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Snowstorm Blankets Northeast; Securing The Sochi Games; No Indictment In Ferrell Shooting; Ukraine Protesters Killed; Politicians In Trouble; Family Of Missing American Speaks

Aired January 22, 2014 - 07:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Our big story is the one that you are feeling the most this morning, the winter storm that walloped the Midwest and northeast. States from Iowa to Maine, all with significant snowfall totals, Central New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the hardest hit, upwards of a foot of snow in some areas. The storm makes for dangerous driving, obviously. Highways partially are totally closed down including major arteries like I-65 in Indiana where cars and trucks went skidding and colliding.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Scenes like this one at LaGuardia Airport in New York were common. Passengers sleeping in empty terminals with nothing on the board except canceled flights. And after the big storm, leaves the big chill, freezing temperatures, subzero in some case, sticking around for the next few days.

Let's get straight back to meteorologist, Indra Petersons in Boston with much more on the forecast -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think the word of the day is will power. How much will power do you have? I have to say people here in Boston. They always amaze me every time I return. Just standing out in the last I've already seen the ferry come by. People getting off of it, they're already plowing the streets.

Tons of people already out even walking their dogs, kind of playing in the snow right now even though we're talking about temperatures below zero, a good 10 degrees below right now. Here in Boston it's actually still snowing. It's one of the few places we're still talking about the snow falling.

Just south of me here, they actually have snow drifts as high as 18 inches so definitely a lot of snow fell overnight. We know New York City, D.C. a little bit less, about 5, 6 inches. The story now is where is that low and what are we expecting.

Well, it is making its way offshore. So that's a piece of good news. Any snow that's falling that will taper off as we go through the late morning hours except for one spot. That's the Cape where they have been hit so hard this year. They are still going to be talking about ocean-effect snow. The difference will be the air temperature and the water. There is enough of a difference there and the wind goes over it. We still create snow. That's what we're going to talking about today. Blizzard warning there's about 1 p.m. For everyone else, just keep in mind, the wind is going to be strengthening.

It's going to pick the snow up off the ground. And combine that cold arctic air that is not going anywhere. It looks like until the end of the week, we are going to be talking these cold temperatures.

BOLDUAN: Hopefully the beeping behind you means they're cleaning up. Thanks, Indra.

PETERSONS: Yes, they are.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's take a look at some of the other headlines that are making news this hour. Good morning to all of you. Hungarian athletes and nationals are now being warned of a terror threat at the Sochi Olympics after a letter was sent to the country's Olympic committee. They are looking into the credibility of that letter.

In the meantime, President Obama is offering Russian President Putin high-tech bomb detecting assistance to secure the upcoming winter games. With 16 days remaining until the opening ceremonies, Russian authorities are searching for female black widow bombers who may be in Sochi right now.

No indictment in the shocking death of Jonathan Ferrell, the former Florida A&M student was shot to death by police last year. Ferrell at the time was reportedly trying to get help after a car crash. On Tuesday, a North Carolina grand jury declined to indict Officer Randall Keric for involuntary manslaughter. State attorneys say they'll resubmit the case because the grand jury that ruled Tuesday was missing jurors.

Developing this morning, anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine turning deadly, three protestors died during clashes with police on the streets of Kiev. They have been rallying since last weekend in defiance of new laws limiting the right to protest. Government officials say dozens of protestors have been detained. More than a hundred police officers were injured.

Thousands are expected to brave the brutal cold and snow today to take part in the march for life at the National Mall in D.C. The annual march now marking the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision on Row V. Wade, which legalized abortion. Abortion rights groups will also be holding their own event today.

All right, kids, you need a dose of '90s nostalgia?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you think it's time we all get our own places?


PEREIRA: There you go. Uncle Jessie and Uncle Joey and Danny Tanner from "Full House," they're reuniting for a Super Bowl ad.

BOLDUAN: That's how you say that. I had no idea. I'm finally learning.

PEREIRA: A teaser was just released online. The full ad will air during, of course, the big game on February 2nd. You can get all the "Full House" nostalgia you need. They look good.

BOLDUAN: They haven't aged a bit.

PEREIRA: Kind of annoying.

CUOMO: First of all, they're like my age, by the way. Not like they're 79 years old. Stamos doesn't age at all.

BOLDUAN: It's the yogurt.

PEREIRA: It's the yogurt.

CUOMO: You're too young. Remember the Dannon commercials when they used to have the people outside Siberia?

BOLDUAN: I remember that.

PEREIRA: She's an old soul.

BOLDUAN: But I do know politics.

Time now for our political gut check of the morning, the theme today, politicians in trouble, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie under investigation, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, her resume in question, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell indicted and another rambling video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. So who will survive the scandals and who won't?

