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U.S. Charges Chinese Citizens with Hacking and Spying; Violence in Libya Increasing; Spurs Beat Thunder in Games One of Western Conference Finals; Near Miss as Two Planes Nearly Collide; Chaos and Bloodshed in Libya; NBA Formally Charges Donald Sterling; Republican Establishment Seek to "Crush the Tea Party"

Aired May 20, 2014 - 07:00   ET


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, he's right. The president is highly unpopular here in Kentucky. That is why Mitch McConnell is playing up the idea, in his words, that if he goes back to the Senate, if he is the majority leader, he would then be able to be the offensive coordinator against Obama policies not the defensive coordinator as he is now. The problem for McConnell, though, Chris, is he's unpopular here, too, which is why we talked about the money, he spent a lot on positive ads trying to change that, soften his image.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Two quick things -- he's been working it, on the ground, grabbing -- pounding the flesh and doing what he needs to do. Million bucks comes in from the outside. How worried is this he that he's got trouble in his own house?

BASH: Oh, very. That's what a lot of his focus has been, and that's the problem. He's sort of had a two-front today. Today is primary day. He has a Republican challenger, Matt Bevin. The cliff-hanger today on that front is whether or not Matt Bevin really does a lot of damage. If he takes a lot of Republican voters away from Mitch McConnell that could hurt McConnell in the fall because it could make him even weaker. And his campaign is saying, you know what, it is true that you have primary battles and they are divisive, but at the end of the day the primary voters are going to come home and vote for him rather than a Democrat.

CUOMO: It will be interesting. He's pushing the word "change" so much, if he gets through the primary, which he should, he will face in the general, could be the first woman senator from Kentucky, that would be a different kind of change as well. Dana Bash, thank you very must have. Let us know what happens.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to have much more on today's primaries in our "INSIDE POLITICS" segment coming up in just a few minutes. You want to stick around for that.

Let's turn to China, though, fighting back this morning and accusing the United States of hypocrisy after the Obama administration charged five military officers with cyber-crimes for spying on American companies. China has now summoned the U.S. ambassador there and is threatening to retaliate. Let's bring in David McKenzie who is live in Beijing. So David, what more are you hearing at the charges and those who are being charged?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The charges are serious, Kate. These five individuals who are members of the Chinese military are being charged with conspiracy and hacking to steal trade secrets from U.S. companies that could have cost those companies millions if not billions of dollars, according to the U.S. Justice Department. And they are saying that the Chinese were handing this information to gain a competitive edge. The Chinese have hit back, saying this is all rubbish, in fact, saying that these allegations are patently false, calling in the U.S. ambassador to China, giving him a slap on the wrist and also saying they're going to punish the U.S. going forward. They're not specifying exactly how they're going to do it, but it's a very tense time between the two powerhouses. Kate?

BOLDUAN: And the suspects, the men who are charged are unlikely ever to be brought to the United States to face trial. Why do you think then would that reality, why is China reacting so strongly, using such strong language?

MCKENZIE: Part of it is just from the Chinese point of view, the insult of it. They have these wanted posters of the Chinese military officials, some of them in uniform, almost like the FBI would for common criminals or even terrorists. And for that, that is very insulting to the Chinese from their point of view.

And they also say there is this hypocrisy, that with the Snowden revelations, the former NSA contractor, saying that the U.S. was widely spying on its allies and its competitors, they say that really the U.S. couldn't really be in a position to point fingers. So at this point both sides are accusing the other of stealing secrets, but the difference is this is a criminal indictment and it's being taken very seriously by both the U.S. and by the Chinese government.

BOLDUAN: Both taking it very seriously which also begs the question, we'll have to wait and see what exactly is the serious fallout from it because it is far from over. That is for sure. David, thank you very much, live in Beijing for us.

CUOMO: Quite a situation going on in Libya. There is chaos and bloodshed in the capital there, so much so that the U.S. is now making plans to pull hundreds of Americans out. An evac order could come at any time. Let's get to Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with more. What's the latest, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it still will have to be a decision by the state department whether to order the evacuation of the U.S. embassy, but officials tell us they are watching the security situation minute by minute.


