Return to Transcripts main page


California Wildfire Jumps Highway, Destroys Cars; Shooting Investigation Focuses on Mideast Trips; Preventing Lone Wolf Attacks; Obama Speaks Out on Deal in Weekly Address; How El Chapo Might Have Escaped Mexican Prison; Busy Weekend for White House Hopefuls; Should Tiger Woods Retire? Aired 7-8a ET

Aired July 18, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: An 18-minute delay give him an insurmountable head start.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you along this morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: And I'm Christi Paul. So grateful for your company.

Want to begin with a breaking news here. A wildfire jumps on to a California freeway. And we want to show you some of the latest pictures we are getting into our newsroom right now. The scene still as you can see they're very, very active. Crews are battling into the early morning hours for them there on the West Coast. Flames breaking out in San Bernardino County yesterday, growing four times its size in less than an hour. Just to give you some perspective there.

In all, some 3500 acres are smoldering right now. We have new information about evacuations this morning but I do want to show you the scene from last night because this is what a lot of people just cannot get out of their heads. Astonishing those people running from their cars and they ran up the side of a mountain to get away from the flames.


SANDRA DUARTE, DRIVER: At first, it was a little, OK, it's going to take care of it and it will be put out, but then as it started to get closer and closer, we panicked.

VICKY BEGLARI, DRIVER: And we couldn't get out. It starred at that end, I believe, and then it slowly started to move forward and then it jumped a lane.


PAUL: Paul Vercammen is in San Bernardino County this morning.

Paul, what is the latest there? PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, you can

see behind me the headlights are a great sign. That means that this 15 Freeway that goes to Las Vegas and on to Salt Lake City is reopened. It's down to a couple of lanes. But this is where those dramatic pictures unfolded yesterday when a brush fire, as you pointed out, jumped the freeway.

Cars were stopped because firefighters needed them to stop so they could fight the fire, but in a sense, that made the cars sitting ducks. And once one caught fire, it was a domino effect. Twenty vehicles in all and that includes a semi, a car carrier, and a boat burned up on the 15 Freeway here in the Cajon Pass. After that, the fire then started racing toward the town of Phelan and that's where many homeowners decided to make their own stand. And I spoke with one of them yesterday.


GREG MARTIN, HOMEOWNER: I just -- basically, I just want to keep anything that is possible fuel, I just want to keep water, just keep it wet and keep anything that might be a possible fuel for the fire, just keep it wet with whatever I have to attack the fire with, I just want to keep everything saturated. That's all that is in my mind right now.


VERCAMMEN: Those homeowners and of course firefighters on the ground and in the air attacking that fire with water and sometimes Bostik, that's that retardant. The good news, they say, so far they only have confirmed reports of four structures burned. And they don't know if those are homes. They could just be out buildings, barn and that sort of thing.

What's probably confusing a lot of other people is there's another smaller fire not too far from here. It's called the Pine Fire. It has burned 100 acres so far but it also caused 300 evacuations in a very popular area that's called Wrightwood.

Back to you now, Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much. We appreciate the update.

BLACKWELL: And so we're learning more now in the aftermath of that rampage that left four Marines dead in Tennessee. The electronics, now including a cell phone and computer, belonging to Mohammad Abdulazeez, are now headed to the FBI's lab in Quantico, Virginia. That's happening as investigators are scrambling to find the answer to the question why, the motive behind Thursday's attack.

Right now the focus is on a month-long trip Abdulazeez made to Jordan last year. Officials are trying to determine if he could have come into contact with extremists groups there.

So we are covering this story around the globe as only CNN can. Nick Paton Walsh is live in Amman, Jordan. But we're going to start with Sara Ganim on the investigation, and she's there in Chattanooga.

Sara, good morning.

SARA GANIM, CNN INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. You know, yesterday we spent the day in the national area. That's about two hours away from here talking to people who might have come into contact with this person. We know that the FBI is doing the same. They're talking to people who worked with him, people who owned gun ranges in that area to see if he was recognized practicing.

Also checking to see if he had lived in that area. We do know that in the days leading up to the shootings, he called in sick but this is not someone who had an online social media presence, something that the FBI also often looks into when they're conducting these kind of investigations.

