Return to Transcripts main page


Sanders Sweeps Washington, Alaska, Hawaii; Belgium Bracing For Possible New Attack; Pope Delivers Message And Blessing. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2016 - 06:00   ET



[06:00:23] ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Good morning, thanks for being with us. I'm Alison Kosik sitting in for Christi Paul this morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Easter to you. We'll take you do Vatican City in just a moment.

KOSIK: We are following two developing stories this morning in Brussels, a peace march is canceled after security concerns in the wake of recent terror bombings.

BLACKWELL: And breaking overnight, Bernie Sanders adds Hawaii to the list of wins sweeping this weekend. He also won caucuses in Alaska and in Washington State. This morning the votes are still being counted in Hawaii, but so far look at the numbers. So far it is a landslide, 70.6 for Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton far behind at 29.2. Thanks in large part to heavy turnout reportedly close to 2008 levels we saw there between Clinton and then Senator Obama. Also a high profile endorsement from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard helped Senator Sanders there.

KOSIK: In Washington State, the biggest prize of the day with 101 delegates at stake, Sanders nabbing 72 percent of the votes and in Alaska, he won more than 80 percent. Despite a shutout on Saturday, Hillary Clinton is maintaining her lead over Bernie Sanders in the all-important delegate race.

BLACKWELL: OK, so the latest CNN estimate has Clinton with 1,733 delegates. Sanders with 1,039. The estimates include both pledged and super delegates.

Our national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, has more on how Bernie Sanders is looking to keep the pressure up on the frontrunner.

SUZANNA MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Alison. Well, it was 142 delegates at stake over the weekend. Bernie Sanders coming in with a victory in Alaska as well as Washington State. The caucuses there a big win for him and all a part of the strategy to pick up those delegates as well as pick up the momentum, leading to contests in much bigger states. More significant later on.

The senator celebrating here in Madison, Wisconsin before thousands and thousands of fans.


BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We knew, we knew from day one that we were going to have politically a hard time in the Deep South. That is a conservative part of our country, but we knew things were going to improve as we headed west. And last week we won Utah with 78 percent of the vote. We won Idaho with 79 percent of the vote and we won Democrats abroad with 67 percent of the vote.


MALVEAUX: Campaign vows that it will go to the very end. They are talking about going to bigger states and trying to win in those critical states. Here of course Wisconsin and moving on to New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and of course the big prize, California.

It's far from clear whether or not that is possible but in speaking with Sanders aides, they say that yes, he will take it all the way to the Democratic convention -- Alison, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Suzanne, thank you so much. Now let's talk about what happened last night and overnight. Let's bring CNN political commentator and also political anchor for "Time Warner Cable News," Errol Louis. Errol, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So these wins, big wins in three states out west, does this dramatically change the narrative of the race?

LOUIS: Well, unfortunately for Bernie Sanders it does not. It is a couple of hundred delegates and that is really good to have, but that doesn't nearly come close enough to really meeting the challenge that he has.

Which is that if he wants to win by winning more of the delegates, he has to win by 2/3 in every remaining state and time is running out. The clock is not his friend in that regard. So it doesn't change the underlying dynamic of winning the nomination.

On the other hand, Bernie Sanders clearly planning to arrive in Philadelphia at the Democratic convention with a lot of pull, with a lot of delegates, with a lot of requirements that he can then put on Hillary Clinton and the convention as whole. So he's a political player. There is no doubt about that. He certainly succeed in that regard.

BLACKWELL: OK, so in the past Sanders has won states that are majority white. Washington being one of those states. Hawaii and Alaska, though, also have sizable minority populations. Are we seeing a turn here in his appeal?

LOUIS: I don't know if I would put it that way, Victor. I mean, you know, there are minorities and minorities.

BLACKWELL: There are minorities and minorities -- bumper sticker.

LOUIS: Native Americans and Pacific islanders and Alaska are very different from, say, you know, fifth generation black Democratic leadership in the Bible belt.

[06:05:09]You know, I mean, it is a different kind of relationship that Hillary Clinton has with them. And in the case of Alaska and Hawaii in particular these are areas that are, you know, pretty far off the beaten trail. I don't think either candidate campaigned in either of those states.

BLACKWELL: Some of the counties in Washington have considerable amounts of Latino voters.

LOUIS: Washington is another story. Washington is a different story. So let's put aside Hawaii and Alaska for just a minute. Washington is a different. Look, Seattle is a progressive hub and long has been and that is Bernie Sanders -- you know, put race aside and ethnicity even.

That is Bernie Sanders kind of crowd, right. You've got a lot of young people. You've got a lot of progressives. You have some universities. You have the whole sort of, for back of a better word, Microsoft complex.

The sort of the tech complexes out there. All lines up for Bernie Sanders. If he could have a lot more Washington states, he'd have a lot more brighter of a political future.

BLACKWELL: So let's put this in the context of aside from what Bernie Sanders won last night. What Hillary Clinton lost, why is she losing by these huge margins out west? And for some part in the center of the country?

