tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN April 5, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
businesses count on communication, and communication counts on centurylink. president trump launched yet enough evidence-free accusation missile at his political opponents. preponderance vice president kushner might intervene. the lead starts right now. the president publicly blaming syria's dictator for a chemical attack on his own people. he called it an affront to humanity. he called it heinous. he called it horrific, but he didn't say what he might do about it. plus, need a project? give it to president trump's son-in-law, but now the project that put jared kushner's company on the map is in big trouble, so what in the kushner track record shows that he can take on the world's problems? and today is gold star spouses day. politicians are proclaiming how much they appreciate the
sacrifices of war widows and war widowers. we'll introduce you to two gold star wives that say talk is cheap. he need help. good afternoon, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. president trump has made it clear he wants to be president of america and not of the world. he stated this again just this week. now the world is trying to figure out what exactly does that mean? north korea piled on the pressure with a missile launch last night right before president trump is set to host china's president in what mr. trump calls a very difficult meeting with some focus on north korea but nowhere is president trump being tested more than right now than in syria. today the president condemned bashar al assad for the chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of innocent syrians, including babies, and the president again faulted president obama for refusing to attack syria back in september 2013 after drawing that so-called red line on the u.s. of chemical weapons.
>> the obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he saet the red line in the san and when he didn't cross the line after making that threat that set us back a long ways, not only in syria but in many other parts of the world because it was a blank threat. i think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country. >> faulting president obama, of course, for not acting against assad after the red line threat is a perfectly legitimate criticism, but can president trump credibly make it at the time, september 2013? mr. trump was tell president obama don't follow through on your threat. quote, president obama, do not attack syria. there is no upside and tremendous downside. save your powder for another more important day. again, to our very foolish leader, another tweet said. do not attack syria. if you do, many very bad things will happen and from that fight the u.s. gets nothing. president trump said that assad
crossed a lot of lines in this most recent attack. cnn white house correspondent sara murray joins me now. asked if he might take action against assad in syria, we didn't get an answer from president trump. >> reporter: that's right. this is a very interesting moment today, jake, because as this new president is learning like so many before him you may want to focus on your domestic agenda. you may want to put america first, but time and time again the world intervene as it did with its brutal attack in syria, and once again the world is looking to the u.s. to see how they will respond. today we did not get a clear answer. >> the president of the united states and his majesty. >> reporter: president trump sailed into office on tough talk but faced with his first international crisis it's unclear what action, if any, the u.s. will take in response. >> one of the things i think you've noticed about me is militarily i don't like to say where i'm going and what i'm doing. i'm not saying i'm doing anything one way or the other,
but i'm certainly not going to be telling you. >> reporter: after meeting with king abdullah of jordan today in the rose garden, the president threw his own red line on syria, expressing horror about the chemical attack that left women and children dead. >> when you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal, and people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that cross kez many, many lines, beyond a red lines, many, many lines. >> reporter: the primary foegeus of trump's middle east policy, defeating isis while laying the blame for other foreign policy quandaries from syria to nuclear threats at the feet of former president obama, even as he played the blame game today, acknowledging that now he's the one in charge. >> i now have responsibility, and i will have that responsibility and carry is very proudly. i will tell you that. it was now my responsibility.
