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Tiger Woods Comeback to Victory; Bill Barr to Release Redacted Version of the Mueller Report; U.S. Warns Maduro Regime; Sudan Celebrates Al-Bashir's Fall from Power; Another Candidate Added to Crowded Democrat Contenders; Tiger Woods Rising Again; Three Red Cross Staff Abducted in Syria; Storm Battered Southern U.S.; Game of Thrones Final Episode Now Showing. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired April 15, 2019 - 03:00   ET




TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: I was able to handle the heat down the stretch and pull off some of my best shots.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Another one for the history books. Tiger Woods has completed an epic and once unthinkable comeback. CNN sat down with the golf champ to talk about his fifth Masters title.

Singing, dancing and marching for democracy. Protesters in Sudan continue to demand a civilian-led government.

Also, ahead, Robert Mueller's Russia investigation report is expected out any day now. We take a look at the man overseeing its release. History shows he usually sides with the president.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from here in the United States and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN headquarters, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Well, love him or hate him, Tiger Woods is proving himself a true survivor and champion. By the slimmest of margins, the 43-year-old golfer pulled off a stunning victory at the Masters on Sunday. It's his first major title in 11 years and first Masters win since 2005.

Woods has overcome career-threatening back problems and a high-profile divorce to reach this new career milestone. He admits this victory was extra special.


WOODS: I think that -- I think the kids are starting to understand, you know, that -- how much this game means to me and some of the things I've done in the game. Prior to -- prior to this comeback, they only knew that golf caused me a lot of pain. If I tried to swing a club, I'd end up on the ground, and I struggled for years, and that's basically all they remember.

Luckily, that I've had the procedure where that's no longer the case and I can do this again. So, you know, we're creating new memories for them, and it's just very special.


CHURCH: And CNN's Don Riddell is in Augusta with more on Tiger's big win.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: We have witnessed something truly extraordinary at Augusta. Tiger Woods has won his fifth Green Jacket at the Masters. The man who once dominated the sport and who then transcended it has been gone for so long, but now he's back.

And before he did this, people used to speculate what would it be like, where would it rank in the Pantheon of great comebacks if Tiger Woods would win another major tournament? So many people didn't think it would happen, and we speculated while it would be one of the great comebacks in sport.

But now that we've actually seen it and witnessed it with our own eyes, it feels like we have seen the greatest comeback of all time. It's his first major triumph in some 11 years. It's his first Masters win since 2005, a gap of 14 years, and it comes 21 years after his very first Masters triumph back in 1997.

Back then he was the youngest ever Masters champion at the age of 21 and he's now become only the second golfer to win a Green Jacket in three separate decades.

Since 2008, Tiger Woods we all know has been through so much, there were marital problems and the spectacular fall from grace, the DUI and that awful police photograph, all the problems with his back, the injuries, four operations, risky spinal fusion surgery, and just 16 months ago he was ranked almost 1,200th in the world.

The body was shot. The confidence was gone. And even his most ardent supporters were starting to lose faith. When he spoke to us at the President's Cup 16 months ago, he said just riding in a golf cart was so painful he didn't even know if he could carry on playing.

He certainly didn't think it was any kind of guarantee that he could be competitive again on the golf course, but we have seen this resurgence throughout 2018, he was getting better and better, contending at the open championship. Finishing second in the PGA championship and winning the tour championship at East Lake in Atlanta just down the road here from Augusta National in Georgia.

And that gave him the confidence, that gave him the belief that he could do it again. Golf has changed so much since he was dominating this sport. There are now so many young players who are talented and successful and who don't fear the aura of Tiger Woods, but they have seen today firsthand with their own eyes what he is capable of and it is a truly extraordinary day. He is 43 years old, the second oldest Masters champion. Jack Nicklaus

was 46 when he won his 18th major tournament, and now that Tiger is winning again, the quest is back on. Can he get to Jack's total?

[03:05:04] Well, he's got three more years to win three more before he gets to Jack's 46th, and that is going to be the compelling and dominant narrative in the world of golf and sport this year, can't wait. It's going to be another fantastic golf season and what a day for Tiger Woods.

