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Donald Sterling Gives Interview about Controversial Racial Comments; Boko Haram Offers Exchange of Prisoners for Kidnapped Nigerian Girls; Investigating a Hot Air Balloon Accident

Aired May 12, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS MCLAUGHLIN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, INMARSAT: We just contributed what little bit we have which is the handshake things between the satellite and aircraft that enabled us to know the aircraft was in the air for a number of hours after it was lost. I think that was our primary insight. At Inmarsat we don't perverse desire to hold back data, we just don't have it.

We just don't have it. We're there and we're sharing what we have, and we really wish the searchers well with their successful eventual conclusion.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So to be clear, you're saying that Inmarsat has no data that it hasn't made public for people to help with this search?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's absolutely correct. We've shared the data we have with the Malaysian authorities. It's for the Malaysian authorities to decide what they do with their data. We are a party to the investigation board, and that's because on the aircraft, America say party to the investigation, the plane was the Boeing. Britain is part of the investigation because the engine was Rolls Royce.

CUOMO: But is there anything that you've released to those parties that you haven't been allowed to make public for other parties?

MCLAUGHLIN: No. We've shared the investigation that we have, and that's for the investigation to decide what it puts out. I see they already have an interim report and I see that they've urged that some aircraft should be tracked. I know they're working today and tomorrow in a working group on this, and I know they will be looking very actively to see how best to ensure that commercial airliners going forward are tracked. And we're happy to play a part on that.

CUOMO: Mr. McLaughlin, thank you very much for joining us this morning. Good look going forward.

MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now to that CNN exclusive this morning. Donald Sterling speaking out for the first time and offering a mea culpa with the caveat. Sterling says his own words leave him bewildered, and he is not a racist despite the comments that led the NBA commissioner to ban him for life. Still, he says, he was baited into making those remarks. Sterling sat down with Anderson Cooper. Here's a look.


DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: I'm not a racist. I've made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I'm here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I've hurt. And I've hurt so many people, So many innocent people. And I've hurt myself. You know, I spoke to a girl that I was fond of. when I listen to that tape, I don't even know how I could say words like that. And I'm so sorry, and I'm so apologetic.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What are you sorry about?

STERLING: Well, I'm sorry that so many people are hurt. I never dreamt that this could happen. It's a terrible, terrible nightmare. My players, they didn't need this. They didn't need this cloud over their head. And they're good people. And I love them and I respect them and I will always be there for them. Form them to hear that I'm a possible racist is so painful to me because I'm not a racist and I've never been a racist.

COOPER: When you saw them take off, or wear their jerseys reversed so the name Clippers wasn't on in that first game, what did you see?

STERLING: I really didn't pay attention. They are Clippers in their mind and I'm theirs. That's how I feel. I would do anything for them. I made a mistake. I hope it's in their heart to forgive me for that mistake. I don't know why the girl would had me say those things.

COOPER: You are saying you were set up?

STERLING: Yes, I was baited. That's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people, for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things, but I don't talk about people.

COOPER: Do you know how the tape got released?


COOPER: Do you think she did it?

STERLING: I don't know. I mean -- an 80-year-old man is kind of foolish. And I'm kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself.

COOPER: Do you trust her now?

STERLING: No, I don't trust her. I just wish I could ask her why. And if she was just setting me up -- I think that people say she was taping me for two years. So maybe I was just fooling myself thinking for two years that she cared for me. She certainly acted like it.


CUOMO: The question is, is he fooling himself that that will sound like an apology to the people who need to hear one? Let's get in deeper with Greg Anthony, CNN political commentator and Turner sports analyst, and Mr. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. Greg Anthony, he was set up by this woman he thought liked him. That's it. He never says anything like this and he's not a racist. Do you believe him and is it over now?

GREG ANTHONY, TURNER SPORTS ANALYST: Well, it's over in terms of whether or not he's going to continue to own the team or anyone in his family. This is a veiled attempt at a PR battle. In essence that's what he's trying to accomplish now, because he's trying to win the court of public opinion and win that PR battle, and that probably wasn't as good a showing as he could have had last night in that interview.

