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Is White House "Cooking The Books?"; Clinton's Obamacare Advice; High Tech Search For Flight 370; Grieving Families Demand More Information; Two Quakes Shock Los Angeles Region; 10 Ships, 10 Planes Searching For Flight 370

Aired March 31, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": They're having some maintenance issues. You see this year. Some of us have tried this morning and got on. I tried a half dozen times in my office, three times I got on, three times I didn't. They can't be happy with that on deadline day.

But listen here, Republican Senator John Barrasso, you know, the White House says we're over 6 million, if you add in the people on Medicaid, we're close to 10 million who have now have more access to health care. Listen to John Barrasso. He says don't believe it.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: I think they're cooking the books on this. People want to know the answers to that. They also want to know is when all is said and done, what kind of insurance will those people actually have?


KING: So the Republicans will not back down. They're saying it's a failure, don't trust the numbers. How does the White House try to change, if these numbers are correct and they've recovered, how do they change the narrative?

JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: To start, we have no evidence that the White House is cooking the books and the 6 million figure is not true. Six million could increase today is actually quite a good number for the White House. We don't know is what that six million figure actually means. How many of those people did not have insurance before Obamacare started, what kind of plans are they getting now?

How many of those people will actually pay for their premiums? What's the makeup of that 6 million figure? So even though on the surface that looks like a good answer for the White House, there's a lot of unanswered questions under the surface.

KING: And Manu, you know, if you look at the election dynamic across the country, Democrats are saying different things depending where you go in the country. Here's a Democrat who knows a little bit about a midterm election defined by health care. Bill Clinton was president in '94. Republicans won 52 seats in the House that year. Bill Clinton told us the real clear politics over the weekend. "Democrats had a tendency to shy away from things that they had done that were unpopular, talk about positions they had that were popular and my own experience had convinced me that was always a terrible mistake."

So Bill Clinton says if you own it, embrace it. But we don't see that from Democrats and I'm going to hold up one thing, we'll see it if see it from the president of the United States today. Here's his schedule, on deadline day, no public events. Why isn't the president out there saying you have a few more hours and I'm so proud of this program?

MANU RAJU, "POLITICO": That's not what Democrats really want. They don't want this to be the driving issue in the election. This brings Republican voters out to the polls, not Democratic voters. The message sent is don't run away from the law because you voted for, it you can't get away from it. But this is not the issue that you necessarily want to be running on. You want to talk about things like income inequality, things they believe -- on Obamacare they are want to run away from it or try to change the subject as much as they can.

PACE: And a whole lot easier for someone like Bill Clinton to say don't run away from this than a, you know, red state Democrats running for re-election.

KING: But we'll see if he goes to campaign in his home state for Senator Pryor. Bill Clinton brings it up. We'll see if the president changes his mind. Sometimes they do at events. So we'll see if the president comes out.

Let's move on. You're just back from the president's international trip. At the beginning of it, the crisis in Ukraine dominated. He tried to get the European allies to stay together on sanctions. I want you to listen to Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was on "STATE OF UNION" with Candy Crowley over the weekend. She thinks that Russia's take on Crimea is permanent.


SENATOR DIANE FEINSTEIN (D), CHAIRMAN, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The Crimea is dominantly Russian. A referendum was passed. That I think has been done.


KING: The tone there leads you to believe that many in Congress are thinking, you know what, the goal now is to stop Putin from going further. Is that what they're thinking at the White House?

PACE: Privately that is what they think. A lot of administration officials have told me that it is likely that Russia will stay in Crimea. They won't say as much publicly because that's largely an admission that the U.S. and the international community really have no leverage. But their main focus right now is keeping Russia from moving further into Ukraine. Russia has tens of thousands of troops on their border with Ukraine.

A lot of people look at this and say how you can see this as anything other than a plan for a possible incursion? So yes, privately a lot of people in the administration agree with Dianne Feinstein, that Crimea is basically gone.

