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Nigerian President Speaks Out Against Boko Haram; House of Tennis Player Burns Down; Vladimir Putin Announces Russian Troop Withdrawal from Ukraine Border; Mother of College Student Shot on University Campus Gives Interview; Diving into Monica Lewinsky's "Vanity Fair" Essay; Clintons Behind Lewinsky Piece?; Obama Comments on Kidnapped School Girls

Aired May 8, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, there are some big stories to tell you about to help start your NEW DAY. Russia says it's pulling back troops from Ukraine's border. The U.S. Says, no it isn't. Nigeria's president said this is the beginning of the end of the terrorists who took them. And Monica Lewinsky took Hillary Clinton to task for blaming herself for the affair. Let's get after all of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vladimir Putin has made a remarkable U-turn in his stance on Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far we haven't seen any indications they are pulling back their troops.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The seizure of these young women is abominable, it's criminal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's opening up about her scandalous past.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like a piece of trash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. I was walking my dog and the house just exploded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know that he was gone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. But we thought it was a trick.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, May 8th, 7:00 now in the east. And we begin with the crisis in Ukraine and a suspicious turnaround for Vladimir Putin. He says Russian troops are actually pulling back from Ukraine's border, and it's instead 15,000 Ukrainian troops that are there now. He's also saying that he's asking separatists to back off on a push for parts of eastern Ukraine to declare independence. But is this apparent 180 from Putin true on any level? Let's bring in senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. He has the latest from Moscow. What's the take?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems on the troop issue, NATO is expressing some concern about that. They're saying they haven't seen anything on the ground that would indicate there are troop movements.

On the other issues, the issue of support for the presidential election on May 25th which previously Putin spokesmen had been saying was absolutely absurd, saying it's a step in the right direction, that seems to still stand.

But on that third issue, the issue of Putin calling for those separatist pro-Russians on the eastern and south of the country of Ukraine to abandon or to postpone their referendum on independence from Ukraine, that seems to have hit some rocky ground as well. Over the past hour or so people on the ground, local leaders on the ground for the separatists, are saying they will push ahead with the referendum despite what Vladimir Putin has to say. So it seems to undermine those claims that Vladimir Putin here at the Kremlin was controlling everything on the ground taking place in eastern-southern Ukraine. That may indeed have been the intention of him making those remarks in the first place. Back to you, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Matthew, thanks so much. Let's continue the conversation. This morning the U.S. is echoing NATO and not buying Russia's claims of a troop pullback. Barbara Starr is joining us at the Pentagon with the very latest. What do we believe is happening, if anything, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. U.S. spy satellites are keeping an eye on that border around the clock, and they are not seeing, we are told, any downturn in the number of Russian troops on the border -- still about 40,000. But the Russians are masters of military deception. What the U.S. sources are telling me they believe continues to go on is the Russians withdraw some units, rotate them out, and then right away send in fresh units. So a lot of churn, a lot of movement around, but the bottom line, the U.S. says, is there are still 40,000 plus Russian troops on that border.

And a new, very worrying concern is what is going on in Odessa, in southwestern Ukraine. The U.S. believes Russia is going to make a move for Odessa and their next military move will to try and cut off the whole southern part of Ukraine, make it a land locked country. So watching those troops on the border, seeing what they're up to remains a top priority for U.S. intelligence. Chris?

CUOMO: Isolating Ukraine certainly at the top of the concern list. Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

So the president of Nigeria says he's had enough. Good luck Jonathan is saying that the terrorists who took 300 girls are not long for this world. But Boko Haram is not backing down, killing at least 300 people in a village Nigerian troops were using as a base. Nigeria is now accepting help from other countries in the search. We have Vladimir Duthiers in the capital of Nigeria with more. Vladimir, what do we make of the latest statements from the president? VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the president just speaking a couple moments ago at the World Economic Forum here, sounding very confident, saying the kidnapping of these 200 girls who were taken April 14th in the middle of the night at their dorms while they were sleeping, he says it's the beginning of the end of terror.

