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Investigation into Explosions Targeting Sports Team; US and Russia Meeting Face-to-Face; Spicer's Wrong Choice of Words; United Airlines P.R. and Stocks Down; Wanted: Secret Service. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 12, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The top Russian and American diplomats set for a sense face-to-face after recent friction over Syria.

The investigation into the explosions that targeted a bus full of football players in Germany.

And the White House spokesman misspeaks again. Sean Spicer makes a rare public apology after saying Hitler never used chemical weapons.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow for what may be a very difficult meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They will be discussing Syria after U.S. missile strikes on an air base there.

The U.S. blames President Assad for a deadly chemical attack on his people. Tillerson flew to Russia after the G-7 meeting of foreign ministers in Italy, where he criticized Russia's support of the Assad's regime. Take a listen.


REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Russia has really aligned itself with the Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah. Is that a -- is that a long-term alliance to serve Russia's interest? Or would Russia prefer to realign with the United States with other western countries and Middle East country who is are seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis.


CHURCH: So let's bring in CNN's Paula Newton now for the very latest from Moscow. So Paula, we just heard those comments from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he is pushing for Russia to dump its support for Syria's president, and instead, align itself with the U.S. and others. But how likely is it that this would ever happen? What could it possibly take?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's certainly not likely in the short-term. We are about an hour away from that meeting happening with Tillerson and Sergey Lavrov here. And the point that Rex Tillerson wants the get to is, OK, Russia we heard you say before, your support from Assad is not unconditional. What does that mean? What would you accept?

And what Russia will likely accept is some kind of government in Syria that is still in any way, shape or form, pro-Russian but not the Assad regime. This is not going to happen anytime soon, Rosemary.

But they want to know is the parameters under which that Russia would come to the table with the U.S. and its allies and actually look beyond the Assad regime.

Having said that also, they will discuss of course the fight against ISIS and at least, Rosemary, that will put them on common ground where they can agree that that is a fight that needs to continue.

I mean, one of the criticisms against Russia is always been that they have done more to hit the Syrian opposition forces as opposed to ISIS. And certainly, Russia on the ground, in Syria, has transformed that entire conflict by backing up those Syrian forces.

Again, the United States will look to Russia and say, OK, how about it, now? Your foothold in the Middle East is cemented; we agree that you need a seat at the table. When you come to the table, what are you looking for?

Still waiting, though, Rosemary, key thing is whether or not Vladimir Putin will meet with Rex Tillerson. It was not on the agenda, although the State Department have been planning for it. The Kremlin says they still have no word on whether or we are going to see that meeting happen.

CHURCH: Yes. Rex Tillerson, of course saying that he is very much open to it. Right. So, what all can Tillerson and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, achieve in their talks given this tense relationship between the two nations?

NEWTON: Well, there are two things that Russia is looking at, which puts them in a bit of a position of weakness. One is the issue about the chemical weapons. You know, Rosemary, they were responsible for making sure, they really guarantor to make that Syria had gotten rid of its chemical weapons.

Well, chemical weapons are clearly there. The Russians are saying that the rebels who may have likely orchestrated that attack, either way they will look to that.

But also what's key here for Russia, there are two things aggravating them. This campaign in Syria has really burdened the Russian military. They want t see an end to this. They can't continue to fight endlessly. And those sanctions, Rosemary.

The sanctions that are already in place because of Ukraine. Russia obviously would like to move to a point in the next few months, years, where some of those sanctions if not all of them are lifted and that is what Rex Tillerson can hold out as a bargain for Russia.

CHURCH: All right. Our Paula Newton, live there in Moscow, just after 10 o'clock in the morning and watching very closely to see the outcome of these talks. Many thanks.

Well, German police are searching for a motive for an attack on the Borussia Dortmund's football team.

[03:05:03] The team's bus was hit with three explosions on Tuesday, slightly wounding one player.

Prosecutor say a handwritten letter was found near the scene claiming responsibility for the blasts.

And our Atika Shubert joins us now live in Berlin. So Atika, what more are police saying about who could be behind this attack?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they haven't really given many more details, in fact, no details about that letter that was apparently found at the scene. Not even mentioning what language it might be in or what kind of claim it was.

