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Twelve Marines Missing After Hawaii Collision; Iran Sanctions May Be Dropped Today; El Chapo's Lawyer Says He Shouldn't Be Extradited; Minority Vote Could Be Critical In Iowa Caucuses; Michigan To Investigate Flint Water Crisis. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 16, 2016 - 07:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: It's been a bad week for Wall Street. The stock market tanking again because of oil, and China. Yesterday's oil prices plummeted below 30 dollars a barrel, and tech stocks were taking a beating too. We're going to speak with a financial expert at 8:00 AM Eastern about the market instability, and how best to protect your money.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And, so much of the news that we have to tell you about this morning.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of your New Day starts right now.

There was blood everywhere, that's how one of the survivors is describing the scene of a terror attack on a luxury hotel in Western Africa. Twenty-Seven people killed. We'll have the latest details on this breaking news.

PAUL: And, we could be moments away from decades long sanctions against Iran. So, what does this mean for the world? We're talking about that this hour.

BLACKWELL: Also, rescuers off the coast of Hawaii battle rough weather as they search for 12 marines who disappeared after two military choppers collided mid-air.

PAUL: Despite all of that, we do want to wish you a good morning, and let you know that we're so grateful to have your company as always. I'm Christi Paul

BLACKWELL: Always good to be with you, I'm Victor Blackwell.

PAUL: Yeah. At least 27 people were murdered overnight by terrorists in West Africa, that numbers gone up here. An Al Qaeda affiliate is claiming responsibility for a deadly siege on a luxury hotel there in Burkina Faso. For hours, the militants gunned down victims, and they fought off security forces who only recently were able to retake that hotel, which may have been targeted because of its popularity with tourists and Western diplomats.

Now, survivors are recounting the carnage that they saw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAWADOGO: It's horrible because everyone was panicked, and was laying down on the floor. There was blood everywhere. They were shooting at people at point blank. The sound of the detonation was so loud we could hear them talking, and they were walking, and kept shooting at people that seemed alive.


PAUL: Officials say they killed four terrorists in their counter assault. Two of those terrorists, they say, were women. CNN's David McKenzie live for us in Johannesburg with the very latest.

David, it seems that number of those murdered has gone up this past hour. What are you learning there?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is what we're learning that the death toll, unfortunately, has risen and there is a sense that it could be even worse at this stage because they would still be going through that hotel which was attacked by these gunman, including two women. So, these attackers attacked Fersis (ph) Cafe in the evening hours causing mayhem, as you heard from that witness.

They were walking through there, the attackers, and seeing if people were alive, and if they were, shooting them. It seems they were trying to attack foreigners, potentially Americans, in this attack. Then, moved across the street to the Splendid (ph) Hotel, creating a siege situation. Forces from Burkina Faso joined by French Special Forces who were flown from a nearby Mali, as well as American intelligence help.

They waited several hours, and then went into that hotel to try and end the siege. The siege only ended -- just over an hour ago, there in West Africa, according to the Presidential team, but they could see further deaths in what is a highly complex, and deadly attack.

PAUL: Do we know if there were any Americans caught up in the siege, and what rule U.S. troops played in countering it?

MCKENZIE: Well, Christi, we do know that there was at least one American caught in the hostage situation. There are signs that more Americans might have been involved, according to witnesses who spoke to state t.v., but no official confirmation from Burkina Faso or the State Department. We do know though from U.S. officials, that there was a request that came in for the U.S. to help intelligence gathering using a drone over the scene, as well as intelligence on the ground.

They weren't involved in actual rescue efforts, but there certainly were American military assets on the ground. There are scores of them there assisting Burkina Faso in the fight against terrorism, and this certainly -- it is an escalation of what we believe is Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, and its offshoot group operating in West Africa. Burkina Faso has never seen an attack of this scale in the capital before. Christi?

PAUL: Steven McKenzie, we appreciate the update, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Alright, let's talk now with CNN law enforcement, former Assistant Director of the FBI, Tom Fuentes joining us now.

Tom, we just heart that Burkina Faso's never seen anything on this scale, but we know that there were four attackers who were killed. Do you suspect that they pulled this off -- it was coordinated, but not so sophisticated, that they could have pulled this off alone. Just the four of them?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it's possible, Victor. You know, it doesn't take much if you have explosives, and automatic weapons, it doesn't take too many people, especially if there's very little security to overcome on their part.

So, these West African countries are starting to see where Al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb is spread down. Originally it was formed maybe 15 years ago, or so, in Algeria. And, at the time it formed they were only attacking Algerian forces, police and military, and political figures. And, Zawahiri (ph), at that time, number two to Osama Bin Laden admonished them that you're not there to do local Algerian matters, you're supposed to spread out and attack Westerners.

