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A Diplomatic Way Out?; Obama Heads To The Hill; Reid Postpones Senate Test Vote On Syria; "A Positive Development"; Tropical Storm Humberto; Optimism Over Morgan Fire; Escaped Inmate Recaptured; Border Agent Death Sentencing; Illinois Girl Missing; Big Gator; Zimmerman Domestic Incident; New Developments Complicate Obama Speech

Aired September 10, 2013 - 06:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Assad doesn't have a lot of capability. He doesn't have a credible means to threaten the United States.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Back from the brink? A Russia broker deal with Syria now on the table. The president tells CNN it could have hurt a strike, but what will he say to you tonight in his major address? We have the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Domestic disturbance. George Zimmerman briefly back in police custody after his wife calls 911 saying he was threatening her with the gun. We have the dramatic call ahead.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Better, faster, cheaper. The new iPhone set to be announced today. We have all the details on what to expect and will there be a new much more affordable version.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning to you. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, September 10th, six o'clock on the east. And wow, what a difference a day makes. Yesterday, the president was pushing for a strike on Syria, this morning, talk of a deal, question mark intentional. Why? We have new developments involving Russia and France that are unlike anything we have seen in modern diplomacy.

President Obama sat with Wolf Blitzer. We're going to tell you what he had to say about the latest developments and all of these questions that we have this morning. So, we have a team of experts to break down the possibilities. Mr. Peter Beinart, Mr. John King, and Ms. Christiane Amanpour, all here to talk about what's going to happen. We also have one of the most hawkish members of the senate, Mr. John McCain.

BOLDUAN: He'll have a lot to say this morning. That's for sure. And plus, we have this story, Diana Nyad set to face her critics today. Some in the long distance swimming world are questioning whether she could actually have pulled off that amazing swim in the way that she claimed. We hear from some of those skeptics and also we'll hear directly from her team.

PEREIRA: And speaking of skeptics on a completely -- I can't underscore that enough, different note. You've probably seen this video. A woman twerking in a room --


PEREIRA: Here's the question of skeptic, is this video just too crazy to be true? We have the answer on this very pressing issue this morning.

CUOMO: Conspiracy.

Up first, we have to talk about the dramatic turn in the push to punish Syria. It's tough to say, but it's even tougher to watch right now. Just when air strikes appears to be President Obama's only option, possible diplomatic solution emerges out of Russia. Their foreign minister says at this minute, they're putting together a plan for Syria to hand over chemical weapons.

The president is still set to address the nation tonight though pressing for military action against the Assad regime. It is one tough sell, even before the latest possibility. According to a new CNN/ORC poll, less than one in five Americans, say they completely understand the president's policy on Syria and nearly eight in 10 say the U.S. should not act as a world policeman.

We're going to cover all the angles this morning like no other network can. Let's start with Brianna Keilar live from the White House this morning. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. Russia actually says that it is preparing a plan with Syria that would allow Syria to give up its chemical weapons to international control. They say they'll have that proposal ready in the near future.

It's a proposal that I'll tell you, the White House still looks on with a little skepticism, perhaps they think this may just be Russia and Syria trying to run out the clock a little bit. But it's also possible that what may have been a gaffe by Secretary of State John Kerry is turning into what looks like a very welcome diplomatic off ramp.


KEILAR (voice-over): In a six-network media blitz, President Obama spoke about his latest plans for dealing with Syria, telling Wolf Blitzer --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action that would be my preference.

KEILAR: Earlier in the week, it seemed a military strike was the only option on the table for the U.S. until this. Secretary of State John Kerry making a seemingly off-script comment that turned into a possible option, providing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad a way out of a military strike.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: He can turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it. Without delay and allow a full and total accounting for that, but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done, obviously.

KEILAR: A U.S. official quickly chalked up Kerry's statement to, quote, "a rhetorical argument." But Russia saw a real game plan in what some considered a gaffe, encouraging Syria to take action, saying, we're calling on the Syrian authorities to not only agree putting chemical weapons storage under international control, but also for its further destruction. Syria responded just an hour later, their foreign minister saying, I declare that the Syrian Arab Republic welcomes Russia's initiative.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is a potentially positive development. I have to say that it's unlikely that we would have arrived at that point where there were even public statements like that without a credible military threat to deal with the chemical weapons use inside of Syria.

