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Barbara Bush 1925-2018; Secret Meeting Between Pompeo & Kim Jong Un; Moments of Terror on Deadly Flight; Nikki Haley Fires Back Over Sanctions "Confusion". Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Condolences continue to pour in for Barbara Bush. Formidable, no nonsense wife of one American president and mother of another.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, sources confirm a secret meeting between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we're going down, I have no idea, are we near a runway?


BRIGGS: Survivors describe moments of terror after a midair jet engine blast that killed a fellow passenger.

ROMANS: President Trump's U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley fires back, refusing to take the blame for confusion over sanctions on Russia.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Extraordinary rebuke of the White House.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Dave Briggs. Wednesday, April 18th, Tax Day 2.

ROMANS: Yes. Today is Tax Day.


ROMANS: Not yesterday. Seems the IRS had trouble with tax day yesterday. So today you have to have your taxes filed.

BRIGGS: A mulligan if you will; 4:01 Eastern Time.

Breaking news this morning, that President Trump has ordered flags flown at half staff at the White House and across the nation to honor former First Lady Barbara Bush. She died last night at the age of 92. A public viewing set for Friday in Houston with the private funeral to follow on Saturday. She'll be laid to rest in a family plot in College Station, Texas. ROMANS: She was, of course, the wife of one former president and the

mother of a president, as well. The chief of staff of her husband George H.W. Bush said he was broken hearted and held her hand as she left this good earth.

In a statement, George W. Bush, her son, wrote: I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother.

For more reaction, we go to CNN's Nick Valencia at the Bush family home in Houston.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, shortly after the news of Barbara Bush's passing was announced on social media by the Bush family spokesman, neighbors and friends and family, loved ones of Barbara Bush began to gather here just outside of the residence of the Bush family. They spoke about the memories they had and shared. And often seeing over the years, Barbara Bush walking around this neighborhood, neighbors saying there was no ego about her.

I spoke to Lindy and Larry Nyhouse (ph), they were close friends with the Bush family. In fact, they said they had the great misfortune of also losing a child. Barbara Bush lost one very early on.

They said they were comforted by sharing the similar bond. They said that Barbara Bush was incredibly funny, charismatic, just a stellar woman. And they said that is how they will always remember her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was just the ultimate lady. She was the ultimate lady, and they had the ultimate marriage. She just was so kind and gentle and yet had a fabulous sense of humor. Fabulous sense of humor.

VALENCIA: Measured by what? What was it like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my gosh, she was down to earth. I mean, that was the main thing. She'd be walking around the park with everybody else. I mean, she didn't -- had no ego. Just was so giving all the time.

VALENCIA: It was over the weekend that we learned that Barbara Bush decided to not seek additional medical treatment. She did not want to go to the hospital, choosing to live her final days here in her residence in comfort care surrounded by her family. She had battled for at least two years, COPD as well as congestive heart failure. And she passed away surrounded by her loved ones.

In the coming days, she will have a service at St. Marcus Episcopal Church in Texas -- Dave, Christine.


BRIGGS: Nick Valencia, thanks. Barbara Bush was actually the second woman to be the wife and mother

of two presidents. Abigail Adams, the first, wife to John Adams, and mother of John Quincy Adams.

Back when Mrs. Bush was in the White House, CNN's Larry King asked her to explain how it felt.


LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: What is it like, Barbara, to be the mother of a president?

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: It's worrisome because you worry about the responsibilities. Having said that, it's not very much different from the children. We were in Washington last week and I got there before George, and Laura was overseas. And it really touched me, the president came out and met me at the door. I would feel the same if Doro stopped working or Marvin stopped working and came out of the building. I really loved it.


ROMANS: And the mother Dave points out, of the successful two-term president from the state of Florida. So, a political family, no question.

Other first families also spoke from the heart about Barbara Bush last night. The president and Mrs. Trump released a statement saying she will long be delivered for her strong devotion to country and family. Both of which she served unfailingly well. The president and first lady's thoughts and prayers with the friends and family of Mrs. Bush.

