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U.S. Troops Out of Afghanistan By 2016; Thunder Fight Back, Series Tied 2-2; U.S. Marine in Mexico Jail; Discussing California Killer's Personality With Someone Who Knew Him

Aired May 28, 2014 - 06:30   ET


KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: 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.

So, again, this is -- it is -- I think it is a welcome step, I think, Paul would -- as Paul would argue, by a very war-weary nation, but does it achieve larger national security and foreign policy objectives.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: What does the president say, Paul, to the criticism of the kind of arbitrary timeline? The suggestion that the president is basing the timeline for withdrawal on politics rather than conditions on the ground?

Buck McKeon to "The New York Times" saying holding this mission to an arbitrary egg-timer doesn't make a lick of sense. Kevin talking about Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte saying that -- his withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is a monumental mistake and a triumph of politics over strategy.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, what an insult to the country and frankly to the troops that are fighting this war to pretend that this is some sort of an egg-timer deal.

You know, one of my boys is just finishing seventh grade. He is a teenager. He has never known America at peace. We have been at war almost -- missed the first few months of his life when he was a tiny baby was when we went to war in Afghanistan. We are still fighting it. Enough is enough.

At some point -- this is now three times the length of World War II? The notion that somehow the answer here is more war longer in Afghanistan is nuts.

The president, I think, is going to be criticized you saw from Kevin from both sides. You see some on the hawkish right who are going to say, well, that's not enough troops. There's a lot of people in America and on the left and actually some on the right, who are going to say, really, why are you still putting 9,800 troops in there, Mr. President? BOLDUAN: And we're only talking right now, really, the president's approach for foreign policy towards Afghanistan. It will be interesting. Everyone is looking forward to hearing his approach, how it may change towards Syria and also the extending growing threats from places in the Middle East and even reaching into Africa.

A lot of eyes will be on this speech this morning. Got to at the time your guys' take on bit waiting in politics in a very, very different way, but I found it interesting. Michelle Obama really taking to it Republicans wading into politics in a way she hasn't before on the issue of school lunch.

Paul, why is she taking them on?

BEGALA: Well, I think at her word. She said she's reacting to this as a mom, as well as a first lady. Of course, she has made nutrition and healthy kids the focal point of her service as our first lady and what's going on is -- there are in part because of the first lady, tough new, wonderful new, healthy new nutritional standards in the school lunch program.

Now, a congressman from Alabama, Robert Aderholt, has said he wants to maybe slow walk them or scale them back and, of course, Alabama, great state. I love Alabama, spent a lot of time there -- the second highest obesity rate in America.

The motion of one of Alabama's congressman is trying to slow walk the first lady's efforts on obesity is very offensive. So, good for her. I love her. Great for her.

BOLDUAN: And a lot of people love her, Kevin, which might be a Republican problem here. Why oh why, do Republicans want to taken on, number one, trying to make school lunch healthier for kids, and number two, the first lady?

MADDEN: Well, this isn't about Republicans. I know Paul is quick to outrage. This is about local school nutrition officials who feel that these regulations, surprise, surprise, the Obama administration trying to impose federal standards on local officials, and it's not working.

They're feeling that these standards are not working right now. And they're not asking for them to be rolled, as much as they're asking for waivers for those school districts that are losing money as a result of these federal regulations and they're losing taxpayer dollars here. So, that's all they're giving. They're providing flexibility to federal regulations that were pushed by the Obama administration. It sounds a little bit like some of the waivers that they gave on Obamacare.

BOLDUAN: Oh, and even fit in Obamacare reference. That's a full --

MADDEN: If it's OK to roll back those standards why not these on school lunches?

BOLDUAN: And we call that a robust debate.

All right. Kevin, Paul, great to see you guys. Thanks so much.

BEGALA: Thanks, Kate.

MADDEN: Great to be with you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, speaking of predictions. At least one person at this table knew that the OKC Thunder would be back in the NBA's Western Finals even though they were getting trounced early on.

Joe Carter was not one of them. I'll have you know that.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Is it Michaela or is it Kate? I can't remember.


CUOMO: No, it was the ugly guy in the middle, J.C. I told you.


BOLDUAN: Thank you, Joe.

CARTER: You're very welcome.

What I like about this, Chris, is we got a series now. We absolutely have an interesting one to watch. It's starting to feel like 2012.

If you're a Spurs fan you're thinking, oh, no, not 2012 because in that series Oklahoma City was down 0-2 but then they came back and won four straight against the spurs. They went on to the NBA finals.

Bottom line here, if Serge Ibaka had not returned, Oklahoma City was done in the series. Now, that he's back the Spurs offense is all out of sorts and Russell Westbrook, wow. What a monster game for him last night, 40 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, five steals. Michael Jeffrey Jordan was the last player to put up playoff numbers like that.

