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NEW DAY

Seconds from Mid-Air Disaster; V.A. Secretary Vows to Fix Treatment Delays; Defense Says Alleged Kidnap Victim is Lying; Interview with Michelle Knight

Aired May 23, 2014 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Friday, May 23rd, just past 8:00 in the East.

We're beginning this hour with a terrifying scenario in the skies over Houston. Two American Airlines flights coming within seconds of colliding midair, right after both of the planes took off. An air traffic controller guiding one plane to the right and then correcting himself, telling the pilot to separate just in time.

Aviation correspondent Rene Marsh has the very latest -- Rene.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it has happened again. Two planes with passengers on board get too close in the skies. Now, this morning, the FAA is investigating.

(voice-over): Two more passenger planes get too close in the skies.

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

MARSH: On May 9th, 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: United 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, laterally and 400 feet vertically. One aviation analyst says at takeoff speed they were seconds away from a possible impact. The 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: Well, the latest FAA numbers from 2012 show planes got too close nearly 4400 times a year. That's more than 12 times a day. We should point out 41 of those were considered high risk.

Back to you, John.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Rene Marsh. Those were very, very close in aviation terms.

I want to shift gears and talk about another major story the whole country is focused on. The firestorm over V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki. He says he's not resigning and promises to regain the trust of veterans. This is amid allegations of cover-ups which CNN has been investigating for months.

President Obama for now is standing by Shinseki. But some high- profile Democrats are saying the secretary has to go. A lot of questions about the V.A. itself: how does the quality of care at these hospitals? How does it compare to treatment the patients receive at other hospitals? This is an important question and CNN's Tom Foreman is taking a look at that.

Good morning, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John.

Make no mistake about this -- V.A. hospitals have been under fire for decades, about substandard care, crumbling facilities and red tape.

But since the 1990s real strides have been made to address many of these complaints. So much so that some studies have shown in many areas V.A. hospitals compare favorably to the hospitals the rest of us use.

For example, a 2010 peer-reviewed study by the V.A. found that when it came to general surgery, chances of survival and successful recovery were about even in V.A. hospitals and the university hospitals that were considered. In the area of organ transplants, the study found very little indication of difference between the V.A. and non-V.A. hospitals in terms of success.

Cardiac surgery, the V.A. did not do as well in this area as the non- V.A. hospitals according to the study, but in vascular surgery, surgeries involving arteries, veins, blood flow, all that sort thing, again, the study found that the V.A. hospitals generally out performed the non-V.A. facilities.

So, if you look at this, John, the V.A. hospitals are a different ball game than they were in the early 1990s. There had been real improvements in the hallmark areas. Still problems, yes, but real improvements, John.

BERMAN: Interesting.

So, as we look at this issue at large, Tom, it seems like there are some things getting conflated here. Is this more about the time it takes to get care as opposed to the quality of actual care?

FOREMAN: Yes, yes. This is about access. That's really the issue here. There can be some quality questions still. But it's about access.

The V.A.'s goal according to some of these whistle-blowers was to get patients to see doctors in 14 days or so, get them in the door. The allegations have been made that officials were cooking the books to make it look like this was happening, but in reality, in Phoenix, for example, some of those patients were allegedly actually six, nine, sometimes up to 21 months.

So, how does this compare to what the rest of us get.

Let's look at a study from 2013. If you needed a cardiologist in Seattle?

BERMAN: Oh, wow.

FOREMAN: Look at that -- average wait, nine days. Orthopedic surgery in Los Angeles, average wait, seven days.

BERMAN: Oh, wow.

FOREMAN: How about a dermatologist in Dallas, average wait, 17 days.

And OB/GYN in Washington, D.C., average wait, 15 days.

So, on this front, if these allegations are true, some of these vets were absolutely getting terrible treatment. It's this gap that people are going wild about right now. It's not just the care. They have issues about the care, but the care is not the core issue. The core issue is why were veterans dealing with this while the rest of us were dealing with this -- John.

BERMAN: That is a stark, stark comparison. I haven't seen it laid out like that. Thank you so much, Tom foreman.

Of course, there's also the issue of a cover-up which is aside from even the waiting time and the question of care. That's what they're looking at as well. Our thanks to Tom Foreman.

Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's take a look at more headlines. New comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin saying there's a state coup in Ukraine resulting in the danger of a civil war. This as concern gross about the future of Ukraine and the days leading up to a pivotal presidential election.

Eastern Ukraine in the grips of a surge of deadly violence. Armed militants tell us they'll resort to more violence if they don't like the results.

Ukraine's prime minister says Russia is escalating the conflict in order rather to disrupt the election.

This afternoon, President Obama is expected to formally nominate San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as secretary of housing. The rising Democratic star will be replacing Shaun Donovan, who will go on to become the administration's budget director. Donovan was a key player in tackling the U.S. housing crisis, one of the triggers of the worse economic downturns since the Great Depression.

