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Trump to Skip Colorado GOP Convention; Trump Camp: We'll Get the Delegates; Bill Clinton's Angry Exchange with Black Lives Matter; Arrests in Brussels Terror Attacks; Mosul Dam a Threat Deadlier than ISIS. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 8, 2016 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] PAUL MANAFORT, DONALD TRUMP CONVENTION MANAGER: The reality is this convention process will be over with probably June 7th. It will be apparent to the world is over the 1237 number. There's Pennsylvania, there's New Jersey, there's Maryland, there's Connecticut. These are his wheelhouse. And, yes, California is important but by the time we get to California the momentum will be clear, and Ted Cruz path to victory will be in shambles.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But Isn't there a concern that some of those bound delegates, whether Louisiana, Tennessee, that there are a bunch of states where there's still an open question who will get the delegate even if Trump won the majority or plurality in those states that Cruz has a better ground game. He's getting them away and maybe some of the Marco Rubio delegates could be stole en if you want to use that word. Every delegate is important because if you don't get to 1237 it is potentially not going to happen.

BERRY BENNETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & FORMER BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The key for us to get it to 1237 in earned delegates. Not unbound delegates. Not former Rubio delegates. Our earned delegates. And we will get that.

BLITZER: You need 60 percent of the remaining delegates in order to get there. How doable is that?

BENNETT: After New York it is 52.


BENNETT: We're coming home. We're cleaning up.

BLITZER: But if you get more than 50 percent, you get 18 delegates, but then each congressional district you have to get the majority. Have you gone through the congressional districts?

BENNETT: We are far more organized than Ted Cruz.

BLITZER: In New York state.


BLITZER: So you are confident you will get all 95? What about the week afterwards in Pennsylvania, in New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, a bunch of states coming up?

BENNETT: In Pennsylvania, we are 18 points ahead. They have a strange system where you elect individuals. So we have to run campaigns for Jane Doe. But anyway, yeah, we will do very well.

BLITZER: You are like Paul Manafort, and confident the number you will have by the time California in early June, that California contest is there, you will have it and you will go to the convention. What happens then? Will they show up at the convention? Ted Cruz, John Kasich, will they try to see if it will go to a second, third or fourth round, where the pledged delegates become unpledged?

BENNETT: Once you get from 1237, you go to 1500, everyone wants to be the winner. I think it takes the air out of it.

BLITZER: You are confident that this -- what happened in Wisconsin? Why didn't you do well there?

BENNETT: I never had delegates on my board in Wisconsin and neither did Paul, and we walked away with six. That is pretty good.

BLITZER: Who will do better in New York State? You think obviously Trump will win but will Kasich or Cruz do better in New York?


BLITZER: In other words, who's a bigger threat to Trump in New York?

BENNETT: I don't think we have any threats in New York. But Trump -- Cruz is flirting with a 20 percent threshold, where if you don't get 20 percent, you can't qualify for any delegates.

BLITZER: It is not 15. It is 20 percent in New York. And you think Kasich is going to do better in New York?

BENNETT: Kasich is hovering right at 20, give or take.

BLITZER: Going forward, Kasich will do well in Pennsylvania?

BENNETT: He should do better in Pennsylvania, but like in Maryland, he didn't file a full set of delegates. His lack of organization is catching up to him.

BLITZER: He's staying in the contest for the time being.


BLITZER: The Trump campaign wants him to drop out.

BENNETT: Yeah. I mean --

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: But you don't think his support would go to Cruz?

BENNETT: I don't think it goes 100 percent to anybody.

BLITZER: A lot of the Rubio support, a lot of Ben Carson support, went to Cruz.

BENNETT: We picked up a Marco Rubio delegate in West Virginia. We are doing fine with those folks.

And once you get close to the winner, of course, they all want to be with the winner.

BLITZER: What is the biggest issue, largest responsibility that Paul Manafort has right now? He was just brought in. He was involved in 1976, the last time there was a contested convention. What is his responsibility right now?

BENNETT: Delegates, the convention, Washington outreach, a lot of responsibilities.

BLITZER: How does that work with Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager?

BENNETT: The campaign is in New York. Paul will be here in Washington.

BLITZER: Paul will be based in Washington, working the so-called ground game with the delegates.


BLITZER: Barry Bennett, thank you very much for joining us.

BENNETT: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Appreciate it very much. We will stay on top of the story for our viewers.

