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Interview with Valerie Jarrett; Dangerous Deep Freeze; Push to Raise Minimum Wage; Remembering Pete Seeger; Unarmed Shooting Indictment

Aired January 28, 2014 - 08:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ice and snow set to cripple communities as the deep freeze misery reaches new lows.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning -- the president announced the plan to raise the minimum wage for many and he's doing it by going around Congress. We're live in Washington and press the White House for answers this hour.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Reaching out, he was wrongly in prison more than a decade. She spent years in an Italian prison. Now the two are talking. How are Ryan Ferguson and Amanda Knox helping each other cope? He joins us live.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: The sun is up here now in the nation's capital. Good morning. And welcome to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday January 28, 8:00 in the East now. I'm Chris Cuomo on Capitol Hill, the belly of the beast.

This is where President Barack Obama is putting the final touches on tonight's State of the Union Address.

Now, why does it matter? Well, he's already made news by dropping the hammer on the minimum wage, doing so without the help of congress. He's doing it by executive order. Will it stand? What will it mean? Are there are other surprises?

We're going to tell you in a moment. But, first, let's get to Kate in New York with our top story.

BOLDUAN: And you know the top story, Chris, it is the cold, that arctic blast that is now hitting half of the county. Take a look at the map. Sub zero cold in the Midwest and Northeast. And now, snow and ice are headed where you at least expect it would, the Deep South.

The effects of the weather are wide-ranging, almost 2,800 flights have now been canceled today. And schools are shutting down across the country spanning from Milwaukee to New Orleans.

We've got the cold covered for you, starting with Ted Rowlands live in very frigid Minneapolis.

The sun is going to start coming up but not the temperatures.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. At 15 degrees below zero right now, Kate, it's absolutely miserable. But it's not just Minneapolis. A lot of folks are waking up to frigid temperatures this morning.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): Millions wake up this morning to dangerous sub zero temperatures in the double digits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is really cold and getting colder.

ROWLANDS: This new blast of frigid artist air bringing coldest temps this winter, and wreaking havoc yet again for air travelers, more than 2,000 flights canceled on Tuesday.

From the Midwest to the Southeast, schools and government offices are closed again as bitter cold air plunges wind chills to 40 below in some states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels like winter has been forever. We're just -- I don't know if we're in the middle of winter yet.

ROWLANDS: Chicago preparing for a historic deep freeze, sub zero temps that will struggle to rise above zero for another day could have the Windy City in the lowest stretch of cold since 1983, forcing schools across the state closed for a second day and commuter trains to slow down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just reduces the stress on the rails to operate a little bit slower. It's kind of a precaution.

ROWLANDS: The brutal cold near record breaking territory say state officials since October. Iowa is experiencing the ninth coldest winter in over a hundred years.

The long cold creating a significant propane shortage across the Midwest.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: We continue to have an exceptionally cold winter.

ROWLANDS: Wisconsin, the latest to declare energy emergency as thousands fear not being able to heat their homes.

Adding to misery, blinding whiteout conditions in the Northern Plains, wind gusts reaching up to 60 miles per hour, blew cars right off the road. In central Minnesota, the howling wind caused massive snow drifts higher than this SUV.

The National Weather Service says much of the country will be shivering with temps up to 30 degrees below normal through Wednesday.


ROWLANDS: And, Kate, nearly two months left of this winter, it has been incredibly cold this morning. It has got to be one of the worst days, at least for us out here. It is bad.

BOLDUAN: And, unfortunately, Ted, you're getting use to cold. So, that means a lot.

Ted Rowlands, thank you so much.

So, for the Deep South, this could be the worst winter storm in decades they're saying. There's already a state of emergency in Louisiana where snow and ice are expected to wreak havoc.

And that is where we find meteorologist Chad Myers, who's live in New Orleans for us this morning.

Good morning once again, Chad.