There's a lot of people sort of scratching their heads and wondering what that exactly means. As you said on Monday, there was a huge attack by Boko Haram in a town close to Chibok where these girls were taken, some 300 people killed in a market, Boko Haram arriving under personnel carriers with rocket propelled grenades attacking the villagers, attacking the shop owners. They tried to lock themselves in the shops. Boko Haram militants set those shops aflame.

So a lot of people wondering, while the president has sounded confident over the last couple of days that he would defeat terror and is welcoming international aid and international community providing intelligence support and perhaps at some point some kind of military intelligence gathering capability, a lot of people wondering if this is the beginning of the end or if Boko Haram will continue to attack the northeast and other parts of Nigeria with impunity. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Vlad, thank you so much for the latest on that.

Now let's look at your other headlines. A televised apology from the CEO of a company that operated the sunken South Korean ferry following his arrest, telling victims' families, quote, "I've committed a crime that can only be paid back with my life." He's now charged with causing death by negligence. In the meantime authorities are moving to revoke all of the company's licenses. At least 269 people died in last month's ferry disaster, 35 remain unaccounted for.

A security scare is forcing the State Department to close the U.S. embassy in Yemen to the public. Last year the same embassy and several others in the region were also shut down because of safety concerns. Officials tell CNN there's credible information of a threat against western interests in Yemen right now. At this point there have been no evacuations of U.S. personnel.

In Washington today, the House is expected to vote on a Republican plan to create a special committee on Benghazi. The 2012 U.S. consulate attack took the lives of four Americans including the American ambassador. The committee would have seven Republican members to five Democrats, who call the move a partisan witch hunt. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton says she's satisfied with what's already known about the incident.

Police say a fire destroyed -- that destroyed the Tampa Florida mansion owned by former tennis player James Blake was intentionally set. Four bodies, two adults and two teenagers, were found inside the charred remains.


PEREIRA: Bodies discovered after a massive blaze engulfed former tennis start James Blake's multimillion dollar Florida home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. I was walking my dog and the house just exploded.

PEREIRA: A panicked neighbor called 911 after seeing the house go up in flames. Authorities say the fire was intentionally set and four bodies were apparently a family, two adults and two teenagers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calm down and take a deep breath, OK? I know it's hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just so horrible. I was walking by as it was exploding.

PEREIRA: The adults were found in one bedroom and the teens were in separate bedrooms. Authorities say identifying the bodies will take several days. Commercial fireworks were also found in the home according to officials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you see flame and smoke?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The house is engulfed in flames, ma'am.

PEREIRA: Two of the bodies have upper body trauma. Police say they are considering murder-suicide is a possibility but caution that the investigation is still ongoing.

COL. DONNA LUSCZYNSKI, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We are continuing to process the scene and this probably will take several days.


PEREIRA: James Blake was not present at the time of the fire. Police are working to confirm whether the bodies found were that of the family that leases the home from Blake.

And a historic day in sports. For the first time a female has been hired to coach professional men's French soccer team. And 36-year-old Helena Costa taking over the helm of the Claremont soccer club. Costa is a former manager of the national teams in Iraq and Qatar. She says she hopes her new job opens more doors for other women to walk though. Congratulations to her.

CUOMO: That is good news.

PEREIRA: Very good news, exciting.

CUOMO: We have an update NOW on a heartbreaking story out of Texas, A college student killed by a campus officer after routine traffic stop. Cameron Redus was shot five times at close range. His family has filed a wrongful death suit, and this morning they're breaking their silence. Cameron's mother sat down with CNN's George Howell. Here's the piece. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALERIE REDUS, MOTHER OF CAMERON REDUS: When we come to San Antonio, we usually pass by on the street and I look and I think, gosh, it happened right there.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not easy for Valerie Redus to be here, the place where her son Cameron was shot and killed by a University of the Incarnate Word police officer. Five months ago the 23-year-old was within walking distance of his own apartment off campus when stopped for suspicion of drunk driving. The situation escalated to the point where Corporal Christopher Carter used deadly force.

REDUS: I'm betting that we're going to find that there's more to the story than Cameron just trying to get away from this man.

