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U.S. Warns Of "Consequences"; Deadly Clashes In Kiev's Independence Square; Shoe Bomb Warning For Airlines; Facebook's $19- Billion Dollar Deal; Tornado Threat From Midwest To Deep South; Interview with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew

Aired February 20, 2014 - 06:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, the Ukraine situation much worse. A truce called and broken. Dozens dead. President Obama makes his strongest statement yet. Calls for the U.S. to take action. CNN is on the ground in the thick of it covering it all.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New warning. The Department of Homeland Security putting airlines on alert. Terrorists may have new tactics for turning shoes and liquids into bombs. So, how real is the threat?

CUOMO: And exclusives you can see only here. Senator Ted Cruz comes out swinging against Republican leadership. Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, on where he sees the economy going. Florida state attorney defends the prosecution to the Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman cases. And the parents of Jordan Davis speak out live.

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 20th, 6:00 in the East. And we do begin with breaking news from the Ukraine. You're looking at it. Deadly street fighting overnight just hours after a truce was supposed to go into effect. At least 20 people are dead. Tough to keep track of numbers, though. Remember that.

This is a live look at Kiev's Independent Square. Riot police, anti- government protesters clashing again in the square where demonstrators have set up camp digging in for the long stay.

BOLDUAN: It's a scene reminiscent of earlier this week when 28 people were killed. Ukraine's president responding this morning to it all saying the protesters were the ones who broke the truce. He is feeling diplomatic heat from both the United States and the European Union to restrain the violence there.

We're going to get to Kiev in just a moment. But first, let's get straight over to the White House where Athena Jones is. Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Well, the administration is watching these developments very, very closely. President Obama warned the president of the Ukraine yesterday not to -- resort to violence against these peaceful protesters and he also called on the protesters to remain peaceful.

Before the president left Mexico during his press conference there last night, he talked about what he wants for the people of Ukraine. Let's take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our approach as the United States is not to see these as some cold war chess board in which we're in competition with Russia. Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future. That the people of Syria are --


JONES: Now the goal here is to stop the violence to allow rooms for talks between the government, President Yanukovych and the opposition, negotiations that will eventually lead to free and fair elections.

Now, as for sanctions, the U.S. is banning visas for 20 Ukrainian government officials they believe are responsible for this crackdown on protesters that we've seen in recent day. More sanctions could follow.

But the big question here is one of leverage, even if the U.S. working with the European Union levies new sanctions, for instance economic sanctions, you have Russia standing by ready to offer economic relief. In fact, they already have offered billions in loans -- Kate.

CUOMO: They have given them loans. Russia has also given gas to the Ukraine. So there is no question there's motivated interest on their part. You then hear what the president is saying. But of course the politics are defying what's actually happening on the ground.

For all the talk of negotiations, you can see the situation. It is deteriorating quickly. Senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh is there in Kiev and he's been watching the protests as they become worse -- Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here where I'm standing we've seen remarkable scenes for the last few hours, quite shocking. Woken this morning by gunfire over here on the road down the side of me, bodies being dragged by their feet by protesters away by what seemed to be a new police frontline. Live gun fire used in Central Kiev, we've seen the bullet head themselves and the shell casings. Let me wined you back as to how we think we got to here. At some point earlier this morning, police in positions around the protests suddenly pulled back, some say orderly. Others suggest there may have been sniper fire at protesters that protesters responded to by shooting at police.

No clear version of events at this point as to how we got to here. What followed, clear, though, live fire against protesters, we haven't seen who actually fired those shots, but it's pretty clear coming from those opposing them, which are the police here. In the lobby of this hotel, they have counted at least 11 dead bodies.

We're hearing from protests organizers there could be at many as 20 perhaps killed. I, myself, have seen dead carried away on makeshift stretchers from the frontlines around here now at least a dozen people. What we've seen is the police pullback and the protesters rush forward to basically take back the old positions they had about 48 hours ago before police moved in.

It's remarkable though, Chris, Kate, because simply nine hours ago I was standing here talking about a truce, about a peace deal that the president say he wants to try and work out with the opposition. Things have changed to dramatically here. We're now seeing live gunfire in what frankly is the Times Square of Ukraine behind me. It's very censored. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Clearly another day of it changing moment by moment. Nick, we will get back to you throughout the show. Thank you, very, very much for the update.

