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Senate Seeks to Raise Minimum Wage; Republicans Stay on Benghazi; Australian Company Claims to Have Found MH370 Wreckage, Experts Skeptical; Botched Execution in Oklahoma; Clippers Respond to Sterling Ban

Aired April 30, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, CORRESPONDENT: With me this morning, this is the Associated Press alumni association. Ron Fournier of the "National Journal", a former A.P. friend of mine when I worked at the A.P., and Julie Pace, the White House correspondent for the Associated Press.

Let's start -- vote in the United States Senate today. Harry Reid wants to bring to the floor legislature that would raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. This will not pass. They will not get, I'm assured this morning by a Senate Republican aide. The Democrats do not have the 60 votes to proceed.

So likely a show vote, Julie. But sometimes a show vote is important. Why?

JULIE PACE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONENT: Well, in an election year, a show vote is particularly important when you're talking about Democrats were trying to build a message of income equality, economic fairness. This plays right into that message. And it actually politically works better for them if they have Republicans that are trying to block this from moving forward.

RON FOURNIER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: But if you're an American out there whose wages have been stagnating over the last 20 years, you're not going to get any help from Washington until we get a new crop of leaders. The only chance right now is that your state leaders step up and raise the wage.

KING: So the -- so the voters out there who think this is a good policy idea maybe applaud the Democrats, but they don't get any results in the short term. Is there a race or two out there, Ron, where this could help a Democrat? Is it a Mark Pryor in Arkansas? Does it help him keep his job in a tough race?

FORD: It sure could. When you're looking -- when you're Mark Pryor, when you're Begich, when you're somebody in one of these states that leans Republican, you're trying to hang on to your seat, you need to get your base out. And this is certainly an issue that really appeals to Democratic base voters.

KING: You mention Mark Begich. I want to move on to another issue that is not percolating in a big way right now, but could be by the election. The Supreme Court says the president has the authority if he wants to try to regulate climate change, carbon emissions, across state lines. This is an issue if the president, as expected, uses his executive power between now and election day, could become an issue, could help some Democrats, could hurt some Democrats.

Ron mentioned Mark Begich. He's the Democratic incumbent in Alaska. One of the leading Republican candidates, the likely nominee many believe is Dan Sullivan. Watch this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: EPA regulations that could hurt the Alaska economy and cost jobs. Mark Begich sided with Washington again.


KING: Any doubt that the president will try to do something using his pen, the power of the pen, executive authority between now and election day?

PACE: I don't think there's any doubt that he will. I think the question, though, is how sweeping it will be. We were talking earlier that climate change is one of those issues where the president actually could do a lot for his legacy long term. It's an issue that hasn't gotten a ton of attention, but it is hugely important, hugely important to the president, personally.

There had been some thinking that the president could couple these executive orders that we're expecting this summer with a decision to approve the Keystone Pipeline and basically try to appease both sides of this debate. Keystone has obviously been pushed back until after the election, so I think that does raise some questions about how sweeping he will be this summer.

KING: How sweeping and will there be pressure, how much pressure and will he listen to it, Ron, to wait until after the election? Because if you're Mark Begich in Alaska, if you're Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, two vulnerable Democrats from big energy states, you're thinking, Mr. President, they're already trying to hang Obamacare on my neck, why would you do this to me?

FOURNIER: Yeah, they're obviously punching (ph) on Keystone. And it's pure politics. Don't believe the administration when they say this is a review or legalities. It's pure politics.

But Julie is exactly right. This is a place where not only does he have the pen and the phone, the executive power, but he's the pen and phone and a surprise Supreme Court ruling. So this could be something 20, 30 years from now we could look back and what he's done -- what he may do this summer on climate change could be more impactful and bigger for his legacy than Obamacare. This is a really big deal.

KING: That's an interesting point. Let's move on.

Republicans say newly released e-mails about the Benghazi attacks. Remember, just before the election in 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed in those attacks. They say newly released e-mails prove a smoking gun, prove some kind of a cover-up at the White House.

What they point to -- is here's one of them from Ben Rhodes, a deputy National Security Council official who works on press. Before Susan Rice went on the Sunday talk shows to explain what happened, he said the goal was to, quote, "underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, not a broader failure of policy."

Now, they had other information, Julie, at that time, people at the State Department, people at the CIA saying this was not an indigenous protest. There may have been some protest outside, but this was a calculated planned terrorist attack. When Republicans say gotcha, do they have a point?

PACE: Well, they're certainly going to try to make this point, cast it as a smoking gun. I think for the White House, one of the biggest questions is why were these e-mails that we're getting now under a FOIA request, not released by the (inaudible)?

KING: A lawsuit.

