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Interview with Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; Threat to Winter Olympics; Broncos and Seahawks Set for Super Bowl XLVIII; Interview With Haley Barbour

Aired January 20, 2014 - 08:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Lighting up the debate, President Obama weighing on legalizing pot, saying it's no more dangerous than alcohol. Will he move to change federal law?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: 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. Welcome back to NEW DAY on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It's Monday, January, 20th, 8:00 in the East.

The clock is ticking and tensions are building as security threats mount ahead of the Winter Olympics.

Now, just 18 days to the Sochi Games, a threat playing out before our eyes. In a new video released from the suicide bombers behind last month's deadly terrorist attack, they're in it, in the video, they are directly threatening tourists traveling to Sochi for the games. The video came the same day that the Olympic torch passed through Volgograd, on its way to Sochi, where despite the threat, Russian officials still say they have security well in hand.

We're going to talk about the security situation with former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who helped keep the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City safe.

But let's start this hour, though, with Phil Black with the very latest from Russia -- Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it was in this train station building just behind me three weeks ago where a man walked in, walked up to the security screening area, blew himself up and killed 18 people. The next day, someone else nearby here blew himself up near a bus and killed 16 people.

Now, a jihadi video has emerged in which two men are seen claiming responsibility for that attack. But disturbingly, they say those attacks are only a small taste of what to expect during the Olympic Games.


BLACK (voice-over): Mounting concerns in Russia this morning as the Olympic torch relay makes its way through the bomb stricken city of Volgograd. Two extremists in this video claiming responsibility for the two back-to-back suicide bombings last month that claimed 34 lives, and warning that more attacks could come during the Sochi Olympic Games.

In the hour long video, the purported suicide bombers are seen constructing explosives and explaining their motives, all before heading to their targets, triggers in hand.

The two men apparently part of an Islamist militant group vowing to prepare a present for the Olympics and all the tourists who come over. Members of Congress are very concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If something does happen, what is the evacuation plan and emergency response plan that would take place?

BLACK: Others worried about Americans heading to Sochi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would not go, and I don't think I would send my family.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: I am very concerned about the security status of the Olympics. I do believe the Russian government needs to be more cooperative with the United States when it comes to the security of the games.

BLACK: Russian President Vladimir Putin deploying a security force of 40,000 police officers and soldiers to the region. In an interview with ABC News, Putin says that he will do whatever it takes to keep athletes and visitors safe, and pledging that Russia has adequate means of security.

Security around the Olympic venue on high alert. Metal detectors and bomb sniffing dogs visible as the games get under way in just over two weeks.


BLACK: Despite the recent attacks, Russian officials say they are not changing or altering their security plan in Sochi because they believe they have everything else in place. But when we saw the Olympic flame arrive here at the train station this morning, there were more members of the security forces than members of the public here to welcome it.

There is clearly now greater concern, even if Sochi is locked down that there are potentially other vulnerable targets in other parts of this country.

Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: Maybe even more so because of the concentration of security around the Olympics.

So, there are a lot of concerns and questions.

Let's dig deeper now with someone who's had to find out answers to these type of questions, Tom Ridge. He was the first secretary of Homeland Security, was governor of Pennsylvania, of course, previous try to that. He's now CEO of Ridge Global, a security and consulting management company.

And most importantly, Secretary Ridge, good to have you this morning.


CUOMO: You know what it takes to secure an Olympics. When you're looking at the situation over there, basic question -- is Russia up to the task?

RIDGE: I certainly think they're up to the task. They've had several years to prepare. They've learned and it's customary for them and hosting countries to spend a great deal of time with the previous Olympic countries to determine the protocols that they've used.

But make no mistake about it, the Russians have had an ongoing and sustained problem with Islamist fundamentalist in the Chechnya- Dagestan-North Caucus region and you can't take it lightly.

I don't take the video lightly. It's one of the longer ones that I think we've seen from a terrorist organization, with great specificity. But then, again, I recall the days I was secretary of Homeland Security and we had to deal with that kind of video threat on a fairly regular basis.

So, at the end of the day, it comes down to what kind of intelligence they have and some congressmen explained their concerns, raised their concerns about perhaps there's not enough information sharing with their American counterparts.

