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EARLY START

Donald Sterling Speaking Out; Prisoner Swap for Abducted Girls; Ukrainian Referendum Reaction; Clay Aiken Wins, Challenger Dies

Aired May 13, 2014 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Sterling on the record and on the attack, defending the racist remarks that got him banned from the NBA, trash talking Magic Johnson, and explaining what he thinks is wrong with the black community.

A shocking CNN exclusive interview with the L.A. Clippers owner, ahead.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: An intense manhunt to find the terrorists who kidnapped hundreds of girls from their school. What the U.S. is now doing to bring those girls home.

We are live in Nigeria with what's happening right now.

BLACKWELL: Crisis in Ukraine this morning. The country could be ready to split into pieces. Eastern provinces requesting to join Russia, but is that really what the people want?

We're live.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Good to have you this morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.

FEYERICK: And I'm Deborah Feyerick. It is now 30 minutes past the hour.

Well, he admits that he embarrassed the league, but it's Donald Sterling's continued comments about race, and in particular Magic Johnson, raising more eyebrows this morning.

In an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, Sterling says that he's sorry for what he said about his personal assistant, V. Stiviano, being seen with black people, but he insists that he's not racist, that his team loves him.

As for Magic Johnson, well, we're going to let you hear from Sterling exactly what he thinks of the NBA legend in his own words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD STERLING, LOS ANGELES 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 ANCHOR, AC 360: 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 --

(CROSSTALK)

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

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

STERLING: I believe it 100 percent. I believe it 100 -- 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 businessperson, he --

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 he has HIV. He doesn't actually have full- blown AIDS, but --

STERLING: Well, what kind of guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl and then he catches HIV, and -- is that someone 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: And the sponsors that he claims who love him have actually left him. Well, among those reacting to this interview, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. He put out a statement overnight, writing, "I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling's interview with Anderson Cooper. While Magic Johnson doesn't need me 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 is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible."

Magic Johnson's reaction came on Twitter, where he wrote, "I'd rather be talking about these great NBA playoffs than about Donald Sterling's interview."

Johnson will be sitting down with our Anderson Cooper tonight. He's going to speak about those comments and everything that's been said about him. That is going to be an exclusive interview tonight on "AC 360," 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: And now to the search for hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted from their school and held captive for nearly a month now. This morning, manned U.S. planes are flying over Nigeria, hoping to spot something, anything that could lead them to these girls. That comes after Boko Haram is believed to have put out this video, showing about 100 of the girls.

The terror group is now pledging the girls will not be set free until imprisoned terrorists are also released.

Vladimir Duthiers is live in Abuja, Nigeria.

Vladimir, what's the level of -- let's say the degree of confidence that the girls in this video are, indeed, the girls who were abducted?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, the United States says it has no reason to doubt that this video is legit, although we, CNN, have not been able to verify its authenticity. You have to think that for the parents who have been desperately waiting for some proof of life, some indication that their daughters are at least alive and well, and perhaps some of them not dispersed the way intelligence reports have suggested, this is something that they've been welcoming.

But as we've been talking all along, Victor, they're not very confident in the Nigerian government's ability to bring these girls home, which is why the help that the United States and other international partners have offered, including surveillance, including intelligence-gathering, even hostage negotiation tactics, should it come to that. And in that video with Abubakar Shekau, he does seem to make an offer to the government that he'd be willing to release some of these girls if they release his Boko Haram brothers in Nigerian prisons -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Vlad, this weekend on the weekend show, I had a conversation with CNN analyst Bob Baer, and he says his experience with the CIA tells him that this will not be a rescue of these girls. That would only leave, I guess, this negotiating that the leader of Boko Haram suggests.

Do we know if Nigeria is considering that, and do they believe that a rescue of more than 200 girls is possible?

DUTHIERS: Great question, Victor. Look, when we asked the Nigerian government yesterday for the response to what this man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau said, the minister told me that all options are being considered, all options are on the table to try and bring these girls home.

