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Obama, Raul Castro Hold Historic Meeting; Clinton to Announce Candidacy Today; Investigator: Deputy Fires Gun Instead of Taser; Delaying of Loretta Lynch's Confirmation; Saudis Fighting Houthi Rebels from the Air; Jury Choosing Life or Death for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired April 12, 2015 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:18] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama is back at the White House this morning. His meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro launches a new era of U.S. and Cuban relations.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And hours away now from her formal announcement to run to president. We are learning details about Hillary Clinton's campaign message and critics are already taking aim.

Plus --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shot him. I'm sorry.


PAUL: A sting operation to catch a gun dealer goes horribly wrong. We've got some pretty shocking video to show you which illustrates the suspect's final moments before a reserve cop accidentally shots him with his gun rather than his Taser.

So glad to have your company at 6:00 on a Sunday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

This morning, President Obama is back in the U.S. after a trip to Panama where he sat down with talks with Cuban President Raul Castro.

PAUL: The historic meeting ends a decades-long freeze in U.S. and Cuba relations.

Now, CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta has more for us.

Good morning, Jim.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, simply put, history was made at this Summit of the Americas after President Obama and Raul Castro held what were the highest level talks between U.S. and Cuban leaders in more than half a century.

(voice-over): It's a Cold War no more, as the president and Raul Castro came face-to-face, the first exchange between U.S. and Cuban leaders since before Mr. Obama was even born.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was time to try something new.

RAUL CASTRO, CUBAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are willing to discuss everything but we need to be patient.

ACOSTA: The president told leaders gathered at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, he wants to turn the page with Cuba.

OBAMA: The United States will not be imprisoned by the past. We are looking to the future.

ACOSTA: Though, he conceded, these long time adversaries will still have their differences.

OBAMA: We will continue to speak out on universal values that we think are important. I'm sure President Castro will continue to speak out on the issues he thinks are important.

ACOSTA: And Castro did speak out. Joking he was making up for missing past summits when Cuba wasn't invited. Castro blasted U.S. meddling in his nation's affairs over the course of ten presidents. But in a remarkable moment, Castro said he admired Mr. Obama.

CASTRO: In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man.

ACOSTA: An assessment Castro said he made after skimming through the president's autobiographies.

CASTRO: I admire him. And I think his behavior has a lot to do with his humble background.

ACOSTA: There hasn't been a take like this between the U.S. and Cuba since Vice President Richard Nixon met Fidel Castro in 1959, when Dwight Eisenhower was president.

Even after a series of encounters with Castro, the president stopped short of saying he trusts the Cuban leader.

(on camera): Do you feel that Raul Castro is an honest man?

OBAMA: It was a candid and fruitful conversation between me and Raul Castro. I can tell you that in the conversations I've had so far with him, two on the phone and, most recently, face-to-face, that we are able to speak honestly about our differences and our concerns in ways that I think offer the possibility of moving the relationship between our two countries in a different and better direction.

ACOSTA: Next, the Obama administration is expected to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism -- a move blasted by some lawmakers, including Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who said, "I don't see how they can rationalize taking them off the list, other than the president's desire to achieve a legacy issue."

The president argued, times have changed.

OBAMA: Cuba is not a threat to the United States.

ACOSTA (on camera): The president did not resolve the issue of whether Cuba will remain on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. But a senior administration official told reporters that the president is nearing a decision on that issue, but the process doesn't end there as Congress will have 45 days to weigh in on the issue -- Christi and Victor.


BLACKWELL: All right. Jim, thanks.

Hillary Clinton is expected to kick off a race for the White House in a few hours.

PAUL: Yes, her soon to be campaign team met at the Brooklyn headquarters yesterday to outline the former secretary of state's message. And this morning, we're learning details about a values statement that was handed out at that meeting that says the campaign's purpose is to, quote, "give every family, every small business and every American a path to lasting prosperity by electing Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States."

[06:05:04] BLACKWELL: Senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us live from Washington.

Brianna, good morning to you.

