Trump today: Cancels trip to focus on Syria, lashes out over FBI raid, and more

Posted at 10:04 AM, Apr 10, 2018

Here are updates on what's happening in the White House today, April 10:

Trump cancels South America trip to monitor Syria response
President Donald Trump scrapped a planned trip to South America, set to begin Friday, to monitor the American response to chemical weapons use in Syria, the White House said on Tuesday.

"President Trump will not attend the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia, as originally scheduled," press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "At the President's request, the vice president will travel in his stead. The President will remain in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world."

Trump has been mulling a response to the weekend attack with military leaders and foreign counterparts. He has signaled a decision would come within days.

The trip was set to have been Trump's first visit to South America as President. He was expected to meet fierce resistance to his hardline immigration stances from the assembled leaders.

Trump rages over Cohen raid on Twitter
President Donald Trump declared Tuesday morning that "attorney-client privilege is dead" the day after the FBI raided the office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer and confidant. Trump also tweeted "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!," apparently referencing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Sources inside the White House have told CNN that Trump sees the move against Cohen as proof that Mueller has leaped far beyond the constraints of his original probe into whether his campaign operatives colluded with Russia. One source familiar with the matter told CNN included in the documents authorities seized was information related to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, who alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006 that the White House has denied.

However, attorney-client privilege, which Trump suggested was violated by the raid, does not apply if the attorney-client communication was made in the furtherance of a crime.

Cohen, alongside Trump, is ensnared in a legal battle over the sourcing of a $130,000 "hush agreement" payment to Daniels less than two weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Any involvement by Trump could suggest the payment was an in-kind campaign contribution which was not disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, which would be a violation of federal law, according to Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance attorney who works for Common Cause. The FBI seizure included bank records, a source said.

On Monday, Trump also called the raid a "disgraceful situation" and "an attack on our country." Asked if he would fire Mueller, he said: "We'll see what happens." While that could have the effect of putting a screeching halt to the investigation, some members of Congress, including Republicans, have said that Mueller's termination could lead to impeachment proceedings.

Allies warn of action on suspected Syria chemical attack
US allies have rallied behind President Donald Trump's warning that Syria would pay a "big price" if it is found to have carried out a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma. France on Tuesday became the latest US ally to warn of action if Syria "crossed a red line" in Saturday's suspected chemical attack. According to activist groups, helicopters dropped barrel bombs filled with toxic gas on the town situated on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, killing dozens of civilians and wounding scores more. French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to discuss the situation with Trump in the next 48 hours, government spokesman Benjamin Griveax told Europe 1 radio Tuesday. France has previously warned it would respond with strikes on Syrian government forces, if evidence of chemical attacks was found. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has called the alleged attack "barbaric," is also set to discuss the situation with Trump on Monday, a Downing Street spokesperson told CNN.

US, Russia exchange war of words
The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, traded barbs with US Ambassador Nikki Haley at a Security Council meeting on Monday, saying a US military response could have "grave repercussions."

"Russia is being unpardonably threatened," Nebenzia told the meeting. "The tone with which this is being done is going beyond the threshold of what is acceptable, even during the Cold War."

Haley said Russia, the strongest ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was "covered in the blood of Syrian children."

"History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria," Haley said. "Either way, the United States will respond."

The clock is now ticking on a US response to the attack, after Trump said on Monday that the US would act in 24 to 48 hours.

In a series of blistering tweets on Sunday, Trump warned Russia, Iran and Syria of a "big price to pay" following the attack, slamming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an "animal."

He was joined by other world leaders in condemning the suspected attack, including Turkish Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who earlier this year launched a military offensive against Kurdish groups in Afrin, northern Syria.

Graphic footage shot by rescuers and activists show victims of the attack -- including children -- dead and injured, some ghostly white and foaming at the mouth in makeshift clinics. Others were found suffocated in their homes, according to first responders.

CNN has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the images.