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Donald Sterling on the Attack; Terror in Nigeria: Search Intensifies; Ukraine in Crisis

Aired May 13, 2014 - 04:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Apologetic, yes, but also on the attack. Donald Sterling lashes out at Magic Johnson, as the L.A. Clippers owner tries to explain the racist remarks that got him banned from the NBA. And instead he launches a tirade on why kids should not look up to Johnson. The CNN exclusive, ahead.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now, the search intensifying for hundreds of Nigerian girls kidnapped from their school by armed militants. U.S. investigators flying manned missions over the country, hoping to track down the terrorists. We're live with what's happening right now.

BLACKWELL: Is Ukraine on the brink of breaking into pieces? Eastern Ukraine, the provinces there have reportedly voted for independence. Some want to join Russia, but is that what the majority of the people really want? We're live on the ground with the very latest there.

Good morning. Good to have you with us. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Victor Blackwell.

FEYERICK: And I'm Deborah Feyerick. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East.

We begin with Donald Sterling and his shocking comments he made to Anderson Cooper. In an exclusive interview, Sterling is apologizing for the racially charged remarks that he got him banned for life in the NBA. But he's also blasting basketball legend Magic Johnson, the very person he was talking about when he told V. Stiviano she shouldn't be seen with black people.

Take a listen to part of what Sterling said.


DONALD STERLING, CLIPPERS OWNER: I embarrassed the league. I humiliated them. I don't know how -- why I did it. I mean, it's so terrible. And --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": So, you don't believe, though, that the owners would vote to have you removed as owner?

STERLING: I don't think so. The players don't hate me. The sponsors don't hate me.

COOPER: You don't believe the players --

STERLING: The fans don't hate me. The media hates. It's the media. It's all the media pushing it.

COOPER: Honestly, you really believe that this is just the media?

STERLING: I believe it 100 percent. I believe it 100 percent. People call me by the thousands and give me support.

COOPER: Magic Johnson, you know, has made a public comment. Do you have something to say to him?

STERLING: What can I say to him? He -- it doesn't matter. Here is a man who -- I don't know if I say this. He acts so holy.

I mean, he made love to every girl in every city in America and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him. I hoped he could live and be well. I didn't criticize him. I could have.

Is he an example for children? What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

COOPER: Well, he's a business person, he's --

STERLING: He's got AIDS. Did he do any business? I'd like -- did he help anybody in south L.A.?

COOPER: Well, I think it's HIV. He doesn't actually have full-blown AIDS.

STERLING: Well, what guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, and then catches HIV? Is that somebody we want to respect and tell our kids about?

I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything.


FEYERICK: Well, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reacting to the interview overnight, in a statement writing, "I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling's interview with Anderson Cooper, and while Magic Johnson doesn't need to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack."

"The NBA board of governors," he continues, "is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible."

Magic Johnson tweeted overnight that he would rather be talking about the NBA playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview, but we will hear Magic Johnson in his own words tonight on "AC360" tonight, sitting down with Anderson Cooper for an exclusive interview. That is tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, here on CNN. BLACKWELL: Let's go to Nigeria now, where this morning, U.S. planes are helping in hunt for more than 200 girls abducted by terrorists. The U.S. is searching from the sky and sharing satellite images, of course, in hopes of figuring out just where the girls are being hidden and whether these girls in this video are the girls who have been abducted, purportedly. This video is put out by Boko Haram, which is promising it will not release them unless prisoners from that terror group are also set free.

Vladimir Duthiers is live in Abuja, Nigeria, and joins us on the phone.

Vlad, are searchers any closer to finding the girls? Are they even sharing that information?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hey, Victor. Well, a couple of things. If this video is legit, it's going to be the first time that these parents have had some sign of life, some sign of hope as they desperately wait for any news of their missing children.

A couple of interesting things. We chased down the Nigerian government when we saw this video. We wanted to get their response. A couple of blockbuster moments that came out of a press conference we attended.

First of all, the director of the state security service telling us that the man in that video with those girls -- he doesn't appear with the girls, but he is in that video -- she said that is not Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram. She tells us that man was killed. When we pressed her for details at how he died, or the circumstances of his death, she refused to reveal that, she said because of national security reasons.

