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NEW DAY

Passenger Planes Fly Too Close; Fiery Confrontation Over Immigration Reform; Defense Says Alleged Kidnap Victim is Lying

Aired May 23, 2014 - 06:00   ET

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


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

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY everyone. It's Friday, May 23, like you need reminding it was Friday. 6:00 in the East. John Berman, of course, is here, in for Chris this morning.

Breaking overnight, yet another near collision of two planes to tell you about. This one happening over Houston's George Bush International Airport. Earlier this month, two United Airlines flights coming within less than a mile of each other right after takeoff. That means, really, seconds away from a collision.

It's at least the third near collision that we're hearing about just this week, and it's news that could make anyone traveling this Memorial Day weekend a bit nervous. Aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is following all the latest developments. So what do we know about this one, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still getting the details but the FAA telling us this morning here at CNN these two planes came with within a mile of each other and they were about 400 feet apart vertically. If you were a passenger on this plane, you do not want to be in that situation, and we are hearing about another situation of two passenger planes getting too close for comfort.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOWER: United 601, thank you, turn right turn.

MARSH (voice-over): Two more passenger planes get too close in the sky. On May 9, United Flight 601 and United 437 took off from Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston at roughly the same time. Shortly after takeoff, Flight 601 is told to turn right, putting it in the path of the other plane. Moments later, the controller seems to realize the mistake.

TOWER: 601, just stop your heading, stop the turn right there, sir. United 601, stop your turn. Stop your climb and stop your turn, United 601.

MARSH: The two planes came within nearly a mile of each other. The roughly 300 passengers on both flights may not have been aware of the close call, but the pilots were left with questions as to what went wrong.

UNITED 601 PILOT: United 601, you know what happened there?

OTHER PILOT: You all basically crossed directly over the top of each other. That's what looked like from my perspective. I have no idea what was going on up there in the tower, but you know, it was pretty gnarly looking.

UNITED 601 PILOT: I'm guessing he was supposed to give us left turn.

MARSH: This was the third incident in recent weeks where passenger planes got too close for comfort. A similar incident over Newark Airport and another over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii all involving passenger planes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH (on camera): All right, well, again we know that the FAA, they are investigating. But just for some perspective, the big picture here, as to how often this happens in the skies, we know from FAA numbers from 2012 that about 4,400 close -- or too close for comfort situations in the skies involving passenger planes per year, about -- if you look at that and really crunch down the numbers, that works out to be more than 12 times a day we have a situation where planes are getting closer than they should be in the skies.

Back to you, John.

BERMAN: And only once could be enough for a disaster. Our thanks to Rene Marsh, covering this for us in Washington. Thanks so much.

Another big story we're covering this morning, two high-profile Democrats are now joining the call for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. They're outraged by the scandal that has rocked that department. Shinseki for his part is trying to reassure veterans. And he says he has no plans to leave. But as one Republican lawmaker told us here on NEW DAY, allegations of delayed care and cover-ups at VA hospitals, which CNN has been reporting on closely for months now, this may just be the tip of the iceberg.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski is live at the White House for us this morning. Good morning, Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi John. You know, CNN broke the story, tried for six months to get an interview with Secretary Shinseki, but he would not sit down with CNN or take questions. Well, now he did answer one press question to say he has not offered his resignation and now he has addressed veterans across, but in writing. While the tough talk comes from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: These are men and women who served our country and we've not just let them down, we've let them die. This is awful stuff. And somebody ought to be held accountable for it.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): House Speaker John Boehner in his strongest statement speaks for the veterans affected by the scandal, 23 of whom the V.A. itself said died because they remained on waiting lists for medical care.

BOEHNER: I have not called for General Shinseki to resign. Although I have to admit I'm getting a little closer. But here's the point. This isn't about one person. This isn't about the secretary. It's about the entire system underneath him.

KOSINSKI: And while the president's deputy chief of staff arrived at the Phoenix V.A., where the scandal broke, to broaden the investigation, VA Secretary Shinseki was summoned to the Hill for a private meeting with the Senate's number two Democrat Dick Durbin, then posted an online letter to veterans everywhere.

