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Anthony Weiner to Remain in New York City Mayoral Race; Propane Plant in Florida Explodes; Woman Charged with Vandalizing National Cathedral; Interview with Larry Lawton; Hillary Clinton Lunches with Barack Obama, Breakfasts with Joe Biden

Aired July 30, 2013 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm in bed ready to go sleep and it just shook the entire hour.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, it was like bombs going off. Terrifying explosions at a propane plant in Florida. Rescuers rushing into the flames. Residents a mile away evacuated. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breakfast of rivals? Hillary Clinton making the rounds, first, lunch with the president, this morning, breakfast with the VP. Are they talking 2016?

MICHAELA PEREIR, CNN ANCHOR: Fighting for her life, a 12-year-old girl in critical condition after contracting a brain eating amoeba. She got it at a popular swimming park. Just how rare is this?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: What you need to know.

ANTHONY WEINER, (D) NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to leave this decision to the people of the city of New York.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw this giant Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket in my yard.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, July 30, 7:00 in the east. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Here is news answer Michaela Pereira. A lot coming up this hour, including Anthony Weiner refusing to leave the race for New York City mayor even though his numbers are tanking at this point. Just weeks ago he was in first place. Now he's in fourth. Adding insult to injury, Eliot Spitzer says he wouldn't even vote for him. Is it time to go? We'll ask his chief opponent, New York City speaker Christine Quinn, what she thinks.

CUOMO: Then just terrible, who would do this? Beloved national landmarks vandalized with green paint. What's the motivation? And who did it? Police have a woman in custody, but we don't know that is the end of the story.

PEREIRA: And this is playing out like the biggest heist in history. It is such a mystery. An armed thief makes off with $136 million in France at the Carlton Hotel. How on earth was he able to pull this off, and how did he do it in broad daylight? We'll speak with a former jewel thief about this brazen heist.

CUOMO: That will be good. We have breaking news for you though this morning from central Florida. Eight people hurt following several massive explosions at a spectacular fire at the Blue Rhino propane plant. This is a live look at the plant this morning in Tavares, Florida. Alina Machado tracking the latest developments this morning. Good morning, Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. There were 53,000 propane cylinders in the plant when the fire broke out, that fire is now out. A witness says the explosion sounded like bombs were going off.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see that?

MACHADO: One after another, explosions so big and so loud, they could be seen and heard and felt for miles, the raging inferno lighting up the night sky just after 11:00 over the Blue Rhino propane plant in Tavares, Florida, northwest of Orlando. The danger so great, officials forced to evacuate resident as mile away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are just shooting off like missiles.

MACHADO: This video captures what looks like propane tanks shooting up into the sky, fires burning out of control just feet away from three large propane tanks. Dozens of emergency responders racing to the scene to treat the injured while firefighters fought to put down the flames. Plant officials have accounted for the two dozen employees working at the time. At least seven were taken to area hospitals. Miraculously, no one died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were propane cylinders stored in various parts of the property, 53,000 20-pound cylinders.

MACHADO: This plant explosion happened on the heels of a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant that rocked the small town of West, Texas, 15 people died, most of them first responders. The devastation there spanned a five block radius. The cause of that deadly blast is still under investigation. The investigation in Florida is just beginning.


MACHADO: No word yet on a possible cause, but the fire chief just held a news conference moments ago and he said that he does not think that this was an agent of sabotage. He said this was probably equipment failure with a combination of human error. Possibly of course, Chris, these are things they will be looking into.

CUOMO: Thank you very much for the report. Good mention of West, Texas. Everybody out there, the families in West, Texas, still need your help. Keep them in your mind.

There is also another explosion to tell you about, this one was up in Philadelphia, a gas leak again, this one natural gas, leveling three row houses. At least eight people are in the hospital, one man in critical condition with severe burns. Investigators say a contractor working on a hot dodgy water heater might have caused that one.

