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Parts of Colorado Hit by Floods; U.S. and Russia Reach Deal on Disposing of Syria's Chemical Weapons; Interview with John McCain; Police Slay Unarmed Man; Interview with the Ferrell Family

Aired September 16, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Monday, September 16th. It's 7:00 in the east. We have the latest this morning on this unbelievable flooding in Colorado -- 4,500 square miles affected. That's in an area about the size of Connecticut. More than 1,200 people unaccounted for, hundreds more waiting to be rescued. With even more rain in the forecast, we are going to start asking, what lies ahead? We'll show what you the forecast shows.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Secretary of State John Kerry in France this morning trying to secure support for a deal he hammered out over the weekend with Russia, obviously in regards to Syria's chemical weapons. But he's still warning Syria what will happen if they don't follow the plan. We're going to talk to Senator John McCain live in our studio coming up to get his take on where things stand.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, Paula Deen is back. The celebrity chef made her first public appearance surrounding the use of the "n" word. She received a standing ovation. So is she on the road to redemption? And will the sponsors who dropped her take notice? We'll look into that.

CUOMO: But first, Colorado officials say up to 1,000 people are still waiting to be evacuated from the deadly flooding there. Look at these amazing pictures of the rescue happening over the weekend. The National Guard says it's the biggest helicopter rescue effort since hurricane Katrina. Think of that. More than 2,100 have been rescued so far, but at least 1,500 homes destroyed, more than 17,000 others damaged, just huge numbers here. Right now, more than 1,200 people still unaccounted for, and that can mean a lot of different things. So let's go to CNN's George Howell live in Longmont, Colorado, with the latest. Good morning, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. We are getting light rain. That kind of adds insult to injury. You look right back there, and just take a look at that. That's what people are waking up to here in Colorado. After more rain on Sunday sent rivers and streams rushing, cut off more communities, and temporarily brought the rescue operation to a halt.


HOWELL: At least four counties in Colorado qualify for disaster relief and tail get that help today as FEMA moves into the hardest hit areas. The flooding so widespread, officials haven't begun to estimate the full extent of the damage. Over the weekend President Obama declaring a major disaster in the state, while the state's governor, touring the devastation, his helicopter rescuing seven people along the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to rebuild better than it was before.

HOWELL: But Mother Nature isn't helping rescue efforts. Clouds and heavy rain grounded air rescue missions Sunday. More than 1,000 people have yet to be evacuated and with roads and bridges crumbling under the deluge, for some, rescue by air is the only way out.

LT. COL. MITCH UTTERSACK, COLORADO NATIONAL GUARD: I think what we have going on here in the last 24 hours is the greatest number of Americans rescued by helicopter since hurricane Katrina.

HOWELL: Entire neighborhoods like this one in James town isolated. Cities like aurora already plagued by flooding contending with hail that pummeled the area over the weekend. Officials in Boulder County alone say tie will need an estimated $150 million to repair more than 100 miles of lost roadway and between 20 and 30 bridges. The scene in Colorado is devastating but not hopeless.

SHERIFF JUSTIN SMITH, LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO: The question I had is how can we ever recover from this? And I know exactly inch by inch, mile by mile, community by community.


HOWELL: Back to a live picture here in Longmont, Colorado, of the St. Vrain River, look at it there. One resident told me what you see right there is running 10 times as high as it would typically on any given day, so this river really tells the story of what people are dealing with out here. The good news, though, Kate, we understand the rescue operation will resume today, obviously, now that the weather has passed through the area.

BOLDUAN: Thank goodness, a little silver lining. They can get back to the work at hand. George, thank you so much.

So all this flooding left police and rescuers with a daunting task, of course, trying to locate at least 1,200 people who remain unaccounted for this morning. CNN's Ana Cabrera reports on what authorities are doing to try to find them.


ANNA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The desperation deepens to find the missing. This morning, rescue crews still struggling to reach communities cut off. The barriers, dangerously high rushing water, ripped up roads and mud filling up homes. Heart wrenching images like these are disturbingly abundant. Yet we haven't seen the worst of the destruction. Places like Jamestown have been completely off limits. The terrain rugged, rocky, and steep, accessible only by helicopter during brief breaks in the rain. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was worried.

CABRERA: Tiffany Voellers husband and son were trapped in that zone for two days on a fifth grade field trip when the floods hit.

LUCA VOELLER, FIFTH GRADER: Something just took a waterfall, rubbed us out of the sky like Niagara Falls, just put it there on the road.

