Return to Transcripts main page


Invasion of Privacy; California Drought Seen; Christie in Florida

Aired January 18, 2014 - 09:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for starting your morning for us.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We have got so much more ahead for you on the next hour of NEW DAY SATURDAY which starts right now.

All right. No devil babies here.

BLACKWELL: No devil babies.

PAUL: We're done. We've only got good stuff for you, we hope.

And we're wishing you a good morning on this Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

9:00 here on the East Coast. West Coast, good to have you with us. 6:00 a.m. out there.

PAUL: How early.


We are starting with your privacy. And President Obama drawing a new line here for how the federal government handles your phone and your e-mail records.

PAUL: Well, the mandate come from more than six months after Edward Snowden shocked the world, remember, with revelations of just how far U.S. spy controversy reached into your life.

BLACKWELL: Well, now the new rules are reigniting the fierce debate over the right balance between civil liberties and national security. So let's go to our national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty in Washington for us.

Sunlen, this is a conversation that many people are passionate about. What have we learned from the president?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Christi, these proposals are intended to bring more comfort to those who are worried about potential privacy abuses. And while there will be additional safeguards, the bulk data collection program isn't ending.


SERFATY (voice-over): The NSA reforms are meant to reassure.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security.

SERFATY: Because there are people who do, the president says the surveillance program needs to stick around.

OBAMA: These efforts have prevented multiple attacks and saved innocent lives.

SERFATY: But to answer those wary of potential privacy abuses, the president proposed changing, but not ending NSA'S controversial bulk collection of phone numbers, times and lengths of calls.

Effective immediately, NSA analysts will now have to get court order approval to tap into the data and he's recommending moving storage of those records out of the government's hands and into a third party's control. Potentially to phone companies.

OBAMA: This will not be simple. More work needs to be done to determine exactly how the system might work.

SERFATY: But he has punted hammering out the details to Congress. Before the government is given permission to look at phone records, he is proposing a new panel of independent advocates to argue against the government. In front of the secret foreign surveillance court. A public voice that could include the ACLU.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A panel of advocates, privacy advocates would ensure that they kick the tires on the issues, to make sure that the government has to explain the reason why it wants the data.

SERFATY: But former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker says too many cooks in the intel kitchen will hurt.

STEWART BAKER, FORMER NSA GENERAL COUNSEL: It is another layer. It will slow things down. In many cases, it won't be needed.

SERFATY: Also scaled back, the president says unless there is a national security reason, the U.S. will no longer eavesdrop on friendly heads of state and world leaders.

OBAMA: Close friends and allies deserve to know that if I want to know what they think about an issue, I'll pick up a phone and call them rather than turning to surveillance.


SERFATY: And critics of the proposal say it was short on specific and leaves too much for details for Congress to work out. Capitol Hill is still very divided over many of these issues. So Christi and Victor, it is not clear when, if at all, these changes will actually be made.

BLACKWELL: All right. National correspondent Sunlen Serfaty in Washington. Thank you.

PAUL: I have to tell you, no one doubted California governor yesterday when he says the state's drought have hit historic levels.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Jerry Brown asked Californians to cut back on their water use in the face of this disaster. The drought has led to wildfires. Look at this. This is the Colby fire, right now just 30 percent contained.

PAUL: It is a threat to the state's huge agriculture industry to which we should point out, they produce nearly half of all U.S. grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. So this is not just California's problem.

BLACKWELL: We could all pay for this. CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is here now. Jennifer, any help coming for the firefighters?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I guess the only sign of relief is that the winds that were so strong over the past couple of days are starting to die out a little bit. So the winds are weakening, which is good news. That is going to help. But this is the pattern that we have been stuck in over the past couple of months. Just this ridge of high pressure, the jet stream, riding far to the north pulling all the rain that San Francisco, Los Angeles and all of those folks should get. It is pushing it into the Pacific northwest. So it is just missing southern and central California.

So unfortunately that area of high pressure has just stayed in place. It has brought the strong Santa Ana winds, very dry conditions. Humidity levels have been in the single digits. Those winds have been spawning all those fires. This is the time of year that California is supposed to get rain. And so if we are not getting the rain now, in the next couple of months when we enter the dry season, it is going to be a very, very bad as far as the fires are concerned.

As you look at the next three months, the forecast, it looks like we are still going to see above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall. So that is very unfortunate for folks in southern California. On the other hand, the East Coast has been very cold and wet. So with that jet stream riding like it is, it is going to leave cold air in place. In fact, winter weather advisories in place for much of the north. Two to four inches of snow possible in portions of Illinois. Guys.