The reality is, too, for the average person watching, for you to make those comments, it's hard to be set up to make them. That's the other issue. It's like, you could say something off the cuff, but that was a pretty elongated conversation. It was pretty well thought of. And those were views that I sense he held to heart. So that's the reality in that situation for him. I just think that was -- I don't want to say that it was disingenuous, but I will.


CUOMO: Could he have said anything -- what could he have said that would have made you rethink your ideas about him?

ANTHONY: Honestly, I don't know. And I'm one that's willing to forgive the man, because I do think -- listen, I don't think that racism -- I don't think it's inherent in you or innate. I think it's something that's taught. So I don't necessarily blame him for these views that he has. He talked about being 80 years old. He didn't become this way two years ago. This is something that's been a part of his psyche and his fabric for many, many years. So I can understand that part of it and can be forgiving of that. But forgiveness does not necessarily equate to you keeping ownership of the L.A. Clippers. So that's the reality that we have to focus on.

CUOMO: Now, he says also in there, Jeffrey Toobin, I've made one mistake, can't I be forgiven for one mistake? Now, there are two issues there, right? The first is, is this seen as the first mistake? Probably not, certainly from the league's perspective. And does this change the analysis for them moving forward?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SECURITY LEGAL ANALYST: Not a bit. You know, Adam Silver, the brand-new commissioner of the NBA has basically said this is what my commissionership is about. I am staking my entire reputation on getting Donald Sterling out of the league. He has gotten so far, as far as we know, the nine top commissioners, the finance committee to agree with him. There is certainly nothing in this interview that's going to stop this train from moving forward.

And the real issue is whether Donald Sterling is going to litigate, try to litigate, to prevent his being thrown out of the league. But I cannot imagine the league changing its position at all based on this interview with Anderson.

CUOMO: And, frankly, he didn't do himself any favors. And Anderson was giving him full opportunity to say what he wanted to say. Interesting what we didn't hear, he is talking about that woman a lot, which was reminiscent of other scandals. No apology to his wife. His wife is now relevant for another reason. She says she's 50 percent owner. She spoke to ABC News. Let's listen to what the wife is saying about the situation.


BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Mrs. Sterling, you own 50 percent of the L.A. Clippers. The NBA may insist that the team be sold. What would you do then?

SHELLY STERLING, WIFE OF DONALD STERLING: I'm fight for my 50 percent.

WALTERS: Well, there are reports that the NBA wants to oust you completely as a team owner. You will fight that decision?

SHELLY STERLING: I will fight that decision.


CUOMO: Now, do you think she has any cause with the NBA?

ANTHONY: No. Now, she has cause with Donald Sterling to have 50 percent of asset. The NBA, they don't care. She could have 70 percent for all they care, because ultimately, they don't want to have any association with the Sterling name in terms of the NBA. And again, this is more about the perception and the stain that's been left by these comments, and they were made public. And so they put the league in a difficult situation.

And also keep in mind that the players -- I was vice president of the Players' Association for many years. We are at a point in our league where we very much view ourselves as partners with the league. So it's also in the league's best interest with, you know, their partner, the players, to make sure that we kind of get this thing on the back shelf and resolve this issue in terms of moving on. It also sends a tremendously strong message throughout the country for sports and in terms of how we're going to conduct ourselves. We can't make laws to change how people feel, Chris. But we can have ramifications in place for those who espouse those views that don't necessarily coincide with how we feel as a society.

CUOMO: Jeffrey Toobin, if she says, I own 50 percent, keep me separate from your analysis of Donald Sterling, does that wash?

TOOBIN: I actually think that's a closer question. Pierce O'Reilly is her lawyer. We spoke to him on Friday. He said she's definitely going to litigate, go to court, try to stop any forced sale. She said she didn't anything wrong. She has not expressed any racist views. Ultimately think the NBA, it's their candy store, and they are going to throw out all the Sterlings. But I do think she maybe has a chance of going to court and saying you can't penalize me for my husband or soon to be ex-husband's comments. Her problem is they are still married. And if she's allowed to keep half the team, that in effect keeps Donald Sterling in some sort of involvement with the team. And I think they're going to force her out, too. But I think as a legal matter, she might have more of a claim to try to hold on to her part of the team.

