Return to Transcripts main page


Tensions Increase in Ukraine; List of Universities under Investigation for Sexual Assault Released; Search Continues for Missing Malaysian Plane; Can NBA Force Sale of Clippers?; Russia: No Hope for Diplomatic Deal; Malaysian Official: "Unlikely" Plane in Bay of Bengal

Aired May 2, 2014 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ESPN and "The New York Post" reporting that disgraced owner Donald Sterling is battling prostate cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope it's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ukrainian troops launching, as they're calling it, this anti-terrorism operation.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Reports of sex assaults in the military are up by half.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: We are resolute in our commitment to find MH370.

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF MH370 PASSENGER: Malaysian Airlines is sending everybody home. This is a support network that everybody has developed.

AMANDA KNOX, ACCUSED OF MURDER: Any trace of me is not there. I did not kill my friend.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The Kremlin now says peace is doomed in Ukraine amid new violence there. There's a critical meeting at the White House today. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel still trying to find a diplomatic solution to that situation. Overnight Ukraine says two of its military officers were killed. And Russian state media reports one separatist was killed as well.

Let's check in and get there with senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. He is live in a hot spot right now in eastern Ukraine. Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, behind me is the outskirts of the seat of all this unrest, Slaviansk. Ukrainian troops have moved in substantial number. They've taken up positions on the bridge behind me. The interior minister says there are nine such things happening around the city encircling it if we can believe what he has to say.

But here's the major problem they face. They're taking up positions but find themselves surrounded on both sides by angry locals, fueled perhaps by one old man who got in the way of one of these armored personnel carriers and apparently his legs were injured and the ambulance took him away, but also angry full stop at the people they refer to as occupiers who have turned the up here representing the government they don't like or trust.

We're seeing them arrive here in greater and greater number, helicopters overhead, one having dropped off 10 to 15 more troops to fortify this position here. They've also brought in a truck, the protesters, to block this road. The problem is, this will remain tense and hostile. If there is bloodshed, that could potentially spark those Russian troop on the other side of the border to intervene. This really is the flash point, and many concern what started today Ukraine's army finally moving in against the pro-Russian militants, this could be the beginning of a much more disturbing chapter. Back to you, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Nick, thank you very much for that update from Ukraine for us this morning.

Now let's talk about the latest on the L.A. Clippers. They're going to need a seventh game to decide the playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors staying alive with a thrilling 100-99 win in game six overnight. Meantime, a committee of NBA owners has agreed to move forward as they put it as expeditiously as possible with the process of forcing Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers. This as ESPN is reporting that Sterling has been battling cancer. CNN has not independently confirmed that report, though. Ted Rowlands is live in Los Angeles with the new developments surrounding this latest bit of how to get Sterling out. Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. The players last night were told that Donald Sterling may have cancer and they all reacted. A lot of players had empathy for Sterling. Doc Rivers, the coach, said he didn't know how to react as he was told that news. Meanwhile, you mentioned that committee, the 10-member committee of NBA owners voted unanimously yesterday to move forward with the process to oust Sterling as an owner. They will meet again next week.

Here in Los Angeles the president of the NAACP has resigned. You remember that the NAACP L.A. chapter was going to award Sterling with a lifetime achievement award. There was such backlash the president decided to step down. Here game seven you mentioned will be played here in Los Angeles on Sunday, and now the Clippers seem to be everybody's favorite team, monitoring how they do on the court and off. Chris?

BOLDUAN: Ted, I'll take it. Thanks so much.

Also shocking news coming out of Washington this morning about sexual assault in the military and on college campuses. The Pentagon says sexual assault reports in the armed services has jumped by 50 percent last year as federal investigators are now looking at 55 colleges and universities to see if they broke any law in how they are, have handled, and are handling sexual violence and harassment complaints.

