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Prison Escapee Captured; New Florida Stand Your Ground Trial; Iran And The West; Christie Fights Back On Bridgegate; Knox's Ex- Boyfriend Speaks To CNN

Aired February 4, 2014 - 07:30   ET




MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's check your headlines at this hour. I want to show you a live look at Oklahoma City. Boy, that snow is really coming down. All part of a new snowstorm that's moving across a pretty big chunk of the country, snow and ice will fall from the planes to the northeast over the next day or. Millions are going to be impacted. Some spots might even see up to a foot of snow. Really barely leaves time for the east coast to dig out from a storm that rolled through Monday. Leaving slushy roads and thousands of flights cancelled in its wake.

Breaking overnight a two-state man hunt for an escaped prison inmate is over. Michael David Elliot was captured by police in Lafort, Indiana roughly 24 hours after he broke out of a maximum security facility in Michigan. He was serving multiple life sentences for four murders. While on the run, Elliot kidnapped a woman and stole four cars.

Day two of jury selection in a Florida that's being compared to the George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin "Stand Your Ground" case. The 47- year-old Michael Dunn is charged with fatally shooting a black teenager, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, in a dispute over loud music. Dunn told police that during an argument, he saw a shotgun in Davis' car and fired at him in self-defense. Investigators found no weapon.

Iran's nuclear program will be another key topic being discussed today in Congress. The State Department's lead negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman, will go before the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee to talk about the status of the talks. She is also expected to again warn Congress that putting any new sanctions in place could set back the discussions ending Iran nuclear programs.

This one is straight out of Dr. Evil's play book, only it is real. Lockheed Martin has tested what it says is the highest powered laser ever fired. It is a first project funding from the U.S. Army. It could mean the end of traditional missiles. The test is a step toward developing a laser weapon system for air, land and sea use by the military.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: That is very --

PEREIRA: Isn't that a big -- that's a big advancement.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, it's time now for our political gut check of the morning as I have another frog in my throat. In a radio interview Monday, Chris Christie unequivocally denied knowing anything about the political retribution scheme that has tied the New Jersey governor to scandal. For the past month now, this as new CNN/ORC polls show Christie took a huge hit losing support from Republicans as their potential 2016 nominee by 14 points.

Joining us now to talk about it is CNN's chief national correspondent and host of "INSIDE POLITICS," John King with no frog in his throat hopefully this morning. So John, what do you make of the radio interview? He said, unequivocally no, he knew nothing about the bridge closures. Does that move the ball forward for him?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not really, unfortunately. He's standing his ground, but his problem is the investigations are going to take quite some time. You have David Wildstein who says and let's be suspect that David Wildstein says there's evidence to prove the governor's not telling the truth. He hasn't offered that evidence up. He's taken the fifth. He's trying to get immunity.

So again, there are some reasons to say, all right, David Wildstein, you should put up, or you know how to finish that sentence. But he is not going to do that because he's taken the Fifth and he is not going to testify publicly for some time. Here's the problem for Governor Christie, assume he's absolutely telling the truth, but who can vouch for him.

Well, his former deputy chief of staff, Brigitte Kelly, she's the one who told David Wildstein go ahead. She is taking the Fifth. She doesn't want to cooperate. She won't speak publicly right now even if she wanted to defend the governor because her lawyer says quiet.

Bill Stepian, the government's top campaign guy, he was also involved, he's taking the Fifth. He is fighting the investigation. His lawyers say nothing. So the two people closest to the governor who might be able to come forward and say the governor's telling the truth, if that's what they wanted to say, they're being told by their lawyers shut up, don't say anything right now.

So if nothing else, it just means this is going to take a lot of time, a lot of lawyers, could be months and you just showed perception becomes reality in politics. The governor's in a mess and it's hurting him politically.