BRIGGS: Barack and Michelle Obama wrote: We'll always be grateful to Mrs. Bush for the generosity she showed us throughout our time in the White House. But we're even more grateful for the way she lived her life as a testament to the fact that public service is an important and noble calling, as an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit.

[04:05:07] ROMANS: Bill and Hillary Clinton also released a statement saying: Mrs. Bush had grit and grace, brains and beauty. She was fierce and feisty in support of her family and friends, her country and her causes. She showed us what an honest, vibrant, full of life looks like.

BRIGGS: Mrs. Bush well known for her feistiness during her speech at Wellesley College which was controversial in Massachusetts. She encouraged students to believe in something larger than yourself and added unexpected wisdom from the classic 1980s film, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."


BARBARA BUSH: Find the joy in life because as Ferris Bueller said on his day off, life movement pretty fast, and if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you're going to miss it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Former First Lady Barbara Bush dead at the age of 92.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, sources tell CNN, CIA Director Mike Pompeo met secretly with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang earlier this month. He was accompanied by intelligence officials but did not take anyone from the White House or State Department with him. The meeting with Kim over the Easter weekend, laying the groundwork for a late May or early June summit between the North Korean leader and President Trump.

CNN's Will Ripley tracking the latest live from Hong Kong.

Will, so glad to have your perspective and insight this morning to know that Mike Pompeo met directly with the North Korean leader, his entourage of intelligence officials, not a big delegation. What do you make of this?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, it's remarkable that they were able to keep it a secret this long given that this administration is notorious for leaks. But it just goes to show that they wanted to keep things pretty secret, which is kind of in a stark contrast to the way President Trump and his administration handled this from the beginning, with that announcement just hours after their meeting, that he had agreed to this summit, President Trump, when he thinks about things, he often wants to say it. I mean, we got the first hints about this meeting because President Trump was speaking on Tuesday at the White House, alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Now, an administration official with knowledge of this meeting tells me that it was a good meeting between Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un. They seemed get along fairly well. Kim Jong-un described as personable, as very well-versed with the subject material. He had notes in front of him, several pages of notes.

And the major sticking point in this meeting was finding the appropriate venue. The site where they're going to do this. South Korea has offered to host the meeting, the United States reportedly wants a more neutral location. President Trump said they're looking at five sites right now, saying that this could happen very soon, either early June or perhaps even sooner.

And it really is just a remarkable turn of events, Christine, when you think about the fact that just a short time ago, a lot of people were ridiculing Kim Jong-un, calling him the leader of a global pariah. And now, he has world leaders literally ling up to meet with him.

Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea next week. Next month, potentially President Trump. We're learning that Chinese President Xi Jinping may be preparing to visit Pyongyang, also next month, possibly before or after President Trump's summit. Then also word that Japan and Russia also want to meet with Kim Jong-un. It is just truly extraordinary.

ROMANS: Will, is the change the president of the United States?

RIPLEY: I think the legitimacy that a summit with President Trump provides Kim Jong-un is something that the North Korean leadership has craved for some time. They want respect. They want to be seen as legitimate on a global stage.

And the fact that President Trump agreed to this meeting has really been a game changer. So, Kim Jong-un almost wins going into this. Of course, the stakes are much higher for the United States and South Korea because they have to figure out a way to convince Kim to give up the missile program that arguably has gotten him to this point. And the price will not be cheap. The price will be far higher than it was in 1994 when the agreed framework was established.

Of course, that deal fell apart for a lot of reasons. The United States was late on fuel shipments, North Korea was developing nuclear weapons material secretly. And in the end, you had two parties walking in who really don't trust each other. They're going to have to figure out how to overcome that and how to somehow agree to a denuclearization deal that North Korea can feel good about.

But the United States also is not going to be keen to pull out of the Korean peninsula and get rid of the nuclear umbrella that protects South Korea and Japan, which has been a long-standing North Korean demand.

ROMANS: All right. Will Ripley in Hong Kong for us -- thank you, Will.

