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Primary Day In Six States; Planes Nearly Collide At Newark Airport; U.S. Ready To Evacuate Embassy In Tripoli; China Fires Back Over Spying

Aired May 20, 2014 - 06:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Firing back. China rips into U.S. allegations that their military officers were spying on American companies. This morning they're summoning the U.S. ambassador and warning that this could threaten U.S./China relations.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, May 20th, 6:00 in the east. Can you smell that? That is election season in the air. This morning we're watching primaries in six states. Could dethrone key players in Congress.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This features a Tea Party challenger battling the establishment Republican from the right. Including a challenge in Kentucky to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. With more than a dozen Senate seats now seen is up for grabs, what happens today will say a whole lot about what the fall is going to look like.

Let's get over to CNN's national political reporter, Peter Hamby, who is live in Washington. So Peter, how important layout just how important today really is.

PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: The environment this year is very favorable to Republicans. They just need six seats to pick up the Senate and Democratic incumbents are playing defense in seven states that Mitt Romney won. So they should be able to take back the Senate this fall, but it's a big if because as we saw in the last two election cycles, 2010 and 2012, Tea Party and grass-roots conservatives did win out over establishment backed candidates.

And became the Republican nominees in a lot of states that Republicans should have won, but lost because they were seen as too outside the mainstream or alienating to women. So that's why today these primaries are very important, particularly Kentucky and Georgia. These are states that are Republican held but Republicans don't want to fumble the ball here. You mentioned Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to skate to a big win over his Tea Party primary challenger, Matt Bevin.

And in Georgia there were real fears among Republicans in Washington that Republicans would nominate Phil Gingrey or Paul Brown, two very conservative congressmen. But right now it looks like more business friendly establishment-backed candidates will probably win that nomination. The top two finishers in Georgia, Kate, today will move on to a nine-week runoff that's going to end in July.

Again, the candidates, the establishment didn't want are probably going to flame out down there. So this is a first big step we saw in North Carolina a few weeks ago, the establishment pick there won. So far so good if you're an establishment Republican.

CUOMO: All right, so there are a lot of moving parts here. But to be sure, the stakes are big, so let's bring in Paul Begala and Kevin Madden. Paul is a CNN commentator, senior adviser to the Democratic PAC "Priorities USA Action" and Kevin is a CNN political commentator and Republican strategist.

Gentlemen, it's good to have you. Kevin, I start with you. Perhaps not since the 1870s when political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, captured the enormity of the GOP vote in the image of an elephant have the stakes been as big for your party. Are you feeling it reverberate throughout the GOP that you must have must wins here?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. One of the things that many Republicans are excited about are that our grass roots activists are extremely animated about getting to the polls. So I think that's a good thing. We have had some contests within the party, but it seems that what we are seeing is a lot of our grass roots elements come together with a lot of the campaign infrastructure and the fundraising infrastructure to really produce good candidates that are going to help us in so many of these battleground states that are going to be critical to winning if the Republicans are going to take back the Senate in November.

CUOMO: You're going to lose the Senate, Paul. How does that feel?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN COMMENTATOR: Don't count your chickens, Cuomo, there, no. There are very impressive -- Democrats are hardly in array. Tough primary for Pennsylvania governor for the Democrats. But for the Senate seats, particularly the two we're watching today in Kentucky and in Georgia, Democrats are running really impressive wins and who are essentially unopposed.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the secretary of state in Kentucky is already neck and neck with the ultrapowerful, Mitch McConnell, who has won five straight Senate races in Kentucky. In Georgia, Sam Nunn's daughter, now her own candidate after today. She'll be the nominee of the Democrats for Senate, Michelle Nunn.

She is already leading the Republican parade on the other side. She's beating any of the Republican nominees in some of the polling that I've seen. Democrats are looking pretty good in these very red states of Georgia and Kentucky.

CUOMO: Do you think you keep the Senate? Yes/no.


CUOMO: You think you keep the Senate?

