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Trump Unloads on "Stupid" Rivals; New Explosions and Fires in China; Sex, Lies & the Statehouse; Biden Hasn't Made A Decision To Run Yet; U.S. Confirms ISIS Using Chemical Weapons. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired August 15, 2015 - 07:00   ET




[07:00:34] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Honestly? I think we are led by stupid people.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump never one to mince words. That's why a lot of people like him so much. Blasting members of his own party during his latest campaign stop.

Today, eyes are on Iowa, as many of the top contenders are attempting to influence potential voters there.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: New blasts and fires in China. Look at this. The flames and the black smoke shooting into the air as rescue crews continue searching for hundreds who are still missing.

PAUL: And sex, lies and the statehouse. A big switcheroo apparently from a Michigan lawmaker who tried to distract attention from an affair with another representative.

I hope Saturday has been good to you so far, though. It's early.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is.

PAUL: It's 7:00. Good morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Always good to be with you even at this hour.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: We begin this morning with what is said to be a big political day.

Presidential hopefuls are in Iowa at the state fair. Among those set to attend, Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, Senator Bernie Sanders, and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump and Clinton, along with a fiery Jeb Bush are taking new shots at one another on the campaign trail. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jeb Bush has $114 million. What's he going to do with it? He'll start hitting me with ads, I guess. You know, at some point, he's got because he's going down the tubes. The guy is going down the tubes.

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here's the deal, my email address, write it down and send me your thoughts, By the way, I just gave out my e-mail address. It's exactly what I did when I was governor of state of Florida. I released all of my e-mails.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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.

TRUMP: I think at some point, she's perhaps not going to be able to run. She's going to have to end her campaign. That seems to be the thinking by so many.


BLACKWELL: Strong words from the candidates, that final one from Donald Trump after a big rally in New Hampshire. Afterward the event, he spoke about his rivals, we heard, and he gave more insight into the policy rollout we might see soon.

Joining us now: CNN's Sara Murray, who's live at the Iowa state fair. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty, who's live in New Hampshire.

Sunlen, you first. What's the reaction this morning to Trump's speech?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, we talked to a lot of voters who came out specifically to see Donald Trump last night here in New Hampshire and they resoundingly said the exact same thing that they need to hear more specifics from Trump before they can offer their support, and certainly, this has been one of the major sources of criticism of him and his campaign that he speaks in broad strokes but doesn't offer policy details.

So, now, there is a big stay tuned coming from Trump. He has promised that in early September, he will be releasing a series of policy papers on his immigration policy, on his tax policy, and it does come as the campaign is making other signals that they are trying to dig in and become a bit more serious and more formalized campaign.

Also notable that Trump, when he has been researching this policy and writing this policy, he says he has been reaching out to some within Washington, like Senator Sessions. Here is Donald Trump last night in New Hampshire.


TRUMP: It will be very soon. Yeah. I mean, 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 anybody that's 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 September.


SERFATY: And Trump seized on one of Jeb Bush's biggest areas of vulnerability, the Iraq war. Jeb Bush, after finally admitting he wouldn't having into the Iraq war based on the facts that we now know. This week, he also shifted and said that removing Saddam Hussein from power, he said, in his words, was a good deal.

Here is Donald Trump going after Jeb Bush on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ] TRUMP: What a mistake Iraq was and I heard Jeb Bush talking about it. First of all, it took them five days before he could give an answer. And after that pollsters told him what to say, he said it was bad.

[07:05:01] Now, he was trying to backtrack probably because his brother said, hey, wait a minute, you're killing me here, you said it's bad. That's my legacy, the Iraq war. The Iraq war is a disaster for the Bush's. That why the last thing we need is another Bush.


SERFATY: This just sets the stage even more than it already been set for Trump's visit to Iowa today, where he is set to make a dramatic landing. He set to touch down near the Iowa fairgrounds in his $7 million trademark helicopter -- Victor.


Sunlen Serfaty in Manchester, New Hampshire, for us -- thank you so much.