PACE: A lawsuit.

KING: A judicial watch conservative group had to file a lawsuit.

PACE: To get these. Why were the e-mails not released earlier? This is just going to stretch the story out further. This is basically, you can apply to anything in a White House. If you can just get all of your information out once, you can make the case for your position more strongly instead of dragging this out and giving Republicans more ammunition.

KING: And a lot of -- even some of House Republican leadership, Ron, had been telling Chairman Darrell Issa, "OK, enough. You've had enough time on this. You've spent a lot of hearings on this. Absent any new information, time to drop this and move on."

Now, between now and the election, I assume if for nothing else than the politics, Republicans are going to use this, but will the administration now be required to send out more witnesses, to send out Ben Rhodes or to answer questions about why did you sit on this?

FOURNIER: Look, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I'm a stickler for the truth and a stickler for fighting back against spin. And this administration on this issue and many others has put politics first. And that's if there's a smoking gun here, it's the e-mail that shows Rhodes working for the president said that our goal here, our number one goal here, is showing on the Sunday talk shows through Susan Rice that the president is strong in foreign policy. That was the goal.

The goal wasn't to find out the truth and find out what happened and make sure this doesn't happen again. They put politics first. It began to undermine their credibility, starting with Benghazi and then the IRS attacks -- the IRS incident. And then, you know, with ACA, the health care, the idea that you can keep your doctor if you want to. This is undermining of his credibility. That's what's brought down his numbers.

KING: Four Americans are dead. There should be full transparency.

FOURNIER: Yes. What are you hiding?

KING: Let the facts fall where they may.

FOURNIER: Exactly.

KING: Let's move on.

We talked a bit about this last week. At home -- back home last week, Speaker John Boehner being a bit more candid than he is in Washington about why you can't get an immigration reform bill to the president's desk. Speaker Boehner crying like a baby mocking fellow House Republicans. Remember this?


JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Here's the attitude. "Ooh, don't make me do this. Ooh, this is too hard."


KING: Now back in Washington yesterday he gets this, you know, adjustment. He's back in Washington, changes your candor level, I guess. Speaker Boehner said he was just having a little fun and the main problem is that Republicans don't trust President Obama to enforce the law.


BOEHNER: There was no mocking. You all know me. You know? I -- I -- you tease the ones you love. All right?


KING: There was no mocking, and I don't like beer.


So will he -- will he --

FOURNIER: I know that's a lie.

KING: -- do something this year? Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York, saying that he believes the House will do something and a possibility that won't match the Senate bill that passed months ago. There's a possibility they will get a bill to the president in 2014. I find that to be parallel universe.

PACE: Well, there's this -- this theory out there there's a little glimmer of hope that this summer John Boehner, who has said that he personally would like to do immigration reform, that John Boehner after the GOP gets through their mid-term primaries, will put a bill on the floor in the House. I think that's unlikely. But there is a small glimmer of hope on that front.

KING: Even if the House passed something, Mitch McConnell in a tight race back home, I mean, maybe he thinks he needs it then if he survives the tea party challenge. Can you see, between now and election day, Ron, with all this pressure to drive out your base, will the Republican leadership risk alienating the conservative base by sending the president legal status or path to citizenship this year?

FOURNIER: It's hard to see because that's the question everybody in this town, especially our leaders are asking that. If the question is what's good for the country and what's even good for the Republican party, it would be a no-brainer. It would get done. That's not the way we look at things in Washington nowadays.

KING: Julie Pace, Ron Fournier, thanks for coming in.

As we get back to you guys in New York, Chris Christie was supposed to be in Florida today to help Rick Scott. There's a new poll out this morning showing Rick Scott down ten points. The former Republican governor now Democratic candidate Charlie Crist in Florida. Chris Christie is not going. There's no big political thing here. This is -- there is flash flooding in Florida, as you guys have been noting. And I'm told our Mark Preston reporting. Chris Christie talked to Rick Scott this morning said I'll come another time. You've got a lot on your hands, Governor. So we'll watch that one.

BOLDUAN: We'll watch that one. Some much needed support down there in Florida for Rick Scott, that's for sure.

All right, John, thanks so much.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, an Australian company says it may have spotted plane wreckage thousands of miles from the current search zone in the hunt for Flight 370. But the man who helped find Air France Flight 447 says he's skeptical and so do a lot of others. We'll talk to him about why.

BOLDUAN: Also, another twist in the Amanda Knox case. An Italian court says she is guilty, but the prosecutor's theory is wrong. What does this mean for Knox and the long, drawn-out legal drama? Legal experts are gonna test the finding.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Possible new lead in the search for missing Flight 370. An Australian team, firm, rather, says that the analysis of airborne images shows an area in the Bay of Bengal that could be the missing plane. This area, keep in mind, is thousands of miles from the current search area.

