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Shutdown Showdown; Historic United Nations Meeting; Iran's New President Condemns Holocaust; A Conversation with Bill Clinton; Al Shabaab Leader: More Attacks Coming; Former Rapist Teacher To Be Released

Aired September 26, 2013 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The problem with the current fight is that it will be momentum for the next one, which matters arguably even more. And that will be the fight to approve an increase in the debt ceiling. OK. Otherwise for the first time in U.S. history, we will default on our bills.

CNN's Dana Bash is live on Capitol Hill.

Can't be more important than that, right, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, unfortunately, we have seen this movie before, Chris. People who are really fed up with Congress careening from one crisis to another are not going to be happy with the double whammy around the corner.


BASH (voice-over): It would be one thing for the government to shut down in four days. National parks would close, medical research interrupted. But then economic catastrophe may come 17 days later when the U.S. could default on its loans if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling.

The White House is warning not to use it as a bargaining chip.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no negotiating over Congress's responsibility to ensure we do not default.

BASH: But GOP sources tell CNN that as soon as Saturday, House Republicans are planning to pass a bill that raises the debt ceiling, but also adds several GOP priorities like the Keystone pipeline, or tax reform, or even delaying Obamacare for one year.

REP. JOHN FLEMING (R), LOUISIANA: The real play here is going to be leading up to the debt ceiling discussion where we could get a full delay for a year including taxes of Obamacare and I think the president is ready to do that.

BASH: Fat chance say Democrats.

REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: Their strategy will fail because the financial markets will pistol whip the Republican conference into doing then what they should be doing now, and that is pay America's bills.

BASH: But let's go back to that first deadline, the looming government shutdown.

(on camera): Senator, I know you're exhausted.

BASH (voice-over): Ted Cruz finally sat down after his headline grabbing --

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I do not like green eggs and ham.

BASH: -- conservative celebrity making --

CRUZ: I tweeted a speech that Ashton Kutcher gave.

BASH: Twenty one plus-hour talk-a-thon against Obamacare.

(on camera): How do you feel standing there for so long?

CRUZ: Dana, to be honest I feel terrific. I feel energized that the American people had an opportunity, I hope, to engage in this debate and have their voice heard.

BASH (voice-over): But Cruz still wants to only fund the government if Obamacare is defunded.


BASH: I'm assuming Cruz's strategy does not work. If he doesn't get enough Republicans to come his way which right now it doesn't look like is going to happen. The Democratic-led Senate is expected to pass a bill funding the government but not defunding Obamacare Friday or Saturday. That leaves two or three days for the House to act.

And, Kate, there will be an important meeting of House Republicans later this morning where they're going to plot their strategy. GOP sources tell us they are considering adding one or two things like repealing a tax on medical devices if they do that, the shutdown hot potato goes back to the Senate. We'll see what happens there.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hot potato. Not the way we want to be playing around with our economy. Dana Bash, great to see you, as always.

So, you've heard the political back and forth over the shutdown in the debt ceiling. That will continue. What does this all mean for you?

Christine Romans is here to break that down for us -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDEN: Kate, you are absolutely right. This is no way to run a country. This is no way to run a business. And that's what we are.

Look, this is what it means. A shutdown may be more imminent but the administration officials I've spoken to are more concerned about the debt ceiling. They're concerned about the both. But the debt ceiling, as the treasury secretary said, would be catastrophic. Why? During a showdown, mandatory spending wouldn't be affected. That means seniors would still get their Social Security payments, right? But that's not the case if you don't raise the debt ceiling. No spending.

October 17th is the day when the U.S. will have less than $50 billion on hand, $30 billion is what the treasury secretary estimates. And then the government can't borrow any more money.

So, if the government can't borrow, what does that mean? Like when you bank account is empty and you can't find any extra source of cash, the government will have to stop paying some of its debts, like, what are we talking about? Interest on our loans. You know, we owe billions to China.

We wouldn't be able to pay Social Security. At least not all of it, to seniors, or Medicare and Medicaid. There's 110 million people who are in one of these programs.

And what could almost be worse here is that we don't know how markets will react. We don't know what the reaction overall around the rest of the world would be. How many hundreds of billions of dollars could we owe in borrowing costs, we just don't know until we get there if we get there. That's the real big concern here.

Two very dangerous situations wrapped up in politics that would matter immensely to markets and to Main Street -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right.

