Return to Transcripts main page


Obama's Tough Road Ahead; Open For Business; U.S. Embassy in Uganda On High Alert; Snowden Breaks Silence; Utah Doctor Murder Trial Underway; Baggage Handler Pleads Not Guilty; Rocky Obamacare Online Rollout; Search for Missing Autistic Boy; Republicans Face Attacks from Right

Aired October 18, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. TGIF. Let's give you the top news.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Understand that how business is done in this town has to change.

CUOMO: Back to work? The president tries to jump-start his agenda pushing for immigration reform and a new budget, but instead, a new fight may be coming his way. We have the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Under fire. The botched Obamacare rolloutstill plagued by glitches. New criticisms this, this morning. Some calling for Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius to resign.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Opening up. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta goes one-on-one with former vice president, Dick Cheney, as he talks about just how close to death he came.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, October 18th, six o'clock in the east. Good to have you here. Good to have you back. So, listen to this. You're down near. You stopped the shutdown for us. Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: You're welcome.

CUOMO: But just one day into let's play nice, the lawmakers saying it's time to work together, already a battle brewing over the president's choice to run the Department of Homeland Security. He's a current Pentagon official, the choice, but there are questions about his qualifications and we'll tell you why.

BOLDUAN: Plus, a big story here in New York that we're following. This 14-year-old boy has been missing for two weeks now. He's autistic and unable to communicate verbally. But his family and the people that are helping in the search have come up with a very interesting way to try and find him.

They're driving around, playing a recording of his mother's voice, to try to coax him out from wherever he may be hiding if he is. We're going to hear from his family coming up.

PEREIRA: And get this, sports fans. A new company taking fantasy leagues to a whole new level. It might really put your money where your mouth is. You can buy and sell shares in sports stars. If they do well, both on and off the field, you share in their riches. If not, well, so, do you think you can spot the next Tom Brady before he's Tom Brady?

CUOMO: Intriguing. Intriguing.

But we start this morning in the past. Here's why. Even though the government is up and running as it always should be, there's already a rumble that the real fight is yet to come just like what we lived through. Senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, joins us now. And Jim, do we see in the reaction to the president's initial efforts to get a jumpstart on pressing issues, what may be to come, more fighting?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think so, Chris. Just about all of Washington was expecting the president to strike a bipartisan tone in the hours after the shutdown. Instead, Republicans got a stern lecture. That is a sign that the shutdown may be over, but there are more battles to come.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Listening to President Obama chatting with the Italian prime minister, it sounded as if he was ready for a vacation in Tuscany.

OBAMA: He will not have to twist my arm to try to get me to come to Tuscany again sometime in the near future.

ACOSTA: But the president has no room on his plate for pasta not when he set his sights on passing a new budget, immigration reform and even a farm bill in less than 90 days.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And we can get them done by the end of the year if our focus on what's good for the American people.

ACOSTA: A task the president may have made more difficult for himself after railing against Republicans over the shutdown.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You don't like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position, go out there and win an election.

ACOSTA: He may get help from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who told "The Hill" newspaper there will not be a government shutdown. I think we have fully acquainted new members with what a losing strategy is. Former GOP vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan called for bipartisanship in upcoming budget negotiations.

PAUL RYAN, FORMER REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want to look for ways to find a common ground and get a budget.

ACOSTA: Tell that to Texas Senator Ted Cruz whose office tells CNN he's not ruling out another shutdown. The president could also have a fight on his hands over his next pick for secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, a former military lawyer and Obama campaign fundraiser said at a conference earlier this year that the day will come when the U.S. must declare the war against al Qaeda over.

JEH JOHNSON, PROSPECTIVE HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY NOMINEE: We should no longer consider ourselves in a traditional armed conflict against al Qaeda and affiliated groups and I think Benghazi is a prominent example of what I'm talking about. You can't label the Benghazi attack as something conducted by al Qaeda and associated forces. It was more of a mixed bag.


ACOSTA: The president is scheduled to formally nominate Jeh Johnson at a ceremony later this afternoon. One of the key senators on the Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, has already called Johnson's nomination, quote, "deeply concerning" saying that the Department of Homeland Security is perhaps the most mismanaged in the country -- Chris, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Here we go again, Jim. Thanks so much for starting us off this morning.

