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White House Reviewing NSA Procedures; Obamacare Blame Game Continues; Nevada Shooting Survivor Speaks; Retrial For Kennedy Cousin; Interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Aired October 25, 2013 - 08:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A daughter's anguish, testifying against her own father. The dramatic moments inside the Utah courtroom as she accused her daughter father of killing her mother.

Your NEW DAY continues right now.


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

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Friday, October 25th, 8:00 in the East.

New this hour, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be joining us live. His cousin, Michael Skakel, gets a new trial in the murder case against him. We're going to ask Kennedy who he thinks really killed Martha Moxley and what he thinks of this truly shocking development.

CUOMO: We've had a lot of provocative topics on this show this morning. Here's another one, a bombshell from Brett Favre. You know him, the NFL legend, the quarterback. He says he believes he's been badly damaged by two decades of football, he doesn't remember things the same way at only 44 years of age. Rachel Nichols will be here with the shocking revelation.

But, first the big chill, America's closest European allies are furious this morning. Why? German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling her trust in the Obama administration after hearing reports the NSA tapped her personal phone.

The White House left on the defensive publishing an op-ed in "USA Today" and promising a full review. But that is not merely enough for some of our European allies.

Let's bring in Jim Acosta, live at the White House.

Jim, what's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris these are just the most recent embarrassing allegations about this kind of spying on foreign leaders. Mexico and Brazil, they've raised similar concerns in recent months and White House officials are not admitting the U.S. is spying on world leaders but they are saying the president is ordering a review of U.S. surveillance policies.


ACOSTA (voice-over): This morning, at a meeting of European leaders, they all emerged unanimous, saying that reports of U.S. spying on their leaders jeopardizes U.S.-Europe relations and even the fight against terrorism.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spoke with President Obama on Wednesday after reports that her personal cellphone was tapped, joined her French counterpart to call for talks with the U.S. to renegotiate their country's intelligence sharing protocols.

It's just the latest in a string of embarrassing revelations that started with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

This morning, the White House is calling for a review of its surveillance programs. White house homeland security official Lisa Monaco writing an op-ed in "USA Today" saying, quote, "That's why the president has directed us to review our surveillance capabilities, including with respect to our foreign partners. We want to ensure we are collecting information because we need it and not just because we can."

And she admits bluntly, "These disclosures have created significant challenges in our relationships with some of our closest foreign partners."

Merkel told reporters Thursday that trust between the U.S. and Germany needs to be rebuilt. In fact, "The Washington Post" reports this morning that the U.S. is quietly telling many foreign intelligence services that Snowden may hold details about their secret cooperation with the U.S. And "The Guardian" newspaper, which broke the Snowden story, reports that 35 world leaders may have had their conversations monitored by the U.S., each new revelation straining U.S. ties further.

France's president, Francois Hollande, said this morning: "A rule of good conduct is that you don't bug the portable phones of people you meet regularly at international summits."


ACOSTA: Now, we should also report that the head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, gave an interview to a Defense Department blog in which he said that the U.S. has to find a way to stop the news media from reporting these allegations, that obviously raises First Amendment issues. But Alexander goes on to make the point if they stop doing surveillance in the United States and around the world that that ignores the lessons of September 11th -- Kate.

CUOMO: All right, Jim, thanks so much for that.

Candy Crowley is CNN's chief political correspondent and host of "STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY", of course airing this Sunday and every Sunday and she is joining us to talk more about this all of these issues.

Good morning, Candy.


BOLDUAN: When you look -- Jim really lays it out really well, the top adviser to President Obama putting out this op-ed, but these kind of slow trickle of intelligence leaks they're dealing with, often they then go to the point having to put out an op-ed it's because they've lost control of the message and feel they need to regain it.

What do you think is going on behind the scenes here?

CROWLEY: Well, they're trying to find some way for these -- it's just been this steady drip ever since Edward Snowden sort of burst onto the scene with those first articles based on his information. It has been constant.

