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Obamacare Website Woes; Calls For Sebelius To Step Down; Listeria Fears Prompt Recall; Security Official Fired For Tweets; Utah State Capitol Arrest; Is A Blowout The Same As Bullying? 911 Tapes in Nevada School Shooting; Murder Trial of Former Utah Doctor

Aired October 23, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's time for NEW DAY. That means it's time for your top news. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not where we needed to be.

CUOMO: Cnn exclusive, under fire and finally speaking out. Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, is she the reason for the Affordable Care Act online complications? Can she fix it? Will she resign it if it continues? Dr. Sanjay Gupta gets answers to the big questions.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: There's a kid with a gun. The dramatic 911 calls from the Nevada school shooting as it happened. New details this morning on the hero teacher who lost his life saving his students.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Apple fights back. The tech giant releasing a new iPad, free apps, all in an effort to fight off the growing and cheaper competition. How do these new offerings stack up?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Quick staff laughing around TV. Good morning and welcome to "NEW DAY." It's Wednesday, October 23rd, six o'clock in the east.

And we are following a truly tangled web of a trial in Utah. Dr. Martin MacNeill, that's the man on your screen, he's accused of killing his wife. First responders have been telling of bizarre behavior in the moment of crisis that made them fear for their safety as they were trying to save his wife's life. Prosecutors arguing that the doctor's 911 call was an act. Key witnesses in the case could be the doctor's daughters. We'll have a live report just ahead.

BOLDUAN: It's really fascinating.

Plus, we have been following the mystery of the blond hair girl found in Greece. Police suspect that she has been kidnapped. Well, now, there's a very similar case in Ireland with another child found. These cases are renewing hope for families of missing children truly around the world and DNA tests may already be providing some answers.

PEREIRA: Today is a very big day for Prince William and Duchess Catherine, even bigger day for the guy in the center there, young Prince George. He's set to be christened in just a few hours' time. And as they have all the way along, the royal couple veering a little bit from tradition in some very interesting ways. We'll share that with you coming up.

BOLDUAN: We begin this hour, though, with the fallout from the Obamacare rollout. Kathleen Sebelius speaking exclusively with CNN. We're going to get to that in just a moment. You do want to hear what she has to say.

But first, the president is bringing in a new fleet of experts to get the website up and running properly. And in a new message, he's asking you to be part of team Obamacare.

CNN's senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta with the latest. Hi, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Even though the White House has appointed a management guru to oversee the repairs to the Obamacare website, Republicans are still racketing up the pressure, which is why the White House appears to be going into damage control mode.



ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House is out to make sure the bugs in the Obamacare web site don't bite back. So the president recorded this video message for his post campaign volunteer team to spread the message of patience.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: By now you probably heard that the web site has not worked as smoothly as it was supposed to.

ACOSTA: The Obama administration has also appointed Jeff Zients, the man who will soon be the president's top economist and who once served as acting budget director to be the Mr. Fix It, to go after the site's technical problems.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he is providing management advice and consultation, but for more details about his role because he is being brought on by HHS, I would refer you to HHS.

ACOSTA: But the White House is offering few additional details about the web site rescue effort.

CARNEY: I would refer you to HHS for that. ACOSTA: Republicans want more oversight, calling for weekly reports on the web site's progress and delay of the individual mandate to buy insurance if the tech issues continue.

REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The president put politics ahead of his own program working effectively and easily for hundreds of millions of Americans.

ACOSTA: Former vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan is the latest top GOP leader to call on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to step down. Saying on a Republican conference call, this roll-out has been a fiasco. I think some people should be held responsible. But Clay Johnson, a former White House innovation fellow who worked on I.T. projects for the administration says the real problem is with the government contractors who built the site.

CLAY JOHNSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INNOVATION FELLOW: I think that they don't know how to measure success. I mean, the federal government wants to innovate so badly, but it doesn't have the access to the right kinds of contractors that it needs in order to pull off these kinds of innovation.


ACOSTA: A Democratic source tells CNN House Republicans were offered a briefing by HHS on Obamacare just days before those insurance exchanges were open for business on the web site, but a House Republican source also tells CNN that that briefing was never offered but if the offer still stands, they'll take it.