PAUL: So, let's get you to Iowa now with CNN's Sara Murray.

Sara, the soapbox we know has been a long-held tradition there in Iowa. Is it true the rumblings we are hearing, that some people are going to reject it?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, the soapbox really has been a staple here at the Iowa state fair. It's a chance for candidates to offer up their stump speech, and maybe more importantly, it's a chance for voters to offer their questions and sort of get their response in that back-and-forth, which is really important to voters here in the Hawkeye State.

But this time around, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will both be skipping the soapbox. They're still going to be coming to the state fair. They're going to walk around and probably, you know, maybe see the butter cow, maybe flip some pork chops here and there, but they're not doing this sort of cornerstone of a visit to the Iowa state fair. So, it will be interesting to see how voters feel about that, if they still feel like they get a chance to interact with candidate or if they're a little bit bummed if they don't get the Q&A that they feel entitled to.

PAUL: I know all of the Dems were on stage last night there in Iowa. I read one write-up that said as O'Malley begun speaking, Martin O'Malley, of course, photographs had their backs to him because the lenses were focused who had just taken her seat.

That paints quite a picture. Can you give us a good wrap-up of some of the best takeaways from yesterday?

MURRAY: Yes, I think you are completely right. I think all eyes were on Hillary Clinton last night, even though this is one of the few times we get to see all of these Democratic candidates together, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee.

But, Lincoln was really the one who seemed to get the crowd going, who offered up sort of a red meat speech for her conservatives. Let's take a listen. Let's take a listen.


CLINTON: Republicans want to stack the deck even more for those at the top. Their policies would rip away the progress we have made. You saw this in the Republican debates the other night, 17 candidates and not one of them said a single word about how to address the rising costs of college, not one. They also had nothing to say about equal pay for women, or paid family leave.


Or quality preschool for our kids so they can get the best start in life.


No solutions for skyrocketing prescription drug costs, no commitment to end the era of mass incarceration or to say loudly and clearly -- yes, black lives matter!



MURRAY: There you can hear the crowd just going wild for that comment. Clinton going after her conservative rivals, but also offering up the things that Democrats have really been wanting to hear, her talking about paid leave and her talking about black lives matter, so that seemed to be a very good moment for her last night and she seemed very comfortable up there.

PAUL: All righty. Sara Murray, we really appreciate the wrap-up. Thank you, ma'am.

BLACKWELL: All right. Now, as you heard, some of the biggest applause last night were for Hillary Clinton who used her speech to rail against Republicans. We heard some of that.

Let's go now straight to -- from the party there. Have we got the sound? All right. Let's play it.


CLINTON: What do the Republican candidates stand for? Well, I'll tell you. You know already. Cutting taxes for the super wealthy, letting big corporations write their own rules, and that's' basically it. And we have heard it all before and it doesn't work.

Trickle-down economics has to be one of the worst ideas of the 1980s, right up there, right up there with new coat and shoulder pads and big hair.


BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic candidates who were there as well last night.

Let's bring in Tom Henderson. He's the chairman of the Polk County Democrats in Iowa.

I phrased it that way, because as we heard from Sara Murray, much of the attention was focused on former Secretary Clinton. Is there still space? Is there still a sizeable portion of the Democratic Party there that is open to Bernie Sanders or to a Martin O'Malley or to a Webb or Lincoln Chafee?

TOM HENDERSON, CHAIRMAN, POLK COUNTY DEMOCRATS: Oh, absolutely. This campaign is still early in its progress and early is a pejorative term but we won't know until October at the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner actually who is emerging from this crowd.

[07:10:07] But I still think that Democrats are willing to listen to different candidates. It's still early in the process and candidates are getting around the state and having a chance to meet each of these candidates and I think you'll see some movement in the polls.

BLACKWELL: So, there are rumors that are flying about two possible candidates, current Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore, although some lukewarm water was described throwing on the Al Gore possibility of a candidacy.

