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Sterling: Not Sure About Legal Action; Chaotic Referendums In Eastern Ukraine; Washington Monument To Reopen; Escaped Nigerian Schoolgirl Speaks Out

Aired May 12, 2014 - 06:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The vice president of the NBA Players Association, Roger Mason, he said that the players won't accept anyone in the Sterling family owning the Clippers. Not you, not your wife, not your son-in-law, not your daughter. Do you believe that?

DONALD STERLING: I really don't know that. People beside him I think, not the media, not the players but the NBA.

COOPER: The owners?

STERLING: Pardon me?

COOPER: Owners?

STERLING: The owners. If the owners feel I deserve another chance, then they'll give it to me.

COOPER: But there say path for you to fight their decision, isn't there?

STERLING: Of course, but if you fight with my partners. What at the end of the -- at the end of the road, what do I benefit? Especially at my age. If they fight with me and they spend millions and I spend millions, let's say I win or they win, I just don't know if that's important.

COOPER: Why wait so long to apologize? It's been a couple weeks, you could have come out --

STERLING: Well, that's a very good question, I just -- I'm so emotional distraught. And the reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it.

COOPER: Do you trust people?


COOPER: There are a couple phone recordings just in the past week of people who talked to you on the phone who seems to be your voice who sold it to Radar Online or TMZ? I think do you have anyone around you that you trust? STERLING: I don't know. The only one I've talked to Magic Johnson.

COOPER: You have talked to him?


COOPER: Did you apologize?

STERLING: He knew the girl well.

COOPER: Did you apologize to him?

STERLING: Well, if I said anything wrong, I'm sorry. He's a good person, and he -- what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so. I'll say it. I'll say it. You know, he's great. But I just don't think is a good example for the children of Los Angeles.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So there you have it. The first take on Donald Sterling from his own mouth. Let's get some response now. Malik Rose, two-time NBA champion, game analyst for Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia and Ms. Mel Robbins, CNN commentator and legal analyst. You have the content of what is said and how it is said, right. That's how these interviews get measured. Mel, let's start with you, anything you heard that changes your opinion in a positive way?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Absolutely not. You know, I kind of feel like this is not the Catholic Church, Chris. This is the NBA. It's a professional sports league. And at the end of the day, it's business and racism is bad for business. And this is a little too pathetic of an apology, and it's a little too late in my mind.

CUOMO: All right, so that gets to the main question though of Malik Rose, do you believe the apology from Mr. Sterling, do you think he's really sorry or is he sorry about what's happening to him?

MALIK ROSE, ANALYST, COMCAST SPORTSNET PHILADELPHIA: I think he's sorry he got caught. I don't think he's sorry one bit about what he said. He's sorry that it got out there. Now, this trouble is looming for him and his family. But as far as being genuinely remorseful about what it said and who it hurt, absolutely not.

CUOMO: Let me stay with you, when you hear this man talk about Magic Johnson. Did you think he is angry because he thinks Magic got him into this? Did you think he was suggesting that Magic taped his conversations? Did you think Magic had something going on with his woman as he calls her what did you make of that?

ROSE: Well, his woman say woman bit name of Michelle Sterling. I doubt that magic had anything going wouldn't any of those women one for say that he was having anything to do with the recordings, but to say that Magic has done nothing for the minority communities -- the unmitigated gull is without measure. I don't understand where he is getting this from. Magic Johnson is a man who has opened up countless businesses in minority sections of neighborhoods and things. He's served at the right hand of the president of the United States, leading the charge, educating people about a virus that to this day is decimating the minority communities.

Speaking for me as a kid who grew up in the inner cities and didn't see one man other than my pastor wearing a suit on a daily basis, he inspired me to want to wear a suit. For mow to hear Donald Sterling saying that Magic Johnson is not doing something for the minority community is highly insulting.

CUOMO: Mel, when you're hearing that, what do you think the motivation. This is an older man, his wife says to Barbara Walters, I think this may be early dementia, do you think he is aware of what he's doing and this is his ability to get out or do you think he's clueless.

ROBBINS: You know, I actually think he's just a little clueless right now. I think he's 80 years old and he comes across just kind of all over the place. What he says seems contrived. For what it's worth, my personal opinion is that tape that came out where he was having the phone call that conveniently said the talking points that he was led this way, I think he probably leaked it.