KEILAR: But even as support seemed to grow, some question if this is the answer.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: If the regime immediately surrendered its stockpiles to international control that would be an important step. But this cannot be another excuse for delay or obstruction.

KEILAR: A sentiment shared by the president.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We don't want just a stalling or delaying tactic to put off the pressure that we have on there right now.


KEILAR: Now, you heard President Obama say that he didn't think Russia or Syria would have considered this to be a possibility if it weren't for the threat of U.S. military action. That is a talking point that was introduced much earlier yesterday, clear that the White House is trying to make sure that they can justify the threat of U.S. military action, even if they don't go forward with it -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Regardless, they want to keep the pressure on no matter what route they take at this point. Brianna, thanks so much for starting us off this morning.

You should know, of course, that just hours before his address to the nation, tonight, President Obama is going to be heading to Capitol Hill to personally lobby senators from both sides of the aisle. CNN's Athena Jones is live on Capitol Hill with more on what is going to be a very busy day. Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. That's right. It will be a busy day here on the Hill. The reaction to this proposal, this potential diplomatic solution, has been one of cautious optimism. Many members of Congress believe that if this proposal is real and not just a delaying tactic on the part of Syria and Russia, the administration and the Congress have to seriously consider it.

That's why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now putting off a vote in the full Senate on a resolution authorizing force. He wants to give members a chance to learn more about this option. As you heard Brianna mentioned, the administration is going to continue pushing the case for military action because they believe, as do many members of Congress, that it's the threat of this action that finally brought Russia to the table after 2-1/2 years.

So before the president speaks to the American people tonight we'll see him here on Capitol Hill, meeting first with Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans to continue to push this case. Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Athena, thank you very much. Let's break this down. Let's bring in Peter Beinart, senior political writer for "The Daily Beast." Peter, it's great to have you here. Let me ask you this. We keep talking about these veiled possibilities. Let's just lay it out there. How possible is it that Syria would turn over their chemical weapons or surrender to monitoring and that Russia would actually broker this deal? What are we talking about here in terms of the real realm of possibility?

PETER BEINART, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, the more you examine it on the ground. It seems to be the harder it would actually be. You would need to have international inspectors all over that country in a state of civil war in order to try to secure those weapons.

CUOMO: So first they'd have to invite people in, which heretofore, up to this point, they have not done effectively, right?

BEINART: Right. You'd have to have them go across the country, even though the country is now in a case of civil war and you'd have to assume that Bashar Al-Assad is going to continue to do this once the threat of military force has been lifted. I mean, the administration has said it's only the threat of force that has led them to this point. But can you maintain the threat of force in order to continue to get him to go down this road? Most likely you would be in a situation where the threat of force I think dissipated.

CUOMO: That's only one-third of the equation, right? So that's the Syria, what will they do? Then you have the Russia. Doesn't this remind us of something they promised in the past with Iran and uranium that never happened? Give us some context.

BEINART: Right. I mean, Russia's primary interest is not in Syria getting rid of its chemical weapons. It's primary interest is in keeping Assad in power because Assad is Russia's ally and preventing America from doing something that mind undermine his regime. Once they have managed to get the U.S. off of the military strike then it seems to be Russia's incentive to really get Syria to disarm is very, very low.

CUOMO: And basis for that scepticism is that when the U.S. was pressing Iran about enriched uranium, didn't Russia say basically the same thing?

BEINART: Right. This is long history. Before the Iraq war, there were all kinds of efforts to basically avert a military strike. The basic point is you can use pressure to get people to talk about some kind of other solution in the short term. But once the pressure of military action is gone, what's their incentive to try to do anything then.

CUOMO: The third prong is U.S. interest. What's better for the U.S., to go in there with an attack and show that they stood strong and the president's red line was intact or is this a better outcome in terms of the optics of the situation?

BEINART: Well, look, for President Obama, of course, it was facing the possibility of losing in Congress. So when he's considering this alternative, it's got to be measured up against that. In my own personal view, is that this entire focus on chemical weapons has been to a large degree a red herring. The best thing we could possibly do for the people of Syria is to try to end that civil war and that should be our focus, even if he did get rid of his chemical weapons, the man has shown himself capable of slaughtering upwards of 100,000 people, even with other kinds of weapons.

CUOMO: And everyone is talking about how this delay help Syria, may help Russia, but fair point, it may help the president most of all because it's delaying the vote.

BEINART: Right. The president so far, he hasn't given a speech yet, but so far was meeting tremendous resistance in both parties, even in the Senate things were looking difficult. Most people assume the House would be even harder.