Former President Bill Clinton tries to explain his angry exchange with Black Lives Matter protesters. The former president clashed with those demonstrators during a campaign stop in Philadelphia yesterday. He was strongly defending Hillary Clinton for using the term "super predator" some 20 years ago to describe some violent young people. Listen.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids popped up on crack and sent them in to the street to murder other African-American children. Maybe you thought they were good citizens. She didn't. She didn't. You are defending the people who killed the lives you say matter. Tell the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [13:35:07] BLITZER: President Clinton defended his record on crime when he was in office at a campaign stop. He expressed regret about his tone saying he almost, saying he almost wanted to apologize.


CLINTON: I like and believe in protest. I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't because I engaged in some when I was a kid. But I never thought I should drown anyone else out. I confess, maybe is a sign of old age, but it bothers me now when that happens.


BLITZER: President Clinton said he understands the protesters were trying to draw attention to their message. Interesting comments from him today.

Special programming note. Anderson Cooper will host a town hall with Donald Trump on Tuesday night, April 12th. That's next Tuesday. This coming Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. eastern. Don't want to miss that.

Also, next Thursday, I will moderate the next CNN Democratic debate in we'll be right back in Brooklyn. You'll see Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders. That's Thursday night, April 14th, 9:00 p.m. eastern. It is five days before the New York primary. All of that coming up right here on CNN.

Ahead, we are following breaking news of some big arrest connected to the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris. New details coming in.

Stick around. We'll be right back.


[13:40:48] BLITZER: Breaking news this hour. This man, Mohamed Abrini, is under arrest. He was picked up in Brussels near the neighborhood where another Paris suspect, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested. Mohamed Abrini is suspect in last year's deadly terror attacks in Paris. That happened in November. Belgian TV, by the way, suggesting that Abrini could be the infamous man in the dark hat and white coat spotted at the Brussels airport just before the bombings there. Same cell blamed for the Paris attacks is also believed to have carried out the Brussels attacks. Also, another man was picked up. He was sought by European security services for having an operational role in the Brussels attacks.

I want to bring in our CNN justice correspondent, Pamela Brown; and CNN terrorism analyst, Paul Cruickshank.

Paul, Osama Krayem, what do we know about him?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, we know that he is a Swedish radical, someone on the radar screen of terrorism. Someone who traveled to Syria, who posted pictures from Syria with an ISIS flag behind him. The last known posting in January of we are told by a French source close to the investigation, that it is the same as Osama Krayem. They have established this individual came through the Greek islands on September 20. Other attackers including the stadium attackers came through the island posing as refugees a while later. And then Osama Krayem traveled through Europe, through Austria and went up to a refugee center in Germany. From a hotel nearby, he was picked up on the 3rd of October by Salah Abdeslam, who of course was arrested last month, shortly before the Brussels attacks. This individual is believed to be operationally involved in the Brussels attacks. These are two significant arrests, not just Mohamed Abrini but also Osama Krayem. They were the two most wanted men in Europe. Belgian authorities have got them and big breakthrough for them. Warnings still, Wolf, others are connected to these individuals and to the Paris and Brussels cells at large. We understand that about a dozen individuals are believed to have played a logistical support role in these plots and are still believed to be loose on the streets of Europe, Wolf. They also have the identities of several others. They are searching in connection with the Paris and Brussels attacks.

BLITZER: Presumably, Pamela Brown, they had these three suspects now under their control. The two arrested today, Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested before the Brussels airport attack. If they are talking, they are going to get a lot of information.

But you are getting more information yourself. What are you learning?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: As far as talking goes, officials want to know if there are other imminent attacks in the works that Mohamed Abrini could have been had knowledge of or played a role in them like Salah Abdeslam. You will remember he was arrested and a few days later the attacks happened in the Brussels airport and metro. They believe he was connected and helping in the planning and perhaps going to take part in that. Officials are trying to establish whether Mohamed Abrini is the man we have been seeing in the surveillance video. There was speculation early on he was. Based on the fact he was connected with the Paris attacks. And then through the course of process of elimination, eliminating people they don't believe are part of the network, arresting others, in addition to intelligence gathering and looking at this network, some officials are believe he is the man in white. Others aren't sure. There isn't a consensus right now. That's up to the Belgians who are holding a press conference to announce.

[13:45:20] BLITZER: A new conference around 4:30 p.m. eastern.

Paul Cruickshank, what are you hearing about the possibility? I looked at the images. There seems to be a similarity but no confirmation that Mohamed Abrini is the guy with the luggage cart with the hat and why jacket.