So, we are hoping to get more on that later. There was a report from police last night, that an additional explosive had been found. That turns out to not be true. Police this morning said it was simply some garbage that had been left behind.

And so, it looks as though, it was simply those three blasts that occurred outside the team bus. Now, we still don't have any details from police on what exactly caused the explosion, how strong the blast was.

From the photos you can see, that the glass was shattered, and some of the plastic there peeling off. But it does not seem to have damage the rest of the bus. So, for now, it seems that the match is going to be rescheduled for today later this afternoon. And that the team will be gathering for practice.

This is according to the Borussia Dortmund team, they will be gathering for practice this morning but fans will not be allowed to watch the practice which is normally what's planned but this time for security reason. They will be kept away from the football pit as they practice.

CHURCH: All right. Understood. And Atika, why would the Borussia Dortmund club be targeted?

SHUBERT: Well, you know, we don't know. I mean, police made clear that they believe this is a targeted attack on the team. But we have no idea at this point why. Or even what kinds of explosives were used.

I mean, we have seen football fan violence in the past. But this kind of a targeted attack, we haven't really seen recently. And I -- you know, it's important to mention here that perhaps this was a tactic to scare the team. Well, a player was injured. Marc Bartra, the Spanish defender did have fractured bone in his wrist and there was a cut glass.

And clearly, he is shocked by what happened as well. So he will not be playing in today's match and the team has been undergoing, you know, counseling to figure out how to process essentially what happened.

CHURCH: All right. Our Atika Shubert, joining us live from Berlin, just after 9 in the morning there. Many thanks to you.

Well, the Washington Post reports the FBI and Justice Department obtained a warrant to monitor the communications of a Trump campaign adviser.

Law enforcement and other sources tell the Post, a judge ruled there was reason to believe Carter Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, namely Russia.

Page tell CNN this, "It shows how low the Clinton/Obama regime went to destroy our democracy and suppress dissidents who did not fully support their failed foreign policy. It will be interesting to see what comes out of when then unjustified basis of those FISA request are more fully disclosed." (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)


KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: ... supposed to be the highlights from UEFA Champion's Leagues but instead a series of explosions was hit the coach carrying the German team, Borussia Dortmund has made the action on the pitch. And there after thought, the German team confirmed that the defender Marc Bartra broke his wrist and in an incident near the hotel and required hospital treatment.

The match will now be played at Dortmund at Westfalenstadion at 6.45 German time on Wednesday. Police confirmed there were three explosions in the area of the team bus.

In a press conference, the head of the Dortmund police said there was a targeted attack on the team. The state prosecutor said that the letter found in the scene was being examined as part of the investigation.

All that overshadowing the night of the quarterfinal between Juventus and Barcelona, which ended in a first leg thrashing for the Catalans. Juve got off to a flying start, their young player Paulo Dybala put the host ahead, he wasn't done there adding another just past the 20- minute mark and the icing on the cake.

Giorgio Chiellini with a third, 3-nil, Juventus the final score, a seventh clean sheet in nine games and the Champions League this season for the Italians, Barca need another miracle if they to progress in the semifinals.

And that's a look at all your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over 600,000 jobs already in a very short period of time and it's really going to really start catching on now, because some of the things that we've done are big league and they are catching on.


CHURCH: Welcome back. Well the U.S. secretary of state's visit to Moscow comes as other U.S. officials accused Russia of covering up Syria's deadly chemical attack. Defense Secretary James Mattis is blaming the attack o Syria, but stop short of saying Russia was complicit.

But U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley believes Moscow must have known chemical will be used.


JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It's very clear that the Assad regime planned it, orchestrated it and executed it. And beyond that, we can't say right now. We know what I just told you. We don't know anything beyond that.

NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I think that if you look at the fact that when this information came out, they were so quick to defend. They didn't look shocked. They didn't look surprised. They were so quick to defend.

And then, the evidence comes out. And we see exactly what it is. And we know exactly what the environment was. Then you realize.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They knew what was going on.

HALEY: I think that they knew. Yes.


CHURCH: I want to go to CNN's Ian Lee, now live in Istanbul. Of course at this stage, we don't know who knew what, but we do understand that Turkey is saying that it has evidence to prove that Sarin gas was used in that chemical attack in Syria. What are you learning about that and what is this evidence?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, right after this attack took place, dozens of people affected by it were taken to Turkey for medical treatment.