The arbiter of justice, CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, is here with that.


BOLDUAN: You're pleading the 5th. I love it. So let's run through some of these, John. I do want to get your take. So we are all familiar with the investigations that Chris Christie is facing.

An interesting twist, though, last night on "CROSSFIRE," the former Virginia attorney general, also ran for governor, Ken Cuccinelli saying on "CROSSFIRE" that Christie should step down from his very important post as chair of the Republican Governors Association. Do you think there's going to be a real movement towards that?

KING: There are some Republicans who have been talking about that privately. Some that don't just like Chris Christie and think get him off that national stage. Some who do like Chris Christie who thinks perhaps he should just go back to New Jersey for six months or so, focus on getting these investigations behind him, hopefully in their view, be exonerated, focus on state legislative business.

At the moment, Team Christie says no way. That he is going to stay as the head of the RGA and he is going to deal with the investigations. A little bit of inside politics if you will about Ken Cuccinelli. He ran for governor last year. He lost in a narrow, very close election. He was upset. He doesn't think the RGA gave enough support.

He thinks there was money going to help Chris Christie even though Chris Christie was up 20 or 30 points that should have been spent to Virginia. Plus he is a Tea Party guy, one of the people very suspicious of Chris Christie, but here's what happens. When you're vulnerable like this, when you're a pinata like Chris Christie is now, not only get attacks from Democrats, he'll get whacked sometimes from Republicans who don't like him.

CUOMO: All right, so more of a traditional beat down that's going on right now is Wendy Davis down in Texas. So she -- you have to tell me which way you see it. Is this just a brazen attack of going at the person instead of the policies or does she have a problem with her natural narrative?

KING: She has a problem in the sense that she's been telling a highly personal story about being a single mom, pulling herself by her boot straps. Wayne Slater, an excellent political reporter for the "Dallas Morning News" did a long piece on this in which he said she's embellished some key details.

And so now she is accusing the Republicans of attacking her with this and Wayne Slater says he never spoke to the Republican campaign involved here. She had a huge fundraising quarter last time. Look, she became a heroin during the Texas state abortion debate a couple of months back.

A lot of national money has flown in. Democrats have this dream that Texas will eventually turn blue. Can they win the governor's race in Texas this year? That was a steep climb to begin with. In a close competitive election year like 2014 is, if people start to get nervous, the national money will dry up some.

It's a challenge for her. Remember Elizabeth Warren running for Senate in Massachusetts? People said she had embellished or exaggerated her Native American heritage. Perhaps use that in some affirmative action a way to help her.

She had to deal with it constantly throughout the campaign. It drove her nuts because she thought it was a joke of a story, but she had to deal with it. She navigated it. Let's see if Wendy Davis can navigate this.

BOLDUAN: That's really interesting point. I had forgotten about Elizabeth Warren in that resume problem. All right, let's talk about a very different and maybe a much more serious problem facing the former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife. There's been, you know, an investigation into people around him for a while, now he and his wife are -- have been indicted. He was seen as a potential 2016 option for Republicans. Does this mean that there's no chance that this is going to happen at this point?

KING: No, his national political future as far as we can see is non- existent. He was once on a big list for Mitt Romney's running mate. He never actually made the short list. He was never vetted, but he was without a doubt a rising star both in Virginia and national politics. Virginia only allows the governor to serve one term.

Someone who after that one term was viewed as if not someone who might join a future Republican administration or not someone maybe who might lead a future Republican administration at least as someone who maybe might run for the United States Senate, would have some prominent role. Right now, his worry is staying out of a federal conviction. This is not something they send you to jail for.

CUOMO: Right.

KING: But this is parallel universe when you look at this. He says essentially, we did this, we took these gifts, but they don't violate Virginia or federal law. When you go through the list, Louis Viton shoes, a Rolex watch, designer dresses, most of the gifts to his wife, the allegation is that the businessman gave these things to the governor and his wife in exchange for their personal endorsement of his business, maybe a little bit of help.

The governor says I did nothing wrong, but yes, I took all these gifts they took, is like really? If I ever write a book, it will be why do smart people do stupid things?

CUOMO: Bright line distinction though and interesting contrast between McDonnell's situation and what we are seeing with Chris Christie right now or Wendy Davis. Politics is about the smear game. However, when you get into the legal severe, you've got -- sphere, you've got a different problem. That's the problem for Christie coming around.

Now, if you look at it full circle, we'll wind up with Rob Ford. I have been saying from the beginning, I don't see it as a political story. This latest video from him is another cry from help. At what point do you think that politics must go past the common sense. And it doesn't get treated as a political issue, but someone who has a medical issue.

