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Bergdahl Release Backlash; Manhunt After 3 Officers Killed in Canada; Heat Versus Spurs in NBA Finals Rematch
Aired June 5, 2014 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: For two days now we've asked questions, many of which have not yet been fully answered.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Not convinced. The White House makes its case for the Bowe Bergdahl trade in a late-night session senators, showing them the final video of the sergeant, the plans for following the released Taliban. Now we have the senators' reaction.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Crash landing. A U.S. Marine pilot crashes his jet into a California neighborhood. Homes are destroyed, the pilot ejected, and residents are now angry, demanding answers.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight a shoot-out and massive manhunt underway right now in Canada. This man armed and dangerous, killing three police officers in a quiet New Brunswick neighborhood. A terrifying shooting spree for a country that has so few of them.
CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.
CUOMO: Good morning, welcome to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, June 5th, 6:00 in the East and we're going to begin with the White House, reeling from the backlash over the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap. Top Obama administration officials holding a briefing for angry senators, trying to convince them the deal had to be done. How? They showed them a proof of life video in an attempt to justify the release of five very dangerous Taliban detainees.
We have complete coverage starting with Joe Johns live from Washington. Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. The high ranking administration officials who spoke at the briefing played a so-called proof of life video of Sergeant Bergdahl in captivity, apparently recorded around the time of the death of South African president Nelson Mandela. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JOHNS (voice-over): A closed door Senate briefing on the prisoner swap that brought Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's freedom was intended to give Obama administration critics some answers, but it didn't exactly win them over.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The exchange of five hard-core, hardest of the hard-core al Qaeda/Taliban, will pose a threat to the United States of America and the men and women serving.
JOHNS: The Senate meeting took place in the wake of this propaganda video that emerged on the Taliban's web site, showing the actual prisoner exchange.
Senators emerging from Wednesday's briefing said their focus was on another recording, a so-called proof of life video showing Sergeant Bergdahl in captivity. In the classified video, Bergdahl appears gaunt and apparently had difficulty speaking. U.S. officials have said the video showed a marked deterioration in Bergdahl's health compared to his appearance in previous videos, the administration citing those health concerns as its reason for acting quickly to recover him.
But Republicans who spoke for the camera, and more than one Democrat including Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, said it looked to him like Bergdahl was drugged and questioned whether it was enough to justify the prisoner swap.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: That did not sell me at all. He was not in that type of dire situation when he was released.
JOHNS: Some Republican senators who have been harshly critical of the administration's handling of the Bergdahl matter are now saying the administration should lift the restriction on the proof of life video.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Every American should see the video. This is something that we need to put out in the open. You need to look at the video and judge for yourself.
JOHNS: The former head of joint special operations command, Stanley McChrystal, weighed in during an interview with Yahoo! News.
GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL (RET.), FMR. HEAD OF JOINT SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND: Well, we don't leave Americans behind. That is unequivocal. Now, there will be a lot of discussion on whether the mechanism for getting Sergeant Bergdahl back was right and I'll leave it to people to argue that.
JOHNS (on-camera): This issue is a long way from settled. That closed door Senate meeting was held in the hope that the administration could tamp down some of the criticism of the prisoner swap, but on the Republican side at least, among those senators we heard from afterward, it did not appear the White House was able to change any minds. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Sure did not. Joe Johns, thank you so much, starting us off this morning. Let's continue our coverage though.
We're also learning the White House isn't just dealing with blowback from Bergdahl's release; it's prepared for the criticism. But officials tell CNN the attacks on Bergdahl himself and his family caught the administration by surprise.
CNN's Jim Acosta is in Brussels traveling with the president as he continues his trip in Europe. Jim, what more are you learning?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, the White House expected that the release of POW Bowe Bergdahl would stir up controversy, but what they never saw coming were the personal attacks aimed at Bergdahl, even his family, all of it becoming a political football Democrats say to damage the president.
