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Trump Blasts GOP Delegate Selection; Clinton & Sanders Trade Blows in New York; ISIS Defectors Speak to CNN. Aired 4:30-5a ET



Blows in New York; ISIS Defectors Speak to CNN. Aired 4:30-5a ET>


[04:30:53] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump lashing out at the Republican voting process. And overnight, the party chair -- well, he lashes back.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders also trading low blows as they battle for votes in New York.

BERMAN: A CNN exclusive: ISIS defectors share their horror stories. What they witness while working for the terror organization. We're live.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KOSINSKI: I'm Michelle Kosinski. It's half past the hour.

This morning, rigged, crooked and corrupt -- three more tough words from Donald Trump and they are directed at his own party and at its own nominating process. Today, the Republican frontrunner heads to upstate New York, bringing his new message, blasting the party system of selecting delegates to its convention in Cleveland. That was one theme we heard from him overnight with the huge rally -- or huge rally in Albany.

BERMAN: Well done.

KOSINSKI: Trump also had some words for Hillary Clinton, saying he expects her to be the Democratic nominee despite her being, in his words, "guilty as hell" of mishandling classified email.

For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Sara Murray with the Trump campaign.



Donald Trump is not backing down on his criticism of the Republican nominating process. He stumbled in the delegate wrangling in places like Colorado and places like Louisiana. Speaking here in Albany, New York, last night to a crowd of thousands, he suggested to them the system is rigged.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, we have a rigged system. So, in Colorado, they were going to vote. And you saw what's happened in Colorado. It's one of the big things. It's a fix.

Because we thought we were having an election and a number of months ago, they decided to do it by, you know what, right? Right? They said, we'll do it by delegate. They said they're going to do it by delegate. Oh, isn't that nice?

And the delegates were all there all waiting. The head guy, in fact, one of them tweeted out today or said today by mistake and then they withdrew. It's something to the effect, see, never Trump, look what we did, because if I go to the voters of Colorado, we win Colorado. So, it's a crooked, crooked system.

MURRAY: Now, the reality is when Donald Trump was up against Ted Cruz in Louisiana, he did win, but only narrowly, only to see Ted Cruz out- organized him behind the scenes in some of these state conventions. That is something the Trump campaign is hoping to rectify with a couple of staff changes.

Meanwhile, Trump gave us a preview of what could be his general election message, hitting Hillary Clinton hard from the stump here in New York.

TRUMP: I don't think the e-mails will take her down because she is being protected by the Democrats. It would take anybody else down but it's not going to take her down, because she is being protected by the Democrats, which is a disgrace. But she's going to have to live with that when she runs because everybody knows that she is guilty as hell, OK? Everybody. Her whole life has been a big, fat, beautiful lie.

MURRAY: Now, that shift to hitting Hillary Clinton even harder about her e-mail scandal, about her past is a strategic one for the Trump campaign. They feel like they are inching ever closer to becoming the presumptive nominee and they want to prepare to take on Clinton in a general election.

Back to you, guys.


KOSINSKI: Thanks, Sara.

So, if things are like this now, what's going to be like two months from now? One can only imagine.

BERMAN: One can only hope.

KOSINSKI: But RNC chairman Reince Priebus is firing back at Trump's criticism of the party's delegate process. Take a look at this tweet, Priebus telling Trump the rules were set last year, nothing mysterious and nothing new. The rules have not changed, the rules are the same, nothing different. In an interview with "USA Today", Donald Trump is thinking ahead, offering up choices for a running mate if he secures the nomination. John Kasich and Marco Rubio both on the list, even though both say they have no interest in being vice president.

So is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who responded by saying, "I literally just heard it in the car and I laughed. It is interesting to hear after what was said about me a couple weeks ago." But here it goes.

BERMAN: Yes, Trump was going after Walker hard. But that he says --

KOSINSKI: That is how it goes in this dirty, dirty game.

BERMAN: I know. But the best about Marco Rubio, you know, Donald Trump said, you know, I could choose Marco Rubio.

[04:35:03] He tried to be Don Rickles on me at the end of the campaign when he was making jokes about him. But then Trump said, he went even more Don Rickles on Marco Rubio.


BERMAN: Don Rickles getting a lot of love.

Ted Cruz lashing back at what he called Donald Trump's whining, cursing and fever tweeting -- Michelle's favorite country music song. Campaigning late last night in California, Cruz touted his recent victories over Donald Trump.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, you may have noticed that when Donald loses -- he gets very unhappy.

He yells and screams and stamps his foot. He curses and yells and insults anyone nearby. Look, as we know in the state of California, wine is something best served with cheese.


