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Michael Grimm Threatens Reporter On Camera; Winter Storm Cripples South; Lynch Ditches

Aired January 29, 2014 - 06:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Take a look at this bizarre scene. This is inside the Capitol Hill Rotunda after the president's State of the Union address.




CUOMO: Almost impossible to believe, but you were just watching New York Congressman Michael Grimm physically threatening a local reporter who just asked about an ongoing federal investigation into his campaign fund raising. The reporter's name is Michael Scotto. He's with us right now. He's from New York 1. And Michael Grimm, of course, gonna force a whole new set of uncomfortable questions.

Michael, it's great to have you.


CUOMO: I don't know what Grimm was thinking. You know, a kid from Floral Park isn't going to back down. And you know, he got that strong island going. You just did a normal interview. You had to ask about the ongoing investigation. What did you make of his reaction?

SCOTTO: I was surprised by his reaction. I asked that question at the very end of an interview about the State of the Union address. I decided to throw in that question about the investigation because we had been waiting to hear from him on allegations that had surfaced just a couple weeks ago. And I asked that question. I really wasn't expecting much of a response. I thought maybe he'd say, you know, "I don't want to talk about that" or, you know, "I've done nothing wrong," something to that extent. And then it kind of devolved into what we saw on television.

CUOMO: Now, you can't hear it that well. So let's go through. It's a good thing you're a reporter, so you can tell us what happened. You seemed to sense something in his eyes when he's looking back at you. What did you see?

SCOTTO: Well, so, what happened was we taped this segment basically as live. It was going to air as-is. And I asked him that question, and he said, "I don't want to talk about it" and walked off. So I then had to turn back to the camera and kind of explain as to why he left the interview.

And I think it was during that time he got really infuriated and then came back to me once I had wrapped up and then leaned over and said what he said, basically saying that if I did something like that again, he was going to throw me over the balcony. I mean, I'm a New York City reporter. I'm used to pushback, but I had never encountered anything like that.

CUOMO: No, right? I mean, look, you cover politics. It can get ugly. There's a lot of threats and things that go on. Do you believe the substance of the threat or are these just angry words?

SCOTTO: No, I don't believe the substance of the threat at all. I mean, I'm not taking it personally. I just think he was angry by the fact that I asked that question. And I think he was even more angry by the fact that I kind of explained to viewers why he was not going to answer that question. So I'm not taking it personally. I'm not frightened by it. I think it's just, you know -- it goes with the territory.

CUOMO: You know him. You've interviewed him a lot. You're a hard- nosed guy. Everybody knows that. You don't pull any punches. But were you surprised by his lack of discretion coming back in front of a camera, whispering as if the mics wouldn't pick it up? He should know better

SCOTO: That -- yeah, I mean, that was surprising. Because he knew. I had told him that we were going to air this as-is. So he knew that this was essentially for all intents and purposes a live situation. And he knew that the camera was rolling. He knew that it was going back to New York 1. So for him to come back and say that, I mean, it was surprising to me. He had to have known. I mean, it's kind of PR 101 not to say anything like that in front of an open mic.

CUOMO: His best defense would be this: did you have a deal with him about what the interview would and would not cover? I won't ask about this. Was that any condition of --

SCOTTO: There were no preconditions. When I spoke to him before the interview began, I didn't really talk to him at all about what we were going to ask. I just said, we're going to do this interview. We're going to air it as live --

CUOMO: So he had no expectation that that wouldn't be asked?

SCOTTO: That was not my understanding.

CUOMO: All right. Michael Scotto. Thank you very much. I'm sorry you had to go through that. But it's great to have the opportunity to talk to you.

SCOTTO: Thank you.

CUOMO: And it will be interesting to see if the congressman follows up with a better apology. He just explained why he was angry. He didn't really say he was sorry.

Michael Scotto of New York 1.

All right. Kate, back to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris. Thanks so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the latest on the winter storm that's thrown much of the south into deep chaos. We're going to hear from Atlanta's emergency management, how they're coping with the snow and the ice just ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This devastating winter storm is shutting down entire states really in the deep south and mid Atlantic, and it's not other yet. Hundreds of children unable to make it home, stranded overnight in school buses and in classrooms, even gymnasiums. In Alabama, five deaths are now being blamed on accidents caused by the storm.

Just take a look at this TV crew car, not covering the story, but becoming the story, skidding out of control on the ice and into an SUV. CNN, of course, has your complete coverage of the extreme weather.

Let's get to Alina Machado in Charleston, South Carolina, where dealing with some up usual weather down there, to say the at least, Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely unusual, Kate. Here authorities have shut down several bridges because of icy conditions thanks in large part to a storm that is still causing major problems throughout the region.


MACAHDA (voice-over): A dangerous wintry mix slams the southeast bringing several states to a standstill. From Georgia to Louisiana, an early exodus of commuters trying to beat the storm home found themselves stuck in horrific gridlock on countless interstates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I about slid into the side rail, myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, once I started sliding, I couldn't control it.