ACOSTA (voice-over): With the president in Europe, the administration officials are playing defense over what they thought would be a feel good story, the release of POW Bowe Bergdahl. Aides to the president say while they expected some controversy, they've been shocked by what describe as attacks on Bergdahl and even his family in an apparent effort to damage the president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very interesting to me that they with be willing to release five extraordinarily dangerous Taliban members in exchange for this soldier who apparently left his post. We don't know all of the details.
ACOSTA: Conservative critics have even accused Bergdahl's father of looking like a Muslim.
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The reason I said that, Robert Bergdahl looked like a Muslim is that he looks like a Muslim.
ACOSTA: Administration officials have responded by trying to keep the focus on Bergdahl. From Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calling the sergeant's parents to reassure them about their son's care, to State Department officials arguing prisoner swaps are nothing new.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's consistent, absolutely, with what has happened in previous wars, including Korea, including Vietnam.
ACOSTA: Democrats point out GOP lawmakers have pushed the White House for months to step up its efforts to rescue Bergdahl even if it means a prisoner change.
MCCAIN: I would support ways of bringing him home, and if exchange was one of them, I think that would be something I think we should seriously consider.
ACOSTA: But Senator John McCain insists the deal that finally freed Bergdahl is not what he had in mind. MCCAIN: I learned nothing in this briefing, nor did I expect to learn
anything in this briefing, except that I continue to maintain that this individual, who we are glad that Sergeant Bergdahl is home, but the exchange of five hard-core, hardest of the hard-core al Qaeda/Taliban will pose a threat to the United States of America.
ACOSTA: But for Mr. Obama, the Bergdahl distraction comes at a critical time, just as he could come face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we've been reminded by Russia's aggression in Ukraine, our free nations cannot be complacent in pursuit of the vision we share: a Europe that is whole and free and at peace.
ACOSTA (on camera): And White House officials are even taking note of the fact that a hometown celebration has been canceled for Bowe Bergdahl in his hometown back in Idaho.
Meanwhile, the president will have a chance to talk about this Bowe Bergdahl controversy at a news conference later on today. But White House aides tell me they feel very confident that, in the end, that this notion of leaving no soldier behind is really a sentiment that will carry the day once this controversy is behind them. Kate?
BOLDUAN: All right, Jim, thank you so much.
Let's continue the discussion now with CNN political analyst and editor in chief of the "Daily Beast," John Avlon, as well as retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former deputy director for training at the NSA, Cedric Leighton. Good morning to both you gentlemen.
So, as you heard from Jim Acosta right there, John, he is reporting that the White House, they anticipated the backlash. They knew this was going to be coming at them. But also interesting in "Politico" today, they are reporting one of the reasons behind that Rose Garden statement with Bowe Bergdahl's parents was an attempt to try to tamp that down, to make the criticism go away before it even began. What do you think of that choreography?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a fascinating detail that their hope to humanize Bowe Bergdahl by bringing his family to the Rose Garden on Saturday in anticipation of the criticism. It's -- the White House seems to have known for a long time that this was a controversial prisoner. The circumstances of his disappearance --
BOLDUAN: It's complicated.
AVLON: -- are murky at best. But -- then there's the issue of the negotiated swap. And what seems to be outraging all the senators is the underlying question isn't someone who might have been a deserter worth five top Taliban commanders? So the fact that the administration was preparing that, doing
choreography to try to win over the American people, is significant. That said, and this is significant, Kate, has there ever been a time in American history where we politicized a prisoner of war this quickly? That's a safe assumption for the president and the White House to make, that ultimately, that principle of leave no soldier behind would carry the day, and that has not been the case to date in this political firestorm.
BOLDUAN: And even if -- like John McCain had said -- he is not taking issue with the fact that Bowe Bergdahl has returned to his family. He is taking view of five, in his view, high level Taliban detainees were released in conjunction with that. Regardless, it is walking a fine line saying we are happy to have a soldier home, but still, was it worth it to have five detainees put out there? Do Republicans risk overstepping since criticism has come so quickly?
AVLON: The risk of overstepping you see congressional Republicans deleting tweets that had either praised the release or calling for the release of Bowe Bergdahl. That's where I think this all starts -- walking that fine line of trying to make the fair point, what are the national security implications for this trade? That's a fair, important point to make, as you analyze it. But when, all of a sudden, you've got Republican Congressman who previously were calling for this, criticizing the administration for leaving this man in captivity for five years, or praising his release, and then deleting those tweets? That really belies the politics. That exposes the naked, ugly politics behind this controversy.
