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Justice Department Announces New Federal Policy on Same-Sex Couple; AOL CEO Apologizes for Controversial Comments and Reverses 401(k) Policy Change; College Basketball Player Shoves Fan; Olympics Continue in Sochi; France's President Hollande Visits the U.S. Alone; Senator Slamming Former President

Aired February 10, 2014 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Avoid the regional carrier through Wednesday and make alternate travel arrangements for the airlines flights to New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, as well as Toronto.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: New video released this morning of American Kenneth Bae at a labor camp in North Korea. Bae, an American missionary who has been held there for 15 months, says he is worried about his health since he was moved from a hospital to the camps but that he is trying to stay strong both mentally and physically. In the meantime former U.S. Ambassador Donald Greg has arrived in Pyongyang this morning, this following North Korea rescinding the invitation for a different U.S. envoy to visit and discuss the fate of Kenneth Bae.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Another round of peace talks getting under way in Geneva on the Syria crisis. Discussions last month brought little progress. More than 600 people were evacuated from the city of Hom Sunday after gunfire erupted despite a cease-fire. Syria State TV says most of the people evacuated with were women, children, and seniors.

BOLDUAN: Investigations are underway in the two separate car accidents caused by drivers going the wrong way. Six people were killed in California early Sunday when the driver crashed into two other vehicles. The drive survived, is in the hospital now facing charges including a DUI and manslaughter. And then in Tampa, Florida, a driver slammed head on into a car carrying four people in their young 20s. No one in that wreck survived.

PEREIRA: Also in California, residents of a northern California neighborhood are still unable to return to their homes after police found a stockpile of unstable explosives inside a home there. They made the discovery while responding to a report of a man injuring his hand in some sort of explosion in the home. Shasta County police says a 63-year-old man was making model rockets when he nearly blew his hand off. That home is declared unsafe and volatile. Authorities are now working to get dozens of neighbors back into their homes as soon as possible. BOLDUAN: The weather a story again this week. Officials in Atlanta are preparing an advance for a winter storm that is set to hit the south. How bad will it be this time? Let's get straight over to meteorologist Indra Petersons who is tracking that for us.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just take a look right now into the southeast at some of the snow totals we could potentially see here as we go through Wednesday. It's never a good thing. We saw several inches in Atlanta just several weeks ago and once again heavy snow for them. Again, we could still see anywhere from two to even three inches around Atlanta and south. So that's a concern.

And it doesn't end there. We still have the potential even for some icing, as much as a quarter of an inch of ice is possible, even about a tenth of an inch around Atlanta. It is the same setup we saw a few weeks ago. Notice how cool the temperatures are, a good 20 degrees below normal in the Midwest. In the northeast, 10, 15 degrees below normal today for their highs. That cold air again sagging to the south and intersects with that moisture around the gulf.

So today it's warm around the Gulf so they're going to be talking about rain. But as that cold air makes its way farther to the south, temperatures drop overnight tonight, they're going to start waking up with the chance for icing. Again, the bigger threat Tuesday night through Wednesday as the second wave makes its way through and we all know that big concern as we go through the southeast today over the next several days. And it's even possible for the northeast Wednesday and Thursday we're talking about more snow here. I don't want to say it, guys.

BOLDUAN: Another week? Here we go.

PETERSONS: Yes, no thanks.

CUOMO: Keep tracking it.

Now to a major gay rights milestone. Today the Justice Department will extend the same federal protections to married same-sex couples that are given to other married couples. Important and controversial because the protection will extend to the 34 states where gay marriage is not legal. Senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is in D.C. following the historic announcement. Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. That's right. Attorney General Eric Holder is going to make official later today what he revealed over the weekend, and that is the federal government is now going to start recognizing same-sex marriages in all 50 states, even in those states where same-sex marriage is not legal.

Now, the attorney general did point out this is only going to apply to areas where the federal government has jurisdiction, such as court proceedings, bankruptcy cases, survivorship benefits issues, and so on. But this was something that was immediately criticized by social conservative groups. The Family Research Council came out with a statement right away blasting the administration, saying this was another example of the lawlessness of this White House.

But Attorney General Eric Holder said this is about equal protection under the law. And going further than that, this is a White House that sees same-sex marriage as the civil rights issue of our time, gay and lesbian issues as the civil right issue of our time. That is why you saw in this U.S. delegation to Sochi a number of athletes who were openly gay.

