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Latest from the Boston Marathon Bombing Trial; Hillary Clinton Campaign Announcement Could Come Any Time; First Lady's Child Health Initiative Examined; Study: Vets' Brain Injuries Similar to NFL Players; Report: Co-Pilot Decks Pilot in Cockpit. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 6, 2015 - 16:30   ET



[16:30:10] ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, impassive in the courtroom, showing no emotion, while the government makes its final appeal to hold him accountable, soon asking jurors to consider the death penalty.


FIELD: The defense made their closing statements just following the prosecution.

In it, they said that Dzhokhar is ready to accept responsibility, but, Jake, they continue to underscore the point that they have been making throughout this trial, saying that none of what did happen would have happened if it had not been for Tamerlan. They argue this theory.

Their defense is that Dzhokhar was coerced by his older brother, Tamerlan. And, Jake, we will see what kind of impact that really has in the verdict phase of this trial. It could have a big impact, however, in the sentencing phase of this trial, when jurors would be asked to consider the death penalty -- Jake.

TAPPER: Alexandra Field live in Boston, thank you so much for that report.

In our politics lead: She's expected to formally announce her candidacy any day, but even without an official declaration, Hillary Clinton's campaign is quickly taking shape, though two of her potential Democratic rivals are already out there trying to sway voters before she jumps in.

That's next.


[16:35:25] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Politics lead now, all members of team Hillary Clinton on high alert. She could announce her presidential bid at any moment, they have been told. But before the former secretary of state hits send on the tweet that will launch a potentially billion-dollar campaign, Clinton's team already making moves in places such as Iowa, a state where she fumbled back in 2008.

Remember, she came in third behind Obama and this guy named John Edwards.

Let's bring in CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

Jeff, only the innermost circle of Clinton's innermost circle knows just when she is going to announce this run at the Oval Office, but more importantly, aides say, this candidacy, the rollout, will be different. Candidate Clinton in 2016 will not repeat the mistakes of candidate Clinton 2008.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the hope, at least. That's where they are starting out from here.

But the biggest thing is, they say they are not going to underestimate any of their rivals or underestimate anything. Of course, you will remember from 2007 and 2008, she did underestimate someone. Her advisers certainly underestimated someone. And that was a young freshman senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.

And we saw what happened there. They are going to start out from the very beginning, what they say, fighting hard for this nomination, trying to show that there's not a coronation going on here, that she's going to ask people for votes.

And what they are trying to do is say that this is more about the voters than her own political ambitions and aspirations. They are not going to hit heavy on the fact that this is a historic candidacy. They are going to make this more about voters, they say, no big rallies, no huge crowds, smaller events, trying to downsize this to try and show that she's working hard for the nomination.

And, Jake, I'm also told that some Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire have told the Clinton advisers that they want a campaign that's more fun. They simply said, can we have a campaign that looks more like the Obama campaign did in '07 and '08? Activists flocked to that. That's one of the things they are trying to do.

But, of course, we will have so many Republicans and others out there trying to define her as this goes along. We will see how that works out -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeff, it came out recently that Hillary Clinton wiped her e- mail server clean even after Congress asked her to turn over e-mails relating to her time as secretary of state.

I recently talked with a former Democratic official. He said he was stunned by that. You don't wipe a server clean after Congress asks you for e-mails. And it concerned him in terms of her ability to win in November. Do any members of the Clinton team seem concerned about this?

ZELENY: Sure, Jake. This is one of the big unknowns, a big question mark that is hanging over her campaign and her rollout. You like to have control of a presidential campaign. You like to know what's coming.

And this is one of those uncertain aspects, where you don't know exactly what's coming. Congress is involved, of course. She will be called to testify before this committee and it feeds into this transparency or lack of transparency.

But the Clinton advisers tell me that they are kind of hoping and thinking the Republicans will overplay their hand here and this will be kind of a confusing episode once she finally testifies before Congress. But we will see. This is a question mark hanging over her candidacy that she, of course, would prefer not to be there.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Washington, thank you so much.

As speculation builds over the former first lady, the current first lady, Michelle Obama, is on a mission to make health and exercise something that you think about daily. Today's White House Easter egg roll looked something like a birthday party for her Let's Move campaign, which is 5 years old this year.

And Michelle Obama is taking a TV-friendly approach to her signature issue. We have seen her do pushup competitions with Ellen DeGeneres. We saw her evolution of mom dancing with Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show." But has the high-profile publicity campaign actually led to a change in how kids eat?

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins me.