BEGALA: I do. CUOMO: You've been checking the money? I'm fascinated by how much money is being used outside the traditional campaign structure in PACs like the one Begala works for to attack these establishment candidates. Concerns about the money and concerns about wasting money for the 2016 attack.

MADDEN: Look, you know, I think this is a new landscape that we're in with fundraising. A lot more of these outside organizations are having an impact on how these races are run. But I think that one of the things I'm actually encouraged about is that a lot of these contests, again, are producing really good candidates.

They're making candidates put together their campaigns earlier and do a much better job of controlling the environment that they're going to be working in much sooner. We're getting a lot of better candidates. Buts this no doubt that many of these candidates, but that there's no doubt that many of these candidates recognize that there is also on the other side of the money equation.

Very well-funded outside organizations like Paul's and others that are getting ready to attack them all of the way through to November so they're arming up and making sure they've got their message out there and they're going to be able to compete on the air, on the ground, you name it, all of the way to November so we can be successful.

CUOMO: You listen to what Paul and Kevin say and they're going to give you an inside track, but you should track the money for yourself. It is amazing how much money is coming from politics these days and not from people like you, but from organizations. Kevin, let me ask you something. Are you worried that these challenges are pushing your mainstream or establishment or traditional candidates farther to the right than they might be may like?

MADDEN: No, that's a Democratic talking point, that it's one that's really not rooted in reality. One of the reasons that Republicans are doing so well right now is that a lot of the issues that people care about right now, of course, Obamacare is really important to a lot of these voters, but issues like whether or not the government is actually working efficiently. Some of the reforms we need in Washington relates to spending and taxes.

Republicans are winning those debates not only with their own base voters, but were winning independent voters right now. We won the big middle. We've won our base and we are actually having a lot of conservative Democrats who think that the Obama administration has gone too far with a lot of big government policies. They're actually taking a look at Republicans, too. That's one of the reasons why we're going to win in November.

CUOMO: Paul, you disagree?

BEGALA: I do. I think the Tea Party -- they will lose some battles. Probably lose today in Kentucky against Mitch McConnell, but they've won the war. The war is over. The Republican Party has become the Tea Party. Hostile takeover by the Tea Party forces. You don't see anyone anymore, Kevin, running, for example, on Mitt Romney's health care bill, which was the model for Obamacare.

You don't see any Republicans running on George W. Bush's immigration reform, which is now the president's plan, you don't see any Republicans running on John McCain's cap and trade plan to control carbon pollution. These used to be Republican ideas that President Obama is trying to enact, but it's now the Tea Party taking over the Republican Party and that's who is going to win irrespective of the name on the ballot. It's going to be the Tea Party.

CUOMO: We'll see how it plays out with the votes, in which proves come out and why, but one race to watch for an untraditional reason will be this Pennsylvania -- it's a governor's primary going on. I get it. It doesn't control the Senate, but it's a big accountability election. The governor is Corbett. He was borne out of the Penn State scandal that happened here.

And a lot of people feel, Begala, that he never went after the organization that the Coach Sandusky had been a part of, that you never went after the high school involved with the first kid who was brought forth as a victim. Do you think accountability as a theme may come out here that you may hear people talk about it?

BEGALA: I think you're right. That's a good point. I've worked on Pennsylvania governor races in the past. I don't have any activity in the current year. I don't believe an incumbent Pennsylvania governor has ever been defeated since they went to four-year terms. And yet Tom Corbett, the most vulnerable Republican governor in the country, across the board, people in Pennsylvania think he's gone too far.

The Democrats have an interesting primary today. I would look for Tom Wolf, a businessman, made a fortune selling kitchen cabinets. Honorable, we're proud of that. He's likely to run and I think he can bring for a Democrat a business perspective to that race against Corbett as a politician. I like that match up.

