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White Powder Found at Three Hotels near Super Bowl; Interview with East Rutherford, NJ, Mayor; Amanda Knox Convicted of Murder -- Again; Rodman: I Drink Because I'm Bored

Aired January 31, 2014 - 14:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: That's it for me this hour. Breaking news coverage continues though right now with Brooke Baldwin.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin, live on Super Bowl Boulevard here in Times Square. Excitement for the game is palpable. But stand with us just a bit as we begin this hour with breaking news.

Here we are two days before the Super Bowl, an envelope containing a suspicious white powder has been discovered at not just one or two, but three hotels near the Super Bowl stadium, near Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is joining me on the phone.

Susan Candiotti, tell me what you know about the substance that has been found.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, some brand-new information about two of the letters that were involved. We're told from law enforcement officials and sources as well that these letters, six letters were sent to hotels in and around the Super Bowl, three hotels in particular, as well as one additional letter sent to offices of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

They continued the -- this is white powder. We don't know if there was any threat in the letter but we do have this brand-new information.

This is according to East Rutherford mayor -- now that is the city where the venue is -- the Super Bowl is located. And we're being told a letter found at one of the three hotels near the Super Bowl, that was at Homewood Suites in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but that letter was tested. The substance was tested. And they discovered that it was cornstarch.

Now in addition that, I just learned from the New York police department, a little bit more similar information about the letter sent to former mayor Giuliani. This was a letter that was sent to the mailroom, opened by eight people. A field test was done on that substance. They commented that the substance itself is not toxic. They're saying it's not toxic. They are doing further tests on all these letters of course, including the one --


BALDWIN: Let me cut you off because your cell signal is in and out. So Susan Candiotti, we will pull away from her. But you heard the headline there. Some of the substances were tested and one of the substances was actually cornstarch.

So let's go straight to the source, to the mayor of East Rutherford, the city that's hosting the Super Bowl on Sunday, Mayor James Cassella.

We just heard our reporter, Susan Candiotti, sir. You're on with me live.

Can you corroborate what she was hearing? That some of the substance was cornstarch?

MAYOR JAMES CASSELLA, EAST RUTHEREFORD, N.J.: Yes, let me just read what I received. It's cornstarch. We are clear from Homewood Suites and our incident management unit is out of town assisting FBI to coordinate the efforts. There are numerous incidents are going on in the area both sides of the river.

BALDWIN: So Mr. Mayor, I know we have the FBI and the state police and the state of New Jersey investigating this, but if this is cornstarch and if this is merely a hoax, we have federal law enforcement wasting their time on this.

CASSELLA: Correct. It just adds to what is going on with the Super Bowl. There are state troopers all over, FBI and federal authorities and the local police. It's been an intensive security operation.

BALDWIN: And of course we have to treat everything as if this is the real deal.

Let me ask you since I have you about security, sir, the fact that this Super Bowl is happening in your back yard, walk me through. If you are attending this game on Sunday and normally getting the NFL game lately is pretty tough, but how much more difficult is it come Sunday?

CASSELLA: It's very difficult because of the -- when you are talking about a worldwide event like the Super Bowl, this since 2001, since 9/11, the security is extraordinary, way beyond what a normal football game is.

Normally you get patted down. You have to bring your belongings in a clear bag and that's pretty much it. There is a lot of troopers around and local police, but this game brings in national security and the TSA, the FBI, Homeland security, state and local authorities.

As I mentioned, the state has I think approximately 700 troopers that will be working the day of the game. So like a fortress down there, you can't get on to the property of the sports authority right now.

BALDWIN: Understandably so. We have been covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi. We have been talking a lot about the so-called ring of steel, Mayor.

Is there a ring of steel, so to speak, around East Rutherford?

CASSELLA: I don't know if you call it a ring of steel, but you certainly can't go strolling on to the property because you will have dozens of troopers or agents surrounding you. You can't get anywhere near even the property. If you understand and you can see it from the picture, that the stadium is on the sports complex property and that's the whole surrounding area. You cannot get into the complex at all.

BALDWIN: How long do you think it would take someone, one of the fortunate few who has a ticket for the game on Sunday, how long between entering that perimeter and sitting in that seat do you think it will take?

CASSELLA: I could go back, the last Super Bowl I was at was in 2001, pre-9/11. It must have taken an hour and a half to get through security and this was pre-9/11. I have to believe it will take an hour and a half to two hours.

I don't know. I'm sure they are going to do the best they can. With what's going on, what's going on in Russia, you want to be safe. I know there will be moaning, but you know what, we need to be able to enjoy the games and people have to know that there is security and they don't have to worry about anything but who is going to win the game.

BALDWIN: Mayor James Cassella from East Rutherford, New Jersey, stand by if you will. Let me bring in our justice correspondent, Evan Perez, out of the nation's capital.

And Evan Perez, what more do you have on what we have been reporting on, this suspicious substance?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, one thing I wanted to add to Susan Candiotti's reporting at the top, the testing that is done in the field is often inconclusive. One of the things that is going to happen right now is that the FBI and the NYPD and the state police are going to be bringing this material to a lab where they will determine whether or not this is indeed cornstarch or whether it's something else.

