tv ABC World News Tonight With David Muir ABC April 12, 2018 5:30pm-5:59pm PDT
bay fires, six months tonight, as we come on the air from beirut, the eyes of the world on president trump. his decision coming, if and when to launch strikes on syria. the president meeting with his national security team late today. the u.s., france, britain, all getting military ships and war planes into position. and just across the border here in syria, russia now moving ships out of harm's way. and what assad's forces are now doing. there is also breaking news tonight involving fired fbi director james comey. and his description of what played out with president trump. conversations, the private dinner, saying the president sought loyalty like mafia boss sammy the bull. the hush money. the fbi raiding the president's personal attorney, and tonight, there is now news about this doorman at trump world tower, reportedly paid thousands to keep silent.
there is a major storm sweeping across the country tonight. california to michigan, then east. blizzard warnings and tornadoes. rob is standing by right now with the track. and the missouri governor under pressure to resign tonight. now fighting off allegations of abuse by a former mistress who now describes being tied up in a basement. good evening, and we are here in beirut tonight, as this region and the world now awaits potential action against syria, after that horrific chemical attack here. president trump in the last 24 hours warning that missiles, nice, new and smart were coming. and then late today, the president meeting with his national security team. just about 90 miles from here, the site of that suspected chemical attack in douma, syria, that has the u.s. now working with its allies, britain and france. today, the president holding that meeting, and afterward, a more cautious tone from the white house, saying no final
decision has been made. but what is clear tonight is the president is preparing to make that decision and soon. abc's chief white house correspondent jonathan karl leading us off. >> reporter: shortly after president trump met with his national security team, the white house declared there has been no decision yet on military action in syria. this morning, the president said the decision would be coming fairly soon. >> we'll see what happens, folks. we'll see what happens. it's too bad that the world puts us in a position like that. >> reporter: it's a starkly different tone from the president. just 24 hours earlier, he made it sound like an attack on syria was about to happen, tweeting a warning about u.s. missiles to syria's most important ally. "get ready, russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and smart." that tweet was widely criticized as directly contradicting the president's repeated insistence that a military strike must be kept secret until it happens.
>> militarily, i don't like to say where i'm going and what i'm doing. whatever happened to the element of surprise? >> reporter: this morning, the president clarified, "never said when an attack on syria would take place. could be very soon or not so soon at all." and that was defense secretary mattis's message to congress today. >> today our president did say that he's not made a decision. >> reporter: but with his national security team focused on syria, our cameras spotted another guest leaving the white house, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation. turns out, he met with president trump today, too. the white house called it a routine meeting. but rosenstein is increasingly under fire from the president and his allies. former chief white house strategist steve bannon and other trump supporters are leading a public campaign to get rosenstein fired. so should he fire rosenstein? >> oh, i would fire rosenstein in a new york minute, without any question. >> and jon karl with us tonight
live from the white house. and jon, the president balancing that increasing heat from robert mueller, of course with this international crisis at the same time. and just a short time ago, the white house press secretary saying no final decision has been made? >> reporter: david, there is no doubt that the national security team here is gearing up for action on syria, but the white house says no decision has been made. they are still assessing the intelligence and coordinating with our allies. in fact, tonight, the president has spoken with british prime minister theresa may and we're told he also plans to talk to french president macron, as well. david? >> jon karl leading us off again tonight. jon, thank you. and as the president weighs his military options tonight, his defense secretary, james mattis, arriving at the white house for that national security counsel meeting today. tonight, a u.s. destroyer already in the mediterranean. there is british aircraft in the region, and a french warship just off the coast of lebanon. abc's chief global affairs correspondent martha raddatz tonight on what could be coming. >> reporter: tonight, the u.s.
resolved to make syria pay a price. defense secretary mattis is convinced those images show a chemical attack. >> the use of chemical weapons and some things are simply inexcusable, beyond the pale, and in the worst interest of not just the chemical weapons convention, but of civilization itself. >> reporter: the president is weighing his options to strike light or go heavy. warships and war planes from the u.s., france and britain are in place and ready to go, whenever the order is given. >> it will probably be a short, quick, hard punch to the assad regime and that could be it. it all depends on how the russians react and how the syrians react in response. >> reporter: secretary mattis knows how complicated and dangerous a military response can be. >> we're trying to stop the murder of innocent people. but on a strategic level, it's how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if
you get my drift on that. >> reporter: last year's tomahawk missile strike on a syrian airfield did not seem to dissuade assad from using chemical weapons again. and those syrian planes were back in the air within days. but going too far, in a response, could inflame the region. a russian newspaper is reporting that the russians are in secret talks with the u.s., asking for targeting information to get their personnel and aircraft out of the way. >> so, let's bring back in martha raddatz, again live with us from washington. and martha, it was monday that president trump announced to the world that he would have a decision within 24 to 48 hours. that time frame has clearly passed now. and we've now watched the president and his team bringing in allies on this, who were also outraged at what they saw. >> reporter: they were, david. but i think cooler heads slowed this down. these are big decisions, what to target and when. also, because trump isn't going this alone, instead working with those allies, there is much more coordination.
