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Syria Charged with Turning Over Chemical Weapons; President To Give Speech on Possible Syrian Strike; George Zimmerman Arrested; Inmate Stabs Prison Guard; Interview with Sen. John McCain

Aired September 10, 2013 - 07:00   ET


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I was just getting mocked before we went on television. Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, September 10th, 7:00 in the east. Coming up this hour, we're going to break down the stunning turn of events surrounding Syria. President Obama will speak directly to the American people tonight. But it could be a very different pitch than the president wanted to deliver. We'll explore how a "new deal" in quotes floated by Russia may have changed everything. Senator John McCain will join us live. I can only imagine what he has to say about this.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to hear what he has to say. And also this ahead, a NEW DAY exclusive, a Florida man pleads guilty to tricking his girlfriend into taking an abortion pill, killing the child she's always dreamed of having. We'll talk with her live. Does she feel justice has been served.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: A big announcement expected from Apple today. The tech giant expected to reveal two new iPhones. Among some of the new features, a better processor, fingerprinting sensing technology, and some smashing new colors. Here's the question, though, are they game changers for the smartphone market? We'll give you a preview up ahead.

BOLDUAN: Let's begin this hour with the potential game changer in the Syria crisis. Just over 14 hours from now, President Obama will make his pitch to the American people. But a Russian proposal changes the equation for a speech that was planned as an all-out call for military action. The Russians have suggested putting Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles under U.N. lock and key.

Meantime, a new CNN/ORC poll shows Americans have serious doubts about the president's leadership on Syria. Just take a look at this. Less than one in five say they completely understand the president's policy there. And almost 80 percent say the U.S. should not act as, quote, "the world policemen." We're covering the story as only CNN can. Let's start off with CNN's Brianna Keilar at the White House.

BRIANNA KIELAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Kate. Russia says that it is right now preparing a plan that will have specifics and will be delivered at some point in the near future, that they're working with Syria on a proposal so that Syria could give up its chemical weapons to international control.

France has said it will take whatever this proposal is to the U.N., but there are no specifics. There is no specific timeframe. And because of that, I think there is skepticism that we've already heard voiced from the administration. Nonetheless, a proposal that seems to have been born from an off the script comment by secretary of state John Kerry is now being seized by President Obama as a welcome diplomatic off ramp.


KIELAR: In a six network video blitz, President Obama spoke about his latest plans for dealing with Syria, telling Wolf Blitzer --

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

KIELAR: 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, 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.

KIELAR: A U.S. official quickly chalked up Kerry's statement to, quote, "a rhetorical argument." Russia saw a 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."

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.

KIELAR: 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.

KIELAR: A sentiment shared by the president.

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

KIELAR: We do expect, according to a senior administration official, when President Obama addresses the nation tonight he will still make the case for military force, or at least the threat of military force, as you heard him make in his interview with Wolf Blitzer yesterday, the sense being that even if the U.S. doesn't use that force, Chris and Kate, that there is still a justification for why the White House put it out there.

CUOMO: Interesting question. Brianna, thank you for the reporting this morning.

We do know the president travels to Capitol Hill today to try to increase support in the Senate. Let's go live to CNN's Athena Jones monitoring Capitol Hill for us. Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This proposal is being viewed here on Capitol Hill with cautious optimism. You heard in Brianna's piece there, there are still a lot of concerns about this. But members of Congress believe if this proposal is real, not just a delaying tactic on the part of Syria and Russia, then it's up to the White House and members of Congress to seriously consider it.

And so that's why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now delaying a vote in the Senate on this resolution to authorize force. That's to give members a chance to learn more about this option, this potential diplomatic solution, what some are calling a third way.

Now, you also heard from the president and from Secretary Clinton, they are concerned this could be a delaying tactic. And so the White House is going to continue to push to make its case for military action because they believe, as do many members of congress, that this threat of military action is what brought Russia to the table after two-and-a-half years of this conflict. Before the president speaks to the American people tonight, he will be right up here on Capitol Hill, speaking with Senate Democrats and later with Senate Republicans. Back to you guys, Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: We'll have to see which is a tougher audience today. That's for sure. Athena, thanks so much.

JONES: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: The diplomatic solution in the crisis in Syria is being embraced by Damascus. Let's go to senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, who has more, live from Beirut this morning. What's the reaction?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Syria's foreign minister says the government there welcomes in Damascus this proposal by the Russians, but the rebel spokesman that we talked to today is trashing the proposal. He said this is a stalling tactic by Assad, that he is playing for time. How can anyone trust that he will turn over all his stockpiles? He goes on to say despite this, Assad is still killing people in the country. And that's the rub. Chemical weapons, experts we've talked to say there are multiple sites in the country. You'd need tens of thousands of experts to go in and decommission those weapons. And they would be walking in effectively into an ongoing war. There is no ceasefire. And that may require hundreds of thousands of additional peacekeeping troops. The rebels show no sign at the moment they're going to sign up for this, Kate.

