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Explosion And Gunfire Heard At Mall; Americans Involved?; Six Days To Potential Government Shutdown; Cherokee Girl, Custody Battle; Optimism On Iran Diplomacy; Costa Concordia Trial Resumes

Aired September 24, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY this Tuesday, September 24th, six o'clock in the east.

Will they really shut down the government if they can't get the job done down in D.C.? We will take you through the spending bill that on one level has about the desire to defund Obamacare, but on another level, could be about the future of a political party. Not just the usual two sides can't agree deal this time.

This time, Senator Ted Cruz has his own party divided against itself. We will debate what Republicans must do to survive this fiasco.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good question.

Plus, reunited at last. A boy abducted as an infant finally meets the father that he never knew 13 years later. And the woman accused of kidnapping him, related to the family. How did they stay undetected for so long? We're going to have look at it.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And then, do you rely on those online reviews to make decisions about everything from maybe picking a restaurant or choosing a new dentist. Well, it turns out that thousands of those posts are fake.

CUOMO: No.

PEREIRA: One state is finally cracking down. We're going to tell you what this means for you, coming up.

CUOMO: But first, several gunmen are still holed up inside that mall for the fourth day. At least 62 people have been slaughtered in Nairobi and it isn't over. Overnight, an explosion and gunfire could still be heard coming from that big mall. Authorities in Nairobi insist this morning they've got the four-story building under control as disturbing new information begins to emerge about some of the gunmen possibly being American.

Senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is live from Nairobi, Kenya this morning. Good morning, Arwa.

DAMON: Good morning, Chris. And that definition of under control might be fairly relative. This morning, we were still hearing an explosion from the direction of the Westgate Mall. It's just down the street over in that direction. We also have been hearing sporadic bursts of gunfire as Kenyan security forces tried to bring the situation here fully under control.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON (voice-over): The Kenyan government now says it has regained control of the Westgate Mall, but it's still unclear if all of the hostages have been freed after a three-day standoff with Islamist militants. This morning, we're learning more about the attackers who launched the deadly siege. Three have been killed, the exact number of gunmen that remain inside, still unknown.

Kenya's foreign minister told PBS' "News Hour" that two or three of the militants are young Americans who appear to be of Somali or Arab origin. The State Department is looking into these reports.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Where's the helmet?

DAMON: Sporadic bursts of gunfire rang out behind our crew on Monday. Plumes of dark spoke rose above the upscale mall after Kenyan authorities say al Shabaab militants set a fire inside the building. This as survivors share their harrowing stories. Nick Handler was at a cafe at the mall taking care of his almost 2-year-old daughter as his pregnant wife shopped on another floor when --

NICK HANDLER, AMERICAN SURVIVOR OF MALL MASSACRE: Heard a loud explosion or blast followed by some gunshots. I just reached over, grabbed my daughter and just ran out the front door of that cafe as fast as I could without looking back.

DAMON: Handler and his daughter hid in a storage room for three hours before safely reuniting with his wife. The Red Cross says that at least 65 people are unaccounted for or missing. Among them, Janet's husband, she cradles her granddaughter and clings to hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the love of my life.

KAMAL KAUR, TRIED TO SAVE CHILDREN DURING MALL MASSACRE: I had about 30, 35 kids with me including two of my own. I was trying to protect them, telling them get down, get down.

DAMON: Kamal Kaur dried desperately to save the children on a cooking show on the roof of the mall on the day of attack.

KAUR: I saw something whiz by my son's head just like that. It bounced from the wall and hit the little boy over here, the poor boy. I tried to put my hand there to stop the bleeding. I don't know what I was doing. I don't know what I was doing but I couldn't save him.

DAMON: Local radio personalities, Seema Manji and (inaudible) were hosting that cooking show.

SEEMA MANJI, SHOT DURING MALL MASSACRE: I got shot here. I had so much blood everywhere. I thought she was dead and I was holding a dead baby.

DAMON: But the storm of emotions they and so many others here are going through is still so raw. (END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And, Kate, so many Kenyans have been coming up to us really wanting to emphasize how devastating this has been for this country. Wanting to say that Kenya is actually a friendly, kind nation, but at this junction, there are so many challenges lying ahead with the situation here, still unresolved and so many unanswered questions -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Arwa, thank you so much. We're only now beginning with your piece to understand the terror that these folks lived through. Thanks so much, Arwa Damon in Kenya for us.