BERMAN: By the way, Ted Cruz happens to love cheese. It's true. It's true. He talks about cheese all the time.

No campaign events for Ted Cruz after his West Coast swing, one sign that Cruz is looking beyond the New York primary. Right now, he's running in third of the polls, the FOX News poll, actually, even in a more "Wall Street Journal" poll has him in third. He hasn't been in New York since last Thursday. His only stop in New York is tomorrow will be for CNN's town hall. That's after an event in Pennsylvania which doesn't hold its primary until April 26th.

KOSINSKI: Someday, this whole thing is going to be one great country song.

In just hours, Ohio Governor John Kasich delivers what his campaign is billing is a major speech in New York City. Kasich previewed the address on CNN's town hall last night titled "Two Paths". He said the speech criticizes Trump and Cruz for stoking people's fears instead of following his path which he says is to bring Americans together.

Kasich also told Anderson Cooper he sees a clear route to winning the Republican nomination. He says it goes through the convention where the delegates choose him because he says he is the only nominee who could beat Hillary Clinton.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's a scrum. Look, we don't know who all the delegates are going to be. They're going to be hard working Republicans. They'll be some elected officials or former elected officials. Ward healers and all this. You know, it's a bizarre process. I'm not in the middle of it, because I've got have to prepare for people like you and I get to do town halls and all the things that I do.


KOSINSKI: The three night CNN Republican town hall event continues tonight with the Trump family, including Donald, his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka on stage answering voters' questions.

Tomorrow night will have Ted and Heidi Cruz all live, all in New York, 9:00 p.m. each night, only on CNN.

BERMAN: And the candidates love doing this. I think it's great for the voters. It's great for us. You get to hear from them for the whole hour.

KOSINSKI: Yes, I couldn't stop watching this. I thought it was fascinating. You never know which questions they get. The whole family gets question.

BERMAN: You never what the kids are going to say.

KOSINSKI: It could go in any direction. What if you are rebellious kids and you don't know what they were going to say?

BERMAN: My kids would not sit for a town hall event, tell you that right now.

KOSINSKI: It was great.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battling for votes in New York this morning. Hillary Clinton ahead of Sanders by 12 points in the latest polls. The two Democrats slamming each other for positions they once took on immigration and fracking.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I started co- sponsoring the DREAM Act back in 2002 or 2003. And I consistently did that. Senator Sanders, by contrast, was supporting vigilantes, the so-called Minutemen on the border.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Secretary Clinton and her State Department worked to export fracking throughout the world to reward companies like Chevron, Halliburton, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. In my view, that is unacceptable.


BERMAN: Sanders held a rally late last night in Buffalo where he also took aim at the Republican frontrunner. CNN's Jason Carroll was there.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bernie Sanders wrapping up his speech here in Buffalo drawing a crowd of thousands. He is still meeting some of those fans who came out tonight to see him here tonight.

And as this race heats up between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they've really been sharpening their attacks on each other, taking swipes on issues such as experience and judgment. Sanders saying despite the polls, showing him trailing behind Clinton, he has the momentum.

During this rally here in Buffalo, he drew distinctions between himself and Clinton on a number of issues, including income inequality, trade policies, and campaign finance reform. But he saved some of his strongest criticism for Donald Trump.

SANDERS: Many Americans are worried about the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president of the United States.


[04:40:00] It ain't going to happen.


We will not allow a Donald Trump to divide us up by insulting Mexicans and Latinos.


By insulting Muslims.


By insulting women.


CARROLL: Sanders also criticizing Trump for heading up that birther moment against President Obama. Sanders says despite those polls showing him trailing behind Hillary Clinton, he points to another poll, a national poll. In a match up he says between himself and Trump, he says in at least two polls, he beats Trump -- John, Michelle.


BERMAN: All right. Jason Carroll for us in Buffalo.

Another CNN exclusive: Democratic presidential debate this Thursday night, 9:00 p.m. in Brooklyn. A big, big deal. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders face-to-face for the first time in more than five weeks. The final time they'll face off before the crucial New York primary.

This campaign has really changed a great deal since the last time they've met.

KOSINSKI: Definitely. I mean, they said it was going to happen. And now, we are seeing it in living color.

And now, joining us for the early start on all the whining and cursing and fever tweeting in the markets -- Alison Kosik.

ALISON KOSIK, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you.

I'm seeing a lot of red arrows around the world this morning. Asian stocks closed mostly lower. European markets are currently in the red. And we are seeing U.S. stock futures in the red as well.