And, now what we've seen is, over the past decade and a half, where they have spread into countries south of Algeria in Mali, like we saw recently, or Burkina Faso. Interesting about this country is that it was already a little bit under siege by Colombian drug traffickers who flew drug routes into that region, and then from there took cocaine into Europe. But, that was a jumping off point, and they've killed many -- and the drug cartels have killed many political figures. And, the security has had to battle them.

So, these countries in that part of West Africa have had a great deal of difficulty. First, with drug traffickers, and now with the spread of AQIM southward.

BLACKWELL: Well, beyond AQIM, and West Africa, this is another soft target that's been hit, and we've seen these targets hit around the world. Here, in the U.S., and across the globe. What, if anything, realistically can be done to protect cafes, and hotels, and for that matter, theaters and grocery stores, and shopping malls from, in this case, Al Qaeda, but in other cases, ISIS?

FUENTES: Not much, you know? As it turns you, you know, we see very little ability to protect those type of venues, soft targets, even in developed, well resourced countries like France, and Belgium, and Germany, and the United States for that matter. But, these countries are extremely poor. I haven't been to that

capital, but I've been to others in the region, and really you have normally maybe one or two Western hotels that are even close to proper standards in having a little bit of security. You don't have the amount of security that you would expect, but other hotels have none. So, that's why most of the Western diplomats, and business people stay in a very few number of hotels in the capitals in Africa in that region.

BLACKWELL: Alright, Tom Fuentes, a CNN law enforcement analyst. We appreciate it. Thank you so much.

And, I just received this statement from John Kirby, spokesman here for the State Department, and I just want to read it out for you.

"The United States strongly condemns the attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims during this senseless assault on innocent people. The U.S. embassy in Ouagadougou is providing all possible consular assistance. We can confirm that all Chief of Mission personnel are accounted for. Our embassy in Ouagadougou is making every effort to account for U.S. citizens in the city. Privacy considerations would prevent on commenting on any specific case, absent written authorization."

So that from John Kirby, spokesman there from the United States State Department, and we'll continue to follow these developments throughout the morning.

PAUL: Meanwhile, search crews are still working to find 12 Marine's missing since their helicopters collided off Hawaii. This happened late Thursday, but search crews are looking still about seven miles off shore. With choppy weather, that makes the search even tougher. Visibility yesterday was only about a mile, and there was no mayday call, we know, before that collision. It happened during a training flight.

But, look at what the rescuers here are trying to deal with. Witnesses did report seeing a fireball, they saw debris that has been found, actually, including an empty life vest, and family members, we know, have identified three of the missing Marines, to CNN. Two are from Texas, and one is from Massachusetts. We certainly have our thoughts and prayers with those families.

We're going to have a live report updating the latest information on the search a little bit later this hour.

BLACKWELL: Alright, well, coming up. We're talking politics. The Cruz- Trump feud has taken another turn. The Texas Senator is now offering up sort of an apology related to his comments about New York values.

PAUL: That would be -- that would be a good characterization, wouldn't i?


PAUL: Plus, we could be moments away from the end of decades long sanctions against Iran. What does this mean for the rest of the world?

BLACKWELL: Plus, in the U.S. Chipotle closing all its stores after its people were infected with E. Coli, and salmonella.


BLACKWELL: New this morning, Ted Cruz is giving up an interesting apology to those who are offended by his criticism of what he calls, "New York values".

Donald Trump called those comments very insulting, but now, in a twist, Trump is getting some backup from New York Democrats, including former New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Last night Cruz said this in response.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I apologize to the millions of New Yorkers who've been let down by liberal politicians in that state. I apologize to the hard working men and women of the state of New York who've been denied jobs because Governor Cuomo won't allow fracking, even though there have been many high paying jobs just South in Pennsylvania.

New Yorkers are denied the ability to provide for their families. I apologize to all the pro-life, and pro-marriage, and pro-second amendment New Yorkers who were told by Governor Cuomo that they have no place in New York because that's not who New Yorkers are.


BLACKWELL: Alright, back with us now, CNN Politics Executive Editor, Mark Preston. Mark, Donald Trump doesn't apologize for anything, right? Let's start there. Then, we go to Ted Cruz who's getting flak for this comment about New York values. Why is this getting so much traction?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, it's really getting so much traction because it was a very sharp attack on New York, and certainly of the politics of New York, as you said at the top there. We've seen the likes of Bill de Blasio, and Andrew Cuomo, and HIllary Clinton all coming out and agreeing with Donald Trump, except they're all Democrats, you know?