STARR: As Libya's interim parliament has attacked and smoke rises across the capital where there has been pierce fighting here and in Benghazi, the Obama administration is taking no chances. The Pentagon has put troops and firepower in place to get some 200 American diplomats, security personnel, and the military security contingent out of harm's way if the State Department orders an evacuation.

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The security of American citizens and American personnel overseas is our highest priority. The president and secretary have both been receiving regular updates, as they would in any case.

STARR: Just across the Mediterranean at the U.S. naval air station in Italy, everything is set. Aircraft will be in the air within two hours of getting orders if it comes to that. The evacuation team includes 250 heavily armed marines, eight V-22 aircraft that can carry 24 passengers each, and three additional aircraft for midair refueling along the way.

At the same time, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Pentagon have been looking at overhead imagery for days, scouting opposition forces, figuring out the best airfields for landing. It's a far cry from September 11th, 2012, when the U.S. compound in Benghazi came under attack and the ambassador and three other Americans were killed. There were no U.S. military forces nearby to get there in time for a rescue.


STARR: And, in fact, there are now 500 marines permanently stationed in southern Europe just contingency, to rescue Americans anywhere in North Africa if it comes to that. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Barbara, thank you very much.

Let's look this morning, now let's turn to the VA medical scandal. It is widening. A Florida facility is now being investigated for allegedly keeping a secret waiting list of patients. This new allegation follows claims that delays in Phoenix could have led to the deaths of 40 veterans. President Obama has been standing by the VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. The president himself is now facing some questions as well. CNN's Michelle Kosinski is at the White House with much more. So what are the questions now being directed to the White House, Michelle?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We know that this scandal has been growing seemingly by the day and now includes a VA hospital down in Gainesville, Florida, where investigators found more of these so called secret waiting lists that weren't even entered into the computer. They were just written down on paper.

And there was additional reporting this week that showed that the Obama administration transition team, so as president Obama was taking office, was actually told by the VA that these kinds of problems existed, with delays and waiting lists.

And we don't know the extent exactly of what all was told but this does two things. It gives a whole problem a sort of who knew what and when and what all was done about it aspect. And it highlights the fact that these problems actually existed years before Obama took office. He even mentioned them in a campaign speech back in 2007. So the administration has repeatedly defended its own record on this, saying a couple of things were going on. First, a large number of vets were entering the system through two long wars. And that this administration actually expanded this services and funding available to them, which they say was the right thing to do. Kate?

BOLDUAN: A couple things, Michelle. Yes, it's no secret that the problems with the VA have been going on for years. And the administration, the president acknowledges it, as you said. Why then -- why then are you hear that the president then most recently learned about the extent of the VA issues from CNN's own reporting on this?

KOSINSKI: Well, they say the extent of these problems, that the allegations that veterans were dying while awaiting care, they say that they found out through the reporting on CNN.

BOLDUAN: All right, Michelle. Thank you so much, live at the White House for us.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Sorry, Kate, stepped right on you.

All right, let's get a look at your headlines. Martial law in Thailand now in effect, the army taking control after six months of violent antigovernment protests on the streets. Army officials say this is not a coup, but the government says it was not told this was coming. The Obama administration meanwhile says it is monitoring the situation.

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial delayed once again. It is now on hold until June 30th after a judge today formally ordered the Olympic sprinter to undergo psychiatric testing to determine his mental state when he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steencamp. The evaluation, which could last up to 30 days, starts on Monday. Defense psychiatrist introduced mental health questions after testifying that Pistorius may suffer from an anxiety disorder.

I want to show you this video. That is a sinkhole in the end zone at Austin Peay University in Tennessee, 40 feet deep, 50 feet wide. They've been watching it grow for weeks now. The sinkhole started out roughly the size of a desk. Officials there are promising they will repair it in the fall in time for football season.