Back to you.

CHURCH: Well, Golf Australia's Mark Hayes joins me now from Geelong in Australia. Good to have you with us. So, Tiger Woods pulls off this stunning victory, his first major victory in 11 years. Is this the greatest sports comeback ever, do you think?

MARK HAYES, MEDIA MANAGER, GOLF AUSTRALIA: It may well be, Rosemary. It's hard-pressed to find one that's clearly superior. In golf circles, you might find Ben Hogan when he had a nearly fatal car crash in 1949 and he returned to win a championship after coming life threatening injuries. Maybe he looks to Niki Lauda who had the fiery car crash in the mid-1970s. Maybe he looks to Monica Seles, who obviously stabbed in Germany in 1993.

Other than that, I think it's pretty slim pickings to find something that's better than what Tiger has just achieved.

CHURCH: So, what do you think this means for the game of golf?

HAYES: Nobody moves the needle like Tiger Woods. I think not only in golf but sport more broadly, Rosemary. I think that he has the capacity to transcend the sport. It puts the game of golf on the front pages as opposed to the back pages of newspapers.

And as your report said earlier on, it just creates a narrative that sort of -- it ushers people into the sport and they'll be following him fervently for the next few months as he chases this chase that we thought was gone is re-enlivened. Can he get to Jack Nicklaus his '18 major championships?

CHURCH: Yes, of course. And of course, Tiger Woods has overcome a lot of challenges in recent years. His divorce, all the sorry details that led up to that, along with four back surgeries from a broken back, all putting his future in jeopardy. Now, of course, here he is celebrating this great victory. How did he get to this point? What did it take?

HAYES: I think the thing that separates Tiger, and it has all throughout his career, is just his fierce will to win. He's one of the more determined athletes that's ever been in any sport. He just didn't want to let it go and he just believed within himself that he hadn't played his last shot in anger.

The third surgery that he had was pretty full-on, and I think most people would have probably turned it up at that stage, but he's gone back for an even bigger one, the spinal fusion surgery, his fourth one. The downside of that is he might not have been able to walk. It was a lifestyle decision there he had to make.

You know, golf was so far from his mind at that stage, but as soon as he knew that it went well, I think he's had this in him. Just to come back and show -- and we saw late last year when he tapers toward a tournament, he can't do it all now. He can't grind away for 20 or 30 weeks a year like he once did. He's got to pick and choose his battles, but he does it so well.

And when he tapers towards something like a major championship or a tour championship like he did in Atlanta last year, then you know, there is no stopping him when he's on his game.

CHURCH: Right. That surgery obviously proved to be the right choice, and certainly in his case. So, what comes next for Tiger?

HAYES: Well, the major championships are now strung out one every month from April through to the Open championship in July. I think that primary -- primarily his focus will be those four things, and of course, he's the captain for the first time in the President's Cup down here in Australia in December. There was -- he was always going to come as a captain.

Now I can tell you that down here in Australia there is going to be absolute fervor about whether he'll be the playing captain only the second time in American President's Cup history.

CHURCH: All right. Mark Hayes, great to have you on to talk about what is an incredible comeback. Many thanks.

HAYES: Pleasure. Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, the political battle between the White House and congressional Democrats enters a new phase this week.

The attorney general is expected to release a redacted version of the Mueller report on Russian election meddling. Democrats say they will go to court to get the full version.

But as Sarah Westwood reports, the White House is ready to close the book on the investigation.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House is bracing for the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report. Attorney General Bill Barr is set to send a redacted version of that report to Capitol Hill as soon as this week. And Barr has said that there are no plans for the White House to assert executive privilege over parts of that document.

That's a process that could have led to more redactions being included. And the White House has maintained that it wants as much of the report as allowed by law to be released to the public.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday that she expects the report, which she has not yet read, to match Barr's public summary of the document, which includes, according to Barr, Mueller's assessment that there was no evidence the campaign colluded with Russia. Take a listen.


