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"Mother of All Bombs" Kills 36 ISIS Troops; One-on-One with Nikki Haley; United Way CEO on his One-on-One with Trump. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired April 14, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:36] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, new video of the so-called "mother of all bombs," slamming into northeastern Afghanistan. The 10-ton behemoth is the largest, nonnuclear bomb that the U.S. has ever deployed in combat.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Afghan officials say that it killed some 36 ISIS fighters. It also, importantly, knocked out caves and tunnels, a lot of the apparatus that they use to hide.

Our Nick Paton Walsh has spent an extraordinary amount of time in Afghanistan. He joins us today from Irbil, Iraq.

Talk about how detrimental this is to the ability for ISIS to continue because the -- Dave and I were talking the number 36 is not huge, but what it has done to the area has hurt them, no?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We just don't know at this early stage. And in fact, ISIS have released a statement through their AMAQ affiliated news agency suggesting that nobody, in fact, from their militants was killed in this strike, which we can pretty much dismiss that immediately. But it is interesting that they don't necessarily dispute that this was one of their facilities in that very short message.

Now, as you say, the assessment by the Afghan military is that three tunnels were taken out, 36 militants. Now a $16 million bomb, that's an awful lot of money, $400,000 per militant. Maybe there is a larger body count, potentially, to be revealed. But action in this particular area has always been the epicenter for ISIS in eastern Afghanistan, very remote, rugged terrain, very hard to get around.

The U.S. themselves struggled to keep a number of remote outposts going to the north of this particular area for quite some time when they had a large military presence there, but it is a place that has had the Afghan military pour into it to push ISIS out, has been the target of a lot of U.S. military airstrikes over the past couple of years, but ISIS have persisted, they have come back. They are not always welcomed by the local population who fled their presence around action. Many families displaced as a result of that, but they're gaining ground because many younger fighters are disillusioned from the Taliban.

The Taliban have been there a bit longer frankly than U.S. has, the 16 years the U.S. has been. And the Taliban have been fighting even longer. So there's been a lot of disillusionment with how they're functioning now and perhaps some younger fighters or some other insurgents, frankly, disillusioned with that brand and opting instead for the newer one of ISIS.

BRIGGS: Nick Paton Walsh live for us in Iraq. Thank you, sir.

Still to come, President Trump shaking up the White House by reversing course on some key foreign policy issues. Now a one-time critic, Nikki Haley, coming to his defense. CNN goes behind her growing role as ambassador to the U.N.


[10:37:34] HARLOW: So whether it is the crisis in Syria, U.S.-China relations, or NATO's place in the world stage, this week the president is making a series of big foreign policy shifts, a move that is riling some of his supporters.

BRIGGS: And the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, once a bold Trump critic, has been defending the president amid all the uncertainty. And she's emerging as a strong voice on foreign policy for this administration.

CNN's Jamie Gangel had a fascinating one-on-one with the ambassador, whose sphere of influence appears to be growing in this administration, does it not?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: She really is the rising star of this Cabinet. And you know, her first day on the job, she said, there's a new sheriff in town. But as you'll see, no one ever really expected that she would be center stage.


GANGEL (voice-over): From condemning the chemical attacks in Syria --

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Look at those pictures.

GANGEL: -- to her aggressive stance on regime change --

HALEY: Strengthening Assad will only lead to more murders.

GANGEL: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has taken center stage as the leading voice of foreign policy in the Trump administration. Not afraid to speak her mind.

HALEY: For those that don't have our back we're taking names.

GANGEL: Or contradict her boss.

HALEY: Russia is trying to show their muscle. I don't think that we can trust them.

GANGEL (on camera): Has he ever said to you, you shouldn't have said something?

HALEY: No, he has not.

GANGEL: Are you surprised that he's never?

HALEY: I'm not surprised because he knew that when he hired me that I made it clear I didn't want to be a wallflower or a talking head. I'm very passionate by nature and he's fine with it.

