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Terror in Iraq; Bergdahl Prisoner Swap; Chaos in Congress

Aired June 12, 2014 - 05:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Militant uprising in Iraq, terrorists taking over towns, destroying everything in their path, crushing its U.S.-trained military. This morning, Iraq asking the United States for help. We are live with that situation in Iraq.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Chaos in Congress. This morning House Republicans scrambling as Majority Leader Eric Cantor announces he will move aside from his post. We will have the latest on this political drama, ahead.

ROMANS: New information this morning about Bowe Bergdahl's past, this as Congress grills the Obama administration over the prisoner swap that freed him along with five Taliban terrorists.

Welcome back to EARLY START this Thursday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Great to see you. Thirty-two minutes past the hour right now.

And developing this morning, could the U.S. military be headed back into Iraq, where al Qaeda-inspired militants, they are on the march, taking control of major Iraqi cities and displacing at least 500,000 civilians in the process.

This morning, Iraq's state TV is reporting that its military forces are back in full control of Tikrit. That's a day after militants were said to have seized much of the city. Again, that's coming from the Iraqi government-run TV, so unclear how true it is.

The government there has indicated that it is now willing to allow U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS. ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. That is the group carrying out these attacks, this march, really, down south, through Iraq.

CNN's chief international correspondent Nic Robertson following developments from just across the border in Amman, Jordan.

Nic, what's the latest this morning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, right now we understand that the Iraqi government is vouching on to whether or not to decide to declare this a state of emergency. It does seem like a foregone conclusion. Key among their decision-making will be actually getting agreement. We heard from Iraq's foreign minister yesterday, saying that it was important for the parliamentarians to agree to unite to form a government of national unity.

What he is talking about there are the deep sectarian divisions that underpin the fighting, the fact that the prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, has not been able to inspire large parts of a Sunni population to support the government, and we've seen that in videos released by ISIS on to YouTube, unconfirmed videos, but videos, nevertheless, released by ISIS that appear to show ISIS is actually getting broad support from lots of young men in the towns that they go into.

In one city, it appeared to be Mosul, dozens if not hundreds of young men crowded around a man from ISIS giving a speech and everyone seemed to be very much in adoration of him, not what people would have expected, but this is going to be at the core of the government's vote at the moment on a decision on a state of emergency. How effective those government forces can be, if they have got to Tikrit, well, they've still got Baiji, that strategic town on the highway standing between them that ISIS controls part of before they can begin to get to grips with Mosul.

It is far from done, whatever is happening, and ISIS has told its forces, move on Baghdad, the battle has barely begun, told its fighters not to give up even a hand's width of ground -- John.

BERMAN: Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces, mobilizing, that Shiite militias beginning to mobilize, so this does beg the question, will there be a full-scale ethnic and sectarian conflict ensuing.

Nic Robertson across the border in Jordan for us this morning. Thanks so much.

Breaking overnight, U.S. drone strikes reportedly taking aim at terrorists in Pakistan near the Afghan border. Officials say four compounds were targeted in the tribal areas of north Waziristan, killing at least 10 militants.

These are the first drone strikes in the region in six months, and they come just days after an assault by the Pakistani Taliban on the airport in Karachi that left 36 people dead.

ROMANS: A major aftershock from the political earthquake that jolted the Republican establishment. Eric Cantor says he'll step down as House majority leader at the end of next month. The announcement coming on the heels of his, quite frankly, stunning defeat at the hands of a little-known Tea Party candidate, David Brat.

Cantor's resignation sets up a potentially bruising leadership battle just ahead of the midterm elections.

Let's get more this morning from CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and John, Eric Cantor's loss is already giving way to a scramble to deal with its ramifications. And here in the halls of Congress, that means trying to figure out who's going to take his job of House majority leader. Kevin McCarthy is currently the number three. He is making pretty

clear, not officially, but we know that he's pushing for the job to move up. And Eric Cantor himself gave him a big nod in his press conference, saying that he wants McCarthy to be his successor. But here's part of the problem. There's been a lot of grumbling that there is not a red state Republican at the leadership table right now at all. So there's a push, perhaps, to have somebody like Pete Sessions, who's also said that he is running, from Texas.

If that doesn't happen, there is always a chance that a red state Republican, a more conservative, maybe even a Tea Party-backed Republican, could take the number three slot. Now if you're lost, think about it in "The House of Cards." That is, the House majority whip, it's Frank Underwood's job. So while that palace intrigue is going on, which is quite important, there is also a big discussion going on in these halls about what Eric Cantor's loss means. How could it happen? And whether or not many rank-and-file Republicans should be worried for their own jobs because of challenges from the right.