david? >> martha raddatz with us every step of the way on this. martha, thank you. meantime, across the border in syria tonight, russia now moving its military assets, and what assad's forces are doing right now in advance of possible strikes. abc's james longman also here in beirut tonight. >> reporter: tonight, signs russia and syria are bracing for attack. the syrian military taking defensive action, repositioning war planes and moving equipment to protect them from being targeted. russians on the move, too. these satellite images appear to show russian naval ships disappearing from this port in syria. russia today saying they will protect their people on the ground. and tonight, possible evidence in that horrific suspected chemical attack. u.s. officials are aware of a new report from syrian medical activists describing most of the victims' symptoms, saying they're consistent with chlorine exposure. some showing symptoms consistent with a nerve agent. an attack russia and syria say never happened. >> let's bring in our foreign correspondent, james longman.
and james is here in beirut, obviously, with us tonight. we know that chemical weapons inspectors who are here in this city are preparing now to visit that site where the alleged attack took place? >> reporter: that's right, david. they are due to begin their work on saturday, but it's been a full week since that attack took place, and since russian troops have already been in the area, there are real concerns about the kind of evidence they're going to be able to gather. >> and evidence that might have been taken away. james longman with us here tonight. james, thank you. we do move on now, and to that breaking news back home involving former fbi director james comey, who was fired by the president. in his new book about to be published, he reveals what he says played out with president trump before he was fired. their conversations, that private dinner. and the president's demand for loyalty. ing coe comey now comparing the president to a mafia boss. here's abc's chief justice correspondent pierre thomas tonight. >> reporter: in his upcoming new book, former fbi director james comey likens president trump to a mafia boss. describing a presidential demand at a hastily arranged white house dinner. >> he called me at my desk at
lunchtime and asked me, was i free for dinner that night? and then he said, how about 6:30? and i said, whatever works for you, sir. >> reporter: comey claims at that dinner, president trump told him, "i need loyalty. i expect loyalty." in his book, comey writes, he thought to himself, "the demand was like sammy the bull's cosa nostra induction ceremony." that dinner was just one week after the inauguration. a few months later, comey was gone, fired by the president. in his book, comey describes an emotional call he received shortly after from john kelly, then homeland security secretary, now white house chief of staff. comey says kelly told him he "intended to quit in protest because he didn't want to work for dishonorable people who would treat someone like comey in such a manner." comey writes, "i urged kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. especially this president." >> and pierre thomas with us tonight from washington. and peel area -- pierre, james
comey writes about hillary clinton and his decision to reopen that investigation into her e-mails, less than two weeks before the election, a move that many of her supporters believe cost her the election? >> reporter: that's right, david. comey expresses some regrets about clinton, writing, quote, i've read she's felt anger toward me personally, and i'm sorry for that. i'm sorry i couldn't do a better job explaining to her and her supporters why i made the decisions i made, end quote. and david, for comey, it's personal. he writes, "this president is unethical and untethered to truth and institutional values." david? >> pierre thomas with us, as well, tonight. pierre, thank you. and of course, we should point out that james comey will reveal his own story in an abc news exclusive interview with george stephanopoulos. george, one-on-one with comey, this sunday night, 10:00 p.m./9:00 central, right here. in the meantime, we turn next tonight to the investigation of president trump's personal attorney. and tonight, now a third secret payment to buy someone's silence now under the spotlight, after that fbi raid on lawyer michael cohen's home, office and hotel
room. this latest case involving a former doorman at a trump building, who was paid by the parent company of "the national enquirer" to keep quiet about a salacious and unsubstantiated rumor about donald trump's sex life. again tonight, abc's kyra phillips. >> reporter: tonight, growing questions about hush money paid during donald trump's presidential campaign. abc news has reported on payments to a porn star and a former playboy playmate during the campaign to silence their claims of affairs with mr. trump. >> they wanted to squash the story. >> reporter: mr. trump's spokespeople have denied the allegations of affairs. and now, a new allegation involving a former trump world tower doorman, dino sajudin, and his own uncorroborated salacious story. "the new yorker" first reported on a $30,000 payment made to sajudin as the primaries were gearing up. the payment came from a.m.i., the parent company of "the national enquirer," owned by
david pecker, a long-time friend of the president. turns out, his story was never published, a tactic known as catch and kill. tonight, sajudin confirms to abc news he had an agreement with a.m.i. over his story. >> mr. cohen, why do you think they raided your office and hotel room? >> reporter: abc news has also learned that when fbi agents raided the home, office and hotel of president trump's long-time personal attorney, michael cohen, they were specifically looking for any records involving a.m.i. "the national enquirer" also made a $150,000 payment to former playboy playmate karen mcdougal, three months before the election. david, prosecutors digging into whether there were any election finance violations. they want to know exactly who knew about these deals and whether they were intended to influence the election. david? >> kyra phillips with us again tonight. kyra, thank you. and on capitol hill today,