[03:15:01] Samples were taken from there. Three people also died in Turkey from this attack and an autopsy was conducted in front of the World Health Organization and Turkey is saying, from those samples collected, that is how they came to the conclusion that Sarin gas was used in this attack.

CHURCH: And Ian, we've seen mixed messages coming out of the United States on what should happen now to President Assad in the wake of this chemical gas attack. What does Turkey want to see happen?

LEE: Well, after the U.S. strikes in Syria, Turkey said, that it was an important step. And they welcomed it. But they say that the U.S. needs to go further. Turkey said, that they are ready to do whatever is necessary to end the war in Syria. And also, oust Assad.

They are calling for greater measures to be taken by the United States, by the international community to oust Assad, but the United States has -- after these attacks, hasn't been as forthcoming of what other steps they are going to take. Are there military actions or what they are going to do next.

We do have the secretary of state in Russia. They are going to be talking about that. But Turkey, from the very beginning has taken a hard line that Assad must go. They want more military action. It's just, need to wait and see if the United States is going to follow suit or really, what the United States is going to do next.

CHURCH: So, Turkey wants to see the U.S. move forward on more military action. What does Turkey want to do in terms of this?

LEE: Well, Turkey is going to play it cautiously right now. They have been supporting rebels inside Syria. They have troops inside Syria just over the border. But, they haven't signaled what they are going to do further.

There are Turkish troops looking across the battlefield at Syrian troops and there's not been any clashes yet. But again, Syria, along with their allies in the Gulf say that Assad must go and they want more pressure against the Syrian regime, but they are really waiting for the international approval. Then that's going to be crucial. Right now, it doesn't look like they are going get it, at least not yet.

CHURCH: All right. Our Ian Lee, bringing us the reaction from Turkey in eastern Istanbul, where it is about 10.17 in the morning. Many thanks to you.

Well, White House spokesman Sean Spicer is apologizing for saying even Adolf Hitler didn't sink to using chemical weapons during World War II. Spicer was trying to draw a contrast with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And reporters gave him a chance to explain.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hitler didn't sink to the level of using chemical weapons. What did you mean by that?

SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think when you come to Sarin gas, there was no, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.

I mean, there's clearly. I understand, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. There was not in the -- he brought them into the Holocaust center. I understand that. But I was saying in the way that Assad used them where he went in to towns and dropped them down to innocent into the middle of town. It was brought -- so the use of it. I appreciate the clarification. That was not the intent.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Spicer spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer later in the day and offered a full apology.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Did you not know, Sean, that there were gas chambers where the Nazis brought Jews and others, gypsies and homosexuals and others, mostly Jews, to slaughter them in these poisoned gas chambers at Birkenau near Auschwitz and other -- and other death camps?

SPICER: Yes, clearly I'm aware of that. Again, as I said, initially, there's no attempt to clarify this. The point was to try to talk about the use of aircraft, as a means by which Assad was using this to gas his people. But it was a -- it was a mistake to do that.


CHURCH: All right. Sean Spicer talking to our Wolf Blitzer there.

We move on to another big story we are covering, a United Airlines passenger is being treated at a hospital in Chicago after he was violently dragged off of a fully booked fight. Videos of the disturbing event have gone viral, forcing the CEO to issue a third statement apologizing for what he calls a truly horrific incident.

Alison Kosik has the latest.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the video that stunned the world. United Airlines passenger, Dr. David Dao, being dragged off and bloodied on an overbooked flight. The incident and response sparking outrage around the world on social media with threats to boycott the airline.

[03:20:01] Turning into a P.R. nightmare for the third biggest airline in the U.S. by passenger traffic. Today, almost 48 hours after Dao was physically removed from the flight, an apology from United CEO Oscar Munoz.

In a statement he calls what happened "truly horrific" and pledging "we will work to make it right." But Munoz had nothing but praise for his customers last year.


OSCAR MUNOZ, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF UNITED AIRLINES: All good relationships are built on trust, we know that and we know that we have to earn yours every day on every flight.