CUOMO: Does Tom Ridge go to the Olympics? Does Tom Ridge send his loved ones to these Olympics?

RIDGE: I would be inclined to go. I think -- if I enjoyed winter sports. But having said that, I think that the fundamentalists, if they were to make a statement, are more likely to make a statement outside of the village and the venues.

Russia is a vast country. They can express their hatred towards Putin, their desire for a separate Islamic state by creating problems and bringing terrorism and terrorist attacks in other parts of this vast country of Russia, and it will serve the same kind of message.

CUOMO: Now, when we get to the logistics of this, again, because we've had to deal with it. You have so many people coming there. They're not all going to be in that immediate secure area, they're going to be living in other out-lying areas. How big is the risk?

RIDGE: One of the challenges that you and I have right now is we don't know what we don't know and that's not a dodge on accountability. We're taking a look at the entire scenario.

Fortunately, I think the FBI sent over several dozen of its agents and hopefully they will get that on-site view and be able to make a determination as to the relative safety and security.

It's fairly impolitic to talk about this but when we provided security in the Winter Olympics in 2002, we did it within the confines of the role of the law and the Constitution. Now, within the Russia community, they can be far more aggressive to provide the safety and security for the visitors, and for the -- the visitors, spectators and athletes.

At the end of the day, I still think it's very important for the FBI on site in collaboration with their intelligence community and our intelligence community to give some advice to our president. I remember that President Bush on our daily meetings and we met daily to discuss terrorism and when we got closer and closer to the Olympics, that was the focal point of discussions. So, at some point in time, I believe the president will have to make a statement with regard to the information our government has relative to the safety and security of Sochi.

CUOMO: You think it's an open question at this point whether or not the U.S. should participate or do you think it's safe, it's just about how we do it?

RIDGE: I think it's about how we do it. I think we should be inclined to go. I mean, in the real world, Putin has a great deal to lose. He's hosting these Olympics. His visibility in the international community has risen and though Putin is at odds with the United States on just about everything, he cannot afford a terrorist incident anywhere in the village or at the site.

As I said before if there's an attack, it's likely it's some place else. I would be leaning towards going but I would make a final decision once I got on ground reports from the FBI, our intelligence community and in consultation with our allies.

At the end of the day, it's about intelligence.

CUOMO: Because Putin has a luster on him right now in some international circles, makes him a more tempting target perhaps.

Let me ask you, Secretary. Did anything ever happen at Utah that we didn't hear about?

RIDGE: Not that you need to worry about. At the end of the day -- I guess, Chris, at the end of the day Americans would have been pleased and gratified by the extraordinary, extraordinary coordination and collaboration, multiple federal agencies, seat agencies and the local government.

And it was years and years in the planning under the leadership of Governor Romney. There were dozens of state agencies and local agencies involved down to the most infinite detail. And, obviously, the Olympics went off very well and we can only hope the same thing occurs in Russia.

CUOMO: Was there anything you had to stop?


CUOMO: Secretary Tom Ridge, thank you very much for the perspective this morning. We'll check back with you again as we get closer to the Olympics and see what's in --

RIDGE: Thank you, Chris. Good talking with you.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure, sir. Always a pleasure.


BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

So, we're looking at another blast of arctic air returning to a huge chunk of the country this week. It's not the cold snap of unprecedented proportion we shivered through a couple of weeks ago but sure is close.

Indra Petersons is here with much more -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just when we were hoping to stop bundling up like a snowman, right? No, not so close. Still winter time, guys. We are definitely be talking about another blast of this cold air diving down. Today, not so bad everywhere, but definitely, we're going to be talking about a lot of this cold arctic air diving farther down the south.

Sherrie, my weather producer, if we can get that map -- there we go -- moving. Notice this cold air. It's not only in South, but into the Northeast. So, today not as bad.

Notice on the East Coast, temperatures still a good 10 to 12 degrees above normal. But below normal already into the Upper Midwest.

So, here comes to change -- it's early hours tomorrow morning look at this difference. Minneapolis, you're going to feel with wind chill 30 below. No. Not the 65 below you saw at the beginning of the month.