Now, Suzanne, we have seen childhood obesity rates skyrocket over the past three decades. Has the first lady, her campaign and the billions of taxpayer dollars behind Let's Move, have they been able to turn the tide at all?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, here's what we're learning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are actually seeing a decrease in obesity for very young children, but not for older kids. So childhood obesity, it has more than doubled in children, quadrupled in adolescents. This is in the past 30 years. The fact there is even any change from the past five years, when the Let's Move campaign started, public health experts think is rather significant.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): B-ball, tennis and busting a move at the White House today. At the Easter egg roll, first lady Michelle Obama marked five years into her healthy lifestyle campaign.

[16:40:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday. Happy Easter. Now, let's move!

MALVEAUX: Issuing another challenge.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: And we are asking Americans of all ages to give me five ways they're leading a healthier life, five jumping jacks, eating five new vegetables, maybe doing a gimme five dance.

MALVEAUX: Yes, you might have seen it on "Ellen" or perhaps during her mom dancing with Jimmy Fallon.

Plenty of A-list celebs from Big Bird...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is so much fun. Fruits and vegetables.

MALVEAUX: ... to the "So You Think You Can Dance" All-Stars are all in the action.

But is the Let's Move campaign shrinking childhood obesity? When the first lady launched Let's Move in 2010, America's kids were in trouble; 2.7 million children were obese. Today, the results are mixed. The good news, from 2010 to 2012, childhood obesity among children 2 to 5 years old has dropped by 3.7 percent.

The bad news, for children 12 to 19 years old, obesity has increased. Through her White House garden and partnerships with businesses and schools, Obama has also pushed good nutrition.

M. OBAMA: We have seen grocery store manufacturers putting healthy food, and they are keeping the prices low, and school classrooms are putting in salad bars.

MALVEAUX: But it's been an uphill battle. When Obama initially tried to up the nutritional standards in the federal school lunch program, which serves 31 million children, she was faced with a rebellion, kids tweeting out pictures of the mandatory fruits and veggies, calling them gross and yucky mystery mush, teens posting YouTube videos complaining they were hungry because of the cap on calories.

Ultimately, the federal program had to loosen some of its rules.


MALVEAUX: And health care experts, they are encouraged that if the very young, those 2-5-year-olds who are less likely to be obese are learning healthy eating habits early on, that we are going to start to see a healthier generation of kids as they grow older.

And one of the things that Michelle Obama is trying to do is to be a role model, along with the whole first family, see, to show what it looks like to try to stay active, fit and healthy, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much.

Coming up next: a shocking new study released just minutes ago investigating the similarities between brain diseases affecting some NFL players and problems that certain U.S. troops and veterans have had after returning home from war. Sanjay Gupta will explain that next.

Plus, just minutes before leaving, a captain and co-pilot reportedly get into an all-out brawl in the cockpit. And guess what? The flight still took off. That's coming up.


[16:47:16] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Some breaking national news, a new study out in the last hour could be a breakthrough in battling brain injuries. We have all seen the vicious hits on the football field, commonly referred to as getting your bell rung.

But those hits have caused career-ending concussions and some say serious brain disease later in life that has led to suicide. Chris Borland, the 24-year-old San Francisco 49ers linebacker was one of several players under 30 to surprise the league this offseason by calling it quits over player safety concerns.

Gridiron greats may be the most high profile Americans struggling with the lasting effects of head trauma, but this new study out just a few minutes ago says the same disease is now being diagnosed among our men and women in uniform. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has that story.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Junior Seau, Shane Dronett, Ray Easterling, Dave Duerson, just a few of the former NFL players to commit suicide after a career of taking hard hits to the head and living with brain damage.

Combat veteran, Shane Garzi understands that dark side. Most days, he isn't even sure what's bothering him the most, the fogginess of his brain, his deep depressions or the anger that can erupt from nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can walk around this town together and people will say, Shane, hey, hey, hey, but it's not Shane. It looks like me. It walks like me. It talks like me, but it's not me because of the damage.

GUPTA: Former Green Beret Tommy Shoemaker's biggest regret is the toll this disability has taken on his family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just do things I have never done before. I yell, I scream, I holler. That's just never been my manner.

GUPTA: What's different about Shane and Tommy are their brains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deeper in the brain --

GUPTA: On these scans, signs of a unique form of dementia called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. It's the same disease found in brain autopsies of Easterling and other pro-athletes.

(on camera): Do you have any idea how many times your brain had a concussion or took a blow or a blast of energy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, because there's so many.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I figured the ones that have knocked me unconscious, probably close to 16, 17.

GUPTA: That many times you were actually knocked unconscious?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, just kind of what you would call ring your bell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He and I work well off each other.

GUPTA (voice-over): Shane and Tommy met when they first volunteered to be the only soldiers in a unique study at UCLA. Using radioactive markers, researchers were able to find CTE patterns previously found only after death on autopsy.

[16:50:04] DR. JULIAN BALES, CO-DIRECTOR, NORTHSHORE NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE: For us to be able to make the diagnosis of a disease or injury in living people is paramount to being able to help them, treat them.