CUOMO: Accountability is going to be a big issue. Thank you for the insight, Gentlemen. Kevin, Paul, always a pleasure. Let's see how it turns out and discuss again tomorrow.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

We're learning more this morning about a truly frightening close call at Newark Liberty Airport last month. Federal investigators say two planes nearly collided when one was trying to land, the other was about to take off. You won't believe just how close they were to what surely would have been horrible and a disaster.

CNN's Rene Marsh is live with more details. What more are we learning and how they got so close, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I can tell you they were dangerously close and now the NTSB and the FAA are investigating who is to blame for this near collision. Close calls like this usually come down to either pilot or controller error.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he was real close, sir.

MARSH (voice-over): Audio revealing tense moments between the pilot and air traffic controllers when two commercial airliners nearly collide mid-air over Newark Airport last month.

UNIDENTIFIED CONTROLLER: Acey 4100. Traffic off your right, you have him in sight? Maintain visual.

MARSH: The controllers directing a United Airlines Boeing 737 to land just seconds before a smaller Express Jet was cleared for takeoff on an intersecting runway. The larger jet nearly on top of the plane when controllers tell it to circle the airport.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: OK. Yes. Nose down and he was real close.

MARSH: At its closest point, the aircraft going 50 yards away from each other. Only about half a football field.

ARTHUR ROSENBERG, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: That Express Jet should have been held in essentially the ready to go position until the 737 had cleared that cross runway and made a safe landing and then taken off. The clearance for the Express Jet to take off never should have been given.

MARSH: This is the second time in recent weeks United Airlines has been involved in a nearly catastrophic collision. In April, a Boeing 757 flying over the pacific nearly collided with another aircraft after climbing to the altitude controllers assigned them. The aircraft forced to plunge 600 feet in seconds.

KEVIN TOWNSEND, PASSENGER: I'm looking down the aisle, and there's, you know, hundreds of people in front of me, people start screaming. There's noises of things that weren't secured falling around.

MARSH: Where the error lies in these most recent near disasters still under investigation.


MARSH: All right, now, as it relates to the New Jersey case, there was no damage reported to either aircraft. And as far as the people on board, thank goodness no one injured. Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: That is a thank goodness indeed. Appreciate the reporting this morning.

So listen to this, the U.S. is doubling the number of aircraft standing by in Italy in case Americans need to be evacuated from the embassy in Libya. An evacuation order could come at any moment because of fierce fighting that is erupted across the country. Let's bring in Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with more. Good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. It will be a decision by State Department whether or not the embassy is evacuated. But if that order comes, the U.S. military, this time around, unlike Benghazi, will be nearby and ready to go. What we now know is just across the Mediterranean to the north in Italy a full military evacuation package is on standby.

About 250 Marines, eight V-22 aircraft, three additional aircraft for refueling along the way, all of this now on a two-hour string. That means if the order comes to evacuate, if the State Department makes that decision along with the White House, those Marines will be in the air within two hours of getting that order to fly to Libya and get the Americans out of the embassy.

This is a very different situation than a couple years ago when tragedy struck in Benghazi because there were no military forces nearby to be able to stage a rescue. This time, they are close, they are ready -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, we'll keep watching that situation there in Libya. Thank you so much, Barbara. We appreciate it.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines at this hour. Thailand is now under Marshall Law. The army made the declaration overnight insisting it is not a coup, but just a move to maintain peace. This after six months of sometimes violent anti-government protest. The Thai government says it was not told in advance and is now trying to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, in Washington, the State Department says it is closely monitoring that situation there in Thailand.

Major development in the search for answers to the mystery of Flight 370. Raw satellite data that missing passengers' families have been demanding for months may finally see the light of day. Until now, Inmarsat, the company whose satellites communicate with the missing plane in the last hour had declined to make it public. But Inmarsat and Malaysian authorities now say they are working together to release that data.

Two more court victories for opponents of gay marriage in Oregon. Same-sex couples will be able to get marriage licenses today after a federal judge struck down a 2004 amendment prohibiting same sex nuptials. The state was not defending the amendment and it is not expected to appeal.