ANTHONY: Jeffrey, the other real issue here though is a simple one. She's been married to him for 50 years. So she would also have to say, I really didn't know this man for 50 years. I don't espouse the same views. How could you possibly get someone to believe that you've known someone for 50 years and yet you had no idea how they were? So that's a difficult one to get over, especially from the league standpoint. I haven't been here for 50 years, but I don't know that I've known for 20 or 30 years that I can honestly say I don't really know them if I'm with them as intimately as you are with someone you're married to. Even if you're estranged at this point, that's another issue for her, and she's got her own allegations against for alleged racial comments and actions. So that's going to be a tough rope to climb.

TOOBIN: It's going to be tough. But remember the context, too. She's could say, look, he's romancing this woman. I didn't know he was having an affair. Look at me, I'm a victim of all this. I think her position is considerably more sympathetic than his, although ultimately I also think the NBA as an association is going to basically say, look, we get to choose who are the owners in this league, and we choose not to have any Sterlings anymore. Its' just too toxic.

And I think Greg makes a very important point here. The players ultimately are going to have a very big role in this, and if the players don't want to play for the Sterlings, as they clearly don't, either Sterling, they're going to be gone. And you can't have an NBA without the players.

CUOMO: I think you summed it up almost inadvertently when you said her big problem is that she's still married to this man. I think that's probably true on a lot of levels. And of course for those following the league minutia side of this, they never approved as an owner. So that's going to be very relevant as well.

Very good to have you, Greg Anthony, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much, as always. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Chirs thank you so much. We're going to have more of that Sterling interview and taking another shot at Magic Johnson. Anderson Cooper will be joining us in the next hour. You can watch that full exclusive sit-down with Donald Sterling on AC360 tonight, 8:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

Let's turn to some breaking news, though, right now coming in to CNN. There's a new video from the militant group Boko Haram allegedly showing some of the nearly 300 kidnapped Nigerian school girls being converted to Islam. The leader of the group says in the video that he's willing to exchange the schoolgirls for Boko Haram prisoners. This morning, military and intelligence experts from the United States are in Nigeria trying to help find these missing girls.

Let's discuss this new video and the situation on the ground. We're joined by Major General James "Spider" Marks, CNN military analyst, and former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and also CNN's national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, both joining me from Washington. Good morning to both of you.

Let's put that video back on the screen as it's just coming into CNN. This is the newest video, and we are seeing, it is estimated from journalists who have been looking at this, we're seeing an estimated nearly 300 schoolgirls who were kidnapped. Spider, what can you take from this, what will you learn from this? What will U.S. intelligence officials and security analysts be looking at?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Kate, the very first thing is if those are in fact the young girls that have been taken away, then this is proof of life, that they're still alive and there is a possibility of a successful outcome, what that outcome looks like still to be determined. If in fact there are discussions about a transfer, the young girls going back, being released in exchange for prisoners, that is a Nigerian decision that needs to be made.

And in concert with the United States, certainly, the intelligence personnel, the military personnel that are on the ground in support of the Nigerian government and its military will help sort through that, because they've got the intelligence on who these folks are, who the Boko Haram guys are. They've also begun to develop the intelligence on who these young ladies are. It's clearly important that you separate the young ladies and their families so that there isn't any additional damage that could be done.

But to look at what some of the challenges might be if in fact there was some type of prisoner exchange, but there is a very specific mission special forces and military guys on the ground can provide to help the Nigerians through this very tough spot.

BOLDUAN: And, Jim, how does this video play into what the U.S. is deciding, how the U.S. is deciding to assist on the ground from what you're hearing from your sources?

SCIUTTO: Well, first thing, you look at this video and it just reinforces how shocking and pathetic of a story this is. You know, to this point, it has been numbers, right? The number of girls taken is shocking. Now you see those faces there, and you get a sense how brutal this organization is. It adds to that urgency, which has really been driving this, right?

You know, they've been abducted for almost a month now. As it has been spread, you know, with the #bringbackourgirls and as Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and others have been photographed, other world leaders, now, you have the faces of these girls. And that's certainly going to focus attention.

