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Deal to Free Soldier Facing Criticism; New EPA Rule Seeks to Cut Carbon Emissions; Phil Mickelson in Insider Trading Probe

Aired June 2, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Monday, June 2nd, 8:00 in the East.

Political battles are brewing on two fronts for President Obama. First, a big shift in environmental policy is being announced today, and it's already making Republicans and some Democrats angry.

But we do want to begin this hour with the release of Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner. The deal to bring him home is not sitting well with many because five terror suspects were freed in exchange. This is new video of them. You're seeing pictures right there as they arrived in Qatar from Guantanamo Bay.

So, did the deal put more Americans at risk?

Let's start our coverage with Nic Robertson who's in Germany where Bergdahl is getting medical attention before he's going to be flown back to United States.

Nic, what's the very latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, he's now into his second day of treatment here. What doctors are doing is looking at his physical well-being, his mental well-being. They call it a reintegration process.

But also, he'll be getting questions that might lead the army to have a better intelligence, if you will, about operations the Taliban are planning right now. That, of course, will be a key part of the conversation here, lessons that can be learned by the military. All of this, of course, began almost five years ago.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): After almost five years of captivity in Afghanistan --

SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL, U.S. ARMY: Scared I won't be able to go home.

ROBERTSON: Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is free and safe. Now, new details emerging about the secret recovery effort, three years in the making. According to U.S. defense officials, a so-called "proof of life video" sent by the 28-year-old last December, incited them to broker the deal. Officials saying the soldier's sickly appearance putting them on an advanced timetable. The deal, swapping these five detainees from Guantanamo Bay in a swap for Bergdahl.

BERGDAHL: Release me, please. I'm begging you. Bring me home.

ROBERTSON: According to "The Wall Street Journal," after days of waiting, the call to meet finally came. U.S. defense officials say it was just around 10:30 in the morning on Saturday when 18 armed Taliban fighters led Bergdahl to the border. In wait, special ops forces backed by helicopter gunships. Bergdahl walks up to the U.S. commandos, talking to them right away.

The American soldiers search him for explosives and verify his identity. U.S. officials say the meeting lasted just seconds, and quickly, Bergdahl was ushered onto a helicopter, on route to Bagram Air Base. On the helicopter, Bergdahl reached for a paper plate, scribbling "SF?", question mark, asking the commandos if they were special forces? After hearing they were, Bergdahl broke down crying.

After nearly five years, America's last POW from the Iraq and Afghan conflicts was finally free.

JANI BERGDAHL, BOWE BERGDAHL'S MOTHER: Five years is a seemingly endless long time. But you've made it.

ROBERTSON: Bergdahl's parents who have not yet had contact with their son sent him this message.

BOB BERGDAHL, BOWE BERGDAHL'S FATHER: I'm proud of how much you wanted to help the Afghan people and what you were willing to do to go to that length.


ROBERTSON: Well, how long is it before Sergeant Bergdahl can be back with his family? Doctors here say they are working at a pace that he is comfortable with. They're only be going learn now everything that he has been through. So they hope to get him back to his family as quickly as possible. How long? No one really quite yet knows that -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: One of many questions in this situation, Nic Robertson. Thank you very much for the reporting there in Germany.

You have the condition of the sergeant now and what it will be like for him going forward. You have the obvious emotion of his family, and then you have this controversy, because the reaction has been decidedly mixed. There are legitimate concerns about the danger this deal could present to other Americans overseas, both from the freed terror suspects that are now being monitored, whatever that means, and would-be criminals who may try to barter with other American lives.

Let's bring in CNN's Joe Johns who has more on what the officials are saying about the deal.

Joe, what do we know?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, these detainees who got their freedom as a result of this prisoner swap has been described as the worst of the worst, which raises the question whether the U.S. government's deal could incentivize other terrorist organizations to try to kidnap more Americans to get their own hostage deals in the future.



J. BERGDAHL: It's a good day.

JOHNS (voice-over): A day after the president's emotional celebration with Bowe Bergdahl's parents in the Rose Garden, tough questions for his National Security Adviser Susan Rice on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley.

CANDY CROWLEY, ANCHOR, CNN'S STATE OF THE UNION: Point-blank, did the U.S. negotiate with terrorists for his release?

SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRES. OBAMA: Candy, what we did is ensure as always, the United States doesn't leave a man or woman on the battlefield.

JOHNS: Rice said what she called the acute urgency of Bergdahl's failing health justified Congress not telling Congress 30 days beforehand, as the law requires.

