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"Consequences" For Russia?; Obama, Biden: Selfie Pals; Report: Only One Life Boat Deployed

Aired April 17, 2014 - 07:30   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of news this morning. Let's get to John Berman in for Michaela who is under the weather this morning. What do you got, John?

JOHN BERMAN, HOST, CNN: All right, rescuers are battling harsh conditions as they race to find survivors of a capsized ferry off of South Korea's coast. Nearly 300 people are missing. At least nine are dead.

Officials do expect that number to rise substantially. Most of the passengers, high school students headed for vacation. Some hope that survivors are alive in air pockets on the ship, but after more than a day in frigid water, time is running out.

New developments in the search for Flight 370. Data now being analyzed after the Bluefin-21 mini-sub completed its first full mission. Initial tests on those oil slicks in the search show they are not from an aircraft engine. Australia's prime minister says he expects the best leads in the search will be exhausted in about a week. After that, he says crews will have to reassess. Malaysia's transportation minister vows to keep on looking.

Breaking this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin standing by Russia's actions in Ukraine. He's admitting that troops were in Crimea during the referendum to join Russia and he blames Kiev for not opening a constructive dialogue. In the meantime, a fresh round of violence has tensions reaching a boiling point in Ukraine. Three people were killed when hundreds stormed the Ukrainian military base there -- Chris.

CUOMO: Got a situation on the ground and certainly a political situation that is surrounding it. So let's get to "Inside Politics" on "NEW DAY" with Mr. John King.

JOHN KING, HOST, CNN "INSIDE POLITICS": Chris, good morning to you. Kate and John as well. We'll pick up right there. You just mentioned Vladimir Putin acknowledging his troops are inside Ukraine as Crimea broke off. Let's talk about that and more with Juliana Goldman of "Bloomberg News" and Nia-Malika Henderson of "The Washington Post."

Let's start with the president and his options, Juliana. You're about to travel next week with the vice president who is going to Ukraine. That's part of the administration showing its support for the new government. But Vladimir Putin at the moment doesn't appear to be listening. The president yesterday had an interview with CBS News, listen to hear as the president is voicing again his hope, his hope that diplomacy ultimately will work.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Each time Russia takes these kinds of steps that are designed to destabilize Ukraine and violate their sovereignty, that there are going to be consequences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he mocking you and the U.S. military?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: They're not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us. Understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians. We don't need a war.


KING: The end of that sentence is quite interesting. The president saying we don't need a war. I hope sanctions work, but then working in the -- he understands our forces are far more superior than his, we have a war of words and a test of wills between the two leaders. Is there any confidence at the White House that the current approach, sanctions only, relatively modest sanctions, will work?

JULIANNA GOLDMAN, "BLOOMBERG NEWS": He said there was that shot at Vladimir Putin. It echoes what he said a few weeks ago when he said, look, the U.S. is a super power. Russia is a regional power. You're right, it is a war of words. What the White House says now they're focused on they have a package of sanctions that they're ready to impose on Russia.

Again, their target, Putin's cronies and the entities that they're affiliated with. They're also holding out the possibility of sectorial sanctions meaning targeting their banking sector, their oil and gas sector.

So really hitting Russia's economy, which they're saying the threat of just having those sanctions has already caused the ruble, Russia's currency, to fall to lows. The stock market to drop and so what they're focusing now on is political and real economic isolation of Russia.

KING: And the question is does that impact Putin, does he feel that heat, does he think at home where he now thinks he's being helped by this. Does he think it's starting to hurt him?

Nia-Malika, you heard Major Garrett ask the question, is he mocking you? The president didn't answer it directly. This morning, overnight, Vladimir Putin had a lengthy television appearance in Russia answering questions. Among the questions came, watch this.

We can show it on our screen, from Edward Snowden who the president of the United States believes should be returned to the United States, should stand trial and should spend a long time, perhaps the rest of his life in prison. Is allowing that to happen, that's not an accident. Allowing that to happen, is Vladimir Putin mocking --

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, absolutely. And this is part of the deterioration of this relationship. Obama came in thinking that there would be a reset with Russia, with kind of global community. In general, this is a reminder of how often foreign affairs can shape and reshape presidencies.

Obama going forward next week is traveling to Asia and he wanted very much to pivot to his relationship -- to the country's relationship with Asia. And that looks like it's going to be impacted by what's going on in Russia because there's so much attention that has to go there.

KING: Excellent point. The distraction of this crisis as well as the enormous day-to-day dealings of this crisis. Let's come back home, the president did that interview with CBS in Pennsylvania. He was there with his best pal, Vice President Joe Biden. We're told they're best pals because we can show you a selfie. Selfies, if you do it at the White House and you're a baseball player it's bad.

