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N. Korea Parades New Missiles Amid Rising Tensions; Trump Stuns with Foreign Policy Reversals; Haley Emerges as Strong Voice on Trump Foreign Policy; Cops Fired After Videos of Incident with Driver; Pope Speaks of Shame for Humanity Catholic Church; Pope Francis to Hold Vigil Mass at Vatican Today; VP Pence Heading To South Korea Today; North Korea May Be Preparing For Sixth Nuclear Test. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired April 15, 2017 - 06:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a new president and Kim Jong-Un is trying to challenge him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With an administration that is showing he wants to send a message there's a new sheriff in town, we don't know, you know, whether we're making maximum effort to settle this peacefully or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not relent in our mission to destroy ISIS- K in 2017.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We have given them total authorization and that's what they're doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that does send a message around the world that America is back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Trump administration says they will not release the names of people who visit the White House. Why? What is the big secret?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to scare and people from being able to come into the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's total b.s.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning and welcome to Saturday. So good to have you on board. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. New this morning, North Korea is putting the world and its enemies on notice. For the first time, it's showing off new and powerful long-range missiles. With the regime preparing for another possible nuclear test, tensions are ratcheting up.

PAUL: Yes, it's North Korea's biggest national holiday today. We should point out, though, the leader there, Kim Jong-Un, on hand to watch the celebration with this massive military parade. Take a look at this thing. Analysts say this is the never before seen military hardware that could contain the largest intercontinental ballistic missiles ever produced by North Korea.

BLACKWELL: Meantime, the U.S. is keeping a very close eye on things here, stationing an aircraft carrier strike group just off the Korean Peninsula, and this morning, a top North Korean official says they will respond to, quote, "all-out war with an all-out war."

PAUL: Our Will Ripley is in the North Korean capital. He had an up close view of this massive parade and the new military hardware they showed off. Filing this report just a short time ago.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So far no nuclear tests on the day of the sun, North Korea's most important holiday, but you have seen a show of force of a very different kind. You can see North Korean citizens are out here right now. These women are holding up a North Korean flag.

Earlier, we saw North Korea's full arsenal on display. There were skud missiles, submarine launch ballistic missiles, land based missiles that can be launched from a mobile launcher, and at the very end, we saw North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles.

We know that North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un's goal is to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the mainland the United States.

Analysts say they may not be there just yet, parades like this are certainly evidence that they continue to make progress. Faster progress that many experts have predicted.

A lot of people thought there might be a nuclear test today on this important holiday or in the lead-up to it, however, it seems as if the North Koreans are holding off for the nuclear test for now.

But I have received information that a special operations exercise, a military exercise earlier this week when commandos were jumping out of airplanes, that was an exercise in direct response to tweets from President Trump talking about North Korea and urging China to solve the North Korea problem as he put it.

But we also know there's a USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, 60 planes, submarines, equipment, nuclear missiles and 97,000 ton aircraft carrier all designed to send a message of deterrence to the North Koreans telling them not to engage in provocative behavior such as another missile launch or a nuclear test. But the atmosphere out here as the North Koreans would put it is a single hearted determination to fight. To fight against the United States because their country has told them all of their lives that they're under the imminent threat of invasion.

And so you have a lot of these civilians out here perhaps not many of these women but you have a lot of the men in the crowd here who have a military background who told us repeatedly if there were a war with the United States, they would leave their jobs, put their uniforms back on and fight.

So this is what North Korea is saying, that they are being underestimated by the world. They put on these supersized displays to try to prove to the world that they are here to stay and they're going to move forward on the road of their choosing if that's a path of nuclearization that many others including the United States feel is a dangerous and destructive path. Will Ripley, CNN Pyongyang.


BLACKWELL: Some fascinating pictures there. Will, thank you so much. This is all unfolding as Vice President Mike Pence prepares to embark on an 11-day trip to Asia. His first stop, South Korea.

