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Sterling Vows To Fight For Clippers; Obama To Address Foreign Policy Priorities; Obama Delays Deportation Review; Thousands Honor Killing Spree Victims; Op-Ed Blames Hollywood Culture for Rampage

Aired May 28, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, May 28th, 6:00 in the east and fighting words from banned L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, in a full throated response to the NBA he claims the league has no right to terminate his ownership, mainly because his racist comments were illegally recorded during a lover's quarrel.

League owners convene next week to vote on Sterling's future. Meantime his wife, Shelly, is reportedly working to sell the team ahead of that meeting. CNN's Rosa Flores is following the developments for us. What do you see out there, Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No one thought that Donald Sterling would go down without a fight. In fact, in this 26-page letter, he explains his game plan.


FLORES (voice-over): The letter does not hold back, 26 pages ripping into the NBA, calling the penalties draconian, the process a sham and unconstitutional, and vowing to fight to the bitter end. The main argument of the letter, quote, "a jealous rant to a lover never intended to be published cannot offend the NBA rules." The letter describes this taped outburst as a, quote, "inflamed lover's quarrel in which he was clearly distraught."

After the tape went public, Sterling was banned for life from NBA facilities and functions and ordered to pay a record $2.5 million fine. Sterling and his wife say the tape was illegally recorded and cannot be used against him and though Sterling himself apologized in an interview with CNN --

DONALD STERLING, OWNER, L.A. CLIPPERS: I'm so sorry. I'm so apologetic.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": What are you sorry about?

STERLING: Well, I'm sorry that so many people are hurt.

FLORES: He now says those offenses, though not justified, don't compare to others committed inside the NBA, like Kobe Bryant using a homophobic slur at a ref. Bryant was fined $100,000 for that. Making it more confusing, his wife, Shelly, reportedly has written permission from Sterling to sell the team. A source says she's moving quickly, having already met with several perspective buyers.


FLORES: Now, Sterling also explains he does not give up his right to sue. Of course, this all culminates when the NBA Board of Governors votes on June 3rd. If you were wondering if he mentioned Magic Johnson perhaps in this letter, he absolutely does and he says even though his views are unpopular that doesn't mean that he should be punished for it.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And it continues with a statement from Donald Sterling. In the meantime, the NBA continues with their process to take him out.

Let's move on to after more than a decade of war, President Obama is preparing to make a very important speech this morning outlining a new approach on foreign policy. He's come under fire in recent years, of course, for perceived passive approach from his critics called as passive approach in dealing with international dilemmas including Russia, Syria, and the global terror threat.

The president is making his address during West Point's graduation ceremony this morning. This all comes a day after he outlined plans for a major drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. CNN's Michelle Kosinski is at the White House with much more. Michelle, what are we expecting to hear from the president today?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Right, one day after the president laid out his plan for what he called a way forward in Afghanistan, bringing America's longest war to a responsible end, which would entail keeping 9,800 U.S. troops thereafter this year, drawing that down to a force of 1,000 after 2016 to support the embassy, which by the way, some critics felt was too arbitrary.

Today this West Point commencement speech, he will paint a broader picture of the U.S.' role in the world. Something his advisers say is international, interventionist, but not isolationist or unilateral. And both analysts and his advisers say, look, we need to strike a balance between the U.S. taking a lead in world events but not over- extending ourselves.

It could get quite specific. The president could make an announcement about training the Syrian opposition, for example, and could make mention of the U.S.' use of drones -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: When you talk of balance, Michelle, makes you wonder how much of this speech do you think will be the president answering to critics because you know the White House bristles at any suggestion that the president has been weak on foreign policy or will it be more on his policy prescriptions going forward?

KOSINSKI: Right. This is a tough one. I mean, to be proactive would be the thing to do, to take the lead actively. Then again, this could be tough to turn heads. We talked to one analyst who advised both Democrats and Republicans. And he described the president's position as kind of like mission impossible.

He faces a public but sometimes clamors for more, that doesn't like his foreign policy, which he felt in some cases was justified where rhetoric doesn't always meet action. But it's always a public that is risk averse. He says the president just needs to say what he means and mean what he says -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Looking for that balance, almost an impossible task. We'll see you later this morning. Michelle, thank you very much from the White House for us.

Coming up later on in the show we're going to talk more about the president's foreign policy speech. We are going to hear directly from the president's own secretary of state, John Kerry.

CUOMO: Also breaking overnight, President Obama trying to keep hope alive on comprehensive immigration reform ordering Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson to delay releasing a review of U.S. deportation policies until the end of the summer. Why? Well, the administration is seeing a narrow window in June/July where Congress could act before shifting focus to November's midterms.