But the strongest quotes in it were him quoting President Obama the other day and Shinseki saying he agrees. For himself, Shinseki writes he takes the allegations seriously, that they're of great personal concern. "You and your families deserve to have full faith in your V.A. and we intend to earn it every day."

The bulk of the letter lists a long string of accomplishments at the V.A., its good customer service record. It includes all kinds of statistics. Shinseki adding that if any allegations under review are substantiated, we will act.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI (on camera): Well, Congress has wanted to act now. We've been mentioning this bill that passed the House that would make it easier for the V.A. to fire managers, and it was brought up yesterday in the Senate. But the chairman of the V.A. Committee objected saying let's not politicize this.

The White House, though, says it agrees with this bill and its call for accountability, although it does worry that it could lead to lawsuits if some of the process of firings is removed. Michaela?

PEREIRA: That's where it gets all complicated. Bottom line, we've got to take care of our veterans. I think everybody agrees on that.

All right, let's take a look at more of your headlines today. President Obama is expected to officially tap rising Democratic star and San Antonio mayor Julian Castro as Housing Secretary. Castro will replace Shaun Donovan, who will take on a new role as Budget Director. Now, if confirmed by the Senate, Castro would become one of the highest ranking Hispanic officials in the Obama administration.

The House approved a bill to end the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone data. The measure would leave the records in the hands of phone companies and require the NSA to get a court order. The vote is the first legislative effort at surveillance reforms since NSA leaker Edward Snowden went public last year. It marks a rare moment of consensus between the Obama administration and the Republican-led House. The Senate has yet to act on its version of the bill.

The U.N. Security Council approving sanctions against the Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, five weeks after the group kidnapped more than 200 school girls. They will now be added to a list of al Qaeda- linked organizations subject to arms embargoes, travel bans and asset freezes. Nigeria had asked the U.N. to make the move because Boko Haram attacks appear to be escalating and spreading.

All right. Those are your headlines this hour. Let's talk weather, don't you think? You know, you have to go.

BOLDUAN: Everyone cares about weather on the weekend. This is an important weekend for weather because we all want to be outside, and it has been a mess.

BERMAN: I can't help but notice it's been raining an awful lot, Indra Petersons.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: We're not assigning blame.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm smiling because I know that that means he's going to give me praise when the weekend is over and it looks nice, right?

BOLDUAN: Some of the images from yesterday, horrible.

PETERSONS: Unbelievable. Especially the East Coast. Large hail, tennis ball, baseball sized. All of this winding down just in time. That's what the smile is for, right?

BOLDUAN: Got you.

PETERSONS: I mean, take a look at the map right now. You're not really looking at much out there. Maybe some tiny scattered showers here and there and that will continue to be the story as we go through the weekend.

Each day is going to get better and better at least in the northeast because this low will be making its way offshore, high pressure building in. That means it's good news. We're also going to be warming up. So by Saturday, we're not saying you can't get one tiny little spotty shower over your house. We're talking about a 10 percent chance each day. Monday is going to look amazing, of course, out through the Midwest. There's another system there bringing light, scattered showers as well. No one is getting completely rained out except for in the southern plains and out to the Pacific Northwest.

Severe weather, yes. It's still out there, but so minimal. We're talking about just Wilmington and Columbia today in the afternoon and then isolated parts of New Mexico and Texas today. But, again, conditions so much better for travel, unlike yesterday.

Speaking of travel, you want to go somewhere? I know I do. Looks like Cape Cod getting better each day. The Jersey Shore, remember, you see rain clouds there but like 10 percent. And notice the temperatures, they are climbing. They are going up. Outer Banks, look at that, looking at the 70s. Chicago going finally into the 80s. Maybe a 10 percent chance of showers on Monday. Maybe you want to go even further out to the west -- Seattle, that's where it's rainy. And again, even Austin maybe only about a 10 percent chance.

For the most part, most people are staying pretty dry with like a tiny little scattered shower. So I go back to this.

BOLDUAN: You do not want to be under the-eh.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Indra, questionable, though.

PEREIRA: Seattle would say we're sort of used to it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's like, oh that actually is a good day.