I think the White House is lucky in this way. It still maintains an enormous amount of support on Capitol Hill. There was that brief flurry of, oh, I can't believe they're collecting phone information from every American, we've got to look into this, there are some hearings but nothing really happened because by and large, lawmakers don't want to be the person responsible for saying you cannot go out and seek this kind of information, only to find after the fact that that piece of information might have helped.

So, they are lucky in their relationships with Congress, because it's not something that they're being beaten about the head about, but these relationships with foreign governments can be tricky because he does need to deal, the president does need to deal with them and without trust it's a little hard even with your allies.

BOLDUAN: When you talk about kind of maybe the cover that Congress offers the president on these issues you're absolutely right because Senator Marco Rubio on earlier in the show alluded to as much. He wasn't going to go there to criticize the president on that specific issue, while on many other issues of course.

I also asked Marco Rubio about the government shutdown and kind of lessons learned and I was wondering if he stands now Mitch McConnell, when Mitch McConnell said that there will be no more government shutdowns, it was a faulty strategy and they're moving on from there. He wouldn't go there. He wouldn't say yes that the government shutdown was a bad idea in terms of how it was handled on the part of Republicans.

Do you think that spells trouble when these issues come back up once again?

CROWLEY: Right now, I'd sort of look at it rhetorically and politically as opposed to what's going to happen because the wind beneath Marco Rubio's wings has always been the conservative wing in and particular the Tea Party. He's usually been pretty good about not being a Tea Party candidate. Nonetheless he had huge Tea Party support when he won re-election. So you don't want to rule that out. If that is where your support comes from, and particularly if Marco Rubio's looking at 2016 for a possible presidential run, you want to keep that faction of the party fairly happy and to rule out what I must say to you Tea Party folks and conservatives think was a successful government shutdown. You don't want to roll that out. So, I wouldn't say that it means that he was supported or even thinks it's a good idea -- simply that that's not a part of the party at this point that he's going to rule anything out for or Monday behalf of.

BOLDUAN: That's a great point. I want to get your take on the continued mess with the roll-out of Obamacare. Those hearings yesterday a bad day for the administration, Secretary Sebelius has a big challenge ahead of her when she'll be testifying next week and growing calls even from the Democratic side for some delays, some changes and to allow consumers more time to look at their options and more time for the administration to get its act together in terms of this Web site.

Do you think there is a tipping point that they could be reaching in terms of even if they don't want to delay anything, and they're not approaching it, that they have to, that they're just up against it?

CROWLEY: My guess is first they'll figure out another way to say delay, just because that in itself sort of connotes defeat, that the administration doesn't want to have on a policy they still believe in. We're talking about the roll-out, the sign-up. We haven't even gotten to the, how's it going to work when it becomes reality. We're talking process here.

And so they don't want this sort of bad taste to be left with everybody, and so they don't want to concede okay, this is really a mess. President said hey this is not how I saw it. There have been some problems here. We're going to fix it.

So I do think that there will be probably at some point the longer we go on, the higher the chances that there will be some sort of, OK, if you are covered by this date and sort of move that ahead, then there will be no penalty.

So, we'll see. I mean the longer this goes on and as far as we can tell from talking to people who understand 5 trillion lines of instructions for the computer that this might take a while to fix, in that case I think there's a fairly good chance that penalty at least will be dropped for some time.

BOLDUAN: Yes, one thing is for sure, we're all getting a crash course in IT we never thought we would need but we're learning quickly.

Great to see you, Candy. Thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And a reminder to all of our viewers, of course, tune in Sunday for Candy, and she will be hosting of course "STATE OF THE UNION", 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Let's get over to John Berman in for Michaela with the morning's headlines.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Kate.

An investigation under way this morning in North Carolina after five people were injured on a carnival ride at the state fair there. The accident happening as people were getting off the Vortex, which is a kind of pendulum swing ride. The ride then apparently started up again, two of the people hurt are said to have serious injuries.

We're hearing this morning from one of the students wounded at a Nevada middle school. Twelve-year-old Mason was shot in the stomach by a classmate, is he speaking exclusively with CNN's Stephanie Elam. He had an emotional message about guns.