it was a great opportunity missed. >> reporter: today congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle pointed to syria as trump's first true foreign policy test. already some say he's falling short. >> what he's done with syria is emblematic of what he always does. instead of a policy, instead of action, there's just blame. blame doesn't solve the problem. >> republican senator marco rubio even suggesting that the trump administration emboldened assad to say that he wouldn't seek to overthrow the leader. >> if you're bashar al assad and you read it's no longer a priority of the united states to have you removed from oh, i believe that that is an incentive to act with impunity. >> reporter: today trump offered no criticism of russia's support for assad saying only that his view of assad was evolving. >> my attitude toward syria and assad has changed very much. >> reporter: but the biggest meeting of the week comes tomorrow when trump sits down
with the chinese president at his luxury resort in mar-a-lago. after putting china on notice after north korea's nuclear problem. >> that's another responsibility that we have, and that's called the country of north korea. we have a big problem. >> all of this as staff intrigue continues to swirl in the west wing. the move a demotion for bannon and a victory for h.r. mcmaster who trump tapped in february to lead the council. now at that high-profile press conference in the rose garden today it was noticeable who was in the front row, secretary of state rex tillerson and h.r. mcmaster. not there, steve bannon. jake? >> thanks very much. for more on the latest atrocity in syria let's go to cnn national correspondent ben wedeman live near the border. you spoke to survivors of the attack. what more are you learning? >> well, we're learning that
there's still, jake, pulling bodies out of the rubble and we spoke to some activists just a few minutes ago. they said they discovered seven more bodies in one of the areas that was affected by this incident. now, we got an opportunity to speak to some of the people who were brought over from syria into turkey who had been affected by this chemical secret service agent. we've met one young boy, 13 years old, who told us that when he heard the blast he ran up to his roof. he saw that one of the explosions took place near his grandfather's house. he ran barefoot to find out if something had happened to his grandparents. he found his grandfather slumped over, seemingly dead, asphyxiated and ran outside the fumes and succumbed himself to the fumes and he came too? a turkish hospital. he told us today that 19 of his relatives were killed in that
attack. jake? >> ben wedeman, thank you so much. another major world crisis, north korea, another provocative missile launch coming just before a big meeting with president trump and the leader of china. cnn's will winly joins me now. the big question, i guess, is was north korea trying to send a message ahead of this big meeting between president trump and chinese president xi. >> reporter: well, there's no public statement of saying that from north korea, and chinese officials here in beijing are trying to downplay any connection between this very important presidential summit. it has to be irritating for them that their president xi jinping is often mentioned when north korean leader kim jong-un does something bad, but, of course, as north korea's sole benefactor, if you will, china is often believed to bear responsibility for providing the financial resources for north korea to do this. this latest missile launch described by one senior administration official as a spectacular failure, it only traveled around 37 miles or so, but given the fact that there is a big presidential summit coming
up in mar-a-lago as well as two major events in north korea next week, the big legislative gathering, the supreme people's assembly on tuesday when all the delegates vote unanimously for whatever kim jong-un presents and the most notable holiday of the year, the day of the sun, the president plans events around this. in 2012 they attempted to launch a satellite. analysts believe they could push the button on a nuclear test fanned this happens during the big summit it would force the u.s. and china to speak out about it when they have a lot of other things on their plate including trade and the south china sea. >> will ripley, thank you so much. will congress go along with the president's change in attitude on syria? senate john barrasso of the senate foreign relations committee joins us next. stay with us. i've found a permanent escape from monotony. together, we are perfectly balanced, our senses awake, our hearts racing as one. i know this is sudden,
but they say: if you love something... set it free. see you around, giulia ♪ at crowne plaza we know business travel isn't just business. there's this. 'a bit of this. why not? your hotel should make it easy to do all the things you do. which is what we do. crowne plaza. we're all business, mostly. our 18 year old wase army in an accident.'98.