CABRERA: Ten-year-old Luca learned the camp was destroyed, while the camp, itself, was spared. He and his 77 classmates had no way home. Teacher Shannon Burgert says the adults hatched a plan.

SHANNON BURGERT, FIFTH GRADE TEACHER: They figured we could hike out, which would have been three-and-a-half, four miles for our kids with some water crossings that we would need harnesses and all of that.

CABRERA: But their escape would not require harnesses. Instead, the National Guard came to the rescue.

VOELLER: The helicopters, those were the best.

CABRERA: Four Shinook helicopters and a Blackhawk arrived Saturday morning.

BURGERT: We were shouting constantly, "You two go there!"

TIFFANY VOELLER, LUCA'S MOTHER: Everyone was cheering. Lots of kids had signs. It was very fun.

CABRERA: The Voellers know they are among the lucky ones. Too many families have no home to return to.

Ana Cabrera, CNN, Boulder, Colorado.


BOLDUAN: All right, Ana, thank you for that.

Now, next hour we will talk live with the mayor of Boulder, Colorado, talk to him about what things are looking like for him this morning and what they need in terms of help. Much more of that ahead.

CUOMO: Let's turn overseas now. In just a few hours we should know what U.N. weapons inspectors uncovered in Syria. The question is, what will it matter now that secretary of state John Kerry and his Russian counterpart have hammered out a deal to disarm the Assad regime? CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto traveling with the secretary of state. He is in Paris right now. Good morning, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. I think what we saw this morning in Paris was a show of unity between the Americans, the British, and the French backing this deal. That's important. The three permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in addition to Russia and China, the three coming together, particularly France on board as well, because they were the lone supporter of military action along with the U.S. before this deal came about.

But Secretary Kerry saying that they can't take this deal as face value. They can't take it by words alone. So their focus right now in the building behind me is on working towards a U.N. Security Council resolution backing this deal, but also one that has consequences if the Syrian regime does not comply.


SCIUTTO: In Jerusalem, Secretary of State Kerry insisting that the deal he's worked out with the Russians will be enforced and that President Obama is still willing to back it up, if necessary, with military action.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The threat of force is real. We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs.

SCIUTTO: Still, any use of force of Syria's President Assad fails to give up his chemical weapons will have to go before the U.N. Security Council, unless the U.S. chooses to act on its own. The deal calls for Syria to account for all of its chemical weapons stockpiles by the end of this week, let U.N. inspectors in and destroy production facilities by November, and remove or destroy everything by the middle of next year, a timeframe some experts call unrealistic in the middle of a civil war.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If that goal is achieved, then it sounds to me like we did something right.

SCIUTTO: In an interview with ABC News taped before the announcement, the president defends how he's handled the crisis, even if Assad stays in power. He says he welcomes Russia's president getting involved and he's not worried he's being played by Putin.

OBAMA: Ronald Reagan said, "trust but verify."

SCIUTTO: But he rejects Putin's claim in that "New York Times" op-ed that there is every reason to believe Syrian rebels carried out the chemical weapons attack.

OBAMA: What I said is nobody around the world takes seriously the idea that the rebels perpetrated this attack.

SCIUTTO: His critics, however, fired pack.

REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: This is a Russian plan for Russian interests, and we should be very, very concerned.

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are now relying on the Russians. We are following from behind, not loading from behind.


SCIUTTO: Secretary Kerry and the British and the French believe they'll get more ammunition backing this deal with the release later this morning of that U.N. report on the chemical weapons attack last month. But still they're pursuing an aggressive time line that gives the Syrian regime multiple opportunities to game this out and delay. There are some doubts among U.S. officials. One senior U.S. official told me that this deal depends on the Syrians doing something they haven't done in a long time, quote, "and that is act in good faith." So still many questions remain, Kate and Chris, as to how this will play out.

CUOMO: All right, Jim, thank you very much for the reporting. Let's bring in Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and a member of the armed services committee. Senator, thank you very much for joining us, appreciate it.

The phrase, "provocative weakness," what does that money to you? You use it in done text with this situation. What is provocative weakness?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Well, what it means is that it is clear that we have bought into the idea that somehow Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad are serious about the real dismantlement of these capital weapons when there is no penalty in the United Nations Security Council for failure to comply. Lavrov made it very clear when this announcement was made, and I have to carry the quote around, "There is nothing in this agreement about the use of force," and that means that the whole agreement to some degree is meaningless.

