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President Gives Speech on D-Day; Civil War May Be Developing in Ukraine; Shooter in Seattle Subdued by Student; Interview with Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby; Obama, World Leaders Arrive at Diplomatic Lunch

Aired June 6, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously, you judge for yourself what you know about the situation and what you hear in the voice of Andrew Tahmooressi. What I hear is somebody who is emotionally flat because they're struggling. And they're not just struggling because they're in a Mexican prison, which is about as bad a place you can be.

But this -- you know, we're talking about Bowe Bergdahl. We're making this case about what we do for veterans who are under stress. I get it's a very different situation. One is a prisoner of war. One is in a legitimate legal situation, "legitimate" in quotes. But the guy needs help. And it's a story that we have to follow here because part of the job is advocacy, and I'm telling you, the case doesn't make a lot of sense that they have against him. It's not a strong case.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is not clear how this is going to go.

CUOMO: And we don't know what the State Department is doing. We had Secretary Kerry on the show. He said he was talking to officials there. This is has been going on a while, and the guy seems like he's a little bit out there on his own with his family, and it seems like he needs more support and he deserves it for what he's done for the country.

BOLDUAN: His mother has been his only advocate --

CUOMO: He's got PTS. There's no question about that. You heard him say he's not taking the medication. He needs help. He's got to get some where we can get it.

BOLDUAN: It's a great interview, important to get his voice out however possible. We're going to continue following that.

But we also are going to be taking a look, if we can show those live pictures if we have them. We had them just a moment ago. This is happening right now. These are world leaders arriving for a diplomatic lunch. This all comes as we've been following the ceremonies in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. You see Francois Hollande welcoming world leaders right now. Notable, and we will be discussing this throughout the morning as well, this will be an opportunity where President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin may be having a face to face of some sort. This is one of those opportunities that has been kind of avoided throughout this European trip that the president has been making this week. We're going to continue watching these arrivals as they happen.

Earlier, President Obama spoke at the American cemetery. He honored allied forces who stormed the beaches where thousands lost their lives, including 2,500 Americans. Listen to part of it.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If prayer were made of sound, the skies over England that night would have deafened the world. Here, we don't just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are. We don't just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is. We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at this moment of maximum peril. We come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world.


CUOMO: So those are the president's words. And obviously, he is hoping that the lessons of the past carry into the present in discussing the situation with Putin as we look at a very likely civil war going on in Ukraine and maybe spreading through parts of eastern Europe. For some perspective on that, let's bring in Christiane Amanpour. She is present on one of the beaches that was pivotal on D- Day, and now in a political setting that is once again relevant as we look at the brink of hostilities, and the two men that can hopefully control the situation. Christiane, set some perspective to all of it for us.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you're watching the pictures of these world dignitaries going to lunch, and behind me is the practices for the international celebration that's going to take place just over an hour from now. That is again where President Putin, President Obama, the British prime minster, the German chancellor are going to get together and probably have another opportunity to talk if they care to after lunch.

Obviously some of these leaders have met already with President Putin, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande, the president of France, and their message is that he must stop supporting his surrogates in eastern Ukraine, because despite their official denials, nobody believes that Moscow is not in some way enabling those very well-trained, well-armed, and well-fighting forces in eastern Ukraine. So they want them out or else they're going to put more sanctions on.

But many people have said it is really very close to being a tipping point right now. If it doesn't work out now, it's going to be hard to see how to bring it back from the brink. And President Obama made such an eloquent speech, paying such tribute to the sacrifice of Americans on this day 70 years ago, and did link it to the bringing of democracy to Europe and that we still have to fight to maintain the democracy survives, because this part of Europe, Ukraine-Russia, is in a very bad situation right now.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Christiane, stick with us. Phil Black is also joining us from Moscow. As Christiane was laying out, Phil, the message from President Obama and western leaders essentially to Vladimir Putin, you need to stop supporting your surrogates in eastern Russia or else, or else you're going to feel more pain in terms of more economic sanctions against you. The question is, is that message going to be sinking in, because Vladimir Putin is there? While he has been kicked out of the G7, he is essentially there on the sidelines.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He has paid a price. He's been kicked out of the G7. The Russian economy has taken a big hit. As Christiane mentioned, other European leaders have been meeting with Putin around this event. Barack Obama is not prepared to do so officially, and that really follows his line throughout this crisis. He has been strongest in pushing for Russia's isolation and pushing for the toughest possible punishment. European leaders have been more willing to engage, less willing to go in so hard with the sanctions and so forth because of the economic integration they have with the Russian economy.