MACAHDO: This far-reaching storm causing havoc from southeast Texas to the Gulf Coast, up through the Carolinas and southeast Virginia, with state-wide emergencies in full effect. In Alabama, at least five people died in weather-related wrecks. Hundreds of National Guard members have been called to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a very dangerous situation. People need to stay at home. MACHADO: Conditions were so bad in Alabama that thousands of students have been stranded, forced to spend the night at school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to reassure all the parents that if you trust your teacher to take care of your child during the day, they will be taken care of tonight.

MACHADO: Extra salt was hauled into Charleston, South Carolina, where crews braced for conditions they don't usually see here. More crews on standby outside, and in here on the lookout for potential trouble spots on the roads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are not used to this. People are used to preparing for tropical storms. They know to board their windows and do those kinds of things. In this situation, there's very little that you can do.

MACHADO: And the problems weren't just on the roads. Thousands of flights were canceled Tuesday, according to The hardest hit airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.


MACAHDO (on-camera): Right now, we are seeing sleet falling here in Charleston. And we've seen primarily rain up until this point. You can see some of the ice that's accumulated here on this trash bin. And you can see the ice pellets bouncing off the top of this bin.

You can also see over here, I want to show you some ice accumulating on the signs. Now this ice, ice like this, has caused several power outages. Several hundred people are without power right now in this area. Kate, crews are working to restore service to those affected.

BOLDUAN: All right, with more ice falling, that's going to be tough. All right, Alina, thank you very much for that, from Charleston, South Carolina.

And as we well know, it is incredible how this storm is crippling parts of the south this morning. Some children were stuck sleeping in classrooms and gyms. Other people sought shelter even in grocery stores overnight.

Let's bring in Matthew Kallmyer. He's the director of emergency management in Atlanta to talk more about this.

Mr. Kallmyer, thank you very much for jumping on the phone. I know you're very busy. I want to get to how this happened in just a second, but first, what are you doing right now to fix this and help folks?


First after all, we are just working with every partner we have out there to try to get these kids off the roadway. And that's the important thing. Whether it be state, county, support, everyone is bringing every asset to bear.

You know, we are extremely grateful that the governor and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency Director and the Georgia National Guard has come to support with all the assets that they can bring to bear so that we can get these children off the roadway, as well as the seniors.

One of the particular area of the situation we had, we had 35 seniors that were on a bus on a trip from a senior conference. And they were stuck on the road since 1:00 p.m. as well. And we were glad to say that during the early morning hours, we were able to get them off the bus and take them to Atlanta Fire Rescue firehouse where they were taken care. It's just incredible work happening out there.

BOLDUAN: Incredible work, but unfortunately, it seems the reality is it's not enough right now. I mean, this is what people are seeing this morning. They're seeing the images of people being stuck on their commutes 10, 11 hours.

They're seeing kids stuck at their schools, sleeping on buses even overnight. And they're also seeing that the governor is essentially blaming it on a faulty forecast. That doesn't seem to be an unacceptable answer. How were you guys caught so off guard?

KALLMYER: I wouldn't say we were caught off guard. A lot of information was shared by the National Weather Service, and one of the things that we take pride in is that we pushed that information to not only of our internal but also our external partners and to help them make informed decisions of what they're going to do.

Federal executive board made a tremendous decision to let employees go in a very early hour, and that was followed shortly thereafter by the local jurisdictions, mainly city of Atlanta, Fulton County. And they got their employees out in a timely fashion. It did get quite hectic on the roadway, but I believe that the elected officials did the right things by releasing these people to get out of harm's way as soon as possible.

BOLDUAN: All right. Mr. Kallmyer, stick with me. I'm going to bring in Carol Costello, my CNN colleague, who is on the ground in Atlanta, living through this whole thing.

Carol, you heard what the governor said, and you're hearing what emergency management is saying right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN, ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: I'm hearing what you're saying, Matthew, and I'm just expressing the frustration of a city as a person who was stuck in traffic for hours and hours and hours. What people are wondering, OK, the snow started to fall at one o'clock yesterday afternoon. Everybody was looking for a salt truck or a plow. I just asked nine people out here. Nobody saw one. When did you begin salting the roads?

KALLMYER: Well, I can tell you for a fact that the city of Atlanta actually got out early in the morning to start addressing the problem spots. One of the things that -- you know, I know the commissionary is quite happy from public works is that we had not a single problem by any of our major hospitals. Both of our trauma facilities have told us they have had no problem --

COSTELLO: Yeah, yeah, but Matthew, that's by the grace of God. You had over a thousand traffic accidents. A woman had a baby inside of her car. There are school children still trapped on school buses on the highway right now 18 hours after it started snowing. A lot of people would say that's unconscionable.

KALLMYER: Great point, Carol, but, you know, I want to make sure that we know what private partners have done to come forward and help these individuals. And Publix, Kroger, Home Depot and various organizations have come forth and done some incredible things to make sure that these people have a place where they can go and get out of, I guess, the cold weather for a little while. And, you know, we're really grateful.

