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President Gives Speech on Syrian Chemical Weapons Use and U.S. Response; Interview with Senator Bob Casey; Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer Lose Elections; 9/11 Remembered Today; Zimmerman Domestic Dispute Investigated

Aired September 11, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up this hour, it is 9/11. We're remembering all that was lost 12 years ago when nearly 3,000 people were killed by terror attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This is a live look at ground zero. Families of the victims will soon be gathering there, and we're going to be bringing you this morning's tributes. We'll go in and out of them. Plus, we'll go inside the memorial museum which still hasn't opened. It is really beautiful down there. It means so much to so many people. Ringing around that fountain, of course, the names of the people that were lost.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's a beautiful sight to see this morning. And we'll be focusing on that.

And then there is also this very strange story to tell you about. It is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, right? But a newlywed wife accused of pushing her husband off a cliff just one week after they were married, and the web of lives she told before his body was found makes this case even more chilling. We'll be live with the latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And Anthony Weiner, signing off from his failed mayoral campaign with the one finger salute to the media. True to his luck lately, it is caught on camera. The night also saw another huge loss, Eliot Spitzer losing out in his comeback. We'll have the hits, runs, and obviously some of the errors there.

BOLDUAN: Well said.

First up this hour, though, President Obama says he is willing to give diplomacy a chance but he won't take the use of military force off the table when it comes to chemical weapons in Syria. Last night the president laid out his case against the Syrian government but also said he would delay his request for a Congressional vote on a military strike. We're obviously covering this like no other network can. Let's begin with Brianna Keilar at the White House this morning. Good morning.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning to you. Last Friday when President Obama said he would address the nation last night this was not the address that he thought he would be giving. But pulled between a war-weary public and his and the U.S.'s credibility on Syria, what was supposed to be a speech on pushing a military strike instead became a speech about buying time.


KEILAR: From the East Room Tuesday night, President Obama told Americans why his administration is certain Syrian president Bashar al Assad's regime is responsible for a sarin gas attack the U.S. government says killed more than 1,400 civilians.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad's chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.

KEILAR: He made the case for a military response.

OBAMA: This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective. Some members of Congress have said there's no point in simply doing a pinprick strike in Syria. Let me make something clear. The United States military doesn't do pinpricks. Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver.

KEILAR: But facing a likely defeat in Congress to authorize a military strike --

OBAMA: However --

KEILAR: The president then argued against taking action, pointing to a new Russian-brokered proposal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons.

OBAMA: I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.

KEILAR: It's an extraordinary turn of events. The policy of U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war began with one reportedly off the cuff remark President Obama made more than a year ago.

OBAMA: A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.

KEILAR: And it has unexpectedly turned on what appears to be another.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anything at this point that his government could do or offer that would stop an attack?

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week, but he isn't about to do it and it can't be done, obviously.

KEILAR: What one U.S. official initially called an off-message comment by Kerry. It bore the proposal from Russia that the president has yet to endorse. OBAMA: It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed. And any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad's strongest allies.


KEILAR: But many observers are worried that Syria will not actually give up its extensive stockpile of chemical weapons. And administration officials are concerned the Assad regime may just be stalling. Secretary of State John Kerry said any action by Syria will have to be swift, real, and verifiable. He said this cannot be a delaying tactic. And he is leaving today for Geneva, Switzerland, where he will meet tomorrow with his counterpart from Russia, Sergey Lavrov. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Brianna, so ironic that Secretary Kerry started this discussion about what could happen with Syria. And yet the last part of his statement was obviously this would be impossible to happen.

KEILAR: Exactly.

CUOMO: Thanks for the reporting this morning. We're monitoring reaction to the president's speech overseas. CNN's senior national correspondent Nic Robertson is live in Beirut. Good morning, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. In Damascus the state media didn't take President Obama's speech lightly. They did run an on-screen ticker saying Obama has delayed the vote and this allows the space for Russian diplomacy. The opposition in Syria seems to be very upset by this decision. They support the need for there to be missile strikes as action against the use of chemical weapons. But they say these delaying tactics by President Assad and by Russia, that Syrians are still being killed, 76 killed yesterday. Indeed that's echoed by the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Qataris. A lot in the Gulf state saying this is just a distraction. The discussion about chemical weapons doesn't get to the real issue, the fighting in Syria still going on. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Nic, thank you so much.

