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NBA Owners to Discuss Sterling Today; Northeast Reeling from Storm; Historic Flooding In Florida; Malaysia To Release Flight 370 Report; Judge Slams Amanda Knox Conviction Report

Aired May 1, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Just to help people kind of follow along with the process, all right?

The first question is, can you do this? You represent the owners. Can you do this to me in the first place? Can you hold a vote and see whether or not I have to sell my franchise?

JEFFREY KESSLER, SPORTS LAW ATTORNEY: Well, the constitution and bylaws says they can hold the vote. They have to bring a charge. He gets to respond to the charge and there's a hearing. It all happens supposedly within 20 days under the constitution and then they make a decision with the vote. That's clearly in the document.

CUOMO: It gets heavy here because it's why. Why can you do this? It says in the constitution for violations of article 13.

Article 13, I read it. There are several reasons given here, six, seven, eight reasons. None of them seem to fall under the category of what we're talking about here. It's all about not paying dues, not doing the right things as an owner from a fiduciary, financial capacity.

None of this about morality, none of this about behavior, there's none of that of what we often see in player contracts.

What are you going to see I violated?

KESSLER: There are at least two provisions that I think the league is going to use. One has to do with violating any of the rules, regulations, agreements of the NBA. Somewhere in the NBA there's a rule of regulation that says you cannot engage in racist comments, behavior, in this league. So, they have that handle.

Secondly, they have a provision about violating agreements with adversary affect the interests of the NBA.

CUOMO: Violating agreements that adversary affect the interest of the NBA. What does that mean?

KESSLER: Well, it means you do something bad in violation and agreement with the league and they can take this vote. It's a very, very broad prescription. So, you don't need necessarily the specific who can anticipate this? Who would ever think that somebody would express these types of views in this way?

CUOMO: They put it in players contracts all the time that their behavior off the court is as relevant as what they do on the court. It's a growing part of the understanding of the contracts between players and management but it isn't in here -- I would argue, it's not in here for a reason. You can't judge me on this level.

KESSLER: Actually the rules about what the league can do for players are much more limited than what they can do for owners.

Owners are members of their club. They voluntarily join it. They agree to these restrictions. They are set to one set of rules. Players have a collective bargaining agreement which actually circumscribes the authority of the commissioner, and limits what the NBA can do. So, it'd be totally different for players. And the owner doesn't have the same standard.

CUOMO: You make an interesting point that will come as a surprise to in many people. What's the presumption? Money matters. But in this situation it's more onerous for Donald Sterling when he walks in this room.

This hearing is not a very fair forum. It's done by this board of governors who is motivated against him. The rules of evidence do not apply. He can have a counsel but it doesn't matter because the ultimate arbitrator is one of the governors. The commissioner of the NBA can be involved and you know he doesn't like sterling.

So, it's kind of set up against him here even though it's called a hearing. Fair?

KESSLER: I wouldn't say it's fair. It's the hearing he agreed to. He agreed to subject himself, all the owners do, to a vote of their peers. They agree to these procedures. In fact, in the constitution, it says when you agree to this, the vote is final and you waive your right to go to court.

Again, very different from the players. The players would have a right to an arbitrator.

CUOMO: I waive it for any reason even if it doesn't fall within the bounds of the contract, undue burden being placed on me for something that wasn't contemplated. It's way too fuzzy. If I fight on those grounds can I beat my own contract?

KESSLER: The language says you waive it for any reason. There is an exception. The exception is legal exception, not in the constitution. If he claims an antitrust violation, you can't waive antitrust rights. That's the law.

However, you have to an antitrust claim. Just because you have a right to file doesn't mean you have a claim.

CUOMO: Antitrust would mean what?

KESSLER: Well, his problem is he would try to claim, if he filed the antitrust, that there is some restriction illegally on competition. It's very hard to see how there's any restriction on competition here. This is replacing a very foul owner selling a team to another owner. Same competition. So I don't think there is an antitrust claim.