COSTELLO: Yes, but isn't that the responsibility of our public officials? Is it the responsibility of Home Depot to, like, spring up and provide emergency shelter for people who simply cannot get home, for people who had to abandon their cars on roadways and walk to someplace warm?

KALLMYER: It takes every partner to go ahead and make this successful and quite - once again, there are a lot of resources out there that being brought to bear to handle this. But there really is only a limited number of spreaders, graders, everything that can be brought. And they're being used. I can assure you that between the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Department of Transportation, they're trying to take care of every route that they can, major --

We supported them by bringing police passes to help protect them during that process. And once again, just within the city of Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Airborne (ph), Union City, tremendous work for those public safety partners getting out there to do what they can.


COSTELLO: I just want to ask one more question, Kate, if I might. In hindsight and I know it's not your responsibility to shut down Atlanta schools or schools throughout the area, but should schools have been closed before the weather started or even the night before?

KALLMYER: Carol, that's always a question hard to answer after the event happened. You know, we will work with the National Weather Service to make sure that the partners in both the Atlanta public schools and -- public schools get the best information in a timely fashion so that they can ask their administration to make those informed decisions.

We will continue to work with them so that they can be successful as we move ahead. So, once again, it's truly a partnership. We're looking at this -- how we can make this better as we move ahead.

BOLDUAN: And fine tuning that plan I think is an understatement and needs to be handled in an immediate fashion. As Carol is well pointing out, people right now are still in the middle of this and saying that all the resources being brought to bear, that's not a lot of comfort to people who are stuck on the ground.

What do you want to say to folks stuck who are stuck on the cars or for parents who have their kids stuck on buses or stuck in schools? What can you tell folks what they can expect today?

KALLMYER: We can expect for the students is that, you know, we received about a total of 51 buses that needed support. Prior to this conversation, 25 of those were actually rescued and that came from a host of different individuals that -- asked to bear to do that. And we'll continue to whittle that down. There's been some incredible stories about bus operators that have done great things with those children.

I think they don't get enough credit for what they do to make sure that those kids are safe. And they need a little kudos in this event as well. Those bus operators have done great things for these children.

BOLDUAN: They definitely need a lot of kudos in this situation. Hopefully, they don't need to be in that situation again. Mr. Kallmyer, I know you've got a busy day ahead and probably haven't slept much tonight. So, thank you very much. We'll let you get back to work and we'll check back in with you again. Thank you very much for your time this morning. Carol, thanks so much.

KALLMYER: Thank you, Kate. Thank you, Carol.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

We're going to take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, it was the high point of President Obama's state of the union address, attribute to a wounded warrior that brought everyone to their feet. We're going to be live with the details. His story just ahead.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just four days now until the Super Bowl, but for the teams, you know, get ready to hit each other, first, they have to deal with the craziness of the press. Media day. Andy Scholes breaks it all down on the "Bleacher Report.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys. This is the only event all year where fans actually pay to come watch the media do their thing. There's about 7,000 --


SCHOLES: It's pretty understanding. There are about 7,000 fans on hand yesterday to watch this. Now, it usually happened to the stadium where the Super Bowl is being held, but it's cold outside. So, this year they crammed us all inside to the Prudential Center in Newark. Now, you never know what you're going to get at Super Bowl media day. Lots of different people there. Actually, Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, she was on-hand doing her thing. I saw -- right there. You had cheerleaders. People in costumes and tons and tons of media. The biggest mob of the day award went to, of course, Peyton Manning. He had the most guys wanting to ask some questions.

Now, most players enjoyed the glitz and glamour of media day, but not Seahawks running back, Marshawn Lynch. He hid in a corner only speaking with the media for about six minutes of the hour that was allowed. NFL Network's Deion Sanders, he tried to find out why Lynch didn't want to participate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You kind of shy?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just don't want to talk really.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just about that action, boss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'd rather to go get it? You just like to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what it is. I ain't never seen no talking win me nothing.


SCHOLES: "I'm just about that action, boss." That was the line of the day.

BOLDUAN: I hear that from John Berman all the time. He doesn't want to talk. I'm just about that --

BERMAN: You know, it's actually like the president's state of the union address, right?


BERMAN: It's like the year of action. I'm just about the action. Super Bowl, state of the union.


BOLDUAN: Impressive how we combine our big news stories together. Thank you, Andy. Remember that quote for a long time.



CUOMO: It's a good line. Less is more less is more. Coming up on NEW DAY, praise and criticism for the president's state of the union speech. Coming up, we'll give you dueling perspectives, one from DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and of course, the Republican side from Congressman Steve King. They'll be here live to get it on.

BOLDUAN: We'll also continue our coverage on our top story, the latest on the arctic blast and the massive snow pile up, jam up, whatever you want to call it in Atlanta.



BOLDUAN (voice-over): Chaos in the south. The region pummeled by a once in a generation winter storm. Ice, snow, and severe cold trapping young children in schools and on buses overnight and stranding drivers in monster gridlock forcing them to abandon cars and even sleep in home depot stores.