We also have a new warning this morning from homeland security to every U.S. airline. Be on the lookout for shoe bombs. This new alert comes just after officials warned of hidden explosives in toothpaste and cosmetic tubes on flights going to Russia for the Olympics.

Let's get straight over to Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us with these new details. So what kind of warning are we looking at now, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kate. You know, if you are flying this morning, you may notice more screening from airport personnel in the wake of this new terrorist threat.


STARR (voice-over): New concern terrorists may target direct flights from overseas heading to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security is warning airlines that terrorists may attempt to hide explosives in shoes, cosmetics and liquids. The advisory mentions more than two dozen cities overseas including Paris, London, Cairo and some additional cities in the Middle East.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The DHS warning is nonspecific, but the desire and capability is not large. It's al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula.

STARR: This demonstration shows the potential devastation a shoe bomb could cause. Sources say, intelligence indicates terror groups have been working on a new shoe bomb design. It's not the first time they've tried to blow up a plane that way. Shortly after 9/11, passengers on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami thwarted Richard Reed's attempt to detonate explosives hidden in his sneakers.

After that, the TSA started asking everyone in the U.S. to take their shoes off while going through security. This new warning comes just two weeks after U.S. officials warned airlines terrorists could hide explosives in toothpaste tubes on flights heading to Russia ahead of the Sochi Olympics. Officials say this new threat is unrelated.


STARR: Al Qaeda and its affiliates especially al Qaeda in Yemen and Syria have never given up on their desire to attack the United States. Experts will tell you and that is the big concern -- Chris.

CUOMO: Barbara, appreciate the reporting. Let's get some more on these new warnings with Charlie Payne. He is a founding member of Homeland Security's Office for Bombing Prevention, the perfect man for the job this morning.

Mr. Payne, thank you for joining us. Barbara Starr just told us that they don't believe this is related to the tube warnings for flights going to Sochi. Is that the same information that you have? If so, what is making this such an urgent matter?

CHARLIE PAYNE, FOUNDING MEMBER, OFFICE FOR BOMBING PREVENTION: Well, I would have to go ahead and support the theory that the two aren't connected. There would be no reason to have them connected and not mention it. I think this is a ubiquitous threat. We faced it for a long time, and this is a wake-up call and provides explosives devices on airliners as part of cosmetics or some of the other carry-on things is something we need to be concerned about. You're going to see increased security probably for the near term at least.

CUOMO: Now, we know that we have been successful in the past at least twice in thwarting these types of efforts to bomb airplanes. Are we seeing more sophisticated types of these explosives now that warrant the new warning?

PAYNE: Well, you know, the threat is always evolving. It's up to the imagination of the bomber and the network of those folks who help the bomber. So it's a constantly evolving threat and we have a good machine to keep up with it, but it's always measured, countered measure, that's really the name of the game here.

CUOMO: So what do you want to let people know? What's the take away here? How real is this? What's the level of urgency because you know, we hear these warnings from time to time. So we want to make sure it deserves the priority.

PAYNE: Understand. I feel like, you know, this is something that is a primary threat. It's the terrorist weapon of choice and provides explosive devices. Vigilance, common sense security and patience with those charged with protecting millions of passengers a day is really kind of what's called for here. For those who are countering the threat, they're looking for a pretty good network of folks and they're work hard and they're going a good job.

CUOMO: So this is about just letting everybody know what the tactics are so we can be aware as opposed to we've heard they're trying to hit this city at this time? It's not like that?

PAYNE: That's right. They're not going to fax their intentions to us and have us to be able to be there on time so --

CUOMO: Charlie Payne, appreciate the perspective. Certainly you would know. Thank you for that this morning.


CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thanks.

This morning an eye popping business deal has the tech world buzzing. It's worth a whole lot of money. Facebook has just announces its buying WhatsApp as it's called, a text messaging app for a whopping $19 billion. What exactly is this?

CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is in San Francisco joining us with more details on this. Christine, please tell me why this app is worth a cool $19 billion.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I'm in San Francisco where you can smell the money, $19 billion, unbelievable. WhatsApp is a free mobile messaging service. It's sort of like social media and text messaging all wrapped up into one. It's growing so fast. It is so popular, 450 million users.

It's adding a million users every single day. Mark Zuckerberg says no company in the history of the world has done something like that. Going from non-existent five years ago to 450 million subscribers today and it's moving very, very quickly.

The $19 billion, is it worth that much money? That's the big question in Silicon Valley today. A lot of people are saying, yes it is. Look, they need, Facebook needs young users, it needs fast growth, it needs to really solidify its position.

In this particular space and that's what it gets with WhatsApp. You know, when you look backward, just a few months ago, remember everyone was talking about Snap Chat and the rumors that maybe Facebook was going to buy Snap Chat for $3 billion and Snap Chat turned it down?

They're looking real smart right now because you can see there's huge value in some of these real fast-growing focused on younger and international users kind of technology, and that's what Facebook is getting here -- Kate. BOLDUAN: Facebook is getting really good at kind of gobbling up and buying up things before they become competition for the company. Christine, great to see you. We are going to have much more on why Christine is out in San Francisco a little later.

So we also going to be talking more about WhatsApp ahead including the story behind the co-founder of this app. His rags to immense riches story is truly impressive.

CUOMO: What's up with Whatsapp.

I got it. I got it. All right, here's something we all need to pay attention to. More possible severe storms moving over the Mid- Atlantic today affecting tens of millions, tornado threat from the Midwest, blizzard conditions are in the mix in the upper Midwest.

Even areas seeing the warm up right now, which we think is good, melting snow could cause major flooding. So there's a lot to watch out for here. We are lucky to have meteorologist, Indra Petersons ahead of it all.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, today's one of those days we all need to be aware. A lot of you for different reasons, whether it's the high temperatures and the flooding concerns or blizzard conditions up around the lakes, I mean, notice the arrow head around Minnesota could see over a foot of snow today, even northern portions of Wisconsin.

So snow is still out there, even though temperatures are warmer to the south. You are going to see that activity really start to -- look, right around Chicago, tough day for you. Look at all the activity, even the lightning that's already firing up right now. This is all a sign of what is to come especially if you go through these evening hours.

You see winds alone could be ramping up to 15 miles per hour and that's not even the story. It's all about this temperature contrast. Look at these warm temperatures into the southeast then you have these blizzard conditions right to the north. You have a system making its way right across.

And what does that bring you? That brings you the threat for severe weather. We're talking about 38 million of you today. That's Louisville, Nashville, Birmingham, even down towards New Orleans looking for the threat for straight-line winds, severe thunderstorms, and even tornadoes, guys.

Definitely be aware today. That will be the story. As we push that storm in through tomorrow. Once again that threat goes about 28 million of you stretching really from D.C. all the way down through Jacksonville, Florida. So a lot to be concerned with wet weather. It's again flooding, severe weather, even the threat for tornado.

BOLDUAN: I feel like Chicago and the Great Lakes right there have had enough of it this winter.

PETERSONS: Chicago is not going to be pretty today.

BOLDUAN: Sure, isn't. Thanks, Indra.

DON LEMON, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: What about us, my goodness.


LEMON: Yes. I feel bad for them, but --

CUOMO: Nobody has been safe and that's why we have to keep watching. By the way, great to have you here. Don Lemon, everybody, in for Michaela.

LEMON: Back to stories, it's what up with Whatsapp.

CUOMO: Is it?

LEMON: It's a very busy news day. I hope everyone is keeping up. There is breaking news overnight to tell you about as well, calls for an investigation into a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Human rights watches reporting a December strike may have killed up to a dozen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen, among them, the bride.

That's based on interviews with witnesses, officials and relatives of the dead. U.S. officials say only members of al Qaeda were killed in the December strike and are refusing to make the results of two investigations public.

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowing to go forward with the prosecution of a leading opposition figure. Leopoldo Lopez will remain in a military prison after a court hearing. He faces charges of murder and terrorism. The government blames him for inciting violence that has led to at least five deaths.