[03:10:07] SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think it is going to be damaging to the president because the entire purpose of the investigation was whether or not there was collusion. Mueller was crystal clear in the fact that there was no collusion.


WESTWOOD: That was Sanders speaking on Fox News Sunday. And the president heads to Minnesota on Monday for a Tax Day event as the White House and the rest of Washington waits for the Mueller report to released.

Trump and his allies have argued that the release of Mueller's findings should be the end of inquiry into alleged collusion and alleged obstruction. But House Democrats are prepared to continue their oversight into these and many other areas in the months ahead.

Sarah Westwood, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: All right. So, let's bring in the New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent Steven Erlanger. He joins us now from Brussels. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: And of course, we are all awaiting the imminent release of the Mueller report. How much of it do you think will be redacted and does the attorney general need to be very careful not to black out too much detail and expose himself to suggestions he's doing the political bidding of the president?

ERLANGER: Yes, well, to go from Tiger to Trump is a big leap, but I do think Attorney General Barr will be careful in this because certainly there are parts of the report that involve sources, methods that make allegations about individuals, one presumes, that the public shouldn't see.

But if he delivers a report that is to polarize, or tampered, I think the Democrats really will cream (Ph) -- I mean, Trump clearly has decided that what matters is Barr's four-page summary of a very long report, not the report itself, and the report obviously will have material speaking about why Mueller didn't in the end indict the president on obstruction of justice.

But that was a choice. There was a lot of evidence on both sides, and so I think this is what Congress will focus on, rather than the conspiracy with Russia.

CHURCH: So overall, what impact do you think this report could potentially have on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election? Or do you think by then people will completely have forgotten about all of this?

ERLANGER: Well, I think it's already had its major impact, to be honest. I think people have already made judgements based on the Barr summary, and the people who think that it clears the president entirely, which is what the president felt, will not change their minds, no matter what, and the people who wished it had been different will point to issues that obstruction of justice and say that Trump should not be president, certainly not in a second term.

So, I think the problem is or maybe reality is America is pretty divided and Trump's base is pretty solid. The position is pretty solid, too. We'll see if it changes if his tax returns get released.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to Steven Erlanger joining us via Skype. A few audio issues there, but we do appreciate your analysis. Thank you.

Well, the White House and Democrats are also battling over the southern U.S. border. This after CNN reported President Donald Trump told a top border agent to illegally block asylum seekers from entering the country and that he would pardon him if he's charged with a crime.

The president denies that claim, but Democrats are also bristling at Mr. Trump's suggestion that he might release asylum seekers into so- called sanctuary cities.


REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): This just shows the president's contempt for law, another instance of the president's contempt for law. To order that something clearly illegal, namely blocking people claiming asylum from coming into the country, which is clearly against our law, that that be done is -- is against the law or offering a pardon, even if in jest, to someone who would disobey the law at the president's request.

This is exactly contrary to the key presidential duty and to his oath, which is to see that the faithful -- that the laws are faithfully executed.


CHURCH: And sanctuary cities limit how much they assist the federal government on immigration matters. Usually that means they won't hold or prosecute undocumented immigrants just for being in the country illegally.

Widespread devastation across the United States, a deadly storm system has battered several states and the dangerous weather is not over yet. We will have the forecast for you.

[03:15:03] Plus, Sudan's military is purging the old guard. But protesters say their revolution is not finished yet, the latest on the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir and its aftermath.

We're back in just a moment.



CHURCH: The U.S. Secretary of State is calling on Venezuela's embattled president to open his country's borders as the nation's humanitarian crisis drags on.

Mike Pompeo's comments came during a trip to the Colombian border town of Cucuta. The U.S. diplomat met with Venezuelan refugees and toured a warehouse filled with relief supplies for Venezuela. He vowed to hold President Nicolas Maduro accountable for the crisis.


MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Nicolas Maduro is denying food that is sitting here. These aren't -- these aren't people that are starving because the country doesn't have wealth. These are people that are starving because the political leadership, the military thugs inside of Venezuela has destroyed the capacity to produce crude oil, they have destroyed the capacity to grow crops.

