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Sochi Security Threat; Bridgegate Scandal Follows Christie; Hoffman Death Investigation

Aired February 6, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A new terror threat at the Olympics. U.S. airlines warned about the new way terrorists could be putting bombs on planes heading to Russia. We're live.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The race is on. Millions struggling to clean up from one huge winter storm, while yet another one gets ready to strike, and this as a big part of the country is without power this morning when it needs it most. Our Chad Myers tracking the very latest.

ROMANS: Facing scandal at home. Chris Christie looks to repair his image on the road, but he may not be welcomed, as welcome as he thinks. The high-profile Republicans who won't meet with Chris Christie this morning.


BERMAN (on-camera): All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS (on-camera): I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour this Thursday morning.

BERMAN: And this morning, there is a new threat against the winter Olympics in Sochi just as the first events get under way. Homeland security here in the U.S. is warning airlines that terrorists could try to hide explosives in toothpaste tubes or cosmetics. And law enforcement sources tell CNN the threat is specifically tied to the winter games.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is in Sochi this morning. And Nick, give us a sense of how serious this threat is considered right now.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, serious enough that Barack Obama is being updated about it, serious enough that we've had a lot of U.S. officials warning about specifics of this being directed towards flights coming possibly from Europe towards Russia, specifically directed towards here, Sochi, or Adler, where the games are being held behind me, specific that it's about toothpaste and cosmetics, perhaps, being used to either smuggle explosives to this venue, or perhaps more likely, detonate them on the airline itself. Now, this is a problem for Russia in its past. In 2004, two planes were blown out of the sky almost simultaneously by two female suicide bombers and speculation then was they actually hidden the explosives in their makeup containers. So, since then, Russia introduced full body scanners at airport and, actually, it was difficult to bring liquids in your carry-on luggage to Sochi.

A mixed picture, but they've introduced heavy restrictions on that. So, not even 100 millimeters like you have in the United States. But still today, a senior Russian figure saying, look, you know, that we're hearing this alert means that the cooperation and our systems are working, that we're on top of this and saying, of course, that if it's proven to be serious, they'll beef up measures here.

But still, senior U.S. politicians saying that intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Russia simply isn't good enough.


PETER KING, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: They are not sharing enough intelligence or virtually any intelligence with us as to what's happening within Russia. They're afraid that, somehow, we will use that to our advantage. We have very close relationship with our allies, other than the Russians, but the Russians, for instance, are cooperating nowhere nearly as much as, you know, the British did, the Chinese did, the Greeks did.


WALSH: Now, I've just spoken to a senior Russian security official who said, look, you know, we are talking about these things with the Americans. Most likely, this threat would have been discussed as well. So, I think the question will be, as people are beginning to digest what this means, what impact it has on arrivals here. U.S. athletes arriving in force today. We've seen people still turn up in large numbers.

There is, in many ways, a dragnet laid down behind me, that ring of steel. One German snowboarder I spoke to yesterday on his arrival said he went, "wow!" when he landed at the airport and saw the sheer number of troops on the runway. So, yes, there are measures in place here. The question is, can the Kremlin take the talk away from security and get everyone focused on the sport that starts in earnest tomorrow with the opening ceremony -- John.

BERMAN: That's right. Opening ceremonies tomorrow night. Nick Paton Walsh for us in Sochi. Thanks so much, Nick.

ROMANS: All right. Also this morning from the Midwest all the way to Maine, millions are cleaning up and trying to recover from a huge storm that brought snow, ice, misery to millions of us. The second bad storm this week. There's even more, we're told, to come.

BERMAN: More than a million customers in nine states waking up without power this morning. Pennsylvania the hardest hit. About three-quarters of the outages are in that state. This is the result of snow and ice that fell from the storm. Look at that truck underneath that tree. A lot of trees came down, making driving very, very treacherous. In the night, cold, awfully cold for a lot of people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been rough, you know? Homes don't have heat. You know, the roads are horrible still.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winter's really been rough. We haven't had a winter like this in almost three years, I think.


ROMANS: The good news, now that the storm has lifted, many fliers left stranded could get in the air again this morning. Some 3,000 flights were grounded because of the weather, 3,000, leaving a lot of people stuck waiting for word from their airlines.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lady says, hey, we're trying to reroute you on United. We'll get back to you. Well, that was a couple of hours ago. So, we're just sitting here and, you know, actually watching a movie here, just passing the time.


