Return to Transcripts main page


Intel Sources: Bombs Could Evade Airport Security; Ivanka Trump & Kushner Worth Could Exceed $700M; Trump Agenda Overshadowed By Russia; New Images Released of Missing Student and Teacher; U.S. Details Heavy Ammunition Drop on Mosul; Buzzer-Beater Ends UConn's 111-Game Win Streak. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 1, 2017 - 07:00   ET


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Internet posters likewise couldn't resist moving things, like the president's head, replacing it with a cartoon called business cat and adding a sound track.


[07:00:12] MOOS: Funny, President Trump doesn't seem like the type to be a paper pusher.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ISIS and other terror groups have found a way to hide powerful explosives in electronic devices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To take down a commercial airliner has been the holy grail of any of these various plethora terrorist groups.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, they are going make it through with one of these bombs. That's my prediction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very mysterious to me, though, why all of a sudden, General Flynn is suddenly out there saying he wants immunity.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're not guilty of a crime what do you need immunity for, right?

MIKE FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When you're given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: It wasn't that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic Party lost the election.



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone. So glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Saturday to you.

PAUL: Yes, first here, U.S. intelligence agencies say terrorists have found ways to hide explosives in electronics that can evade commonly used airport screenings. They even have their own equipment to test whether they can bypass security.

BLACKWELL: Now, this intel played a significant role in the Trump administration's decision to prohibit travelers on these airlines. We see him here, out of 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East, and Africa from carrying large electronic devices on planes.

PAUL: All right. I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem, she's going to be with us here in a minute. Also, national security analyst and I should says, she worked for the homeland security under President Obama, and we have Phil Mudd with us, CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official.

So glad to have both of you here.

Phil, I'd like to start with you and talk about the reality of this risk because a lot of people sitting at home this morning I'm sure looking at this, heading into the summer travel season and wondering, how serious is the athlete truly? I mean, how quickly can they put this theory possibly into practice?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'd rate the threat pretty seriously. If you look how we evolved in the past 15 years. We started with taking shoes off, which we still have to do. You can't bring liquids on an aircraft. That was the most sophisticated plot I saw. In 2005, terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda tried to pour energy drinks to bring on them to aircraft. Now, we have ISIS and al Qaeda taking another step forward.

There is a silver lining here and that is airport security and perimeter security to our airports has pushed ISIS and al Qaeda to more and more sophisticated efforts to get stuff on aircraft because defensive measures in the United States and elsewhere have succeeded so well.

There's one wild card here that we got to watch as we go in the summer season and that's there's very few terrorists who are going to have the capability to alter a laptop to this kind of level, to get through airport security. And U.S. efforts, along with allies, to eliminate those bomb makers I think would go a long way to eliminate threat. It's not a man off the street terrorist who can take out the electronics in a laptop and build a bomb.

PAUL: OK. So, how lethal is the bomb? We're talking about a bomb in a battery -- that's hidden in the battery section and the fact that they still can turn these computers on for a short period of time to get them through security. With that said how effective might a bomb be? Could it bring down a plane? MUDD: It could depending on where you put it in the aircraft. For

example, there's the debate or discussion over the past day or two about why you don't prohibit bombs going into the belly of the aircraft, in other words, going into checked baggage.

There's two issues why you wouldn't. Number one, you would worry less about that. Number one, they are harder to trigger, you don't have somebody with a laptop. But number two, there's a placements issue. A terrorist can obviously control the placement of laptop when it goes into the belly of an aircraft.

But think of yourself walking in to an airplane and you got a seat next to the window. You're going to place that laptop next to the skin of the aircraft to maximize the prospect that explosive blows a hole in the aircraft. If you get two or three passengers as we saw with 9/11 plots with similar laptops at the same time placing them against the skin of the aircraft, you can see why we've got a problem.

PAUL: We understand that they got this equipment that is the same kind of equipment they use in airports. Does that tell you that there was an insider at the airport and that's how they were able to obtain the equipment?