BRIGGS: All right. Now to that Southwest Airlines explosion. The female passenger who died on a Dallas-bound Southwest flight has been identified as Jennifer Riordan, 43-year-old Wells Fargo employee and married mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Passengers say they tried to pull her back into the cabin after she was literally sucked into a hole caused by an engine fan blade that apparently broke off and shattered a window. Witnesses describe a desperate, chaotic scene as alarms sounded 20 minutes after takeoff.

More now from CNN's Polo Sandoval in Philadelphia.


[04:10:01] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Dave, this morning, the passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 are either at home or they're still trying to get there after what was a day that they will never forget.

They left New York's LaGuardia Airport yesterday headed to Texas. Not long into that 4-hour flight passengers reported hearing a thud -- an explosion.

They looked out the left windows of the Boeing 737 and they saw that one of those two engines was destroyed. There was some kind of issue there sending debris and shrapnel towards the fuselage, severely damaging, breaking a window, and causing a massive and sudden depressurization. It certainly made for a terrifying scene here. Witnesses -- some of

the passengers describing some of those people on board the plane holding a woman in place, keeping her from literally getting sucked out of the aircraft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody screamed and we realized what had happened when the window went out. And so, I tried and tried and I couldn't -- I just couldn't. And then Andrew came over and was trying to get her -- was trying to get her back in.

I feel like I didn't get much done. I couldn't do anything for her -- just get her back in the plane.

SANDOVAL: We later found out that that woman, sadly, did not make it -- the one fatality involved here.

We have heard many of these stories. People essentially reaching out to their loved ones thinking that those would be their final moments.

The task now for the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to find out exactly what went wrong -- Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: Certainly our condolences to her family. Marty Martinez was a passenger on Southwest Flight 1380. He tells CNN he did not expect to survive the ordeal, so he fired up Facebook live as the plane was descending to say good-bye to his loved ones. Listen to him describe the scene.


MARTY MARTINEZ, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES PASSENGER: You hear on the intercom a panic, brace for landing, brace for landing. I looked to my right out the window, and I see a city that I wasn't familiar with. And come to find out later it was Philadelphia. But as we're going down, I have no idea are we near a runway. I see the tops of -- of Philadelphia, the top of the buildings, and are we going to crash into the skyscrapers? Are we going to land on a runway? I was completely unclear.


BRIGGS: Mind-boggling.

CNN has obtained air traffic control audio of the pilot contacting the shower -- the tower shortly after the engine blew. She asked to have medics on the ground to treat injured passengers.


ATC: Injured passengers, OK, and are you -- is your airplane physically on fire?

PILOT: Not fire, not fire, but part of it's missing. They said there's a hole, and someone went out. ATC: I'm sorry, you said there was a hole and somebody went out?

Southwest 1380, it doesn't matter. We'll work it out there.


BRIGGS: Wow. After that, the air traffic controller alerts other planes to prepare for the airport to be shut down.

ROMANS: All right. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

Starbucks will close 8,000 of its U.S. stores on May 25th for racial bias training. The companywide training follows the uproar after this video went viral. It shows arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks. The men say they were simply waiting for a friend. The manager accused them of trespassing, called police, sparking accusations of discrimination and calls for a boycott.

CEO Kevin Johnson, who met with the men to apologize, told CNN's Don Lemon his heart sank when he saw that video.


KEVIN JOHNSON, STARBUCK CEO: Sitting across from these young men and trying to understand how this could happen in today's society in a Starbucks, in a Starbucks where our mission is around the human experience. For me, it's a learning experience. It's an emotional learning experience. And I take it personally. So, yes, I'm affected by it. I'm going to fix it.


ROMANS: This training is going to cover 175,000 workers. It will be developed with experts including former Attorney General Eric Holder and Cheryl Eiffel, president of the NAACP legal defense fund. Johnson says the training is just the first step. Adding it's his responsibility to make sure every Starbucks customer feels safe and welcome.

When that news broke that 8,000 Starbucks will close the afternoon of May 25th, close, it's giving up profit to make sure that their employees know what they are doing in these sort of instances.