I'm joined once again by David Gallo to break down what these images could be showing and how easy it would be to investigate these claims. We'll get to that point in a minute.

DAVID GALLO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Sure. PEREIRA: But first of all, the company says these images are showing weak electromagnetic currents. They paired the images with what they say show metal wavelength. Explain this to me. Science it out for me in -- in -- in regular speak.

GALLO: Every kind of metal has its own magnetic field, electromagnetic field surrounding it. So that's generated by the metal itself and by -- with the right kind of tools you can pick out different metals.

PEREIRA: So the metals of steel, alloys, aluminum, titanium, et cetera, et cetera.

GALLO: Yeah, each is their own kind of signature. I get that. That's proven.

PEREIRA: But you are a skeptical or suspicious. What would you --

GALLO: I'm suspicious because this ground-breaking if it's true. It's revolutionary in the ocean world that you can see through that much water and see something on the bottom and sense it like this. I mean, I don't know any other capability like this. So if it pans out to be true it's revolutionary.

PEREIRA: Now, if it isn't Flight 370 or wreckage, what else could it be?

GALLO: Well, you know, that part of the ocean, you're talking about close up to India, Bangladesh and that area, there's a lot of different things that wash down the Ganges River.

PEREIRA: Sure, because there's two rivers that -- that flow out to that area.

GALLO: Yes. So there's a lot of input from land sources. And in that land, there's aluminum, titanium, all sorts of other metals. So those sediments probably have bits of all of that in there mixed in. Plus, probably all sorts of other wrecks, shipwrecks, planes. Who knows what else is inside there.

PEREIRA: Now, one of the other things that people are suspicious about, the fact that they had images from before and then images after that show this, but they're not showing the before images.

GALLO: Right. Well, that's another thing that I don't quite get because it looks like -- they make it sound like they did that entire area. Almost half the northern Indian Ocean, and they came back -- gigantic area, which -- so they must have seen an awful lot of stuff. And then they came back a few days later and, whoa, look at this. There it is. And I know I'm simplifying a lot. I haven't seen their report. So I'm just guessing about what process they went through. But here's the data.

PEREIRA: Right. I want to take you to -- we're talking about the ocean. So I want you -- and I'm going give you the opportunity to draw on it because this is an area of your expertise to be certain. GALLO: Yes.

PEREIRA: This area, the Bay of Bengal is vastly different from where they're currently searching.

GALLO: It's big time different, yeah.

PEREIRA: How so?

GALLO: I mean, in the -- in the -- in the case where we've been working, the water depths have been about 4,000 plus meter, 5,000 meters even. So that's deep. So it takes some incredible technology to run a cable back to here with the TPL first, and then he had the Bluefin that was zipping around on the bottom.

And now we have a lot of lumps and bumps down there, underwater mounds, topography and seafloor. But this is actually more like that. So we're up here, I think. Now the more I look at their report, it sounds like they're up here on the shelf where this distance is only a couple of football fields.

PEREIRA: So not as difficult, which begs the question, why not send --

GALLO: Let's have a peek.

PEREIRA: Let's have a peek. Why not?

GALLO: Well, it still will take a while to get a boat and get tools. There's many more tools that can do this than that can do that, but it could still take a bit to get a ship out there. And I'm wondering why not repeat it with a satellite and with an aircraft or however they got this --

PEREIRA: I want you to focus on that again. Because any scientist knows that if you get a result, you want to do the test again.

GALLO: Repeatable results. Let's do it. Yep.

PEREIRA: Exactly.

GALLO: So let's get the investigative team with them. Show us how you did this. Let's see it again.

PEREIRA: It's also interesting, too, here the currents I think would be a different situation. All of that would be that.

GALLO: Typically up inside this area where you're within 100 meters or so of the -- of the sea surface you can get storms and everything that would blow through here. It makes a little bit -- you might think it's totally absolutely easier to work up here. Different set of problems here. Currents.

PEREIRA: Well, right. Every bit of ocean has its own challenges. All right, let's look at the map. About 118 miles south of Bangladesh. Talk about this area. Is it a big shipping route? Is there a lot of water traffic?

GALLO: Sure, I mean, there's an awful lot of traffic. If you look at at any given day, you'll see all sorts of ships up inside that area. So it's not in -- and the edge of that shelf we were looking at is right about here. So this drops off quickly into deep water, 5,000, 6,000 meters. And we're up here on the shelf edge, I believe. I haven't seen the detailed map yet. But it seems like they're talking about a fairly shallow area.

PEREIRA: So you again say you're skeptical but maybe worth sending a boat or a plane out there, maybe with somebody on board, to retest.