Let's get the view from Seoul now. Paula Hancocks is there live. North Korea clearly wanting to send a message with these potential ICBMs that were noted as being seen in this parade of the artillery there or the arsenal. Put that into context for us.

[06:05:10]PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Victor. I mean, nothing is -- happens by accident in North Korea. Everything is highly choreographed. It is being shown for a reason. Analysts saying these two new ICBM canisters, they don't know exactly what was inside them, whether or not there was anything inside of them.

But it was clear that North Korea was sending this message to Washington that they wanted to be able to target mainland United States with this intercontinental ballistic missile.

Now we know from analysts that they were larger than they usually are. Could that suggest that they could reach even further, obviously they haven't been tested up until this point, but North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un made it very clear at the beginning of the year, he was close to test launching an ICBM.

Now on this very special day in North Korea, you see him showing this ICBM and also submarine launched ballistic missile, the land based one, analysts saying that there was really an awful lot that was new and significant in this parade -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: There are some who expected these are just mockups. It's too unsafe to have these actual weapons so close to Kim Jong-un himself. Let me ask you as Mike Pence is heading to South Korea, his first stop there, what do we know about the steps to keep the vice president safe during that leg of the trip and the entire 11-day tour? HANCOCKS: We certainly know that officials are taking a safety-first attitude. It's understandable. We've already heard from Kim Jong-un that he will continue ballistic missile launches. We understand from 38 north in the U.S. that he is close or potentially ready to be able to do that sixth nuclear test.

So inevitably the Defense Department is going to be very closely watching the security of the vice president. We know that intelligence authorities have been briefing the vice president. The president as well as to what exactly the situation is right now.

Vice President Pence would also be meeting with Vincent Brooks, the general, the head of U.S. Forces Korea here. He is the commanding officer and potentially talking about what military options could be available.

We know from Washington that all options are on the table. We've heard from many within the Trump administration, including Rex Tillerson, secretary of state, when he was here in Seoul just a few weeks ago saying that they don't want the military option but it is on the table. Potentially that could be what Vice President Pence will be talking about as well -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: He's up in about two hours from Joint Base Andrews as the vice president heads off on this 11-day tour. Paula Hancocks for us there in Seoul, thank you so much.

PAUL: CNN military analyst, Colonel Cedric Leighton, with us right now. Colonel, thank you so much for being with us as we hear from North Korea what they would do in an all=out war. We'll talk about that in a moment.

But I want to get your reaction to what we saw in this parade. When we think about celebrating founding fathers in this country, the last thing the U.S. would obviously do is parade out any sort of weaponry. What do you make of what you saw and how confident are you that these were simply mockups and not something that they have fully developed thus far?

COLONEL CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Christi, good morning. I think it's very clear that what the North Koreans were trying to do is show exactly what they're up so up to a point. And what they're doing is they're using this parade as a messaging board. They're telling the world what they have and in some cases what they're about two develop.

As far as whether these are mockups or not, it looks to me like at least some of the weapons were mockups, especially the intercontinental -- purported intercontinental ballistic missiles that were very new. Those are the ones that they may not have fully developed yet.

As we reported earlier, it was clear that they wanted to ensure the safety probably of the North Korean leadership to make sure they didn't have any weapons that could have potentially gone off by accident or could have been sabotaged in any way. So there was a reason for them to probably use mockups for at least some parts of the parade. Other weapons in the parade were extremely real.

PAUL: A lot of people were expecting some sort of nuclear launch in the celebration of Day of the Sun. Are you surprised we have not seen that already?

LEIGHTON: I am a bit surprised. I thought a nuclear launch would probably happen on the Day of the Sun, but in this case, I think what they're doing is they realize that they want to use this opportunity with the Carl Vinson carrier group being right off their coast to telegraph a bunch of messages.

It's in their interest, they feel right now, to make sure that there are a lot of messages that go back and forth. They think that they can ensure their regime's survival by talking through this parade to the U.S., to China, to South Korea and other nations around the world, and really they're demonstrating their power at this point.