HOWELL: Redus was shot five times, notably, at a downward angle through the face and once through the back. Corporal Carter claims Redus became combative, ignoring 56 commands to resist arrest. An autopsy report indicates Redus was intoxicated and had a trace of marijuana in his system, all the more reason this mother doubts her son was that much of a threat.

REDUS: I'm really angry. Those downward angles, they say it all. There's no denying the malice.

HOWELL: The Redus family filed a civil lawsuit against Corporal Carter and the University of the Incarnate Word for the wrongful death of their son. Corporal Carter remains on leave, and the university defended its position saying in a statement, quote, "Our initial review supports our belief that a court of law is the appropriate venue for experts to testify about the events that ended in the death of Cameron Redus."

Frustrated by the lack of action, Valerie Redus says something has to be done to answer for what happened.

REDUS: I know he wasn't perfect, but he didn't deserve to be shot execution style.

HOWELL: George Howell, CNN, San Antonio, Texas.


CUOMO: We thank George for that and we'll be following that story to be sure.

Coming up on NEW DAY, after 10 years Monica Lewinsky breaks her silence. Where were the feminists, she asks? Should they have been backing her up? And what about her choice words for Hillary Clinton? We're going to take you through what she says.

BOLDUAN: And first lady Michelle Obama saying it's time to find the hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls missing in Nigeria. But what can the U.S. actually do? What will the U.S. do? We're going the take a look "INSIDE POLITICS."


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. For the first time in a decade Monica Lewinsky is breaking her silence about her affair with President Bill Clinton. In a new essay for "Vanity Fair" this morning she says she's speaking out now because she says it's time to take back her story, very simply.

Let's bring in Sally Kohn, CNN political commentator and columnist for "The Daily Beast" to discuss, as well as David Maraniss, associate editor at "The Washington Post", author of "First in His Class: a Biography of Bill Clinton" and also contributor to "Inside Politics".

Good morning to both of you.


BOLDUAN: Good morning.

David, let me just get your take --


BOLDUAN: -- really quickly. You wrote the book on Bill Clinton. What did you learn that is new to you in this essay?

MARANISS: Nothing.


You know, I don't hold anything against Monica Lewinsky for doing this. I'm not an expert on her. I can talk more about the Clintons and their reaction. But, you know, for Monica Lewinsky, the only thing I learned is that she contributed once again to the destruction of the word narrative, which has been turned into such a cliche.

She wants to take her narrative back. She has every right to do that. She has every right to live her life. But it's one thing to say that -- that she has something to say. It's another thing to say whether it's important or not.

BOLDUAN; Good take. What's your take, Sally?

KOHN: Wow. You know, look. I think there are two things going on here. One is, you know, this is an era where we have -- I think Monica correctly labeled it as something that began with her, the sort of whipping up scandals.

And let's be honest, it was about the internet; it was also about the conservative media. It was Ken Starr, but it was also drudge, right? All of these things attacking her, turning her into this untouchable scandal and then leaving her alone.

We all moved on, but her life was tarnished. And she is now this reminder. It's handy for her to come back in because we do this now over and over again in our 24/7 scandal cycle. We destroy people's lives. We in the media move on, but their lives are ruined. And I think she's the sort of cautionary tale.

The other thing, of course, is that whatever her motives, we're now going to keep talking about this because this is what Republicans want to talk about --

BOLDUAN: Do you think Republicans want to talk about it, though?

KOHN: -- so they the try and ding Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that they will?

KOHN: I have no doubt about it. Look, they liked talk about its in '90s. They keep trying to drum up any scandal they can to hurt Hillary now. None of them are sticking in the present, so they're going to go to the past and find any scandal they can. Back to the future.

BOLDUAN: Every Republican I talk to -- back to the future. That's good. Every Republican I talk to, though, says they don't want to touch this because they say they have enough of her record to be criticizing it.

KOHN: They were already touching it, right? Rand Paul was out there calling Bill Clinton a sexual predator, right -- and incidentally, attaching his behavior, let alone his leadership to his wife, right? Which is about as sexist as attacking Monica Lewinsky in the first place. I mean, this whole thing just wreaks with bad political behavior. But, you know, it's going to keep being repeated.