So the big question back here at home is what's the next step for Congress? Joining us no you to talk about this, Senator Bob Casey, the Democrat from Pennsylvania, the co-chair of the Senate's weapons of mass destruction and terrorism caucus. Senator, thank you for coming in this morning. A lot to talk to us after a very big night for the president.


BOLDUAN: The president last night, one thing that many people have been talking about, he did not lay out a specific timeline for action. How much time in your view does the Assad regime have before the U.S. needs to give up on diplomatic efforts? CASEY: I think it's very limited. It's not a few days but it's certainly not multiple weeks. They will give this reasonable time to come together if it's possible to have a diplomatic solution that we can actually vote on in this sense. What we're working on now, a number of us in the Senate, is a measure that will still incorporate, still maintain the use of force authorization. But added to that would be a set of conditions that the Syrian regime would have to meet. And they'd have to meet them on a very strict timetable. If that can come together, we might be able to get a better resolve than military operation.

But we have to be clear. The authorization for the use of force has to be maintained. It's the only reason we're having this discussion. The idea that the Russian federation or Mr. Assad are embracing any kind of proposal is because of the threat, the very credible threat of the use of force.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about a new resolution you're working on with a couple other senators. The majority leader, the president asked for some time. The majority leader said the Congress would be on hold on any votes to give these diplomatic efforts time to play out. When do you think you'll see action in the Senate on this new resolution laying out these benchmarks?

CASEY: I think we're days from that. We're still working on the language, not only members but our staffs are. So I think it would take some time.

But I would hope by the end of the week we would have a consensus, if not on the particulars of the language, at least the outline of it.

BOLDUAN: Senator, let's take a step back. When you look at this and how this has played out, what have you heard to this point that gives you even a modicum of confidence that Russia and Syria will follow through with their word, will stand by their word here?

CASEY: Well, I was very skeptical when this was proposed. I was, in fact, very negative because of the lack of credibility on the part of the Russians and the Syrian regime when it comes to the issue of chemical weapons.

However, in the more than 24 hours now since we've been examining this, there seems to be some potential. But let's not kid ourselves. The chances of this happening are a lot less than 50 percent. But it's worthy of pursuit, because it may be -- it may be, if this is achievable and this is the question I asked the president yesterday in our caucus, I said how do you effectuate this? What are the mechanics of it? If the result is removal of chemical weapons from Syria, it will be a better and more comprehensive and certain result you could get from even a military operation, which by definition cannot hit the chemical weapons for the obvious reasons.

BOLDUAN: A diplomatic, peaceful resolution to this, I think everyone agrees sounds great. But there are huge challenges, even if the Assad regime agrees, and they mean it, to let the chemical weapons go under international control. You've got thousands of troops that are likely needed to help secure these chemical weapons and all of the questions on how do you verify, especially in the middle of a civil war. Practically speaking then, is this realistic?

CASEY: Well, it's only viable if the Syrian regime fulfills any commitments they make. We'll know that in a matter of days. This won't take days to figure out if they're credible and serious. Also, it's helpful if the Russian -- the Russians will do what they say they're going to do.

It's really, if this is what ball is in what court, the ball is squarely and totally in the court of the Syrian regime and the Russians. They either have to do this or not. If they don't go through with this, I think it's highly likely you'll have a military operation.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about that real quick in a final question. The American public as we've seen in polling, they don't want to go to war, the president and Congress doesn't want to go to war. If Syria doesn't follow through and doesn't cooperate here, do you think that will change public opinion, will change the attitude Americans have towards a military strike?

CASEY: I think -- I hope it does, because I think a lot of Americans are examing the evidence the president laid out, or reexamining it, getting more familiar with that information and those facts, but also wanting us to pursue every possible option. I think when you have exhausted every possible option -- I would argue that every option was exhausted until this new and unusual proposal. But that is the last measure that could be examined. If they don't fulfill these commitments, I think they'll pay a price.