BOLDUAN: And Colonel, let's bring you on this. The senators last night, as Jim Acosta and Joe Johns were laying out, they were able to see a classified video, a proof of life video that was filmed some -- that they received, I think, five months ago of Bowe Bergdahl. That he was described in that video by senators as sickly. Joe Manchin described him as drugged.
When you compare that with the video that we have seen publicly, what really, from your military perspective, what can you gain? What kind of knowledge can you really ascertain from these proof of life videos?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: Well, Kate, they're very, very important, because what they do is they tell us in the military that, you know, what the prisoner's condition is like. You know, they tell you something about the environment in which the prisoner is being held. So they are critical not only from the standpoint of a humanitarian aspect, but also because they may serve as a way to find either a method to gain the release through forcible means, or as negotiating leverage.
So those are key aspects of this. And I think that, in this particular case, the proof of life video, this classified one especially, they were very -- that it was very important factor in getting the administration on the path to negotiating this particular deal.
BOLDUAN: In your experience, the senators saw this video last night. Many of them coming out saying, it should be made public. Should it be made public?
LEIGHTON: At this point, yes. Because there is no other prisoner at this point. We don't have any other reason to keep it classified. The mission has been, in essence, accomplished. And it's time for the American people to get a chance to see exactly what our decision- makers have seen. So I have absolutely no problem with it being made public at this juncture.
BOLDUAN: Avlon -- John, I call you Avlon off camera, sorry about that.
AVLON: That's all right.
BOLDUAN: The meeting with the senators last night, when they came out, it really did not seem to change minds from the positions where they were going in. The White House seems to take the position that they believe, in the end, the principle we leave no soldier behind will prevail. Is that going to be enough?
AVLON: Look, the president was very forceful and clear about that during that Polish press conference the other day where he said, full stop. This is principle (ph) that we adhere to. But the fact that the -- after the administration did the closed door briefing, really a full-court press to convince the Senate that they were justified in not looking at the letter of the law, blowing past that 30-day notification deadline, the senators, the majority of them, did not seem convinced. There are some outliers. Senator Mark Kirk from Illinois saying that he felt he could understand why this prisoner looked sickly and the administration would need to act quickly.
But this is a, right now, a jump ball. It is a political fight that is in mid-process, but it really does expose the fact of how naked these bad feelings are, the bitter feelings that exist on Capitol Hill. I don't think anyone -- anyone would suggest that if a Republican president take this action, the vast majority of Republican senators would be acting this way.
That said, there is a transcendent national security concern, and while allies like Israel have a tradition of trading for prisoners in multiples far beyond 5 to 1, we do not. And at a time when we are deescalating this war and dealing with the closing of Guantanamo, it's completely understandable why there would be serious questions about the wisdom of this and the implications of this.
BOLDUAN: And serious questions the White House thinks -- one of the reasons they did not inform even the key committee, even the key lawmakers, was that they were afraid that they couldn't keep a secret. That is a real problem when you're dealing with the coordination that must happen between the White House and oversight committees. That is their job.
We will continue to fight about that one.
AVLON: Yes, we will.
BOLDUAN: John Avlon, great to see you. Colonel, thank you so much. LEIGHTON: Thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Of course. Michaela?
PEREIRA: All right, let's take a look at -- pardon me -- some of your headlines at about 12 minutes after the hour.
Quite a heart pounding scene after a military plane crashed into several homes in Imperial, California, setting them on fire. We understand that at least three houses were destroyed, eight others had to be evacuated. The pilot ejected and is said to be OK. And, luckily, there were no injuries on the ground. Investigators are now looking into what caused that Harrier jet from the air station in neighboring Yuma, Arizona, to crash.
In just a few hours, General Motors will release details of its internal investigation concerning an ignition switch defect that has been linked to dozens of crashes and at least 13 deaths. CEO Mary Barra authorized a former federal prosecutor to deliver an unvarnished report, trying to figure out what went wrong and why GM waited more than a decade before recalling millions of unsafe vehicles. This is a story we will have more on later in our program.
