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Sochi Security Concerns; New Claim Against Christie; Kenneth Bae Pleads for U.S. to Negotiate Release

Aired January 20, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Olympics in the crosshairs. A new video and a new threat to attack the winter games. Will thousands of athletes and tourists be safe?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New accusations against Gov. Chris Christie. A mayor claims that Christie team used superstorm Sandy funds as a political weapon. We have breaking news overnight about the response.

ROMANS: Brace yourself, brace yourself for another arctic blast. Bone-chilling temps on the way again. How close it's going to get?

BERMAN: Too cold.

ROMANS: We have a life forecast for you breaking it down.


BERMAN (on-camera): All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Great to see you today. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS (on-camera): I'm Christine Romans this Monday morning. It's 30 minutes past the hour. Top story this morning. A terror threat ahead of the winter Olympics in Russia. A video posted by Islamist militants claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in the city of Volgograd and threatens safety at the Olympic Games in Sochi just 18 days away. Meantime, the Olympic torch, the torch relay is going through Volgograd today.

CNN's Phil Black is there and joins us live. Big concerns about what has already happened there and about the ominous threats about what could happen going forward, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Christine. The Olympic flame arrives here this morning amid very, very tight security, and it is just three weeks since the train station behind me was significantly damaged. There were 18 people who were killed after men walked in there and killed -- blew himself up.

There was an attack on a trolley bus the very next day. It was killed 16 people, and now, only yesterday, we have this video circusing on the jihadi website in which two men claimed responsibility for those attacks, but also say quite ominously there will be more to come, particularly during the Olympics in Sochi. They say they have prepared what they described as a gift, the Russians, the tourists who will be in Sochi during the Olympics there.

They say they have a list of names of people who will be helping them taking part in these actions, and they say it is all in revenge for the blood of innocent Muslims, they say, has been spilled around the world. It is just the latest indication we've seen in this country that there are Russian domestic terrorist with the determination, and perhaps, with the capability to try and exploit the international focus will be on this country during the games -- Christine.

ROMANS: And Phil, there are great concerns among U.S. lawmakers about the safety of American athletes and tourists for these Olympics, aren't there?

BLACK: Yes. Growing concerns, indeed. And the concern is that the message from the Russian government that they are prepared, that Sochi will be safe may not entirely reflect the reality. Take a listen.


REP. MIKE ROGERS, CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: So, what we're finding is they're not giving us the full story about what are the threat streams. Who do we need to worry about? Are those groups, the terrorist groups who have had some success, are they still plotting? There's a missing gap, and you never want that when you go in to something I think as important as the Olympic games.

SEN. ANGUS KING, MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I would not go. And I don't think I would send my family.


BLACK: The other concern is that even if Sochi is successfully locked down and secured, it is not possible to lock down the entire country. And the lesson from the attacks here in Volgograd that there are many other potentially vulnerable targets that could be attacked, could be exploited during the Olympics, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Phil Black for us this morning at the torch relay in Volgograd. Thank you.

BERMAN: We have some big news at home this morning. The administration of Gov. Chris Christie answering back after charges of another political payback scandal in New Jersey breaking overnight. CNN has learned that in just a few hours, we will hear denials from the state's lieutenant governor. This is in response to claims by Hoboken's mayor, Dawn Zimmer.

She alleges that Christie administration held superstorm Sandy relief funds hostage to ensure her help in fast-tracking a major real estate project. Here's what the mayor told CNNs "State of the Union" on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER, (D) HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY: You have, you know, the Christie administration, using their authority to try and get something. I don't know what they were trying to get in the Bridgegate, but I do know what they were trying to get in Hoboken. They're holding our Sandy fund hostage in order to get their push through and expedite the Rockefeller project.


