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Trump To Unveil Policy Plans Soon; Clinton Defiant In Iowa, Attacks GOP Field; New Explosions Rock China Overnight; U.S. Confirms ISIS Using Chemical Weapons; Wildfires Force Evacuations In Washington State; Pistol-Whipped Officer Feared Media Scrutiny; Threats from North Korea; Removing Confederate Symbols from Cities. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired August 15, 2015 - 06:00   ET



[06:00:30] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, new explosions in China. Reigniting fires and sending black smoke, again, billowing into the air.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Honestly, I think we are led by stupid people.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: How do you really feel? Donald Trump blasting members of his own party and Hillary Clinton in his latest campaign stop, but with all eyes on Iowa this morning, which candidate is coming out fighting?

BLACKWELL: Plus, seemingly a first for ISIS. The terror group using a mustard agent as a weapon and at least one attack in Syria and that has the U.S. and others extremely concerned.

Good morning. Good to be with you this Saturday morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: I'm Christi Paul. Always so glad to have your company.

BLACKWELL: All right, it's said to be a big political day as presidential hopefuls, including a pair of frontrunners, descend upon the Iowa State Fair. Now among those said to attend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders and the GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump.

Now the mogul expected to make a grand entrance arriving in the G- Trump here, his helicopter. This comes after a big rally in another key state.

The first primary in the country, New Hampshire, that is where he took shots at rivals, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. He also gave a little more insight into the policy he might roll out.

Joining us now to discuss is CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, what has been the reaction this morning to Trump's speech, a little meteor?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. We talked to a lot of voters here in New Hampshire, who specifically came out to hear Trump speak last night. There was really broad consensus among them.

They want to hear more specifics. They want to know what a potential President Trump would do in office and certainly this had been a major constant criticism of Trump and his campaign that he speaks in broad strokes, but he doesn't offer up the policies in specific to back them up.

So certainly here this is a big stay tuned coming from Donald Trump. In an interview with "The Washington Post" promising that he will release specific policy papers the first part of September starting with his immigration policy and moving to his tax policy.

And this comes at a time where the campaign really seems to be trying to take themselves more seriously and trying to dig in a lot of the early states and notable that also in that interview, Trump is saying he is reaching out to some senators in help in writing policy.

Saying he specifically reached out to Senator Sessions as he writes his immigration plan. Here is Donald Trump last night in New Hampshire.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It will be very soon. I have some of the most brilliant people in the country working on tax, which I'm involved in very much because I understand the system very well, probably better than anyone who has ever run for office, if you want to know the truth, because I am part of the system.

But we have some amazing people working on immigration, so I would say over the next two or three weeks, probably sometime during the September.


SERFATY: Meanwhile, Donald Trump continuing to go after his opponents really not lighting up and honing in on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her use of her private e-mail server when she was secretary of state. Here is more of Donald Trump.


TRUMP: I think, at some point, she perhaps is not able to run and have to end her campaign. That seems to be the thinking by so many. General Petraeus, his life was destroyed with a tiny fraction of what he has done.

So it's very unfair to him if they are going to destroy him over doing, by comparison nothing, I don't see how she can run. I think she has got much bigger problems than running for office.


SERFATY: And Trump does head to Iowa for the Iowa State Fair today and it also comes at a time where the campaign there is really beefing up their staffing during the early state.

Victor, another sign that the campaign is moving towards potentially a longer campaign, they are in it potentially for the long haul.

BLACKWELL: All right, we will see. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much.

PAUL: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton unleashed her harshest attacks on the Republicans yet. In 20-minute speech before 2,000 people at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding Dinner, Clinton blasted several GOP contenders by name and brought one rowdy crowd to its feet. Listen to this.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I know most of the attention these days is on a certain flamboyant frontrunner.

[06:05:05] But don't let the circus distract you. If you look at their policies, most of the other candidates are just Trump without the pizzazz or the hair. Yes. Mr. Trump says outrageous and hateful things about immigrants, but how many of the other candidates disagree with his platform?

None of the leading candidates support a real path to citizenship when they talk about legal status that is code for second-class status. The same when it comes to women's health and women's rights.