Now the big challenge here, right -- one of the big challenges is how far international help can go, right? Because at this point, the Nigerians have been reluctant to accept international help. That's beginning to change as they allow the U.S., the British and others to come in and send experts, et cetera. But it hasn't moved to the stage where you have those -- those countries actually going not the field to look for these -- to look for these girls.

You know, that's one of the next decisions that this country has to make. And also countries like the U.S., what risks do they want to put their personnel in, American personnel? This is a dangerous country. These girls are spread out, most likely taken across borders. This would be a difficult operation, if indeed the Nigerians ask for that kind of help.

BOLDUAN: Is it -- is it promising, though, at all, and I hate using that word when you look at this video, Spider, that you do see a large group of them still together in at least in this video?

MARKS: Well, it is promising. Again, it tells you that they're -- they appear to be in pretty good shape. But it also tells you that the Boko Haram folks have been able to at least run -- they're running a risk by putting this large concentration of young females together gives us an opportunity to do some good intelligence collection and to isolate it. Right now, I can guarantee you that's what's taking place.

The key thing is, if we -- if we were to do something about this intelligence -- and clearly, bear in mind, intelligence is an active sport. You not only have the intelligence, but you have to ask the question fundamentally what are you going to do about it.

And as Jim indicated, if we intend to strike or if we think there's a target, the intelligence is solid, and we think we can get it, we can minimize the damage, separate the combatants from the hostages, that would be a good thing. But we have to have the clearance, and we'd have to have the cooperation of the Nigerian government. And I don't know how far along that -- that type of relationship exists.

So again, as Jim indicated, we have to lower our expectations, sadly, in terms what we think this result and this outcome is going to look like.

BOLDUAN: And -- and what can you do within those expectations is exactly -- is exactly right, Spider.

Spider, Jim, thank you so very much. We'll continue to talk about this video and obviously the situation on the ground in Nigeria throughout the morning. Thank you both.

MARKS: Thank you.

SCUITTO: Thank you.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, a terrifying accident as a hot air balloon slams into power lines. How did this happen? Can it be prevented going forward? We've heard this story before. And we have witnesses for you this morning.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Twenty-one minutes past the hour. Let's take a look at your headlines.

We begin in Ukraine. Separatists in a major hot spot are already hailing the results of Sunday's referendum, saying preliminary results so self-rule won in a landslide. In the meantime, a different eastern Ukrainian city may hold yet another referendum, this time on whether or not tour join Russia. The U.S. and the government in Kiev condemned those votes.

Firefighters in Texas say they have a wildfire there 75 percent contained. That fire started Sunday, not clear how. It has already destroyed about 100 homes and has forced evacuations of hundreds of homes. Fifty mile-an-hour wind gusts whipped that blaze into a frenzy. Firefighters finally got a break when a cold front moved in and brought some moisture with it.

There it is, of course, the Washington Monument. It is set to reopen today for the first time in nearly three years. You'll recall the landmark was shut after a 5.82 magnitude earthquake caused several cracks in the stone. It cost about $15 million to repair. I'd say it's well worth it. After a formal ceremony, visitors will once again be able to take in Washington from 555 feet in the air. What a view.

CUOMO: Good to have it back.

PEREIRA: It is. I was there a few weeks ago and I wish I could have --

CUOMO: Climbed to the top and helped finish off the scaffolding?

PEREIRA: Exactly. I'm handy.


CUOMO: All right, so we have a troubling question, another mystery in the air, this question is what caused a hot air balloon to slam into power lines. You're looking at a picture of what actually happened. It burst into flames, crashed at a Virginia festival, killing the pilot and two passengers.

Alexandra Field is here with the story.


A lot of witnesses actually saw that balloon burning, but it still took the search party two days to find all three victims in a heavily wooded area just north of Richmond, Virginia. Now, investigators will comb that same area trying to find pieces of the balloon that could help them understand what happened here.


FIELD (voice-over): Hours before the ill-fated flight at a hot air balloon festival in Dosswell, Virginia, one of the victims documented her apparent excitement with a series of Instagram pictures, on of them with the eerie caption, "We'll go up this evening. #anxiety."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got a report that the basket has come off, so we're trying to find that right now.

