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Nine Killed, 100 Wounded in Suicide Attack in Kabul; White House in Crisis. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 31, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

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ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): We begin with the breaking news. At least nine people have been killed and 100 wounded in a suicide attack in Afghanistan's capital.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A government spokesman says there was a huge explosion near the foreign embassies in Kabul. So far no claim of responsibility.

SESAY: Jessica Donati (ph) is a "Wall Street Journal" reporter based in Afghanistan and she joins us now.

Jessica, thank you for joining us.

What can you tell us about what happened here?

JESSICA DONATI (PH), "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": The early details are unclear but we know a vehicle packed with explosives detonated at the entrance or close to the entrance of an area of Kabul that is known as the green zone because that is where a lot of foreign embassies and bases are located. It's also the location of our bureau.

VAUSE: Is it supposed to be a more secure part of Kabul?

DONATI (PH): Yes this is the most fortified part of Kabul so even before you get to this area, there's a lot of check points. So anyone who was driving to the city would have managed to get through quite a few of those before getting to the green zone, which is more secure. And the fact that they detonated the bomb near the gate suggests that perhaps they were trying to get in and get a little closer. But the location of the blast was close to the German embassy.

SESAY: Just so I'm clear, you said that area is close to your offices.

Were you in the office when it happened?

What did you hear?

What was your experience of this?

DONATI: Yes, I was in the office. It was the start of the day. So it was a really busy time in Kabul; everyone was coming to work. And that's why there was such a high number of casualties.

It blew in all of the windows of the bureau and shattered everything. It injured one of our staff members, because of the glass; he's being bandaged up. I was really lucky because I was in the shower at the time because, otherwise, I could have been hurt by the glass in my room.

VAUSE: Jessica, there's been a string of attacks in Kabul in recent months; in context to those previous attacks, was this blast one of the biggest you've seen or heard about?

DONATI: I mean, it's hard to tell, because obviously one's proximity to the blast affects how you sort of feel it. This is definitely one of the biggest ones that I've felt. In the past year or more, the Taliban have started using truck bombs and those have -- obviously have a devastating effect and they cause craters 15 to 20 meters deep.

So it's hard to tell from here how big it was but it definitely was a big one because it sent a huge cloud of smoke up into the air, which was visible for kilometers.

SESAY: Jessica, given the location of the detonation of this bomb, do we know anything about the victims, who might they have been in and around that area?

DONATI: Well, I mean the majority of the victims would have been the Afghans who were going to work because a lot of people come into this part of the city to work for embassies and for the military base. They come in on in and on buses. It's a very busy time.

So that's likely (INAUDIBLE) possible that people inside embassies who had been injured by the shrapnel and breaking glass (INAUDIBLE) nothing too serious. My housemate was hit by a door. But she's OK. So, yes, it was close.

SESAY: And very quickly, Jessica, we'll wrap up here, but this was in the diplomatic area of Kabul, not far from the green zone; the explosion outside the German embassy.

Was the German embassy the target here?

Or was that just a target opportunity?

DONATI: I mean, I think that the insurgent are probably aiming to get anything if inside this area. I imagine that U.S. embassy, which was not much further down the road, probably would have been the number one target. But anything like this causes headlines and a lot of -- it caused a lot of fear.

So you know, it's probably just a coincidence that it happened to be the German embassy. But if you want, I can show you what it did to my room.

VAUSE: Sure.

SESAY: Sure, absolutely. DONATI: So that's the glass on the floor and these are the windows that have been blown up.

VAUSE: Yes.

DONATI: Yes.

SESAY: Well, we're pleased you're safe, Jessica, and I know you have some colleagues who are injured. Our thoughts are with them, as with everyone affected by this terrible, terrible attack. Jessica Donati, joining us there, from Kabul, from "The Wall Street Journal." Thank you so much. Stay safe.

VAUSE: Thank you, Jessica.

DONATI: Thanks.

VAUSE: This just in to CNN --

[02:05:00]

VAUSE: -- Russia has launched cruise missiles against ISIS in Syria from a warship and submarine in the Mediterranean Sea. The Russian defense ministry says the targets were in Palmyra in Central Syria.

SESAY: The ancient city came under ISIS control in 2015 and the terror group destroyed schools and priceless artifacts. Palmyra has since changed hands several times. The Russian military says it alerted the U.S., Turkey and Israel before the missile launches.

VAUSE: Now to the U.S.-Russia investigation. Sources tell CNN Russian officials discussed potentially derogatory information about Donald Trump and his associates during last year's presidential campaign.

SESAY: And are shedding new light on the intelligence the U.S. received about possible interference in the election. CNN's Dianne Gallagher has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conversations picked up by U.S. intelligence suggest the Russians believed they had the ability to influence the administration with the information. Two former intelligence officials and a congressional source tell CNN.

Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said conversations they were monitoring raised a red flag and warranted investigation.

JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE FORMER DIRECTOR: There were a series of communications and dialogues that we grew -- I say we, the members of the Intelligence Community that were aware of this, were very concerned about.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The investigation into Russia's interference in the U.S. election continues to swirl around those close to the U.S. president.