PAUL: Clinton also addressed the e-mail scandal saying she had provided her server to the Justice Department and that she would not play politics with national security.

We want to get to the breaking news out of China right now, new explosions rocking that same site where we saw that massive blast that killed dozens of people earlier this week. Flames now reignited, we understand, and black smoke once again in the air.

Look at the pictures we are getting here. Will Ripley has been at the site since the first explosion Wednesday. Will, what can you tell us what is happening there right now?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been a lot of developments. Several explosions were heard here prompting the evacuation of this emergency shelter that we have been reporting from.

We saw busloads of families with children being taken to a safer location farther away downtown and earlier in the day, we were wearing our masks while reporting here, but just within the last few minutes the government telling us, in fact, the evacuation was false. That the air they say is safe, and even though deadly sodium cyanide has been detected near the site of this chemical explosion along with a long list of other toxic -- along with some other potentially explosive and dangerous toxins, they say air quality shows things are back to normal here.

Although you can see some people are still choosing not to be photographed, but use face masks as well that's a decision we are constantly evaluating. The families of some of the missing firefighters stormed a press conference this morning.

We were there and locked in the room by government officials trying to prevent us from talking with these families who say that their loved ones are still missing and they were in the first wave of firefighters.

The firefighters who the government now says used water on that chemical fire Wednesday, unaware that water, when being mixed with those chemicals, would create explosions like the ones that we saw here.

It seems as if these first responders were unaware of the danger and they were running to try to put out the fire, but by using water, that triggered these blasts and that is where the investigation is taking us right now.

As we were trying to report about that very topic earlier from a different location, a plain clothes officer shoved our camera and put their hands in front of it and pushed us into our vehicle while we were live telling us to get out of the way.

So it just goes to show, Christi, how China -- the increasing sensitivity and the suspicions here of some sort of government cover- up, that why was this facility allowed to store these chemicals so close to where families and children were living?

Meanwhile, you see people are now returning to this emergency shelter, getting water and other needed supplies. There are still thousands of people who are homeless here right now as a result of this disaster and they are not sure when they will be able to go home -- Christi.

PAUL: All right, Will Ripley, great report. Thank you so much. We appreciate the update.

BLACKWELL: Imagine this, a man in New York saw more than 100 patients and had an office, but authorities say he was no doctor. Before he actually was caught, he acted like a doctor for three years! We will tell you how he got away with it. That is still ahead.

Plus, ISIS is taking its attack to a new level. More on what the terror group is using that has U.S. military leaders so concerned.

And look at this, a volcano erupts, sending ash three miles high and igniting several explosions.


BLACKWELL: It's 12 minutes after the hour now. The war against ISIS has taken a frightening turn with confirmation that the terror group is using chemical weapons now on the battlefield. It is not known how ISIS obtained the weapons used in Northern Syria and possibly Northern Iraq.

The fear is that they have learned how to make it themselves. CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto has the latest for us -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, the U.S. has test results that confirm that ISIS used a mustard agent, the kind of chemical weapon in an attack in Syria two weeks ago.

The U.S. also investigating two attacks in just the past few days where another chemical agent appears to have been used against Kurdish forces there. They have not confirmed the use of a mustard agent in those attacks.

But the U.S. does believe that ISIS has mustard agents in its possession. It's a very serious chemical weapon. It has used on the battlefield. It's a serious escalation in the war there.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): When Kurdish soldiers arrived at this Northern Iraqi hospital this week with blistered skin and difficulty breathing, Kurdish commanders feared the worst, ISIS had attacked them with chemical weapons. One of two attacks this week now under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): These are traces of the weapons almost 45 rounds in 40 minutes.

SCIUTTO: The U.S. military will now test samples from the patients and weapons to determine if they included mustard gas, a horribly powerful chemical agent that the U.S. now believes ISIS has obtained. Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN the U.S. has already determined that ISIS fighters used a mustard agent during a separate attack weeks ago inside Syria.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This would be a new and worrying report, if it's accurate. I have no doubt that if ISIS could get their hands on this stuff, they would use it. No level of violence is too great for this group. They glorify in the terror that it creates.

