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Deadly 7.9 Magnitude Quake Rattles Nepal; Baltimore Police Admit Making Mistakes; Bruce Jenner: "I Am A Woman." Aired 7-8 ET

Aired April 25, 2015 - 07:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Major damage in Nepal. A powerful earthquake rocks the Nation, killing more than 150 people, also bringing centuries of Historic buildings crumbling to the ground.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a big weekend of protests. Baltimore gearing up for some major demonstrations today as protesters are vowing to, "Shut the city down."

BLACKWELL: And Bruce Jenner in transition. The Olympic gold medalist brings gender identity to the public spotlight and unveils that his -- that (his of life) now is he's living as a woman.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: Begin -- we begin this morning with this breaking news, and so grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

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

PAUL: Yes. This massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake has rattled the Himalayan country of Nepal. It shook the capital of Kathmandu and started avalanches on Mt. Everest. We know those summers were felt as far way as New Delhi in neighboring India. BLACKWELL: And a number we had from officials this morning, more than

150 people are dead. There have been at least 16 aftershocks of 4.5 magnitude or greater.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent, Sumnima Udas. She's in New Delhi joining us on the phone. And we understand that you felt this quake?

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we did. Victor, we're about 700 miles from Nepal of the epicenter of this earthquake that the entire building was moving. (INAUDIBLE) said that -- said that -- and this one also quite some time. I was there a couple of minutes at least.

Now, just to let you know of the latest that we're getting from Nepal itself, (INAUDIBLE) (press conference) the death toll is now up -- it's about 288 people, at least, expected to have died in this earthquake. The local media -- they are reporting the number could be upwards of 500.

But these numbers are -- (such as they) increased dramatically -- sadly, given the density of the population in Kathmandu and also the state of the infrastructure -- they are -- all the buildings very -- they're built close to each other. The saving grace could be a lot of these buildings outside of Kathmandu at least they're built with mud and wood, so many people may have survived because of the state of -- because they -- not (way of technical feel) and mortar buildings outside of Kathmandu.

The major historic sites has collapsed. These are Unesco World Heritage Building that has stood many earthquakes in the past; the tallest building after a long time -- (this is called) Dharahara built in the 1800s -- the little icon in Nepal. You know it's like the Eiffel Tower of Kathmandu, if you will, that completely collapsed.

The Durbar Square -- the -- there -- the Bhaktapur Durbar Square and the (Basantapur) Durbar Square. These are like the -- it's like the (INAUDIBLE) of Paris. You know these are huge -- sort of palace complexes and millions of tourists travel to every year to see in Nepal, and these sites have completely collapsed. So a huge loss in the central infrastructure and also a sense of culture and heritage, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Well, I understand that India's Prime Minister Modi was holding a high-level Cabinet meeting about an hour ago. What kind of help are they prepared to offer?

UDAS: Yes, India has seen -- has offered to help. They are filing a (standing) Committee (based) we don't know at what point (when they stand) the airport in Nepal -- in Kathmandu and so that the moment except for relief operations, the (military supplying in), the Nepali communications there, mobile phones -- very, very (huge) at the moment, a lot of areas in Kathmandu, at least, without electricity so we'll have to see what happens.

But this is a peak tourist season in Nepal, Victor and Christi. And, you know, some of the people I've stayed through -- there were saying that some hotels have completely collapsed. And the main tourist areas that these (are) --

were bodies being taken out. Presumably some of them could be a foreign national. A lot of people of course are (INAUDIBLE). Well, these are the two main (trucking) areas in Nepal. Two people have died on average already because of several avalanches there. But, you know, there are about 800 or 1,000 people on base camp -- on average -- base camp right now trying to summit -- many of them trying to summit every (INAUDIBLE) -- some (INAUDIBLE) that maybe the death toll there might not be so high because a lot of times it would have gone up early in the morning and come down by the time the earthquake hit. This is around 11 a.m. Nepal time.

BLACKWELL: All right, so Sumnima Udas, right now everything had to get to Nepal from India.

So, Sumnima Udas, thank you so much for giving us the latest fair. (Same that) she that hotels in that main area and the tourist area have feared to have been collapsed there.