His most trusted adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner, is under intense scrutiny. A U.S. officials says the FBI is looking into Kushner's contact with Russian officials during the transition as well as various explanations given for those meetings.

On December 1st, Kushner met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower. Later that month at Kislyak's urging, Kushner met with Sergey Gorkov, the chairman of a U.S.-sanctioned Russian bank, a close Putin associate and a former spy.

In March, the White House insisted it was part of Kushner's official transition role. But the bank said it was only about business, a key contradiction the FBI is now focusing on.

The meeting with Kislyak was initially left off Kushner's security clearance disclosure forms but added the next day.

This month, sources told CNN Kushner discussed setting up a secret communications channel with Russia, using their facilities as a way to bypass detection by U.S. intelligence.

But as an explanation, said it was so he and then-NSA nominee Flynn could discuss military strategy in Syria among other topics.

The White House is pushing back, calling the reports "false and unverified claims."

SEAN SPICER, PRESS SECRETARY: I think Secretary Kelly and General McMaster have both discussed that, in general terms, back channels are an appropriate part of diplomacy.

GALLAGHER (on camera): Now the president's son-in-law may be his top adviser but Jared Kushner actually has plenty of White House duties as well, including Middle East peace and streamlining the government.

So even with all that's going on, dealing with the Russia investigation, a source familiar with Kushner's role says that, at this point, he is not giving up any part of his vast portfolio -- Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Joining me now for more on this, CNN intelligence and security analyst, former CIA operative, Bob Baer.

Bob, thank you for being with us; let's start with the U.S. intercept of what the Russian officials were talking about, the derogatory information which could be used to influence the Trump administration.

Is it likely to be disinformation put out by the Russians?

Or is this typical of how Russian intelligence works?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No, what happens here, John, is these oligarchs who are very close to Putin, of course, some of them are former intelligence officers that Putin worked with or worked for Putin, they go in and see him, say, hey, listen, our business is really hurting.

The sanctions, this Crimea thing, we're going down. And then Putin turns to them -- I'm reconstructing this the best I can -- says, don't worry about it, I've cut a deal with Trump, compromise, whatever word they use.

The oligarchs then leave the Kremlin and get on the phone, which the National Security Agency intercepts. And they're talking about compromised Trump administration. And this is what the National Security Agency is.

You know, could Trump be the subject of a lie inside the Kremlin?

Yes.

Could Putin exaggerate his control over Trump?

Yes. We simply don't know that until we get into these other contacts with Russians. For me, I don't understand why Kushner's meeting a banker is part of a back channel. That makes no sense. It makes no sense. Their transition team has a back channel. That's just not done.

It makes no sense to me the national security adviser, McMaster, knows little to nothing about it. You know, these -- none of this is playing by the rules -- John.

VAUSE: And let's talk about Kushner's meeting. But let's just first note that we're told, you know, the information that the Russians have, it's financial in nature --

[02:10:00]

VAUSE: -- which goes to your point.

So let's go to that meeting in December, Jared Kushner meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the CEO of the state-owned VneshEconomBank -- it's VEB; it's also known as.

But Gorkov is no ordinary banker; VEB is no ordinary bank.

BAER: Well, John, here's the question hanging over all of this is does Kushner have financial relations with the Russians?

Does he have a financial relation with Gorkov?

You know, they're still doing business. They are still looking for money going into the Kushner empire as well as in the Trump organization as well. There are so many conflicts of interest and there are so many Russian connections, which again, always brings us back to the taxes.

We want to see the taxes to make sure Trump, Kushner and the rest of them are not making decisions based on money coming out of Russia. VAUSE: With that in mind, VEB did release statement back in March, claiming Kushner was there in his role as the head of Kushner Companies. He was not representing Donald Trump. Here's part of the statement they released.

"During 2016, the bank's management repeatedly met with representative of the world's leading financial institutions in Europe, Asia and America, including the head of Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner."

The White House, though, at the time said Kushner was there representing the incoming administration, adding it was nothing of consequence but later put out this idea it was all about establishing a back channel to Putin.

So either the meeting was purely business, it was inconsequential or was meant to open this direct line to Putin.

Do you believe the Russians or do you believe White House?

And which version do you believe?

BAER: Well, John, I've got to be frank with you. I don't believe the White House at all. Their versions change by the hour. I mean, Trump saying this is fake news. Kelly, the head of Homeland Security, said it was a back channel. You've got the Russians say it's business.

We know about these business contacts. You simply can't run a private business and then sit in the White House and make decisions. There's no way to sort what you're saying to these people, what the intent of the meeting is and what the understanding of the Russian are.

I mean, the Russians are probably just as confused as we are.

Is this Trump administration doing business or is it furthering American national security?

I don't know.

VAUSE: Let's just finish this up by circling back to the derogatory information, the financial information the Russians may have had. I don't link these two events together, Kushner meeting with Gorkov, but it does seem, at least from where I sit, that the investigators are increasingly focusing on all the financial details.

BAER: I think it's financial. You know, Kushner and Ivanka both have business connections with Trump in Azerbaijan, with Russian intelligence officers as well, with Alpha Bank.

There's just multiple contacts. They're suspicious; all of these companies, John, have KGB officers inside of them.

