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Snowden Gets Papers; Husband Poisons Wife; Meeting "Our Nixon"; Extreme Couponing for Others

Aired August 1, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Be attending the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg in this upcoming September. White House Spokesman Jay Carney has always said that it was the president's intention to attend the summit. There have been calls by lawmakers here in the United States to have a change of venue of the G-20. So we'll wait to find out if, in fact, the president knew about this move and how this will be impacting any future decisions about the United States, the president going to the G-20 Summit in September.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Dan, I have a feeling we're going to have many updates for you throughout the morning. Thanks so much. We'll check back in.

Well, let's talk more about this. Joining us now with reaction and kind of deep thoughts on this breaking news, legendary journalist Dan Rather, anchor and managing editor of Dan Rather Reports.

Dan, it's great to see you. Thanks for -

DAN RATHER, ANCHOR & MANAGING EDITOR, DAN RATHER REPORTS: It's great to be here this morning.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for bringing some breaking news to us. I'm just kidding.

RATHER: I'd love to take credit for it.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. What are your - what are your thoughts on this -- on this NSA leak situation broadly, but especially this latest breaking news. They've threatened for a while that Edward Snowden was going to try to get out of the airport and try to find even temporary asylum in Russia. Now it's happened. That's not good for U.S./Russia diplomatic relations.

RATHER: No, it's definitely a setback for the Obama administration. One can argue that there wasn't much they could do about it.

But the important thing about this in terms of international relationships is that the United States, under the Obama administration some time ago, said they wanted to reboot relationships with Russia, get things better. Things have, in fact, gotten worse to the point now. But this setback. So that's the overall framework of what's happening.

This does not look good for the Obama administration. They'll have their arguments of, what do you expect us to do, Putin's a problem, so forth and so on.

But in the background of this is what I say a slow deterioration of relations between the United States and Russia at a time when we need the Russians. We need their help -

BOLDUAN: Help in Africa.

RATHER: In Afghanistan, in Africa, in a number of places. And it just hasn't worked out. So that's the overall.

Now in terms of the -- today's story, this is obviously a victory for Snowden and his attorneys. It give him a lot more leeway as to where he can spend his time. He doesn't need to be thinking about, well, am I going to Venezuela or Bolivia. He may go to either one of them at some point, but he doesn't have to do it now.

But what concerns me about this is that there's so much attention on Snowden and what happens to him that we can lose sight of the big issue, and that is the issue of government spying, what privacy, what the government is able to learn about us. Another leak by Snowden through "The Guardian" newspaper, when was it, just yesterday, revealed that if the government chooses to, they can find out secretly what you have done at any time on the Internet for your whole life. So, I'd like to see us, as a country, have a debate about that rather than Snowden's future.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you've got your finger on the right part of both of these issues because we just got an e-mail out from WikiLeaks, obviously Julian Assange's organization, saying, "we would like to thank the Russian people and all those others who have helped to protect Mr. Snowden. We have won the battle, now the war."

So it's like a double slap in the face to the United States. And at the same time now, we'll highlight this other issue that you bring up about the debate going on in the country right now about what's done and what isn't. And the question for you, Dan, is, it's having a little bit of a chilling effect on us, I think, as reporters because every time someone's come up now they're treated as a whistleblower, as a felon. What do you think that might do for the ability for us to get information from people in government?

RATHER: Well, such an important point. And however you stand on this issue, this will cool sources for the press. Now if you believe, as I do and I think you do and a lot of Americans do, that a free and independent - truly independent, fiercely independent press, fiercely independent when necessary, is the red beating heart of democracy because it's part of that system of checks and balances. Now, part of that, for those of us in the press, people who see things happening and say, I can't have my name attached to it but I need -- we need to get this out. They're going to read what's happening these days and say, there's no way I'm talking to Chris or Dan or anybody else in the press. I just can't afford it. And it cools those - I'm going to say cools to the point of almost freezes sources that the public needs.

So often we put it in journalism terms. This is not an issue for journalists. It is an issue for journalists, but it's a wider issue for the country to hold (ph) because the Obama administration, it has gone after more watchdogs, leakers than any previous administration by far. And that raises serious questions. It's a tough case, Chris, to make because I think many people in the public have the idea that the Snowdens and the others of the world are not traitors, people who have done their country a disservice. But I would suggest that that's an argument to make, but there are these bigger issues.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: I think one thing a lot of us have done is try to imagine how this could possibly play out. I'm sure you've done it.

RATHER: Right. Sure.

PEREIRA: What are some of the scenarios you see?