BERMAN: Now, Zimmer says she met with federal investigators concerning these accusations. I'm joined this morning by CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, live in our Washington bureau. Paul, what's interesting to me here is this deals with superstorm Sandy. For so long, we've seen it as an area of strength for Chris Christie. So, how do you see these swirling accusations affecting his standing right now?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: That's such a great point, John, because early with superstorm Sandy and the governor's response to it that made him a political superstar nationwide, it made him somebody who'd seem to transcend politics, somebody who reached out to Democrats and independents as well as Republicans and that's why this new controversy as well as the investigation into the allegations of misused of Sandy funds really hurts Chris Christie. It seems with those kind of voters, independents and Democrats as well.

What we're going to hear today from lieutenant governor, as you mentioned, as categorically she will deny that she did this kind of pay for play kind of movement with the Hoboken mayor. She will say that, yes, she did talk about recovery aide, but she did not talk about the redevelopment project. She's supposed to make those comments at a Martin Luther King event in just a couple of hours from now, John.

BERMAN: So, again, we will have those denials and a little bit, but one thing is clear, Paul. The drip, drip, drip of accusations is on against Christie and his administration. It really doesn't seem to be going away this as he's trying to move forward. He has a lot else going on including his inauguration for his second term which was supposed to be this big giant celebration. How does that affect what's going on here?

STEINHAUSER: Definitely (INAUDIBLE) as you said, going to be a very big celebration which is going to start tomorrow in Trenton, New Jersey and end up on -- a whole day affair. It will still go on, of course, but now, the spotlight will be on what will the governor say if he does talk about the controversies.

And yes, it does put a cloud over what was going to be, huge celebration, the big re-election victory last November, and the possibility, of course, of the governor thinking of higher office, that being the 2016 presidential election -- John.

BERMAN: Of course, that possibility of higher office has followed him through New Jersey and around the country. This weekend, he was meeting with Republican donors in Florida. Again, this was supposed to be a big meeting of Christie, the possible 2016 presidential candidates with the deep pockets of the Republican Party may have gone down a little differently than he was expecting, Paul.

STEINHAUSER: I think that's fair to say. He had a full weekend of fundraising both for the Republican Governors' Association which, of course, he's now the chairman of which could be a stepping stone if he wants to run for the president in 2016.

But yes, as you mentioned, a lot of top dollar, Republican donors last -- yesterday, a meeting at the co-founder of Home Depot. Our own Ana Navarro was there from CNN and she tweeted out last night that Christie said this. He said, "I haven't enjoyed the last 11 days. No same person would. Like for some (ph) challenges, you have to deal with them."

Of course, yes, as you mentioned, if Chris Christie does run for president, if these kind of donors that he wants to be friendly with and have on his side -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Eleven days, he said, have been difficult for him, so far. I think we'll be into the 12 today. Paul Steinhauser, always great to see you. Thanks for being with us.

ROMANS: Now, we're talking about frozen, not the brilliant animated film that's up for an Oscar. The return of an arctic blast coming this week to your town. Meteorologist, Indra Petersons, has more on the polar vortex take two.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I like how you sell it, right?


PETERSONS: We're definitely talking about that cold air plunging again, but we do not like to call it a polar vortex. The polar vortex is at circulation really hanging up at the pole, but we are seeing some of that arctic air dropping farther down south. You can actually start to see the departures already today.

You're going to see some below average temperatures kind of around the upper Midwest, Minneapolis about six below, Chicago below freezing today, but you're really going to start to feel that difference in through tomorrow. Look at your morning lows here. We're going to be talking about temperatures now into the single digits and below zero. Indianapolis is going to see one below once you add in that wind chill again.

That's we're really going to feel that difference. Notice, Minneapolis is going to be about 30 below. I do want to point out the difference between last system and the system that we all remember. Remember, that 65 low (ph) -- this isn't cold, but it's not going to be as cold as the last round. Either way, they were talking about single digit morning lows with wind chill.

New York City also may feeling about 16 degrees in those morning hours. By the time we get through Tuesday, that cold air surges farther down to the southeast and to the east. And so, as it does so, you don't really warm up through the day at all either. You're only going to be seeing a high below freezing in the 30s. New York City, your high is also only expected into the 20s. I do want to tell you real quick, it's not the only thing going on. The second clipper making its way through by tomorrow.