CUOMO: So, his only defense is going to be to go to other owners and say it's me this time. Next time, it could be you. You want me out, that's fine, but let me do it my way because this is a real slippery slope.

KESSLER: He might say that but I will be stunned if the owners did not back the commissioner, if the owners do not back their players on this. There would be an open revolt among the whole community -- sponsors, fans, players, if the owners did not go through and decide this.

CUOMO: But you don't know who votes and how.

KESSLER: I think the vote is not going to be close. We all see. It won't matter.

CUOMO: If you're an owner, would you want it to be an open vote?

KESSLER: If I was an owner, I wouldn't care if it was an open vote, because I would be happy to tell the world how I voted.

CUOMO: This is some interesting stuff. And it's great to have insight into it because for so many it's a mystery. We don't know what's going to happen and how you do.

Thanks for telling us on NEW DAY. Appreciate it, Jeffrey Kessler.

KESSLER: My pleasure. Thanks very much.

CUOMO: Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Pensacola, Florida, slammed by record rainfall destroying homes, forcing residents from their homes, to their rooftops even.

We're going to talk with Pensacola's mayor to see how the community is coping this morning.

And also ahead, the much anticipated initial report on Flight 370. What did the Malaysian government find and what do families of the passengers say? We're going to hear from the partner of an American passenger, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Breaking this morning: severe weather affecting millions along all along the East Coast and Northeast is really getting pounded at this hour. Parts of the tri-state area reeling with people waking up to extreme flooding. I mean, it has not stopped raining overnight. May be getting a bit of a brief pause at the moment.

Indra Petersons is out in Howard Beach, Queens, in an area hit particularly hard overnight.

Indra, what have you been seeing?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, really is unbelievable this morning, Kate. When you talk about four or five inches of rain in one day, you're talking about some severe flooding.

Just look at what residents are waking up to this morning. They're seeing several feet of water. You can see some of the residents coming, trying to get out of their homes this morning. Here's the concern though. After talking to people in this region, we heard this is actually the waters that have receded.

I want to show you what is just right behind oh me on the right. After speaking to them, what we're hearing is that really a lot of this is the sewage water that actually got flooded and then now drifted down this hill right in front of their homes.

So, a lot of people are dealing with about two feet of this sewage lying in their basements of their homes this morning. That is the concern. Unfortunately, we're still talking about more rain expected on the way. Definitely not a good situation when you have flood warns across the entire area, still dealing with the flash flood and watches out there.

So, here's the concern. More rain expected today. We're in a warm front. Yes, we're talking about more showers even this morning. It looks like you can see a break here and there.

But, unfortunately, that is not going to be the case. We still have the cold front to get to. Some heavier rain expected between 11:00 and 4:00 p.m. this evening, which means areas that look like this when you talk about all of this flooding on the ground, that means only more sewage and more city run-off is expected to build up in front of residents' homes.

A lot of streets are impassable, and it's only going to exacerbate this situation. So, yes, more rain, one to two inches. Not as much as we saw yesterday, Kate. But either way definitely not something anyone wants to see today.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Indra, thanks for the update. That's from here in New York.

And let's head to another area really hard hit overnight. The powerful rainfall has led to historic flooding in Florida, in Pensacola alone. Some estimates say, as much as 22 inches of rain fell over two days.

And overnight, an apparent gas explosion ripped through the county jail in the city, causing a deadly partial building collapse.

Let's get the latest from the mayor of Pensacola, Ashton Hayward, joining us here us.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

MAYOR ASHTON HAYWARD, PENSACOLA, FL: Good morning, Kate. How are you?

BOLDUAN: Doing better than the town of Pensacola is fairing at the moment.

Let me ask you about the apparent gas explosion at the county jail. Not clear from what I've seen yet if it is weather-related, but what are you hearing?

HAYWARD: Yes, what I'm hearing right now, I'm getting the details as we speak. They're coming in. I understand there's over 600 inmates here and over 100 folks had to go to the local hospitals here. And there's a potential of two deaths right now.