RATHER: Well, it's very difficult to see how it's going to play out, but eventually it may be that now under pressure and be it not every good situation, that something can be worked out with Snowden and his attorneys where he could come back to this country. I think that's way down the road. I'm not predicting it would happen. The most likely way it plays out is he stays in Russia, perhaps he's able to stay in Russia for an indefinite period, not just a year, because now he has the option of staying there, whereas previously it looked like he was going to have to go someplace else. Now he's got the option of staying. It's very hard to see where it's going to go.

CUOMO: Can we get you to stay with us?

RATHER: Sure.

CUOMO: Do another segment? Great.

BOLDUAN: That would be great.

CUOMO: We're going to take a quick break. We'll come back with Dan Rather. We'll talk about the news of the day and also CNN's new documentary about the Nixon administration. Dan Rather knows how to speak truth to power. In fact, you know what, what do you think? Come on, guys. Can I blow out the break and just keep talking to Dan?

BOLDUAN: Yes. I'm going to say yes.

CUOMO: You good with that? Good. Forget the commercial. Why leave when this is so good. It's so important what we're dealing with.

RATHER: No, we've got to pay the rent.

BOLDUAN: Hey, you can believe me - believe me, they are aware of that. They tell us that all the time.

CUOMO: That people are willing to pay so much to advertise on NEW DAY that we can actually go without this commercial, Dan, so let's pick up right on this. what do you want to ask?

BOLDUAN: Let's first get - let's first get to some of the other news that we got to - we got to get to if we're going to blow out the break and then we're going to come back to Dan. We're going to fight about this more than we're going to talk about the news.

Let's get more this morning that we're learning about in Pittsburgh. You know this story. We want to give you an update. The Pittsburgh professor accused of poisoning his wife with cyanide. Robert Ferrante has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife, a respected neurologist, but prosecutors say there is mounting evidence against him. A very interesting and troubling story. Poppy Harlow is live in Pittsburgh with the latest.

Hi, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Kate.

Well, this is a suspected murder mystery that has rocked this town. It involves a star husband and wife doctor that after a three month investigation police now allege that the husband, Dr. Robert Ferrante, poisoned his wife, killed her with a lethal dose of cyanide. This morning he is sitting in the jail behind me facing criminal homicide charges, charges that he vehemently denies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW (voice-over): This morning, new details in the suspected murder mystery. For the first time we're hearing how Dr. Robert Ferrante allegedly prepared his wife's Creatine regimen in order to help her get pregnant. According to police search warrants, Ferrante prepared five grams of Creatine for his wife, Dr. Autumn Klein, to take in the morning and evening by mixing it into a sugary drink or putting it on her toast.

DEBBI CASINI, PATIENT OF DR. AUTUMN KLEIN: She was so kind, compassionate and caring and it was just - she was a good soul.

HARLOW: Debbi Casini remembers her 41-year-old doctor, the head of women's neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

CASINI: I could not imagine anyone wanting to murder her.

HARLOW: But in their criminal complaint, police say her husband, 64- year-old Dr. Robert Ferrante, murdered her with a lethal dose of cyanide. The two had a six-year-old daughter together.

HARLOW (on camera): What did she say about her daughter?

CASINI: Oh, it was the love of her life.

HARLOW (voice-over): One of the theories the prosecution will work off of is that the cyanide was mix with the Creatine Klein took. A source close to the investigation says when Ferrante was questioned by police about his wife's death, his demeanor was independent.

WILLIAM DIFENDERFER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR DR. ROBERT FERRANTE: He maintains his innocence in this thing. Absolutely denies he had anything to do with her death. I'm sure the commonwealth would say it's a strong circumstantial case. In my opinion, it's not. And --

HARLOW (on camera): Why do you think it's not?

DIFENDERFER: I'm not going to get into it.

HARLOW (voice-over): Klein's parents were in court this week when Ferrante pleaded not guilty to criminal homicide.

HARLOW (on camera): Are you surprised?

HLITHE (ph) RUNDOORF (ph), NEIGHBOR: Yes. Absolutely. I think - I don't - I think stunned is too little a word for how we feel about this. And the thing that I think bothers most of us is, what's the motivation?

HARLOW (voice-over): A possible motive, police allege in the affidavit Ferrante thought Klein may be having an affair.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: And the D.A.'s office here tells me they have not yet decided whether or not they are going to seek the death penalty in this case. It is the case that everyone in Pittsburgh is talking about.

Chris. Kate.

CUOMO: All right, Poppy, thank you very much.

Let's get some clarification on this. Let's bring in criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos.

Danny, always a pleasure.

