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EARLY START

Obama to Redefine U.S. Leadership Around the World; Bloody Battles Continue in Ukraine; Snowden: I Was Trained as a Spy; Donald Sterling Vows to Fight NBA; UCSB Remembers Six Students Lost; Bluefin- 21 On Its Final Mission; Glimpse of Google's New Driverless Car

Aired May 28, 2014 - 04:30   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A new strategy for how the U.S. will handle crisis around the world. To be announced in just hours, President Obama set to outline how little and how much the U.S. will police other countries. What we expect to hear, ahead.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As the president defines the scope of future U.S. intervention, Ukraine's leader asking the U.S. for more help pushing out pro-Russian militants. A bloody battle rages on this morning. We're live with the very latest.

ROMANS: Donald Sterling vows to fight back against the NBA, revealing his new legal strategy to keep the L.A. Clippers in his hand.

Welcome to EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. 30 minutes past the hour right now and we do have breaking news to tell you about from Afghanistan where an attack has left two Americans hurt in the city of Heart. This is in the far western part of that country near the Iranian border. The Americans were in a vehicle from the U.S. consulate and there are reports they were fired upon with a rocket propelled grenade. The Americans are being treated for their injuries which thankfully at this moment are said to be light. We will continue covering this throughout the morning.

ROMANS: The U.S.S. Bataan is on its way to Libya this morning. Officials sending the warship and some 1,000 Marines as the country spiraling out of control. Americans now being advised to leave Libya immediately due to what the State Department calls an unpredictable and unstable security situation. The warship and Marines will be there to help with any evacuations from Libya.

BERMAN: Foreign policy very much on the president's mind today. He will speaking to the graduating class at West Point. But this speech will be more than just another commencement address. The president set to recalibrate his foreign policy plans and detail the role the U.S. will play in the world going forward.

This comes just a day after the president announced the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Thousands will remain for the next year before almost all are withdrawn by 2016. Let's get more now from Jim Acosta at the White House. JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, President Obama will answer his foreign policy critics in a speech to graduates at West Point later today after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Aides to the president say now is the time for the U.S. to redefine its leadership in the world. The president's vision, officials say, is for the U.S. to intervene in foreign crises, but not act unilaterally.

In recent weeks, the president has came under heavy criticism over his handling of the civil war in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine. But White House officials say the U.S. now has greater flexibility to tackle global challenges with the war in Afghanistan winding down. The president laid out the plan to dramatically reduce troop levels in Afghanistan in a speech at the White House yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line is, it's time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The president's plan for Afghanistan would call for less than 10,000 troops in that country next year and only a fraction of that as he leaves office in 2017. A group of Republican senators led by John McCain attacked the president's proposal as a monumental mistake. John and Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Jim Acosta. Thanks for that, Jim.

One of the biggest international flash points facing the U.S. is the bloody violence in Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia appear to have had little effect so far. And now the new president-elect in Ukraine is asking -- promising to ask for more U.S. military help in Kiev's fight against militants in the east. This a day after government forces ended militant takeover of the Donestsk airport, the battles there leaving dozens dead.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh live for us this morning in Donetsk. And, Nick, it is fair to say the government's fight has new energy now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly on Monday, we saw the most decisive move the Ukrainian military has made yet in its so-called anti-terror operation against the separatists here. That was when they moved stridently in to take the airport in this city, international airport, back off the separatists that moved in that night.

That was intense fighting there and certainly 40 dead according to local officials here, most of those separatist militants, two civilians as well. That's left this city in a slight state of shock, really, I think, because for so long all the unrest had been kind of swirling around the Donetsk region, rather than actually coming on to the streets here. So people are nervous about what comes ahead. Talk of a curfew imposed by separatists and denied by the separatists. And possibly too that the anti-terror operation, as the Ukrainians call it, may, in fact, move further into the city itself.

But where does the U.S. fit into this? Well, there have been repeated requests for assistance from Ukraine. But the indication you get, frankly, is that's simply not going to happen. They don't want to get caught in a proxy war here. And also I think many in Washington concerned about further provoking Russian nationalists by sending actual military assistance here.