KOSIK: But his response to Dao's removal has been widely criticized. Initially he apologized for having to re-accommodate him and three other passengers. Then in an e-mail to staff Monday night he promised to stand by his employees and expressed regret over the situation but he also called Dao "disruptive and belligerent" and said "employees followed established procedures."

When Oscar Munoz became United CEO in September 2015, he worked not just on building trust with customers. But building it with his employees too.


MUNOZ: My first big strategic move was to determine that we lost the trust of our employees, so how do we regain the trust of them and therefore our customers.


KOSIK: P.R. Week Steve Barrett recognized the strides Munoz made in under two years.


STEVE BARRETT, EDITOR IN CHIEF, PR WEEK: He rebuilt trust, he signed all the union deals ahead of schedule, which is unprecedented the share price was up. The customer service levels were up and he was well-liked by staff.


KOSIK: Munoz made such a name for himself, P.R. Week in March awarded him the coveted communicator of the year award. An irony critics now are quick to point out. But Barrett said, Munoz would not get the award today.


BARRETT: It's fair to say, if we awarded it now, he wouldn't give it to him because I don't think the response has not been up to scratch and hasn't been good enough.


KOSIK: The 57-year-old came from modest beginnings and worked his way up. He was the first of nine children in his family to graduate from college and five weeks in to his position at United, he had a heart attack and underwent a heart transplant only to come back months later.

But whether he can come back from this is still up in the air. United Airlines stock lost $250 million in market value just today.

This is truly a global problem for United, there's been a lot of outrage on China's version of Twitter after seeing Dr. Dao, who is Vietnamese being dragged off the plane. China is one of United's most important growth markets, so their PR cleanup has to go beyond just the United States.

Alison Kosik, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: And the passenger reportedly claimed that he was only being removed from the flight because he was Chinese. And now, there's major backlash in China, as we heard there.

Well, United Airlines is the largest U.S. carrier.

Matt Rivers is in Beijing with the latest.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This incident isn't just a U.S. issue. It's also making a major impact here in China. United carries more passengers between the United States and China than any other airline. We are talking thousands of people per day.

So, the airline will need to pay attention to the angry reactions from people here. Passengers on board the plane reported the man shouted he was only being removed because he was Chinese. And that has struck accord.

"You see the blood in his mouth," says this man. "That's obviously wrong. Of course, I'm angry as a Chinese," said another man. This airline is very dangerous. Chinese social media is also ablaze with comments calling for a United boycott.

On Weibo, China's version of Twitter, one user wrote, quote, "It's straight up discrimination." "Let me tell you a joke," wrote another, "the U.S. is the best country in the world for people's rights."

This user said, "I'm not going to fly with United again in my lifetime."

Tens of millions people have weighed in, nearly all upset, quickly making it Weibo's top trending topic. United has said the man was chosen for removal not because of his ethnicity, but because of things like connecting flights and how long passengers would be delayed.

For now, that explanation is falling a bit flat here. China is the world's second largest aviation market and it is still growing. So people that are upset over United's treatment of that passenger could really put a dent in the company's bottom line if they choose to spend their money somewhere else.

Matt Rivers, CNN, in the Beijing International Airport.

CHURCH: Toshiba's foray into nuclear power may have poisoned the company for good. The Japanese conglomerate said it has substantial doubt about its ability to continue. Toshiba reported a net loss of nearly $6 billion in the fourth quarter of last year.

The company has been brought down by it's U.S. nuclear business, Westinghouse Electric which file for bankruptcy protection last month. The subsidiary suffered billions in losses due to cost overruns and construction delays at two U.S. nuclear plants.

[03:25:04] Well, protests keep escalating against the Venezuelan president, this time Nicolas Maduro was riding in a caravan in an event supposed to be attended mainly by his supporters.

But this video shows some people were throwing objects at the president. The country is going through a brutal economic crisis, the opposition is demanding elections and calls Mr. Maduro a dictator.

Well, President Trump is promising again to solve North Korea's nuclear threats with or without China.

Next, why that pledge is so hard to keep. And European security and how much it costs will be on the agenda when President Trump meets with NATO's secretary general. We'll have more on that when we return.


CHURCH: And a very warm welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.

The U.S. secretary of state is in Moscow to meet with Russian's foreign minister. Syria will be the big focus after last week's U.S. missile strikes there. Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom the U.S. blames for deadly chemical attack on his own people. Russia denounces the U.S. strikes and said the chemicals belonged to the rebels.