[03:20:00] They've denied their people aid that are sitting right at the border. You saw the bridge today, welded trucks preventing food. This is horrific. There is nothing else in South America that compares to this.


CHURCH: And our David McKenzie has been following all the developments. He has more now from Venezuela's Capital, Caracas.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a brief but highly significant visit to Cucuta on the border of Colombia and Venezuela. He visited with families, struggling Venezuelan families in migrant centers at that border, as well as viewing the aid, the considerable aid that is ready to come into this country to help people in the humanitarian crisis.

The secretary of state and other U.S. officials has repeatedly blamed the government of Nicolas Maduro for stopping aid from coming in here to help people with lifesaving support.

Pompeo said over this four-nation trip that Russia and Cuba as well as China are helping to prop up Maduro's government. He said that more needs to be done to get Maduro out.


POMPEO: We've made clear that all options are on the table and you watch, you watch the political and diplomatic noose tighten around Maduro's neck. We will begin to do the same thing. The Cubans must understand, too, that there will be a cost associated with their continuing support of Nicolas Maduro. We're going to have that same conversation with the Russians as well. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized as the interim president of Venezuela by more than 50 countries, was in the west of the country this weekend addressing thousands in Maracaibo, a city that has been hit by blackouts and water shortages.

What the opposition is saying to us that over the week they've felt a bit of the momentum slip as they tried to push the military and others to turn their back on Maduro. Maduro himself was addressing thousands of civilian militias.

Over the weekend here in Caracas, he said he wants a million more people to join those civilian militia to help prop up his regime. We visited a rally supporting the president, and people had some strong words for the secretary of state.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): To Pompeo, take your hands out of here. Stop with the conspiracies. Stop with the conspiracies and let us deal with our things on our own. To the people of the U.S., we love you, but we don't want any imperialists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): These people are respected. Venezuela is respected. We don't want anyone to get into our internal problems. We are in solidarity with all the countries in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Don't think that South America will give up. We will keep fighting until the end, Pompeo. Don't think we are scared.


MCKENZIE: Pompeo's visit underscores the importance of Venezuela to the Trump administration, but even U.S. Officials are saying that this could be a long struggle.

David McKenzie, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.

CHURCH: Sudan has been waiting three decades for this moment.


CHURCH: People are celebrating the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir. Dancing in the street. Chanting freedom. They also say their revolution is not finished yet.

Al-Bashir's former generals are now in charge and the protesters haven't stopped. They are calling for the immediate handover of power to a civilian government.

Let's turn to CNN's Farai Sevenzo. He is live for us in Nairobi, Kenya, keeping an eye on all of these developments in Sudan. So, Farai, what is the latest information you have on all of this? FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the moment, Rosemary, as you

say, it's been moving full scale ahead in terms of changes or changes of personality. We got rid of Al-Bashir on Thursday, 11th. Ibn Auf, he's the man who succeeded him resigned on Friday night.

Excuse me. Then, of course, Mr. Abdel Fatah al-Burhan is now in charge of the military council took over and on Saturday he made all manner of promises and opened up a door of dialogue with the protesters. He got rid of the curfew that we've been talking about which had been imposed immediately after Mr. Al-Bashir left office a monthly curfew.

And that's why you see so many protesters heading to that military headquarters. And, of course, the Sudanese Congressional Association, the very people who started this way back in December 2018, want a great deal more answers. They're not sure yet of the direction the new military council is going.

They want two years of a military transition, and, of course, the political groups and the Sudanese Professional Association with many others, including the very young and youthful protesters you see there, want an immediate change to civilian rule.

Now, there are several questions that pop up out of this current situation. We are now where we are since Thursday, 11th of April, and of course there has been a great deal of many noises being made around the region. It reflects really the importance of Sudan's space in the geopolitical world.