Athena Jones is following developments from Washington. Athena, we're looking at the let's slow it down so we can move ahead strategy here.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's right, Chris. It's got a lot of people angry. The White House believes that there is room for the House specifically to act on immigration reform. The Senate passed an immigration reform bill almost a year ago and the White House and Democrats say that that bill would pass the House if House Speaker John Boehner would just bring it up for a vote.

So in the words of a White House official, they want to delay the release of this review by Secretary Johnson because they don't want it to, quote, "interfere with a possibility of action in the House." But of course this is a big deal, this has immigrant rights groups and many in the Latino community especially very angry.

We have a release from the Dream Action Coalition they put out last night saying that Democrats are giving the Latino and immigrant community false hope. There's no reason to do that. There's no reason to take back the pressure on the president as well as on Congress to get this done. That gives you some sense of the kind of pressure the president is going to be under that same group back in March when this deportation review was announced said press releases, actions speak louder than press releases.

So there's a lot of attention on this president for what a lot of groups see as one of his broken promises. We remember that President Obama wanted to get immigration reform done during his first term. That didn't happen health care took precedence so that's why we're here now -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Athena Jones, thanks so much, Athena. Five days after a mentally ill gunman went on of a killing spree that left six students dead, classes are set to resume this morning. UC Santa Barbara school officials declared Tuesday a day of mourning and reflection for the campus. Over 20,000 people, most of them students, gathered inside the campus stadium last night for what turns out to be a heart wrenching vigil.

Stephanie Elam is live in Santa Barbara with much more. Good morning, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. It was just the beginning of a healing process and the UCSB community coming together to show that they're stronger than this tragedy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not one more. Not one more.

ELAM (voice-over): Chanting to end gun violence around 20,000 people packed a UC Santa Barbara stadium.

JANET NAPOLITANO, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: We are here because we want to share memories of the young lives struck down far too soon.

ELAM: Honoring all six victims murdered in the killing spree at the hand of 22-year-old Elliott Rodger, speakers demanding change so a deadly rampage like this does not happen again.

RICHARD MARTINEZ, SON SHOT AND KILLED BY ELLIOT RODGER: How many more people are going to have to die in this situation before the problem gets solved?

ELAM: Already one proposed change. Two California assembly members announcing legislation Tuesday, leaders on the national level speaking out as well.

SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: There are compromises that will save lives. Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people, whether they're severely mental ill or felons or drug addicts, background checks will help stem and stop gun violence.

ELAM: More vigils were held across Santa Barbara. As video and stories of heroism emerge. This surveillance video capturing students inside a pizza parlor, ducking and scrambling for cover as the gunman driving by fires inside.

RANJEET THIARA, 7-ELEVEN STORE OWNER: People were panicking. I told them, don't worry. Everything is fine.

ELAM: A Good Samaritan, the clerk of a 7-eleven ran outside to help a cyclist who was shot. Pulling her to safety and telling her she would survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a stool and we put her down right here, you know, and we sat her down. You could see she had two gun shots right here. You can kind of see the bullets.

ELAM: Twelve others were injured as Rodger fired round after round. This morning classes at the university are set to resume.


ELAM: Set to resume as the humanity of the actions of some of these people is starting to come to light. And that is what the UCSB community is starting to focus on -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It's going to be a struggle for those kids heading back to school and get some sense of normalcy back. Our thoughts are with them. Stephanie, thanks for that report.

Let's look at more of your headlines right now. Breaking overnight in Afghanistan, two Americans have been wounded in an attack on a U.S. Consulate vehicle in the city of Herat in Western Afghanistan. Officials say the vehicle was traveling on a main road when it was hit. The victims are being treated in the hospital. We're told their injuries are not considered serious.

The State Department is warning Americans in Libya to get out immediately due to the unpredictable and unstable security situation. Three years after the revolution, bloody battles from pushed the country to the brink of chaos. Officials say they can only offer very limited services to American citizens but this morning a U.S. warship with some 1,000 Marines and 18 helicopters on board is headed to the region in the event of evacuations.

The VA is refusing to confirm whether three of its top officials will show up for a big House hearing tonight. Lawmakers want to grill them about an alleged cover-up at the VA hospital in Phoenix where dozens of veterans may are have died awaiting treatment that never came. CNN has been investigating the allegations for months now.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a complete review of the military's health care system to make sure it is not plagued by the very same problems that are facing the VA.

Big night for the Tea Party in Texas winning two primary runoffs. CNN projects former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliff beating 91-year-old representative, Ralph Hall forcing the House's oldest member to surround his seat.

Talk radio host, Dan Patrick, won a nomination for lieutenant governor over David Dewhurst who is running for a fourth term.

BOLDUAN: Big night in runoff land.