PAUL: All right. Hey, Jennifer, thank you.

GRAY: No problem.

PAUL: You know, we want to let you know that Philadelphia police right now are searching for the suspected gunman in a school shooting. Yesterday, the shooting in Delaware Valley Charter High School left two students injured and it was the second shooting in the U.S. this week alone.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Nick Valencia joins us now. So they're expecting or hoping, at least, that a third suspect will turn himself in? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I just got off the phone with police and I asked them if that person of interest - they're calling him a suspect now. They've issued a warrant for his arrest. He is a juvenile. They wouldn't release his name but they do say that they expect him to show up at the police station later this morning with his attorney.

You mentioned that this is the second shooting in the United States this year alone. This is also the second shooting at or near this school this week.


VALENCIA (voice-over): Police are on the hunt this morning for a young man who pulled a gun in a Philadelphia high school Friday afternoon, shooting two students in the arm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One student is a female. Approximately 15 years of age. The other student is a male student approximately 15 years of age. And as I said, both students are in stable condition.

VALENCIA: The suspect is believed to have been in the gym with seven other students at the Delaware Valley Charter High School. The school was placed on lockdown immediately following the shooting and while one 17-year-old student was initially ID'd as the gunman, he has since been cleared and released. Outside the school Friday, parents were anxiously awaiting word that their kids were OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am just still flabbergasted about how a child or whoever was able to bring a gun to school. I just want to know that. Just tell me. If you can tell me how that happened, I'm good.

VALENCIA: The incident was captured on surveillance video and investigators are reviewing the tape. As of late Friday, police were still looking for the weapon. Now they have one message for the shooter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come turn yourself in. Get it over with now. Come and turn yourself in because we are going to do the processing that we need to, looking at the video. Interviewing witnesses. And we're going to come get you in custody.


VALENCIA: And an update on those two students who were shot. Both suffered non-life threatening injuries. They are expected to survive. Victor, Christi.

PAUL: That's good news.

BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia.

PAUL: Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: The FBI has joined the search in New Jersey for the missing "Wall Street Journal" reporter David Bird now. And Bird's family says the veteran energy reporter left for a quick walk last Saturday, just never came back. Earlier reports claim that Bird's credit card had been used in Mexico but a source close to the investigation tells CNN prosecutors cannot confirm that information.

PAUL: New this morning, American University officials in Afghanistan are mourning the deaths of two employees killed in yesterday's bombing in that Afghan capital of Kabul. The two Americans were among 21 people who died in the attack. The Taliban has claimed responsibility and said it was pay back for a military strike that left several civilians dead.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, Governor Chris Christie is headed for warmer weather, but will he get a chilly reception at some fund- raisers this weekend in Florida?

PAUL: Plus, if a nod to New York City's past, but the days of horse- drawn buggy rides on the park are soon to be another relic of days gone by?



BLACKWELL: Eleven minutes after the hour. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is hoping to put the Bridge-gate scandal in his rear-view mirror today. He's in Florida to help Governor Rick Scott raise money for his re-election campaign.

Now this will be Christie's first political fund-raising trip since this whole New Jersey Bridge scandal broke.

PAUL: Some of Christie's closest advisers are among the 17 people issued subpoenas in the case this week. Officials are expected to come through e-mails, text messages, voice mails, all that may be connected to last September's controversial bridge closing.

BLACKWELL: So what will that reception be like? Joining us to discuss is Fred Malek. He is a former campaign manager and founder of Fair Capital Partners. Good to have you.

You know, where I want to start is with the question, is Chris Christie for the purposes of raising money for himself or others, damaged goods?

FRED MALEK, FAIR CAPITAL PARTNERS FOUNDER: Oh, Victor, not at all. Look, he has been the charismatic leader for the RGA over the past several months. He was a big draw before this happened. He's a big draw this weekend. And he will continue to be a big draw. In fact, a lot of people characterize this trip as a test. Well, if it is a test, he gets an "A" plus. Because the expectations are far exceeded. We have a tremendous turnout for each and every event way beyond expectations and we're really pleased with what he has accomplished.

PAUL: So Fred, we mentioned you are a former campaign manager. Let's just hypothetically say, if you were Christie's campaign manager, how do you proceed at this point? What do you think is most important? MALEK: Well, I think the most important thing for him is to continue to stay on his job of running the state of New Jersey. Yes, you mentioned the hearings that are going to be taking place. We can understand the reason for that. But on the other hand, while that is going on, he's going to be pursuing the same bipartisan legislative agenda, he's always pursued New Jersey, working on behalf of the people of New Jersey getting things done

BLACKWELL: You know, the other thing I want to know is this committee in the New Jersey assembly, from what I understand two years of subpoena power. That takes us right up to 2016. If he decides to get into the race, then you got people testifying, at least in this one investigation, there are others. The question is why will the big money folks get behind Chris Christie knowing that that could go on until 2016, right now.

