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Earthquake Hits Ecuador; Bad Weather Hampers Search Efforts In Japan; U.S.-Russia Tensions Up After Baltic Sea Incidents; North Korean Official Reacts To Donald Trump's Nuclear Idea, Social Media Influencing Election; "SNL" Spoofs CNN's Democratic Debate In New York. Aired 6:30-7a

Aired April 17, 2016 - 06:30   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: My goodness. Can you imagine being in that mess? As a powerful earthquake hits Ecuador's central coast this morning. That's how strong it was in the video there.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: At least 77 people are dead. Nearly 600 injured as this quake toppled buildings. You'll see some of the pictures and the video in a moment. A desperate search and rescue effort happening right now to dig people out from under the rubble that's been left behind.

Let's go to Japan now, where they're still feeling aftershocks after two major quakes that hit that country during the last few days. At least 41 people are dead there. Bad weather, we know, is hampering search and rescue efforts and thousands of people are taking refuge in shelters after Japan Meteorological Agency warned of more building collapses.

PAUL: Well, new this morning, another close encounter between Russia and the U.S. military in the Baltic Sea.

This time a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane was barrel rolled by a Russian jet in true some say "Top Gun" style so to speak. Russia's defense ministry is down playing the incident. We are hearing from them now this morning.

Here's what they say, "Western Media reports about SU-027 flying dangerously close to American RC-135 near (ph) in (ph) skies in Baltic seas are not consistent with reality." All of this comes after a Russian jet flew within a few feet of a U.S. military ship in the same region earlier this week. And here's a video of that incident.

Now CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is with us as well as CNN military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Thank you, gentlemen, both for being with us.

Matthew, I want to start with you. You are in Moscow and I want to ask you they say -- Russia's response is this is not consistent with reality. What does that mean?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a response to the media reports and the Pentagon statement, of course, we've been reporting quite a lot, that this Russian SU-27 fighter jet did a barrel roll in very close proximity to that U.S. reconnaissance plane, coming within 50 feet of it as it flew in international waters.

What the Russians are saying is that, look, you know, we simply identified an aircraft flying at very high speeds toward the Russian border. We sent out an interceptor plane to identify it. When we did that, the plane then turned back.

So, they're not acknowledging that there was any kind of dangerous maneuver that took place on the part of the Russian pilot. But of course, they're saying that this was -- this took place in international air space. What they always say and they've said it again now is that, look, you know, our planes do not violate international law in neutral air space. They've made that statement again today.

PAUL: All right. General, I want to ask you, are these incidents -- well, what do they mean from Russia? I mean, especially since we know that Russia and the U.S. had signed this agreement, the incident at sea back in 1972, to prevent this kind of thing. Is Russia now saying we don't agree with that anymore?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they're certainly violating it, as we saw from the film taken off the USS David Cook the other day, Christi.

And what I'd say is that there's a couple of issues that point here. First of all, Russia has been conducting this show of force at an ever-increasing rate over the last several years. Defense and the European financial network has reported they did over 400 of them in 2014. It was close to 500 in 2015. And this year, alone, they have really upped the ante in terms of the numbers they have been conducting. And most of them have been conducted recently and the last several years in the areas of the Baltic Sea.

They are very upset with the increased presence of a coalition, NATO and U.S. forces in the Baltics. And see their area of Kaliningrad which is a small oblast between Lithuania and Poland as a critical Russian court.


They are claiming that it's not international waters but they certainly see that as an area of interest. As regard to the Incidents at Sea agreement in 1972, that was put in specifically because there was an incident just like this where a Russian fighter conducted a show of force over U.S. aircraft carrier and then accidently sucked in water and crashed and the pilot died. It wasn't until 2008 that Russia actually released the film of this incident and released any obligation to it.

So almost 30 years between this event and when they released it. This is exactly the kind of thing they're doing. The Incidents at Sea agreement prevents these kind of attacks, or buzzing, or show of force and tries to keep forces away from each other. There are several points of that Incidents at Sea agreement to say let's not do these things to keep safe.

PAUL: So Matthew, you just read that statement from the defense ministry in Russia. What sense are you getting from them that these encounters are actually going to halt?