I don't think the sincere. I agreed with Malik. I'm sure he's sorry, but he is sorry about what's happening and at the end of day, this comes down to money. He's doing damage control because he is hoping that maybe, just maybe, if he throws down the apology, maybe he can avoid the vote not happening.

And who knows, maybe Shelly, his wife, has put him up to this and they're working together to try to save this asset. So he comes out and apologizes. She's on Barbara Walters apologizing. It's a little too convenient as far as I'm concerned.

CUOMO: A quick legal point on you. Anderson may have been generous in his suggestion he made to Mr. Starling. There's a path out of this to fight it for him. Legally, do you believe that there's a legit path that would keep the NBA from forcing him to sell or just delay it?

ROBBINS: I think it's just delaying it, Chris. Most of us have read the constitution. The only thing we haven't read are the documents between Donald Sterling and the NBA as an individual owner. We also don't know what the trust says. But at the end of the day, this all kicks back to the constitution, Chris.

If they get the votes, which I don't think they will, which is ultimately going to delay what is going to happen, a sale. They're not going to have that happen. They're going to vote him out and Adam Silver takes possession at commissioner, so he's the one selling, not Donald Sterling.

CUOMO: Last thing for you, Malik, is there anything that this man could have said that would have changed your mind? ROSE: Absolutely not. I heard pretty much everything I need to hear on the initial tape with Miss Stiviano, those sounded like his feelings for the last 30 or 40 years. Keep in mind, when he grew up, there were separate water fountains, there were separate schools. Some people unfortunately in our country were exposed to that. It's part of their life. And I don't think they'll ever change.

CUOMO: Malik Rose, Mel Robbins, thank you for your take. There's a lot more in this interview. Literally, there's something about all parties involved including how he feels about the woman who recorded them. This is just a taste to set you up for the day, the full interview with Donald Sterling and Anderson Cooper will be on "AC360" tonight at 8:00 p.m. and of course, only on CNN -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Ukraine now where separatists in one hot spot say it's clear. Voters in the eastern city of Donetsk have announced preliminary results from Sunday's referendum saying self-rule won by a landslide, but with no international election monitors in place, their claims are, of course, in question.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Kiev with the latest. What are voters saying about this vote -- Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in Kiev, the interim president says it's a farce and it's here in Slovyansk, it's a sense of war brewing for days not. And I was awoken this morning by tank fire, sustained, for about 30 minutes. The results of the referendum, we heard yesterday, totally expected. A large turnout they claim, in a huge number in favor. This is never an open debate. It's about endorsing the unrest that the pro-Russian militants have used to push Kiev basically out of this town.

And towns around, there's gunfire at one polling station, but the key thing the people are waiting to hear and they're hearing it now what the Kremlin says. They suggested perhaps delay this referendum. But now, they're suggesting, too, that while they respect the will of the people of Donetsk.

While the referendums have taken place, they believe the best way to realize results is through negotiations, with here in Kiev with terrorists and separatists here who says that Kiev needs to withdraw their forces and recognize them to actually start talking.

That's a long shot. And I think you get the feeling that Russia is starting to get the difference between what Washington says started the unrest and what comes neck -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PERIERRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for the update on the situation there. Take a look at more of your headlines right now.

Firefighters are battling a wildfire that threatened an entire panhandle town. About 100 homes in Amarillo are in ruins now. 1,000 more at risk. Hundreds of people were chased from their homes. Officials say the fire started Sunday afternoon, but now they're not sure why or how. A 50-mile-an-hour wind gusts whipped into a frenzy. It's now 75 percent contained. No injuries reported so far.

This morning, we're learning new details about the terror threat that shut down the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. Yemeni officials tell CNN al Qaeda gunmen attempted to kidnap two embassy employees last month, but the two gunmen were shot and killed instead. Officials believe this may have been part of a wider plot.

Investigators are trying figure out what made a hot air balloon drift into power line, catch fire and crash at a Virginia festival killing the pilot and two passengers. Both passengers worked for the University of Richmond women's basketball program. They were remembered at Sunday's graduation ceremonies. All three bodies were recovered over the weekend.

BOLDUAN: An extensive search.

