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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Dennis Hastert Case Examined; More US Troops Headed to Syria to Fight ISIS; Further North Korean Provocation; Pakistani Man: "I'm On The U.S. "Kill List"; New Audio Released From Prince Plane Scare; Proposal To Make Purple Minnesota State Color; Tom Brady's Suspension Back On. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired April 25, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Speaking of which, former Congressman John Doolittle writes that Hastert in Congress -- quote -- "was often referred to as coach and was a member's member. He always made sure that Congress awarded members their annual cost of living adjustment."
OK. So we will put that in the list of Hastert accomplishments, along with this. Prosecutors say Hastert took then 14-year-old individual A to wrestling camp and insisted he stay in his room in a motel, where Hastert touched him -- quote -- "in an inappropriate sexual way."
Individual B told investigators that, as a high school freshman on the wrestling team, one day, he found himself alone in the locker room with Hastert, who told him to get on a table, where Hastert sexually assaulted him.
Wrote former Congressman and CIA Director Porter Goss, on Capitol Hill -- quote -- "Many viewed Hastert as Mr. Main Street America, a rock- solid guy with center-of-the-country values. Perhaps the speaker's greatest gift to the House was trust." Trust.
Speaking of trust, Steven Reinboldt, what died in 1995, he told his sister that Hastert abused him throughout high school. The sister -- quote -- "was stunned. She had always thought that Hastert was like a father figure to Reinboldt because she and her siblings had a difficult home life."
And yet one of the letters wrote -- quote -- "I would be amazed if you were to receive a bad word about Denny Hastert from any congressperson."
And based on these letters, that appears to be true. I suppose if one is going to commit sexual assault against children, if you get caught, it helps if you have been a member of Congress.
Another North Korea ballistic missile launch, this one from a submarine, why it may be the most frightening one yet -- that story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
When is a ground troop not a ground troop? The president on Saturday afternoon gave a pretty hard-and-fast no when asked about whether he would dispatch American troops to Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It would be a mistake for the United States or Great Britain or a combination of Western states to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Apparently, we were only supposed to pay attention to the very last part of that sentence, the one about overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Watch President Obama this morning announcing hundreds more American troops heading to Syria to fight ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have approved the deployment of up to 250 additional U.S. personnel in Syria, including special forces, to keep up this momentum.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Barbara Starr is live for us at the Pentagon.
Barbara, U.S. troops on the ground engaged in combat, but they're not combat troops and they're not boots on the ground?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what the Pentagon perhaps would like people to think, but the reality, of course, is this. There are a growing number of very combat-capable U.S. troops on the ground in both Syria and Iraq.
STARR (voice-over): To get to ISIS fighters like these seen in a recent propaganda video, President Obama is sending 250 additional U.S. troops into Syria, most, special operations forces. The president says the U.S. troops will not have a combat mission.
OBAMA: They're not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces that continue to drive ISIL back.
STARR: The additional 250 troops will join 50 already there, and it will be dangerous. Military medical personnel are also deploying.
BEN RHODES, U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Any special forces troops that we deploy into Iraq or Syria are going to be combat- equipped troops. They may be in circumstances where they find themselves in harm's way because these are dangerous places.
STARR: But the president has accepted the Pentagon's recommendation that it's worth the risk.
OBAMA: Their expertise has been critical, as local forces have driven ISIL out of key areas.
STARR: The goal now, Raqqa, ISIS' self-declared capital, the center of its so-called caliphate. The special operations forces will try to bring more Sunni Arab fighters into the mix who would be willing to help fight to get Raqqa back.
The U.S. will train Arabs and Kurds to spot targets for coalition airstrikes. It will also accompany them onto the battlefield to offer real-time advice, but not go all the way to the front lines. And they will be able to gather critical intelligence, something James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, welcomes.
JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: At any time you get ears and eyes on the ground, that's a good thing.
STARR: And in Iraq, another 200 U.S. troops, military advisers are also going in. They are going to help get the Iraqi troops ready to retake the city of Mosul there. Also, look for U.S. Apache gunship helicopters and Army long-range ground-based Howitzers to get involved in that fight -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
Continuing with our world lead today, they are considered by many to be the most critical weapon of retaliation in the absolute worst-case scenario of nuclear war, missiles launched from submarines, which is why North Korea's latest move might be the most alarming, especially to U.S. officials and especially to those who protect us on U.S. bases throughout the Pacific.
Over the weekend, the hermit kingdom launched another missile, but this time it was a ballistic missile from a sub, which requires much more technical sophistication and advancement.
I want to bring in CNN chief national correspondent Jim Sciutto.
How serious is this latest test by North Korea?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This has been a military priority for North Korea for some time.