BERMAN: Like a double feature. All right. Kansas still trying to clean up from the foot of snow that fell on much of that state. One of the things getting in the way there is the brutal cold. The high temperature there only expected to be around 10 degrees. The roads there very, very icy. So far, at least three deaths in car accidents in Kansas this week are blamed on the weather.

ROMANS: It's bitter cold in Chicago, too, leading to continued warnings over the ice falling off the city's famous skyscrapers. The sidewalks are slippery, and in many other places as well, so be careful if you're heading out.

BERMAN: All right. A big problem dealing with all this ice? A shortage of salt. This winter has been so bad that many places are just running out of salt. So, look at this ship. This ship is coming across from Canada to Wisconsin and bringing with it 50,000 tons of salt. That will be distributed in Wisconsin and Illinois to help de- ice the roads. So, thank you, Canada.

ROMANS: That's why they're our best friends.

Salt shortage also causing issues here in New York. Officials warning today, take it slow. I can't -- it makes me twitch to even look at those midtown traffic problems. The snow, the sleet that fell started to melt and then re-froze overnight, meaning, roads could be like a sheet of ice.

BERMAN: All right. Chad Myers, slipping on the sidewalks for the last day, but he picked himself up, brought himself in to deliver the weather for us. Hey, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, even walking to work today, it was slippery. There were spots on every sidewalk that looked like it was just shiny, looked like it was wet. It's not wet when it's 25 degrees. It's icy. There's ice everywhere. You find me one city in the northeast that's above freezing right now, and I'll pay you a buck, because 30 in D.C., that's as warm as I can get, 26 Atlantic city.

MAYBE something up and down the Jersey Coast could be at 32, but everybody else is freezing and it doesn't warm up above freezing in any of these cities, especially the cities that have seen these power outages for the next couple of days. D.C., 39, but New York City, 31, that's the highest you're going to get on Saturday with morning lows down around 10 in some suburbs.

And if you don't have power, 10 gets cold really, really fast. Now, the storm that we talked about for Sunday. I do believe that the storm has tracked or will track farther to the north now. We'll get a couple of inches across the northeast. I mean, we're not going to get a couple of feet, which was the big threat. The couple of feet will be up into Maine and also up into Nova Scotia. At least that's something good.


BERMAN: All right. Sorry, Canada, but thank you, Chad. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: It's good, unless, you are watching us from Nova Scotia right now. Thanks.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-seven minutes after the hour. Immigration reform may have hit a road block in the House of Representatives.


BERMAN (voice-over): Several prominent conservative Republicans are pushing back against leaders in their own party, insisting that now is not the time to try to get reform done. They've been telling reporters that they think it's better to wait until next year when the republicans might control both the House and the Senate.

ROMANS (voice-over): New worries this morning over nuclear talks with Iran. The foreign minister telling reporters Washington's , quote, "wishes are unlikely to come true," saying the U.S. wants Iran to give up significant parts of its nuclear programs but insisting those demands will not be met.

BERMAN: In the Senate today, another chance to move forward on restoring unemployment benefits for more than a million Americans. Democrats are pushing ahead with a procedural vote over a bill that would start sending checks again, but Republicans have been cut off from offering amendments, meaning, it's not clear if there are the 60 votes necessary to advance the bill. I would not bet on it. ROMANS: All right. Big picture on the state of the jobs market. Tomorrow, the jobs report comes out. Severe weather across the country, everything from the winter storms to the California drought expected to have an impact on that number. CNN Money's survey expects the jobless rate to hold steady at 6.7 percent with 178,000 jobs added.

We've heard manufacturers, real estate agents, auto dealers complain that the cold weather is hurting their business. We'll see if it's hurting job creation as well.

The market in Asia closed mixed. Europe doing well. U.S. futures right now are higher. Our headline from CNN Money is stocks look steady, except if you're Twitter.


ROMANS (on-camera): Twitter's stock down big time this morning.

BERMAN (on-camera): That jobs report could not be bigger tomorrow morning. All right minutes after the hour.

New accusations today against Justin Bieber about his flight to the Super Bowl. A police source tells CNN that pilots told the singer and his father to stop smoking pot, something they allegedly ignored. The pilots reportedly said the smoke was so thick, they had to put on oxygen masks. The star was questioned for several hours, but no drugs were found, and so, no charges will be filed.

ROMANS: But when they landed at Teterboro, the authorities were already there waiting for them when they came off that plane. So, clearly, they had been alerted that something was going on there.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up for us, Chris Christie heads south on a big fundraising tour for his fellow Republicans, but some of those fellow Republicans, major players, staying away.


BERMAN: We'll tell you about the new controversy surrounding the New Jersey governor, coming up next.