Police say they may have a lead in an explosives attack on a German football club, Borussia Dortmund. Officials are trying to figure out if a handwritten letter claiming responsibility for the blast is legitimate.

[03:30:01] Explosives went off near a bus carrying the team to a home game, slightly wounding one player.

The White House spokesman is apologizing for saying Hitler didn't even sink to using chemical weapons during World War II. Sean Spicer said he mean to draw a contrast with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Spicer says he knows Hitler killed millions in gas chambers and his remarks were a mistake.

Well, U.S. President Donald Trump is promising again to stop North Korea's nuclear threats with or without China. The U.S. has limited options to do that and some of them have failed before.

The president is also trying to gain more leverage over China. Mr. Trump said, he told China's President Xi Jinping, Beijing could get a better trade deal if they solve the North Korean problem.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul, South Korea. So, Paula, what's the likely reaction from China to this effort to establish some leverage and some move toward affecting what North Korea may do in the future?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, China still of the opinion that there should be negotiations to fix the problems on the Korean Peninsula and certainly thing that Beijing wants to see more U.S. assets, more U.S. military hardware coming into the neighborhood.

But that's exactly what we are seeing at this point. We know the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier strike group is heading back into Korean waters it could be as early as today, according to some unofficial estimates of how long it would take that aircraft carrier to get back in to Korean waters.

It was here just a few weeks ago, and there was a media day showing that the military drills that the U.S. and South Korean air forces and navys were carrying out together. And certainly this is something that China and North Korea will be angry about. They don't want to see more of this U.S. military hardware here.

In fact, we're already hearing over the recent months from China their displeasure with the THAAD missile defense system that's in the process of being deployed here in South Korea as well. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Paula, what are officials in the U.S. and South Korea saying about possible signs of preparation for any type of test, nuclear or otherwise, any activity seen?

HANCOCKS: Well, certainly from satellite imaginary we are seeing, according to groups like 38 North, the monitoring group in the United States, that there is more activity in Punggye-ri, for example, around the area where these underground nuclear tests have been carried out in previous years.

But we did hear last year, in fact, just after nuclear tests number five, we heard from South Korean officials that they believed North Korea were ready to carry out number six from any moment. They said and all that was lacking at that point was the green light from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un himself has made it abundantly clear that he will continue with his missile and nuclear program. So, certainly through satellite imaginary, there is a lot more -- a lot more eyes in the United States according to U.S. officials on this satellite imaginary, trying make sure that they don't miss any signals whatsoever.

But, they've also made it very clear, as they have here in Seoul, it is almost impossible to detect exactly when a nuclear test is going to happen. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right, many thanks to our Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Seoul in South Korea, where it is just after 4.30 in the afternoon.

Donald Trump will meet with NATO's secretary general at the White House Wednesday. CNN military analyst lieutenant Mark Hertling joins me now to talk more about this. Always great to chat with you. Thanks for being with us.

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Same here, Rosemary. Thank you.

CHURCH: So this meeting comes at a critical time, as relations between western powers and Russia are extremely strained right now. What is likely to come out of this meeting and what are you hoping to see?

HERTLING: Well, as you know, NATO is a very complex organization with 28 different members all with their own national security implication. So this will be a critical meeting for a president who has shown himself to be more transactional than transformational in his leadership style.

But Mr. Stoltenberg is going to come here to talk about support for NATO. And having been in that organization multiple times in my career, I know just the kinds of things they do and how critically important they are for security not only in Europe, but outside that country and other regions surrounding Europe.

CHURCH: And on Tuesday, Mr. Trump announced his support for accepting Montenegro into the alliance, what does that signal to Russia, do you think?

HERTLING: Well, it's another signal to Russia. And I think interestingly enough, this juxtaposition of Mr. Trump meeting with the NATO foreign minister and Mr. Tillerson meeting with Mr. Lavrov and perhaps Mr. Putin simultaneously is going to show some interesting dynamics.

[03:35:12] Because I think throughout the last five or six years, Russia and Mr. Putin have been extremely critical of NATO, especially NATO expansion. They have suggested that it's an encroachment on their regional hegemony and they don't like it very much.