And what else do we know about Clinton's message? Because it's already taking some heat.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. And it's already taking shape even before it's out this morning.

I think the main message that we're expecting is that this is very different from her 2008 campaign. It's no mistake the memo was put out there. One part of it is the campaign manager and other officials basically saying to the new staffers that this is part of what they're doing. It says, "We are humble: we take nothing for granted, we are never afraid to lose. We always outcompete and fight for every vote we can win."

Hillary Clinton very much the front-runner in the polls but she's trying to -- as her campaign is -- show people that she's not taking that for granted.


KEILAR (voice-over): Like her 2007 announcement -- HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I announced today that

I'm forming a presidential exploratory committee.

KEILAR: -- it will come via video, a message she's already filmed to be released on social media.

But that is where Clinton advisers hope the comparisons to her failed 2008 bid will end.

In a newly released to her book "Hard Choices", Clinton lays out a rationale for her candidacy, that the birth of her granddaughter Charlotte pushed her to run, and will fuel a campaign message about equal opportunity for all.

"Unfortunately," she writes, "too few of the children born in the United States and around the world today will grow up with the same opportunities as Charlotte."

Clinton says that becoming a grandmother "rather than make me want to slow down, it has spurred me to speed."

She will follow her announcement Sunday with a trip to the early caucus state of Iowa.


KEILAR: In 2008, her third place finish there signaled the beginning of the end for her campaign.


KEILAR: A new Quinnipiac University poll shows her admission she used a personnel e-mail account to conduct government business as secretary of state may have affected her favorability there.

And Clinton will need to navigate other challenges, distinguishing herself from a relatively unpopular President Obama without alienating his vast coalition of loyal voters, handling one of the most controversial part of Obama's record, foreign policy. She served as his secretary of state and was in charge during the Benghazi attack in 2012.

And questions about her age -- if elected, she would be 69 when she took office, making her the second oldest president in history.

And there's also the Bill factor, how will the campaign manage the sometimes unpredictable former president?

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I've ever seen.

KEILAR: Questions Clinton's new staff working out of office space already leased in Brooklyn, New York, hope to better to be poised to answer when the campaign becomes official.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR: And they will be answering a lot of questions today, Victor and Christi, because we are expect thing announcement by a video that Hillary Clinton as we said, has already taped, to come out at some point today, before she heads to the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, to really reinforce what her rational is for running.

BLACKWELL: Brianna, there are I guess two recent examples as relates to the primaries and the values of rigorous primary. Most people think that it helped President Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney not so much in 2012. Is the Clinton campaign hoping for a stronger challenger to better her for the election? Or are they secretly comfortable moving ahead with some of the lesser, I guess, challengers that have announced thus far?

KEILAR: I think they would like for her to have that chance. We've seen the last year that she has struggled to kind of get some of her legs politically beneath her because she has been out of the realm for so long. I think they actually would like there to be a challenger. But the fact at this point, she is so far ahead in the polls compared to some of these other Democratic contenders. It's even unclear, for instance, in Vice President Joe Biden will throw his hat into the ring, but a lot of people think that he's not going to.

And so, I think there's a sense amongst those who are close to Hillary Clinton that this is what they're dealing with. She is going to be competing a lot against Republicans, perhaps not so much against Democrats. So, it's this really sort of a strange campaign in a way that this is where she is at and this is who she is competing against. It's almost unprecedented.

BLACKWELL: Hmm. All right. Brianna Keilar for us from Washington, thank you so much.

PAUL: And, you know, Clinton already got a pretty big supporter, President Obama. Here is what he said last night about her announcement.


OBAMA: With respect to Hillary Clinton, I'll make my comments very brief.

[06:10:04] She was a formidable candidate in 2008. She was a great supporter of mine in the general election. She was an outstanding secretary of state. She is my friend. I think she would be an excellent president.


BLACKWELL: All right. Make sure to tune in to CNN today for a special two-hour edition of "STATE OF THE UNION." The focus: Clinton's 2016 campaign. It all starts today at noon Eastern.

