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S. Korea: North Korean Missile Tests Failed; U.S. Military Members to be Disciplined for Attack; Russian Aggression, Risky Flyovers Raise Fears; Source: Pain Medication Found On Prince After Death; Senator Rubio Warns It's Time To Freak Out About Zika Virus. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 28, 2016 - 16:30   ET



[16:33:16] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Turning to our world lead now: North Korea firing two midrange missiles in the last 24 hours, causing great concern in the U.S. and South Korea, and rattling the world. According to the Pentagon, both attempts failed but the launches mark the fourth military test by Kim Jong-un's regime in just the last two weeks.

Let's get right to CNN's Will Ripley live for us in Tokyo.

Will, what do we know at this point about this most recent firing?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the pace of these missile launches appears to be accelerating as Kim Jong- un orders more and more and on Thursday alone, one missile launch in the morning, one in the afternoon, both from the same naval base on the eastern side of the Korean peninsula.

Now, both of these launch attempts were failures, according to South Korea and the U.S. They only travel about 200 meters. If you're a runner, that's about halfway around the track. These Musudan missiles are designed to go around 2,100 miles if the technology worked correctly. They could strike, for example, the U.S. base in Guam or U.S. military installations here in Japan. Obviously, nowhere to close to that just yet.

Over the weekend, one partial success, North Korea did launch a missile from a submarine that travel about 18 miles, still about a tenth of the distance that it needed to go to be considered a full success and on April 15th, two weeks ago when I was in Pyongyang, there was yet another failed attempt to launch a midrange missile. So, in the last month, four attempts, three failures, one partial success.

TAPPER: And, Will, this is North Korea's third launch failure in just the last two weeks. Does the regime consider all these failures to be embarrassing?

RIPLEY: Well, keep in mind -- they control the message to their own people. So, for example, when I was in the country during the first failed missile launch on the 15th, it was never even acknowledged.

[16:35:02] It was never announced. So, North Koreans have no idea that this is happening unless there is a success.

For example, over the weekend, state media released all of those dramatic pictures. There was a triumphant announcement. So, at least within the country, the embarrassment isn't a factor.

And keep in mind, that every test is a success for North Korean scientists in the sense that they learn new information about the missile's motors, electrical systems, the payload because North Korea claims they've miniaturized nuclear warheads, which is what these missiles are intended to carry, also the launch platform. So, they gain useful intelligence even when there's a failure.

TAPPER: And, Will, satellite pictures have been coming in of the North Korean replica of the Blue House. That's the presidential residence in South Korea like our White House. What could the purpose of that being, building that building?

RIPLEY: Well, they were firing long-range artillery at the Blue House which is a very clear political message to South Korea and the United States which has more than 28,000 troops in that country. But all of this -- and if you look at what's been happening this nuclear test in January, the satellite launch in February, these repeated missile launch attempts, this mock-up and mock attack on the South Korean blue house is leading up to something and we're now just one week away from perhaps the most political gathering in Pyongyang in 35 years.

The Workers Party Congress haven't had one since 1980, Kim Jong-un is expected to consolidate his power. He's trying to project strength ahead of this and because we've seen these repeated missile launch failures in South Korea, there is growing concern that this could increase the likelihood of a fifth nuclear test possibly within the next week ahead of this major political gathering.

These nuclear tests, of course, have the potential to affect global markets and they also, Jake, are a sort of advertisement for those who might purchase this kind of technology from North Korea, which is heavily sanctioned, and looking for cash to sell to anybody, including perhaps a terrorist organization or another rogue state.

TAPPER: Will Ripley, live for us in Tokyo -- Will, thank you so much.

From North Korea, we turn to Afghanistan now. CNN has learned that several members of the U.S. military will be disciplined tomorrow for their role in the October air strike that hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. More than 40 people, including three children were killed.

Let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr. She's live at the Pentagon.