BOLDUAN: This goes under the category of a last chance. That's for sure. Senator Bob Casey, it's great to see you, senator. Thank you so much.

CASEY: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Chris?

CUOMO: We have breaking news this morning. Forecasters are now tracking the first Atlantic hurricane of the season, also one of the latest. CNN meteorologist Indra Petersons is keeping an eye on hurricane Humberto. Indra, what do we know?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It was a race this morning, the latest we've seen a hurricane since we had satellites was September 11th, 2002. That was Gustav. And this morning we didn't have a hurricane just yet. We weren't sure which was going to be the latest. We did not beat that record. Gustav still holds that record. Either way, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season is here. And that is Humberto, 75 mile per hour steady winds, off the coast of Africa, moving north-northwest at eight miles per hour right now.

It will hold on to its category 1 strength until Friday or so and then it will start to weaken as it progresses to the west. As it does, it will move into cooler weathers. For that we could be talking about the threat of it diminishing, which is a good thing. I do want to point out, remember tropical storm Gabrielle that dissipated? Well, it reformed. It's going over Bermuda. There are one to three inches of rain possible in Bermuda today. We could have a moderate tropical storm in the area. Chris and Kate?

BOLDUAN: A lot to follow this morning. Thanks so much, Indra.

So I guess the statement of the hour is redemption denied. Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner soundly defeated in both of their attempts to resurrect scandal-plagued political careers, and Anthony Weiner ended his mayoral bid with a, I guess the only way to describe it is an extremely memorable gesture. Rosa Flores has been watching all of this.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very sorry to see. I think people were expecting drama. I don't think anyone expected a one-finger good-bye by Anthony Weiner. But when his alleged sexting partner crashed his primary party in a skin tight red dress to confront him, we all figured the night was not ending well.


FLORES: Anthony Weiner says good-bye to his mayoral hopes and the press with his middle finger, leaving his concession speech last night. Weiner's combative nature was present but his wife, Huma Abedin, was not. What a difference a few months can make in politics. At the top of polls in the New York City mayor's race in July, the disgraced former congressman conceded defeat.

ANTHONY WEINER, FORMER NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: We had the best ideas. Sadly, I was an imperfect messenger.

FLORES: A campaign that had no shortage of drama.

HUMA ABEDIN, WIFE OF ANTHONY WEINER: It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy.

FLORES: That continued to unravel on primary night.


FLORES: Weiner's alleged sexting partner turned porn star, Sydney Leathers, literally crashing his party. Weiner left Congress in 2011 after his online sexting behavior went public. His latest scandal with Leathers may have been the last straw for voters.

STEPHEN SIGMUND, POLITICAL ANALYST: The maxim of fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. After the first time it tends to leave a bad taste in voters' mouths.

FLORES: The other politician embroiled in a sex scandal, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer had a different approach -- less drama, more results.

Spitzer resigned after his infamous client number nine stint with a prostitute in 2008. He fell short in his bid for New York City comptroller but he came close. Quite the opposite outcome for Weiner who constantly had to face critics on the trail.

WEINER: You're my judge? What rabbi taught you that?

FLORES: Weiner lost by a very wide margin. His campaign came to an end with a throng of media and uninvited guest chasing him to his concession speech. Out the door, just like his campaign, Weiner's exit, unlike any other in politics.


FLORES: Weiner stole the show but he didn't win the primary. Bill de Blasio claimed the number one spot with a possible runoff looming. Joe Lohta claimed the GOP primary. Back to Weiner, all of the analysts that we've talked to said voters can forgive you once, not twice.

BOLDUAN: He didn't handle it well at any part of this journey.

FLORES: No, no, no.

CUOMO: Last image of him going out, depending on your opinion on him, either very fitting or confounding.


CUOMO: And Bill de Blasio won by the way.


BOLDUAN: We mentioned it. Good to mention again.

CUOMO: It's out there.


FLORES: You're welcome.

CUOMO: That's what the process is supposed to be for viewers at home.

BOLDUAN: A lot of viewers saying who's Bill de Blasio?

CUOMO: The scandal-free guy.


CUOMO: Let's get to michaela. There's a lot of news to get to this morning.

