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Five U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Killed by Friendly Fire; Domestic Terrorism Threat Assessed; General Motors to Hold Stockholder Meeting; Olympic Swimmer Severs Spinal Cord in Accident; Interview with Rep. Steve King on Prisoner Swap, Immigration

Aired June 10, 2014 - 07:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just joining us, welcome back to NEW DAY.

Breaking this morning, five American troops in Afghanistan are dead. An official says it was a case of friendly fire. That makes it the deadliest day for American troops in months. Let's get to CNN's Barbara Starr right away. She's at the Pentagon with the latest. Friendly fire makes the loss even more difficult to understand, Barbara. How did it happen?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The details right now are very sketchy, Chris. You know, the president announcing, of course, wrapping up the mission in Afghanistan in the coming months, but for military families still the ultimate price, the ultimate sacrifice being made.

What we do know is five U.S. troops killed in southern Afghanistan. They were out on a mission. According to our sources, they came into contact with enemy fire and called in air support. The belief at this point, and it's all very preliminary, somehow that air support when it launched its airstrike, it hit the friendly forces, it hit the U.S. troops. The incident, of course, under investigation, but now this fratricide incident makes this one of the deadliest days of Afghanistan in months. Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Barbara Starr thank you so much at the Pentagon for us this morning.

Also new here, we are learning new details about the deadly rampage in Las Vegas. The married couple who gunned down two police officers in and a shopper at Wal-Mart had a history of extremist views seen in multiple videos, all posted online. And then there is this. They apparently had spent some time at Cliven Bundy's ranch as he fought the government over paying to graze his cattle. So Daryl Johnson, I'm going to bring you in, a former senior domestic terrorism analyst at the Department of Homeland Security. He is the CEO of DT Analytics and the author of "Right Wing Resurgence, How a Domestic Terrorist Threat is being Ignored." Mr. Johnson, good morning.


BALDWIN: You have spent multiple years studying these domestic terrorist groups, and while we can't ling a to b with this specific group or these two individuals in Las Vegas, when you hear these details, when you hear the shooters left a yellow "don't tread on me" flag and a swastika on top of one of the police officers they shot and killed, and a note apparently they pinned warning about the beginning of the revolution, what does that tell you?

JOHNSON: Yes, this is not shocking to me. These are classic symbols for the far right extremists that we have in the country. It's interesting to note that a lot of people when they think of terrorism, they think of Al Qaeda or Hamas or Hezbollah that operate like groups. Here in America the extremists adopted the tactics of leaderless resistance and lone wolf terrorist tactic. So this is a classic example of domestic terrorism, and the media and our Congressional leadership should start calling it that.

BALDWIN: I know that you say there should be more done on the federal level, and we will get to that. What jumped out at me, you said it's not shocking. In the years you studied individuals or groups like this, especially since, as you point out, having our first African- American president, tougher economic times a couple of years ago, have these instances of extremists increased?

JOHNSON: Oh, they have increased dramatically. In 2007, when I was at Homeland Security, the militia movement was on its last legs. We had less than a hundred groups that were operating throughout the country. In 2008, that number grew to 150 and by 2010 we had over 300 years later. So that just shows you the rapid growth that we've experienced just in a short period of time.

BALDWIN: You know, with the possible of connection here to Cliven Bundy, who was really the symbol of anti-government, you know, didn't want to pay the federal government for his cattle grazing on their land, apparently this couple did go. Thousands of people went, right, as part of that whole movement. Cliven Bundy says he doesn't remember meeting them, but apparently he believes someone did ask them to leave. Just curious at that time when that whole scene was percolating on a national stage, did you fear that maybe some sort of movement or, as a guest said yesterday, a war of extremist would morph out of that?

JOHNSON: Yes. The Cliven Bundy standoff is very reminiscent of another standoff we had back in 1992 called Ruby Ridge, which was in Idaho. And that was a galvanizing event that brought extremists of all stripes together under one common cause and caused people to not only recruit and expand these groups and movements, but also it served as a radicalization where people saw the heavy hand of the government and, therefore, may pursue criminal or violent action as a result.

