Return to Transcripts main page


Arizona Anti-Gay Law Vetoed by Governor; Russian Troops Perform Exercises on Ukraine Border; New Report Indicates FBI had Mole in Al Qaeda in Early 1990s; Poll: 82 Percent of Democrats Behind Hillary

Aired February 27, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking overnight, a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gays and others by citing their religious belief has been vetoed by Arizona governor, Jan Brewer. The proposal triggered national outrage. Large corporations, even the Super Bowl host committee, all publicly expressed concerns. Here's what Brewer had to say.


GOV. JAN BREWER, (R) ARIZONA: I've not heard one example in Arizona where business owners religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences.


CUOMO: So, it wasn't necessary under the law in Arizona. And also, the governor added that she was worried that the bill could have divided Arizona in ways no one could have imagined.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, a potentially big problem for the president over Afghanistan. Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey says the idea of the U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan is hurting the morale of Afghan soldiers to the point that they may side with the Taliban, as he said, to hedge their bets. President Obama is threatening to pull all troops out of the country by the end of the year because Afghan president Hamid Karzai won't sign a security agreement.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning, the Food and Drug Administration is set to propose big changes to nutrition labels. They're going to put a bigger emphasis on total calories, added sugars, and certain nutrients, including vitamin d and potassium. Serving sizes also will be adjusted to better reflect how much someone person is consuming. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us in the next half hour. We'll discuss this with him.

CUOMO: They get you with that, the serving size.

Winter's grip is only getting tighter. Indra Petersons says another polar plunge is hitting the plains and Midwest on its way to the northeast. The west coast also getting hammered. California soaked with so much rain there are flash flood warnings and landslide fears. Let's go to Indra for the latest on this. What do we see?

INDRA PETERESONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Upper Midwest today even cooler than it was yesterday morning. It feels right now 42 below in Duluth, Minnesota, 33 below Minneapolis, Boston right now into the teens with its wind-chill. The afternoon highs not any better. We're talking about departures about 30 below where they should be in the afternoon. That means single digits for your highs out toward Chicago, the freezing mark for New York City today.

Tomorrow, the cold air spreads even more towards the northeast. The temperatures there a good 20 below average by tomorrow afternoon. That's the story for the east. We're going to take you out west where finally they are seeing rain. This is all they have seen all season. It's the driest they have been in 100 years in California. Now, on top of that, we talk about this huge, major storm expected to impact the area Friday in through Saturday. We're talking about the biggest storm they have seen in three years, heavy rain, heavy snow, strong winds all right before Oscar Sunday. This is going to affect the entire country. The system is so large it will bring potentially heavy snow right into the Ohio Valley and then eventually into the northeast by Sunday and Monday. What does that mean for Oscar Sunday? It means rain while they're getting ready. It will move out by the after party time.

BOLDUAN: Indra, thanks so much.

Peace talks about the opposition and the Venezuelan government breaking down before they could even get started. The two sides were scheduled to meet Wednesday, but the opposition pulled out hours before the negotiations were set to start, claiming the government was acting in bad faith. Two weeks of violent protests in Venezuela has left more than a dozen people dead and more than 100 more injured.

PEREIRA: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaking out on Bridge- gate. He says he will not give into the hysteria of the story, saying it's all too easy to second guess. He also called the state investigation into the scandal a distraction and said it won't prevent him from doing his job.

BOLDUAN: A dramatic rescue in New York. Two young women allegedly imprisoned and forced to work as prostitutes. Police arresting 35- year-old Andy Gayot at this Long Island home. His alleged victims a 15-year-old described as a runaway and a 21-year-old who police say was held captive over a year. He pled not guilty to charges, including rape, prostitution, and unlawful imprisonment.

CUOMO: Let's return to the top story. A siege on a government building in Ukraine escalating the conflict there this morning. That's on top of Russia's military doing drills along the border, creating a stare down between Russia and Ukraine and by extension Russia and the U.S. Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. So there are really two aspects here we want to deal with. Let's deal with the outward politics first. The plan was supposed to be for the U.S. to tell Russia stay away. It seems like the opposition is starting to happen. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: U.S. officials, Kerry said this yesterday, for Russia to intervene would be, in his words, a grave mistake. We talked to Pentagon officials. The military is watching Russian military movements. And their read is that this has been largely for a Russian domestic audience, a show of strength. They don't believe Russia's going to make a move and bring those forces in. But to show how serious and concerned they are, they're sending those public messages, you know, don't do it, we're watching.