BOLDUAN: Let's work through a couple of things she said, David. I want to get your take on this. You can talk about kind of the Clintons on this.


BOLDUAN: Monica talks about everyone is going to wonder how does she feel about the Clintons. And she addresses it. And she says despite what's in the headline, falsely reported about this piece, "This is not about me versus the Clintons. Their lives have moved on. They occupy important and powerful places on the global stage. I wish them no ill." Do you believe her? Maybe more importantly, do you think the Clintons feel the same way?

MARANISS: I doubt very much the Clintons feel the same way. I think, you know, to get to that larger issue of -- of -- of feminism and why Hillary responded the way she did, it had nothing to do with feminism in the world of the Clintons. It had to do with survival.

At the moment that the Lewinsky story broke, Hillary was just thinking about the presidency of her husband and their futures and how to survive. And so, the whole context of feminism is interesting to discuss apart from the Clintons, but when it comes to them, it was merely a matter of survival. And -- and feminism had nothing to do with it. BOLDUAN: Sally, you have a different take on that actually.

KOHN: Yeah, I mean, look, Hillary to some extent participated in this directly, but certainly was complicit or at least stood by quietly as the Clinton machine dragged Monica Lewinsky through the mud and this sort of, you know, blaming her.

And let's not forget -- and I think she's very good in her piece in saying that she shouldn't also be portrayed as this sort of hapless victim, right? That's pretty offensive to her, too. But at the time, she was dragged through the mud, not only by the conservative media, but by the Clinton machine as well. And that struck a lot of people and I think still strikes a lot of people as pretty hypocritical given the strong stance on women's issues and women's rights, especially that Hillary has taken.

MARANISS: I agree with that completely. I agree with that completely. I'm just saying from the Clinton's perspective --

BOLDUAN: At that time.

MARANISS: -- to look eight as a feminist issue is different at that time. I think that other people have a perfect right to do that.

BOLDUAN: But then, David, what's your take on -- and I don't know if we actually have the full screen of this ready, but we've been talking about it this morning -- of Monica's take on the -- on the -- on the conversation with -- on Monica's take on what Hillary Clinton has said recently or has reported that Clinton said to a confidante when she says -- Monica writes this, "Hillary Clinton wanted it on the record that she was lashing out at her husband's mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the woman, not only me, but herself, troubling."

MARANISS: Well, as I said earlier, that's the Clinton's response to anything that attacks them and makes them vulnerable when they were in the presidency. So I think that Monica has a right to be troubled by that, as does the country. But that's the way the Clintons operate.

BOLDUAN: I guess kind of summing it up, Sally, we can talk about her. She takes on feminism in part, Monica does in this piece. And she says it's a question "that has troubled me to this day. I sorely wish for one sign of understanding from the feminist camp, some good old- fashioned girl-on-girl support was much in need. None came." And she says, "I understand their dilemma. Bill Clinton has been a president friendly to women's causes."

Looking forward, when you kind of look at this and you take all of this in context, looking forward, what do you think the impact of this essay could be?

KOHN: Well, you know, it should be zip, zilch, and zero. I mean, fist of all, this issue is -- was already litigated. When Hillary ran for president in 2008, she was wildly popular. She almost won the Democratic nomination. And people already knew this. They still know it now. She has the widest margin of any possible non incumbent runner in a presidential election in history. So -- but the only reason we're really talking about it, let's be honest, is the possibility that she might run for president.

BOLDUAN: And it was a story that captivated the country for better or worse, it involved the president.

KOHN: Yeah, but if she said -- I think if she said tomorrow I'm not running for president, we would stop talking about it. And that really does go to this sort of larger issue that both encapsulated Monica and encapsulates Hillary, which is sort of blaming the woman for the actions of this man as though they are just objects in his orbit.

BOLDUAN: (inaudible)

KOHN: She's her own person. She's her own presidential contender.

BOLDUAN: David, I want to get your real quick final take on the -- on the impact do you think of this essay?

