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New "Bridgegate" Documents; Britain Web Cam Spying Claims; Wichita State One Away From Perfect; Airport Overtaken By Armed Gunmen
Aired February 28, 2014 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And back here in the U.S., mudslide fears grip parts of California. People are now evacuated from a thousand homes threatened in the foothills of East Los Angeles. Torrential rains hitting slopes already cleared by wildfires, raising the risk of mudslides.
Meantime, subzero cold in the Midwest has turned deadly. A 6-year-old girl was found dead from exposure at her apartment complex. The Midwest and Northeast are bracing for more brutal cold and ice for the weekend.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now to Bridgegate uncensored. New documents said to show what's going on inside the administration during the political payback scandal that has embroiled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Today, we're going to hear 911 calls from when a former top aide allegedly shut down lanes in the George Washington Bridge.
But it's what that aide said about a prominent rabbi that's now raising eyebrows.
CNN's Chris Frates has more.
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, we've all heard the one about the rabbi who walks into the bar. But two top staffers with ties to Governor Chris Christie joked about making a prominent New Jersey rabbi the victim of some serious transportation delays, according to documents released today.
The exchange involved a discussion between Bridget Kelly, a former top Christie aide, and David Wildstein, who Christie appointed to the Port Authority. Wildstein sends Kelly a picture of a rabbi with House Speaker John Boehner and says, "He has officially pissed me off." Kelly replies, "Clearly. We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?" Wildstein responds, "Flights to Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed."
The rabbi, Mendy Carlebach, is chaplain to the Port Authority police and is prominent in New Jersey, even lighting the Menorah at the governor's mansion. It's not clear from the text while Wildstein was annoyed with the rabbi. We were unable to reach the rabbi for comment, but sources tell CNN he is not involved in the lane closures.
The new documents do not directly tie Christie to the Bridgegate scandal. But he was peppered with questions on the New Jersey radio show Wednesday.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We're going through an internal investigation. All this stuff will come out over the appropriate period of time. And I'm not going to give into the hysteria of questions that are given by folks who have information today that I didn't have at the time.
FRATES: The newly released texts and e-mails come from the state legislative committee investigating whether last summer's lane closures on the George Washington Bridge were political payback. The new exchange is important because it came August 19th, six days after Kelly's infamous e-mail to Wildstein, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee", a message that launched the investigation into the national media spotlight and cost Kelly her job.
JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLYMAN: What the community's trying to understand is how did Bridget Kelly come to believe that she should send this email, who gave her the authorization. We don't have those answers. We're still trying to find them.
FRATES: The documents also reveal the conversation Wildstein had with the Port Authority police officer that shows Wildstein was on the bridge the first day of the lane closures. The emails and texts also provided glimpse into how key players handled the unfolding scandal, and even offered a little poor shadowing. At one point, Christie's top appointee at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, texted Wildstein and asked, "Are we being fired?"
Chris Frates, CNN, Washington.
BOLDUAN: Chris, thank you very much for that.
So, are you watching us at the gym this morning? Well, if you are or even if you are not, we have some video for you that was just released.
The first lady's Let's Move Campaign seems to be rubbing off a bit, even on her husband. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, are you ready to move?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely. Let's do this thing. Let's move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And they're moving. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden made this White House workout video as part of Michelle Obama's fitness push. A little jogging, a little stretching, a little Monday night football -- I like that -- then a little hydrating.
When do you find time to film something like this when you're running a country?
CUOMO: Apparently, it took them four minutes to shoot it. The veep needs to pick up the step.
BOLDUAN: Do not -- do not challenge the vice president.
CUOMO: The veep needs to pick up the step.
BOLDUAN: I saw him at an event once. He had his sleeves rolled up. It was like a kid's event and he actually had like a super soaker that he was playing with them. He's got some guns.
BOLDUAN: Yes. I think the man could work out.
CUOMO: I'm sure he could take me.
BOLDUAN: I would not challenge him. He also comes with a Secret Service.
CUOMO: It's true. You know what I want to see. You remember the scene in Rocky when Rocky and Apollo Creed are racing down the beach and Rocky is cheek and neck in there trying to keep up with Apollo Creed? They should have had them doing all that (INAUDIBLE) moving up and one of them pulls up with a hamstring.
BOLDUAN: I love that you still say hamstring like a 12-year-old.
CUOMO: It's good to see them having some fun.
BOLDUAN: It is.
CUOMO: It's such an ugly atmosphere down there.
Coming up on NEW DAY, you think your web cam is safe, right? Well, think again, turns out British intelligence and the NSA were spying on hundreds of thousands of people through them. We're going to bring you the reasons and, of course, the outrage.