BOLDUAN: We'll be watching as it develops, clearly, throughout the day. Nic, thank you so much for that.

We have much more on Syria coming up, including a one-on-one interview with Senator John McCain. We'll get his take on the latest developments in just a moment. He has been a key senator, a key ally of the president in this conversation, in this debate. And also a reminder that you'll hear directly from President Obama himself. He will be addressing the nation this evening at 9:00 p.m. eastern. You can watch it right here on CNN.

CUOMO: George Zimmerman was back in police custody after an eerily familiar 911 call. His wife placed this one on Monday. Shellie Zimmerman said her estranged husband threatened her with a gun and punched her father in the face. CNN's Victor Blackwell is in Lake Mary, Florida, with more.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. This is George Zimmerman's third interaction with police since the acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin, only this time officers tells this ended with George Zimmerman being forced to lay face down on his driveway.


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

BLACKWELL: 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 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.

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN: He accosted my father and then took my iPad out of my hand and smashed it and cut it with a pocket knife. BLACKWELL: According to Lake Mary police, Mrs. Zimmerman called for help when George Zimmerman allegedly reached for what she thought was a gun.

SHELLIE 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Step closer" and what?

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

BLACKWELL: 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.


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

OFFICER ZACH HUDSON, SPOKESMAN, LAKE MARY POLICE DEPARTMENT: 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: Now, officers say they did not check the vehicle because they did not have a warrant. And they admit there might have been a gun in there with him. Lake Mary police right now are reviewing surveillance video from cameras from inside and around the home to determine if there will be domestic battery charges filed against either Mr. or Mrs. Zimmerman. So no charges filed so far, but those could be coming.

BOLDUAN: All right, Victor, thank you so much for that.

Now let's turn to the dramatic capture of an escaped fugitive in Michigan. Police say the man stabbed a sheriff's deputy before making his escape Monday. But this morning, he's back behind bars and facing new charges. I guess that should not be a surprise when you hear the story that John Berman has been looking into.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is something. A 14-hour search ended overnight in what's being called a crisis situation. It all started when an inmate with a violent past stabbed a deputy with a comb.


BERMAN: A frantic citywide manhunt ends, a 25-year-old fugitive captured after Detroit police spent the day searching neighborhoods and blocking street corners, looking for the violent suspect.

BENNY NAPOLEON, WAYNE COUNTY SHERIFF: We have been searching the city, following up lead after lead after lead.

BERMAN: It began shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Monday. Abraham Pierson was in a holding cell inside this Detroit courthouse awaiting his sentencing for carjacking and armed robbery. When an unarmed deputy removed Pierson's handcuffs, the inmate attacked him with a comb, sharpened into a weapon, a brutal assault with no other deputy around to help.

NAPOLEON: This is a huge building, obviously. We have a limited number of people with different responsibilities.

BERMAN: After stabbing the deputy several times in the neck, Pierson snatched his clothes, keys, cell phone and radio, bypassed building security by taking the prisoner elevator, and walked right out the front door. He then car jacked a minivan outside police headquarters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The woman was screaming, help, help! He's got my car! Help!

BERMAN: Her vehicle was found smashed into a cluster of trees two miles away.

PATRICIA BRADFORD: He said get out or I'll kill you. And I got out.

BERMAN: Soon after, Pierson disposed of the deputy uniform. It was found underneath this red jeep. There was no break in the case until late in the evening when someone spotted him walking near Interstate 94. Pierson, seen here in the back of a police car, is now back in jail where he faces at least 11 additional charges.


BERMAN: You can bet he does. What a story. Now we're told that the deputy who was stabbed is 63 years old. The good news, he did not suffer life-threatening injuries. He was treated, released, and he's now recuperating at home.

BOLDUAN: Good news there.

BERMAN: Crazy story. One thing after another after another.

BOLDUAN: No kidding. Thanks so much, John.

CUOMO: No real reason to suspect that kind of violence initially from these types of charges, carjacking, armed robbery.

BOLDUAN: Now facing 11 new charges. CUOMO: Appreciate it.

A lot of other news this morning. Let's get to Michaela for the latest.

PEREIRA: Let's take a look at the headlines. California's Morgan fire has now tripled in size, burning 3,700 acres since Sunday afternoon. Those fires burning through Mt. Diablo State Park. Those flames raced over the summit of Mt. Diablo Monday. But so far the park's historic lookout and visitor center have remain untouched.

And 20 percent containment reported with more than 700 firefighters battling that blaze. Evacuation orders are now in effect for about 100 homes east of the park.