GUPTA: These researchers have formed a private company and they hope to move into clinical trials. But questions do remain about the accuracy of the technology and even about the disease itself for which there is no cure.

DR. GEOFFREY LING, DIRECTOR, BIOLOGICAL TECHNOLOGIES OFFICE, DARPA: Is it definitive, should everyone go out and have this done? No. That would be way premature. It's not widely accepted yet that it is actually a true clinical syndrome.

GUPTA: For Shane and Tommy, more research is critical to give their brothers in arms answers they crave and possibly remove the burden of a false diagnosis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody wants to be diagnosed as having a mental disorder. So if you can do that for soldiers I think that's a big plus. I think it's a big plus when they go to get a job, you know, and they ask did you have a mental disorder. Well, no, I don't. I have a brain injury.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


TAPPER: Our thanks to Dr. Sanjay Gupta for that report.

Coming up next, a shock for airline passengers on one flight over the weekend after a fist fight reportedly broke out between the captain and the co-pilot in the cockpit. What's the airline have to say about it all today?



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Money Lead now, after "Tokyo Drift," it seemed a franchise that was in danger of drifting to the straits of DVD treatment, but after a little tune-up, "Fast and Furious 7" just set the pole for 2015 and had a weekend few movies have ever had at the Box Office.

The seventh film in the "Fast and Furious" series brought in more than $143 million over Easter weekend in the U.S., the biggest April opening ever. The film was also a chance for fans to say their final good-byes to the late Paul Walker, who died in a car crash before filming on "Furious 7" was completed.

Ronda Rousey's brawl with Michelle Rodriguez was one of highlights of "Furious 7" or at least one of my writers tells me. She is arguably the most thrilling female athlete in the country, the undefeated ultimate fighting champion has been so dominant in her past two title defenses that the web has been buzzing about whether she could beat a man.

But if you're interested in more on her incredible rise to the top, don't go to Walmart. The world's largest retail chain decided not to sell Rousey's new book. It deems what she does for a living too violent. I mean, sure, she's tough.

Perhaps even faster than a speeding bullet, like ammunition you could pick up at Walmart. With strikes that pierce her opponents like a dagger, similar to, say, the vast array of crossbow packages available at, say, Walmart. Rousey's book "My Fight, Your Fight" is out in May. It's already a number one bestseller on Amazon.

The Buried Lead now, tension in the cockpit, a pilot and co-pilot throwing blows on an Air India flight. The report coming right after that plane crash in France in which a co-pilot with a history of serious mental health issues flew a Germanwings flight into the side of a mountain, killing himself and 149 people.

CNN's aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, joins me now. Rene, it just goes to show you oftentimes when we step on to a flight we have no idea what's going on in the cockpit.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jake. It's alleged that the co-pilot who reportedly picked the fight is a repeat offender and following the Germanwings crash, what happens in the cockpit is under intense scrutiny.

Pilots' mental health in sharp focus. I spoke with pilots today who said this was more than a simple cockpit quarrel. They say tension in the cockpit can lead to a catastrophic end.


MARSH (voice-over): We have seen passengers behaving badly even a pilot having a midair meltdown in the cabin. But on board Air India Flight 611 the problem was in the cockpit. The "Times" of India reports two pilots went blow for blow in an all-out cockpit brawl just minutes before taking off on a flight to New Delhi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The breakdown in the relationship between pilots can have deadly effects. When you're in a cockpit it's kind of a team effort. It's everything from one pilot reads the checklist to the other pilot responds and does the items on the checklist. So you need this kind of cooperation.

MARSH: CNN cannot independently confirm the "Times of India's" account, but according to the paper's unnamed sources the pilots were fighting over preflight paperwork. The captain reportedly told his co-pilot to write down critical information like the number of passengers on board, weight and fuel.

The co-pilot took offense and reportedly quote, "beat up the captain." Although 10 minutes delayed, the flight still took off. Commercial Pilot Fred Teacy says it shouldn't have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have a problem with an airplane you need to address that problem before it ever pushes back from the gate. If there was really a physical fist fight between these two, then yes, that compromised passenger safety.

MARSH: Air India denies the fist fight saying quote, "It was just a minor argument." Following the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash, pilots' mental health is in sharp focus. The Air India co-pilot reportedly had other altercations.

Three years ago, he told the captain of a flight to exit the cockpit, remove the stars on his shirt collar and fight him. In another incident, a captain reportedly questioned the co-pilot's mental health.


MARSH: Many pilots say when there is tension or an ongoing dispute in the cockpit, the proper procedure is to report the problem before takeoff so that a different crew could take over. The captain of this particular flight did not do that in order to prevent the flight from being canceled -- Jake.

TAPPER: Rene Marsh, thank you so much.

That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I am now turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."