The other thing that was interesting is we talked to the military yesterday and they said in response to Abubakar on that tape saying he wants to trade each girls for members of Boko Haram in prison, they'd be willing to negotiate with them.

So, a couple interesting things. As far as the search going on, we know that they've shown us video of aerial searches they're doing, but quite frankly, victor, even the president admitted he doesn't know where these girls are the moment -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: So, yesterday, Vlad, New York Congressman Peter King told our Erin Burnett that if the president decided to send Special Forces to Nigeria to help in the search, that would be something he would not oppose.

Do we know that, although the Nigerian government has asked for assistance, that they will ask for those Special Forces?

DUTHIERS: That's a tough question. I think that the Nigerian government has welcomed the assistance of the international community, but putting boots on the ground would be a very, very difficult situation, not only for the United States, but also for the Nigerians. It would really prove to the world that they, as Hillary Clinton said, have been derelict in their responsibility to protect their people, their citizens, and to now call in military troops to conduct this search would really be an admittance of failure on their end, as they try to put themselves on to the world stage. They want to be members of the U.N. Security Council. They are the largest economy now, but it would really be a black eye for them, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Vladimir Duthiers reporting from the Nigerian capital of Abuja -- Vlad, thanks.

FEYERICK: And this morning, Ukraine's interim prime minister is in Brussels holding talks with European officials over what's next now that separatists say two provinces have voted to leave Ukraine and annex their region with Russia. But it comes as a new poll conducted for CNN finds that most Ukrainians feel more loyal to Europe than they do Russia and actually approve of sanctions against Vladimir Putin's allies.

Atika Shubert is live in Donetsk, Ukraine, right now.

And, Atika, you think about this, the U.S., NATO, European Union have all condemned this referendum as illegitimate. What is the mood of the people there?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that doesn't matter to the Donetsk People's Republic, the pro-Russian group that's taken over the regional administration here. They, frankly, don't care what the rest of the world thinks. They're looking to Moscow for answers. And we saw that yesterday when the official referendum results came in. Just within hours, they had officially declared independence from Ukraine and appealed to Russia to become part of the Russian Federation.

But perhaps what's most revealing about this is the fact that Moscow hasn't answered their appeal yet. There's been deafening silence from the Kremlin. So, it's not clear exactly what's going to happen next, Deborah.

FEYERICK: Atika, Russia annexed Crimea. Now, they're saying, look, we're not interested in other parts, we don't want Donetsk. Is this -- they want a Constitution with more policy-making decision for these sort of pro-Russian regions. Is that a possibility? It's still a united country, allegedly.

SHUBERT: Well, from Kiev's view, it's still a united country, and this is why they want to have a general election that sorts out these issues. And as far as Kiev's concerned, that's the only way to resolve this crisis.

But the pro-Russian groups who are in control of the government buildings here now say that's not the case, and they feel that they are independent. And here's the problem, Kiev cannot seem to gain control, full control over Eastern Ukraine.

Now, Russia, it has got obviously a pivotal role in this and has indicated that the eastern region needs to sit down with Kiev and come to some sort of solution, but there's been no indication so far that anybody is willing to sit down at the negotiating table. Instead, you've got is masked men in balaclavas sitting at checkpoints all up and down this region.

FEYERICK: Yes, a lot of -- a lot of armed people in that area.

All right. Atika Shubert, thanks so much. We're going to be checking in with you a little later on.

BLACKWELL: Happening today, international officials are scheduled to vote on setting a new standard for tracking flights using satellites and other methods to keep a closer eye on jets. Now, this, of course, is happening in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Officials from around the world are expected to endorse the move but stopped short of requiring those changes.

FEYERICK: And this morning there's word yet another V.A. hospital is being investigated for possible improper scheduling practices. Two employees at the Durham, North Carolina, V.A. hospital have now been put on leave, making it the fourth V.A. facility facing allegations that lists were manipulated to make it seem like veterans weren't waiting months for appointments.

V.A. policy states no vet is supposed to wait more than 14 days to see a doctor or other medical professional.

BLACKWELL: The NSA is allegedly I installing spyware on back doors of servers and hard wears, then repacking the equipment before it's shipped overseas in order to conduct international surveillance on international networks and users. That claim is coming from documents provided by Edward Snowden to journalist Glenn Greenwald. The NSA admits using U.S.-made hardware to protect American interests but will not comment specifically on these accusations.