Also not on any terrorist watch list. We do know in the days leading up to this horrific event, he did not go to work -- Victor?


[07:05:01] GANIM (voice-over): Cell phone video captures the intense gun battle between Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez and Chattanooga Police. Officials say the 24-year-old engineering graduate had a handgun and two long guns, including an AK-47 style rifle when police killed him Thursday. He was also wearing a vest to carry extra ammunition.

ED REINHOLD, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Some of the weapons were purchased illegally and some of them may not have been. We will examine that.

GANIM: Authorities this morning are trying to figure out why Abdulazeez went on the killing spree that left four Marines dead and three others wounded. Was it a lone wolf attack or terrorism?

BILL KILLAN, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE: We will continue to investigate it as an act of terrorism until the proof shows us otherwise. We will let the facts and the evidence lead us where it may.

GANIM: Though officials say there is nothing to connect the attacker to ISIS, a long time friend says Abdulazeez changed after spending time in Kuwait and Jordan.

"Something happened over there. He never came close to me like he was before he went overseas." The friend goes on to say, "I'm sure he had something happen to him overseas."

And new details are emerging about Abdulazeez's family and employment background. In 2013 he worked as an engineer at a nuclear power plant in Ohio but was dismissed after 10 days. His current employer, a wire and cable manufacturing company in Franklin, Tennessee, says he called in sick Monday and Tuesday and was scheduled to be off Wednesday and Thursday, the day of the massacre.

Meanwhile, his father was the subject of a post-9/11 FBI probe into donations he made to overseas charities but the elder Abdulazeez was never charged with any crime and in 2009, Abdulazeez's mother filed for divorce accusing her husband of being physically abusive to her and her children. The case was dismissed.


GANIM: Now a little bit of context, Victor, on that divorce. The case was dismissed after the father, the shooter's father, agreed to go to counseling. In those court documents, though, there is detail of physical abuse against the wife and the children. Also a sexual abuse against the mother. But of course that case was dismissed after that post-nuptial agreement -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Sara Ganim, in Chattanooga for us. Sara, thanks.

PAUL: Now from Chattanooga, we want to head to Amman, Jordan, where Nick Paton Walsh is looking into the shooter's reported trip to overseas.

And Nick, we know that he was there last -- in 2014 to visit an uncle. What do we know about that uncle this morning? Anything?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Little at this stage. And obviously that's a key focus of investigators right now. They are trying to determine who this man was. He found where he lives and who else, indeed, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez could have spent time with in the months it's thought that he was here. It wasn't his first trip. He came here numerous times on an American passport.

There's also the confusing issue of Jordanian official believing he had a Jordan travel documents, a passport so to speak, common in Palestinian refugee families, many of whom live here. That's where his family, his parents sprang from. But perhaps that document may have been used to help him travel elsewhere. That's something they're going to have to determine very quickly. Obviously confusing the fact that those different documents may have had slightly different names.

And the family changed their names. He was originally born as Mohammad Youssuf Sayid Saeed Hajj Ali, so a complex past that investigators have to trace down through here. But the question really will be, did he meet people in Jordan who assisted him on his path towards radicalization if indeed that is how the FBI determined his motivation sprang from.

Jordan is not a place which you would consider to be a hot bed of ISIS. There are pockets of radicalization here and radicals but its' not prevalent in society. In fact much of Jordan is against ISIS deeply after one of their pilots was burned brutally to his death in a publicly played video. Or the other alternative question is, did he come to Jordan and use it as a transit hub to perhaps less likely Syria in the north, plenty of extremists there, Iraq to the east, or potentially another country further away, maybe Yemen where of course Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have trained many people to attack the west in the past.

So many questions for investigators to pour into right now. And we know that the Americans are working with them as we speak.

PAUL: And because the Americans -- and this is a joint effort between the Jordanian officials and Americans, is there any indication or any gauge as to how long it might take to get some of these answers?

WALSH: Obviously they'll work as fast as they can. But this is an extraordinary elastic event and you have to work back perhaps in a period of years. Perhaps even talk to people who are no longer around. It's an extraordinarily complex event. But I think one, too, which the narrative of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez isn't enormously helpful. You would normally expect somebody, for example, to have a key event in their life which turned them in the path towards radicalization.