Slowly but surely the federal government is coming back to life after being dormant for 16 days now, at least partially shutdown. Furlough employees begin to take on what is probably a huge backlog of work. Popular tourists sites are opening their doors again to the public.

CNN's Rene Marsh is following that side of the story and she is live at one of my favorite place in Washington, the National Zoo. Good morning, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. You know, that Washington wheel is turning, but turning very slowly. In just a matter of hours, the gates will open at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Across the country, all of those local businesses that depend on the federal workers dollars are gearing up for crowds once again. It is so clear, like you said, it will take some time before everyone kicks it into high gear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

MARSH (voice-over): Tourists lined up as the nation's parks, museums and memorials re-opened for business, from the Florida Everglades to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. (on camera): How does it feel to be inside.


MARSH: How does it feel to be inside?


MARSH: Employees are back on the job after three weeks of forced time off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good to be back at work.

MARSH (voice-over): On Capitol Hill where most members have fled for their home districts, the furloughed staffer got the historical clock ticking again. But as the vice president greeted returning EPA employees with muffins, he warned all that time off would mean a backlog of paperwork.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now they're back and they have all that work piled up. They have a lot to do. I'm not going to hold them up anymore.

MARSH: For the first few days back, federal employees say they'll be playing catch up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did go on work wise for the past couple weeks.

MARSH: This FAA employee told us it could take him a week to clear the backlog. In Alaska, king crab fishermen could lose tens of thousands of dollars a day waiting in the harbor while returning federal workers sift through their catch permit requests.

MARK GLEASON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALASKA BERING SEA CRABBERS: I'm very hopeful when the government opens, the agency will make it a top priority to get that crab issued -- get that quota issued.

MARSH: Medical researchers say it will take time to ramp up their projects again. The good news, once again, Americans can tune in to the National Zoo's panda cam, which is broadcasting online with heightened interest, causing some delays. One thing on the minds of many, hoping congress doesn't force them through another shutdown in a few months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My understanding is this is just for 90 days. After 90 days, then what?


MARSH: All right, there goes that uncertainty again here in Washington, D.C. although they're happy to be back at work. As far as those national parks go, some of them have re-opened but some of them will take a little longer to re-open because as you can imagine, maintenance fell by the wayside as this shutdown was going on. So they have a little bit of sprucing up to do. Back to you, Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Rene, thanks so much. While I was there for two days I was walking through the capital, I even overheard some of the workers saying it's good to be back at work. You really hear it.

CUOMO: People need to work. Government needs to function. Everybody needs to know that. That's how it's supposed to work. Let's get to Michaela with more of this morning headlines.

PEREIRA: Yes, we're looking at some stories, this big one out of the U.S. embassy in Uganda. It is on high alert this morning. Officials there are being concerned about an attack similar to the Kenya mall massacre. U.S. official with direct knowledge of the threat tells CNN the information is still being vetted to determine its veracity.

Meantime, Kenyan counterterrorism sources tell CNN they're looking at a Norwegian citizen of Somali descent as a possible suspect in the Westgate Mall shootings.

Edward Snowden breaking his silence telling "The New York Times" he did not take any top secret U.S. documents with him to Russia and there's a zero percent chance China or Russia got their hands on documents he did have before he fled the United States. Snowden says he believes his leaks have helped national security by triggering a debate about the NSA's intelligence gathering operations.

The trial of a Utah doctor accused of murdering his wife resuming this morning. Prosecutors say Martin Macneill made his wife get a facelift and then gave her a deadly combination of pain killers. Michele Macneill's doctor testified Thursday and said she showed no signs of heart disease weeks before her death. The defense contends she was not murdered, but died of natural causes associated with having a bad heart. We'll have much more in the 8:00 hour on this story when Nancy Grace joins us live.

Not guilty. That's the plea from an L.A. International Airport baggage handler accused of setting off dry ice bombs earlier this week. Police say 28-year-old Decarlo Bennett did it for his own amusement. He likely got the dry ice from an airplane where it's used to keep food fresh. Bennett now faces up to six years in prison.

We have a whiskey who done it in Kentucky. The guys in the studio are very concerned. More than $25,000 worth of some of the world's most rarest and most sought after Bourbon simply disappeared from a distillery, 230 bottles taken including the happy van winkle. The local sheriff says the thieves certainly knew what to look for and the sheriff is leaning toward it being an inside job.

BOLDUAN: I do not approve of the behavior. A Bourbon thief sounds good.

