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Mixed Signals From Economy; White House: Memos Not About Benghazi; NBA Owners Committee Meets On Sterling; Flight 370 Family Support Centers Closing

Aired May 1, 2014 - 07:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: An NBA ownership committee meets today to discuss Donald Sterling's future as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Commissioner Adam Silver wants them to use their power to force Sterling out after his lifetime ban from the league for racist remarks. That would require the support of 3/4 of the other NBA owners. See how I did that? I could bless you and tell the news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm sorry. I really tried to hold it?

PEREIRA: We are human doing this show. That baby doesn't need a sneeze.

BOLDUAN: Don't want to wake her up even though we have to be up. Didn't mean to scare her.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I want her up. Everybody has to watch.

BOLDUAN: Be nice. We want her to see asleep as long as possible.

CUOMO: That's a dedicated viewer right there. Named Christopher as she should be. Great name. Works for other genders.

CUOMO: Split screen. Appropriate reaction?

PEREIRA: Not appropriate and that's why we're both here.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Balance. All right, time for "Inside Politics" on NEW DAY with Mr. John King. J.K., how are you?

JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": I'm great but if you want to keep going, we can watch.

CUOMO: The baby moves every time she hears your voice, John. She's into politics already.

KING: We'll be back to you. Let's go "Inside Politics" this morning, a lot of ground to cover. With me to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev of "Bloomberg News" and Manu Raju of "Politico." Let's start, I often talk about the politicians, the Democrats and Republicans seemingly living in parallel universes. Sometimes the economic statistics operate the same way. I want to get your sense of how much the debate about the economy and pessimism about the economy hurts the election this year. Just yesterday, gross domestic product, the economy isn't growing, flatlined. Last quarter, pretty much nothing. The economy was stalled. However, if you look at Wall Street, the markets hitting record highs. If you have a 401(k), you're probably doing pretty well.

Margaret, how much frustration is here at the White House that they think the numbers, most of the numbers are getting better and yet seven in ten Americans still are very pessimistic about the economy?

MARGARET TALEV, "BLOOMBERG NEWS": They think is the lag and doldrums of winter that coming into the new year as it picks up, second, third quarter, things are growing. But the White House knows that really this doesn't matter that much until the summertime or late in the summertime. Republicans are going to use this now to push down on Democrats' fortunes and get the most they can out of it. It really is a mixed bag and too soon to see how much it will hurt them.

KING: Interesting perspective. You think it was just the winner. We're going to be fine. Late spring and summer, things will be better. Manu, isn't there a sense that because this has gone on so long, because the recovery has been relatively modest, there's just a psychology of people that it not getting better out in America. People in Washington might be optimistic when you look at the statistics. If you travel the country, there are a lot of races being impacted by people just think --

MANU RAJU, "POLITICO": Right. I mean, Democrats wanting to run on the economy this year. They didn't want to run on the health care law. They hoped that the job numbers, which are improving, the market improving, all the statistics showed an economic recovery that was going to get stronger, not be this type of recovery that we've seen over the last several years.

But as we saw yesterday, that's not going to be possible for Democrats if we see economic growth not keeping pace with the has been in previous quarters that it's going to hurt people like Mark Pryor in Arkansas, red states like in Louisiana where they wanted to run on the economy instead. The best way to win is to eviscerate their opponents, which they'll hope to do come fall.

KING: Right. It's not always fair if people feel down about the economy. They often take it out on the incumbents whether or not the incumbents had anything to do with it. Let's move on. Yesterday we talked about a newly released because of a lawsuit by a conservative group showing the deputy security adviser, Ben Rhodes, was trying to give advice about Benghazi and other issues in the Middle East with Susan Rice before that infamous Sunday show round back in 2012.

Came up very contentious issue at the White House briefing yesterday as to why, why did the White House not release this document with so many others a year ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why were you holding back this information? Why was this e-mail not turned over to the congressman? Why was it not release when you released all the other e-mails? This is directly relevant. Why did you hold it back?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did it take a court case for you to release this?

CARNEY: Jon, I can say it again and again, and I know you can keep asking again and again. This document was not about Benghazi.


KING: I don't know how -- you know, I don't have two hands. I don't know how you can say this is not about Benghazi. If you look at the timeline of events I can't understand why the White House did this because if you released it with all the others you could say, Ben Rhodes, when he wrote this document was following, looking at the timeline, previous e-mail that came over from the CIA saying here are the talking points.

So they could release this and people could say it was wrong or misleading and be done with it a year ago. Now people are saying why are you hiding this?