[03:25:07] And remember, of course, Sudan is also part of the Arab world. So, you have statements from the United Arab Emirates, from Saudi Arabia, from Bahrain, from Egypt, all supporting the current military situation in terms of the military transitional council.

And then, of course, you've got the protesters on one hand sort of saying, you know, where is al-Bashir? No one has laid eyes on him. How do we know that these very same people that have taken over are not protecting him?

And, of course, you must remember, it goes beyond just the Arab world and African world. Indeed, we saw the (Inaudible) of the United States greeting some of the new members of the military council just yesterday.

There's many -- in terms of Sudan's involvement in the Yemeni fight, the Saudi-led coalition there, they have over 10,000 troops fighting on behalf of the Saudi coalition.

So, you can see where the gelling and the friendships internationally are, which means, of course, that it leaves these protesters in an isolated and friendless position, even though they are the voice that got rid of the man who had ruled them for 30 years, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. A lot of concerns about those protesters out in the streets with the military in charge there. Farai Sevenzo, thank you so much for your report. I appreciate it. Well, the attorney general is set to release the Mueller report this

week, but William Barr will black out certain sections. How his background raises doubts about his decisions in this case.

Plus, a trail of destruction after deadly storms hammer the Southern U.S. and more devastation could still be on the way, a look at the damage and the forecast when we come back.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Rosemary Church. This is CNN Newsroom. Let's update you now on the main stories we've been following.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling on Venezuela's president to open his country's borders. His comments came during a trip to the border town of Cucuta in neighboring Colombia. He met with Venezuelan refugees and toured a warehouse filled with relief supplies for Venezuela.

Sudan's military has sacked the country's ambassadors to Geneva and Washington, this after the military ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir last week. The intelligence chief has also been replaced and the defense minister removed. Protesters are demanding the immediate handover of power to a civilian government.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana officially launched his presidential campaign Sunday. Pete Buttigieg is the fastest-rising Democrat in the large field of candidates. The 37-year-old is calling for judicial and voting reforms, equal access to Medicare and calls climate change a life and death issue.

Well, the world of golf will be buzzing for quite some time after Tiger Woods' stunning victory at the Masters on Sunday. It's his first major title in 11 years, and first win at Augusta since 2005.

Just a couple of years ago, there were questions about whether Tiger would every walk again, let alone play championship-level golf. After a debilitating back injury and multiple surgeries, including a risky back career-saving spinal fusion in 2017.

And now the remarkable comeback his fans have been waiting for is complete. Tiger's victory gives him 15 career major titles, just three behind Jack Nicklaus' all-time record.

One of Tiger's corporate sponsors and a slew of celebrities took to social media to congratulate him on his Masters win. Nike tweeted this, "Never stop chasing your crazy dream. Just do it."

Tennis star Serena Williams tweeted, "I am literally in tears watching Tiger Woods. This is greatness like no other. Knowing all you have been through physically to come back and do what you just did today, wow."

The NBA star Steph Curry, he tweeted, "Greatest comeback story in sports. Congrats, Tiger Woods. Let me hold one of those five jackets one time."

Well, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is expected to release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report this week. Democrats are demanding the full unedited version. The White House insists the investigation of Russian election meddling found no wrongdoing by the president.


SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think it is going to be damaging to the president because the entire purpose of the investigation was whether or not there was collusion. Mueller was crystal clear in the fact that there was no collusion. Not just --


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: But he wasn't crystal clear on obstruction of justice.

SANDERS: But any American -- they couldn't find anything. They couldn't make a determination, which is basically Mueller's way legally of saying we can't find anything. We're going to leave that up to the process, which is the attorney general.

He has made a decision, and so we consider this to be case closed. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction of justice, which I don't know how you can interpret that any other way than total exoneration.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Attorney General Barr before he became attorney general wrote a long memo in which he said that a president could not obstruct justice because the president is the boss of the Justice Department and could order it around to institute an investigation, to eliminate investigation and could not be questioned about that.

In other words, he thinks that as a matter of law a president can't obstruct justice, which is a very wild theory, to which most people do not -- do not agree.