SCIUTTO: U.S. officials say it is possible the more recent attacks used chlorine, a less serious, but still horrible chemical agent that ISIS has used before in battle or possibly precursor chemicals the building blocks of mustard gas.

Some commanders downplay the battlefield effect of the limited use of chemical weapons, but such weapons can spark a new level of fear for Kurdish forces already locked in a stalemate with ISIS.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RETIRED), FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Their MO is basically strike fear into the hearts of everybody, no matter what the tactic or technique is.

[06:15:04] SCIUTTO: The U.S. has not yet determined where or how ISIS obtained a mustard agent. It is possible they overran stockpiles not destroyed under the 2014 agreement to rid Syria of chemical weapons.

It's also possible U.S. officials say that ISIS has developed a limited ability to manufacture them crudely on its own. Regardless, the introduction of chemical weapons into the war with ISIS presents the U.S. and its allies with a new and difficult challenge.

LEIGHTON: I think it's very important for us to send a signal not only to the Kurds and ISIS well that we are going to support the Kurds in any way that we conceivably can.


SCIUTTO: Among the challenges for the U.S. now, the Kurds very likely to ask for U.S. help. They have already been dissatisfied with the weapons that the U.S. has sent them, the speed with which those weapons have come.

They are likely to ask for help now in the face of the use of chemical weapons also presents a greater danger if the administration were to decide to put U.S. troops closer to the frontlines in the battle against ISIS -- Christi and Victor.

PAUL: We appreciate it. Thank you so much. To learn more about how this might influence Pentagon planners in their quest to defeat ISIS, I want to bring in CNN military analyst and retired Army General Mark Hertling. General, thank you for being with us.

Early indications this mustard agent was rather crude, it wasn't particularly strong. What does that assessment of that tell you about how ISIS was able to obtain the agent?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RETIRED), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think it was probably very weak agent, if it was an agent at all, Christi. That is based on what is being said and how it was launched and the pictures from the scene.

When you get very strong mustard gas, it's going to have extreme blistering and you're not going to be coughing like these soldiers were reported or have irritants in the respiratory system. You will be vomiting and defecating because mustard attacks the mucus membranes and just destroys not only outer skin but inner body parts.

So this tells me and this is conjecture that these were rounds found in caches and they were used by ISIS just as opportunity rounds. This was not something that was probably planned. In fact, there might be the potential that ISIS didn't even know they were using these rounds because it's difficult to handle mustard rounds. And the comments about them potentially being precursors, sometimes chemicals are mixed in the rounds themselves are called binary rounds, and if you only have one of the two precursors, you're not going to have that much of an effect.

So this is very complicated and I don't think that ISIS is exactly well-trained in using this as much as the forces of the Kurdish region or Syria would be trained to receive these kinds of rounds on the battlefield.

PAUL: So when we talk about the capabilities of ISIS perhaps to make its own chemical weapons, are you saying that you think they stumbled upon these?

HERTLING: I do, Christi. Based on my experience in Northern Iraq, there are caches everywhere and that is even after multiple years of trying to destroy these weapons caches. That's how Saddam conducted international relationships.

He just bought weapons and then buried them underground so they are everywhere. If ISIS does have a former Iraqi Baptist general as part of their ranks, they know where these caches are. That was something that plagued American forces when we were there trying to destroy these rounds.

Yes, I think it would be extremely difficult to manufacture these rounds. I'm not sure ISIS has that capability and even if they were able to manufacture them, handling them is another problem themselves as well.

PAUL: I would think so, Handling and distributing and that whole thing. Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, so appreciate seeing you this morning, thank you, sir.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Check out this, the shifting winds, the heat, the dry brush there, it's all fueling these large wildfires out west, but now a new number of homes, hundreds of them in its path and forcing the evacuations there. We have the latest for you this morning.

Also, an officer pistol-whipped during a traffic stop, but it's why he claims he hesitated during that incident that has so many people talking.



PAUL: It's 22 minutes past the hour. An official says lightning strikes sparked four fast moving wildfires in Washington State. Here are the latest pictures we are getting in. Firefighters battling the flames by air, as well as on the on the ground, right now, and hundreds of homes and businesses are being evacuated.

