The Race for President: Republicans Battle for Delegates; Clinton & Sanders Trade Blows in New York; ISIS Defectors Speak to



Clinton & Sanders Trade Blows in New York; ISIS Defectors Speak to

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[04:00:12] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN ANCHOR: Are rigged rules keeping Donald Trump from clinching the Republican nomination? Intense battle for delegates as Ted Cruz and John Kasich say they don't need the popular vote to come out on top.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, their intense battle for votes in New York. Now, Secretary Clinton says that Bernie Sanders can't stand the glare of the media.

KOSINSKI: A CNN exclusive: ISIS defectors in Afghanistan switched sides and share their stories with CNN. We are live.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Michelle Kosinski.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Great to see you today. It is Tuesday, April 12th, 4:00 a.m. in the East.

This morning, rigged, crooked, corrupt -- those words from Donald Trump and directed from his own party and 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 big thing we heard from him overnight in a huge rally in Albany. Trump also had some words for Hillary Clinton, saying he expects her to be the Democratic nominee despite being in his words "guilty as hell of mishandling classified e-mails".

For the latest, let's bring in 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.


BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much.

Now, the RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, he fired back overnight at Trump's criticism of the party's delegates selection process. He went on Twitter. This is pretty interesting.

Look at this tweet, "The rules were set last year. Nothing mysterious, nothing new. The rules have not changed. The rules are the same. Nothing different."

Interesting. Who is getting under who's skin right there?

Now, in a new interview with "USA Today", Donald Trump seems to be thinking ahead. He offered up possible some choices as a running mate if he gets the nomination. He mentioned John Kasich, who's running against him, Marco Rubio, who did run against him. Both men have said they have no interest in being vice president. Wisconsin Governor Scott walker is also someone Donald Trump mentioned. He said, "I literally just heard it in the car and I laughed. It is interesting to hear that after the things said about me a couple weeks ago." Of course, Scott Walker supported Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin primary and Trump went after him pretty hard.

KOSINSKI: I mean, that's not always the way it goes.


KOSINSKI: Well, Ted Cruz is lashing back at what he called Donald Trump's whining, cursing and fevered tweeting, which is also my favorite county song. Campaigning late last night in California, Cruz touted his recent victories over Trump.


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

[04:05:06] He yells and screams and stomps 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.


KOSINSKI: You hear that lively crowd. No campaign events for Cruz today, after his West Coast swing. One sign that Cruz is looking beyond the New York primary where he is third in the latest polls is that he's not been in New York since last Thursday. His only stop in New York is tomorrow for CNN's town hall after an event in Pennsylvania, which doesn't hold its primary until April 26th.

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

Governor Kasich also told Anderson Cooper he sees a clear route to winning the Republican nomination. That clear route goes through a muddy contested convention where delegates would choose him, he says, because he is the only nominee who can 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: This was the first fight night of the three-night town hall. It was really interesting. I have to tell you, hearing from his family, which perhaps the most interesting.

And it continues tonight with Donald Trump and his family, wife Melania, daughter Ivanka, also his sons on stage answering voter questions. Tomorrow night, Ted Cruz and Heidi Cruz. It's all live all right here in New York, 9:00 p.m. each night, only on CNN.

KOSINSKI: Yes, and it is such a different perspective.

BERMAN: It is. And you know what? I talked to the candidates about this. They love it. They love these town halls.

KOSINSKI: I love watching it. It was so different. It's like, just what we needed right now.

Well, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are battling for votes in New York. This morning, Clinton ahead of Sanders by 12 points, in the latest polls. The two Democrats slamming 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.


KOSINSKI: Sanders had a late night rally in Buffalo where he also took aim at 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.


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.


[04:10:09] KOSINSKI: Thanks, Jason.

In another CNN exclusive, the Democratic presidential debate this Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. in Brooklyn. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders face-to-face for the first time in more than five weeks and for the last time before the crucial New York primary, only on CNN.

BERMAN: Yes, the first time since they started calling each other unqualified. It will be interesting to see what they do up on the stage.

Joining us for an early start on your money, Alison Kosik is here.

Good morning.

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

And I am seeing markets being mixed around the world. Asian stocks closed mostly lower. European markets, they are mixed as well.

U.S. stock futures, they are barely moving at the moment. Stocks, though, kicked off the week on a bad note. They were just modest losses. Yesterday, the Dow lost about 21 points yesterday. That is 0.1 percent. The S&P and NASDAQ also closing in the red. But yesterday's session, after it, the S&P now is back in negative territory for the year.

Amazon customers are telling Jeff Bezos to dump Trump. More than 13,000 customers signed a petition started by a women's rights group demanding Amazon cut ties with Donald Trump. Trump currently has eight items on Amazon.