The Republican-led House has approved a bill to end the NSA's bulk collection of American's phone data. It will leave the records in the hands of phone companies and required court order in order to access them. It's the first piece of legislation to address reforms following the revelations of NSA leaker Edward Snowden last year. The Senate is working on a similar measure.

Ten past the hour. Back to you, guys.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Michaela.

Next up for us on NEW DAY: shocking new developments in the California kidnapping case. The suspect's attorney will join us live to tell us why he says the woman behind the alleged ordeal is making the entire story up.

BOLDUAN: That is one interpretation of the story.

Plus, we have Cleveland kidnapping survivor Michelle knight sharing her reaction to those accusations in an exclusive NEW DAY interview. Her powerful and emotional response is ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE KNIGHT, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: Our chance is right now to build her up, don't break her down. That's not what she needs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. A strange twist, an interesting twist in the case of a California woman who says she was kidnapped at age 15 and forced to marry her alleged abductor and have his baby. The suspect, 41- year-old Isidro Garcia is charged with several felonies. Now, his attorney says the woman is making it up because the couple is calling it quits.

That attorney, Charles Frisco, joins us now from California.

Mr. Frisco, thank you so much for joining us.

Your client is charged with one felony count of forcible rape, three felony counts of lewd acts on a minor, one felony count of kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. What does your client say about these charges and what do you and your client say about the nature of their relationship?

CHARLES FRISCO, ATTORNEY: Well, at this time -- thank you for having me on and giving me the opportunity to express our feelings and sentiments.

I haven't had a lot of time to talk to my client and I don't have anything from the district attorney other than the charges in terms of trying to explain to him what the accusations are. The district attorney is already talking about the case, talking about what this woman is to have said, parroting what she has to say, taking choice parts out of the police report that favor them.

I haven't received anything in terms of any police reports. It's hard to explain to my client what he's up against until I have that. The district attorney of Orange County is legally obligated to give me those reports.

Yesterday was the day for the arraignment. And even though they're legally and morally bound to give me that, they didn't give that to me. So, it's very difficult to explain to my client what he's up against.

We do have the witnesses, the neighbors, the nanny, the employees, the employers that knew my client that said that this was something that is absolutely unbelievable. They knew him. They can talk, they have been talking. That's what's been enlisted so far. If you listen to what they have to say, it sounds like he's not guilty and this is all fabricated.

BERMAN: But, you know, Mr. Frisco, Kate Bolduan had an interview with Michelle Knight, one of the survivors of the Cleveland kidnapping. Michelle Knight bravely points out you don't know, we don't really know what went on inside that house.

Chains don't have to be made of iron. They can be emotional. They can be psychological.

We've seen again and again, Jaycee Dugard, those three girls in Cleveland, what this kind of emotional torture can do over the years. So just because a neighbor from the outside is saying it looked normal to me in the three or four times I saw them over ten years, that doesn't necessarily mean this girl wasn't kidnapped and held against her will.

FRISCO: Well, we're familiar with what happened in Orange County, not too long ago, in 2013. Remember the Saudi American princess who was framed as a defendant. After investigation, it was revealed that the charges couldn't stick, that she, like my client was in a situation where the purported victim was independent, was free to leave, had her own cell phone, had access to the police, could have done a lot of things. The orange county district attorney evidently -- not evidently, they did end up dismissing the case.

That very well could happen in this case. I'm looking forward to that.

My understanding is the investigation is on going and that's why they haven't provided me with discovery. There's no Orange County district attorney exception. They must provide me the discovery. If the Asian is on going, why don't they give me what they have? It's unfair for me to be put on the spot and speak for my client when they have the police reports, they're doing opening statements, they're doing closing arguments and I don't have anything whatsoever in terms of police reports or discovery. That's absolutely unfair.

BERMAN: There is a procedure that needs to take place here. We do expect that will happen.

Let's talk about the timeline here because this also is something that could be a problem for your client, even if, as you suggest, that this was a willing, happy marriage for many years that has now split up, how do you explain the years from when she was 15 years old to 18 years old. You're a lawyer. Legally speaking, is there any way there can be a consensual relationship there? My understanding is the answer to that is simply no.

FRISCO: The range of these charges vary in terms of culpability. If you're talking about statutory rape which is completely different than kidnapping and completely different than forcible rape, and I assume that's what you're talking about. That was something that was supposed to have taken place over ten years ago.

Again, I don't know exactly what the district attorney is saying. Until I have that, it's not fair for me to respond. I've spoken with my client, not at length, but because of the language barrier and because of the short amount of time I've had in terms of trying to address everything the district attorney has been saying. I can't provide you an answer. I wish I could.