The field testing is notoriously inconclusive and it's often wrong. So just out of abundance of caution, they want to do some testing back in the lab. That can take days; it could take over a week. All of the resources that these law enforcement agencies have had to dedicate to this today is something that will continue and as you noted, there is a lot of security already in place.

The pictures were showing the stadium, shows how much further back from the stadium anybody who's trying to get in can even get -- before they have to go through some screening. You and I discussed a few days ago how the TSA will do 100 percent baggage check at a train station, one train station away from the Met Life Stadium stop.

So there are tons of federal agents and local police that are doing all of this. Some of those resources have had to be taken away to try to attend to something like this which, you know, from all appearances may end up being nothing.

Obviously they respond to these things all the time. Again, the resources will be expended today on something that may or may not be worthwhile, Brooke.

BALDWIN: If it's not worthwhile -- you heard the mayor there -- it's frustrating with all these resources to be directed to something that's not the real thing.

Evan Perez, thank you so much for that.

And also Mayor James Cassella in East Rutherford, thank you very, very much.

Coming up here, beyond just talking about the Super Bowl, Amanda Knox says she will run, she will hide. She said there is no way she is going back to Italy. But after being convicted of murder again, will she have a choice? Stay here.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin live here in the middle of Times Square. Super Bowl Boulevard will take you inside in a bit.

But first, Amanda Knox found guilty of murder for the second time. The question today, how long until Italy comes looking for her?

You will remember, Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend were both convicted and then later acquitted of that 2007 murder of Knox's college roommate in Italy, Meredith Kercher.

The accusation? That Knox and her ex, Raffaele Sollecito, killed Kercher after this drug-fuelled sex game spiraled out of control. But the acquittals were overturned last year. That was huge news. She came home to Seattle though a retrial was ordered.

And it's in this retrial that they have been found guilty again. Knox, of course, as I mentioned came back to the United States and went home to Seattle where she is right now, refusing to return to Italy willingly. Take a listen.


AMANDA KNOX, SUSPECTED MURDERER: I'm going through waves of emotion in response to it. My first reaction was no. This is wrong and I'm going to do everything I can to prove that it is. I felt very determined and my family felt very determined.

But it was only on my way here that I really got my first cry. This really has hit me like a train. I did not expect this to happen. I really expected so much better from the Italian justice system. They found me innocent before, how can they say guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I will never go willingly back to the place where I -- I'm going to fight this until the very end. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That was Amanda Knox reacting to this guilty verdict just this morning. Joining me now, Greg Hampikian, he is a DNA expert and professor of biology and criminal justice at Boise State University.

So, Greg, welcome to you.


BALDWIN: Here's the thing that gets me off the top. You have Amanda Knox who was initially acquitted and then convicted on the same evidence. You've looked at the case closely. How does that happen?

HAMPIKIAN: She was convicted first and then acquitted by science. Then the Supreme Court sent it back down to the appellate level and said take a look again. This judge, just like the last appellate judge, ordered a new DNA test and we thought that was great because we know the science will show she is innocent.

That test came back and showed she was innocent. It is another test on the knife, the only test this judge ordered. And it showed there was no victim's DNA on the blade. This was a kitchen knife. It was used for cooking and not for killing. We thought the judge would rule on the new evidence that he requested, the judge and jury.

So it was shocking to see that the science was ignored even though it was requested by the court.

BALDWIN: So that didn't happen. You saw Amanda Knox this morning on ABC News, saying I will run and I will hide. I don't want to go back to Italy.

Do you think though eventually, Greg, she will be extradited? What are the chances?

HAMPIKIAN: I'm not a lawyer and certainly not an international lawyer. There is an extradition treaty. The treaties are written for serious crimes like murder, but there are problems with the case that the lawyers pointed out. I'm sure there will be lots of litigation.

She was tried. She was set free after an exhaustive look at all the evidence and after new testing. So I think there a lot of arguments that would prevent any sort of easy extradition. She still has the Supreme Court to go back to and then the European court perhaps, the European Court of human rights. What this means is a lot more litigation, dragging it out. And Raffaele Sollecito is in Italy.


HAMPIKIAN: Not at the -- at the verdict, but, yes, he's there.

BALDWIN: He's in Florence.

HAMPIKIAN : He's in Italy. Yes. And they will come to get him when they decide that they want to. But that hopefully won't happen. Hopefully the Supreme Court will reverse this back and forth that keeps happening. They'll -- I'm hoping they will say, you ordered this DNA test, why didn't you look at the results? But that's the justice system. We have to see what they do.

BALDWIN: It's incredible watching the whole process and watching the stories evolve over the years and how different the justice system is in Italy versus the one we have here in the United States.

Greg Hampikian, thank you so much for joining me.

HAMPIKIAN : Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, the first time CNN's Chris Cuomo talks to Dennis Rodman on air. You remember this. The star erupted. Then this morning he talked to Chris Cuomo again. And this time it was from rehab. You will hear what Dennis Rodman does not regret. Plus we'll speak live with someone who has been the same type of treatment. You are watching CNN.