BERMAN: That's a good point. They're too wet to notice.

All right, next up on NEW DAY, immigration confrontation. House Speaker John Boehner squares off with a Univision anchor on the subject of immigration reform. So what set off this exchange?

BOLDUAN: Plus, the shocking story of a California woman who says she was abducted as a teenager and held for ten years, forced to marry her captor and have his child. Why, then, are some questioning if it is all true? What the suspect's attorney is now saying.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back. A fiery exchange on Capitol Hill Thursday. Prominent Latino journalist, Univision anchor, Jorge Ramos, faced off really with House Speaker John Boehner, accusing him of blocking immigration reform, saying the House could get it done if lawmakers really wanted to.

Listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION NCHOR: So, Speaker, we came here to ask you why are you blocking immigration reform? It's been almost a year since the Senate passed --

BOEHNER: Me?

RAMOS: Yes, you're blocking.

BOEHNER: Blocking?

RAMOS: Yes, you could bring it to a vote and you haven't. It's been almost a year since the Senate passed --

BOEHNER: Well, actually immigration reform is an issue I've talked about for 18 months, starting the day after the 2012 election, and the fact that Congress needs to deal with this. And I made it clear we're not going to deal with the Senate bill, a 1,300-page bill no one has read. We're not the going to do it.

I think that moving in a piece by piece fashion on this in a common sense way is the way to do this. But the president has a responsibility here as well. And when he continues to ignore Obamacare, his own law, 38 unilateral delays, he reduces the confidence of the American people in his willingness to implement an immigration law the way we would pass it. So the president has to rebuild this trust and we'll be able to do this.

RAMOS: And what does Obamacare have to do with immigration reform? The Senate passed it almost a year ago and you haven't moved on that. People are questioning your leadership and your vision.

BOEHNER: I just gave you an answer. There's nobody more interested in fixing this problem than I am.

RAMOS: But you can do it. You can do it, Mr. Speaker. You can do it and you really haven't done it.

BOEHNER: I appreciate your opinion, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Appreciate your opinion. Let's bring in CNN's political commentators, Ben Ferguson, Marc Lamont Hill. Ben, also the host of "The Ben Ferguson Show" and Marc host of "Huff Post Live".

Good morning, gentlemen. What, we are talking about immigration reform in an election year? There's no way this is possible. Then why not now? To Jorge Ramos' point, why not now? We know Boehner in the long term, he said it himself, wants to get it done.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a lot of Republicans want to get it done. They just don't want to have a bill that, as he put it, that no one's read. I mean find me one U.S. senator that voted in favor of that 1,300-plus-page bill that actually read it or knows what's in it. I mean, this is Obamacare 2.0 as Nancy Pelosi put it. We don't know what's going to happen with it, we don't know what's in it until we pass it, and I think that's the concern.

The Republicans have said, let's deal with this piece by piece, because there's no point in reforming the entire system and immigration laws if we don't secure our border. It has to be together.

And Democrats say we don't want to deal with the border. We don't want to do anything with the border. We want to give a big chunk of amnesty and that's where the problem is.

BOLDUAN: Why do a bunch of Senate Republicans vote for it in the senator? They're not reading the bills they're passing?

FERGUSON: I think a lot of them had things in there they personally liked and looked at it quickly and decided they were just going to pass it so they could be on the record for the re-election saying we did something in the Senate on immigration reform. I think most of them knew that the House wasn't go going to touch a 1,300-page bill. For their own political reasons, they did it because they said, hey, I've done my job. Now it's on those guys on the House side and they knew there were some protections.

BOLDUAN: Does he have a point?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He has a point there. Everything about immigration reform and the debate is about political posturing. There's no way any meaningful advance is going to be made on immigration during an election year. We all know -- this isn't going to happen.

The other thing here is that it's not that Democrats don't care about the border. Again, that's a political talking point. Democrats care about the border like everyone else. They don't want to militarize the border.

The idea of providing amnesty for people is not a unique Democratic idea. George Bush had a very similar plan for immigration, and Republicans were behind it when George Bush was doing it. The key is to come you up with something sensible and comprehensive and no one wants to do that. It's to the Republicans' own peril. As long as they take the position they take on immigration, they're not going to win many elections.