when i call usaa it was that voice asking me, "is your daughter ok?" that's where i felt relief. we're the rivera family, and we will be with usaa for life. this is pete's yard. and it's been withered by winter. but all pete needs is scotts turf builder lawn food. it's the fast and easy way to a thick green lawn. it takes grass from hungry - to healthy. this is a scotts yard. but they're different.d kind
welcome back to "the lead." let's continue with the world lead and bring in republican john barrasso, a member of the senate foreign relations committee. senator, thanks so much for joining us with us as always. >> appreciate being with us. thank you. >> senator marco rubio, a fellow republican and fellow member of the foreign relations committee h.ytoday drew a straight line between secretary of state rex tillerson suggesting that the u.s. would not be the ones to take assad out of power and the horrific chemical weapons attack
in syria. take a listen. >> it's concerning that the secretary of state, 72 hours ago or a week ago, last friday said, you know, that the future is up to the people in syria on what happens with assad, in essence, almost nodding to the idea that assad was going to get to stay in some capacity. i don't think it's a coincidence that a few days later that we see this. assad believes and sadly he may be right that he can gas his people with sarin, kill children and kill innocent civilians. people will complain. there will be a meeting at the u.n. security council and life will go on and he'll stay in power. he's made that calculation. the russians support him on this. china is indifferent, and i hate to say this, i think he's going to get away with it again. >> do you agree with what senator rubio says both in terms of secretary of state tillerson and also in terms of the general response of the world? >> well, a couple of things. one is this is a horrific attack against humanity. anyone that has seen the video understands that completely. i do believe that assad feels
emboldened, but emboldened because he has russia on the ground right now in syria and because he had russia and china both doing his bidding at the united nations vetoing the efforts that we had in a worldwide effort to put additional sanctions on syria, so i think that assad feels emboldened for a number of reasons, and that's the way i look tat. >> do you think that one of those reasons includes the fact that the secretary of state basically announced that the united states government has a new position and no longer believes that regime change in syria is necessary? >> well, i think president trump made his statement as well of the number of lines that this has cross, the red line talked about by president obama may need to be enforced now by president trump, but assad is emboldened in ways that he hadn't been before, and president trump's job is that much more difficult as "the washington post" editorial said this morning because of the failures of the obama administration in terms of getting rid of the chemical weapons, in terms of basically
allowing russia to be engaged and on the ground in syria. >> okay, but with all due respect, sir, you didn't answer my question. does secretary of state tillerson's statement basically that syria is going to decide whether or not assad is the ruler and the united states is not going to have anything to do with it, which marco rubio says is one of the reasons why assad felt emboldened? >> no, i listened to what nikki haley said today at the united nations, that the united states may need to act and i listened to president trump and his statements today along similar lines. >> while we're talking about nikki haley, listened to her this morning at the u.n. security council. >> and russia has shielded assad from u.n. sanctions. how many more children have to die before russia cares? >> nikki haley taking putin to task there. president trump did not mention russia or putin in his statement. why not, do you think? >> well, i'm not sure why not. look, putin is actively involved
and is providing basically cover for assad through his involvement in syria. it's that much more difficult of a situation now on the ground. i thought nikki haley gave a very strong speech and talked about the need for action, and it's time for people not just at the united nations but around the world to say we need to do more. this activity must stop, and it may be important for the united states to step in. the last time with president obama when he first asserted the red line and then ultimately said any attack would have been just a pinprick, that is not the kind of decisive action that would deter additional attacks like assad has been doing now in syria to his own people. >> senator, stay with us. we're going to take a very quick break. i want to talk about the fact that there is this other burgeoning word crisis having to do with north korea. stay with us. we'll take a quick break. >> thank you.
i will turn this car around right now! there's nobody back there. i was becoming my father. [ clears throat ] it's...been an adjustment, but we're making it work. you know, progressive.com makes it easy for us to get the right home insurance. [ snoring ] progressive can't protect you from becoming your parents, but we can protect your home and auto. [ chuckles ] all right.