[06:10:08]WHITFIELD: All right. I want to read to you verbatim what came from the North Korean official who said, "If the U.S. does any reckless provocation, we will immediately apply a destructive strike with our revolutionary power. We're prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and we are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks."

They specify a nuclear attack it seems if we really read into this, a nuclear attack towards them would have to be the starting point for them to retaliate. Are you confident that we know exactly what in their words exactly a reckless provocation would be for them to act?

LEIGHTON: I think the term reckless provocation is definitely subject to interpretation, so what they're doing is they're putting us on notice that if we were to launch a nuclear attack against them, which is a completely unrealistic possibility, they would then act in kind.

It's kind of like the standoff between the old Soviet Union and the United States, to some extent, but we never really got to that heated level of rhetoric that you see right there, very few exceptions.

There were some heated rhetoric between the old Soviet Union and the U.S., but this was -- this is very much in line with other North Korean statements, similar statements of this type that have been issued in the past.

But they're clearly not only concerned about the U.S. but they also believe that they can tell the U.S. that we have weapons that will cause a lot of destruction should you attack us. Right now, the threshold seems to be a nuclear threshold, but it may be much lower than that.

PAUL: Representative Ruben Guygo (ph) of the Armed Services Committee said what we actually need to do in regards to North Korea is deescalate the situation. Is there anything the U.S. could do to deescalate it especially in light of some of the tweets that have gone out this week, particularly one from President Trump when he said North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them.

LEIGHTON: Yes. I think the idea of de-escalation is certainly wonderful, but the problem is how do you actually do it in a case like this? We have everybody standing on the brink right now. And with tweets like the one you sited from the president, it's pretty clear that the one thing that I think can happen in this case is that people are kind of talked off the ledge at this point.

But that would require the help of the Chinese and perhaps other countries to do that. So that's what we're looking at. We're looking at a dangerous situation, one that can be mitigated to some extent, but I don't think that we're going to ever achieve normal relations with the North Koreans, at least not with this kind of rhetoric and these kinds of displays.

PAUL: All righty, Colonel, one more quick question very quickly here, a new number this morning, at least 94 ISIS fighters now including four ISIS commanders we understand were killed when the U.S. dropped one of America's most powerful bombs this week. What do you make of the effectiveness of what happened this week with that MOAB, mother of all bombs?

LEIGHTON: Well, certainly the MOAB was a highly effective weapon in terms of physical destruction. The number of people killed I think I was suspecting that that figure would go up from the original reports and it may go up further depending on what else they find in those tunnels. But it is pretty significant because the ISIS forces are fairly small in number. However, they are effective and getting that number of people, especially the leadership, is a very critical success at this point.

PAUL: All right, Colonel Cedric Leighton, so appreciate your insight. Thank you for being here.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Christi, any time.

BLACKWELL: Well, as the world braces for another possible nuclear test from North Korea, President Trump is vowing the U.S. will take on Kim Jong-un alone if necessary. What does that mean? And is the president willing to do what no president in modern times has?

PAUL: Also a lot of talk this week about President Trump's reversal on major foreign policy issues. One time critic and U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley is coming to his defense.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: He knew that when he hired me that I made it clear I didn't want to be a wall flower or talking head. I'm very passionate by nature and he's fine with it.



BLACKWELL: Well, today is the day that many expected North Korea to launch its latest nuclear test, but we have these phenomenal pictures coming out of Pyongyang, the country celebrating its Day of the Sun holiday by showing off some new military strength.

These new missiles and launchers, some with potentially, we don't know if these are mockups or the actual weapons, but those intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the U.S. or Europe.

This is a critical moment as Vice President Mike Pence prepares to travel to South Korea. White House foreign policy adviser telling CNN, Mike Pence will discuss North Korea's belligerency around its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, President Trump is on standby at Mar-a-Lago alongside aides from the National Security Council. Let's talk about this political side of this back and forth, Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, and Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University. Good morning to both of you.