BOLDUAN: And Wichita State's basketball team is one game away from going undefeated. The amazing story of a team on the brink of perfection.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: At what price safety is being asked in angry tones this morning because Britain's top spy agency is under fire following reports they captured and stored webcam images for nearly 2 million users. Guess who is suspected of helping them out with this? It turns out the NSA.
Pamela Brown is here following the story for us -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris and Kate.
You know, if you've ever wondered whether big brother was watching you over your webcam, this latest revelation and leaked documents from Edward Snowden indicates the answer is maybe. A British newspaper revealing details about Operation Optic Nerve, and it's hitting a nerve with people whose images from private webcam chats may have been captured and saved by British intelligence agents.
BROWN (voice-over): Imagine learning that someone was virtually eavesdropping, watching through your webcam during intimate online conversations with family and friends.
According to a report in "The Guardian" newspaper, British intelligence worked in tandem with the NSA, snagging still images from webcams of well over a million Yahoo users, many of whom weren't suspected of any wrongdoing.
SPENCER ACKERMAN, NATIONAL REPORTER, "THE GUARDIAN": The structure of these programs is such that they collect lots of data in bulk. The idea is that on the front end, you just collect a lot and worry about what you need later.
BROWN: According to the report, as part of the program dubbed, Operation Optic Nerve, British intelligence agency GCHQ collected webcam images from largely anonymous users between 2008 and 2010, reportedly saving one screen grab every five minutes.
One document states a large part of the images are sexually explicit, showing undesirable nudity.
ACKERMAN: As anyone who's used the Internet for more than five minutes will know, there's quite a lot of pornography on it.
BROWN: The program reportedly used facial recognition technology to help GCHQ tracked down targets who are known Yahoo users. But "The Guardian" says images of many innocent British and American citizens could have been collected and stored in the operation.
ACKERMAN: There's a great potential that American citizens webcam data has been intercepted under this program, because GCHQ, the British intelligence service, does not preselect out the images before it collects it.
BROWN: The NSA says it does not ask foreign partners to collect intelligence the agency could not legally collect itself. And Yahoo says it was completely unaware of the alleged operation, telling CNN, this report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of user's privacy that is completely unacceptable.
BROWN: And GCHQ has had little to say about the latest revelations, telling "The Guardian" that it doesn't comment on intelligence matters, but that it acts within the law -- Chris and Kate.
BOLDUAN: Pamela, thanks so much.
CUOMO: What that law is, though, becomes the problem and how they stretch it. This is one to follow.
BOLDUAN: So, another thing we're following really closely is the bitter cold that just continues and is slamming the Midwest and now taking aim at the Northeast and what would be record breaking lows, if we could even hit more records at this morning.
Indra is tracking that for us.
What are you looking at now, Indra?
INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's exactly the case. But take a look at how close we are to the records this morning. I mean, Detroit, the record is just one below. They're already at one degree. Still expected to cool here in the next several hours. That is the concern.
And as with the Northeast, this cold air has spilled into the Northeast. So, it feels like a good eight below and towards New York City, and even Boston right now. Even by the afternoon, temperatures will be about 20 below average.
And it's not even the big story. What is going on? California, talking about a drought, 26 percent of the state in the highest drought category they have and now, they're expecting the biggest rainstorm they've seen in three years. They typically cannot handle this much rain, regardless, but definitely not on drought conditions, with that soil, it's almost like concrete.
So, the flooding and debris flow concern is extremely high with this storm. Storm's going to affect a lot of us. It's going to make its way across the country, talking about the chance for a heavy snowstorm, whether it hits New York City or D.C. gets the bull's eye, that's something we're going to have to watch over the next several days. Of course, the big concern, so many of us, our eyes, of course, are on whether the cold air lasts. Yes, it does.
By next week, it's reinforcing burst of cold air is expected to be in place for temperatures. A good of 20, 30 below next week. But, of course, Oscar Sunday, yes, the showers must be gone before 10:00 a.m. Also, a big story there as well.
BOLDUAN: We'll watch it. Thanks, Indra.
CUOMO: Thanks, Indra.
BOLDUAN: That's a new word. Reinforcing cold.
PETERSONS: I think we got a lot of them at this point, all right?
COUMO: Reinforcing -- reinforcing what?
Coming up on NEW DAY, they're living up to their names. Wichita State's Shockers. They have played 30 games and won all of them. Just one more to go to make it a perfect season. We'll tell you who they're up against.
CUOMO: I used to love this song. Welcome back to NEW DAY.