All right. Christine, thanks so much. Great breaking that down for what it means for you.

CUOMO: New this morning, Secretary of State John Kerry is set to sit down with the foreign minister of Iran. A meeting that many hope will ease 30 years of tension. Now, it will be historic that a meeting between the countries hasn't happened in decades. But bigger concern is will it lead to anything meaningful.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is at the U.N. with that.

Good morning, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the real question is, is Iran serious. John Kerry was just asked that a minute ago leaving a meet with the Chinese foreign minister. He said I'll let you know when I see they are serious.

Rouhani, the new Iranian president, adopted a much friendlier, warmer tone than his predecessor, given how angry Ahmadinejad always used to sound towards the United States.

On the table today at this high leading meeting, the permanent five members of the Security Council plus Germany and Iranian foreign minister Zarif will also be in the room. Of course, will be the enrichment and future for inspections in that country.

But however these negotiations turn out and Rouhani said he'd like a deal within three months. That's a pretty big ask. However these turn out, the sheer fact that we have a U.S. and Iranian official at this high level meeting in a room is something really we have not seen for 34 years.

Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Nick, thanks so much for that.

So, Iran's president is stirring controversy with his comments about the Holocaust. During an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Hassan Rouhani condemned the crimes. So, why is that controversial, you're asking.

Well, it is relative to his predecessor who denied the Holocaust ever happened. And now, an Iranian news agency is questioning the accuracy of CNN's translation.

For more, here's Reza in Tehran.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this was a bizarre controversy that came out but it's important not to blow it out of proportion considering what's happening in New York today.

The controversy was sparked by a single hard-line news organization that has no direct official links with the state government but is backed by the Revolutionary Guard. Here's what happened. President Rouhani acknowledged the Holocaust and this hard-line news agency denied he acknowledged it and then criticized CNN.


SAYAH (voice-over): This was the question by CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to know you, your position on the Holocaust. Do you accept what it was and what was it?

SAYAH: This was the answer by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (via translator): When it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust, it's the historians that should reflect on it. But in general, I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews is reprehensible and condemnable.

SAYAH: Rouhani's acknowledgment of the Holocaust is big news in the U.S. Top newspapers and TV networks contrasted Rouhani's comments with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who often questioned the Holocaust in speeches at the U.N. General Assembly.

Back here in Iran, Rouhani's comments received little media attention with the exception of Fars News, the semiofficial hard-line news agency claimed Rouhani never acknowledged the holocaust and accused CNN of fabricating the report by mistranslating Rouhani's answers.

CNN stands by its reporting. The translation was provided by the president's own translator.

The Fars News Web site shows the translation from Amanpour's interview and claims these parts have been added or completely altered. And that this statement was a product of conceptual and non-precise translation.

AMANPOUR: Ridiculous. I mean, I don't even dignify that with even a comment. But what I can say is, that we put the entire transcript online. We've got the entire 56-minute interview if anybody at Fars cares to read it. We have his translator. I speak Persian. I know what he said.

SAYAH: President Rouhani's comment once again puts a spotlight on Iran's bitter and complicated rivalry with Israel. Iranian hard- liners have frequently suggested Israeli leaders embellish and exaggerate the horrors of the Holocaust that justify the occupation of Palestinian land. Israeli leaders have in turn accuse Iran's leadership of anti-Semitism, labeled them enemy number one and pointed to their skepticism of the Holocaust as proof.

President Rouhani's comments seem to be an effort to defuse Iran/Israeli tensions over the Holocaust at the cost of annoy something Iranian hard-liners.


SAYAH: This controversy comes against the back drop of a lot of talk about the possibility of improved relations between Tehran and Washington. And it shows that a lot of people are listening to every word President Rouhani says and the reaction that follows -- Chris, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right.

All right. Reza, thank you so much for that.

So, whether it's relations with Iran or the crisis in Syria or his wife's political ambitions, Bill Clinton has plenty to say about it. The former president sat down with CNN's Piers Morgan for a sweeping interview that even included an impersonation of Bono. Piers will be joining us live in a few minutes.

But, first, here are some of the highlights of their conversation starting with America's potentially thawing relationship with Tehran.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Christiane Amanpour for CNN yesterday interviewed President Rouhani. He basically admitted there had been a Holocaust, which was certainly nothing that Ahmadinejad would ever admit to.

What do you make of that? WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it's interesting commentary in the world which we are living that admitting that the Holocaust occurred qualifies as being a moderate.