So they are, in effect, arms of the state.

And the question is, you know, what is Russian intelligence doing here? They're very good. And they clearly have us tied up as a country and have the White House tied up. And I'll bet you this is going to be -- we're going to be talking about this next year. Only it's going to be worse.

VAUSE: OK, Bob, thank you. Bob Baer, former CIA operative and security intelligence analyst.

Bob, thank you so much.

BAER: Thank you.

SESAY: White House spokesman Sean Spicer was less than forthcoming about the Russia investigation. A reporter asked when and if President Trump knew about Jared Kushner's alleged attempt to set up back channel negotiations with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: Mr. Kushner's attorney has said that Mr. Kushner has volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. And he will do the same if he's contacted and connected with any other inquiry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Joining us now, Democratic strategist Matt Littman and CNN political commentator, John Phillips, Trump supporter and also a talk radio host --

SESAY: Welcome, guys.

VAUSE: Good to see you both.

John, let's start with you. The White House had, what, now four days to get a clear answer on the Kushner story. They've decided obviously not to clarify anything that was going on. Spicer kind of later hinted the report was inaccurate even though senior members of the administration have been talking about back channels being a good thing.

What's going on?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, people have lots of conversations for lots of different reasons. I'm still not clear what law he violated, what crime he committed. We are doing all of this based on hearsay, based on anonymous sources, based on newspaper reports without attribution.

So I'm still not clear as to what he did wrong -- if anything.

VAUSE: It's called collusion, I guess.

PHILLIPS: Where's the evidence?

(CROSSTALK) VAUSE: Well, that's why they are having an investigation.

PHILLIPS: But there's still no evidence or proof, though.

SESAY: That's what the investigation is --

MATT LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think at this point, you'd have to prove that the Trump administration was not influenced by Russia and there are so many meetings with Russians, that they all forget to put on their security -- on these security forms, it's incredible. I think with Jared Kushner, I think we need to see his tax returns.

[02:15:00]

LITTMAN: We need to see Donald Trump's tax returns, too, to find out what was going on with Russia as well as Jared Kushner's. Jared Kushner meeting in what is really Russian territory, wanting a Russian communications channel to meet with a bank from Russia, to say that this is not going to have anything to do with finances is ridiculous.

PHILLIPS: I would add this. When this meeting took place -- this happened in, what, December?

VAUSE: Yes.

SESAY: Yes.

PHILLIPS: OK, the Obama administration was still in charge of the Department of Justice. That was the most partisan executive branch in my lifetime, where they used the IRS to target Tea Party groups. They went after any abortion activist. They were the ones that were in charge of the investigation into the whole Russia situation, including when that alleged meeting took place.

If something was going on, it was the Obama administration that was investigating --

SESAY: All right.

PHILLIPS: -- and he had, what, a full month to do so?

SESAY: Let me ask you this, Matt.

To all of this, I hear what you're saying, John, but we could go around in circles forever.

Ivanka and Jared have taken the approach that they're are just going to keep their heads down. They're going to keep their heads down and they're going to keep focused on the work.

Is that a successful strategy, in your view?

Where does that leave his portfolio?

LITTMAN: There are few things that can happen here. First thing that should have happened is that the Trump administration

should have come out and said who met with Russians and when. That should have happened.

Jared and Ivanka -- Jared has no experience in government. He's come in and proven that he had no experience in government. He's been put in charge of all these things. Trump only trusts family members, right, so that's why he's doing this with Jared.

At some point it's going to be down to Tiffany Trump who's going to be running these things. But I don't think that they could last inside the administration. Now -- and people aren't going to trust Jared because Jared, in a sense, is compromised, not necessarily by the Russians but by the investigation.

VAUSE: And to your point, John, here, what's the crime here?

I mean, the meeting itself isn't the crime. But there's the wider issue of obstruction of justice, firing the FBI director, which apparently was Kushner's idea. He was the one that urged the president to do it.

Quite often in these impeachment issues -- Bill Clinton will know -- it is not the crime but it's the cover up.

PHILLIPS: And still no law enforcement agency is accused him of committing a crime.

Now on the point of hiring the son-in-law, I'd rather stick my fingers in the garbage disposal than work in the family business, I'm not a fan of hiring family members for reasons exactly like this.

So -- and Jared Kushner also is not someone that represents Donald Trump's voter base. I mean, Jared Kushner is someone who is a Democrat and probably doesn't share many of the same political views as Donald Trump but I think is probably more of a thorn in the side of the president than people think.

VAUSE: OK. The fact that Spicer actually turned up on Tuesday was a bit of a surprise for many people, given all the talk that his role may be reduced. But he was there and he came out ready with an epic open about the president's first overseas trip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: It was an unprecedented first trip abroad, just four months into this administration. And it shows how quickly and decisively the president is acting to strengthen alliances, to form new partnerships and to rebuild America's standing in the world.

The president's address to the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations was a historic turning point that people will be talking about for many years to come. He did exactly as he promised as in his inaugural address, united the civilized world in fighting terrorism and extremism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Matt.

LITTMAN: Can you feel the enthusiasm?