And I think, some of the things that have been associated with their attacks into non-NATO countries like Georgia, Ukraine and other places that are part of frozen conflicts throughout Europe, are going to be certainly topics of discussion in Moscow. And the integration of Montenegro into NATO at this particular time is going to cause some angst for Mr. Putin, I'm sure.

CHURCH: Right. And Mr. Trump has often complained about the disproportionate contribution that American makes to NATO. Let's just give our viewers some of the numbers here. NATO's official guideline say member states should spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. But only 5 of the 28 countries in the alliance, the U.S., Greece, Estonia, the U.K., and Poland actually meet that target.

The other 23 countries lag behind and those include France, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Canada. So, looking at NATO's total defense spending. The U.S. contributed an estimated $664 billion in 2016. That's more than double the amount all the other 27 NATO countries spent between them. Even though their combined GDP tops that of the U.S.

So, mark Hertling, does Mr. Trump have a point perhaps, and do you think this will come up in the meetings in the hours ahead?

HERTLING: It certainly will. But that's a disproportionate statistic, Rosemary. And as you know, the United States pays for their defense budget for a world view. That's not just the contributions to NATO, that is a percentage of defense budgets.

Because we are involved in many other places in the world our budget is going to be much higher as seen by those figures. But Mr. Trump does have a point, and this has been sort of the drum beat from the last several administrations, about getting some of the NATO countries, especially the more, the older NATO countries, if you will, on that last chart you showed, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and France.

The ones who have been in NATO for the longest are playing -- paying a much smaller sum than even some of the newer members of NATO like the Baltics, Croatia, and Romania, some of the ones who have joined since they are paying more than some of the older mentors -- members. The ones who have come from the former eastern bloc.

So those are all very good arguments to try and get people to pay for their defense budget.

CHURCH: All right. We certainly appreciate that clarification. General Mark Hertling, always a pleasure to chat with you.

HERTLING: Always a pleasure with you, Rosemary. Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, President Trump attacked his predecessor for playing too much golf, but Mr. Trump's own golf trips are adding up in a very big way. What its costing taxpayers. We'll take a look.


CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom.

Well, President Donald Trump says he is all about government cost cutting. But he is racking up huge travel and security expenses despite his rhetoric about frugality. If he keeps it up, Mr. Trump's travel expenses in one year will surpass President Barack Obama's cost during his entire presidency.

Sunlen Serfaty tells us where all the money is going.


SPICER: The president plans to spend a Easter holiday in Florida.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Since becoming president, Trump has spent six weekends, 21 days at his club in Florida. What he's dubbed the southern White House. With an estimated total price tag to taxpayers a whopping $21.6 million.

That puts the president on pace in his first year to surpass former President Obama's spending on travel for his entire eight years.


SPICER: Presidents always travel.


SERFATY: Pushing the White House on the defensive.


SPICER: The president wherever he goes, he carries the apparatus of the White House with us. That is just something that happens.


SERFATY: Then there's the White House north. While Trump has not traveled to New York City as president yet, it's still Melania Trump and their son Baron primary residence. Costing them $127,000 and 146,000 a day to protect them according to New York City officials.

Meantime, Trump adult children have pushed the logistical and financial needs even more. From Vancouver to Dubai, Uruguay and Aspen, Colorado, they are on the go, vacationing, working for the Trump organization and bringing with them their own secret service contingents.

Such a large family, combined with the typical key White House staff, amounts to a doubling of those protected under the Trump administration.


JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That is unprecedented. It's not unattainable to protect them all, it's just unprecedented.


SERFATY: The secret service is feeling the strain and is pulling dozens of agents from around the country from their normal criminal investigations to work for two-week rotations to protect members of the Trump family.

In a statement to CNN, the Secret Service says, "Regardless of the number of protectees or where the assignment takes us the Secret Service remains an expeditionary law enforcement agency that continues to adapt and evolve based on the mission at hand."

But on Capitol Hill last week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm deeply concerned that the Secret Service is being stretch to its breaking point.


SERFATY: The homeland security secretary admitting the burden.


JOHN KELLY, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: They need a lot more agents. Not just because of the Trump era, if you will, although that is additional as he's got a lot of children and grandchildren.