Julian, also the author of "The Fierce Urgency Now." So let's start with you, Julian. The vice president arriving in South Korea tomorrow. Job one obviously to reassure the acting administration there that the U.S. is committed to the South Korean security. How does he do that? How important is it now, even more important than it was a week ago when they announced the trip?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think right now you're in a moment of intense provocation on both sides. Both of the North Koreans and with the United States, including the bomb in Afghanistan.

[06:20:06]So I think Pence's role right now is actually to try to calm things down. It's to both assure the security of South Korea and to try to create some sense of normalcy and calm as everything is getting ratcheted up.

It's very difficult for Pence to do. Ultimately, he's not the president and in some ways he's competing with the tweets coming from the White House.

BLACKWELL: Errol, if you will, talk about the juxtaposition here and we're seeing Vice President Pence now on his second tour, first went to Europe, now going to Asia, assuring allies of the United States' commitment to security and to these alliances when we have the president making his seventh trip to his island resort as the vice president is out talking to the rest of the world?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, as the professor said, there are conflicting messages. Let's remember it was in December of 2016, this is post-election, during the transition, that tweets were coming from Donald Trump talking about an arm's race.

We saw tweets in the last week saying we're going to solve this problem with or without China which has a lot of people on edge. To do all of that, at the same time as we're doing the United States is doing its traditional act of brinksmanship, holding joint exercises with the South Korea, saber rattling, cold war style, intended to let North Korea know that we are bigger.

We've got more weapons and we are not averse to using them if it should come to that, but to put that hot language on top of it with this tweeting, to do it from Mar-a-Lago or any place else gives people a lot of justifiable cause for concern if not alarm.

BLACKWELL: Julian, in the role that the vice president plays in reassuring South Korea, this administration has from at least the campaign to now, a couple of months into the administration, almost a 180 here on its rhetoric about South Korea and the commitment to securing that country. Listen to what then Candidate Trump said that rattled a lot of people there on the peninsula. Watch.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength.


BLACKWELL: Now, that was not the sound bite I was calling for, but let's go to that point. We see what's happening in Somalia, the additional troops there, we're seeing what's happening with North Korea, in Afghanistan, in Syria, how does this correlate or correspond with what we're seeing from the president. That rhetoric we saw before the inauguration?

ZELIZER: Well, right now it doesn't. He's clearly undertaking a very different path. Right now we see a buildup of military force including in this region. We've seen the use of a pretty devastating bomb which was intended as a show of force to the world.

And at the same time, the State Department has pretty much been gutted in the last few months with many positions not filled and many observers saying it wouldn't be very effective right now if we really want to use diplomacy.

So right now we have a president who is using force as a first resort, not as a second resort. And I don't know if this is a flip-flop, if it's a conscious change of strategy, but the speech you said doesn't really reflect the path that he is now on.

BLACKWELL: Errol, the search for a Trump doctorate, how much of the potential Trump doctrine is the rejection of a doctrine at all. We heard the president brag about being flexible and kind of flouting traditional orthodoxy.

LOUIS: Victor, even that is an attempt to sort of put some coherence around statements and posturing that do not amount to a policy. You know the reality is you just played a clip from the campaign trail. He was reading from a teleprompter, it wasn't off the cuff.

Yet, when we see the first preliminary budget, we see a 30 percent cut in the budget of the State Department. The use of human rights rhetoric, the use of aid and development, the so-called soft power that's supposed to go along with military power to support of make for a coherent doctrine has never been something.

You can look through the campaign website in vain for any sign of a coherent policy around this stuff, nuclear proliferation or anything else, so we're going to have a policy by default. I think we're arguing it out now.

Probably the only good thing is the we and the public, members of Congress, the media, and scholars can all weigh in now because there is no policy to argue against.

BLACKWELL: If we try to separate it, I mean, they overlap obviously. Doctrine from the strategy we heard from the president after the dropping of this bomb in Afghanistan that he has given the military total authorization.