Is there enough available Democratic talent -- and, of course, you know what that means -- and money there available in Iowa if they were to launch serious campaigns?

HENDERSON: Well, maybe not so much Vice President Gore. But Vice President Biden still has a lot of strong supporters here in Iowa that are waiting on the sidelines to find on out whether he is going to run. And until he announces, they won't commit to another candidate.

Meanwhile, a lot of the candidates are trying to at least approach these particular individuals to find if they're willing to support them if Biden decides not to run. BLACKWELL: So, there's a CNN poll that found that Hillary Clinton is

ahead of Bernie Sanders 50 percent to 31 percent if the election were to be held today. We know that in New Hampshire, the latest numbers have Bernie Sanders ahead of Hillary Clinton. But I wonder, is the Iowa electorate, are they willing to elect a self-described socialist?

HENDERSON: Well, it's kind of an interesting question. I still think Bernie Sanders' support is primarily located within the more liberal wing of the party, and I think there actually might be a ceiling on that support as to how much he can actually collect.

The other candidates are going to try to unite the entire party and they probably have a better chance of eventually getting the nomination because they have the ability to sell themselves to all of our electorate.

BLACKWELL: OK. Tom Henderson there, ahead of the Iowa Democrats, and we have the head of the Iowa Republicans coming up later in the morning.

Tom, thank you so much for being with us.

HENDERSON: Thanks, Victor.

PAUL: Breaking news we are following: a round of new explosions that are rocking China this morning.

And you're also going to hear from the man remarkably pulled from that rubble. Yes, another rescue.

Also, lawmakers accused of having an affair and then trying to cover it up. One of them is speaking out now.


[07:15:53] PAUL: Now, to China. Look at this new video we are getting in, after another round of explosions today. This is at the same site where that massive blast killed 85 people earlier this week. That is the smoke billowing into the air today.

Well, the overnight explosions were followed by what a remarkable story here, another rescue. Yes, a second survivor has just been pulled from the rubble.

Will Ripley is at the site since the first explosion on Wednesday. Will, first of all, can you tell us more about what you might know of this latest survivor that was rescued?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There have been several rescues I'll tell but moment. I have to say the air quality has gotten noticeably worse the last few minutes or so, we have all put on our masks. You can see workers here handing them out to people who don't have them.

There are concerns since some fires have reignited at a blast site which is a couple of kilometers that way. Concerns that there's toxic smoke may be drifting toward the populated areas. It's the reason why this emergency shelter here was evacuated earlier today and a lot of families and children were bussed to what's considered a safer location closer to downtown.

I do want to show you the video of the firefighter who was rescued and interviewed today. This is a 19-year-old first responder with a really incredible story. He was on the scene with his crews fighting this fire on Wednesday when the huge explosion happened and he was actually laying on the charred ground for 31 hours before he was rescued.

Listen to what he tells us about what he remembers.


ZHOU TI, FIREFIGHTER (through translator): I only remember the first blast was very loud. I was on the ground, hands covering my head. I don't remember what happened after that.


RIPLEY: And then in addition to that, there was also a man, a 50- year-old, who was rescued today. We are still working to get more information about him and there was a pregnant woman who actually went into premature labor during the explosion and she has given birth and we are told her child, while premature, is doing OK and expected to survive.

The death toll did rise sharply. Officials say 85 people are confirmed dead. And look at this, this is really heart breaking. Look of these names of these white boards here are people who -- family members are coming here looking for. These are the names of the missing. The official number of missing is only in the dozens, but you can see along this wall, Christi, just how many people are writing messages, an indication that perhaps the numbers here, the number of missing, the number of dead, could take a very grim turn in the days to come.

PAUL: Goodness. Will, thank you so much, for bringing that all to us. We appreciate it very much.


Sex, lies, and questions of a cover-up. We got to tell you about this bizarre love affair that's pushing two state lawmakers into the national conversation with calls for them to step down.