PAUL: And, of course, in today's big announcement, Clinton is expected to reintroduce herself not as the former first lady, not as a former senator or a secretary of state, but as a grandmother. The question a lot of people are asking, will the new branding work? We're talking to experts of that path.

BLACKWELL: Plus, dramatic video shows the accidental shooting death of a suspect after a sting operation goes bad.

Coming up, hear from investigators on how this all went down and how it went so wrong.

PAUL: Also, a U.S. recon plane similar to this one and a Russian fighter jet had a close call in the skies this week. We'll tell you how the Pentagon is responding today.


PAUL: So, as we wait for Hillary Clinton's announcement in just a few hours here, I want to take a look at the latest poll showing her far ahead of any potential Democratic challengers. You see it here, 62 percent to the next in line, Joe Biden at 15 percent.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, Clinton's soon to be campaign team made it clear she's going to try to avoid mistakes that plagued her failed run back in '08.

[06:15:08] Their message now, quote, "We are humble: we take nothing for granted, we are never afraid to lose, we always outcompete and fight for every vote we can win. We know this campaign will be won on the ground, in states."

Let's talk to David Johnson about this. He's a crisis management expert. And Jamie Turner, the CEO of 60 Second Communications, is with us now.

Gentlemen, thank you so much.

David, I want to start with you because you were talking about how one of the things she really needs to do is explain the new direction she'll take the country and without repudiating President Obama. That's a delicate dance, isn't it?

DAVID JOHNSON, CRISIS MANAGEMENT EXPERT: It is really, and it's something very hard for candidates to do. Usually when you're trying to succeed your own president, you try to say four more years. We saw that with George H.W. Bush in 1988, Richard Nixon in 1960, was running as the heir to Dwight Eisenhower. They were popular presidents.

The problem right now is President Obama is not popular. A recent poll on CNN actually showed six out of 10 Americans wanted a president to take the country in a changed direction from his policies. So, how does she run saying four more years but I'm really not President Obama?

Candidates can't succeed. We saw that with John McCain in 2008. He could not run away from George W. Bush. He was caught with that. There was no (INAUDIBLE) for his candidacy. Same with Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

So, what Hillary is going to figure out how does she say, hey, I'm taking the country a new direction but, wink, wink, it's still four more years of President Obama, the good things you like?

PAUL: Jamie, what about this whole campaign strategy that she's going to run as, I'm more of a grandmother than I am anything else?

JAMIE TURNER, "GO MOBILE" FOUNDER: Well, all brands have to refresh themselves every so often. So, Hillary Clinton is a very established brand and whether you're Pepsi or Coca-Cola or Hillary Clinton, you have to go in and refresh it every so often so you stay relevant and interesting to people.

And so, what she's done with her team, I know some of the team that have worked on this, they've gone in and said what is the authentic Hillary? What is the way that we can tap into who she really is, and as David mentioned, while not distancing her a little bit from Obama while not distancing her from some of the policies that the Democrats follow.

But the bottom line is they go in and they say, hey, let's refresh the brand and let's repackage it so that we're new and fresh to people and she's done that by basically positioning herself as a reenergized grandmother which I think softens her a little bit to the people who find her harsh and keeps talking about how she is reenergized and address the age issue. So, it's a fine balance.

But I think, so far from a strategic standpoint, they've done a really good job.

PAUL: All right. I want to take a look at what is on the front page of "The New York Post" today, because they're holding back no punches. As you would expect, I mean, there is always going to be criticism. "Oh Hill No!" they say. And inside, it's an interesting issue. They say the real issue is Clinton fatigue, a national exhaustion from having been there, done that too many times.

As Jamie, you were just talking about refreshing herself. Has she refreshed herself enough and can she do so, David?

JOHNSON: Well, that's the problem for Hillary Clinton. She is trying to reinvent herself, very much like Richard Nixon did with the new Nixon.

And with Hillary Clinton, yes, she's trying to rebrand herself as a new grandmother but the problem is, she's got all the old baggage with the old Hillary as we recently saw with her press conference about the e-mails. She's not escaping that.