MORGAN: Right.

CLINTON: I was hoping, and I think the president was, that the opening of the U.N. would give them a chance to, you know, maybe even do more.

So I think we just have to keep working at it. And I feel the same way about the Russian effort to get the Syrian government to declare, disclose and then hand over their chemical weapons. We'd be crazy not to take advantage of this.

MORGAN: Something certainly sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true. Can we really believe that Vladimir Putin, with his own self-interest for Russia, is orchestrating this huge maneuver to remove all of Assad's chemical weapons and it's just going to happen?

CLINTON: No, we don't have to believe it. We just have to see what happens and make the most of what happens. You work for the best and prepare for the worst in this business. But I think it would be a terrible mistake not to take advantage of the opportunity.

MORGAN: Then you also have to have, Mr. President, a functional Washington. There is a sense that it has never been more dysfunctional, more divisive, and more personally abusive. You and Newt Gingrich eventually worked it out between you. How do you get stuff done in this dysfunctional Washington?

CLINTON: We worked it out when he was trying to run me out of town. We were still working together. But at that time, because they shut the government down twice and because they wished to hold on to their jobs, the Republicans, they wanted to maintain their majority, they believed they had to show up for work and get something done.

This re-apportionment has created a climate, particularly in the House of Representatives, but also in some of the states where they are basically one-party states, where they believe that they don't have to get anything done. They just believe that they have to demonize the opposition and say whatever they're going to say.

MORGAN: I met your wife for the first time and your daughter today, actually. She looks fantastic. She looks completely reinvigorated. She seemed on fire with ideas and dynamism and so on. It screamed to me one thing, I'm running. Can you put us all out of our misery?



MORGAN: Would you want your wife to go through the rigors of the presidency knowing what it's like these days?

CLINTON: Well, the answer to that question is, I want her to do what she wants to do. And I think it's too soon for her to decide.

MORGAN: Who do you think might make the better president? Your wife or your daughter?

CLINTON: The day after tomorrow, my wife because she's had more experience. Over the long run, Chelsea. She knows more than we do about everything.



CUOMO: She's like, no, yes.

Joining us now, Piers, I ask, you answer, Morgan. Thanks for being here.

MORGAN: Can I say -- how exciting it is to be here at last, 8:00 a.m. this ungodly hour.

BOLDUAN: I don't think everyone understands, this is a miracle upon miracles. Piers said he was never going to wake up this early to come on the show.

MORGAN: I went to bed last night. It seems like I'm right back here already. And I am. Very excited. I love this show. I watch you every morning. Normally lying in bed with a nice cup of coffee. Instead, I'm here.

CUOMO: Let me ask you a question. One of the things that make your interviews very impressive is that you think while the conversation is going on, how would you rate the former president's ability to think while he's answering?

MORGAN: Number one. Bill Clinton is the most impressive politician. And, in fact, leader of any kind I've ever interviewed. I've done it twice now. He does exactly what you just said. He listens intently to the question. He formulates an answer.

Because I tried to phrase the questions in a way that he hasn't heard before. Everywhere he goes at the moment, like Hillary, like Chelsea, they get asked the same thing: is Hillary going to run? If you ask them that, they have a pat answer.

Ask him who would be the better president, your wife or your daughter, make him think. What an answer. Tomorrow, my wife. Down the line, my daughter. It's an amazingly quick response to a question he hadn't been asked in that way.

But what I liked about him was also the kind of overview he brings to dealing business with Vladimir Putin or with your political opponents in America, because it was a great template. I really hope Barack Obama and John Boehner were watching that because whether it was Putin or Gingrich, he said, in public, he would say the right things. But behind closed doors, mano-to-mano, he would beat them up and they would thrash out a resolution. The most interesting thing last night, I thought of all the things, when he said Putin -- I said to him, did Putin ever renege on any deal he agreed one on one with you? He said, "No. He always kept his word me."

I thought it was a really significant admission. In public, he would denigrate America or -- but in private, always trustworthy. I don't see that relationship in Washington between the president and the speaker. That he had again with Newt Gingrich, same thing, one-on- one, he could trust him. You don't have to believe people.

You don't even have to really trust them. You just have to get things done. And I don't see that happening in Washington. I'm not sure I see it happening between President Obama and Vladimir Putin. But, you know, as he said, you've got to try. But I really hope they were watching last night because as a model of how to do business, Bill Clinton is the guy they should be listening to.