MUDD: We've seen insiders recruited by ISIS and al Qaeda in the past. Actually, the thing I worry about more when I did this in the business at the CIA and FBI was insider self-recruiting, that is somebody in an airport after they go through airport security and get a job, nominate themselves, volunteering to join al Qaeda and ISIS and then saying we can get you behind airport security or in this case possibly give you this kind of equipment.

[07:05:15] What it tells me, those when they acquire this is not only their commitment to take down an aircraft but the fact that the clock is ticking with these bomb makers I mentioned earlier. Remember, we've had the under wear bomber using a highly sophisticated invisible piece of clothing under his pants, almost take down an aircraft. That was eight years ago.

The bomb maker involved in building that device is still around. He's this amount of time not only to try to build a laptop bomb, but as you're saying to acquire equipment to see if that thing can get around airport security. That bomb maker has got to go. Otherwise, one of these days, he's going to succeed.

PAUL: Phil Mudd, we always appreciate your expertise here.

MUDD: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: About six minutes after the hour now.

The finances of the president's closest aides, including his daughter, have just been revealed in the White House disclosure documents. We're now learning that Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner combined, their worth could exceed $700 million. The couple collected about $195 million in income. This is according to a new financial snapshot of about 180 of the men and women serving in the Donald Trump White House. Before administration counsel advised them to resign from various posts, divest certain holdings or recuse themselves from future decisions.

CNN politics producer Dan Merica is with us this morning.

Dan, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So let's start with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. I mean, they are not the only wealthy aides but we're learning a lot about their holdings, as well as the other aides here at the White House and there are a lot of millionaires around the president.

MERICA: Yes. The form somewhat, you know, confirmed what we already thought and knew about this White House is that there are a lot of wealthy people around Donald Trump. You'll remember, he campaigned against people who -- and Goldman Sachs and investment banks. But it's worth noting, a lot of those people have come to the White House, come to his administration, you have people like Gary Cohn. His top economic adviser made $75 million last near. Dina Powell (ph), who's a top National Security Council adviser made over $4 million last year, $3 million of which was in a cash bonus.

By far the most interesting is what Jared Kushner and by marriage Ivanka Trump, what they are worth and what they made. The $700 million is a huge figure. But if you dig down into those numbers, you see where that money came from and what must have been a very complicated process to divest himself from all of these holdings.

Now, the biggest concern with Trump administration has between the ability for aides and the president himself to benefit their businesses and then their bottom line through the presidency. You know, you've seen Donald Trump for the last eight weekends go to properties with his name on it. Go to golf courses, go to his hotels and now, obviously, he could -- he's the president, he can go where he wants, but by going to those properties, he's, you know, giving them publicity that many places would die for. And that in turn benefits his bottom line.

The questions about Kushner and now Ivanka Trump who has become an informal adviser or official adviser, a government employee, is will she be able to do that as well and how are her holdings tied to her husband's?

BLACKWELL: All right. Of course, we're going to dig deep near into this. Dan Merica, thanks so much for setting everything on the table.

And next, I'll bring in my panel to discuss this latest White House disclosure report as well as the drama unfolding on Capitol Hill. Where does the investigation of Russia and Trump association go from here?

PAUL: Also, President Trump facing a number of controversies. We talked to former presidential adviser David Axelrod about how the administration will move ahead with an ambitious agenda.

BLACKWELL: Also, authorities ramping up the hunt for that missing student and teacher in Tennessee after a new image was released. You see it here showing where they were. We'll tell when you these pictures were taken and the latest in the investigation.


[07:13:21] BLACKWELL: All right. From the White House revealing the wealth of its top aides to the Russian scandal hovering over the administration, there's a lot to talk about.

Let's bring in the panel here. Eugene Scott, CNN politics reporter, Amber Phillips, a political reporter for "The Washington Post", and Paris Dennard, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist.

Good morning to all.



