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Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dead at 92; Secret Meeting Between Pompeo & Kim Jong Un; Moments of Terror on Deadly Flight; Nikki Haley Fires Back Over Sanctions "Confusion"; Francisco Lindor Hits Emotional Home Run in Puerto Rico. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Condolences pour in for Barbara Bush, formidable, no nonsense wife of one president, American president, and a mother of another.

[05:00:01] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And 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?


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

BRIGGS: And President U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley fires back, refusing to take the blame for, quote, "confusion" over sanctions on Russia.

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for getting an early start with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, April 18th. Tax Day. If you couldn't do it yesterday because the IRS Website broke, you can do it today. You have an extra day.

But our breaking news this morning, 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 age 92. A public viewing is set for Friday in Houston with a private funeral to follow on Saturday. She'll be laid to rest in a family plot in College Station, Texas.

BRIGGS: She was, of course, the wife of one former president and the mother of a second. The chief of staff for George H.W. Bush said her husband was, quote, "broken hearted," and that he held her hand all day and was at her side when she left this good earth. In a statement, George W. Bush wrote: I'm a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother.

With more on the former first lady and her legacy, CNN's Wolf Blitzer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America loves Barbara Bush.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barbara Bush was the woman behind two U.S. presidents. The wife of one, the mother of another.

Barbara Pierce was born in Queens, New York on June 8th, 1925. She grew up in suburban New York.

At a Connecticut country club dance, she met a young man who would change her life, George Herbert Walker Bush.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I was square all through high school. I just tried to do the best I could. I was a -- I married the first man I ever kissed. You talk about a bore, I am the world's worst.

BLITZER: George Bush focused on building an oil business. Barbara Bush focused on building a family.

George Bush eventually entered a life of public service and while Barbara's candor might not have made a good match for his job as CIA director --

B. BUSH: That's because I can't keep a secret.

BLITZER: -- her charm was a definite asset to her husband's political career.

B. BUSH: Find the joy in life because as Ferris Bueller said on his day off, life moves pretty fast and if you don't stop and look around once in a while you're to miss it.

BLITZER: George Bush served two terms in Congress and in 1980, was elected as Ronald Reagan's vice president. Eight years later he sat in the Oval Office.

Barbara Bush loved living in the White House, keeping diaries of her time there and using them to help write her memoirs. Two other books showed her lighter side and a dog's eye view of the executive mansion.

B. BUSH: I must tell you --

BLITZER: Mrs. Bush knew well her vision of a first lady's role.

B. BUSH: I think the person who has the courage to run for the office is the one you should hear, not the wife or the husband. Having said that, of course, I told George how I felt.

BLITZER: For George and Barbara, their more than 60 years together included decades of devotion -- this letter to her, written by George while he was serving in World War II. GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love you

precious with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours someday. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you.

BLITZER: Two of those children, George W. and Jeb, would solidify the Bush political dynasty as president and Florida governor. But in a surprising comment in 2013 as talk of a presidential run by Jeb swirled, the matriarch told NBC's "TODAY" show there should be a limit on the family's White House claim.

B. BUSH: There are other people out there that are very qualified and we've had enough Bushes.

BLITZER: But after Jeb did decide to run for the 2016 Republican nomination she fully backed him and hit the campaign trail.

B. BUSH: He's decent and honest. He's everything we need in a president.

BLITZER: In or out of politics, the legacy Barbara Bush nurtured will live on through her family, children, and grandchildren.

B. BUSH: I know that I'm the world's luckiest woman. I think if I sort of put it in a nutshell, these are the things that are important to me -- faith, family, and friends.


BRIGGS: What a great look back at her life and legacy. Other first families also spoke from the heart about Barbara Bush last night.

The president and Mrs. Trump releasing a statement saying she will long be remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well.

[05:05:02] The president and first lady's thoughts and prayers with the family and friends of Mrs. Bush.

ROMANS: Barack and Michelle wrote: We'll always be grateful to Mrs. Bush for the generosity she showed us throughout our time at the White House. 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.

BRIGGS: Bill and Hillary Clinton releasing 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 life looks like.

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

Also breaking, sources tell 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. A meeting with Kim over 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 from Hong Kong.