MASON, NEVADA SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: When I got shot, I learned that they're not just a toy. They're a weapon, and they could damage somebody very bad. So I want everybody in the world to know that war and battles and anything dealing with weapons and guns and knives, they're all weapons, and they could kill you.


BERMAN: A second student was also wounded and a beloved math teacher was killed before the shooter turned his gun on himself.

Iran may be capable of producing the amount of weapons grade uranium needed to build a nuclear bomb within a month. That's according to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security. The finding disputes the White House position that the uranium enrichment would take at least a year.

And the Lady Zebras making NCAA history for the first time ever, there was a majority female officiating crew for a college football game. They called the game last night between Miles College and Lane College, two Alabama schools competing in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The conference commissioner says more important the fact the revs are women are the fact they are really, really good. Here, here.

CUOMO: Perfect. Perfectly put. Love to see it.

JB, thank you very much.

Let's get over to Indra Petersons for a check of the weather.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we're definitely talking about this huge pattern change from last week where temperatures were a lot of milder than they are this week, thanks to the jet stream, really dipping down even further today, so we're definitely looking at the cool air spreading farther down to the Southeast.

Temperature-wise, we're talking about many of you 10, even 15 degrees below normal, so easy to see when you look at the current temperatures where all the blue is, where all of the cool air is this morning. In fact, you can see that making its way into the Southeast with 30s. Kansas City is waking up in the 20s, 29 degrees.

The other story is another tiny little system that will make its way over the Great Lakes and into the northeast on Saturday, so a few more light showers can be out there, it's not going to be a big story, the bigger thing will be that cold air will be reinforced or sticking around for the weekend. Also, maybe some showers right around Texas looks like today and in through tomorrow, about an inch will be the story.

Other thing, we're looking at winds are gusting out there so it may feel cooler than it is. We're going to see temperatures in the northeast in the 50s but it feel like in many places in the 40s and of course the freeze warnings this morning. It will rebound in the Southeast by the end of the weekend. Northeast stays mild through the weekend. We're used to it, right?

BOLDUAN: Just make it through the weekend. You turned the corner so quickly.

PETERSONS: Yes, that much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Indra.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up on NEW DAY: we have Bobby Kennedy Jr. on the show. He's talking about his cousin Michael Skakel. He says Michael was in jail -- didn't get out of jail because he was Kennedy, he was in jail because he's a Kennedy. He also has theories about who killed Martha Moxley that you probably have not heard before. We'll talk to him, right after the break.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. A judge has ordered a new trial of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley. And so, Michael Skakel will probably not be in a Connecticut jail much longer.

Our next guest, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has been an outspoken defender of his cousin since Skakel's conviction in 2002. He has argued Skakel that was unfairly targeted because of the Kennedy connection and has his own theories about who really killed Moxley. Robert joins us now from Los Angeles, if I may call you Bobby, I have just about my whole life. So, Bobby, thank you for joining us this morning.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR., COUSIN OF MICHAEL SKAKEL: Thank you for having me, Chris.

CUOMO: Let's deal with this first allegation which is that this new trial is perceived by some as a function of Michael Skakel's connections. You see it the opposite way, why?

KENNEDY: Well, you know, I don't think that that's a credible argument. The judge wrote a 136-page opinion that is extraordinarily detailed about the failures of Michael's counsel. Michael was 11 miles away with five eyewitnesses at the time that the murder occurred. Unfortunately, his counsel, Mickey Sherman, failed to call those witnesses. The major testimony against him came from two witnesses who said that they in, one way or the other, that Michael had confessed to them, but there were many rebuttal witnesses who were there at the time and said that the confession never took place, and that Michael never did that, but those witnesses again were not called by Mickey.

I think there was a, at that time, there was a press pack mentality, a press scrum that was led by Dominick Dunne and by Mark Fuhrman which said that -- which had this narrative that said, OK, here's -- there was a Kennedy that got away with murder. And the problem with the story was that neither Tommy Skakel nor Michael Skakel, they kept going back and forth between.