In the meantime, Chris, we should also point out that Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, a senator from New Hampshire is also saying that perhaps the individual mandate should be delayed until the web site is back up and running at full capacity -- Chris.

CUOMO: We have concerns about the future. We have the problems right now because there have been three weeks of frustration over these web site issues. So Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is facing calls to resign. She's the health care honcho. They want to hold her accountable. She hasn't really spoken about it until now.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked her about the flawed roll-out and her future in an exclusive CNN interview. He joins us now. Sanjay, good morning to you.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Look, the pressure has been mounting for some time. I asked her about these web site questions, the same questions Jim was talking about and she does say, look, this is primarily a high traffic issue, but that that high traffic unmasked other problems, including problems with the ability to register on to the web site. That is obviously no small problem.

I also wanted it get sort of a peek behind the curtain at what was happening leading up to this roll-out on October 1st and what the confidence level was going in. That's where we started. Take a listen.


GUPTA: You know, according to congressional investigators, just weeks before the lunch about two-thirds of insurers had some concerns, specific concerns that the web site would not be ready. Just days before the lunch, the web site crashed with a few hundred users at that time. How was a decision made to still go forward?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, Sanjay, there are people in this country who avoided decades for affordable health coverage for themselves and their family. I see them all over the country. You probably saw them on your recent bus tour, people who are so eager for this to happen and what's clear is we have a product. The product really works.

We have created a market where there wasn't a market. People have competitive, private plans at affordable prices. They have the advantage if they don't have employer paying a share of their coverage, they'll have tax help paying a share of the coverage.

GUPTA: The president did say he was angry about this. I mean, do you know when he first knew there was a problem?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days.

GUPTA: So not before that, though, not before October 1st, there was no concern at that point with the White House or at HHS?

SEBELIUS: I think that we talked about having testing going forward and if we had an ideal situation and could have built a product in a five-year period of time we probably would have taken five years.

GUPTA: How many people have signed up?

SEBELIUS: We'll be doing what we've done with every other program, Medicare Part "D," we've done it with chip. We will give monthly enrollment figures. We've said that since the beginning. What we can tell you, we have 500,000 plus accounts right now with people who have established that or are in the process of shopping for affordable coverage.

GUPTA: It seems like an important thing to know, I imagine especially given all the problems with the site, how well is it working? Can you say right now how well health is working? We know there are problems, but what can we say about it?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think what we can tell you, is that thousands of people have signed up. We know people are getting through every day. It is not where we need it to be. It isn't as smooth as we want it to be for the volume of people who want this product.

GUPTA: There's a lot of frustration obviously in the country. Did you ever talk about resigning to the president? SEBELIUS: What I talked about is doing the job I came here to do. This is the most important work I've ever done in my life, delivering on an historic act, making sure that we have health security for the millions of Americans. This law was passed 3-1/2 years ago. I've been working day in and day out to implement this law.

GUPTA: There is a lot of frustration as you know, Madam Secretary. If this persists or even at this point now, would you consider resigning over this?

SEBELIUS: I think my job is to get this fully implemented and to get the web site working right. And that's really what I'm focused on. I work at the pleasure of the president. He is singularly focused on making sure we deliver on this promise. That's what I'm committed to doing.


CUOMO: So Sanjay, you're going after Cheney, going after Sebelius. "60 Minutes" is turning you into Mike Wallace. You're pushing her. It's very an interesting observation. What do you make of the secretary's response to the allegations, response about her, about the program, do you believe that by playing it safe she's opening herself up to criticism?

GUPTA: Yes. I think it's a fair question. I think on one hand you have two die diametrically opposed views. You know, one hand, she's talking about providing health insurance for a few million people. And this delay is a small problem in the overall scheme of things. On the other hand, this is one of the biggest domestic policies and it has not gone smoothly.

This is the biggest thing she's had to deal with over the last 3-1/2 years. It depends on your perspective. I don't know if it characterizes it as going after her as much as this idea of who knew what when and what went wrong. It's not to suggest things could not go smoothly going forward or more smoothly than they have but how is that going to happen -- exactly.

CUOMO: Absolutely. Look, you have to press here, Sanjay, because the problems have become metaphor for the law overall. The timing is important, the base is important and the fix becomes very important. You know, raises the question, can they fix it and if it doesn't, does it mean they'll have to rethink big parts of how this law rolls out?