BOLDUAN: Let's get back to Anthony Weiner scandal, his sliding poll numbers. He's gone from first to fourth among Democrats in the New York City mayoral race. Despite the dip, though, Weiner insists that he's staying in it. And now disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer says Weiner won't have his vote. CNN correspondent Rosa Flores is following all developments of this race/scandal/race.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Everything. Explosive, I know. Now, Anthony Weiner stayed late and he woke up early. He has three events starting at 9:00 a.m. this morning. And while he really wants to focus on delivering his message to the middle class, his online persona just doesn't want to go away, especially with his sexting partner making another media appearance today, which just keeps this controversy alive.


DENISE SAMPSON STEPHENS, NEW YORK VOTER: As a candidate, you should you have moral values. And right now I think that his moral values are shot.

FLORES: Harsh words and even harsher reality for embattled mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, his poll numbers plummeting from first to fourth in a new Quinnipiac University poll, the survey conducted after a new round of lewd Internet chats were revealed. Take a look. The former congressman's support dropping 10 percentage points in just five days from 26 percent to 16 percent.

WEINER: I'll leave to the people of the city of New York to decide, period, end of conversation.

FLORES: His vow to stay in the race angering the Clintons. A source close to the political power couple tells CNN they are livid with Weiner personally because they care about Huma. Adding salt to the wound, Democratic candidate for comptroller Eliot Spitzer, trying to resurrect his own career after his own sex scandal, is turning his back on Weiner.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: You're not going to vote for Anthony Weiner. Can you just say that now, you don't think he should be mayor of New York?


WEINER: I'm interested in what pundits say, I'm interested in what other politicians say, but not that much.

FLORES: Despite all, he continues campaigning across the city and finding supporters at every stop, wooing voters in Queens with a little Mandarin, making it clear he's fighting for every vote he can get.


FLORES: We should add that we've seen voters supporting Weiner at each one of his events. But we haven't seen Huma since she came out publicly supporting her man, although she was spotted in D.C. having dinner with Hillary Clinton's spokesman. And I wish I was a fly on the wall in that restaurant because you can imagine the conversations that were going on.

BOLDUAN: They have known each other a very long time, but it would be an interesting conversation to listen into. Rosa, great to meet you. Welcome. Thank you so much.

A reminder later this morning we will talk with Christine Quinn. That's coming up at 8:05 eastern. A lot to talk about obviously.

CUOMO: We also now know there was trouble in paradise as tropical depression Flossie drenched Hawaii, the entire state under a flash flood warning because of the heavy rains. Indra Petersons in the Weather Center with more on this. What's the situation, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The good news, it's already been downgraded to a depression right now. We're still seeing steady winds about 35 miles per hour. With the topography around Hawaii the threat of high rain and strong winds not out of the question as it's making its way across the eye lands. We expect to completely dissipate over the next 72 hours.

Look at Kansas last night, seven inches of record breaking rain. The same system making its way to Missouri today, so looking for that heavy rain in the Mississippi Valley. The upside, northeast down to the southeast beautiful today. You are getting a break. And especially notice where this dome of high pressure is. That's bringing in cooler air from Canada. Chicago in the 70s and typically they would be seeing 80s. In New York, those 80s going down to the 70s a couple days away. But like I mentioned, enjoy that. Nothing lasts very long around here. I'm getting used to this.

BOLDUAN: It's keeping you on your toes.

PETERSONS: Seriously.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much, Indra. To Washington, D.C. now where police have arrested a woman for allegedly splattering green paint all over the national -- inside the national cathedral. The arrest of the 58-year-old suspect comes after several similar incidents including one at the Lincoln Memorial. CNN's Pamela Brown is live in Washington outside the National Cathedral where the latest incident happened. What's the latest, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We can tell you that this one person was taken into custody, a 58-year-old woman in connection with only one of the crimes. So this bizarre vandal at D.C. landmarks remains very much a mystery at this hour. We have just learned from a D.C. law enforcement source that the clothes from the 58-year-old woman have been sent to forensics it see if the paint matches the other paint at the other D.C. landmarks. But authorities tell they are still investigating all options here, trying to figure out whether the vandalism is linked or whether they are copycat crimes, and of course trying to figure out why this is happening.