And it's very hard that when someone has been around as long as Hillary Clinton to rebrand themselves -- yes, you need to try to refresh yourself but sometimes it's not possible. I mean, it doesn't look like it's possible for Hillary Clinton.

PAUL: Jamie, let me ask you about the Bill factor. We have a -- there was a video from "The New York Times" in 2007 in an article where they were in the grocery store. This was during a campaign stop in Des Moines. He basically upstaged his wife. She was there, you know, to talk to people and, lo and behold, they wrote, "Mr. Clinton was mobbed by baggers and shoppers and cashiers. They were a couple of times when she stood by herself waiting for her husband to stop chatting up the crowd."

How is he going to play a role in this, Jamie?

TURNER: As somebody who is happily married, let me assure you she addressed that with him immediately after that happened and he was talked to not only by his lovely wife but also by his handlers.

PAUL: But you can't deny his popularity. I mean, how might his popularity in general affect her?

TURNER: Absolutely. And so, the balance is how do you leverage the popularity without letting it overwhelm you? So, they are working very, very hard right now trying to figure out that balance. I would suggest, believe it or not, if I were consulting with them right now, I would say, make sure that you don't ever get too far where Bill Clinton overwhelms Hillary, because once that tipping point happens, it's very difficult to get it to go back. So, they are in there watching this every step of the way.

[06:20:03] They're analyzing all of the reports that go out, to make sure that he'd does not do that.

PAUL: So, you have a campaign strategy but have to be fluid with it, I guess, is the point at the end of the day.

David Johnson and Jamie Turner, we thank you both so much for being with us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you. Thank you, Jamie.

BLACKWELL: This morning, stunning new video of a deadly altercation with police. Look at this -- the Tulsa County sheriff's office is just releasing this tape. It shows a sting operation that ends up with a police chase here but it goes terribly wrong when a 73-year-old reserve officer pulls out his gun instead of his Taser.

Also, a virtual demonstration in the streets of Madrid. We'll explain why and how these ghostly protesters made their presence felt.


PAUL: In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a police sting goes terribly wrong. A reserve deputy accidentally fires his gun rather than his Taser and that suspect is killed.

Now, officials released this undercover video here. Eric Harris attempting to sell a weapon and ammunition to an undercover cop. That's all caught on camera.

Well, when police show up, Harris makes a run for it, leading to the chase that would ultimately end with a reserve deputy mistaking a Taser for a gun. Reporter Morgan Stanley (ph) from CNN affiliate KOKI has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop right here. Stop right here!

MORGAN STANLEY (ph), KOKI REPORTER: Independent consultant and Tulsa Police Sergeant Jim Clark says while Harris is running, officers catch up to him from behind and start to take him down.

[06:25:02] Clark says at this time, Robert Bates was in front of Harris and the officers in this video and Clark says Bates announces he has a Taser.

JIM CLARK, TULSA POLICE SGT: That's done to warn other law enforcement officers that you're about to deploy this device.

STANLEY: Then the shot goes off and Bates apologizes.


ROBERT BATES, RESERVE DEPUTY: I shot him. I'm sorry.

STANLEY: Clark says a scientific reason called slip and capture explains why Bates had a gun in his hand and not the Taser. Clark says in times of extreme emergencies and time pressure, officers react dimple.

BATES: You can train someone as much as you can and you train in every area that you can. But in times of crisis, sometimes training is not going to take you through the scenario.

STANLEY: Clark says after the shot was fired, Bates' gun immediately fell to the ground. He says that is because a Taser grip and gun grip are different.

CLARK: He, obviously, had a Taser grip which caused the gun upon discharge to leave his hands and fall to the pavement.


PAUL: I want to bring in former FBI assistant director and CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.

Tom, good morning to you.

So, in the piece --


PAUL: Good morning. Investigators say that the mistake by the deputy going for his gun as opposed to the Taser is called -- there is a name for it -- slip and capture. How common is it?