CHANCE: I don't think we're getting any sense that they're going to halt. I mean, quite the opposite, in fact. I mean, this is all about Russia marking what it sees as its territory.

Yes, it's international waters, international air space. But the Baltics, the Russian seas, whether you agree with it or not, they see as its own backyard. And they're trying to send a message, look, you can come on your patrols in this air space and in these waters but you're going to be met with this bristling response. So it's a reminder to NATO, a reminder to the west, a reminder to the United States in this case that they're not going to be able to operate in this area anymore without the Russians taking note. And, obviously, they're doing that in sometimes very aggressive way.

PAUL: General Hertling and Matthew Chance, thank you both so much. We appreciate it.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: And this morning CNN is inside North Korea with reaction from officials to Donald Trump's comments about potentially arming Japan and South Korea with nuclear weapons. That's an exclusive report. We'll have that for you.

Also, speaking of Donald Trump, is social media patterns compared to other candidates and how it may influence voters. You might be surprised by what our senior media correspondent Brian Stelter found. That's coming up.



BLACKWELL: More criticism of the foreign policy ideas of Donald Trump and this time they're coming from North Korea.

PAUL: It comes of course as Trump suggests that other countries in the region should arm themselves with nuclear weapons. Well, the North Korean leader says, that idea is absurd. Here's Will Ripley with a CNN exclusive for you.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Few North Korean officials understand American politics like Ri Jong Ryul, the long- time diplomat and former ambassador, is deputy director general of the Institute of International Studies. As Pyongyang think tank monitors global events and reports back to North Korean leadership.

RI JONG RYUL, DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL, INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES (via translator): We're not really interested in the U.S. election, he says. We don't care who becomes the next U.S. president, whether Republicans or Democrats take power it has nothing to do with us. U.S. politicians have always had a hostile policy against North Korea.

RIPLEY: Ri is one of the handful of North Koreans who can access the internet. State media doesn't cover details of the U.S. presidential campaign. The average person wouldn't even recognize any of the candidates.

In recent months each has spoken out against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Republican front-runner Donald Trump shocked American allies in Asia when he suggested Japan and South Korea could arm themselves with nuclear weapons.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody has them. So North Korea has nukes. Japan has a problem with that. I mean, they have a big problem with that. Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from North Korea.


TRUMP: Maybe they would be better off -- including with nukes, yes.


RIPLEY: What is North Korea's response?

RI (via translator): Donald Trump's remarks are totally absurd and illogical, he says. The U.S. tells us to give up our nuclear program. He's preparing a nuclear attack against us and on the other hand would tell its allies to have nuclear weapons? Isn't this a double standard?

RIPLEY: Pyongyang has not officially responded to Trump's remarks.

Last week North Korean propaganda attempted political satire adopting the voice of Abraham Lincoln scolding President Obama for U.S. nuclear policy. Even in a country known for bellicose rhetoric Ri believes Trump's ideology is dangerous.

RI (via translator): Trump's remarks give us a deeper look at America's hostile policy against my country, he says. Simply put, America's hostile acts against us are making the situation on the Korean peninsula worse.

RIPLEY: He warns a policy like trumps would only escalate North Korea's nuclear arms race.


PAUL: All right. Let's talk to Will Ripley about this.

So, Will, good to see you this morning. North Korea likely doesn't want any of their enemies to have nuclear arms. That's not anything that anybody would be surprised by. But do you think that they would criticize the idea regardless of who said it? And do you believe that they really are not watching this U.S. campaign and the way it's playing out?

RIPLEY: Well, the vast majority of people who live here in Pyongyang and certainly other parts of the country certainly aren't watching just because they can't. They don't have access to outside media in any form.

Government officials though themselves, while they claim that they don't care what happens with the U.S. election, of course the outcome of the election and policies of who's ever elected president affect them tremendously. Because the United States has really been one of the main forces pushing for these new heightened international sanctions that China says could really start to hurt some of the slow economic growth that this country has seen within the next six to 12 months. China saying things could start hurting quite a lot here in Pyongyang.