BERMAN: All right. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, heads for Texas today, taking part in Republican fundraisers far from his New Jersey home, far from the scandals of his administration, but are they following him? Two top Republicans there -- really doesn't get any more top than this -- Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott, they will not be there to greet Chris Christie.

So, let's bring in CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser. Paul, Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, these guys are big in the Republican Party nationally, let alone Texas. What does that tell you, that they're not willing to appear with him? PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: This is a very, very interesting story line. Remember, it was just, what, a couple weeks ago, John and Christine, that we were going through this when Chris Christie was in Florida, when he had those large events down there with Rick Scott, the Republican governor down there who's running for re-election, but this is a different situation.

When he was in Florida, and we spent a lot of time talking about that, those were big events. This time around, Chris Christie's doing a lot of smaller, one-on-one donor meetings in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Where is Greg Abbott going to be? As you mentioned, he is the Texas attorney general. He's also the likely Republican nominee for governor this year. He's not going to be in Dallas-Ft. Worth with Rick Perry -- I mean, with Chris Christie.

He is going to be in Houston. And, the Texas governor, Rick Perry, won't be there either, likely presidential candidate in 2016. He will not be teaming up with Chris Christie. Guess what? National Democrats made sure we all knew about this. They were blasting out e- mails to those of us in the national political press corps, highlighting the fact that these two top Republicans won't be with Christie.

We, at CNN, though, thought it was important enough story to send one of our top political guys, Peter Hamby, down there. He starts reporting later today -- John and Christine.

ROMANS: You know, well, the whole world's so interested in how well he's doing his job. He's running the Republican Governors Association. No. The whole world trying to figure out what it means for 2016. What does it do to his chances, this sort of reception or lack of reception?

STEINHAUSER: You know what this is, right now, it's not a great story line, obviously, for Chris Christie. He's trying to get back to the perception of business as usual, both as governor of New Jersey and as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which a lot of people see as a stepping stone for him to running for the nomination in 2016.

So, yes, it is definitely a distraction for Chris Christie. How long does it go on? Probably for a while. Every time he takes one of these trips, he's got one next week to Illinois. We'll be talking about this, and that is not helpful to Chris Christie right now.

BERMAN: Yes. It's ironic, because the RGA post was actually supposed to be a stepping-off point for a presidential run. Going around the country appearing with people is supposed to help you run for president. Now, it's actually potentially seen as a minus there. So, that in and of itself a big problem.

On the subject of 2016, because we can't resist, Paul, we've got a couple prominent candidates making some pretty, you know, prominent statements over the last 24 hours about whether they will run.

STEINHAUSER: And they did it where else, but right here on CNN, OK? So, let's talk about those two prominent Republicans. There were some whispers out there the last couple weeks, would Mitt Romney go for it a third time? Would he run for the White House a third time? The answer is no. Mitt Romney saying that very clearly yesterday with Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

Listen, Mitt Romney, he wants to stay in the political -- he wants to be, you know, in the spotlight, but no, he is not going to make a third bid for the Republican nomination and then for the White House. And Secretary of State John Kerry, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, does he want to run in 2016 like another possible former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton may? The answer definitely no from him.

He told our -- yesterday on "THE LEAD" that, no, he is not going to be running again for president. He said secretary of state is his last position. That interview with Jake Tapper -- guys.

BERMAN: So, no John Kerry, no Mitt Romney. Someone needs to reach out to Mike Dukakis very, very quickly to see if Massachusetts will be prominently represented in 2016. Paul Steinhauser, thank you so much.

STEINHAUSER: Thanks, guys.

ROMANS: All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us this morning. Hi, there!

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How are you doing, my friends? Obviously, we're going to spread out about the Olympics. They're starting today. We have to follow the latest information about the threats that are ongoing. There's a new one issued by the U.S. involving toothpaste. You guys have been handling this morning. We'll unpack it and obviously cover it as many different ways as we can.

We're also going to talk about one of the events there. Why? Well, Shaun White is going for Olympic gold history, right? He's our best hope for achieving that right now. You're looking at this new type of ski event, slope-style, it's called, where they kind of freestyle down this thing. The jumps were too high. It was too dangerous. People were getting hurt. Shaun White pulled out.

We're going to talk to an Olympian who's going to go through with it and keep trying it. Is it too dangerous? You know, what's the whole deal with that? We'll hear from an Olympian's perspective.

