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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Wicked Weather Nationwide; Obama to Oklahoma: "We've Got Your Back"; New Rutgers Scandal

Aired May 27, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Deadly flash floods, torrential downpours, parts of Texas under water. People trying to clean up the mess this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A history of abuse. The woman that Rutgers said could clean up the university's athletic department after a coach was caught abusing his players, she's now accused of doing the same thing herself.

ROMANS: And caught on camera. A California man beaten to death by police. What sparked this violent attack?

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's Monday, May 27th. It's Memorial Day. It's 5:00 a.m. in East.

BERMAN: We're going to start with the dangerous and deadly weather in too many parts of the country this holiday weekend.

Starting in Texas, where at least three people died in historic flash flooding. One woman swept away as rescue workers tried to desperately to pull her from her vehicle. And Texas, not alone in this unseasonable weather, stretching across the United States.

Let's bring in CNN's Indra Petersons following all this for us this morning.

Good morning, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning.

It's been a holiday weekend weather of extremes. That has many wondering, it really says what is on the calendar? Is it really may right now? Right? Look at all this unbelievable weather. I want to show you what it's like out there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS (voice-over): The unofficial start of summer looking nothing like it's supposed to. Torrential rain and historic flooding blamed for at least three deaths in the San Antonio area. The body of an 18-year-old missing since Saturday was recovered from floodwaters on Sunday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether it's the floods of '98, 2002 or again this year in 2013, powerful force of water comes down that creek, and it takes out homes, disrupts lives, in this case, talk a life of a young man.

PETERSONS: Drivers had to be rescued from floodwaters, submerged in more than nine inches of rain that fell in less than seven hours.

Even this bus was no match for flooded roads. Riders escaped the bus through the hatch in the roof.

Drenching rains and flooding washed away any outdoor plans in the Central Plains. In Iowa, residents breaking out their shovels, instead of their grills, to make sandbags to protect from rising waters.

The final week of May looking more like a winter wonderland in parts of the Northeast. The Memorial Day weekend storm brought chilly temps and dumped nearly three feet of snow on a New York ski mountain in the Adirondacks.

And in Stowe, Vermont, more than a foot of snow recorded on Sunday. The latest in the season it's ever had that much snow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS: Well, that probably did not look like May to anyone out there. So, today, it's Memorial Day. We want to have some fun, right?

Let's talk about where we're seeing the showers. The Midwest, unfortunately. Look at all this instability. The lightning and thunderstorms still in the forecast for you today. But the Northeast finally looking a little bit better. Not to mention also in Texas. It's very showery, a lot of heavy thunderstorms out there. But today looks like it's going to be drying out. 88 for Dallas and the Northeast alone.

Finally some 70s -- New York today looking for 74 degrees. Beautiful after a rainy, cloudy, cool weekend. People wrapped up in scarves and boots out there. So, much better outlook for us.

Here is where the slight risk is for us today. Huge chunk of the country looking for slight showers. Not really the threat for tornadoes as much as damaging winds and large hail. Out in Moore, Oklahoma, the potential for 50-mile-per-hour winds and some gusty winds out there.

So, you guys, yes, a little bit better for us in New York but, you know, it was cold. We got through it, right, guys?

BERMAN: I still can't believe three feet of snow at a ski resort here in New York state. That's nuts.

PETERSONS: Right? ROMANS: Right. Thanks, Indra.

All right. Today marks one week -- one week since that devastating tornado changed life in Moore, Oklahoma. Survivors honoring the 24 people who lost their lives at a memorial service last night. The dead include 10 children.

And President Obama getting a firsthand look at the damage reassuring victims that he would not abandon them in their grief.

Nick Valencia following developments for us live this morning in Moore, Oklahoma.

Good morning.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot has changed here in Moore, Oklahoma, in the last week. We've gone from chaos to calm. And as the people of Moore begin to piece their lives back together again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA (voice-over): Thousands gathered at the First Baptist Church in Moore Sunday night to remember the 24 lives lost.

Last Monday's tornado was the strongest and deadliest to strike Oklahoma in years.

GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: Our spirits have been shaken this week. Our hearts have been broken. But our resolve is strong. And we will rise again.