So, I am getting the details and I've heard the same thing that it was maybe a gas explosion. So, I'm getting the details right now.

BOLDUAN: Any concerns where the inmates are? I assume everyone has been cleared out of the jail even though it's a partial building collapse. I'm sure it's dangerous at this moment.

Where are all the inmates?

HAYWARD: Well, the inmates are setting up a temporary jail right now as we speak right now. Some of them had to go to the hospital. Over 100 are at the hospital. They were able to contain the others. We're taking care of that right now.

BOLDUAN: So, let's go from that to what the entire community is dealing with. You are breaking records for all of the wrong reasons overnight. Tell me -- put it in perspective, what it has been like, this historic rainfall and the flooding that is taking out roads in your town.

HAYWARD: Well, as you know, public safety is number one and citizens' safety is number one for us. Most importantly, Tuesday evening, the storm just parked over Pensacola, Kate, and it didn't move. We were hoping it would move to the east 25 miles an hour but it just hovered over Pensacola and dumped over 22 inches of rain in a matter of 24 hours.

So, it's been devastating to us. Obviously, we're prepared for hurricanes but when you talk about flooding, Pensacola has never had this kind of flooding.

BOLDUAN: Of course, Pensacola is on the water so they're used to that but they're not used to this kind of flooding. And I think I heard that you grew up in one of the neighborhoods that was hardest hit. What happened to it?

HAYWARD: I did. There's a street called Piedmont that runs east and west in Pensacola. And it just completely blew out. The retention ponds from near our airport just overran and came right into this street. It was an old riverbed, you know, over 100 years ago, so the water just completely blew out.

But growing up over there, you never imagine that we would have flooding on this street. The asphalt blew out, the sewer blew out, the gas blew out. It devastated homes right there. And so, it was really almost -- it was surreal.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I can only imagine what that looked like.

So, what is the situation for residents now? Do you have people who are missing? Have you heard of fatalities? Are emergency vehicles -- what are they doing?

HAYWARD: Well, yesterday, we didn't have any fatalities in the city. There was one death we believe in the county, however, people are displaced from their homes ride now so they're going to be displaced for weeks and months. So we're managing that situation right now. We haven't had to rescue anybody over the night. The water did recede, which we were very fortunate. But we're just being proactive and obviously taking care of our people and public safety is at the forefront.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. From what I can see from where you are it looks like the rain has stopped for the moment. Are you expecting further rain today?

HAYWARD: No, we're not. The weather dropped about 20 degrees which was interesting, so we have a little cold front that came through here, and we're expecting the skies to be clear.

BOLDUAN: So that's a good thing that helping out search and rescue efforts and recovery efforts this morning. What are the biggest challenges that you're going to be up against as first light comes up?

HAYWARD: Obviously organization and public safety, but most importantly from an infrastructure standpoint we've had some major damage within the city of Pensacola. They're contained which is a good thing for us, Kate, so we can manage people getting to and from work. However, we're going to have our team together and the engineering department getting the roads temporarily repaired so we can go forward.

BOLDUAN: I mean, you've talked about that one road being completely blown out and other -- we've seen some video of a lot of flooding. But put it in some additional perspective for our viewers who maybe haven't been to Pensacola who don't understand what kind of flooding you are up against. Have you ever seen anything like it?

HAYWARD: I've never seen anything like it. I lived in New York City for a long time and we would have flooding in Manhattan, but I can tell you imagine walking out of your front door and then just walking right into a river about 4-1/2 feet deep and water running right through your front yard. So it was, like I said, kind of surreal and an anomaly for Pensacola to have this kind of flooding. BOLDUAN: What's your best advice for residents this morning? They probably are waken up not knowing what they are about to face when they walk out their front door. What are you telling them?