And the fact of the matter is we should see and judge for ourselves, and that's for Congress to judge whether the president obstructed justice or not, and for the public ultimately.


CHURCH: Now, the attorney general listed areas of the report that will be blacked out. The House judiciary chairman says Congress has to see all of it because it has a constitutional duty to determine whether any wrongdoing has occurred.

Now, in addition to citing their constitutional duty, lawmakers have expressed skepticism about how quickly Barr wrote his four-page summary of a nearly 400-page report.

And his announcement last week that he was looking into the FBI's actions, saying the Trump campaign had been spied on, sparked Democrats outrage. Barr has been attorney general before and his actions then raised questions about his impartiality now.

[03:35:05] CNN's Randi Kaye reports.

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Attorney General William Barr's performance isn't the first time he's aligned himself with the president he's serving.




KAYE: Go back nearly 30 years to Barr's first stint as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush.

New York Times columnist William Safire, a conservative Republican, often referred to Barr then not as attorney general but as the cover- up general. Suggesting he covered up Bush's role in Iraq-gate, burying the investigation of how the Bush administration allegedly helped finance Saddam Hussein's weapons.

Barr also played a role in the Iran-Contra affair, convincing President Bush just before Christmas in 1992 to pardon six former members of the Reagan administration, including former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, who was set to go to trial for allegedly lying to Congress.

The pardons, at Barr's urging, essentially shut down the independent counsel's investigation, leading some to call it a miscarriage of justice.

In 2001, Barr was asked about the pardons. His response, "The Iran- Contra ones, I certainly did not oppose any of them."

Also telling in Barr's history is this 19-page unsolicited memo Barr wrote to the Justice Department in June last year before Trump nominated him. In it, Barr criticizes the Mueller investigation, calling Mueller's obstruction of justice theory fatally misconceived.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is what he was hired to do, which was to protect the president, but it is deeply concerning.


KAYE: Back in 2017, Barr also raised eyebrows, telling the New York Times there was more basis for investigating the sale of uranium between the U.S. and Russia while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State than the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with Russia.

But when Barr said it, the FBI had already investigated the Uranium One deal and no evidence has ever been made public showing proof of a bribery scheme or wrongdoing. Barr later walked back his claims.


BARR: I have no knowledge of the Uranium One. I didn't particularly think that was necessarily something that should be pursued aggressively.


KAYE: Meanwhile, if you think William Barr may be too close to the president, consider this, his son-in-law works in the White House Counsel's office. The son-in-law's role is troubling, says the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, because, quote, "it raises further questions about Barr's independence."

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: There is widespread damage across the Southeastern United States. A major storm system has barreled through several states killing at least seven people and leaving hundreds more displaced.

The destructive weather brought high winds, tornadoes and heavy rain.

And this is how rough things got in parts of Mississippi over the weekend. Monroe County was hit especially hard as two tornadoes reportedly hammered the region. Mississippi's governor has declared a state of emergency for the affected areas.

And our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the forecast. He joins us now live. So just how long will this stick around?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, we're seeing this begin to taper off. The next couple of hours, really all this storm has to offer, and, of course, you mentioned it was across the southern U.S. where all the activity in the past few days.

The storm itself on Saturday spawned some 21 tornadoes. Over 200 wind gust reports. And then you work your way into Sunday, a much quieter day, still really rampant when it comes to the wind damage, severity across, really, an expansive area, but the tornado count was down to two.

All in total here for the month of April, sitting at about 44 tornados across the United States. If you're curious the month of April on average brings about 178 tornadoes for the entire month. But of course, we have the last two weeks of it here remaining still, but here is what is left of it.

The severe weather threat, expansive, about 24 million people impacted in the enhanced zone, which on a scale of one to five is a three, indicated here in the color orange across portions of say, Philadelphia, Washington, and on to Richmond.

In this region the damaging winds it hailed really the predominant threat. And I think the damaging winds is going to really take the most significant chunk of that because the storm has had the history of being a wind-driven storm, not necessarily the other elements of severe weather, which, of course, have gotten quite a bit of attention because of the fatalities associated with them.