BALDWIN: So what do you do about it? What does the federal government do about it? How do they watch for these people?

JOHNSON: Well, the first thing we need to do is raise public awareness. A lot of people might think two cops getting shot at a pizza place is just the result of a crazed gunman who went in there and just did it as a common criminal act. But it's the belief system that was behind that act that makes it terrorism. And so just increasing public awareness these acts domestic terrorism I think goes a long way in showing people who serious it is.

BALDWIN: Daryl Johnson, appreciate you spending a couple of minutes with us here on NEW DAY. Thank you.

JOHNSON: You're welcome.


CUOMO: It will be a tense day in Detroit because General Motors is holding annual shareholder meeting there. The company is doing well. That's not the problem. Families of those killed or injured in those recalled vehicles are expected to protest the meeting, and inside shareholders will have tough questions about GM's mishandling of the recall. CNN's Poppy Harlow is live in Detroit with more. Hey, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Chris. No doubt, this will be a unique and tense shareholder meeting right inside General Motors headquarters. It's only been a few days since that absolutely damming internal investigation from GM came out showing 11 years of what they are calling neglect and incompetence that led to at least 13 deaths, 54 crashes, many injuries, because of this faulty ignition switch that no one took responsibility for.

You know, it has cost the company $1.7 billion so far and it's going to cost them a lot more than that with all of these lawsuits and litigation. But more important than the money here are the people, the victims, at least 13 deaths. And we had a chance last night to speak to some of the people who are going to outside here protesting. They want more answers and more action from General Motors. One of them a father who lost his daughter Natasha Weigel sitting in the backseat of one of those cars because of this faulty ignition switch. Here is what he wants.


KEN RIMER, STEP-DAUGHTER DIED IN CAR CRASH: We just want to make sure, OK, here is the face of the victims. People died because of their inaction, and we've got to make sure that doesn't happen again.


HARLOW: And I want to read you a quote from this report that really stood out to all of us talking about this defective ignition switch. Here it is. It says "The switch was so plagued with problems that the engineer who designed it labeled it then, quote, "the switch from hell." The report also talks, guys, about a, quote, "GM nod," an acknowledgment by GM executives in meetings they would do something, a plan of action, and then no one followed through. Just showing what the corporate culture was like at this company for very a long time there, and they insist this is a new General Motors and things have changed. Of course they are still in the middle of a congressional investigation and criminal probe by the Department of Justice. So a big day ahead for General Motors and the people who want answers. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we will be watching to see how the new GM handles all of this. Poppy Harlow there at headquarters, we appreciate it.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines now. Breaking overnight, the deal to sell the L.A. Clippers is off. According to multiple media reports Donald Sterling is now withdrawing his consent for the sale of the team and is going ahead with a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA. This comes after the league refused to lift Sterling's lifetime ban or rescind a $2.5 million fine for his racist comments.

Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility for another attack on the Karachi's international airport. The group says the violence is retribution for the government's shelling of its fighters. Today's attack comes just a day after 36 people were killed when militants stormed the airport's cargo area.

An embarrassing moment for a University of Connecticut women's basketball star. What was supposed to be celebratory moment for the championship team quickly turned into slight panic after a 6'5" center Stephanie Dolson lost her footing and almost fell off the risers. The president sprung into action, reaching out his hand to help her. Mortified, hiding her face in embarrassment, but the president assured her with a little hug. It's OK. I got you.

BALDWIN: She must have had some heels on! Have you ever done that?

PEREIRA: You got heels on and standing on a riser saying, do not fall, and what do you do?

CUOMO: You fall, and it happens every time, and you swear that the next time you'll make a smarter choice and you'll account for it, and then you make the same mistake again because your legs look amazing in that particular pair of shoes, and you just made the same mistake again.

BALDWIN: Apparently he has experience in this endeavor in which we will not ask any more.

CUOMO: Don't judge. Don't judge.