Also, disturbing evidence out of Syria and Iraq that ISIS fighters are now using chemical weapons against the Kurds. We'll have the latest from the Pentagon.


[07:22:38] BLACKWELL: An alleged love affair between two Michigan lawmakers is now sparking calls for them both to step down. Well, now, one is speaking out. While the other is accused of trying to cover it up.

CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now. He's in New York for us.

Ryan, so one of the aides who knew of this alleged affair is about to go public with details. Tell us what you've learned.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, everybody in Michigan waiting to hear what Joshua Cline has to say. He says he will reveal the inside story of this scandal on Monday. This, as the two lawmakers at the center of this controversy attempt to repair their reputations.


NOBLES (voice-over): For the first time, the female state representative at the center of a sex scandal rocking Michigan state capital is speaking out.

STATE REP. CINDY GAMRAT (R), PLAINWELL, MICHIGAN: I know that I've made some poor decisions as they relate to my personal life.

NOBLES: Cindy Gamrat and her fellow Republican Todd Courser are accused of engaging in an extramarital affair. Both are conservative lawmakers with spouses and children. The alleged affair came to light after the Detroit News obtained an audio recording captured by a staffer where Courser hatches a self-targeted plan to send an e-mail under a fake name falsely accusing himself of soliciting a male prostitute.

The alleged goal? To distract attention from his relationship with Gamrat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does this do?

TODD COURSER, ACCUSED IN EXTRA-MARITAL AFFAIR: I need to, if possible, inoculate the herd against gutter politics that are coming.

NOBLES: The salacious details are leading to calls for both Courser and Gamrat to resign. A tearful Gamrat acknowledged mistakes and but stopped short of admitting to the affair and has refused to step down.

GAMRAT: My husband is here, Joe. And I have three children, sorry. They don't deserve what's come upon them. I take full responsibility.

NOBLES: Meanwhile, Courser, who has not admitted to the affair, has released a 27-minute audio statement where he does admit to faking the e-mail and describes himself as a broken messenger. But he, too, refuses to step down, claiming that former staffers led by political opponents, are trying to blackmail him.

COURSER: So, I refuse to leave quietly and have decided that these efforts really need to come out.

NOBLES: Back at the state capital, Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter has ordered an investigation into the allegations and whether any House rules or laws were violated. [07:25:05] It's an investigation Gamrat welcomes.

GAMRAT: I look forward to the investigation. I think that will vindicate me in that.


NOBLES: Michigan speaker of the house, who has called for both of these lawmakers to resign, has called the whole scandal disturbing. He has also ordered that investigation into everything that is happening in Michigan -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Ryan as salacious as the details are, so much here to sort out and hopefully some clarity for the people in Michigan.

Ryan Nobles in New York for us -- thanks.

NOBLES: Thank you, Victor.

PAUL: Yes.


PAUL: I know. I'm still trying to follow that one.

OK. Is there a major shake-up ahead for the Democratic race to the White House? There are rumors, as you know, swirling, with a potential run by Joe Biden.

Also, a Connecticut home invasion. I know you remember this, called one of the most gruesome crimes ever committed. The two killers were supposed to die but their lives are now spared in a stunning reversal of the state's death penalty. We are talking to one of the jurors who said they should die.


PAUL: Rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages inched up this week. Here's your look.


[07:30:03] BLACKWELL: In the race for on the White House, all eyes are will be on the Iowa state fair. Most of the presidential candidates are there this weekend. Among those set to attend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump.

Now, Trump heads to Iowa after this big rally in New Hampshire. That is where he took shots at most of his rivals, including Jeb Bush. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: One of the reasons I've done so well in the polls is because everyone knows, I'm not going to be controlled. I'm going to do what's right for the country. No lobbyists -- I have all of these -- I know them all. I've hired many of them over the years. They are very good.

But when they give $1 million or $5 million to Jeb Bush, they have total control over him. He will do like a puppet whatever they say.


BLACKWELL: And we will have much more on Trump and what he said about his specific policy rollout. That's next hour.