GANGEL: How much of it is coordinated with the White House and the State Department?

HALEY: Well, it's always coordinated with the White House. I mean, I'm very --

GANGEL: You're not going rogue?

HALEY: No, I would never go rogue because I'm very aware of who I work for and -- but what I'll tell you is, it's a sign of how this president works. It's not uncommon for him to pick up the phone and tell me what he feels on an issue. It's not uncommon for him to say make sure you say this, don't be afraid to say this.

He has given me a lot of leeway to just say what I think and interpret what he thinks. I'm a strong voice by nature. I'm sometimes a bull in a china shop and, you know, he allows me to do that.

GANGEL (voice-over): Friends say that same strength and independence served Haley well growing up in Bamberg, South Carolina.

[10:40:02] The daughter of Sikh immigrants from India, her father was a professor, her mother a lawyer, but the family suffered constant discrimination.

HALEY: They have never seen anybody in a turban. They have never seen anybody in a sari so they didn't know who we were, what we were, or what we were about. And so growing up was -- you always knew you were different. You felt it.

GANGEL: One such memorable moment, when she and her sister were disqualified from the Little Miss Bamberg beauty pageant, which crowned one white winner and one black winner. The judges said they were neither.

HALEY: My mom said, well, Nikki's been practicing this song. Will you at least just let her do her song? And it was the "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land."

GANGEL (on camera): There is the irony.

HALEY: It is.

GANGEL: Of the story.

HALEY: But my mom would never let us complain and she'd always say, your job is not to show them how you're different. Your job is to show them how you're similar. GANGEL (voice-over): Haley went on to get her accounting degree at

Clemson, married her husband Michael, who's a captain in the South Carolina Army National Guard, and raised two children. Her daughter, Rena, now a freshman in college and her son, Nalin, who's 15. Along the way she credits two women with her interest in politics.

(On camera): You're role model, you frequently say, is Margaret Thatcher?

HALEY: Yes. If you want something said ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman. I love that.

GANGEL: But the woman who inspired you to go into politics, to run, was a Democrat.


GANGEL: Named?

HALEY: Hillary Clinton.

GANGEL (voice-over): One day she went to hear her speak.

HALEY: And she said for every reason people tell you not to do it, that's for every reason that you should. And that was it, I was done. I didn't know you weren't supposed to run against a -- you know, a 30- year incumbent in a primary but ignorance is bliss.

GANGEL: She won that race, served in the State House, then went on to break two barriers -- becoming the first Indian-American and first woman governor of South Carolina.

HALEY: So help me, God.

GANGEL: Overnight, she was a rising star in the Republican Party, thrust on the national stage after the horrific mass shooting at Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME Church.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Everyone just wanted to hug her. There's this image of Nikki crying.

GANGEL: And then she won praise for her successful campaign to remove the Confederate flag from the State House.

SELLERS: Nikki Haley did something that many people thought was impossible. A female who ran for governor and she beat all the boys. She's always persevered.

GANGEL: Her star power and clout were never more apparent than during the presidential campaign when she endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio and many thought this could be the GOP ticket.

(On camera): Donald Trump did not take it well and he went on Twitter. "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley." Exclamation point. And not 20 minutes later you responded, quote, "@realDonaldTrump, bless your heart." What does bless your heart mean when you're from South Carolina?

HALEY: It's a southern polite way of saying read between the lines.

GANGEL (voice-over): Trump didn't hold it against her, naming Haley his U.N. ambassador and it appears he's pleased with her high public profile.

(On camera): Is there any tension with Secretary of State Tillerson? He has been so quiet. He has kept such a low profile and you've been out there. Any awkwardness?

HALEY: I think it's just the personalities, you know. He's very much an executive. He's thoughtful in his approach and how he moves forward. I'm one that's not afraid to say anything, you know. I'm not easily intimidated and so I can go out and say things, so I think we actually complement each other very well.