New York tends to be a Democratic state, and what we saw with Ted Cruz is that he was trying to send a very specific message to voters in Iowa, voters in South Carolina, and voters in New Hampshire, for that matter, these are social conservative voters, voters that he needs to support him in droves in order for him to win the Republican nomination.

So, Ted Cruz was trying to send a message, Donald Trump was trying to send a message back that he is not going to back down on defending New York.

BLACKWELL: It may be no expectation that Ted Cruz will win New York in the primary, or the general election. But, we understand that after that apology of sorts that went on for three minutes last night from Ted Cruz, Donald Trump is now responding.

PRESTON: He is responding, you know? The one thing about Donald Trump is that he doesn't mince his words, and he certainly sticks by his criticisms, and you know, even before 7:00 AM this morning he was already on Twitter sending out a message to Ted Cruz, and let's just take a quick look at them right now, if we can, Victor. I'll read them to you here.

Donald Trump saying about Ted Cruz. "Ted Cruz was born in Canada and was a Canadian citizen until 15 months ago." "Lawsuits have been filed with more to follow." "I told you so."

He goes on to say that Ted Cruz said that he didn't know that he was a Canadian citizen. "He also forgot to file his Goldman Sachs million dollar loan papers. Not believable"

So, what Donald Trump is trying to do right now is he's trying to cast some doubt, not only on Ted Cruz, is he eligible to run for president, to be elected president, but is he believable, and is he trustworthy? Ted Cruz is really, really basing his campaign as an anti-Washington outside establishment person that people can trust, and we're trying to see Donald Trump right now where Donald Trump is certainly trying to poke holes in that, Victor.

BLACKWELL: So, these inter-party spats, these primary foods are not unusual, in fact, they're quite common. I wonder, after Donald Trump made that comment in the debate that if I put him on the ticket, and there's a problem, and I'm sure it got a lot of people saying, is that possible. First, is that possible, and second, would the party go for a Trump-Cruz ticket?

PRESTON: Well, two things. One, anything is possible. Who would have thought that Donald Trump would be leading in the polls right now? He flirted with running for President several times before, kind of always dropped out. But, his candidacy took fire, and really was able to gain traction.

The reason why, of course, is that Americans are frustrated with Washington, they're very upset. Donald Trump is preaching a very populist, angry message. A take back Washington message. So, who knows, maybe they would run together. Would the party accept it? Victor, they'd have no choice.

If Donald Trump were to become the Republican Presidential nominee, and he chose Ted Cruz, well, guess what? The party would have to embrace it. So, there's been a lot of talk about what the Republican establishment would do if Donald Trump, or if Ted Cruz were to become the nominee. Would they walk away from Donald Trump, would they walk away from Ted Cruz?

The bottom line is they can't because if they did so they would be handing the Presidency another four years to whoever the Democratic nominee is.

BLACKWELL: And Reince Previous, head of the RNC, has said that he's 100% certain that he can rally the party around Cruz or Trump if either becomes the nominee.

But, I wonder, let's step away from Cruz and Trump for a moment, and talk about Jeb Bush. And, we had that endorsement yesterday from Senator Lindsey Graham there in South Carolina, and what he said was, "This is going to reset the race." Now, is the Bush campaign realistically going to, I guess, lose Iowa, lose New Hampshire, and then expect a win or strong showing in South Carolina of all states?

PRESTON: Well, you know, when we were talking about this in the past hour, I was in New Hampshire earlier this week, and right now that moderate, centrist Republican lane is very crowded. You have Jeb Bush in that lane, you have John Kasich, the Ohio Governor. You have Marco Rubio in that lane. Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor there. They are all vying for votes right now.

The problem is that they're splitting it up, and by doing so, they are essentially, if they were to continue on, all four of them after Iowa, after New Hampshire, into South Carolina, they're essentially going to hand the Republican nomination to either Ted Cruz, or Donald Trump. What Jeb Bush's hoping is to do respectable in Iowa, and to come out of New Hampshire very strong. They think that South Carolina plays very well. And, get this, the think that because his brother is well respected, his brother who has taken a lot of hits for his eight years as president, is very well respected, certainly by military folks, which make up a big segment of the GOP electorate down in South Carolina.

They think that South Carolina could bring him back, but the bottom line is after the New Hampshire primary, talking to folks up there this past week, they're hoping now -- establishment folks are hoping that those four gentlemen that are all in that establishment lane will come together, and you'll start to see people drop out because if they don't, Victor, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump is going to be the next -- our Republican nominee. And, a lot of establishment folks do not want to see that happen.

BLACKWELL: Five seconds, do you expect George W. Bush will be on the campaign trail for his brother there in South Carolina?