GALLO: Skeptical because it's so revolutionary. And I don't know of anyone that knows of this kind of technology yet, and I know most of the people in this business. Doesn't mean I know everything. But it bears having a close look at it.

PEREIRA: Well, certainly want to have your voice in the conversation.

GALLO: Thanks, Michaela.

PEREIRA: Thank you so much, David Gallo, as always.

Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: All right.

Coming up on NEW DAY, a botched execution uncovers a larger question. How comfortable are we with killing? We're going to tell you what happened in Oklahoma.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Breaking overnight: a botched execution in Oklahoma, renewing the death penalty debate as corrections officials there begin to investigate what went wrong. A new drug cocktail left 38-year-old convicted killer Clayton Lockett writhing on the gurney. He eventually died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes after he was first injected.

CNN's justice correspondent Pamela Brown is in Washington with the very latest. So Pamela, what do they think went wrong?

PAMELA BRONWN CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're still trying to figure that out, Kate. We can tell you the inmate who died had recently lost a court battle to find out the source of the drugs used in his execution. And last night witnesses watched in horror as the inmate seemingly struggled to talk well after he was given the lethal chemical cocktail.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was struggling to talk. But those were the words we got out. "Man, I'm not" and "Something is wrong."

BROWN (voice-over): They may be the last words spoken by Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett uttered during his botched execution. Lockett's vein exploded during the lethal injection, prompting authorities to quickly halt the procedure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was my decision at that time to stop the execution.

BROWN: The first drug in the lethal injection cocktail is supposed to render a person unconscious. But witnesses say Lockett was still conscious seven minutes after that first injection. At 16 minutes, he seemingly tried to get up and talk. It was then that prison officials closed the blinds, shutting out the media gathered to witness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't know what was happening on the other side of the blinds. We didn't know if he was still dying or if they were pumping drugs in him.

BROWN: Forty-three minutes after the first injection, Lockett died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The inmate suffered what appears to be a massive heart attack and passed away.

BROWN: Lockett and Charles Warner, the inmate set to be executed after Lockett Tuesday, both convicted of rape and murder, were at the center of a court fight over the drugs used in their execution. Oklahoma's high court initially stayed their executions, only to lift those stays last week, saying the men had no right to know the source of the drugs intended to kill them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to hurry up and get it done with as little transparency as possible. There should not be another execution in this state until there's a full investigation into what went wrong.


BROWN (on-camera): And Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin ordered an investigation into the incident and issued an executive order granting a two-week delay in executions.

And interesting to note here, Chris and Kate, Oklahoma is one of several states that's been fighting to keep information about the suppliers of lethal drugs confidential. Back to you.

CUOMO: All right, thanks, Pamela. We'll be following up on that story to be sure.

Coming up on NEW DAY, he's now banned for life from the NBA after his racist remarks. The question is, will Clippers owner Donald Sterling go quietly or will he hold on to his team?

BOLDUAN: And a shocking report in the Amanda Knox case. An Italian court explains why they found her guilty and what does this mean for Knox and the drawn-out legal drama. Experts test the finding.


BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, April 30th, 8:00 -- just before 8:00 in the east.

The Los Angeles Clippers and their fans are trying to move on from team owner Donald Sterling's racist ranting that just got him banned for life from the NBA. They took a big step last night, winning game five of their play-off series against the Warriors at home. It came just hours after the league gave Sterling the boot and handed down a pretty hefty fine.

But will Sterling accept the punishment? Or does the league have a major fight on its lands? CNN's Stephanie Elam in live in Los Angeles and was live at the game last night.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. This was a very decisive move by the league, by the commissioner. And afterwards, it was across the board we heard from owners, we heard from players, we heard from former players of all races coming out to say that this is what needed to happen. And it seemed to clear the way for the Clippers to take the win.


ELAM (voice-over): A rousing show of support as the L.A. Clippers took to the court and then took home the victory against the Golden State Warriors in game five of the play-offs.

The team, warming up in shirts that read, "One Team, One Goal, It's Time", a symbol of their support after NBA commissioner Adam Silver came out strongly against team owner Donald Sterling.

ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA.

ELAM: The harshest punishment in the history of the NBA. Sterling, who admitted the racist rant that surfaced is his own, was also fined $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA constitution.

Before game five, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said now the healing can begin.

DOC RIVERS, CLIPPERS COACH: I was really proud of them. I've been proud of the players in the NBA overall. I've been proud of the ownership. We're all in a better place because of this.

ELAM: The commissioner's bold action igniting resounding praise from players, owners, and fans alike.

Charlotte Bobcats owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan saying he applauds the commissioner's swift and decisive response.