Barbara, the Pentagon has said this was an accident, but Afghans suspect otherwise?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is why the group that runs the hospital, Doctors Without Borders, continue since it happened in October, to ask for an independent investigation. The Pentagon has never agreed to that.

What we will hear tomorrow morning here at the Pentagon is 16 members of the U.S. military facing discipline. They are not going to face, we are told, criminal charges but things like letters of reprimand, career-ending action, if you will. We are also led to believe that a top special operations commander involved in the attack will also face discipline. Actually, several of them have already been removed from the job.

The attack in October was absolutely horrifying. Forty-two civilians killed and the initial investigation showed the military was clearly at fault. A hospital is on a no-strike list at all times. Apparently, the crews involved, the people involved thought they were striking an insurgent site but there was human error, technical error, there were procedural errors, all of that leading the military to strike the hospital in an assault, an air assault that lasted nearly half an hour.

Perhaps one of the most horrifying details about this, the military had been told very clearly where the hospital was and even during the air assault, there were phone calls made by personnel on the ground to the military saying, "We are here, we are civilians, this is a hospital. Back off." That never happened.

All of these errors, not criminal charges the Pentagon says because there was no criminal intent but horrifying, horrifying series of mistakes -- Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon, thank you so much.

Turning now to Syria, and another hospital horror. At least 50 were killed in another air strike on a hospital, including three children and six hospital staff, according to Doctors Without Borders. One of the staff members was one of the last pediatricians left in the city of Aleppo.

The hospital, which is in a rebel-held neighborhood, was hit by a missile from a fighter jet on Wednesday, witnesses say. It's not clear which side the jet was bombing. Today, the U.N. special envoy to Syria warned that the cease-fire, quote, "hangs by a thread." Human rights groups say at least 148 civilians have been killed in Aleppo alone in just the past six days.

Russian jets buzzing ships, Red October rising, why Vladimir Putin's actions have many asking, has the Cold War 2 already started?

Plus, pain meds and medical emergencies, the cloud of mysteries surrounding the final days of Prince's life, slowly rising today.


[16:44:19] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Continuing in our world lead: when you think of the Cold War, you might think of Kennedy and Khrushchev, you might think of Reagan and Gorbachev, you might think of Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago. But nearly a generation after the collapse of the USSR, recent Russian aggression suggests that Washington and Moscow could be in the midst of another slow, simmering standoff.

Let's bring in CNN's Jim Sciutto.

Jim, how concerned are U.S. officials that we're, in fact, in the midst of another Cold War?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: President Obama and other U.S. officials resist saying we're back to a real Cold War. And no one is really talking about being back in danger of nuclear conflict. But there is alarm at the increasing belligerence from Russia.

I spoke recently to the head of U.S. naval forces in Europe. He said that Russian submarine activity is back to Cold War levels.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: -- at the increasing belligerence from Russia. I spoke recently to the head of U.S. naval forces in Europe. He said that Russian submarine activity is back to cold war levels. From Ukraine to Syria to the North Pole, the U.S. and Russia and the west back on opposite sides.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): For the U.S. and Russia, the '80s were defined by the on-inspiring fall of the Berlin wall. Signaling the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union and cold war with the west.

And now just one generation later, the U.S. and Russia are on a potential collision course once again. Punctuated by the provocative fly-bys of U.S. ships and aircraft by Russian warplanes. Even Russia's prime minister publicly warning of a new cold war.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER: One could go as far as to say that we have slipped back to a new cold war.

SCIUTTO: The U.S. and Russia are facing off in conflicts from Europe to the Middle East. Russia's annexation of Krimea and covert war in Eastern Ukraine continue unabated in direct defiance of the U.S. and its European allies.

In Syria, Russia's military intervention in support of Bashar Al-Assad puts the former cold war powers on opposite sides of a bloody five- year civil war.