CUOMO: Are any of e them reading the response of Russia as thumbing their nose at that suggestion, doing the drills, the flag going up over the building?

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. What's happening with the flag going up over the building, this is a real worry, right, because whatever Russia does, you have events on the ground that can really get out of hand. You have a divided country. You have the eastern part of Ukraine leaning east towards Russia, Russian speaking, the western part of the country leaning west towards Europe, cultural difference, historical differences, that kind of thing. And those are real emotions. Look at that right there in those pictures there. It's hard to control.

CUOMO: That's what will take the politics and put them out of the realm of just what we say to each other and now what we are forced to do. Is there a chance that if civil war breaks out there on the ground you have an analogy to Syria?

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, we're several steps away from that. That's the ultimate fear. That's the worst case scenario that civil war breaks out. You have the emotions and some of the groundwork for it, but we're not there yet. But I think the reason you're having these public statements in very, you know, stern form and all the monitoring that we're doing from the outside, it's because people see that potential and they want to make sure it doesn't happen. And they also want to make sure Russia doesn't intervene, which would from the U.S. perspective make things only worse on the ground.

CUOMO: So the politics are more urgent than the practicalities right now? There's still time to get it right on the ground where it matters most?

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. The trouble with those politics, these emotions have been stoked for political reasons, by the Russians, by forces inside the country. It's hard to put the genie back in the bottle. When you want to control it and rein it in, that's difficult to do. We've seen that happen in other countries. So that's the reason we have to be concerned and watch this.

CUOMO: We'll keep watching. Jim, thanks, appreciate it.

PEREIRA: Let's take a look at what is in the papers this morning. We start with the "Boston Globe." New details on security rules for this year's Boston Marathon. There will be a no bags policy, runners won't even be allowed to bring backpacks and all bags will be banned in a predetermined location all along the 26 mile race route. The streets will also be closed to car traffic and a heavy presence of police officers will be redirecting fans trying to get close to the finish line there on Boylston Street.

In the "Wall Street Journal," ore possible data hacks at two more retailers. Verizon says it's looking into issues at two unnamed stores. They operate networks through technology provided by Verizon which may have been become vulnerable to hackers in search of credit card data.

And in "The Houston Chronicle" the EPA agreeing to review how it estimates emissions for refiners and chemical makers. This is part of a settlement with environmental advocacy groups that filed suit last May. The groups accused the EPA of using outdated and inaccurate formulas to estimate pollution levels. They say research shows that smog forming emission can be 10 to 100 times greater than EPA estimates.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, new information this morning about a potential FBI mole who had access inside Al Qaeda and met Usama bin Laden. But as the "Washington Times' first reported, the bureau kept that source secret from Congress and even the 9/11 Commission. The mole allegedly had direct contact to the Al Qaeda leader in the '90', eight years before the September 11 attacks.

Joining us now to talk about this is Fran Townsend, CNN's national security analyst, former Bush homeland security advisor, also on the external advisory board for the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA. Fran, great to see you. Pretty amazing information. Of course, if this all pans out and is true, let's just assume that for the discussion, what do you make of this?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Let's remember, one of the things -- 1993 was the first World Trade Center attack. At the time, while bin Laden had issued a fatwa, it was not clear about his capability to project power. That attack, while tragic, was a real wakeup call. And the United States began to try and develop sources.

But in 21 years, the FBI is a very different FBI. They have gone through two case management systems where they now have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to be able to retrieve documents. They didn't have that in 1993. And frankly it's not clear whether they turned this over, they didn't turn it over, whether they missed it and it was not intentional. I think there are a lot of questions, certainly embarrassing for the bureau. But I think we shouldn't assume it was intentionally withheld. It may have been an oversight.

BOLDUAN: It does make you wonder, why would the FBI withhold this?

TOWNSEND: That's right. If the story's true there was a plot disrupted in Los Angeles as a result of this source. We don't know how important or how close this act came to actually being executed. But it raises a lot of questions.

BOLDUAN: It does seem like a big omission.

TOWNSEND: Absolutely. BOLDUAN: A mole within Al Qaeda who had spoken and met with Usama bin la din.