(LAUGHTER)

LITTMAN: Wow. When he says it's unprecedented and historic, true, right.

Listen, it's a --

VAUSE: And we'll be talking about it for years to come.

LITTMAN: -- yes, it's a disaster in terms of our relationships. I mean, if Russia wanted to have influence, we -- today's "New York Times" talks about how Russia's influencing Italy and the United States is out to gain a debt (ph).

Germany says they can't count on the United States anymore in terms of our relationship with NATO and the United States leading.

What more could Russia want from -- ?

Donald Trump hands them secrets when they come into the White House.

What more could Russia possibly want than what the Trump administration is giving them?

SESAY: Well, to your point about Germany, Sean Spicer had a response to that as well and all the talk about frayed relation with Angela Merkel. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: I think the relationship that the president has had with Merkel he would describe as fairly unbelievable. They get along very well. He has a lot of respect for her. They continue to grow the bond that they had during their talks in the G7.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: John, are we operating in the realm of (INAUDIBLE)?

PHILLIPS: I'm critical of his trip to Europe and Asia to the extent that he would have been much better off spending his time building the wall. But I'm happy that he went over there and told those deadbeats to pay up.

SESAY: And Merkel, the relationship with Merkel, fairly unbelievable?

PHILLIPS: Well, she needed to hear it. That's a message that should have been delivered to her by the previous president and the president before him and the president before him. And finally it was Trump that went in there and --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: -- went in there and said that -- other presidents have said --

(CROSSTALK)

LITTMAN: Well, let me just say first of all, Germany is not a deadbeat.

I mean, does Germany have a military base in Palm Springs?

No. But the United States certainly has one in Germany. That's because of Barack Obama, who said that these countries should reach 2 percent of their spending --

[02:20:00]

LITTMAN: -- by 2024 and Germany is starting to increasing the amount for its defense spending. The United States does take more responsibility (INAUDIBLE). But the United States gets a lot out of that relationship. We haven't had a world war since --

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: -- figure that in bananas because apes will be controlling the world by the time people pay up.

(LAUGHTER)

VAUSE: OK, we have to finish up, since you're doing a shtick right now, with comedian Kathy Griffin. She has actually -- she's done apology after she was featured in a photo shoot holding a head which looked like the president's --

SESAY: A bloody head.

VAUSE: -- bloody head, which looked like the president's -- this was the apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: Hey, everybody, it's me, Kathy Griffin. I sincerely apologize. I am just now seeing the reaction of these images. I'm a comic. I crossed the line. I moved the line. Then I crossed it. I went way too far.

The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn't funny. I get it. I've made a lot of mistakes in my career. I will continue. I ask your forgiveness. Taking down the image, going to ask the photographer to take down the image and I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far, I made a mistake and I was wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Of course, Kathy Griffin known for co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve's show with Anderson Cooper, Anderson tweeted this out a short time ago, "For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate."

So, John, as far as the apology we're hearing from Kathy Griffin, is that enough?

PHILLIPS: Kathy's photo didn't offend me, although nothing offends me. The only thing that offends me is when people try to block my free speech or block my ability to hear others' free speech. I think she is a complete and total coward because she's not sorry. She's not apologetic over what she did.

She did the joke. She meant it. Her audience likes that sort of thing. If I were her, I would have owned it and done the same thing on Stephen Colbert and doubled down tonight.

SESAY: Matt.

LITTMAN: When Ted Nugent threatened to kill Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he ended up in the Oval Office visiting President Trump. He certainly didn't apologize.

Kathy Griffin apologized. That was the right thing to do.

VAUSE: But isn't there sort of a -- from a liberal point of view, there is always this outrageous about death threats against the president and the abuse and the bodyslam on the reporter in Montana.

And yet Chelsea Clinton has tweeted about this being violent and disgusting. The response has seemed to be fairly muted from --

LITTMAN: I don't know about people's responses. Obviously the wrong thing to do; is no excuse for it. It was the wrong thing to do.

VAUSE: OK. Then we'll leave it there.

SESAY: Appreciate it. Thank you.

A lively bunch.

Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM L.A., pop star Ariana Grande returns to Manchester Sunday for a benefit concert for the victims of the terror attack of Tuesday night. One of Manchester's own took the stage and it was truly epic.

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[02:25:00]

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SESAY: Pop star Ariana Grande will return to Manchester Sunday to headline a benefit concert for the victims of last week's deadly terror attack and this time she's bringing some of her famous friends, including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

Meanwhile one of Manchester's most famous sons held a show of his own.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

SESAY (voice-over): Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher performed a concert Tuesday night to benefit the victims and their families.

VAUSE (voice-over): The crowd belted out the band's hit, "Don't Look Back in Anger," which has become an anthem for the city since the bombing. The stage was set with 22 candles to honor those killed as the crowd chanted, "Stand up for the 22."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: For more, here's Muhammad Lila, reporting in from that concert in Manchester.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing outside a concert hall where Manchester's own Liam Gallagher is performing. You can see behind me security are screening all of the people that are going inside.

This is a symbolic concert to show the U.K. and in fact the rest of the world that Manchester is moving on after the tragedy. And just as life is moving on the investigation is moving forward as well.