Let's look at this both ways. Let's start with the prosecution. Means, motive, opportunity, that's the equation, right? How do you think they fill in the blanks here?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that's exactly what they have to do. This is always a fascinating -- one of these circumstantial cases where man buys cyanide, woman dies of cyanide. And they're going to ask that jury to connect those dots.

The problem the prosecution has here is that they are dealing with sophisticated defense. Experts and a defendant who know a lot about science and they're going to attack -- you better believe they're going to attack that proof of cyanide poisoning. They're going to generate their own tests to show that there could have been false positives.

One of the things that jumps out right away, cyanide poisoning typically causes death immediately. She clung to life for at least two days it seems. So I think the main thing is going to be, explain away the purchase of cyanide because if he did buy it with a university credit card, that is what we would call galactically stupid. If, on the other hand, he did -- they can attack that cyanide on the back end, they want to show that that was a false positive or that it could have come from some other source.

CUOMO: Also bought so much of it they may argue, obviously, he's not stupid, he's so smart it was obviously intended for something else.

Two red - two issues for you to deal with and how they'll figure in the case. One, the texts. Text messages talking about trying to get pregnant and the use of Creatine, which doesn't make sense, especially coming from doctors. Discuss that. And how quickly the body was cremated. What do those two things mean?

CEVALLOS: Well, let's go to cremation. I mean the medical examiner has to sign off before they cremate the body. And before that they would have gotten all the fluids. So then the question really becomes, did he try to cremate the body not knowing that the M.E. already had everything they needed. Or do we say to the M.E.'s, look, you had everything you needed, you signed off on the cremation, it's on you. That could be one way of attacking that issue right there. But I think the cremation is going to be a big motive issue.

CUOMO: OK. And then also they'll deal with those texts, whether they make sense or not, whether that's where the cyanide came in.

Danny Cevallos, thank you very much.

CEVALLOS: There's always a motive.

CUOMO: There's always a motive. It's always the easiest thing for the prosecution to come up with. Keep following the case for us. We'll see you soon. Thank you, Danny.

BOLDUAN: All right, a lot going on.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Dan Rather still with us. We're going to talk about CNN's new documentary about the Nixon administration. I would say Dan has some insights into that time in American history.

CUOMO: All right, stay with us. We'll be back after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY everyone.

You're going to be getting a new glimpse into the world of the Nixon administration right here on CNN. It's in a new documentary called "Our Nixon" featuring footage taken by top Nixon aides while they were working at the White House. Here's a fascinating moment when Nixon and his staff talk about the TV show "All in the Family""

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's it called?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Archie is the guy's name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that's real family entertainment, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not think that you glory on public television homosexuality.

You ever see what -- you know what happened to the Greeks. Homosexuality destroyed them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Back with us now to talk about this, journalist Dan Rather who covered the Nixon administration extensively and he really needs no introduction. That's just one snippet of obviously of many of the Nixon tapes and much of this documentary.

But what is -- what do you make of the documentary and how it's reflective of your time covering that administration?

DAN RATHER, ANCHOR & MANAGING EDITOR, DAN RATHER REPORTS: Well first of all it's a reminder of what was and what wasn't during that period. What was, was you had Richard Nixon who came to his presidency as well prepared as perhaps anyone in American history with the possible exception of George Washington, and the tragedy that his administration became.

I think what's important for the viewer, particularly those who were not born or were not of memory age at that time is the context in which these clips were taken. Here you had -- there is no joy in saying this, there never has been.

BOLDUAN: Right.

RATHER: But here -- but this administration under President Nixon, the President himself ran a widespread criminal conspiracy that resulted in more than 40 people I think serving hard time. And the President himself was forced to resign office as a quote "unindicted co-conspirator." That's the context in which you need to view this.

That H.R. Bob Holdman (ph) and John Erlickman (ph) two of the stars, if you will, of the documentary were part of what some of us called at the time the Nixon palace guard. And they implemented it.

So when you see the movie, you say look they are ordinary people they had hopes for the country and hopes for the family. All of that's true. But in the end they helped run an administration which by any reasonable analysis is the worst in the history of the country, including this criminal conspiracy.

Here you had it's not in the documentary but we now know that President Nixon talked with some aides of his about possibly murdering reporter Jack Anderson because they didn't like his reporting.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's also a reminder of what it used to be like to cover the White House. You know today there's a fascination with sexual peccadillos and everybody is afraid to offend the White House because then you won't be on the press release list.

But in -- in you know in the day of this and especially with your reporting, you spoke truth to power and even if they came after you for you it, it was your job.