PAUL: Right. Collapsed. BLACKWELL: And maybe some injuries and fatalities. We'll have to

wait for official numbers from authorities there in Kathmandu.

PAUL: Alrighty. That's -- we're going to continue to follow this obviously throughouit the morning as it is developing but we do want to get back to the U.S. because just in a few hours protesters are hitting the streets of Baltimore and they are vowing to, "Shut down the city." This, of course, is angers growing over the death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man who lost his life in police while he was in police custody.

These new demonstrations are coming on the heels of police officials conceding that mistake were made during and after the arrest of Freddie Gray. CNN Joe Johns has been following the story.

So, the police released this new surveillance video as well, Joe. Tell us about that and what have we learned from it?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. They did release a surveillance video. And these are pictures we have not seen before, obviously, Christi, including pictures of Freddie Gray on the ground, the transportation van and so.

But I just wanted to make one point about the protest, a big protest scheduled for today, marched through the streets, culminating in a rally right here in this park, which is next to City Hall. And faith leaders -- others have expressed some

big concerns about outsiders coming to Baltimore, offer the weekend, out of school, what have you, causing trouble, because they don't have a stake in the city, for example. The police department has been very permissive in allowing people to exercise their (INAUDIBLE) and his rights. But the commissioner of police here in the city has said he draws the line at chaos in the streets. Listen.

ANTHONY BETTS, BALTIMORE DEPUTY POLICE COMMISSIONER: To any and all, that would Seek to bring chaos to our city, the people of Baltimore will not Tolerate...

JOHNS: Now, the protest here is led by a very well-known organizer Malik Shabazz. He's been here all week and the protests have been peaceful, for the most part, despite some of the arrests you've seen on television.

Now, as to that video released by the police department. There are cameras all over the city and police have been gathering up video that shows different things that happened. during the arrest and detainment of Freddie Gray. Some of that video shows, for example, the transportation van that he was put into that's caused so much controversy. There are even some pictures of him, as a matter of fact, as well as another individual who was put into the van after Freddie Gray was taken away. All of this, police are calling together to try to figure out what happened to this young man before he died. And authorities certainly want to try to wrap this investigation by Friday, Christi... (CROSSTALK)

PAUL: It's -- by Friday. OK, OK. Good to know. Alright. We -- when you mentioned that the police commissioner Anthony Betts said, "He will not tolerate chaos on the streets," and you've got these protesters vowing to shut the city down, do we know what that means? Shutting the city down? And do we know what kind of safety and security may be in place for that?

JOHNS: Well, we do know that this protest is going to start out with a rally. It's going to come through the streets. And throughout this week, when we have seen protests in the city of Baltimore from time to time, traffic has not been able to get through. There's even one point where the Mayor ordered liberal leave for city employees so they could get home early, get their kids from school.

So there is certainly a possibility of stopping traffic on Saturday. And that's a time when people are out shopping and what have.

Now, as far as chaos or violence or what you have, I don't think any of that has been threatened. They're just big concerns because the organizer of this group is from Washington, D.C. He's not from Baltimore. And we'll see what develops but the expectation and the hope here in Baltimore is that things will remain peaceful, Christi.

PAUL: Absolutely. Joe johns, always good to see you. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, five days after Freddie Gray's death and on the heels of today's massive protests, the Baltimore police department admitted to inexcusable mistakes officers made during the arrest of the 25-year-old. Listen to Commissioner Anthony Betts.


BETTS: We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon, as he should have been. No excuses for that, period. We know our police employees failed to give him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times.


BLACKWELL: Leonard Hamm joins us now. He's the former Baltimore police Commissioner.

First, I just want to generally with your reaction to that admission from the current commissioner there in Baltimore.

LEONARD HAMM, FORMER BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: I think Commissioner Betts did the right thing. It was timely. Very unusual for a police department to admit mistakes openly in a forum like that but it was the right thing to do. And I'm glad he did it.

BLACKWELLL: You know, you say timely but protesters have said that the time it's taken to get basic answers about the time line and what happened when, while Freddie Gray was in police custody has just taken too long. What do you say about that? HAMM: I've been involved in investigations many, many times before.