TALEV: Right. In a year we will probably get the memo released and why they didn't release the memo, right? Must be some combination of executive privilege, lawyers saying we don't need to release this, all of that. Bottom line is it makes perfect sense for the deputy national security adviser for communications to be advising the national security adviser on how to communicate and it's turned into sort of an eruption that they didn't really need when it could have been --

KING: Because it also makes perfect sense now for the skeptics of the administration to say what else are you hiding?

RAJU: Right. This is really going to fuel calls for among Republicans to create a select committee to investigate what happened in Benghazi. This is what a lot of Republicans have been banging the drums over. This is what makes the White House nervous about giving Republicans control of the Senate come the fall because that's going to be a huge push. They may not get legislation through, but pushing and doing more investigations on things like Benghazi, that's what's going to happen should Republicans --

TALEV: And to fuel the narrative for 2016 also especially if Hillary ends up there.

KING: I think it's not just the Obama White House, but potentially about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the time and on that segue way, it's not just Jay Carney who sometimes gets mad at reporters. Listen to Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States. He is speaking at Georgetown University yesterday. His context here is the health care law mostly. He says in the coverage of Obamacare people decided months ago it was a failure and as there's more evidence of it coming in he says the political press focuses on what's up here not on the facts.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There is a craving which borders on blindness to shoe horn every fact, every development, everything that happens into the story line, even if that's not the story.


KING: That's Bill Clinton speaking from his experience.

TALEV: So much fun. You can just see the fun to come in the months to come.

KING: Yes. I've been on the receiving end of Bill Clinton temper tantrum when he doesn't like something. I was a writer back in those days mostly before I switched into television. Manu, but in the context of that Hillary Clinton showed up for this speech yesterday. She was there. That was a bit of a surprise to Georgetown University.

Maggie Haberman from "Politico" as well and one of our friends in the "Inside Politics" family has a piece on the Clinton's relationships with the media. In it there is this quote from a Clinton campaign veteran speaking anonymously, of course. Look, she hates you, period. That's never going to change.

RAJU: That's right. Interesting to sort of coming out there before she's even said she's going to run. What the Clinton friends are saying is that may be a reason why she does not run is because of the barrage of media scrutiny, the relentlessness of this 24/7 media environment. This could be her big factor and why she does not actually ultimate take an easier path to the nomination.

KING: Vast left wing conspiracy to boost the Clinton juggernaut.

TALEV: That's part of this is that President Clinton is concerned that she will not get credit and he will not and by virtue of the, you know, convey to her, get credit for being left wing enough. And his argument is right now, you know, my moderate approach to welfare reform was about income and equality and the press doesn't get it.

KING: We just don't get it. Quick footnote here and we'll move on. If Hillary Clinton needs an incentive to run, new Quinnipiac poll out in Florida this morning chose her 49 to 41 over Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida. Jeb Bush is the leading Republican candidate by far. Look at that. That's a good poll for Hillary Clinton. It is 2014. Not so bad.

Margaret, I want to end with a fascinating piece you wrote on "Bloomberg" about how the president now when he's feeling stress decides to make big decisions. He goes outside a lot, walks around. There's a track outside the White House. We first learned about this in a policy context during a decision on whether to let Congress vote or should American troops be used in Syria. Walking with his chief of staff. How often does he do this?

TALEV: I mean, it depends on the weather. We had that really cold winter where he wasn't getting out there much at all. Now that it's nice again, we know he's been out there as all the bamacare stats were coming in waiting to find out were they going to hit that 7 million target. For Obama the frustration, so many frustrations, things are intractable. That walk helps him to kind of feel like he can get some movement on issues when things are really stuck.

KING: When things get really stuck. Can you discuss sensitive intelligence issues outside of the White House?

TALEV: There are some things are probably better left for the sit room, but if it's politics you're talking about, 100 percent. A lot of that around the track.

KING: Edward Snowden has a memo on that. Manu, thanks for coming in.

As we go back to New York, often we let Jimmy Kimmel or David Letterman or Jon Stuart or Steven Colbert end the morning, but Barney Frank, the former congressman trying his hand on late night comedy. Listen.

I think we lost that one. Barney Frank on last night saying that he used to be what's more controversial, being gay American or a politician. He says it's now much more controversial, people frown on the politicians.

BOLDUAN: Barney Frank, post-office. I bet he's loving his life.

CUOMO: It's good that -- I hope he's right about that. You know what I mean?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: At least that's an objective basis for criticism as opposed to what somebody is about. As John knows, Barney Frank once told me, I asked him a question -- he was on the banking committee. At the time the banks were taking a beating and driving down the economy. He was blaming the Republicans. I said, wait a minute, don't you have responsibility? You're the senior person of the banking committee. Why is it your fault? He said, you are the worst. He said to me.