You know, stocks kicked off the week on a bad note as well. The Dow lost about 21 points. That's about 0.1 percent. The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ also closed lower, but that lower close for the S&P 500 puts that index back in negative territory for the year.

Happy Equal Pay Day. Today marks how long into the year women need to work until their earnings can actually catch up to what full-time working men earned last year. Meaning, women have to work an extra four months just to make what men do. On average, women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. That number hasn't moved much since 2000.

African-American women and Hispanic women, they earn even less. And that pay gap quickly adds up. Women earn almost $11,000 a year less than men earn. That works out to about $900 less per month.

Here's what's really depressing, is women expect to get paid less because in the survey, it showed how much they expected to get paid compared to men. They get an average of $14,000 less on the expectation of what they should be paid. So, it's a lesson to all of us women. We have to ask. We've got to have the guts to ask I guess, and hopefully not get penalized.

KOSINSKI: I mean, there is inequality out there. I mean, we all know that. It is complicated. This is an averaging out of everything. So, it's good to know.

KOSIK: It's a good overview of the inequality in the workforce.

BERMAN: President Obama speaking t that, the guy you cover. He is giving a speech at 11:15 in Washington.

KOSINSKI: Yes, that guy, right, yes.

BERMAN: All right. Dramatic new video surfacing this morning after a former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was shot and killed. We will have that video, next.


[04:47:28] BERMAN: New developments from New Orleans this morning. The suspect in the apparent road rage shooting death of former NFL star Will Smith claims the police have the story all wrong.

There's new cell phone video from the crime scene Saturday night. This is moments after smith was allegedly shot and killed by 28-year- old Cardell Hayes. Hayes rear-ended Smith's SUV and shot the ex-New Orleans Saints lineman after an argument broke out.

Now, an attorney for Hayes claims his client was the victim of a hit- and-run. Insisting Smith was the aggressor.

Let's get more now from CNN's Jean Casarez.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Michelle, Cardell Hayes remains on a $1 million bail this morning. The alleged facts of what happened this weekend are fairly simple. We do know that NFL former football player Will Smith and his wife had dinner with friends Saturday night at a restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

They left the restaurant about 11:15 p.m. and police say it was only about ten blocks away from the restaurant when a vehicle rammed into from the rear their Mercedes SUV. Police say that words were exchanged, but they also say that what happened was that Cardell Hayes took a small gun out of his vehicle and began to shoot multiple times Will Smith killing him at the scene. His wife was shot in the leg. She was taken to the hospital.

Will Smith was drafted in 2004 for the NFL. He played his entire career with the New Orleans Saints. He was actually with them when they won the Super Bowl in 2010. He had received knowledge he was going to be inducted this year into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame -- John, Michelle.


KOSINSKI: Thanks so much, Jean.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and nominee Merrick Garland are breakfasting this morning. But don't expect a breakthrough when it comes to a confirmation hearing. Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already vowed to block Garland or any other nominee until a new president takes office. After Grassley and Garland meet for breakfast, the federal judge sits down with two other Senate Republicans today, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

BERMAN: A challenge now to Mississippi's controversial religious freedom law. A Democratic senator in the state plans to introduce a bill today that would repeal the measure. The new law takes effect in July and will allow businesses to deny service to members of the LGBT community based on the business owner's religious or moral beliefs.

KOSINSKI: The team of experts testing the water in Flint, Michigan, will released its findings later this morning.

[04:50:03] At this hour, the water is still deemed undrinkable there. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is blaming his own staff for misleading him about the lead contamination crisis. He claims he was told there was no problem by environmental quality officials.

Health officials in the state now confirmed 12 people have died from the Legionnaire's outbreak in Flint, with 91 confirmed cases of the disease. Those illnesses begun after Flint's changed its water supply to the Flint River in April of 2014, although there is no saying whether those cases are connected.

BERMAN: Today, courtroom battle over whether Bill Cosby's wife will have to sit down for a new deposition. Camille Cosby, she refused to answer dozens of questions during his first deposition in February. Her lawyer said the questions were improper and offensive, arguing Mrs. Cosby is protected by spousal privilege. The deposition is part of the defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who claimed the comedian sexually assaulted them years ago. Cosby has denied all the allegations.

KOSINSKI: Are you a Starbucks rewards member? Well, things are about to change for you starting today. We will have an early start on your money, next.


[04:55:17] BERMAN: Now to a CNN exclusive. Two rugged former Taliban fighters turned to ISIS and then defect. Only speaking only to CNN, they describe the terror group's tactics as too brutal to handle. The ISIS promises to help Afghans empty.

I want to bring in CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh live for us from Kabul.