BOLDUAN: What about that?

FERGUSON: I want to ask you this --

BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Ben.

FERGUSON: Well, I would say this -- one of the big issues, and Marc just said it, that Democrats do care, they just don't want to militarize it. Tell me one man the Democrats have to fix the issue with an open border where millions of illegals have been able to come across the border and leave as much as they want to?

I mean, last year, the number one stimulant of Mexico's economy for the first time ever was illegal immigrants sending cash back to Mexico. It beat their exports with oil. That's how open the border is.

So, what do Democrats want to do to fix it? They don't have a plan.

BOLDUAN: Let me craft it this way, because we could spend another half an hour talking about the different aspects and throwing out statistics of why either side is stuck where they are. I think we can all -- you can both agree that the elements are there for both sides for a majority, a bipartisan majority to come together. It's just the political had will that I think, at least from the outside perspective, seems to be the biggest point, right, Ben?

FERGUSON: Yes, there's a political issue. What they should do is take basic steps on things that they can agree on. And Democrats and Republicans --

HILL: What can we agree on, Ben?

FERGUSON: -- on a piece by piece basis.

BOLDUAN: Why not do piecemeal if you have a guarantee from Republicans they go for it?

HILL: Well, fist of all, I'm not convinced we have as much consensus as you are suggesting. But even if they were, I'd be fine with piecemeal, with a few small things. But at some point, we have to tackle the big issue. And if we don't do it, we may lose the political muscle to be able to do it in two or three years and certain things have to be nonstarters like militarizing the border.

BOLDUAN: Ben, I can't -- we cannot the let this moment go without bringing back the sound bite that really -- it's just memorable. Everyone will remember this moment when John Boehner was publicly mocking some in his party for saying they didn't want to deal with this in an election year. It's just too hard.

Let's listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Here is the argument. Oh, don't make me do this. Oh, this is too hard. You should hear them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: And Boehner has said, that is very classic Boehner and how he will rib his parties and members in the House.

FERGUSON: Yes.

BOLDUAN: But, Ben, leaving isn't always easy. Boehner has been through many a debate leading isn't easy. Why not lead on it, go forward? You may not get the majority of the majority. You will have to get a lot of Democratic votes. Why not?

FERGUSON: Because I think there's a basic idea from some that are saying no, and they're saying it because every time the government has acted recently in a big way with massive, big bills, without fixing the basic problem and the basic problem still goes to the principle of right now in America you can walk across the border from multiple different states and no one is stopping you. So, until you fix that, why would you pass a massive bill to fix everything else if you're going to deal with the same problem another five years?

Remember, Ronald Reagan did a form of amnesty and we didn't fix the border then when he was president and now, we're dealing with the same issue, what, 25 years later?

HILL: It's the same nonstarter. You don't want to fix reasonable trade policy, piece families back together, sensible guest worker programs and strengthen the economy here, you'll never get sensible immigration reform. They start with this idea of putting an electric fence over the border, a moat. They know it's a ridiculous nonstarter.

BOLDUAN: I'm still stuck with, and I thought Jorge Ramos asked the question, an important basic question, at some point is it an OK excuse to say we can't do it in an election year? I understand covering Capitol Hill that is the reality. They're not -- you cannot take these controversial things up because you're going to face a tougher are problem in the general but when does it become that's not an OK excuse? We are not going to settle l that today. Sorry, America. We tried.

HILL: We did our best.

BOLDUAN: We did our best and we continue.

Ben, always great to see you. See you later, buddy.

Marc --

FERGUSON: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: See you in a bit.

FERGUSON: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We appreciate the effort to settle it all right here on NEW DAY.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, the story of a California kidnap victim who says she was held captive for ten years. The story is now being called into question. Hear why her alleged abductor claims this girl is making the whole thing up.

Plus, recall has become a four-letter word for General Motors. Word is there's still more to come. We'll tell you what G.M.'s new CEO is doing about this and what it could mean for you and your car.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you back with us on this Friday. Here's a look at your headlines.