VALENCIA: President Obama saw the devastation left by the powerful tornado.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously, the damage here is pretty hard to comprehend. Our hearts go out to the families who've been impacted. Including those who've had loved ones who were lost.

VALENCIA: The president offered solace and aid to those hard-hit by the tornado.

OBAMA: It's going to take a long time for this community to rebuild. So, I want to urge every American to step up.

VALENCIA: This weekend, the parents of Bethany Pate joined her at what was once her house. The cleanup has just begun.

BETHANY PATE, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Now, we're just getting real and starting to clean up, starting to take the next steps.

VALENCIA: Bit by bit, piece by piece, the residents of Moore, Shawnee and other cities impacted by the recent outbreak of tornadoes, are beginning to put their lives back together. And they're not doing it alone.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin offered her help to the residents of this Moore neighborhood.

FALLIN: For those that are just overwhelmed and it's just too much to do, get their personal belongings out, and then we'll come in and then we'll take care of it as a state.

VALENCIA: A bittersweet yet familiar sound of pomp and circumstance provided a needed respite from the devastation as seniors from three area high schools graduated.

SAWYER TUMBLSON, HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: I mean, it kind of seems we're ending our senior year like this but then again it brings us all a lot closer and more together. So, I mean, that's always a good thing, too.

VALENCIA: It's a closeness that will bring renewal to a community ravaged by the storm and provide them the courage to rebuild.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: Last night I ran into a group from Joplin, Missouri. If you remember, just two years ago they suffered their own tragedy when a tornado ripped through that town. Now, this group came and they're an important part of the recovery process and they have a very important message for the people of Moore that with every day that passes, things will get better -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks, Nick.

BERMAN: Developing this morning a new firestorm engulfing Rutgers University and its athletic program. So, it turns out that the school's newly hired athletic director, the one hired to clean up the scandal-scarred program may have been guilty of the same type of abuses that got the Rutgers men's head basketball coach fired in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN (voice-over): Rutgers University faced tough criticism in the days after a video surfaced of its head basketball coach being abusive towards players.

(EXPLETIVE DELETED)

BERMAN: The video captured former Coach Mike Rice's aggressive behavior, hurling basketballs at players and yelling homophobic slurs.

The university fired Rice after a public outcry, and the athletic director was also forced to resign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was deeply disturbed by the behavior the video revealed.

BERMAN: This time, the university's president will have to answer to Governor Chris Christie, after reports surfaced that the new athletic director, hired to turn the university's image around, is herself accused of being an abusive coach. The governor's spokesperson said in a statement, "He's not going to be making any judgments at this time but he expects to be talking with the Rutgers administration this week to get the details."

It has emerged that back in 1996, all 15 members of Julie Hermann's volleyball team at the University of Tennessee wrote her a letter. The players wrote, in part, "The mental cruelty that we as a team have suffered is unbearable. We have been lied to, publicly humiliated, and ripped apart as both players and people."

They said the coach had called them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled." One of the players provided "The Star Ledger" with a copy of the letter. The paper says Hermann responded, quote, "I never heard any of this. Never name calling them or anything like that whatsoever."

Hermann has promised she will bring a new era to Rutgers.

JULIE HERMANN, RUTGERS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: It is a new day. It is already fixed. And there's no one that doesn't agree about how we treat young people with respect and dignity and build trust.

BERMAN: But at that news conference, Hermann was asked about a jury award of $150,000 to former assistant coach Ginger Hineline back in 1997. Hineline claimed she was fired because she was pregnant. In 1994, Hermann was a bridesmaid at Hineline's wedding and in the video the coach said this about her becoming pregnant.

HERMANN: I hope it's good tonight. I hope it's not too good because I don't want you to come back in February with any surprise. You know, the office and all, and it would be hard to have a baby in there.

BERMAN: Hermann responded.

HERMANN: There's a video? I'm sorry, did you say there's video? There's no video, trust me.

BERMAN: Hermann is even seen here catching the bouquet. The university says its attorneys had investigated that case before Hermann was appointed. But as it prepares for the Big 10, Rutgers has another big headache.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: A lot going on there. And two Rutgers officials say the question of what to do next is still being considered. They told "The New Jersey Star Ledger", the issue is of grave concern.