BRIGGS: There's so much here. There's protests to the right. Protests to the left. There seems to be no dialogue in the middle.

This is a story involving racial bias. It's unfortunate. Why does everything have to involve boycott and not actual discussion and dialogue?

ROMANS: And the protest of it, right, is that Starbucks are somehow snowflakes in Seattle who can't say this is an isolated incident and you don't need to close all the stores to fix it. Obviously, the CEO thinks otherwise.

BRIGGS: Let us know what you think on Twitter.

President Trump's U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley not backing down on a conflict with the White House over Russian sanctions. That's next.


[04:18:54] ROMANS: All right. Nikki Haley lashing back about accusation she was confused about the Trump administration plans to crack down on Russia support for the Syrian regime. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. sounded certain about those plans, even citing the treasury secretary by name when she appeared on Sunday talk shows.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: So, you will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn't already. And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use.


BRIGGS: Twenty-four hours later, the White House was walking back her claims. And now administration officials including economic adviser Larry Kudlow saying President Trump has not made a decision on how or even whether to impose sanctions.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: She got ahead of the curve. She's done a great job. She's a very effective ambassador.

There might have been some momentary confusion about that. But if you talk to Steve Mnuchin at Treasury and so forth, he will tell you the same thing -- they're in charge of this.

We have had sanctions. Additional sanctions are under consideration but not implemented.


[04:20:01] BRIGGS: Haley was not having any of that, saying in a statement: With all due respect, I don't get confused. Burn.

A White House official says that -- since then Kudlow has apologized to Haley. Some administration officials say her original comments surprised them. They say in the past she has pre-cleared such remarks directly with the president to avoid publicly contradicting him. Stay tuned. This story is not yet over.

ROMANS: Yes. One wonders on the global stage how that looks, who is speaking for White House policy here.

BRIGGS: No one. Just the president.

ROMANS: Right.

All right. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch citing with liberals on a federal immigration law. The justices validated a provision mandating a deportation of immigrants of what the law calls crimes of violence which the court rule is unconstitutionally vague. Arguments were presented twice so that Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, could break the 5-4 tie.

BRIGGS: Ahead, Stormy Daniels and her lawyer offering a reward if you recognize this man. A man that she says threatened her. That's next.


[04:25:41] BRIGGS: All right. Stormy Daniels update. She is offering a $100,000 to anyone who can identify this man in a composite sketch. The adult film star claims he threatened her seven years ago. Daniels describing an alleged encounter in an appearance on "The View."


STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: He had his hands in his pocket and looked at my daughter. I remember him saying, it's a beautiful little girl. It would be a shame if something happened to her mom. Forget about this story. Leave Mr. Trump alone.


BRIGGS: Daniels says she did not report the threat because she feared her husband would find out about her affair with Donald Trump.


DANIELS: I would have had to tell an entire police department. And police reports are public record, I know that for a fact. I had sex with Donald Trump. And then the whole world would have known, and I was in the process of trying to quiet that or figure out what to do. And honestly, I was just afraid and didn't want everyone to know.


BRIGGS: Daniels claims the threat took place right after she agreed to sell the story for the affair with Trump to a magazine for $15,000.

ROMANS: All right. Former FBI Director James Comey's media blitz included a stop on "Late Night with Stephen Colbert." Here's what Comey said about the colorful, and some say, too snarky description of his looks in the memoir.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Because I'm trying to be an author. And I'm sitting there typing, and I can hear my editor saying, bring the reader with you. Show the reader that room.

And so, I say in there, I talk about how skinny President Obama is. I describe John Ashcroft's skin color when he's in intensive care. I'm trying to bring the reader with me. I'm not trying to make fun of John Ashcroft, or Barack Obama, or even Donald Trump and I'm trying to observe and report. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Comey also said the president tweets at him like the breakup he can't get over.

BRIGGS: Interesting take.

Ahead, First Lady Barbara Bush, the unlikely enforcer of the Bush family dynasty. We remember her, next.