KING: Secretary Kerry continuing the diplomatic conversations and the administration says publicly that Putin not only has to pull his troops back from the border, but that he should give Crimea back to Ukraine. Listen to this from Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina tweeting over the weekend.

"President Obama and Secretary Kerry, beware of the Bear. Don't throw over Ukraine and democracy in the name of diplomacy." So Republican skeptics and even some Democratic skeptics think that is the end game. That in the end even though the administration publicly says get out that if Putin were to back off and not take more at least for now they would accept that as the status quo?

RAJU: That's right. I mean, I think that once you saw that Putin come in and make the phone call to the president over the weekend, there was some hope that this could be resolved diplomatically. But there is so much scepticism that that's actually what Putin wants and I think what Lindsey Graham is saying there is echoes the concern from a lot of folks on both sides of the aisle. That what Putin wants is not necessarily a diplomatic situation, but that's going to situation and prolong the military incursion into Ukraine.

KING: There was a big political meeting in Vegas over the weekend, the Republican Jewish coalition. The meeting was hosted by the Republican mega donor, Sheldon Adelson. He put only $92 million, $93 million into the last presidential campaign. Among those out there, Jeb Bush was out there, he was the big favourite. Chris Christie went out there.

He was an early favourite of this group. There are a lot of skeptics now because of bridgegate. Someone else who generate some buzz, Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin. He is on the ballot this year so perhaps it's a little self-serving.


GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Any Republican talking about the election is doing a disservice both to the party and to the --


KING: Easy for him to say?

PACE: I just think that's hysterical given that he's at an event. The whole thing with the Sheldon Adelson, you know, weekend though, I think we all know that in politics behind the scenes you have candidates who are wooing the mega donors. What's so interesting about what happened this weekend is we've seen this play out in a much more public way and there's almost something icky about it even though we know it happens behind the scenes, to see it happen in such an obvious way is kind of bizarre.

KING: They used to hide the big money stuff.

RAJU: And actually to get Chris Christie to apologize for something?

KING: For using the term occupied territories during a trip --

RAJU: That's right. You know, he went to Sheldon Adelson and said, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have made that comment. You don't see Chris Christie making an apology like that unless there is someone powerful, someone who can really drive Republican politics and that's what we are going to potentially see from Adelson in 2016.

KING: I was just having an exchange with someone who was there over the weekend who did say they did talk a lot about 2014. And Adelson in particular was ready to get into some Senate races including defending Mitch McConnell. Let's close with a little humor about a very important subject.

"Saturday Night Live," remember the president of the United States was "Between Two Ferns." He's done a whole lot of other things to promote. Enrolment in health care, well, "Saturday Night Live" couldn't resist. Everyone in New York get ready. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now let's bring in Kim Kardashian, (inaudible) and Chris --



KING: Kate, Chris, Michaela, that's the one you guys can stay up, right, "Saturday Night," I'm sure you're all up for that?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I definitely was. I'm not dealing with any jet lag time change problems at all. No, no.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Sacrilege to see Justin Bieber defamed that way.

BOLDUAN: That's what --

CUOMO: Sacrilege to see Justin Bieber defamed that way.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you. John, thanks so much.

CUOMO: Good luck this season, pal.

KING: Good luck, my friend, see you on October.

CUOMO: Yes, you know, you'll be watching me this time, pal.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to have to separate you two. CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, for the family of the missing, first anguish, now anger. Hear what some of them have to say about their loss and the Malaysian response to it, which will shock you coming up.

BOLDUAN: Plus California rocked by two more earthquakes. Now residents are fearing the big one might be coming. Are they prepared?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We are just hearing search operations have concluded for the day and there is nothing significant to report in the continuing search for Flight 370. Despite the lack of findings, Australia's prime minister insists his country will solve the mystery of the disappearance of the flight. And now an Australian ship with special American equipment on board to find the black box is en route to the search area.