MARANISS: Well, I think that the Clintons have been essentially immunized from stories about Bill Clinton's sex life. But I think the possible potential impact is that Hillary's, in some sense, is from the past already. And these stories remind people about the past. So that makes her a little bit vulnerable. But in terms of the Lewinsky story itself, I think there's nothing there that can actually harm the Clintons.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and that a woman should not need to answer for her husband's indiscretions, and was as well pointed out yesterday, a man should not have to answer for his wife's indiscretions as well. We're equal opportunity here.

KOHN: That -- that -- that also. And also, no voter wants to relive the 1990s. It wasn't a good decade for any of us.

BOLDUAN: For fashion or for anything, I would say.

MARANISS: Well, it was good for the economy.

BOLDUAN: There you go, David. High point.

KOHN: There was that.

BOLDUAN: Sally, David, thanks so much.

KOHN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Let us know what you think about the Lewinsky -- about Monica Lewinsky speaking out. Take a look at her piece and tell us what you think. Tweet us with a #newday.


CUOMO: Coming up on the show, Hillary Clinton also weighing in on the kidnapped Nigerian girls and their captors as First Lady Michelle Obama shows her support for the cause, to find the girls and bring our girls back. That's on Inside Politics.

And horrifying pictures out of Texas: a driver plowing through a crowd. We're going to tell you why and what led to it, coming up.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your headlines.

An assault by the militant group Boko Haram has killed at least 300 people in Nigeria. This happened in a village the troops have been using as a base as they search for hundreds of schoolgirls abducted by the group. Several countries including the U.S. are now sending resources to assist, something Nigeria's president calls a turning point in the fight against Boko Haram.

New developments in Ukraine. Russian state media reporting that Ukraine has deployed 15,000 troops near the Russian border. This move happening after separatists in a major hot spot moved forward with a vote -- or decided to move forward with a vote to potentially secede. Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a delay in that vote. The U.S. and NATO says there are no signs that Russia's troops have pulled back despite Putin's claims otherwise.

The embattled secretary for Veterans Affairs says he will not resign over a CNN report that showed dozens of veterans died waiting for care, including more than 40 in Phoenix. Two top veterans groups have called for Eric Shenseki to step down. The House Veterans Affairs Committee will meet today to consider issuing subpoenas related to that investigation.

Quite a terrifying scene in Houston, people screaming, running for their lives as a car plows through a crowd that had gathered at the scene of a deadly shooting. Witnesses say the father of the alleged gunman was behind the wheel. They say taunts from family members of one of the victims set him off. The driver was charged with aggravated assault. Witnesses say the alleged gunman got away in the chaos.

CUOMO: All captured on film, too.

PEREIRA: Terrifying.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, exactly.

CUOMO: All right, let's get to Inside Politics on NEW DAY with Jake Tapper today. Jake, thanks for being here, my friend.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a pleasure, Chris and the gang. Good to see you.

Let's go inside politics with Julianna Goldman of Bloomberg and Nia Malika Henderson of "The Washington Post". I want to start with some comments from President Obama about this whole Nigerian episode. These poor girls kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram. Listen to what President Obama had to say last night.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have this remarkable title right now, President of the United States. And yet, every day when I wake up and I think about young girls in Nigeria or children caught up in the conflict in Syria, when there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids.


TAPPER: Very interesting. In addition, the First Lady sending out this tweet related to the Nigerian kidnappings. The First Lady saying our prayers are with the missing Nigerian girls and their families. It's time to, using the, #bringbackourgirls signed M.O., Michelle Obama, signifying she wrote the tweet herself.

What's so interesting about this, guys, is -- is that it's as if it's just a couple next door talking about how much they wish they could do something and not the guy with the most powerful military in the world under his command and his wife. Why the sense of futility?

JULIANNA GOLDMAN, BLOOMBERG: Well, in many ways what they are doing is projecting the limits, or his own limits on U.S. power right now. But what the administration says is that for weeks they've been offering support to the Nigerian government. It's only this week that they realize that this really is a problem and, look, that there teams from the State Department, Pentagon, FBI that will be on the ground within days.