Either way, it doesn't matter. That's very cold air. Single digits will be out towards Pittsburgh, New York City, looking for 16 degrees with that wind chill.

Put up a perspective last time New York was 14 below with wind chill. So, yes, 30 degrees warmer than last time. But either way, Tuesday, this cold air is here to stay even through the afternoon look at the highs. They're expected to be below normal.

So, it's good 20 degrees in many places below normal even down south they will be feeling this chill with temperatures in Atlanta just into the 40s. Wish I could stop there. But no, that is not the only story. Here comes the clipper. So, we're going to be talking about that clipper pulling that moisture off the ocean and chance for heavy snow. If you're in D.C., if you're New York City, might want to check out the latest forecast. It's a new one. Four inches for New York City, D.C., three to six inches of snow.

So, yes, snowman days. I'm going to get my park and all that out --

BOLDUAN: Just enough to pull out the skis, maybe.

PETERSONS: Go for it, Kate. I'll stand behind you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at our headlines.

Making news, breaking news out of North Korea, we're hearing this morning from Kenneth Bae. He's the American missionary jailed in that country for more than a year now. He's appealing to the U.S. government for his release.

Bae was under guard during a press conference he held at his own request telling reporters he's a criminal but he could possibly be released if there's cooperation between the U.S. government and North Korea.

A massive food recall to tell you about this morning. Two million pounds of Kraft Velveeta cheese skillets singles are coming off store shelves. They're made with soy, but the label did not say. That could be a problem if you have an allergy.

So far, there have been no reports of anyone getting sick. If you bought the product, you can return it to your supermarket for a refund.

In West Virginia this morning, some are saying they still will not use the water despite assurances from the government it's safe, after coal processing chemical spill. On Saturday, the last do not use order was lifted, but some folks are doing their own testing, saying they may never consume tap water again.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s daughter is urging people to observe today's holiday named after her father by making today a no shots fired day. Dr. Bernice King also calling for church bells to ring in the name of nonviolence. Services and tributes will be held across the nation today on what would have been his 85th birthday.

Well, this morning the Hollywood award season certainly heating up sending Oscar pool spinning. The critically acclaimed film "12 Years A Slave" tied with "Gravity" for the top honors at Sunday's Producers Guild of America Awards. It's kind of rare to have a tied for best picture. "American Hustle" took home the trophy for an outstanding performance by a cast at the Saturday night SAG Awards.

I still have many movies to see. "American Hustle" among them.

BOLDUAN: It's amazing. There are so many good films up for best picture this year. I have not seen any of them.

CUOMO: You know there's so many great films.

BOLDUAN: I've read the synopsis, whatever.

PEREIRA: Word is.

BOLDUAN: "Word on the street", thank you, Michaela. "Word on the street" is fabulous.

You know what else the word on street?


BOLDUAN: That Peyton Manning is amazing.

Denver and Seattle fans have a lot to celebrate this morning. Now that the Broncos and Seahawks have secured their tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII, these teams were two of the best in the regular season.

How will the number one offense in the league and arm of Peyton Manning stack up against NFL's "best defense".

Let's get straight to the man who knows -- Andy Scholes.

Andy, speak truth.


You know, this is going to be the unstoppable force meets the movable object. You've got Peyton Manning and the Broncos' record setting offense on one side, and you've got the Seahawks top rated defense on the other.

Now, according to Seattle's Richard Sherman, the Seahawks defense is the best and he specifically is the best. Now, Sherman made the game winning play in the closing seconds of the NFC championship against the 49ers and he wasn't very modest about it. He got in Michael Crabtree's face and then he went on an epic post-game rant.


RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Well, I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me!

REPORTER: Who was talking about you?

SHERMAN: Crabtree. Don't you open your mouth about the best, or I'm going to shut it for you real quick.


SCHOLES: All right. We'll have to see how Sherman fares against Peyton Manning. He was great yesterday, throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns. Now, Peyton is trying to do something no other quarterback has ever done. That's win a Super Bowl with two different teams.

And a fun fact, guys. Peyton, he's going to be the oldest player in this year's Super Bowl at age 37. He's also the second oldest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl. The only one older is his boss, John Elway.