So the question is, is there a U.S. connection to this deadly mall attack in Nairobi? That seems to still remain a confusing issue. Kenya's foreign minister says some of the al Shabaab gunmen are originally from the United States but so far, U.S. intelligence has not confirmed that claim.

Let's go live now to CNN's Martin Savidge in Minneapolis looking into this. How is the community reacting this morning, Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's difficult. Good morning, Kate. As soon as they heard the news that was coming out of Kenya, there was an emergency meeting of civic as well as religious leaders in the Somali-American community here. They know that al Shabaab has a history of recruiting from this community. So there was a great sense of anxiousness.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): At the mosque, men bow at midday prayer, in this Minneapolis neighborhood, home to the nation's largest Somali- American population. The 17-year-old Burhan Hassan was a straight "A" student who wanted to be a doctor then he disappeared in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes I can't sleep.

SAVIDGE: His mother who at the time didn't want to be identified told CNN she had no idea where he'd gone until he called.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom, I'm in Somalia, doing -- don't worry about me.

SAVIDGE: But he wasn't OK, Hassan was fighting for the terrorist group, al Shabaab. Not long after she was told he was dead. This weekend's terror rampage in Kenya has many Americans wondering how long until those behind it come to the U.S. Omar Jamal, a Somali diplomat tells me al Shabaab is already here.

(on camera): How many people, how many young people do you think have been taken from this community by recruiting?

OMAR JAMAL, SOMALI DIPLOMAT: Approximately 30 to 40. That's the most often asked question. I think nobody can nail down an exact figure. SAVIDGE (voice-over): Even as we sip coffee in Middle America, he's sure the terrorists are recruiting nearby. Hassan's uncle says teens here often raised in single-parent homes with no hope become perfect targets.

ABDIRIZAK BIHI, BURHAN HASSAN'S UNCLE: When you have young people, young boys who have never seen their dad, who live in this poverty environment, and need badly to find a role male model, al Shabaab group becomes that father they never had.

SAVIDGE: Unless something's done, Jamal predicts one day instead of leaving the U.S. to fight for al Shabaab, they will stay, he says, and fight here, explaining the logic this way.

JAMAL: It's just a fraction of second where should I do that. Well, I'm in Minneapolis. What the heck. Why don't I do it here?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: You know, there are a number of young people who are angry by our presence here because they say, that look, there may have been some that have been recruited by al Shabaab in this community, but doesn't reflect the feelings of young people. Most of them here just want to study and become what they are, good Americans -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Martin, but as you know, there has been concern about that community for years and what could happen. So now we're going to deal with the eventualities. We're going to talk more later in the show about what the situation going on in Nairobi could mean for Americans.

You're looking at the man right there, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly will tell us what's known about the threat, how much of it goes into America and what soft targets are there here that need to be shored up.

BOLDUAN: Take a look at Congress. There's still no deal to avoid a government shutdown there this morning, now just six days to the looming deadline. Much of the focus now, though, on Texas Senator Ted Cruz who seems intent on defunding the president's health care law even with a shutdown on the line. But some of his Republican colleagues aren't amused and say Cruz has gone too far.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash spoke with Cruz. She's on Capitol Hill as she always is this morning, standing firm still today, right, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, you said there's no deal. There's a good reason for that because there's no deal making going on because Ted Cruz is leading the charge. He's a 42-year-old who won in a GOP upset last year by Tea Party supporters who want him to be a senator not who legislates by negotiating, but by standing firm on principle and that's exactly what he's doing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BASH (voice-over): The way Ted Cruz sees it --

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Obamacare is a disaster.

BASH: He's simply keeping a campaign promise, do whatever it takes to destroy Obamacare.

CRUZ: That should be our priorities, not simply continuing business as usual in Washington.

BASH: Cruz's scorched earth strategy, tying defunding Obamacare to a must-pass spending bill is inflaming many fellow Republicans who think if this causes a government shutdown, they're going to get burned. Republican Peter King called him a fraud.

REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: The issues are too important, too serious to require real conservative solutions, not headline-hunting scheme.