the first confirmation hearing for secretary of state nominee mike pompeo, the current cia director. pompeo, who sought advice recently from hillary clinton to prepare, was grilled today about russia and whether he would be willing to stand up to the president if he disagrees with him. >> will you stand up to president trump and say no, you're wrong in that view, mr. president, or will you be a yes man? >> i have no discomfort with directness or confrontation. >> pompeo also acknowledging today that he has spoken to special counsel robert mueller. there is still much more ahead on "world news tonight" from beirut this evening. and the news back home of the missouri governor under pressure to resign tonight. the former political rising star now fighting off allegations of assault by a former mistress, who we've now learned described being tied up in a basement. also ahead tonight, the 16-year-old boy crushed to death inside his car. and now, the 911 dispatcher who took one of his calls for help, under investigation. was enough done to help him? and of course, the major storm now sweeping across the country tonight. there are already blizzard
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republican star already facing a criminal trial for invasion of privacy, after the woman described the encounter in greitens basement, during which she said he bound and blindfolded her and then took a partially nude photo of her to use as blackmail to keep her silent. but greitens insists the affair was consensual, and the facts will prove his innocence. >> i want to say again what i've said from the beginning. this is a political witch hunt. >> reporter: the governor tonight accusing prosecutors of misconduct. he's due in court next month. david? >> alex, thank you. when we come back here tonight, the major storm on the move this evening. the alerts at this hour. possible blizzards and tornadoes. this stretches right across the country and moving east. also, the 16-year-old boy who died trapped in his car. he had already called 911. and one dispatcher now under investigation. there's also news tonight about america's most popular national parks, just as the traveling season begins and the new price hikes on the way. more news ahead.
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next tonight, to the major storm sweeping across the country at this hour. blizzard warnings and possible tornadoes. let's get right to rob at the wall. rob? >> reporter: this will wrap up to be a powerful storm, david. we have blizzard warnings up for at least four states with winter storm watches that extend into michigan. snow there, and wind behind this, as well. and severe weather across the nation's heartland, from little rock up through parts of kansas city and down across texas tomorrow. and then pushing towards the southeast on saturday. up to a foot of snow potentially in the cold zone, pumping up the heat out ahead of it. finally for the east, another severe threat on sunday for the southeast. david? >> rob, thank you. the horrifying accident under investigation tonight in cincinnati. 16-year-old kyle plush crushed to death by a folding seat in his van while parked at school. police have now launched an internal investigation after he called 911 twice for help. one dispatcher accused of not passing on the information to police. his father found his body five hours later. and those national park fees i mentioned, they're on the rise. the government today announcing visitors to a majority of parks
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years ago right here on the news, many were being put to work. but there were also many here determined to get those children back into the classrooms they left behind. they are the faces of the children, the victims of the suspected chemical attack in syria, horrifying the world. now seven years into this war, the children inside syria and the children who managed to escape are still suffering. it was nearly four years ago, we first brought you to the lebanon border with syria, where we will never forget boarding that pickup truck with the children. you're going to work on the patatas? >> patatas. >> reporter: yes. they were headed to the fields to work. the child refugees often work here instead of their parents. parents are unable to find work. we witnessed those tractors barrelling by dangerously close. and for so many of the children, after hours of hard labor, we still saw the skip in their step, excited at the chance to attend school. this unicef classroom.
and we asked the children, how many of them came here after work? each of them raising their hands, fresh from the fields. proud of their hard work. 50? the little boy who pointed to his back. it hurts your back? >> a little bit. >> reporter: a little bit, yeah. so, you're trying to save at least part of their childhood? >> exactly. yeah. >> reporter: do you fear, though, that thi i'm david muir, reporting from beirut tonight. and i hope to see you right back here tomorrow. words have consequences, and that's a lesson tesla is learning from the federal government, following its response to an i-team report.
coffee park suffered some of the worst damage during the north bay wildfire. six months later, we revisit santa rosa's coffee park to find the neighborhood literally rising from the ashes. a major change happens tomorrow with credit cards. i not just lost my house, but i lost my best friend. >> tesla's response to the interview with the widow of tesla owner, walter huang was the last straw for the national transportation safety board. >> today the agency kicked tesla off of the probe into the deadly crash, quote, for releasing investigative information before it was vetted by the ntsb. >> the letter released by the
ntsb today shows the company drew criticism from the agency because of information released in an investigation. the i-team investigated a crash in mountain view that killed mawalter hwaun. i rode to the scene in a same model. right after that report, tesla issued a statement confirming auto pilot was on at the time but that huang had his hands the wheel for six seconds. today's letter says this past friday night in a phone call, he warned elon musk about releasing information in an ongoing inst