[06:25:10]Now, when you talk about something like North Korea, one would expect this is the exception to that rule. If we look at the people around him who will be advising him, H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, Secretary Mattis at the Department of Defense. Do we know their likelihood of potentially preemptive action there in North Korea?

ZELIZER: I mean, I don't think we should assume that those advisers would want to use force first. Even though they come from a military background, historically, the military are often the most skeptical about using force because they understand the consequences and they understand how this can often play out once you drop a bomb or once you have ground troops overseas.

So I actually think the push for a more aggressive stance would probably be coming from the president himself and not just from them. Mattis, for example, is someone who is often very restrained and skeptical when there is a push for using force first.

BLACKWELL: All right, Errol, as we wrap up, let me end where we started, this is day that many expected that Kim Jong-un would launch this next nuclear test because it's the Day of the Sun, the most important day on the calendar there in Pyongyang.

We're getting toward the end of the day, late evening in North Korea, but it's important to point out that North Korea likes to launch these tests when there is a big, high-profile diplomatic visit, namely what we saw when Xi Jinping of China came to the U.S. The vice president is headed to South Korea. Your concern it could happen over the next couple days?

LOUIS: Absolutely. This is a throw-back to my youth when we were at the height of the cold war. The problem with this is that you can have North Korea decide to call the U.S.'s bluff. You see me one vice president. I'll raise you one nuclear test. This is exactly why we have treaties. This is exactly why we have ongoing discussion for decades now and solid doctrine that's supposed to contain all of these kind of possibilities of serious disaster if even something slightly goes wrong.

We'll hope and hold our breath and hope we get through Easter without some kind of disaster taking place.

BLACKWELL: All right. The vice president arriving there in Seoul tomorrow. Wheels up in about 90 minutes. We'll bring that to you live. Julian Zelizer, Errol Louis, thank you both.

PAUL: And straight ahead, she was once a fierce Trump opponent, now she's a prominent voice for the president's foreign policy agenda. CNN sits down with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.

First, though, some severe weather out there this morning. Allison Chinchar is on it for you. What are you seeing, Allison? Good morning.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We are taking a look at an area for severe threat this Easter weekend. We look at the map. Typically March through May you see in the red region. Once we get later in the season, it begins to spread farther north and little farther west.

But it's this yellow area where we don't have severe weather until May into July, that's where we're starting to see today and as we go into the weekend.

Here's going to be our main threat for severe weather today, Madison stretching down towards Oklahoma City, large hail, damaging winds but also the potential for some tornadoes.

Here's a look at the forecast as we go forward. A lot of really heavy rain on the northern fringe of this. It's a lot of the super cells and lot of the stronger storms that are going to develop especially as we go late into the afternoon and also into the evening hours to want that we have to pay very close attention to.



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Well, good morning, 6:33. You're up early. We're glad for it, though. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

And this morning, North Korea is showing off its military arsenal on the birthday of its founding father Kim Il-sung leader, Kim Jong-Un's grandfather. And Pyongyang is putting the U.S. on notice as tensions are ratcheting up between the two countries. The big centerpiece of the parade, two new intercontinental ballistic size canisters.

Now, if North Korea really has these missiles, they could give the country the ability to strike targets in the U.S., also in Europe.

Now, this is happening as vice president Mike Pence leaves for Seoul today in a show of solidarity with its ally South Korea. Now the trip will also include visits to Japan, Indonesia and Australia.

PAUL: Now, whether it is North Korea the crisis in Syria, U.S./China relations or NATO's place on the world stage, this week the president making a series of foreign policy shifts. And this is a move that's really riling some of his supporters.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., though, Nikki Haley, was once a bold Trump critic, you remember, well, she's been defending the president amid all of this uncertainty, and she's emerging as a strong voice on foreign policy for this administration. So CNN's Jamie Gangel had a fascinating one on one with the ambassador. Here's part of it.


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From condemning the chemical attacks in Syria --

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Look at those pictures.

GANGEL (voice-over): To her aggressive stance on regime change.