And I think that you get information out as soon as it comes to you, as soon as you have it, as soon as you digest it, as soon as you analyze it. And I think that given everything considered, I think Commissioner Betts and the Mayor have gotten that information out as quickly and as best as they could.

BLACKWELL: The Baltimore Sun has reported that at least two suspects have won court cases against the city after being paralyzed in such rides over the last decade or so. You were the police commissioner in 2000 -- between 2004 and

2007. Did any of these happen on your watch? And is this something that is systemic? Something that is known about in the department?

HAMM: It happened on my watch -- the first one. And what we did was we put in rules, regulations and restraints in those wagons so that it wouldn't happen again.

Apparently what happened this time was that those rules, regulations, simply weren't followed.

BLACKWELL: Do you believe that this crosses the threshold of criminal activity?

HAMM: I don't know at this time it has reach that threshold. I think as the investigation goes on, as more information is revealed, I then think we can make a determination as to whether it reaches a threshold of criminal activity.

BLACKWELL: We had someone on our program this morning that, I Believe, our Miguel Marquez spoke with who said if these officers are

not charged criminally, that he Fears what will happen to the city once the protesters respond. Protesters today say they plan to shut the city down. Tell us what this peacekeeping effort will look like considering Maryland State Police have been called in?

HAMM: Well, the information that I found out from law enforcement is that the Baltimore police will be the primary law enforcement agency taking action. That state police and other police agencies in the Baltimore metropolitan area will support them and will be in less critical (areas) than the Baltimore Police Department. That's what I found out.

BLACKWELL: OK. And, we'll, of course, watch -- and cover these protests as they happen today. Thousands expected to attend. Leonard Hamm, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

HAMM: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: Was he trained or wasn't he? New details about a Tulsa Reserve deputy who shot an unarmed man. Concerned now from years ago that Robert Bates wasn't properly trained so a lot of people asking, "Why was he still looking?" BLACKWELL: Plus, Bruce Jenner tells Diane Sawyer and the world about

the confusion that he's felt all of his life and the decision to now live as a woman. Hear what what he had to say next.


PAUL: Sixteen minutes past the hour. So glad to have you with us. And Bruce Jenner is announcing to the world, "I am a woman, he says. The reality star and former Olympian sat down with Diane Sawyer in this interview that aired last night to explain this really personal journey.


BRUCE JENNER, OLYMPIAN: I'm me. I'm me. I'm a person that's -- and this is who I am. I'm not stuck at anybody's body it's just who I am as a human being. My brain is much more female than it is male. It's hard for people to understand that, but that's what my soul is.

I look at it this way. Bruce always telling a lie, has lived a lie -- his whole life about who he is. And i can't do that any longer.

PAUL: CNN senior media correspondent and host of Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter joining us now. Brian, always good to see you. Wondering how Bruce's family has responded to this thus far.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Very positively and this is an important moment for them. They are reality TV stars after all and entrepreneurs in many ways. Their reaction and how they handle it is important both for their family but also professionally. And we saw an outpouring of support and love last night. And actually into this morning here's what Kim Kardashian -- perhaps the most famous of all the family members wrote on Facebook and Twitter.

Just a couple of hours ago, she said, "Love is courage to live. The truest best version of yourself, Bruce, is love. I love you, Bruce. She said "Proud daughter". And Kourtney said the same thing. "Couldn't be more a proud daughter. With courage and bravery, let's change the world."

And then step daughter, Khloe -- you know all of these daughters are step daughters of Bruce Jenner from Kris Jenner's previous marriage. "Khloe is said to be taking this the hardest." That's what Bruce Jenner said in the interview. But Khloe wrote as well, "Just finished an interview with our family. Bruzer, I'm so proud of you. Dad's really our hero."

I think that's really -- goes to show, Christi, that this story resonates very broadly, you know, beyond just the transgender community. This is a man who is keeping a secret his entire life -- 65 years. Finally, he feels like he's sharing it, he's talking about a lie in the past and now telling his truth. And over time, it will be her truth, as Bruce Jenner undergoes this transition in a very public way.

PAUL: All right. Hey, Brian Stelter, thank you so much. STELTER: Thanks.