Also, we're going to take you through a story. Affluenza, remember it? Now, we have the lawyer on, finally, for this kid. The sentence has been confirmed by the judge now, will not be contested anymore. And what is this really about? They say that people have it all wrong, the lawyer today, that you misunderstand what affluenza's about, that word was never used. This has all been taken out of context. It makes perfect sense. So, the lawyer will make the case today. We've been waiting for this for a while. So, it's good to finally be able to close this one up and get people talking about it again. ROMANS: And I think he's the guy who's been very critical of the media saying that the media has poisoned the justice system. So, you know?

BERMAN: And I'm excited to hear about slope-style, because accountability loves slope-style.

CUOMO: Accountability loves the word slope-style alone.


BERMAN: All right. See you in a little bit.

ROMANS: Slope-style. All right. Thanks, Chris.

Coming up, new charges overnight against three people, these three people connected to the drugs, we're told, in Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. What police are now saying about the drugs that killed him? That's next.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. New developments this morning as police investigate the apparent overdose death of actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Three people have now been formally charged in connection with the drugs found in Hoffman's apartment, including 57- year-old Robert Vineberg (ph), a musician who apparently had Hoffman's phone number in his cell phone.

A law enforcement source tells CNN that a large amount of what is believed to be heroin was found in his apartment. Also charged with drug possession, 22-year-olds Juliana Luchkiw and Max Rosenblum. Their lawyers insist their clients had nothing to do with Hoffman's death.


DANIEL HOCHHEISER, ATTORNEY FOR MAX ROSENBLUM: Searching for a scapegoat to solve the overdose of an addict is a fool's errand. My client, by all accounts I know of, has nothing to do with Philip Seymour Hoffman.


BERMAN: Overnight, there was a candlelight vigil in New York City for Hoffman at the theater company where he was once the artistic director. An autopsy, so far, is inconclusive. It could be weeks before toxicology results make clear how he died.

ROMANS: Coming up, nothing says a good TV like Sony, but there's some big news this morning about the future for the electronics giant, and TVs aren't in it.

BERMAN: Really?

ROMANS: Yes. BERMAN: That story in "Money Time," next.


ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time" for you. That horrible stock market sell-off has stalled, at least for now. Japan closed basically steady, Hong Kong higher, Europe also higher, and stock futures in the U.S. are up right now, except for Twitter. Watch Twitter shares. That's likely to be a big mover today. It's not going to be pretty for those of you who own twitter. Not a great look under the hood in its first quarterly report ever.

Now, the next big signal on the economy comes tomorrow with the government jobs report. That is likely why so many investors are on the sidelines here waiting for that big report.

Sony, another big story this morning. It just can't compete in the PC market, so it's getting out. The Japanese electronics giant selling its money-losing bio-PC unit, spinning off its television business and slashing 5,000 jobs. Sony also warning of a loss of $1 billion this year. This comes as a big surprise. It is much more than people had thought in previous estimates. Sony's turn-around plan just not working, it seems. The company hoping these moves will help.

Coke in a K-cup. Plans are in the works. Think about that. Coca- Cola teaming up with Green Mountain Coffee to produce Coke products in those little, single-serve, plastic pods. Keurig, the maker of the K- cup, expects to release a cold system within a year to dispense carbonated drinks, waters, juice and sports drinks. Coke's in it for the long haul, paying $1.2 billion for a 10 percent stake in Green Mountain.

It's a ten-year partnership. Coke thinks it's a good deal. So do investors, by the way. Green Mountain's stock exploding, up 43 percent in premarket trading. Shares of Coke are higher as well.

BERMAN: Exploding like a shaken bottle of coke.

ROMANS: Exploding like an over carbonated bottle of Coke.

BERMAN: So, here's the thing, if I wanted to be in the carbonation business, if I wanted to carbonate my sodas myself, I'd be -- you know, I would do it, but I don't want to do it myself.

ROMANS: John, who doesn't like change can still buy your Coke the way you've been getting coke for 100 years. The rest of you, who are more modern would be able to make it yourself.


BERMAN: "NEW DAY" starts right now.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I believe that anybody who wants to go to the Olympics should go. CUOMO: The games have begun. The first contest of the Olympic Games happening right now, but is it also a race against time to head off an attack. A new warning from the U.S. that terrorists may be using toothpaste tubes as bombs. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Blackout. A million people waking up without power this morning. The Midwest and northeast digging out from a brutal snow and ice storm with yet another storm not far behind.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tearful testimony. The former cop accused of gunning down a man for texting at the movies shedding tears at his bond hearing as his alleged victim's widow breaks down describing what he took from her.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "NEW DAY." It's Thursday, February 6th, six o'clock in the east. I got all that right so far. And ready or not, let the games begin.