked us and if we hit back. if they attack us again i strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they've ever been hit before. the president is on record there. no americans were killed, thank god. they did attack u.s. military installations in iraq. if you take the president's tweets literally, did he promise to retaliate? does it matter he's trying to sell people and convince people he has a strategy? >> i read his remarks today as a recalibration of that rhetoric from past days, in an effort not only send the iranians a signal they don't want to reescalate right now but the american public that signal. i think we'll see. there needs to be those briefings and questions of the
administration and see what those responses are. part of the reason you're seeing the democratic presidential candidates, particularly joe biden and pete buttigieg, who have some of that military policy experience be careful what they're saying and stick to this message about the truth because they understand it's important to understand what was the intelligence and what was the administration's plans for their next steps? there are a couple of domestic political forces at play here, right? one is that the american public does not want another war. two, the american public does not want to get pushed around by the iranians. how do americans read the president's actions? how do americans understand the killing on soleimani and how do americans understand what the president is signaling. that is crucial to what democrats respond to this. >> interesting when they come out of the briefings if they're satisfied, both why general sole wsole
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senate so send over the articles. >> there will be no haggling with the house over senate procedure. we will not cede our authority to try this impeachment. the house democrats' turn is over. the senate has made its decision. >> speaker pelosi still holding its impeachment articles sending a letter to her democratic colleagues why she says mcconnell has promised he would detail what the process looks like this. leader mcconnell said we will be glad to show you the resolution when we unveil it. it is important we immediately publish this resolution the speaker wrote so as i have said before we can see the arena in which we will be participating, appoint managers and transmit the articles to the senate. when will the stalemate break? >> that's the big question here. no one really knows who will blink first. what nancy pelosi is saying, she needs to see the rules fist in
detail in writing before she unveils and sees the articles of impeachment over and mitch mcconnell making clear he won't be told what to do. they need to reach accommodation by themselves. i can tell you talking to democratic senators, they are eager to see this trial start. several i just spoke to moments ago say they want it to start as soon as next week. one reason why it's upsetting their efforts to plan their work schedules, personal schedules and have to be here six days a week and legislative efforts to push for the things days and weeks to come and uncertainty over the trial affects that. one senator, angus kang of maine, independent, said he will leave it to nancy pelosi and said quote it is probably time to start the trial. and another democratic said he believes the wheel leverage is when they have votes on the trial and force republicans on the record whether to call
witnesses going forward. he seems to think the leverage withholding the articles is up and they can begin the trial and start next week. and richard blumenthal from connecticut said i'm ready to begin the trial tomorrow. as a former prosecutor, i'm ready to go to court. you are seeing anxiety among members who want to see this happen and don't know where this is going. at the moment, no one knows how this will be resolved and who to blame first and the president's trial in limbo for the time being. >> in limbo for the time being. appreciate it. my question is speaker pelosi says she wants to see it in writing. mitch mcconnell has been clear about the process and says he wants to roughly follow the rules for clinton and the rules of arguments about impeachment and senators submit questions in writing through chief justice john roberts and then senators then decide if they need delay witnesses.
that's how it played out in clinton and did take depositions from additional witnesses in that case. why isn't that good enough for the speaker? >> i was puzzled because the organizing resolution in 1999 was pretty sparse. i don't know any document mcconnell produces will have that much detail pelosi is seeking now. it's pretty clear with mcconnell saying he can effectively steam roll democrats because he can proceed in the way he wants, nancy pelosi doesn't have a lot of leverage here and the fact she's losing members of her own party in the senate, these senators coming from the most liberal flank of the caucus and moderate saying, let's get this going, we have a job to do and get this trial moving and get it over with. >> is there an argument to be made if you want those four republicans you want for witnesses, why antagonize them now by holding onto this? >> i don't think those republicans are there.
if they were there in the last week they wouldn't be totally evasive whether they had concerns about this. i think you can make a counter argument nancy pelosi already leveraged messaging over the holiday recess, mitch mcconnell is playing games voters may not like and may translate into the perception of republican lawmakers and the senate and president trump is hiding information even as information comes out. she has been able to make those points day after day. perhaps the utility has run out and perhaps her own members are telling her that but i think she probably feels okay about it. >> to that point, democratic aides are saying, you can win by losing. you may not be able to get the floor but maybe they can win in the public arena. next s trial will begin maybe week? >> look, the iran stuff complicates it a little bit because they have to deal with this. if the iran strikes hasn't happened they might have a cleaner path to resolve it over
the next week or few days. dianne feinstein came out in the next few days saying i don't know what good delay does anymore. the pressure is building. i spoke to folks in the mcconnell's office and asked, can you guys actually pass a resolution before the speaker sends over the articles? their answer was, no. we have to wait, from a process standpoint, until she sends them over. at some point somebody will blink and seems likely the speaker claiming messaging victory margaret talked about, and then we will be there. i don't think early next week but maybe mid-next week. >> mid-next week. up next, brand new diplomatic back channels between iran and the united states. robinhood believes now is the time to do money.
everywhere is going to get touched by climate change. welcome back to breaking news, important new details about today's big story. cnn has learned the united states and iran exchanged several messages recently between a swiss diplomatic channel. >> there have been messages going back and forth by the swiss, a diplomatic channel open and available to the u.s. and iran, who do not have diplomatic relations themselves. this is often a channel used for consult or dialogue. it was heavily used when there was a prisoner swap when it was
negotiated, the swiss had a big part in that the end of last year. it's being used and more noteworthy it is being used at this point in time because there is a crisis unfolded between the u.s. and iran. we saw this morning president trump coming out and indicating he wants to de-escalate this crisis and he noted he wants the iranian people and iranian regime to have a better future. there is some indication as these messages are going back and forth, the trump administration may be in a position it wants to consider dialogue with the iranian leadership. >> and the swiss foreign affairs saying they are happy to be involved. >> they're not saying which side was the one to broach this topic and come to the table and say, we want to get involved. they are saying there's dialogue happening and really noteworthy.
>> a fascinating piece of the story and that's it for "inside politics" see you this time tomorrow. a lot of news today. have a great afternoon. xxxx this is cnn's special coverage of iranian air strikes of u.s. interests in the middle east after the u.s. killed its top military leader at the direction of president trump. president trump addressing the nation moments ago saying iran appears to be standing down after launching at least 22 ballistic missiles at housing u.s. forces in iraq. beforehand, iran warned iraq and iraq warned the u.s. and there were no americans nor iraqi casualties according to u.s. officials. all morning the world waited