If you do it in the back of the limousine with your best pal, the president and vice president of the United States, it's OK. Julianna, help us with the politics of this. This is a fascinating relationship.

GOLDMAN: Politics of selfie?

KING: In the sense that over the past couple months we've had several examples of where the vice president has been slighted, he thinks, in his staff, more importantly thinks. The president gives an interview with CBS, we'll have our -- joint interview with Hillary Clinton and woman president pretty soon. All the Obama political staff is on the super PAC supporting Hillary. What's this about?

GOLDMAN: If you thought they were frenemys, this is a great bromance, but I do think that Nia and I can agree that these kinds of selfies should be banned.

HENDERSON: Selfies are over.

GOLDMAN: They don't look good. With an eye to 2014 they're trying to energize young people, trying to energize the base. I do think there was a sense that Biden might have felt a little slighted by the joint interview that the president gave with Hillary Clinton a short while ago.

KING: The interesting thing for me is will they take this road show to any place that has actually has a competitive Senate race. Pennsylvania, pretty safe.

HENDERSON: Go to Louisiana or North Carolina.

KING: Another politician we're watching and maybe Joe Biden is watching as he looks ahead to 2016 is the freshman senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren. Now she says I'm not running in 2016. She is among the female senators who signed a letter asking Hillary Clinton to run in 2016.

She has a new book coming out and in that book, she talks about, remember, Elizabeth Warren first started her prominence in Washington when she took over this new oversight agency, the Consumer Protection Agency. And the president asked her to build it, but then he made clear he couldn't nominate her to lead it because Senate Republicans didn't like her.

She describes in this book a moment, a conversation with the president outside of the oval office and he says, when she says, I'm not sure way want to do this. He said, you're jamming me, Elizabeth. Sometimes you have to trust the president. He urged me not to overplay my hand. Got it. You would have to say now given her prominence that she's happy she listened to the president.

GOLDMAN: Yes. I would say. And also you know, the president was able to get something out of Elizabeth Warren as well, if you remember in 2010 he touted the friendship with Elizabeth Warren to hail his own populous credentials. So she is now the -- holds a populous mantel of the Democratic Party, I think.

HENDERSON: And that book very much explores it. All these scenes with Larry Summers where he talks to her about whether or not you're going to be an insider or an outsider. He of course is counseling her to be an insider and she of course wants to be an outsider.

KING: He says insiders don't criticize other insiders. Not with names attached to it anyway. She's going to travel promoting the book. It's going to raise suspicions despite everything she has said that she's leaving the door open a little bit.

HENDERSON: Yes. I think that's right. And she -- if she were to enter this race and Hillary -- we're predicting something that we don't know is going to happen. But if she would ever enter the race she would be challenging Clinton from the left. You know, I'm always curious to see whether or not this is really an inside the beltway bubble that Warren has experienced or if she really has grass roots appeal in Iowa, in South Carolina, in New Hampshire. Hard to say.

GOLDMAN: Also an interesting to read the sections about Scott Brown ahead of his own Senate race in New Hampshire.

KING: Yes, that's true as well. Let's come back to another guy who we think should be a candidate in 2016 if he can survive bridgegate, Chris Christie and it seems like every day as we learn about this internal investigation the governor launched to try to get ahead of the legislative investigation and the federal investigation, the more we learn about it the more you simply have to roll your eyes.

Again, even if, even if this law firm he hired did everything just right and even if they played it by the book, we learned a few days ago that a woman, Debra Wong Yang is her name. He calls her a dear friend. He's vacationed with her. She was among the attorneys who questioned him.

So if you're a critic, how can you let that happen? Now we learned yesterday that the law firm gave $10,000 to the Republican Governor's Association, which Chris Christie heads, nine days before releasing its internal review that said Chris Christie did nothing wrong. Forgive me. Politics 101 that equals -- that's just pure stupidity.

GOLDMAN: It's just this drip, drip of bad news that is infecting the Christie administration right now. This is the guy who had been anointed as the next Republican presidential nominee on a national magazine. He was the money guy to get Wall Street. All of this is causing Wall Street the big money donors to look elsewhere.

HENDERSON: It's causing a surge among everyone who isn't Christie, right, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, all of these guys. You can imagine, all of this is going to come back to bite him in a debate. You can hear Rand Paul now talking about the taxpayer funded investigation into this.

KING: Nia-Malika Henderson, Julianna Goldman, thanks. As we get back to New York, you know, if you're going to have an investigation, don't let a dear friend interview you, Ladies and Gentlemen, and make sure they don't give you money right before they release their report. Just a little -- just a tip.

BOLDUAN: Good tip. Duly noted.

