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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

FBI Focuses on Brothers' Inner Circle; Interview with Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York; Intense Wildfire; Fight Over Access To Morning-After Pill

Aired May 2, 2013 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is Thursday, May 2nd. STARTING POINT begins right now.

Our STARTING POINT this morning, investigators in the Boston marathon bombing zeroing in on the Tsavraev brother's inner circle. Sources tell CNN that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow spoke to him after the FBI released his photo and publicly identified him as a terror suspect.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends arrested yesterday, two of them charged with conspiring to destroy or discard Dzhokhar's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks after the attack, the third for allegedly making false statements to federal investigators. You can see them here in a yearbook photo with Dzhokhar.

Pamela Brown is in Boston with the latest developments.

Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine.

The three 19-year-old suspects are in hot water for what they allegedly did following the Boston marathon bombing. Following their arrests, the question, will there be more to come?

The investigation continues to focus on the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev as new developments come to light.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Two CNN sources familiar with the investigation say Katherine Russell, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, spoke with her husband the night the FBI released video of him in connection with the Boston bombings.

Authorities questioning Russell, trying to determine the nature of that call -- what was said and why didn't she notify authorities? This as three friends and classmates of Tamerlan's brother Dzhokhar are now under arrest. Two seen here with the younger Tsarnaev on a trip to New York's Times Square, are accused of obstructing justice. The third man accused of lying to authorities.

According to the criminal complaints when federal authorities released video of the bombing suspects, the three men saw it on CNN and immediately thought one of the suspects looked like their friend Dzhokhar.

Dias Kadyrbayev texted Tsarnaev that he looked like the person on TV. Tsarnaev texted back, "LOL".

The accused three allegedly met at Tsarnaev's dorm room where they received another text from him. "I'm about to leave. If you need something in my room, take it."

According to authorities, Azamat Tazhayakov never thought he'd see his friend alive again. In the dorm, the three find fireworks in a backpack, with the black powder emptied out, Vaseline and a laptop. Authorities alleged the three took the evidence out of the dorm room to protect Tsarnaev.

The complaints also say the men then took the items back to an apartment in New Bedford, wrapped it in a garbage bag and put it in a dumpster, along with some of their own trash. The bag with the fireworks is later recovered by investigators after a two-day search at a local landfill, unclear whether the laptop has been recovered.

This CNN exclusive video shows two of the men being taken into custody at the time on immigration violations. The third man, Robel Phillipos, is a U.S. citizen. At court hearings on Wednesday, the three agreed to waive bail.

Their lawyers say they did nothing wrong.

ROBERT STAHL, ATTORNEY FOR DIAS KADYRBAYEV: He is just as shocked and horrified by the violence in Boston that took place, as the rest of the community is. And he did not know that this individual was involved in a bombing.

HARLAN PROTASS, ATTORNEY FOR AZAMAT TAZHAYAKOV: My client Azamat Tazhayakov feels horrible and was shocked to hear that someone that he knew at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth was involved with the Boston marathon bombing. He has cooperated fully with the authorities and looks forward to the truth coming out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And interesting to note here, Christine and John, that according to authorities, one month before the marathon, Tsarnaev apparently told two of his friends over lunch that he knew how to make a bomb and that in the criminal complaint, it says one of the now suspects saw Vaseline in Tsarnaev's dorm room after the attack and he knew then that the Vaseline was used to make a bomb.

We spoke to bomb experts and we're told that Vaseline may have been used on the pressure cooker lid to prevent sparks which would set off explosives -- John, Christine.

ROMANS: Pamela Brown -- thank you, Pamela.