Police carrying out another raid today and they put out images that show the suspect Salman Abedi wheeling around a blue suitcase. They're trying to find more information about the suitcase because Abedi was seen wheeling it around downtown Manchester in the days and in fact in the very hours before the attack took place.

Now police don't believe the suitcase was involved in the attack. They say that the attacker put the explosives in a backpack. But that raises more questions. What was in that suitcase that was so important that Abedi was wheeling it around in the days and hours before the attack?

Now as police scramble to find any remaining leads and any possible co-conspirators in this terror plot, life is slowly moving back to normal and the city is about to get a major morale boost with the announcement that Ariana Grande will be returning here for a benefit concert on Sunday night.

She won't be coming alone. She'll be coming with some of the biggest names in the music world including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. All of them will be here to pay their respects and to honor the victims and the family members of the 22 people who lost their lives here in Manchester. This concert is so significant we caught up with Manchester's mayor today and here is what he told us.

ANDY BURNHAM, MAYOR OF GREATER MANCHESTER: I think it will be quite significant particularly for people who perhaps were at the first concert, who would want to -- to go back and be part of that second concert. I think it will be a positive moment I think where people can begin to look to the future and can at least again enjoy being with each other and taking comfort in that.

LILA: We've been talking to some of the music fans here who are going to the Liam Gallagher concert. They tell us that they and their friends are now frantically trying to get tickets for this weekend's concert. It's believed that at this weekend's concert not only the victims will be honored but also the family members of the victims as well.

So it's bound to be an emotional time but certainly a very important event for Manchester to show the rest of the world that it's healing and that it's moving through this tragedy -- Muhammad Lila, CNN, Manchester.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: A very, very important event.

Time for a quick break now. And a huge blast hits the Afghan capital and their foreign embassies and the presidential palace; at least nine are dead and dozens are wounded. We will go live to Kabul for the very latest -- next.

VAUSE: And if you like your laptop you can keep your laptop on flights from Europe to the U.S., but officials now saying they will not be banned at least for the time being. Details in a moment.

[02:30:00]

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Updating our breaking news now out of Kabul, Afghanistan, the death toll in a suicide blast in the capital has now risen to at least 20 people dead, 300 wounded.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A government spokesman says there was a huge explosion near the foreign embassies in Kabul. There is no claim of responsibility at the moment.

VAUSE: Journalist Jennifer Glass joins us now from Kabul.

So, Jennifer, we're now hearing from the head of Kabul's hospital that at least 20 people have been killed. There are other reports out there that the death toll is already much higher than that.

So what are you hearing?

I think we have some problems with Jennifer's connection there. But obviously these are the latest images that we're now getting in

from Kabul. You see the plume of smoke, which has risen there in an area known as the green zone, it's a diplomatic area of the capital. It's meant to be one of the most secure parts of Kabul.

And we heard earlier this hour from Jessica (INAUDIBLE) with "The Wall Street Journal" that any suicide bomber or attacker would have had to have made his way through many checkpoints to reach that part of Kabul.

And the explosion we understand actually went off far not from the German embassy, which is not far away from the U.S. embassy as well. And again, that revised death toll now 20 dead, at least 300 injured, that latest information coming from the head of Kabul's hospitals.

But the fear of course right now is that number will continue to steadily rise.

SESAY: We'll stay following this story very closely for you and bring you the latest details as they come in to us.

All right. To another story we're following closely for you.

The U.S. may not extend a ban on laptops and other electronics to all international flights to and from the U.S. after all. U.S. officials now appear to be open to alternatives. Right now devices larger than cellphones are banned from the cabins on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa.

VAUSE: A source says European officials expressed their outrage about an expansion to the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday. The U.S. says it's still on the table, though.

SESAY: Heather Williams is a senior international defense policy analyst at the Rand Corporation and once worked at the Department of Homeland Security.

Heather, welcome; good to have you with us.

HEATHER WILLIAMS, RAND CORPORATION: Thank you.

SESAY: So earlier this month when it first came out, this was being considered, this expansion of the laptop ban, let me read to you what the head of IATA -- that's the International Air Transport Association -- let me read to you what he had to say.

He said this, "The responses of Canada, the E.U. and Australia to the same intelligence demonstrate that a ban on large electronic devices in the cabin is not the only way forward. Indeed, we believe that is not sustainable in the long run."

Now we're hearing that Homeland Security appears to open to alternatives through the expansion of the laptop ban.

What does that say to you? WILLIAMS: I think what you're reflecting there that there is no right answer or wrong answer when it comes to how to mitigate a security threat. There are balances that the airline industry would want the homeland security apparatus to make, to recognize the need of travelers.

So I think it's relevant that DHS is looking for alternatives that would hopefully achieve the same effect in mitigating this existing threat. But I think it is relevant that they also haven't discarded the possibility altogether of some sort of a future restriction.

SESAY: You talked about alternatives that would do the same thing --

[02:35:00]

SESAY: -- that would meet the threat in the same way as a ban.

Do those exist?

WILLIAMS: So I think there's no perfect equivalent for any security measure. DHS and the Transportation Security Administration use a layer-based security. So the idea is that the one layer would compensate for weaknesses or vulnerabilities that might present in another.