PRESTON: No question. Absolutely. He's already raised money for his brother, but I do think that, at some point, he has got to come out, and he's got to do things. And, I've been told by some folks that he actually wants to get out. They have to pick the right venue for him to do so.

BLACKWELL: Alright, Mark Preston. Thanks so much.

PRESTON: Thanks, Victor.


PAUL: So, when we come back, Iran is awaiting a report from the IAEA officials on sanctions. What does this mean to Iran's nuclear program at the end of the day? It will certainly mark a milestone, no doubt about it, but for some, the world will be less safe. We're going to have that conversation.

Also, Wal-Mart is closing 250 of its stores nationwide. Find out what's causing the suspicions (ph).


PAUL: Developing story that we're following right now. Search crews still working to find 12 Marine's missing since their helicopters collided off Hawaii late Thursday. And, their rescue teams are looking about seven miles from Oahu's North shore. There was no mayday call we want to point out, before this collision. It happened during a training flight.

Witnesses reported seeing a fireball though, and debris has been found, including an empty life raft. Choppy weather, though, is really making this search tougher. Visibility yesterday was only about a mile.

On the phone with us now, we have Sarah Mooers, she's Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard 14th District.

Chief, thank you so much for being with us, we appreciate it. I'm wondering, Chief Mooers, what is the status right now of your search?

SARAH MOOERS, CHIEF PETTY OFFICER, COAST GUARD 14TH DISTRICT (on the phone): Good morning, Christi. We're continuing the search with assets from both the Navy, Coast Guard, and we're looking for any of those 12 Marines off shore of Oahu. We've brought to bare (ph) the Coast Guard cutter Ahi (ph), Coast Guard cutter, Christa (ph), two Navy destroyers, as well as a navy Helicopter, and a Coast Guard aircraft 65 Belson Helicopter, and a Coast Guard C130.

When the morning breaks here, because it's still quite dark outside, we will resume work with our shore teams as well that will likely include the fire department, police, and ocean safety.

PAUL: Help us understand, other than what I just said, is there any update in what you have found thus far?

MOOERS: There is not. We're continuing the search, but we haven't found any significant development as far that goes. The weather is still a bit of a challenge for us. We've got 10 mile per hour winds, and we've quite a big swell, as well, off the North shore.

PAUL: Chief Mooers, are you surprised that the fact this happened Thursday night that you have not been able to find anything more than you have up to this point?

MOOERS: I've been in Hawaii now for approximately six months after having served in other parts of the country. What I've learned in that time working with our Search and Rescue planners and controllers, the currents and the way that the water moves around the island of Oahu is very dynamic. And, it doesn't always follow the models.

So, we really have to be diligent in our searches, and using all of our information for locating any kind of object, or person in the water because it can move quite a good distance in a pretty rapid manner. So, we're continuing that search using a large team of assets in a very coordinated manner to try and sweep that search area, really saturate it.

PAUL: And, I'm just wondering how the families are holding up at this point? I'm sure you're having contact with them on a regular basis, yes?

MOOERS: The Coast Guard hasn't had a great deal of contact with the families, that's really a piece for the Marine Corps., but it is my understanding that the Marine Corps. has care teams working with them, and contacted all of the families to make sure that they have the resource that they need during this time.

PAUL: OK, well, we want to thank you so much, Chief Petty Officer, there, Sarah Mooers, for giving us an update. We'll be checking in with you throughout the day, I'm sure, especially as the sun comes up there, and you can get back to some more definitive work...

MOOERS: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Thank you. Take good care.

BLACKWELL: Alright, 26 minutes after the hour now, and do not plan on eating at Chipotle on, or after February 8th, because all of the companies nearly 2,000 locations will close, at least for that day, maybe a little longer. They say it's an opportunity to thank, and train their employees since last year hundreds of people in about a dozen states have been sickened by E. Coli, and norovirus outbreaks, all traced back to Chipotle restaurants.

The company's stock has been nearly cut in half, and their facing several lawsuits.

PAUL: Well, Wal-Mart has announced a total of 269 stores this year worldwide, 154 of those in the States alone. Now, as the company tries revive its slumping finances, this is their answer. As many as 10,000 employees, though, could be out of work here in the U.S.

The retailer says it will try to transfer many of those to other Wal- Mart stores.

BLACKWELL: On that 401 k, in some trouble because it's been a bad week for Wall Street because the stock market tanking, again, because of oil and global markets. Now, yesterday oil plummeted below $30 dollars a barrel, tech stocks also taking a beating. We're going to speak with a financial expert in the next hour about the market instability, and how best to protect your money.

PAUL: When we come back, did El Chapo fund Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo's tequila venture? CNN is live in Mexico with the details. This thing just keeps getting more...