BLACKWELL: Paris, let me start with you. And Dan Merica set the table just before the break about the financial disclosures. And we know that Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner brought in $195 million, their collective worth maybe above $700 million. She is still going to keep that stake in the Trump Hotel in D.C.

How is that anything but a conflict of interest working in the White House and still benefiting from that company and potentially, potentially foreign dignitaries maybe going there to try to curry favor with the administration?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the interesting thing about this entire disclosure that they're required to do over the 100-some-odd White House staffers is the fact that, at the end of the day, when you look at who the president has attracted, he's attracting people who are very successful in the private sector and bringing them into White House to work. And I think it's something we should celebrate and I think something to a lot of Americans including myself is very inspirational to see this type of people who are very successful in their private sector coming to government to try to help.

Now, as I want relates to Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, they are very successful people and they're quite financially well off. She does not have any type of wrongdoing here because you have to look at the White House counsel going in and determining that she needed to come in at a formal capacity at the White House and she's doing that.

[07:15:08] So, I believe everything that needs done to make sure that she's above board as it reflects her finances and as it relates to her work at the White House is going to be done with the help of the White House counsel and her own personal attorneys. BLACKWELL: But, Eugene, there are these watchdog groups who say that

because she still has the stake, and there were some revelations that happened with the president and Trump Hotel so that he would not continue to collect monies from that hotel while he's in office, but Ivanka Trump will.


BLACKWELL: The question of --


BLACKWELL: -- conflict of interest.

DENNARD: There's no conflict of interest.

BLACKWELL: That was for Eugene.


BLACKWELL: Go ahead, Eugene.

SCOTT: Yes, absolutely. I think there are people we've seen ethic czars that previously worked in the White House administration say that this is not only nepotism that the Kushners were hired but they were hired in a way that presents conflict of interest and there's concerns about whether or not they will actually be able to remain in a way that suggests that they were above reproach and show integrity.

One has also argue along from the ethics community that one of the reasons that the Kushners were so profitable last year is because they had such a high-profile on the campaign, drawing more attention to their businesses. But Trump administration and Ivanka specifically have said they have gone above the call of duty to try to separate themselves from their business interests in a way that wouldn't harm or disadvantage the American people.

BLACKWELL: Amber, let's turn to the Russia investigation, the ranking Democrat on House Intelligence, Adam Schiff, was at the White House, viewed some documents and released a statement afterwards saying this and I'm just going to read a portion of it. "It was represented to me that these are precisely the same materials that were provided to the chairman over a week ago. While I cannot discuss the content of the documents, if the White House had any concern or these materials they should have been shared with the full committee in the first place as part of our ordinary oversight responsibilities."

Let's take that first sentence first. Chairman Nunes has not disclosed what he's seen. So there's no way to know if they are looking at the same thing, is there?

PHILLIPS: No. We don't know what Chairman Nunes saw. We don't know who gave it to him. We don't know what's in it. All we know is to take him at his word that it proves that the president and his allies communication may have been intercepted kind of accidentally. And Nunes added that this doesn't deal with Russia. We're still trying to like -- I compare this to like looking at a

painting at an art gallery but there's a mirror over it and you can't really see -- make out what painting is or what the colors are. It's all just so confusing as to why we are still talking about this wiretapping and what this means for the president's allegations that President Obama wiretapped him during the campaign. We just don't know at this point, except for the fact that there is this head- scratching interaction between the top Republican investigating, potentially the Trump campaign on this and the White House itself.

BLACKWELL: Paris, let me come to you with that second statement from Schiff statement where he says, "If there was concern here, the White House should have gone through regular order."

Why the initial, if they are the same documents, the initial briefing for Nunes and then this belated briefing for the ranking Democrat? If these are the same documents and they have some concern here.

DENNARD: Yes. Look, there's a lot of things we don't know. We don't know if they are the same documents, we don't know exactly what Chairman Nunes had originally seen.