BOLDUAN: You take that as compliment.

CUOMO: At the time it was very frightening.

BOLDUAN: I had a great routine at that time chasing him around the Hill. He's got a certain charm when Barney Frank doesn't feel like answering. He would always say, that is a stupid question and kind of move on and not answer it. There you go.

CUOMO: I'll take stupid question over you're the worse. Lots of people can ask stupid questions. BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the Malaysian authorities reports on Flight 370 is set to be released any moment. We'll have it right here with you and we will break it down.

CUOMO: Plus, as many try to figure out how to force Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, to sell the team, the focus is shifting to the women in his wife. The mistress, the wife who is suing the mistress. Stay with us.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. An NBA ownership committee meets today to discuss Donald Sterling's future as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. While Sterling's clearly under the microscope what about the women in Sterling's wife including his wife you see on the right and the girlfriend who taped his infamous racist rant. You see her on the left. CNN's Randi Kaye explains.


RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No doubt V. Stiviano had dreams of making her mark one day. Listen to this.

V. STIVIANO: One day I will become president of the United States of America.

KAYE: Yes, that's Stiviano telling the paparazzi about her plans to be president. For now she'll remain the other woman in the Donald Sterling saga. She reportedly first met Sterling at the 2010 Super Bowl. She claims to be his archivist, bBut it's unclear exactly what that means. Whether on Sterling's arm as a Clippers game or on her own, she is tabloid fodder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you surprised by all the attention that you've been getting?

STIVIANO: I'm trying to walk my dog.

KAYE: On her Instagram account where she posted this picture with Magic Johnson that set off Sterling's racist rant, she writes, I do it all. Describing herself as an artist, lover, writer, chef, poet, stylist, and philanthropist. Her photos include this one posing as an angel. Another in a bathing suit. Plus, photos of cars with personalized license plates alleged gifts from Donald Sterling.

The plates read, I heart you V., and V. Hearts you. Which brings us to another woman in Donald Sterling's life, his wife, Rochelle Sterling. She's been married to the Clippers owner for more than 50 years. A relationship that's also a bit hard to explain given that Rochelle is well aware of Stiviano and her relationship with her husband.

So aware that Rochelle filed this lawsuit against Stiviano in March to protect and recover community property. Sterling alleges that Stiviano's conduct was designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from wealthy older men. The lawsuit claims the cars and money Donald Sterling gave Stiviano were community assets given without the knowledge, consent, or authorization of his wife.

(on camera): Those include at least $240,000 in living expenses, plus a Ferrari, two Bentleys, and a Range Rover worth more than $500,000. Also Stiviano was allegedly given another $1.8 million to buy a duplex in Los Angeles.

(voice-over): As far as her husband's comments, on Sunday afternoon, Rochelle Sterling called them despicable. Telling TMZ, our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband. Later that night, a different story. Caught leaving a restaurant with her husband, she defended him. Listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a racist, Mr. Sterling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, of course not. Forget it. It's not true.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, of course not.

KAYE: Whatever the real story is and whatever their relationship, one thing we know for sure, neither of these women will be cheering on the Clippers alongside Donald Sterling anymore. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


CUOMO: Thanks to Randi for that.

BOLDUAN: I was going to say, that's the truth. They're not going to be sitting by him in any games because he's not going to any games any time soon.

CUOMO: Coming up on New Day, Malaysia Airlines announcing it's closing the support centers where the Flight 370 families have been gathering and comforting each other for weeks. That's not all the grieving families are being told this morning. We have details for you ahead.


PEREIRA: Welcome back as we await the release of the report into the flight of 370 due out in moments, we have just learned that Malaysia Airlines is closing the support center for families of the missing passengers at the hotel in Beijing. We also know daily briefings updating the families on the investigation are also being stopped. Officials say they will open two smaller centers in Kuala Lumpur and in Beijing. The families were given this news at a meeting this morning.

Joining us from Beijing is Sarah Bajc. Her partner, Philip Wood, was on board Flight 370. She was at that briefing. She hustled across town to get in front of a Skype camera to talk to us now. Sarah, first of all, I understand you were at the meeting. Tell us what the tone of that meeting was like. SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOODS, AMERICAN ON BOARD MH370: It was extremely tense. There were probably about 500 family members gathered in the room. I think I was the only Caucasian person in the entire place and police everywhere. So there might have been one police officer for every maybe ten family members. They were out in force.