welcome back to "the lead." we're sticking with the world lead. still have with us senator john barrasso, member of the senate foreign relations committee. let's turn to north korea and the latest missile launch. response to secretary of state tillerson was surprisingly brief. he said in his paper statement, quote, north korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. the united states has spoken enough about north korea. we have no further comment. translate that for us. what message is the u.s. sending with in a? what message should the u.s. be sending? >> well, the message that we are sending, i believe, is that the north korean leader wants attention, wants credibility, and i think the less you say the better about that. north korea's capacity is increase, and if you want to deter somebody you have to use what we have is our own capacity which is significant, our willingness to use that capacity, our commitment to do that, and i believe we're ready
to do that. we have defensive missiles now deployed into the areas of south korea and in japan, and then you have to communicate your willingness to take action. now we're seeing that in a much different way than we've seen in the previous administration. i think the north korean leader needs to recognize that, but additionally the president of china is visiting with president trump this week. china has a consequential role to play as well in terms of economic relationship with north korea. they can be sending a very strong message and an impact on the north korean economy to slow down the actions that we're seeing with north korea and their efforts for testing and for nuclear weaponization. >> you refer to defensive missiles that the u.s. could deploy or has deployed in the area to respond and to deter north korea from acting, but let me talk about the fact that president trump has said everything is on the table here. the other day he told "the financial times," quote, china will either decide to help us
with north korea or they won't, and he went on to say if china is not going to solve north korea, we will. we wondered what that might mean. we looked into all the president's comments about north korea going back 20 years, and in 1999 "wall street journal" op-ed mr. trump wrote, quote, i would let pyongyang know in no uncertain terms it can either get out of the nuclear arms race or expect a rebuke similar to the one ronald reagan delivered to moammar gadhafi in 1986. in other words, a bombing of north korea. is that on the table, do you think? should it be on the table? >> well, with deterrence, all things are on the table and you don't want your enemy to know exactly what you're going to do. you want them to know you have the capacity to do it which we do. what the president is saying there, we have the commitment if we need to use it and that's what he's communicating as well. that to me sends a strong message to north korea that we have the ability, and we'll do it, if necessary. >> senator john barrasso, always a pleasure to have you on. >> thanks, thanks for having me.
won't replace the full value of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, you won't have to worry about replacing your car because you'll get the full value back including depreciation. and if you have more than one liberty mutual policy, you qualify for a multi-policy discount, saving you money on your car and home coverage. call for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance.
welcome back. more on our politics lead. earlier president trump made yet another shocking allegation for which he proprided absolutely zero evidence. in an interview with the "new york times" the president says he thinks former obama national security advisers dr. susan rice committed a crime. he did not specify what the crime was and, again, he made no mention of any proof. this comes, of course, at the same time that the president distracts attention from the fbi investigation into contacts his associates have had with russian officials last year while that country was interfering in the u.s. presidential election,
according to u.s. intelligence agencies. let bring in cnn's manu raju. dr. rice denies she did anything improper and as you know what rice stands accuse of doing, asking people on the intelligence community to unmask or name the person instead of individual "a" can be routine. how serious are folks on the hill taking the president's accusation that there was a crime? >> reporter: they don't really know what he was referring to, jake, because those documents in which the president appears to be referring to have not been made available to many members of congress. really only a handful have seen them, including the republican chairman of the house intelligence committee devin nunez who raised the incidental conversations and then the potential masking. nunes and a handful of other intelligence leaders have seen those hand i caught up with nunes moments ago and asked him point blank did susan rice
commit a crime and said i'm not going to talk about this any further and other members are waiting to see the documents so there's a lot of questions about what the president is actually referring to, jake. >> one of the people that has seen these documents showing people being unmasked internally within the intelligence committee is adam schiff and he says that the white house is fighting against release the intelligence more broadly. why? >> reporter: yeah. that's the real question that has occurred over the last day or so. yesterday schiff saying he believed that according to his conversation with president trump, a private conversation, that he would actually make that intelligence available to the full house and senate intelligence committee but today adam schiff telling us, jake, earlier that actually the white house staff is now resisting giving that to the full house and senate intelligence committee and when asked the white house for comment they said they did not address mr. schiff's allegation, saying they would provide the
information to the so-called gang of eight which is the top leaders of congress. jake this, comes as other fights are emerging on the intelligence committee over whether the former obama justice official sally yates will be allowed to testify publicly about what she knew about michael flynn's former contacts with russian officials. andre carson who sits on the committee raising concerns that republicans are not letting her testify. take a listen. >> are republicans resisting and allowing her to testify publicly? >> i think that there's a great deal of resistance and a great dissatisfaction amongst the american people. it is time to bring sally yates before the committee and before the people so she can state her case. >> reporter: jake, republican source on the committee saying they are open to having yates and others come by and testify but importantly they are not committing to a public hearing just yet and that's what democrats are demanding. we'll see if that ever happens. >> on the hill for us, cnn's manu raju. thanks so much.