HAYWARD: Well, I can tell you it is dry. Obviously the temperature did drop. The schools are canceled today. However, parents are going to have to go to work. So just use caution. Be smart. People know our city. It's 37 geographical miles. Manage your way around the city and be careful and be cognitive of the law enforcement and public safety.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, have you got any cost estimate on how much the damage is going to cost the city?

HAYWARD: You know, just a guesstimate right now, but I can tell you it's over the $100 million mark.

BOLDUAN: Ouch. That's a painful price tag to be looking at in just over 24 hours, Mr. Mayor.

HAYWARD: Well, we know how infrastructure is and a lot of infrastructure is under the ground. So you don't see it above ground so there's a lot of money that goes into that. We're going to put a pen to the paper and get focused and get after it.

BOLDUAN: The cost right now obviously is not the priority. It's making sure everyone is safe and getting -- making sure the roads are passable and everything is back up and running. Mayor Ashton Hayward, thank you very much, Mayor, for coming on. Good luck today.

HAYWARD: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course. Wow, Chris, they're up against a lot.

CUOMO: You're telling me. Boy, if you're a resident of Pensacola we're going to put pen to paper, get focused and get after it. That's what you want to hear from your elected official. We'll find out what happens once they do that.

We're going to take a break right now, when we come back on NEW DAY, the Malaysian government about to release its report on what happened to Flight 370. So what can we expect? We're going to go live to Kuala Lumpur.

And, many have opinions about the Amanda Knox case, but we have someone who knows the case better than most. A judge who decided it. You're going to want to hear what he has to say.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Obviously, we're awaiting the release of this first preliminary report on the disappearance of Flight 370 from the Malaysian government. We're expecting it at any moment. The families of those on board certainly have been demanding to see these findings for weeks now. They're hoping to get some sort of answers about the fate of their loved ones. Will Ripley joins us now live from Kuala Lumpur. Anxiously awaiting is probably the best way to describe how these families must be feeling for this preliminary report. What are we expecting to hear in it, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we're not really expecting any major surprises, Michaela. A lot of details that are going to be in this report are details that we've already reported here from Kuala Lumpur and throughout the region on CNN. We're expecting a rundown of what happened with the flight, information that we know, the time it took off, where it was when there was a last radio transmission and the plane turning around, the transponders being switched off.

We're going to hear more about that satellite data that shows the plane most likely took a southern course towards the Southern Indian Ocean. These are all things that have been reported. We're not expecting any major surprises in the report, but this will be the first time, Michaela, that these families actually have something tangible that they can hold in their hands to look at and say, OK, here it is in black and white spelled out.

There was supposed to be a press conference here in Kuala Lumpur where this information was going to be released. That press conference was canceled. So what we've been doing, we were told it was going to coming in via e-mail. We've been constantly checking inboxes, Michaela, to see when the report comes in and as soon as it does we will certainly let you know.

PEREIRA: Yes, we are hoping that there might be some nuggets of new information, but we're not anticipating that will be the case. Is there any sense that the report will all acknowledge this Bay of Bengal, the GeoResonance report? There's been a lot of skepticism coming from our aviation analysts about this, but any sense they will address that?

RIPLEY: We don't believe that it will, Michaela, simply because GeoResonance just came forward within the past few days. We know that there are two ships from Bangladesh heading to the Bay of Bengal to check things out. We also know, by the way, that the Australian search chief, Angus Houston is either here in Kuala Lumpur or on his way here right to meet with Malaysian authorities.

They may be discussing this new information, but the search chief's office has said all along they are focusing on the search corridor in the Southern Indian Ocean. And one thing that will be laid out in the report is perhaps more details about this plan to expand the underwater search, this $60 million operation. Maybe we'll learn what kind of technology will be used aside from the Bluefin-21. We'll have to wait and see.

PEREIRA: Will Ripley is live there in Kuala Lumpur watching his e- mail as we are here. And of course, we will bring you that preliminary report from Malaysian government as soon as we receive it. You can count on CNN for that. All right, Chris, over to you. CUOMO: Right now, let's turn to the Amanda Knox case. The appeals court that reconvicted her just put out its report explaining why she is guilty. At least one person is calling it a fantasy fit for a movie script. He should know. He is the judge who has given the case after the original conviction. Take a look.