CROWLEY: So, there was a conscious decision to break the law, as you know it, dealing with the detainees in the release of them?

RICE: Candy, no. The Department of Defense consulted with the Department of Justice, and it is our view that it was appropriate and necessary to do this in order to bring Sergeant Bergdahl back safely.

JOHNS: And Rice said Qatar's emir had assured President Obama the five Taliban Guantanamo detainees swapped for Bergdahl would not pose a significant risk.

RICE: There are restrictions on their movement and behavior. I'm not at liberty to get into detail about the precise nature of those restrictions.

JOHNS: Republican Mike Rogers, the House Intelligence chairman, countered that there's now a price on American soldiers' heads.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We have a changing footprint in Afghanistan that would put our soldiers at risk for this notion that if I can get one, I can get five Taliban released.

JOHNS: But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel insists this was about saving a soldier's life.

CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We didn't negotiate with terrorists. Sergeant Bergdahl is a prisoner of war.


JOHNS: Now, this law the administration is accused of violating requires a president to notify congress about the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo bay. The administration says it believes that law is unconstitutional because it can be seen as violating the president's power as commander in chief of the armed services, Chris.

CUOMO: And, also, of course, Joe, the president they believe can circumvent that law when there's extreme necessity which is why we're hearing about the concerns about Bergdahl's health and the need to make this happen in a very small window. That's the battleground on that analysis.

Thanks to Joe Johns for that. We'll follow up with that.

But, right now, we want to turn to Sherry Horton. She's a friend of the Bergdahls and has known Bowe since he was 19 years old.

Sherry, thank you very much for joining us. How is the family doing?

SHERRY HORTON, FRIEND OF BOWE BERGDHAL: I haven't chatted with them today. I just had a few seconds with them yesterday. They seem to be doing fine. It's always great to watch them on TV. I'm seeing them about the same amount that you are. But I have had a few texts from them and they seem to be doing just fine.

CUOMO: Now, we know the commitment of this family and this community to bringing Bowe home has been the stuff of legend. What sustained them all these years when so little was known about whether Bowe would ever come home?

HORTON: They are a very, very strong family. They are strong personalities, strong in faith, strong in so many different ways. The community rallying, we've changed ribbons every six months. Bowe has never been far out of our mind, and the community which has helped keep them focused and strong and committed to getting him back.

CUOMO: Has the family heard what we have heard, that obviously this is going to be a really difficult reintegration process and Bowe may be struggling with recollection of the language?

HORTON: That -- I haven't spoken with them about that. But everyone here was -- it's not a surprise to anybody here. We all knew -- our main focus was getting him home. As soon as he could get home, we knew it would be a long uphill battle going forward from there.

There's no -- we didn't expect Bowe to come bouncing off a plane when he got back to the U.S. We knew that from everything he has gone through, that this is going to be a battle. It's going to take a lot of support, community, his family, everything else. We're a tight-knit community. So, of course, the resources we can give him here are already in place to really, you know, help him with whatever he needs and help Jani and Bob with whatever they need. It's going to be an uphill battle for not just the family, but the community, because we all want what's best for him.

CUOMO: Now, you know, there's all this speculation about the circumstances surrounding his capture. I know you don't know anything about that. But in understanding the e-mails and messages he's sent over the years, they say you need to understand who this guy is.

And what can you tell us about who he is in terms of the particular nature of his personality?

HORTON: Bowe was always trying to explore new things. He was always reading books on different religions and exploring those, learning different foreign languages. He was always trying to go up the ladder to find the next level of something to interest him.

So, he's very curious and very -- I think curious is the best word.

CUOMO: Because when we read these things that he said, oh, if this gets too boring, I may go find China, and what's on the other side of those mountains? Those are now being taken as potential hints that he was thinking of leaving. Do you offer a different perspective?

HORTON: In the whole time I've known Bowe, and I've known for quite a while, Bowe has never been acquitter. Bowe has never been one to back out of a challenge. Bowe has never been one to stop what he was doing.

So, you know, on the flip side of that -- yes, he was curious, but also committed to finishing everything he started, be it getting his belts in karate or martial arts, learning ballet, doing whatever it was he decided to do. He never was one to walk away or to quit.

CUOMO: But an interesting mix there. He took karate and ballet. You know, a little speaking the dimension of what makes him different.

Let me ask you, how is the community, how is the family dealing with this controversy surrounding the deal now, about whether it was worth it and what it may mean? How do they deal with that?

HORTON: Our community right now is taking that in stride. We are more excited about getting him back and having him finally released. It's been five long years of us hoping and praying that things were going to happen and that he would be home, and that's really the focus of the community right now.