But the message they say is united across the board. Russia must do more than it has done already. It has to actively help to settle things in the eastern Ukraine even though Russia they have pulled back troops from the borders and has now said they recognize the new Ukrainian president.

CUOMO: Phil, that's interesting. It seems that economic realities are doing the most to make the Russian leaders rethink his position. And yet on this day, you would think as we see here, Vladimir Putin getting out attending a lunch a good sign to be present on D-Day. Of course Russia not part of the allied invasion that day, but so pivotal to the ally's attack against the Germans. Hopefully he will be shaking the hand of President Obama and hopefully these two men can talk and bring some sober minds to the situation in Ukraine.

Let's bring in Kenneth C. Davis. If economics weren't enough, the lessons of history and on how things get out of control, especially 70 years commemorating D-Day, hopefully it resonates with these men. What should they remember?

KENNETH C. DAVIS, AUTHOR, "DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY": One would hope that it is resonating, to see those rows and rows of crosses, of course, and to think about the sacrifice and loss. War is a terrible thing. We sometimes forget that, especially a lot of Americans today, and our younger generation, very, very disconnected from war, from service, unlike 70 years ago when the second world war touched every American home. And so I think it's very, very poignant that on this day that we are honoring this tremendous loss and sacrifice that these men are finding some way to do this peacefully.

BOLDUAN: Kenneth, we're also nearing a time where we'll no longer have the voices and the faces of that generation because they're about -- nearing 90 years old many of these veterans. We're nearing a time when we're not going to have them anymore.

DAVIS: It's true. Sadly, we don't know much about history unfortunately in this country. And when we lose those voices, it is a big loss. 2012 was quite a turning point in presidential history. It was the first time that none of the four major candidates had military experience since before World War II. This has been part of our presidential and political history for a long time. And that's again that generational shift away from the sense of sacrifice that being in the military has. And that's even reflected in things like the crisis with the V.A., which we've had many times in the past. We like to talk about honoring our servicemen and women, but we don't always do a good job of it historically in this country.

CUOMO: Well said.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. Kenneth, thank you very much, Phil Black in Moscow for us, thank you Phil and Christiane watching events from the ground in France. Thank you all very much. We're going to continue to follow all of the events surrounding D-Day commemorations as well as a very important diplomatic lunch happening right now. We'll be getting back to that in just a minute.

But back here at home, a student is being hailed this morning a hero after tackling and subduing a gunman on a Seattle college campus. One student died in the attack. Three others were injured. At this point, we know that the suspect was not a student at the school. So what could have set him off. The question we're always left with, Dan Simon is joining us in Seattle, is why, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Authorities say at this point they've not been able to establish a connection between the alleged shooter or the university or any of his victims. What they do know is shortly before 3:30, the man identified as 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra came here to this hall behind me and began opening fire. At that point, his shotgun -- he actually ran out of ammunition was actually immobilized, tackled by somebody who was working behind the student security desk. He actually took out his pepper spray and immobilized the suspect. He was then aided by several bystanders. It turns out the suspect actually had more ammunition and was carrying a knife. When it was all over, three people were shot, a 19-year-old male was declared dead at the hospital. Two other victims here, one victim apparently in critical condition, a 20-year-old female. A very tragic situation, but of course everybody is crediting this student hero for saving many more lives. He had the presence of mind to grab that pepper spray and take down the suspect. Michaela, we'll send it back to you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Concerning situation, thank goodness for that quick-thinking student. Dan Simon, thanks so much for that.

Let's take a look at your headlines right now. An American tourist has been detained in North Korea. The North's state-run news agency has identified the man as a tourist, Jeffrey Edward Fowle. He reportedly had been detained in mid-May after allegedly leaving a bible in the hotel where he'd been staying. He is the third American to be held in the communist nation, including Kenneth Bae, a missionary, that was sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

Also breaking overnight, now in custody, a 24-year-old suspect in a deadly shooting rampage in Canada. Justin Bourque is accused of committing one of the worst mass shooting in RCMP police history. He had been spotted several times following Wednesday's killing spree, but managed to elude capture for almost two days. He is accused of killing three police officers and injuring two others in a small town in New Brunswick.

Hillary Clinton's new memoir not due out until next week, but in newly released excerpts, she reveals one of her biggest mistakes in politics. Clinton expressing regret for voting in 2002 to authorize U.S. military force in Iraq. Clinton also raised her concerns over negotiating for the Taliban for the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, saying, quote, "It would be hard to swallow for many Americans."