So, the wind gusts going to be the concern across portions of the northeast. The current temperatures, though, notice this. In Washington, it's almost 70 degrees into the early morning hours. That is really all the warm before the storm here across this region and should enhance some of the storms as they work their way across this region.

In fact, we're seeing some of the thunderstorms into Philly and New York into the early morning hours. Wind gust as much as 30 to 50 miles per hour.

[03:40:02] But notice, just like that. Into the afternoon and evening hours, even before sunset here, everything begins to taper off.

So, on Sunday, over 7,000 flights impacted around the U.S. On Monday, just a few hundred at least to get you started across the region with disruptions there in aviation there.

But here is the forecast into the afternoon hours. We'll expect clearing to begin. The wind gusts, again, going to be the main concern, Rosemary, across that region with winds up to 50 miles per hour.

CHURCH: Wow. All right. Look forward to the clearing at least. Thank you so much, Pedram, for keeping an eye on that.


CHURCH: Well up next, an urgent appeal. The Red Cross is desperately seeking information on the whereabouts of these abducted staff members. We'll have the details when we come back.


CHURCH: The Red Cross is desperately searching for three staff members abducted in Syria more than five years ago. And they are now appealing for information on their whereabouts. They believe Louisa Akavi, a nurse from New Zealand, may still be alive.

The Red Cross has never been able to confirm the fate of Syrian driver Alaa Rajab on the left, and Syrian driver Nabil Bakdounes on the right. All three were part of a convoy delivering supplies when they were captured. They were last known to be held by ISIS.

So, let's turn to our Andrew Stevens. He joins us from Hong Kong with more on this. So, you've been following this story very closely. What all are you able to reveal about this?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Rosemary, that this is the first time that this information has been made public from five and a half years ago. Louisa Akavi was abducted with her two Syrian national colleagues, Alaa -- excuse me -- Alaa and -- I can't get the names right now. But he -- she was -- they were abducted five and a half years ago, yet

we're only getting that information now. And the reason for that is they've always been concerned about the threat to her life if the information was made public.

[03:45:08] But the Red Cross has decided with ISIS now defeated and the caliphate essentially destroyed, now is the time to come out with public appeal, if you like, to find out where that information is -- if they can get information.

Now interestingly, though, that has not gone down well with the New Zealand government who thinks that the information should still be kept private. It should not have gone public.

Listen to what Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand had to say.


JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Forgive me, I hope, for not commenting on that case. It absolutely remains the government's view that it would be preferable if there were not in the public domain.


STEVENS: So, real security concerns there from the New Zealand government, Rosemary, about the fate of Louisa if this information has been made public.

What we know at this stage is since 2013 she has been seen three times, the latest of which was in December of last year. She was seen in Sousa. There were two people who said they had seen her. She was working on ISIS control -- or in ISIS-controlled hospitals and medical facilities. And that was the last time that had any information about her whereabouts.

But obviously, the Red Cross has decided the time has come to try to get more information. What they've been doing, meanwhile, have been going to camps which have former ISIS fighters in them and refugees with a picture of Louisa Akavi, trying to find out if she is, indeed, in one of these camps but not prepared to seek help because of the threat from ISIS fighters within those camps as well.

So, it's a very delicate situation at the moment. The Red Cross, though, believe this is the best way forward to get -- to make it public, make an appeal to try to get information on her whereabouts.

CHURCH: Yes, let's hope they can track her down and possibly those two drivers, although they haven't been seen. Bud Andrew Stevens, thank you so much for bringing us up to date on that story. We'll keep following it.

Well, it is the beginning of the end, the biggest show on television. The final season of "Game of Thrones" has arrived after a very long wait. We will talk about the biggest moments from the season premiere in just a moment.


CHURCH: Well, the long-awaited final season of "Game of Thrones" has arrived at last. HBO aired the first episode just a few hours ago after an almost two-year hiatus.