Militarily, the two powers may no longer be on the brink of nuclear war. But Russia is expanding its military, including sending highly advanced new submarines in greater numbers and in greater proximity to the U.S. and its allies then at any time since, yes, the cold war. ADMIRAL MARK FERGUSON, COMMANDER, U.S. NAVAL FORCES EUROPE: They are very clear that NATO is viewed as an existential threat to Russia and our military capability, they view in a very visceral way as a threat to Russia.

SCIUTTO: President Obama has tried to tamp down talk of a new cold war citing Russian cooperation on issues like the Iran nuclear deal.


SCIUTTO: Still, senior U.S. officials increasingly warn of very real dangers from Moscow.

ASHTON CARTER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The possibility of Russian aggression in Europe, which I'm sorry to say, has become, again, something that we need to be concerned about that we weren't for a while and I regret it but I -- it is what it is.

SCIUTTO: Historians at a minimum see a volatile mix.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: In Vladimir Putin, you have a classic KGB old-style Soviet authoritarian leader and so Putin is dangerous in the sense that instead of being a figure of progress for the 21st century, he wants to go backwards in time.

SCIUTTO: The berlin wall may be a thing of history but today new walls going up between two former cold war adversaries.


SCIUTTO: The question of U.S. and Russia making it to the presidential campaign, we heard Donald Trump yesterday saying that he would reach out to President Putin and that he might, Jake, be able to deal with them in a different way than others.

Of course, it's also happening from the other side. You've heard President Putin expressed something of an affinity for Donald Trump as well. It would be an interesting combination on the world stage for sure.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Indeed. Jim Sciutto, thank you so much. In tonight's episode of "The Eighties," focuses on the fall of the cold war era and the collapse of communism. Don't miss CNN's original series "The Eighties" tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

New clues into the death of a music legend Prince. A source saying that authorities found prescription pain medications on him and in his house and the source says Prince was treated for an overdose just days before he died. Is this linked to why he died?



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's turn to the Pop Culture Lead now. A court ruling today will make it harder for the public to learn new information about the death of legendary singer, Prince.

A judge ordered that the search warrant for his Paisley Park estate to not be made public. Neither will the details of any evidence taken from that search.

This ruling comes after a law enforcement source told CNN that Prince had pain medication on him and in his home at the time of his death.

CNN's Stephanie Elam joins me now live from Paisley Park, Minnesota. Stephanie, that pain medication, as I understand, is also suspected to have played a role in that health scare that required an emergency landing for Prince's plane just days before he died.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Jake. You're talking about a powerful opioid painkiller and that's the reason why now federal agents from the DEA are now involved in this investigation.


ELAM (voice-over): Investigators tell CNN that music legend Prince had opioids on his person and in his home in Minnesota at the time of his death. The medication, most often prescribed to treat pain, is now the focus of his death investigation.

Officials are trying to determine how Prince obtained the drugs and are asking the DEA for assistance. Former DEA agent, Michael Levine says the request by local police to involve the DEA is telling and that indictments may soon follow.

MICHAEL LEVINE, FORMER DEA AGENT: If I knew that you were drug dependent and I knew that you were in bad physical condition, that's not even necessary, but if I gave you the pills anyway and you subsequently died, well, that's reckless indifference and reckless indifference to your safety and your life is homicide.

ELAM: Days before his death after his last concert in Atlanta, Prince's private jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois.


ELAM: Prince was transported to the nearby hospital and released hours after arriving. His publicist saying he was being treated for flu-like symptoms.

[16:55:04]However, officials say that the medical emergency was likely the result of a potential overdose of pain medication.

Six days later, Prince was found unresponsive laying in an elevator at his Paisley Park home. Officials from the Carver County Sheriff were quick to clarify that Narcan, a drug that reverses the effect of painkillers was never administered during the medical response at Paisley Park. SHERIFF JIM OLSON, CARVER COUNTY, MINNESOTA: All of our officers carry Narcan. We've been carrying that for approximately two years and that was not used at all yesterday. CPR was initially started but was unsuccessful. He was pronounced deceased at 10:07.