PAUL: Really appreciate you digging into all of that. You can catch Brian as the host of Reliable Sources as well tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Well, Bruce Jenner now says that he's a woman and both -- in some respects, Jenner and his family will undergo this transition together. One family. Just went through a gender transition and they're going to join us here to share this experience and tell us what Jenner is just beginning -- what he's about to go through.

But another fraternity making headlines for their ugly behavior. This time students are accused of spitting, urinating and pouring beer on wounded veterans. Details after this.


BLACKWELL: Twenty-three minutes after the hour, now here's a look at stories developing. Right now, authorities are warning thousands of people who live near an active volcano in Chile that it's not safe to return home just yet.

PAUL: Look at these pictures. Authorities -- they're concerned that the volcano could erupt for a third time after erupting twice in just 24 hours this week. Ash shot six miles in the air blanketed homes. And the good news here -- no injuries reported thus far.

A deadly standoff in Oregon is over the (throwing now). Look at these pictures. Took police seven hours, rounds of tear gas and armored vehicles to stop an armed and wanted man who barricaded himself in that bus. (You see) this was in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The suspect was eventually arrested and taken to a hospital where he died. A police k9 was shot in the incident but we understand that dog will be OK.

BLACKWELL: A group of allegedly drunk fraternity members from the University of Florida and of Emory University. Listen to this -- are accused of spitting, urinating and pouring beer on wounded veterans at a Florida resort.

Now, according to reports, the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity has all ready expelled three members while they investigate what they call "an ugly situation".

PAUL: And new questions this morning about a volunteer Oklahoma reserve deputy who fatally shot an unarmed man. An internal investigation from six years ago contends that Robert Bates didn't have the proper training or skills at the time. But were those concerns ignored?

BLACKWELL: Plus, the investigation continues into the death of an American hostage during a drone strike in Pakistan. They are along the Afghan border. We're now hearing from the employer of Warren Weinstein. Plus, the president gives a new statement regarding this incident.


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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's breaking news.

BLACKWELL: More now on that deadly earthquake in Nepal this morning. You remember, the initial number of dead that we were given from the officials there in Nepal was more than had 150. Well, officials now say the death toll

has reached 597.

PAUL: Skyrocketing there within just a few hours. The quake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck an area near the capital of Kathmandu. And there have been at least 15 aftershocks of 4.5 magnitude and higher since that quake.

When we continue to keep you posted on this. But let's get back here in the U.S. because we're learning some more details this morning about that volunteer reserve deputy who fatally shot an unarmed man. This is in Tulsa county, Oklahoma. BLACKWELL: Yes. A special investigation a few years ago found that Robert Bates did not have the proper training for -- or skills for his duties. Martin Savidge is following this angle of the story for us. Martin, good morning.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Morning, Victor.

Documents obtained by CNN show that concerns of whether Robert Bates have the proper training to be reserve deputy actually go back years.

A 2009 special investigation by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office found that Reserve Deputy Robert bates, was insufficiently trained and given special treatment, including policy has been violated and continues to be violated with regard to special treatment shown to Reserve Deputy Robert Bates with regard to his field training. The investigation included interview with employees who said they felt intimidated by sheriff's officials to help Bates.

One supervisor said when Bates was confronted about overstepping his training and authority, Bates reportedly replied, "Well, I can do it. And if you don't like it, you can talk to Sheriff Glanz."


SAVIDGE: Those training concerns have resurfaced in the after math of Bates' April 2nd shooting death of Eric Harris, a suspect in an undercover law enforcement sting who fled authorities. Bates said he killed Harris by accident, believing he was using his taser when in reality, he fired his gun.

BATES: Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry.

SAVIDGE: The attorney for Harris' family said Bates wasn't qualified to be on the force but received preferential treatment because he made donations to the agency and was a friend of the Sheriff.


SAVIDGE: At a contentious news conference on Monday, Sheriff Stanley Glanz admitted he and Bates have a friendship digging back 25 years.

STEVEN GLANZ: I was referred to Mr. Bates at that time. He became my insurance agent and insured my vehicles and my home for a lot of years.

