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Senate Blocks Jobless Aid; State Of The Scandal; Springsteen And Fallon Take On Christie; U.S. Man Jailed Overseas Now Free; Jennifer Lawrence Gown Goes Viral

Aired January 15, 2014 - 07:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Time now for our political gut check of the morning, a proposal in the Senate to revive long term unemployment benefits failed in two tests votes Tuesday leaving more than 1.3 million people without unemployment aid. So is all hope lost for those waiting for those benefits?

Joining us now to talk about it, CNN's chief national correspondent, John King. Hi, there, John. We were talking to Dana about it earlier in the show. There were breakthroughs. There were bipartisan negotiations and then setbacks and now Congress is about to leave town. Is all hope lost on this?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All hope lost, no, but is hope lost for a while, yes, and the trust gap is getting wider on this. Yes, Kate, there were a lot of talks, but they never got really, really close, and now 1.3 million people will wait in the lurch trying to find out if the Congress will come together on this.

Remember, the action has only been in the Senate so far. They danced around the deal, but they didn't have it and in two votes yesterday, it became clear they didn't have it. They would not have a bipartisan agreement. Now the Senate is going home. Remember even though some senators say we're going to keep at this and the big issue is trying to find a way to pay for the extended unemployment benefits.

Even if they come up with a deal, one of the reasons it collapsed in the Senate is because they weren't going to get anywhere near something that would then be accepted by the more conservative House. So if you're one of those 1.3 million people out there looking, asking, will my benefits be extended? You're going to wait a while. At least a week before the Senate picks it up again and there's no resolution on the House side.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: J.K., let's talk Chris Christie, when you have one of these things that's so politically motivated right, from the outside. It's actually not a bad time to look at the polls. You know, I mean, sometimes you get the message. Let me give you these numbers. You tell me which one of these you think needs the most, OK.

Quinnipiac University did a poll, do you see him as a bully or a leader? OK. Interestingly, from July to now, fewer people see them as a bully now. OK, the second factor, approve or disapprove of his job. He's lost 13 points in that area since July. OK, and in the last one is did he order the traffic jam. No, 66 percent, which one do you think means the most?

KING: Well, it's hard to say because we don't know where the investigation is going. What it shows you there is that people are concerned about this and they don't like what happened. That's why his job approval rating is down, but for now, Chris, they're accepting his firm denial that he had nothing to do with it.

So when two-thirds say, he had nothing to do with it, that -- and they see him saying, we're going to hold people accountable. I'm responsible ultimately. I'm the governor. I think he is getting points for leadership at the moment, for how he has handled it in the last 10 days or so he is getting leadership points.

The question is, this new committee will meet tomorrow for the first time in the Jersey Assembly. It's going to subpoena at least a half dozen members of Christie's inner circle and other top advisors at the Port Authority. Where the investigation goes will now determine where Christie goes.

He's handled it well publicly so far. The big news conference last week, the "State of the State" address yesterday, but you never know where these investigations are going to go, number one. You also don't know where he is agenda is going to go. If we were talking in the weeks after that landslide election victory, you would have said the Democrats have to cooperate with a guy who just won so big.

Now it's an open question about that. Democrats much more willing to challenge Christie and his agenda so it's going to be harder to get what he wants through the legislature even as these investigations take several months probably.

BOLDUAN: It's a good point. All right, John, thank you so much.

CUOMO: You know, politics often falls under the heading, if you don't laugh, you'll cry. Boy, Chris Christie is fitting right into that right now. Let's look at the lighter side of all this, the bridge- gate scandal. It got a comedic work up courtesy of Jimmy Fallon and Bruce Springsteen. And the results were nothing short of hilarious if only to see who sounds like more Bruce. Take a watch.


BOLDUAN: I mean -- I mean, Jimmy Fallon sounds more like Bruce than Bruce sounds like Bruce.


CUOMO: That was awesome, just comedically and probably meaningful.

BERMAN: I think it's the most important thing that happened to Chris Christie that week. When you are the butt of a joke like that, that prominently it sticks.

BOLDUAN: We'll remember that tape, that's for sure. CUOMO: A big boost for Fallon as well. What a talented guy.

BOLDUAN: All right, we're going to take a break here on NEW DAY. Coming up next, an exclusive, American Shezanne Cassim jailed in the United Arab Emirates for nine months after posting a parody video online, well, now he is free and he is here with us on NEW DAY.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We have a NEW DAY exclusive for you this morning. Shezanne Cassim is finally back home after spending nine months in prison in the United Arab Emirates. He was arrested for posting a satirical video online, simply that. He was freed just last week returning to his family in Minnesota.

In just a minute, we're going to talk to Shez about his incredible ordeal, but first, here's a look at his story.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Shezanne Cassim has a new appreciation for freedom after spending nine months behind bars in a UAE prison. The 29-year-old from Minnesota had been working as a business consultant in Dubai before he and four friends were arrested last April for this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The home of the deadly --

BOLDUAN: A satirical video about want to be gangsters trained in a made up combat school in suburban Dubai. The beginning of the video clearly states it's fiction. Without warning, Cassim says he was interrogated and arrested then transferred to a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi.