CUOMO: Rules to live by.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Thanks, John.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, an emotional apology from the captain of the sunken ferry in South Korea. We're going to talk to a retired coast guard captain about the very tough and urgent rescue efforts still under way.

CUOMO: We spent a lot of time talking about the search under the sea for Flight 370, right? Well, we're actually going to go under the sea now. We'll be live in a submarine to show you what it's like to search under water. Martin Savidge taking the plunge.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Right now divers and rescue boats are searching for nearly 300 passengers unaccounted for. Many of them teenagers after that terrible accident involving a ship off the coast of South Korea that was ferrying these kids to a vacation weekend. Now, this morning we're learning that only one of 46 life boats was deployed. Passengers were supposedly, reportedly, told to stay in place. There are a lot of questions about whether or not that would have cost lives because it took away time from being able to rescue themselves.

Joining as now from Boston is retired U.S. Coast Guard Captain Peter Boynton. Captain, it's good to have you with us. Up in front of me I have a chart. This is the nautical chart of the area where this ship is. It's interesting. I know you can't see it, but for the folks at home, to get some understanding of this, the red "x" is where we believe the ship is right now. This is the channel. The channel is the main waterway that's where you want to be. The theory is that it must have hit something, must have gone outside the channel. Here's what's making that a little tough to understand right now. All of these little blue areas and things, these were the areas you want to avoid, shallow areas, obstructions, rocks. This is in meters, 60s, 60s, 60s, 50s. This is all over 150 feet deep.

So it expands the understanding or, you know, of really the questions of how this could have happened. So, Cap, what I was showing them is this straight channel chart there. Plenty of t water everywhere to both sides of it really suggesting it's tough to get in trouble in that area, something who someone who frequently travels the area would know. What is that big boom that they heard?

CAPTAIN PETER BOYNTON, U.S. COAST GUARD (RETIRED): Well, it's a well traveled area. It's interesting reports are that perhaps it's a replacement captain on board. Earlier, we heard that the ferry was delayed initially due to fog in port. So, you know, we're not sure what that means yet. But it raises a question of whether or not the possibility of faster speed or cutting corners. But as you note, it is well traveled. There is reasonably good water there.

You know, the speed with which this vessel took on water and heeled over and then eventually laid on its side and went down, very fast, a couple of hours. That suggests some type of massive flooding and it could have happened a couple ways. One is a hull breach. And a hull breach could occur either because it struck something or something struck it producing a hole in the skin of the ship or it could have been caused by something inside the ship, perhaps some type of major malfunction or even bursting from inside.

There's a second category of reasons and if you look at the history of major ferry disasters and it's a sad, sad fact that we have plenty of data because there is a long history of very catastrophic ferry incidents. Another cause of these major incidents is either catastrophic system failure or operator error. So, for example, even cases with a large doors allowing the vehicles to come on and off are either left open or not properly sealed.

Now, there's no indication here that it was left open, but the point being that system failure or operator error can also lead to catastrophic ferry accidents. And this type of ferry has a large open deck for the vehicles to roll in, like several driveways parallel to each other inside the ship. The rest of the ship is built with compartments.

The reason for the compartments is that if you get a hole, it limits damage to the ship. However, if the hull breached spanned more than one compartment that could cause quick flooding and allow the ship to lose stability and heel over on its side. More troubling if that auto deck was breached by flooding, at that point it's one very large open space and at that point things move very quickly and very badly.

CUOMO: We know it wasn't a rogue wave so something had to happen from outside or inside that breached that hull. The other question for you, Cap. The reporting that people were told to stay in place. The reporting that only one life boat used. Is that unusual for you to give a command to stay in place in a situation of distress?

BOYNTON: You know, there are some examples, some limited examples where vessel was believed to be going down and the order was given to evacuate. If you can imagine going from a large ship at sea on to a small ship it's not easy and that alone can be dangerous. And some limited examples where that was done only to find out that the large ship was not sinking. And so injuries caused as a result of sort of pulling the trigger to leave too soon.

However, the other side of the coin is, that the captain and the crew have to very quickly make a critical assessment. When something happens to the ship, the critical assessment is, is this minor damage or does this have the potential for catastrophic damage? If it has the potential for catastrophic damage, time is limited. There's a real sense of urgency to move people while it's possible to move them.

And here I think only one out of 46 life boats might be a clue to a number of issues. As the ship begins to heel significantly, lay over on to its side, it becomes difficult or impossible to launch those boats.

CUOMO: Especially on the side that's in the water. Captain, thank you so much for the insight. Also important to note, one life boat was only used as far as we know. But the captain did make it off the ship and that's going to raise questions as well. Thank you very much, Captain.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, so many hurdles in the search for Flight 370. If and when the plane is found, the next step is bringing the black box up to the surface. We're going to take you live under water into a sub to show you the kind of conditions under the surface.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. The search continues for Flight 370. Search teams awaiting new analysis that will show if the unmanned sub found anything in its first full search mission of the ocean floor. But at such extreme depths, questions remain as to whether that technology is up to the very tough task.