FEYERICK: Political bickering is preventing a Senate vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. A bipartisan energy bill was voted down by senators, meaning that the pipeline project is likely to not get further consideration until after midterm elections in November. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised a separate vote on Keystone if an unrelated energy efficiency bill supported by both parties passed. Well, it didn't. It failed over Republican attempts to add on amendments.

BLACKWELL: Clay Aiken is suspending all campaign activities after the sudden death of his opponent in a North Carolina congressional race. Did you hear about this? Authorities say 71-year-old Keith Crisco died Monday at his home. The Democratic primary race in North Carolina's 2nd congressional district had been too close to call with Aiken ahead by just 369 votes.

Well, after the results are certified today, it's expected the state Democratic Party will choose Aiken as its official nominee.

FEYERICK: Severe storms tearing through the middle of the country, tornadoes, flooding and even snow. We're tracking what you can expect for today, coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: The weather today could be dangerous and stormy for millions. Heavy rain expected from Texas to the Great Lakes after days of intense severe storms.

BLACKWELL: And look at this. Look at these pictures. These are from Wisconsin. Heavy rains, winds, just knocked over the trees here, even taking off parts of buildings. This one in Watertown had to be demolished because of the storm damage.

FEYERICK: Much of the same story in Illinois, this where strong winds took the roof off this motel in Joliet. Officials say it's not salvageable, so crews now will have to tear that building down.

BLACKWELL: Same story in Iowa. Strong winds dropping a tree right on this car and pulling a roof right off a home in the town of Panora, about 40 miles west of Des Moines.





FEYERICK: OK, that is probably why they say you should not be out driving during a possible tornado. Storm chasers got hit by a piece of farm equipment on a Nebraska road while they were out tracking a twister. No one was hurt, but the man behind the wheel says it is the closest call he's had in 16 years chasing storms.

BLACKWELL: Severe thunderstorms to blame for flash flooding near Cleveland. Look here, the roads overtaken by water. Parts of a major interstate had to be shut down for hours. Police are urging people to stay at home.

FEYERICK: While the calendar says May, some parts of Colorado are digging out from several feet of snow. Skiing, everybody. Upwards of 29 inches fell in the north-central part of the state.

BLACKWELL: That's the bright side of it, skiing.

FEYERICK: Exactly, one more run.

BLACKWELL: But snow in May?

Let's look at what we can expect today. Jennifer Gray is keeping an eye on the forecast.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Deborah and Victor, we're going to see the focus move more towards the Mississippi River Valley. We've had a lot of severe weather in the plains. Now, we'll see spotty showers and storms move a little farther to the East. We'll even see some scattered activity on the East Coast, still a very high fire threat in the southwest, southern California. We are going to see high pressure stay in control in the Pacific Northwest.

Huge contrast in temperatures, though, 82 degrees in Memphis, 87 in Atlanta, 91 degrees in D.C., staying warm in Los Angeles, but it is only going to get warmer as we go forward in time.

The fire threat will remain very high again tomorrow with very hot temperatures. We'll also see severe storms start to pick back up again right around the Mississippi River Valley, anywhere from Mississippi, Alabama, all the way up to Kentucky with scattered showers across the eastern seaboard.

Look at the temperatures, though, tomorrow in L.A. as we go through tomorrow afternoon, 94 degrees. That fire threat will remain very high. We'll see temperatures a little cooler across the country's midsection, and then warm in the Southeast, 86 degrees in Atlanta -- Victor and Deborah.

FEYERICK: Thanks, Jennifer.

And this morning, fire crews north of Amarillo are battling a huge blast that's now destroyed more than 90 homes. Efforts to contain it are moving slowly. It's up to 65 percent, but there are cautions that the flames could shift again.

Right now, more than 400 people remain evacuated, but a cold front is raising humidity, and it is hoped containment may grow today.

BLACKWELL: Turn and look at your screen.

Here's the story: authorities in New Hampshire investigating the shooting death of a police officer after he responded to a domestic dispute at a home that caught fire and then -- look, exploded. The Brentwood, New Hampshire, officer is identified as Steven Arkell. Police say the suspected shooter is Michael Nolan, the son of the homeowner. It's believed he died in that fire.