BROWN: Cleaning crews spent Monday night scrubbing green paint off an organ and a wall inside two National Cathedral chapels.

RICHARD WEINBERG, NATIONAL CATHEDRAL: At least did seem to be minimal cosmetic damage that can be cleaned up fairly easily.

BROWN: Police arrested Tian Jiamel and charged her with defacing property. A law enforcement source says the 58-year-old woman was found carrying a green paint can when she was arrested.

WEINBERG: The original vandalism was found will in Bethlehem Chapter on the lower level and so we closed that, and then later in the afternoon additional paint had been found in children's chapel.

BROWN: It's still unknown if the suspect is linked to the vandalism of three other D.C. landmarks in recent days. On Friday, authorities discovered green paint splattered on the Lincoln Memorial. As crews continued to clean up the historic landmark, authorities discovered what looks like green painted symbols on the statue of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian.

Adding to the mystery, green paint was discovered on a statue of Martin Luther at a D.C. church a day before the National Cathedral incident. Officials are still investigating whether the vandalism is linked or if these are copycat crimes.


BROWN: And according to the police report CNN obtained, we have learned that when police found the woman here yesterday at National Cathedral, there were several cans of green paint within three bags she had on her. But again, at this point authorities are not saying whether the vandalism is linked. In fact they said at this point they have no indication that the woman is responsible for the other vandalism here in the city. So of course will investigation is ongoing.

CUOMO: Pamela, it certainly seems like there is more story to tell there.

BOLDUAN: Just makes you wonder why. What's the point?

CUOMO: That's what they'll have to figure out. In the nation's capital, something else going on, hopefully a lot going one, but one thing for sure, and Michaela is going to bring us that, the peace talks.

PEREIRA: Under way right now, day two of renewed Mideast peace talks under way this morning after day one. The White House already tempering expectations, saying negotiations have months of work to do. Secretary of State John Kerry says his goal is reaching reasonable compromises on some of their most contentious issues. This is the first attempt at restarting talks since they fell apart three years ago.

We could learn more about the NSA surveillance programs later today. According to a senior U.S. official the agency is planning to declassify new information about the data collection operations and the top secret foreign intelligence surveillance court that overseas anti-terror operations.

We now know what killed a bride to be and best man in that horrific boating accident on the Hudson River in New York. An autopsy shows Lindsey Stewart suffered severe head injuries when she was thrown off a boat and then drowned. Best man Mark Lennon also drowned even though he suffered minor injuries.

Now to the case against former Penn State president Graham Spanier and two of his top aides. Today's proceedings will likely focus on Spanier and former athletic director Tim Curley and how they handled the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. On Monday former assistant coach Mike McQueary said late coach Joe Paterno faulted Penn State administrators over how they handled the scandal.

If you could cut the lawn and win a drag race, are you ready? Honda, U.K., how come up with a brand new lawnmower that can reach a speed of 130 miles per hour. Honda swapped out its regular lawnmower engine for a 1,000 cc motorcycle engine. It goes zero to 60 in about four seconds. But a word to the wise -- if you actually want to cut the grass, the job your partner, wife, husband, mother suggests that you do, they suggest you only go 15 miles per hour. It's not for sale, just for demonstrations and you wowing people on the web.

BOLDUAN: I would have loved that as a kid.


CUOMO: You can race them all over the country.

BOLDUAN: There was a whole movie based on a man traveling.

PEREIRA: I bet that happens in my home state and I'm proud of it. That's exactly what I would do.

CUOMO: We should get in you one of those races. You were built to race the mower.

PEREIRA: Nice. I'll wear a helmet.