GUPTA: I think the answer is in part psychological and in part pragmatic. So from a psychological perspective, people were sitting on the fence with this, Chris. They had heard about it. Weren't quite sure what they were going to do, were they going to pay the penalty or enroll. This may have caused a little bit of loss of confidence in some of those people psychologically.

From a pragmatic standpoint, they say we are going to bring in the "A" team to address this situation, which, of course, I responded by saying why wasn't the "A" team already here given the magnitude of what we're talking about? That's something we'll get into next hour, Chris.

It is -- I think she's very optimistic, still, that things are going to get fixed and reminds us that we have six months until the end of March to actually sign up. We're still in the first month.

CUOMO: Really important because the implications for people's health care all across the country. Sanjay Gupta asking the right questions. If we might indulge for a second, Sanjay, just to say, just to say, just when we thought you couldn't get any better, you do. Today is your birthday, 29 years old.

PEREIRA: Amazing.

CUOMO: Doesn't look a day over 28.

PEREIRA: Happy birthday, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you very much. There's no better way to celebrate than via satellite, having stayed in anonymous hotel room last night and then spending time with you guys this morning.

PEREIRA: Bright and early in the morning.

CUOMO: Happy birthday, my brother. Thank you for bringing us the interview and asking the tough questions.

BOLDUAN: That's great.

CUOMO: He is ageless, though.

PEREIRA: He really is.

BOLDUAN: If you can believe it, looking good. That's all you can ask for.

CUOMO: It's always good to have Sanjay Gupta and we'll have him back later in the show. A lot of news this morning, what do we know, Mic?

PEREIRA: Well, let's take a look at the headlines. More than 11 tons of chicken, ham and beef products recalled over concerns that they contain -- they are contaminated with listeria. Reser's Fine Foods recalling products chicken salads, ham salads, potato salad and barbecue beans that contained beef. These products were distributed to retailers and distributors in 27 states, including Florida, New York and Texas.

The partial government shutdown could mean you may have to wait longer for your refund. IRS officials say the 2013 filing season will begin a week or maybe even two weeks later than usual. That means the agency will not start accepting your tax returns until around the end of January, but you will still have to get your paperwork in by April 15th. The IRS furloughed more than 90 percent of its workers during the shutdown.

A White House national security official fired after it was reveal that he was behind anonymous tweets that sometimes criticized and even ridiculed the Obama administration. CNN confirming this man, director of non-proliferation was the man responsible for @natsackwonk. His snarky tweets taking aim at both Democrats and Republicans. That account has since been deleted.

A Utah man is facing charges this morning after driving his truck up the steps of the state capitol. The 36-year-old Gerald Weston Green was apparently trying to get the attention of Utah Supreme Court members. He was said to have been banging on the lock doors of their chambers. Police say they had physically take him down after Green did not comply with their orders.

And here's a question, is a blowout the same as bullying? One high school football team near Fort Worth destroyed another team 91-0. The father of a player on the losing team claims running up the score was an act of bullying and the opposing coaches should have done something to stop it. He has now filed a complaint with the school district. The winning coach says his team did nothing wrong and is trying to get ready for the playoffs.

CUOMO: Take?

PEREIRA: I think it's an overreach and it bothers me to could potentially dilute the actual battle that we have against bullying right now.

CUOMO: Strong, take?

BOLDUAN: I'm having a hard time with it. I don't know.

CUOMO: There's etiquette in sports not to run up a team when they are inferior ==

PEREIRA: Apparently they didn't play their starting line up so they were doing what they could to not make it as --

CUOMO: It's a game. You learn as much from losing as winning, but you made the right point. Bullying matters too much to trivialize it with sports like this especially this is awareness month of it. We keep the priority on bullying being what it's really about. This is not what bullying is about. This is a bad beat down in sports. You can argue etiquette but not bullying.

PEREIRA: It is important because kids learn so many cues from sports, right?

