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CNN NEWSROOM

Republicans Worry White House Turmoil Will Hobble Agenda; Mosul's Front Line Survivors Hide Among the Dead; Interview with Representative Francis Rooney; Paris Police Shoot Attacker Outside Notre Dame; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 6, 2017 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Anyone you ask will say that they would prefer that the president not write as much as he is on Twitter right now. His own staff is trying to throw up smoke and say, you know, don't even pay attention to it, it's not the real policy here, to which the president responded this morning, like, oh, yes, it is, this is honest and unfiltered.

You know, yes, it may have worked in the campaign here, but it's clearly causing some agitates for Republicans.

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, at the end of the day, the president understands that he has the bully pulpit, that he's going to continue to talk to the American people. If the members of Congress cannot forge legislation and put forth an agenda without being reminded what the president tweets, 140 characters is not going to derail what the entire Congress or the Republican caucus is going to do. They've got to have a backbone.

They have got to do the things that they have been elected by the people to do. So you can have protests, you can have things on the outside, but you have a commitment to the people, and you cannot be distracted by what the president tweets or does not tweet. You have an action, you have an agenda to do, and they have to do it. But the president is going to continue to do it.

Would they rather him not tweet? Probably, but would the president rather them actually get on board and pass things? Yes, he would.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Symone, let me ask you. Look, we have the latest daily tracking poll numbers, Gallup has this president at 36 percent approval rating. So if you're a Republican lawmaker and you're looking at it, go down and down and down and down, what are you thinking about 2018? Because when you look historically, Gallup did something cool and they looked back to 1946. When a president's job approval rating is above 50 percent, the average number of seats that his party loses in a midterm election is 14, right? Not a lot.

When the approval rating is below 50 percent, they lose 36 seats. Republicans can only afford 24. So you're sitting at home, you're saying I want to support my president and the Republican agenda, but I also want to stay employed.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And you know, look, let's remember, when Donald Trump got elected, he was not popular. His approval rating has never been sky high, if you will, but it is plummeting. And I think we're going to start to see more Republican legislators speak out against the president if these numbers continue to fall.

Look, 36 percent is low, but I think people are waiting to see if it goes 31 percent, 30 percent, and if we get to that point where it's 31 percent, 30 percent, potentially 29 percent low approval rating for this president, you're going to see lots of Republican lawmakers break ranks.

They are in hot water at home. This health care bill is not popular. Over this last recess, Republican lawmakers, especially in the Senate, were watching to see how folks were being received at home, what their constituents were saying. And if this Republican Congress continues to move on bills and legislation that is wildly unpopular with the people, folks are going to find themselves out of a job come November 2018.

HARLOW: Well, if you ask Lindsey Graham, the Republican senators aren't going to move on this bill. He says this thing is not happening this year. Guys, thanks.

SANDERS: Lindsey Graham's trying to keep his job.

HARLOW: Thank you, Paris Dennard, Symone Sanders. We appreciate it.

Coming up, something that you just have to see. Trapped in the middle of the fight against ISIS, a little girl found alive hiding among the corpses. Parents going hungry to feed their children just flour and water. A CNN exclusive report. Arwa Damon is on the front lines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:37:26] BERMAN: Just hours ago, U.S.-backed forces launched a new offensive to drive ISIS out of Raqqa, that's the Syrian city the terror group considers its capital, but as that fight just begins, the battle to recapture Mosul in Iraq rages on, and so does the suffering for civilians there.

CNN is on the front lines as families run for their lives. The United Nations says more than 700,000 people have been displaced.

HARLOW: And those are the people who could get out. Remember, ISIS is holding hostages inside of the city, including nearly 100,000 children trapped in extremely dangerous and deadly conditions.

In a CNN exclusive report, our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, speaks with those running from the devastation. We want to warn you, these images are incredibly hard to see.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They stumble towards the Iraqi troops. They are breathless. Their voices are shaking from fear and shock. They use single sentences that seem to hardly encompass the scope of

what it is that they have actually just been through.

And as ISIS is squeezed into even smaller territory, the civilians they are holding hostage are running are out of food. It was only enough to feed the children, to try to keep them from crying out. She and her husband, they went hungry.

On the front line helping the Iraqi Army is Dave Eubanks. He's American ex-special forces and with his team of free ranger volunteer medics. Just days earlier, ISIS massacred dozens of people who were just trying to make a run for it, and Dave was called to the scene.

DAVE EUBANKS, EX-SPECIAL FORCES: We saw these 13 bodies and we saw movement. Here they are. Look at that wall.

[10:40:03] DAMON: A man alive and a little girl who creeps out from under her dead mother's hijab where she'd been hiding for two days, hugging her mother's corpse. They use the tank for cover to move out, dragging those they just saved past the corpses of those who perished. The little girl, she has not yet spoken, not a single word. No one even knows her name. The next morning, they spotted even more movement.

EUBANKS: We ran and got across the road and went through rubble like this, and ISIS is on three sides of us. We could hear them talking, crawled through, found the girl up the street ISIS is shooting. We threw a line to her. She tied herself, three days, no sleep, no water, wounded.

DAMON: Much of western Mosul, it's already apocalyptic and the fight for the last square kilometers is going to be so much worse than anything we've seen before. There's no past blueprint for this kind of warfare. No one has fought an enemy like ISIS holding civilians hostage in a dense urban battlefield.

We go to a clinic that's further back from the front line. There's an old man who can't speak from the shock. And a little girl. Her name is Maria, she's 10, and there with her older sister (INAUDIBLE). They say a mortar hit their house just as they were trying to make a run for it. One sister they know is dead. They saw her lifeless body. The others are buried under the rubble of their home, but ISIS still controls the area.

The reality of what she's just said perhaps not quite sinking in or maybe she's just looking for any distraction from a loss that she cannot yet fully comprehend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And Poppy and John, it's really when you look at people's faces like those children's, the different expressions that go and play across them that we really just begin to understand the real depth of the trauma of what it is that they have been through.

The United Nations is saying that they believe that around 100,000 children are living in very dangerous conditions, not just in the small pocket of Mosul that ISIS still controls, but elsewhere as well. And ISIS is doing things like using drones filled with explosives to not just target the Iraqi Security Forces, but also deliberately target gatherings of the civilian population.

BERMAN: All right, Arwa Damon for us in Iraq. Thanks so much, Arwa. A wonderful reporting. Important to see. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Just incredible reporting, Arwa. Thank you.

We are also getting some breaking news into us here at CNN just now. We know only a little bit, but here's what we can tell you out of the heart of Paris. There is a police operation under way right now in the square in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. Of course that huge iconic cathedral in the middle of Paris.

The Paris police have tweeted, asking the public to avoid the area. Again, a police operation under way in the square in front of Notre Dame. We'll get you more information, we'll bring it to you right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:48:15] BERMAN: All right, happening now, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, he was voting in the New Jersey political primaries which happened today. He was asked about his political ally, President Trump, and his use of Twitter. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think it's a growing distraction his use of social media and the feud with the London mayor?