BOLDUAN: Well, those are some fun facts. Awesome fact that Peyton Manning is awesome.

CUOMO: Andy Scholes, quick insight how will Peyton do or how has he done in the past when he's been put on the ground because that's going to happen in this game.

SCHOLES: Yes. And you know what, he's not very good when the game temperature is below freezing. So, we'll have to see how that pans out. And, the Broncos when they've had to run the ball this season have done well and we'll have to see if that's going to be the case against the Seahawks. The Seahawks, of course, have that amazing secondary with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas.

So, we'll have to see how it goes. It is going to be the passing game against -- the Broncos against the secondary of the Seahawks. That's going to be the match-up to watch.

CUOMO: Can't pass from your back.

SCHOLES: That's for sure.

BOLDUAN: I guess that's a good point. OK, Andy, thank you.

CUOMO: The horses versus the hawks. That's what the game is becoming known as, by the way.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the biggest trouble for Governor Chris Christie yet, this time, a fellow New Jersey lawmaker says he pressured her directly. The bargaining chip, desperately needed Sandy relief funds. We will sort out the accusations, see if they stand up to scrutiny.

BOLDUAN: And also this morning we are remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. on this holiday in his honor, of course. A live look at the memorial in Washington. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We're following new accusations this morning against Governor Chris Christie. Another New Jersey mayor claiming the Christie administration threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy recovery money in order to push their own agenda. CNN's Erin McPike is following all the new developments for us in Trenton, New Jersey this morning. Good morning, Erin.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Well, don't forget, all of this is going on as Chris Christie prepares for his second inauguration tomorrow, but that inauguration is certain to be a lot less festive now.


MCPIKE (voice-over): The embattled New Jersey governor's second in command is expected to come out swinging today against allegations of bullying and intimidation. Hoboken mayor, Dawn Zimmer, has gone public with allegations that Christie's lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, delivered what she called a threat on the governor's behalf.

To withhold much needed Superstorm Sandy relief funds for her flood damaged city if she did not support a development project.

MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER, (D) HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY: Now, the fact is that she came, lieutenant governor pulled me aside and she said, the -- you know, essentially, you got to move forward with the Rockefeller project. This project is really important to the governor. And she said she had been with him on Friday night and that this was a direct message from the governor.

MCPIKE: On Sunday, Zimmer met with federal prosecutors for several hours, turning over a journal that she says details the alleged ultimatum and other documents at the request of the U.S. attorney's office. Christie's spokesman, Colin Reed, calls her characterization categorically false saying "It's very clear partisan politics are at play here as Democratic mayors with a political ax to grind come out of the wood work and try to get their faces on television."

This new controversy comes on the heels of Christie's now famous bridge lane closure probe. That investigation is going full throttle into his administration's involvement into the controversial lane closures to the George Washington Bridge. Christie spent the weekend fundraising in Florida for fellow GOP governor, Rick Scott and talking to prospective donors to a Christie for president campaign.

When asked last night in a closed door event on the so-called Bridgegate scandal will end, "Politico" reports that Christie replied "I don't know." And as if all this wasn't enough, questions continue to mount about whether the governor misused funds in Sandy relief commercials featuring his family while running for re-election. The public relations nightmare for team Christie has reached such a fever pitch that Rudy Giuliani is calling it all --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a partisan witch hunt.


MCPIKE (on-camera): And there's a new "New York Times" report that says at that dinner in Florida last night with lots of wealthy Republican donors, many of those donors said Christie needs a new national team with more experience around him if he wants to run for president -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Erin. Joining us now is the man standing by Governor Christie, the former governor of Mississippi, and a man long considered one of Christie's mentors, Republican Haley Barbour. Governor, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: The latest suggestion by a local mayor, you know what it is. Does it give you more concern about the atmosphere and culture in Chris Christie's government?

BARBOUR: Now, I'll tell you what, it used to be concern about it, the news media is willing to leak at any farfetched story with the basis in fact unbelievable. This is a lady mayor who asked for 142 -- $127 million of hazard mitigation money from the governor to give that to her from federal money when the state was only receiving in its entirety $300 million.