That video, unbelievable.

FEYERICK: Dramatic.

And Porsche is now being sued over the crash that left actor Paul Walker dead. The widow of driver Roger Rodas says the 2004 Porsche Carrera GT lacked some safety features that would have saved both men's lives. Christine Rodas also says her husband was driving 55, not the 90 miles per hour that investigators say. She's seeking unspecified damages.

BLACKWELL: It's all over social media, an alleged family feud going viral this morning after the release of a surveillance video reportedly showing rapper Jay-Z being attacked by Beyonce's sister, Solange. CNN cannot independently confirm the video, but according to TMZ, it happened in an elevator at New York standard hotel and a woman who resembled Beyonce is just standing there as the conflict lasts for more than three minutes.

The hotel says they are investigating the leak of the video. And last night, the first couple of pop, they were picture perfect, once again taking in a Nets game.

FEYERICK: A new twist in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. The Olympic hero now claiming an anxiety disorder led him to shoot and kill his model girlfriend. Was he so terrified of intruders that he shot through a closed bathroom door fearing an intruder, or was it outright murder? We are live in South Africa with what's happening right now.


FEYERICK: More drama this morning at the Oscar Pistorius trial after the defense put a psychiatrist on the stand, a psychiatrist who said the Olympic sprinter suffered from an anxiety disorder, and she testified that those who have the condition could be a danger to society. Now, the prosecution is asking a judge to send Pistorius for psychiatric evaluation as the trial over his shooting and killing his girlfriend nears its conclusion.

CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps is live at the courthouse in Pretoria.

So, Kelly, this is so unusual. Are prosecutors trying to subvert the defense plan to say, look, he suffers from post-traumatic stress because of the amputations of his legs? The prosecutors seem to really go at this, saying fine, you think he's insane? Let's figure it out.

It was an interesting move.

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's really completely unprecedented here to have a state prosecutor trying to force the court to consider a defense, and in this case, it's the defense of incapacity or insanity, that the accused himself is not choosing to rely on, and in fact, does not want to rely on.

It is quite an unforeseen turn of events, and it could completely subvert the rest of the trial and the path that the trial takes.

FEYERICK: It's interesting, because this could also buy the prosecutors almost a month of extra time, if Pistorius has to undergo this psychiatric evaluation.

Is the prosecution trying to say, look, this was not culpable homicide, this was not intentional by Oscar Pistorius, this was, in fact, outright murder?

PHELPS: Well, what's particularly interesting about the prosecution's attempt to get insanity or incapacity considered is that, in fact, it would actually contradict their premeditated murder case. Because in order for the insanity defense to be accepted by the court, that would be based on the assumption that Pistorius' version of events is actually correct.

So, in a sense, the prosecutions are playing a number of cards here. They're saying, well, our first choice is premeditated murder and intention, but if you disagree with that, then we're trying a new option, the new route, which is the insanity defense, because at least with insanity, they could result in having Pistorius detained involuntarily in a mental institution for as long as it takes for that disorder to be cured, which could be for the rest of his life, potentially.

FEYERICK: And this is not about Oscar Pistorius being sort of a danger to himself, correct? They're going all the way back to when he was a baby and had his legs amputated, to determine whether he does suffer from this sort of fight-or-flight instinct.

PHELPS: Absolutely, and that is actually both very important and very helpful evidence for the court in considering the verdict in this case, because essentially, Pistorius' defense rests on his version of what he was thinking, what was happening in his mind at the time, and it's this sort of surrounding evidence, collateral evidence, that a judge can use in order to subject that version to scrutiny and to decide whether she thinks it's likely that that is, in fact, what was in his mind at the time on that night in question.

FEYERICK: All right. Kelly Phelps for us there in South Africa -- thank you so much. We'll be checking in with you later on.

BLACKWELL: Donald Sterling in his own words about his lifetime ban from the NBA, a possibility he'll be forced to sell his team, and why Magic Johnson is a bad role model.

You know, we use the word "shocking" in -- right, some people are saying we use the word "shocking" in television a lot.

FEYERICK: Oh, man!

BLACKWELL: But the comments last night truly were pretty shocking. We have them for you next.

FEYERICK: A touch delusional, perhaps.