It just started to rain, and that's bad news, because we're going from where we are now, about 38 degrees, down to 30 later on today. We have schools closed all the way from Texas, all the way to Georgia. We have cancellations on airports now ranging almost up to 2,800 flights, mainly at Hartsville-Jackson, but all around the country. One hundred million under a watch, warning or advisory in 34 states.

It's going to be a skating rink here. This is where the trolley cars would be going if running. They are not because they're sure the power going to go out. If the power goes out, the trolley car stops and it's stranded in one spot and they can't move it. So, if busses are now running, but no more trolley cars today. If you do not have to go out today, please do not.

They're not having kids go to school. Not because it's so cold or because of snow, but because they're afraid of ice on the roadways or even standing on the walkways or walking around.

In less than an hour, this place is going to turn to a sheet of ice. We're going to be here all day, Kate. Please be careful out there, the eastern half part of the county in a bad way today.

BOLDUAN: This is definitely one of those circumstances where it's going to change and change quickly where you are, Chad. Thank you so much for that.

MYERS: You bet.

BOLDUAN: So, of course, everyone is wondering how low will temperatures get and, honestly, how long will they last?

Let's go over to meteorologist Indra Petersons, who's keeping track of the forecast for all of us -- Indra. INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good news, Kate. Tomorrow, things will start to improve. It has nothing to do with today, where 140 million Americans across 34 states are dealing with this arctic chill. So many of you that even in the Deep South, we just saw Chad talking about this.

Look at the threat for icing here. We could see as much as a quarter of an inch in New Orleans and almost near half an inch towards Wilmington. This is the beginning phase. First, you have the icing, and then you have the snow as colder air filters in.

And good amounts when you talk Southern states. Even towards Raleigh, seeing potentially as much as six inches of snow, even New Orleans getting snow. They haven't had that much snow over the last 100 years. So, it's definitely something you don't see often, and it's not a little bit here.

I mean, take a look at what we're expecting across the Gulf today, you could see the cold air is, that's where you see the snow down to the South. Of course, you see more of that wintery mix. It spreads into the Southern states overnight, right around the Carolinas.

And then you have that change in temperatures. We thought yesterday was cold. Take a look at difference already today, about 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. The best to get, Chicago will get to 12 below at the highest peak of the day where the temperatures are the warmest.

That's the wind chill. That's what it feels like. That's all I care about in Chicago.

BOLDUAN: It's all I would focus on as well, and also focus on being out today.

PETERSONS: I would stay inside.

BOLDUAN: Too much soup --

PEREIRA: For meals.

PETERSONS: It would last. I want to leave.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

We're going to continue to track this big story, the weather, but let's also get back to Washington where Chris is handling the other big story.

CUOMO: Oh, Kate, it's cold here and it's a cold wind blowing through the capital this morning, because the president warned Congress he would do it. And he didn't disappoint. What am I talking about?

He moved to increase the minimum wage himself. Now, this is one of the banner issues that he's going to highlight tonight in the State of the Union Address. Perhaps the most pivotal of all, this could be his last chance to get things done as president of the United States. Stakes couldn't be higher. Let's get some perspective. With us this morning, Valerie Jarrett joining us from the White House to help preview what we should be hearing, how effective it will be. She, of course, is a senior advisor to President Obama.

Ms. Jarrett, always a pleasure.


You know, before we talk about the "State of the Union", I do want to say that President Obama has directed his federal agencies to do everything they can, working with state and local-elected officials to brace for this most recent cold patch that's coming and hitting so much of our country so hard.

CUOMO: Good to hear. Certainly, we need the federal cooperation in these situations. States reach out. We, obviously, have the state of emergency, but federal aid always needed when unexpected weather comes. So, good to hear. Appreciate that this morning.

Let's get to business at hand. I'll play the provocateur here because the message being sent by the president, a very aggressive one. "You don't want to do minimum wage I asked you for $9. Now, I'm going to do it myself." How does that encourage cooperation?

JARRETT: Well, I think it's all about the president saying he's going to take action. He's also going to continue to work with Congress wherever he can. He supports the Harkin-Miller bill that's currently pending before Congress that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10, and provide cost of living increases when appropriate.