BLACKWELL: ...Every day there's a new twist...

PAUL: ...I know.

BLACKWELL: Hey, just a few weeks now -- two weeks, in fact, from the Iowa caucuses. We're going to take a look at the minority vote there, and how candidates are rallying around them, or if they are not.



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And you are looking at rescue crews here. They are going to be working in choppy weather when the search to find 12 missing Marines resume. They haven't seen since their helicopter has collided off Hawaii last Thursday. It happened during a training flight, though.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Rescue teams are looking about seven miles from Oahu's north shore. There was no mayday call before that collision. We know the debris has been found including an empty life raft.

At least 27 people were killed when terrorists stormed a luxury hotel in West Africa and opened fire on un-expecting victims. That number went up in just the last few minutes. An al Qaeda affiliated group is claiming responsibility for the massacre.

Survivors describe a scene, they say that, quote, "There was blood everywhere." Officials who only until recently put an end to the carnage. They say that they killed four terrorists in a counterassault. Two of those attackers were women.

PAUL: We could be moments away from the end of decade's long sanctions against Iran. Officials from the U.S., the United Nations, and Iran, gathered in Vienna as we speak here. As the International Atomic Energy Agency is set to release its report on the country's nuclear facilities.

Detailing here whether it has complied with terms laid out in the Iran deal, significantly, scaling back the country's nuclear program, in an effort to unlock tens of billions of dollars in frozen oil money. That's what Iran wants.

Senior international correspondent, Frederick Pleitgen, is following this story live from Berlin. Fred, I'm wondering if you are getting any indication of a timeline as to when we will hear a final decision on this today.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, the Iranian foreign minister has said that he believes it will happen sometime today. We know that there is a lot of movement in the press pool right now so we do expect that this announcement will be made shortly from now.

It's unclear however how long that is going to take, however, one set of announcements he has made, and he will have what is called implementation day, which means that the sanctions at that point, at least the ones pertaining to Iran's nuclear program will be lifted almost immediately.

As you said they hope to get tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets almost immediately. They hope to be able to be a part of the international banking system, electronic banking, something they haven't been able to do over the past years when they had the sanctions making it much easier to do business with Iran.

And, of course, they want to sell additional oil on the international markets. They're talking about some 500,000 additional barrels per day. Of course, that comes as the oil price is already very weak. The Iranians looking to sell that oil.

Again, we think that announcement is going to happen very soon, and then afterwards, we will hear from the foreign ministers of Iran and the European Union, and also Secretary of State Kerry. We expect to see him as well -- Christi.

PAUL: Well, we know that Josh Earnest even talked about it, the White House press secretary, he said there is ample reason to distrust Iran. There are trust issues here besides the fact of the ten U.S. sailors, who were detained by Iranian forces earlier this week and then we have American journalist who is still being held.

Is there any wiggle room, any possibly that once this goes through, there will be some new diplomatic opportunities to talk about bringing Rezaian back to the U.S.?

PLEITGEN: Well, there certainly is. I mean, one of the things that we saw in the episode with the ten U.S. sailors, is that there are now channels between the U.S. and Iran.

One of the things that Secretary of State Kerry said, look, we wouldn't have been able solve this whole thing in 24 hours if we didn't have a direct line of communication between himself and the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif.

So certainly there are still possibilities to further enhance that and to possibly also do something for people like Jason Rezaian or the other Americans who are still being held by the Iranians.

On the other hand, we have to keep in mind that the Iranians have a group of hard liners that are very, very, powerful, who don't necessary like this nuclear agreement and who constantly are saying this is something Iran has got an bad deal.

They want to stay out of a confrontation course with the U.N. So there are still dangers of all of this going away again, but there are certainly the possibilities of enhanced diplomacy in the future -- Christi.

[07:35:03]PAUL: All right, Fred Pleitgen, appreciate the update. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, so let's talk now with CNN military analyst, Lt. General Mark Hertling joining us again. And I want to pick up directly where Fred left off.

The release of those ten sailors, we heard from the State Department that because of those renewed communications, direct communication through the Foreign Minister Zarif that this was able to come to an end peacefully within 24 hours.

We are also hearing from the campaign trail that if not for the potential or expected release of tens of billions of dollars, Iran would have held these sailors. From your perspective, a retired lieutenant general, what role did one play in the other's fate?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I look at it, Victor, from a longer perspective. Let's take a look at the historical relationship between Iran and the United States. It certainly been tumultuous over the centuries. There had been

times when we've been very good friends and there have been times where we've been bitter foes in the 38 years or so since the Iranian revolution, we have severed diplomatic relationships with this country rightfully so.