let bring in the political panel to talk about this. bill kristol, let me start with you. what do you make of president trump saying that susan rice he thinks committed a crime? i know of no evidence that she committed a crime and, of course, i'm not even sure with all due respect to the president with he's familiar with what unmasking is. >> what's so annoying about the whole susan rice unmasking controversy is this is resolvable. this is -- these are facts. there are documents. if an intelligence report came to susan rice, said i would like to know who is that was, that's on paper and goes back -- tony knows about with this more recently. goes back to the national security agency and they have a paper record what have they judge and it goes back. we can find out or we shouldn't perhaps see all the documents but some members, some impartial panel of distinguished former judges, attorneys general or whatever can sit down and in a day look at this and say, whoa, this is a little different than what she did, you know, for four years as national security adviser. whoa, this does look like it
might be political or this was routine. i mean, this is -- why are people even saying things and speculating and why is the president of the united states saying what he said? >> i think one of the reasons is to distract from the russia controversy, but tony, let me ask you. one of the things that i've heard from republicans is i don't know why the trump administration is making a deal out of this because all this suggests is there were intelligence reports where there was surveillancech foreigne of and americans kept popping up and whether or not susan rice asked them to be changed from individual "a" to mike flynn the issue -- it doesn't disprove what president trump wants to distract from. >> it goes back to the original wiretapping accusation that the -- that president trump made against president obama which has been totally discrediting and it was very puzzling at the time because had there been surveillance ordered on trump it would have been pursuant to a
court order which would have required showing probable cause, that either a crime had been committed or there was some involvement with foreign agents so why the president wanted to draw attention to that has always been something of a m mystery and susan rice was doing her job. every day senior national security officials in any administration get intelligence brought to them by the intelligence community. the intelligence community decides what to show them, what they think is important. it's not something that you call for, and then in that daily take as it's called presumably there are documents that show there were conversations between people who were being listened to in one way or another that refer to an american citizen. >> and dr. rice would have said who is individual "a," i want to know who that is. >> that would be to give context to what she was reading to make sure she fully understood it but that request goes back to the intelligence community. they decide whether the person is unmasked or not, not dr. rice. >> couldn't susan rice also task the intelligence community with
what i want to know about going on with a, b or c. >> we can learn that. this who all be on paper, right? >> it would be, but, again, at least in my experience in the normal course of business you would get something on a pretty regular basis that picked up incidentally, as we say, an american person, and on some occasions you would want to know who it is just to understand the full context of the intelligence. that's perfect, normal, appropriate, legal. >> diane, let me ask you. you talk to voters all the time, a group that you talk to to understand and try to figure out what they make of this. what are they making of all of this? >> well, the 400 or so people that i talk to on a weekly basis i think you've got three groups. there's group one who are the trump loyalists and they think everything that the president does is perfect and susan rice is a villain and should be in jail. there's another group that are the clinton loyalists who think that this is an enormous problem. how dare the president do this,
and they are pretty devastated and pessimistic. there is a middle group that's emerging that i've called the estranged, that are really, really disappointed in trump and yet are disappointed in the democratic party >> you say they are emerging, so this is since the election they have kind of broken free of clinton and trump loyalty and they are becoming their own group in the middle? >> pretty much. i would say this group really started gelling in the aftermath of the failure of the obamacare legislation, and so when you look at where they are, the democrats that are in there are saying, i don't like trump and i don't like my party because it's the party of no, and there's no inspirational clear message yet. the trump voters that are in there, i mean, we've got to think about who these people are. they didn't necessarily vote for trump. they voted against high taxes, against government bureaucracy, against what they thought was unaffordable health care. >> against hillary clinton?