But I think what we have to be careful in our analysis of what's going on is to not assume the negative, not to assume there's a cover up, not to assume something nefarious going on. What we should assume is that the federal government -- our federal government is working to get to the bottom of these issues, that the White House is cooperating and people on the Hill, the Chairman Nunes especially, are doing what they are supposed to do to get to the bottom of these issues.

I think that's what we should focus our attention on is the fact is an investigation is gong to happen. He's seen information that he did not like or felt that somehow might have corroborated with what the president tweeted but about general surveillance by the Obama administration to the Trump campaign or the Trump transition.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the question, though, which has been for quite a while now is the source of that information, if the chairman of the committee went to the White House or the White House grounds to get that, the details of these documents, and then went to the press and went back to the White House the next day, why couldn't these employees go just to the Oval Office?

I want to play for you what we heard from Sean Spicer yesterday about -- this was in response to a question if what happened and exchange of information was appropriate.

[07:20:08] Here's what he said.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: To answer your question, yes, it's appropriate for a member of Congress to contact someone who has contacted him according to some of these reports. I don't know the answer to that, but if you're asking me it is appropriate for a member of Congress to come over here -- as Chairman Nunes has said himself, he wasn't hiding or roaming.

He was asked to come over by an individual. He came over which happens daily. He was asked to go somewhere. He went there. He's cleared.

Nothing that is inappropriate, and exactly the opposite. What he did, what he saw and who he met with was 100 percent proper.


BLACKWELL: So, if it's 100 percent proper what's the White House's justification for not answering the basic who, what, when, where. I get they are not answering the what or maybe the how but some of the basic questions of how this information was disseminated?

SCOTT: Well, it was really interesting to see the press secretary say that it was appropriate because he must know everything regarding what transpired. It's hard to determine whether or not it was actually appropriate because details are still coming out. So, to Paris' point, we're still trying to figure out information that we have to be slow to make assumptions about what happened exactly and so, I'm not quite sure how to determine whether or not it's -- the actions were appropriate or not.

I think what the White House intent is to remain -- to be consistent and communicate that they have operate in an honorable way that they believe was above reproach and showed integrity and was not compromising the investigation. Because the criticism has been that the White House actually wants to end the investigation and whether or not it will actually happen and carry out is what everyone is paying attention.

BLACKWELL: Amber, I want you to see this video. This was yesterday. The president, the vice president and two members of his cabinet there in the Oval Office. He was making some remarks about these two executive orders regarding trade he was going to make and then this happened.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, everybody. You're going to see some very, very strong results very, very quickly. Thank you very much.

REPORTER: Were you trying to tell the justice department to grant immunity to Michael Flynn? Were you trying to do that, Mr. President? Was that your intention, Mr. President, sir? Mr. President, was that your intention, Mr. President? Was that your intention, sir?



BLACKWELL: Amber, you see the president leaving the Oval Office without signing executive orders. The vice president taps him on the back and says you have to sign them. He says, "We'll do it in another room." They have to gather these documents and then run off.

I mean, the questions about Russia are chasing this president into another room out of the Oval Office there.

PHILLIPS: Literally. Listen, if you step back and look at everything Russia, since he's been inaugurated in January, every major development has been news of the Trump administration doesn't want. He didn't want Congress to even investigate Russia meddling in the U.S. election. He didn't think at first Russia did it.

Now, you hear that advisors of his inner circle like Jared Kushner are being asked to go Capitol Hill to testify. You hear the FBI is investigating collusion, potential collusion between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign. You hear his former national security adviser wants immunity to be able to talk to Congress, being immunity for what, we don't know.

But the bottom line is this Russia story is something that Trump administration cannot get out from under, cannot escape and I think it's because all this news has been the opposite of what they want, which is for this just to go away.

BLACKWELL: We'll be talking how the White House can get out from under this Russia story a little later in the show.

Amber Phillips, Paris Dennard, Eugene Scott, thank you all.