CUOMO: Says the person who was gone the last few days.

PEREIRA: Were you really in D.C., Kate?

BOLDUAN: The intrigue, that later in the show. CUOMO: That odd bottle of brown fluid you were hiding --

BOLDUAN: That was -- let's get to the weather.

CUOMO: That was a gift.

BOLDUAN: A gift, exactly. Let's get a check of what it looks like outside your door.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Have you seen the northern lights? That's the question.

PEREIRA: Aurora borealis.

PETERSONS: This is an awesome video that came actually out there. They are electronically charged particles coming from the sun interacting with the earth's atmosphere. You have high altitude oxygen. It's amazing video out there. Love it. Still haven't seen it, definitely on my bucket list, too. We have a cold front make its way through the northeast yesterday starting to see remnants out there.

Still going to see a couple series of fronts making their way through the area and the biggest thing we'll notice is still minor is going to be the temperature change especially out towards Philly, D.C. and New York. Instead of the 70s we saw yesterday now that that front has push through. We're going to see a little bit of some milder, more seasonal-like temperatures, more 60s should be in the forecast.

Notice we'll see a series of the fronts start to make their way through over the next several days. The first one again making its way offshore in the northeast, but still kind of trailing out towards Texas, maybe some showers over towards the Carolinas. Here comes the next one behind it, Saturday into Sunday, similar to yesterday. You barely got any rain out of this. The temperatures were mild.

This is the guy you want to pay attention to. This is the real actual change. I'm assuming people will agree with me. Let's look at these temperatures. I want to show you the difference. This is yesterday. Now I'm taking you through Monday. Pay attention out here. Look at the temperatures drop down to the 40s. This is the cold air by next week. That will be making its way into the northeast. Did I see you clapping or is that a cold?

PEREIRA: I'm rubbing my hands.

PETERSONS: Like yay!

PEREIRA: I might start a fire on the side of the desk.

PETERSONS: We agree. We start getting to the 40s and 50s.

PEREIRA: We had to have a change sometime October.

BOLDUAN: We have a week. Thanks, Indra. CUOMO: All right, we'll take a quick break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, you know how the Obamacare rollout was such a mess, all the online problems? Lawmakers forgot to blame someone for that. Now they can focus and are asking for the head of one woman. We'll tell you who and why.

BOLDUAN: And desperate search continues for a missing autistic teenager here in New York. Can his mother's voice help him find his way home?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Opponents of Obamacare may have to get used to living with the law but that doesn't mean they have to live with who is in charge of it necessarily. After the botched online rollout, there's a hunt on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Opponents saying she had three years to get it right and now her time is up. They're calling for her resignation now. Here's CNN's Brian Todd with more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's become the face of the Obamacare rollout and all its technical problems. There's intensifying pressure on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to step down. She's the chief target of Republicans, including Senator Pat Roberts, who is a long-time friend of Sebelius' family.

SENATOR PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: Secretary Sebelius has had 3-1/2 years to launch Obamacare and she has failed.

TODD: Roberts is joined by Congressman John Fleming of Louisiana, a long-time family practice doctor, he says he'll soon send a letter to President Obama asking him to accept Sebelius's resignation. Fleming says he has gotten other House members to sign it.

(on camera): It's getting better because the problems are being streamlined, more and more each day, that's what they're saying. Not good enough for you?

REP. JOHN FLEMING (R), LOUISIANA: Right. That law was passed almost four years ago. They've had plenty of time to either roll this thing out properly, beta test it, make sure it works or delay the implementation. They did neither.

TODD: Secretary Sebelius' aides said she was traveling and not available to go on camera. They didn't specifically respond to the calls for her to resign, but did refer us to comments from the White House earlier this week.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The secretary does have the full confidence of the president.

TODD (voice-over): But President Obama's former press secretary said this, quote, "I hope they fire some people that were in charge." And there are two House committees investigating the website launch, which CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been following closely.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: has been giving people all sorts of problems. It took me a week just to create a user name and pass word and then when I did, I couldn't login with them.

The Obama administration says it's very busy and to try during off peak times. So, I did and still it didn't work.

And then, finally, two weeks into the launch of the site I did manage to get in. But you know what? The site is still pretty glitchy.

TODD: Sebelius said this on a tour promoting Obamacare this week.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: I'll be the first to tell you that the Web site launch was rockier than we would have liked.