Next story, serious business to tell you about. We are all on alert this morning, and here's why. An Olympic champion is recovering this morning after a really terrible accident. Six-time gold medal swimmer Amy Van Dyken severed her spinal cord after an injury from an ATV. This morning she's in a hospital. There are hopes her condition may improve, very qualified right. CNN's Jean Casarez is here with more. How do we understand the situation?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are just getting this information in right now. We are learning this Olympic champion was emergency air-lifted to Scottsdale, Osborne Medical Center after an ATV accident in Arizona. Her husband former Denver Broncos football player Tom Rouen was at her side at the time.


CASAREZ: She is one of America's greatest swimmers. Six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken Rouen air-lifted to a local hospital after a terrifying accident, the champion swimmer severing her spinal cord during an ATV outing with her husband and friends. According to a police report her ATV hit a curb in a restaurant parking lot, launching her over a five to seven feet drop-off. She was found lying next to the ATV unresponsive.

Despite the extent of the injuries, Rouen is in good spirits. According to a statement from her family, Amy's spinal cord was completely severed at the t-11 vertebrae, but miraculously a broken vertebrae stopped within millimeters of rupturing her aorta. Amy's attitude has been overwhelmingly positive and optimistic.

Rouen made a splash at the 1996 Olympic Games as she became the first U.S. female athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympics. She went on to win two more in the 2000 games in Sydney. USA swimming released a statement, saying "Amy is a champion who has proven throughout her life that she is a fighter who takes on challenges and comes out on top. We know Amy will tackle her rehabilitation with vigor and be back on her feet sooner rather than later."


CASAREZ: And in a statement by Amy's family on her verified Twitter account, they state that doctors say she did not suffer any head trauma. They also say that Amy has conquered many obstacles before, including battling lifelong asthma, and she is a six gold medal champion.

BALDWIN: Millimeters from rupturing her aorta. We wish her well.

CUOMO: You have to take solace that you're not given more than you can handle. And she is such a tremendous athlete and strong enough character to hopefully get her through this.

PEREIRA: That is what her family was saying.

CUOMO: Everybody is thinking about her and we will stay on the story and let you know how she does. Hopefully it is another tremendously recover to tell you about.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we're getting reports that 80 to 90 people within the administration knew about the Bowe Bergdahl swap before it happened, none of them, therefore, Republican lawmakers. One of the congressmen that we are going to have on the show here today isn't happy about it. Steve King will join us and tell us what they were told in this meeting and why it wasn't enough.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We have new developments overnight as the White House plays damage control over the prisoner swap that freed sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban. Now, House lawmakers received a closed door briefing explaining why the swap happened and why Congress was not informed in advance. Remember the 30-day notification that they believe they were due? All of this as a new poll shows that nearly half of Americans believe that Bergdahl exchange was the wrong thing to do.

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King was one of those briefed last night by the administration. He has strong opinions on the matter and joining us from Washington. Congressman, always a pleasure. Thank you for joining us on NEW DAY.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on, Chris.

CUOMO: So give me the skinny, Congressman. What happened at the meeting and what did you learn and what did you think of it?

KING: Well, within the limits that I can discuss, Chris -- and I think we should have fairly broad limits so we asked him them to announce to us those classified things and that way we'll make sure none of that goes back out into the press. And there really wasn't an announcement like that, although there was a question specifically in that fashion.

So here is what we had. We had a panel of people whose titles almost always started with either vice or deputy. These weren't Cabinet members; they weren't top line officials. These were second-tier people, maybe third-tier people, and they came to give us the party line. If you had read through, and you have, through the media reports, and some that you have given, you would find that most of that was sent back to us after White House has had, oh, a week or so to polish up their talking points.

That was most of the substance of it. What we did learn, and I happen to see it reported this morning, is that there were a number of people in the executive branch that knew about this, but not one person in the United States Congress knew about this even though the law says that "Thou shalt inform Congress 30 days before any release of prisoners of Gitmo."

CUOMO: "Thou shalt." Sounds like it was more than law, like it was a commandment.

Let me ask you this -- do you think that any of this, to the extent -- let's accept everything you say as true. Do you think any of this is the poor working relationship coming back to haunt both the administration and lawmakers on your side of the aisle, that you guys don't get along well and, as a result, dysfunction everywhere?