SCOTT: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

PAUL: We certainly will. Next, former Obama presidential adviser David Axelrod giving his advice for president Trump. How he says the administration has to operate in the middle of so many swirling controversies.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What's needed is discipline and focus. The investigation is a separate issue.


BLACKWELL: Charges filed after a massive fire -- look at this -- downed part of an Atlanta interstate and investigators are getting their first clues on what likely caused this.


[07:28:53] PAUL: It is so good to have your company on this Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

The clouds still over Trump administration. The travel ban snarled, the failed health care bill, and above all, the alleged Russia connection.

So, how can the president get back on message?

I asked a man who knows the West Wing well, CNN political commentator David Axelrod.


AXELROD: When you have a president who has never served a day in government and he surrounds himself with a staff of people who never served a day in government, and you have a president who really doesn't have a really well defined world view on a wide array of issues, you have a prescription for the problems that we've seen. There's a lot of incoherence. There's a lot of, frankly, just rookie mistakes. And so, what's needed is discipline and focus.

The investigation is a separate issue and how they've handled it is -- has created greater problems for them. But on the day-to-day functions of government, there are protocols that you need to follow and there are disciplines that are important, and they need to try and capture that.

[07:30:05] But it all, Victor, flows from the guy at the top. If he's undisciplined, if he sends a story cascading in a different direction with an impulsive tweet, very hard to get discipline and focus.

BLACKWELL: You're the former senior adviser to President Obama. How would you advise this president or does this president even want that type of advice?

AXELROD: Well, that's not clear. Obviously, as I said, everything flows from the top. If he doesn't want it, he's not going to get it.

He's pulled his daughter Ivanka in. He tends to rely on his family forced a vice more than anyone else. He doesn't have a cadre of trusted aides. President Obama brought in a group of people, many of whom he had a relationship with who also had deep roots in government at some level or another and that was very helpful. He doesn't have that.

But he needs to find some people who sort of know how the system works. Now understand he was elected to challenge the system. I mean that's the core of his message. But still you're here now, you're not a candidate, you're president of the United States. You have to get things done. You need a few people around you who know how to get things done.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the "Axe Files". Your first guest tonight on CNN, Senator John McCain, you were the chief strategist for the Obama campaign against Senator McCain.

Let's listen to a bit of that conversation and then talk on the other side.



AXELROD: It's now clear everyone seems to agree Russians did interfere in our election campaign.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: If you destroy democracy, the fundamental of democracy, there are certain fundamentals, rule of law, respect, et cetera, but one of them is freedom to elect legitimately leadership. That's fundamental principle and if you destroy that, then you've really destroyed democracy.

AXELROD: If someone, if an American citizen were complicit with the Russians in trying to interfere in our elections, would that in your view be tantamount to treason?

MCCAIN: I think you would have to gauge exactly the circumstances. It's one thing to have a conversation. It's another thing to plot together. I think it would be -- it would be something that that individual would have to be held accountable.


BLACKWELL: Senator McCain specifically on the topic of U.S.-Russia relations has been very critical of this administration. What have you learned about how he characterizes or sees his role as -- during the Trump years?

AXELROD: Well, it was really interesting, Victor, because it's clear that he has deep, deep reservations about Donald Trump. You remember Donald Trump was quite insulting to Senator McCain during the campaign, questioning his bona fides as a war hero, even though he served almost six years as prisoner of war.

But he's also careful not to be, you know, sort of too overt in that criticism except in some areas and the Russian area is one of them. He really took deep, deep umbrage at the president's comments to Bill O'Reilly creating some sort of relationship between how America behaves and how Vladimir Putin behaves. And interestingly when I asked him about the comparisons that some Trump supporters make between Donald Trump and Senator McCain's political hero and friend, Ronald Reagan, he was very quick to say, I don't see that at all. You would never see, essentially said you'd never see Ronald Reagan comparing our country to Vladimir Putin's Russia.

BLACKWELL: David Axelrod, thanks so much.