Now looking to pull up a lot of moisture off of the ocean. So, we're going to be talking about some heavy snow anywhere from even up to eight inches around New York City with five inches around D.C. I love how the weather is always changing. Keeping on your --

ROMANS: Now is just power. Now --

BERMAN: Forty-eight inches here. Hmmm. All right. Indra, thank you.

All right. Breaking overnight, American officials say they oppose bring Iran to the table for international peace talks about Syria. This after U.N. secretary general, Ban ki-Moon, invited Tehran to the talks starting in Geneva this Wednesday. Key rebel groups in Syria have committed to attending, but Syria's main opposition now says they do not want to negotiate with Iran there.

Over 100,000 people have died in Syria's brutal civil war. 155 people were reportedly killed just on Sunday alone.

ROMANS: Also this morning, a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. It officially takes effect. The interim deal will temporarily freeze much of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of western economic sanctions. It's a six-month agreement giving Iran and the countries involved, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.S., giving them time to negotiate a permanent deal.

BERMAN: New this morning, there are doubts about a cyber-security firm's claim that a 17-year-old Russian teenager was behind the malware used in the huge Target hack attack. Intel crawlers (ph) say the teen author the malware and sold it but didn't carry out the breach, itself. But, the internet blogger who broke the Target data breach story disputes the report that the teen is the key suspect.

As many as 110 million Target shoppers had their credit card and personal information compromised. It is feared that more retailers and customers, even the 110 million, even more than that were hit, they worry.

ROMANS: Breaking news this morning, the "Associated Press" reporting that American, Kenneth Bae, now jailed in North Korea is pleading with the U.S. government to help secure his release. Bae has been held in North Korea for more than a year now. According to the AP, Bae's spoken in news conference he called at his own request.

Meantime, Dennis Rodman's agent says Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star, is being treated in a New Jersey alcohol rehab center. He says Rodman is remorseful and embarrassed after his tumultuous North Korea trip. U.S. markets close today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., but stocks essentially flat, so far, this year. Markets open in Europe where London, Paris, and Frankfurt are lower right now. Trading day is finished in Tokyo. The Nikkei closed down nearly 93 points. Nintendo shares hammered --


ROMANS: At one point, Nintendo shares were down 20 percent. The videogame maker said late Friday expects a loss of $335 million in its latest fiscal year. It hit forecast to near billion dollar profit previously. It follows disappointing stocks where in hardware sales and the busy end of the year buying season. Tough day, tough day for --

BERMAN: Easy come, easy go for Nintendo.

ROMANS: Wow! $355 million loss.

BERMAN: That's not good. Even I know that.

All right. Today, President Obama and the first lady are marking the Martin Luther King Day holiday by participating in a service project in the Washington area. The president encouraged people to observe the holiday with community service in honor of Dr. King. In the meantime, the vice president will deliver the keynote address at the National Action Network's Annual King Day Breakfast in Washington.

ROMANS: That's sweet. Some of the public schools will be doing days of service today.

BERMAN: I think that's terrific.

ROMANS: I think it's a really good idea.

ROMANS: Meantime, the president making waves with some comments about marijuana. He tells the "New Yorker" magazine he doesn't think pot is any more dangerous to an individual than alcohol. He does say he views it as a bad habit and not something he'd encourage. Obama also says marijuana users should be imprisoned for a long time when people riding drug laws are probably done (ph) the drug as well.

BERMAN: You know what's his main issue with the legal, sort of hypocrisy he was -- over marijuana.

All right. Coming up for us next, Americans among the dozens killed at a restaurant in Afghanistan. This morning, we are learning more about who they are and why they were there.

ROMANS: And firefighters risk their lives for man's best friend. How they pulled a dog out of an icy lake. The dramatic video next.

BERMAN: Wow! Look at that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Welcome back. New this morning, three Americans killed in a Taliban attack at a restaurant in Kabul this weekend. They have now been identified two of them worked at the American University in Afghanistan. The third American victim was with UNICEF. Afghans turned out for a rally Sunday denouncing terrorist -- 21 people died in that restaurant attack there are the three Americans.