Also, the world has a new time zone! Pyongyang time, North Korea has set back its back its clock to half hour today to the time zone it used before it was colonized by Japan.

In other words, they had been 13 hours ahead of the east coast in the U.S. and now they are 12-1/2 hours ahead. South Korea made similar moves in the past, but they show no signs of following suit this time around.

BLACKWELL: This volcano in Ecuador has come back to life rocking the country. Look at this, spewing ash clouds, 3 miles into the sky. It's the volcano's first minor eruption in 75 years. Officials don't believe that this nearly 20,000-foot volcano is on the verge of a major eruption.

PAUL: I hope not.

It is some prominent confederate monuments around New Orleans are coming under fire. It's a symbol that we see every football Sunday, though, that some people say is being overlooked. If you don't know what is going on, we will clue you in here.

Also, an officer pistol-whipped with his own gun and ridiculed on social media. Why he says fighting back just was not an option.

And a doctor who treated more than a hundred patients over three years, arrested because authorities say he was a fake! He wasn't even a doctor! We are going to tell you how long he got away with it.



BLACKWELL: Breaking overnight in China, new fires shot thick smoke into the air. Look. This is over the factory that was rocked by a massive explosion earlier this week. Wednesday's blast killed 85 people and injured more than 700. The blast that happened overnight, no new injuries had been reported.

The race for the White House all the attention is on the Iowa State Fair because most of the presidential candidates are there this weekend. Some appeared yesterday and some there today and among those set to attend, Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders and GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump as well.

Trump heads to Iowa after a big rally in the first primary state of the race, New Hampshire and that is where he took some shots at his rival, Jeb Bush. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the reasons I've done so as well in the polls is because everyone knows I'm not going to be controlled. I'm going to do what is right for the country. No lobbyists. I have all of these and I know them all.

I've hired many of them over the years. They are very good. But when they gave a million dollars or $5 million to Jeb Bush, they have control over him. He will do like a puppet whatever they say. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: We will have much more on Trump and what he said about his specific policy rollout. That's coming up in our next hour plus a live report from the Iowa State Fair.

PAUL: A Birmingham, Alabama, police officer pistol-whipped with his own gun and then ridiculed is talking now. The six-year veteran was left bloodied unconscious, in fact, as a crowd of people stood over him, taunting him taking these pictures.

A police union representative says the officer second-guessed himself because he didn't want to be accused of needlessly killing an unarmed man. That officer, as I said, is now speaking out to CNN's Nick Valencia.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, I spoke to the detective and he says that he is still recovering and at this point, just thankful to be alive. He says many police officers like him across the country are second-guessing their decisions, putting their lives even more in danger.

Sucker-punched and pistol-whipped with his own service weapon. A Birmingham, Alabama police detective says he chose not to use force against a man attacking him because he didn't want to be another headline. The brutal beating occurred during a routine traffic stop. The detective, a six-year veteran, noticed a man driving on the interstate erratically. So he pulls the car over.

The two end up here at this shopping center where the detective calls for backup. During this time according to police that the suspect gets out of his car and gets aggressive with the officer. Instead of following policy to try to get the man back into his vehicle, the detective says he hesitates. It's just enough time, police say, for 34-year old Janard Cunningham to sucker-punch the officer knocking him unconscious. He then allegedly grabs the police officer's gun and uses it to pistol-whip him.

Adding insult to injury, witnesses do nothing to help. Instead, some post images of the attack on social media bragging about it. "Pistol- whipped his ass to sleep." One user wrote employing the hashtag, "F the police." Another, mockingly offer the officer milk and cookies for his nap time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe in God and I think that is the reason why the detective is with us today.

VALENCIA: Heath Boacle, the head of Birmingham's police union says, fearing media scrutiny, more local police officers are second-guessing their actions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are walking on egg shells to make sure we do everything the way that it should be. Not that it should ever be in question, but we want to be treated with respect or kindness just as if anyone else would be.