TODD: And potential customers are still shopping. A company that analyzes web traffic says after the first week online, out of all those who attempted to sign up through the federal exchange, just 1 percent ended up enrolling in Obamacare.

Administration officials say that's not accurate but they're not giving any specific numbers on enrollment. We have to emphasize that company's data is unofficial and it's just a snapshot. It doesn't include state-run exchanges.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much, Brian. I don't see there's any chance Kathleen Sebelius will be stepping down.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, stepping down versus forced out.


CUOMO: Would be the situation. We'll see.

BOLDUAN: We'll see.

CUOMO: Keep an eye on it.

So, here's a story you have to hear about. In New York, a boy is everywhere and nowhere. There's a citywide search on for a missing autistic boy. These are surveillance images. They show a 14-year-old before he vanished walking out of his Queens school, all by himself. There's been no sign of him since.

Now, police are using a new tool, his mother's voice. Here's CNN's Don Lemon.


DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inch-by-inch, street corner by street corner, seemingly everyone in New York City looking for missing 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Avonte, it's mom.

LEMON: In Queens, near the school where the autistic boy was last seen two weeks ago, search vans broadcast his mother's voice in hopes he may recognize it and come to them.

(on camera): How did you come up with that message?

VANESSA FONTAINE, MOTHER OF AVONTE OQUENDO: That is something that I tell him when he comes home from school. I always say, hi, Avonte, because I want him to give the response hi mom. Sometimes he tells me, hi, mom.

LEMON (voice-over): This surveillance video was the last anyone was seen of Avonte. He can't communicate verbally.

Investigators say after approaching a security guard who didn't let him exit the school, he found a monitored side door and vanished.

FONTAINE: He is not supposed to be running to the halls without supervision. He is not supposed to be letting -- walk out the door and you're not stopping him.

LEMON: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly does not believe the security guard is at fault.

RAY KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: We see the actions of the security guard on film and also statements by the security agent and other people that we believe there wasn't any ongoing --

LEMON: A source close to the investigation tells CNN searches are concentrating on a five-block area around the school with particular focus on a marshy landfill, thinking cameras don't show the child headed to the neighborhood but he headed towards the water.

But Avonte's father believes he's elsewhere.

DANIEL OQUENDO, FATHER OF AVONTE OQUENDO: I look at part of their job to do that but I'm pretty sure he is not there. He doesn't like he -- doesn't kind of feeling towards water, large bodies of water. He wasn't about that.

LEMON: Water, an ominous fear for these parents. For now, they are keeping positive, trying to find one young boy among millions.

One family with an entire city behind them.

Don Lemon, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CUOMO: Don's right. The last line of that story, I mean, obviously, we live in New York City. And the flyers are everywhere. And it's unusual to see this city gripped by a search like this.

Both my kids, the 10-year-old and 7-year-old came home separately from schools with the flyers, because there's such a search for this because of the vulnerability of this particular kid and the time. If anybody has seen anything.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's so troubling, two weeks.

CUOMO: That's a long time.

BOLDUAN: A long time.

CUOMO: A long time.


CUOMO: Hopefully there's good news and we'll keep following up on it. If there are any tips, pass it along. Anything could make a difference.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY: the fallout from the government shutdown. Americans, they're angry but which party will pay the price, politically? We'll talk about it.

CUOMO: And did you hear about this? Former Vice President Dick Cheney, he's going to go one-on-one with Sanjay Gupta. He's talking about his 35-year battle with heart disease and cheating death. You probably haven't heard this before. We'll tell you about it within we come back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Friday, October 18th.

Let's turn now to our political gut check of the morning.

Congress got a deal together in time to avert a financial crisis but it has left many Americans curious over the political brinksmanship.

So, will lawmakers face consequences from their constituents and what does this crisis mean for the Republican Party going forward?

CNN's chief national correspondent John King is here to break to down for us further.

John, one thing you and I have been talking about is what was clear in this fight is there sometimes is a disconnect between local interests, national interests, national public opinion and what lawmakers are hearing from constituents back home. What's behind that?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it is as if there is a political parallel universe if you will. The president lives in one and his Republican critics, mostly House Republicans live in another. Let me use the magic wall here to give you a sense of what I mean.