BOLDUAN: In your interviews, you allow yourself to kind of just be part of the conversation and get kind of taken down whatever road you're going to head down. What surprised you about the interview with Bill Clinton? Because you can always expect the man is a master politician. He's great at giving a speech. He's great at delivering a line. We've known that. What surprised you about him?

MORGAN: I love the way that he answers questions, very frankly, but always with a lot of thought. He clearly thought, for example, about Christiane Amanpour's terrific interview with President Rouhani. He thought about what to say about that. And rather than give some reaction to it which is sort of off pattern of what people would normally say.

He said, yes, isn't it amazing that the president of Iran can basically concede there may have been a holocaust and we're supposed to view this as moderate.


MORGAN: -- started to laugh, even though he was deadly serious. It's that kind of overview that he takes, which comes from years of experience. I talk a lot about the second amendment, as you know, on my show and gun control and so on. But the 22nd Amendment to me is even more flawed because that's the one that stops presidents serving more than two terms.

BOLDUAN: Oh, come on, Piers Morgan.

MORGAN: Bill Clinton would still be president now. He'd be president for another 20 years.

BOLDUAN: There's a (ph) large section of the country that would disagree with that.


PEREIRA: What I appreciate, too, real quick, you managed to get to him to have a little fun, which isn't hard because he is a charming man.


PEREIRA: And he has a good sense of humor.

MORGAN: I heard what Chris said. His bono impression isn't quite as good.


PEREIRA: Bono's was really good of him.

MORGAN: Bono does a better American accent than I think Bill Clinton does his Irish accent, but I thought the glasses. I mean, I met him at a party the night before.

PEREIRA: He came with props.

MORGAN: Right. I met him at a party that you didn't go to and now you regret it. It was a terrific party. One of the (INAUDIBLE), you can get all to party.


MORGAN: And I said to him, can you do a Bono impression? Because it was -- he said -- I said just think about it. And then when I saw him go for the glasses, I was like, get in there.


MORGAN: And he was in that moment, the entire world will see that within about 20 minutes.

BOLDUAN: You know what I want to hear and I literally just thought of this. Can you do a Clinton?

MORGAN: Well, I don't know, I mean, I'm a president of the United States and my wife and my daughter -- I can do a better Bono actually. I can do a better Bono.


MORGAN: He would have sing --


CUOMO: Too handsome. You're too handsome to pull off the impression.

MORGAN: You know, I'm glad you recognized that, because both the ladies were not going there even though I knew from their eyes --

CUOMO: I'm secure enough.


BOLDUAN: We did not know that Piers Morgan can read minds as well. CUOMO: Piers Morgan can also ask a hell of a question. He is a master of intelligent conversation. That's why I ask you to watch "Piers Morgan Live" tonight.

MORGAN: We have Chelsea tonight. Big interview with Chelsea Clinton. She is as smart as a whippet. And, I think you watch tonight and you come away like I do thinking, you know what, Bill's got a point. Yes, it's all about Hillary. But down the line, do not rule out Chelsea Clinton.

CUOMO: 9:00 p.m. eastern tonight. Piers Morgan, thank you.

MORGAN: I'm going back to bed. Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Thank you for the visual.


BOLDUAN: Thank you, Piers.

CUOMO: Piers is leaving us. We will have to come at you with all the news that's going on. Let's get right to Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's get at the headlines, Chris. Good morning to everybody at home. New this morning, a newly released audio message purportedly from al Shabaab's leader confirming the group was behind the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi and warns of more violence. CNN has not independently verified the audio's authenticity.

In the meantime, FBI agents reportedly at the scene of that deadly mall massacre in Nairobi. According to the A.P., they have grizzly task of fingerprinting the scene, testing DNA evidence and analyzing ballistics.

The jury in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial could begin deliberating by this afternoon closing arguments set to resume this morning with the rebuttal from attorneys representing the Jackson Family. Yesterday, an attorney for concert propter, AEG Live, told jurors Jackson died because of his own bad choices.

Former president, George H.W. Bush, acting as witness at a same-sex wedding. Bush 41 and wife, Barbara, were in Maine Saturday as two of their longtime friends tied the knot. The couple posted a picture on Facebook of Bush signing the marriage license. Gay marriage became legal in Maine last December.