You heard in that piece right there, Governor Chris Christie says he'll be taking a look this week.

ROMANS: Wow.

All right. A high school student arrested over a plan to bomb his high school. It was reportedly modeled after the Columbine shootings and police say he had the power to pull this one off. Seventeen-year- old Grant Acord will be charged as an adult for attempted aggravated murder.

Oregon state police say they found bomb-making materials and at least six explosive devices inside Acord's home in Albany, Oregon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HAROLDSON, BENTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The types of bombs include pipe bombs, napalm bomb, Drano bombs, Molotov cocktails, those that were intended to be used in carrying out the aggravated murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: CNN attempting to reach Grant Acord's attorney for comment.

BERMAN: Ahead on EARLY START, from the IRS scandal, to sexual assault in the military, it was a rough last week for the White House. So, can the president hit the reset button with Congress now out of town?

ROMANS: And the Jersey Shore is open for business. But will tourists buy in?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

So, Congress is on a week-long recess and the White House is going to spend this time trying to reset the agenda.

The president locked in a battle to refocus the national conversation away from the series of so-called scandals that have plagued him over the last few weeks, and toward his own agenda, like immigration reform, and major changes to national security.

But, his opponents, they're not going to give up without a fight.

Here's CNN's Dan Lothian.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After weeks of dealing with scandals, the president is struggling to reset his agenda. And with Congress off this week, he has a chance to do so.

But even as he tries to limit damage from the IRS uproar, Republicans are demanding a broader investigation.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There's clearly an organized effort within the IRS to target political opponents of the president. That's undeniable. How does such a culture come about? How vast was it? Who was involved?

This really does call for a special counsel.

LOTHIAN: The president wants his attorney general to review whether his own Justice Department has gone too far pursuing those leak investigations targeting reporters.

OBAMA: And I've raised these issues with the attorney general who shares my concerns.

LOTHIAN: But Republicans are pressing for a special counsel for that, as well. Noting Eric Holder was involved in seeking a search warrant against FOX reporter James Rosen.

SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: You cannot investigate yourself, and I think it's a total conflict of interest.

OBAMA: We have to be determined to stop these problems.

LOTHIAN: Mr. Obama is also dealing with a sexual assault scandal in the military, giving Republicans a new line of attack.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think the constellation of these three scandals ongoing really takes away from the president's moral authority to lead the nation. Nobody questions his legal authority. But I think he's really losing the moral authority to lead this nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It passes.

LOTHIAN: Immigration reform, a top priority for the president, is headed to the Senate floor after winning committee approval. But it's not clear there are 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster. And his new push to close the Guantanamo facility is facing stiff opposition on Capitol Hill.

OBAMA: I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from Gitmo.

LOTHIAN: So after a Memorial Day break, Mr. Obama faces no shortage of political headaches.

Dan Lothian, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Secretary of State John Kerry working toward peace between Syria's government and opposition leaders. He meets in Paris with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov today. But the Syrian government and the opposition Syrian national coalition have expressed interest in a peace conference, which is set to take place next month in Geneva, Switzerland. But opposition leaders have not yet confirmed that they will attend.

BERMAN: A man dies after a struggle with Sacramento police. Now, two officers are on leave.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police got him. The police got him.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: The police say the man had tried to barricade himself inside a cell phone store and overpower the officer trying to arrest him. It took several more officers and even a couple of customers to subdue him. At least one witness said officers kept beating the man after he was on the ground.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUG MORSE, SACRAMENTO: Just prior to that video, the suspect actually was on top of the officer assaulting him, and pinning him down to the ground. You can imagine how dangerous that is for an officer with all his weapon systems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The 42-year-old suspect was pronounced dead a short time later. It is not clear yet how he died. Police have not said if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

ROMANS: Angelina Jolie's aunt has died of breast cancer just two weeks after Jolie revealed she had a double mastectomy to prevent the disease. That's according to "E! Online". Debbie Martin was the younger sister of Jolie's mother, who died from ovarian cancer in 2007. Martin, like Jolie, had the defective BRCA1 gene.