Don't be surprised if you see this White House or this president later today make a statement about Michael Sam, that college football player who announced over the weekend that he is gay just before the NFL draft, would not be surprised if we hear from the president or this White House on that one, as well. Kate?

BOLDUAN: A historic announcement this morning. Thank you so much Jim for that.

So you may want to check your freezer this morning if you bought beef over the last month or so. A major recall affecting more than 8.7 million pounds of meat after federal agents say it came from disease and unsound diseased animals. The recall products were produced and shipped between January 1 and January 7. The USDA inspection mark reads the following, "EST527," and the case code number to look out for ends in a 3 or a 4.

CUOMO: Another recall to tell you about, this one involving Uncle Ben's infused rice. Mars Foods is issuing the voluntary recall of five and 25 pound bags of the product that were distributed in Texas but possibly other states as well. This comes after several school children and staff in Katy, Texas, became sick after eating the rice during lunch. The company says other Uncle Ben's rice products are not involved.

PEREIRA: A Utah couple had been married all of two weeks when the wife died base jumping with her new husband in Utah's Zion National Park. Authorities say Amber Bellow fell some 2,000 feet after her parachute failed to open properly. Officials say the extreme sport of base jumping is actually illegal in that park.

BOLDUAN: This morning a mother speaking out after AOL CEO Tim Armstrong blamed her distressed pregnancy as one of the reasons behind a change to the company's 410(k) benefits. Listen here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me it did sound like the implication that somehow we were greedy consumers of health care benefits, that we had kind of gobbled up more than our share of the pie.


BOLDUAN: Armstrong apologized for citing the woman as an example of why the company was deciding to change how they match employees' 401(k) contributions. In an email Saturday he said the company would go back to matching contributions each pay period instead of yearly. CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik is joining us with much more on this.

This probably understandably created a lot of outrage after you talk about this.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Definitely. You have to think about what happened. On Thursday Armstrong announced this 401(k) match would change. It would change from going from per paid period to being given in one lump sum. So only employees who stayed at the company would be able to have that match and anybody who left earlier than that wouldn't be able to get that much. And even people who stay at the company for the year, they're not getting that compounding benefit of having that money put in on a more regular basis. It really didn't cause much of a fuss until he came out and gave the reasons why.

BOLDUAN: What was the outrage?

KOSIK: The reaction was complete outrage on social media, and here is why, because he pointed to two what he called distressed babies that cost the company about $1 million each in 2012. He also blamed Obamacare. He says Obamacare is causing health care costs at AOL to rise more than $7 million.

But it's hard to feel empathetic for him because his own compensation quadrupled to $12 million in 2012, and even the "Wall Street Journal" pointed out he may have violated some HIPPA guidelines by pointing this two, quote, "Distressed baby cases" because of HIPPA guidelines. You're not supposed to share this kind of information with just anybody.

BOLDUAN: At the very least it's insensitive to be bringing this up in front of the entire company.

KOSIK: Of course, and this is also the first time. He has had a history of this. Back in August he actually fired one of his employees, a creative director, in front of people sitting there. He was in the middle of a conference call. It was just sort of coming out of nowhere. People are wondering how can he keep his job? Because the bottom line is looking good right now for AOL.

BOLDUAN: Not over yet.

CUOMO: The stock is up 15 percent, revenues up 13 percent, 14 percent. And they want to cut costs. It's an important reminder for people watching, what works in business versus what all the politicians are talking about with fixing inequality. These are the rules of business.


BOLDUAN: Alison, thank you very much. And an important reminder, the mother involved in all of this who spoke out about the fact that her baby was one of the distressed babies that was mentioned by the CEO, she's going to be speaking about her family's story tonight on CNN on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" at 7:00 p.m. eastern. You do now want to miss that. PEREIRA: Let's take a look what is in the papers this morning. In the "Washington Post" security experts say computer hack attacks against Target and other retailers may just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In fact they're warning of a potential wave of cybercrimes as hackers become more skilled of breaching antiquated payment systems. According to the FBI, nearly two dozen companies have been attacked in cases similar to the Target breach. Officials say more will certainly fall victim in the months ahead.