And want to show you this crazy video out of Antarctica. Do not try this ever. Argentine pilot flies really low over the photographers missing them but by what looks like a matter of feet. It is a C-130 Hercules plane actually known for flying low when they attacked British ships during the Falkland War back in the 1980s. Frowned upon, but I guess you get away with certain things in Antarctica.


PEREIRA: Very low. BOLDUAN: How do you respond to, I've got a great idea, guys, you just stand right there?


BOLDUAN: That shows some talent. Who else is talented around here? Indra Petersons.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, thank you, yes. Well, since we are up today, not all is going to bed like Piers, right?


PETERSONS: Want me to talk about maybe the weather, what's going on out there? We're definitely talking about some 70s in the northeast. Finally, it is gorgeous here and is staying that way all the way through the weekend. I love this. And where it's been so bad, it's been raining almost literally for months in the southeast.

Notice, even good for you, all this dry air pushing into the area. So, you're actually going to have a gorgeous weekend. So, perfect timing to actually be dry. In fact, temperatures beautiful. You can see a lot of 80s out there. So, it's warm on the east coast. So, where is it cold? Yes, try the west coast where it's still snowing and, yes, I do mean snowing.

A foot of snow right in the Tetons in Wyoming. About six inches in Yellowstone. And all this cold air is still in place. So, yes, we're going to continue to see the snow out there today. Best chances, of course, today pushing a little bit closer towards Wyoming. But temperatures there a good 20 degrees below normal. It is nice to actually be warm on the east coast where it's chilly on the west coast.


BOLDUAN: All right. Thank you Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a 14-year-old girl, she was raped by her high school teacher. Well, now the man responsible is about to be released from jail. She can't respond to any of this because she has committed suicide since this happened. After only a month, he was only behind bars for a month.

Her mother is outraged that the judge who handed down that short sentence. And you won't believe what he said about it.

CUOMO: And, she trusted her coach to help her fulfill her dreams. We want you to meet a figure skater who says her coach didn't make her a champion. He made her a victim. What happened? The exclusive story coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The former Montana teacher sentenced to just 31 days in prison for raping a student, he becomes a free man today. The case sparked national outrage, not just for the short sentence, but also for the judge's comments. CNN's Kyung Lah has been following this story from the very beginning. She's live in Billings, Montana this morning. Good morning, Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. In less than three hours, this teacher is scheduled to walk out of jail. He will likely have to check in here with his probation officers in Billings, but other than that, essentially a free man for now having served his short sentence.


LAH (voice-over): For the last 31 days, prison has been Stacey Rambold home. And later this morning, the former high school teacher is set to walk out, having served just one month behind bars for raping his 14-year-old student, Cherise Moralez. As she waited for her teacher to face trial, Morales' mother said Cherise was tormented by bullying and victim blaming. Before Rambold's case was heard, Cherise Moralez committed suicide.

AULIEA HANLON, MOTHER: She's beautiful. But, hopefully, he'll get justice. I hope.

LAH: Justice has failed at every step, says Cherise's mother. Not only did she lose her daughter but then the judge, Todd Baugh, handed down the short sentence saying Moralez looked older than her chronological age and was as much in control as the then 49-year-old Rambold.

Hi. I'm Kyung Lah from CNN.

The judge who has ducked CNN's questions has since admitted the sentence may have been illegal. State laws mandate a two-year minimum for this crime. The sentence and the judge's comments sparked national outrage. Earlier this week, petitions with 140,000 signatures were delivered to a Montana judicial watchdog panel, demanding the Judge Baugh's removal.

In the courts, prosecutors have appealed Rambold sentence to the state Supreme Court hoping to send him back to prison. And for the victim's mother, a cry for justice. A hollow search along a trail of anguish.

Does that pain ever fade?

HANLON: No. No. I think we just get used to it. So, you don't cry every day.


LAH (on-camera): And this mother is bracing for what she is anticipating will be a terribly tough day. She is praying that she simply does not run into this man. This is not that large of a town -- Chris, Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's a horrible thought. All right. Kyung, thank you so much. CUOMO: All right. Coming up on NEW DAY, startling accusations against a figure skating coach. What one athlete says he did to ruin her dreams of Olympic glory?

BOLDUAN: And a much happier story because we could all use one this morning. A Wisconsin girl got quite the surprise. Just look at her running when her mom was being honored for her service to our country. We'll show you the emotional moment in just a few minutes and we're going to meet them live right here on NEW DAY.