BERMAN: California officials say a wildfire raging outside Los Angeles since Thursday has been 78 percent contained. The Colby (ph) fire destroyed several homes sent hundreds of residents fleeing. Many did return this weekend, but firefighters say full containment is not expected until Wednesday. They say it remains under the threat of fire due to the exceptionally dry winter conditions.

So, I think it's safe to say the NFL's two best teams will meet in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Denver Broncos punched their ticket with a 26- 16 win over the New England Patriots. The game was billed as Manning versus Brady, but Manning was the better player, by far, on Sunday.

In the NFC title game, the Seattle Seahawks' top-rated defense helped carry them to a 23-17 win over the rival San Francisco 49ers. They are heading to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Super Bowl XLVIII, a good one, will be played on February 2nd at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium.

ROMANS: I thought Tom Brady looked like he was going to cry after that game. He wanted it so bad!

BERMAN: He did get to go home to Gisele Bundchen, though. I'm just saying.


BERMAN: It's true! It's true.

ROMANS: Hi, Cuomo.

BERMAN: Chris Cuomo is here to tell us what's coming up on "New Day." Hey, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think he was looking upset because he can't believe how many open receivers he missed. Very unbrady- esque performance.

BERMAN: True story.

CUOMO: Of course, he didn't have many as guys to throw to. You know, J.B. has softened me up on the pats a little bit, you know, lifelong Jets fan.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he was playing Peyton Manning (ph).

CUOMO: -- my Jets green today.

(LAUGHTER) CUOMO: Peyton Manning was great, got a much better team, though. So, I think we got the right -- I think we got it right, though, J.B. with the horses and the hawks --

BERMAN: Sure did --

CUOMO: Coming up in this. All right. So, here's what we're doing today. It is MLK Day, obviously, right? And we want to celebrate the great leader's message of peaceful discourse, and that way through change, but we're not seeing a lot of it around us in the world today as we cover it.

First, we're going to be dealing with Chris Christie. No peaceful discourse going on there right now. Ugly allegations facing the governor, new ones from a local mayor, saying she, too, was strong- armed. Sandy funds being held back, unless, she did what the governor's office wanted.

A message delivered by way of the lieutenant governor. So, we're going to bring in the congressman who called for the federal investigation. We're going to question him vigorously about whether or not this warrants federal investigation and why. We're going to talk to a chief Republican defender, former Mississippi governor, about how he sees this Chris Christie situation.

And then, we're also going to talk about the new threat against the Olympics. It's not just talk. You're looking at a video coming from men who claimed responsibility for recent terrorist bombings in Russia. We are then going to talk to Tom Ridge (ph). You remember him. He was put in charge of keeping the Olympics safe in Utah after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

What does he think of the threat in Sochi? Would he send his family there? So, we're going to go through those two big stories here today and a lot more as well. All the news we can give you here on "New Day."

BERMAN: Looking forward to it, Chris. See you in a little bit.

ROMANS: Yes. Tom Ridge really -- that perspective --

BERMAN: -- such serious concerns about these winter games just three weeks away.

ROMANS: All right. Comedian, Kevin hart, is a bonafide box office draw (ph) as new film, "Ride Along," debut at number one this weekend, bringing in 41.2 million. That's the biggest January openings ever.


ROMANS: Yes. "Ride Along" was followed on the box office chart by "Lone Survivor," "The Net Job," "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," and Indra's forecast--

(LAUGHTER) BERMAN: All right. Coming up for us next, the teenager charged as an adult in another school shooting. So, why his attorneys say this whole thing was an accident?

ROMANS: And down it goes. A explosion caught on camera. South Carolina, look at that, 17 seconds -- the details ahead.





ROMANS: Welcome back. New details this morning on the young man charge in Friday's school gym shooting in Philadelphia. Police say 17-year-old Rashim Rockwell (ph) opened fire, wounding two students. He's been charged as an adult with aggravated assault after turning himself in this weekend. Rockwell's attorney suggested the shooting was an accident. Both injured students were treated and have been released from the hospital.