HALEY: Strengthening Assad will only lead to more murders.

GANGEL (voice-over): U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has taken center stage as the leading voice of foreign policy in the Trump administration. Not afraid to speak her mind --

HALEY: For those that don't have our back, we're taking names.

GANGEL (voice-over): Or, contradict her boss.

HALEY: Russia is trying to show their muscle. I don't think that we can trust them.

GANGEL: Has he ever said to you, you shouldn't have said something.

HALEY: No, he has not.

[06:35:00] GANGEL: Are you surprised that he's never?

HALEY: I'm not surprised because, he knew that when he hired me that -- I've made it clear, I didn't want to be a wall flower or a talking head. I'm very passionate by nature, and he's fine with it.

GANGEL: How much of it is coordinated with The White House and the State Department?

HALEY: Well, it's always coordinated with The White House. I mean, I'm very --

GANGEL: You're not going rogue?

HALEY: No, I would never go rogue because I'm very aware of who I work for.

And -- but what I'll tell you is, it's a sign of how this president works. It's not uncommon for him to pick up the phone and tell me what he feels on an issue. It's not uncommon for him to say, make sure you say this. Don't be afraid to say this.

He has given me a lot of leeway to just say what I think and interpret what he thinks. I'm a strong voice by nature. I'm sometimes a bull in a China shop. And, you know, he allows me to do that.

GANGEL (voice-over): Friends say that same strength and independence, served Haley well growing up in Bamberg, South Carolina. The daughter of Zeke (ph) immigrants from India, her father was a professor, her mother a lawyer, but the family suffered constant discrimination.

HALEY: They had never seen anybody in a turban. They had never seen anybody in a sari, so they didn't know who we were, what we were, or what we were about. And so growing up was -- you always knew you were different. You felt it.

GANGEL (voice-over): One such memorable moment when she and her sister were disqualified from the Little Miss Bamberg beauty pageant, which crowned one white winner and one black winner. The judges said they were neither.

HALEY: My mom said, "Well, Nikki has been practicing this song, will you at least just let her do her song?" It was "This Land Is Your Land, This land Is My Land".

GANGEL: There's the irony --

HALEY: It is.

GANGEL: -- of the story.

HALEY: But my mom would never let us complain. And she'd always say, your job is not to show them how you're different. Your job is to show them how you're similar.

GANGEL (voice-over): Haley went on to get her accounting degree at Clemson, married her husband and Michael who is a captain in the South Carolina Army National Guard, and raised two children. Her daughter Rena, now a freshman in college, and her son Nalin who's 15. Along the way, she credits two women with her interest in politics.

GANGEL: Your role model, you frequently say, is Margaret Thatcher. But --

HALEY: Yes. "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman." Love that.

GANGEL: But the woman who inspired you to go into politics to run was a Democrat.


GANGEL: Named --

HALEY: Hillary Clinton.

GANGEL (voice-over): One day she went to hear her speak.

HALEY: And she said, "For every reason people tell you not to do it, that's for every reason that you should." And that was it. I was done.

I didn't know you weren't supposed to run against a -- you know, 30- year incumbent in a primary, but ignorance is bliss.

GANGEL (voice-over): She won that race, served in the State House then went on to break two barriers, becoming the first Indian/American and first woman Governor of South Carolina.

HALEY: So help me god.

GANGEL (voice-over): Overnight, she was a rising star in the Republican Party. Thrust on the national stage after the horrific mass shooting at Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME Church.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Everyone just wanted to hug her. There is this image of Nikki crying --

GANGEL (voice-over): And then, she won praise for her successful campaign to remove the Confederate flag from the State House.

SELLERS: Nikki Haley did something that many people thought was impossible, a female who ran for governor and she beat all the boys. She's always persevered.

GANGEL (voice-over): Her star power and clout were never more apparent than during the presidential campaign when she endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and many thought this could be the GOP ticket.

GANGEL: Donald Trump did not take it well and he went on Twitter. "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!" And not 20 minutes later you responded, "@realdonaldTrump, Bless your heart." What does bless your heart mean when you're from South Carolina?