Let's talk about all this and let's learn a little bit more about these reports with Jean Casarez. She's joining us with more. Good morning, Jean. Let's talk about the report on colleges and universities. This is coming out from the department of education. It's really, as I understand it, the first comprehensive list of colleges and universities that are under investigation, current probes going on.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That have been made public. A list has never been made public before. It's 55 universities all around the country, 27 different states. You're looking at Harvard University, Harvard Law School, Arizona State University --

BOLDUAN: All of the way down to community colleges.

CASAREZ: All across the country. Now, anyone can make a complaint, so there is not any confirmation of wrongdoing. But the investigation is that they have not been as per title nine looking into sexual violence and sexual harassment claims. So the probe is continuing.

Now, since the facts were not out, CNN was able to confirm in February six schools, colleges, and universities around the country, that their sexual assault complaints had tripled since 2009. Columbia University, 23 students filed complaints, and we know a little bit about what those complaints were, that they discouraged the reporting, the university did, that they allowed the perpetrator to remain on campus. The sanctions were not adequate, and there was discrimination against sexual orientation in these complains.

And so what's interesting is this coincides with the president's task force on preventing sexual assault against students in came out in 2011. But it is very close in time, and so the question is what's really happening on campuses.

BOLDUAN: Any spotlight that can be put on this issue I think is important. That task force that you're talking about, one number that so stuck out to me, they found nearly 20 percent of female college students have been assaulted, 20 percent. But only 12 percent of cases were reported still today. That just blows me away.

But here's my question about this report. It's important that it's out there, that we're talking at it, that they're finally releasing this list to the public to put pressure on universities to do a better job. What's worse is you're going to report a sexual assault than not only are you dealing with that, you're also dealing with the university maybe that wasn't going to handle it correctly. But they say just as quickly that the fact that you're on this list does not mean that you have done anything wrong.


BOLDUAN: Where is the teeth? What is going to happen here?

CASAREZ: I think that we'll see what becomes public. You know, when I covered the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University I became aware quickly that the money, the donations, were very important to the college. And so you don't report things. You keep things under the table. And so they don't come to light. We don't know if that's what's happening in this country. But you're right, the National Center of Justice says one in five students, female students, are sexually assaulted. But it's not only females. It's males, too.

BOLDUAN: Before we go I got to ask you about this report coming out of the Pentagon. I want to put up the graphic if we have it about how sexual assaults in the military, they've jumped 50 percent last year. What is the Pentagon saying they're going to do about it? I know there's action they've been trying to have happen in Congress that have failed so far and to change how prosecutions are handled and the Pentagon has resisted that.

CASAREZ: Exactly. The Pentagon is saying we want to make our own changes internally. But the time and the clock is ticking away and that's not happening. And as you're saying now, commanders have all the say in this, which makes it very subjective because they have known the people that they will determine go to trial, determine only get a plea bargain and a plea deal. And so you're right, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has wanted that to be prosecutors and not subjectively a commander's.

BOLDUAN: Jackie Speier in the House, she's championing that issue as well. The Pentagon continues to resist it. The issue continues unfortunately. We're still talking about it.


BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Jean.

CUOMO: Interesting, Gillibrand was confronted with female senators who didn't want that bill. That's a big reason it stalled out. That will go on. That's for sure.

I want to tell you about disturbing details about a Minnesota teen who police say was plotting a killing spree against his own family. Now, the good news is the alleged massacre was avoided thanks to someone who decided to drop a tip. Police say after they got that tip they were able to move in and this was just weeks before the teen was set to carry out the plot. Here's CNN's George Howell with this story.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From the deadly shooting rampage at Columbine High School to the killings on the Virginia Tech campus, to the heart-breaking loss of young lives at Sandy Hook, these events all allegedly served as inspiration for a 17-year-old in Waseca, Minnesota, a student who authorities believe had twisted plans of his own.

OFFICER CHRIS MARTENSON, WASECA POLICE DEPARTMENT: His plan was to kill his family members, start a diversionary fire in rural Waseca to distract first responders and travel to the Waseca junior-senior high school. Once there, he intended to set off numerous bombs during the lunch hour, kill the school resource officer as he responded to help, set fires, and shoot students and staff.