VALENCIA: It's a sentiment the injured detective knows all too well. He was unwilling to go on camera with CNN or be named for safety reasons. But in an interview with us, he said, a lot of officers are being too cautious because of what is going on in the media. "I hesitated because I didn't want to be in the media like I am right now. It's hard times right now for us. According to the head of the police union here in Birmingham, the suspect in the attack, 34-year- old Janard Cunningham spontaneously told police that the reason he attacked the officer was because of all the negative coverage he has seen of police officers across the country. He was arrested shortly after the incident and has been charged with attempted murder. We've attempted to reach out to Cunningham and his family. They declined to comment. Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Thank you, Nick. Questions, obviously, still lingering. Such as did the officer follow proper procedures when trying to avoid confrontation, where is the line when police find themselves face-to- face with a suspect. Let's talk about this with CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. Tom, good to see you this morning.

First of all, I want to ask you, how much anxiety is there among police departments? What conversations are being had behind closed doors about this very subject?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, I'm hearing from many officers that they are becoming hesitant. They are very, very concerned because of the narrative that is out there and has been out there in the media for a while that there is a lack of trust in the police, that there is a lack of support for the police, and they wait that extra split second to ensure that they are not taking the life of somebody or using excessive force on somebody unless it's absolutely necessary.

The problem is that when you're in this situation and an individual confronts you and you're face-to-face, you can't confront every person you meet on the street or make a traffic stop with your gun drawn. So if they intend to sucker-punch you or wrestle you for your own weapon, you know, that is when it happens and you've got a split second to react to it and it may be too late or it may not. I think this whole narrative of, oh, another unarmed person. When a police officer is standing face-to-face with another person, he is armed in about a tenth of a second if he takes away the police officer's guns. And, unfortunately, many officers, every month, are killed with their own weapon. So the idea of keeping someone who currently is unarmed from becoming armed with your gun is a real concern for police officers.

PAUL: Well, when you listen to what Nick said about the suspect told police that he attacked the officer because of everything he has heard in the news. So the officer didn't even -- unless I misunderstood this -- didn't do anything for that suspect to go after him and that suspect is now charged, as he said, with attempted murder. I mean is that the right charge here? Or do you expect other charges will come forward for him?

FUENTES: Well, there could be other charges, especially if he keeps - talking about why he did it and that it almost making it sound premeditated and that he intended to harm a police officer. But this is something that, you know, police officers are well aware of the narrative on the street and the current disrespect.


FUENTES: And, you know, Nick mentioned in his piece that the officer should have followed some procedure to put him back in his car. Now, that is not true. We are seeing where officers can't get people out of their cars to even talk to them or to even take them into custody if they are driving on suspended licenses or have committed some other offense. So, you are not going to want to put that person back in the car. You're going to probably want that person out if you're going to give a sobriety test, which sounds like it might have been upcoming in this case, with a person driving erratically on the interstate. So, when you are out, as I mentioned, you know, police officers don't walk around the streets of our cities and towns with their guns out. You know, the gun is holstered until the last second and if a person wants to get the drop on you, he's got an advantage, he's got a head-start. You have to hope for the best that someone won't attack you. And, you know, the narrative that we have heard so much of well, the police officer should deescalate. How do you deescalate something that escalated in about a hundredth of a second when he was attacked? So, you know, there might have been nothing to deescalate until the officer on the street unconscious.

PAUL: Real quickly, the people who were taking and posting the pictures, I mean it's really stomach-turning at the end of the day, but if somebody asked -- can charges be brought against them? If so, for what?

FUENTES: You know, I doubt that anybody else will be charged, but I think it does show that police officers are not being paranoid when they say that there are a segment of people out there who will not hesitate to harm them, if given the opportunity, or insult them or continuing disrespect. And, you know, here we see that disrespect played out. You know, whether it's a criminal offense, I don't think it's escalated to that point, you know, unless he was dying and no one rendered aid or called 911 on his behalf. But as far as taking the pictures and insulting cops, they have been taking these insults day in and day out forever, frankly, since the Roman Empire. So, I think that police officers expect a certain amount of disrespect to happen, not that they like it, but it's out there. And -- but this is getting a little bit too far and we saw this with two New York police officers last December killed sitting in their squad car that there are some individuals out there who get motivated by what they see on the media and by what they see as possibly being heroes if they kill a police officer.

PAUL: And that police officers unarmed, as you said, there's a reason for their paranoia. Tom Fuentes, so good to have your insight on this. Thank you as always.