Potential alternatives could be things like more sophisticated equipment that can do more reliable screening of these types of apparatus. It could even involve things like enhancing the posture of federal air marshals, who are on flights to help protect if it looks like someone might be trying to tamper with or use the laptop in some sort of a way that might show an explosive device.

SESAY: But let's be clear, as we just said, it is still on the table as a possibility, banning devices larger than cellphone.

What about the point made by the IATA chief that, in the long run, it is not sustainable to keep that going?

WILLIAMS: So that's an area where I would take the opposite approach. So I think what happens with a lot of these types of measures is they really disrupt the industry at first but then, over time, the industry has the opportunity to adjust.

So Emirates, for example, which already is not authorized to have laptops in the cabin on flights to the U.S. and the U.K. has already looked at providing laptops to passengers, who could bring a thumb drive with their personal files and use that as a workaround.

So I actually think over time you might have other ways in which the industry is able to compensate. And it may not be needed over time. So this appears to be a response to an actual threat that might have existed and that threat may go away.

SESAY: I want to ask you a question that has been posed by many people.

Simply why is a threat of a laptop bomb placed in a cargo hold less than the threat of it being in the cabin?

WILLIAMS: Right. So the plane is vulnerable at different times in its transit and in different places, more vulnerable than others. So the difference is if you are a passenger, you have some control over when a device might detonate or where you might physically be; whereas, if the device is put in a cargo hold, you wouldn't have those same controls.

SESAY: But if there's a fire?

WILLIAMS: If there's a fire, then there's certainly a risk to the aircraft. I don't know the details of planes but I'm sure there's fire suppression and fire detection systems in cargo holds.

These are the only things that could potentially catch on fire. But this is another way in which the long term might see some sort of industry solution. So perhaps there needs to be a fire safe, box that laptops are checked into to help eliminate the risk of a fire breaking out and affecting the rest of the plane.

SESAY: OK, final question and quickly. From the traveler's perspective -- I'm going to ask you almost as a consumer question -- if any of this goes through and everyone puts their laptops in the cargo hold and that's that and something happens to the device, i.e. it's lost or damaged, whatever, who will be responsible?

I'm asking this actually more for my producer, who is very interested in this point.

WILLIAMS: I think that doesn't change. There's already parameters for if you put some sort of valuables inside of the cargo bin.

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: But the potential for chaos there is great.

WILLIAMS: Right. Well, one nice thing is we've enhanced the way in which bags are screened so often there are pictures of what exactly was in your bag.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: -- what you had.

(LAUGHTER)

SESAY: Heather Williams, we appreciate it. Thanks for the insight.

WILLIAMS: Great, thank you.

VAUSE: Well, still to come here, will they stay or will they go?

The United States just days away now from a decision on whether or not to stick with the Paris climate accord. More details in a moment.

(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:40:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

SESAY: Well, any day now we're expecting to find out whether President Trump will carry out his threat and pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. Mr. Donald Trump has signaled he is ready to leave, having famously dismissed climate change as a hoax while on the campaign trail.

VAUSE: He did say later that was a joke. But a final decision has still not been made. On Tuesday, though, Mr. Trump met with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and, in the past, President Trump has said he wants a fair deal for the American people.

SESAY: Well, Isa Soares has more for us from London.

And, Isa, European leaders around the world are waiting anxiously for the U.S. president's decision.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so.

Good evening to you, Isha.

Good evening to you, John.

We have heard from world leaders, in particular G7 leaders meeting last week, if you remember, Isha, in Sicily, where they're really reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris accord that has seen more than 200 and so countries back the deal.

We also heard from Chancellor Merkel, Angela Merkel, who basically said -- I'm quoting her here -- the discussion on climate change "was difficult." Those were her words.

So what we are seeing is President Trump somewhat isolated when it comes to this. But not only with the G7, also within the 28-member alliance of NATO because NATO has said come out and said that climate change poses a security threat, in particular, Isha, to the Middle East, where we see displacement of people when we're talking about severe drought in the country.

We've heard from them and also from the U.N. climate chief and Dounia Guterres (ph), who says it is absolutely essential that the Paris accord is met. At the same time, you have beside the international pressure, Isha, you also have internal pressure in the White House because you have got Ivanka Trump, his daughter, and Jared Kushner, her husband, who want in, according to reports. But Steve Bannon, who wants out. You are starting to see the picture and more importantly those who backed President Trump, the voters.

And those are critical because he said time and time again, during the campaign trail, that he wants to bring coal back and calling the Paris climate change agreement a hoax invented by the Chinese. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES (voice-over): Hailed as historic, the climate Paris climate accord united 195 countries in a single agreement to tackle climate change, all pledging to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. Crucially and for the first time, it included the two biggest greenhouse emitters, China and the United States.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today the world meets the moment and if we follow through on the commitments that this Paris agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet.

SOARES: Almost two years on, there are fears the U.S.'s new commander-in-chief could undermine the ambitious deal. After all, it was one of his campaign pledges.