[07:10:09] The confusing bit is once he's returned from the Middle East, then he is caught for a DUI in April of this year. Drinking and driving far from the devout Islamic lifestyle you may have expected somebody to take if they were about to give their life in the cause of what they would see as jihad. So a very complex task and increasingly I think we see for example the Boston bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, spent attractive period of time in Makhachkala or in Dagestan in southern Russia, the hot bed of jihadist Islamist activity in that part of the world.

But we all struggle to, I think, find specific moments where he met other radicals who may have assisted his travel towards that sort of dark ideology that led to the Boston attacks. It may simply be that he went there to try and meet people and have no luck. More likely there's someone like Abdulazeez coming him would find success in meeting radicals who may assist him but that's something investigators have to work it because they'll seek a tiny narrative of a man who came here and met the wrong people that maybe that for the online world or his time in Tennessee had a complicating factor and event, too, and perhaps the fact that we're not dealing with a particularly balanced personality by all accounts. Back to you.

PAUL: Nor any record of any social media presence as well certainly makes it difficult.

Nick Paton Walsh, so appreciate the update. Thank you.

Now hundreds of people filled the pews at interfaith vigils yesterday, remembering the four U.S. Marines whose lives were stolen in this week's shooting rampage. The Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker all speaking at the Olivet Baptist Church and called for the community to stay strong, to stand together and to answer hate with love.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come this hour, we are learning more, filling out this biography of the shooter Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez and the turmoil brewing in the home where he grew up.

Also the shooting prompting talks of security changes at military recruiting offices. What should we be telling the members of the Armed Services who need protection when they return home. Plus, seven prison workers now charged in the escape of a drug

kingpin. Did the guards' response time give El Chapo an insurmountable head start?

And Donald Trump at it again. But are his controversial comments really his political views or is this just entertainment?


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't like Donald Trump's tone. Tone? No wonder they're dying. I mean, no wonder you look at Jeb, he's dying in the polls. He doesn't like my tone.



[07:16:03] BLACKWELL: I want to you listen to this pretty chilling warning after four Marines were gunned down in Chattanooga. This is the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee talking about ISIS.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: They are permeating our society and this country through the Internet and through social media. It's very, very difficult to stop it.


BLACKWELL: "Very difficult to stop it." Joining me now to discuss, Lieutenant Colonel Bob Maginnis and we've got senior strategist for the U.S. Army -- he is the senior strategist for the U.S. Army and the Pentagon, and Michael Weiss is also the co-author of "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror." Back with us both.

Lieutenant Colonel, first I want you to, you know, kind of tell us what you think about the statement we heard from the representative there, Representative McCaul, that we should expect to see more attacks like this.

LT. COL. ROBERT MAGINNIS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Yes, it's hard to know, Victor. Of course, the Internet is all over. Everybody is using it. The social media. We know ISIS is incredibly effective. You know, it's interesting, General (INAUDIBLE) of the Special Operations Command said about a month ago that about 90 different nations have sent fighters to Iraq and Syria. Well, if you have that many people physically going there, then you have to, I think, include rationally that there are others in their home countries that have spun up as well.

We don't know if this Chattanooga shooter is in that particular subset. However, we have seen others. You know, the Ft. Hood shooting and so forth that have evidenced some sort of Internet associated jihadism. And that's very worrisome. If the Homeland Security Committee chairman is correct and of course we already know a third of all domestic terrorist activities over the last, oh, about 13, 14 years, have been targeting military personnel or their installations, then we have a serious problem.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about that in just a moment but I want Michael to pick up on one element you talked about, about all of these -- the 90 countries sending forces to Iraq and Syria. Of course we know the fight is not only in Iraq and Syria. Most of the radicalization happens online or inside one's home. So is there any plausible plan to get between ISIS and those who are radicalizing at home?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, no. I think it's very difficult to try and, you know, switch off the Internet essentially which is what you'd have to do to stop this active proselytization --

BLACKWELL: That's there is? Turn off the Internet? There is no other option?