But at the same time, he doesn't want to sit waiting when there are too many people who are contractors for the federal government who are raising their children in poverty. The current minimum wage is $7.25. That translates into about $14,500 a year. You cannot raise a family on that money.

So, it is within his control, comfortably, to sign that executive order. And he said, "Look, I'm going to use the pen and sign executive orders. I'm going to use the telephone and convene people from around the country who want to partner with us to create jobs and grow our economy. And I intend to take action."

And so, that's what the speech will lay forth for the American people, which he's really looking forward to giving it. And it's going to have concrete specific steps he thinks will create opportunities for Americans who want to work hard and succeed. That's what he thinks his job as president is to do.

So, it is not intended to be provocative. It is intended to be all about a year of action.

CUOMO: But it is provocative. We both know that. And while I understand you about the economic realities, polls show people may be with the president when it comes to how to raise the standard of living, the game, Valerie, the game is not the way you play the game if you want cooperation because now --

JARRETT: Well, you know what, Chris?

CUOMO: -- you are provoking the other side to be resistant.

JARRETT: You know what, Chris? Let me just say very clearly, this is not a game. If you're a single mom working hard and trying to raise your children and have them have a better life than you. This is not a game to people who write letters to the president every night saying that they just want to get a little bit of break and little bit of support. They want a job. They need the skills. They need the education. They need the opportunity.

And if you are sewing uniforms for our troops or if you're helping clean federal buildings, then you should not be raising your children in poverty.

So, this isn't a game. He's very serious. He's serious because he's committed to supporting those Americans who are working with grit and determination and who are resilient and what they are looking for is a little help.

So, the challenge will be to Congress to pass legislation, a call to employers to raise their wages -- and we're seeing examples of companies around the country who recognize it's actually good for the economy. It makes their employees more productive to pay them higher wages.

The president will be visiting Costco tomorrow in Maryland. They pay employees good wage. So, there are good examples around the country of how this works. And he's going to highlight what works --

CUOMO: Right.

JARRETT: -- and he's going to call on everyone to work together.

So, I think it's a very positive, optimistic message.

CUOMO: I understand you about the message. The game is not the economic realities. I couldn't agree more with that.

The minimum wage now just 20 percent. Teenagers, 46 percent of family income --

JARRETT: That's exactly right.

CUOMO: -- for many people coming from minimum wage. It's a very important issue. The question is, how do you get it done?

JARRETT: Well --

CUOMO: We heard about it in 2012. We heard about it in 2013. When I say the game, I'm talking about the game you and I both understand very well, it's played right here in Washington, D.C., and it's about how your get to the point of compromise. The president has been unsuccessful. How does he become successful in getting the other side to want to work with him?

JARRETT: Well, first of all, he's not giving up. He's made it very clear that he's looking for ideas from the other side. He's always willing to compromise. He just needs to hear their solutions.

And on this specific issue of minimum wage, there's a bill pending that he supports that would be bipartisan. And let's see if we can get it done.

But in the meantime, let's support those who want to do hard work. We have examples across the country of states who are raising the minimum wage. When Maryland raised the minimum wage for their contractors, they found they actually had more people bidding, which made it more competitive.

So, we have to highlight what's working. Sometimes if we show what's working to Congress, maybe they'll see what the American people want. That's what's getting supported around the country, and we can move them to action.

So, this is not an either/or. It's a both/and. And he will continue to reach his hand out to members on both sides of the aisle, to see if we can get bold pieces of legislation done.

Immigration reform is something that's passed through the Senate, a very important piece of legislation. The House is now working on it. And we're encouraged by those signs. We have trade agreements that would unleash great potential for American companies to export, and grow and create jobs at home.

So, he has a robust, legislative agenda. But he's not going to simply rest at that. He's going to take action.