PEREIRA: I know. Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: More of those to come throughout the summer.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, inside the troubled mind of the Isla Vista killer. What was suggestions Hollywood helped to drive him to seek revenge on all the women he believed had rejected him. CUOMO: And she usually avoids political battles, but this time, the first lady, Michelle Obama is taking on House Republicans. Why she says a new GOP plan for school lunches could make your kids sick.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

Another killing spree, another search for answers. Might it be different this time? After six innocent people were slaughtered in Santa Barbara, California, calls for blame and change. "Washington Post" op-ed courts controversy, blaming Hollywood for the killer's feelings of self entitlement. Others point to a culture of misogyny.

But could the biggest point, the biggest cause, the biggest thing to fix is something we're not hearing enough about.

Let's bring in Dr. Jodi Gold, adult psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College. And Xavier Amador, a clinical psychologist, professor at Columbia University.

All right. So, what am I referring to? Obviously, mental health. We hear this every time. It's the images, it's the media, it's me and how I cover it, you know? And it's that men hate women, and the guns, everybody has guns. We must fight that battle.

We hear those every time and then there's a whisper. You know, this person was actually mentally ill. Oh, but we don't want to deal with that, he's still criminally responsible.

How do you break through, Jodi?

DR. JODI GOLD, ADOLESCENT & YOUNG ADULT PSYCHIATRIST: It's important not to blame Hollywood and misogyny. I'm kind of excited about the idea and hopeful that maybe this actual killing would spark a debate and make a change.

CUOMO: Why this time? So many we see a repeated succession of similar types of tragedies. Why this time, professor?

XAVIER AMADOR, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I think this time because this was, again, probably the most blatant example of missed opportunity. The police came and checked on him. There was ample evidence.

And again, I talked about this before with you -- I don't know if this is a crisis intervention team police officers.


AMADOR: There are thousands.

OK. So, they weren't. They should be. This is a big movement in our country. It's a big movement internationally to train within each department, sheriff's departments, local police, even highway patrol, officers that know about mental illness, know how to ask the right questions and know better than to just talk to the individual they're concerned about, talk to the parents. If the parents say he's posting, look at the posts.

It's a really huge missed opportunity. Seven people died because of untreated mental illness. Let's be clear. People with serious psychotic disorders, I'm convinced absolutely with certainty that that's what we're talking about here with Elliot Rodger, that he had delusions, he had a psychotic illness.

CUOMO: He's not just a guy who made bad choices. Some of which was hoisted upon him by the relentless messages of media and the easy access to guns.

GOLD: No, I think this is a case of severe mental illness where there were red flags where unfortunately the system wasn't in place to intervene properly.

CUOMO: So, what do you do? You know, 350,000 people in this country have need of treatment for mental illness. We don't have but 35,000 beds. So, most of them are in prison.

GOLD: Right.

CUOMO: There is a culture of avoidance and stigma. I don't like you getting excused for your behavior by mental illness. I want you to be punished as bad, which is why I rather blame you as a misogynist and the media than say you're sick.

How do we get passed that?

AMADOR: Well, I think we look to our leaders. We look to -- there's a bill in Congress right now, Helping Families Mental Health Crisis Act. Dr. Murphy is leading a bipartisan group of enlightened congressmen who are supporting things like more inpatient beds.

Right now, I had a brother with schizophrenia. We've talked about this before. I would have to call the police on him because one of the primary symptoms is not knowing you have an illness. He would go to the hospital and they would turn him away because there were no beds, assisted outpatient treatment, court ordered treatment.

It's not the silver bullet. It's not the solution. It's an important safety net and we need that in many more states and we need funding for that.

And, finally, HIPAA laws need to change.

CUOMO: Privacy, you can't take away my privacy. Then, you'll have a chilling effect on whether or not I want to get treatment because I'll know that it's not private, Jodi. That's what you hear.

Do you buy it?

GOLD: No, I think there's a balance between protecting people's rights but we have to relook at our privacy laws. The truth is we cannot treat people with severe mental illness without having their families involved.

AMADOR: I agree with you. I think we have to relook at it but we've already done that. We've looked at it.

GOLD: We've got to take a step further.

AMADOR: A lot of this, we take a step now.

GOLD: A step further.

CUOMO: But nobody is taking the step. They would rather say, look, Seth Rogen and Jed Apatow, they're upset because they're being blamed for it. This is buzzy.

So "The Washington Post" puts an op-ed in there because that gets buzz. People want to hear about that.

They don't want to hear this discussion. This sounds like you're making excuses for bad people.

AMADOR: We're raised on the Grimm's fairy tales. We're raised to learn about good and evil. How many of us are raised to learn about brain disorders? How many of us are raised to learn about how somebody can look through the prism, the lens of delusion?

And that's what happened here. You know, was this misogyny? No, this is somebody who is delusional and misinterpreted every day rejections that we all go through, through the lens of psychosis.