WEISS: Well, look. I mean, the way that ISIS is thriving or the reason I should say that ISIS is the geopolitics of the region have never been this bad, at least not in living memory, as far as I can I tell.

You mentioned 90 countries part of a coalition at war with ISIS. The way ISIS presents this is 90 countries led by the United States, the crusader United States, backed by the Zionist Jewish regime of Israeli, backed by these so-called apostate Arab countries are at war with Sunni Muslims. This is their propaganda.

People who turn on televisions such as CNN and look at, you know, bombs being dropped in Syria and Iraq, they needn't even be pious Muslims. They ask themselves how come that the NATO or the United States didn't intervene to stop Bashar al-Assad's regime when he was dropping chemical weapons and barrel bombs and Scud missiles on the heads of Sunni Muslims.

They look at Iraq, they look at, you know, life under the al-Maliki government for the last near decade. Now they look at what they see as a creeping takeover of the Iraqi Security Forces by Shia Iran and this drives them nuts. There's a kind of collective nervous breakdown taking place. ISIS is pushing this narrative as hard as they can.

[07:20:03] In fact, I mean, this U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, I guarantee ISIS is rubbing its hands with glee because this is exactly what they want to portray.


WEISS: The U.S. and Arab countries in bed with the Islamic Republic of Iran for the murder and dispossession and disenfranchisement of Sunni Muslims.

BLACKWELL: I'm sure we'll hear more of that in the debate that's happening in Congress. I need to jump in there because I need the lieutenant colonel to weigh in on one element specifically.

We saw, just yesterday, on Friday, Oklahoma Governor Fallin, also Governor Jindal of Louisiana sign these executive orders that would allow full-time military personnel at military facilities across the state to carry weapons. I mean, speaking specifically about these recruiting centers. Is that the right way to go?

MAGINNIS: Yes. General Odierno, the chief of staff of the Army, said yesterday that, you know, that's probably not the way to go. But we clearly have to do an assessment of soft targets in this country. You know, someone wearing the uniform of the Marine Corps or the U.S. Army is a target to someone who wants to make a statement against the United States government. A very visible statement and that is possibly what happened here in Chattanooga.

You know, there are all sorts of logistics issues or proficiency issues. There are public safety issues that have to be considered. I think that we could probably increase our operational readiness certainly our operational security by providing certain personnel weapons to defend themselves, if we believe that they're vulnerable.

Recruiting centers might be one of those or we can move the recruiting centers somewhere else where perhaps it's not as easily targeted as we found in Chattanooga.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Moving them out of these strip malls. I was there in Tennessee. On the left you had a cell phone store, on the right you had an Italian restaurant, and the recruitment center in the middle was no better protected than a cell phone shop and a pizza joint.

All right. Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis and Michael Weiss, thank you so much.

Where is El Chapo? That's a question, of course, Mexican authorities are asking and authorities across the world. It's been a week since the Mexican drug lord escaped from jail. This morning, new arrests connected to his escape. And we're getting a closer look at the tunnel that he used to break out. I mean, some of the details around this are really fascinating.

Plus, the Iran nukes deal faces an uphill battle in Congress. We just talked about it a moment ago. What President Obama is doing to convince members of both parties to support the agreement.


[07:26:01] PAUL: So good to have you with us at 25 minutes past the hour right now.

And new this morning, President Obama speaking out on the Iran deal in his weekly address making his case for why he believes the accord will work. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Does this deal resolve all of the threats Iran poses to its neighbors in the world? No. Does it do more than anyone has done before to make sure Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon? Yes. And that was our top priority from the start. That's why it's in everyone's best interest to make sure this deal holds, because without this deal, there would be no limits on Iran's nuclear program.


PAUL: CNN's national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty joining us now.

So kind of walk us through what else the president said in his weekly address, first of all, and good morning.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Christi. Well, this was really President Obama trying to take his critics head on. The entire weekly address was aimed really at debunking all the fierce criticism the administration has received over this deal, which there's been plenty of, both here on Capitol Hill and abroad. And the president said that there will be many what he called dishonest arguments about the deal and he predicted that it will get overheated in the weeks ahead, but the president said he's ready for that.