PEREIRA: And what all were you told?

BAJC: Well, the meeting began with really no personal introduction whatsoever. The presentation which was taped interviewed of the CEO of Malaysian Airlines, he came up on -- the video came up on a big- screen TV in English. And the Chinese family members all watched it. I was there as well watching and then when that video completed, I think it was maybe 7 minutes or something. When it completed, then the screen went blank, and then an interpreter who had been taking notes during it came on the microphone and started to give the Chinese translation of the message. And then all of the family members started to cry and to yell out. And I left the room at that point because it was starting to feel very, very tense. And I didn't want to get stuck in there.

PEREIRA: Do you have any idea of how that meeting ended?

BAJC: I could hear -- I stayed outside of the room. I could hear a lot of yelling. Some of the police officers that were outside went in and they started to file family members out through a separate exit. So I could see them leaving in a line. And then there were a number of people still inside yelling.

PEREIRA: I'm not sure how much of the presentation was in English. What did you understand and what do you think the families were so upset about?

BAJC: Well, the entire presentation by the CEO of Malaysian Airlines was in English. So I probably understood it better than anybody else in the room. Most of the family members are not English speakers, so they only could get the content of it after the translation began. And that's when people started to break down. But I can tell you from prior conversations with the subleader group of the general family association, we met actually last night for dinner.

And we were talking about this as a possibility. And they are very distraught because the average Chinese family member will be sent home to mostly a very rural place with limited access to internet, and they just feel like all lines of communication will be cut.

PEREIRA: Sarah, you're speaking of the fact that the Malaysian Airlines has talked about closing these family support centers. I understand there's going to be one kept open or a variety of one kept open in Kuala Lumpur, one kept open in Beijing, but that hotel where so many families have been gathering, that is no longer going to be there. And it has really provided support for you and the families.

BAJC: Well, it's provided support for the Chinese families who don't have access to any other information. That's for sure. Because in China, the media is very, very blocked. For instance, even all day today, I wasn't able to get online for most of the day. I had to go to a friend's house in order to access their internet connection. Mine is certainly being monitored and cut off at opportune times. So it's really only the more educated Chinese who have access to internet connectivity through an office as an example.


BAJC: Who have any access to the international news.

PEREIRA: Well, to that end, we understand the next of kin, you have received a copy of this report. You have it in hand, but you haven't had a chance to go through it, is that correct?

BAJC: Well, I haven't received the ICAO report yet, the preliminary findings report. That was not in the e-mail I received.

PEREIRA: What did you receive?

BAJC: What I received was a copy of the briefing notes. So the presentation that was made and some sort of documentation around compensation calculations that will be discussed now with family members. I only had a chance just briefly to look at the e-mail content before we started this interview. I need to go back to it.

PEREIRA: Well, we're all awaiting that ICAO report. What are you most specifically hoping to hear and glean from it?

BAJC: Well, I'm hoping that there's going to be some actual factual information in it. We are all quite frustrated with getting only analysis because we don't trust the analysis that's been done. And we're a pretty smart up group of people with a lot of engineers on our team and a lot of external experts who have come forward and volunteered their services to help look at factual data and try to come up with perhaps a different kind of analysis from it. So we're hoping that there are facts in the report.

PEREIRA: Sarah, really quickly, the Bay of Bengal, the report, a lot of aviation experts are poking holes in this or at least they're skeptical of it. Do you still hold any credence in that? We know that there's a couple of Bangladeshi frigates headed that way to investigate further.

BAJC: Well, I'm not sure that the Bangladeshi frigates have sonar capability to reach down 1,000 meters, but I'm very, very pleased that they have stepped forward to do that and a huge thank you to them. You know, I look at it this way. If their technology works, they're going to find something there. If it's the plane, then we'll all be devastated, but we can at least grieve properly and go on with our lives. If it's something else, like a ship, then at least we know the technology works and they could use that elsewhere. And if it's nothing at all, then they have some explaining to do.

PEREIRA: Sarah Bajc joining us from Beijing, we appreciate you making time and getting to a Skype connection to talk to us about this. Sarah, thank you -- Kate. BOLDUAN: All right, Michaela, thanks so much.

Let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, as we've been reporting the Malaysian authorities' report is expected any minute now, and we're going to have that for you and have full analysis on what it means for the search going forward. What new things are we learning?

CUOMO: Plus, these torrential rains and flooding that are causing chaos from Florida all the way up to the northeast. We're going to be live with a closer look at the damage and the cleanup and what's coming. Stay with us.