This is an attempt at re-garnering those relationships. I think that's always a good thing, especially now with what's going on in the greater Middle East, with sectarian violence, with what appears to be countries moving into proxy camps to fight each other.

It's always good to have communications with everyone, to try and tamp down violence so you don't have to use the military option. That's what I think the current administration is attempting to do, perhaps build a few strategy in the Middle East and certainly prevent future wars.

But I know there are a lot of people very suspicious about that. The view having done engagements with other countries, it's always better to open communications with them than opposed to shut them out.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of opening and closing communications, we know that after the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, Saudi Arabia severed ties diplomatically with Iran, Bahrain and others did as well. And there have been some editorials and op-eds written that Iran is not taking the bait of their arch enemy, Saudi Arabia.

Do you expect that after implementation day, after we learn that Iran has lived up to all of the promises made back in July to get to this point, to get the money, to get access to sell the oil. That that relationship and their response to Saudi Arabia will change? That we will see something more intense?

HERTLING: Yes, I just don't know, that's where you can't judge intent, Victor. You don't know what's going to happen next. But there appears to be a more moderate regime and again this has been tamped down by many Middle East watchers that you never trust Iran.

Well, you know, you have to trust, but also be in a position of strength when these kind of things happen. Again, you know, when you're talking about diplomatic relationships between countries.

Not just the U.S. and other countries, but between countries in the region that seemed to be breaking down into sectarian sects between Sunni-led countries and Shia-led countries.

You need some mediators in this regard as opposed to folks who are joining the various sides. I think the U.S. can play a part in tamping down the violence and hopefully bring some other people along with them.

This affects more than just the Iranian-Saudi Arabian relationships. You are also talking about Iran's connection with Syria, the Hezbollah, certainly threatens Israel. So this is a much greater issue than just Iran and Saudi Arabia. BLACKWELL: All right. LT. General Mark Hertling, always good to have your insight. We are of course expecting any minute an announcement from the IAEA about the potential implementation today announcing that Iran has reached those bars, this threshold to move forward with this deal. Thanks so much.

HERTLING: Great to be with you, Victor.

PAUL: Now to the high security Altiplano prison in Mexico. We have a new picture we want to show you of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman from the prison after he was recaptured last week. Now his lawyer insists the drug kingpin should not be extradited to the U.S.

I want to bring in CNN correspondent, Nick Valencia, who is there in Mexico for us. So Nick, help us understand the status of the extradition process for Guzman right now.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We expect it to be a very lengthy one, Christi, perhaps up to a year. In similar cases, it's taken more than two years for cartel operatives, cartel drug kingpin, to be extradited to the United States.

All of this, of course, dependent on how many legal petitions are filed by the defense attorneys for El Chapo. Yesterday outside the Altiplano Penitentiary where El Chapo was being held after his recapture. The lawyer talked about why he feels his client should not be extradited to the U.S.


JUAN PABLO BADILLO, JOAQUIN "EL CHAPO" GUZMAN'S LAWYER (through translator): I was not granted permission to see my client, Joaquin Guzman Lorea. There was no explanation. They simply said, you can't see him.

[07:40:09]Mr. Guzman Lorea should not be extradited to the USA or any other foreign country. Why? Because Mexico has fair just laws that are reckoned by the constitution.


VALENCIA: That attorney has already filed those legal petitions, but perhaps most promising is that relations between U.S. and Mexico have never been closer. The last time we saw relations like this was in the 1980s so that could help speed up the extradition process.

Meanwhile the investigation is ongoing and we are learning new dramatic threats every single day. The latest, a second actress, Yolanda Andrade, being investigated by Mexican authorities for her role in setting up this meeting with El Chapo.

Also, a tequila company owned by Kate Del Castillo is being looked into. A senior Mexican law enforcement official telling me that they are specifically looking at the funds and if any funds were provided to Del Castillo from the drug cartel kingpin, El Chapo -- Christi.

PAUL: It is just bizarre the twists and turns of this story every day. All right, Nick Valencia, we appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. When we come back, candidates have a little more than two weeks until the Iowa caucus. It's the first step in nominating and eventually electing a new president. So how much weight does the minority vote carry in a state that is predominantly white? We will talk about that next with two political analysts.

PAUL: Also after months of inaction, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder asking for help for federal help for the flint water crisis. So what does that mean?


BLACKWELL: All right. About two-and-a-half weeks now from the Iowa caucus in the first contest in the race for the White House. It could be obviously a make or break moment for some candidates.

But critics argue, Iowa's early position in the primaries doesn't really stack up to the rest of the country's more diverse population.

It's not a new argument, but let's expand the conversation, looking at the minority population compared to the rest of the country.