FUENTES: It shouldn't be that common. I would like to know more about this incident. One of the things that will come up in this incident is how much training did that officer have in being able to distinguish between one and the other, and what I'm getting at is that normally, as a former firearm instructor with police and former FBI firearm instructor, you drill and drill and drill and draw and fire thousands of times so that it is a reflex. So, under extreme distress, it's not something you think about. You know the difference.

You carry the gun on one side and the Taser on another. It's different -- enough of a different grip and it's also a different maneuver to pull one instead of the other. So, that's -- you know, if you drill long enough, you know, you should pull the right weapon at the right time.

However, a Taser is not always, you know, effective. It doesn't always work on everybody. I think in that video, you hear that clicking sound made by a Taser, so someone else is trying to use a Taser. That clicking usually means that the little probes didn't connect with the subject and there is no effect then. The Taser is not working properly and then you have to reload it and put a new cartridge in. It's almost a one and done situation in an emergency.

So, you know, in this case, if the deputy hadn't been trained adequately, hadn't practiced adequately and had the gun in his hand instead of Taser and then immediately realizes it when the shot goes off in saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," you know, this may be as much of a reflection on poor training as anything else.

PAUL: Well, poor training, there are two things I think that stand out to people when they hear this. One, this was a reserve officer, which I'd like you to explain to us the difference, if there is and, (b), that he was 73 years old. Not that we are taking anything away from anybody and their age. Everybody ages differently. However, those are two things that stand out to people when they hear this.

What about you?

FUENTES: One of the things about reserve and auxiliary officers in this time of extreme governmental budget cuts, you know, a lot of police departments do what they can to supplement their staff and, you know, the number of officers on the street. That may include directing traffic or working at special events, sporting events, let's say, with volunteers on. With officers who may have retired and they come out and they help and they get a certain amount of training, but they don't get the thousands of hours of training that full police officers get and are supposed to continue to get throughout their career.

And, you know, that can be a problem. A lot of the departments, the axillaries don't carry firearms. But in this case, maybe it's someone that doesn't normally carry one but because it was a special arrest of potentially very violent subject, selling firearms illegally, you know, it may be the special occasion of the arrests that things were done a little bit differently.

We don't know all of the facts of this and the body cam doesn't show exactly what happens at the time of the shot. So, even though the shot was intentional -- I mean, unintentional, it might have been justified in a way.

You know, this individual, again, we have somebody involved in a firearms sale, a sting operation. He takes off running. He is resisting. He's not cooperating and it's one of those things if a subject stops and just complies with the arrest, he's alive today.

And accident or no accident, I'm not saying it justifies the shooting, but the investigation might show that it does justify the shooting.

PAUL: All right. Well, we know the family has released a statement as well. We are going to get to that a little bit later.

Tom Fuentes joining us

[06:30:00] again to talk about this next hour. Tom, thanks you much. And, that, of course, is when we will hear from the family and as you can imagine, they have a lot of questions as well.

BLACKWELL: here's a look at stories developing now at the bottom of the hour.

Hillary Clinton officially launching her presidential campaign in just a few hours from now with a video message on social media. Her aides say she is not taking anything for granted. President Obama says she would be an excellent president, with a strong message.

PAUL: President Obama deciding whether to take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. He talked with Cuban leader Raul Castro for an hour yesterday in Panama City and called the historic meeting candid and fruitful. President Castro says there will - Mr. Castro says there will be stumbling blocks in trying to repair ties with the U.S., but he adds he is confident that they can be overcome.

Also, Congress getting back to work this week. A major focus the potential nuclear deal with Iran. Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to debate and vote on a bill that would let Congress review the deal and stop the president from waiting sanctions on Iran during that review time.

BLACKWELL: Another focus for the Senate as it returns tomorrow. Loretta Lynch's nomination for attorney general. Her wait for a confirmation vote since being cleared by the judiciary committee, is now stretching longer and longer. It's been more than six months since the president nominated her. Look at this. It's been 45 days since she has been cleared by judiciary with no vote from the full Senate. That is longer than for the last eight attorney general nominees combined. I went to Loretta Lynch's hometown of Durham, North Carolina. I had a chance to talk with people who know her, including her father.