BERMAN: Fifty-two minutes after the hour right now. And this shockingly as Christine Romans' favorite story of the day, with the push of the button, a 14-storey tower in downtown Greenville, South Carolina turned to rubble. Watch this.



BERMAN: It took 17 seconds and 700 explosives to bring down Scott Towers, the public housing building, was leveled to make way for new apartments. This was the tallest building ever imploded in that city. The contractor called the demolition horrific (ph). Do you concur?

ROMANS: I concur. It's kind (ph) of progress. Demolitions are kind (ph) of progress.


ROMANS: Some of St. Louis brave is putting their own lives at risk to rescue a Doberman who went chasing after geese on a frozen lake and the Doberman's fell in. The dog named Diablo (ph) was stuck in the icy water for almost half an hour. The firefighters on ice suits and using a ladder and ropes. They were able to save the day, save the dog, calling that pooch to save --

BERMAN: That is amazing.

ROMANS: Well done.

BERMAN: Fantastic.

All right. Coming up for us next, could the post office become into a staples near you. Why a new business model has postal workers up in arms? "Money Time" is next.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to Early Start this Monday morning. It's "Money Time."

We knew that was interested in sending your packages by drone, but maybe this is too much. The online retailers says it knows, knows you so well that it can shift something to you before you even order.


ROMANS: The mind-reading retailer approach was patented by Amazon and is called "anticipatory shipping." The "Wall Street Journal" says the technique could cut delivery time and discourage consumers from visiting physical stores. In deciding what to ship, Amazon might take into consideration previous orders, your searches, your wish list, and even how long your cursor hovers over an item. Wow!

BERMAN: That's scary.

ROMANS: And it's after 5:00 p.m. in Asia right now, perfect time to talk about another big liquor deal. It is 5:00 p.m. somewhere folks, and this is a very profitable deal. Just last Monday, we had Japan's Suntory buying Jim Beam for 16 billion. This Monday, we've got a big beer deal. The world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the owner of Budweiser here in the U.S. is agreeing to buy South Korea's oriental brewery for 5.8 billion.

Oriental is South Korea's biggest brewer. It had been bought by the private equity firms, KKR and Affinity Equity Partners in 2009. At the time, those private equity guys bought it for 1.8 billion. Yes. That means a $4 billion. Something investor should be able to drink to.

And Nintendo share is getting super smashed this morning in Tokyo. At one point, they were down 20 percent. The videogame maker said late Friday it expects a loss of 335 million in play this fiscal year. It hit (ph) forecast a near billion dollar game previously. This is because of disappointing software and hardware sales at the end of the year. Tough day for Mario.

BERMAN: Success in the industry is so fleeting.

ROMANS: Yes. And the holiday season is so important. I mean, it's -- when we say it's a make or break holiday season, literally.

BERMAN: That's what break means.


BERMAN: All right. Thanks for watching, guys. "New Day" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would not go. It's just such a rich target.

CUOMO: New terror tape. Militants vowing to hit the Olympic Games. U.S. officials saying it's not safe. Vladimir Putin finally speaks out as the torch passes through the most dangerous part of the country. We're live with the latest.

BOLDUAN: Fighting back. Chris Christie under fire. A Democratic mayor meeting with federal prosecutors now accusing Christie of withholding Sandy relief funds to her city. The governor's team set to go on offense today.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Breaking news, the Kenneth Bae, the American held in North Korea speaking out to reporters this morning, pleading for his release. We're live with the latest.

CUOMO: Your "New Day" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "New Day." It is Monday, January 20th, Martin Luther King Day. It is six o'clock in the east as well.

Now, we have new and good reason to worry about security of the upcoming Sochi winter Olympics. A video has come to light from two suicide bombers claiming responsibility for deadly attacks in Russia last month. Now, the warning, more attacks may come during the games which are just 18 days away. How real is the threat? How good are the security measures in place to protect athletes and visitors?

Serious questions we're looking for answers. Phil Black is in Russia this morning with more. Phil, what do we know?

BLACK: Chris, it was three weeks ago that a man walked in to this train station behind me here in Volgograd and blew himself up killing 18 people.