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Lewinsky Breaks Decade of Silence; House to Vote on Benghazi Committee; U.S. Skeptical on Putin's Troop Claims; Terror Group Massacres Villagers

Aired May 8, 2014 - 08:00   ET




MONICA LEWINSKY: I felt like a piece of trash. I felt dirty and I felt used.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Two big hits today for Hillary. New details overnight about what Monica Lewinsky has to say. Some hard truths for Hillary?

And House Republicans vote today to start an investigation into Benghazi. Will Hillary be called before the committee?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: (INAUDIBLE) turns to tragedy. More than 300 people murdered in Nigeria as the terror group holding those kidnapped girls attacks again. U.S. teams are on the way to help find those girls. But is it too late?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: The must-watch speech that's got everybody talking. We dare you not to tear up. Now, the woman NBA star Kevin Durant spoke so beautifully and emotionally about, his mom, joins us live.

COUMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, May 8th, 8:00 in the East.

Monica Lewinsky and Hillary Clinton both confronting the past with their futures on the line. Lewinsky opening in a "Vanity Fair" essay, giving new insight into her affair with President Bill Clinton and also her take on Hillary's reaction to her husband's transgression.

The former secretary of state is facing a defining moment right now, the prospect of a new investigation and a possible subpoena over the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Let's get to national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux in Washington this morning.

Suzanne, let's talk about Monica Lewinsky. Why is she speaking out now?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's really interesting, because it was 16 years ago that I covered Monica Lewinsky. We used to see her often outside the Watergate apartments. And we occasionally ran into her at the coffee shop. She was always gracious. She was kind.

But, clearly, this was a difficult and anguishing time for her. And what she says that she's speaking out now because at 40 years old, she wants to move on with her life, give her life some purpose, as well as her past, to show those who experienced public humiliation like she did that it can survive.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): In her tell-all "Vanity Fair" essay, Monica Lewinsky says she's opening up about her scandalous past in an effort to move forward. "I would give anything to go back and rewind the tape," Lewinsky writes about her affair with President Clinton. She provides insight into the nature of their relationship beyond the salacious details splashed across the headlines. It was an authentic connection with emotional intimacy, frequent visits, plans made, phone calls and gifts exchanged.

Now 40, the world's most famous White House intern examines the situation with new perspective. "I look back now, shake my head in disbelief and I wonder what was I, what were we thinking?"

Lewinsky has remained mostly reclusive, an effort to protect herself from the shame she felt when the affair went public.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I did not having sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.

MALVEAUX: Following President Clinton's initial vehement denial and subsequent admission.

CLINTON: Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.

LEWINSKY: I felt like a piece of trash. I felt dirty and I felt used.

MALVEAUX: Lewinsky says the scandal changed the entire trajectory of her life, making her virtually unemployable. She remains stuck in time, never getting married or having children. She writes, "With every man I date -- yes, I date -- I go through some degree of 1998 whiplash."

Lewinsky says she considered the consequences of telling her story on the Clinton universe and felt compelled to speak out now before Hillary Clinton's potential 2016 presidential bid, something which means more to her than just the possibility of having a female president. "When I hear of Hillary's perspective candidacy, I cannot help but fear the next wave of paparazzi, the next wave of 'where is she now?' stories. But should I put my life on hold for another eight to 10 years."


MALVEAUX: She also responds to Hillary Clinton calling her a narcissistic loony tunes, saying if that is the worst she's called, she's lucky.

And what's interesting here, Chris, is that Lewinsky also plans to have her life in some part on this political calendar, anticipating when is the next time that she can be thrown into the spotlight if and when Hillary Clinton decides to run. The 2016 election and, obviously, all the books that will follow -- Chris.

CUOMO: Not a big fan of the scandal though I had to cover it back in the day. I must say it was an interesting read for me and for reasons that having nothing to do with her affair for Bill Clinton, so important insights from Monica Lewinsky.

Now, we also have news of a very different moment from Hillary Clinton's past that's also in the spotlight. A big vote is expected today on a Republican proposal to create a special committee investigating Benghazi. You remember four Americans were killed including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Now, this has been the subject of bitter partisan battles ever since it happened. And much of the focus on what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew or didn't know, did or did not do in the situation. Now, she is weighing in.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is in Washington.

What do we know, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, Hillary Clinton seems to agree with the assessment by many Democrats, this is motivated by politics. This is what she said yesterday evening at a Clinton Foundation event.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Despite all of the hearings, all of the information that's been provided, some choose not to be satisfied and choose to continue to move forward. That's their choice, and I do not believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way.