PEREIRA: An extensive search and that ceremony was supposed to be a time joy.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela. The Washington Monument is set to reopen since 2011 when that 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the Washington area. We are showing right now a live look at the monument. The quake caused a substantial crack in the top of the monument. The world's tallest stone structure. This morning, nearly three years and $15 million later, the tower is back in business. CNN's Erin McPike is in Washington with much more. Good morning, Erin?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. Well, I'm sure as you can remember from your time in Washington, the Washington Monument is the tallest building in Washington as well, in fact, there's a regulation that no building could ever be made taller. So, of course, the National Park Service took extra care in completing this project. It's generally on time and budget, although the very tough winter we had here set it back a few weeks -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And, Erin, talk to me about how extensive the damage was?

MCPIKE: Well, Kate, you know of the one-foot long and about inch-wide crack at the top that allowed water to pour into the monument and down the steps. You'll probably see surveillance video there of all the debris that fell. But also there were about 150 cracks in total. So it was a pretty large project and the repair process, as you know, took three years, but they had to have some inspectors rappel down the side of it at first to inspect so that they could get this right.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and even the restoration, it was pretty painstaking, right?

MCPIKE: It was and you should see some time-lapsed video of this three-year process. Scaffolding went up for a while. The scaffolding was lit up at night, which a lot of people thought it was a cool thing to see the Washington Monument lit up at night. As you mentioned it was a $15 million project, Congress funded $7.5 million. And the other half came from a philanthropist named, David Rubenstein -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: David Rubenstein, one of the founders of the Carlyle Group, full disclosure that my husband works for as well. Erin McPike in Washington. Thanks so much, Erin. Welcome sight to see that moment back in operation.

CUOMO: I don't get how people work on the scaffolding.

BOLDUAN: They're made with something a little different than we are.

CUOMO: I know, you just have to focus on something in front of you. When you see that scaffolding go up, that's easy but the looking down --

PERIERA: It's all you have to do, just not look down, right?

CUOMO: Better men than I. Let's take a break on NEW DAY so I can expose myself. When we come back, we're going to be learning about the new video of a kidnapped Nigerian girls. As CNN exclusively hears from one of the girls who managed to escape. What a story she has to tell.

Plus we're going to talk with a correspondent about just how dangerous it was to just get to the place where this girl was and to make sure the world can hear her story, stay with us.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Breaking this morning, there's new video from a militant group Boko Haram allegedly showing some of the nearly 300 kidnapped Nigerian school girls converting to Islam. The leader says he's willing to exchange the school girls for Boko Haram prisoners. This interview comes with a CNN exclusive -- an interview of one of the girls who managed to escape during that mass abduction.

CNN's Nima Elbagir, her producer Lillian Leposo and cameraman Nick Midway travel for four days, through dangerous back roads, with just a day before gunfire was exchange between police and the terror group.

Nima is the first international reporter to reach the town where the girls were kidnapped. And is joining us live with much more.

You went through a lot to get there. And then you were able to speak with this girl who seemed terrified for what she'd gone through, Nima, tell us more.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kate, you could still -- almost a month after the attack, you could hear the fear in her voice. It was tremoring while she was talking with me, with good reason as we saw with the release of the new video, Boko Haram has been able to carry on an extraordinarily brazen attack. Seven trucks, seven large lorry-style trucks brought in to ship these girls out of the dormitory which they were sleeping in the dead of the night. And they've also been able to keep some of those girls together.

Some details we're getting about the video, there are 100 or so girls in that video. So, they've been able to get them, they've been able to move them, and they've been able to hold on to them. So, I think when we got there, we got a broader sense of why they are able to move around with such impunity.

Take a watch.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): This is that road few are now willing to travel. Attacks by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram are constant in this part of Nigeria, but what happened in Chibok put the world on notice.

(on camera): In here, in these rooms are where the girls were sleeping when armed men in what they described as military uniforms came to their dormitory gate and told that they've come to protect them. The girls started to assemble in the yard as order to, and they realized who the men really were and it was too late.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, OK, we enter this lawn.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): This girl managed to escape. She's now too fearful to show her face. Too fearful to go back.


ELBAGIR: A big lorry?


ELBAGIR: They came with a big lorry.


ELBAGIR: Was it one or more?


ELBAGIR: Seven lorries?


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Trucks, motor bikes, residents here tell us this was effectively a shopping trip for Boko Haram. Over 200 girls dragged from their beds to be sold off as bounty -- a message that the edicts on female education must be heeded. But a way also for big men with guns to make money off of terrified girls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it it's in Chibok, I'll never go back.