Two airplanes mere seconds away from a midair collision over Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. No one onboard either United Airlines flight apparently knew how close they came to hitting each other earlier this month. The planes were within about a mile of each other. But given their speed they were seconds from pact. This is at least the third near near-collision that we've been hearing about in the last week. The odds seem to be stacked against hundreds of firefighters trying to gain ground on the raging wildfires in northern Arizona. Officials say they only have the flames 5 percent contained at this point as it broke out earlier this week. It's expected the fire will jump to at least 7,500 acres today.

I want to show you some terrifying video, check this out. A man takes dramatic rescue and is being hailed a hero after catching that 1-year- old baby falling two stories out of a window in China during a thunderstorm. Witnesses say the baby climbed on to a ledge during that thunderstorm, was teetering near the edge. The baby was uninjured and safely returned to his mother.

You could see other people in the street trying to bring anything they could to maybe cushion the baby. My goodness, especially when it's raining. That's a great photo. Slippery.

BERMAN: That's a big kid but that's crazy.

BOLDUAN: Trying to say go back in. Oh, my God, he's a good man.

PEREIRA: Very good and thank goodness he had backup there, too.

BOLDUAN: A good catch.

We also have new questions this morning about the California woman's claims she was kidnapped a decade ago at the age of 15, and that she was abused and forced to marry her abductor and have his child. The suspect has been charged with numerous felonies but now his attorney says that she, the woman, the person who was kidnapped, that she is making it all up because she wanted a divorce.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Los Angeles with the very latest.

That's difficult to hear for many people when we have not yet heard her story. What are you hearing, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, if you talk to the neighbors and the friends of the family who have known them for years, they don't believe what they're hearing either because they say Isidro Garcia who is now sitting in jail on a million dollars bail and being charged by the district attorney with five felony counts, very serious counts, including forcible rape and kidnapping, the neighbors and friends don't believe it because they said what they saw was a doting husband and a loving father, very different from what they're hearing from police.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bail in your case is set at $1 million.

SIDNER (voice-over): Forty-two-year-old Isidro Garcia now faces 14 years to life charged with kidnapping, rape, and lewd act on a minor. Garcia initially arrested for allegedly holding this California woman in captivity for a decade until she walked into a police station Monday. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so happy and God blessed to be with my family.

SIDNER: She tells CNN affiliate KABC she didn't have a life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very afraid about everything because I was alone.

SIDNER: The 25-year-old woman says Garcia kidnapped her in Santa Ana when she was 15 years old. At the time he was her mother's boyfriend. The alleged victim said throughout the next 10 years he raped her, changed her identity to marry her and they had a child together.

FARRAH EMAMI: She was told her family wasn't looking for her. She was told that he was her only ally.

SIDNER: But these photos from the alleged victim's face back page show a normal couple, a husband who neighbors say treated his wife like a queen, a couple that rejoiced at news they were having a baby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was really happy. She was like really happy with the news she was pregnant.

SIDNER: This is the family neighbors say they knew not believing what they're hearing now.

(on camera): Never gave you any indication that there was something really wrong going on and that she had been kidnapped?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, never. That's why we're in shock. She had her own car. She could easily act like a normal day, going to work with the little girl, stop by the police station and say I feel threatened.

SIDNER (voice-over): Garcia's defense attorney argues the alleged victim had certain motives for reporting her husband.

CHARLES FRISCO, JR., GARCIA'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Like all marriages and all couples, people have problems, people break up. People say things that aren't true. And in this case, that's probably what happened.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: Now we know that she was on the phone with her mother when she walked into the police station -- her mother providing her with the case number from the initial missing person's report back in 2004. That was put into the Santa Ana Police Department.

But I do want to mention this, you have to remember, and according to the complaint, that she was 15 years old and she ended up going away with this man who was 16 years her senior. If you listen to the district attorney's office and police, they are absolutely certain that something was amiss here and, of course, the neighbors say something completely different -- John.

BERMAN: That's a key point that we want to talk about. Sara Sidner, our thanks to you.

So, let's discuss the ins and outs of the case.