[07:45:04]Iowa is black, Latino, and Asian population sits at about 12 percent collectively. Compare that to about 36 percent across the country.

Let's talk about this now with the co-founder and co-chair of Iowa's Brow and Black Forum and former Iowa state representative, Wayne Ford, and Christian Ucles, the political director of the League of the United Latin American citizens of Iowa. And good to have both of you.

Christian, I want to start with you and a tweet from you that really interested me. You said that I think critical of the Clinton campaign in Iowa for lack of Latino outreach. I do that as a supporter in hopes to make them a better campaign. What are you seeing that you think you should?

CHRISTIAN UCLES, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, LULAC: I think this is a dynamic conversation that we need to have about all campaigns, not just the Clinton campaign. When they come to Iowa, the growing Latino community and the growing minority community in Iowa still need to have a voice. We need to have access to the candidates.

So we're working to make sure that all candidates have a chance to have a conversation with our community. That's what LULAC have been no cushion on here in Iowa is to make sure the Latino folks are participating in the caucuses, are (inaudible) to what the caucuses are.

Have access to the candidates and really make it a part of their culture of bringing here in the state of Iowa because that's really what the caucuses are. It's a part of our culture, our being as Iowans to participate and be aware of the caucuses.

So that was in reference to the fact that I want all candidates. I'm a supporter of Secretary Clinton's campaign. I'm a precinct captain for Secretary Clinton's campaign here in Iowa. But I want to make sure all candidates are working towards that.

And you know, there will be things that as an outsider, not knowing the inner workings of the campaign, I'd like to see more involvement. But, you know, they have been doing outreach to us for sure.

Sending Secretary Clinton to meet with community activists in (inaudible) Iowa, with Latinos there. We've had Congressman Castro and Congressman (inaudible), the most powerful Latino in the House Democratic caucus to talk to Latino community.

BLACKWELL: Let's try to put this into some context. We come to you, Representative Ford. We reached out to the Secretary of State's office and both state parties about the number of percentage of minorities who are registered there to participate in the caucus. They don't keep those numbers. Do you have any numbers to tell us, Representative Ford, of the percentage?

REPRESENTATIVE WAYNE FORD, CO-FOUNDER, IOWA'S BROWN AND BROWN FORUM: No, I do not. We have been doing the Brown and Black Forums since 1984. We were a fan first of all to the White House. I don't have the exact numbers, but what I can tell you, since 1984, we have increased education and knowledge not only to ours but to people all over the country. We have minorities involved in the political process. I'm very proud of that.

BLACKWELL: I want to come back to that fifth widest state stat in a moment. Let me ask you about this year's forum. There was one for the Democrats we know happened. The forum for the Republicans we understand was cancelled because of conflicting schedules. Is that the full story or was there a lack of interest on either part?

FORD: From my perspective, that's the full story. I deal with Fred Kauffman, who is the chair of Iowa Republican Party. And we've started working on this a long time ago, working together, crossing that line. We want to keep our football one status. So as far as I know from my information, it was a scheduling conflict.

BLACKWELL: OK, Christian, you mentioned a moment ago that you want to get more Latinos involved in the process. How do you do that? I mean, beyond the campaign representatives and surrogates, how do you get people involved?

UCLES: So we have ten councils, chapters here in Iowa. We are a state organization affiliated with the National LULAC Organization founded in 1929. Our first chapter was founded in 1959 in Davenport. We are in ten different locations.

We have leadership in the state of Iowa, ranging from Davenport from the east part of the state to the west part of the state. So we're hosting caucus trainings throughout the entire month of January. We had them. We will have them in Iowa City, West Liberty, Des Moines.

We are working on several more to make sure that people are educated about what the caucuses are. It's a complicated process and there is a Republican difference and a Democratic difference. So we go into the communities. We're knocking on doors, talking to Latino voters.

We have about 50,000 registered Latino voters in the state of Iowa. We are focusing to turn out about 10,000 of them to the caucuses. We are expecting to see about 250,000 caucus goers for both the Democrat and Republican. That's on the high end.

So we're turning them out by knocking on their doors, talking on the phone, mailing them questions about caucuses. The old fashioned way.

[07:50:01]BLACKWELL: Let me come to you finally, quickly, Representative Ford, we read in the "New York Times" today that Bernie Sanders is now ramping up his outreach to the African-American community in South Carolina, doing interviews on urban radio stations, going to black colleges and universities there.

How does he get over this threshold that many have said is his weakness? He may do well in Iowa. He may do well in New Hampshire. Beyond that, it's the Clinton's game who have the long histories inside minority communities.

FORD: Well, I want to make the record straight. As the individual, I personally have endorsed Miss Clinton. I gave the secretary my support as an individual, which has nothing to do with the Brown and Black.