TOWNSEND: Kate, listen, I can tell you for having been there, I would have loved to understood this. This was news to me yesterday when I picked up the "Washington Times." And so I think the bureau is going to have to explain who knew, did they turn this over. If not, was it an oversight, or was there a decision on there.

BOLDUAN: And I do want to get your take, because people are going to maybe jump to conclusions prematurely with this new information. Former congressman Pete Hoekstra, he said this in the "Washington Times" article. He said "This is just one more of those examples that will go into conspiracy theorist's notebooks who say authorities are not telling us everything." But as you think, you're warning that you should not make the jump that the information from this mole could have prevented 9/11.

TOWNSEND: Right. Let's remember, so the mole is there according to this report in 1993. There's no indication if he had had access in and around the 93-95 timeframe that that could have done anything to prevent 9/11. Nobody's saying that, including in that article. It just -- it raises a lot of questions. You know, I've said before, don't attribute to the government malevolence to what could be government incompetence. Oftentimes in these document retrieval systems, we fail to pick up relevant documents. But I think the bureau's going to go back and look at this and explain certainly to their Congressional overseers --

BOLDUAN: Because they really should learn from this.

TOWNSEND: That's exactly right, absolutely, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And what's your big take away, though?

TOWNSEND: I think people have got to understand, the FBI's capabilities now are quite different. They have more sources, they've prevented attacks, they've disrupted attacks, they've got better access inside these organizations. Whatever the problems were going back 21 years ago to 1993, the FBI is a much stronger and more capable organization now.

BOLDUAN: And a lot of those changes came because of 9/11.

TOWNSEND: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Fran, great to see you, thank you so much.

CUOMO: Here's something you don't hear every day, a victory for Lance Armstrong. The disgraced cyclist has been sued by consumers for advertising an energy supplement, his quote, "secret weapon." That was the phrase that was used. The fraud suit alleged steroids were his real secret weapon. A judge dismissed the suit, calling the phrase "secret weapon" mere "puffery" -- that's an actual legal term believe or not -- and so the ads were not false advertising. And a loss for the public flying this morning, American Airlines is doing away with so-called bereavement fares. Those are for passengers trying to travel because of a relative's death. Southwest and Virgin America also don't offer the lower rate. But United still does. They'll give you a five percent bereavement discount.

Did General Motors act quickly enough in its recall of nearly 2 million small cars for faulty ignition switches? The problem has been linked to 31 crashes, 13 deaths. Car makers are legally required to report safety defects within five days. Records show GM knew about the problem all the way back in 2004. The automaker could be fined up to $35 million.

PEREIRA: Let's take a look at what is trending. Spike Lee trying to put controversial comments about gentrification in context. He told CNN's Anderson Cooper he's not against people moving into areas that were once predominantly African-American, but that they should respect the culture. He went off Tuesday night about people moving into his old Brooklyn neighborhood, saying among other things, the city services only got better when white moved in.

Boy, it's been a bit of a tough week for Texas Republican Dan Patrick. He's running for lieutenant governor and opposes gay marriage. So after a federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban, Patrick asked an intern to put a post on his Twitter page. Here's what it said, "marriage equals one man and one man." A re-tweeted correction came next, reading "one man and one woman." And finally a third tweet, "We have a new job opening on our campaign social media intern."

Universal Orlando following Disneyworld's lead and raising their ticket price starting immediately. A one-day single park ticket is $96 for an adult up from $92. A child's ticket jumped from $86 to $90. Prices also jumped for that two-day and park-to-park ticket price.

Pots and pipes were found in a limo of Justin Bieber's this week. That's according to Georgia police who say they're not going to file charges. This comes as police in Miami release video from the singer's January DUI arrest. The footage seems to show an unsteady Bieber undergoing a sobriety test. According to police he failed a series of those tests. That's a look at what's abuzz on the inter- webs, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a new poll shows Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite of Democrats to run in 2016. So did she make her case during a big speech in Florida last night? We will discuss after the break.

CUOMO: And breaking this morning, nutrition labels are in for a major makeover. What are the changes? Are they going to make it easier? Worse? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here and is going to break it all down for you.


CUOMO: The Boss. Gotta love him. Play him as much as we can.

Welcome back to NEW DAY.

2016, that's two long years away, but politically, not so much. Because we can already close the book on who Democrats seem to want to run for president.

This morning a "New York Times"/CBS poll shows a decisive 82 percent of Democrats are behind Hillary Rodham Clinton. And Clinton does seem to be talking the talk, delivering a big speech at the University of Miami.