CUOMO: Not bullying. All right, how about a check of the weather. Let's get to Karen Maginnis in for Indra Petersons keeping track of the latest forecast. How are you this morning? Thanks for joining us.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Thanks so much, Chris, good morning to you and Kate and Michaela. We do have an area of low pressure that's going to create some problems across the northeast, that with the cold air that's in place. Those are the weather headlines with the big chill that has occurred this week. Temperatures had been fairly mild, a little bit of a fall, but now it looks like we're headed into what seems to be a pre-winter forecast as this area of low pressure begins to pull away, that starts to alleviate some of the rainfall and drizzle and low visibility in places like New York City and Boston, can't rule that out, going in later this afternoon and evening.

But the temperatures, 5 to 10 degrees below where they should be for this time of year, New York City, temperatures should be running into the 60s, but we'll only expect 50s coming up for this afternoon. Chicago should be in the 60s but only in the 40s, not just for today but going into tomorrow.

We have lake-effect snow in places like Rochester and Syracuse. Not big but you know, it's just the beginning of the winter season. We'll talk more about that. Chris, Kate, back to you.

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

Coming up next on NEW DAY, 911 calls reveal the chaos during that Nevada school shooting and we're hearing more this morning about the hero teacher who died trying to end the rampage.

CUOMO: Have you been following the trial out in Utah? A doctor accused of killing his wife. He's on trial now, those are the allegations. Suggestions of overmedication, a bizarre bathroom scene with paramedics fearing for their safety, painting the doctor as a monster, but can they make the case? The key witnesses against him, get this, may be his own daughters. We'll go inside the case, two attorneys on it and the story when we come back.


COUMO: We have newly released frantic 911 calls that give an in-depth look at the deadly shooting in Nevada. This morning, the details of the horror and the heroism that prevented an even bigger tragedy.

Stephanie Elam is in Sparks, Nevada, working the story for us.

Good morning, Stephanie. What do we understand now?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris, Kate and Michaela.

It is frightening to hear what these students were dealing with when this all went down on their campus. We now know, according to one student who ran for his life, that the shooter was yelling, yelling different things like why are you laughing at me? Why are you doing this to me?

But because of the quick thinking of a teacher who lost his life and the staff and other students, that shooter was not able to get into campus and it might have saved a lot more lives.


ELAM (voice-over): The terror that unfolded at Nevada Sparks Middle School on Monday lasted just three minutes.

CALLER: We have a shooting at our school. We have a teacher down in our --

OPERATOR: OK, don't hang up. Hold on one second.

ELAM: But newly released 911 calls captured the chilling scene that lasted three minutes too long.

CALLER: This is a student from Sparks Middle School. Can you please send police down here? There's a kid with a gun.

OPERATOR: OK, where are they with a gun?


OPERATOR: Where are they with the gun?

CALLER: Sparks Middle School.

OPERATOR: I know, but where at the school? That's what I'm saying.

CALLER: By the basketball court.

OPERATOR: By the basketball court?

CALLER: Yes. Please send someone now.

ELAM: Police say a 12-year-old seventh grader shot two students and a teacher. One student in shoulder, the other in the abdomen before killing himself. The two students now stable and recovering.

CALLER: Somebody brought a gun to school that shot a teacher.

OPERATOR: The teacher is down?


OPERATOR: OK. We'll get somebody out there right away. You're at Sparks Middle School?


KYLE NUCUM, SPARKS MIDDLE SCHOOL SHOOTING EYEWITNESS: I turned around and see a teacher approach the gunman and then the gunman pointed the gun towards the teacher and he fires a shot at the teacher, and then everybody started screaming and running.

ELAM: Officials say 45-year-old Mike Landsberry, the popular math teacher and coach calmly walked toward the shooter, hands raised trying to convince him to put the gun down.

CHIEF MIKE MIERAS, WASHOE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICE: Mr. Landsberry's heroic actions by stepping towards the shooter allowed time for other students on that playground area to flee the area.

ELAM: Landsberry's been hailed a hero, a decorated marine, playing the role of Batman as the students affectionately called him.

ROBERT GARRETT, SENIOR MASTER SERGEANT, NEVADA AIR NATIONAL GUARD: He was a soldier with us, but he was always a teacher. He just wanted to always be there for the kids.

ELAM: Landsberry leaves a wife and two stepdaughters. His wife Sharon posted this note on Facebook. "He was my everything, my world. He has touched so many lives and was an incredible man."