KEILAR: Now, adding to Democratic claims that this hearing is motivated by politics, Senate Republicans are actually trying to fund raise off of it.

Really, Chris, you can't escape the presidential politics when it comes to this. Hillary Clinton as the current front-runner when it comes to the Democratic field for 2016, really her time at the State Department is seen as positive. Polls very much show that.

Republicans are eager to try to take that positive and make it a negative. They've been arguing that while she traveled a lot as secretary of state, she didn't really accomplish a whole lot.

So, you're seeing her allies both behind the scenes and out in public trying to back her up on that. We'll hear from her in her words come next month when her book, which is about her time at the State Department, comes out on June 10th.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that will be an important part of this on going kind of chapter, that many people obviously care very much about, as they should.

Brianna, thank you very much.

To the crisis in Ukraine now, and a major about-face by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He says that Russian troops are pulling back from Ukraine's border. And Russian state media says 15,000 Ukrainian troops are moving in, all of this happening as separatists in eastern Ukraine push forward on a vote to declare their independence.

So, of course, the question throughout is, is Putin's change of heart actually genuine?

Senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has the latest for us from Moscow -- Matthew.


Well, it's difficult to know whether it's genuine. Certainly, he made that about-face saying that he was calling on the rebels, the separatists to the eastern and southern Ukraine to postpone their planned referendum for this weekend and instead making way for dialogue. He also said he supported the presidential election in Ukraine scheduled for May 25th, previously just a few days before.

His spokesman said it would be absurd to carry out an election like that given the security situation there, also saying tens of thousands of troops causing so much concern on Russia's border with Ukraine have been moved back from the border, back to their permanent bases and training areas. That's been contradicted by western officials, particularly NATO, who says there's been no movement in the past few minutes.

The Russian defense ministry made counteraccusations saying Ukraine has, quote, "stationed" something in the region of 15,000 troops right next to the Russian border, an ominous sign that the tensions in that part of the world are still very much, very sensitive indeed. Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: Matthew, it seems to be not so much about what's true, but what countries will do about it. Thank you for the reporting this morning.

Now, also this morning, the president of Nigeria putting a terrorist who kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls on notice. He's saying this is the beginning of the end for Boko Haram.

But the current reality on the ground very different -- the terror group just massacred more than 300 people in a village. Nigerian troops were using it as a base.

Nigeria is now accepting international help as more people join the rallying cry to bring back the girls, including the first lady who posted this photo of support, the big hashtag going around the internet.

So, let's start our coverage this hour with Vladimir Duthiers. He's live in Nigeria -- Vlad.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the president speaking here at the start of the World Economic Forum, essentially saying the abduction of these 200 girls taken in the middle of the night from their dormitory while they slept by members by armed attackers, members of Boko Haram, he is saying this will be the end of terror in Nigeria. But as you mentioned, 300 people killed in a market on Monday, Boko Haram militant storming the market dressed in army fatigues and armored personnel carrier with rocket propelled grenade launchers.

The towns people and shop owners rushing into their buildings, rushing into their shops to prevent themselves by being mowed down by automatic weapon fire. Boko Haram burning these people alive in their shops.

So, a lot of people wondering, what does this exactly mean?

There were eight girls that were again abducted just this week from bore know state. People wondering how the president is going to be able to end the terror threat? Boko Haram seems to be able to attack with impunity across Nigeria, 1,500 people killed the first three months of this year in Boko Haram-related activity, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Vlad, thanks so much. I mean, this has been going on since 2009. The country has been dealing with it, and those attacks continue, why many people think it's time to get help from the outside as the murders continue. As we mentioned, the U.S. is now sending help to Nigeria including a team of military experts.

More details from Barbara Starr who's at the Pentagon.

So, what is the Pentagon saying, Barbara, of how they believe these military experts being sent in are going to be able to help?


A senior U.S. military official told me a short time ago they are talking about sending intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to the Nigerians. What does that mean? It could mean satellite imagery, it could mean drones flying overhead, the kind of high-tech help that could help the Nigerians do what they need to do which is to track down Boko Haram. Very preliminary. No decisions have been made.

But look for this U.S. military team that is being assembled to provide that kind of advice, to take a look at what could be done to help the Nigerians get the job done.

Right now, no decisions have been made, but don't look for this to be a U.S. military operation. No U.S. commandos on the ground, no U.S. troops kicking down doors. This will be something the Nigerians have to do themselves the U.S. strongly believes -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right. Barbara, thank you so much for that.