To the "Wall Street Journal" reporting that millions of Americans are falling through the cracks of the new health care law. With nearly half of all states declining to expand Medicaid, 4.8 million Americans now earn to little to qualify for subsidies to buy private coverage but are also ineligible for existing state Medicaid program. The result is lower income workers get no help while better off workers get taxpayer subsidies.

In the "New York Times," today two members of Congress will push the NFL to support a name change for the Washington Redskins. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole say the name is a racial slur and hint they would reconsider the NFL's tax exempt status if it doesn't take steps. But the Redskins are firing back, saying Congress has more important issues to deal with. Chris?

CUOMO: Thanks. New this morning, he's a top NBA prospect but he's got to learn to keep his cool. Oklahoma state guard Marcus Smart is being disciplined for shoving a Texas Tech fan in a game over the weekend. Andy Scholes is at the CNN Center in Atlanta with details. What does this mean, Andy?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I was watching this game on Saturday night. When I saw Smart shove the fan I was like, oh, boy. But my first reaction to it was that the fan must have said something really, really bad to make Smart react like that. Immediately after the shove rumors started flying around the internet that Orr used racial slur.

Orr says that's not the case. In a statement he said he regrets calling Smart, quote, "A piece of crap," but wanted to make it known that he did not use a racial slur of any kind. Smart owned his actions and apologized to Jeff Orr and his entire team.


MARCUS SMART, OKLAHOMA STATE: This is now how the program is run, it's not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me. I can't let that happen again. It's a lesson I have to learn from.


SCHOLES: So Smart will miss a big three-game stretch for Oklahoma State. As for Jeff Orr, he usually goes to every single Texas Tech game but he has voluntarily said he's not go to go to any more this season.

CUOMO: A lot of fans can be really ugly. That's certainly not unheard of in the NBA. You got plenty of those guys pushing also. But on that level, if the kid just does what he needs to do and keeps playing great on the court, do you see this mattering to him when it comes to draft time?

SCHOLES: Not at all. Marcus Smart even came back to Oklahoma State this season when he would have been a top five pick in last year's NBA draft because he wanted to help the Cowboys get further in the NCAA tournament. He's still going to be a top-ten pick. GMs are saying they're more concerned about his jump shot then they are about any character issues.

CUOMO: It is getting ugly out there, though. People have to learn sometimes there are consequences when you run your mouth. Andy Scholes, thank you very much, appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: And spoiler alert for you right now for Olympic fans. We're going to give you one early result, so close your ears for the next 10 second. American Julia Mancuso has to settle for the bronze in the woman's super combined skiing event in Sochi. She had the fastest time in the downhill but fell behind in the slalom run. She finished about half a second behind Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who took home back the gold.

CUOMO: I'm greatly disappointed. More Olympic results for you from Sunday, the U.S. competes. Fellow American Sage Kotsenburg won on the men's side, so we got both. British history also made. Jennie Jones took the slope style bronze to win Britain's first medal in any snow sport.

BOLDUAN: In team figure skating it was a night for Russian pride. The host country dominating the event, winning its first gold of the games on the shoulders of 15-year-old phenom Yulia Lipnitskaya. Canada took silver, the U.S. team anchored by great performance, by 18-year-old Gracie Gold and Meryl Davis and Charlie White took bronze.

CUOMO: A big disappointment for American skier Bode Miller after he finished a distant eighth in the men's downhill. Miller still has a chance to medal in either Friday's super combined event or the Super G on Sunday. If he gets one it would make Miller the oldest alpine skier ever to win one.

BOLDUAN: Dutch speed skater Ireen Wust became the first openly gay athletes to medal at the Sochi games. There are just seven openly gay athletes competing in the Winter games at an Olympics that has come under scrutiny because of Russia's law banning so called gay propaganda. But Wust says Russian president Vladimir Putin hugged her and wished her the best.

CUOMO: Following the medal counts? Of course you are. Here are the standings so far. Right now Norway in the lead, seven medals. The Netherlands, United States, Canada, Russia all follow with four. Austria rounding it out with two. Mick.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at what is trending. The "Lego Movie," did you see it? It clicked with audiences, dominating the box office this weekend, $69 million. It's the second largest February debut ever. George Clooney's World War II drama "The Monument's Men" took second. And Ice Cube's "Ride Along" snagged third.