BASH: In the Democratic-led Senate, the votes are not there. Some of Cruz's Republican colleagues are so miffed it has gotten really personal. Bob Corker tweeted, I didn't go to Harvard or Princeton but I can count.

(on camera): They don't like what you're doing. They don't like what you're putting them through, these are fellow Republicans.

CRUZ: Well, you know, individual politicians can choose to say whatever they want and launch whatever personal insults they want. I would note in the House that the Republicans, including those who have criticized me, voted to defund Obamacare. In the Senate, I think the votes are fluid.

BASH (voice-over): To be sure, among many grassroots conservatives, Cruz is a hero, but in the Senate, one on relationships, he's rubbed GOP veterans the wrong way. John McCain called him a wacko bird and now Cruz is now embracing.

CRUZ: If they want to insult me, they can knock themselves out. My focus is on the substance on stopping Obamacare. Why, because it's hurting the American people.

BASH: Now he's warning Senate Republicans, support his filibuster.

CRUZ: Any senator who votes for cloture on this bill is voting to give Harry Reid the authority to fund Obamacare with just 51 votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: But Cruz's own party leaders, the top two Senate Republicans announced that they are not going to go along with his filibuster. In practical terms, that means that Senate Democrats are going to be able to pass a bill to fund the government without defunding Obamacare. But Cruz has the ability to drag this out until Sunday and Kate, that is one day before the deadline. That would then put this whole thing back in the House's hands to make sure the government doesn't shut down -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Regardless, it looks like it's going right up to the deadline no matter how this is going to turn out. Dana, thanks so much. We'll get back to you.

Coming up later in the show, we're going to talk to a former senator and presidential candidate about this, what does Rick Santorum think about the looming government shutdown?

CUOMO: I have an update for you. The 4-year-old little girl known as Baby Veronica is back with her adoptive parents this morning after an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling. Last night, she was returned to the couple by her biological father whom she's lived with for the past two years.

"EARLY START" co-anchor, Zoraida Sambolin, is joining us with this story. We've been watching this through the courts. We didn't know what was going to happen. Now resolution --

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Some say it's finally over, but you have to wonder, right. This is a complicated, heartbreaking custody battle four years in the making. Veronica's biological father, Dustin Brown, and her adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco have been fighting over this little girl since her birth. Now, some say it's finally over.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you standing by and watching our daughter, Veronica, be held against our will?

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): That was just six weeks ago. Matt and Melanie Capobianco dismayed and heartbroken that their adopted daughter, Veronica, was still not home. On Monday night, the years long battle coming to an end when Veronica's biological father, Dustin Brown, handed her over to her adoptive parents after a State Supreme Court ruled that it could not intervene in the case. The Brown family watched from the front window of their Oklahoma home as a deputy and marshal led her away.

TODD HEMBREE, CHEROKEE NATION ATTORNEY GENERAL: Very courageous. And took this action, what he believed was in Veronica's best interest.

SAMBOLIN: These photos provided to CNN by the Capobiancos, Veronica seemingly all smiles during a visit by her adoptive parents over the last few weeks. It has been a complex ordeal for both sides. Veronica, born a citizen of the Cherokee Nation was placed in the Capobiancos home at birth in 2009. Just a few months later, her biological father changed his mind and sought custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act. That's a federal law that protects Native American children from being separated from their families.

Brown was awarded custody in December 2011. The two families have been in a nationally publicized legal battle over Veronica ever since. For the last two years, Veronica was living in the Cherokee Nation with her biological father. The court's ruling cleared the way for the Capobiancos to take Veronica back to South Carolina where they raised her for first two years of her life.

A spokeswoman for the Capobiancos says Veronica is safely in the arms of her parents and has been reunited with her family. Our prayers are with everyone involved this evening. There is no happy ending in this travesty, only closure. The case made it all the way to the nation's highest court, which ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not apply in this case. Brown was ordered to return Veronica back to her adoptive parents, but refused to give her up without a fight.

DUSTIN BROWN, BIOLOGICAL FATHER: I'm going to fight until I have no fight left in me and until they say you can't fight no more.