Speaking of sports, the San Antonio Spurs really had no problem beating Oklahoma City in game one of the western conference finals. The Spurs took full advantage of the shorthanded Thunder. Joe Carter has more in our bleacher report today. Defense really not apparent for the Thunder last night.

JOE CARTER, CNN BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, tough night for the Thunder, definitely. From the opening tip you could tell the size, the height of San Antonio was a big match-up problem for Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City is without their big man Serge Ibaka. He was injured with a calf injury, so he's out right now. And the Spurs really took full advantage of his absence by scoring a staggering 66 points last night down low in the paint. Tim Duncan who goes about 6'11" had no one to contest those long arms of his. San Antonio, by the way, lost all four regular season games to Oklahoma City but had no problem last night beating them by 17 points. Game two will be back in San Antonio on Wednesday night.

Horse racing fans can breathe a little easier this morning. California Chrome will ride in New York today. Preparations for the final race of the Triple Crown now officially begins for this horse. Of course, the trainer had threatened to keep the horse out of the dome on stakes in a dispute over nose strips. Yesterday, New York racing officials relented, saying California Chrome can wear the strips during the race. We're still a few weeks away. That race is June 7th.

Finally, during the Tigers-Indians game last night, a fan tries to catch a souvenir, but the souvenir, well, it goes right between his hands and hits him square in the face. Watch this replay. I feel really bad for this guy. I think it's the lights maybe. You lose the ball in the lights. It hits him square in the nose. The best part of the video, guys, is right here when this obviously embarrassed young man has to do the walk of shame with a bloodied lip back to his girlfriend.


BOLDUAN: Walk of shame.

CARTER: Walk of shame. He's trying to console him. Even the usher comes over to him, I know, man, are you going to be all right? That's tough. But, by the way, the Indians would win that game in the tenth with a walk-off home run. But obviously a lot of people talking about that embarrassing moment.

PEREIRA: I would negotiate with the people sitting beside me at games, you will dive for the ball, I will cower.

CUOMO: I heard Joe Carter bantering with your boy Berman this morning, and Berman was saying a man shouldn't bring a baseball glove to a game.


CUOMO: I challenge him and you pretty boy Floyd to catch a high fly or even a throw coming down with your bare hands.


BOLDUAN: What's wrong with bringing a mitt?

CARTER: When you're on a date, especially, you can't bring a mitt.

BOLDUAN: Joe Carter, you are much more secure in your masculinity than that.

PEREIRA: And Joe Carter, the guys in the field wear a glove to catch the ball. Why do you, a knucklehead, think you can catch it with your bare hand? CARTER: That's the thing. He was way too brave. He actually sprinted over in his section. I feel bad. He didn't get the ball. Got a bloody lip, and now we're putting him on national TV.

CUOMO: Let me hit you a trivia question. What was the best bare handed catch in the outfield by a pro baseball player let's say in the last 20 years?

BOLDUAN: No pressure there.

CUOMO: I'll give you a hint. It was down the left field line. The guy was running. It was Kevin Mitchell raised up his hand and caught it over his shoulder bare handed and turned around and tried to throw a guy out.

CARTER: I thought you were saying a fan. A player, I remember that.

CUOMO: Everybody else should have a glove. I would definitely wear a glove.

BOLDUAN: Yes. That's our advice.

CUOMO: I can't even catch them from little Mario, my son, I catch it if I have no glove, it hurts.

BOLDUAN: That's a personal problem. Joe, thanks so much.

CARTER: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a very scary close call over Newark airport. Two planes separated really by yards and they nearly collided mid midair. What was going on at that moment? What was going on in air traffic control is another good question. Our aviation experts will be here to talk about it.

CUOMO: Graphic is scary.

Coming up on "INSIDE POLITICS." Top races could determine who runs the GOP, who runs the Senate. Big question, can the Tea Party rise again? Answer is ahead.



CONTROLLER: Acey, 4100, traffic off your right, you have him in sight? Maintain --

PILOT: Yeah, yeah, we were putting the nose down, and yeah, he was real close."