And the popular political podcast, "The Axe Files with David Axelrod" is coming to CNN. Be sure to catch its television premier, special conversation with Senator John McCain. CNN special tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

PAUL: All right. Still to come, we have some new images we want to share with you that were released showing that missing Tennessee student and her teacher. We'll give the latest on the manhunt.

BLACKWELL: Plus, the massive fire that destroyed part of an interstate in Atlanta and now, fire crews think they know how it started and who potentially is responsible. The latest in that investigation.


[07:36:40] PAUL: Well, mortgage rates dropped slightly this week. Here's your look.


BLACKWELL: Thirty-nine minutes after the hour now.

There are new details in the manhunt for that missing Tennessee student and her former teacher. Surveillance video and we're going to show the stills here, released now showing them at a Walmart in Oklahoma City last month. This is the first confirmed sighting of the two.

PAUL: Fifty-year-old Tad Cummins allegedly kidnapped 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas on March 15th. Authorities say he's armed with two guns.

CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval following this story for us.

Polo, it's interesting to look at some of this video, recognize the changes in their appearance.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Including hair color, for example. Anthony Thomas, Elizabeth's dad, is already reacting to the release of this footage saying this Oklahoma City confirmed sighting in his own words first piece evidence that Tad, Ted rather and Elizabeth did leave together and that they are together.

Now, keep in mind, this footage was shot about two and a half weeks ago. Investigators hope the release of it helps breathe new life into the investigation.


[07:40:02] SANDOVAL (voice-over): New surveillance images show former teacher Tad Cummins and 15-year-old missing Elizabeth Thomas. The two were caught on camera at a Walmart in Oklahoma City earlier this month, showing Cummins with darker hair and Thomas possibly with red hair according to police. This is the latest evidence since Cummins and Thomas disappeared last month.

MARK GWYN, DIRECTOR, TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: This is not a fairytale. This is a case of kidnapping.

SANDOVAL: Fifty-year-old Tad Cummins is suspected of abducting Elizabeth Thomas.

GWYN: She's high school freshman. He's a former teacher. This is and was not a romance. This was manipulation, solely to benefit Tad Cummins.

SANDOVAL: Thomas has been missing since March 13th, weeks after a student reported the pair kissing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, we have had no credible sightings of either individual.

SANDOVAL: Under Tennessee law, children over 12 years old can decide whether to leave their families unless their removal or confinement is, quote, "accomplished by force, threat or fraud."

District Attorney Brent Cooper is fighting to change that law. He hopes state lawmakers consider Elizabeth's case when they hold their next meeting next year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was without the consent of the parents or guardians. That should be a crime.

SANDOVAL: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation even translated Elizabeth's AMBER Alert to Spanish, spreading the word so they can fine her faster.

Family and friends continue searching for Elizabeth, hoping she returns home soon.

SARAH THOMAS, SISTER: We all wanting you back home. Your dog misses you. It doesn't want anyone to play with it.


SANDOVAL: Attorneys of the state are laying out the legal ground work to prosecute Cummins. For example, they've already issued two arrest warrants. Christi, one for sexual contact with a minor and other one for aggravated kidnapping. You speak to investigators, guys, and they say it's not a matter if they the track him down, it's when. And again, this video, hoping they at least help the case.

PAUL: OK. So, they disappeared on the 13th. Within two days they end up at this Walmart some ten hours away. What are the chances because we've heard this thrown out there that they went to Mexico. If so, how does that complicate the case?

POLO: That's a great question. They could be anywhere. There's reason why investigators have interest in looking south of the border. They translated that AMBER Alert issued for Elizabeth. They translated it into Spanish and there was also a sighting that wasn't confirmed but in south Texas, Corpus Christi about a two hour drive from the border.

So, obviously this is a concern. They are keeping in touch with -- or staying in touch with Mexican authorities if that was a case, closely revealing bridge video at some of the border crossings. But nonetheless, that isn't something that has actually let them anywhere, at least not quite yet.