ELAM: The 57-year-old icon was declared dead at the scene. It will take weeks before toxicology results and the complete autopsy results are released.

Meanwhile, a Carver County judge has appointed a special administrator to oversee Prince's estate. Prince's sister, Tyka, his only full blood living relative says she doesn't know if the singer left a will.

A corporate trust will now have temporary control of the late musician's fortune estimated to be $300 million.


ELAM: And up next, will be on Monday, a probate hearing to begin the long drawn-out process in absence of a will or a trust, Jake, to figure out what will happen with all of the assets that Prince had before he died.

TAPPER: All right. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much. Let's bring in CNN chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, to talk more about this.

Sanjay, obviously, opioid abuse is a big issue around the country, but for those people not well versed on it. What is an opioid and how long is a typical prescription?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, opioid basically means a substance that comes from opium, illegal substances, things like heroin but also prescription drugs, painkillers, typically, morphine, OxyContin and oxycodone, a lot of medications that people have heard of.

The second part of your question, how long should a person typically take this? It shouldn't be weeks and months that these medications are prescribed for. It should be days, typically, so after a procedure, for example, that you may have had surgery or something like that.

Typically you give it for a few days to get people through that is an acute period. The problem is, Jake, people take them for too long. We take 80 percent of the world's pain pills in the United States. So we take way too much of it.

TAPPER: So these are prescription drugs. They are not over-the- counter. Could Prince have gotten a prescription without a doctor?

GUPTA: Not in any kind of a standard way. There are people who run these pill mills so there is still a doctor involved, but there is really no contact with the patient. It's illegal, really, to do that.

You could get it in all sorts of illicit ways, in other person's prescription, for example or to go doctor shopping. And that's what the DEA is going to be investigating, who gave these medications, were they actually prescribed for Prince himself and, if not, how did he get it exactly?

TAPPER: While I have you, Sanjay, you and I have both been covering the Zika crisis in South America and Puerto Rico for quite some time.

I want to play some sound from Senator Marco Rubio on the Senate floor this afternoon as lawmakers were debating finally fulfilling the Obama administration's request for almost $2 billion to fight the Zika virus and prevent an outbreak here in the United States. Listen to what the senator said.


SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: They are freaked out about the Zika thing. I don't know what other terms to use. I'm very concerned about it as well and that's why I do support fully and immediately funding this situation and I've asked our colleagues to do so as quickly as possible.

I hope that there is real urgency about dealing with this. I understand this is not a political issue. There is no such thing as a Republican position on Zika or Democrat position on Zika because these mosquitos bite everyone.

And they are not going to ask what your party registration is or who you plan to vote for in November. This is a real threat.


TAPPER: Senator Rubio is basically saying it's time to freak out about Zika, does he make a point?

GUPTA: Well, here is what I would say, Jake, and as you point out, we both have been reporting on this for some time. The concern about Zika has grown. It hasn't diminished.

I think as we learn more about the potential birth defects that are associated with Zika, they are greater in number, not fewer in number.

It's still -- the vast majority of concern is still for women who are pregnant. The vast majority of people who get bit by a mosquito, who gives Zika virus are not going to have much in the way of symptoms.

The vast majority, 80 percent of people won't even know that they've had this infection. But I think Senator Rubio makes a point in that, look, if Ebola taught us anything, once we start to see local transmission of Zika in the United States, and it will happen.

I think we are pretty confident of that. I think people will become really concerned. They may not be concerned until then and then all of a sudden the concern goes way up.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. Be sure to tune in to THE LEAD tomorrow. We'll have an exclusive sit-down interview with Hillary Clinton. Her first and only interview since her dominating performance Tuesday night. You can see it right here on CNN at 4 p.m. Eastern, tomorrow.

That's it for THE LEAD.