KING: Well, you would think the president would consult with Democrats. When the law says you shall, then you think he's had Harry Reid over there in the Senate - that's something else we learned, weren't able to confirm that Harry Reid knew about this in advance even though it seems as though he said so into the press.

So if the president is not consulting with Democrats or Republicans, the thing that's very, very disturbing is why would the president not think that the United States Congress is useful in coming to a decision and consulting with the Congress? And, instead, he had his scores of people inside the White House, this time nothing leaked, which might not be the first time but they have had leaks out there and they admit that.

So I think it should have come to Congress and this creates more friction between the Congress and the White House. And, really, the friction is created on the White House side, Chris. How many times has the president decided to do ignore the law, violate the law, and then -- this is an excuse, too. It was, well, the timing didn't work out for us to consult with Congress. How long does it take to pick up the phone and call the speaker of the House? The minority leader in the House? Or the relevant chairs like Buck McKeon, for example? And Mike Rogers.

CUOMO: I take your point. I take your point on the timing issue. There's definitely points of criticism there and its' definitely going on down there, and that's why we are following it.

You also speak about the friction. You've created friction yourself, though, Congressman, right? You tweeted out that it looks like both sides, swapees and negotiators, are working for al Qaeda. Now, I assume that that's an exaggeration but it certainly is going to create friction, right? You don't think they're really working for al Qaeda on the U.S. government side, right?

KING: Well, they released the five -- five of the top -- I mean, at least five in the top ten. They didn't release Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but the top ten Taliban al Qaeda. And, by the way, everybody in Gitmo is affiliated with al Qaeda. So what would bring that about? We've never in our history negotiated trades like that.

And they said that there was no consideration made about the status of Bergdahl walking off a base. That it was about getting an American back and we will worry about that later.

CUOMO: All right, so wait, hold on. Let's unpack it --

KING: When you make a trade like that, it's a terrible trade.

CUOMO: Let's unpack it. The first thing is -- I get that you're upset about who was doing it, but you can't say that you believe that our negotiators were working for al Qaeda. I have to assume you don't believe that. So let's go to the next point.

KING: Chris, if I could -- I'm just trying to say this -- I said it looks like.

CUOMO: I know but come on.

KING: When you look at this transaction, that's what it looks like.

CUOMO: Come on, Congressman, you know where that kind of talk gets us and it's nowhere productive. That's why I'm just bringing it up so we can move past it.

The second part, though, is what matters. Let's start looking at the analysis as you see it. Bowe Bergdahl, we do not know -- unless you learned something in one of these meetings or something classified the rest of us don't know in the media -- we do not know he deserted at this point. Fair statement?

KING: We know he walked off base.

CUOMO: We know that it is likely that he walked off. Do you believe that's the same as desertion for sure?

KING: I think that is something that should be -- should be brought to court and I think that should be examined by a court with all of the evidence that we have. But the evidence that we have, there's nothing to the contrary out there, Chris. And you listen to the people that served with him, those that were on the line, those that risked their lives, and those that lost their lives can't speak, they are almost of one -- one person, one voice, that he walked off.

CUOMO: Right.

KING: And so that makes -- didn't they cancel the homecoming ceremony in his hometown? They must have had evidence there.

CUOMO: Right, right. But hold on a second. They canceled it because they were so worried about protests and potential violence that they may not have been able to handle it in a relatively small municipality. It wasn't because they don't believe in Bowe Bergdahl. That would be misleading. You're not suggesting that, are you?

KING: That's a new definition for me. Perhaps I should dig in a little deeper. But I think that there had to be a component of this that they didn't want to do a homecoming ceremony for someone who was such in question.

I just -- I can't --

CUOMO: So do you think we shouldn't have done the deal?

KING: I'm happy for his family. I'm happy his family --

CUOMO: Well, hold on.

KING: -- is going to get him back, but I can't defend him.

CUOMO: Well, but hold on a second. But you can't say both either, right, though, Congressman? You're happy for his family but you're not really happy at all because you don't think they should have traded for him in the first place, right? If it were up to you, Bowe Bergdahl would still be with the Taliban, is that true?