CUOMO: It's an interesting spin there. Everyone saying all the delay is no good for Syria, but maybe this is what the administration needed. Peter Beinart, appreciate the perspective as always this morning.

BEINART: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, that's one piece of it. How possible this is. We're going to keep covering the issue of Syria from different angles. We're going to bring in Senator John McCain and find out what he thinks about Secretary Kerry's actions and what this means for the overall effort. Has the landscape really changed?

We're going to bring in chief national correspondent John King to take a look at the vote and see where things lie for the president as he goes into the address and then chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour to get the perspective from about.

And of course, we're going to have more of Wolf's interview with the president. We want to remind you, watch CNN tonight when President Obama addresses the nation at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, very important for all of us.

BOLDUAN: Much more on this still coming up in the show.

But we are also watching the tropics this morning. We could get our first named hurricane of the year today, Humberto. This as Tropical Storm Gabrielle reforms in the Atlantic. Karen McGinnis is in for Indra Petersons this morning in the CNN Weather Center. So what are you seeing, Karen?

KAREN MCGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like this could be our first hurricane of the season. It's forming well out into the Atlantic. Here's the coast of Africa. Here's Humberto as it makes its way towards the west and northwest fairly rapidly. But the water temperatures will be fairly conducive to further development. So as a consequence we could see a Category 1 hurricane develop by this afternoon.

We'll be receiving another update from the National Hurricane Center coming up at about 8:00. Then a Category 2 hurricane going into Thursday, but then as it begins to move into some cooler waters, we think it will probably be downgraded to a Category 1. All those theoretical, but we look at the water temperatures here and very conducive to hurricane development with water temperatures 80 degrees and above, but further north those water temperatures are only in the 80s.

We watch water temperature as one of the conducive elements for tropical storm and hurricane formation. Then there's Tropical Storm Gabrielle. This one is going to make its way across Bermuda, probably by Wednesday morning. We'll have to take a look at the preparations for Bermuda as it bears down across that region. We think as it moves into some cooler water, we'll see these winds go down from about 40 miles an hour maybe to minimal tropical storm intensity. We'll keep you updated -- Kate, Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right, we'll be watching it through the week. Thank you so much, Karen.

CUOMO: So the concern is hurricanes down there along the eastern seaboard. Out west we're worried about fires. That's one of the stories we're following for you this morning. Let's get to Michaela for the latest.

PEREIRA: Authorities anticipated about fire season and it certainly has been delivering as such. Let's bring you up to date on the situation in San Francisco and around the bay area. Officials there now optimistic that they will contain the Morgan fire earlier than expected. They say that fire was 20 percent contained as of Monday afternoon and that as of last night, the fire seemingly just stopped spreading. Another California fire, the Clover fire, grew to 2,500 acres and damaged or destroyed 20 structures. An inmate who authorities say stabbed an officer outside a Detroit courtroom and escaped wearing his uniform now back in custody. During his escape, police say 25-year-old Derrick White who also goes by the name Abraham Pierson car jacked a minivan, which was later recovered. White was stopped walking along a service road and eventually caught. He could now face at least 11 more charges. The retired officer he stabbed was treated at a Detroit hospital and released. We'll bring more to you on this story later in the show.

Sentencing day for this man, a man who pleaded guilty to killing a U.S. border patrol agent back in 2010, the death of Agent Brian Terry revealed the so-called "Fast and Furious" gun smuggling operation. That failed ATF operation put weapons in the hands of suspected gun smugglers and hopes of tracking them. One of those guns killed Agent Terry.

More than 100 volunteers searching frantically this morning for a missing 7-year-old girl in rural Illinois. Willow Long was reported missing Sunday by her mother. Police do not suspect foul play. They are wondering if the second grader decided to go an adventure after watching the Disney movie "The Princess and The Frog" the night before.

For the third time in a week, Mississippi gator hunters have broken the record for the heaviest alligator, this 13'6 1/2" long alligator weighed in at 741 pounds. That is 14 pounds heavier than the previous title holder. First time gator hunters John Ratcliff, Jennifer Ratcliff and Jimmy Grear, had plenty to celebrate. Their catch came on the very same day that Jimmy and Jennifer announced their engagement. How about that?

CUOMO: That's nice.

PEREIRA: Kind of sweet.

CUOMO: What says love more than killing an alligator.