CUOMO: He's getting intense scrutiny from the media on a day in, day out basis. That's not going to help and I think just that it happened is hurting him. You know, I don't believe, you know I've said this from the beginning. I don't think that they're going to find a causative link between him and any architecture of a payback plot involving bridge-gate or anything else, but the fact that it happened with his people has obviously just been a blow in terms of his leadership quality. Don't you think?

KING: Yes. And already -- remember, he was already sort of abandoned one. He doesn't have a lot of friends in the Republican establishment. Even though a lot of those establishment people thought he was the best horse for 2016 because he is different, because he has such success in the blue state. But among social conservatives, the tax conservatives, the Republican base, he already was a bit of a question mark.

They questioned his views on gay rights. They questioned his views on guns. They are not sure he is one of them. So he was a bit suspect to them anyway. So if he is viewed as damaged goods, they're going to be more reluctant to embrace him.

BOLDUAN: Let's look at some of this really interesting new polling information out, this CNN/ORC poll. Number one as we noted before, a 14-point drop. Now he's at a 10 percent support among Republicans likely to support Christie for 2016. In November, he was at 24 percent. But then let's take a look at the Republican field. I found this surprising, I don't know about you, John. Christie is at 10 percent. That puts him basically tied for third. Who's in first right now, Huckabee?

KING: Just leave that up because the graphic looks better than I do anyway. The Republican Party is known as it's your turn party. They tend to go back to familiar faces. Governor Huckabee has run before. Remember two cycles ago, he won Iowa, but he flamed out, but he's been on the radio. He's had a show on Fox News.

He recently was in a little bit of a mess, if you will, liberals attacking him because he was talking about Uncle Sugar, sugar in a different context this morning, and libido and contraception. You have a lot of people in New York and Washington in San Francisco said my God, guess what, a lot of people in Nebraska and Iowa, and South Carolina might have said good for you, Governor Huckabee.

We're talking about Republicans here, social conservatives, suspect of the media, suspect of government, suspect of Obamacare. So he might have gotten a booster too. But if you look at that list, Paul Ryan was the vice presidential candidate. Jeb Bush is, you know, gold standard name in Republican politics.

Mike Huckabee been around the track before and then Chris Christie falls down a bit. What it tells you is, nobody is winning. Nobody is winning. If this continues, it's going to encourage more and more people. Governor John Kasich, if he can re-election this year of Ohio.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin if he can win re-election this year, if you have nobody or somebody in the mid-teens leading the pack, it's going to convince more people this is gettable. I'm going to get in and you'll have a crowded Republican field.

CUOMO: Huckabee certainly speaks to confusion in the party if nothing else. KING: It will be interesting to see if he runs. Don't under estimate his skills as a hands-on politician. That's why he won Iowa a few years ago in his social conservative graces, but then he flamed out because his record as governor came into play. If you would have asked me two weeks ago, I would have said no way, but if you're Mike Huckabee, and you're looking at that, you're thinking maybe.

BOLDUAN: Right, one way to decide if you're going to run is to see that you're on top of the Republican field at one point to nod you in that direction I guess. If '14 doesn't win a lot of races, though, we'll see what happens.


Remember where we are in the calendar. This is going to take a while, but again, all that confusion shows you that the Republican Party is still at essentially step one of a hundred in trying to find its new leader.

BOLDUAN: And Chris Christie has a long way to go and a lot to deal with still before this is all decided.

KING: Amen.

CUOMO: John makes a good point. People assume it's the lefty media going after Christie. He's been hit by the far right as well so he's got like two different points of attack on him right now.

BOLDUAN: This is a scandal to be dealt with. You're not looking at it through a political sear?

CUOMO: I think ultimately it's going to help him that he keeps getting out in front of it. What do you think? You know how to tweet us.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John.

CUOMO: -- use #newday. We'll take a break here to give you a chance to do just that. When we come back, is this guy the real victim in the Amanda Knox story or at least another victim. We know Meredith Kercher is the real victim.

Ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, she's here, he's there. He's vulnerable to being put back in jail where she may not be. He's telling his story to CNN. You will be impressed and surprised by what he has to say about what he calls Amanda's peculiar behavior.