Donald Sterling's attorney says the banned L.A. Clippers owner has agreed to the team sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion. The deal was negotiated by Sterling's wife, Shelly. Reports say Donald Sterling will also drop the lawsuit that he just filed against the NBA. League owners still have to approve the Clippers' sale. We will be watching this story for you, to be sure.
All right, let's talk about weather with Indra Petersons, who's been out chasing storms in the Midwest. She's back with us in studio taking a look at this system. I guess it's kind of moving our direction?
INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Lucky us, right?
PETERSONS: Now we're actually talking about the rain here in the Northeast. But it's OK, it's not the weekend yet, and by the weekend it is expected to move out. Unfortunately for the morning commute, it will be a little bit messy out there. But it's not really the big system that we're going to be having our eyes on today.
Notice, here's our system hanging out over here. Notice the high pressure. High pressure is going to come in and knock it out, so we're actually going to have a beautiful weekend in the northeast. But they're not going to be so lucky in the south. Two systems are out there and they are staying put. This is going to be a problem. One side of it being severe weather. Another round of it expected today. Notice places like Denver, Oklahoma City, even down towards Little Rock, we are going to have a threat for more severe weather.
But check out on tomorrow. Remember I said that system is staying? Tomorrow, almost identical plays, looking for more severe weather. So that's going to be a concern not only for the severe weather itself, obviously, but heavy rain. A lot of thunderstorms over a couple of days means a lot of rain, 3 to 5 inches possible there. It looks like towards the south about 2 to 4 inches.
The big thing is going to be the temperatures. The weekend in the northeast, it looks good. That is what I want to know. Finally after, what, like a six-month winter, I'm going outside. A little tourist this summer.
PEREIRA: Only now you're going outside?
PETERSONS: That's what I'm saying. I said it me a long time, guys. Don't ask.
CUOMO: Stunning contrast. On the one hand, Indra is saying the weather is bad and I want to enjoy the good weather. On the other hand, she is running around in a car trying to find tornadoes!
BOLDUAN: It may not have been completely on free will.
PETERSONS: The tourist is just in the car.
CUOMO: It was free will. It's all her idea.
PETERSONS: That is my idea but being a tourist outside, I have to open it up in the city.
BOLDUAN: Good temperatures over the weekend.
PETERSONS: That's what I'm saying.
BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks, Indra.
CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, the politics surrounding the Bowe Bergdahl trade, they are obvious and ugly but real issues remain. Did soldiers die looking for the captured sergeant? You're going to hear from men who were there and two brave reporters who have dug into the situation.
BOLDUAN: Also ahead, a violent shoot-out in a Canadian neighborhood leaves three police officers dead. It was all caught on camera, and a massive manhunt is now under way and the suspect is considered armed and dangerous. We're going to have more on this, coming up.
CUOMO: A cop killer is on the loose right now. Police say this man dressed in military fatigues and openly carrying rifles opened fire on him in a residential neighborhood and killing three officers. The neighborhood in eastern Canada now on lockdown.
We have Rosa Flores is here with more.
What do we know, Rosa?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is quite the terrifying situation. With the suspect still at large, residents are turning to social media to stay informed and to share video of this terrifying shoot-out.
FLORES (voice-over): A Canadian city on lockdown this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you see him?
FLORES: Royal Canadian Mountain Police are conducting a desperate search for a man who allegedly shot and killed three of their fellow officers last night and wounded two more.
Look at this video of the scene. Shattered windows of a police vehicle, blood spread across the pavement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that? Go down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shot him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God! He shot a cop!
FLORES: Twenty-four-year-old suspect Justin Bourque is seen wearing fatigues and carrying two rifles in this photo tweeted by authorities. There's no word on why he allegedly attacked the officers in the rampage.
In this Facebook video, residents are seen watching in horror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down! Move (EXPLETIVE DELETED) now!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) god!