FUENTES: You are welcome.

PAUL: And we would like really to get your voice in this. Go to our Twitter page, won't you? #newdaycnn and our Facebook page and tell us what you think.

BLACKWELL: There is a new ultimatum from North Korea. Why officials are threatening an attack on the U.S.? And this is something they should be concerned about or is this just more North Korean bluster?

Plus, the troubled history of the - You see the symbol there on the sleeve of this jersey. Well, take a look at the brutal background of one of the South's most cherished symbols.

And a panda at the National Zoo? Is she expecting? Live panda cam this morning.

PAUL: Where is panda?

BLACKWELL: Top left! Thank you, producer, for telling where it's ... She is sleeping right now so we have to bring it down.

We are on panda baby watch this morning.


BLACKWELL: Japan marks 70 years since the end of World War II. The anniversary was commemorated during a moment of silence in Tokyo. The city paused to remember the more than 2 million Japanese service members and 800,000 civilians killed during that war. Later today, Japanese politicians delivered an offering the at a Tokyo shrine honoring Japan's war dead.

Startling new threats out of North Korea this morning. The country now says it will attack the United States if the U.S. decides to conduct military drills with South Korea on Monday. Kathy Novak is in Seoul, South Korea, following this story this morning. Kathy, there is often bluster out of Pyongyang. Is this more than that?

KATHY NOVAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, North Korea hates it when the United States and South Korea get their militaries together for these sorts of joint military exercises. These ones are known as freedom guardian, a North Korea state TV says that they are provocative act of war and is demanding that they not go ahead. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The United States should understand that if the Ulchi freedom guardian is executed, then the mainland won't be safe. We are not the same military force from before. We have become stronger and we were able to fight against United States. If United States wants their mainland to be safe, then the Ulchi freedom guardian should stop immediately.


NOVAK: Now, what is Ulchi-freedom guardian? Well, the U.S. military says these - are routine and defense-oriented. Exercises that they have planned months in advance. They happen every year and they are not connected to any world event. Still, these are the sorts of statements that we are hearing out of North Korea today, that the U.S. should keenly realize that the harsher sanctions and blockade it slaps on the DKRK, and the more desperately the U.S. is working to stifle it, the more strongly it will retaliate against the U. with tremendous muscle. Now, Victor, of course, the question when it comes to North Korea is, what is that tremendous muscle? As you said, North Korea often makes these sorts of statements, it's made them before and we know that this is a country that has nuclear weapons. Whether it has the capacity to really attack the United States mainland is something that is up for debate, but what I can tell you is that the situation here on the Korean peninsula has been very tense in this past week, that is because on Monday, South Korea accused North Korea of planting land mines on its site of the heavily militarized border and those land mines went off and severely injured two South Korean soldiers. North Korea is hitting ack. It denies that it planted those landmines, and is threatening indiscriminate attacks. So, a very tense situation and it could keep going as we look toward these military drills that are taking place in just a couple of days. Victor?

BLACKWELL: We will continue to follow this throughout the weekend. Kathy Novak, thank you. Christi.

PAUL: Still to come, sex, lies, and the statehouse. A bizarre cover- up of a love-making affair. That's on new next hour.

Plus, the beloved New Orleans symbol, many may not realize, it has a violent hateful patch. We are talking about the fleur-de-lis as well as the city's plan to remove four controversial symbols as if confederate flag.



BLACKWELL: Ten minutes until the top of the hour now. The city of New Orleans is struggling with its turbulent history, frankly many cities in the South are. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says he wants to block the city's plan to remove four controversial statues and monuments celebrating the South's Confederate past. But scrapping the city clean of its racially charged history will take much more than removing a few flags or monuments. One of New Orleans most beloved images, the fleur-de-lis carries with it history of brutality.


BLACKWELL: The fleur-de-lis, which in English translates "the lily flower" dates back more than 1,000 years, first featured in royal and religious imagery. But now, some are analyzing the symbol's brutal history in the United States. In 1724, French politician John Baptiste Colbert introduced the fleur-de-lis through the code noir, or the black code, to the then French colony of Louisiana.