The national television broadcast Maduro accused the opposition who he calls fascist of trying to overthrow his government with a slow motion coup.

In Mississippi, 11 teenagers taken to the hospital and another 14 people hurt after a church floor collapsed on Wednesday night. It happened in a second-floor activity center at the Freedom Baptist Church. As many as 79 people including kids in Grades 7th through 12 inside when the floor suddenly gave way, thankfully all the injuries are described as minor.

And new this morning, Vice President Joe Biden acknowledging Obamacare enrollment numbers may not hit their target. During an unannounced stop at a Minneapolis coffee shop Wednesday, Biden said hitting 7 million may not happen, but 5 million or 6 million would be quote, "a hell of a start."

Now, through the end of January, the administration says about 3.3 million people have signed up. Open enrollment ends on March 31st.

A major upset on the hardwood. The Syracuse men's basketball team suffered its first loss of the season to unranked Boston College last night. I see Chris shaking his head right next to me. (INAUDIBLE) tied the game in the final seconds of regulation and got the ball rolling with a three-pointer in overtime. The Eagles hit free throws down the stretch to nail the win 62-59.

Were not happy about that?

CUOMO: No, it was huge because Syracuse is number one team. They were seen as dominant. But often, the most important game is the one they lose. This allows them to refocus. Back down to reality.

BOLDUAN: Still in a good part of the season for them to lose, I would argue. Like we're beginning to start talking about March madness, right?

LEMON: Do you do spoiler alerts on the show?


CUOMO: We often suggest it's a good time to get coffee, put your pants on --

BOLDUAN: I don't always choose the put your pants on.

CUOMO: Because a lot of walking around --

BOLDUAN: A lot of people watching the show with no pants.

LEMON: Awkward.

BOLDUAN: Welcome to NEW DAY.

LEMON: Anyhow, moving on, eight more medals being handed out in Sochi. Among them, the gold in women's hockey. Team USA takes on Canada, and the battle over the heavy weights. Also later, the women's figure skating finals. Three Americans are in the top seven entering the free skate.

And here's a first look at the updated medal count. Team USA proudly atop the overall leader board with 23. Russia and the Netherlands are close behind, followed by Norway and Canada and Chris gets the pants award, whatever.

CUOMO: I have pants on, as you can see through the table. Research shows --

LEMON: Thank goodness.

CUOMO: At this time in the morning, many people are de-panted as they are getting ready for --

BOLDUAN: De-panted.

LEMON: Oh my gosh!

BOLDUAN: You take that and think about it a little bit.

We're going to take a break.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: two big exclusives to bring to you.

One-on-one with Jack Lew, the new treasury secretary. We're going to ask him how he plans to get the U.S. economy back on track. What the government can do about that. Does he think it's already back on track, though? You'll find out.

CUOMO: And Ted Cruz, creating chaos in the Capitol, frustrating even the leaders of his own party and doing it all by design. We asked the Texas Senator what's it like to be the most hated in Congress.

Exclusives coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is preparing for meetings this week. His job also puts him at the forefront of our country's economic policy, of course. It also means he's the one warning of doom when Congress continues threatening not to pay its bills.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in San Francisco this morning. She was able to sit down with -- for the exclusive interview with the secretary to talk about the economy and much more.

Christine, you can't -- this couldn't be a more -- there couldn't be a important conversation to be had right now.

So, what did the secretary say?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kate. He sees positive signs on both the economy and the rate which the economy is growing and also on that thaw in Washington that's allowing them to get more done.

But he says, Kate, there's still a lot of work still to be done. Case in point: on the minimum wage.


JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: I don't believe that it's right for people to work for 40 hours and take home pay that's below the poverty line. President made it very clear that as a country, we have to make sure that if you work full time, you're at least at the poverty line.

ROMANS: Do you think you can get that done this year?

LEW: He's done the executive order.

ROMANS: You know, on a small sliver of the federal workers --

LEW: We're going to keep pushing at it. You know, it's obviously not in our power to force Congress to act, but we can make the case for it. And we can have the American people make the case for it and we're going to continue pressing because it's the right thing to do.

ROMANS: The CBO report this week really gave the people who are against it what they feel is ammunition. You know, it would be a job loss. It would be a poverty alleviation on the backs of small businesses who have to pay for it.