LORENZO LYNCH: She's going somewhere.

BLACKWELL: Retired Baptist Preacher Lorenzo Lynch remembers the September afternoon that an old friend called shouting through the phone.

LYNCH: Calm down. Let's slow down a little bit. And she shouted that Eric Holder is quitting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Loretta Lynch who is an attorney in Brooklyn.

LYNCH: And your daughter is one of the persons in line for his job. I said, well, let me sit down. So I sat down.

BLACKWELL: Several weeks later, Reverend Lynch watched from his small home in Durham, North Carolina, the president nominate his only daughter, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to become the country's next attorney general.

(on camera): What does that feel like?

LYNCH: That was encouraging, but I knew then we had a fight on our hands.

BLACKWELL (voice over): As a young man in the South, fighting is something Reverend Lynch did often during the civil rights movement and in local politics.

LYNCH: She said I took her on my shoulders, you know, to attend some of these rallies and some of these marches. So she saw some of it growing up as a youngster.

BLACKWELL: Now at 82, Lynch says some of the themes of his early struggles were present during his daughter's confirmation hearing in January.

LYNCH: I heard a lot at that hearing that I've heard since childhood that is the presupposition of the mindset.

BLACKWELL (on camera): What is the mindset?

LYNCH: Well, the dual system or the dual treatment.

BLACKWELL (voice over): But when asked for examples, no fewer than three times, Reverend Lynch would not cite specific instances.

DR. E. LAVONIA ALLISON, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: When it has taken so long, when it has been so different from any other person who has been nominated, how else can we interpret it that it is so different?

BLACKWELL: Durham activist Dr. E. Lavonia Allison has known Loretta Lynch since Lynch was a child.

ALLISON: I don't want to think about the epidermis, but some people are thinking that way.

BLACKWELL: Including the head of the Congressional Black Caucus who told reporters in March, I think race certainly can be considered as a major factor in the reason for this delay, but it's also the irrationality of the new Republicans. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin seemingly invoked imagery of the once segregated South in criticism of the GOP.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D) ILLINOIS: Loretta Lynch, the first African- American woman nominated to be attorney general is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar.

BLACKWELL: Durbin was harshly criticized by Arizona Senator John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: It was offensive and unnecessary, and I think he owes this body, Miss Lynch, and all Americans, an apology.

LYNCH: I thought he should be commended.

BLACKWELL (on camera): So, you think he should be commended?


BLACKWELL: And you think that is the appropriate characterization?

LYNCH: I think that's a poetic description of what has happened.

BLACKWELL (voice over): Republican Senators adamantly denied that a vote by the full Senate is being delayed because Lynch is African- American.


BLACKWELL: Instead they say it's now part of an ongoing partisan battle. For some, as part of a fight over human trafficking bill, for others retaliation for the president's executive actions on immigration. In fact, weeks before President Obama nominated Lynch the political number crunching blog 538 predicted that whomever the president nominated would likely face at least a moderately tough confirmation hearing in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE (CHANTING): Confirm Loretta Lynch now!

BLACKWELL: That's no comfort to supporters across Lynch's home state of North Carolina who led by the NAACP have rallied outside the offices of North Carolina's two Republican senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, both oppose Lynch's nomination.

Allison was one of more than two dozen women who traveled to Washington in March to meet with the Senators Tillis and Burr.

ALLISON: It's time for you to act like you have some sense!


ALLISON: It is past time. You have embarrassed the state of North Carolina.


BLACKWELL: Through a joint statement released after their meeting Senators Burr and Tillis said they remained concerned with Ms. Lynch's stated desire to leave the Department of Justice in the same manner as Eric Holder and will not be supporting her nomination.

REV. WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT, NORTH CAROLINA, NAACP: I believe that if she was Clarence Thomas, she would be confirmed.

BLACKWELL: Reverend William Barber is president of the North Carolina branch of the NAACP.