Will, just an extraordinary developments, and no one knows the situation like you. You've been to Pyongyang more than a dozen times. What's your reaction?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is encouraging to those who are watching the situation that Mike Pompeo was able to go to Pyongyang and have what has been described as a relatively pleasant meeting with Kim Jong-un. The North Korean leader walked into the room. A source familiar with the meeting tells me that he was personable and very well-prepared. He had several sheets of notes in front of him. And he spoke with Mike Pompeo.

The big thing they were trying to work out is logistics, where are they going to have the summit. President Trump on Tuesday said there were five sites they're considering. We know that South Korea has offered to host the summit. The capital of Mongolia has been thrown around as an option. Singapore or perhaps locations in Sweden or Switzerland.

But there's still -- they haven't been able to hammer out where they'll do this. That's step one. Step two, how are they going to broach the huge issue of denuclearization. North Korea said they're willing to give up nukes, but in the past, they said all U.S. forces must withdraw from the Korean peninsula, which is a non-starter for the U.S. They've also insisted that the American nuclear umbrella that protects South Korea and Japan go away -- also a non-starter for the U.S.

So, it will be hard to see exactly how the sides will come together. One thing we know for sure, the price will be much higher for North Korea to consider denuclearizing than it was back in 1994 when the agreed framework was agreed upon that was negotiated during the Clinton years. We know that deal eventually fell apart, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, sure have come a long way. Will Ripley for us in Hong Kong, thanks.

ROMANS: All right. The female passenger who died on a Dallas-bound Southwest flight has been identified as Jennifer Riordan, 43-year-old Wells Fargo employee, a married mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fellow 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.

We get more this morning from CNN's Polo Sandoval in Philadelphia.


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: Polo Sandoval, thank you.

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

[05:10:04] CEO Kevin Johnson, who met with the men to apologize, told CNN's Don Lemon his heart sank when he saw the 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: The training which covers 175,000 workers will be developed with experts including former Attorney General Eric Holder and Sherrilyn Ifill, 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.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, President Trump's U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley not backing down. The conflict with the White House over Russian sanctions. That's next.


[05:15:16] BRIGGS: There seems to be confusion in the Trump administration over a new round of sanctions on Russia.

Here's U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday.


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.


BRIGGS: That, of course, didn't happen Monday.

Here's White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow Tuesday.


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.


BRIGGS: So she got ahead of the curve.

Haley was not having that saying: With all due respect, I don't get confused.

The White House says Kudlow has since apologized to Haley.

ROMANS: So, how does there work out here? Joining us this morning, CNN politics digital director Zach Wolf live for us in Washington.

Good morning.

She seemed very certain on Sunday about retribution to the Russians over their behavior in Syria. And now, this administration doesn't seem to be speaking with one voice at all.

ZACHAR WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Well, she doesn't want to be portrayed as someone who didn't get the memo. That puts this back on the White House. Clearly, if their ambassador to the U.N. went to the Sunday shows thinking this was happening, what changed at the White House that caused them to pull back? Why did President Trump decide in the end not to do this?

It raises a lot of questions. It opens a brand-new rift in the president's national security team when he has a lot of new players and some open positions. So, it's a really interesting development.

ROMANS: The only thing that publicly change is Sunday night, Jim Comey went and said that he couldn't 100 percent say the Russians don't have something on Donald Trump.

BRIGGS: That's the backdrop to all of it, right? At the heart of it is the U.S. strategy in Syria regarding that. Here are senators after a classified briefing on Tuesday --


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am very unnerved by what I hear and what I see. I think President Trump's been a good commander in chief. But when it comes to Syria, I think he's going down a dangerous path.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Syria is Russia and Iran's now. They will be determining the future. We may be at the table, but when you're just talking and have nothing to do with shaping what's happening on the ground, you're just talking.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: The only thing worse than a bad plan on Syria is no plan on Syria. The president and his administration have failed to deliver a coherent plan on the path forward.


BRIGGS: Might expect that reaction from Chris Coons. But, again, Lindsey graham, unnerved, going down a dangerous path, and Bob Corker, Syria is Russia and Iran's now.

What do you make of that reaction?

WOLF: That seems to be separate from the strikes and more related to President Trump's willingness or desire to pull the U.S. out of Syria to bring back troops to give more to Russia to do there.