More bizarre behavior from Shia LaBeouf. The actor was attending a movie -- premiere in a tuxedo but get this, with a paper bag on his head that read, "I am not famous anymore." It's the line he repeatedly twitted for nearly a month. He also appeared kind of disheveled and missing part of a tooth at a press conference Sunday. He uttered some sort of quote about seagulls and sardines, and then stormed out of the press conference.

And you may call it a copycat but they call it parody art. Check this out, lines are snaking out the door for a dumb Starbucks shop in California -- in Los Angeles actually. All the products, menus, even the CDs for sale have the word "dumb" in the name. Creators say calling the shop "parody art" means the shop is an art gallery in the eyes of the law and making fun of the chain is the only way they say they can legally use Starbucks intellectual property.

CUOMO: Good luck with that.



PEREIRA: I was going to ask the lawyer among us where did he think that stands.

CUOMO: Good luck with that.



French President Francois Hollande arrives in the United States today in France's first official state dinner here in nearly two decades. But now amid swirling rumors of an affair and his recent break up with the former French first lady, Hollande is flying solo.

Senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar has more.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flags unfurled, party tent in place. The White House ready for its first state dinner in nearly two years, but they didn't plan on this -- scandal-plagued French President Francois Hollande comes with a lot of baggage. Not coming is this woman, Valerie Trierweiler, who was France's first lady until last month.

Never married, the couple of seven years split after a French magazine said it caught Hollande sneaking out of the palace on the back of a scooter for a secret rendezvous with a much younger mistress, movie actress, Julie Gayet. She's not coming either.

Hollande says his private life is private but the affair Hollande made headlines around the world, landing unusual intrigue to a high-profile White House visit. Three hundred dinner invitations engraved with the former first lady's name had to be scrapped according to the "New York Times." And with Hollande coming solo, seating arrangements for the dinner are made delegated best.

Anita McBride helped planned state dinners as Laura Bush's chief of staff.

ANITA MCBRIDE, FORMER LAURA BUSH CHIEF OF STAFF: Typically when you have a foreign guest that's coming that has a spouse, you know, the president and first lady -- our president and first lady would be seated next to the spouse. So that is something that they'll have to change.

KEILAR: The White House says the romantic drama isn't putting a damper on the visit. And it's not just about the dinner, of course. France is a top U.S. ally and topics like Syria and Iran are on the table. But at least for now, foreign affairs seemed overshadowed by affairs of the heart.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, Rand Paul has no love for former president Bill Clinton. He does have harsh words for the president's relationships with women, but who is his real target and why does he think this strategy may work for him? Answers ahead.

BOLDUAN: And also ahead, more on the Michael Sam story, a favorite in the upcoming NFL draft, no revealing publicly that he is gay. How could this? As some people are wondering. Affect his draft status. We're going to talk with Wade Davis, an openly gay former NFL player later in the hour.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This weekend Kentucky Senator Rand Paul doubled down on his attacks on former President Bill Clinton, calling Clinton a sexual predator for his admitted affair when he was in office. In an interview with C- SPAN Sunday, Paul criticized Democrats for championing women's rights while supporting Bill Clinton. Take a listen to this.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact I think they should give the money back. If they want to take a position on women's rights, by all means do. But you can't do it and take it from a guy who is using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: Not surprisingly, a lot of people are talking about this. So let's talk about this. Let's bring in CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Paul Begala, along with CNN's political commentator and Republicans strategist Ana Navarro.

Good morning, guys.



BOLDUAN: So, Ana, first to you. This isn't once, twice. This is a few times that Rand Paul has doubled down or triple down on his criticism of the former president. Do you see this as political strategy or is this personal?

NAVARRO: You know, I mean, I can't imagine this being personal because frankly he doesn't have that kind of personal history with the Clintons. I think it began as an accident. He's wife was asked about this issue in an interview and when Rand Paul was asked about his wife's comment, he supported his wife.

And then it has mushroomed from there. He has continued the subject. I think he's doing it because it's good politics. It would be good politics in the primary and frankly, Kate, because we are talking about it. And every time we talk about Rand Paul, it's good for Rand Paul. This is a guy who's a new senator, a junior senator, and he's getting all sorts of attention, particularly from the Republican base on this issue and some of the others he has taken on.

BOLDUAN: Is this the right kind of attention? I guess you would argue from the base yes.