OBAMA: I welcome all scrutiny. Fear no questions. As command-in- chief, I make no apology for keeping this country safe and secure through the hard work of diplomacy over the easy rush to war.


SERFATY: And the White House has launched an all-out lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill, really putting their sights on Democrats. Members of the president's own party, many of who are skeptical of the deal, the Republican-controlled House likely has the votes already to pass a resolution of disapproval. This will be one step towards blocking the deal.

Here's what Speaker Boehner had to say this week.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: President Obama says it's this deal or war. Well, that's a false choice. The sanctions were working and bringing Iran to its knees. And we are going to continue to review this, but we are going to fight a bad deal that is wrong for our national security and wrong for our country.


SERFATY: And the White House also needs to shore up support for this deal abroad. On Sunday they are dispatching Secretary of Defense Ash Carter who will visit Israeli, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These are key foreign allies that the U.S. needs to reassure about this deal -- Christi.

PAUL: And Sunlen, I know the ayatollah spoke publicly about the deal this morning. What did he say? SERFATY: That's right. He had some televised remarks where he spoke

really the most exhaustive comments that we have heard him say since this deal was reached. And he said during that speech that Iran will uphold its anti-American policies and he said, quote, "Our policies towards the arrogant government of the United States will not be changed at all."

Certainly hard line view of this, but certainly one part of how it's going to play in Iran -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, good to see you this morning. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The search continues this morning at a pretty heavy pace for El Chapo, the drug lord who escaped prison a week ago and still no sign of him, but new information is surfacing this morning about the days before his escape.

Plus we are learning more about the shooter who killed four Marines in Chattanooga. How friends say he changed when he returned home from a trip to the Middle East.


[07:31:27] PAUL: Well, guess what? Mortgage rates ticked up this week. The highest average of the year. Here is your look.


PAUL: Following a breaking story out of California right now. An active scene in San Bernardino as crews battle a rapidly spreading wildfire.

Here are some of the latest pictures we're getting in. This is 3500 acres in size, only 5 percent contained so far. And leading to this chaos yesterday is what really has a lot of people -- I mean, it's a breathtaking picture and it's also horrifying at the same time. Hundreds of people running from the flames in a desperate scramble to get off this highway. Dozens of cars, four structures have been destroyed. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.

We are being told parts of the highway are reopening now which is the good news. Some minor injuries possibly reported here but that scene yesterday and late into the night last night was really frightening for those folks.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, last night hundreds gathered at an interfaith memorial service to remember the four Marines who were killed by Mohammad Abdulazeez. Pastors and city leaders calling for the community to stay strong and to answer hate with love.

And the Boston marathon bomber has been moved to super max. Yes, the nation's most secure federal prison. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death in May for his role in the Boston marathon bombings. Earlier he was being held in a separate prison in Florence, Colorado. And new details this morning in the prison escape of one of the

world's most notorious drug traffickers. Seven people who worked in that prison that held Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been charged in connection with that jail break.

Now this as Mexican officials reveal on the night Guzman escaped, it took 18 minutes for guards to get to his cell after they lost sight of him on the surveillance video.

[07:30:01] CNN's Polo Sandoval has the latest on the hunt for El Chapo from Mexico City -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi, Victor, those charges are the first to be filed in connection to the escape of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, and this morning, Mexican authorities may not be any closer to tracking down that cartel kingpin. The reality is he could be anywhere, possibly even hiding in this among its 22 million residents.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): Mexico's most wanted man seems to have vanished into air. Experts think Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is relying on his unique skills set to elude authorities with nearly a week on the run. The Sinaloa Cartel boss is ruthless and cruel but he is also extremely street smart and cunning according to Anabel Hernandez.

ANABEL HERNANDEZ, JOURNALIST: This guy is terrible criminal. A very primitive man. That rape women when the woman doesn't do his favors. That can kill people, kids, woman, men. This man is very bad.

SANDOVAL: Hernandez is a journalist and expert on the cartel problem plaguing her country. She lives with death threats that come with reporting and writing about Guzman, a man whose power did not diminish behind prison walls.

HERNANDEZ: He organized one hunger strike inside the jail, more than 900 prisoners. So with 900 prisoners on your side, you're able to do anything.