So, the North Koreans what they want is some sort of dialogue with the U.S. They tried to reach out. They proposed peace talks with Washington last year but Washington rejected the proposal because North Korea said they would not consider, under any scenario, even if a deal was reached, giving up their nuclear program, Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right. Will Ripley, thank you so much for the report.

BLACKWELL: Coming up on quarter to the top of the hour. And looking ahead to that next hour, the Supreme Court takes the case of President Obama's executive order on immigration.

Is his legacy on the issue in jeopardy?

And we'll show you why President Obama is teaming up with NBA star Steph Curry. You'll see that pretty (ph) fun (ph). Stay with us.



BLACKWELL: Social media is causing pretty major shift in campaign strategy and they'd be influencing how you vote.

Now we've seen GOP rivals get into some really nasty battles on Twitter and even emojis that can be an indicator of whether or not you're feeling the "Bern."

Let's turn now to CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" -- Brian Stelter, joining me now. And we know that when we think of social media and this campaign Trump comes to mind first but all the candidates are doing their best to utilize the platform.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And in some ways Bernie Sanders is almost as dominant on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram as Donald Trump is. (INAUDIBLE) Trump is perhaps the biggest innovator of this campaign for better or for worse with his use of social media. Some of the very negative messages on Twitter, his critiques, attacks against his opponents and against journalists are as most popular, as most viral messages on Twitter. (INAUDIBLE) interesting though, Victor, on Facebook, he is a kinder, friendlier candidate. He doesn't post those negative messages as often on Facebook as he does on Twitter. So he has learned may what platforms are best for each kind of message.

BLACKWELL: That's interesting.

STELTER: CNN has this new exhibit out here in D.C. at the Newseum -- I'm going to be broadcasting "RELIABLE SOURCES" from there this morning.

(INAUDIBLE) all these screens, all these different data showing different social media uses by the candidate. My favorite fact that I learned on one of these screens is that there are different emojis for different candidates. Of course, emojis -- those little symbols you can use in text messaging. It would seem like campaign slogans are so 2012 because now you can communicate the emojis about the candidates. And the most popular emoji for Bernie Sanders is the fire, is the fire emoji for the slogan "feel the Bern."


Then (ph) one (ph) of (ph) the (ph) other screens that showed the most popular emoji for Trump and it's a train. Why is it a train? Because of that slogan "get on board the Trump train."

I thought it was interesting that we're at the point now where you can communicate with slogans, or with pictures, or even with text message symbols.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it's the economy of characters on Twitter when you only have 140, you have to get it in one character.

STELTER: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about Donald Trump. Because it's the second Sunday in a row when he's not making the rounds on any of the Sunday talk shows.

Is he now a bit more cautious after, you know the problems that he had a couple of weeks ago?

STELTER: I think we are seeing a more cautious approach by the Trump campaign, which is really interesting because he appeared on Sunday shows pretty much every Sunday throughout this campaign.

I went back and looked throughout all the months. There were only a couple of Sundays that he decided not to appear on one of the big Sunday morning talk shows. Now this is the second week in a row. It's (ph) more (ph) sort (ph) of noticing what's not happening or what he's not doing which is doing the Sunday interviews circuit. Overall, he has been granting fewer interviews than he did earlier in the campaign. Maybe that's because he's trying to run out the clock before the New York primary. The poll show him dominating so well in the state of New York ahead of Tuesday's primary. Perhaps he thinks there's only down side to this point to giving big interviews.

We do know he's holding events. He's holding rallies, of course, including one later today on Staten Island. So he's getting a lot of media attention that way without having to give interviews.

You know, you played a clip in the last segment about him talking about North Korea and talking about nuclear weapons about various countries, that was in a Sunday interview two weeks ago. He may have regretted two of those comments and hasn't done Sunday TV shows now two weeks in row.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's the shift from the other part of the campaign when it was quite ease toy get Donald Trump on the phone or in person to speak to one of the correspondents.

Brian Stelter, looking forward to the show today.

STELTER: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you so much.

And be sure to watch Brian Stelter's show "RELIABLE SOURCES" later this morning at 11:00 am eastern here on CNN live from the Newseum.