Let's talk weather on this Friday. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is watching all of this. We've had quite some severe weather this week. How are things looking for the weekend.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: In the northeast, yes, maybe some scattered showers yesterday, but it was nothing compared to the rest of the country. Look at all these reports of hail again and also a lot of straight-line winds that were out there. The good news is that it's going to get better in the northeast. High pressure is going to be building in there, but, really, the rest of the country still dealing with the same threat in almost identical region. Nebraska all the way down through Georgia looking for more of this severe weather, including the threat for tornados.

And it doesn't stop there. As you go in through the weekend, it looks like still in the south they're going to be talking about this threat. We're talking about heavy amounts of rain, flooding concerns are already out there, three to five inches of rain in the south, two to four inches into the southeast. Notice the northeast, dry, right? We're getting a huge change out here. It's going to feel a lot better because high pressure is moving in. That is good news.

But if you're in Denver, St. Louis, Memphis, or Oklahoma City, look at this, you're rained out all weekend long. Enjoy it if you're in the northeast. You're one of the few places where high pressure is going in. It's keeping it soupy in the southeast, and that's where it's going to stay nice and dry. We're talking 70s and 80s into the northeast, beautiful in D.C., about 85 degrees on Saturday and Sunday. So everyone else is complaining, enjoy it, guys. It is good all three days. And yes, Friday counts as part of the weekend.

PEREIRA: Obviously.


BOLDUAN: Indra, thank you so much for that.

Let's take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, many answers remain elusive surrounding the circumstances of Bowe Bergdahl's capture and now his release. What is the Pentagon saying this morning? We're going to talk with Read Admiral John Kirby, spokesman for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to get the very latest on his recovery process and what happens from here. We'll be back right after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. President Obama's offering no apologies for the deal he made to set free Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. This as criticism of the deal only seems to be growing louder, as do questions about Bergdahl's service record.

Let's try to get some perspective here from what's going on with Bowe Bergdahl. Remember, he was held captive for five years. Bit of recovery from that alone will be very, very difficult indeed. And we're lucky to have joining us from Paris a man who understands this situation very well, Pentagon press secretary Real Admiral John Kirby.

Admiral, thank you very much for joining us.


CUOMO: Admiral, what do we understand about the current condition of Bowe Bergdahl, physically, mentally? What are you getting a sense of?

KIRBY: Well, the doctors are telling us there in Germany that he's in stable condition and he's improving steadily every day. They're of course working very hard to bring him through this reintegration process carefully, in a measured, deliberate way. Nobody's going to go any faster than he's ready to go, but we do hear that he is improving, that he's engaging with the medical staff there, that he's talking. And so the signs with are in a positive direction right now.

CUOMO: To be clear for people who don't understand these types of situations as well -- and how could we really? Five years in captivity -- this is not the end for Bowe Bergdahl just because he's now free, right? The process of recovery is only beginning?

KIRBY: I think that's exactly right, Chris. And, more importantly, the process will only go as fast as he and his doctors are ready to let it go. Nobody's going to be rushing him back into society and even back home. I think we're going to take our time; he's going to take his time.

I mean, you have to remember -- and you pointed out -- that he was gone for five years in captivity, which I'm sure was harsh in all kinds of different ways. And he's going to need the time and space to reacquaint himself, to get a better handle on his emotions, his memories, and then eventually to be reunited with his family and his community back home. I think everybody is just going to have to be patient.

CUOMO: Let's see if you can help us with some of the fact sensitivity surrounding the circumstances of his disappearance and eventual capture. Do you believe at this point that he left of his own free will? Is it considered a desertion?

KIRBY: The army has not declared him a deserter, Chris. There was an investigation done. It's a classified investigation so I'm not at liberty to talk about the details here. But I think, as Secretary McHugh and General Odierno made clear, the army is going to do a comprehensive review. They're going to look at his situation again, the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. And a key to that is going to be talking to Sergeant Bergdahl himself. Because there's really only one man who knows exactly what happened with respect to his disappearance and his captivity, and that's Sergeant Bergdahl himself.

CUOMO: What can you tell us about these points of reporting -- the speculation that Taliban radio traffic said that he was taken from the actual OP, from a latrine? The suggestion that he supposedly tried to escape captivity? And the suggestion that he disappeared twice before, once during training and once while in theater in Afghanistan? Can you address those points?

KIRBY: Well, actually, what I can say is we're going to do a review. We're going to look at all of these things. The army is going to take a look at the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and I don't want to prejudge that and I don't want to get ahead of that. I don't think that would be fair to the army and it certainly wouldn't be fair to Sergeant Bergdahl.

CUOMO: The suggestion that he tried to escape, do you know that that is true?