SANDOVAL: Hernandez believes El Chapo threatened and bribed prison officials facilitating his escape. Families of some of the employees at the Altiplano prison defend their loved ones. They say their relatives would never help the inmates.

A woman who won't tell me her name out of fear for her safety says she hopes security measures at the prison would keep her loved one safe. She says her relative risked his life every time he went to work.

The prison continues housing a laundry list of ruthless cartel heads and killers. Several prison employees have been arrested. Federal prosecutors now want to talk to people they believe visited Guzman during his imprisonment.

Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez, a state legislator from Guzman's home state of Sinaloa, is one of them. Sanchez did not respond to CNN's request for comment but she's taken to social media denying claims she knows Guzman, let alone visited him in prison. She's not the only Mexican official ensnared in a cloud of controversy. Hernandez says sadly corruption is part of the fabric of her country.

HERNANDEZ: El Chapo didn't create the corruption. The corruption created El Chapo. The corruption and impunity are the (INAUDIBLE) of El Chapo. El Chapo is just the best example how bad things are in Mexico.

SANDOVAL: El Chapo's escape could carry serious political implications for the presidency of Enrique Pena Nieto. His administration's recent arrest of cartel figures are being overshadowed by the escape of El Chapo. Despite the humiliation, Nieto promises he will be recaptured.

ENRIQUE PENA NIETO, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (Through Translator): I'm fully confident of the courage, bravery and determination of our armed forces, and the police of the federal order to catch him just as we did last year.

SANDOVAL: Nieto has faith and trust in his government. But many in Mexico don't feel the same way.


SANDOVAL: And this morning, there is plenty of frustration here on the streets of Mexico. Many people here are asking why their government didn't do more to make sure that Guzman remain behind bars.

In fact, Christi and Victor, we are now learning that the latest request for extradition to the United States came just two weeks before Guzman crawled into that tunnel and made his daring escape. Back to you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

You know, a major part of this daring jailbreak was this mile-long ventilated tunnel. Earlier this week, CNN's Nick Valencia took us inside. Watch a part of the story.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is the modified motorcycle that investigators showed us images of before. This is on a track if you can roll back and forth. See that? There's buckets left behind. And look at this. Left behind oxygen tanks as well in order for them to survive down here. The tunnel stretches for more than a mile. Carved out earth here.

This modified train track for that mini-motorcycle, you see here, electricity lines. It's very difficult to breathe down here. A lot of dirt. Dust. This here for the ventilation system. Tight, tight space down here. This motorcycle was on a track here. This is the bike that El Chapo used to ride out of the prison. Still has gas in it. You can still smell the gas. It's overwhelming odor of gas in this tight space. It really is suffocating. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Gary -- we've got with us Gary Brierley, a tunnel expert and forensic engineer.

Gary, the idea is so cartoonishly simple and would be laughable expert we're talking about Shorty Guzman and we're talking about a jail escape. He just built a tunnel and escape. How long do you think this would have taken to build?

[07:40:07] GARY BRIERLEY, FORENSIC INVESTIGATOR: Well, this tunnel was extremely difficult for several reasons, but I'm estimating it would have taken approximately two years to build this tunnel. And keep it a secret. The level of activity there that was taking place at the house had to be very carefully managed.

BLACKWELL: You say the house. Explain that for us because some people may not know that detail.

BRIERLEY: Well, apparently, they were working out of an abandoned house. I saw that on the video that you had shown earlier in the week. It looked like a house that was pretty well isolated and it would have been difficult to explain the level of activity that was taking place around that house associated with this tunnel construction.

BLACKWELL: So we've got this tunnel. It goes on for a mile. It's ventilated. I mean, this had to have taken, you say, two years. How many people? I mean, what's the crew that require -- is required for something like this?

BRIERLEY: Well, each crew would have been probably about five people. There would have been a couple of guys at the face actually excavating the ground. But then all of that material has to be removed from the tunnel and then removed from the house so there was probably -- I'm estimating there must have been at least 20 people associated with this tunnel construction at various times throughout the two years that it would have taken to build it.

BLACKWELL: And you're an expert in tunnels, a forensic engineer. It would take some expertise to be able to do this. This isn't just a couple of guys, saying, hey, we can dig out the boss. I mean, you'd have to find some people who spent time drawing up plans, right?

