On CNN Tuesday, former CIA official Robert Baer warned that the violence at the Baghdad embassy is just the beginning — and the Trump administration needs to change course or risk a large-scale disaster.
“Do you worry this could escalate, or do you see something entirely different, despite these images?” asked host Brianna Keilar.
“I’m very pessimistic,” said Baer. “The Iranians know that in Iraq, they have us hostage. We have about 5,500 troops there. They are not enough to defend themselves against these Shia militias, which do answer to Tehran. To me it’s like the Trump administration is sending a message, which is, we’ve got you guys. We’re going to shell you if we want to. It’s time to lift the sanctions. It’s time to deal with us. Right now, we don’t have enough troops there to defend our bases, and that’s the facts.”
“The president is accusing Iran of sending these protests,” said Keilar. “What should the administration be doing? What can they do?”
“They have to change their strategic policy in the area,” said Baer. “You simply cannot put our troops and our diplomats in harm’s way and hope for the best. This is what Jimmy Carter did in ’79 when they took the shah out. I don’t know if Trump understands this, but this is what he’s facing. You can pull everybody out, give up Iraq completely and Syria as well, but you can’t continue as you are.”
“Iran promised retaliation because of these strikes on this Iran-backed militia,” said Keilar. “Is this that retaliation, or are you expecting more?”
“I think it’s just the beginning. They’ll continue to escalate,” said Baer. “They’ve got the upper hand in Iraq and again in Syria and Lebanon, and they’re not going to let this go. By the way, this is great news for the Iranians, this demonstration, because it takes off attention from all the protests against Iran that can change the subject. So this is completely in line with their interests.”
WATCH: CNN’s Blitzer corners Trump’s chief of staff for trying to downplay COVID failures
On CNN Thursday, anchor Wolf Blitzer confronted President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows about his failure to follow public health guidelines and demonstrate leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A study from Columbia University ... found that anywhere from 130,000 to 210,000 lives potentially could have been saved over these past eight, nine, ten months with a more robust federal response," said Blitzer. "Why did the president say just this week when he was asked what he would have done differently, he said not much?"
"Well, I can tell you that if your study says that they can save 210,000 lives, I haven't read it, but it would be very difficult to imagine that scenario ... I don't know that any scientist or any doctor would agree with that particular analysis," said Meadows. "What we have here is a clock that keeps talking about the number of cases that we have. It really doesn't talk about the advances that we need to make on the therapeutics, vaccines and treatment side of things."
Veteran reporter Connie Chung recalls her Trump interview that left him stammering
In a CNN interview Thursday, veteran reporter Connie Chung appeared to recall her experience trying to interview Donald Trump long before he even tried to run for public office.
Speaking to host Brianna Keilar, Chung recalled when she was at celebrity golf tournaments with her husband and Trump would say hello to him but pretend that she wasn't even there.
Trump went after Chung with his signature "she's a disaster" language in the 1990s after their interview for her show "Face to Face With Connie Chung," which ran on CBS before she began anchoring the CBS Evening News on Sunday.
‘Worst case of public health malpractice ever’: Epidemiologist delivers brutal epitaph to Trump’s COVID response
A top epidemiologist on Thursday delivered a brutal epitaph to President Donald Trump's handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 220,000 Americans in just eight months.
Appearing on CNN, University of Nebraska Medical Center's College of Public Health dean Dr. Ali Khan pointed to new research from Columbia University claiming that over 100,000 Americans could still be alive today if the United States had enacted stronger measures to control the spread of the virus.
"We always had the tools to get this disease contained," he said. "And if we had used those public health tools -- and not just at the national level, but the national, state, and local level -- we would have had a marked decline in deaths, anywhere from maybe 10,000 to... 160,000 deaths. So, there's a whole lot of people who are dead in America. That was completely preventable."