MALEK: Well, first of all, Victor, that is a great question. Right now, we are not focused on 2016. We are focused on 2014. We have 29 Republican governors. We have 36 races this year. Why people are getting behind the Republican governors is they are getting results. They are decreasing costs. They are balancing budgets. They are creating jobs in their states. They are doing the kind of things we can only dream of doing here in Washington.

That is why people are enthusiastic to back the Republican governors and the Republican Governors Association. This trip that Christie is on now, some are characterizing it as kind of pointing towards '16. I don't think it is. I don't believe he thinks it is. This is all about exposing the Republican Governors Association and getting people focused on these races in 2014 this November.

PAUL: So, Fred, the "Miami Herald" reported that a top Republican lobbyist called Christie "horrific as a person." And apparently, it is not to do with the scandal, the Bridge gate scandal, necessarily but it has something to do with that hug between Christie and Obama during super storm Sandy. Does Christie have bigger problems here?

MALEK: I don't believe he does. Look he is the governor of the state of New Jersey. His job is to protect and help the people of New Jersey. When Sandy happened, it was one of the great tragedies of the last decade. It was his job to get out there and do whatever he could do help the people of New Jersey. By embracing the Obama visit, he not only reinforced the need for federal aid but he expressed his thanks for it and he was doing the right thing for the people of New Jersey. That's his job.

BLACKWELL: If Chris Christie is such a big draw and he is doing A plus already, is Governor Rick Scott going to be with him at these fundraisers? And is there any press available? From what I understand, correct me if I'm wrong, Governor Rick Scott is not going to appear with him. And if they were to appear together these are closed door fundraisers anyway.

MALEK: Well, I think he is appearing. But I can't answer that explicitly. All fund raising events (INAUDIBLE) are generally closed to the press. These are fund raising events. They're not public events. You know, somebody asked me the other day, Victor, whether Christie could be effective, of whether it would be a good idea for him to step aside temporarily as chair of the RGA because of the controversy. You know what? It would be kind of like leaving Tom Brady off the plane going to Denver. That is a non starter. It's not going to happen. He's going to be very effective in Florida.

BLACKWELL: Chris Christie, the Tom Brady of the Republican Governors Association. Fred Malek, good to talk to you.

PAUL: Thank you for being here.

MALEK: Great to talk to you. Thanks for having me.

PAUL: Sure.

And still to come on "New Day," those iconic horse-drawn carriage rides around Central Park could be going away. Who is vowing to put it to an end? Come on.

BLACKWELL: Come on, people!


BLACKWELL: Hey, if you have ever been to Central Park, you know they are iconic. The horses and the horse-drawn carriages.

PAUL: But you know what? Maybe history. If New York City's new mayor, Bill Deblasio, has his way. Oh yes. One of his first moves in office, he plans to outlaw the popular tourist attraction.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Margaret Conley has the latest.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Victor, it's a horse and buggy battle. As it plays out, many tourists are heading to Central Park either to see the horses or go for a one last carriage ride. This is as Mayor Bill Deblasio says it's over.


CONLEY (voice-over): Horse-drawn carriage rides. They're an iconic way for so many visitors to take in New York City's Central Park.

Soon, they may be a thing of the past.

MAYOR BILL DEBLASIO, NEW YORK: Happy new year to all.

CONLEY: Mayor Bill Deblasio has taken the reins at city hall from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He plans to make good on a campaign promise to pull the carriages off the streets.

DEBLASIO: We are going to get rid of the horse carriages. Period. It's over.

CONLEY: The carriage rides have been offered in Central Park for more than 100 years. They have been celebrated on film. Here in "Barefoot in the Park." And on TV, including HBO's hit series "Sex and the City."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I wasn't going to question it. Not even how he found a horse-drawn sleigh in the middle of Manhattan.

CONLEY: They've been at the top of so many tourists must do list.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is part of New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's one of the things you need to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't get rid of the horses. Or we won't come back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many horses have to die?

CONLEY: But animal rights groups have long been calling for a ban on the rides citing accidents like these. They argue the animals are forced to live in conditions they described as inhumane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No matter what they say, the horses are really not kept in good condition.