I spoke to one eight-term Republican who said that he had shivers down his spine when he saw the news and that he personally might be less likely to compromise in the future because if Eric Cantor can lose his job, so could he -- Christine and John.

BERMAN: These leadership battles can get nasty and have implications for as long as a decade. These results matter for a long, long time.

ROMANS: Well, they have midterms coming up. I mean, you see a party that seems to be in turmoil at a time when it's trying to -- you know, trying to pick up some ground in the midterms. Remarkable.

BERMAN: The jockey, if you're a political junkie, the jockey under the dome is delicious. 38 minutes after the hour.

No apology, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel concedes the White House could have done a better job keeping Congress informed about the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap that gave five Taliban detainees their freedom. The Defense secretary was grilled in during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee. He told lawmakers why the administration needed to act so quickly and with such urgency.

CNN's Barbara Starr has more.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, Christine, it was perhaps the angriest anyone has seen Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel after a Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee asked him why Bowe Bergdahl is still in the hospital 12 days after being released from five years of Taliban captivity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're trying to tell me that he's being held at Landstuhl, Germany, because of his medical condition?

HAGEL: Congressman, I hope you're not implying anything other than that. The fact --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking the question, Mr. Secretary.

HAGEL: I'm going to give you an answer, too, and I don't like the implication of the question.



STARR: Hagel offered a mea culpa to Congress, saying the administration could have done a better job of keeping Congress informed about the deal to get Bergdahl out in return for releasing five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Hagel said he knew that trust had been broken, but he drew the line. He was adamant that the deal was the right thing to do and that national security is protected.

A U.S. Defense official says now all the final arrangements are in place to fly Bowe Bergdahl from that hospital in Germany back to a military hospital in Texas. The planes, the travel orders, everything is done, but the doctors still have to clear him and say that he is ready to travel -- John, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Barbara Starr. Thank you for that, Barbara.

Time for an EARLY START on your money, John. European stocks mixed right now.

BERMAN: Because I have so many European stocks?

ROMANS: Yes, well, you know, you always like the first whiff of what's going to happen in the U.S. We've got growing concern over the violence in Iraq and the effect on oil. Oil prices this morning up about 1 percent. They've been rising for the past few days. So far, al Qaeda-linked groups have targeted a northern pipeline, but other energy infrastructure hasn't been affected. We'll watch that.

Stock futures up slightly this morning. You know, yesterday was kind of an ugly day. The Dow was down 102 points, pulling back from a record high. Stocks, though, still surging for the year, the Dow is up 1.6 percent, the Nasdaq up 3.7 percent this year and the S&P 500 up 5 percent this year.

That is good news for your 401(k), even with a little bit of a drop yesterday. So stocks look like they could be, I don't know, sloppy today. Watch oil prices move higher. Those are the big two things I'm watching.

BERMAN: Twenty minutes before the hour right now. Millions of you waking up to the threat of severe storms, trees knocked down, roads just covered with water. Indra Petersons tracking the threat today, that's right after the break.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Stormy weather today for millions of Americans.


BERMAN: Showers and thunderstorms in particular will be a huge nuisance in the south and here in the northeast. Possible tornado may have touched down in western Pennsylvania Wednesday. The National Weather Service trying to confirm that right now. What is clear is the damage from powerful winds and torrential rains that knocked down trees and left nearly 10,000 people in the region in the dark.

ROMANS: Indra Petersons here with a look at your forecast this morning.

Hi, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi. I think I'm going to steal John's line, stormy weather.


PETERSONS: Should I say like that every time I say it?

BERMAN: Please. Very Impressive.

PETERSONS: Very impressive.

BERMAN: Even (INAUDIBLE) than I do.

PETERSONS: Yes, I learn from the best, John. All right. Let's talk about this weather, we're still talking about that same system. If you need proof, take a look at the last week. I mean, you're watching this guy, so slow moving across the country, and that's still what we're dealing with even this morning. Another system behind it, though, producing a severe weather threat. Really want to watch out for Dallas today, especially as you go through the afternoon. We are going to be talking about delays there, especially still the threat for tornadoes. It is that time of year.

There is that system we were looking at. All that moisture kind of pulling out of the Gulf, still talking about showers as we head in towards the weekend. Eventually, the low will clear out, but we're still going to be talking about that typical afternoon-type thunderstorms in the southeast.