Earlier this year, Macy's pulled Trump's clothing line from its shelves. But even if Amazon takes down Trump's product, the online retailer still stands to profit from the GOP frontrunner, because if you do a search on the word "Trump", the site pulls up Trump's bobbleheads, Trump's face masks, even toilet paper.

What are you going to do wit that toilet paper? What's really, this toilet paper has his face on it. You could only take a couple of guesses but --

KOSINSKI: Whining, cursing and fever tweeting. Thanks, Alison.

KOSIK: You got it.

BERMAN: Well, yes to that one.

KOSINSKI: Some dramatic new video surfacing this morning from moments after former New Orleans star Will Smith was shot and killed. That's next.


[04:16:02] KOSINSKI: The suspect in the apparent road rage shooting death of former NFL star Will Smith claims the police have the story all wrong. You are looking at new cell phone video from the crime scene Saturday night, moments after Smith was allegedly shot and killed by 28-year-old Cardell Hayes. Police say Hayes rear-ended Smith's SUV and then shot the ex-New Orleans Saints lineman after the argument broke out.

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

We 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.


BERMAN: All right. Jean Casarez, thanks so much.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, they will break bread this morning, but do not 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 the new president takes office. No hearings after Grassley meet for breakfast, the federal judge will sit down with two other Senate Republicans today, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

KOSINSKI: That has to be an awkward conversation.


KOSINSKI: I mean, where is it going?

There's 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.

BERMAN: The team of experts testing the water in Flint, Michigan, will released its findings later this morning. As of right now, the water is still deemed undrinkable. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder blames 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 2013.

KOSINSKI: Parts of the South under the threat of new severe thunderstorms. A round of nasty weather left a trail of destruction in the region on Monday. Look at the damage. You can see, a tree toppled over destroying this home.

Meanwhile, this was the scene in Wylie, Texas. Wind gusts reached up to 70 miles an hour in the region. You can see softball-sized hail falling in its backyard. And with the hail came, of course, major damage in the North Texas City. Many homes left with broken windows and debris scattered in the street.

BERMAN: Crazy pictures. All right. A CNN exclusive: two former ISIS fighters revealed the horror they witnessed while on the job. That's next.


[04:24:10] KOSINSKI: Now to a CNN exclusive. Two rugged former Taliban fighters turn to ISIS and decide to defect from ISIS, something that is happening more and more lately. They're speaking only to CNN. They described the terror group's tactics as too brutal to handle and ISIS promises to help ordinary Afghans empty.

Let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh who is live from Kabul.

And, Nick, you spoke to these men face-to-face.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it tells you something really about how brutal ISIS really have been perceived here in eastern Afghanistan, a place ruled by decades of war. The two frankly not very gentlemen who used to be Taliban fighters were so disgusted by beheadings they witnessed, by also the treatment of people who died fighting's families who actually (INAUDIBLE) relatives were put into a camp, they described. That they were so sickened by that, they chose to defect away from ISIS ranks.

[04:25:03] Now, we have seen since early last year, ISIS move into the east of the country. Many accusing them of being predominantly foreign, often militants from Pakistan. And they play on disputes between Taliban ranks and a lot of disaffectedness amongst the youth here, too, to get a foothold.

U.S. drone strikes came in to try to push them back. That seems to have predominately worked, but these defectors left simply because their goals ISIS pursuing were not the same they wanted to see as Afghans. Now, remarkably, these Taliban men were at one point target of U.S. air power. But now they cheer on U.S. drones attacking ISIS even in their own villages and their own former homes, because they want to see ISIS wiped out.

It is such a mess here, this war. ISIS were potentially very damaging, new complicated defection in the crisis here. U.S. drone power seems to be making a substantial dent in them, but still there to the point where, in fact, the radio broadcasts to appeal to tomorrow to their side was wiped out by U.S. airstrike recently. Locals have reported to us hearing them back on the air again.

ISIS had not gone. They are dented. They are revolting frankly, many Afghans away from them. But still, they are an added complication here and a huge distraction to the U.S. and Afghan forces. Really at this point, now the Taliban have just declared their fighting season opening today, should be focusing more on the longer insurgency. And that's the Taliban , who are taking more territory -- Michelle.

KOSINSKI: Fascinating interview. Thanks, Nick.

BERMAN: Battle over delegates enraging the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. He says the game is rigged. Late last night, he blasted the process and now, the Republican Party chair fighting back.


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

(High: Intense battle for delegates continues as Ted Cruz and John Kasich say they don't need the popular vote to come out on top. 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)