CUOMO: No. You take it on. You never know what happens. That's what makes it exciting.

PEREIRA: We hear about these weird, bizarre challenges here.

CUOMO: No more bizarre, no more weird than what could be the biggest jewel heist in history, a brazen daylight heist in the French Riviera. It sounds like something out of the movie, but could be one for the record books. Investigators say the thief robbed the Carlton International Hotel in Cannes and made off with $136 million in jewels. That is a lot more than anyone thought. CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Cannes. Erin, the update, please.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. Well, some new details from prosecutors into that brazen heist. It was 11:30 in the morning on Sunday when a man, his face cloaked in a scarf, his head in a cap, walked in to the Carlton hotel, he walked into a set of doors that were normally locked. When he entered the hotel, he then brandished his weapon and threatened to shoot both the exhibitors as well as some of the passers-by before loading a bag full of jewels. We're talking rings and diamonds and pendants before leaving through a separate doorway. Experts I talked to tell me this has all the hallmarks of an expert jewel thief, someone who knew what they were doing. A well coordinated, well planned heist, Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right, Erin. Thanks so much. I want to talk more about this because it's very interesting story. To explain more about how a heist like this is even possible, how do you pull it off at such a high value, $136 million, a former jewel thief, Larry Lawton, is here to help us out with that.

Larry, thanks so much for coming in. When you -- obviously we need to learn more details about what all happened in Cannes, but when you look at the details we have now: broad daylight, a busy hotel in Cannes, he was really only disguised with a hat and scarf, and he made off with $136 million in jewelry. What does that tell you?

LARRY LAWTON, FORMER JEWEL THIEF: Well, it was definitely a professional heist. I mean, it was almost what I did. I actually planned a heist just exactly like this one in a big hotel in Miami. And that's the way to do it. It was definitely a professional heist. I've been saying that from day one.

The amount to me is probably retail, but it's a lot of money. I think they're having a party right now. But it was a definite professional heist.

BOLDUAN: A professional heist. Is this someone that would act alone or is this -- there are some rumors or some speculation that this is linked to an international jewelry thief kind of network known as the pink panthers. Do you think that that's possible?

LAWTON: Oh, absolutely. It's definitely not a lone man; it was too coordinated. They went in and within five minutes they knew exactly where to go. I've been saying it from day one, I think they had an inside guy, too, whether it's a guard or whether it's a hotel employee. That's where I'm leaning towards because the hotel robberies in Cannes has been going on now since February, some major ones.

BOLDUAN: Right. So this person, this group, made off with a whole lot of jewelry. What are investigators looking at right now? What are the first things that they're trying to do to track down the jewels?

LAWTON: Well, the first thing I thought was they took the jewels before they were out in the case. They knew exactly where they were. So I'm sure they're going to be looking at all the films and everybody, to see who was casing the place. It was definitely cased.

I predict they're going to find a car within a few days and that will be the first getaway car because of filming and everything of that nature. And I'm really surprised they didn't have an electronic device on the jewels coming out where if the jewels went away from a certain area, you would get shocked by carrying it. So I'm pretty shocked. It's definitely all the earmarks of pros.

BOLDUAN: And also we know there were security guards, but they were unarmed. Do you think this points to inadequate security at this hotel when they had such a high value of jewelry that was going to be on display?

LAWTON: I wouldn't say that. I mean, the guards never bothered me and I robbed $15 to $18 million, and I explain it in "Gangster Redemption." But, actually, no, they knew where they were. They corralled them very quickly. Within five minutes, they had it all done. I wouldn't blame it on the security.

BOLDUAN: You wouldn't blame it on security. But real quick, what do the thieves -- what does the thief or multiple thieves do now? I mean, they can't sell this, can they?

LAWTON: Oh absolutely. The network is not the most honorable of networks -- I hate to say that -- but the jewelry industry is such a big industry. You could put $136 million in a bag and walk out with it. You couldn't do that with cash.