CRUICKSHANK: That's correct, Wolf. No confirmation from Belgian authorities that this is one and the same guy, the man in the white hat on the CCTV footage. Mohamed Abrini, there's been a lot of speculation in the Belgian media that's the case, I think we will have to wait for the Belgian federal prosecutors to weigh in. They will be weighing in shortly on that. I'm sure they will be asked a question did the release of the CCTV footage lead to the crucial arrests of the two most wanted men in Europe right now the two men considered most dangerous, two men that could have launched further terrorist attacks in Europe. Was that a crucial step? If it was a crucial step, why wasn't it released earlier? Was there a good reason for it not to be released earlier? I think it is important at these times to not second guess too much what investigators are doing. Sometimes they can have legitimate reasons for deciding to delay the release of these tapes. I'm sure they will answer many of those questions quite soon -- Wolf?

BLITZER: I'm sure you are right.

Paul Cruickshank, thank you very much.

Pamela Brown, thanks to you as well.

Still ahead, Iraq's second-largest city facing a threat that could be -- get this -- could be even worse than ISIS. Arwa Damon is live in Iraq. She will have a report.



[13:50:57] GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN, COMMANDER, U.S. MILITARY CENTRAL COMMAND: If the dam fails, it will be catastrophic. There will be thousands of people downstream that will be either injured or killed, certainly displaced, and the damage could extend all the way down to close to Baghdad or in to Baghdad.


BLITZER: General Lloyd Austin, the commander of the U.S. military Central Command, issuing a dire warning about the Mosul dam, only a month ago. Since then, the situation has not improved. Fears for the dam's safety have grown as the fighting between ISIS and the Iraqi army intensifies.

CNN's Arwa Damon investigates how the structure is holding up right now with all the fighting around it.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It has been described by some as the most dangerous dam in the world. The Mosul dam, the largest in Iraq, which produces hydroelectricity, is built on a foundation of soft gypsum rock, making erosion a constant challenge.

We enter the underbelly of the dam to see how it is even still standing. Completed in the mid-1980s, what keeps it all intact is a process that needs to happen daily.

Workers are drilling bore holes. This one will go down 150 meters or around 500 feet.

(on camera): Drilling that particular distance takes about a week, and the machines go up and down along the length of the dam, breaking up and then re-pouring cement to ensure the stability of the dam's foundation.

(voice-over): It's a process called grouting. When ISIS briefly took over the dam in 2014, this was halted for 45 days. Intense around- the-clock routing reversed those weaknesses.

The U.S. recently issued a stark warning, describing the potential for collapse as, quote, "serious and unprecedented," a catastrophic event that would see Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and under ISIS control, entirely submerged, with flooding as far downstream as Baghdad. That warning said the lives of up to 1.5 million Iraqis would be at risk.

The dam's manager insists that disaster is not imminent.

RIYAD AL-NAEMI, MOSUL DAM MANAGER (through translation): If the dam were to collapse when the water level is above seawater, then, yes, Mosul would be flooded. But with current levels, there would be minimal damage.

DAMON: The seepage is one of the reasons why he says the U.S. is so concerned. But he claims his team has determined it is not impacting the dam's foundation.

Still, last year, the U.S. Installed an early warning system they monitor regularly and there is an urgent need for repairs.

(on camera): Millions of Iraqis are directly reliant on the Mosul dam in one way or another. But years of neglect by the Iraqi government due to politics, bureaucracy and corruption are already being felt.

(voice-over): Couple that with security concerns that for years kept international companies from taking up the job.

An Italian company has just been contracted to repair and refurbish the dam, but work is yet to begin. And in Iraq, where nothing is entirely predictable, it is always the best to plan for the worst.


BLITZER: And Arwa's joining us now live from Erbil in Iraq.

Arwa, how imminent is a threat of collapse? What are U.S. officials, others, saying?

DAMON: Well, here's the thing, Wolf, they don't really know, and that is what makes everything just so precarious. It could be a day, a week, a month, a year or even ten years. But the problem is, given all of these various dynamics that exist, all of these various possibilities for the foundation to actually give away, that is why the U.S. thought at this stage it was critical to issue a warning and awareness. Because if it does, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic for so many amongst the Iraqi population, not to mention the ongoing damage it would be doing to agricultural farmlands and cities in a country that really can hardly afford it, given everything else it is going through. Plus, it is absolutely imperative to try to get these repairs under

way, because the U.S. knows only too well that this is a country where things, at best, take so much longer than is anticipated, that they really do need to get these repairs done so they can at least eliminate the threat of the Mosul dam collapsing from all of the other threats that already face the Iraqi population including the threat of ISIS -- Wolf?

[13:55:50] BLITZER: What a disaster that would be.

All right, thanks very much, Arwa Damon, in Iraq for us.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back, 5:00 p.m. eastern, in "The Situation Room."

The news continues right after a short break.


[14:00:11] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.