So, you know, who are the new suspects? A friend of Robel Phillipos said there's no way he'd be involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES TURNEY, ROBEL PHILLIPOS' FRIEND: Robel is a very good kid himself. He went to school, never got in trouble, took care of his mom, played basketball. He's a quiet kid. That's about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: And Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick reassuring those in and around Boston, telling them they don't need to worry about more attacks related to this case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This should not raise any concerns in anyone's mind about continuing threats to the public. This is about getting all the way to the bottom of the story of what happened at the marathon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Brian Todd is in Boston for us this morning, following the latest developments. Brian, what more do we know about these three suspects and their relationship with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that they became very good friends with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev when they started going to UMass- Dartmouth in the fall of 2011. And especially the two Kazakhstani students, Dias Kadyrbayev and, excuse me, Mr. Tazhayakov, Azamat Tazhayakov.

They started kind of gravitating toward him, according to one of their lawyers because he knew English very well, that he'd been in the United States for a long time. He knew ropes as his attorney said, and they just kind of gravitated toward him. They hang out together a lot. They would hang in their apartment and also in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room. They even hung out socially a couple of days after the bombing.

One of the suspect's -- Kadyrbayev, went to Tsarnaev's apartment, texted them to come down, they came down, and hung out. That's when he noticed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had kind of changed his appearance. He'd gotten a shorter haircut.

So, a little bit of details in the complaint and elsewhere from accounts that we're getting that at least those two Kazakhstani students and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were very close. It's not clear the relationship with that third suspect, Robel Phillipos, had with Tsarnaev.

BERMAN: All right. Brian Todd, our thanks to you.

We want to talk now more about this with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, of course, the former mayor of New York City, a former presidential candidate, in some cases, more importantly here, a former prosecutor as well. I should say, Mr. Mayor, you've been sitting here and watching these stories. The suggestion of the lawyers of these three new suspects saying, you know, they couldn't be sorrier about what happened in Boston, they didn't know what they were doing. You've been -- you're almost grunting in disgust here.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I am. Because I think this has been treated as these were three young men wayward, just trying to help their friend. Now, I have to go on the complaint. So let's assume the complaint is true.

I didn't investigate this, but they have done a heck of a good investigation. I have to assume most of the complaint is correct. These three young men could have prevented the deaths of Officer Collier, probably. They were aware by 6:00, 7:00 at night that these two guys were the bombers. If they had done what decent young men should do, which is call the police, given the focus of the investigation, the number of resources they had in Boston, FBI, Boston police, given how effective they were in investigating, they probably would have gotten these guys within an hour or to.

ROMANS: Instead, you say, they were more concerned about getting the stuff together --

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: In my view as a prosecutor, assuming again the facts in the complaint were true, I would charger -- I would charge them as predicate acts of a conspiracy the murder of Officer Collier, the shooting of the other officer and the kidnapping. All of which were foreseeable consequences of their joining the conspiracy to help these guys flee.

After all, that's what they are joining, right? By taking the computer -- I'd also question, why are they taking the computer? I imagine they are taking the computer because that computer might have evidence about them.

Look, you don't do this just to help a friend. You don't help a friend who just killed an 8-year-old boy. You don't help a friend who just bombed a city. You did this because there is some kind of ideological connection, there's some kind of joining of the cause.

I don't accept the fact that these are a bunch of three kids who are just helping a friend. Helping a friend who just bombed a city?

BERMAN: And, by the way, if you read the complaint, it also -- one of the students apparently also knew Vaseline was somehow used in making explosives, which to me at least isn't a common piece of knowledge that everyone has.

GIULIANI: Not common piece of knowledge at all. And also, they tell you a month before that they know how to make bombs. There's a bombing in Boston. You make the connection right away, right?

BERMAN: Let me ask this, because, obviously, Mayor, you were actually in law enforcement a lot longer than you were in politics.

GIULIANI: Right.

BERMAN: I think a lot of people forget that right now.

There's been a suggestion, Alan Dershowitz among others, says, you now, these charges, they're serious, but these aren't giant charges that these men are being held. He's not trying to diminish the charges. What he's doing is suggesting that prosecutors and investigators want to get more from these guys.

GIULIANI: Yes.

BERMAN: What more do they want from them? What would you want to hear from them?