BERMAN: Jose Canseco apparently passing a lie detector test. A woman recently accused him of sexual assault. Canseco said he wanted to take the polygraph to prove his innocence. The man who gave him the test said the results were some of the cleanest that he has ever seen. The accuser has not filed charges but now, Canseco says he might sue her.

ROMANS: Actress Amanda Bynes lashing out on Twitter against recent drug charges and the officers who arrested her. Bynes called charges that she threw a bong from the window of her New York City apartment, quote, "all lies", saying she was the real victim. Bynes says a New York officer sexually harassed her, slapping her genitals.

The NYPD has opened an investigation. Bynes is due back in court July 9th.

BERMAN: So other happier enter entertainment news, "The Hangover" disappointed, "Fast and Furious" did not. The sixth film in the popular cars and --

ROMANS: Sixth? Wow.

BERMAN: If you liked the first five, you'll love the sixth. It ruled the L.A. box office. Its estimated four-day gross is more than $122 million. "The Hangover Part III" was a distant second. The predicted haul is just $61 million. That's less than half of "Hangover Part II's" opening.

And in third, "Star Trek into Darkness" expected to earn $48 million. Everyone told me it was awesome.

When it's all said and done, it's expected to be a record-setting Memorial Day holiday at the movies.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, people line up to get their hands on just about any new Apple product. But would you pay for the very first Apple computer? What would you pay? What one collector shelled out, next.

BERMAN: Eleven dollars.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Those are some live pictures of New York City, the Empire State Building on Monday of this Memorial Day weekend. We hope you're having a great holiday weekend.

We also hope you're taking a moment to remember what this weekend is all about -- all those who have given so much for this country.

ROMANS: Hmm. Absolutely.

Minding your business this morning. Markets are closed for the Memorial Day holiday. That means traders will have just four days to make up for last week's losses.

After four straight weeks of gains, the Dow, S&P and NASDAQ all fell last week, that's because traders are getting worried that the Federal Reserve may start to pull back on its bond buying program known as QE3.

The Fed has been pumping $85 billion into the economy every single month in an effort to bring down the unemployment rate. That's been driving gains in the markets over the last few years.

But if the Fed can't juice the markets anymore maybe consumers will. We'll get reports on consumer confidence and personal spending and a reading on economic growth.

Now, tell me if you've heard this one before. Banks are behaving badly again. Again, that's according to a letter from the New York state attorney general. Last year, five banks agreed to pay out $25 billion as part of a settlement designed to put a stop to mortgage and foreclosure abuse. The banks also agreed to a set of standards for processing mortgages. But the A.G. says banks haven't complied with the terms of that agreement. In the letter obtained by "Reuters", Eric Schneiderman says the banks are, quote, "engaging in much of the same misconduct that precipitated the national mortgage settlement."

And it's not just New York. The A.G. says other states have identified similar recurring deficiencies.

And how much would you pay for an Apple computer?

BERMAN: I'd pay a lot.

ROMANS: A thousand bucks? Two thousand bucks? (INAUDIBLE) bucks for an iPad maybe?

How about $670,000?

BERMAN: That's a lot.

ROMANS: Six hundred seventy thousand dollars, that's right. That's how much an anonymous bidder paid for a working Apple 1 at auction this weekend. That broke the record last week when another auction house sold a working Apple 1 for $640,000.

BERMAN: Oh, wow.

ROMANS: The auction house says there are only six Apple 1s in working condition. Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak produced 200 Apple 1s in 1976. They originally sold for $666.66. That's about 2,700 bucks in today's money. The auction house won't name the buyer, only saying he's a wealthy entrepreneur from the Far East.

BERMAN: You know, I barely even knew there was an Apple 1. Everyone had the Apple 2s.

ROMANS: Yes, we had the Apple 2E and I think there was an Apple 2C and I think we have a Commodore 64 in my parents' basement somewhere, but I'm not sure it works.

BERMAN: I have an Atari 2600. And it still works.

All right. 25 minutes after the hour.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Exactly. It's fantastic. Technology.

Coming up here this morning. Flash flooding turns deadly in Texas and there could be more severe weather on tap for today.

ROMANS: And a woman found dead in the home of a high profile criminal attorney. The bizarre details of that case, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)