Plus, a live report from the Iowa state fair.

But we've got to get to this breaking news overnight in China. New fire shot thick smoke into the air over this factory. This is the one that was rocked by a massive explosion earlier this week.

Wednesday's blast killed 85 people, injured more than 700. As for the blast that happened overnight, no new injuries have been reported.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We do have some new details for you this morning as Vice President Joe Biden appears to be reckoning with another bid for the White House. The subject of a presidential run has really started to pick up steam now after reports emerged that his aides were making preliminary moves towards a run.

Biden, himself, has not made up his mind on launching a campaign, we are told, but CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski is with us now.

And, Michelle, I guess, the first question is, have you heard when we might hear an official announcement by Vice President Biden?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you expect it needs to be soon. Especially if we now know these feelers are being put out.

But in his situation and given his personal tragedy lately with the death of his son, the usual rules don't apply. This is a very personal decision for him, as well as political. So, he is going to take all of the time that he needs to take. We have heard it put out there that is it is going to be by the end of the summer but that takes us well into September. So that could very well be the case.

I think what's interesting is that this buzz is really going. That said, though, you have to look at, you know, the reporting out there. There's some that put this as well, you know, we have talked to all of these people close to Biden and they have determined that he is probably not going to run.

But then the next person will say, well, we have talked to all of these people very close to Biden and this is really picking up steam and it's looking like it's shaping up to be something. I think that says a lot. The fact that there's so many diverse conclusions out there tells you that he truly has not made that decision yet. But you can see the wheels turning. The conversations are being had.

A lot of these bigger conversations might even be aside from Joe Biden himself. He is talking to certain people.

But those people are then talking to each other, they are looking at, you know, if this does happen, where would the financing come from? What would the first moves need to be? What states does he really need to be in now? And which ones can we sort of wait on?

So, the conversations are out there, but the big piece, the decision hasn't happened yet.

PAUL: It's almost like they are just playing bus and just waiting to see how long we can go before we can report something.

I'm wondering, though -- I believe I saw a report earlier this week that if he ran, based on one poll, he was already in third place? I mean, what are the other candidates saying about a potential bid?

KOSINSKI: Yes. I mean, that's really interesting. That was a poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers. It's a fairly small group but an important one. And, yes, even without him in the race, people are still curious, they are still looking at that possibility.

So, they put him in third place with 12 percent. Now, said, Hillary Clinton still had about 50 percent, but that might be surprising, given her much higher numbers nationally among Democrats earlier on. And Bernie Sanders was second at about 31 percent.

So, what does that tell Biden? It tells him that there is some support out there. It might not be something earth shattering that that alone would spur him into taking this chance but it's interesting given he is not in the race and he already registering pretty high on those polls.

So, what he is going to be look at is how Hillary Clinton is doing, how Bernie Sanders is doing. What would likely happen if he enters the race in terms of those other votes? Where are his votes going to come from, you know, if he gets in? Is it going to hurt Hillary Clinton and is that a bad idea down the road?

That's part of the debate out there because, keep in mind, there are some Democrats and some are Hillary Clinton supporters but they are openly wondering would it be such a good idea for him or is it possibly a little too late for him to jump in now?

[07:35:07] Those around him, though, are saying that he has plenty of supporters. I mean, look at his record. He spent nearly 40 years in the Senate, well-respected and has a good track record, that those supporters would be out there. The financing likely would also be out there.

So even though he doesn't have the super PAC and he doesn't have that structure and what people like to talk about, there is nothing to say that that couldn't be put together and very soon.

PAUL: All right. Michelle Kosinski, we really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's talk more now. We've got with us, CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

Maria, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: What's the space left in this discussion potentially for Vice President Biden between what we are hearing from Senator Sanders and from former sector Clinton? What is his real estate in this conversation if he gets in?

CARDONA: I think you hit the nail on the head, Victor, in terms of the key question he has got to think about, that his advisers that are around him have to think about, because even though I think that for him, this has got to be one of the most difficult decisions at one of the most difficult times in his life.