HALEY: It's a Southern polite way of saying read between the lines.

GANGEL (voice-over): Trump didn't hold it against her, naming Haley his U.N. Ambassador. And it appears he's pleased with her high public profile.

GANGEL: Is there any tension with Secretary of State Tillerson? He has been so quiet. He has kept such a low profile, and you've been out there. Any awkwardness?

HALEY: I think it's just the personalities. You know, he's very much an executive. He's thoughtful in his approach in how he moves forward. I'm one that's not afraid to say anything. You know, I'm not easily intimidated, and so I can go out and say

things. So I think we actually complement each other very well.

GANGEL (voice-over): It has, however, led to speculation that someday Haley might like his job or higher office.

[06:40:00] GANGEL: Everybody I talked to, said, does she want to be Secretary of State?


GANGEL: Do you want to be senator?


GANGEL: Are you going to run for The White House?


GANGEL: You're not going to run for The White House.


GANGEL: Everyone thinks you are.

HALEY: You know what's amazing, and this has happened my entire work career is, everyone thinks that I'm ambitious, and everybody thinks I'm trying to run for something, and everybody thinks I want more. And the truth of it is, I'm just passionate.

GANGEL: But you wouldn't rule out that someday you might run for The White House?

HALEY: I can't imagine running for The White House.

GANGEL: You really can't?

HALEY: I really can't.


PAUL: All right. And Jamie Gangel, thank you so much for that.

BLACKWELL: Well, two Georgia officers are now off the force after videos released showing them punching and kicking a driver. Well, now the question is will they face charges for their actions during this traffic stop?


BLACKWELL: Coming up on a quarter to the top of the hour now, dozens of cases involving two fired Georgia police officers have now been thrown out. They Gwinnett County Solicitor-General dismissed 89 cases connected to Robert McDonald and Michael Bongiovanni. Both were fired after videos on social media showed a violent traffic stop.

[06:45:11] BLACKWELL: Look at this. This was Wednesday.

You see the officer punched the driver there, and the officer showed up to help. And then you'll see in the next clip here, kicks the driver who's already in handcuffs, kicks him in the head. He's there on the ground.

Well, now, both could face criminal charges.

CNN affiliate WSB has more for us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was trying to deescalate a situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sgt. Mike Bongiovanni was a highly honored member of the Gwinnett force until this.

MIKE PUGLISE, ATTORNEY: And he says, I don't recall throwing a punch, because he didn't. He didn't throw a punch. It was an elbow strike, which is, again, an FBI taught defensive tactic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bongiovanni's former boss thinks otherwise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm literally sick ability.

PUGLISE: But you have to put yourself in that officer's shoes. That officer is making a split second calculated decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sergeant and Officer Robert McDonald were both fired. McDonald for this kick in the same Wednesday traffic stop.

District Attorney Danny Porter is considering criminal charges.

DANNY PORTER, GWINNETT COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He pulled a woman out of a burning car. He has saved other officer's lives in S.W.A.T. situations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both officers' files are clean.

The sergeant includes 67 use of force situations. He was cleared in every one of them. His only bad mark, three years ago when supervisors suspended him 15 days and wanted to demote him from sergeant after finding he wasn't leading his unit effectively. A lieutenant wrote, "He does not have the ability to determine what is right and what is wrong, unless his supervisor tells him what to think."

Bongiovanni's latest annual review gave him high marks.

PUGLISE: But now the coliseum is open wide, we're ready to persecute him, prosecute him if need be.


BLACKWELL: Well, the Gwinnett Police Department says, it is investigating the actions of both officers and plans to send the findings to the District Attorney's office for review.

PAUL: Well, at least 16 people are recovering this morning after a stampede at a New York train station. Take a look at the video we have coming in here.

My goodness. It was - it was just chaos. At Penn station during last night's commute after there were false reports of a shooting. People -- look at them, they're running, scrambling for exits. Some left their bags and their shoes behind.