TRUMP: We're going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Unbelievable. And stop all payments of the United States tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

SOARES: Now in office, Mr. Trump continues to be a critic of climate change. He's moved to dismantle the clean power plan and has restarted a coal leasing program on federal land, raising concerns that this may be one of the most anti-scientific administrations in a while.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward. We're not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.

SOARES: These statements have Europe nervous. In a statement to CNN, Arias Canete, Europe's energy and climate commissioner, says, "It's clear that we cannot expect the same kind of leadership from the U.S. following the change in administration.

What is clear is that while some look back, the E.U., China and many other major economies look ahead. We continue to hope the U.S. will find a way to remain within the Paris agreement and to remain committed to the Paris goals."

[02:45:00]

SOARES: It's not just politicians sounding alarm bells. Climate change advocates and scientists are worried, too.

JOANNA HAIGH, CO-DIRECTOR, GRANTHAM INSTITUTE AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE: With the U.S. and President Trump suggesting they'll withdraw from the Paris agreement, this is a big threat. They are producing something like a fifth of the world's carbon emissions at the moment.

And if they were to rescind on their commitment, which was to reduce the CO2 from the U.S. by 26 percent by 2025, this would have a large impact on the whole global picture.

SOARES: If President Trump wants out and the terms of the Paris climate change agreement, it can take as many as four years, by which point his term would have ended. Or he can stay in, in name only, simply ignoring all the commitments.

Either way the fear is that a withdrawal would weaken the credibility of the pact. Potentially inspiring other countries to pull out too. But climate advocates believe the deal can survive with the support of the remaining countries, in particular, China, a belief that says this deal is bigger than any one man.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOARES: We are also hoping, as we heard from European commissioner there on climate change earlier, he was basically saying, hoping that he sees President Trump's, his economic sense, Isha, after all we have heard from a lot of the big U.S. companies, ExxonMobil as well as Chevron, calling on President Trump to back this deal.

Why, you might be scratching their head, they're big on oil.

Why would they be doing that?

Because they've invested so much money on clean energy so they're saying this makes sense; we need to be on the same level playing field as everyone else -- Isha.

SESAY: We'll see if the decision comes this week. Isa Soares there in London, Isa, thank you.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) police records seem to support Tiger Woods' story of what led to that DUI charge but hear why that might not be enough to protect him legally.

SESAY: Plus a man in California tries to go back to the future in his DeLorian but ends up with a costly speeding ticket.

Just how fast was he going?

VAUSE: Oh, 88-something miles.

(LAUGHTER)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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VAUSE: More now on our breaking news. The toll has risen dramatically from a suicide blast in the Afghanistan capital; at least 20 people killed, 300 wounded.

SESAY: This happened in an area known as the green zone, which houses Western embassies and the homes of high-ranking officials. A report on the scene says a vehicle detonated near the entrance to the zone. There's been no claim of responsibility so far.

VAUSE: Police say Tiger Woods' car had fresh damage when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Woods was found asleep at the wheel early Monday in Florida. The car was running on the side of the road.

SESAY: But police say his breathalyzer test came back totally clean and that would appear to back up Woods, who said alcohol was not involved. He blamed an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Criminal defense attorney Trey Slaten (ph) joins us here now for more on this.

We now know a little bit more from the police report and it does back up the statement that Woods put out last night that this was because of medication and not alcohol. But under Florida law it could be alcohol, illegal drugs or medication. It doesn't really matter, does it?

TREY SLATEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Under Florida law, you can be charged with a DUI whether you were driving the vehicle or whether you just had operational control of the vehicle and you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs -- whether they be prescription or --

[02:50:00]

SLATEN: -- illegal drugs -- or a combination of both.

We know that Tiger blew 0.0 on a breathalyzer test, also a urinalysis that he gave apparently showed negative for alcohol. But drugs is going to be the issue.

VAUSE: Describe the control of the vehicle.

Does that mean having a key in the ignition, the key in your pocket, asleep in the front seat, which it sounds like this was the case.

So (INAUDIBLE) he was in control?

SLATEN: When we are talking about somewhere like here in California, you actually have to be driving the vehicle. There has to be volitional movement to the vehicle.

In Florida, you can be in the back seat of the car with the keys out of the ignition and the car off and as long as you could control the vehicle --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: That's tough.

SLATEN: -- that's a DUI. But apparently he was asleep at the wheel, the engine was going, he had his foot on the brakes, the blinker was going -- VAUSE: I thought it was in the middle of the road. I'm not sure where the car was; that seems to be one point which is unclear.

If you look at the statement that Woods made last night, part of it read, "I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions."

At this point, that would seem to indicate that he is not going to fight this (INAUDIBLE) some kind of plea deal.

SLATEN: That's what it looks like at this point. And in Florida, a disposition -- that means what your punishment would be when you are convicted of DUI -- is pretty standard. He is going to get -- if he accepts responsibility and pleads guilty or no contest --

VAUSE: Will this save, in effect, future proceedings in a court?

SLATEN: Well, he didn't really admit guilt. One of the things that will be interesting is with regard to urine analysis, it's not as good as blood. It will tell what he had in his body at some point in the past.

But there is a real difficult way to tell what the timeline is when you are doing a urinalysis.