>> against hillary clinton for sure and against this sense of giving entitlements to people who didn't work as hard as they do. and when obamacare fell apart, the thing that drove them crazy was the process, the notion that everything was rushed. lots of rookie mistakes, et cetera, so when they look at the russian issue, they do tend to almost ignore it because they are saying this is one more mess of lots of people disagreeing with each other, and i want my legislative agenda to move forward and it looks like not much is going to happen other than through executive order and tweeting. >> which might also be part of the president's strategy, that it's a mess. everyone stick around. still much more to talk about after the break including steve bannon being removed from the national security council. stay with us. doing tomorrow -10? staff meeting. noon? eating. 3:45? uh, compliance training. 6:30? sam's baseball practice. 8:30? tai chi. yeah, so sounds relaxing. alright, 9:53?
i usually make their lunches then, and i have a little vegan so wow, you are busy. wouldn't it be great if you had investments that worked as hard as you do? yeah. introducing essential portfolios. the automated investing solution that lets you focus on your life. ...that knew when color whatdidn't go on evenly,t... so it could find balance and achieve its richest state. if a paint could realize the full potential of any color... ...is it still paint? aura interior from benjamin moore®.
welcome back to my political round table who is here with me again. bill kristol, let me start with you on the news that steven bannon, the president's chief strategist at the white house, has been removed from official membership in the national security council. what's going on? >> i think some of the reporting suggests that the president's son-in-law jared kushner wasn't getting along with bannon and thought he was doing damage to his father-in-law and urged that bannon be relegated to a lower profile. that may be true. can't tell and this is a story about h.r. mcmaster, the national security adviser who now clearly has control of the national security council, who is bringing in pretty mainstream republicans and some bipartisan senior directors into that body. i think he's taking charge gradually very quietly of foreign policy to the degree he
can. if the trump administration ends non-disastrously i believe historians will look back saying the day that h.r. mcmaster replaced mike flynn was a huge moment, went from having a national security adviser who is problem mat nick all kinds of ways to a really experienced and savvy professional who is used to assuming responsibility as a general in the army and who has really stepped up on this case, i think. >> let's talk to syria, if we can, on the subject of foreign policy. tony, you were a deputy secretary of state during the john kerry's term as secretary of state. obviously bashar al assad is the one responsible for the actions committed by bashar al assad, but there has been criticism leveled at the obama administration. one tweet from 2014 from the state department from john kerry noted in 2014, today the last 8% of declared chemical weapons were removed from syria. great work done by all involved. apparently assad was hiding some chemical weapons still.
>> two things. the vast bulk of the chemical weapons munitions were moved and destroyed. the vast bulk of the infrastructure that syria had was destroyed and as a result syria no longer represented a strategic threat to countries in the region with keepson and god forbid if that stuff was there today, as horrific as what we've seen to date, how much worse it could be? there were residual chemical weapons left that we were trying to account for. mostly what's happened in the intervening years is they have used chlorine as a weapon which is not -- >> not on the list. >> it's not on the list although its use as a weapon is banned and what we saw in the most recent attack appears to be something well beyond chlorine. appears to be a nerve agent. russia needs to own this. the administration needs to put russia on the spot. it's assad's guarantor there. should be a very security tough resolution and make the russians veto it. second, we should condition any counterterrorism cooperation with weapon on them grounding assad's air force, getting him back to the table and having a real cease-fire at the very
least. i'm also hearing rumblings that the administration is actually contemplating some kind of use of force in syria against assad. that would be an interesting development. >> what does the public make of all of this i? always sense there's a lot of outrage among types of people in a are sitting around this table, including me, and a lot of people in the public who are upset about it but nobody really wants there to be military action because they are exhausted after 20 years of war in which men and women were killed abroad in afghanistan and iraq. >> yeah. well, you know, the public is appalled over all of this. i mean, you don't have to read a lot of newspapers to have a negative reaction to what's going on with those children. i think people are watching this a lot, unlike some of the other issues, like the ultimate reality showers, and, you know, for people who admire donald trump, you know, it's baseball season, and david ogilvy once
said don't bunt. swing for the fences, and i think people who admire trump feel that he doesn't bunt, that he's clear and bold in his decisions and what he does, so those people are very nervous because they know he doesn't want to look like a pushover. that's not his style. so what does he do? how does he finesse this, and how does he -- i mean, this is not a situation in which things can go wrong and he can blame someone else. >> let's hope he chooses wisely whatever it is. thanks one and all for being here. we appreciate. coming up, peace in the middle east. u.s. relations with:rbgt rights, climate changes, some of the things on jared kushner's plate at the white house, but the real estate project that put the president's son-in-law on the map, well, that's in deep trouble. is kushner really ready to take on the world? stay with us.