Police say, the thing is, there was no shooting, rather, the noise was, likely they say, an Amtrak officer using their Taser. That situation -- that station, I should point out, was more crowded than usual, we understand, due to stalled -- a stalled train that was causing some massive delays there as well, so it did not help the situation at all.

Still to come, Pope Francis delivers a strong message of shame and hope as Christians around the globe are celebrating Easter this weekend. We have more on that.



PAUL: Well, this weekend Christians around the world celebrating the Easter holiday, of course. And in the past hour, thousands of worshippers began gathering in Jerusalem for the Holy Fire ceremony. That precision, by the way, is about to get under way there.

BLACKWELL: Now, the Vatican City, Pope Francis will continue celebrations today with the vigil at St. Peter's Basilica. Now, this comes after the Pope presided over a Good Friday service expressing shame for the failures of humanity, calling out scenes (ph) of bombed cities and global persecution.

CNN's Delia Gallagher has -


BLACKWELL: -- the rest of his remarks.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Pope Francis offered a prayer for the world as he presided at the stations of the cross, saying the world looks at Jesus with its eyes lowered out of shame, shame for its silence in the face of injustice, in the face of bloodshed by innocent women, children, immigrants, those persecuted and killed for their faith and for the color of their skin, the pope said. Shame also for the priests and bishops of the Catholic church who have caused a scandal.

The 14 stations commemorate the moments leading up to and just after the crucifixion of Jesus. And the Vatican chooses representatives from around the world to help carry the cross. It is one of the most solemn moments of this Holy Week, which ends on Sunday, with Easter mass at the Vatican. Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.

PAUL: And Happy Easter to all of you who are celebrating.

Now, a foul ball resulted a trip to the hospital for a Major League umpire. Kristina Fitzpatrick following that story in sports. Good morning.


A scary moment behind the plate during last night's game between the Orioles and the Blue Jays. We'll check in on umpire Dale Scott and his condition coming up on "New Day."


[06:58:14] BLACKWELL: A scary moment at last night's Blue Jays/Orioles game when the home plate umpire was hit in the face by a foul ball.

PAUL: Christina Fitzpatrick has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. It looked nasty.

FITZPATRICK: It looked nasty. We will say he's okay. It's not the way you want to start your weekend. Let's go ahead and put that out there. But we should mention that he is okay.

He was released from the hospital earlier this morning after suffering a concussion, but it certainly was not a pleasant sight to see in Toronto last night. Umpire Dale Scott was behind the plate when a foul tip got him in the bottom of the mask off the bat of Baltimore slugger Mark Trumbo in the eighth inning. He staggered a little bit, took a knee. Paramedics were there to cart (ph) him off the field on a spinal board.

Scott told reporters though he's feeling okay this morning. The results of a CT scan were normal. So that is good news. He's expected to be out of action for about a week.

The pitch, by the way, a 95 miles an hour fastball that got him. Not a pretty sight.

So after months of anticipation, yes, the NBA Playoffs are set to tip off this afternoon. On a happier note, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers get things started against the Indiana Pacers. And Lebron James is ready to go to work.

For the fifth-straight year, he's going into a social media blackout, he calls it, saying, he doesn't need any distractions while the Cavs chase another title. King James calls it "Zero Dark Thirty," it's pretty dramatic. And he has announced that his blackout on twitter will be taking place, interestingly enough.

Tipoff is 3:00 P.M. Eastern, and games run all afternoon into late night with the Jazz at the Clippers at 10:30 P.M. An NBA lovers perfect little Saturday.

And finally, that's all we've got for today's Bleacher Report. But NBA Playoffs all day long. And, for the fans that are kind of watch loosely --


FITZPATRICK: -- I think this is about the time you turn it on.


FITZPATRICK: So it's OK, we're watching basketball --


FITZPATRICK: -- get into it. It's the fun time of the year.


PAUL: Hey, thank you so much, Kristina. Good to see you.