An Ohio man who confessed online to killing a Navy veteran while driving drunk is expected to plead guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide today. And 22-year-old Matthew Cordle was indicted Monday by a grand jury for the death of Vincent Canzoni. In a video that's now gone viral, Cordle promises to plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything he's done to Canzoni and his family.

Going through airport security may soon be easier to handle. The TSA announcing a new program that it says will speed up travel. Starting next month, some 450,000 passengers randomly selected and considered low risk will be able to move through faster lines, keeping shoes and coats on and their laptops in their bags. Passengers won't even know they've been selected until you receive your boarding pass.

New York City Democrats head to the polls to pick the candidate they hope will succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Two polls released Monday show Bill de Blasio ha a comfortable lead over city council speaker Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson. The big question, though, is will De Blasio have the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff?

And finally here is an engagement photoshoot that meets "The Walking Dead." A couple in Hungary wanted something completely different for their engagement photos. I'm thinking they succeeded. They chose a horror theme. They took things a step further by having the pictures arranged in a comic book format. Both the groom and bride-to-be are fans of thrillers and horror flicks, and they felt this would be sort of indicative of their lifestyle.

BOLDUAN: I'm loving this new trend.

PEREIRA: I do, too.

BOLDUAN: Wedding parties running from dinosaurs or something.

PEREIRA: Yes. If it's you, celebrate it.

CUOMO: It's much better than the alligator hunting thing.

PEREIRA: For me, sure.

(LAUGHTER) CUOMO: It's nice to be creative.

PEREIRA: I like it, too.

BOLDUAN: Our engagement photo was --

PEREIRA: Your engagement photo -- your wedding photo is stellar, beautiful, beautiful.

CUOMO: Mine was weird. I was all happy.

PEREIRA: How was your hair?

CUOMO: My bride to be seemed confused by what she just accepted.

BOLDUAN: What did I do?

PEREIRA: I thought I won the lottery.

BOLDUAN: I have to marry him?

PEREIRA: She's a lucky woman.


CUOMO: That's nice.

BOLDUAN: See? We made up for it.

PEREIRA: When we compliment you, you can't take it either.


CUOMO: I'm constantly controlled by what's true.

Overnight, moving on, a tropical storm has reformed in the Atlantic. Let's get to Karen Maginnis for the latest. This actually matters, Karen. What's going on?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it does. We have tropical storm Gabrielle and before it was looking like nothing. It had fizzled out after just about a day. Now it's regained some strength and we'll move in across Bermuda, going into Wednesday morning as a tropical storm, perhaps supporting winds up to 50 miles an hour. Preparations underway. They're battening down the hatches as it makes its way towards the north and gradually, fairly rapidly, as we go into Friday, moving out over the open waters but could affect portions of Nova Scotia going into Saturday.

This storm system has legs. It's not giving up just yet. Neither is Humberto as it makes its way across the Atlantic off the coast, well off the coast of Africa. Now supporting winds of 65 miles an hour. We think that this is going to become a category 2 hurricane but as it moves more towards the north and moves to somewhat cooler water. It looks like it may lose some of its punch but we're not going to get much on this one, at least for the next several days. We'll watch it as it moves across the Atlantic. Chris, Kate?

BOLDUAN: Hopefully it means it will move far, far away. Thank you so much, Karen.

Next up on NEW DAY, will President Obama give diplomacy a chance now that Russia floated a proposal to put chemical weapons under international control? Senator John McCain, one of the most hawkish members of the Senate, very outspoken on this issue, will be joining us after the break to talk about it.

CUOMO: And then we're going to show you some details on Apple's new thing. Is this the big new thing, though? Is this a game changer? Will this matter to people on Wall Street, to people on Main Street? We'll take you through it.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Tonight, President Obama will take his case for a strike against Syria directly to you, the American people. But a Russian proposal to have Syria hand over its chemical weapons could change what the president has to say. Could change the entire debate, but should it? Joining us right now, one of the most vocal advocates for military action in Syria, Republican Senator John McCain. Senator, thank you very much for joining us, as always.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: The last time we had you on NEW DAY we were kind of joking around as Russia as a player, the notion they can't even return a Super Bowl ring, now maybe the broker of a solution in this situation. Do you trust Russia? Do you take this seriously?

MCCAIN: I take it seriously to the degree that it has to be explored. It must be examined and I think we could have a very good initial test, Chris. That would be for the immediate dispatch of monitors, international monitors, to these chemical weapons sites. which we know where most of them are, and secure them so that they can't be used by Bashar Assad. and then we work out the procedures for keeping them under international control and the removal. We could do that immediately.