So, now, the series is tied 2-2 and goes back to San Antonio for a game five Thursday night with all the pressure in the world on those guys.

All right. Now, to hockey. Eastern conference finals. Canadians are not going away without a fight. Down 3-1 in the series. Montreal had a huge night. Finished with a hat trick last night.

The Canadians went on to win big, 7-4. So, now, the series shifts back to New York for game six on Thursday, which, of course, is where the Rangers can close this thing out on home ice. But if they don't, it goes back to Montreal for game seven and no Rangers fan wants that.

All right. This one's good. Number one in the lineup section on Rapper 50 Cent threw out the first pitch at the Mets game and it ranks as one of the worst ever. I don't know if it's left-handed or right-handed. So bad. His video went viral quickly as you can imagine. Think of the number of bad first pitches out there. Carl Lewis, the former mayor of Cincinnati, Baba Booey, your boy in New York on the Howard Stern show, Mariah Carey. But that one definitely ranks up there with one of the worst ever, guys.

What do you think?

BOLDUAN: And he's built like he could definitely throw a baseball.

CARTER: He looks like a linebacker is the way he's built.

PEREIRA: It looks like he threw with the wrong hand.

BOLDUAN: Let's give it to him. Let's just tell 50 that he's right- handed.

CARTER: You have to know going into that --

CUOMO: He's going to have to change his name to a nickel after that.

CARTER: You have to know going into that it's not going to go well. When somebody said, hey, we want you to do this. Think, maybe I should just say no based on that throw. I don't know.

CUOMO: You can't expect that. You can't expect that. That was the worst thing ever. Unless he had thrown it into the crowd and hit a child.

CARTER: He said afterwards on Twitter, "I'm a hustler, not a ballplayer."

BOLDUAN: There you go.

CARTER: There you go.

BOLDUAN: Stay in your lane.

CARTER: I think he lost all of his hustler cred, though, guys.

CUOMO: Yes, whatever.

BOLDUAN: Moral of the story: stay on your lane.

PEREIRA: A run-through at least.

CUOMO: Whatever -- no, he panicked.

BOLDUAN: Now, none of us can throw a pitch after we've clowning on 50 Cent.

CUOMO: I could definitely throw a pitch and I will definitely do better than that. I tell you that right now. I can throw it with my foot and do better than that.

BOLDUAN: I would like to see that. He has -- CUOMO: Come on. That was bad. It was bad. There's no qualifier on it. It was terrible.

And he couldn't have practiced because if you knew you were capable of that, you would have never walked out there.

BOLDUAN: Maybe he was nervous, sweaty hands.

CUOMO: He needed to faint immediately in order to have any kind of cause for that.

BOLDUAN: Pretend like someone had beaten him in the head.

CUOMO: I mean, that was a violation of man law.

BOLDUAN: No, it wasn't. It was a violation of sport law.

CUOMO: Discuss amongst yourself. Tweet me, #terrible.

Coming up on NEW DAY, a respected U.S. marine is jailed in Mexico. You probably know this but did you know he's facing more than 20 years behind bars for what he calls a harmless mistake, literally missing an exit.

Why isn't the U.S. doing more to spring him? His mother is going to join us live.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

A U.S. marine veteran who has been in a Mexican jail for nearly two months goes before a judge for the first time today to plead his case. Andrew Tahmooressi has been jailed since the 31st of March when he says he accidentally crossed the border carrying three guns. Now, he is facing several weapons related charges and his lawyers say unless a top government official intervenes, Andrew could sit in jail for a long time.

Joining us this morning is his mom, Jill Tahmooressi.

Jill, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

I want to walk through the situation. Your son is in San Diego, trying to meet up with friends. Doesn't know the area very well. Takes a wrong turn. Finds himself at the border. Asks the border guard if he can turn around and that's when the nightmare begins because he mass guns in his car, guns legal in the U.S. but not legal in Mexico? Do I have that right?

JILL TAHMOORESSI, MOTHER OF JAILED U.S. MARINE: Yes, correct. He did dial 911 when he realized that he was where he didn't want to be. He called 911 to help him get back to the border. But that response was not provided.

PEREIRA: Now, we also know that your son was in San Diego getting some help for PTS. We understand what that he was diagnosed and was receiving help. How was your son leading up to this incident? How was he doing?

TAHMOORESSI: Well, he's had two tour combat veteran of Afghanistan, meritoriously promoted on the battlefield February 2012. He was in the harshest of conditions in Afghanistan, so, yes, he was suffering from symptoms of PTSD which is why he was out in San Diego at the invite of a marine friend and just March 12th he was diagnosed positive for PTSD and started a treatment plan.