remember here at ally, nothing stops us from doing right by our customers. who's with me? we're like a basketball team here at ally. if a basketball team had over 7... i'm in. 7,000 players. our plays are a little unorthodox. but to beat the big boys, you need smarter ways to save people money. we know what you want from a financial company and we'll stop at... nothing to make sure you get it. one, two... and we mean nothing. ♪ ♪ now it's time for the money lead. welcome back. fresh off a trip to iraq jared
kushner is back in washington, d.c. as president trump's secretary of, well, everything. the senior adviser son-in-law with no prior diplomatic or government experience has a long to-do list. not only is he working to broker a peace deal in the middle east, he's also working on improving ties with china, improving ties with mexico. don't forget he's also supposed to be innovating the government. meanwhile, the real estate project that put kushner on the map, well, that's bleeding debt. let's bring in cnn northern correspondent cristina alesci. what's the fate of this project and what's going on? >> reporter: well, the building has been struggling to make debt payments of what's goinging on. more context here, jake this. deal was jared's entrance into prime manhattan real estate before the family made smaller-scale investments. for example, condos in new jersey, but jared overpaid for this fifth avenue address, and now the family is trying to find a way to turn the deal around. 666 fifth avenue, a prime piece
of new york city's skyline. just six blocks from central park. jared kushner decided to make it his trophy in 2007. >> this was the deal that put jared on the map. i think every dynasty wants to own a piece of manhattan. >> reporter: kushner offered a big price to get the seller's attention, $1.8 billion, a record at the time, and the 26-year-old ceo of kushner companies borrowed aggressively to get the deal done. >> they paid a peak price. prices for real estate were especially inflated at the time. >> reporter: those prices tanked shortly after the purchase as the financial crisis set in. the entire deal was a miscalculation. >> they had absolutely paid too much at the time. he bought at the very top of the market and then the market turned. our not going to get the rent appreciation you're probably projecting in '07. >> reporter: to raise cash the kushners sold off some of the building's retail space and late her to bring in a partner. ten years later the building is struggling to cover its debt
payments. this analysis by a firm that tracks bank lending the shows the building's revenue has declined since the purchase. >> it's old office space, right? it was built long ago. it's not exactly what new tennants want. >> reporter: earlier this month, a potential savior emerged. chinese insurer considered an investment that could have helped the kushner rescue injured's ill-timed investment, but the deal fell apart. >> now they are left with a massive hole to fill. they are trying to redevelop the buildings as luxury condos at a time when luxury condos are having a lot of trouble. if it goes well for him, he's dodged a bullet and if he doesn't he might lose the building and it could reflect badly on the family. >> reporter: after the deal with the chinese company fell through, the kushners said they were talking to other bidders but they wouldn't say who an analysts aren't counting the kushners out. >> there's a lot of money that wants into new york and that will pay prices that some people will view as, wow, that's unreal. >> reporter: jared kushner sold
his stake in the building to avoid the obvious conflict of interest. the family, after all, might have to take foreign money to make the deal profitable, but kushner's proximity to power might also help attract that money. >> you have someone connected to the president, right? that could bring in lenders, a foreign partner that might be interested in getting an audience with trump. >> reporter: well, the kushners, jake, say that revenue has fallen off intentionally because they plan to redevelop the building so the family is trying to empty out the space, but the original plan in 2007 was to make money off the building shortly after the purchase. the family certainly didn't expect to be losing money for ten years on this property. >> is there any new deal to rescue this building or make the building at least remotely profitable? >> reporter: yes. i'm hearing there is a new deal in the works but it certainly won't be as richly valued as the chinese deal that i mentioned during the piece.
