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U.S. Drops 11-ton Bomb In Afghanistan; Trump Signs Anti-Planned Parenthood Law; U.S. Stock Market Closed Today; Pence Heads to Asia- Pacific Amid North Korea Tension; Tax Day Is Approaching; Jupiter & Saturn Moons Could Have Life. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 14, 2017 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:53] I'm Christine Romans, CNN ANCHOR: the U.S. military deployed this biggest non-nuclear weapon, for the very first time. So, did the commander in chief directly make that call?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And conversation between Trump associates and the Russians picked up beyond our borders, who collected them and why?

Welcome back Early Start everybody, I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning. Good Friday morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, it's 31 minutes past the hour. This morning the damage assessments are coming in after the U.S. military's biggest non-nuclear bomb was used in combat for the very first time officially designated the MOAB, nicknamed "the Mother Of All Bombs" it was dropped in eastern Afghanistan against ISIS fighter.

The Afghan Minister of Defense announcing overnight 36 ISIS members killed, three tunnels destroyed along with weapons and ammunition.

BRIGGS: But in unusual twist the commander-in-chief won't say for sure whether he gave the command for the strike.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you authorize it, sir?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Everybody knows exactly what happened, so what I do is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world and they've done the job as usual. So we have given them total authorization and that's what they're doing.

And frankly that's why they've been so successful lately. If you look at what's happened over the last eight weeks and compare that to really what's happened over the last eight years you'll see there's a tremendous difference.


BRIGGS: Sources tell CNN the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan general John Nicholson signed off and that the White House was informed before the bomb was dropped so why use this bomb now and what signal does it send allies and adversaries around the world?

Joining us now Senior International correspondent Nick Paton Walsh live in Iraq. Good morning to you Nick. The Mother Of All Bombs, did it yield the mother of all results?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not really. No. And I think what a surprising is the initial damage assessment from the Afghan Defense Ministry is th36 dead militants and three tunnels destroyed.

Now bear in mind, you know, this is a multimillion dollar bomb, $30 million if I recall correctly. So, you know, we're talking about probably $300,000 per death militant there if I'm support me. So, not enormous impact frankly, but a very powerful message sent that kind of begloves (ph) the rauf (ph).

And perhaps things that we're not necessarily on the table during the Obama administration and now fair game and this is a very remote part of Afghanistan the epicenter at this town of ISIS. A camp for those militants, their on the front foot projecting their power into Capital Kabul often, after some setback in the past years of the Afghan army kicked them off of this remote terrain.

A very difficult place to insert Afghan military or Special Forces into, that of course been a preferable tactic, because then you can clean intelligence from the Camp 1 you've taken. But this is clearly used to show that they will use what's necessary to try and reverse the appalling security situation in Afghanistan right now.

You know, outside of our notice, key towns are falling again to the Taliban. Over half the country contested by that insurgency or fully controlled by it. That's pretty staggering feat frankly given the billions invested by the U.S. and plum (ph) treasure over the pass 16 years, 16 years the U.S. has nearly been in war there now.

And we're also of course hearing from the President of Afghanistan supportive of this strike saying it was aimed at pushing ISIS back, ISIS have gained ground, because some people fighting the Taliban the board of Taliban, a tired by the fact they haven't really won power back again. The youth are tired about insurgent brand.

And so yes ISIS on the front foot there they call themselves ISIS-K, ISIS Khorasan. Khorasan is the historical term of the area of Afghanistan or Pakistan they want to control and are potentially a key threat in a war frankly that the U.S. long hoped it would have been out of, Dave.

BRIGGS: Certainly surprising results, such an enormous weapon. Nick Paton Walsh live for us. Thank you.

ROMANS: So what exactly is the Mother Of All Bombs? The initial actually stand for Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb. It's the biggest conventional, meaning non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal ever used in battle, 30 feet long, 22,000 pounds gross weight, carrying 19,000 pounds of high explosives.

[04:35:08] Most airforce bombs carry only about 500 to 2,000 pounds of explosive. It is GPS guided but so big it has to be dropped from an MC-130 cargo plane.

BRIGGS: The MOAB was develop during the Iraq war but never used at the time. It is intended for use against surface targets, unlike the bunker basting massive ordinance penetrator bomb which is 30,000 pound mostly heavy casing or around just 5,000 pounds of explosives, that bomb although heavier than MOAB has never been used in combat.