BOLDUAN: And then the Super Bowl goes to the dogs. We're going to have the highlights from probably your favorite Bowl, the puppy Bowl.


CUOMO: Welcome back. Amanda Knox's ex-says he will stay and fight. Raffaele Sollecito faces more than 20 years in prison along with Knox. Key difference is Knox is in the United States and promises she will not return to Italy. Sollecito is there in Italy and in serious trouble. He told our own Anderson Cooper he feels trapped by Knox's peculiar behavior.


RAFFAELE SOLLECITO, EX-BOYFRIEND OF AMANDA KNOX: I'm trying to be as positive as possible in a situation like this.


So it's very dramatic the situation here now. On the other side, I still have to fight. I've chosen to be here and to fight against the surreal.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "AC 360": The day of the verdict, you crossed border into Austria and then you returned to Italy where the police found you in hotel. Why did you drive all the way to the border on the day of the verdict?

SOLLECITO: I was expecting an exoneration with my girlfriend and I planned a kind of a happy ending celebrating the exoneration with my girlfriend. And I cross the border because there are places which are very familiar to my girlfriend. And I wanted to go there, but as soon as I understood the verdict, I came back in Italy.

COOPER: When you first heard about this new verdict, what did you think?

SOLLECITO: Well, it's really unbelievable to me. I thought it was quite -- kind of unreal. But what is really shocking to me is also the statements from the men -- the presidents after the verdict.

COOPER: You mean the statements by the judge?

SOLLECITO: Yes, I mean -- the president is the judge, of course, sorry. We call him the president.

COOPER: To you, what do those statements mean, what do they say to you about the judge?

SOLLECITO: He recently did an interview to a newspaper saying that I was silenced, and that the reason why, he convicted me. I was silent just because nobody asked to question me.

COOPER: The judge said to the newspaper that your decision not to testify worked against you, that you made a statement but didn't get cross examined. You're saying you were willing to be cross examined, is that what you're saying?

SOLLECITO: I'm saying that I was incurred (sic) to answer any question, and they never asked any question. So basically if they don't ask, I cannot respond, I cannot reply because they never asked anything. You all know that the focus was only through Amanda to her behavior, to her peculiar behavior. But whatever it is, I'm not guilty for it.

COOPER: Do you hold Amanda Knox responsible for the situation you're in now? SOLLECITO: Actually, they focused all their attention on her, and I don't -- I don't -- I cannot understand really why. But on the other side, I'm not responsible for that. So I'm not saying that Amanda is responsible for all this situation. But they focus on her and they accuse her all the time. But I have nothing to do with all these circumstances and all these accusations.

COOPER: Are you still in touch with Amanda at all?

SOLLECITO: Yes, sure, not so often, but sometimes --

COOPER: At this point, do you believe you can get a fair trial in Italy?

SOLLECITO: Actually, I don't know what to think because objectively, there's nothing against me and nothing very strong against Amanda. And in my case, I really did nothing wrong, and I don't want to pay for someone else's peculiar behavior.


BOLDUAN: Peculiar behavior, that's really what a lot of the conversation was all along throughout that trial in Italy. It's funny because we talked to Amanda's U.S. attorney. He was saying it was going to be a year for the next appeal kind of to take place for her. I wonder what that means for him.

CUOMO: Right, you also have to remember, there is a very different perception of these two people in Italy, in the U.K., in Europe in general than there is in the United States. That plays into it as well. It shouldn't we always say that here, but we know it does in our trials. It has there as well. The image of who they are and what they did and how they behaved, both of them really, is very jaundiced in Italy. It's a process that's very confusing.

BOLDUAN: It is confusing.

CUOMO: We don't know what's going to happen now. This was a surprise and it certainly would not have happened in the U.S.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, Sunday's Super Bowl may have shattered ratings records, but there was another game that millions also tuned in to watch. Jeanne Moos is going to tell us who really lit the competition.