ELAM: And we understand from one of Mike Landsberry's friends that their wedding anniversary was just on the 18th. As far as the parents of the shooter, we're told they are fully cooperating with police but they could face charges if it's discovered that their son was able to get his hands on a gun that was not properly stored -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Stephanie. The investigation continues but in some way it will be impossible to ever understand what could lead a 12-year-old little boy to do something like this. Thank you so much.

Let's move to Utah where the case of a doctor accused of killing his wife, first responders describing Martin MacNeill as belligerent and destructive.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Provo, Utah, with more.

Good morning, Miguel.


There's even more than that. The MacNeills had eight children, total, four biological, four adopted. The children are expected to be the star witness against their own father. At the moment we have three children testifying for the prosecution.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Today, the children of Dr. Martin MacNeill, a step closer to testifying against their own father. Prosecutors say the first up as soon as Thursday expected to be 12-year-old Ada MacNeill. Only 6 when she discovered her dying mother.

CHAD GRUMANDER, PROSECUTOR: We want Ada to testify because she has an important story to tell as part of the big story here. She was the first witness to find her mother in the bathtub.

MARQUEZ: The defense counters Ada should not testify, not a reliable witness they say as investigators used her older sister Alexis during repeated interviews.

SUSANNE GUSTIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Alexis was doing the other interviewing and investigators were saying ask her this, ask her that. That's highly improper.

MARQUEZ: Prosecutors have already called several first responders testifying at the scene of his wife's death, Martin MacNeill was agitated to the point of distraction as they desperately tried to save his wife's life.

DAN BECKSTROM, PLEASANT GROVE POLICE DEPT.: He was hysterical. Blurting out things like, why did you have to have the surgery? Why are you on so many medications? Why God?

MARQUEZ: Prosecutors contend the drama was an act and that it was MacNeill pressuring his wife to get a face lift and using a deadly combination of prescription drugs post surgery to kill her.

MARK SANDERSON, PLEASANT GROVE FIRE CHIEF: He made a comment she had overdosed on her pain medication and also a comment about slipping in the tub and hitting her head. He also indicated that he was only gone for a short period of time.

MARQUEZ: MacNeill's alibi, he was at work when his wife fell in the tub.

Prosecutors say they have evidence to the contrary.


MARQUEZ: Now, the level of sadness in this family seems to know no end. They have a son, Damian, who killed himself in 2010. Also expected to testify, perhaps this week is a woman named Gypsy Willis. She's the alleged mistress of MacNeill. She's also the alleged motivation for the murder.

Chris, Kate, back to you.

CUOMO: I'll tell you, Miguel, not an easy one to report on. So many different layers of pain as you were saying. It's going to be difficult to unravel in court. That's why we're going to be covering it so carefully.

Thank you for the reporting this morning. We'll get back to you soon.

Let's take a break right now, though. Coming up, Kathleen Sebelius speaking out. New information on the problems with the Web site roll- out. What's being done to fix it and why she isn't resigning? The question is, may she have to leave anyway?

John King will be here for your political gut check.

BOLDUAN: And we've been following the case of a little girl found in a rolling camp in Greece. Well, there are suspicions as another little girl was found in Dublin. We're going to have the latest on these mysteries, ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, October 23rd.

Time now for our political gut check of the morning. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is in the hot seat over the rocky roll-out of Obamacare. So what did she -- what does she need to go next?

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

Good morning, John.

So, she spoke exclusively to Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay asked all of the right questions. She was evasive on some points but many people really wanted to hear what the secretary had to say following this fiasco.

Do you think that she made the case to stem the tide of criticism coming at her?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was critically important she did finally speak. And, you're right. Sanjay did ask the right questions.

A lot of people said the secretary was hiding. A lot of people said the secretary was hiding. There were very legitimate questions about this. Obviously, the Congress wants to grill her as well, Kate. Did she stem the tide? No. Absolutely not. There's probably nothing she could have said to stem this time.

But there are a couple things she said that are likely to actually increase some of the scrutiny. One of them being that the agency, HHS, had a pretty good sense that there were problems with the Web site. They had been warned that maybe it couldn't handle the capacity. There were other questions about the architecture of it as they tested it just before the enrollment period begun.

But she said this was not passed on to the president and he didn't know until a couple days after when Americans trying to sign up, when we all learned that there were problems with it.