You know, it does -- on the one hand, you have the U.S. bombing in Syria. On the other hand you have Trump musing publicly about pulling what little U.S. resources are out of the country. It's hard to get a firm grasp on what the president wants in that country right now, what he wants the U.S. role to be in that country and, maybe larger, in the world.

ROMANS: Meanwhile, rapid developments in the Korean peninsula. We know that Mike Pompeo as CIA director went and visited Kim Jong-un. That is a big development. The president yesterday with the delegation from Japan seeming to give himself credit for disrupting the status quo there. Listen --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is coming along. South Korea is meeting and has plans to meet with North Korea to see if they can end the war. And they have my blessing on that. And they've been very generous that without us and without me in particular I guess, you would have to see that they wouldn't be discussing anything.


ROMANS: This new administration, is this why we have a complete change in tone on the Korean peninsula do you think?

WOLF: Well, certainly, they've broken with all the past U.S. policy on Korea. You know, from the Clinton administration on down, they've broken with that. I think certainly that's -- there's something to that.

The South Koreans are obviously also playing a big role in the change. You can't overlook that. But, you know, yes, I think you have to say that. Let me also say it is a little weird to have the CIA director go with CIA staff to talk to the North Korea, to talk to Kim Jong-un in this remarkable fashion without anybody from the State Department there.

[05:20:01] That's a remarkable thing if you think about it.

BRIGGS: Yes. Was he going as the next secretary of state given that the president knew for some time what was going to develop there. Certainly the president deserves credit, come a long way in his 15 months. Zach, thanks. We'll check back in about 20 minutes.

WOLF: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty minutes past the hour.

Hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico hosting a Major League Baseball game. And hometown hero delivered for fans. Lindsay Czarniak has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report". That is next.


BRIGGS: All right. For baseball fans in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, it doesn't get much better than seeing one of their native sons play ball. [05:25:02] But what happen next? The stuff of dreams.

ROMANS: Lindsay Czarniak has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report". She's here with us.

Good morning.


So, Cleveland's Francisco Lindor, he's one of the most positive guys you'll ever meet. He also has a very unique pre-game ritual, choosing the right cologne. True story. He wants to smell good out there.

Well, yesterday, you bet he really paid attention to that cologne because it was a day he dreamed of, playing Major League Baseball in front of family and friends in his native Puerto Rico, where there hasn't been much to cheer about since hurricane Maria roared ashore last September. Lindor was born 27 miles from San Juan. This is the first time he's played on the stage in Puerto Rico. He had 60 family members and friends including his mom.

Look at what he did to make them happy. His two-run home run sending fans into a frenzy. The crowd chanted Lindor's name until he came out of the dugout for a curtain call. The 24-year-old already a legend on the island. He played for team Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic and he made multiple trips back in the island during the off season to help in recovery efforts.

To NBA playoff action we go. Boston marathon winner Desi Linden, taking in the game two of the Celtics-Bucks playoff series. And she saw a good one.

The Celtics, they continue to prove youth is on their side. Twenty- one-year-old Jaylen Brown playing with (INAUDIBLE) scoring 20 points in Boston's 120-106 win. Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe not so much, he's been covered like a blanket by Celtics guard Terry Rozier.


REPORTER: Terry Rozier's gotten off to a strong start. No turnovers in 76 minutes. How personally do you take that match up?


REPORTER: Terry Rozier.

BLEDSOE: I don't even know who the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that is.


CZARNIAK: All right. So, he doesn't know about the matchup, all right.

Hey, at this rate, there could be hockey in Vegas in June, unbelievable. A team made of players who, you know, individually feel like they have a lot to prove. But collectively are doing the unthinkable, representing their city, the Vegas Golden Knights, advancing to the second round of the NHL playoff after sweeping the L.A. Kings. The first expansion team to sweep the first playoff series ever.


CZARNIAK: Unreal, right?

BRIGGS: Of course, they retired 58 earlier to honor the 58 victims of the mass shooting in Vegas.

CZARNIAK: Yes, and those games, I mean, they're a blast to attend.

BRIGGS: Golden Knights underrated history in sports. Thank you, Lindsay.

CZARNIAK: You're welcome, guys.

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