LOUIS: These are in many cases, this is a replication of 2008. Where the Obama appeal was what people were looking for. One way to think about it, Victor, is that if you are a Democrat in some of these deeply very red states in the middle of the country in Kansas and Idaho and so forth.

That means you are a real Democrat. You're off the beaten trail. You're not part of anybody's establishment. You are going against the grain in your locality and that is the kind of person who is going to be attracted to a Bernie Sanders, not necessarily to a Hillary Clinton.

Now Hillary Clinton has got to figure out how to bring those folks into the fold. Not because she's going to win Idaho if she's the nominee. Not because she's going to flip any of these deeply red states.

But because, you know, this progressive wing of the party has clearly -- has made clear that they want an alternative to her. Either Bernie Sanders himself or the policies that he stands for.

BLACKWELL: All right, we have you here to talk about the Democratic races, but we're going to do have you back in the next hour to talk about all that's happening with the Republicans as they look ahead to Wisconsin on the 5th. Errol Louis, thank you so much.

LOUIS: All right, see you then.

BLACKWELL: Also remember Bernie Sanders joins Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

KOSIK: All right, ahead on NEW DAY, a planned peace rally in Brussels is canceled over security concerns. We're going live to Belgium for the latest on the terror investigation.

BLACKWELL: Plus we have to remember the victims of the attacks in Brussels that came from all over the world. A young missionary from Utah among the wounded shares his story. That's coming up.

KOSIK: And we want to take you to the Vatican, these are live pictures as Pope Francis celebrates Easter holding Easter vigil prayers at St. Peters Basilica. He's standing on the balcony of the basilica to give his blessings. We'll be back with more.



BLACKWELL: Turning now to the terrorist bombs in Brussels and a peace march that was scheduled for today in the Belgian capital has been postponed because of concerns over another attack and the possibility that that could happen very soon.

The police are moving as rapidly as possible to identify and apprehend everyone associated with last Tuesday's plot, of course. That includes the arrest in Italy of an Algerian national suspected of supplying fake documents for the Brussels attackers.

Another man identified by Belgian authorities as Faysal C. has been charged with terrorist murder. Officials have also clarified the death toll, 14 people killed in the airport blast, 14 died in the Metro attack, three suicide bombers died. Bringing that number to 31.

Roughly 300 people were wounded. All but four of the dead victims have been identified and they included an American couple, Justin and Stephanie Shults of Tennessee.

And Justin's uncle said, the news was understandably difficult to accept.


DALE BRENAM, UNCLE OF JUSTIN SHULTS: When I hear their voices, it just tears me apart. I start crying and then I start having seizures and then when I found the news out that, you know, they had found him and he was passed away, I just totally blanked out and started crying, and went straight into a seizure.


BLACKWELL: Our Michael Holmes is live this Brussels with the latest on the investigation. Michael, it was during this show yesterday that we learned of the charges against this person, Faysal C., and first learned his name. What more have we learned about it?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this man, terrorist murder, he is being charged and also being part of a terrorist group. Now he was the man arrested outside of the Office of the Belgian Prosecutor. What he was doing there was not being told.

I can tell you he's already known in Brussels as a militant activist. He was a man who had already been campaigning for extremist causes, but hadn't broken the law in doing so. Although he had done time for criminal activity, it is fair to say this was no angel even before the arrest.

All part of the sweep we've seen in recent days. A number of raids rounding up half dozen suspects here and as you mentioned, this Algerian national arrested outside (inaudible) on suspicion of being part of a network producing fake residency documents linked to the Brussels attack.

And that man was already wanted in Belgium in connection with the Paris attack so a significant development there -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Michael Holmes for us there in Brussels on this Easter Sunday. Michael, we'll get back to you in just a moment. Thanks so much.

KOSIK: All right, let's dig a little deeper on this. Joining us to discuss more about where the investigation goes from here, counterterrorism expert, Joseph Ruffini, he is the author of "When Terror Comes to Main Street," and CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.

Joe, let's start with you. We know that Belgium's terror alert is at three now, which seems a little strange to me. It was moved from 4 to 3 on Friday. Yet it seems that that everybody is on high alert anyway especially with the fear of another attack.

JOSEPH RUFFINI, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: Well, this is the way it always works, Alison, is once an event goes down. Once there is an attack all the terror alerts go back up to the higher numbers.

[06:15:07]And it is inevitable it is going to come back down again. Normally when you get event like this week in Belgium, it is going a little while before another happens and nobody can stay at that high an alert level for that long. I think this is a perfect example of unfortunately what is going to be the new normal until such time as ISIS can be taken down.

KOSIK: All right, Tom, let me ask you this, has there yet been confirmation that there is an actual direct connection between the arrest of the Paris bombing suspect, Salah Abdeslam and the Brussels attack several days later? And how successful do you think investigators are going to be in talking with Salah Abdeslam now that they have him in custody? TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: OK, first of all Alison, I don't think we know yet. I don't think they may ever know that there is a direct connection between the second set of attacks following the arrest of Abdeslam.

As far as him talking or cooperating, I think we don't know that is an actual fact. Even the things that he said may have been deliberately false information that he provided.

We don't know if his arrest accelerate an already ongoing attack plan or whether it was in the works anyway and it was going to happen with or without him.