ROMANS: All right. We have new information. New information this morning that U.S. intelligence agencies we're not the only one who intercepted President Trump's campaign associates having conversation with the Russians.

In terms out intelligence agencies from Britain and other European countries also intercepted communications and passed them along to their American counter parts. According to intelligence sources in Europe and U.S. the intercepts were part of routine surveillance of Russia. They were not targeting candidate Trump.

The nature of communications isn't unclear but they are expected to be scrutinized by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its probe in Russia meddling in the presidential election.

BRIGGS: In his first public speeches CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasting WikiLeaks for trying to damage U.S. national security with its release of classified documents. Pompeo's harshest words were for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accusing him or being in league with Russia and other American adversaries.


MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia, Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing a value. He relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous. He's a fraud, a coward hiding behind a screen.


BRIGGS: Pompeo's remarks stark departure from his boss is attitude during the presidential campaign than candidate Trump responding to the damaging release of material damaging to Hillary Clinton saying "Loved WikiLeaks."

ROMANS: Right, a new law signed by President Trump behind closed doors makes it legal for states to uphold federal money from any organization that offers abortion services. With no cameras present Mr. Trump reversed an Obama area regulation that bans states from targeting group like Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood said abortion make up only three percent of the women's health services they provide. The head of the organization calls this new law a woman's "worst fears coming true."

BRIGGS: Two secret service officers have been fired over an embarrassing security breach at the White House last month. Both officers had less than a year on the job and we're on duty when a man jump the White House fence and roam the ground for 15 minutes as secret service officers struggle to find him.

President Trump was home at the time. The next morning he praised the secret service for doing the "Fantastic Job". The secret service said it does not comment on personnel decisions.

BRIGGS: Right 38 minutes pass the hour this Friday morning. Time for an Early Start in your money. The stock market is closed today for Good Friday. Stocks fell yesterday after news that the U.S. dropped that bomb in Afghanistan broke.

The DOW fell 138 points, the DOW, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq for the year a little progress report for you. there are all still higher. JCPenny getting a temporary lifeline deciding to throw a temporary lifeline deciding to throw a temporary lifeline to 138 stores that plan to close in the next two month.

They'll close at the end of July. Instead why? Well, since the company announced the store closing Dave, more people actually started to come into JCPenny store. And JCPenny to most of that increase to nostalgic customers like most brick and mortal retailers. JCPenny has not been performing well. It's stock is down 30 percent this year facing strong competition from digital giant like Amazon, interesting.

BRIGGS: How many people go to the mall these days --

ROMANS: No, no and Wal-Mart and others are really have this big internet or digital push.


ROMANS: And when I look at job numbers I can see that retail jobs, you know, mall jobs have been --

BRIGGS: Struggling.

ROMANS: -- have been struggling. Yes.

[04:39:17] BRIGGS: All right, will top level talks underway at this hour between officials from Russia, Syria and Iran. What's on the agenda in the wake of the Syrian chemical attack and the U.S. response?


BRIGGS: Happening now Russia's foreign minister hosting his counterparts from Iran and Syria, their trilateral talks in Moscow expected to focus on the recent chemical attack in Syria and the U.S. missile strike that followed it. Meanwhile, at ahead, American's ambassador to the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons is accusing Syria of burying the truth with Russia's help.

ROMANS: All this come after the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flat out denied a chemical attack even took place in an interview, with the press agency but filmed and edited by the Syrian regime. This was not a free speech situation. I want to be very clear here.

Assad insists the horrifying scenes are fake, the child actors staging dead scene to discredit his regime. Want to go Damasco and bring in CNN's Paula Newton. And it really is kind of a hallmark of the whole regime that even, you know, to disseminate that video. We had all kinds of caveats and I guess tricks from the Syrian regime.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, to suggest this and the government have been saying it is just 100 percent lies from the Syrian regime. You know, as it relates to the meeting underway now here Christine, they are underway. They had some opening comments. We expect the press conference within the next two hours.

[04:45:00] You know, this is Iran and Syria and Russia trying to show somewhat of united front but event on that chemical attack. I mean look, Russia's not going to be happy with Assad's comments on that. Russia has said look, we don't know who perpetrated this attack and yes, they disagree strongly with the U.S. You know, Russia saying it could have been the rebels who did this because they were the ones who were making the chemicals nearby.