Let's go live to Will Ripley. He is on board "The Thunder" alongside one of the search ships in the Indian Ocean -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we are literally just moments away from the departure of the "Ocean Shield." We just got an update about 2 minutes ago from the Australian defense force. The lights behind me, that's the "Ocean Shield." They're lifting up the gangway, getting ready to make the final preparations to move off.

What will happen next is a three-day trip out to the Indian Ocean to this massive search area, the size of Poland. On board this ship is really, really high technology from the U.S. Navy. There's a black box pinger locator that giant underwater microphone that can listen for the sound from the data recorders on the flight.

There's also an underwater drone that can scan the ocean floor. The problem is the technology won't be useful unless we can narrow down the size of the search area because that big underwater microphone can only hear about a mile radius. But they want to get this ship in place just in case they get a more clear idea of where the debris is. Again, the ship ready to take off just moments from now -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much for the reporting. You know, when it comes to the situation, there are a lot of questions, there a lot of push for answers here because we want to know how and why this happened. But the main pressure is to get answers for the families of the missing.

Now there's this growing tension between these families and those investigating. In the latest twist, Malaysia's acting transportation minister won't say he's sorry to the families and here is why they say they expect an apology because many of the families are demanding one saying that Flight 370 was lost in a crash.

They find that to be offensive given what has been actually learned. Malaysians officials say they never said it crashed, only that it, quote, "ended in the Indian Ocean." Needless to say that explanation is satisfying to no one. CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Kuala Lumpur with more. What is the explanation for why they would say, well, we're not saying it crashed, we're just saying it ended. What does that supposed to mean?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, they basically said back on the 24th that it had ended. It's basically a technicality saying they haven't used the word crashed, but of course, this is not what these families want to hear. More than three weeks on, these families are emotionally and physically exhausted.

We a lot of Chinese relatives of the passengers now here. Dozens have just arrived in Kuala Lumpur to try and find out the truth about their missing loved ones.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Praying for lost souls. Today Chinese relatives of the missing airline passengers seek refuge in Buddhist temple in Kuala Lumpur looking for some peace in the midst of such tragedy. Of the 239 people on board, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, 154 were Chinese citizens. "Chinese are kind-hearted people," says this relative, but we can clearly distinguish between good and evil. We will never forgive those who hid the truth and the criminal who delayed the rescue mission.

These families arrived in Kuala Lumpur Sunday and within an hour, staged a press conference adding to the mounting pressure on the Malaysian government for answers. Dressed in white t-shirts with the words "pray for MH-370," they chanted three goals, we want evidence, we want proof, and we want our family.

Australian authorities are making preparations in Perth for the grieving families. But Malaysia Airlines' CEO says they will fly those families to Perth only after official confirmation that wreckage from the plane has been found. This woman begged please Malaysia's transport minister, please don't stop looking, find our loved one. Officials involved with the search gave words of encouragement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We owe it to everyone to do whatever we reasonably can and we can keep searching for quite some time to come.


HANCOCKS: The acting transport minister was actually asked today what happens if you never actually find this plane? In this press conference he said that out of respect for the families, that was not something that he wanted to discuss in public, at least not at this moment. Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right, Paula, thank you for that side of the story. Thanks so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, jolted back to reality. California rattled with a series of earthquakes this past weekend after nearly 20 years since their last major quake. It has many people asking, could this mean the big one is on the way? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. California officials are assessing the damage from not one but two earthquakes and over 100 after hocks that rocked Los Angeles this weekend. A 5.1 magnitude quake struck Friday followed the next day by a 4.1 trembler. Now experts say the quakes should be a wakeup call that a period of recent calm could be coming to a devastating end. Here's Stephanie Elam with more.


GENNIGER SCOTT, LA RESIDENT: The floor separated from the walls.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In case Southern Californians forgot, this is earthquake country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being it was a jolt, it's more scary.