March madness just around the corner, but we got the drama right now.
BOLDUAN: Right here.
CUOMO: Wichita State, the Shockers, only remaining unbeaten team in basketball. This Saturday, they head into their final regular season game, perfect record on the line. To stay perfect, though, they have to beat one of their toughest opponents. For the details, Joe Carter is at the CNN Center with more. What do they have to do, Joe?
JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, Chris. They've got to win Saturday's game first off. And that give (ph) to the conference tournament (INAUDIBLE) late tournament. But if you go back to last year's final four teams, you got Syracuse, Michigan, Louisville, of course, all those universities have won national titles. Wichita State was in the final four last year.
They're obviously never won a national title and they're new to that conversation. But this year's team, I'll tell you, they're no Cinderella. They're deep. They have a ton of experience players, and they seem to be enjoying their label as a favorite to win it all.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CARTER (voice-over): The chase for perfection barrels on as the little team that could, the tenacious Wichita State Shockers, attempt to conclude their history-making season undefeated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to be great. We want to be special. So, this is just another notch for us to go grab and that's what we've been trying to do.
CARTER: The 13-0 Shockers are looking for their 31st straight win as they go head to head against the Missouri State Bears in their final game to the regular season this Saturday. The Shockers are the last unbeaten team in major college basketball. No team has won the first 30 games of the season in 23 years.
GREGG MARSHALL, HEAD COACH, WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS: It's the first. These guys like to be the first and the only and the best.
CARTER: The team has been on a tear dating back to last year's NCAA tournament where they were an unlikely final hour participant. Now with March Madness around the corner, they're in line for a coveted number one seed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a bunch of hungry guys anyway. And none of this is pressure on us.
CARTER: The excitement is palpable on Wichita State's campus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone's very much all state (ph) gear. Everyone's talking about basketball. It's just really exciting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's definitely a different kind of energy. It has the town live and ready.
CARTER: Now, the question on everyone's mind, can Wichita State go all the way?
MARSHALL: No one would ever in their right mind say, OK, we're going to be at 30-0 at some point this season with the possibilities of taking it further.
CARTER (on-camera): All right. So, the basketball team is clearly successful, but the university itself is feeling what they call the final four effect. According to the school's president, applications for enrollment are up 86 percent from last year. We've seen the same thing happen to butler a few years back. We also saw it happened to Florida Gulf Coast.
And it's a good time to be a Shockers fan because the women's team is also doing very well. They're close to winning their own conference title -- Michaela.
BOLDUAN: That's impressive. We'll take it. Michaela's out in L.A., Joe.
CARTER: I'm sorry.
BOLDUAN: You clearly have not been watching the show this morning!
CARTER: My fault. My fault.
BOLDUAN: I do love you, though. It's OK.
BOLDUAN: Then you tell me about the small guard?
CUOMO: They have this guy on their team that just got ridiculous vertical, but they're just a really good team. They just shoot really well.
Anyway, there's Mich waving at us out there in Hollywood where she belongs --
CUOMO: On Oscar's red carpet which she is well suited to be on.
BOLDUAN: We're talking about you. You're the small guard.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: I was a small guard. I wasn't a super small guard because of my girth, but I was a small guard. Guys, look, we've been talking about the rain, but the whole reason we're out here in California is talk about the Oscars. One person to watch, Sandra Bullock. Her bank account is blasting into space.
The "Gravity" star reportedly stands to make tens of millions of dollars from the Oscar nominated film. You won't believe how much he's making. And as you're about to see is not just for her acting.
PEREIRA (voice-over): Sandra Bullock earned a lot more than an Oscar nod for her performance in "Gravity." Her payday for the film is truly out of this world. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Bullock could make more than $70 million for her starring role, receiving 20 million upfront and 50 mil more in a backend deal that gives Bullock 15 percent of the studio's box office take.
SANDRA BULLOCK, ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE, "GRAVITY": I had probably one of the best filming experiences I've ever had.
You're not going anywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not up to you.
PEREIRA: That money didn't come easily. Bullock spent hours a day inside a giant mechanical rig only communicating with others through a headset. She's not the first star to score an astronomical paycheck. Johnny Depp got a fortune for the "Pirates of Caribbean" franchise and Robert Downey, Jr. a.k.a. Ironman cashed in with a similar deal reportedly taking home a $50 million bonus for his role in the "Avengers."
No wonder Downey topped Forbes magazine's latest list of Hollywood's highest paid actors. Now, "Gravity" puts Bullock in the astronomical salary stratosphere.