Let's take a lot more of your headlines at this hour, U.S. embassy in Yemen's capital is closed to the public this morning. The State Department confirming there's credible information about a potential threat against Western interest. The same embassy and others were shut down last year for the same reason. There had been no evacuations announced so far.

It has been two months since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared without a trace. There is no active search for the missing plane this morning. Instead, they're holding strategy sessions in Australia to re-evaluate the mission. Meanwhile, new ideas are being debated that would require black box pingers to last longer. The U.N. would like real time tracking of planes over open seas.

The embattled secretary for veterans affairs say he will not step down. Eric Shinseki has been under fire since the allegations of dozens of veterans died waiting for care. Two top veterans groups have called for Shinseki to step down. The House Veterans Affairs committee will meet today to consider subpoenas in the matter.

Katie Couric addressing rumors she might be returning to the "Today" show. Last night, she spoke to our Bill Weir on "CNN TONIGHT" about whether those early mornings are back in her future.


KATIE COURIC, TV HOST: The dirty little secret is I never got up that early. I got up like 5:30. They would be like, is she coming in today.

BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: Would you ever go back?

COURIC: I don't think so, no, no.


PEREIRA: Rumors have been swirling that Couric could return to her old job when one of the show's anchors goes on maternity leave.

Five-thirty would be a sleep-in.

CUOMO: Lunchtime.

PEREIRA: It is lunchtime.

BOLDUAN: If (INAUDIBLE) goes on maternity leave, she's not going to be sleeping in.

PEREIRA: Very good point.

CUOMO: You're laughing.

BOLDUAN: No, I'm laughing because I know it's impending --

PERERIA: But you're also trained to be going without a lot of sleep. So, there you go.

BOLDUAN: Any ladies who's done morning TV has say this is all in training for the baby. So --

CUOMO: Well, and Couric has been there as well. It's also a testament to just how brilliant she was at the job.


CUOMO: I mean, you know, she probably didn't need as much time in there as the rest of us. She was really good. We'll see what she does. We'll certainly follow her career with interest.

Coming up on NEW DAY -- so, here is a question for you. If a major politician got caught in an affair, let along with a young female intern, would you blame the woman? Probably not, right?

So, Monica Lewinsky is asking, why did you blame her? Especially you women, including Hillary? There's some really intriguing questions in her essay and we're going to get into that.

BOLDUAN: And you saw NBA star Kevin Durant's tearful tribute to his mother, made, of course, while accepting the MVP Award. What is it like to hear that kind of praise coming from your child when the entire country is watching? We'll ask the only woman who will know. Kevin Durant's mom, she's going to be joining us live on NEW DAY.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Monica Lewinsky says she was, quote, "the most humiliated person in the world." Now, after a decade, out of the spotlight, Lewinsky is back with brand new essay released overnight in "Vanity Fair." What's the goal? To take back her story and make intriguing points about who we are today.

For more, let's bring in CNN senior analyst Jeff Toobin. He wrote the book, "A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President," and "Los Angeles Times" columnist Robin Abcarian.

Thank you to both of you for being here.

Other than the cover photo that they allowed her to do in repose, I think it is a series of good choices and smart insights. But who cares what I think?

Let me start with you, Robin. What do you think?

ROBIN ABCARIAN, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, I think Monica Lewinsky is tired of being kind of a footnote in the popular culture. I think this terrible scandal she was involved with at a terribly tender age, 21, has scarred her. I think she's looking for a way to find redemption in her own mind. I think the American public has long since moved on from it. But, clearly, Monica Lewinsky is still struggling with her place in the universe.

And so, she's trying to reassert herself now as a 40-year-old woman and she wants to do some good in the world, and this is her announcement that this is what she's going to do.

CUOMO: Jeffrey Toobin, what about fairness? You say the scandal that almost took down a presidency. But it certainly took her down, and that was done with help of people on both sides of the political aisle, right?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I found the piece very sad. I just thought -- you know, she did something that was wrong. But she has paid it seems to me a disproportionate price. You know, most people who make mistakes in their 20s, it becomes sort of a rueful funny memory soon thereafter.

But, you know, she's not been able to move on. And, you know, one of the things I learned in writing my book is Monica Lewinsky wanted one thing above all in life, which was to get married and have a family. And she has not been able to do that. And I just thought it was a sad story.

CUOMO: There's a lot of intelligence also in this piece, Robin, about how we treat things as a society, specifically women. I submit this to you. We find out today that a massive power figure, a politician, a man, is having an affair with a very young intern and I sit on my show, NEW DAY, and I say who is this woman, this whore who trapped this powerful man? I want to know how she almost messed him up?