Now, we do want to give our viewers a spoiler alert. This is a scene from the season premier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen. My sister, Sansa Stark, the lady of Winterfell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for inviting us into your home, Lady Stark. The north is as beautiful as your brother claimed. As are you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Winterfell is yours, your grace.


CHURCH: A bit icy, wasn't it? And that was an opening scene from the episode "Winterfell." As you just saw, a few major characters finally met face-to-face for the first time. We want to mention HBO and CNN share a parent company, Warner Media.

For a look at the season eight premier, I'm joined by Erik Voss. He is a comedian is the YouTube host of New Rockstars and is with us via Skype from Los Angeles. Good to see you.

ERIK VOSS, YOUTUBE HOST, NEW ROCKSTARS: Good to see you. Thank you for having me on.

CHURCH: All right. So must repeat again for anyone out there who may have just joined us, spoiler alert for all those viewers trying to catch up on "Game of Thrones" episodes. So, Erik, was the wait worth it? Can this final season live up to all the hype?

VOSS: I don't know if that's possible because, you know, every nerd out there has their own opinion and their own dream scenario for how they want this series to end, but so far it seems so good.

This whole opening episode has been really fun to break down and I look forward to going even more in-depth in our Westeros weekly pod cost and our great YouTube channel. So that I can see all the little ways that this episode connected to the opening series episode all the way back in 2011.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, what did the opening scene here reveal? Are you any closer to figuring out who might win the "Game of Thrones?"

VOSS: I got it all figured out. But I'm not going to tell you yet because I don't want to spoil anything. I don't want to ruin people's lives. CHURCH: We've done a spoiler alert, so we're clear.

VOSS: You did. And thank you for doing that. Because you'd be surprised how often people yell at me for spoilers on YouTube.

But this opening scene revealed quite a bit of side-eye and drama between these characters, and I love it because you can really analyze just by the expressions on people's faces what they're really masking. And despite their diplomacy and their best intentions on trying to make a good first impression, there is quite a bit of jealousy and readiness to stab each other in the back, if that needs to happen.

CHURCH: Right. Just as it has been all throughout all of the seasons.

VOSS: Yes.

CHURCH: Now, of course, we have to point out you don't know how this all ends up, right?

VOSS: No, of course.

CHURCH: You don't know any of this.

VOSS: I can't see all the way to the end.

CHURCH: Right. So, what should we be looking out for as we try to figure out the winners and the losers and what surprises might be in store, do you think?

VOSS: I think the characters who are playing the game most effectively are usually the ones who get rewarded at the end. The characters who seem to be caught off guard or making promises that they probably shouldn't make might be in store for some, you know, ugly surprises.

For example, Tyrion Lannister is kind of my pick to win it all by the end, just because he always seems like the smartest person in the room. And then we saw in this episode Sansa Stark said I thought you were the smartest people alive, but I was wrong if you're trusting your sister to deliver the goods, that doesn't sound like a very smart person.

[03:55:07] CHURCH: Right. You think Tyrion will be the one to take the throne in the end?

VOSS: I hope so. Just because he has the best lines. He's the funniest character on the show. I always want the funniest ones to end up on top.

CHURCH: He is a special favorite, isn't he? I mean, you don't think there is a chance that they might give alternative endings?

VOSS: I hope so. It sounds like they shot multiple endings of the show. That's the only way they could keep the secrets from leaking out. They had to show probably lots of different scenarios.

CHURCH: Interesting.

VOSS: If Tyrion doesn't win, my hope, just because I have kind of a nihilistic view to all of these characters, is I hope no one wins, you know. Daenerys said a couple of seasons back she wants to break the wheel. And I kind of want to see that version of a scenario where maybe the iron throne doesn't exist in the final image of the show.

CHURCH: OK. That would be interesting to sort of spoiler for a lot of people, I think. Erik Voss, thank you so much. We'll keep an eye on it.

VOSS: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: And thanks so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me any time on Twitter. Early Start is next for our viewers here in the United States. And for everyone else, stay tuned for more news with Max Foster in London. Have yourselves a great day.