CONLEY: Mayor Deblasio says he is open to alternatives, including possibly replacing the carriages with antique style electric cars.

But carriage driver Steven Malone says the move to get rid of the horses just won't work and that he and other drivers plan to fight it in court.

STEVEN MALONE, CARRIAGE DRIVER: The horses are the star. It's not the car, it's not the carriage. It's not me. (INAUDIBLE) That's what people come for. You can't create that with an electric car. You'll never create it. Kids can't pet fenders. They pet horses.


CONLEY: The two sides are going back and forth with animal rights groups saying that the horses are not treated well. They should not be in an urban setting. The pollution and the traffic is just bad for them. Meanwhile, the horse drivers they are fighting for their jobs. They're saying that the horses are actually treated very well.

Regardless, Bill Deblasio has hired legal counsel to get this done. Christi, Victor.

PAUL: Margaret Conley, thank you much.

BLACKWELL: This is the hottest ticket in Washington. We're talking about the first lady Michelle Obama's birthday bash tonight at the White House.

PAUL: If you are lucky enough to be on the invite list, leave your camera home, bring your dancing shoes. (INAUDIBLE) we want to see it.

Up next, what to expect at tonight's festivities.


PAUL: Good times for the good stuff here. Part of the show where we feature stories about the good news that is out there and it is there.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this starts off rough, but take a look at this crashed SUV smoking as the fire under the hood starts to grow. This is Mobile, Alabama, at least nearby. You can see the injured driver, slumped there on the road beside the door.

PAUL: Well, a group of good samaritans rushed over to help pull that woman out, carry her to safety. And as they are walking away, that SUV becomes engulfed in flames. Look at this. Bless their hearts. We're told the two people were hurt in the crash, but they did not have life threatening injuries, mostly likely (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: Wow! A very happy birthday for Michelle Obama. She hit 50 yesterday. Tonight, the first family will celebrate with a "Saturday Night Fever" theme bash at the White House.

PAUL: So if you are lucky enough to be on the guest list, you got to have your dancing shoes. Apparently, those are required. CNN's Athena Jones has a look at what's expected for tonight's big party. Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Victor.

A lot of people are wishing they could score an invitation to tonight's celebration. And from what we hear, it's going to be quite a party.


JONES (voice-over): If you are a fan of the first lady, it's the hottest ticket in town. An invitation to a White House dance party Saturday night to celebrate Michelle Obama's 50th birthday.

And if you're picturing something like this.

OBAMA: My better half and my dance partner.

JONES: Instead, think, a little "Saturday Night Fever." After all, while the first lady may be tweeting about joining the AARP, she is known for her dancing prowess. As the party's host, the president has told guests to wear comfortable shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because even with two Ivy League degrees, she's got a really fun loving streak. She loves to dance and she loves music. Why not, you know, you only turn 50 once. So why not make the most of it.

JONES: We have seen some of the first lady's moves before. Here she is doing the dougie on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last year. And showing more moves with talk show host Ellen Degeneres back in 2008.

Saturday's celebration is said to last from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. And it's being dubbed snacks and sips and dancing and desserts. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My guess is it is not a cast of thousands. It might be big but not super big.

JONES: The White House is making a special request that will affect how much guests can share about the event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here is what is interesting about the invite to this late night party for Mrs. Obama. The invitation does say no camera, no photographs. Well, I have covered many receptions at the White House and even big shots like to take pictures.

JONES: The Obama's inauguration after party last year drew the likes of Usher, Katy Perry and Beyonce who is rumored to be performing at Saturday's event.


JONES: One guest who is going to tonight's party says the events are a lot of fun. You feel like you are with family because the Obamas really want their guests to get comfortable and enjoy themselves.

And a "New York Times" report gave us a taste of some what is expected to be on the menu tonight. Macaroons and fine American wines. Christi. Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Athena Jones, we look forward to it. Thank you.

And tonight, for the first time in more than six years, a black female cast member joins the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

PAUL: Oh yes, all eyes are going to be on "SNL" and former "Up right Citizens Brigade" star Sasheer Zamata who is making her big debut.

BLACKWELL: And be sure to stay with us in the 10:00 hour. We are talking to comedian (INAUDIBLE) and former MAD TV star Debra Wilson about the controversy and diversity in comedy.

PAUL: Yes, we are so glad that you joined us today. We're going to see you back here at the top of the hour. We're not going anywhere.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Be sure to join us here at 10:00 Eastern. Right now, on an all new "Your Money" CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans talks about America's growing inequality crisis with Christiane Amanpour and Candy Crowley.

PAUL: "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.