BOLDUAN: That massive, massive alligator.

PEREIRA: Congratulations.

BOLDUAN: Every time we see that, it looks fake.

CUOMO: First-time alligator hunters. How that conversation go? Listen, I want to marry you, but first let's go kill a swamp dragon.

BOLDUAN: Your sense of adventure is what I love most about you.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. I know there had to be something.

Coming up on NEW DAY, listen to this story, George Zimmerman, once again, another 911 call, another person saying that he might shoot them and it turns out to be his wife. We let you hear the 911 call and give you the story behind it coming up.

BOLDUAN: Also it will be a very big day for Apple. The tech giant is ready to unveil its next generation iPhones. News to you, your iPhone 5 is already outdated. What will it be like? We'll see.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

New troubles for George Zimmerman. His wife making a frantic 911 call, claiming Zimmerman was threatening her with a gun. The call comes only days after Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce.

It's just the latest in a series of run-ins with the law for Zimmerman since his acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Let's bring in CNN's Victor Blackwell. He's like in Lake Mary, Florida, with more.

Victor, this is one of those that you can't make up.


Exactly why this started and how it started, Chris, really depends upon whom you ask. But officers tell us that this ended with officers guns drawn and George Zimmerman's hands up, face down on his driveway.



SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S WIFE: I don't know what he's capable of. I'm really scared.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): That's Shellie Zimmerman speaking with a 911 operator Monday during an alleged altercation with her estranged husband, George Zimmerman.

According to the Zimmerman's attorneys, Shellie Zimmerman and her father, David Dean, were taking items out of the home the couple once shared.

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: George was not aware of it. So, when George showed up to see a trailer and truck outside the house, it was concerning to him. There were some conversations between George and her dad.

BLACKWELL: However, text messages between the Zimmermans appear to show George Zimmerman was aware his wife would be at the home and Shellie Zimmerman says there was more than a conversation between her husband and her father.


S. ZIMMERMAN: He had accosted my father and took my iPad out of my hands and smashed it and cut it with a pocket knife.

(END AUDIO CLIP) BLACKWELL: According to Lake Mary police, Mrs. Zimmerman called for help when George Zimmerman allegedly reached for what she thought was a gun.


S. ZIMMERMAN: He's in his car and he continually has his hand on his gun and he keeps saying, "Step closer". He's threatening all of us with his firearm.

911: "Step closer" and what?

S. ZIMMERMAN: And he's going to shoot us.


ZIMMERMAN: Zimmerman has had several run-ins with the law in the two months since he was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin. In July, he was issued a warning for speeding in Texas. Last week --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I stopped you for speed, 60.


BLACKWELL: He was issued a $256 citation in Florida. Monday, Zimmerman was questioned and released, no charges were filed. It's unclear if Zimmerman really had a gun.

OFFICER ZACH HUDSON, SPOKESMAN, LAKE MARY POLICE DEPT.: Nobody inside the house saw him with that weapon or with a weapon. He said he never had a weapon on him. Nobody can place him having the weapon on him.

BLACKWELL: That's not what Zimmerman's attorney told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Did Zimmerman have a gun in the car?

O'MARA: He had a gun with him, yes. He was allowed to and absolutely --


BLACKWELL: Investigators are now reviewing surveillance footage from cameras at this home to determine if either of the Zimmermans will face domestic battery charges. Chris, Kate.

CUOMO: Victor, appreciate it. Thank you for the reporting.

We'll let it play out. Marital discord can always breed this kind of discontent.

BOLDUAN: Divorce can be ugly.

CUOMO: When it's George Zimmerman, it races some questions. We'll keep talking about it.

BOLDUAN: No charges, though, filed. We should repeat that.

CUOMO: Not yet.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's right.

All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY: are we pulling back from the brink? We're tracking the dramatic new developments, a possible deal with Syria. Our John King will help explain its chances of averting a strike. Your NEW DAY political gut check is coming up.

CUOMO: And Diana Nyad back in the news and not for reasons she appreciates. We loved the swim from Cuba to Florida. But critics say they doubt aspects of it. Did she cheat is the allegation? Harsh.

Diana Nyad firing back, ready to take on her accusers. We look forward to that.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, September 10th.

Coming up on the show: the Obama administration says it's glad to hear about Russia's offer to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons program. But the president is still pushing Congress for the votes to authorize a military strike. Could there actually be a diplomat solution to this crisis? It's a big question.