Yes, I think a rescue operation would be very, very difficult and challenging. The area where these girls are supposedly being held, if it's not Cameroon, Chad or Niger, is this area called the Sambisa Forest, very dense, very remote, a Boko Haram stronghold.

As you know, Victor, any time you mount a military operation on an offensive -- mount an offensive operation against a strongly held defensive position, it's very difficult. In addition to that, you're talking about hostages. And so once the terrorists feel as if they're under threat, they feel that there's an attack coming, they may execute those hostages and try to escape.

So negotiation is something that may be the only option at this point going forward, given that it's been almost a month since these girls have gone missing -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: If those teams find one of those small groups of two or three, that puts the safety of the 200-plus in jeopardy.

Vlad Duthiers in Abuja for us. Thank you -- Vlad.

FEYERICK: And the question this morning in Ukraine is, well, what is next now that voters in two eastern provinces have approved a referendum calling for independence and an annexation with Russia? That vote is being called into question by the west and Ukraine's own government, some calling it illegitimate.

Ukraine's interim prime minister is in Brussels today holding talks with European officials as a new poll conducted for CNN finds that most Ukrainians, even those in the east, do not want to become part of a different nation.

Atika Shubert is live in Donetsk, Ukraine.

And Atika, what's interesting about this is that Russia has not said that they will consider annexing these two provinces. They've already annexed Crimea. All they really want is a new constitution that gives these pro-Russians greater policy-making decisions.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a stark contrast to what happened in Crimea. It was very smooth, very quick. Within a week Crimea voted for independence and then was part of Russia. That's not the case here. In fact, the Kremlin has been putting out the message that Luhansk and Donetsk should sit down with Kiev and figure a solution out. Whatever it is, more autonomy, but something that resolves the situation.

But as far as the Donetsk People's Republic is concerned, they're not going to sit down at the negotiating table. They have said very clearly that they want to be part of Russia. And all they've gotten is silence in response -- Deborah.

FEYERICK: Look, Crimea is very strategic. It's an opening to the Black Sea. It's where exports are being passed out. Is it simply that for Russia, it would be too much of a burden to annex these other areas because of the economic importance or lack thereof?

SHUBERT: I do think it is part -- that's part of the reason. It would be a tremendous burden to take on both Donetsk and Luhansk. It would be -- take a toll on the economy, for sure, but perhaps even more complicated is really who's in control here.

Remember, Vladimir Putin just days before the referendum actually personally asked that the referendum be postponed, but the Donetsk People's Republic said, no, we're not going to postpone it, we're going to go ahead. So it calls into question who's really in control of the streets here.

We've seen the regional administration is surrounded by barbed wire and barricades. There is men with toting guns, wearing Balaclavas, and it just seems to be sort of lawlessness with nobody sure who's giving orders or who's actually taking those orders. So, right now, the problem may simply be who's in control.

FEYERICK: Yes, which obviously raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the vote.

Atika Shubert for us there in Ukraine. Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: Happening now, severe spring storms barreling through the country. Millions in its path this morning.

Indra Petersons is tracking what you can expect today. That's after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: This morning, get ready for more potentially dangerous weather. Heavy rain, possible flooding expected from Texas all the way north to the great lakes after days of intense storms caused major damage.

BLACKWELL: Let's look at Wisconsin. It was heavy rain and winds that were responsible for this in Watertown. Look, you can see the crack here. Part of the building was torn off. Crews had no choice but to demolish it as a result. And trees were toppled throughout that state.

FEYERICK: And in Joliet, Illinois, that was a motel, but now, well, just a shell of a motel. It's got no roof. Strong winds simply ripped it away, the damage so severe that the building had to be taken down.

BLACKWELL: Same story in Iowa where winds pushed trees into cars. Look at this one in the town of Panora, not far from Des Moines. The roof also came right off a home there, too.

FEYERICK: Bet he wishes he had parked someplace else.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Not quite the movie "Twister," but, well, that's what happens when you're told to stay off the roads and you don't during a tornado. A piece of farm equipment smashing into this car full of storm chasers in Nebraska. No one was hurt, thankfully, but the man behind the wheel says it's the closest call he's had in 16 years.