We've seen ourselves, meals ready to eat, those little brown packets of food that are so easy for soldiers in the field to cook and prepare, they've been sent in by the United States and often brandished around by separatists as an indication that, in fact, the U.S. is supporting the Ukrainian army here. And I think we have to see, in the days ahead, whether this marks the first part of a wider campaign by the Ukrainian military to force a solution here militarily, or if they're just showing a tough hand because, in the days ahead, they'd like to see negotiations.

Moscow wants that. The new government in Kiev wants that. The separatists haven't talked about that. But, frankly, I think they're a little confused now. But they hadn't expected the force they got when the Ukrainians moved against the airport on Monday. Christine?

ROMANS: Nick Paton Walsh. Thanks for that, Nick.

Edward Snowden is speaking out this morning, telling NBC News that he was more than just a low level hacker when he leaks reams of classified U.S. intelligence. Snowden insists he was trained as a spy, living and working overseas, was even given a fake name by the government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: I worked for the Central Intelligence Agency undercover, overseas. I have worked for the National Security Agency, undercover, overseas. And I worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency as a lecturer at the Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy where I develops sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world.

So, when they say I'm a low level systems administrator, that I don't know what I'm talking bout, I'd say it's somewhat misleading.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The interview took place in Russia. Russia, which has granted Snowden temporary asylum.

BERMAN: He spent some time talking ability his experience here. He really seems angry about being called a low level hacker by some. Interesting. All right, the top White House attorney is being asked to investigate how the identity of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan got compromised. President Obama was preparing for a briefing during his unannounced visit to Afghanistan Sunday when the names of everyone meeting with him, including the CIA station chief, were given to the press and distributed on the White House e-mail list. The station's chief identity is classified. And the concern now is that he might be in danger. This was a bad, bad mistake.

ROMAMS: All right, the White House putting on hold a comprehensive review meant to find a way to shield 11 million undocumented immigrants from being deported. Homeland Security Secretary Jay Johnson was looking into ways to let those immigrants stay in the country. But now the administration says it wants to focus more on pushing immigration reform in Congress.

BERMAN: The V.A. is refusing to confirm whether three of its top officials will show up at a House hearing tonight. Lawmakers want to ask them about an alleged cover up at the V.A. hospital in Phoenix where dozens of veterans died allegedly because of excessive treatment delays. If the V.A. officials do not appear before the Veterans Affairs Committee tonight, Republicans are threatening to subpoena them.

ROMANS: Time for an EARLY START on your money this morning. A quick look at stocks around the world. In the U.S., futures point to a higher open after a blockbuster day on Wall Street.

Here is where stocks are this year. They are higher. Look at the S&P 500. Record high yesterday. The 12th of the year. The Dow closing in on its record. Corporate profits are driving stocks right now and some big beneficiaries of those corporate profits, CEOs, whose pay is tied to how well their stock does.

"The Wall Street Journal" out with its annual list of CEO pay. Oracle's Larry Ellison takes the top spot, followed by CBS's Les Moonves. On average, CEO pay up more than 5 percent from last year. Median pay, $11.4 million. Don't spend it all in one place, John Berman. That's about 225 times the median household in America, which has been declining, by the way, down to $51,000 in 2012.

The first number and the last number on that screen is just kind of a real picture of the people who run companies and people who work for companies.

BERMAN: And a reminder that I am the boss of nothing.

ROMANS: You're the boss of you.

BERMAN: Barely.

ROMANS: You got to pick that tie today. There you go!

BERMAN: Only partially accurate. See, nothing.

ROMANS: Really? (LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: It appears banned L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling would rather fight than sell. In a formal response to the NBA, Sterling says the league cannot use his racist statements against him because they were obtained in an illegally recorded conversation with his girlfriend, V. Stiviano. He accuses the league of violating his constitutional rights to try to terminate his ownership of the team. Team owners are set to meet next week to vote on Sterling's future. In a statement, the NBA says if they vote to sustain the charges in Sterling, his interest in the Clippers will be terminated and the team sold.

Meantime, his wife, Shelly, her attorney says she is working to try to sell the team but has received no formal offers yet. There are suitors, though. We know there are suitors. There are deep seated (ph) suitors.