PAUL: All right. We are following two powerful earthquake thousands of miles apart here. First, unbelievable images coming to us this morning of destruction in Ecuador. Bystanders rushing to rescue people from a crushed car. We have more of this for you and we'll give you the latest just ahead.

Also in Japan, as aftershocks are still hitting that area, residents return to the rubble of their homes. We'll talk you there live. Don't go anywhere.



PAUL: Well, "SNL" mocks another CNN debate slamming Democratic rivals for president and impersonating yet another one of our CNN contributors.

BLACKWELL: Errol Louis is up this time. Let's bring him back our political anchor for New York 1 and man of the hour. Errol, let's get right to your big moment here.


LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN: We now have some black issues and for that we turn to our black moderator, Errol Louis. KENAN THOMPSON, COMEDIAN: Oh, yes, candidates it's time for the black question so, you know, they asked me to do it and I'm going to do it real good.

Here we go. Secretary Clinton, in 1994 you supported a crime bill that has lead to the massive incarceration of many black people. Do you regret this decision?


KATE MCKINNON, COMEDIAN: I'm laughing to give myself time to think about how to answer this question.



BLACKWELL: All right, Errol. So, what did you think?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, at first, just to set the scene, you know, my wife and I had been at a dinner party, we came and just, kind of, you know, sent the babysitter home and were kind of unwinding and turned on the television and this came on. I thought it was fine. I'm mean, it's all in good fun. And it didn't make me look ridiculous and for that, I guess I would have to thank them.

PAUL: Do you have a moment though when you look up and you're thinking, wait a minute. They're talking about me.


LOUIS: You know, my wife and I noted they got the suit right, they sort of got the tie right. In fact, I took a picture, a snap from the clip that you just played and it's now my Twitter picture.

PAUL: Nice.

LOUIS: I'm using it as my I.D.

BLACKWELL: So "SNL" really aside from spoofing you with the black question, had an interesting take on Brooklyn brawl, as it's called, between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Watch this part.


DAVID: Secretary Clinton, we'll start with you. You recently stood by Governor Cuomo as he signed a $15 minimum wage into law. So, do you no longer think it should be $12?

MCKINNON: Wolf, I have said from the beginning that it should be a combination of 12 and/or 15.

DAVID: No. No, you didn't. You always said 12.

MCKINNON: And 15. I said 12 and/or 15. DAVID: No, that's not true.

MCKINNON: Yes, it is.

DAVID: No, no, it is not. No, no, no --

MCKINNON: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. Can you feel that Bern? Can you feel that Bern?


BLACKWELL: This is funny, slapstick. However, I mean, (INAUDIBLE) he reached back to the 2008 primary, the impact of the "SNL" spoofs and these sketches they are real when it comes time to vote.

LOUIS: Well, honestly, having been through, you know, many, many hours of preparation and the two-hour debate itself, that wasn't a bad summary, if you wanted to show an 8-year-old what was going on at that debate. Something close to that happened, really, even on that question.

The reality is here in New York, that minimum wage that they're talking about, we have like six different rates that are going to be in effect. Upstate is different from downstate, the suburbs, some sort of phase-in at a different time schedule.

So, you know -- and the nastiness. They really did sort of go at it. Just kind of having them slap at each other that way. It's not completely wrong. And that's what makes it funny.

PAUL: All right. Let's talk about one other big moment on "SNL" that a lot of people are talking about. Seinfeld reunion of sorts, Julia Louis-Dreyfus with Larry David, poking fun at Bernie Sanders. Take a look.


JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, COMEDIAN: So, listen, you've been pretty vague in the past. But how exactly how are you going to break up the big banks?

DAVID: You mean the big bank breakup?

DREYFUS: Yes, big bank breakup.

DAVID: You break them up.

DREYFUS: How? How?

DAVID: Once I'm elected president I'll have a nice schvitz in the White House gym, then I'll go to the big banks. I'll sit them down and yadda, yadda, yadda, they'll be broken up.

DREYFUS: What? No. No. You can't yadda, yadda at a debate. Also, you yadda yadda'ed over the best part.

DAVID: No. I mentioned the schvitz --


PAUL: Errol Louis?


BLACKWELL: Good to see them back together.