GIULIANI: Well, I think they want to know the whole network. They want -- look, it's hard to believe that they did this all on their own.

BERMAN: The two brothers?

GIULIANI: The two brothers did it all on their own. They pulled off the bombing too effectively. I mean, there were some amateurish parts to it. The whole -- the escape plan was ridiculous. But the plan for doing the bombing was excellent. We've seen expert terrorists not be able to detonate the bomb on the first try.

So, they must have had help. Where did the help come from? They must have had financing.

The older brother went to Russia for six months, wasn't working. Somebody paid for that. Where did the money come from? I think that's what they're looking for. And I don't think these three men just spontaneously go ahead and put themselves at such grave risk.

Professor Dershowitz, a good friend of mine, but I beg to differ with him. These are very charges. A consequence of this conspiracy that they join is a death of a police officer. These men are looking at a long, long time in jail. I'd be seeking 20, 30 years in jail.

ROMANS: Let's talk about -- I want to talk about the trip to Russia that you just mentioned from the older brother. You say -- you've been critical that there wasn't a ping. You know, you think that maybe, when he went back there -- clearly, he must have been followed by Russian security services, but he was on the radar, right? Where was the breakdown?

GIULIANI: I don't know. I don't like to play Monday morning quarterback, because I've been in this for too long and know I made mistakes at different times as well.

I think it has to be looked from the point of view of things did go wrong, the system didn't work. Now, let's fix it for the future. We can't fix it for the past. This guy should have been followed. We should have picked up these things. When the FBI investigated, they should have stuck with it longer.

When he came back, the fact that he went to Russia, should have made him more of a suspect. Somehow it made him less of a suspect. He was on the list when he left. He wasn't on the list when he came back. He should have been moved up the list after going to Russia.

Here is a man who is suspected of being involved with Chechen, Dagestan terrorists. He makes train to Russia. Immediately, you translate that as that's not a trip to Russia.

He's not going to the Moscow symphony. He's going to Russia so he can go to Dagestan. He should go up the list at that point. That corroborates what the Russians were saying to us, this guy somehow involved with Dagestan, Chechen, terrorists.

So, somehow the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. Look what happened at the questioning, right? The FBI has questioned. The FBI expects to question them two days, three days, all of a sudden, the Justice Department and magistrate not talking to the FBI walk in, and cut off the questioning in the middle of what the FBI says is very fruitful questioning.

Now, you can argue the legality of that, but here is what's true. The left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. They weren't communicating.

BERMAN: This is one of the things that DNI Clapper is going to look at as they conduct this thorough review, top to bottom.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani, thank you so much for coming in. We really appreciate it.

GIULIANI: Thank you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

High winds, low humidity creating a real fire danger in southern California. Crews are making progress against the wildfire that's burned 3,000 acres in Riverside County. But not in time to save one man's home in Banning, California. That's where CNN's Kyung Lah is for us this morning.

What's the latest there, Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, we just got the update from the fire department and they're saying they had actually a pretty good night. That they're cautiously optimistic about further containment and we're expecting an update in the next hour or so.

What they are trying to avoid is this. This is that house that burned in the fire. This is the power of a California wildfire.

All this damage happened in just minutes. The home engulfed. The homeowner was right outside in his car. That's why he believes he was able to escape. Here's what he told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE KIENER, HOME OWNER: Thank God I wasn't in the house when it happened. Thank God I was able to get my dog out and my mom was watching over me. And so, were the neighbors that are around. I have good support.

Tonight, probably go over to my neighbor's for an evening of -- and collapse a little bit and cry a whole lot. But right now, I'm not going to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: So the big wild card today though is in the next hour and a half when the sun rises, high winds will kick back up.

So, Christine and John, firefighters optimistic, but playing it safe because they are so worried about the low temperature, high winds, and the amount of dry brush out here.

ROMANS: All right. Kyung Lah for us -- thank you, Kyung. Stay safe out there.

BERMAN: Yes, fire out there, and then, of course, there's snow, an unprecedented spring snowstorm leaving Denver, looking like it's the middle of winter. Look at that.