PAUL: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, guys.

PAUL: Thank you so much. BLACKWELL: Three people are facing charges this morning after a massive fire caused part of the Atlanta interstate I-85 to collapse. Investigators think one of the suspects set construction materials on fire under fire under part of the interstate on Thursday. This grew into an enormous fire eventually causing a piece of the road to crash to the area below. No one was hurt. That's the good news.

Repairs to the marriage artery into and out of the city could take several months.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a tornado right there.



PAUL: Yeah. Not pretty, is it? That possible tornado tearing through Virginia Beach, destroying at least a dozen homes, damaging two dozens more. Thankfully, no injuries. But a local pastor says the storm threw a third of his church into a field across the street collapsing the auditorium and peeling a metal roof off the building.

BLACKWELL: The U.S. expanding investigation into airstrikes in Iraq after reports that dozens of civilians were killed. Is the United States responsible for their deaths? The latest intel from top officials. That's coming up.


[07:46:11] PAUL: So, this week's "Staying Well" features dragon boat racing which help thousands of Americans get their heart rates up and stress levels down.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure your stroke is nice and straight and even coming back.

ANDREA ELISCU, FOUNDER, ORLANDO DRAGON BOAT CLUB: Dragon boating is about 2,800 years old and started in China.

A dragon boat is 41-foot long. Everybody has to be synchronized with their paddle. Do you what the person in front of you and the person across from you does. And if you can do that, the boat goes straight and it goes very fast.

WILLIS WEAVER, RETIRED ORLANDO POLICE OFFICER: Constant motion. Like a short burst of energy. Recently retired as an Orlando police officer after 23 years and no matter what I dealt with on the street when I came out here, I couldn't believe it. The water smells good. It feels good. Kind of like a Zen moment.

MELISSA ROMERO, SALES & CUSTOMER SERVICE AGENT: For me, it's about getting my heart rate up, getting some exercise in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charge. Lengthen your stroke.

ROMERO: I like being out in the open rather than being in a gym. I have a lot of core strength now. When I first started, I couldn't paddle for more than a minute at a time. And now, I can do an hour continuous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take the lead.

ROMERO: The worries of the day just kind of melt away.



PAUL: Forty-nine minutes past the hour right now.

Is the United States responsible for the dozens of civilian deaths in Mosul? That's what defense officials are trying to decipher as they expand the investigation now into recent air strikes.

BLACKWELL: And this comes as one official tells CNN that the U.S. and its allies dropped dozens of bombs on Mosul on the same day those civilians were killed.

CNN Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne is live in Washington.

Ryan, what do we know now about this now formal investigation?


That's right. The military confirmed on Tuesday that they've expanded the investigation into a formal what is called a 15-6 investigation.

[07:50:08] Now, they had been doing credibility assessments and commanding general has decided to appoint a one-star general to investigate not just the strikes on the 17th which are believed to be tied to the deaths that are being reported from Mosul, but also a series of strikes on the days before and after the 17th of March. Now, the military is pointing to a new ISIS tactic that could be partly responsible for this uptick in civilian casualty allegations. Now, ISIS is accused of hiding civilians in buildings, not using them as human shields but in fact smuggling them in secretly and attempting to bait the coalition into striking the buildings and then using the public outcry as a kind of propaganda tool to deter further strikes.

Now, it's a very contested battle space there in Mosul in the older part of the city, very tightly congested. There's very narrow streets and the battle's raging quite fiercely. The coalition in one week alone, we're told dropped about 700 munitions from aircraft and launched about 400 artillery strikes. So, it's a very intense battle space. So, this is something that the military's going to continue to work

on, refining its tactics in order to prevent this while simultaneously looking into these allegations to determine whether or not and how much the coalition played a role in those civilian deaths -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll continue to follow it. Ryan Browne for us, Ryan, thanks so much.

BROWNE: You bet.