ELBAGIR: You'll never go back to school?


ELBAGIR: Because they made you afraid?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. ELBAGIR (voice-over): Before the militants left, they destroyed everything they could -- textbooks, the library, the laboratory, their attempt to forever shutter this school.

Elizabeth Mary and friends, members of the same church, their daughters were also friends, hoping to one day study medicine. They and many of their classmates never made it home from school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are pleading with them to leave our daughters. We don't have power to do anything that requires power.

ELBAGIR: They say they still feel powerless, no closer to finding their daughters, nearly a month after they were taken.


ELBAGIR: Many of the parents we spoke to have now told us that they are not prepared to take those risks anymore. They are keeping their daughters home from school, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And, Nima, just getting there, to get the interview, to see the village, it was dangerous in and of itself for you and your crew. It's a trip that should take eight to ten hours. And it ends up taking some four days. What was it like?

ELBAGIR: Well, the closer we were getting to the epicenter of Boko Haram territory, the more alone we felt.

There was wasn't really much of any security presence. We ended up having to take a local armed police escort. I have to tell it you, Kate, they weren't particularly keen to go there with us.

These are people supposed to be protecting these people on the ground there, and they're afraid for their lives. You can only imagine what it was like for the villagers trying to get over the trauma of that attack.

And they're now decided in Chibok that they were going to be responsible for their own safety. We spent the night with them. Every night, since that attack, they've been going out on nightly patrols -- machetes, knives, whatever they can get their hands on. They said they just refuse to trust anyone anymore, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I mean, that seems to be the new normal for them. Do they have any trust in the Nigerian government? There sure seems to be a discrepancy on how the Nigerian government describes their response to these attacks and what the people of the village are saying?

ELBAGIR: Absolutely. There is an absolute discrepancy. You know, me and my team when we were driving out, we almost like we couldn't believe it ourselves because it is extraordinary, given what these people have been through, that there's no visible military presence.

Not what you would expect -- a few lone checkpoints here and there, some small encampment, but encampment themselves, some of them were burned out. They looked like they've been sustaining heavy fire. Nobody is willing to stand and protect these people.

And so, now, you know, they just say -- you heard the mother there, the only faith they have is in God and in the hope they will wake up to see tomorrow and hopefully, it will be a tomorrow in which their girls are returned to them, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, you describe it as extraordinary yourself. But you, yourself and your team went through extraordinary lengths and facing extraordinary danger to get there and bring the story to light.

Thank you for bringing it to us, Nima. Thanks so much.

CUOMO: Now, of course, for Nima, it is the job of being a woman in that situation, especially when you know females have been the currency of violence is just terrible, just terrible.

And a problem for them in that region and all over the northern eastern part of Nigeria, there is no security for them. That's why we're telling you the stories you can understand what's going on in other places of the world.

We're going to take a break here now on NEW DAY. When we come back, we're going to take a look at Hillary Clinton's new book and who she says was the biggest influence in her life. But is this personal book hinting at her next political move? Of course it is. We'll tell you why.



DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: I'm a good member who made a mistake. And I'm apologizing, and I'm asking for forgiveness.

Am I entitled to one mistake? After 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partner.

Am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake, and I'll never do it again.


PEREIRA: Topping our headlines, that was Donald Sterling speaking exclusively with CNN, asking for forgiveness for the comments that could cost him ownership of the L.A. Clippers. Sterling says he hopes NBA owners will give him another chance, but doesn't know that he'd take legal action if they vote to remove him.

We're going to have more of this interview with Anderson coming up, including what he said, what Donald sterling says about the woman who recorded him. The full exclusive interview airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on "AC360."

To Ukraine now where separatists in one key hot spot are already predicting a landslide vote in favor of self-rule. Results on a separate vote have not been released yet. But the U.S. and the government in Kiev have condemned the referendums, calling them a sham, and saying they may make the violence worse in eastern Ukraine. Separatists who've organized the vote said the region could possible secede or be annexed by Russia.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is headed to the Middle East for a four- day tour today. He's headed to Saudi Arabia, then Jordan and Israel. In the meantime, over the weekend, Hagel addressed the deadly delays at veterans hospitals in the U.K., which CNN has been reporting on extensively. He even defended the embattled V.A. secretary.