PEREIRA (on-camera): All right. So, Sandra Bullock faces some tough competition in that Best Actress field. She's up against Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Dame Judi Dench, and Meryl Streep. The film she's in, "Gravity," has a total of ten nominations. Of course, it's up for Best Picture, overall picture, and also its director is nominated.
By some accounts, they're saying it's kind of a three-way race between her film, "Gravity," "American Hustle" and "12 Years A Slave." But again, we won't know until those magic envelopes are opened Sunday night here in Hollywood. Chris and Kate, it just down poured incredibly. I can't even tell you how much rain is falling from the sky right now.
It's almost hard to concentrate because we worry that the tent is going to fall over us. But the preparations are underway. We're watching it. Everyone's excited.
CUOMO: The show must go on. I thought that was a round of applause behind you.
PEREIRA: It must.
BOLDUAN: That's a good --
PEREIRA: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: I know that's a little bit of a tent, but it does sound like there's a hurricane going on around you.
PEREIRA: No wind, but there's a lot of water coming from the sky.
BOLDUAN: A lot of water.
CUOMO: Throw on the CNN extreme weather jacket just in case. We'll be back with you a little bit, Mich.
BOLDUAN: Matching red probably. Thanks, Michaela.
CUOMO: She's going to look good no matter what it is.
Coming up on NEW DAY, the latest on the crisis in Ukraine. Thousands of Russian troops positioned right now along the Ukraine border. All eyes on Vladimir Putin. Will Russia respect Ukraine's sovereignty or is an invasion eminent? The latest.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Friday, February 28th, seven o'clock in the east. And we're going to start with our news blast. It's the most news you can get anywhere, and there's a lot to talk about today. So, let's go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overnight, dozens of armed Russian forces seized control of the international airport.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, I affirmed (ph) America's strong support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is always is concern when temperatures dip like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's dangerous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We strongly recommend that they heed the warnings of the experts.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My message is no excuses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he's going to arrest me, arrest me. I have done nothing wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People going up saying, hey, you're good at this. And I'm like, I would love to do this.
CUOMO: And we do have breaking news this morning in Ukraine. Right now, armed gunmen patrolling the perimeter of the main airport in Crimea. It's not clear if they've taken it over. It's also not clear who they are, local militia or much more troubling, an armed invasion by Russians.
BOLDUAN: Ukraine's fugitive president has surfaced in Russia. We're getting unconfirmed reports Viktor Yanukovych will be speaking publicly in the next hour. So, it'll be the first time we're really going to hear from him. Yanukovych insists he is still the rightful leader of Ukraine and is asking Russia for protection against what he calls extremist could overthrow his government.
CUOMO: Right now, 150,000 Russian troops are conducting military drills near the border with Ukraine. Hundreds of fighter jets, helicopters, tanks all on hand. U.S. officials are warning Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and stay out. But what is really happening. Let's get to Diana Magnay. She's at that airport that surrounded by gunmen. Diana, what's the best information about who they are?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. Well, it's difficult to tell. They have military fatigues on, you can see behind me, but there are no kinds of military insignia, but they did arrive in military vehicles. They seem to be well-organized and they won't tell you who they are. Now, Russia has a significant military presence on the Crimean Peninsula. Their Black Sea fleet is based in Sevastopol.
Ukraine's interior minister says that this is a clear invasion by Russia of Ukrainian sovereign territory. He says also that the international effort in Pelvic (ph) in Sevastopol has been taken over. In fact, there are armed gunmen like this sitting there, too, who he says are Russian.
It's difficult to tell at this stage. Operations at this airport are functioning normally. We came through just an hour ago or so and there was no problem at all. In fact, they seem to be going in and out of the restaurant building rather than doing anything anymore threatening at this moment, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Diana, thank you for being there. It's great to have you on the situation. Let us know if it changes, if you get more information. Very confusing. Could be tactical in either direction.
We do know this. The Obama administration is keeping very close tabs on the situation. Secretary of State John Kerry says he's in direct contact with Russia's foreign minister. And he has received assurances Moscow will now interfere in the uprising which has seemed to suggest they're not Russians. However, defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, is taking a very different tact. Warning the Russians, stay out of the Ukraine. Keep things transparent.
BOLDUAN: For more on this, we're joined by Peter Beinart. He is the CNN political commentator and contributing editor at "Atlantic Media." Peter, talk about a confusing situation but such an important it sounds -- it feels like a very critical moment in what direction this crisis is going to go. You've got two airports where they have armed gunmen.
You have the Ukrainian interim government saying that it's invasion, an armed invasion by Russian forces. Other saying that it's a local militia. What do you think this tells us about the direction this conflict is going?