GANGEL (voice-over): It has, however, led to speculation that someday Haley might like his job or higher office.

(On camera): Everybody I talked to said, does she want to be Secretary of State?


GANGEL: Do you want to be senator?


GANGEL: Are you going to run for the White House?


GANGEL: You're not going to run for the White House? Because everyone thinks you are.

HALEY: You know what's amazing, and this has happened my entire work career, is everyone thinks that I'm ambitious, and everybody thinks I'm trying to run for something, and everybody thinks I want more, and the truth of it is I'm just passionate.

GANGEL: But you wouldn't rule out that someday you might run for the White House?

HALEY: I can't imagine running for the White House.

GANGEL: You really can't?

HALEY: I really can't.


GANGEL: She may not imagine it, guys, but there's nobody else in the Republican Party, in the Democratic Party, who's watched her.

HARLOW: Right. GANGEL: Who doesn't think that that's in the cards someday.

HARLOW: First of all, fascinating interview. So revealing. So important to know the person behind the position.

GANGEL: Right.

HARLOW: Right? We usually hear about them on policy, not who they are or what shaped their world view. She said something so revealing. She said, the president has given her leeway to say what she thinks and also to interpret what she thinks the president is thinking. Wow.

[10:45:11] GANGEL: Right. So clearly -- look, when she came into this job, she has no foreign policy experience, but she's working with several people that I know who are very smart. She's worked very hard. And she -- her staff says she trusts her instincts. And so far Donald Trump likes her instincts. But you will see, one day she'll say something, the Syria, the next day it's coming out of the White House. She's sort of like a trial balloon for foreign policy, but no one expected it.

BRIGGS: Appears to be following her lead. Trump critics, though, are not allowed in his administration. She appears to be the only one. Why is she allowed?

GANGEL: Well, you know, she's not the only one. But you know, he knew her --

BRIGGS: They can't fill critical posts because people spoke out against --

GANGEL: So if you signed the letter, right? It is true. A lot of people were. On the other hand, Gary Cohn, who's working for him --


GANGEL: -- is a Democrat and was a friend of Hillary's. But here's the thing, he knew her before. He had supported her before. They had a relationship before. And the other thing is, let's not forget, when he gave her the post, he had appointed to the Cabinet five white men.


GANGEL: She brought something, right?

HARLOW: Yes. Thank you, Jamie.

BRIGGS: She's bringing an awful lot more than that now.

HARLOW: Fascinating piece.

GANGEL: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you so much for that.

All right. Coming up for us, so very few people actually talk about their private meeting with the president. I sat down with the CEO who didn't follow that rule. He told us exactly what the president said. That's next.


[10:45:37] HARLOW: So President Trump invites a lot of CEOs to the White House. You've seen those roundtables, but have you actually heard any details about what they actually discussed with the president? Very few CEOs will disclose that. But we sat down with one who did, Brian Gallagher. He's the CEO of United Way. That is the largest privately funded non-profit in the world.

He was invited to the White House with other non-profit leaders to talk about the human trafficking crisis. Well, after their meeting, he stuck around in the Oval Office and had a one-on-one with the president.


HARLOW: So you recently met with the president?

BRIAN GALLAGHER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, UNITED WAY WORLDWIDE: He was there for 40 minutes. He gathered us in the Oval Office afterwards, and we've got that now famous shot of the horseshoe around the --


GALLAGHER: And I'm sitting there thinking, you know, it would be good if he would convene the big non-profits as well, not just on trafficking. So --

HARLOW: Did you tell him that?

GALLAGHER: Yes. So everybody left and I stayed and --

HARLOW: Had a one-on-one?

GALLAGHER: Had a one-on-one.

HARLOW: What was that like?

GALLAGHER: He likes to talk. He likes -- he's engaging. He asked me about -- he asked me who I knew in New York. He asked me about the United Way in New York, told me about being a donor to the United Way in New York. I said I know. And I said, you know what we ought to do, we ought to get the big non-profits together just like you did here and talk about the private sector and the non-profit sector. He said, that's a great idea.