There isn't a lot of talk any other way. Hailey is so close and so tight that all we have wanted for five years and now that we have is him back, and that's all we're focused on here.

CUOMO: Is that tough for the family, though, hearing those kinds of things about what brought their son home? HORTON: We haven't actually -- they've been traveling since this all happened. Like I said, I've talked to them via text a couple times. That's about all from what I know. I haven't spoken to him anymore than that.

CUOMO: If Bowe can hear you, you want him to know you're waiting for him at home?

HORTON: I can't wait. Big hugs when he gets back.

CUOMO: All right. Sherry Horton, thank you very much for talking to us about this, this morning.

HORTON: Great. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. On another front, the White House is making a big announcement and also deflecting criticism on the environment. President Obama using his executive authority to take on climate change with a new plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by the year 2030.

Erin McPike is following these developments from Washington.

What are we learning about the announcement from the administration today, Erin?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Obama, of course, couldn't get congress to pass a cap and trade bill in his first term. So, he's using a loophole to get this sweeping measure to address climate change done himself.

He's traveling to Europe tonight. So, he's not making that announcement later today. EPA Chief Gina McCarthy is doing it instead. But he will hold a conference call with American Lung Association as he tries to show how these changes will be good for your health.


MCPIKE (voice-over): President Obama is going around Congress to force a steep 30 percent cut in carbon emissions, so-called greenhouse gases from coal-powered fire plants. He's using his executive authority, proposing new EPA regulations to take his strongest action yet against climate change.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As president and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that's beyond fixing.

MCPIKE: Linking the move to health problems like asthma, he taped his weekly address at the children's national medical center.

OBAMA: Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution. Pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change, and for the sake of all our kids, we've got to do more to reduce it.

MCPIKE: The new rules reportedly would give states and local governments wide latitude in how to reduce carbon pollution, allowing them to encourage solar and wind power instead of forcing power plants to close.

In this midterm election year, it's a strategy designed to go head-to- head with Republicans who are making hay of the harm these regulations would do to the coal industry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The administration has set out to kill coal and its 800,000 jobs. If it succeeds in death by regulation, we'll all be paying a lot more money for electricity if we can get it.

MCPIKE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates it will cost the economy $50 billion a year. Advocates say those claims are exaggerated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something we can't put off. The president deserves huge credit for making this his legacy.


MCPIKE: The Republicans are adamantly opposed to anything that smells like cap and trade or that could be bad for the coal industry. That's especially true in coal country where there are a handful of nail- biter Senate races Democrats need to win to hang on to the upper chamber this year. Those are the states like Kentucky, North Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado. So, politically, this is obviously risky for the president, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. It would be interesting to see how they respond to those accusations coming from the right when that does happen. Erin, thank you very much.

Let's get over to John Berman now who's in for Michaela with today's top stories.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Kate.

Breaking overnight. Millions of images from e-mails and social media are reportedly being intercepted by the NSA. "The New York Times" citing documents from Edward Snowden says the agency is feeding the pictures to facial recognition programs. An NSA spokesperson would not confirm or deny the report but tells "The Times" the agency wouldn't be doing its job if it didn't keep improving intelligence.

Search efforts have been suspended for two people who are boat the capsized in the dangerously cold waters of Lake Michigan. One woman died and a man is said to be in critical condition after being pulled out on Sunday. A fishing boat captain who rescued the man said the boat apparently caught fire and the radio was not working.

New this morning, the woman behind the recordings of Donald Sterling's racist comments halls been attacked by two men in Manhattan. V. Stiviano's attorney says the duo (AUDIO GAP) Sunday night and called her a series of racial slurs and including the n-word, as she was living a restaurant.

Now, this comes on the heels of a just released TMZ video featuring Stiviano making her own comments for a reality pilot. Stiviano is set to appear on CNN's "AC360" tonight.

BOLDUAN: More questions for her to answer.

CUOMO: Yes, the question is she creating situations to get notoriety or are you fanning the flames of that? You know, you've given attention as -- these are tricky ones.

BOLDUAN: Well, if she was legitimately attacked last night, I think that's one thing. That's not good.

CUOMO: Right. If that's legitimate attack, that's fine. But, you know, it gets tricky, sticky.

BOLDUAN: Sticky, yes.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're following -- we're going to be breaking down the Bergdahl debate. Did the government do things the right way when freeing the captive soldier? Or will the prisoner exchange lead to serious implications down the road.

CUOMO: Plus, you hear about pro golfer Phil Mickelson? They say he's caught up in an insider trading scandal. It's just a probe. These are just allegations.