I don't think we have the answers to either of those questions. I don't have a high confidence level that anything he provided the authorities had any real value in the long run.

KOSIK: Is there anything that investigators can do not just to get information out of Abdeslam but also Faycal C. as well. They have these guys in custody. Is there any way to get any kind of intel from them? Any nuggets at all? Do they have any resources at their fingertips to get that information? To glean it?

FUENTES: Not really. I think, you know, they will have the so-called pocket litter whatever was in there hands, pockets at the time they were arrested or their wallets or if they get a laptop or cell phone. They might be able to get some information from that.

But as we've seen in all of these series of attacks going back to even Paris a year ago, that, you know, when they go onto the next suspicious address, it is like they are amazed that they actually find subjects there or that people there start shooting at them and they have more people to arrest.

And it just seems that each of the subsequent attacks have come as a surprise. They didn't know that attack plan was in progress.

They didn't know who was going to do it or in some cases they have known all along that these people are suspicious in their country and should be watched and should be, you know, on some high alert level, and just aren't. And, you know, almost nothing is done until the actual attack happens.

KOSIK: Joe, what do you think is going to happen in the coming days? Do you expect to see more arrests or do you think the terrorists have just gone underground for now?

RUFFINI: Well, you know, I agree with what Tom said and you know, with these cells, it is very, very hard even with the best intelligence to ferret out how many are in one cell. Is there more than one cell?

It is my understanding that this was a fairly large cell doing both the attacks in Paris in November and here. There is an interesting dynamic that's working here because as you know, ISIS does a lot of recruiting on social networks, Twitter, Facebook. Every time there is an event like this, they get millions of dollars of inadvertent free publicity when the world media covers these events. So it's kind of like a double edge sword.

No matter how many people ISIS kills in these attacks or really if the attacks aren't as successful even as they expected just with the publicity, with the constant seeing of the attacks and carnage on TV.

That enables them to be a do an even better job and quicker job of recruiting on social media. So there is a lot of interesting moving parts here every time an event like this goes down.

KOSIK: All right, Tom Fuentes, Joe Ruffini, thanks so much for your analysis this morning.

BLACKWELL: Live pictures now from Vatican City. Pope Francis celebrating Easter Sunday. We are going to take you to Rome for the highlights. That's coming up.

Also new this morning, Syrian forces recaptured the city of Palmyra from ISIS.



KOSIK: Welcome back. We want to take you live to the Vatican. Pope Francis, you see him there speaking to thousands on this Easter Sunday. This coming a day after the pope delivered a message of hope at an Easter vigil. He said the terrorist attacks in Brussels should not imprison us with pessimism.

Let's go to Rome and talk to John Allen for more. John, good morning. Tell us more about the pope's message.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hi there, Alison. Happy Easter to you. So the pope day today delivered his traditional blessing to the city and to the world, which is what popes always do on Easter, which of course is the holiest day in the Christian calendar. The day Christians recalled the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

And it is traditionally a kind of 360 degree review of the global situation. And as you indicated, trying to eject a note of hope in what is often a fairly pessimistic landscape. The pope talked about Syria, the need to bring peace to that conflict and the rest of the Middle East.

He made reference to Iraq and Yemen and Libya. Of course, four catholic nuns were just murdered in Yemen. He talked about the conflict in the Ukraine in general. He talked about the realities of brutality and violence around the world. The realities of poverty.

He talked about those who were dying for the faith. The realities of persecution of Christians and Muslims and Jews and others who are being killed out of religious hatred. And in general, his argument was that the resurrection of Christ represents for Christians, anyway, the kind of grand symbol of hope that ultimately evil and violence does not have the last word but ultimately the love of God will prevail.

And I suppose particularly in the context of the Brussels and Paris attacks, and so on, that is a message, Alison, that the world is perhaps especially today hungry to hear.

KOSIK: Yes, we could all use a little hope at this point seeing what's happening globally.

[06:25:03]Very quickly, John, were there any security concerns ahead of today's Easter mass? Have you seen anything out there?

ALLEN: Well, the Vatican has said clearly that it is not going to be paralyzed by fear. That the pope will continue his regular Easter calendar as normal. But clearly when you walk around the Vatican, you can feel a beefed up security apparatus.

There are more of the Italian military police on deployment in the areas around the Vatican. Inside the Vatican, the security screenings have been stepped up.

I suppose, Alison, like everybody else in the world today they are trying to strike a balance between taking realistic precautions but not handing the terrorists a victory by allowing life to come grinding to a halt.

KOSIK: Yes, certainly doesn't hurt to be smart and safe in this timed reality. John Allen, thanks so much for joining us. Happy Easter.

ALLEN: You're welcome.

BLACKWELL: Ahead on NEW DAY, we'll go back to Belgium to learn the latest about the people arrested across Europe in the last several hours. And we'll talk about the victims of the bombing attacks.

Also Donald Trump shares his foreign policy vision, including who a President Trump would consider allowing to develop nuclear weapons. That discussion is ahead.


KOSIK: Mortgage rates were mixed this week. Have a look.