BLACKWELL: Wow.

FEYERICK: Chasing storms.

BLACKWELL: Police in northeast Ohio are urging people to stay at home. Severe thunderstorms caused this flash flooding near Cleveland, and part of Interstate 480 had to be shut down, one of many roads overwhelmed with the water there.

FEYERICK: And Colorado, not rain. Nope. See that white stuff? Snow, fouling up the roads. Some areas got up to 29 inches of accumulation, more than two feet. The snow, now it's tapered off.

BLACKWELL: Post Mother's Day, and you've got two feet of snow, Indra Petersons.

(LAUGHTER)

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: What month is it, seriously?

BLACKWELL: Come on.

PETERSONS: Should I be answering this question right now?

BLACKWELL: If any of us, you should be answering it.

(LAUGHTER)

PETERSONS: I should be, right? Well, let's take a look at what's going on across the country. That is such a rare cold system, so late in the season. I love this map. It's actually a map of the last 24 hours, the satellite picture, so we know it's warm and humid around the gulf, right? Then you have this cold air that brought that snow, and look what happens when the system went to the east. It literally blew up.

You can see those thunderstorms that were building yesterday and the reason we had all of that severe weather. Here's the problem, it is so slow moving. That's what it looked like the last 24 hours. Look where the same system is. It is still right here, guys. This is the problem. We're talking about more heavy rain in the same place. So with that, that flooding concern is still going to be high out there again today.

There goes the system. Let's watch it take its time as it progresses off to the east over the next several days. As it does so, a low plumes pulls even more moisture in and even the threat for severe weather will be out there tomorrow, threading closer toward that mid- Atlantic.

What are we looking at? Heavy amounts of rain especially around the gulf, around Texas, about two to four inches and eventually got two to five inches in towards the Mid-Atlantic by the time it makes its way over there.

The other side of this is the temperatures. Notice where it's cold, notice where it's warm. But look at this, look at the northeast, suddenly the temperatures are going down. What is going on with the backdoor cold front making its way in and so with that 30-degree temperature drop for Boston today, even New York City down from 85 to 69. May actually feel better in New York City, 85. I'm not going to complain, because I'm OK with the heat, but 85 was a little hot.

(LAUGHTER)

FEYERICK: A teeny bit hot. I'm now complaining about the humidity.

PETERSONS: That's not complaining, right?

FEYERICK: What's wrong?

BLACKWELL: It's all better than snow. All better than snow.

PETERSONS: It does.

FEYERICK: I kind of like the snow. But anyway, all right, well, let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Kate Bolduan joins us now.

Hey, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: Good morning, guys. We're going to have more o that CNN exclusive interview, pretty shocking interview with Donald Sterling. The Clippers owner tries to apologize in his interview with Anderson Cooper for making racist remarks, but that seems to be completely overshadowed when he blasts NBA legend Magic Johnson, saying that kids should not look up to him, among other things. You'll want to hear it for yourself and of course then judge for yourself.

We're also going to be talking to one of Magic's friends and former teammate to get his take and allow him to respond.

And the U.S. is now directly involved in the search for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, they are flying surveillance planes over the country looking for any sign of the girls or their captors, quite frankly. Does the new video give rescuers any clues, or really, the clues that they need to try to finally find these girls after a month?

A military expert will be joining us to break it down. What they can gather from that video and what more they need.

FEYERICK: Yes, so many countries just offering their help, really a show of support for these young girls.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

FEYERICK: Kate, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. FEYERICK: Of course. See you in a little bit.

BOLDUAN: OK.

FEYERICK: Well, an "American Idol" one step closer to becoming a congressman. His opponent in a nail-bitingly tight primary election died unexpectedly. We're breaking down what comes next for Clay Aiken in this bizarre political tale, live after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: This morning, Clay Aiken has put his congressional campaign on hold after the death of Keith Crisco, a North Carolina businessman who was battling Aiken for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District. This morning, the race remains too close to call. Aiken leading by just 369 votes.