It's been marked by a series of failures. But as one U.S. official told me this weekend, with this test, it's gone from a joke to something very serious. Why a joke? Let's look at these photos here.
In a previous attempt last year, it was a failure, and the way that U.S. officials knew that it was a failure is because they had to doctor the photos. They discovered that the photos were doctored. How did they know that? Because the flame plume coming out of the back of that sub-launched missile did not match its reflection in the water, so such a failure that they in effect had to create a fake photograph showing success there.
Subsequent tests, one of them nearly sunk a North Korean submarine, but this one, in the words of another U.S. defense official, was essentially successful, at least, in the view of U.S. intelligence, a step forward.
TAPPER: And explain, why is a missile launch from a sub more concerning than these other tests from North Korea that we have seen in recent weeks and months?
SCIUTTO: They are all concerning. This is more concerning for a couple of reasons.
One, by its nature, a sub-launched missile extends the range of the missile, so it could be short- or medium-range, but if you could float that submarine up to the U.S. coast or a port, it's clearly a much bigger threat.
But the other thing is that it's much more difficult to track. You can throw up all the missile defense you want to around North Korea from South Korea, and there's already Patriot missile systems there. They're talking about the so-called THAAD system, which is another high-altitude defense system, deploying that to South Korea in some time.
You could box that in. But if you can get a sub out from under that umbrella, in effect, it takes away the effect of those missile defenses.
TAPPER: What is the U.S. most concerned about with this test? Is it that a North Korean submarine will approach American shores or is it that it's just more that we don't know about in terms of their capabilities?
SCIUTTO: I think it's a combination. And it doesn't even have to get to the American shores, because that sub could travel a lot shorter distance and still get in range, for instance, of Japan, South Korea, as well as U.S. bases in Asia.
There are a lot of potential targets there that worry U.S. officials.
TAPPER: Very concerning.
Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
Marked for death? CNN speaks to a man who says he is on the U.S. kill list and he survived four drone strikes.
Plus, investigators trying to close in on Prince's cause of death, including a closer look at events that happened just days before.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Staying with our World Lead, the president's weapon of choice to, as the military says, prosecute terrorists is the drone. Prosecute is, of course, the administration's legalese for kill and drones do kill quite often in places such as Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Pakistan.
The identities of the people on the so-called kill list, a dossier of high-valued targets marked for death are classified. You can guess a few who are probably on the list like ISIS leader, Abu Baker Al- Baghdadi.
But one man is certain the U.S. wants to end his life with the hell fire missile and that they have tried and failed to do it four times.
CNN senior international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, spoke with this man and she joins us from London.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, Malik Jalal is a member of the North Waziristan Peace Committee, which acts as an (inaudible) between the Taliban and the Pakistani government, but he is adamant that he is no terrorist.
WARD (voice-over): Pakistani tribal elder, Malik Jalal, is convinced he is on the U.S.' kill list. Jalal is from the dangerous Waziristan region along the Afghan border, a one-time Taliban stronghold that has borne the brunt of the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan.
MALIK JALAL, ANTI-DRONE CAMPAIGNER (through translator): Since 2010, there have been four drone attacks that occurred very close to me. In one of the attacks, the glass window in the back of my car was broken. In another attack, my car was completely destroyed.
WARD (on camera): Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that you're on a kill list?
JALAL (through translator): I haven't seen the list with my own eyes, but Afghans who work as translators with the CIA have told me that I'm on it.
WARD (on camera): He told us that friends and family have been killed in strikes he believes were targeting him. He resorted to sleeping outside, away from his children, in case of another strike.
He even moved to a different city. And eventually he decided to come to the U.K., to ask the government here to help him clear his name and to raise awareness about the impact of drones on his community.
JALAL (through translator): I have come to the U.K. because the U.K. is close to America. Whenever America attacks anyone, the U.K. supports them.
WARD (on camera): A lot of people watching this will say if you are on a kill list, there must be a reason for it. How do you respond to that?
JALAL (through translator): I would say that an elderly mother was attacked by drones. What sin did she commit? A 120 to 130 children were killed. What wrong did these children do? The only sin of these people was that we wear turbans and in the eye of America, they see us all as Taliban.
WARD (voice-over): Under President Obama, the use of drones has increased exponentially, particularly in Pakistan. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, at least 250 civilians have been killed since 2009, prompting a wave of protests across the country.
Jalal says he is not a terrorist and he does not support the Taliban. He believes the only solution is to stop the drone strikes and start negotiations, with the hope that eventually he can go back home.
JALAL (through translator): Even in my dreams I see my house. I love my family and the people of the village and this love is always there, 24 hours in my heart. But the Americans have forced me to leave.