And by the way, it's no credibility when the secretary of state says we will just keep saying if it doesn't work, he's the one that also said, any strike would be unbelievably small, unbelievably small. What message do you think that sends?

And it should surprise no one that the attacks by Bashar Assad on the Free Syrian Army have dramatically increased, assistance from Iran has dramatically increased and Bashar Assad said this is a great victory for the Syrians. And I don't see how you can view it any other way.

CUOMO: Just to clear the record, when the idea of the deal came out, you said, I'll be open to it. It's better not to fight than fight. But at this point do you believe that they are just pursuing a dream here, that this is a waste of time, essentially?

MCCAIN: I think what they are pursuing is a laudable goal but there is no real way to achieve it, number one. Number two is that you now give Putin a major place in this whole scenario and in the Middle East. Number two, they have now got a green light to continue and escalate their attacks on the Free Syrian Army. I promise you, I know for a fact the moral of the Free Syrian Army is very bad right now. They feel they've been abandoned.

The president of the United States two years ago said Bashar Assad must go. Tell me where in this scenario Bashar Assad may go? In fact, it may ensure he stays in power. And there is 100,000 dead, Chris. There are a million children who are refugees. And we have stood by and watched this. Only in the last few days have they gotten some weapons, and they aren't the right kind of weapons. And don't think the Iranians, the Israelis, the North Koreas and others take a lesson from this. The president said that we were going to -- they crossed the red line. I didn't think most people thought they were crossing that red line meant that we would seek an agreement that's not enforceable.

CUOMO: The president announced there is a new red line, that if eastern with their nukes, he would bomb tear nukes. What do you make of the strain behind that statement?

MCCAIN: I don't think the will is any credibility left in the Middle East. I don't think -- I think when you say you are going to do something in case -- I draw a red line and don't react, then I don't think you have credibility.

BOLDUAN: Where do you go from here? I know you think the deal is a loser. What else do you do at this point?

MCCAIN: I would dramatically step up our assistance to the Free Syrian Army.

CUOMO: Do you think Congress should be involved?

MCCAIN: This is done by the intelligence committees and would be in agreement. Look, until you reverse the momentum on the battlefield and Bashar Assad thinks he is going to lose is the only way you get a negotiated departure of Bashar Assad. As long as he thinks he is winning then he will continue, particularly with the assistance he is getting from the Russians and the Iranians. As we speak today there will be a planeload of arms, conventional weapons, landing from Moscow to be used to kill Syrians at the same time we are dismantling the chemical weapons stocks. That's crazy.

BOLDUAN: If this does move forward --


BOLDUAN: Do you think U.S. troops should be involved, on the ground?

MCCAIN: Never, never, never. It would be harmful. But there is plenty of things we could do to assist and give them the kind of help. A year ago, they were the momentum was on their side. Then the Iranians came all in and the Russians came all in. Hezbollah, 5,000 Hezbollah came from Lebanon to fight on his side, and we sat by and watched. And that's, it's a shameful chapter in our view.

CUOMO: You think that your view is suffering from politics here domestically? Do you believe if there were President Romney that members of your party would have the same resistance that they are showing right now.

MCCAIN: I think there is probably some, Chris, in all honesty, just because they dislike President Obama. But I think that the president went to the American people say two things -- one, I want to strike, two, I want to pause. That's a very confused message to give the American people when he spoke to the American people. I think if he had acted, he had the authority to do so. Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada one night. Bill Clinton did carry out strikes. Every president has, but once he decided to go to the Congress, it's the first time in history a president has announced he will act militarily then turned around and said he had to go to Congress to get their permission.

CUOMO: We were just talking about this because I wonder if Syria aside, it does seem the urgency has been taken out of the situation, is what we are seeing politically here a window into just this circus that's going to happen here domestically with the spending bills and the politics there? If you are playing politics on something like whether or not to help a humanitarian situation, what happens when it comes to dollars and cents in the budget?

MCCAIN: I think we're in for some serious problems here, and I think that Republicans ought to understand, if we hit down the government, Congress always gets blamed, rightly or wrongly, Congress gets blamed. We seen the movie before. Some of them weren't around at the time, I was.

BOLDUAN: What do you think of -- the president in his interview with ABC over the weekend said he is not going to be negotiating around the debt ceiling. Where are you on that?