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates claimed the video violated newly enacted cybercrime laws and posed a threat to national security. For five months, Cassim says he wasn't even told why he was in jail. But back home, his family never stopped fighting for his release.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call for his human rights to be recognized and that he be released.

BOLDUAN: They appealed to lawmakers and organized a campaign that sparked a wave of support across the country. Comedians even took up his cause.

WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN: We are submitting this in support of Shez.

BOLDUAN: Just last month, Cassim and two of his friends were sentenced to one year in prison for defaming the UAE's image.

SHERVON CASSIM, BROTHER OF SHEZANNE CASSIM: A young man that makes a stupid comedy video gets thrown in jail for eight months. Surely it shouldn't have gotten to this point.

BOLDUAN: He was released early for time served and good behaviour. Cassim arrived in Minneapolis Thursday ready to start living his life once again.


BOLDUAN: And finally getting some much need rest I'm sure. Shezanne Cassim is joining us now exclusively. You are (inaudible) I'm sure your family has said that too many times.

SHEZANNE CASSIM, IMPRISONED IN UAE FOR NINE MONTHS: It's great to be back. Thank you guys for having me here.

BOLDUAN: Of course, how are you?

CASSIM: Good. Over overall, pretty good, I guess, now that I'm out and see what's been happening, I'm just amazed. At the same time I'm sad to see what my family went through.

BOLDUAN: There was very limited communication when you were in prison. Were you aware at all of what happened, the campaign, the celebrities, the support for you that was going on outside?

CASSIM: I knew that my family had gone to the media, but I wasn't really sure how widespread it was. Now that I'm out and I see the funny or die video -- it's unreal how big it is.

BOLDUAN: You never thought obviously this would happen to you. What was that? Can you describe what that first day, what that first night home was like to be with your family back on U.S. soil?

CASSIM: It was just great to -- to see my family relieved. So the fist first thing, went home and just talked. Didn't do anything special, but that was what was special about it. Nice to sleep on a real bed, just enjoyed the basic comforts that we all take for granted.

BOLDUAN: Do you feel back to normal yet?

CASSIM: I think somewhat, mentally somewhat. It's like my whole life was up ended so I don't really have a routine anymore. I'm trying to figure out what to do now in the next few months so still processing a lot of information.

BOLDUAN: And probably not sure what normal is for you right now and going forward. Let's talk about your time in prison. It was almost nine months. What was it like to sit in a foreign prison for not days, not weeks, but months?

CASSIM: The hardest part was just not knowing. We didn't know what our crime was, how long we were going to be in there for. So when you are in a position like that, you don't really know how to deal with it. So you have to take things day by day. There were so few facilities at the prison so we had to rely on each other for support. In the end it made us stronger.

BOLDUAN: How did you fill the day? Was there anything that you did, any routine you tried to keep in order to make it through and just not completely lose hope? CASSIM: No, we didn't -- we just -- we had our usual meal times. Couple times a day, they would let us out into the yard just to walk around. Apart from that, luckily for us, I was in a cell with my friend. So we were able to keep each other entertained, keep our spirits up and stay sharp.

BOLDUAN: How were you treated in prison?

CASSIM: I was treated OK, but really I prefer not to talk about those experiences at this point. I'm just really glad to be back here and I would like to use this opportunity to really thank everyone who helped me. I'm not sure if they realize the impact that they had just by a little tweet or re-tweet or comment or alike. It made such a huge difference. If the media had not picked this up and if people had not responded the way they did, I would still be there.

BOLDUAN: I think anyone can understand an amount of hesitation to talk about your story after it was your belief in free speech that got you in this position when you were in Abu Dhabi. What is -- are you scared still? What's behind the hesitation? Can you describe that for me?

CASSIM: There's a lot of information. I just need to process it a bit more before I can give a really coherent explanation.

BOLDUAN: When you were behind bars, were you scared? Is it safe to say?

CASSIM: I was too numb to be scared. But really when I found out that the media had picked up my story, especially when I heard about the funny or die video, I suddenly felt safe and protected in a way. The fear eventually dissipated and gave light to more hopeful feelings.

BOLDUAN: Helped you hold on a little bit more.


BOLDUAN: Let's talk about that video. Let's talk about what started this whole thing. Why did you make the video? Why did you post the video?

CASSIM: See, I'm not new to Dubai. I grew up in Dubai. I know the city very well. I know what you can and can do. It's a very multi- cultural place. It's that mix of cultures mix and a very charming place to live. There are a lot of funny things that happen that only people living in Dubai would know about. In Dubai, we import everything. So much funny stuff happening in Dubai, why don't we do our own entertainment? It's full of inside jokes. That's the thing.

BOLDUAN: I read that often when people watched it here. I don't get it is what I heard. I'm not offended by it. I don't get it.