[16:50:05]WARD: The rate of drone strikes has gone down dramatically in Pakistan with just two recorded this year. CNN did reach out to the CIA, which runs drone operations inside Pakistan, to ask about Mr. Jalal's case.
We were told simply that the CIA does not comment on such matters. British authorities told us the same. But Jake, it seems unlikely that Mr. Jalal is on this list of targeted terrorists if he was able to get a visa to travel here to the U.K. -- Jake.
TAPPER: Interesting. Clarissa Ward in London, thank you so much.
The Obama administration said last month that it will release a public accounting of deaths due to U.S. drone strikes in the coming weeks. We have yet to see that report.
For the first time we're hearing from the pilot that was flying Prince's private plane, the one that made the emergency landing less than a week before his death. His call for help as they suddenly changed course. That story next.
TAPPER: We're back with today's Money Lead. Prince once again topping the charts as fans look to replay some of his greatest moments. Sales of two Prince albums spiked, hitting the top of Billboard's 200 list the very best o4 prince was number one. The "Purple Rain" soundtrack was number two.
Fans bought nearly 600,000 copies of those titles online and in stores according to Nielsen Music. Prince songs are the most popular online with more than 2 million downloads since his death last Thursday.
AMC Theaters have yet to release their figures after releasing "Purple Rain" the movie this weekend for some limited showings. The movie made nearly $70 million back when it was first released in 1984.
Prince was a meticulous businessman, but it is unclear if he had a will. Much of his music catalog remains unheard, locked up at his Paisley Park estate near Minneapolis.
A spokesman for Prince would not say who gets control of his mega complex and the priceless musical treasures inside. Meanwhile, we are learning some new details about the days leading up to the singer's death.
CNN's Ryan Young joins me now live from Paisley Park. Ryan, investigators have been looking into the emergency landing that Prince's plane made just a few days before his death.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, this has been a big conversation. Everybody is trying to put that timeline together to see exactly what happened to the superstar. We know six days before his death he did a show in Atlanta and then he was on a private flight back to here, to Minnesota.
Then all of a sudden he had to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois. You can hear part of this recording for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DISPATCHER: What's the nature of the emergency?
CALLER: An unresponsive passenger.
DISPATCHER: Was it a male or female passenger?
CALLER: It was a male passenger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Now, there's been a lot of talk about flu-like symptoms so people have been trying to figure out exactly what happened to the superstar after they landed. We talked to someone who said they saw him Saturday and after this emergency he walked into a music store and then talked about a party.
People came here Saturday night and they saw the superstar and he talked about the Atlanta show, talked about more recordings that were coming out. And then he told everybody don't worry about me, save your prayers.
Don't belie everything you're reading so it seemed like he's OK. Everyone they talked to said they never thought this was going to happen.
TAPPER: Ryan, we know that families and close friends held a private ceremony over the weekend. What do you know of any plans to hold a public celebration?
YOUNG: You know, this has been the big conversation throughout this area, because obviously people want to see this place turned into a Graceland type memorial. Thousands of people have been showing up over the weekend.
The one thing they kept asking us is do you think there will be a musical tribute. We were told there would be one, but we are not sure. We're sure it would take massive planning, but people are looking forward to it.
As you see behind me, people are still gathering here. They opened the road back up, but it hasn't stopped people from flowing in coming by to pay their respects to a man they loved so much because there is so much conversation about what he meant to this area.
TAPPER: Ryan, I hear there's a state senator who has an idea for a more lasting tribute to Prince?
YOUNG: Yes, they're talking about turning the state color purple. Obviously you have the Minnesota Vikings at play in this area and they wear purple as well. But everyone who's walked out here, you see the purple.
It's a stream of people wherever you go. When you go out to eat, everyone is wearing purple so they have really embraced this color. As you see the color around the world, they want this to remain a thing about Minnesota.
TAPPER: All right, Ryan Young, thank you so much.
The Sports Lead now. It could be the first time in a very long time that we start an NFL season without Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the NFL, reinstating Brady's original four-game suspension imposed by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
This, of course, over the deflategate allegations made a couple of seasons ago against the New England Patriots. That year would become another Super Bowl winning season for the Pats, of course. Brady played in all 16 regular season games last year after a federal judge wiped out that original suspension.
Be sure to tune into CNN tomorrow for our special coverage of the so- called Amtrak or Acela primaries. Voters in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware all heading to the polls. Coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. Eastern right here on THE LEAD.
That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over now to my friend and colleague, the one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, who is right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I can see him right now. Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, splitting the difference, Donald Trump's rivals teaming up in a new effort to --