CUOMO: He's got to figure out how to get it done with the other side, otherwise, you know his effectiveness is greatly mitigated, greatly reduced. So, it takes us to let's say the second biggest issue. You could argue it's immigration. But I'm going to put hit to the side because when you talk about the urgency, the debt ceiling is really there.

McConnell has said, as you now, we won't allow another default. We're not going to deal with shutdown.

But is the president willing to kind of open a fist, reach out a hand and say, "Let's work together", more than has happened in the past?

JARRETT: Well, as I've said, the president has always been willing to work together. But on this specific issue, he thinks that the United States should stand behind his full faith and credit and pay its bills and we shouldn't be -- you shouldn't hijack that important principle that the global economy depends upon, to negotiate issues that are unrelated to that. That has been the pattern.

So, he's very clear. Let's pay our bills, let's not turn this to crisis. It's heartening to hear both Leader McConnell, as well as Speaker Boehner say they don't want another crisis. We saw what happened at the end of last year when we had the crisis.

There are many issues that we can work on together and find opportunities for compromise, such as immigration reform, such as our trade bills. Let's keep moving forward with the positive momentum.

Over the last 46 months, Chris, we have created 8 million jobs in this country. There are companies that have moved jobs overseas that are now bringing those back to America because they believe in America. We have such reason to be optimistic. The grit and determination of American people and American entrepreneurs and businesses is what gives the president that optimism every morning.

And so, let's do the people's business. And that's what the president is looking forward to outlining to the American people tonight, just how he intends to get that job done.

CUOMO: Valerie Jarrett, thank you very much. Appreciate the perspective. We'll all be watching tonight. It's a big moment. Big moment.

JARRETT: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thanks for joining us on NEW DAY.

JARRETT: My pleasure, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So, please stay tuned to CNN, because we're going to give you the most complete coverage and analysis of the president's state of the union address that you're going to find. We'll be doing it throughout the day, of course, here on NEW DAY. And then tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern, that's when the special coverage starts leading up into the speech itself. Back to New York -- Mich.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Chris, thanks so much for that.

Let's give you a look at your headlines at this hour.


PEREIRA (voice-over): New developments in the dispute over dozens of prisoners. The NATO-led coalition labels as dangerous insurgents. The Afghan government issuing formal release orders for 37 prisoners that were used to be the main American prison in Afghanistan. The U.S. says there's enough evidence to prosecute these men. Afghan President Karzai argues the prison is now a Taliban making factory and should be shut down.

If you are playing Angry Birds on your smart phone, the NSA could be watching. That's the latest revelation -- by documents leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden. The documents show how the NSA monitored Smartphone apps that stream personal data according to the "New York Times." The news comes as the Obama administration says it will let tech companies release more information about government requests for customer data.

Incredible story of survival here. She fell 3,500 feet and survived. Now, 16-year-old McKenzie Weddington (ph) is in the ICU, battered but alive following a skydiving accident. She has a broken pelvis, broken bones in her back and ribs, but apparently, is making progress. Her family says the parachute didn't fully deploy while the skydiving company says it did open completely. Pegasus Air Sports reportedly allowed McKenzie to go solo on her first jump with her father's consent.


PEREIRA (on-camera): Pete Seeger is being remembered this morning as a folk music icon and a champion of civil rights and other social causes. He died last night in a New York hospital at the age of 94. His was a storied career that spanned some seven decades. Here's a look back at Pete Seeger's incredible life.


PEREIRA (voice-over): A gentleman with a gentle voice.


PEREIRA: And a burning passion for a world of causes. Pete Seeger spent his life raising the political temperature often taking heat for his believes.


PEREIRA: He was born in New York City back in 1919. He dropped out of Harvard to pursue his dreams of becoming a musician.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of you may know, his name is Woody Guthrie.

PEREIRA: Seeger helped bring folk music to the mainstream back in the 1940s. He hit the road with fellow folk legend, Woody Guthrie, and landed on the record charts with the weavers.


PEREIRA: His songs include classics like "Where Have The Flowers Gone?" and "If I Had A Hammer" would later be covered by such artists as Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin.