FIELD: The NTSB is now investigating a crash that kill three people, one month after the agency issued a letter to the FAA urging greater safety regulations meant to, quote, "address operational deficiencies in commercial, sight-seeing balloon operations".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the investigation, we will examine the man, the machine, and the environment.

FIELD: The balloon hit a power line Friday night as it came in for landing catching fire. Then a small explosion separated the basket from the balloon. Witnesses saw two people jump or fall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could hear them screaming, "Please, dear God, sweet Jesus, help us, we're going to die."

FIELD: Daniel Kirk, the pilot seen here in a recent video had 30 years of flying appearance, according to his father.

DONALD KIRK, PILOT'S FATHER: I had flown with him a lot, and he was a very safe pilot.

FIELD: A police spokesperson said the pilot was seen doing safety maneuvers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was taking every effort he could to manage the situation and extinguish the fire.

FIELD: His passengers, Ginny Doyle, a 44-year-old basketball coach at the University Richmond and Natalie Lewis, her 24-year-old co-worker, both were alumni of the university, which honored them Sunday with a moment of silence during a commencement ceremony.


FEILD (on-camera): We reached out to a spokesperson involved with the balloon festival who says that the FAA had inspectors on sight doing checks before any those balloons went up in the air. A spokesperson for the FAA wouldn't speak about the details about of case but said that inspectors routinely visit these air balloon shows. We should know next week when the NTSB comes out with its preliminary report.


PEREIRA: Horrific, horrific accident. And so sorry that those lives were lost. Thanks for that report.

We want to talk about severe weather that cranked out tornadoes in Kansas and Nebraska and Missouri over the weekend. They actually can pose more threats today. Hundreds of folks are having to clean up the damage to their homes, their farms and businesses. Thankfully, no deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

Let's get straight over to Indra to look at this forecast because they're not really out of the woods yet, are they, Indra?

INDRA PETERESONS, METEOROLOGIST: No, it's incredible. We're still talking about severe weather, but it is that time of year.

Let's talk about what happened, very easy to see when you look at the satellite from the weekend . We have this low that was so cold that it actually brought snow, and it's still snowing in towards Colorado. But you can see once that made its way through the middle of the country, look at those storms. It literally blew up as we got into yesterday afternoon.

Unfortunately, this is still the concern today. We're still talking about the threat for severe weather, from Detroit, stretching back through Minneapolis and then all the way down to the south, all the way to San Antonio.

What are looking at? Still, severe thunderstorms, even the potential of tornadoes will be out there again today.

Otherwise, the other side of this, just some scattered showers out going to be out there the next several days as the system kind of progresses to the east. Not really a big deal, maybe several inches, maybe down around the Gulf where you have that moisture. You'll see the heavier amounts. Otherwise, we're really just going to be looking at that temperature drop.

Remember, we talked about that cold air. It's snowing, yes, snowing, in Colorado. So as you go throughout the day, in the middle of the country, you're going to be talking about the temperatures actually going down throughout the day.

Everywhere else, let's take a look at the east coast. Look at the temperature change. Boston, you're going from 82 today, tomorrow, down to 52, guys. Meanwhile, towards D.C., you're going back up to 91. It's about 20 degrees above normal. So the story is, it is just literally all over the place. Some people warming. Some people colding. Some people raining. Some people dry. That's how it is. That's the weather.

BOLDUAN: Snowing in Colorado? That will be welcome, at long as it's in the mountains.

PETERSONS: That's insane.

CUOMO: More proof of why wherever you go, everybody talks about the weather. It's the first topic of conversation.

PETERSONS: Especially with me.

CUOMO: Yes, and it's all because of you, by the way. Coming up on NEW DAY, Donald Sterling says he cannot believe what he said. Listen for yourself and decide if the apology cuts it.

And what he has to say about Magic Johnson will make your eyebrows pop.

BOLDUAN: And coming up on Inside Politics we'll hear the surprising thing Vice President Joe Biden said behind closed doors about former President Bill Clinton.