ROMANS: Looks like a Christmas postcard.

BERMAN: Not supposed to look like that in May. And now, the storm is on the move with its sights set on the Northern Plains.

Our Jim Spellman is in Roberts, Wisconsin.

Jim, please tell us what's going on there. Oh, my.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Take a look at this, John. A wonderful, beautiful scene for a Wisconsin morning in maybe January, but not May 2nd.

Plows have been coming through, keeping the roads clear. It's much different here than it was yesterday in Boulder, where the roads were warm enough it didn't stick to the roads. On Interstate 94, we've been seeing the plows go back and forth.

And traffic is moving, but it's really significant. I mean, there's at least about six, maybe eight inches of snow that you can see here that has fallen on the ground. This heavy, wet spring snow.

It's a big pain in the neck right here at this point. It could be serious trouble in Illinois and Missouri, sort of down this river system. They've already been dealing with flood conditions there. All of the moisture making its way there, maybe tomorrow as the week goes by.

It's really just hard to get your head around that this is not the middle of the winter in Wisconsin, but rather May the 2nd.

I've been out here yesterday and out here all day today here in Wisconsin and I'm still not used to it.

BERMAN: Jim Spellman chasing snow flakes around the country, still working on his snow ball throw. And, of course, striking fantastic snow poses for us.

Jim Spellman in Wisconsin, thanks so much.

ROMANS: This is why Midwesterners are so optimistic because stuff like this happens to them every few years. And they just have to be optimistic.

All right. New this morning, terrifying moments on the streets of Seattle, where a May Day protests turned violent last night.

Police say demonstrators tossed rocks, bottles, metal pipes, fireworks, even a skateboard at officers who used pepper spray and flash bang grenades to disperse the crowd. Seventeen people were arrested for property destruction and assault. Eight officers were injured, mostly minor bumps and bruises. One female police officer hit in the knee with a large rock.

BERMAN: New this morning, North Korea sentencing American Kenneth Bae to 15 years for hard labor. Bae is a tour operator from Washington State. He's accused of attempting to overthrow the government of North Korea. He was arrested back in November, but North Korea leaders haven't specified exactly what crime he's committed.

Tensions are high right now high between the U.S. and North Korea. Of course, in the past, the north has detained Americans for use as bargaining chips.

ROMANS: Also new this morning. Frightening moments for the passengers on the tarmac at Newark Liberty Airport. Two planes collided as they were taxing (ph) for take-off last night. The wing of a Scandinavian Airlines plane clipped the tail of a United Express jet. Passengers on the United Flight say they felt the impact. Both flights returned to their gates and no one, thankfully, was injured.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, controversy over access to emergency contraception. The justice department fighting a ruling to let women of any age buy Plan "B." Did a judge go too far here?

ROMANS: Then, look at this amazing video of a solar wave on the sun. What's behind the phenomenon coming up. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: This morning, the Obama administration is challenging a ruling that would make over the counter emergency contraceptives available to all women.

ROMANS: Last month, a federal judge ordered the FDA to allow girls and women of all ages to buy Plan "B" One Step. The Obama administration wants to limit access to girls who are 15 years old and older. Laura Bassett is a reporter for the "Huffington Post." She covers politics and women's issues. She joins us live from Washington.

Give us your read, Laura. Good morning. And give us your read on what's the administration take on this and what the fight is about here? The administration wants to limit this at 15, but they're having a hard time keeping that in place.

LAURA BASSETT, POLITICAL REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, it's really interesting because you have a democratic administration overruling their own scientists and siding with social conservatives on the morning after pill. So, basically, the FDA recommended in 2011 that the morning after pill be available with zero age limit, over the counter, next to the Tylenol in the pharmacy.

And Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, overruled that. And so, now, the judge is saying, you know, you made that decision based on politics, not science. Your own scientist told you that it was safe to be available over the counter, and the administration is challenging that decision.