Yes, they'll get about 20 cents on the dollar, but that's, what, $26 million cash in their pocket and they will be able to sell them real easy. I'm sure they had it all planned beforehand. With me, I had gotten rid of all of my diamonds within 24 hours out of my possession.

BOLDUAN: Wow, so that shows just how critical these first moments, these first couple days are, to try to track all this down. Larry, great to meet you. Thanks so much for coming in.

LAWTON: Thank you for having me, Kate. Have a great day. CUOMO: Using the knowledge that got him in trouble to hopefully try to catch other thieves.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. He's on the right side of the law now.

CUOMO: That's right.

Coming up on NEW DAY, Hillary Clinton's full dance card. First lunch with the president and now breakfast with the Veep. Wonder if they will talk about 2016. Hmm. We'll get into that for you.

BOLDUAN: And a University of Pittsburgh professor will soon face murder charges in Pennsylvania, accused of poisoning his wife with cyanide. But can prosecutors make the case? We've got an update.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It seems everyone wants to break bread with Hillary Clinton these days. This morning the former secretary of state will have breakfast with Vice President Biden and she had lunch as you see there with President Obama yesterday. The White House says it was just a chance for two old pals to catch up. Brianna Keilar is live from the White House with more. What are we learning about that lunch?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not a whole lot. I sure wish we knew what they talked about. That's what everyone is buzzing about. But it certainly feels like 2016 is upon us this morning here in Washington. Between that lunch yesterday and the fact that Hillary Clinton is sitting down with Vice President Joe Biden this morning for breakfast at his residence next hour, The Naval Observatory.


KEILAR: They're the rock stars of the Democratic party -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama together again. They dined on the patio just steps from the Oval Office. On the menu, salad, chicken, pasta, and politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MAKLE: They have different brands on the other hand they really fit together nicely in terms of their appeal to constituencies, whether it's African Americans, Hispanics, women.

KEILAR: It's been a complicated relationship to say the least. From Obama's cutthroat competitor in the contentious 2008 primary --

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He's very likeable. I agree with that. I don't think I'm that bad.


KEILAR: : To his top diplomat.

OBAMA: I think Hillary will go down as one of the finest secretary of states we've had. KEILAR: The former secretary is now widely seen as the Democrat to beat in 2016. The latest McClatchy-Marist Poll shows Clinton with a substantial lead over other potential contenders. And now there's an NBC mini series in the works with Academy Award - nominated actress Diane Lane portraying Clinton, and a documentary about Clinton that will air on CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's largely friendship that's on the agenda for the lunch today. So, it's not a working lunch.

KEILAR: Just how close are they? Two of Obama's 2012 campaign strategists are now on board The Ready For Hillary super PAC. But the big question is will President Obama campaign for her if she announces a run.


KEILAR: Now, Clinton aides say the lunch at least yesterday between Hillary Clinton and President Obama came together when the Clintons and the Obamas met where, but in Texas earlier this year at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Chris?

CUOMO: That must mean something, Brianna. Thank you for all the reporting. Joining me now, Ana Navarro, Republican strategist, Paul Begala, former aide to President Clinton. Both are CNN political analysts and rightly so. Ana, I'll start with you. A little bit of pithy insight there as that piece was ending. Hillary has cut her hair. What does it mean?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It mean's she's -- It means she's preparing for something. We watch everything that Hillary Clinton does. Everybody is assuming she's the pre-candidate, the nominee for the Democrat side, and that she's going to walk into it. I think it's a bit premature. I think we need to let Hillary Clinton decide what she's going to do. I think she's tired. She's done a lot. And we may be reading just a little bit much which is good for the Clintons for us to be reading so much into every move she makes, every breath she takes. Because frankly, it's good for her financially. She's charging for speeches. She's got a lot of things going on. And it is a good financial venture for there to be this amount of speculation.