FLORES: As the tense standoff unfolds right outside their window.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are not moving. They are right here. They are still all behind cars waiting. They are behind cars. They are behind vans. They are behind a shed. They are behind a house with their guns down and waiting for him to shoot him down.
FLORES: Police warning residents to keep their outdoor lights on and to stay off the roads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are still actively looking for the shooter. We are urging the people who live in that area to stay inside and lock their doors.
FLORES: All entrances to that neighborhood have been blocked off and some buses have even been pulled off the road because of concern for public safety as the search for this gunman continues so a lot of scared residents this morning.
BOLDUAN: Understandably so when you see what they were witness to. My God.
Thanks so much, Rosa.
FLORES: You're welcome.
BOLDUAN: The Stanley Cup is under way. Finally, game one in the books. The L.A. Kings and New York Rangers needing some overtime to decide game one of the series.
Andy Scholes with all of the answers.
What happened, Andy Scholes of "The Bleacher Report"?
ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: It was a very good game. New York fans have been waiting about 20 -- 20 years exactly actually to get back to the finals and came out in huge numbers to Bryant Park to watch game one. They got to watch a thriller in this one. Time winding down in the third period, Henrik Lundqvist, amazing diving save! That would send the game into overtime!
In the extra period, Justin Williams, Mr. Game Seven, comes through for the Kings again. That is your game winning goal. L.A. takes game one 3-2. Game two is Saturday night.
Trending on bleacherreport.com this morning, the NFL is abandons roman numerals for the 50th Super Bowl. The game in Santa Clara is known as Super Bowl 50 because the league didn't like the look reportedly of a Super Bowl "L" logo which makes sense but after Super Bowl 50, the NFL will be going back to the old roman numerals.
The NBA finals get under way tonight in San Antonio. A rematch of last year's thrilling series. The odds makers have the Spurs the slight favorite since they have the home court advantage this time.
The Heat is looking for their third trade NBA finals. Tip-off is at 9:00 Eastern tonight.
You know, guys, I wrestled with the decision who to pick in this year's NBA finals. I'm going to go with the Heat in six. I think LeBron is going to get his third straight title.
CUOMO: What is that stat? Who wins 70 percent of the time?
SCHOLES: Whoever takes game one wins the game 70 percent of the time in the NBA Finals.
CUOMO: All right. New daddy has got the Heat. Who do you have?
BOLDUAN: I'm going to go with new daddy. I think his new daddy stature has brought him wisdom.
PEREIRA: I'm going with the Kings. Why are you not picking your pick in hockey? Hello! SCHOLES: That is hockey.
PEREIRA: What is wrong with you?
BOLDUAN: That is the NBA.
PEREIRA: I know we are, but I'm trying to get to the major story, which is the hockey. Who are you picking in the NHL playoffs?
CUOMO: I don't have confidence after last night, I'm worried. I'm a Ranger fan obviously. We were talking about to Mike one and the cameraman and I were talking about.
CUOMO: That hurt me last night so we have to wager mixture from the West Coast.
PEREIRA: How about you, Scholes? Who do you pick?
SCHOLES: The Kings have the 1-0 lead so I'm going with the L.A. Kings. They have the upper hand.
BOLDUAN: When in doubt, go for whoever is ahead. There you go, Andy!
CUOMO: The Rangers will come back. They have destiny on their side. Destiny.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Mr. Scholes.
Coming up next on NEW DAY, were fellow soldiers killed searching for Bowe Bergdahl? More of his comrades are coming forward insisting that is the case. Well, the Pentagon says they don't know the facts. We are going to take a look at the evidence.
CUOMO: A global war of words. Vladimir Putin fires back after Hillary Clinton compared him to Hitler. Based on what he said in return, she should have called him sexist too! Details straight ahead.
PEREIRA: Just about half past the hour. Take a look at your headlines here on NEW DAY.
President Obama is in Brussels, on his diplomatic swing through Europe. But his G-7 meetings with foreign leaders is overshadow by the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Now, CNN is told the attacks on Bergdahl and his family caught the administration by surprise.
Breaking overnight, at least 29 people, including firefighters and civilians have been injured after a big fire in Staten Island, in New York City.