In Utah, a federal judge has ordered the state to recognize the marriages of more than 1200 same-sex couples who obtained licenses earlier this year.

Some pretty amazing video to show you from Wyoming. It is a supercell storm. Look at that! Formed earlier this week bringing torrential downpours and baseball-sized hail. I can't believe people had the presence of mine, Indra, to stop and record it. I would have run the other way.

CUOMO: I haven't seen that since "Ghostbusters."

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: If you can run, baseball size hail. How terrifying. Forget your car, you won't have a windshield after that. Talking about severe weather because the weather pattern has completely shifted. Good news for the west coast. That's where they're starting to get the rain. Especially in the southern plains where they need it. Notice on the east coast, starting to see more warm air building in, looking at that temperature change. So, what is going on? We have more threats, more severe weather. Why? There goes all the moisture again. Notice where it is today, Upper Midwest, kind of into the Ohio Valley. That's one side of the equation, right?

What else do we need? Temperatures. We need very warm temperatures. Look at these guys,. They are soaring. Heads up especially if you're going up towards Chicago, O'Hare today. if you have a layover possibly in that direction, you may be talking a delays.

Why? We have a severe weather threat once you take the combination of that moisture and those temperatures. It's not just Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Toledo, even Columbus, and also possibly out towards Denver, you may see delays because severe weather expected east of you in that region as well. Other story is that system going to the east. So, light showers possible. Into the Ohio valley and by tonight and tomorrow, kind of making its way into Northeast.

Not a lot. Unless you're in one of the heavy thunderstorms, you're only talking about several inches of rain, over the next several days. Good news in the Northeast, it will be dry. Memorial Day, that's what you care about.

Temperature-wise, it's been kind of muggy, kind of hot out there, right? Temperatures will go down with that front to actually below normal. Feel calmer for you. D.C. actually going up, though, to about 82 by the warm front. Notice in the Southeast, temperatures also are very hot and muggy. It's that time of year, 80s and 90s.

We're done?

BOLDUAN: Just stop at hot.

PETERSONS: Hot and muggy, Hotlanta?

BOLDUAN: Stop at hot. Let's all be happy, right?

PEREIRA: Exactly. We'll go with hot.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, China firing back this morning, tearing into U.S. allegations that its military officers were spying on American companies. U.S. ambassador there, they say is being summoned. How big is the fallout going to be?

CUOMO: Plus, Moore, Oklahoma, one year later. You remember the tornado that tore through there. We return to the scene and see how far they've come.


BOLDUAN: China this morning firing back at shocking charges against some of its own military. The U.S. says five officers committed cyber espionage, stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies. China calls that absurd and is demanding the charges be withdrawn and is even summoning the U.S. ambassador to discuss, to make a formal complaint in Beijing is threatening this could put U.S./Chinese relations in jeopardy.

Here to discuss what the fallout could be: Rana Foroohar, CNN global economic analyst and "TIME" assistant managing editor, as well as Major General James "Spider" Marks, CNN military analyst, former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.

Good morning to both you. A lot to get through.

I have a lot of questions about this, Spider. This is the first time that the U.S. government has charged Chinese nationals with cyber crimes. It is unlikely, let's just state the reality, that they're ever going to be brought to trial in the United States for these charges --


BOLDUAN: -- what then is the impact from your perspective?

MARKS: I think the United States is laying down the marker saying this sun acceptable behavior. I'd even venture to say we're a bit naive to think that might occur. Maybe that's not the thinking inside the Justice Department that these folks would be brought to justice here in the United States. But clearly, the issue here is the Chinese don't view this as a crime. This isn't an issue to them.

You know, we have in the United States established a very robust national security capability within the NSA and the cyber command. We've created cyber warriors so we can have computer network protection as well as computer network attack.

But clearly, the United States is in a catch-up mode. The Chinese have been doing this for years. Since 1999, they wrote a treaty on unrestricted warfare which really defined that the Internet and cyberspace is available for military operations just like it is for diplomatic or informational or for financial interactions.