BRIERLEY: Well, I don't think you need plans so much. I'm sure the cartels, though, have groups of individuals that do tunnels. I mean, they built hundreds of tunnels and they must have a whole cadre of individuals that are involved in this activity on a regular basis. These people are very dedicated. It's a very strenuous activity to be underground and excavating all of this dirt.

I estimated there was about 4,000 tons of material that had to be removed from this tunnel and to do that all by hand, you can imagine the exertion associated with that activity. So these guys are experts. They don't need plans. They just start from scratch and start excavating. They just -- (LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: Yes. And by their definition, this worked. But if it had not worked, give us an idea, paint the picture if this had gone wrong.

BRIERLEY: Well, a couple of things could go wrong. If the tunnel collapsed, if they weren't supporting it properly, that would have caused settlement or a sinkhole up at the surface which clearly would have been noticed. But I think the most amazing aspect of the tunnel is that it came up inside this guy's shower stall. To tunnel underground for a mile and come up within a few inches, actually, a few feet of where you intended to be is absolutely amazing. The survey control for this was just extremely sophisticated.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Sophisticated is the right term for this.

Gary Brierley, tunnel expert and forensic engineer. I mean, when we saw the video and we saw Nick's report, we of course wanted to learn more about it. Thank you so much for speaking with us this morning.

And if you at home want to join this conversation, give us your take. Your thoughts on this now second sophisticated escape of El Chapo. Use the #newdayCNN.

PAUL: Yes. We would love to hear from you.

So let's talk about Donald Trump. Controversial comments don't seem to be scaring off voters. Still ahead, a look at what his views are, as some say, purely political or ask if it's entertainment?


[07:47:24] BLACKWELL: Well, you know, Iowa caucuses are more than six months away, but in about two hours, every Republican presidential candidate, except for Jeb Bush, will take center stage at the Annual Family Leadership Summit Meeting in Ames. And, of course, Donald Trump's attendance is getting a lot of attention. Here is why. Not just because he is Donald Trump but a new FOX News poll has the billionaire businessman leading by three points there.

Let's talk about this. We've got April Ryan. The White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. She's also the author of the "The Presidency in Black and White."

April, good to have you on the show.

APRIL RYAN, URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Thank you. Good to be here.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk with this new GOP front-runner. I mean, is this because of his views or it's because a lot of people are showing up to watch the Trump show?

RYAN: I think all of the above. There is a Trump show and he knows how to play it, he knows how to brand himself very well. But he can brand himself but, you know, sometimes he leaves a little bit of some tire tracks when he brands himself, you know? Some of the divisive comments. There is a segment of America that believes in what he is saying, particularly when it comes to immigration but are we a nation in 2015 that is really ready for this kind of talk?

You know, Donald Trump is a showman. He knows how to use his brand and make it work. And, right now he is at the top of the polls because he's got the flash and saying things that some people want to hear.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Let's talk about Jeb Bush, because he has been attacking Jeb Bush. We have heard that for weeks now. Bush's numbers are slipping. Good or bad idea to skip the event this weekend in Iowa?

RYAN: Well, you know, his dad is not well so that is one thing. And when it comes to family, I know the Bush's are very, very close to family, and their dad is not just a historical figure, but the father, the leader of that family. And they are probably rallying around right now. And for Jeb Bush to miss that, it is a big event but he is dealing with his dad and his family issues right now. But you also have to look at this.

We have two dynasty families that are in this race and they peaked very early. So right now you've got the mavericks on the fringe that are really becoming the topic of discussion. But, you know, during this next 16, 18 months, we're going to see up and down, up and down for different candidates. And one thing that's really interesting to me is to see if Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton can reclaim what they had a couple of weeks ago before Donald Trump came in and before Bernie Sanders.

[07:50:01] BLACKWELL: You know, April, earlier this week and I was watching the news conference when you asked President Obama about the dozens of rape allegations that had been levied against Bill Cosby. And if that Presidential Medal of Freedom would be revoked. Here's part of his response.


OBAMA: If you give a woman or a man for that matter, without his or her knowledge, a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape. And I think this country, any civilized country, should have no tolerance for rape.