SERFATY: Forcing him to request additional funding from Congress soon.


KELLY: We need a larger Secret Service, because we need to get some of these people a little bit of time at home with their families.


SERFATY: Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Queen Elizabeth had a close encounter with a very special dignitary, an elephant. The British Monarch and Prince Philip will visiting a zoo near London to open a center for elephant care.

And in a fun moment, she fed bananas to the elephant named Donna. Another member of the herd is eight month and is named Elizabeth. She was born a day before the queen's 90th birthday last year. How about that.

Well, a popular fast food chain may be facing a big pay-out in chicken nuggets, of course, we will talk to the teenager leading the charge. That's next.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Weather watch time. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

A very wet weather across parts of eastern Texas in the last 24 hours. It's produced at least 150 millimeters in the few spots. What is left in these storms here beginning to migrate off to southern Texas northern Mexico into the Chihuahua Desert.

You are going to see some isolated storms in the afternoon hours of Wednesday and eventually going in to Thursday as well. I notice the frontal boundary that skirts across the eastern coast line there could bring in a few showers also toward the southeast.

Here is what it looks like in the next 36 hours the heaviest rainfall centered back over western Texas from midland towards Amarillo and around the western United States into British Columbia, a couple of very active storms systems here is going to begin to roll on in, generally just north of northern California into Oregon and Washington.

But if you want decent snow, and plenty of it to go around and fresh one at that across the high Sierra, the Cascades and also the Siskiyou of that region.

Vancouver, about 11 degrees. Winnipeg, keeping it sunny and 14. Spring definitely in a place that is well deserved, beginning to return back in the forecast. Chicago, a very comfortable 17 degrees day. And Atlanta keeping it at 27, almost every single day this week for the temps there.

And notice in Nassau, into the upper 20's, in Kingston, around 30 degrees. In Caracas, coming in at 31 with a few storms possible as well. And as you work your way towards Brasilia and La Paz, about 30 in Brasilia, at La Paz, a morning shower, around 12.

CHURCH: Now to the teenager who may be on his way to setting a new world record for re-tweets. And all because of his love for chicken nuggets. This is the question that started it all.

Carter Wilkerson, tweeted to the fast food chain, Wendy's, asking how many retreats he needed to get a free supply of nuggets for a year. Wendy's tweeted back with the outrageous number of 18 million and the challenge was on.

This plea for re-tweets has been shared nearly three million times in less than a week, it went viral quickly even getting attention and re- tweets from some big names like Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

United Airlines is offering to fly Carter to any Wendy's in the world if he gets those 18 million re-tweets. Carter's dad joined Twitter in the last few days to see what all the fuss was about and they both joined me now from their home in Reno, Nevada.

Welcome to you both. So, Carter, I want to start with you. You have nearly caught up with Ellen DeGeneres's Twitter record for the most re-tweeted tweet with her 2014 Oscar selfie.

[03:50:04] So you must be feeling pretty good about that. How long do you think it would take you to get 18 million re-tweets going by your current progress?

CARTER WILKERSON, TEEN SEEKS RECORD FOR FREE NUGGETS: Eighteen million is still a big number. And I hope I can still get it, it would be awesome. But by this progress, I think it would take a few months. Maybe even a year. But, hey, who knows, I didn't think I was going to get a million and I'm at 2.5 now, so.

CHURCH: Exactly and the key will be getting the momentum, so that you can get that re-tweets, right?


CHURCH: So, what inspired you to start this challenge in the first place?

WILKERSON: I thought it would be funny to tweet at them asking them, maybe, if I get this challenge going and how many re-tweets it would take to get a year of free chicken nuggets. And at first I didn't expect them to respond. But they responded really quickly and when I read that 18 million, I was kind of like in shock like, that's a huge number. I don't know about that.

And so, I kind of took it as a joke and when I re-tweeted back at them, consider it done. And -- but, then I posted it on the post thinking it would get a few re-tweets from my local friends and stuff, but, people like that confidence I guess, and it started to take off and went viral in the first night, so. CHURCH: So, it did go viral and you got a few people suggesting that

maybe you could help feed some of America's homeless children. So what are you doing for that purpose?