HOWELL: A violent plot aborted by a resident who reported what she believed to be suspicious activity at a storage facility. That led police to the teenager in a locker with bomb making materials, everything from pyrotechnic chemicals to steel ball bearings, gunpowder, and ammunition. Also at his home --

MARTENSON: Numerous guns, ammunition, prepared bombs, and paperwork documenting his plans were recovered and removed from the home.

HOWELL: The investigation started March 24th when police began discovering explosive devices at an elementary school playground, a place that seemed to be his testing ground. They believe his final blueprint was to target Waseca junior and senior high school, and he expected SWAT teams to kill him. A plan officials say he originally wanted to carry out on April 20th to commemorate the massacre at Columbine but didn't because it was Easter Sunday and school was not in session.

TOM LEE, SUPERINTENDENT, WASECA SCHOOL DISTRICT: We can either believe that this occurred as a result of a lucky break or, as I do, choose to believe that god was looking out for all of us.

HOWELL: A small Minnesota town thankful this day to have apparently avoided becoming one more in a long list of tragic school shootings.

George Howell, CNN, Chicago.


BOLDUAN: A lot to be thankful for. George, thank you for that report.

New response from officials this morning following the release of Malaysia's report on the disappearance of flight 370. They're responding to what the report reveals about a delay in emergency response after the plane went missing. This as family members are venting their frustration, as you can see, after being told to leave Beijing where authorities have been briefing them since the plane went missing. Will Ripley is in Kuala Lumpur and has all the latest on the new information. Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, for the first time Malaysian officials are answering specific questions about that controversial report, the slow response and also that theory floating out there and possible wreckage far away from western Australia.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: We have stressed since the beginning we really have nothing to hide.

RIPLEY: New this morning Malaysian officials are dismissing claims by a private company about possible wreckage in the Bay of Bengal several thousand miles from the search zone.

HUSSEIN: Many of these prove to be negative and this is similar to what we have done before.

RIPLEY: Breaking overnight, news of a trilateral meeting on Monday between Australia, China, and Malaysia.

ANGUS HOUSTON, MALAYSIAN ACTING TRANSPORT MINISTER: We certainly are committed as three nations, I believe, to find MH370.

RIPLEY: The next step, a daunting deep sea search off western Australia, eight to 12 months, an estimated $60 million, and more assets joining the Bluefin-21, which so far has found no sign of the missing plane.

Air traffic control audio of those haunting final words from the cockpit just seconds before the plane's tracking devices were switched off. This new report detailing the hours of confusion that followed -- 17 minutes before anyone noticed the plane disappeared from radar, another four hours of inaction in the control towers, before search and rescue is activated.

DIRECTOR GENERAL DATUK ABDUL RAHMAN, MALAYSIA'S DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AVIATION: Why 17 minutes? This is what I thought, that's up to the investigation team to study, to investigate.

RIPLEY: Meantime, more heartbreak for the families of flight 370. During this meeting in Beijing, learning Malaysia airlines assistance centers are closing in just a few days, forcing them to go home without any answers about the plane or the 239 people still missing eight weeks later.


RIPLEY: Two other pieces of new information breaking within the last couple of hours here. Malaysia airlines admitting that the technology they were using to track 370 was similar to the flight tracker that you have on your cellphone. That's why they thought the plane was in Cambodia when, in fact, it was far away from that area. Also, when asked about that 17 minutes before anyone noticed the plane disappeared from radar, we are told there is going to be a serious investigation of protocol to make sure that doesn't happen again, Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: One would hope that would happen at the very least. Will Ripley, thanks so much for that.

Let's give a look at more of your headlines at this hour. In North Korea, new satellite images seem to show the country may be testing the engine for a possible nuclear missile. This according to analysts at John Hopkins University. This comes amid warnings Kim Jong-un's regime could be drawing closer to another nuclear test despite stern international opposition.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has flown to Chicago after taking leave from his reelection bid to seek help for his admitted problems with alcohol. Ford made the decision following reporters in "The Global Mail" newspaper of a new video allegedly showing Ford smoking crack for a second time. Now, it's unclear what is in the pipe that the mayor is holding or if he smoked from it. Ford's brother says the mayor will spend at least 30 days in treatment.