No, I am very skeptical, very, very skeptical, but the fact is you can't pass up this opportunity if it is one. You've got to, right away, determine whether it's real or not. Finally could I say there are a group of us who are working on - senators who are working on an amendment, or a change, to the resolution that allows for this kind of action and requires guidelines, reporting process and benchmarks that have to be met that would be in addition to the resolution. But, no, put me down as very skeptical but I think we can find out quickly whether it's valid or not.

CUOMO: What does your gut tell you about whether or not it's valid, Russia stepping in saying we can fix this, we can get them to play nice, basically. MCCAIN: When you see the planeloads of Russian arms flying into Damascus on a daily basis, tons and tons. When you see the Russian veto time after time of any resolution in the security council, it gives us ample reason to be skeptical. By the way, I still support arming the free Syrian army. I strongly support it, because I believe a negotiated settlement can only be achieved for the departure of Bashar Assad if the momentum has changed in this situation.

CUOMO: You say momentum has changed. There does seem to be --

MCCAIN: It has not. It has not. It's in favor of Bashar Assad.

CUOMO: Okay. On the ground. But in terms of the momentum of this debate in the United States, there does seem to be a see-sawing, the president initially in our interview was reluctant to talk about military action. Then he became all about military action. Now this pie in the sky from Russia, and the pendulum seems to swing back. Does this give you the feel of amateur hour coming out of the administration?

MCCAIN: I've tried to and will continue to try to work with the president and Secretary Kerry and others, because this is really transcends any political considerations. But there's a degree of incoherence that I have never seen the likes of which before. When the secretary of state says that any strike could be, quote, unbelievably small, what does that mean? Does that -- is it worth it then? Is that - what is -- we still haven't determined what the goal of these military strikes are. And that, of course, leads to confusion on the part of the American people.

I think the American people have not been explained -- they have not explained the case to the American people and I hope that the president does that tonight, although it may be somewhat delayed or not particularly decisive because of this new wrinkle.

CUOMO: We have a new poll out that says the president has suffered a loss of confidence from the American people when dealing with foreign affairs. Does he still have your confidence?

MCCAIN: It's not a matter of confidence or not confidence. These issues are so important. The Middle East is in turmoil. There is incredible things happening. Look at Iraq unraveling. The king of Jordan is in jeopardy, Lebanon is experiencing this kind of strife. We have a regional conflict. You have a government now in Egypt that is, at best, oppressive. And so there's problems throughout the Middle East. I want to work with the president but has it been handled badly? Yes, I believe it's been handled badly because the United States has not led. That doesn't mean that we intervene in every conflict, but we have to lead because nobody else does and we're not.

CUOMO: Let me lay out the other side of this to you, though, senator.


CUOMO: You're at a town hall meeting, you have some guy waving a bag of marshmallows in your face. We have the poll that says 15 percent of the American people think that Syria matters a lot, that we should put it at the top of the agenda. Huge numbers in the poll of people saying the war in Iraq was a mistake. Is there a message in this for you to back off the idea that military action is the solution in the Middle East?

MCCAIN: Well, of course I don't think military action is a solution, but I do think when someone is massacring his own people and it's turning into a regional conflict which threatens the United States' national security interests, that to help those people who are struggling against this kind of brutality is perfectly appropriate for the United States.

But I understand that fatigue the Americans have and yes, town hall -- my town hall meetings are always spirited. People know they can come in and have a lot of fun and express their views. But the point is, that we have got to make the case for the United States leadership and that does not mean a repeat of Iraq. By the way, Iraq was mishandled but I still think we were correct in going into Afghanistan after 9/11. But the mishandling of Iraq will go down in history as one of the great blunders in American military adventures.

CUOMO: Of course we have to see how this one turns out also here, right? Because with such an agenda going into tonight, what do you need to hear from the president? What do you think the American people need to hear?

MCCAIN: That we are exploring this option that has just come up in the last 24 hours. We can find out very quickly because they should accept international monitors right away and modify the resolution before Congress to take into account this possibility.

But when you see those dead babies there, those bodies stacked up, you know the United States of America has to try to -- if the President of the United States says there's a red line and then the red line is crossed repeatedly and we don't act, then there's no credibility. I didn't tell the President of the United States to say that was the red line. But I do say once he says it and it's crossed, then for us to do nothing, I think is not a viable option. But I understand the skepticism of the American people because of the incoherence to a large degree of the message from the president and the administration.

CUOMO: Senator McCain, thank you for always coming on the show. Appreciate your perspective.

MCCAIN: Always good to be with you.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, George Zimmerman's estranged wife calls 911 saying she's scared and doesn't know what he's capable of. It's the latest run-in with the law for Zimmerman. So what is going on there?

Also this ahead, the smartphone wars heating up. Today Apple introduced its the versions of its iPhone. We have a preview of what you can expect.