CASSIM: Only people in Dubai would really understand the inside jokes. But anybody outside of it would at least understand the intent is humorous. So really, we made the video to kind of celebrate the culture, the diversity in the UAE and I was trying to show how much I love the city. But I -- I guess celebrating the funny stuff that happens there.

BOLDUAN: And then you're arrested and interrogated and put behind bars. Did you ever think in the making of the video or when you posted it online that you were breaking a law?

CASSIM: Especially because this is not the first video of its kind and the feedback that we got was tremendous. There were people that wanted to work with us. Some people were sending messages. We met random people I saw your video, it was great.

BOLDUAN: I'm sure you explained that when you were arrested and throughout the process. What was the response, then, when you tried to explain yourself?

CASSIM: They weren't really interested in -- in what we had to say. Again, I have more information on that, but I'd like to hold off before I can kind of put my thoughts together and express it in a proper way.

BOLDUAN: And no on one thing that struck me is I heard you say that you found out maybe your fourth court appearance that the judge had not even seen the video. What went through your mind when you found that out?

CASSIM: Well, by that time, we were kind of used to how the court works. So we weren't too shocked. But again, that's something I would like to discuss at a later date just because there's so much to tell, but I would need more time to put it -- put it across better.

BOLDUAN: A lot to process.


BOLDUAN: I'm sure one of the things that you have thought about a lot is would you ever go back? Is that a consideration in your mind?

CASSIM: I'm still thinking about that. I can't say I would -- I can say I would like the place to improve. I believe it can be better. But that's all I'm prepared to say at this point.

BOLDUAN: I think it's definitely premature to make that determination now. Stick with me. A lot more questions for Shez. Coming up in the next hour, but that's all I'm prepared to say at this point.

Stick with me. A lot more questions for Shez. Coming up in the next hour, you're going to hear from without Shez's family. Shez will be joining us again. They fought tirelessly to get him released. They were on NEW DAY pleading their case. They are going to talk about where they go from here and what Shezanne Cassim has learned from this entire experience. We'll have that in the next hour -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Kate, coming up on NEW DAY, a controversy of an entire different type. Mocking the frock. Hollywood's it girl, Jennifer Lawrence getting dressed down for the dress she wore at the Golden Globes. We'll give you a unique take on this that you'll only see on NEW DAY.


CUOMO: I don't want to talk to either of you. Welcome back to NEW DAY. You saw the dress, white Dior gown, Hollywood sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence wore at the Golden Globes raised a lot of eyebrows, launched an avalanche of imitations online. It's now called lawrencing and even animals are getting in on the act. Jeanne Moos has more.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No matter how great they say you look. No matter how amazing. Jennifer Lawrence learned the hard way that the fashion police are out to get you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a catastrophe.

MOOS: They had the nerve to compare her Dior gown to the little mermaid's outfit. There were some sensational imitations tweeted out by actor, Colton Haynes, for instance. Dressed up in comforters and sheets, it became known as lawrencing. This Denver TV anchor tweeted out who wore it better, Jennifer Lawrence or my floor director, Aaron.

Lawrencing was an instant hit was so easy any idiot can do it using materials that anyone has at home. We topped of our cabbage patch look alike. There's LV, the dog combination pug in beagle. Magic made out of a pillow case and two neck ties. When Elly Roundtree and friends saw Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet they decided to transform LV.

(on camera): The outfit stayed on for about 5 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not even. 30 seconds. We nailed it there with LV's coy look at the camera.

MOOS (voice-over): Most said they love her. As one fan put it, she could wear a about your lap sack and it changes nothing. The haters are just jealous. The much maligned gown was front and center on Dior's web site.

(on camera): The dress is available by special order, but since its custom made she couldn't specify a price.

(voice-over): Attention is priceless, so a tequila company dressed up a bottle. The Fine Betting Company encouraged customers to don a duvet. Even Godzilla addressed the dress issue. It started out on the red carpet and ended up being copied by a copycat. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CUOMO: What do you think?

BOLDUAN: I think it's a non-controversy. I don't know why they pick on her and make fun of her. BERMAN: I think it shows a lack of creativity. Anyone who would do that is not creative.

CUOMO: Jumping on it like we want to be a part of this because it's popular.

BOLDUAN: We have to do it now too. We don't do non-controversies here at NEW DAY. We refuse.

CUOMO: This is about news. I don't really see the news value in Lawrence.

BERMAN: Take the high road.

BOLDUAN: That dress might not look good on everybody. So maybe some people shouldn't ever wear it.

CUOMO: We should spend our time talking about things that matter like taxes. Not this lawrencing.

BOLDUAN: And partisanship. Anyway we'll take a break now.

CUOMO: We'll thank Phil the best man on the show this morning for taking one for the team.

BOLDUAN: Who can rock a skirt and then he crossed the line. That's why I asked for anyone other than Phil.

CUOMO: Italian, though. So he gets a pass.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, police descend on Justin Bieber's estate over egg throwing. Talk of possible felony charges and now drugs are seized from the home. Is Bieber's bad boy behavior caught up to him or is he being treated unfairly? We'll talk about that ahead.