MCCAIN: I think that the president has the ability to say what he wants to say, but there is going to be to have some negotiations. There is going to be a willingness to negotiate because we all know that we're not going to cut off Social Security checks. We're not going to cut off the salary and payment to the men and women who are fighting in Afghanistan. It's not going to happen and for us to say that you got to repeal Obamacare in order to get that done as Charles Krauthammer said, that's a suicide note. That's the best depiction I can have, and I hope my colleagues in the House who believe that we need to shut down the government will understand that that's not what the American - they hate government, but they don't want it to stop functioning.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point. I mean, well, I want to get your take finally on some of the news coming out this morning about the fed chairmanship, Larry Summers taking his name out of contention, good move, bad move? What do you make of it?

MCCAIN: That's one thing I stayed out of. I admire Larry Summers. He has served honorably. He has obviously picked up enemies on the way, but this was more inside the Democratic party issue than it was to do with Republicans.

BOLDUAN: Do you think -- we talk about these nominations once in a while. I think you are in the camp of a president should have his advisers he wants surrounding him and his --

MCCAIN: Unless it's extraordinary circumstances. Elections have consequences as I found out to my sorrow.

(LAUGHTER) CUOMO: Are you worried that with all of this you know, you have been incredibly -- you have your positions, you have your strength about the ideas of a military action being what will be a game changer in Syria. Are you worried about the political costs to you of staking out non-partisan positions? You have been doing it more and more. You have been attacking me all along the way, I want to point that out.

MCCAIN: Well deserved.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: You turned my whole family against me. Good job.

But do you feel that - what does that mean to you? Why are you doing this? Are you are worried about your own political future.

MCCAIN: The one thing -- I paid a visit to Syria and I met these brave people, and I saw the carnage. I talked to a group of young women in a refugee camp that were gang raped. That is Bashar al-Assad's indoctrination. I saw these orphans. I saw a young woman who was a teacher said Senator McCain, you see these children all running around here, there's thousands of them. She said they're going to take revenge on the people who they believe abandoned them and refused to help them. You know, I will admit to emotional attachment to the tragedy that continues to go on an us watching it go by and if that's a fault, then I plead guilty.

BOLDUAN: Senator, it's great to have you here in the studio. It's great to have you on the show all the time, but a special treat this morning.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Good luck with the fights abroad and at home, that are upcoming.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Chris.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Senator McCain.

All right. A lot of news here as well. Let's go right to Michaela for the other headlines.

PEREIRA: All right. House Republicans will release a report today going after the Obama administration for its handling on last year's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The report focuses on, quote, "shortcomings" in the investigation on the attack that kill four Americans. That report questions why only four mid-level officials were held accountable for security at the site in Libya.

A pretrial hearing today for the north Texas man accused of killing former Navy seal sniper Chris Kyle and another man, 25-year-old war vet Eddie Ray Routh, faces capital murder charges. He is accused of turning a gun on Kyle and that second man, as they were trying to help him cope with post-combat stress. During his arraignment last month, Routh pleaded not guilty. Kyle was known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. history.

Two bystanders recovering from bullet wounds this morning after a wild shootout Saturday night near New York's Times Square. Police say an emotionally disturbed man was trying to commit suicide by running into traffic. Officers were forced, they say, to fire at him when he pretended to point a gun at them. The suspect was finally tasered and taken into custody. However, a 54-year-old woman was shot in the knee. A 37-year-old woman was grazed by the officers' gunshots.

And really, there's no point in me saying don't try this at home, unless you have a 900-foot tall building at your house. 25-year-old Michael Chemetter an Australian daredevil climbed a Chinese city's tallest skyscraper without any safety equipment. What did he do? He jumped off and parachuted back down. My question is, what does this guy have against using a harness? He is the very same adrenaline junkie, who crossed over a gorge at Yosemite National Park a couple years ago, 3,000 feet up. No safety equipment. We are not sending Kate on an assignment like this, but we know she is a daredevil, and she would wear a parachute and safety harnesses.

BOLDUAN: That is heart stopping.


CUOMO: We watch. We like to see people test the limits.


CUOMO: As long as they're other people.

PEREIRA: Not us or family members or loved ones.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, he was apparently just looking for help and was shot dead by police. Why did a police officer open fear on a man who officials say had just survived a car crash. We will talk exclusively with his family searching for answers. This morning.