PEREIRA: Certainly is on this anniversary of 9/11 and the Benghazi attack.

A powerful explosion on Benghazi's main street (ph). The blast damaging a foreign ministry building and a central bank branch there. Counterterrorism officials now say several extremist groups including al Sharia took part in last year's attack which killed Ambassador Stephens and three other Americans. Colorado voters have decided to recall two state senators, Democrats who voted in favor of the state's new gun laws earlier this year, state Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs got booted out of office in a close race and state Senator Angela Guerin of Pueblo was also recalled; 56 percent of voters in her district wanted her out.

To correctional officers on duty when Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro hanged himself have been placed on leave. A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction identifies the officers as Caleb Ackley (ph) and Ryan Murphy (ph). Investigators are looking into Castro's suicide. He just started a sentence of life plus a thousand years for holding three women captive for a decade.

The driver accused of plowing down more than a dozen people on the Venice boardwalk in California and killing an Italian tourist is back in court today. Nathan Campbell has pleaded not guilty to murder and assault charges stemming from last month's incident. Police say he purposely rammed his car into beach vendors and pedestrians.

Finally, bear sightings not so uncommon and not to uncommin in Tennessee. You don't expect to see one window shopping, though. Downtown Gatlinburg. The bear causing quite a stir, obviously, runs down Main Street. Stunned residents looking on, taking the all- important cell phone video. Thankfully the bear made its way out of town. No harm to others or himself. But what a sight. He's like what are you all looking like? Never seen a bear before?

BOLDUAN: I have never seen more bears out of their habitat.

PEREIRA: It's been a bear year. I'm sure naturalists -- We're encroaching on their land.

BOLDUAN: That's a bold bear.

CUOMO: Got nowhere to go.

PEREIRA: Down Main Street.

CUOMO: That's right.

We want to talk to you about what we all know about today. It has been 12 years since the day that changed too much for too many: 9/11. This is a live look at Ground Zero where families are expected to gather today, as well as a look at the Pentagon where you can see an American flag draped along the building. Later this morning we'll be showing you the memorial services that are in Pennsylvania, Washington, and New York City, of course, to honor the nearly 3,000 souls that were lost that day. Deb Feyerick is live from lower Manhattan at the site of the 9/11 memorial. Hey, Deb.

DEB FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Chris, hey Kate. You know, one of the things about 9/11 is that so many families want to come to the place that their loved ones were last alive. That's why there's been so much controversy around the building of the memorial, but also the museum as well. They want to make sure that when it is built, it is built just right.


FEYERICK: Beyond the massive reflecting pools where water fills the void left by the twin towers, the 9/11 museum is coming together. A year and a half behind schedule, it's set to open this spring.

JOE DANIELS, PRESIDENT, 9/11 MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM: These two tridents actually came from the north tower.

FEYERICK: Joe daniels is president of the 9/11 memorial and museum.

DANIELS: They're an important symbol of our resilience. They speak to the recovery period and they recall the original towers.

FEYERICK: Images those who perished and stories of the lives they led will grace the entry, as seen in this artist's rendering.

DANIELS: It's a story of people who were sitting at their desks, having a cup of coffee, talking to a colleague, boarding a plane for a vacation and then the absolute unthinkable happened.

FEYERICK: Families have donated personal mementos, each of them precious in their own way.

When you look at all the artifacts, how did you decide which to include and which ones just couldn't make it in?

DANIELS: It was a difficult process. We very carefully looked at the ones that could best tell the stories.

FEYERICK: : Like the steel that bore the brunt of a plane's impact.

More than 10 million people from 188 countries have visited the 9/11 memorial since it opened in 2011. A new transportation hub will open in 2015 and serve a quarter of a million people a day. One World Trade Center soars 1776 feet in the air, redefining the skyline, one of six towers set to change the lower Manhattan landscape -- symbols of rebirth, renewal and remembrance of what was lost.


FEYERICK: Now, there are going to be six moments of silence, two for when the planes hit the towers, two for when the towers fell, a moment of silence for when the plane that struck the Pentagon, and another for the plane that crashed in Shanksville, the brave team of people taking down those hijackers who changed the course of history. And I'll tell you guys, I woke up this morning and it's one of those days where you just think I'm going off to work today, you never know what can happen. Chris, Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. Deb, thank you so much for bringing us that.