BARBER: Because of her courage, her character and her commitment are to the law and to the enforcement of the laws of this land, particularly on the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution and because her consciousness was shaped in the crucible of the civil rights movement in the South, that is what they fear.

BLACKWELL: As his daughter's confirmation period moves now into its sixth month, Reverend Lynch stays busy, reading a mountain of news clippings, waiting optimistically for the next excited call.

LYNCH: If she doesn't get confirmed, she has to do something on this level. She will not be finished. She will still be somewhat of a witness, you know, for justice.


PAUL: And we will have more throughout the morning, of course.

Meanwhile, the chaos in Yemen, we understand, is escalating. Saudi officials say hundreds of rebels are dead as Saudi Arabia continues to pound targets from the air.

And the Boston bomber fighting for his life now. The same jurors who convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are deciding whether he lives or dies. We are going to take a look ahead. Stay close.


[06:40:52] PAUL: Forty minutes past the hour. I have some new information this morning out of Libya. I want to share with you. Gunman had attacked the South Korean embassy there. The South Korean news agency saying, they killed one embassy guard, will get another, South Korean official say the gunmen were part of an Islamic militant group and they say, there are no reports of casualties of South Korean nationals. Now, South Korea had issued a ban on travel to Libya due to security concerns.

BLACKWELL: We have new details this morning in the crisis in Yemen. Saudi Arabian officials say that more than 500 Houthi rebels have been killed since the start of the Saudi - led airstrikes. So there had been more than 1,200 airstrikes in a little more than two weeks. Authorities source tell CNN Saudi Arabia is using U.S. made Apache attack helicopters in some areas.

Meanwhile, hundreds, thousands of Yemenis are protesting the military aggression calling it a violation of international law. Let's bring in CNN military analyst Retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. Good to have you back, General.

RET. MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS: Hi, Victor, good morning.

BLACKWELL: Good morning to you. Straight to the point here about the potential violation of international law, is that a legitimate claim?

MARKS: Well, I would tell you it certainly is, but you have to do what you have to do. I mean we have seen violations of international law across the board sadly in the Middle East, you know, with the collapse of governance, capitals not being able to do what they need to do. And so, locals and neighbors are taking upon themselves to try to create a little calm amongst all this chaos. So, sure. But then at the end of the discussion, you know, Victor what are we going to do? I mean where will this claim go? Who is actually going to adjudicate? Who is going to listen to it? I mean we need to have a little bit of healthy cynicism that if it can't be done internationally it has got to be done locally.

BLACKWELL: So, what does this mean for President Hadi? Because we see all these protesters calling what the Saudis are doing a violation of international law, yet you've got the president, who immediately after the summit a few weeks ago, ran off to Riyadh.

MARKS: Right.

BLACKWELL: Is it - is it credible to think that he will be able to return to power in Yemen?

MARKS: Well, it is credible. His ability to reestablish -- if there were - if the Saudis are successful, along with some of their neighbors -- let's lay out all who are participating in this in Yemen -- if they are successful and able to calm what is taking place right now with the Houthis and able to push back and open up for Hadi to come back as the president, his credibility in order to reestablish some form of governance, is really in question. That's the big deal. So, I think what is going to happen is there would probably be some type of interim arrangement that would allow for either Hadi to come back and then a declaration or some form of a transition, which is kind of a model we have seen before.

BLACKWELL: You know, in weeks past in discussing the chaos in Yemen, I've asked should the U.S., do you think the U.S. will get involved to some greater deal other than the logistics they are offering now. I'll shift the question and ask do you think that there is a role the U.S. could play that would solve this problem or eliminate some of the chaos there?

MARKS: Victor, great question. Yeah, I would say the United States right now is trying to assert itself in a full some way, so I can get directly to your question, which is, look. We can - we, the United States, can provide intelligence support pretty precisely. We obviously are providing military kit as necessary. We have a long relationship with the Saudis. We sell them all sorts of military stuff. So this is a very deep relationship. We want stability in that part of the world. Very difficult to achieve. We have had some long relationships with the Yemeni government. This is more than just an internal issue, an insurgency that has been in Yemen, frankly it's been in Yemen for decades, but what it has reached now, is a point where it is now war by proxy and the United States has to be able to try to achieve an instate that gets some stability there. So, what the United States is doing right now is all that it can. If it put any more aggressive posture, if it became the leading face of this, we have seen what those outcomes look like.