BALDWIN: The bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin live in the middle of all the action in Times Square. I got my new friends.

Hey, guys!

All my new friends are behind me here. This is now been transformed into Super Bowl Boulevard. I took a walk around -- we'll show you exactly what this place is.

Here's the tease. I rode on the toboggan. Need I say more? We'll get back to the Super Bowl in just a moment.

Got to talk about this guy, though. Dennis Rodman, retired pro basketball player, friend to a dictator and an admitted alcoholic in his exclusive CNN interview this morning with Chris Cuomo. Dennis Rodman talked about all kinds of issues.

But I want to hone in on one this afternoon, Dennis Rodman's addiction. He has been in rehab less than a month. This exclusive interview is his first since he went in. It happened inside this rehab facility. And I want you to watch what Dennis Rodman told Chris about why he drinks.


DENNIS RODMAN, PRO BASKETBALL PLAYER: For me, the reason why I drink is because I'm bored.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You drink because you are bored?

RODMAN: Absolutely. I've been saying it for years, ever since this 1993, you know, because I need to be active. I need to be productive and just keep my mind on life in general.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: So you heard that. Dennis Rodman said he drinks because he's bored. He also said he doesn't have to.


RODMAN: I have been in rehab, but for me, this rehab, it's like I don't have to drink. I came to that realization 15 years ago, the realization I don't really have to drink. I don't need to go in a bar or a restaurant and fiend for alcohol. That's not my job.

I do it for recreational purposes, that's it, like most people in the world. When they go to a bar or to a restaurant, 97 percent of people have a drink. It could be a glass of wine. It could be anything just very simple. For me it's more like I love to have a good time. I love to be around people and have a good time. For me, yes, I've admitted so many times to that, you know, hey, I drink and people know that.

Am I an alcoholic? Absolutely. I can't deny that.


BALDWIN: Jane Velez-Mitchell, let me bring you in, HLN host and author of the book "Addict Nation." You're here to talk about this because, let me ask you just quickly, Jane, how many years have you been sober?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: I have been sober 18 years and if I make it to April 1st, it will be 19 years.

And first of all, kudos to Chris Cuomo for this incredible exclusive because it really does show us the face of addiction. Dennis Rodman clearly has the ism. And alcoholics and addicts are very proud of their ability to sweet talk their way out of any predicament and they are very good at rationalizing and minimizing.


BALDWIN: Sweet talking?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. He is rationalizing, minimizing justifying and otherwise excusing his horrific behavior because of his pathological need for attention and being in the spotlight. He allowed himself to be used as a PR hack for a horrific dictator and he said I don't know anything about politics.

One Google search can point out that defectors are saying that this buddy of his, this dictator of North Korea, is presiding over labor camps and prison camps and internment camps that are torturing and executing and starving many thousands of people. "But I didn't know anything about that." That's nonsense. He is so driven by the need for attention, he will become a PR hack for a monster.

BALDWIN: His pathological need for attention, I feel like is one issue, and then just the fact that he is sitting in this rehab facility and hasn't been there a month and he said OK, Chris Cuomo, I will talk to you. Let me play one more sound bite and then we'll talk.


RODMAN: I'm high-profile no matter what. Because of this North Korea and all this other stuff, but for me it's going to work it's the fact that I can't go out there and preach the 12 steps of being sober. I can't do that.

CUOMO: Yes, because you are not following them.

RODMAN: Done that so, it doesn't matter if I follow them in 1 to 12 or 6 to 12 or 6 to 1. It don't matter. This is the way I follow them. If I can do at least half of that, half the battles was won.


BALDWIN: Listen, I want to see Dennis Rodman clean for his sake. Truly, honestly I do. But do you think he sounds like someone who is taking this seriously and following the 12 Steps?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. He's wearing sunglasses in the daytime for one thing.

Why is he still wearing the sunglasses? Because a lot of times when people wear sunglasses it's so you can't see their pupils are dilated. Maybe it's just a habit he's gotten into.

But I too wish him the best. He's a serial relapser and we have been covering him for years getting into trouble because of his addiction.

I think that really it does illustrate how he's not bored. He's a spiritually bankrupt. That's where addiction leads you, to incomprehensible demoralization and spiritual bankruptcy. I do hope he takes it seriously. But as great as the exclusive was and I'm very excited that Chris Cuomo got it, when somebody is in rehab, they should be looking at the inside and not trying to talk to the world.

BALDWIN: Not, I know. We appreciate the interview, but focus on yourself. Jane Velez-Mitchell, thank you. And speaking of focusing on yourself, happy almost 19 years, my friend. Thank you so much.


BALDWIN: Coming up next, much more on a developing story out of New York here in New Jersey. These envelopes with white powder have been sent to several hotels near the Super Bowl in East Rutherford. We are told containing cornstarch. But this is tying up resources. Think about that, the money, the attention that's going into this investigation in the middle of a major security event.

We are all over the breaking news next here on CNN.