SAVIDGE: The two have even gone vacations together. And Bates has donated cars and equipment to the Sheriff's Office. As to the 2009 investigation, Sheriff Glanz recalled its conclusions very differently.

GLANZ: I believe that they found that there was no special treatment.

SAVIDGE: In fact, the review found just the opposite, which raises more questions as to why nothing was ever done about his findings. Speaking to NBC, Bates' attorney said he hadn't seen the 2009 memo, but denies claims the reserve deputy any preferential treatment or lack training.

CLARK BREWSTER: I just know he received hundreds of hours of training since 2009. And I know that no one at the operation had any complaints.

SAVIDGE: But the 2009 memo shows that's not true. Meanwhile Bates' defense team released more than 60 pages of documents to support their claim but some information is still missing. The documents CNN reviewed do not show Bates was qualified on the.357 handgun he shot Harris with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Mr. Bates have been out that day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He should have been.

SAVIDGE: As a result of that 2009 memo, it appears it's caught the attention of the district Attorney's Office there in Tulsa County because they put out a statement saying that, "New information has been submitted to this

office regarding actions in the sheriff's office that are worthy of further investigation beyond the scope of the manslaughter case.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff's Office has also put out a statement and it says it's going to cooperate fully with the DA's new investigation. And, oh by the way, they're launching a new investigation of their own to find out how that 2009 memo got leaked to the public.

Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All right. Hey, Martin, thank you so much. Let's talk to CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, about this.

We know that, Tom, that bates has pled, "not guilty" the second degree manslaughter at this point. But what do all of these revelations we've been talking about do you think mean to his case? And what stands out to you?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think, Christi, the interesting thing here is that unlike many cases of corruption where,

you know, public official like a sheriff is accused of receiving property, let's say, and in return, you know, does favors for somebody. In this case, you have a case where the police department receives police vehicles, receives gifts from Bates. And the return is he's allowed to provide community service.

So I think that, you know, this is a little bit of an unusual circumstance for the fact that he's allowed to be a reserve officer. That's a separate question to me from what's he doing at the scene of a felony arrest that was a high-risk arrest as it turns out to be where he fires his own weapon at it.

So I think for me, it's almost a separate issue of -- if you're going to allow somebody like this to do public service and be a reserve officer -- OK, fine. You can direct traffic after special events like high school basketball games or something. But to

have him present during a high-risk arrest say whole different story to me.

PAUL: Is it surprising to you that training policies may have been violated? Is it easy, let me say, to manipulate somebody's record of training?

FUENTES: I don't know for a fact, you know, how easy that would be. If in fact these were manipulated, of course, it's a major concern. But even if he had received the requisite traing of a reserve officer, that by law in Oklahoma is only

of the training hours required for a full-time police officer. So it's 576 officers

required -- hours required for a full-time officer -- reserve about 300.

So, you know, by it's nature, a reserve officer will not be required to receive the training that a full-time officer does. And then if he doesn't even get the 300 hours, obviously, that's a concern. But again, having him at the scene of this arrest I'm sure was not a comfort, especially to the fellow officers making the arrest when that gun goes off and they're inches away from it.

PAUL: Yes, yes. No doubt. Tom Fuentes, appreciate your insight. Thank you, sir.

FUENTES: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: President Obama is promising to find out what went wrong in a deadly drone attack, and the criticism is mounting, of course, about the strike that killed two incident hostages including American Warren Weinstein.

We've got a live report coming up next on that.

Plus in the next hour, Hillary Clinton -- she's the lone democrat running for President. Now, (INAUDIBLE), if you're running to get the nomination and she is. But could this hurt her in the general? Is this hurting her overall candidacy? Our political experts weigh in.


BLACKWELL: New criticism is building this morning following the U.S. drone strike that resulted in the accidental deaths of two innocent hostages. One of those who died is as a result of this incident was an American named Warren Weinstein, who had been held captive by Al Qaeda since 2011.

PAUL: Now, the President has apologized taken full responsibility for the January attack in pakistan that claimed Weinstein's life. Want to talk to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, who is outside the White House, of course, right now.