AMANDA KNOX: I'm not responsible for what happened. I didn't do it. I wasn't there. I don't know anything more about it.

CUOMO (voice-over): Amanda Knox has long maintained her innocence in the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Now as she fights back against new theories and allegations, she's getting support from a veteran of the Italian justice system. Claudio Hellmann, the Italian judge who tossed out Knox's conviction in 2011. He's now lashing out at his colleagues who overturned that acquittal.

In a hefty 337-page report, an appeals court in Florence justified reinstating Knox's murder conviction, not only placing her at the crime scene, but also claiming it was Amanda herself who delivered the fatal knife wound to Kercher's neck. The motive, a fight about rent money the night of the crime. But Judge Hellmann is dismissing the report as, quote, "The result of fantasy."

In a scathing statement obtained exclusively by CNN, Hellmann slams the court's lack of physical evidence to support their reasoning against Knox and then boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. He tells CNN the Florence Appeals Court has written a script for a movie or a thriller book while it should have only considered facts and evidence.

There is no evidence to condemn Knox and Sollecito. It's the latest battle in a seven-year legal saga for the 26-year-old and it's show nothing signs of ending any time soon. Judge Hellmann is now retired and fears Knox will fall victim to politics, telling CNN, I think that the high court will be obliged to confirm the Florence ruling if they don't want to openly contradict their colleagues.

KNOX: I'm afraid to go back there. I don't want to go back into prison.


CUOMO: Understandable. Now, how do you Judge Hellmann? On the one side he's retired so he can speak freely. Maybe he's upset because his decision is the one that was overturned by this latest decision that we're going to go through. On the other side, why would he lie? What's his interest in lying? So his comments are very important.

But even more important is what will Amanda Knox say to what is in this new report and she will speak out for the first time since the release of this damning new report in our exclusive one-on-one interview with her that will air tonight in a CNN special report "The Trials of Amanda Knox." That will be at 10:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN and then we'll bring you more of that interview and parts that you will want to hear tomorrow on NEW DAY. All right, right now, we have more on the Flight for 370. That search, the reports coming out any moment. We're going to give it to you when we get it as well as the latest on the devastating floods that are on the east coast. And news about Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford taking a leave of absence to deal with substance abuse issues. Let's get to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seems like the Malaysians initially did not intend to release this report until we find the actual plane. It's everything we are going to know about the fate of this airplane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one anticipated it would just keep raining and raining and raining.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new video allegedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The NBA, they decide who gets to buy and who doesn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any owner who decides to side with Donald Sterling in this is a fool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is not a stitch of evidence that implicates Amanda Knox.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, May 1st, 7:00 now in the east, and there are powerful storms leaving their mark all along the east coast. Breaking overnight, hundreds of people forced to evacuate in a city in Maryland after a dam opened up spilling thousands of gallons of water. The northeast dealing with powerful wind and rain. Many folks waking up to flooding in and around New York City.

We have it all covered starting with Indra Petersons in Queens. Indra, what do you see out there?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just look what people are waking up to this morning. You're seeing several feet of water here in Queens. You're looking at what looks like maybe a runoff from the city. But I want to take you in a little bit closer. We're actually hearing reports that a lot of what is sitting on the ground is actually sewage.

So keep that in mind if you're waking up this morning, you're thinking about trying to walk across these waters. At points in time residents were saying it was so high that their vehicles were actually under water. You can see if I walk up this hill just a little bit, this is the problem.

We saw all of these streets completely flooded, that these sewers were actually overflowing and running into the basements of many homes where residents are waking up to a good two feet of sewage in this home -- in their homes. Keep in mind this is not limited to the New York area. We're hearing this all across the northeast and even the southeast this morning.