Got to show you some stunning pictures of an unusual phenomenon way up in northern Michigan. Waves of ice washed ashore in a peninsula. Residents say it started kind of slowly over the course of a day. It overtook the neighborhood. One of the local people called it an ice tsunami. Some homes were damaged even you can see there, nothing major. Can you imagine seeing that coming at you?

BOLDUAN: No. I hope we never have to see that.

PEREIRA: And then look at this, too. It just bent poles.

CUOMO: Weather wins.

PEREIRA: Mother Nature.

BOLDUAN: Every time.

CUOMO: Every time. She really is amazing, gives you a little perspective how lucky you are for just a normal cold, the normal change of seasons. It's what's supposed to happen. Because it can always get worse, that's for sure.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, Malaysian officials this morning responding to new questions coming from the initial report that they released on Flight 370. They say they have nothing to hide. So what's missing from the report? We'll discuss.

CUOMO: Democrats clearly having trouble explaining those newly released Benghazi e-mails, as one former top White House staffer put it, "Dude, that was two years ago." Is that the right attitude? We're going to have more when we go inside politics, dude.


CUOMO: There's a lot of speculation out there for what this all means for L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. What can be done to him and what can he do in response? Let's get some straight answers once and for all.

Let's bring in Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, former federal prosecutor.

Thanks for joining us. Let's get to just some straight, you know, question and answer here. Can the NBA owners vote and have his team taken away from him by forcing a sale?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, 3/4 of the owners are needed for that vote. Yesterday there was a committee meeting of nine of the top owners. They voted unanimously to move in that direction. It's all moving that way.

CUOMO: Right. And to be clear, the context of this being about racial comments and that they were recorded in private and maybe that recording was improper, none of that is relevant in terms of assessing whether they can do this. The answer is still "yes", correct? TOOBIN: Absolutely. The bylaws, the constitution of the NBA, which is now public, clearly gives the owners that power.

CUOMO: So we may not like it. It may get the person in trouble who did the recording, but that is neither here nor there.

Now, the next thing where's there's confusion. Oh, but he can hold it up. He'll take to the courts. You know, Jeffrey, he is a lawyer, and you know what bastards they are. So he can stop this and make it last forever. That's not really true, is it, under this contract?

TOOBIN: Well, it's very, very unlikely, let's -- let's put it that way. You know, this is not about free speech. This is not about, you know, what the government can or can't do. This is simply a matter of a contract interpretation.

Donald Sterling, like all the owners, is a signatory. He signed the contract with the NBA. The NBA gives the -- the contract gives the NBA certain rights. One of those rights is to take the franchise away from him if three-quarters of the owners vote that way. Plus, there is another provision in the contract that says no one is allowed to challenge the contract in court.

CUOMO: That's right.

TOOBIN: In light of all that, I can't imagine any court stopping it. But, of course, this is America, and anybody can file a lawsuit. But it seems like this would be a futile one.

CUOMO: The only loophole is that you can file an antitrust claim because it goes to the exercise of federal law. And if you look at this situation, it only goes antitrust to someone colluding, you know, coming together, conspiring to restrict his ability to compete. I don't know how this would fit in that box. So let's leave that to the side.

TOOBIN: Don't (ph) think so.

CUOMO: And now let's look to history, Jeffrey. Here's the most troubling part of precedent in terms of what might happen here. This happened before -- 1982. They catch the same guy on tape, almost the same way, a clandestine recording.

However, he's talking about something very different. He's talking about how if his team loses a bunch of games they get a better draft pick. And there are some allegations that he's not paying on time, business improprieties. They vote. They say they're going to take his team just like they say they're going to do now, but it never happens. Why?