But, Paul, jump into this. You say that this is smart short-term tactic but bad long-term. Why?

BEGALA: Well, right, I agree wholeheartedly with Ana, she knows her party far better than I do, and it's a good tactic but not a good strategy. Here's the difference, right? Tactic will get him in the game. It's like -- it's like when Donald Trump, remember was a birther, talking about the president's birth certificate.


BEGALA: That got him some support in the extreme faction of the base of the Republican Party. When Mike Huckabee talks about women's libidos, you know? That helps him actually in some of the extremist part. As a long-term strategy, though, these things don't work. Because you have win the moderate middle if you ever actually want to be president. So good tactic short-term for Mr. Paul.

But if he thinks beating up on Bill Clinton is going to make him president of the United States, he's got another thing coming.

BOLDUAN: Ana, I mean, is this fair game, though to be drudging this stuff. Maybe drudging is a bad connotation. Is it fair game to be bringing up the history of a spouse for someone who you could theoretically say you could be running against?

NAVARRO: Kate, there is no such thing as fair in war or politics and politics is war.

BOLDUAN: Good point.

NAVARRO: So I think, you know, I mean, the -- it's a shot across the bow and I think it sends a very strong message to the Clintons that, look, you may be the Clintons, you may have been president, you may have been first lady, you may have been and Secretary of State, all that's fine and dandy but if you decide to be a presidential candidate, no hold barred, absolutely everything is going to be on the table.

And that's how it's going to be. That is what modern day politics is like in America in 2014. Everything will be scrutinized, absolutely everything in their record. Is it fair? Look, everything is going to be fair. And it's going to be part of what gets looked at. I do think it can have a backlash, though, because it's cringe-inducing.


NAVARRO: You know? Do we want to go through this all over again? You know, what he's saying is true. Bill Clinton had a lapse of judgment, Bill Clinton did something that was very, very, very wrong. It's true. But the problem is it's also old.

BOLDUAN: That's what I was also wondering about. Is there an element to, if you -- if your big fight kind of line of attack is something that is so in the past, does that mean you don't have anything to fight about in the present?


BEGALA: Well, yes -- I'm sorry, Ana, go ahead.

NAVARRO: They got plenty to fight about in the present.


NAVARRO: I don't think that when he brings up Benghazi, it's a very valid point. She was in charge, the buck stopped with her, it was her State Department, it was her responsibility, it was, you know, the failure of her State Department. That is a very valid point. I think it's painful for women to see the actions of their husband being brought up as something that they need to be responsible for.

I'm sure that works all that well for a Wicked woman.

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Paul.

BEGALA: Yes. I think Ana is right. I think that one of the last Bill Clinton taught me about politics is that elections are about the future, not the past. They're about your life, not the politician's life. And Rand Paul is violating all of those rules there. And if you have any doubt as to whether this is politics, the other thing that broke yesterday was a comment from another republican, General David Petraeus who actually -- here's what he said about Hillary, "Like a lot of great leaders, her most impressive qualities were most visible during tough times, she'd make a tremendous president."

Now that's a Republican, a four star general who saw her under really stressful situations and thinks she'd make a tremendous president. I think that tells you that Rand Paul is just playing politics here and it's a mistake to be looking backwards. He ought to be looking forward.

BOLDUAN: Shocking politics --

BEGALA: There's also a four-star general who had to leave his job because of sexual scandal. You know?

BOLDUAN: We're not going to get into that side of the sorry today.


All right Ana and Paul, great to see you. Thanks so much,

BEGALA: Thanks.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

BEGALA: Of course. Let us know what you think about this, fair game, not fair game, is it all fair game. Tweet us with a hashtag newday.

CUOMO: They can both come after me on Twitter, Ana and Paul, because I think they both should have condemned the tactic. You know, we wonder why politics is losing so many of you guys out there, paying attention, it's because they'd rather go talk about this than what matters to you and your life.

But as Kate says, come at me on Twitter.

Coming up on NEW DAY -- they will, though. Could there be a serial killer on the loose? A serious question that needs serious action, authorities are worried. We're going to bring you the latest from a community in Virginia.

BOLDUAN: Plus, a public announcement from college football star Michael Sam. How he could now be the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. We're going to talk with Wade Davis, an openly gay former pro-football player about the announcement and what this means for the league .