Neither of them are Kennedys. Second of all, neither of them committed murder. Nobody knows who murdered Martha Moxley, but there were -- and one of the things I pointed out in my "Atlantic Monthly" piece which came out right after the trial was that there were many, many other suspects that had lots better evidence against them than the evidence against Michael.

Unfortunately again, Mickey Sherman didn't bring that up during trial and that's one of the things that the judge, Judge Bishop faulted him for.

CUOMO: What do you make of the judge's assertions in his decision that your other cousin, that Tommy Skakel, was someone who should have been looked at much more seriously for the commission of this crime? Do you agree? You obviously don't agree, but why not?

KENNEDY: Well, no, no, I agree with the judge that the -- Tommy Skakel didn't commit this murder. Tommy Skakel was in a position of opportunity much more than Michael. Michael had an air tight alibi and Tommy was the suspect, was one of the suspects for many, many years.

So, what the judge was saying is that the attorney for Michael had a duty to produce Tommy and produce the evidence against him just to raise the prospect of reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.

He wasn't saying that Tommy committed the crime, he was just saying that Mickey Sherman had an obligation to bring in these other suspects and show the jury that there was reasonable doubt as to whether or not Michael committed the crime, but the judge was not suggesting that Tommy committed the crime.

CUOMO: You used a lot of strong language, though. But let me ask you, Bobby, in your article in the "Atlantic Monthly," you talked about the tutor involved and how you felt that that was someone who should have light shown on them, but you have an alternate theory that you've talked about, but not much on TV.

KENNEDY: And Kenny Littleton was the --

CUOMO: The tutor.

KENNEDY: -- tutor and again I say in that article, and I don't know that Kenny Littleton had anything to do with this. I just know that the evidence against him was stronger than the evidence against Michael, but after the article, Chris, after the article -- after "The Atlantic" published that article, I got contacted by a CBS News producer who had gone to school, the same private school in Greenwich as Michael Skakel and he had not been a friend of Michael's.

He said to me, "You have to talk to Tony Bryant," who is a Florida businessman, and he said, "and Tony Bryant was an African-American who had gone to the same school at the same time." In fact, he had been the first African-American to integrate that particular school in Greenwich. He had lived with a teacher because he was from New York City, and he had not liked the situation.

He had moved back to New York City and gone to public school, and when he went to public school, he had gotten involved with a couple of kids who were gangster types and their names were Adolph and Burr and they were -- he brought them to Greenwich on numerous occasions to see his old friends in Greenwich and to attend mixers.

He brought them up on that night, which was called mischief night. It's the night before Halloween, and one of those boys who was an African-American and who was 6'2", weighed 250 pounds and the person who murdered Martha Moxley was a very, very big man, and he -- that boy had a crush on Martha Moxley that he had developed in the earlier visits to Greenwich, and that night, according to Tony Bryant, those two gentlemen found a golf club in the backyard of the Skakel's house, and they said to Tony Bryant, "We're going to go get Martha Moxley and we're going to take her caveman style."

In other words, we're going to hit her over the head and drag her into the bushes. Tony Bryant, at that point, said "I don't want anything to do with this," and he got on a train home. The next day, the boys came to him and said, "we killed her." They then repeated on dozens of occasions over the next few years that they had, in fact, killed Martha Moxley.

When Tony Bryant -- when I called Tony Bryant, he said to me, "I've been waiting for this phone call for 27 years," and he said, "I wish I had gone to and produced myself as a witness at the Michael Skakel trial, but I just never believed that Michael Skakel would ever be convicted and Tony Bryant's father --


CUOMO: Let me stop you for a second, because it seemed so obvious -- it seemed so clear that you were so easily able to find this out. Did police ever look at it when you gave the information over? Has anyone else looked at it? The judge wasn't as convinced by this scenario, but why hasn't it been investigated if it's so obvious?

KENNEDY: Well, the only judge whoever looked at this was the judge in the appeals hearings. So, he never had a trial judge, Chris, actually look at this.

CUOMO: Right. KENNEDY: There was no testimony given by Tony Bryant or by either Adolph or Burr who I tracked down very easily and I talked to them. And they both admitted to me that they had been there on the night of the killing. They knew Martha Moxley. They stayed that night at a home of a young boy called Geoffrey Byrne who Tony Bryant says was with them when the murder was committed and who himself is a very tragic figure who committed suicide a couple of years later.