He clearly knows that this was his beloved son Beau Biden's last dying wish was for him to run for president. There are a lot of people in his family that think that it's his time, that he should jump in and he should do this. We all know this is something he has yearend for a very long time. He's tried twice before.

So, I think the important decision is what is his past, what will be the states that he can look at to where he will have constituencies ready to support him? What I'm hearing is, frankly, exactly what Michelle is reporting, in the report that we just heard, which is that there are a lot of people that are -- that could be excited if he ran, but there are also a lot of people who believe that he is a beloved and he is, he is a beloved figure in the Democratic Party and, frankly, very well-respected by Republicans, but that there isn't really a path, a clear path at least right now for him to get to the White House.

BLACKWELL: Or could --

CARDONA: It's late. And the money, you know, right now, there is no clear donors out there, even though I do think he would have support. So, I think that is a big question.

BLACKWELL: The question is also is he just a better vessel, a better messenger for an argument similar to what Secretary Clinton is making? Because we've got these numbers, the latest numbers from the CNN/ORC poll, and it shows that there is one category in which Senator Sanders tops over Secretary Clinton and that is honest and trustworthy, Sanders at 35 percent and Clinton at 28 percent.

So, does he necessarily have to come out with a third or I guess in this case, sixth policy platform? Or can he just be, some would say, a more credible vessel what we are hearing from Secretary Clinton?

CARDONA: Well, I think that is probably too much of a simplistic way to look at it, Victor. So, you know that all of his advisors in the realm of helping him make

this decision, you know they are poring over all of the polling data out there, they are poring over what the campaigns they know that are up and running, what they have in the states.

And what they are going to realize, Victor, is that Hillary Clinton is an incredibly formidable and frankly enviable position, probably more so than any candidate that has run for president as a non-incumbent in recent history. The kind of money she has raised for her own campaign, not super PAC money, that she can control, is a record. The kind of infrastructure she has, not just in the early states but in other states that are out there.


CARDONA: The messaging she is putting out there, the technology, the grassroots, the -- in fact, all of her supporters. And so, I think that all of this is lost with the whole issue of, you know, the e- mails and everything that Republicans are trying to throw at her from a partisan prospective.

But if you look at the fundamentals of her campaign, they are incredibly strong. She beats every single Republican across the board in every state right now and her favorability ratings are better than anyone's involved.

BLACKWELL: Republicans would say the trust worthiness number is continuing to deteriorate and we didn't even have it.

CARDONA: Of course, they would.

BLACKWELL: And we run out of time and I know you would say that. We run out of time and we didn't get a chance to talk about former Vice President Al Gore in that "BuzzFeed" report.


BLACKWELL: Maria, great to have you here.

CARDONA: Thank you, Victor. Great to be here.

BLACKWELL: All right.

And don't forget, CNN hosts our first Republican presidential debate, the next one. That's Wednesday, September 16th, followed by the Democratic presidential debate live Tuesday, October 13th. That's from Nevada.

[07:40:01] PAUL: A disturbing new development in the war against ISIS. The U.S. now confirming the terror group is resorting, at least in one instance, to chemical warfare and has a lot wondering if this is a sign to come.

Also, a Connecticut home invasion, I know you remember this. It was called one of the most gruesome horrific crimes ever committed. These two killers you see here, well, their lives are spared now in a stunning reversal of Connecticut's death penalty. We will talk to a juror who wanted them to die.


PAUL: Forty-three minutes past the hour.

And the U.S. confirming this morning that the terror group ISIS recently used a chemical agent against Kurdish forces in Syria. Another attack in northern Iraq also is being investigated as a possible chemical attack.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr says the evidence seems to support that conclusion.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The patients came to this northern Iraqi hospital with blistered skin and respiratory distress. The Kurds say ISIS fired mortars at them containing a chemical agent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-eight rounds exploded, seven did not.