And here's what she had to say about her political aspirations. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: Can you give us some insight into how the TBD in your bio will play out?





-- but I have no characters left. I -- I will certainly ponder that.


CUOMO: Did Hillary Clinton just say she has no character? No, she was talking about her Twitter feed. But is the run inevitable? Let's break it down now.

We have former senior advisor to Bill Clinton and Democratic strategist, Mr. Richard Socarides. And from Miami, CNN political commentator Republican strategist, Ana Navarro.

Anna, let me start with you. You were at the event last night. In terms of vetting Hillary as a candidate, you heard something on a major issue from her last night that you did not like. Tell us about it.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually thought her answer on the Venezuela issue was just so lackluster. When she got asked about that, there wasn't one word condemning what is going on in Venezuela, not one word condemning the thuggery, the violence, and murders by Nicolas Maduro.

She answered the question by starting and saying Venezuela is a democracy and nobody would argue with Venezuela being a democracy. Well, I would venture to say that the family members of the 16 dead people at the hands of Nicolas Maduro, seven of whom have been shot in the face and died, would argue that it's not a democracy.

CUOMO: Ana. Let me bring that to you, Mr. Sacarides. Hillary's been getting a free pass so far in terms of being the presumptive candidate. Now that she starts to talk, there will be a different level of vetting. What do you think of that answer and what happens from here?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think -- I thought she did a superb job last night. I thought she radiated an amazing command of the issues. I mean, no one is more in command of the issues than she is. I thought she seemed very warm; she seemed relaxed, at ease. She seemed like she was having a great time. I thought her answers were substantive and right on the money.

You know, people know her record as secretary of State and that she is concerned about the -- with the human rights issues in Venezuela. So I think this -- Ana as maybe found a very small point that was a little discordant with her, but I think overall, everybody else this morning is saying she did an amazing job.

CUOMO: But Ana's picking up on something, though. We have to look at the lenses (ph).

NAVARRO: Richard --

CUOMO: Go ahead Ana.

NAVARRO: Well, look, a couple of things. First, let's put this speech in context. This was a paid speech in front of a very sympathetic audience, very captive audience, moderated by her lifelong friend, Donna Shalala, who filtered the questions and served her up a bunch of softballs, none of which she hit out of the ballpark.

In fact, Donna Shalala prefaced the Venezuela question by saying to her, "There's a lot of students here who are from Venezuela." They wanted to hear some words of solidarity from Hillary Clinton.

What I heard her do was give a lot of diplomatic speak, not campaign fire brand speak. I'll tell you, Marc Caputo, the reporter of the "Miami Herald" tweeted out that the first 25 minutes of her speech were a cure for insomnia. And I felt pretty the same way. She was flat as a bottle of champagne that's laid open in the refrigerator for the last two days.

SOCARIDES: Well, it certainly -- Ana, it certainly did not look like that on television where I saw it. She seemed in command. She seemed at ease. She seemed warm, totally in command of all the issues. So I don't know what speech you looked at. And maybe the campaign, Chris, is already getting started, but --

CUOMO: But shouldn't it? That's one of the questions, right, is that 82 percent say they want her. She's obviously out there making the rounds. They're raising a ton of money. There's infrastructure in place. You have those stories about them going through their list of, you know, who's naughty and nice.

At what point is this delay just about her delaying the inevitable and not wanting to take on the responsibility of running?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think she's very been clear that she's going to take a look at the race this year. And I think that by early next year, certainly after the midterm, she'll let people know whether or not she wants to run.

CUOMO: How does she explain not running at this point?

SOCARIDES: Well, I think most people expect her to run. I expect her to run. I hope she runs. But I think, you know, it's a complicated equation. It's an amazing personal commitment. She's given her life to the country, as her husband and her family has. I think if she decides not to run, it will be a personal decision and people will understand it. But I think, you know, at this point, people expect her to run. They hope that she will run. Most Democrats hope she will run.

CUOMO: Ana, something that's unusual here is for --

NAVARRO: And I think with those numbers that you just -- you know, you quoted today, of the poll, Chris, what they show that Hillary has frozen the Democrat field. Everybody's expecting her to run.

So if she's not going to run, really I think it's incumbent on her to make a decision sooner than there is pressure on any Republican to make it because the Republican field is not frozen. We don't have the same issue.