SAMBOLIN: Brown has no visitation rights, but his attorney is hopeful that Dustin will remain a part of Veronica's life. For the Capobiancos, it is a bittersweet ending to a four-year ordeal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Really that's the issue, right? We have all watched this story unfold. The question is will the biological father be involved in this child's life and the question is we don't know. There's a gag order right now. Nobody's talking except people on bow half of both sides. You know, a lot of people are wondering if that's in the best interest of the child to have the dad involved long term as well, the biological father. We don't have the answer to that right now.

BOLDUAN: Such a bitter fight so far. It's hard to see there will be a good ending between these two families.

SAMBOLIN: I keep on saying, you know, they could be the poster children for how to do this right, right? At the end of the day because that's what everybody wants to see. This little girl is so loved and to have everybody love her and, you know, to set an example would be fantastic.

CUOMO: If that remains true, they'll find a way. Often as we know it becomes about the adults.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Sure.

BOLDUAN: All right, we've got a lot of news developing at this hour. So let's get straight to Michaela with the latest. Good morning.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, guys. Good morning to you at home. Making news, President Obama set to address the U.N. General Assembly in just a few hours time. There may be a breakthrough. He is expected to open the door to engaging with Iran's new government and President Rouhani. He'll also call on Security Council members to mandate consequences for Syria if it fails to cooperate with a plan to turn chemical weapons stockpiles over.

The U.S. Navy unaware of Navy Yard gunman, Aaron Alexis's 2004 arrest for shooting out a vehicle's tires until after last week's massacre. A senior Navy official says, a personnel report used to determine security clearance didn't mentioned a gun, only that Alexis had deflated the tires on a construction worker's vehicle. Alexis, as you recall, opened fire in the Navy Yard last week, killing 12 people. One of the eight people he wounded was released from hospital Monday.

Police say two men are now facing attempted murder charges from last week's park shooting in Chicago that wounded 13 people including a 3- year-old boy. Investigators do not believe that suspects Kewane Gatewood and Byron Champ actually pulled the trigger, however. Detectives will only say that Gatewood and Champ allegedly played significant roles in the shooting. Investigators believe the shootings were gang-related.

The woman who confirmed the IRS targeted certain political groups is retiring. Lois Lerner was the director of tax-exempt organizations. She admitted her group had been extra tough on applications with names like "Tea Party" and "patriot" in their titles. But she denied breaking any law.

Lerner had been on administrative leave since May. An IRS review board planned to recommend her removal.

A Charleston, South Carolina man came forward as the winner of last week's $400 million Powerball jackpot, but he's asked to remain anonymous. Here's what we do know about him. It's kind of a great story.

His wife sent him out to buy hot dog buns. The store didn't have any. So, instead, he used the cash to buy lottery tickets instead. And get this he says it's only the second time he's ever played Powerball. I kind of love it.

If he chooses the lump sum payout -- check it out -- he'll get a check for $233 million. He can buy all the hot dog buns he wants -- or not.

BOLDUAN: Right, exactly.

PEREIRA: Filet mignon balls.

BOLDUAN: Right, exactly. Maybe they're all great.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Not since Jack bought the bean has a trade worked out so well --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And came home with a magic ticket.

PEREIRA: You are absolutely right.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know he got in trouble, too, for that.

PEREIRA: He did.

BOLDUAN: Where's the $20, honey? I bought some tickets.

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSONS: We know it's cold out there this morning. Still chilly with forecast advisories, because temperatures are a little bit cooler than they typically are this time of year, some 30s and some 40s. New York now dropping even from the last hour to the 40s right now. Yes, 48 degrees currently.

But here's the good news -- I told you there was an upside yesterday and there is today. We'll slowly be warming the temperatures up to average. Even I can't explain when average is the 70s. So, some 70s in the forecast for us. Boston, a little bit below, 60s there's. D.C., though, not bad about 75 and Pittsburgh looking for 70.

Now, I did give Kate her hunting forecast. I believe I had a request from another hunter as far as I'm concerned, fishing is hunting. Yes, that is you, Cuomo. You wanted your hunting forecast, 62 degrees.

CUOMO: It's good picture.

PETERSONS: I think this is what you wanted.

CUOMO: Thank you.

PETERSONS: Trust me. I was really hoping that it's already 62 and you have no game. But no, you're right. You have a couple of weeks to go.

So voting against him. But you're fine -- 62 degrees, October 1st through 15th, your magic number. You got a ways to go.