STARR: The U.S. has investigated and will test samples to find out if it was mustard agent, a chemical weapon U.S. officials now tell CNN ISIS possesses in small quantities.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: It's a game-changer, because what it means is the introduction of chemical weapons. When you do that, you have a real issue with protecting troops. You have a real issue with insure ensuring the safety of civilians that might be in the battle zone.

[07:45:02] STARR: Samples of an attack a few weeks ago near Al Hasakah, Syria, confirmed mustard agent was use by terror group there, U.S. official say. Now, two attacks this week near Makhmour in Kurdish northern Iraq are being closely looked at. Officials hope more testing will tell them if mustard or possibly chlorine, an agent the Kurds say ISIS has used against them before, was used again.

Kurdish fighters have proven capable against ISIS, but a chemical weapon would make their task more difficult.

LEIGHTON: They are much more exposed and much more at risk. So, this is for them very dangerous and could really hurt their ability to fight.

STARR: The question now: from could ISIS have obtained the mustard agent? Old weapons from Saddam Hussein in Iraq? A secret stockpile from Syrian President Bashar al Assad that was somehow not destroyed in 2014 under an international agreement? Or did ISIS manufacture the agent on its own?

President Obama once threatened military action if the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.

STARR: Now that it's ISIS, what will the Obama administration do?

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

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


BLACKWELL: This week, Connecticut reversed its death penalty law. Now, two men convicted of killing a family, have had their lives spared. We will talk to one of the jurors who found one of the men guilty of that brutal crime.

Plus, Donald Trump, fire her on "The Apprentice," but he worked with her to put together her own reality show. What does Omarosa thinks of her former boss and his run for the president? She joins us live in our next hour.


[07:50:48] PAUL: Stunning news out of the Supreme Court. The state supreme court has ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional for convicts on death row. The ruling is igniting outrage over convicts already on death row. We are talking about Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes. They gained national attention after the 2007 Connecticut home invasion of Dr. William Petit.


PAUL (voice-over): Steven Hayes confessed to his crimes and they were as bad as it gets. A prominent Connecticut family held hostage and terrorize in their home for seven hours, by Hayes and another career criminal.

Dr. William Petit nearly beaten to death by a baseball bat and his wife Jennifer raped and strangled by Steven Hayes. The Petit children's rooms doused with gasoline, the girls left to die in a fire.

Guilt wasn't the issue during the eight-week trial. Only whether Hayes should die for what he did. In the end, the jury chose death. His lawyer said it is a the sentence Hayes wanted, so full of remorse that he's ready to die.


PAUL: Let's talk to HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson. Also want to welcome, Paula Calzetta. She served as a juror in the trial of Steven Hayes.

We're so grateful to have both of you here.

Paula, I want to go to you first and ask, what was your reaction when you heard that both of these men would not receive the death penalty?

PAULA CALZETTA, JUROR, STEVEN HAYES TRIAL: Well, I expected that. Because there was talk of that happening while we were in trial. And it made me more certain that death was the proper sentence, because he was the harshest penalty that we could give him and knowing that eventually, the state overturned it, he would still have the most intensive kind of incarceration.

PAUL: Help us understand what it was about this case that was so emotional for you that made you decide that death was the answer here -- Paula?


PAUL: I am sorry. I am wondering if you can help us to understand what it was in this trial that made you decide that death was the only answer.

CALZETTA: Well, after I looked at all of the evidence and all of the facts that it was really no other choice, and I had to put my emotional feelings aside. And for me, I believe that if he receive e received the death penalty, he would be locked away by himself for the amount of time before he was actually executed and that perhaps he could come to some true sense of remorse. I don't know if it has ever happened, but I would hope that the powers at corrections figure some way out that these people are not just put back into general population, because that is really no punishment especially for Steven.

PAUL: For Steven.

Joey, I want to get to you in a second, but I want to play some sound with you after my first interview with you, Paula, right after the trial. Let's listen to this.