TOOBIN: Because the effort ran out of steam. I mean, that's really what happened. The NBA got very angry when they -- when they learned of Sterling's comments, essentially saying we're going to throw a bunch of games, so we get a top draft pick.

But Sterling successfully kicked the can down the road, and the NBA wound up saying, you know what, we're just not going to pursue it. We think he's going to do a good job. He'll be a good boy. So that precedent is interesting --

CUOMO: How did he kick it down the road? How did he do it? How did he kick it down the road?

TOOBIN: He basically -- he said, I'm going to reform. He said that you misinterpreted what I said on the tape. It was not nearly, not nearly the fire storm that this one is. In fact, that was mostly a secret operation. I think it was only recently that it was disclosed that that happened at all.

Here, of course, it's a major national news story. If Donald Sterling is still the owner of the Clippers six months from now, we're all going to know that, and you have the players, the players alumni, the fans, all up in arms. It's an interesting precedent, but it's not really relevant.

CUOMO: Right, and also legally important for people, another point of speculation that goes a little amiss, even if he holds his ownership and the family trust, it doesn't matter because once the league votes and takes ownership of the franchise, they designate the owners. They can exclude his entire family. They can do whatever they want and open it to bidding.

Jeffrey Toobin, thank you. I know it was hard for you to get to us this morning. Appreciate the perspective, as always. Have a good weekend.


BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a resolute Amanda Knox insisting once again that she is not a murderer. Stay tuned for the one-on-one with her.

But also coming up, we're going to speak with an investigative reporter who has covered every angle of Knox's saga to get her take.

And on Inside Politics, Hollywood takes over Washington this weekend. They call it nerd prom for good reason. Time for the annual White House correspondents association dinner. We'll see how corporations are getting in on the action now.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY, half past the hour. We'll give you look at your headlines now.

Russia says there's no hope for a diplomatic deal in Ukraine. That's following two helicopters that were shot down as Ukraine launched an assault against separatists. Two Ukrainian officers and a separatist were killed in today's violence. President Obama today will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House. Their goal, to find ways to diffuse tensions in Ukraine.

Taking it to the limit. The Clippers and Warriors need a seventh game to decide their NBA playoff series after Golden State won a thrilling game six, 100-99.

Meantime, a group of NBA owners met for the first time and agreed to move quickly on removing Donald Sterling as the owner of the Clippers. An ESPN report says that 80-year-old Sterling has been battling prostate cancer. CNN has been unable to confirm this.

Officials say the new search for Malaysia Flight 370 could take up to a year. They also say a firm's claim that the plane could be in the Bay of Bengal is highly unlikely. This comes after the release of Malaysia's preliminary report left many questions unanswered for families, including a lack of early communication. Malaysian officials say it's time for everyone to accept reality and for families to head home.

Chris, Kate, those are your headlines. I know that's a hard thing, too, because one of the -- one of the things that one of our reporters brought up is some of those families -- I think it was actually Sarah Bajc, one of the passenger family members -- said that some of the Chinese families are heading back to rural areas where's they won't have internet access readily available to them, and they won't be able to get those updates easily.

BOLDUAN: How are they going to get the greater communication out there? I don't think it's going to explain that.

PEREIRA: Yeah, it's going to be a challenge for sure.

CUOMO: Difficult situation to make everybody happy. The unknown is often that way. And that's why we just keep pressing, and the answers will come when they come.

PEREIRA: We hope.

CUOMO: All right, how about some answers on politics? That's always difficult, but we have the right man on the job. So let's get to Inside Politics on NEW DAY with Mr. John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: TGIF. Good morning, Chris, Kate, and Michaela. Back to you in just a few minutes.

But a busy day to go Inside Politics, so let's go. And with me to share their reporting and their insights on this Friday, Anna Palmer of "Politico", Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times".

Let's start with this dust-up, we've been talking about a lot this week over Benghazi. Benghazi is back. Republicans say a newly released White House e-mail, that is only in the public domain because a conservative group sued the White House, they say it's a smoking gun about the coordination in the White House about how to explain what happened.