CUOMO: That's very interesting that the longer it goes on, the more in demand she is because of the expectations. Very interesting. What do you --

NAVARRO: $200,000 plus a speech.

CUOMO: That's good. Well, it's a value at any cost. That's what the Clintons will tell you.

So, Mr. Begala, what do you think? Shall we stipulate, do you believe that Hillary will be in the race for 2016?

PAUL BEGALA,CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know that. I want her to run. I've been very candid and public about it, I think she'd be a great president. I will -- one quick aside -- Ana Navarro has cut her hair, too, and it's looking good.

CUOMO: What is she getting ready for? That's what I want to know. She's eyeing my seat in an odd way.


NAVARRO: Kate and Ana. Thelma and Louise.

CUOMO: It's a very strong combination.

So let's look at the obvious here, Paul. Start with you, bounce back to Ana. You're meeting with the president, you're meeting with the vice president. Everybody knows about it. Is this just about high profile face time? What makes this make sense?

BEGALA: I think it's several things. First off, the reporting Brianna has, of course as always, is dead on. They ran into each other at the Bush library opening. They said they wanted to get together. The president has ban gone ale whole lot, obviously he's got a job Hillary is transitioning into the nonprofit world where she's taking a leadership role with her husband and their foundation.

But I also think it's really telling. Optics matter. Look at that picture. The president is relaxed. It clearly is -- these are into friends getting together and what a change from five long years ago when if the two of them had had a private lunch, it would be just the two of them and their food tasters.


BEGALA: I think maybe the Democrat -- part of what maybe they're trying to convey is the unity of the Democratic party while there is a public and sometimes personal fight in the Republican party between more moderate north-easterners like Peter King the congressman from New York, or Chris Christie the governor of New Jersey versus Ted Cruz the senator from Texas, or Rand Paul the senator from Kentucky. There is a terrible fight in the Republican party going on and here for once it's the Democrats who are united.

CUOMO: Okay, but Ana, maybe that's okay with the president. But with the vice president, you're looking at your main rival right in the face. What kind of conversation is that?

NAVARRO: I'm willing to bet you some money that Vice President Biden would have liked to be in yesterday's luncheon. Right now in the White House and Washington, there is Biden see, Biden do. It is all about "me too-ism." He is like the Holy Spirit. He is at all places, all time, with all people.

And so I'm sure that when Vice President Biden saw that she was meeting with President Obama and he was not invited, because of course getting him to be quiet at one of these things is like trying to take a 5-year-old to sit still through dinner of adults. He said, well, how about breakfast with me the next day. So I think that's what that will be about today.

CUOMO: Kind of an add on. Just do it because we're doing it in way, so you might as well --

NAVARRO: We're friends, too. She's friends with President Obama, she's friends with me, too. Which is true.


BEGALA: Much less complicated history. He was in that race, too, but there was the never direct attacks between Joe and Hillary that there were between Barack and Hillary. So this is the -- they are actually friends. And they do get together.

CUOMO: Right, but they have a much more complicated future. But we'll have to see what happens with that. Gives us more to talk about down the road. Paul let me ask you about this: you know the Clintons well, and you know Huma, Anthony Weiner's wife. How real do you think it is that the Clintons are upset about what's going on with Anthony Weiner?

BEGALA: Well, I have not talked to them, and I can't speak for them. Of course I used to speak to the president, but I want to make that clear. I have not been in touch with the president or Hillary about this. But, you know, the rest of us in Clinton Land, we all talk. This is personal, not political. They're not worried three years from now the fact that her aide's husband sent dirty pictures. That's nonsense. It's presonal. We love Huma and she's going through pain. And you know this - this thing she's going through, this scandal she's going through, she has done nothing wrong.

And so all of us who love and care for Huma, of course we're upset to see what she's going through. But that's all that this is. This is not some political angle to that.

CUOMO: All right, let's - what do you got Ana? I saw that head shake.