A list of rules regulating interactions between colonists and their slaves before Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1803. Translated from French if a slave stole livestock and was captured after a month on the run, or several gathered repeatedly in the crowd, they were to be marked with the fleur-de-lis symbols, an inhumane branding. These days, New Orleans Saints players wear that symbol on their jerseys. It's virtually everywhere in New Orleans. Three fleur-de-lis are emblazoned on the city's flag. It's the state's official symbol. But New Orleans and Louisiana are not alone. The icon is embroidered into the flags of the city of Detroit, St. Louis, Louisville, Kentucky, and Mobile, Alabama, and it's part of the logo of the Boy Scouts of America.


BLACKWELL: So let's talk about it now. We have got with us Terrence Fitzsummons. He's an expert on Louisiana's history and a professor of history at Tulane University.

Good to have you, and I first want to start with ...

TERRENCE FITZMORRIS: Thank you. Actually, my name is Fitzmorris.

BLACKWELL: Fitzmorris, I apologize for that. There is a group "Remove racist symbols" call for the removal of the Fleur-de-lis among other symbols. First, is it appropriate to call the fleur-de-lis a racist symbol? To characterize it that way and should it be reconsidered?

FITZMORRIS: The fleur-de-lis may have been used to brand slaves and cattle and other things of that nature, but that was 1724 through the 1760s, when the French imperial government, monarch of a government governed Louisiana. That symbol has now, it had been a symbol for a long time of rejuvenation, restoration, reconstruction of a city that was nearly drowned ten years ago. That symbol is not a racist symbol. It should be used and celebrated as the Saints do and we do and as you mentioned in your promo, many states and many cities that use that symbol. It's a symbol of hope in the city of New Orleans and it unites both black and white in their love affair of the city of New Orleans and their beloved New Orleans Saints.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about these Confederate monuments because that is the fight that's at the forefront right now. New Orleans Major Mitch Landrieu, the city council support taking down these four monuments to General Lee and others. Too local commissions have voted to remove them. But Governor Jindal is vowing to fight that. Let's put up on the screen a statement from his office. Governor Jindal opposes the tearing down of these historical statues, and he has instructed his staff to determine the legal authority he has as a governor to stop it. The question here is, what is the balance? Respecting and honoring history, but also removing symbols from at least public property of a rebellion founded on slavery and the fallacy of racial superiority. What's the balance here?

FITZMORRIS: Well, the balance is going to be political. It has to be something that we find in compromise with one another, which is our - a hallmark as country, as a nation. To me as a historian, the larger issue is to get people to understand why those monuments went up and when they went up and for what reason they went up. And those monuments, the Lee monument in particular was constructed in 1880 through '83 - '84. 14 years after Robert Lee was dead, 20 years after the Confederacy had collapsed. It was - and seven years after the reconstruction government which was biracial was run out of the city. The reason for that statue was to express reconciliation on one sense that the North and the South would be reconciled, but there was more than that.


FITZMORRIS: The South wanted to show and New Orleans was this - the epi center of a lost cause. Wanted to show that it was now in command of its own destiny, and that the ex-confederates who build that statue, the Charles Fanners, the Randall Lee Gibson's, the Francis T. Nichols were now showing that they were now in charge of Louisiana and New Orleans and what they called to do, was reconcile themselves to a past that was actually one they wanted to erase.

BLACKWELL: So, with that history, do we expect ...

FITZMORRIS: The confederacy was for ...

BLACKWELL: We are running low on time, professor. And I apologize for that, but do you expect that they will come down or at least removed?

FITZMORRIS: I have no idea. I'm a historian, not a prophet. I would think that I would anticipate that the mayor would find some sort of compromise that maybe the statues would remain, but there be some sort of educational effort, whether plaques or in educational forms to explain the origins of these statues and their meaning in history.

BLACKWELL: All right, Professor Terrance Fitzmorris, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

FITZMORRIS: You're welcome.


PAUL: Have you heard about this yet?


DONALD TRUMP: Honestly? I think we are led by stupid people.


PAUL: How do you really feel, Mr. Trump? He is blasting members of his own party during his latest campaign stop and you know in Iowa this morning, a lot of people are wondering what he is going to say next.