Here to talk about the race and what this all means is CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser.

And Paul, you would think that now, Clay Aiken is the de facto winner, that he's the Democratic nominee.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Deb, Victor, it sure appears this way. You know, it's ironic that as early as today, election officials down there in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, they could have put out this final vote tally after -- one week after the election. They were doing a final count. They were looking at the absentee ballots.

As you mentioned, Crisco was waiting to see those final results before deciding whether he was going to ask for a recount. That's all very moot now. There is a third candidate in the race as well. And she trailed far behind Aiken and Crisco.

Clay Aiken, as you mentioned, he put out a statement last night, and said this, "I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco's death. He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and extraordinary public servant. I am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends."

Now the State Board of Elections, they also put out some condolences as well, but they didn't say specifically how this would affect the race. But yes, it seems pretty obvious now that Aiken will advance and now face off in November against the Republican -- guys.

BLACKWELL: So what are his chances, Paul? I mean, this is a Republican stronghold, and he's going up against an incumbent.

STEINHAUSER: He is going up against an incumbent, her name is Renee Ellmers. She was elected in 2010 in that Tea Party wave. This is her second term. She's going for a third term right now. She won the district, she took 56 percent of the vote in 2012. And Mitt Romney also won the district, winning 58 percent of the vote back in 2012. That's better than he did statewide. I talked to a senior House Republican campaign aide, and very, very -- you know, very honest with me saying, listen, this will be a tough race. It's not out of the realm of possibility, but it's going to be a tough race, for sure.

The district is located in the central part of the state. This is known as North Carolina's Piedmont. Again, a difficult race ahead for Clay Aiken -- guys.

FEYERICK: All right. And certainly one to watch, though, kind of interesting.

BLACKWELL: Yes.

FEYERICK: "American Idol" to the halls of Congress. All right. We'll see.

BLACKWELL: Potentially.

FEYERICK: Potentially, possibly, maybe, allegedly.

New information this morning after a gun fight ends with a deadly explosion broadcast live on television. What led up to this tragedy? That's coming up. You're going to want to stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: It appears the weather is helping fire crews knock down a huge wildfire north of Amarillo. The fire is now about 65 percent contained but only after it burned through some 2500 acres and destroyed at least 90 homes. Some 400 people remain out of their homes, have been evacuated because of downed power lines. Authorities say a cold front and higher humidity are now helping with this fight against those flames.

BLACKWELL: Cross examination is set to begin today for accused terrorist Abu Hamza al Masri. The fiery Egyptian-born cleric testifying in his own defense for a third day at his trial in New York, steadfastly denied he aided terrorists. Al Masri also took shots at al Qaeda and the Taliban. He said they have let down the Afghan people, and he called Osama bin Laden a hot head.

He's accused of inspiring terrorists, aiding kidnappers and trying to set up a terror training camp in Oregon. Al Masri has pleaded not guilty.

FEYERICK: "NEW DAY" starts with our friends, Kate, Chris and Don, right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: Big Magic Johnson, what has he done? He's got AIDS.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN exclusive. You have to hear it to believe it. Donald Sterling digging in deeper as he takes on several controversial topics and then bashes Magic Johnson for having HIV and for failing his own community. Did he dig his own grave with the lead?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a massive explosion at a home in New Hampshire just moments after a deadly shoot-out with police. One officer is dead and police are now trying to piece together what happened.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Caught on tape, the video everyone is talking about. Beyonce's sister allegedly attacking her husband, Jay-Z. The music stars and their images have been untouchable. So just how did this get out?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, May 13th, 6:00 in the East. Now, if Donald Sterling was looking for a second chance from the NBA, he probably saw it vanish last night. In his exclusive sit-down with CNN, Sterling arguably makes things worse and goes off on NBA legend Magic Johnson.

You'll recall, it was a photo of Johnson that sparked Sterling's first racist rant.

BOLDUAN: Now Sterling is going after Johnson for having HIV and accuses him of not doing enough to help the black community. Take a listen for yourself.