WILKERSON: We are, we could -- we are trying to get up with Wendy's and see if we can have their help to help with my supply of chicken nuggets if I get there, that we can donate them to maybe our local homeless shelter or any homeless shelter in general around the world. Have them send some of the proceeds and send of the chicken nuggets to help the people that are struggling.

CHURCH: Yes, it's a great cause. So, Jay, as Carter's dad, what do you think of all this?

JAY WILKERSON, CARTER WILKERSON'S FATHER: Hey, I'm as surprised as anybody. This has been unbelievable ride, and before this, I didn't know what Twitter was. You know, I thought Twitter was a dating site. So, there are tweet, you know, all these things that I'm learning about now.

And to be honest I'm not sure I know what Twitter is even to this point. I get on there and I don't understand it. But Carter is a great kid and he is doing great with this and he is really making this into something more than chicken nuggets for a year, he is making this into something that's helping everybody, and hopefully in the world, but especially locally and I'm really proud of him for that.

CHURCH: Yes. And we can see you both got t-shirts on there, nuggs for Carter. Of course, it is as you've said it's much broader than that, it's not just for Carter, it's for a whole lot of other people. Talk to us about that.

C. WILKERSON: Well, the t-shirts we kind of got the idea from just it sprung up and we thought it would be good to use the t-shirts to help with donating to charity and donating to homeless and yes, we've just, we've been working our best to -- we don't -- I don't care personally about profits.

I don't care -- the chicken nuggets are nice, like I said, I kind of thought it was a joke before it kind of got big. It would be nice to have a few free chicken nuggets here and there. But honestly, I don't need them as much as other people. So, we just think it would be great to give back.

CHURCH: Yes. I think that's great. And Carter, what do you think you've learned about life through this experience so far?

C. WILKERSON: Well, the -- one of the major things I have learn is that social media can work really extremely fast. And that, it's, your outreach is so large that now, that I have so much power and voice now, it's good to use that voice.

CHURCH: And Jay, and now that you are trying to figure out Twitter and a whole lot of other things about social media, what do you think your son has done here? Talk to us about the pride you must be feeling toward him. J. WILKERSON: Yes, you know, first, I thought, what's my son doing in

the middle of the night tweeting? You know, whatever the tweeting was when I found that out, but then after I found out what he was doing with these tweets and the re-tweets that he was getting. I'm very proud of him.

It's just some suggestion to Carter about what he could do with this, it got such popularity and that he could do something that is just more for humanity really. And it's been really kind of exciting to see that he has done that. And that's not about him eating chicken nuggets for a year and getting fat, this is about taking care of some other people that need some help.

CHURCH: Yes, I think it is pretty incredible a change of course. And of course, this is worth thousands of dollars in media promotion for Wendy's, so maybe they'll rethink you that number of re-tweets 18 million, I think they plucked that out of the sky, right, and hopefully they'll change it and help you and help the homeless kids across America.

Thank you both, Carter and Jay for talking with us, and explaining everything, we appreciate it.

[03:55:03] Great stuff there, there's no place to have a party like the top of the world. D.J. Paul Oakenfold performed his show at Mt. Everest base camp in the pole on Tuesday. The British superstar streamed his set live online for his thousands of followers at more than 5300 meters, this was the highest altitude dance party on record.

Oakenfold who is not a climber said, he trained for four months and trekked for 10 days to get to the base camp for the show.

And how about this? A news anchor in Australia is getting a lot of attention after a televised slip up went viral. Natasha Exelby was live on air for ABC News 24 when she was caught off guard.


NATASHA EXELBY, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Melanie Vujkovic, ABC News, Mt. Sylvia.

Now to sport with Meredith Shin.


CHURCH: You can see her gasp of horror there, but in a show of support, journalist around the world started sharing their own embarrassing moments on Twitter with the hash tag put your bloopers out. Exelby has been taken off the air for now, but ABC says she will not be banned from future shows.

I can't get enough for that, right?

And thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me any time on Twitter. The news continues with our Max Foster in London. You are watching CNN. Have yourselves a great day. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Face-to-face. Donald Trump's top diplomat sits down with his Russian counterpart to talk about the crisis Syria.

[04:00:01] Russia's role and where the United States stands on both.

We're live from Moscow with the latest.


SPICER: Someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to the -- to the -- to using chemical weapons.