CALZETTA: Early on, it broke my heart thinking of a tragic life, and there are no winners in this. And it was a perfect storm of evil, and it did bother me, because I'm a compassionate person, but after having listened to all of the testimony and the pictures, there was really nothing, and there was no other choice for all of us.


PAUL: No other choice, you said again. And do you feel that the deliberations for that aspect of the aspect of that part of the case were in vain now?

CALZETTA: No, no. Death was the punishment that he deserved, and he does deserve. And now that the state has overturned it, I just pray that they find some way that the 11 men on death row don't just sort of get a free pass and go into general population.

[07:55:15] That there is still some level of confinement or restriction, because -- especially in this case, these two men, we know for sure have done this crime, and --

PAUL: Right.

CALZETTA: -- and death was the penalty, and if it is not available, then something else should have been given, and not just set free into population.

PAUL: So, Joey, I want to bring back to you, because we know back in 2009, the state's governor brought back the death penalty for this case, citing, quote, "the truth is that some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment because the wrongdoer deserves it, irrespective of whether it is a deterrent or not. So, if this specific crime is so heinous, is there any way that the new ruling is reversible in any way?


The answer is, it could be, but this is how it will happen. In 2009, the governor was Jodi Rell, and there was as big movement in Connecticut, Christi, at that time to abolish the death penalty and when it ended up on her desk, she vetoed it citing exactly what you just talked about, and of course, we know, we saw the Petit story and the brutality of that case.

And so, what this court has said is that based on evolving standards of decency, the legislature prospectively, that means that in 2012, now you have Governor Dan Malloy behind that desk, when he got the abolition bill, he signed it. And so, he said, look, there are going to be no more executions from 2012 forward. The Supreme Court said, wait, if standards of decencies evolve from 2012, what's changed from 2009, from 2008, anybody then on death row, they should apply to.

So, I think, in accord to your question, the only way this changes is if the legislature of Connecticut says that the evolving standards of decency say that we have a death penalty.

But as long as a legislature has said that the death penalty shall be no more, the Supreme Court says, you cannot apply that from 2012 forward, you have to apply that to standards of decency in general.

And as a result of that, in this state, Connecticut, there were bill no death penalty and that's in essence what the ruling says.

PAUL: So, it was the Supreme Court that decided that all of the people on death row were absolved of the death penalty. It wasn't just that it was overturned, and moving forward, as the law had initially stated.

JACKSON: That's right, Christi.


JACKSON: What happened is the Supreme Court said that you have a new governor and the governor said to abolish the bill, and the same bill that Jodi Rell looked at in 2009, identical and she vetoed it, saying, you know what, we are going to have the death penalty, and we need the death penalty, and now it comes that you have a Democratic governor and he signs the bill and says that death penalty shall be no more.

But the legislature said, we are only going to apply this to the people from April 25th, 2012 forward. The Supreme Court said, you can't do that.

PAUL: Yes.

JACKSON: How do you have differential standards of decency?

So, what changed from 2012 to 2010 to 2009? And so, you can't bifurcate it like that, and if it's not decent now, then it cannot have been decent then, and as a result of that, it would be abolished.

And so, again, the only way I think for death penalty to come back and for that Supreme Court ruling to be overturned in any way is by the popular will of the people through their elected representatives to say that this state will have a death penalty. But as long as the legislature said it will not and the governor said it will not, you can't decide that you're going to apply to some people and not others. It has to apply equally to everyone, and hence, no more death in Connecticut.

PAUL: And it is so interesting that there were people who were against the death penalty in in case, and they said if however there was a case for it, however, this would be the case.

Joey Jackson, great explainer, thank you so much.

Paula Calzetta, thank you for your voice on this as well. We appreciate hearing from you.

CALZETTA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up on a minute before the top of the hour, a man rescued from the roof of his car overnight in Buffalo. Look at this, heavy rainfall and flash floods there, too, made many of the roads impassable in that area. Affiliate WIVB reports that more than 7,000 customers lost power during the peak of the storm last night.

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