ELAM: Mother Nature provided the reminder over the weekend. A 5.1 magnitude quake that struck in Orange County on Friday followed by more than 100 aftershocks. Many of them so small, most people didn't even feel them. Still a lot of activity where it's been unusually dormant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was way beyond anything I had ever experienced.

ELAM: Take a look at these pictures from Friday's initial quake. Bottles toppling off of store shelves, brick walls falling apart and a rock slide that left this car on its roof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll double check everything.

ELAM: Following the shaker, 20 apartments south of Los Angeles were initially red tagged and then cleared, but six homes were deemed structurally unstable displacing a couple dozen people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is going to be a lot more clean up and I'm worried that there is going to more aftershocks coming.

ELAM: And on Saturday, a 4.1 after shock. In fact, even while scientists were in the middle of an earthquake briefing --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're having an aftershock now about 2.7.

ELAM: -- aftershocks continued to erupt.

DR. LUCY JONES, SEISMOLOGIST, MIS GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: The last 20 years is one of the quietest periods we've had. Obviously that's not true for 2014, which just might mean that we are getting back to the more normal rate.

ELAM: Or could it mean the big one is on the way?

JONES: We have never found worldwide a pattern of building up and then you get the real big earthquake. That's not the way earthquakes look like. Most of them are random.

ELAM: And a not so gentle reminder for Californians to get prepared. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


BOLDUAN: Amazing.

CUOMO: All right, coming up on NEW DAY, we'll take a quick break. When we come back, debris that raised so many hopes has not been connected to the missing jet. New questions, are search teams looking in the right place? Is it time to re-evaluate the strategy? We'll give you the answers just ahead.

BOLDUAN: After a heavy diplomatic push by the United States, is Russia ready to pull thousands of troops back from its border with Ukraine. We have important new developments coming up next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are giving it the very best shot we can. If anyone can find this aircraft, it's us.


CUOMO: Happening now new intensity in the search for Flight 370. New tools to find the black box and new promises from the Australian prime minister telling CNN exclusively they will do whatever takes to find Flight 370. What happened to the latest leads?

BOLDUAN: Breaking overnight, North and South Korea opening fire on each other. Hundreds of artillery shells exchanged, residents rush to shelters. What set it off? Our Christiana Amanpour is joining us live.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Tensions rising a frantic weekend in negotiations between the U.S. and Russia, ends with little agreement. But now this morning, are Russian troops pulling back?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

BOLDUAN: Good morning once again, everyone. Today search for Flight 370 has just ended for the day, ten planes and ten ships comb the Southern Indian Ocean for potential debris from the missing jet. Australian officials are now reporting the aircrafts have returned with nothing significant to report.

And the Australian ship "Ocean Shield" has just now left port with the U.S. Navy pinger locator on board. It's estimated to arrive in the search area on Thursday. Just days remain now before the battery in the Boeing 777's black box goes dead if it hasn't already gone dead. Let's bring in Paula Newton live from Perth, Australia with the very latest -- Paula. PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we're just waiting for the last couple of planes to come back here to the air base. Unfortunately, nothing new or significant for today. At the same time this search is moving into a whole new high gear.


NEWTON (voice-over): Today search teams back to square one. Debris sighted this weekend apparently leading to dead ends. Four orange objects spotted by an Australian reconnaissance plane and other floating objects that ships recovered turned out to be fishing equipment and dead jellyfish.


NEWTON: As the search enters its fourth week now, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott tells CNN's Atika Shubert in an exclusive interview, they're not giving up.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How long can this be sustained realistically?

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The effort is ramping up, not winding down.

NEWTON: Dedicated to today's search, 10 aircrafts and at least 10 ships from seven countries among those ships Australia's "Ocean Shield" prepping to depart port. I toured the ship this weekend as crews outfitted the vessel with an unmanned underwater robot and black box detector from the U.S. Navy. The latest analysis of satellite and radar data has zoned in on this search area more than a thousand miles off the coast of Perth, Australia.