PEREIRA: After releasing 100 records and influencing the musical world, Pete Seeger may not be best remembered for what he sang but for why he sang.



PEREIRA (on-camera): Pioneer of contemporary American folk music. So much to credit him with.

BOLDUAN: A good, long life.


BOLDUAN: Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, critical new development to tell you about in the shooting death of a former college football star. A grand jury refused last week to indict the police officer who pulled the trigger, but now, a second grand jury has handed down its decision. Details on that ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Big developments in the shooting death of former college football star, Jonathan Ferrell. North Carolina police officer, Randall Kerrick, was indicted Monday on voluntary manslaughter charges. A different grand jury had previously decided not to indict. Last fall, Kerrick shot the unarmed 24-year-old who was reportedly looking for help after a car crash.

CNN's Jean Casarez is joining us now with more details. This is something we've been following closely. This is a big development.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We definitely have. You know, the family of Jonathan Ferrell says now this is the first step towards justice. But the question remains, has there been a constitutional violation here. Prosecutors go to the first grand jury. They say there is not probable cause to believe the police officer committed voluntary manslaughter. Prosecutors go to another grand jury. The say, oh yes there is.


CASAREZ (voice-over): Charlotte police officer, Randall Kerrick, indicted Monday by a second grand jury charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of former Florida A&M football player, Jonathan Ferrell.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a guy breaking in my front door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a guy breaking in your front door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He's tend to get down.

CASAREZ: It was September 14th. Ferrell came to this house his car ran off the road into these woods. After climbing out of the wrecked car, investigators believe he banged on the door in an apparent plea for help. The woman inside home alone with her infant child called police fearing for her safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's in the front yard yelling. Oh my God. Please.

CASAREZ: Three officers responded. When Ferrell approached them unarmed, one of the officers tried to subdue him with a taser without success. Officer Kerrick then fired 12 shots hitting Ferrell 10 times killing him instantly. Officer Kerrick told investigators that the suspect assaulted him by unknown means, and he had apparent minor injuries but refused treatment.

Charlotte police called the shooting excessive. Less than 20 hours later, he was charged with felony voluntary manslaughter. The first grand jury declined to indict Kerrick on those charges last week. But the number of jurors present was in question.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What we don't know is how many precisely of the 18 showed up to actually hear the case. The prosecutor says there weren't enough. The defense says that's ridiculous.

CASAREZ: On Monday, a judge ruled that the state attorney general could re-file the case. Prosecutors presented the same charge to a different grand jury that returned an indictment. The defense vehemently disagrees saying, quote, "The true outrage of this community should be at the attorney general's complete disregard of the original findings of our first grand jury."

CALLAN: The defense in this case is saying these citizens did exactly what they were supposed to do by rejecting the prosecutor's case. That argument will certainly be heard throughout this case.


CASAREZ (on-camera): Now, this case will hinge on the state of mind of the police officer. Did he believe that he had to kill Jonathan Ferrell because he thought his own life was in danger? Would a reasonable person, a reasonable police officer have believed the same thing? And Kate, the jury will look at everything.

They will look at the 12 shots. They will look at the succession, how fast did they come together? They will also look at the fact this officer was responding to a burglary call, he believed. The woman was hysterical in the house saying "the man is trying to break into my house." And we learned from the family who has watched the video camera, the dash cam that taser lights may have gone into the chest of Jonathan Ferrell.

He approached the police officer saying in essence, hold off, and maybe that was misinterpreted and the shots came out.

BOLDUAN: Sounds regardless like a long legal battle ahead for Ferrell's family and for --

CASAREZ: And a civil suit has already been filed.

BOLDUAN: I can promise you that. Thank you so much, Jean.

All right. Let's go back to Chris in Washington now. CUOMO: All right. Thanks, Kate.

Coming up on NEW DAY, President Obama pushes through a hike in the minimum wage going it alone. It's going to help some people, but will it hurt his chances of getting Congress to work together? We have details on late breaking developments coming up.