How long do I keep my job? That's exactly what happened to Monica.

ABCARIAN: You know, it's interesting. I think you have to remember -- you know, the Internet is out there, the conversation will take place on that level even today. Of course, you would not sit there and say things like that.

But don't forget, Monica presents herself in this essay as the only person who paid a price for this scandal that occurred 16 years ago. The fact of the matter is, Bill Clinton was impeached over it. He beat the impeachment. He wasn't kicked out of office. He certainly paid a price.

And I think, certainly, the larger point when you have to look back on the scandal is to understand that Monica Lewinsky became a pawn in a "House of Cards"-style power play between the Republicans and an independent prosecutor and the president they were trying to push out of office. This is serious stuff. She became kind of road kill in this political fight, and I can understand why she's still stinging from it today.

CUOMO: And, Jeffrey, the idea she says all these faux feminists at the time came and took Clinton's side and didn't take my side. What about that?

TOOBIN: Well, perhaps there is something to that, but it's also true that Bill Clinton had other things he was famous for. He had been elected president of the United States. He had a record. He had a record of accomplishment. Some people liked him a great deal for political reasons.

You know, Monica Lewinsky was known for one thing. She was a young woman who got involved in this relationship.

So, it wasn't just that Bill Clinton was a bad guy and she was -- that they were both bad, it was that they had a very different -- they brought different things to the scandal. Bill Clinton had a lot more to fall back on. Unfortunately, she didn't.

CUOMO: I would argue that she shouldn't have been known at all. If it happened today, we would probably do everything we could to keep the woman involved quiet because she was obviously out of her depth.

TOOBIN: Really? You think that, Chris?


CUOMO: Yes. I think -- look, I think rules have changed today. I think now you do something terrible or do something seen as immoral and you wind up becoming famous for it. We see it all around us in our pop culture.

TOOBIN: But think about it -- you know, one of the things -- this was so long ago. This story broke on the Drudge Report which was on the World Wide Web which was like a revelation to a lot of people. Wow, the web, the Internet.

You know, in the age of Twitter, can you imagine the abuse people take.

CUOMO: We've also evolved socially. I don't think she would have been seen as much of a bad guy now as she was then.

But, more important -- not more important, but a different issue, Robin, for your take on this -- she talks about Hillary Clinton. She does not disparage her. She does not come after her. This is not sour grapes, this piece. It is not a tell-all about her affair with the president.

But she raises a provocative question for those who are measuring Hillary as a potential president. She says Hillary Clinton should not have taken blame for the affair essentially. If she wants to dismiss me as a loony tune, that's fine.

What do you make of that point, that Hillary Clinton is getting a lot of support for president because she is supposed to represent the best of feminism, how does that square with that?

ABCARIAN: Yes. Look, there's two threads going on here. Hillary Clinton is a feminist, yes, for sure. She's dedicated her life to advancing the well-being of women and girls.

She also is a spurned wife who in a private conversation with her dear friend Dee Dee Blair (ph) said that she thought that Monica Lewinsky was a narcissistic loony tune which is hardly the worst thing a spurned wife could say about her husband's mistress.

I think it's also really important to remember here Monica Lewinsky was 21 years old. Monica Lewinsky was not a high school senior. Monica Lewinsky was an adult. She was making adult decisions. They were disastrous and, yes, she has paid a price.

But I don't think she was deserted by feminists. She engaged in a consensual relationship that was really ill-advised and she got burned.

CUOMO: Do we believe she deserves to be left alone and live her life now and get a new chapter, Jeffrey Toobin?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I think that would be a very good thing for her, for the world.

I think in terms of Hillary Clinton's political future, this story has zero political impact at this point. People have made up their minds or they're too young, never even heard about this situation, don't care. I just think this is a historical curiosity and it's very interesting, but in terms of 2016, zero impact.

CUOMO: All right, thank you to both of you. Robin Abcarian, Jeffrey Toobin, appreciate it as always.


BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY: he is the NBA's new MVP. And everyone is talking about Kevin Durant's memorable acceptance speech -- a heartfelt tribute to his most valuable mom. That special woman, Kevin Durant's mother, will be joining us this morning. What was that moment that had us all choked up, what was it like for her?


PEREIRA: With apologies to Chris, time now for the good stuff.

It's being called one of the greatest MVP acceptance speeches of all time. Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant was awarded his first MVP trophy this week. He spoke through tears to pay tribute to his mother for nearly two minutes. I want you to take a listen.


KEVIN DURANT, NBA MVP: The odds were stacked against us -- single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we weren't supposed to be here.