Sunlen, what's the President now saying about this tragic incident? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you,

Christi. Well, the President has ordered a review to identify what exactly went wrong. And as part of that review, it's not only looking how the federal government works to try to rescue American hostages but also how the federal government communicates with the families of these hostages. Here's President Obama speaking to the members of the Intelligence

community, Friday.


BARRACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to review what happened. We're going to identify the lessons that can be learned and any improvements and changes that can be made. And I know those of you who are here share our determination to continue doing everything we can to prevent the loss of innocent lives.

Yes. I was asked by somebody, you know, how do you absorb news like that, that we received, the other day? And I told the truth that it's hard.


SERFATY: And part of that is many lawmakers are calling on the White House to appoint something of a hostage czar.

Now, the White House hasn't ruled that out but they said that they're looking at something called a "fusion cell" which would be a centralized body that would streamline recovery efforts to get the information by one channel to the families, also speaking of the recovery of these hostages. And much of that stems from the criticism that the government has received from families of American hostages in the past.

And Warren Weinstein's family no exception. They have said in the recent days. That the U.S. government response has been inconsistent and disappointing.

Now we're also hearing from the employer of Warren Weinstein. He was a contractor with USAID and that contract are J.E. Austin Associates says in a statement, "Warren worked on projects to improve Pakistan's exports, small business development and agriculture in full concurrence with the government of Pakistan. Warren's tireless dedication to the country was reflected in his calls at all hours of the day or night during the time he spent managing these projects.

A new information revealed that the Weinstein family did try to work themselves to secure his release. New information claims that they paid ransom to contacts who claimed to be his captors.

Christi and Victor.

PAUL: Yes. It's the best of situation. No doubt about it. S>> thank you so much. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: This morning, we are talking about that the groundbreaking interview with Bruce Jenner last night. And our next guest, Jill

Rhodes is going to discuss this with us.

Jill has fully transitioned into a woman. And she's here with her entire family and they're sharing their experience. You want to stick with this -- for this one. That's coming up next.


BLACKWELL: Well, Bruce Jenner is telling the world that he is a woman. The Olympian revealed his struggle with gender identity publicly for the first time with Diane Sawyer last night on ABC's 20/20. Here's what he said.


DIANE SAWYER: Are you a woman?

JENNER: Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a woman. People look at me differently. They could see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything that I do in life -- it is part of me. That female side is part of me. That's who I am.

I was not genetically born that way. As (about) -- I have all the male parts and all that kind of stuff, so in a lot of ways, we're different, OK? But we still identify as female.


BLACKWELL: Well, Jill Rhodes, my next guest knows the gender struggle well. Jill transitioned six years ago. Has completed the transition now. We have with Jill, her wife the family, wife Sandy, and their two children, Emily and Spencer Rhodes.

I appreciate all of you coming and speaking with us this morning. We talked a bit during the break. You all saw the interview. And, Jill, what did you think about -- about the interview?

JILL RHODES: Yes. I thought -- I thought Bruce is very authentic. And like most people in the trans community, the story was, you know, exactly like everybody else's from his -- from the time he was very young until now.

BLACKWELL: And taken the -- I guess, the (10,000 view) of this, what does this mean for the transgender community for Bruce Jenner to come out and talk at length about this? 1

RHODES: Well, Bruce was -- people of our generation that saw Bruce in Montreal in the '76, he was a giant. I mean he was just -- he was bigger than life. And for somebody like that to come out is a great face for the trans community. And he'll have access to people that, you know -- and influence for people that most people never -- never would.

BLACKWELL: You know, Sandy, Bruce said that he initially told his wife at the time and he believes that her response -- or at least it felt like her response was, "Just fix it." What was the first conversation between the two of you like?

SANDY RHODES: A bit emotional. But it was -- I knew there was a problem and I knew that it was something that we needed to take care of. And...

BLACKWELL: Tell me about that. You said you knew there was a problem. Explain how you do?

RHODES: When she came out and she was able to tell me about it. We were able to take a week and she was able to kind of show me, you know, what she was talking about. And I was able to realize that this is an issue because I could see her difference -- her happiness. I could see the anxiety being gone away.

BLACKWELL: And I see it is still emotional for you now.