BLACKWELL: Clarity there and I'm sure a lot of people appreciated that, but April, it's interesting that the president would have to face this because on election night in 2008, from no one other than Karl Rove, we heard that quite possibly there would be no Obama family in the White House if not for the Huxtables on television. Let's put it up. This is what he said back in 2008.

"We've had an African-American family for many years in different forms. When the Cosby show was on, that was America's family. It wasn't a black family, it was America's family. That's from Karl Rove on the night that President Obama was elected. So, you know, that moment when you have to face this, pretty striking.

RYAN: Yes, it was and Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush's king maker, who is now a pundit on FOX and still, you know, political strategist. It's -- Karl Rove is right. Bill Cosby did change the mindset. He started to help change the mindset in this country. You know, as someone who grew up on Cosby and also I remember, you know, when the little cartoon "Little Bill" came out, I you know had my kids watch it.

Bill Cosby really changed the dynamic of the look of the African- American family because, you know, many years ago we were watched black expletive shows. We're watching shows where the African- American family was depicted on welfare in a junk yard or different places. And there are so many different components to the black family. And when Bill Cosby came, and then -- and not only that, you know, Bill Cosby promoted education.


RYAN: Particularly HBCU's, historically black colleges and universities. And I'm a proud graduate of one of those universities. And he used to -- on "The Cosby Show" he used to always wear different HBCU paraphernalia.

BLACKWELL: The sweatshirt. Yes.

RYAN: Yes. Sweatshirt, so when my school shirt was on, Morgan State University, l was screaming and hollowing. And then he had different world. So --


RYAN: Bill Cosby did change the dynamic of the look of the African- American family and African-Americans. He helped change that dynamic, the visual of it. And people started embracing him a little bit more. And, you know --

BLACKWELL: But the context now, unfortunately, from what we have learned has certainly, certainly changed.

April Ryan, we've got to leave it there. White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. The book is "The Presidency in Black and White."

April Ryan, thank you so much.

RYAN: Thank you so much, Victor.

PAUL: Well, family members want answers about the death of Sandra Bland. Jailers say it was suicide. Her relatives, they don't buy it. In our next hour, new details on this investigation and why now the FBI is getting involved.


[07:57:12] PAUL: You know, most people go out to the golf course, they say, oh, I'm going to have a relaxing time. It's going to be fun.


PAUL: Not so much for Tiger Woods at the British Open.

BLACKWELL: No, no. He is 5 over par, I understand, and not even close to making the cut. I don't know what that means, because I don't play golf but I think I faked it pretty well.


PAUL: You did.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Kudos.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You kind of pulled it off.


WIRE: Yes, so earlier this week Tiger Woods said that he wasn't ready to retire because he didn't have an AARP card. Well, AARP tweeted at him saying, "It's better to be over 50 than it is to be over par."

Now Tiger has to be under five of the seven last holes to make the cut today. It doesn't look likely. Now he hasn't won a major in seven years. And if he misses the cut today at the Open, he'll have missed the cut three out of the last four majors. So we're getting some great responses from you, our friends at NEW DAY, should Tiger Woods retire from golf and why?

Here's what you tweeted. Jay said, "Golf is a sport where you can be independently successful in your teens to your 50s, et cetera. Tiger will bounce back." Well, Rattj said, "Yes, he should. The longer he carries on the more he damages his legacy." Denny says, "No. It's way too early to talk retirement. Even greats have to endure some adversity at some point."

How about Don who said, "Tiger should retire and do charity golf schools around the world." Interesting. And also Timothy said, "No, Tiger Woods shouldn't retire. He's 39 years old going through a transition where he must change his game." So they're coming in fast and furious.


WIRE: Keep them coming. We love it, #newdayCNN, when you guys get involved with our show.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Absolutely. Love your voice.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Coy.

PAUL: Thank you so much, Coy.

BLACKWELL: Stay right here. We've got a lot going on this morning.

PAUL: And we are following a breaking news story out of California. Look at the pictures we're getting in now. New pictures here will be coming in of this rapidly spreading wildfire. Do stay close. We are starting the new show at the top of the hour.