KING: I wouldn't have traded for him knowing what I know. And if there's more information about this, they should have told us in a classified briefing. They did not. We've been lied to in classified briefings in the past, however, so my level of confidence isn't very high. And it's a little bit tedious to listen to those same talking points stream out. And, by the way, let's not forget Susan Rice did lie to us. She said he was taken in battle, so it looks as though she is the person that the White House rolls out when someone has got to burnish their reputation, in her case, tarnish her representation. So we should be concerned about that. The entire Congress should be angry about that.

This has been misrepresented by this White House. It is a bad deal. And you don't trade -- you don't trade terrorists of the highest level brass terrorists and trade them off in a situation like this. It encourages more. It's tactically a bad thing. Even if Bergdahl were a hero -- and I would say interview some P.O.W.s, some Vietnam P.O.W.s. They said return with honor or I will not return. I don't know that these soldiers would have accepted that trade if they had been of that caliber.

CUOMO: All right. So we are going to leave that part of the discussion there for now because we need more information on it. We have to know from Bowe Bergdahl and more information about how he came to be taken captive so we can assess that part and the deal, obviously, will keep going forward.

The timing is legitimate for criticism; that's why we are following that story as well.

One quick take from you before we let you go, Congressman. Immigration. How do you balance humanity with rule of law and dealing with this influx of kids? We don't know where their families are in a lot of these cases. Sometimes they get together, mostly they are not. The conditions they're being held in is not good. How do you balance humanity with shoring up the border and following the rule of law?

KING: That is a really tough question under these circumstances that we have, Chris. First I have to back up and say the president has sent the message out he's not going to enforce the law. That message echoed out through Mexico and Central America. Now they're sending people and pouring them across the border. How are they getting into the United States is one question that's not resolved.

We have thousands of youth on our hands, and as young as 3, that are unaccompanied minors. And we have to take care of them and we have to figure out how to repatriate them back to their home countries. This administration is trying to find a way to patriate them into the United States of America.

So I would be negotiating with the donor countries, the Central American countries and Mexico. I'd be looking at the foreign aid we send to them. I'd be slowing that down if we didn't get cooperation. But I believe that they can be repatriated in their home countries and we should be taking them back fro those countries to take care of their people.

If we don't, we're going to see an endless flood from Central and South -- Central and -- America and Mexico. This is the tip of the iceberg. It will get a lot greater if we don't shut this down. But let's do it with a gentle hand because these are kids and some of these kids, it's not their fault, some of these kids are absolutely old enough it is their fault, however, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, most of them are kids and they got sent here by their families. And I understand everything you're saying there, but the last part -- the last part deserves some reiteration here because you have to make sure, Congressman, that you don't let the politics carry you away from the humanity dealing with these kids. You can't just let them sit in facilities like the one they're sitting in down there in the southwest right now. That's got to be the priority.

KING: Chris -- what we need to have is we need to have the principle of the rule of law. If we had held that in place, if the president hadn't sent the wrong message and some previous presidents, we wouldn't have this happen. We've got to restore the rule of law with regard to immigration in this country, and if we do not do that, it's not going to be restored within the lifetime of this republic.

That's the tragedy. A pillar of American exceptionalism is being chiseled away at because of the lackluster approach by our president, especially on immigration.

CUOMO: Well --

KING: He wants this to happen because it's a political tool for him, and that's cruel.

CUOMO: Fair basis of debate and criticism about how this happened in the first place. But don't let the kids pay the price, Congressman, because, you know, we all know that that's not deserved in this situation.

We're going to follow that one very closely as well.

KING: We have to take care of the kids.

CUOMO: Appreciate you being here, as always. Thanks for joining us on NEW DAY. Good luck down there.

KING: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Brooke, over to you.

BALDWIN: Chris Cuomo, great interview. Thank you so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Hillary Clinton any revelation; she talks Benghazi and Monica Lewinsky and being dead broke. Take a look. Live pictures of Manhattan. Folks already lining up to buy that book. She is doing her first official book signing at Union Square at the Barnes & Nolbe this morning.

We will talk Hillary Clinton in Inside Politics coming up next.