BOLDUAN: I want everyone to know what just happened. Is that a good or bad forecast? He goes, I don't know. There's a lot of numbers.

CUOMO: There's overwhelming.

PETERSONS: Very bad, a montage, 62, let me help.

CUOMO: Sixty-two is the magic number --

PETERSONS: There it is. No idea.

CUOMO: (INAUDIBLE) from Catina's (ph) in Southampton. He is the local fishing guru. He says 62 degrees.

PEREIRA: For bass specifically.

CUOMO: October 1st through 15th I need to be a major news event out in the eastern part of Long Island.

(CROSSTALK)

PETERSONS: I need to know what Michaela has that I'm (INAUDIBLE) --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I like that you kept my face in the picture by the way. PETERSONS: A CNN hat.

CUOMO: CNN, kept me in it.

PEREIRA: That's a lot of numbers. though. That's true.

BOLDUAN: It is. Thanks, Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY --

CUOMO: I feel cared about.

BOLDUAN: We love you.

PEREIRA: Finally.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY: the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on trial for manslaughter. The tabloids call him Italy's most hated man. But he says that ship wreck that killed 32 people wasn't his fault.

CUOMO: Now, I have Indra Petersons. But if you have to depend on online reviews before buying something or hiring someone, you might just be getting scammed. Serious business, 19 different businesses in one state just got busted. Why? We'll tell you, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Defiant words from the captain of the Costa Concordia during his manslaughter trial. The luxury cruise crashed into 2012, you'll remember this, killing 32 people. The ship was finally pulled to shore just last week. Well, now, the captain says he is not the one to blame for all of this.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is in London with more.

He seems to be arguing something that's very counter to what everyone else seems to think, Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. That's right.

The legal proceedings began last March, but this is the first time we're hearing substantial evidence the first time the disgraced captain is speaking out in court.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): It's been a week since the crippled cruise liner Costa Concordia was successfully lifted from its side, saving the Italian island of Giglio from potential natural disaster. Now, miles away, the legal drama is heating up for the ship's disgraced captain, Francesco Schettino, dubbed by the country's tabloids as Italy's most hated man. Schettino was in court for the trial Monday, talking about what happened that tragic night 20 months ago when the Costa Concordia ran aground, killing 32 of the people on board.

Schettino denied all charges against him. And in court blamed his helmsman, the man responsible for steering, saying he failed to follow orders. "I asked the helmsman to move the tiller left," Schettino said in court, adding that the ship was leaning towards the right. The helmsman's delay in moving caused the crash.

JAMES WALKER, ATTORNEY: The master of the ship is ultimately always responsible for everything that goes wrong. But this isn't a situation where he delegated his obligations and someone made a little mistake. He made several reckless acts, that compounded themselves and ultimately he's not taking responsibility for his own conduct.

MCLAUGHLIN: Experts testify that the miscommunication made little difference. The crash, they say, would have happened anyway. Under Schettino's orders, the ship was off course by four miles.

WALKER: This is someone who has shown no remorse for his own responsibility. He has to be held accountable because he ultimately was directly responsible for the death of 32 people on his ship.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLAUGHLIN: In all, Schettino is charged with 32 counts of involuntary manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster. The personal injury of 150 passengers badly hurt and abandoning ship. The trial is expected to last through the fall -- Kate and Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right, Erin, thanks so much for the update.

Last through the fall. So, this will drag on and on. We'll see.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

Coming up on NEW DAY: six days until a shutdown. Politicians are talking about principle. But for thousands, the concern will be paychecks. One Republican senator could be standing in the way of a solution. John King here to break it down in this morning's political gut check.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, a heartwarming reunion -- a father meeting his teenage son for the very first time, 13 years after the boy was abducted as an infant. Wait until you hear who the police have in custody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We have your top stories right now.

Michaela, what's the lead? PEREIRA: Well, we are looking at Kenya. The nightmare is not over in Nairobi. The standoff between Kenyan forces and terrorists entering day four, sustained gunfire, erupting from Westgate Mall.

Now, police have called in a bomb unit to clear the scene. Several gunmen are believed to still be inside.

Kenya's interior minister saying two or three of the al Shabaab attackers are American. That has not been confirmed, however.

At least 62 people have been killed.