It is absurd to think that one town would get well more than a third of the total amount of money. This town that was being punished got over $70 million in hurricane relief. She's got other projects pending. But she's already received more than $70 million. More than $4 million of hazard mitigation block grant money and that is the particular program that she was asking money for.

So, hazard mitigation block grant money which unlike what your reporter said is not to repair damage from much needed damage is to prepare for the future.

CUOMO: So, let's say she asked for too much money. Let's grant that. She says --


CUOMO: She says the 70 million that she got wasn't state authorized. It was private insurance. They don't count it in terms of what she got, and she says something that's more important than the numbers, governor. She says that the lieutenant governor came to me and said if you want help, you have to do what we want to you do somewhere else.

She has contemporaneous journal entries of this conversation and how disappointing it was to her. Do you find that compelling in terms of her being strong armed?

BARBOUR: Well, it might be found compelling except she repeatedly and repeatedly sent out tweets praising Governor Christie. There's an article in mediate written by a Hoboken writer who supported Dawn Zimmer for mayor of Hoboken who says that on the TV show on MSNBC, she repeatedly contradicted herself, and then, here's what he says. Look at the facts.

Tweet after tweet after tweet after tweet, illustrating Zimmer's approval of Mr. Christie's handling of Sandy days, weeks and months after the storm. One -- kind of praise and adoration from the Hoboken mayor and it seems to be prompting a question that few in the media are asking.

If Zimmer had such a problem with Christie, if she'd really been threatened, why continue to offer such public praise and be such a big proponent of the governor? There's a writer from Hoboken who seems to me like he's got some good judgment.

CUOMO: Look, I think there are some things that are problematic about this. Just on January 11th, she said that she didn't think that there was a connection, but she said, look, I didn't think anybody would believe me. A lot of the praise came before this particular strong army thing. I got written down here.

Now that people are creating a safe harbor for these type of allegations, I'm going to come forward with mine. Is that so farfetched?

BARBOUR: Well, I think it is more farfetched than what she actually said on MSNBC. She said, quote, and I'm reading it because I don't want to misquote her. "So, part of what I'm hoping comes out of this by coming forward is to say, governor, please support this rebuild by design competition, come forward, fully support us. Give it your very direct endorsement and understand, governor, that we have to make, when we're making our development decisions we have some real challenges."

So, what she said on MSNBC is I'm doing this and hoping I can bluff him or rough him up so that he changes his mind to support us. I don't think she's going to succeed in shaking Christie down on this, but that's not what Haley says her purpose was, that's what Dawn Zimmer said on television.

CUOMO: So, what do you think you would need to see for this to be more than just hyper examination of political culture and maybe a partisan attack by a cable company?

BARBOUR: Well, I think you got this problem. A journal that's written can be written any time. You know, I'm a recovering lawyer, but I do still remember that from when I practiced law.

And, why was she sending out all these tweets that have been preserved on the internet that said one thing that was totally different from what she was saying and then she comes back and says, well, I'm hoping I'm putting enough pressure on him that he's going to fold and let me have my $127 million, which by the way, the $300 million of hazard mitigation grant money, most of that won't even go to local governments.

It will go to individuals and businesses that have to elevate their homes and that sort of stuff. I've done this with hurricane Katrina. And you always have people who want more than there is. In fact, I am told the New Jersey, they've received $14 billion of requests for hazard mitigation money when they're only getting 300 million.

But, for her to think that this is going to shake that money loose, that was a surprising thing to read in her interview.

CUOMO: Governor Barbour, I appreciate the perspective. Obviously, this is going to be not just about outcome but tactics, and certainly, this will continue for some time. I appreciate you adding to the conversation.

BARBOUR: Thank you, Chris, for having me.

CUOMO: All right, governor -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris. We're going to take a break. Coming up next on, NEW DAY, President Obama admitted smoking marijuana when he was younger. Well, now, he's weighing in on the debate to legalize marijuana in a new interview. What he has to say and what impact it may have?

Also, what do the newest bachelor, Madonna (ph), and One Direction's William Payne have in common? We're all playing a bit of cleanup now after in sighting social media outrage. We're going to tell you what they were talking about.