But going back to make sure all the candidates are increasing their minority participation. Jesse Jackson, when he first ran in '84, instead of going to the black community, he went first to the white community.

He started much early. He did make a show in here in Iowa back in '84 when he ran. Bottom line to you is people have to recognize the timing, some candidates wait until the last minute. Some are there already.

That's the question that you need to ask the Sanders organization or any organization who runs. Here in Iowa, we don't have that many minorities, but many have been very aggressive. That's an individual presidential candidate question.

Jesse said, Wayne, when I run, I'll go to the community and begin working with them first who don't know too much about me. I think other candidates can learn a great deal from that.

BLACKWELL: Representative Ford, Christian Ucles, thank you both.

UCLES: Thank you, Victor. Have a good day.

BLACKWELL: You too. Now if you don't like any of the Republican or Democratic candidates, you have more options than you think maybe. Beginning next hour, we'll talk with two third-party candidates, candidates who say they can do a better job as president than any of the frontrunners coming up at 8:00 Eastern -- Christi.

PAUL: You know, when we come back, as Michigan's governor is asking for federal aid to deal with the Flint water crisis, guess what, the attorney general is beginning an investigation into that situation. We'll tell you more about that.

Also a CNN exclusive for you. A newly revealed e-mail could get Bill Cosby off the hook here. Find out why a decades-old agreement between Cosby's lawyers and a former district attorney could derail the criminal case against him now.



PAUL: It's 55 minutes past the hour. New from Flint Michigan's attorney general, he's taking steps to see if any laws were violated leading up to this current water crisis we've been talking about.

The city's drinking water has been contaminated with toxic lead after what was considered to be a cost saving measure. Now Governor Rick Snyder has declared a state of emergency.

He's called in the National Guard, who are delivering clean water to the residents. CNN's Sara Ganim walks us through this.


SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the National Guard arrives with clean bottled water, more agencies are now looking to see if anyone is criminally responsible for the water crisis in Flint.

Almost immediately after the city switched its water source two years ago, brown water came out of the tap and children developed rashes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is ridiculous. It's killing us slowly.

GANIM: The water is tainted with lead because it wasn't treated properly. Now allegations that state government officials were not only slow to react, but that they may have hidden the truth.

DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, HURLEY CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: I think that is the biggest trauma that our community feels right now. They were told for 18 months to relax. That we are meeting all minimum -- you know, we're meeting all guidelines. They've been lied to for 18 months.

GANIM: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Flint pediatrician took it upon herself to look at the blood lead levels in children in Flint. She found levels had doubled, even tripled in some cases. Even though the state insisted the water was safe.

(on camera): Why do you think their information was flawed? HANNA-ATTISHA: Their information wasn't flawed. They had the data. They had even looked at it back in July and they had seen these abnormal spikes.

GANIM (voice-over): A leaked draft memo shows that as far back as June, the EPA new of reports that Flint water had high levels of lead and that the city's testing was skewing results by free flushing before samples were taken, but no action was taken for months. The EPA says it was urging the state to fix the problem.

What's more, Marc Edwards, the researcher who shed light on these documents says the state not only tested the wrong home, but also altered a report eliminating results from two Flint homes that would have shown toxic levels of lead.

DR. MARC EDWARDS, PROFESSOR, VIRGINIA TECH: In essence, the state took an F grade for Flint water's report on lead and made it into an A grade.

GANIM: The state says the alterations were legitimate, but e-mails show state officials determine to prove the water was safe. One official writing, "I would like to make a strong statement with the demonstration of proof that lead blood levels seen are not out of the ordinary."

RHONDA KELSO, PLAINTIFF IN CLASS ACTION SUIT: Let down by this city and this county and the state, let down by the government that's supposed to keep us safe.


GANIM: Christi, the problems continue to pile up. This week the governor announced they're now looking into a possible link between a spike in legionnaire's disease in Flint, which is a water-borne bacterial disease and the water switched.

During the two years in which the water with was coming from the Flint River, which is highly corrosive, cases of legionnaire's went from the teens into the 40s in both years. Ten people died and they're looking to see if they can make a definitive link -- Christi.

PAUL: My goodness, all right, Sara Ganim, appreciate that update, thank you so much.


PAUL: Good morning to you. I hope Saturday has been good to you so far as we edge towards the 8:00 hour. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. A lot to get to, starting with the breaking news. We'll start in California where the FBI now believes the San Bernardino terrorists, Syed Rezwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, planned to detonate a bomb at the Inland Regional Center.

PAUL: The same day they shot and killed 14 people in December. Now the two were killed in a dramatic shootout with police last month.