CUOMO: All right --

NAVARRO: If she decides not to run, you're going to end up with a lot of Democrats who have not as much of a national network or name I.D. (ph) scrambling.

SOCARIDES: You know, Ana, you are usually so positive. And I don't know what's happened to you this morning. I mean, you're talking about a frozen field on the Democrat side? I mean, we Democrats are excited. We've got someone we're rallying around. We've got someone that there's a lot of support for.

If she decides not to run, there are a lot of other Democrats who could come in. I think that you are trying to tactically cover up the problems in the Republican party where you have a very splintered field, and you have nobody out there who's in the lead and you have a very weak bench. I mean, and all the people like Chris Christie that --

NAVARRO: That's what I'm -- Richard --


SOCARIDES: Chris Christie, you're front runner is like now in shambles trying to stay governor of New Jersey. So I think it's early to talk about -- to talk like this, but I was hoping we'd have a nice little chat this morning, Ana. But I guess the campaign has started. NAVARRO: Richard, what I was talking about -- listen -- all right, well, listen. When I'm talking about a frozen field, what I'm saying is that no other Democrat is able to make the moves, not even the vice president of the United States, to form a campaign, start raising the funds, start tying up donors while Hillary has not yet made a decision.

CUOMO: No, I hear you on that, Ana.

NAVARRO: Because she has frozen the field of other competitors. I don't mean that as a cold frozen tundra of a field. As you know what I'm saying is, everybody else is out there figuring out what she's going to do.

CUOMO: We get the point. And if Hillary doesn't run, she's going to have a lot of big donations to make so that -- so whoever else does get in the race can get some of the money that's gone to her.

But let me ask you about your party because you guys are in a bigger struggle. Finding who is often easier than finding what, the main message going to be. You know, you look at what's happening in Arizona, it seems to be a little bit of a window into your party, trying to catch up with the presumptive times. How do you read that issue and what does it mean for your party in terms of figuring out who it wants to be as it heads into these big elections?

NAVARRO: Listen, as far as the Arizona issue and gay rights and gay marriage, I am completely supportive of gay marriage, completely supportive of equality. I think people have to come to terms with the fact that this battle is over. The court has ruled.

You know, it is -- and it's consistent with what we say Republican values are. And we are the party of family unity, then for the love of God, let us legitimize gay families. And we are the party that is pro-marriage and pro-institution of marriage. Let us allow people who love each other and want to be married to be able to do so.

If we are the party of personal freedom, there is no greater personal freedom than choosing who to love and who you want to spend the rest of your life with.

All of these bills, what they're doing is, frankly, spending the money of taxpayers defending things that are indefensible and are going to be found unconstitutional.

I think Governor Brewer did the smart thing yesterday. It was going to cost her state a ton in money and canceled conventions, canceled events, boycotts. When you've got companies like Marriott, which is led by, you know, some very strong Mormons, coming out and saying, "Please veto this bill", I think it tells you what the economic, social, political, and just world reality is on this issue. Get with the program. It's over.

CUOMO: Socarides, you got to Ana. She gave you a gift in that last answer. Sounds like a Democrat in that.

SOCARIDES: I couldn't -- Ana, I could not have said that better. You are amazing.

CUOMO: See, you end as friends, Ana. Just take it as that.

NAVARRO: By the way, let me also -- well, thank you. Let me remind you, though, we've got now three openly gay Republican Congressmen running. So the times, they are a-changing, not as fast as I'd like, but they are a-changing.

SOCARDIES: It would be great if the rest of your party recognized that and I actually think they are coming around.

CUOMO: Socarides is the first. Ana Navarro for president. My wife's check is in the mail.


Richard Socarides, thank you very much. Ana Navarro, always a pleasure. Thanks for being on today.

NAVARRO: Listen --

CUOMO: Yes? Go ahead.

NAVARRO: If a guy from Canada can do it, so can a woman from Nicaragua.


BOLDUAN: How do I follow? You can never follow Ana. We're going to have to just leave it there.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, breaking morning, nutrition labels are getting a major overhaul with more focus on calories and the number of servings. But will the changes translate to people making better choices?

Plus, this ahead. You do not want to miss this. Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg's story brought everyone to their feet during this year's "State of the Union" address. Now you have to see how the war hero celebrated his birthday. Much more in the revealing interview with him coming up.