BOLDUAN: Yeah, he was real close. That's what you heard from one of the pilots there. It was a frightening close call at one of this country's busiest airports. Federal investigators say two planes nearly collided at Newark Liberty Airport last month. One was trying to land. The other, about to take off. And the two came within some 100 feet of each other, about half the size of a football field, about -- obviously about 50 yards from each other.

But this, after another near miss in Hawaii has many asking is this happening too often? Absolutely. One time is too often, I would say.

Let's discuss with Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst, former inspector general for the Department of Transportation, and David Soucie, CNN safety analyst, former FAA inspector and the author of "Why Planes Crash".

Good morning to both of you. So as I just laid out, but just to lay out one more time, one flight is landing. One flight is about to take off. Anything, Mary, that you're hearing in the details of the conversations between air traffic control, the runways that they were using, that leads you to understand how they were allowed to get so close?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, yes. I mean, I think this will be written up as an air traffic control error, and the controller was obviously intending that they would have more separation and perhaps anticipating that the plane taking off would get out of there a little quicker.

But, you know, in this case, because both planes were under the control of air traffic control, air traffic control is obligated by federal aviation regulations to maintain the separation. So this one will be an air traffic control error.

BOLDUAN: As you're getting close -- and this is busy airspace. We all know this. And especially in this touchy time, one is trying to take off, one is trying to land, David.

It was described this way. When the plane was cleared for take-off, the plan that was -- the flight that was landing was three miles away. But when the flight actually initiated that take-off, the flight coming in was just one mile out. What does that tell you?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, basically it just says, again, like Mary said, it's air traffic control error because there's supposed to be space in time, not just the amount of space as far as clearance but how much time. When will it take off? What is your period of time that you have to take off? So it just tells you that there -- someone wasn't paying attention, that's for sure.

BOLDUAN: What should have happened? What is safe enough distance? Is three miles, when you're initiating a take-off, is that the safe distance, Mary?

SCHIAVO: Well, it can be, and it depends on the conditions. And ordinarily you would expect that you would have a good enough clearance with positive air traffic control, meaning all the planes are under control, that three miles at an airport should give you margin of safety. But for example, if you're not at the airport and you're not under -- both planes under air traffic control, then you're required to have much more separation than that. But they should have been able to do it, but with the busy airports, you know, the -- the rules that, the orders are very imperative. And if they go (ph) on your take-off role you've got to, but that air traffic controller has to watch and make sure it really happens.

BOLDUAN: Fortunately, nothing -- we're calling this a near miss and nothing happened. That's the one thing that we can take from this.

Let's talk about this other near air -- this other near miss, this near air -- mid-air near collision. Whatever I'm going to say. This happened on the skies east of Hawaii, David.

This was -- in this case, we're hearing that both of the flights were at altitudes that were assigned by air traffic control. What's so concerning here is that it wasn't until one of the plane's collision avoidance systems went off that the pilots realized something was wrong, and they made an evasive maneuver.

SOUCIE: Yeah, the TCAS is the collision avoidance system and the airborne situation like this is imperative. And it shows here that the system was designed to work, and it did work in this case.

Now, once again, as far as air traffic control, those things are supposed to be scheduled and spaced to a time and space where that won't happen. Now, NextGen, which is the -- we've talked about this before. I'm starting to sound like a broken record on NextGen, but NextGen is designed and built and will compliment this and prevent these kinds of things from happening. It allows aircraft-to-aircraft communications. And they can maintain their own separation regardless of what air traffic is saying or doing or sending them.

BOLDUAN: It was described as one of the planes dropped some 600 feet in 60 seconds, Mary. That sounds like a whole lot to me. What would that have felt like?

SCHIAVO: Well, you would have been straining against your seat. You would have felt some g forces. You would have -- and I don't think the seat belt light was on, so there were people would have been coming out of their seats. You would have felt it.

But again, the TCAS and the statistics are there. This system has saved so many planes and so many flights. And this is one of the things that has made aviation safer. But curiously, it's some of the things on the rise are air traffic control operational errors and runway incursions, the two things we're talking about right there. Those two things, those statistics are headed the wrong way.