PAUL: Coming up at the top of the hour, President Trump's agenda overshadowed by Russia. Can the administration shake this cloud of controversy that is still swirling around the White House?

BLACKWELL: And we had one of the greatest upsets in sports history last night. Andy Scholes is here with more now.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Used to be three things certain in life, death, taxes and UConn's women basketball team is going to win it all. You can cross that last one off of the list. We're going to show you the shocking upset up next.


[07:56:33] BLACKWELL: So, maybe, just maybe, this is the biggest upset in women's college basketball history. OK, probably. Mississippi State snaps UConn's 111-game winning streak with an overtime buzzer beater.

PAUL: This is what Andy Scholes has been waiting for. You know.

SCHOLES: Good morning, guys.

It is April 1st. And when you say UConn losing, you have to preface it. This is not an April Fool's joke. This actually happened. And Mississippi state, they were 21.5 point underdogs in this game against UConn. That is a massive underdog. UConn, they hadn't lost a game since November of 2014.

This is going to go down as one of the greatest upsets in sports history. The smallest player on the court as well is the one who came up with the biggest shot to end the historic streak. Check this out, Mississippi State's 5'5" Morgan William, time winding down overtime, the pull-up jumper at the buzzer wins the game. Bulldogs everywhere going absolutely nuts, including Cowboys quarterback and Mississippi State alum Dak Prescott. He was in the stands rooting on his school there in Dallas.

The win sends the bulldogs to Sunday's national championship game against South Carolina.


MORGAN WILLIAM, MISSISSIPPI STATE GUARD: I got my space, jumped up and made the shot when I made the shot. I was in shock. I'm still in shock. I was like, I just won the game. GENO AURIEMMA, UCONN HEAD COACH: Obviously, you know, when you get to this point in the season and you lose, it's just -- it's the worst feeling imaginable.


SCHOLES: All right. South Carolina fans going to have a lot of basketball to watch this weekend.

Tonight, the men take on Gonzaga in the Final Four in Arizona. South Carolina really the surprise of the tournament, they've already knocked out Duke, Baylor and Florida to get this far. And their head coach Frank Martin says the pressure of tonight's big game really does not get to his team.


FRANK MARTIN, SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH: I don't know. Maybe I'm too dumb to understand what pressure is in sports. I get it. We're playing a real good team. We're playing on the biggest stage of them all. I understand all that.

But we got to worry about ourselves. And we got to worry about keeping our ears to the right voices. We have to focus on all of us doing our jobs.


SCHOLES: Gonzaga and South Carolina going to get things started a little after 6:00 Eastern, then it's North Carolina taking on Oregon in the late game. Be sure to join us here on CNN 2:30 Eastern this afternoon for "All Access at the Final Four: A CNN Bleacher Report Special". Fredricka Whitfield and Steve Smith going to get you ready for all of the action.

Guys, you know, we got three newcomers and old staple in North Carolina in this year's field, so there's a good chance we're going to see someone who's not won a championship or hasn't won one in a long time in Oregon's case, take home the title, which is exciting.

PAUL: South Carolina, he's got a good thought there. If you don't think it through too much, go out and play ball, you do your thing.

SCHOLES: It's hard not to because once you get to the final four, it's a giant football stadium. It's a completely different atmosphere.

BLACKWELL: Can we solve something, please?

PAUL: What?

BLACKWELL: I picked Gonzaga to win it overall but why am I 19th on the CNN leaderboard?

SCHOLES: Well, you just didn't do too well in the earlier rounds. But you have your chance to rally, if Gonzaga wins you're in the top five.

BLACKWELL: Come on. Thank you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

PAUL: Thank you, Andy.

All right, we're taking you to the political arena next.

BLACKWELL: Indeed. Next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very mysterious to me, though, why all of a sudden, General Flynn is suddenly out there saying he wants immunity.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're not guilty of a crime what do you need immunity for, right?

MIKE FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When you're given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: It wasn't that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic Party lost the election.