The athlete is now speaking out. We're going to tell you what he has to say, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Pro-golfer Phil Mickelson, along with billionaire investor Carl Icahn and a well-known sports gambler are being investigated by the FBI following suspicions of insider trading. The probe involves stock trades made in 2011 after Icahn bought shares in Clorox and later announced a takeover for the company, causing shares to rise, pumping the stock.

The FBI is now looking into whether Mickelson had insider knowledge of the takeover bit and cashed in on it. Mickelson has denied any wrongdoing.

But let's discuss what this is really all about. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor is here to discuss.

So, important to note that no charges have been filed yet, Jeff. But they're trying to figure out if Icahn passed along non-public information to this Vegas gambler and that this Vegas gambler and Mickelson, they were able to benefit.

How difficult, though, is that to establish? That's kind of the whole core of the case, right? JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: These cases are very hard to make because of a simple reason. It's not unlawful to get a stock tip and trade on it and make money.

What is unlawful is if you, as the recipient of the tip, the so-called tipee, the receiver of a tip, know that the information you're receiving is improper, is insider information. And it's very difficult to prove on the part of a stock buyer, a tipee mike Michelson that he knew the information he could he shouldn't have had. At least that is what seems to have stopped this investigation.

Remember, this stock trade was in 2011. The FBI has been investigating it for a long time, and they haven't been able to make a case.

BOLDUAN: And still, and the fact that this all kind of leaked out before any charges were filed. Is that a big problem for this probe, the fact that it's now out there and they still need to work through -- still need to figure out if they're going to file charges?

TOOBIN: Oh, yes, this makes it much harder. Usually you want someone to cooperate, someone, if possible, to wear a wire, get admissions. Now, of course, the investigation is public, and if this investigation continues, they'll have to subpoena documents, interview people in the grand jury. Everybody will have lawyered up. It's much harder to make a case like this once it's out in the open.

BOLDUAN: And also, an interesting element of this is that Icahn said he doesn't even know Phil Mickelson, that he doesn't know him and this is kind of a chain -- not a chain reaction, but kind of how they're connected is through a chain of events. How does that play into this?

TOOBIN: Well, again, it's still unlawful to trade on insider information if you get it secondhand. If you know it's improperly obtained, it's still a crime to trade on it. But unless you have evidence that the tipee, the trader of the stock knew that the information was improper, you still can't make a case.

So, yes, it's theoretically possible that he could have gotten improper information secondhand, even from -- if he didn't know Carl Icahn. It makes the case even harder to make.

BOLDUAN: Part of the whole interest in this are the big names involved, but also interesting because the government has been taking this on, cracking down -- trying to at least crack down on insider trading. They have a pretty good record as far as I can see, some 85 convictions or guilty pleas out of the 90 people charged since 2009.

Do you think this case, though, is different from cases past?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, I think the fact they haven't brought a case suggests they don't have a case. And, you know, he's not only -- Phil Mickelson, Billy Wallace who is the gambler, they're not only innocent until proven guilty. They're not even charged with anything. I think we need to keep that in mind. But I think, also, what makes this so interesting is it takes place on the golf course. Golf courses are places where people talk about stocks. It's obviously a sport played by a lot of wealthy people. Certainly you can imagine how people would want to ingratiate themselves with a great golfer like Phil Mickelson, say, "I have a hot stock tip for you". Mickelson might have traded on it.

That's not unlawful. The only thing unlawful is if Mickelson or any recipient of a tip knows that it's based on inside information. And now, it's been three years since this trade. The FBI hasn't been able to prove anything. It suggests that maybe there's no smoke, no fire, nothing wrong.

BOLDUAN: That's a very good point, Jeffrey Toobin. Thanks so much. Talk to you soon.

TOOBIN: All right. See you.

BOLDUAN: All righty.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, a U.S. soldier is released five years after being held by the Taliban. But will the deal that freed Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl put other Americans in danger? We have a debate coming up for you so you can decide.

CUOMO: And terrifying video out of Colorado -- another children's bounce house picked up by a huge gust of wind and thrown around injuring two kids inside. Why does this keep happening? Are they safe?


BERMAN: All right. It is time now for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Number one: the prisoner exchange to bring home American POW Bowe Bergdahl, in exchange for five terror suspects is coming under fire. Despite complaints from fellow soldiers, a senior defense official tells us that Bergdahl has not been classified as a deserter and is still scheduled to be promoted to staff sergeant.

President Obama using his executive authority to make a major push to address global warming, rolling out a plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.