BOLDUAN: And I know there's going to be no easy answer. Is there a quick fix to those two problems, Mary?

SCHAIVO: Well, there is. I'm going to repeat David. It's NextGen. We have to finish that system. It is years overdue, years overbudget. It was supposed to be done in 2020. It's probably not going to be done until 2025.

But that will put more planes -- should put all planes under positive control in the NextGen system. But to fly safely in this system, you've got to have a transponder and be equipped. And that is not the law today. We don't require all planes to have them.

BOLDUAN: As you're heading to the airports, probably not all of the advice or the stories you want to be hearing, but it is the reality of flying today.

David Soucie, Mary Schiavo, thank you both. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, let's take a quick break here on NEW DAY.

When we come back, have you heard of MERS? Do you know how to avoid it and what to do if you can? Well then, watch us after the break because the disease is dangerous and now spreading in this country. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here, and he's going to tell you what you need to know.

And Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law jumps in to politics, running for Congress. The question, have her relatives' tricks rubbed off on her? We're gonna tell you on Inside Politics.


PEREIRA: Almost half past the hour. Let's take a look at your headlines now.

Chaos and bloodshed in Libya has put the U.S. on alert. CNN has learned preparations are under way to evacuate hundreds of Americans if necessary. The U.S. has doubled the number of aircraft standing by in Italy in case of an evacuation order. At least four people were killed and dozens more injured after armed men stormed the country's interim parliament on Sunday.

A major development in the search for Flight 370 and a victory for missing passenger's families. Raw satellite data that they've been demanding for may soon be released. Until now, Inmarsat, the company who's satellites communicated with the missing plane in its last hours, had declined to make that information public. But Inmarsat and Malaysian authorities now say they are working to release it.

The NBA has now formally charged Donald Sterling with damaging the league and its teams with his racist comments. They're setting a June 3rd vote to decide whether he will retain ownership of the L.A. Clippers; 22 of the 29 owners would need to agree to strip the team from him. Sterling has a week to answer the charges leveled by the league. His lawyer is reportedly asking for a three-month delay to prepare a response.

I'm not sensing that the NBA or the commissioner has patience for that. They're anxious to get this going and happening.

CUOMO: Yeah, it will be interesting to watch, too, because we've never really seen anything like this before. It's like a trial, but it's not a trial.


BOLDUAN: Right. Exactly right.

CUOMO: All right. Different kind of test, different kind of trial going on now with all these big primaries.

So let's get to John King and inside politics on NEW DAY. Mr. King, big day, big day.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a big day. If there was a super Tuesday in 2014, it is today. The primaries in a half dozen states, some of them big tests, especially for the Republican establishment effort to quote, "crush the Tea Party."

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell on the ballot today. He would be the Republican majority leader if he can beat a Tea Party challenger and win reelection.

Let's talk about the big day. With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Peter Hamby, Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times".

Let's start in Kentucky. Peter, it's Mitch McConnell, the long-time senator from Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, versus Matt Bevin. We can show a picture of Matt Bevin, the Tea Party challenger. And interesting race, anyway, all the more so because Mitch McConnell, a few months back famously told Carl Hose (ph) of "The New York Times" we're going to crush the Tea Party and crush them everywhere. This is his personal chance to do that back home.

I don't know anyone who thinks Matt Bevin has a prayer. Does the margin matter? If Mitch McConnell -- if it's relatively close, is that going to be viewed as a sign that on the right flank among grass roots conservatives, he has a problem?

PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER : Well, I don't think it's going to be close. I don't think a lot of people think it's going to be that close, but it matters in the context of the general election. I mean, it is going to be a very tight general election against the Democrat -- likely Democrat nominee, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the secretary of state there. And he does have to keep the Republican base in the fold.

But, to your point, Mitch McConnell, this is personal to him. He has been laying the groundwork to beat back a Tea Party challenge for years. This goes back to four years ago when he reached out to Rand Paul and brought him into the tent.