LEW: You know, I think if you look at that CBO report, it also showed that it would take almost a million people out of poverty. There are a lot of different views on the economics of the minimum wage. I know that the studies done by a number of people, including Nobel laureates, show that it has the opposite effect. I tend to think that they're right. But we have time for that debate.

ROMANS: Someone who has had your job, Larry Summers, he has been writing that he is becoming a "Downton Abbey" economy. Do you agree with him?

LEW: I don't think -- I don't think we have to be. I mean, I think it's more of a prediction than it is an assessment.

ROMANS: Right.

LEW: And I think if you do the right things, we can create opportunity. You know, one thing about American people generally is if they're doing well, they don't begrudge other people doing well.

ROMANS: Right.

LEW: They want a chance to have a middle class job. And we can -- we can solve that problem.

ROMANS: Just as you head to the G-20, you're more confident than I've heard you in a year on this job about the atmosphere in Washington for getting stuff done.

LEW: The last four months have been very different from the prior two years. I think -- you know, I don't want to overstate the situation. You know, we're -- it's going to be challenging to do hard things.

We'll see when everyone gets back after this break and we do some more. Obviously, it's an election year, so it's not going to be as possible in the fall and summer as it would be --

ROMANS: Can you get immigration reform done --

LEW: I think immigration reform is something were there is a bipartisan majority that wants to take action. I think that it is something where the direction of policy, you know, there's clearly an interest. I know there are a lot of statements coming out of Washington that there are disputes.

ROMANS: From Republicans.

LEW: Within the Republican Party.

ROMANS: Right. LEW: But, you know, I think it has certain attributes that make me feel there's going to be action at some point in the not that distant future. I don't know if it's the next few months or the next year or two.


BOLDUAN: Really interesting conversation. And another big thing that Congress may or may not have a hand in, and it's something that you talk about a lot, is kind of the concept of the underemployed and where are the jobs? What did Lew have to say about that very important question, about creating jobs? And honestly, what role the government has in that?

ROMANS: He goes back to retraining. He goes back to making sure that from -- from pre-K all the way through community colleges and our university system that we're teaching the right skills, science, technology, engineering, math, that people have technical skills, that they can use across a diverse, you know, range of subjects, you know?

So it goes back to the sort of bigger picture idea, Kate, that, you know, we're not going to fix what's been going on for the past 30 years. Income inequality is sort of the stagnation of the middle class. We're not going to fix it in a year, he says, but we need to be making the investments right now so that we can have the best workforce and the best infrastructure in this country because that's what's going to keep America on top.

BOLDUAN: And if it is a longer conversation and it's a long road to recovery, that needs to be the long-term focus of our folks in Washington.

ROMANS: Right.

BOLDUAN: And if you watch the back and forth political battles, it's not what we see constantly, Christine. I know you talked about it every time we have a jobs report conversation.

ROMANS: I know. I know. It's really frustrating too because there's fighting on every kind of move on how to create jobs. I mean, it's almost as if both sides are entrenched on the jobs story.

But I will say he's going to the G-20 meeting without having to you know explain to our friends and neighbors why we're fighting over paying our bills. That's the first time that's happened in about three years.


ROMANS: That's the up beat part of this. We're starting to get back to business again in Washington. If it lasts, that's the big question.

BOLDUAN: That's a good message to be going on those meeting.

Christine, great interview. Thanks so much. ROMANS: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Kudos to you, Romans.

I hope you saw what she was doing. There is a game afoot. And she was exposing that game, pushing Lew to give answers to questions that just don't fit into the party message. Very important, very important. Good demonstration of the CNN way.

We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY and we're going to attack this battle again. There is a battle afoot, my friend. You -- like many like you are deciding what matters most. What government should be doing and how.

We're going to go one on one with this man who's fighting everyone in D.C., Texas Senator Ted Cruz, of green eggs and ham filibuster fame.

Champion of the people or face of the problem? You decide.

BOLDUAN: Good question. And you decide.

And also, this is ahead -- someone is waking up $425 million richer this morning. We're going to tell you where the single winning Powerball ticket was sold.