RATHER: Well thanks -- it was our job, but it was a strange time to say the least because the President himself would say terrible things about reporters in private, including myself we now know from tape recordings.

But you know we were, we didn't come to President Nixon with any preconceived notions. He thought we did. We wanted to find out what was going on and for a long time what we now call Watergate these widespread criminal acts that are going on, I didn't want to believe they were true. So it wasn't a case that we were out to get them, but they never believed it.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Given that and given that you had a front row seat to that very significant time in American history, how does that make you look at today's world of politics. Chris referenced some of the -- the scandals that are ongoing now. How do you look at things now and reflect on that time?

RATHER: Well that's a very good question and I do think about it particularly when something like this very good documentary comes forward and it takes me back to that time. That many of the things that we now call scandals and perhaps we should -- sexual peccadillos, people's private lives and sort of things maybe important but they pale in comparison to those times in our history when we've had constitutional crises.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

RATHER: We had it during the Nixon administration the President running this widespread criminal conspiracy and can you imagine that happening? Or such things as the Iran contra business during Ronald Reagan's presidency? So, these things that involve constitutional crisis are much, much bigger than the things that you read about people's private life.

And I'm not saying that isn't important but it pales by comparison and let us pray when we never have another time when we go through it when the president runs the kind of criminal operation that President Nixon then.

And I want to emphasize it still sticks in my throat a little bit. I have to say it --

BOLDUAN: But there is no joy in covering that period of time.

RATHER: There never have been any happiness about it but we have to face what it is. And at the time when I was the White House correspondent, you know, for a long time I didn't want to believe it and because I didn't want to believe it, I didn't believe it. But finally, the facts begin to show up.

CUOMO: Right.

RATHER: And when you read things that President Nixon said about reporters including myself, what was it we were doing? I tell you what we were doing. We were asking questions and he didn't want to answer and in many cases he couldn't answer probably.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

RATHER: And so, it's classic case of try to kill the messenger.

CUOMO: And the obligation, of course, was pushing the people's agenda and that's what you did first and foremost which gets a little cloudy today sometimes.

BOLDUAN: Yes on any of them. Dan, great to see you. Thanks for coming in. What a delight.

RATHER: Well thanks for having me on. I appreciate it very much.

BOLDUAN: I'm very much looking forward to this documentary.

CUOMO: I feel like a better broadcaster just because of proximity.

BOLDUAN: This set's got a whole lot more classy.

CUOMO: So obviously we're talking about the CNN documentary "Our Nixon". And you can watch it tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only, of course, on CNN. We're going to take a break.

Our thanks to Dan, again. We'll be right back.

RATHER: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: What better way to follow Dan Rather -- a good guest with some good stuff. Today's edition Jerry Ascione who lives in Florida, saves a small fortune with so-called extreme coupons. So what makes him, you know what makes that good stuff? Couponing -- it's what he does with his hobby that counts. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY ASCIONE, EXTREME COUPONER: These are the last crackers they're on sale right now 3 for 7. So if you do one cracker, it's $2.33. This is a manufacturer coupon that is printable. So if you see here, $2.78 save and you have that item for 2.33. Now that's what we call a money maker. When the coupon exceeds the actual sale price. The store will give you back money.

And the bottles of water we buy two get one free. But what I do is from overage of what I get the crackers for, the water pays for itself so it's actually free.

Some Publix they can limit you ten per item of anything. If they do that, I buy ten there and go to the next Publix. I'll go from Boca down to Ft. Lauderdale or even further and I'll just wipe out. If they let me clean up the store, I'll wipe out the whole shelf.

Hey brother, are you hungry? God bless, man. Have a good day.

There's something different when you actually hand the person the actual food because it removes all the red tape. It goes from the shelf to my hands and my hands to their hands and their stomach, problem solved. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: See, you were about to put the hate on Jerry, right. You were tired of hearing about the coupons.

PEREIRA: This guy.

CUOMO: But he buys hundreds of boxes of products at a time and from dozens of stores and then he distributes the food and he uses the saving money he gets to help the needy. And that's why this is the good stuff. Jerry Ascione --

PEREIRA: This guy --

BOLDUAN: That's some creative good stuff. I love it.

PEREIRA: He's one of the greatest guys.

CUOMO: He is. He's great at couponing and he's even better to people. Thank you for that. Let us keep telling the good stories. We'll be back in a moment.

BOLDUAN: It's powerful.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: That's it for us. For Kate, Michaela and me, thanks for watching NEW DAY. It's time for "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. Carol good morning.

PEREIRA: Good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Lots to talk about this morning so I will bid you adieu -- have a great day.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.

Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We want to welcome our viewers around the world.