VAUSE: So that the penalty in Florida for drugs, medication and alcohol...

SLATEN: It could be a $500 fine up to about $1,000. He is not likely to do any jail time.

VAUSE: Can he plead this down to reckless driving?

SLATEN: It's possible.

VAUSE: OK. Anything's possible.

SLATEN: Yes.

VAUSE: OK.

Some of the details in the police report about the damage to Woods' car, both rims on the driver's side of the vehicle were damaged, both tires on the side were flat. There was damage to the driver's side bumper area with white scrapes and stuffs on the rear bumper and the rear taillight was not working. Woods fell asleep during his encounter with police, clearly something happened before the law enforcement arrived.

How does all this play into his legal trouble?

SLATEN: There is no evidence that he was in some sort of hit-and-run accident. There is some damage to the vehicle; we don't know when it happened. There's no other parties that have stepped forward at this point that said Tiger Woods crashed into me or we saw him crash into our house or a parked car. There's no evidence of that. So at this point, he is just being charged with unlawfully parking and the DUI.

VAUSE: One of those is more serious than the other. On a plus side, the report says he was cooperative.

Does that play in any way into getting a plea deal?

SLATEN: The prosecutors are human. When they look about what type of disposition that they will offer on a case like this, they want to see was the person cooperative, were they nice, did they put up a fight, did they try to battle the police officer at the point of arrest?

None of that happened here.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) there were some reports early on that he was arrogant in dealing with the police. Clearly that wasn't the case.

Bigger picture here, how could something like this impact his sponsors?

He's got a deal with Nike, for instance, I think worth $20 million. You would imagine there's a morals clause in those deals, right?

SLATEN: Absolutely. And every single contract that a sponsor has, especially of a big athlete, there is a morals clause. And this will give them a way out if they want to get out. So they have to make a determination whether they think that Tiger Woods can still be a valuable asset.

VAUSE: Do they have a timeframe on that decision?

Or can they pull the trigger anytime?

SLATEN: I think they can do it at any time.

If Tiger Woods is going to do something that is going to bring disrepute to the brand, then they can cut him loose.

VAUSE: So it's very important how he handles it and rehabilitates his image from this point on.

Trey, thanks for coming in.

SLATEN: Thanks, John.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Great Scott!

OK. A DeLorian!

SESAY: Make it stop.

VAUSE: Open road, 88 miles an hour.

You know what that means, don't you?

No, you don't.

Sadly, though, without a flux capacitor and plutonium, it means there's no time travel.

SESAY: It all happened here in Southern California. While the driver, Spencer White, never made it back to the future, he did get an epic traffic ticket. He cruised with CNN affiliate KTLA has the story.

VAUSE: Great Scott!

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): When it comes to iconic movie cars, it really doesn't get much cooler than the "Back to the Future" DeLorian.

[02:55:00]

(VIDEO CLIP, "BACK TO THE FUTURE")

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR, "MARTY MCFLY": It's a DeLorian!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): And every "Back to the Future" fan knows, if you want to time travel, you got to hit 88 miles an hour.

CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, ACTOR, "DR. EMMETT BROWN": When this baby hits 88 miles per hour you're going to see some serious (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): New DeLorian owner Spencer White found himself in serious stuff while driving on the 14 Antelope Valley Freeway in the Santa Clarita area.

SPENCER WHITE, DELORIAN DRIVER: I looked at my speedometer and it was saying I was going about 85 miles an hour.

My mom, she's looking at me and she just says, "Take it up to 88, let's do it."

So I took it up to 88 and I was up to 88 for about two seconds, right, and immediately I saw a police officer pulling behind me.

The police officer walks up, he said, "I pulled you over for speeding, do you know how fast you were going?"

I said, "Did you get me on the radar gun?"

And he said, "Yes, I did."

He says, "You were going 88 miles an hour."

"BROWN": 88 miles per hour!

WHITE: I just started busting up laughing; my mom starts busting up laughing, he's even got this big grin on his face like he's won the lottery.

He goes back to his car and then he comes back immediately and he's got the radar gun and he says, "Hey, do you want to take a picture of it?"

And I said, "Yes, of course, I do," because the car and everything, it just was hilarious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of a shame, though, you didn't just shoot off into a trail of fire.

WHITE: Exactly, exactly, you know, and I didn't have the flux capacitor in the car at the time. And I was also out of plutonium.

I thought for a second maybe he was going to give me a warning until he came back.

He said, "OK, I've got to do my job."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The speeding ticket didn't cost nearly as much as stolen plutonium from Libyan terrorists, but still wasn't cheap.

WHITE: Probably about $350-$400.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really makes you wish you could go back in time to before you got pulled over, doesn't it?

WHITE: I suppose, yes, although according to some of the DeLorian owners and stuff like that, that's kind of the dream ticket.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: OK, two things about this, I do not believe that he was going 88 miles in just two seconds and then the cops pulled him over -- and he's with his mom.

(LAUGHTER)

SESAY: That gives it a whole...

You want to say it one last time?

VAUSE: Great Scott!

SESAY: There you go.

You're watching CNN --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: -- you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. The news continues with Max Foster in London after a short break. You've been watching us on CNN. 'Bye.