MARKS: We have to be able to have neighbors in the region try to solve this problem but the United States has a very large role to play and I think they are moving in that direction.

BLACKWELL: All right, General James "Spider" Marks, thank you so much.

MARKS: Thanks, victor.

PAUL: Well, the Boston bombing trial enters phase two. Now jurors are holding the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in their hands.

Plus, a young African American man gets pulled over by police and records the interaction with that officer. The video is going viral now. Millions of you have watched it. We are going to talk with a man who recorded it ahead in the next hour.


PAUL: Forty-nine minutes past the hour. Good morning to you.

The Boston bombing trial is about to enter phase two. The same jurors who convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of all 30 counts against him will now decide whether he dies by lethal injection or he spends the rest of his life in a prison cell.


PAUL: Let's talk about this with HLN legal analyst and criminal defense Attorney Joey Jackson as we look ahead. Joey, good morning to you. So, each side ...

JOEY JACKSON: Good morning.

PAUL: Good morning. Each side can calm our witnesses during this phase, we know. What is the possibility, do you think, we would actually hear from Tsarnaev himself?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Christie, I think it's highly unlikely that you are ever going to hear him open his mouth. And there's a number of reasons for that. The first, of course, is, the defense is very carefully and skillfully, some would say, you know, put out there that the older brother, he was the controller, the manipulator, the mastermind behind this and that's been evident by how the defense has tried this case. Whenever you put a defendant on the stand to defend for themselves they may not be on the same page as their defense attorneys. It's tough to control someone when they get on the witness stand. And so, what if you have a scenario where you expose him to the jury with the thought that he would want to spare his life, to say something, to - whether he blames it on his brother or goes into the fact that his brother was the one who led him around who he had so much respect for or maybe he flips the script and wants to become a martyr and starts to tell that jury, he wants to die. And so, you can't control what he would say. And to that extent, very risky proposition. I don't think we will see him, Christi.

PAUL: Well, it sounds like you can't control a lot of things with this family. Because following the verdict, Tsarnaev's mother reportedly defended her sons and called Americans terrorists. Now, we have to assume it's very possible that some of these jurors could have heard about this comment. How might that affect phase two?

JACKSON: Sure. Well, you would hope that anything that the jury considers, Christi, is what they have before them in that jury room. Now, you have a mitigation specialist in court and what that means is a federal mitigation specialist is poring over his background trying to find out who he is, where he grew up, what was he all about, what was his family history like, who are his family members, who influenced him, who controlled him, what are his problems? What's the psychological dynamic? Does he have any diminished capacity? All of that will be ferreted out by a mitigation specialist. Now, generally, you can call family members, of course, to testify and to talk about who he is. I would, with most certainty, say that mom, given those past comments, will not be on that witness stand, certainly not blaming this upon America and doing those type things. So, I don't suspect that anything that wasn't heard or is not heard by that jury during this phase should be considered by them.

PAUL: Joey Jackson, always good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

JACKSON: A pleasure, Christi. Have a great day.

PAUL: You too.

BLACKWELL: Hillary Clinton's next run for president officially begins in just a few hours, we expect, and CNN has obtained a campaign memo outlining her team's goals and how they plan to win. We have got details at the top of the hour.


PAUL: In this week's "Ones to Watch" an amazing photographer from France who gives us a really unique view of the world.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A moving image held still. One flash and a photographer has framed, lit, and constructed a silent scene.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For over 20 years the French photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand has been constructing a portrait of the Earth with his aerial photographs. His book "Earth from Above" sold over 4 million copies. YANN ARTHUS BERTRAND: (SPEAKING FRENCH)


PAUL: That is some talent. You can check out the full show at Stay close. We are back in a moment.