CUOMO: What do you think? Does Paula Deen deserve a comeback? Listen to the people at her first public appearance had to say, first after the scandal for her use of the N-word, as you might remember. We will tell you about the story. What happened there.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. A tragic story out of North Carolina this morning, a former Florida college football player is dead and his parents are looking for answers. Jonathan Ferrell was shot to death by police Saturday night. He had recently moved to North Carolina. They say he was looking for help that night after surviving a car crash. We will talk with his family, exclusively, in just a moment, but first, here's a look at the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN BARNETT, CIVIL RIGHT ACTIVIST: Now we have this innocent person you know looking for help, running to the police like a child would run to his mother. And unfortunately, he's not here with us anymore.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Community outrage is growing after police in Charlotte, North Carolina say one of their own shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never see anything like this go down. This is a very good neighborhood.

MACHADO: Authorities say the 24-year-old wrecked his car early Saturday morning and managed to climb out and walk down the road to the closest house he could find. Police say Ferrell knocked on the door. and a woman answered thinking it was her husband.

ROONEY MONROE, CHARLOTTE - MECKLENBURG POLICE CHIEF: To her surprise, it was an individual she did not know or recognize. She immediately closed the door, hit her panic alarm, called 911.

MACHADO: : Three officers responded. They say Ferrell came running to them as they approached. One officer used his taser without success, and when Ferrell allegedly ran toward Officer Randall Kerrick, police say Kerrick shot him several times. Ferrell was unarmed. Kerrick is now charged with voluntary manslaughter. He is out on a $50,000 bond. Police say the 27-year-old officer did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during the incident. They called the shooting excessive.

MONROE: Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family, quite naturally, as well as the members of the C.M.P.D family. This is never something easy.

MACHADO: Alina Machado, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.


CUOMO: All right. Our thanks, to Alina. Right now on a NEW DAY exclusive, we are joined by Georgia Farrell, Jonathan's mother and Willie Ferrell, Jonathan's younger brother. Can you hear me okay? This is Chris Cuomo in New York.


CUOMO: Thank you very much nor joining us. May I ask, how is the family holding up, Georgia?

G. FERRELL: We are just hoping. We're not hold up that well. My children are not doing well at all. They suffered a great, great loss.

CUOMO: The stuffed animal you have in your lap, what does that mean to you?

G. FERRELL: Oh, this is Jonathan's favorite animal. He loved Winnie the Pooh. This way Winnie the Pooh and Jonathan, any time he came home from a young child, they always slept in my bed with me.

CUOMO: Let me ask you --

G. FERRELL: It's my heart (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: Let me ask you, why do you think this happened? We heard the reports. We heard from the place little bit. What is your best sense, Willie, to what happened here this night with your brother?

WILLIE FERRELL, BROTHER OF JONATHAN FERRELL: Well, the investigation is still ongoing. We haven't really found what happened yet, but that's why we're here. We're going to file the necessary legal actions to ensure that we get the answer that this family deserves, that American deserves. This was an unwarranted, irrational, inhumane shooting, and we are seeking answers. We'll be going to Charlotte today to get that.

CUOMO: All right, Mr. Chris Chestnut, the attorney for the family -- thank you for joining us. I understand the reluctance to discuss an ongoing investigation. Let me ask you this, the big question here is going to come down to was there any kind of justification here? So, I want to get a sense from the family is, was there anything going on with Jonathan's life, it was 2:30 in the morning, was there anything going on medically, was there any kind of situation he was dealing with personally that could all in anyway explain any behavior on his part. I know there is no reason for it. Just to understand the background, was there anything going on with your son that means something in this situation?

G. FERRELL: No, it was not. Jonathan was very happy. I had just spoke with Jonathan. He calls me every morning, and we talk for about an hour before he goes to work. Jonathan worked two jobs. He was a very happy, outgoing person. We laughed and we talked and we talked about him coming home and the things he was going to get for his sister, and his brothers, and his sisters and brothers by being married in the family. He was very, very happy. He called me before he went to his second job and he said, Mama, I may go off tonight. He was very happy.

CUOMO: So if there were no medical emotional issues going on with your son. This comes down to just a wrongful shooting investigation, are you satisfied with how the police seem to be handling it so far?

CHRIS CHESTNUT, FERRELL FAMILY ATTORNEY: Certainly, we applaud the arrest and the police chief's decision -- election to arrest the officer. But there are a lot of unanswered questions. Why was this officer even with a badge and having a gun? What are the policies and procedures? What is the training that would allow an officer to act so irrationally, so inhumanely?