Having said that even the Russians have said we want an independent investigation. It is not helpful what the Assad regime is doing right now. They are at the table at this hour with Russian and Iran trying to figure out the new military calculous on the ground. And it'll be interesting to see Christine whether or not in the short-term the United States sees any more military cooperation especially significant between Iran and Russia as result of those U.S. airstrikes.

Again, lots of different players on the ground there, trying to figure out where the United States goes next.

ROMANS: Where it goes next. All right, Paula, thank you so much for that in Moscow for us this morning.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight Russia slamming U.S. intel after CNN reported that the American military and intelligence community accepted -- intercepted communication between Syrian military and chemical experts. A head of last weeks gas attack.

And what appears to be a direct response to our reporting, the Russian defense ministry has released a statement saying U.S. intelligence agencies are "Pulling the wool over the eyes."

ROMANS: The ministry adds, "Every military aggression of the USA against sovereign states is justified by the Pentagon by some "Irrefutable evidence of misdeed. The more farfetched the pseudo proof is the more "confidential it becomes."

The U.S. intercept are part of immediate review of all intelligence in the hours after the sarin gas attack to confirm Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad responsibility for the deadly attack.

BRIGGS: U.S. central command confirms an American lead coalition mistaken killed 18 Syrian alias and what it describe is misdirected airstrike. The strike has place Tuesday killing members of these Syrian Democratic forces, an opposition group target supported by the U.S. in the fight against ISIS, military officials say the target they hit was wrongly identified as an ISIS fighting position. The incident now under investigation.

ROMANS: So unfortunate. Vice President Mike Pence preparing to addressing the growing tension on the Korean Peninsula if he makes his first official visit to the Asia Pacific region this weekend. Pence will sit down with the acting president of South Korea, as North Korea celebrates a big national holiday. There are growing concerns this holiday may be marked with another nuclear test.

Let's go to CNN Correspond Alexandria Field, she is live in Seoul with more on a Vice President agenda at this time of a tension on the peninsula, Alex.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, tension indeed Christine, because Washington says it isn't a question but if but when North Korea conducts its next test. Now the other question is how the U.S. will respond. That's what vice president Mike Pence will be out here to talking about, he'll be in Seoul, he'll also be in Tokyo talking to his counterparts about the options that are on the table.

They'll also talk about the military that are being considered by Washington, that as U.S. warships arrive in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, a move that has deeply enraged Pyongyang. They responded this week by releasing imagines of their leader Kim Jong-un overseeing training drills by their special forces. And now some strong word from their state news agency saying that the presence of strategic nuclear equipment deployed to these waters threatens global secure and brings the region to the brink of thermonuclear war. That's the propaganda from Pyongyang.

What's the estimate from the U.S.? Well, monitoring group there says they've looked at data, they've look at satellite images and North Korea is indeed ready to pull off its next, its six nuclear test at any moment that based on activities that they've observed at the main nuclear site.

Could it come this weekend, time to coincide but most important day on North Korea's calendar? Well, that's anyone's guess but if we take a look at the past as the precedent, we do know they have planned other provocative actions to coincide with this holiday and the days around it, Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Alexandria Field for us in Seoul monitoring all of that. Keep us posted. Thank you.

All right 49 minutes past the hour. Do you need a little extra time on your taxes?

BRIGGS: A lot.

ROMANS: You do? Good.


[04:49:26] ROMANS: Yes, a couple extra days. We're going to check on CNN MoneyStream next.


ROMANS: The attorney for Dr. David Dao who was forcely remove from a United Flight claims the airline has a history of bully passengers. And says they plan to sue United and the City of Chicago who's department of aviation police drag Dao from that plane. The lawyer says Dao suffered concussion lost two teeth and had a severely broken nose.

BRIGGS: At a news conference Thursday, Dao's daughter spoke about the family's reaction.


CRYSTAL PEPPER, DAUTHER OF MAN DRAGGED OFF UNITED FLIGHT: What happened to my dad should have never happened to any human being regardless of the circumstance. We were horrified and shock and sickened to learn what happened to him and to see what happened to him.

BRIGGS: Meantime, after first thing flight 3411 was overbooked then changing now to oversold. United now says it was neither, flight just had no open seats.

ROMANS: Yes, to make way for four commuting crew members who had (INAUDIBLE) otherwise another flight would be delayed.