KIRBY: I don't have any facts pertaining to his time in captivity. We really have to get a chance to talk to Sergeant Bergdahl before we can start to prejudge or speculate about what the specifics of his captivity was like.

CUOMO: Now, of course, incident reports are done very painstakingly in the field. A lot of the people -- not a lot. People who served with him have come forward. They are distressed. They believe that men were killed in action searching for Bowe Bergdahl. The field reports seem to contradict that. What is the army's position?

KIRBY: We do not have any indication at this time that there were specific casualties caused by his disappearance or the search for him in the aftermath. But, again, the army is going to review this. They're going to take and then we'll see where it goes.

But I think it's really important that we don't rush to judgment here. And one of the things that everybody in the military fights for is the right of being innocent until proven guilty, a fair process, a due process, a chance to be heard out. And I think it's really unfortunate -- and frankly, I don't think it does anybody any favors for folks to be out there speculating and criticizing him when he hasn't even had a chance to tell his own side of the story.

So I really think we need to, as I said at the outset, we need to be patient in terms of his reintegration back into society. We need to be patient in terms of the due process that he deserves.

CUOMO: And what do you make of the criticism of his parents by some in the media, really judging them and this situation kind of helping and cooperating and kind of encouraging Bowe Bergdahl not to live up to his duties? Is there any basis for any of that?

KIRBY: There's no basis, Chris, that I've seen. I think it's reprehensible, frankly, to be dragging the family through this right now. I think they have enough on their plate. I think they're rightfully worried about their son and I think we need to give that family a little bit of space.

CUOMO: Amen to that.

What perspective can you give on the deal itself? OK, we know these are bad guys. We know they're putting them back. We know there's no real ways to make sure they never reenter the fray. All of that has to be accepted as just a reasonable assumption. Why, in the estimation of the military ,was this a deal worth making?

KIRBY: Secretary of Defense has said it many times. He was comfortable with the decision that he made. He was comfortable with the assurances that we got from the Emir of Qatar, that this was in the national interest and the risk was substantially mitigated. The risk was substantially mitigated. Is it eliminated? No. It's of course not eliminated, you said that well yourself. But it is substantially mitigated. And while I can't go into the details of assurances that we got from the government of Qatar, again, the secretary believes that his concerns were satisfied and that this was in the national interest.

CUOMO: And if you can, just yes/no me on this last one. It is our understanding that this decision, the exigency of it, doing it without notifying Congress, wasn't so much about the feelings of Bergdahl's health, but the sensitivity of the circumstances surrounding the trade, that it could fall apart and that his life would be in danger. Timing was of the essence, yes or no?

KIRBY: Yes, timing was of the essence, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much for helping us advance the perspective on this. Obviously there's a lot of speculation out there. And when we can nail some of it down, it's very important to do that to keep proper perspective for the audience.

Thank you very much, Admiral. Enjoy your time there on a very important day for America's history.

KIRBY: It is a very important day, indeed. Thanks for having me, Chris.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure, sir. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Always good to have him.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, new excerpts from Hillary Clinton's new book, offering a rare insight into her decision making, her thoughts on Bowe Bergdahl, Benghazi and Iraq. But what did she say about attacking Sarah Palin? That's coming up on Inside Politics.


PEREIRA: Just about half past the hour, welcome back to NEW DAY. We'll give you a look at your headlines right now. President Obama has just arrived at a diplomatic lunch in France where he and other world leaders are marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day. We're looking at a live picture right there. And you can see there's some veterans along with these world leaders. The gathering will be the first time that Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin have been together since the Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Earlier this morning, the president delivered a speech saying the world must keep telling the stories of D-Day to uphold values of soldiers who can no longer share them.

Tragedy striking in Seattle. A gunman opened fire on the campus of Seattle Pacific University late Thursday, killing one student. Three others were injured. Police say 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra walked into a science hall and opened fire. That was until a student guard was able to pepper spray him, tackle him, restrain him. They say Ybarra is not a student at the school and they have not yet released a motive.

Pentagon officials say the U.S. will send military advisors to Ukraine to assess its need for defense reform. The Pentagon says the review being viewed as a first step toward helping establish a long-term program for the Ukrainian military through training and education. This move comes as President Obama says Russia faces the prospect of new sanctions because of its aggression in Ukraine.

All eyes on the Belmont Stakes tomorrow. You going to be watching? California Chrome could be the first horse in some 36 years to capture the Triple Crown. The world is waiting to see if he will ride into the winner's circle. If he does, it will be one of the greatest underdog stories in any sport.

Richard Roth is at the track where racing history could be made.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: California Chrome has been training fast for the Triple Crown, even at 6:30 in the morning.