So, we view this entirely differently from how the Chinese do, which brings us to this issue where the ambassador demarche and brought in to have a discussion about what the United States is trying to achieve.

BOLDUAN: Rana, you know the Chinese economy very well. How is it that China does not view this as doing anything wrong? In its statement which was very blunt in its response to these charges, in part China says that it has never engaged or participated in cyber threat of trade secrets and of course accusing the United States of hypocrisy and having a double standard in light of the Edward Snowden leaks.

Is there --

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Yes. BOLDUAN: Are they trying to make a difference without a distinction here?

FOROOHAR: A little bit. It's funny, I was actually in China when the Edward Snowden case was breaking some time ago and the Chinese were shrugging like what's the difference between hacking into a company or hacking into a government for military purposes? They don't see a difference because the Chinese economy is largely run by the state. So, there is a lot of overlap.

To them, strategic interests and economic interests are one in the same. They really don't see a difference.

BOLDUAN: So, Spider, the United States makes that distinction though. There is a difference between the NSA spying on other governments but the United States says it does not spy to steal trade secrets, to benefit U.S. companies.

How does the U.S. win that argument that there is a distinction?

MARKS: Well, Kate, really that's a moral equivalence argument. I normally don't go down that path. I have very little interest in listening to the Chinese lecture us about what is ethically or morally correct. So, let's just let this thing kind of drop. They're going to yell and scream at us. They're really surprised that we care about this stuff.

But clearly in China, you've got the party, you've got the government, you've got industry, and that's all kind of in the same soup. There's very little distinction that exists among those parts.

BOLDUAN: It's an excellent point, Spider. Let's talk about what the Chinese is trying to get at here. They're spying into steel company, high end electronics, high end technologies, if you will. What are they trying to get at?

FOROOHAR: It's all about intellectual property. It's all about high- end technology and basically about taking their economy up the food chain. So we always think of China as being a huge economic powerhouse, you know, it's jumping ahead of the U.S. in certain respects. But, actually, they still have basically a copycat economy in a sense they're not the ones inventing new technologies. They tend to do a good job at replicating technologies.

But in terms of being an innovator, they're not there yet so probably looking for strategic intellectual properties to help take various industries at the food chain.

BOLDUAN: Final note from both of you. I would love to get your take.

This move by the United States, to publicly coming out not only charging five people, naming them, putting their pictures out there. Do you think this is a game changer? Will this cause irreparable harm to the U.S./China relationship?

Rana, first to you. FOROOHAR: I think it's going to be interesting to see what else unfolds in the next few days. Are there going to be trade implications? Are there going to be sanctions? Is this going to provoke any kind of trade or currency war? That could be really serious in that happens.

I think it's interesting it's happening now because it's a time of global economic turbulence. All boats are not rising. This is when things like this, these sorts of tensions tend to happen.

BOLDUAN: From your perspective, the military perspective, even diplomatic perspective, Spider, do you think this could cause irreparable harm to the relationship?

MARKS: Well, it's not super, right now, to begin with.

BOLDUAN: Very good point.

MARKS: I don't want to sound flip, but I don't know the marriage counseling is in the offing. But clearly we have to address this and get on the same page so we can move forward. Otherwise, this becomes a point of contention that's very, very volatile.

BOLDUAN: Yes, but this is not new. That's the one thing.


BOLDUAN: When I was on Capitol Hill, this was what many lawmakers, Mike Rogers and the homeland -- Intel Committee -- he was saying this is the biggest problem we have right now facing the country, that people are not paying enough attention to and now we're seeing the government taking some action.

Rana, Spider, thank you.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

MARKS: Thanks, Kate.


CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY: a year ago we were in Moore, Oklahoma, after a deadly tornado just tore that town apart. Wait until you see the before and after.

Plus, the case against Donald Sterling begins. The NBA has set a date for a vote, but the Clippers' owner is not going quietly. We have new details for you, coming up.