that deal, we're talking, would have value the the building between $9 billion and $12 billion. that means the kushners would have had to sell at $9,000 a square foot in new york city, jake. it's expensive here, but that would be just an incredible record, so a new deal probably will not bring them that kind of cash. >> cristina alesci, thank you so much. >> reporter: of course. >> he served on four combat tours in vietnam. >> in iraq. >> in iraq. >> in afghanistan. honoring gold star spouses in our buried lead. that's what we call our stories not getting enough attention and today we're honoring the women you just saw and thousands of other wives and husbands of fallen service members on this gold star spouses day. lots of politicians are out there tweeting and speechifying about how much they appreciate the sacrifices of these men and women, but we spoke with a couple of widows who say talk is cheap. they need the government to fix a long-standing problem with
their benefits which are due to run out soon if congress does not act. >> he just wanted me to be taken care of. >> olivia hart's husband army sergeant josh mitchell hart died in 2009 during a fire fight with the taliban in afghanistan. >> he wanted me to live a good life for myself so he just wanted me to be happy wherever i was. >> right now an estimated 70,000 military widows and widowers are facing financial battles that their loved ones never intended them to fight. >> i had to buy a car based on what car can i sleep in? >> rows alisalie horton's husba served as an administrator and died of cancer in 1999 while serving his country. both widows rely on the military
benefits their husbands worked for and now a portion of those benefits will expire unless congress votes to fund them again next year. >> then it means deciding what i go without. >> compensation for military widows and widowers comes from both the v.a. and from the department of defense, but the department of defense also enforces a so-called widows tax which means some of those benefits cancel each other out, leaving less than anyone expected. >> even though they are separate and distinct purposes, for every dollar that we receive from the v.a., dod takes away $1, and we are the only federal annuitants that have their benefits offset. >> nine years ago congress sought to offset this with a special survivor indemnity allowance or ssia that helps them with up to $310 a month.
>> $310 in my house means food or heat in the middle of the winter. >> it's actually something that pays for my rent. >> however, that stop gap funding from 2008 will expire next may, 2018 unless more funding can be allocated within the next authorization act. will the pentagon pay that money? they gave us no comment when asked about the fate of these funds. for many of these widows and widowers, some of whom live paycheck to paycheck, the anxiety about these benefits is distressing, and they wonder why it's even on the table. >> this isn't about luxuries. this is about having the ability to meet basic needs. >> for me and all the other surviving spouses it feels -- i guess it just feels like are we really valued? >> they wonder why must surviving widow and widowers who already gave so much to this country be left to wonder what sacrifice they will have to make for it next? >> our husbands served blood and
died. they are just -- it shouldn't be an issue of where's the money? >> that's it for "lead." i'm jake tapper. turning it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now. breaking news. lines crossed. expressing horror at the chemical attack in syria, president trump says the gassing of children crossed a lot of lines. he says syria is now his responsibility as u.s. ambassador to the u.n. nikki haley displays images of young victims saying if the united nations won't act, quote, we may. calling it a crime. offering no proof. president trump says he thinks obama national security adviser susan rice committed a crime in the unmasking of trump aides caught up in the surveillance ever foreign officials. democrats say the white house is trying to distract from the probe of russia's ties to the trump campaign. no seat at the table. president trump removes his chief strategist steve