BERMAN: But you are a lawyer. You understand the law better than I do. If they had sex between the ages of 15 and 18, there was a law broken there, correct?

FRISCO: If that were the case, that absolutely would be a crime, yes. That would be considered statutory rape.

BERMAN: And would that be an indication for you --

FRISCO: I don't have any facts -- I don't have any facts to support that other than what has been told to me by the district attorney and the media. I tried to pick up the discovery at 10:00 in the morning during the arraignment yesterday, said it wouldn't be available until 1:30. I went to the office at 1:30 to pick it up. They told me at 1:30 they can't give it to me because the investigation is on going. Evidently, it's very possible that the investigation, like the Saudi Arabian princess case perhaps is going that way. Perhaps it's taking a turn in terms of trying to exonerate my client. I don't know. You have the same questions that I do.

BERMAN: Well, Mr. Frisco, I appreciate you coming in and talking to us. We hope you get the questions you're after.

We understand you have a job to do. And please come back and talk to us again after you have had a chance to speak to your client. There's a lot we'd like to understand about this as well.

Thanks, Charles Frisco.

FRISCO: Thank you.

BERMAN: Kate?

BOLDUAN: Well, that case plays out, John. Thank you very much. We'll continue to watch that.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: Michelle Knight who survived the Cleveland house of horrors. She's outraged by the claims that the California woman made up her ordeal. We'll hear her powerful response in a NEW DAY exclusive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KNIGHT: Just because you're not chained up and you're not locked in a basement doesn't mean you ain't trapped.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Now to a NEW DAY exclusive.

This morning we've been following the story of a California woman found alive after allegedly being held captive for ten years. The suspect's attorney just spoke with John Berman. You just heard from him, he suggested the victim may be making it up. The neighbors say they looked like a happy couple.

Well, earlier, I spoke with someone who can relate, Michelle Knight. She survived more than ten years inside that Cleveland house of horrors. She had a lot she wanted to say about this incredible story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Michelle, it is so great to see you.

KNIGHT: Hello. I'm glad to be here. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: It must be hard, I've been thinking, for you to retell your story over and over again, especially on your book tour. Has it been difficult for you?

KNIGHT: It's been difficult but, like I said, I'm trying to help other people, and if I can help just one person by my story or more than one person, I'm well -- welcome to do it.

BOLDUAN: You hear of this story, the possibility of another woman being held, abused for ten years. She was taken when she was 15 years old. What went through your mind? What goes through your mind when you hear about this?

KNIGHT: Well, right now what's going through my mind is people shouldn't judge people by what they see and what they hear because there's a lot of people out there that go through pain, and they can't stop it. They don't know how to cope with it. They don't know exactly how to go through it.

People shouldn't say anything about what they can't explain because it may be difficult for that woman, that woman that went through this. And it's very hard for her when people are saying bad things about her and saying that she's lying.

You don't know what went through her head. You don't know what that was doing to her. You have absolutely no clue what she went through to say things and say that she was lying or she's doing this.

You're making her life not able to function or heal properly when you do these things to people. You're making people not want to come out, not want to say anything. You're making people want to sit there and keep it to them self and go through the abuse when you say stupid crap like that. I need a break!

BOLDUAN: I'm so sorry, Michelle.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Obviously so difficult. Michelle did need some time, clearly so difficult to talk about this subject in particular. We took a break, but she did want to keep talking about this.

She had a lot more she wanted to say to people who don't believe this victim's story. This speaks to a larger message that she has. She also wanted to speak to this woman in California herself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: This hits so close to home. This is so hard.

KNIGHT: Yes. Yes, it does. It hits really close to home. And I want to let her know that I care. I understand. And don't let anybody break you down. Don't let what people are saying about you hurt you or make you feel ashamed.

Push through it. Ignore them because they're just ignorant. And understand that there are people out there that are going through the same pain you are and going through the same struggle, regardless if they're a man or woman. Understand. Come forward. Don't be ashamed because you did nothing wrong. You did nothing.

BOLDUAN: You talk about ignore -- ignore them, push through. It's that ability to keep faith and have strength through that storm that I think people really are amazed, one of the reasons people are really amazed with you. Where do you find your strength? Where do you find -- where did you find your ability to cope through that darkness?

KNIGHT: At first, I didn't believe in God, but now I do. And I got the strength, I was born with it by him. I just had to believe in myself that I can make it through anything, and that's exactly what I did.

I looked for the beauty in life, because there's so much goodness in life and less evil. We just have to believe in hope. And it's within ourselves, the strength and the courage to make it through anything.

BOLDUAN: Even if, as prosecutors have said in this -- in this case with this woman, they said there may have been no physical chains that she was being held by, but the emotional chains, that emotional abuse is what kept that woman tied to her captor.