But within days he was imprisoned in Mexico, his life threatened, four-point chained restrained to a bed for 35 days. So, he's been brutalized and definitely a setback from his recovery from PTSD.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. We can understand that.

Is there any chance, Jill, that critics are going to say he must have done something. Is there any chance that he could have done something that was misconstrued by those agents to illicit such a response?

TAHMOORESSI: In fact, he said he felt very confident the first agents that he met at the border when he crossed accidentally, the Mexican custom agents, he believed that they understood that it was a mistake, that he had accidentally entered which actually happens hundreds of times a day.

I hear from this State Department. And they were flagging over an escort car to help him get back and turned around. Yet, the military then came on board, the Mexican military, and everything went south of the border, literally, from that point.

PEREIRA: He has sense been moved from the situation where he was one of the most violent prisons in Mexico, La Mesa. He was there for a short time. He's since moved. Have the conditions for him improved now where he is?

TAHMOORESSI: Yes, because he's not fearing that his life will be taken every second. Now, he is in isolation, confinement, yet he is not with the general populous, which is favorable. And he does have a 24/7 guard that's with him at all times.

PEREIRA: Talk about today. We know he's going before a judge, this first hearing. How is he feeling and how are you feeling about this hearing today?

TAHMOORESSI Bittersweet. It's 60 days out. We can't understand how -- I'm a mother, and I had all the evidence in my hand within three days and all the guns were legally purchased in America, the 911 tape clearly states, I accidentally entered Mexico, please help me because they're trying to take my guns.

He disclosed immediately that he didn't want to be at the border because he had three guns in his car. All of his possessions were in his truck. He had not yet found permanent housing. He had just moved from Florida. He was going to set up home in San Diego, get a job, continue with his V.A. treatment that had just started March 12th. Yet he was arrested that day. So he is relieved that he will be able to go before the judge today and explain precisely how he made that accidental wrong turn and ended up in the dilemma that he's in right now.

PEREIRA: Well, you know, there's public support. He's garnering some public support. There's a demonstration scheduled at the border today, letters from Congressmen vouching for his character and bravery and service to the United States.

I want you to do something for me right now. Secretary of State John Kerry is going to be on our program a little later this morning. We know that he has spoken briefly, we're told, with the Mexican president about your son. What do you -- what's the message you want too give to Secretary Kerry right now?

TAHMOORESSI: To advocate for his expedited due process so that an eminent release will occur because the evidence is clear that it was an accidental, no intention to enter Mexico with firearms. And, also, as -- at an executive level, the White petion, President Obama, I need 10,000 signatures a day to reach the 100,000 signature threshold May 31st of this month to also receive a response from President Obama. But I'm looking forward to Secretary of State John Kerry's response. I know he raised the issue, and I'm hopeful for a little bit more detail on that.

PEREIRA: Yeah, he raised the issue with Mexican authorities. I didn't mean to say the president. The is a petition you set up. Folks if they want to get involved, they can do that.

Jill, we can understand your concern and your fear, but we hope that you stay hopeful for your son's release. Andrew Tahmooressi jailed in a Mexican prison right now awaiting his fate today.

Jill, thanks for joining us.


PEREIRA: Chris, Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, coming up next on NEW DAY, California community is still mourning and in shock after the deadly stabbing and shooting rampage that happened there. Did the people around the Santa Barbara killer at all see this coming? Someone who knew him well is here to discuss.


CUOMO: You probably don't want to waste too much of your time learning what was going on in inside the head of this shooter out in Santa Barbara, but the more we know about the motivation, the more we can understand how to fix the problem going forward.

Now we have someone coming on the show right now who knew the shooter, met him back in 2000, described him as more disturbing than he was comfortable with. Five years later that same kid went on a killing spree in Santa Barbara killing six.

So Lenny Shaw (ph) is a valuable resource in understanding what happened here and why the 22-year-old gunman was friends with two others whom the professor knew very well. And he joins us.

Lenny, thank you for joining us. I know this is a difficult conversation to have. And to make it clear, you were close with a couple of former students who were childhood friends with the shooter, and that's how you came to know him. Yes?

LENNY SHAW (ph), KNEW CALIFORNIA SHOOTER: Yes, that's correct. Elliott himself was not one of my students, but I -- but I met him through a group of my former students.

CUOMO: All right, one key critical question. People want to dismiss him as a bad guy who was influenced by movies and had access to guns too easily because of the current state of our gun laws. The person you got to know, any question in your mind as to whether or not this was about mental illness?

SHAW: Oh, there's no question in my mind that this is about -- that this was about mental illness. It touches upon gun issues, it touches upon gender issues. But the -- but the main rubric is that this was a young gentleman with some very severe problems in relating to others socially.

CUOMO: So it's not about him being a movie or a gun law away from being safe to society. He had real plans in his head?