RHODES: It is a little emotional.

BLACKWELL: And some of those emotions I'm sure were brought up last night while watching this interview. There would be some people who are watching and questioning, "Why stay together?"

RHODES: What...

BLACKWELL: Tell me why you decided to stay together?

RHODES: Family is very important to us, and that was our number one goal -- was the family. We love each other. And we wanted to work through it. And I take my marriage vows very seriously. And we went into a relationship. And, so, you know, better, worse, rich or poor, sickness, health. It's just -- whatever comes up, you should work together with your spouse and work through it.

BLACKWELL: Emily, there are reports that not all of the Bruce Jenner clan or the children are as comfortable with this as apparently Kim Kardashian is. We've seen the tweets. When -- was this first a family conversation or as one on one? And then you took it to the children?

RHODES: It was one on one with us. And maybe six months later to Emily.

BLACKWELL: And tell us about that when this was first brought to the two of you.

EMILY RHODES: For me, a little bit shocking. I was not expecting it. I knew something was going on but then our family -- but definitely did not know that this would be the news that I would receive. But it took a while for me to actually accept it. So, there was a lot of emotions and even some anger and questioning. But eventually kind of just worked through it. And like she said, family is important. We love each other and that is what ultimately matters.

RHODES: We had to go have pancakes at midnight.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Just to sit down and talk it over?


BLACKWELL: Spencer, this is -- and I said this --and correct me if I'm wrong. But it's a transition for the whole family. And tell us about how you made this transition as well?

SPENCER RHODES: I was the last to found out about it. At the time, I wasn't at home with the family. And finding about this, I think, was the greatest thing that ever happened to my life. It was a relief. And -- because we always had a lot of tension between us as father and son and this really saved our relationship and saved our family, I think. And it's -- you know it's -- it was really easy for

me to take. I was like, "Well, thank goodness. And now it all makes sense. And we can actually have a relationship." And...

BLACKWELL: So you believe that's why there was tension between the two of you?

RHODES: Oh, definitely.


RHODES: Definitely. You know what I mean? Aside from being a teacher and hard headed, (here's) other factors at play.


RHODES: It was -- it was always something. It was always something there. And when that -- when all that came out, you know, I was like, "Oh, that's it? That's all it ever was? I wish I knew that a long time ago." So...

RHODES: Yes. There was great tension in our family.


BLACKWELL: And the relief, Jill, that you've gotten to this point with your family, explain that for us. Or is it relief?

RHODES: It is relief. And I gender is going to be -- brought it out. I mean it's a life-long struggle and it's very complex, but it affects every part of you -- you know, your family life, your business life and everything.

But when you can start living in your own skin, it's just -- it's normal life. And that's really been a big change in our family.

BLACKWELL: There's been some criticism because Bruce Jenner has, you know, been involved with this reality show and reality television for so long that we'll now do this eight-part docu series. Some people -- we've actually had it here on CNN, who say that, "If this is something you decided, just do it. We don't need to drag it out across television. What do you think about that?

RHODES: I think the first fallacy in that is the fact that he's decided to do this. I mean this is who he is -- is who he was born as. So --and it just takes -- you know, for Bruce it took 50 years to come to grips for it and to get to this point. For me, it was 40 years.

So, you know, dragging it out is probably normal because it's such a big change in life. For me, it took five years from the time I came out to now to really be fully transitioned.

BLACKWELL: What are your hopes for Bruce Jenner?

RHODES: I hope he just continues to be a very positive voice for the community. And I think he will. But -- and I thought -- that's my hope.

RHODES: And be able to stand up against criticism because there will be a lot of that always.

RHODES: Always.

RHODES: And not (INAUDIBLE) by criticism.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, Jill, Sandy, Emily Spencer, thank you so much for joining us this morning.


BLACKWELL: We really appreciate you giving us the insight into the transition your entire family has made. Well, stay with us, we've got of course, the busy morning of news, of course the latest on that earthquake in Nepal, the protests happening in Baltimore, and much more in the next hour of your New Day starts right a break.


PAUL: Breaking overnight. Take a look at the picture. We're getting in now of a powerful earthquake in Nepal. Close to 700 now dead.