BERMAN: What does the science say here?

BASSETT: The science says that Plan "B" One Step, the brand in question of the morning after pill is safe for all ages. The teenagers can use it as well as adults can. It's basically just one pill that can be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, and it prevents pregnancy, and it's actually less dangerous than Tylenol. I mean, there really aren't any side effects that would be more dangerous than any other drug on the shelves at pharmacies.

ROMANS: So, here's what the judge said in the ruling that the administration is now challenging, Laura. The judge said, "It is hardly clear that the secretary had the power to issue the order. And if she did have that authority, her decision was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable." So, how far is the administration going to go on this?

BASSETT: Well, basically, the question is, is this political or is this really about the morning after pill and they don't want girls under the age of 15 to be able to access it without a prescription or is this about the court overruling HHS, flapping Kathleen Sebelius on the wrist and saying her decision was political and telling the FDA what to do? And I think it's more likely that it's the latter.

The justice department is pushing back against the court, because they don't want the court to set a precedent of being able to overrule HHS.

ROMANS: Interesting. Laura Bassett, political reporter for the "Huffington Post." Thanks for joining us, Laura.

BASSETT: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: Still ahead, you may think you have the perfect baby name, but in New Zealand, it may not fly. The government there is out with a new list of banned baby names. You won't believe what some parents are willing to saddle their children with.

BERMAN: This is awesome, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Trending this morning on the web, new evidence that settlers in Jamestown, Virginia turned to cannibalism and survived the infamous winter of 1609. Archeologists say an analysis of the remains of a 14- year-old girl suggest her body had been cannibalized after her death. 240 of 300 colonists died that winter. 240. They called it the starving time by historians. Settlers were under siege, had no way to get food.

BERMAN: And to the science, it's really fascinating. I don't want to gross people out this morning, but I encourage you to go to our website and read exactly how they discovered what exactly went on there.

Also take a look at this amazing site. NASA captured a massive solar eruption on the sun yesterday. This lasted more than two hours, firing off a billion tons of matter at speeds that can reach more than a million miles per hour. That's pretty fast. Eruptions like this are so powerful, they have the potentials to interrupt satellites and space and communication systems here on Earth. Look at that.

ROMANS: All right. Talk about the government being in your business. In New Zealand, authorities have to sign off on a name for your baby. They just released a new list of banned baby names. And check out some of the crazier ones, Lucifer, Mafia No Fear, 4Real, and the most popular banned name, Justice.

OK. Justice, bizarre. Some names that did make it, Midnight Chardonnay, number 16, Bus Shelter. And for twins, Benson and Hedges.

BERMAN: I was just going to surname (ph) Midnight Chardonnay just to prove that it is, you know, it's OK. It's crazy.

All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, controversy this morning over this Mountain Dew commercial. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one with four legs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he was going to kiss me. Keep your mouth shut. Keep your mouth shut.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why the company decided to pull this ad?

ROMANS: Outrageous dumb ads are contagious these days.

Plus, a new clue in the search for the missing mother who vanished working the late shift at a Michigan gas station. We're going to talk with the police chief leading that investigation. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Let's update you on new developments in a Boston bombing investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Three friends of the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, they are now suspects themselves. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are charged with trying to discard evidence.

BERMAN (voice-over): The third suspect, Robel Phillipos is charged with making false statements. Sources also telling CNN that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife spoke to him after the FBI released his photo and identify him as a Boston terror suspect.

ROMANS: In the wake of those Boston bombings, a new "Time"/CNN poll shows Americans are more concern about their civil liberties than security. That sentiment is expressed in the new "Time" magazine cover entitled "Homeland Insecurity." By a two to one margine, Americans say they're more concerned about the government restricting their freedoms than failing to enact anti-terror policies.

BERMAN: A Kentucky restaurant owner is doing damage control after his Facebook status update angered users. The status updates included pictures of a crack pot along with the captions, "It's a bomb, no, no, just full pork at the liberty grill and tick tock, tick tock."