So, the two remaining gentlemen, I've Spoke to them both, one of them lives in Portland, Oregon, the other lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and both of them acknowledged to me that they had been in Greenwich that night, that they had stayed at the home of Geoffrey Byrne, and they told me details about that home that nobody could have known of. Of course, you know, these were admissions against interest for starters.

CUOMO: But they both say that they didn't kill Martha Moxley, right?

KENNEDY: Yes, and they both say that they didn't kill Martha Moxley. But again, you know, in answer to your original question, no judge has ever -- there has been no police evidence. The only police evidence, in fact, was that when Martha Moxley's body was found, that there were African-American hairs on her body which nobody was ever able to explain, and you know, one of these boys is African-American.

CUOMO: So, how do you make sense of this then, that something that was so apparent to you, that you were able to get a tip from a CBS News producer and pretty much piece together this theory yourself, has not reached the eyes of investigators, if there were really anything to it? Obviously, the two men deny it but other than that?

KENNEDY: Well, the CBS producer had actually approached the police officer who is in charge of this -- who made the very, very dogged investigation and corrupt investigation of Michael Skakel over the years, who was determined to put, you know, it was -- he was determined to put Michael Skakel or originally Tommy Skakel but then later Michael Skakel in prison, one of the Skakels, he wanted a Skakel in prison.

The CBS producer approached him, Frank Garr, the police officer. Frank Garr refused to talk to him and the CBS producer says that he also approached Mickey Sherman, but that Mickey Sherman never followed up on it. So, I followed up on it and Michael's attorneys have since followed up on it.

And I think that this is the kind of evidence that if Michael Skakel is tried again, that this evidence will come to light because he now has competent counsel and that maybe it's a possibility that Martha Moxley's murder will finally be solved.

CUOMO: And you think that anything that's developed will be more impressive than what was convincing to the jury when your cousin was first tried?

KENNEDY: Well, it was convincing to the jury because they didn't hear the exculpatory evidence that was available to Mickey Sherman. You know, Michael, as I said, was 11 miles away with five eyewitnesses. Four of those eyewitnesses were family members, so you can discount their credibility, but one of them had no relationship with Michael and he's today a psychiatrist.

He distinctly remembers Michael being there, but he was never -- Mickey Sherman knew of his existence but never bothered contacting him, and then, the family members who were contacted were never prepped for their testimony. So, they were never given the statements that they had made at that time about where they were that night and what they were doing that night.

So, for 27 years, they hadn't thought about this, and it's not like they were thinking the whole time, oh, well, Michael Skakel is a suspect. You know, what really happened? Because Michael Skakel had never been a suspect in this case.

So, what they had been doing that night, they had been far away from where the murder was and it was a tragedy, and a curiosity for them, but it wasn't something where they were thinking, you know -- it wasn't something that they were preoccupied with for 27 years. So, the job of an attorney, particularly, a criminal defense attorney is to find, to locate all of those police reports which Mickey had that were given at the time and the depositions that were made at the time and provide them to the witnesses.


KENNEDY: What happened was -- and he didn't do it and the family members who finally came on the stand were completely unprepared for their testimony, and they would be asked by Mickey or by the prosecutor what happened that night, and one after the other they said I really don't remember.

CUOMO: Right.

KENNEDY: Because it was 27 years ago.

CUOMO: Right.

KENNEDY: And the jury looking at that could easily say, well, look, his family member won't even defend him.

CUOMO: Right.

KENNEDY: So, he must be guilty.

CUOMO: Bobby, this is a lot of intriguing and provocative stuff you brought to us today. I appreciate you taking the time to do it, and obviously, we're all going to follow this story to its conclusion. But thank you for taking the opportunity to share your thoughts on it this morning.

KENNEDY: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Kate, over to you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, two American citizens abducted at sea. Nigerian officials say the kidnappers were pirates. The question this morning, can they be caught and will the Americans be brought home safe?