Remember, the president's old law professor, legal terms, asked and answered he said to this debate about Obamacare, because Mitt Romney said he would repeal it. President Obama said let's keep it in the reelection campaign. And the president won a very convincing electoral college victory.

And if you look at the map, the national map like this, the president won most of the big prizes, California, New York, Florida, Ohio and so on. So the president says we went through this. It's over. We had this debate, right? The country is with me.

House Republicans, though, Kate, they see it differently, because they live in red America. This is the presidential election by county. The House Republican districts 232 of them, this is where they are. Look at that.

Mitt Romney won more house districts than Barack Obama did even as the president won re-election. Mitt Romney won more counties in America. Now, some of these counties aren't very populated, but if you look at the map this way, this is where House Republicans live. They don't think they need to listen to the president. They think their voters want them to challenge Obamacare.

Remember how this all started, the fight about defunding Obamacare became a trigger for the government shutdown. Well, just take a peek at this. There are 80 House Republicans, they live across the country, largely in red America, 80 House Republicans sent John Boehner a letter, saying we will not vote on a resolution to continue to fund the government unless it strips the money for the health care plan, remember? That's how we started down this road?

Eighty of them signed the letter. Kate, when the House voted on a final compromise, take a look at this, only -- make that work there. Only nine of them broke and voted yes, 71 of those conservative largely Tea Party members stuck with that. They dug in, even on the compromise in the end.

And this is where we are going forward. Yes, the government is open. The debt ceiling has been raised. But this political environment has not changed.

BOLDUAN: All right. So, that map and the math, it isn't changing in this Congress. So what does that mean for the battles that are just months away?

KING: There are a number of things to look at going forward. Some of these battles could be days away. The president says let's do immigration. They're having these negotiations over a big budget deal now. For some House Republicans, I just showed you the conservatives that stay put. For some, politics were local if you say.

There were 17, remember that, 232 House Republicans, only 17, that's a tiny number, go home to districts carried by the president. A Republican house member in a district, the president, a Democrat, won in the last election. Of those 17, 15 decided to vote yes. So, you do see in places where the president's support was stronger, Republican congressmen were more likely to vote yes. That's something to watch going forward if that stays it.

But here are what the president would see as the more troubling indicators. If you're a Republican in Congress and you're thinking of running for president in 2016 -- well, Kate, the safe vote was no. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio in the Senate, Paul Ryan in the House, all voting no on this deal, even though their leaders, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner said we need to pass this. There's one key there.

The other thing to watch is the Tea Party. The Tea Party is threatening, threatening anyone who voted yes, might face a primary challenge.

Well, let's watch these going forward. Leader McConnell I just mentioned, one of his key deputies, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, all on the ballot, all have Tea Party challengers. Let's see if the conservative money flows to try to take these guys out.

BOLDUAN: And when you look right there, John, we're already seeing Tea Party opponents coming out using this vote against them.

KING: Right. We are. I'll come back to the map this way and let you see the map full out. Again, remember, this is where the 232 house Republicans live and they think their voters want them to fight, however, we could be seeing instead of fights between the Republicans and the president, fights in the Republican family.

Check your e-mail box, Kate. I know you left Washington for New York but you still get the e-mails. Frank Wolf in Virginia, Scott Rigell in Virginia, the lawmakers in Minnesota, lawmakers out here House Republicans who voted yes we were flooded with e-mails yesterday, saying how they violated conservative principles. They deserve to be defeated.

Now, that's in the first day after the vote. We'll see going forward if that energy persists. But these Tea Party groups are threatening the primary challenge, a host of House Republicans who voted yes.

BOLDUAN: That would be interesting. We're hearing Jim DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, former senator from South Carolina, he's writing an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" saying -- making his case for why right now is the time to have a fight on Obama care even though some moderate folks in his party say now is not the time to do it or the way to do it. Clearly there's a fight within that party they need to work out.

KING: Remember how much money Jim DeMint in a different role was able to raise in 2010, Kate. He is a key player saying attack the primary challenge, try to defeat the Republicans who voted yes.

So, there's still a -- we're done with this crisis but we're not done with the fight. BOLDUAN: Good point. Great to see you. Thanks, John.

KING: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Watching that story of course, but a lot of other stories making news this hour. So, let's get straight to Michaela for the latest..

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Kate, thanks so much.

Good morning to you at home.

We're starting with a story that's concerning folks in Florida. A manhunt is on for two convicted killers following most unusual prison break.