BERMAN: Look, and the remarkable thing with this letter we got from Sterling's lawyer is that he sort of goes on the attack talking about other NBA owners and other NBA issues, saying, look, if you're going to go after me, you're going to have start looking at some of these other things, including statements some owners made. So this is ugly already.

ROMANS: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had told me that there's no crime in being a moron. The question is can you take somebody's property? But he was pointing out that it is a franchise. So when you're part of a franchise, the other owners can vote you out.

BERMAN: It's going to be an interesting few days as this fight rages on.

20 minutes till the hour right now. A campus is in mourning, remembering the six students murdered in a rampage. The message, the father of one victim had for this crowd, a remarkable, powerful message. We'll hear it just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Southern California still in mourning today for the six people killed in a stabbing and shooting rampage near the campus of UC Santa Barbara. While many gathered Tuesday to remember the victims, others say it is time this terrible tragedy finally leads to action on guns and mental health. Kyung Lah has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 20,000 students, people in the community all filling the sports stadium here on the campus of UCSB. They're here to remember the victims. They're not here to talk about the crime or the shooter. They came to honor the six people who they lost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George Chen. Katherine Cooper. James Hong. Christopher Ross Michaels Martinez. David Wang. Veronika Weiss. (SINGING)

LAH: Also here at the memorial was a call to action by the father of Chris Martinez. Chris Martinez, just 20 years old, was at the Ivy Deli Mart getting a sandwich when he was killed. His father says that this needs to be prevented from happening again. He had this message for lawmakers in Washington.

RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF VICTIM: Not one more! Not one more! That not one more person should have to die because of this ridiculous situation.

LAH: This father and many people who are in this crowd say what will prevent it, what needs to happen now, is a true conversation, a true national discussion, about the proliferation of guns and the status of mental health in this country.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Goleta, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, thank you for that, Kyung.

Happening today, former NFL star Aaron Hernandez already charged with one killing will be in court in Boston for arraignment on a double murder charge. Prosecutors allege Hernandez gunned down two men in a drive-by shooting after a chance encounter at a Boston nightclub in 2012. He's already facing a trial for the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd last year. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.

BERMAN: An Arizona judge has denied media requests to allow live broadcast of the Jody Arias resentencing. Arias was convicted of first degree murder last year. This in the slaying in 2008 of her ex- boyfriend. But the jury could not decide between the death penalty and life in prison so a new jury will be seated in September. The judge says the proceedings can be recorded, but cannot air before a verdict is reached.

ROMANS: 34 years after he first came to Congress, Republican Representative Ralph Hall will have to call it a career. The 91-year- old, the oldest member, ever, of the House has lost a Republican primary run off, defeated by former U.S. Attorney John Rattcliffe. Ratcliffe called himself more conservative, arguing it was time for a new voice to represent the people of the suburban Dallas district.

BERMAN: So actor David Schwimmer is getting a big pat on the back from the NYPD, the "Friend" actor. I think he's done some stuff since then. He is playing a pivotal role in an alleged stabbing, allowing police to access his home security footage, which captured the tail end of a bloody brawl that unfolded outside his Manhattan home. A suspect is now in custody on robbery and assault charges. Schwimmer has not commented.

This is how the 1 percent contributes to investigations.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly. BERMAN: You can use all the security footage from in front of my very, very high-priced townhouse.

ROMANS: Look, he's a successful guy. And in my family, he's known as the voice of the giraffe on "Madagascar." That's how we know him around my house. You can tell what kind of speed my movies are.

All right, the underwater search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ends today, but after months of looking for clues and finding no answers, what are investigators planning next? We are live in Malaysia after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So this is really interesting. It is the end of the line for now for the Bluefin 21. The unmanned underwater drone today is ending its final mission searching the floor of the Indian Ocean for Flight 370. This as investigators prepare for the next phase in this search.

Our Saima Moshin is live in Kuala Lumpur with more. Saima, how long before the hunt resumes? Because this seems like they're just giving up for awhile.