CUOMO: Let's roll was the line that the guy said in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In that museum, there's controversy, there's always going to be. Too much pain involved, too much emotion for everybody to be happy. One of the walls is the exterior wall of the retaining wall of the World Trade Center. And it's really powerful to be down there and to see it. I loved hearing 10 million people from 188 countries. That's really what that site is about now, that people need to go there and remember what happened but also remember what actually matters in life. I know it's a comfort to the families that were affected that day.

BOLDUAN: To pay tribute and to remember, and on this day we want to remind our viewers there will be events throughout the morning. The first moment of silence will be at 8:46 eastern, that's the moment that the first airplane struck the north tower. CNN will bring you these events throughout the morning, live. We'll bring it all to you.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, caught on tape, police arriving on the scene after George Zimmerman's estranged wife called 911 during a domestic dispute. You see some of the video right there. She is not pressing charges, but police say they're still trying to figure out exactly what happened.

CUOMO: Another what happened moment we have this morning is the question surrounding this mountain in Montana. You're looking right now at a newlywed bride accused of pushing her husband, of only eight days off a cliff. Why? We'll tell you when we come back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We are learning more this morning about the domestic dispute involving George Zimmerman. New dash cam video shows the moment police arrived on the scene after George Zimmerman's wife called 911 on Monday, saying he was threatening her with a gun. This morning, police say he could still face charges. CNN's Victor Blackwell is in Lake Mary, Florida, with more on all these developments. Good morning, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. If charges are filed against George Zimmerman, Mark O'Mara will not be defending him. The attorney who led his defense in the Trayvon Martin case says he will not defend or represent George Zimmerman in any new cases, including his pending divorce proceedings. A divorce that at least O'Mara believes was the catalyst for an emotional confrontation here Monday. Now we're getting a first look at how it all ended.



BLACKWELL: New dash cam video shows George Zimmerman and another man being ordered out of this truck at gun point Monday by Lake Mary, Florida police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get him back out there. BLACKWELL: Police expected Zimmerman was armed after receiving this frantic call from his estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman.

SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, ESTRANGED WIFE OF GEORGE 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 --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Step closer and what.

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

BLACKWELL: Police say they did not find a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on your knees. Cross your feet.

BLACKWELL: According to police, there was a confrontation at the home the Zimmermans once shared, a home owned by Shellie's father, David Dean.

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

BLACKWELL: This is Dean after the alleged attack, which police say was not caught on camera. Polce say Mrs. Zimmerman was using the now smashed iPad to record video of what was being taken from the home. In this home surveillance video, footage George Zimmerman volunteered to officers, you can see George smash the iPad. Now that iPad is at the center of the investigation.

OFFICER ZACH HUDSON, SPOKESMAN, LAKE MARY POLICE DEPARTMENT: You have George Zimmerman saying he was struck with the iPad. And then you have Shellie saying there was physical contact with George. The iPad is important because we want to see what's on that iPad. The iPad would have been running while this was going on.

BLACKWELL: Everyone was questioned and released, no charges were filed.


BLACKWELL: So let's talk more about the iPad. The pieces of it have now been handed over to the Seminole County sheriff's office and analysts right now are working with the pieces to try to retrieve the video. If they see that either George or Shellie Zimmerman hit the other, they could both or maybe one of them just, face domestic battery charges. If they see on the video that it could have been used as a weapon and that could lead to charges. We'll find out if that happens. There is no time line. They're hoping sometime within the next few days. Chris, Kate?

BOLDUAN: Victor, thanks so much for that update. We'll be following that. What a mess.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, they were only marry a week and then she killed him. A new wife allegedly shoving her husband off a Montana cliff. We piece together what led up to his grisly death. BOLDUAN: And also this, coming. Lining up for a one-way mission to mars. Hundreds, thousands of people are willing to spend the rest of their days on the red planet. Is it worth it? We'll hear from some of the people applying for the trip.

CUOMO: I heard you signed me up for that.

BOLDUAN: I did. Does that surprise you?