Ted Kaczynski, focused on Unabomber, the first case I worked on, focused on airline pilots and university professors. That was as random as misogyny. I know it may not sound random, but I can tell you from working with thousands of people with this kind of delusion and delusional disorder, this was random.

GOLD: And people with delusional disorder don't have insight into their illness, which is why it's critical that their family be involved and that privacy laws move towards involving family and treatment.

CUOMO: I asked a cop on mental extreme situations. He said, you can take away all the guns you want, stop any movies or any type of media, you don't help people who are mentally ill, they're going to find a way and they're going to reach out, if they're violent and psychotic. Obviously, most mentally ill people don't fall in that category.

Thank you, professor, doctor. It's very important conversation to have. We have to stay at it, because in truth, the forces are against mental health change.

And you know you represented -- Tim Murphy, he's going to come on the show. He's having a hard time with his bill.

AMADOR: Well, here's an opportunity.

GOLD: It's a wonderful opportunity.

CUOMO: Let's see what we do with it. Everybody is reeling from the tragedy. We want not one more. That's the hashtag, let's see if we can make good on the promise of change.


BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY: First Lady Michelle Obama taking on House Republicans over the new school lunch plan. Are lawmakers playing politics with the health of school kids?

Also ahead, you're about to witness what many are calling the worst first pitch in baseball history. How bad is it? Well, just ask rapper 50 Cent, he's on the mound at Citi Field. Wait until you see where the ball winds up.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Here's a look at your headlines. Donald Sterling -- well, it sounds like he's ready for a fight. The banned Clippers owner drawing the line in the sand with the NBA, claiming that he cannot be punished because his racist comments were recorded illegally by V. Stiviano in the heat of a lover's quarrel. Sterling says the league's effort to terminate his ownership violates his constitutional rights. NBA owners are set to meet next week to vote on ousting Sterling.

Meantime, his wife Shelly is reportedly trying to fast track a sell of the Clippers before that meeting.

Ukraine's military leaders emboldened after retaking the airport seized by rebels in Donetsk, promising to deal a decisive blow to pro- Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Dozens of rebels were reportedly killed in fighting. Ukraine's newly president says he'll ask for the U.S. to help with military supplies and training to put down that pro-Russian rebellion.

Edward Snowden lashing out to those who call him a low-level hacker. The NSA leaker speaking to NBC News in an interview filmed in Russia where he is temporarily asylum. Snowden says he was trained as a spy, and worked undercover overseas, living under a false identity.

The former intelligence contractor is charged with espionage for downloading and releasing reams of U.S. secret documents.

Twenty-seven minutes after the hour. Those are your headlines.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

PEREIRA: No problem.

BOLDUAN: Today, President Obama is set to outline his vision for American foreign policy when he speaks at West Point's graduation ceremony. This comes just after the president announced his plans to remove the remaining 30,000 troops left in Afghanistan.

The plan is already facing some tough criticism. So, how does he defend the strategy? What does he say about U.S. foreign policy going forward? Joining us now to discuss: Kevin Madden, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, and Paul Begala, CNN political commentator, Democratic strategist, senior advisers to Priorities USA Action.

Good morning, guys.



BOLDUAN: So, Paul, president has some would say an uphill battle today to lay out what U.S. foreign policy is to apiece critics and to move on. What is the president's foreign policy?

BEGALA: Well, first and most importantly it's going to be I think the first paragraph of the history of the presidency, is that he will have ended two wars. He inherited two wars. They weren't going very well when he took office.

He has wound down America's involvement in Iraq. He's going to announce today how he will wind down the involvement in Afghanistan and I think every American, we are very war weary country, my goodness. Americans will be happy to see that.

The hard part will be this, Kate. He is going to, according to published reports, he's going to call for a residual force of 9,800 troops at a cost of $20 billion a year. We only sent $6.4 billion on Head Start for our own at risk preschoolers in America.

It's going to be a tough sell after 12 1/2 years of war to say, well, yes, it's over, but I want another $20 billion and 10,000 troops.

BOLDUAN: Kevin, does he have a point? The president made that case -- a similar case, if you will, when he made the speech in Manila. And this line always sticks with me, the president said, you hit singles, you hit doubles, sometimes you hit a home run. Why is it that everyone is so eager to use military force?

He's talking to Republicans. Why Republicans always so quick to criticize and so ready to put more troops in?

MADDEN: Well, look, I think Republicans want to see this president layout a vision for Afghanistan that is consistent with a larger foreign policy objective, a larger national security objective. That's one of the criticisms that you saw from folks like Kelly and Senator McCain yesterday that this drawdown is because of a political calendar versus it being part of a larger national security policy. So I think that's something that you're going to continue to hear.

I think to Paul's point, also, I think many of the questions from folks up on Capitol Hill, not only on the national security side but on the intelligence side, is that enough of an infrastructure to support intelligence operations related to our national security objectives there with al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations around the globe.