BOLDUAN: It's a big question and did not seem like even a possibility yesterday. We'll see today. Also this, Apple unveiling the latest version of the iPhone. We're going to give you a preview of today's big announcement.

How about no more pass codes? Use your fingerprint. It might be the future.

CUOMO: Future. Here, right now.

BOLDUAN: Right now.

CUOMO: A lot of news as well. Let's go to Michaela for the top stories -- Mick.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's bring you up-to-date.

President Obama preparing to make his case against Syria to the American public. He'll address the nation at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. He's expected to press for military action against the Assad regime, although the administration is now studying a proposal by the Russians that calls for the U.N. to take control of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

Arraignment day for an Ohio man who took to YouTube to confess that he drove drunk, crashed and killed a Navy veteran. Matthew Cordle is expected to appear in court today. In his online video, Cordle talked about blacking out, driving the wrong way and killing Vincent Canzani back in June. Cordle's lawyer says he'll plead guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide. He faces more than eight years in prison. We have a live report later for you in the show.

New this morning, four men accused in a gang rain of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in Delhi, India, have been convicted on rape and murder charges. The victim, a physical therapy student initially survived that December 16th attack but died in a Singapore hospital a few weeks later, sparking international outrage. Lawyers for the four men convicted today say they will appeal those guilty verdicts.

Newly released documents show the U.S. government has been using border crossings to examine the information stored inside travelers electronic devices without a search warrant. It begins with the government placing a travel alert for a passenger. The travelers then detained at a border crossing and electronic devices that person is carrying are confiscated and searched.

Here's what you got to see to believe. A soccer game in Argentina -- a player passes the ball to a dog, who's running on field. The dog uses his nose to put right t in the net. And, ladies and gentlemen, it is good.

Score one for the guy in a fur jersey.

CUOMO: You don't think that guy just kicked the dog with the ball and it ricocheted off it and went in?

PEREIRA: Why did the dog know to be there?

CUOMO: Why it ran away?


CUOMO: Shouldn't he have slid forward on his paws?

BOLDUAN: He's running up and he says watch this, guys, off the dog, into the net.


BOLDUAN: Exactly.

CUOMO: Good video nonetheless.

BOLDUAN: Good video. Skeptics we are.

Let's move now to our political gut check, all the stories you need to know coming straight out of Washington.

I'm just making sure John showed up today. John's story this morning.

The president takes his case for a U.S. military strike against Syria directly to the American people tonight, amid a possible deal.

CNN's chief national correspondent John King is here to break it all down for us.

So, John, we've been talking about this for over a week now and every time you have said the president needs to take his case directly to the American people. He's going to do that tonight. But now the possibility of this potential diplomatic deal that was proposed by the Russians, how do you think that's going to affect what the president says this evening.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It will affect the mood of what the president says this evening quite dramatically, Kate. And question is, how does the president now take what his aides will tell us his best case for taking military action? I say the president will lay this out to the American people tonight, saying they need to prepare the possibility. And then he wants to make the case, that Congress should give him authorization, the military strikes on Syria, and yet, as the president told our own Wolf Blitzer just yesterday, he says there could be a potential breakthrough with this new Russian proposal.

That's what makes this so confusing, frankly, in the sense that at this time yesterday, of you discuss this Russian proposal with the administration officials, they would have called this a joke. They said it was unrealistic. And they publicly criticized their own secretary of state when he floated it.

They said rhetorically in an offhand way yesterday, but then by the night, it was a potential breakthrough proposal. So, interesting for the president to try to prepare the American people for the possibility of military strikes. We've gone through the polling. We've watched these town halls across the country.

The American people don't want this. The president had a very steep hill to begin with and now when he says there's a potential diplomatic breakthrough out there, it makes it harder to make the case for war. So, a huge challenge for the president.

BOLDUAN: It makes definitely the speech and how he's going to present his case more complicated this evening, it seems, that's for sure. Some of our new polling out this morning I think lays out the challenge that the president is facing today.

New CNN/ORC poll shows that only one in five people say they completely understand the president's policy on Syria. So, it makes me wonder if it's realistic to think that the president is going to be able to really change that dramatically in just one speech this evening.

KING: No, he's not. And they know that at the White House, that the president can use this unique opportunity to talk directly to the American people, to build a foundation for changing those numbers.

And again, the president's challenge is profound, both from a personal and policy standpoint.