SHAW: Yeah, I mean, you know, that wasn't obvious, that directly, you know, three to five years ago. I was just aware of it when I met him. I just thought he was awkward, you know, standoffish, shy.

But it was when I had couple of conversations with him, just casual conversations with him, that I saw that this was more than just, you know, someone of late adolescence that enjoyed shocking people. It was his certitude and his clarity of his very, you know, strange belief system that frankly creeped me out a little bit.

CUOMO: One of the major indications of mental illness, he had these competing problems in his head, right? He saw himself as less than but also at the same time delusions of grandeur, right? Tell me about that.

SHAW: Yeah, yeah, that's, you know, that's correct. He was very insecure. Now, I want to make it clear that the person that we saw in that final video, the infamous YouTube video, I saw that element of him, but he also -- he had feelings. He was completely wrapped up in his own delusions.

But I saw at one point he had tears in his eyes when he was feeling sorry for himself. You know, I did see him exhibit some emotion. But, yeah, there was a consistency in the theme that young women didn't appreciate him. They didn't care about him. It was unfair. That part that has been portrayed is pretty accurate. CUOMO: And then it morphed into his feeling that women were less than, they should be subjugated, he should be under their (sic) control, like some kind of a new kingdom where he could rule it. And then there was something that literally was just too much for you. What was it that made you decide, I need to stay clear of this person?

SHAW: Well, it was when I was having a casual conversation with him. A bunch of us were at a street fair in -- in Venice area, local area of Los Angeles here. And I don't know how the conversation started, but he was just musing on how he thought the women were inferior. And -- and -- and it was at that point, as I say, that clarity and certitude in -- in his voice kind of had me concerned.

As recently as -- well, as recently as two months ago, he was a Facebook friend of mine. It's a pretty, you know -- it's a pretty casual relationship. And I didn't want to really ever want to, you know, be with him again, but he was there on Facebook, and he made some comment in a threat of mine on my wall that teenagers who have sex should be given capital punishment. At that point it was partly that I didn't want my other Facebook friends to ask who is this person, and I just thought it was just more prudent to just block him from my -- from my Facebook account.

CUOMO: Any thought to alerting authorities about this guy?

SHAW: I -- not on my part. I -- and that was because I -- I didn't know his family. There were other older adults that he knew better. I don't know if they necessarily, other than his parents, saw this side of him. And I didn't think it would be inappropriate -- I thought it would be inappropriate for me to get that actively involved when -- when -- when I didn't know the key people in his life, specifically his parents.

CUOMO: Regret that now?

SHAW: No, no, you know, at the risk of sounding, you know, insensitive to the terrible, terrible thing that happened last Friday night, frankly, since they didn't really know me, they -- you know, I was, again, primarily friend -- I mean, I knew Elliott, but it was a casual relationship. I, you know, saw him maybe eight to ten times.

I, frankly, think that they would have gone, who is Lenny Shaw, who is this person, why is he saying these terrible things? You know, I don't think I was close enough to the situation to -- that it was appropriate that I be the one. There were other people there, and it is my understanding that he was under care.

CUOMO: Right.

SHAW: But the care he was under was probably not intensive enough.

CUOMO: Certainly something went wrong. That's for sure. And I know a lot of people are as asking questions of themselves who knew him, and that's why I asked you.

But Lenny Shaw, thank you for helping us understand what this man was and wasn't and how we got to where we are today. Appreciate it.

SHAW: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right.

So we're following that story as we have new developments, but there are some other big stories to start your new day. Donald Sterling says the NBA process is a sham and illegal. Meanwhile, his wife is already trying to sell the team.

Can President Obama defend a foreign policy condemned as weak and ineffective? Secretary of State John Kerry is here to make the case.

And four teenagers save a newborn with a big assist from social media. An amazing tale of heroism. Let's get after all of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Sterling is apparently not going to go quietly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The letter does not hold back, 26 pages ripping into the NBA.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boko Haram terrorized her family for years, torching her father's Christian church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He told my dad he met his fate and he (inaudible) -- that is the reason why they shoot him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two California assembly members announcing legislation.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): There are compromises that will save lives. Background checks will help stem and stop gun violence.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, May 28th, 7:00 now in the east.

And it appears at least one person named Sterling is trying to sell the L.A. Clippers, and that name isn't Donald. Sterling says the NBA is trying to violate his constitutional rights and that he'll sell the team if and when he wants to. Meanwhile, wife Shelly definitely wants to and reportedly is moving quickly to sell the team and has offers in the billions.

CNN's Rosa Flores is following developments. Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. Well, Donald Sterling comes out swinging in this 26-page letter to the NBA claiming his constitutional rights have been violated and that a forced sale creates an egregious tax hit for his family. Let's not forget he purchased the Clippers for about $12 million, and the team may sell for as much as $2.5 billion