A lot of our sector leans left and I'm an unaffiliated political moderate.

HARLOW: Right.

GALLAGHER: And United Way left its own -- we're non-partisan, and we focus on -- but left to our own devices, we start to lean left. And what I said to this group that was very distraught --

HARLOW: Over his election?



GALLAGHER: Is focus on policy, not personality.


GALLAGHER: You know, if the administration works on something that matters, focus on it. Hold the administration accountable. I still see today, we're personalizing it. And I'll just say in our world. And focus on policy, the administration, Congress, Republicans.

HARLOW: Not the words, not the tweets.

GALLAGHER: Not the -- not the words, not the tweets, unless they affect policy.

HARLOW: But words have consequences.

GALLAGHER: For sure. For sure. And some don't.

HARLOW: Is there anything that you glean from that private meeting you had with him? Because most Americans haven't had that. Most journalists haven't had that. He hasn't done as you know many interviews.

GALLAGHER: Just like every president that I've met. He's a person. And we create caricatures pretty quickly. And you can't help but not. Every person I know is needy, and you know, you've interviewed a lot of CEOs, and it is -- and this is not melodramatic, it is lonely in these jobs. And as weird as it sounds, my guess is he's feeling, you know, like who do I trust, what do I -- and there needs to be a personal engagement with him if you're going to get a real exchange.

HARLOW: What is the number one thing you want to see his administration do? What's your number one ask?

GALLAGHER: It's tax reform and policy that embraces building the middle again.

HARLOW: Isn't that what he ran on?

GALLAGHER: Yes, but the policy, not personality.

HARLOW: OK, so it sounds to me like you're saying, he said that when he was campaigning. The policy proposals you're seeing aren't doing that, aren't building up --

GALLAGHER: Not yet. Not yet. You can't -- you can't cut dramatically the safety net programs that the administration is proposing to cut and then say that you're building the middle class.

HARLOW: Well, will the White House hear from you if you don't see some changes on that front?

GALLAGHER: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes. That's -- we -- the one thing about -- the one thing about being the largest private funder of non- profits in the country and getting 95 percent of all of our money from the private sector, from conservatives and progressives is I relish the fact that we don't take public money, relish it.

HARLOW: Because you're not beholden to them.


HARLOW: You can make them mad.

GALLAGHER: Oh, I have.

HARLOW: Is it true you wanted to run for president as a kid?

[10:55:03] GALLAGHER: Yes, yes. I did -- it's embarrassing to say I did.


GALLAGHER: Even before -- even after I was 12 years old.

HARLOW: So what about now?


HARLOW: Why? You just don't like the smell of politics these days?

GALLAGHER: Yes, I don't. That's exactly right. That's exactly right. I don't think it's where it's happening right now. I've been in Washington now almost 14 years. What I've learned is how to stop stuff. That's what you learn in Washington.


HARLOW: A rare look into that private meeting in the Oval Office. You can hear that full interview with Brian Gallagher on my podcast, "Boss Files," along with other world leaders and Warren Buffett and Melinda Gates. You can subscribe today on iTunes, Stitcher, and Android or tune in on Amazon Echo.

I was shocked when he started talking about this private meeting. When we started the interview, I didn't even know he had had it.

BRIGGS: I noticed that. And interesting that he said personal engagement is the key to influencing this president.

HARLOW: This president. Totally.

BRIGGS: It's a great podcast. I love listening to it.

HARLOW: Thank you. Good to have you here.

BRIGGS: Great to be here. HARLOW: Thanks for sticking around on this Friday.

BRIGGS: Happy Easter.

HARLOW: Happy Easter to you, too.

BRIGGS: Happy Easter to all of you, too.

HARLOW: Calls are growing from Democratic lawmakers demanding the FBI pull Jared Kushner's security credentials. You're going to hear about that from one of those lawmakers straight ahead, right here.