SAIMA MOSHIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does feel a bit that way, doesn't it? But actually that's not what they're doing. They're just trying to catch up with planning the next phase. It's taken people by surprise that that means there's going to be a pause of up to two months, John, until they do start phase two.

Now, what they want to do is attend to (ph) contracts for the equipment that's going to be used. Now, what they want is more equipment, several machines or underwater drones that will scan that southern Indian Ocean, around 60,000 square kilometers of the zone that they need to check out. So they want more vehicles. They want one contractor to operate all of them. And they want vehicles that are sidescan sonars so they can plow a greater area of the ocean and also farther away as well, whereas the Bluefin could only do 40 square kilometers at a time. And it's managed 20 missions in its time over the last few weeks, but they're hoping to ramp that up much more with phase two. But, it's going to take a while to find those machine and contractors. John?

BERMAN: In the meantime, while we wait what could be months for more vessels to get to that area, there will be a Chinese ship on site there. What will that vessel be doing?

MOSHIN: Yes, that ocean area isn't going to be completely empty. The Zhu Kezhen has just arrived a couple days ago in the southern Indian Ocean. They are going to be mapping the underwater surface of the southern Indian Ocean. Never been done before. Let's remember that this is one of the most remote parts of the world, the remotest of oceans that people have never really even bothered to try and map before.

So they're going to be in that area doing the underwater mapping or bathymetric mapping as it's known as well. And they are going to be checking it out, seeing what they can find. They are learning about the ocean and you never know what they might find there, too, John.

Now, each time they collect the data, they're going to collect it for a week, and then at the end of the week, they're going to fly that from the vessel to Australia, to Geoscience Australia, who are going to process that data and check it out. I'm sure there's going to be many more discoveries not just related to the plane, but about the ocean surf -- the underwater area under that ocean there as well that we can learn from. John?

BERMAN: People often say we know more about the moon than we do about the ocean floor in that area. Saima Moshin, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Possible arson being investigated as the cause of a deadly fire at a hospital in South Korea. Police there are now questioning a man in his 80s in connection with that fire at a facility that treats people with dementia. The man himself was a patient there. Police say he's denying any role in the blaze. At least 21 people died in the fire. Several others were injured, some critically.

BERMAN: It's 53 minutes after the hour now. No driver? No problem. Google is out with the latest innovation, taking you from here to there. You don't have to touch the steering wheel. So what does this mean for the future and will this actually happen? We'll tell you when we get an EARLY START on Your Money, next.

ROMANS: Coming to CNN, a new series from executive producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. "THE SIXTIES", it is a decade that changed the world. The space race, the Cold War.

BERMAN: Free love.

ROMANS: Civil rights and more. The 1960s reshaped Americans' lives in ways that still affect us today. Be sure to watch here; set your DVR for the premier. It's tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern and Pacific here on CNN.

BERMAN: Free love.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right, just about two minutes to the top of the hour. Let's get an EARLY START to Your Money this morning. Futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. And if that happens, you're talking about records in the S&P 500. A big day yesterday. A record high for the S&P. The Dow and the S&P and the Nasdaq are all up for the year. The S&P 500 up a little more than 3 percent for the year.

Health care expenses are growing and worker salaries aren't keeping up. That's according to a new study from Aflac. One reason costs are going up -- employers are asking workers to contribute more to premiums. 56 percent of company employees -- of companies' employees ask companies to pay a bigger share of employees last year, of their premium. 59 percent say they'll do the same this year. For employees, that means less pocket money to cover unexpected medical bills. Two-thirds say they will not be able to handle the financial costs associated with a serious illness or an injury.

Google is giving the world a glimpse at its driverless car this morning. The company has been building prototypes. Take a look at this latest model. The car doesn't have a steering wheel, no pedals. Completely reliant on software. Just days ago, California approved a new set of regulations to govern driverless cars. Right now, to take a car on the road without a driver still requires a steering wheel in case of emergency and someone with a valid license behind.

BERMAN: Yes, that sounds like a great idea. My computer never crashes, right?

ROMANS: Well good thing is my computer always goes to slowly, it can't hurt anything.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: That's a great point.

ROMANS: Sorry tech support.

BERMAN: All right, EARLY START continues right now.

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