Nick, you spoke to these men face to face.

What did they tell you?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A remarkable story of how messy this war has become. These are two Taliban fighters who used to be targeted by American aircraft who saw themselves in a complicated fighting that happened during the long- term Taliban insurgency and decided to side with hard lines militants who came in from neighboring Pakistan who were basically ISIS.

They joined them because they had the money and the resources. Pretty quickly, they saw the beheadings. They said if they died, their family members would not be handed to relatives, but put in what they called some sort of a camp. They were concerned now about how they need more money and more resources to become part of the government program to harness local militants to fight against ISIS.

Now, that program has seen some success to the large volume of U.S. airstrikes, drone and otherwise, targeted towards ISIS position in the east of the country in the past months or so. But ISIS is certainly still there. In fact, they used to broadcast regularly on radio station known as ISIS FM locally. That was bombed off air by American fire power, but it made a reappear answer back on the air waves.

But the distraction really now is the fighting season is being declared open by the Taliban today of ISIS, the cancer into society that many describe the ideology that the West has to be absolutely sure it doesn't take root here because it's so hard to get rid. That's been a massive distraction to U.S. and Afghan security forces.

But above it all, John, we have the moment of Taliban who joined ISIS, leaving them because they were so brutal and now welcoming American drones to bomb their own village just to get ISIS out of it -- John.

BERMAN: Nick, is there a sense that ISIS is growing in Afghanistan right now? And is there an equal sense, as you say, that the Taliban will affirmatively seek to stamp them out?

WALSH: The Taliban have been moving against them and create a special forces movement to attack ISIS. ISIS grew fast last year. They have been pushed back by a lot of American fire power, Afghan, Taliban forces as well.

But they are still there. They are still moving around the east and security vacuum many fear could surge ahead could well assist them -- John.

BERMAN: A lot of different interests at work in one place.

Nick Paton Walsh, thanks so much.

KOSINSKI: Also breaking overnight, Brazil's embattled president faces impeachment now. The congressional committee there has voted to recommend a Senate trial to oust Dilma Rousseff. She's accused of illegally manipulating public finances. The measure now moves to the full chambers of deputies where a 2/3 majority vote is needed this Sunday to begin a formal trial.

And joining us for an early look at the markets, Alison Kosik.

What's going on out there in the big world?

KOSIK: Good morning to both of you.

I'm seeing a lot of red arrows around the world. Asian stocks closed most lower. European markets, they're in the red and so are U.S. stock futures. Actually, stocks kicked off the week on a bad note. Dow lost about 21 points. S&P 500, the NASDAQ also closed lower yesterday. But for the S&P 500, after yesterday's trade, now, that index is back in negative territory for the year.

Verizon workers are planning to strike. Almost 40,000 Verizon employees from Massachusetts to Virginia are preparing to walk off the job tomorrow morning. They want a new contract that limits outsourcing and increases pay and improves working conditions. Verizon says they need more flexibility to manage the business, especially as the number of people using landlines decreases.

If you like Starbucks and get those rewards, uh-uh, beginning today, it's going to be a lot harder to get that free drink. The coffee store's rewards will be based on how much customers spend, not how many times they buy things. So, instead of earning one star per visit, you're going to get two stars per every dollar you spend.

So, that means you have to spend 63 bucks or 125 stars to get your free reward. Under the old plan, it took only 12 stars.

This is good news for latte drinkers who spend more money at Starbucks. They're going to be earning their rewards much more quickly than customers who buy plain coffee. So, it's all about shelling out more money and making the customers irate.

KOSINSKI: Too early to figure out that scheme of how many points equal --

KOSIK: Starbucks did it.

BERMAN: Sixty-three bucks, that's like three lattes, Starbucks Grande.


BERMAN: Maybe a little more than three. Just a little.

EARLY START continues right now.

(Byline: John Berman, Michelle Kosinski, Sara Murray, Jason Carroll, Alison Kosik, Jean Casarez, Nick Paton Walsh)

(High: Intense battle for delegates as Ted Cruz and John Kasich say they don't need the popular vote to come out on top. Are rigged rules keeping Donald Trump from clinching the Republican nomination? Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battle for votes in New York, and now, Secretary Clinton says that Bernie Sanders can't stand the glare of the media. A CNN exclusive: ISIS defectors in Afghanistan switched sides and share their stories with CNN.)

(Spec: Donald Trump; Ted Cruz; John Kasich; Republican Party; Politics; Hillary Clinton; Bernie Sanders; New York; Elections; Government; Afghanistan; ISIS; Taliban; Middle East; Terrorism; World Affairs)