Joining us now CNN correspondent, Martin Savidge, with a truly unique perspective in all this, in a submarine 50 feet below the surface with submarine and salvage expert, Phil Nuytten of Nuytco Research.

Martin, I'll tell you. This is pretty amazing that we are being able to speak with you. We should note, Martin, before we go that the sub you're demonstrating most likely will not be used in the recovery of 370, but it is capable of reaching depths other unmanned subs cannot reach. What's it like? It looks pretty tight?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's extremely tight. Good morning, Kate. The very fact that we're able to bring this to you live from down here in Horseshoe Bay in British Columbia is quite remarkable. What we're doing now is we're kind of maneuvering to be able to try and show you something here. We're resting on the bottom, and let me look back towards Phil. Phil Nuytten is right here with me. As you can see, we've become very close friends, as everybody else inside this submersible. Just so you know, there are four of us in a space that I would say would seem -- let's go to our pilot. Jeff Eaton is the man who is actually driving this thing. I would point out that Phil Nuytten has years and years, decades of upped water recovery effort.

PHIL NUYTTEN, SUBMARINE AND SALVAGE EXPERT NUYTCO: That's true. Like everything else, it's never easy. As you can see as we move to get a better grip on this thing, a big cloud of silt swells up from the bottom. We have to wait for the silt to settle before we can see what we're doing. No matter what method is used to cover any portion of the wreckage or the data recorder, the same problem is going to hold true.

SAVIDGE: We can actually look out through this -- this is flexi glass here?

NUYTTEN: Yes, flex glass.

SAVIDGE: Just to reassure me?

NUYTTEN: Three inches thick.

SAVIDGE: About three inches think, which is a panoramic view, you can look out here. As Phil has already mentioned, they call it --

NUYTTEN: The emerald sea.

SAVIDGE: Yes, for a reason. You can see there's a great deal of stuff that's hanging in the water and really that's not necessarily this could be very much what they face at great depths down there. Visibility is always going to be the issue. You can push out here. What we're working on is there is a mechanical arm, very similar to what might be on an ROV that would be used in the retrieval process of something like, say, a black box. We have a black box. We'll demonstrate that later after the water settles.

I don't know if I mentioned claustrophobia has been an issue. Phil has been great at talking me through this, walking me through it. It's chilly down here. The vessel here -- I don't know if you can show up here, but there's condensation. So you've got extremely tight quarters. You're working under very great pressures and you're essentially operating and would be operating in something like this for hours on end. This isn't just a, make a journey down and come right back up again.

NUYTTEN: No, absolutely. Once you're on the bottom, you're there to work. You keep working until you either accomplish the task or decide you can accomplish it.

SAVIDGE: We talked about the unmanned vehicles could be used. We already mentioned the Bluefin-21. That one is just to find the wreckage, correct?

NUYTTEN: That's correct. There's no way to really control it. You can see as we're playing here with the manipulator, really fine control is required. A lot of work class ROVs have that sort of control, but have the unfortunate umbilical going to the surface.

SAVIDGE: The cable that runs miles to the surface.

NUYTTEN: Miles to the surface, there could be cross-currents pushing it in various directions makes it very difficult. A free-swimming, man-tethered submersible is much easier to operate under these conditions.

SAVIDGE: So it's possible they would be sending people down?

NUYTTEN: Yes, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: At what depth does this submarine operate?

SAVIDGE: We can go down -- what did we say? This one in particular goes down to a depth --

NUYTTEN: About a thousand feet.

SAVIDGE: It's designed to carry how many people? I don't know if we've pushed the limits here.

NUYTTEN: We have here. It's a lot more comfortable with three. Four is a lot.

SAVIDGE: We should point out that, you know, we're actually sort of -- you can see us laying on these sofas which is a grand description. We've got Feray, the camera person kneeling directly. In the back we've got Jeff. It is extremely cramped. This is not for a person who has any difficulty being in a tight space. I would say the front seat of my Ford Focus might have a little more room for all of us.

NUYTTEN: Plus we're sitting on an incline. This is the sort of thing you'd find on the sea floor. This is not a steeping plane, but you can see how difficult it is to operate in that position.

SAVIDGE: We've got it tricked out, so many cameras in so many ways that we'll be able to show you throughout the day various efforts and various ways we can try to manipulate, try to maneuver, but most of all to demonstrate to you that this is not an easy process down on the bottom. We're not that deep. Imagine if you were at tremendous depth, huge challenges to show you.