KING: Politicians are people too. And this is a tragedy. This is -- it's a political tragedy for the people of Toronto who need leadership in their mayor. You know, and some people make fun of this obviously. They see these, and they think it's funny. It's not funny when you get to the point that this is a gentleman and he's a human being who happens to be in political office who, you know, clearly needs help.

He's been resisting calls from his family, from his friends and others. The council will come back to this, they've been stripping powers. Some people make light of it, but remember, that's a human being. It could be your brother, your cousin, your friend, your neighbour.

BOLDUAN: And the voters will decide because he is running for re- election. John, thank you very much. If you notice John kind of claimed Switzerland on that. He did not say who's up and he's going to fall.

CUOMO: I think it's because who knows. John's too smart to get out that far.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John.

CUOMO: The capricious winds of politics.

Coming up on NEW DAY, he went missing in Iran seven years ago. Now the family of American, Bob Levinson is speaking out demanding the Obama administration finally bring him home. There's a twist in this story you'll want to know about just ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. New developments now on the longest held American in captivity. His name is Bob Levinson. He disappeared almost seven years ago in Iran. Now in a new interview with CNN, his family is lashing out at U.S. officials. Here's the twist. They say despite public denials Levinson was working as a contract spy for the CIA when he was taken. And they say coming clean for it could be the key to bringing him home. CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us now -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. For years the Levinsons followed government advice to keep the CIA connection under advice to keep the mission under wraps to help protect him. Now the family wants to use Levinson as a bargaining chip. They say nothing else has worked to bring him home.


CHRISTINE LEVINSON, MISSING AMERICAN'S WIFE: This has been going on for two administrations and nothing has gotten him home and we don't know why.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The wife of missing American Bob Levinson is speaking out for the first time after it was publicly revealed the retired FBI agent was doing undercover work for the CIA when he disappeared in Iran almost seven years ago. The family is demanding the U.S. government do more to find him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the proper steps have been taken in the first critical weeks after my dad went missing I think he would have been home by now.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): You feel he was abandoned?

LEVINSON: I feel he was left there. He was a man left behind.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Levinson's family knew all along he worked for the CIA, but kept silent.

(on camera): Why didn't you say what you knew at the very start?

DAN LEVINSON, MISSING AMERICAN'S SON: We were told by the U.S. government that by revealing what he was doing over there would have been harmful to his safety.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): To this day the White House denies Levinson was a government employee.

CHRISTINE LEVINSON: He always did what he always did which was working for the United States government and investigating criminal activities. The United States government hasn't taken ownership of it yet.

CANDIOTTI: The family showed CNN these documents they received from a source in Iran that appeared to prove Iran's role in Levinson's arrest. Neither the family nor CNN can verify whether they are authentic and his name is only partially right. According to a translation given the family by the FBI it reads, a member of the U.S. federal investigation or maybe CIA Robert Anderson is here as an undercover tourist taking pictures and gathering information. Since his spying activities have been established, arrest him immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knowledgeable people say the documents look real and that the people named in them are real and do hold those positions.

CANDIOTTI: The family is outraged the CIA lied for eight months, denying Levinson was working under cover, losing crucial time. The CIA won't comment publicly, but fired three people and paid the family a $2.5 million settlement.

(on camera): Why do you cling to the hope that he is still there and is being held by them?

CHRISTINE LEVINSON: I think that he's valuable. He wants to come home to us. I know he's just waiting for us to bring him home.


CANDIOTTI: Sources say no one seems to know exactly where Levinson is or how he is. Iran has consistently said they have no information on him. The family would like to go back to Iran as they did in 2007 to push for his release -- Chris.

CUOMO: Difficult situation. Susan, thank you for giving us the latest on it. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the governorator's new role. Arnold Schwarzenegger goes undercover as a personal trainer and the video has gone viral.


PEREIRA: We got to show you this. The Arnold undercover, the former movie star and governor, of course, of California disguising himself at a Gold's gym as an instructor dawning wig and a mustache. He didn't pull off the prank. Check it out.


ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Keep drinking because we're not finished yet with the water drinking. If it burns it grows, remember that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You sound familiar to me.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Maybe you saw me on the FBI most wanted list. You look pretty pumped up.


PEREIRA: Here's Arnold, the accent a dead giveaway. The video was for a great cause. He's raising money for the after school all-stars. It is providing free help for students from low-income families. The ponytail, kind of a nice touch.

BOLDUAN: Pumped up. Just had to show you.

CUOMO: I love him to death. I really do. I've always gotten a kick out of him. I thought he was a great change in the political culture. I can't believe how you wouldn't recognize him instantaneously.


CUOMO: That's me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a witch-hunt. That's what former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is calling the controversy surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He will tell us why he's unimpressed by the multiple situations and investigations.