All right, United Airlines feeling the sting again literally. A man on the United Flight from Houston to Calgary says he was stung by a scorpion. The venomous animal fell from an over head bin and landed on Richard Bell hair, a flight attendance quickly corralled the scorpion and flashed it down an airplane toilet.

[04:55:03] A medical personnel carried for Bell when he landed in Canada. Not clear how the scorpion got a board. But we're told the plane had -- earlier flown out of Costa Rica. Add that to things I'm afraid off.



BRIGGS: Right and now sequel to snake on plane is already pretty (INAUDIBLE) itself. The Nigerian ant-corruption unit discovered $43 million cash in upscale apartment in Lagos, the anti-graft agency says officers raided the apartment after they were tip off about a haggard woman taking backs in and out of the apartment. They also found Euros and Nigerian currency worth more than $100,000.

The commission says the funds are suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity. No arrests have yet been made.

ROMANS: Well, that's a mystery. If indeed there's something out there. NASA says it most likely to be found on two moons in our solar system. Jupiter Europa and Saturn, oh I can't say. I want to Enceladus, that Enceladus. Thank you Tim Koran (ph). Enceladus.

New evidence revealed the two moons could possible support life. Researcher say Enceladus in particular has almost all the key ingredients for life as we know it. Images of the two ocean world were captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space telescope.

NASA plans to launch a mission to explore Europa and its ability to support life sometime in the 2020s. Cool.

BRIGGS: Very cool. Also cool, the place kicker from Arizona making college football history. She is Becca Longo the first ever woman to be awarded a football scholarship at NCAA division 1 or 2 school. The 18-year-old Longo signing a letter of intent to play at Adam State University in Colorado, she's been playing football competitively since her sophomore year high school. She got the attention of Adam State head couch when she started following him on Twitter.

I went to college with a female kicker at University of Colorado, didn't have a scholarship. But she was kind of TrailBlazer of the position in that regard. The National Football League morn a loss of a legend, Steelers legendary chairman Dan Rooney, one of the most influential NFL executive died Thursday at the age of 84.

He took control the team in 1960s from his father Art Rooney who founded the franchise. From there the Steelers won six Super Bowls. Rooney also serves as ambassador to Ireland under President Obama. Mr. Obama remembering Rooney "Great friend and model citizen, a championship caliber, good man". Rooney rule along the his lasting legacy in the NFL, which requires NFL teams to interview one black candidate has certainly increase the number of black coaches in the NFL. Not enough but some progress.

ROMANS: Right. Let's go check on CNN MoneySteam this Friday morning. Instragram, Snapchat copycat is actually more popular than Snapchat himself. More than 200 million people use Instragram stories, that's according to Facebook, Instragam parent company.

Snapchat says it has more than 161 million daily users. But Facebook number represents how many watch stories on Instragram everyday. Not how many users actually, post stories. Facebook unsuccessfully tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion it's roamer back in 2013. The company being trading on New York that exchange in February this year.

Nintendo is more popular than ever. The Switch Nintendo newest gaming console is the company's fastest selling video game system in the U.S. It sold more than 900,000 systems last month. It success directly tied to Nintendo launching its latest Zelda game at the same time. The game series is so popular that users will actually buy new hardware in order to play it.

Have you done your taxes yet, tomorrow is April 15th, but it if you have procrastinating, do not worry. You have a little bit more time this year. Taxes are due next Tuesday April 18th this year. Why? You can thank a little known federal holiday known as "Emancipation Day" for you extension.

And you still need even more time. You can file for an extension, but remember and extension to file isn't extension to pay if you owe the government any money, you still have to estimate and send a check.

BRIGGS: Right. I don't even try anymore. I got to find that workout.

ROMANS: Get it done.

BRIGGS: Someone smart like you.

ROMANS: You got a few more days.

BRIGGS: All right, still much to get to -- Early Start continues right now.

The biggest non-nuclear weapon in the American arsenal deployed for the first time. Now we're learning how many ISIS soldiers were killed.

Early Start complete coverage continues right now around the globe. We are on Good Friday. Welcome back to Early start. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you all this morning. Welcome everyone. I'm Christine Romans, it is Friday April 14th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the east. This morning the damage assessments are coming after the U.S. military biggest non-nuclear bomb was used in combat for the very first time.

[05:00:03] Officially designated the MOAB, the nicknamed the Mother Of All Bombs. It was dropped in Eastern Afghanistan against ISIS fighters.