Switching over to the northeast, already seeing kind of little bit of a light drizzle this morning. You'll see that intensify as we go through the afternoon. Notice we're still talking about some heavy rain up until about Friday. The good news by the weekend, it does kick out of here. What you're dealing with first is the warm front, the kind of that hot, muggy air with scattered showers. By the overnight and through tomorrow, you're switching seeing those showers right ahead of that cold front, so they're going to be a little bit stronger, but that's good news.

The cold front is closer. Once it kicks out of here, the humidity drops down and it clears up. That's the key for the weekend, so it's going to be feel a lot better out there. Temperature wise, you're going to see a nice difference because you have that big low, one we've been watching all week long kind of kicks out of there. Temperatures are mild and again, the humidity is down. So, regardless of the temperature, it's going to feel a lot better.

So a couple of days of rain, and do you remember last weekend? Money, "CNN MONEY," you know that.

ROMANS: Money.

BERMAN: CNN MONEY, that's right.

PETERSONS: I love money and the weather forecast.

BERMAN: She's sucking up.


ROMANS: I love money and the weather forecast.

BERMAN: Sucking up.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

All right. New details revealed now about the 15-year-old who murdered a classmate and sent a teacher to the hospital. We've got more on where he got his guns and what may have motivated him after the break.


BERMAN: Welcome back. Police have identified the suspect in Tuesday's deadly school shooting in Portland, Oregon. They say 15- year-old Jared Michael Padgett gunned down 14-year-old Emilio Hoffman and wounded a teacher before killing himself. Padgett reportedly came prepared, really for battle, carrying an AR-15 rifle, a semiautomatic pistol and several hundred rounds of ammunition. The weapons were taken from his family's home. Investigators have not released a motive.

ROMANS: Las Vegas Police releasing new details on the husband-wife team who gunned down two police officers and an armed bystander Sunday. Investigators now say a sheriff's deputy fired the shot that killed Jerad Miller just seconds before his wife, Amanda, killed herself there on the floor of the Wal-Mart. She did not fire at her husband, as police previously thought. The gruesome scene captured on surveillance video.

Last night, Anderson Cooper spoke with the mother of Joseph Wilcox. He is the man who died trying to prevent more bloodshed.


DEBRA WILCOX, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM JOSEPH WILCOX: I just want everybody to know, yes, he was my hero. I wish he was here today and I want to thank everybody out there for everything they are saying and doing for him because he deserves this. Thank you all.


ROMANS: And this morning we're learning about missed opportunities, Jerad Miller's past run-ins with the law, including allegedly making violent threats against a motor vehicle office in Indiana.

BERMAN: So difficult to hear from the mother of the victim there.


BERMAN: The truck driver in the fatal highway crash that critically injured actor Tracy Morgan and killed another man has now pleaded not guilty. 35-year-old Kevin Roper was arraigned Wednesday on charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto. Prosecutors say he'd been awake for 24 consecutive hours before the crash, but Roper's employer, Wal-Mart, denies he broke any rules. Morgan remains in critical but stable condition.

ROMANS: A California judge ruling that Casey Kasem's daughter, Kerri, has the authority to withhold sustenance, food, water and medicine from her ailing father, the legendary deejay. It is the latest chapter in a bitter court battle between Kasem's wife, Jean, and his children. Kasem is in critical condition at a Washington state hospital. He is suffering from an infection. He has dementia. His daughter says the ruling upholds her father's wishes not to be kept alive in his current condition.

Donald and Shelly Sterling set to square off in a Los Angeles courtroom. A California court's going to determine whether he was properly removed as an administrator from the family trust that owns the Los Angeles Clippers. A trial will begin in July. Shelly Sterling assumed the role of sole trustee and she negotiated the sale of the team to a former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, last month. That sale is still pending approval from the NBA Board of Governors.

BERMAN: So as soccer fans prepare for the start of the World Cup today in Brazil --

ROMANS: That just makes me happy.

BERMAN: It makes me so happy. But there are already problems that are getting in the way of this big event. Street protests and a subway strike in Sao Paulo forced the U.S. and Belgium to cancel a scrimmage. Coaches for both teams decided to cancel because they didn't want to get stuck in the traffic. You know, it's bad enough in Sao Paulo anyway, but with a subway strike, even worse.

There is some good news, though, for today. The subways will be running today for the World Cup opener. The workers voted not to resume the strike that began on Monday. Brazil plays this afternoon.

ROMANS: So 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.

BERMAN: I think it's 3:00 something. Right?

ROMANS: Is it 3:00 something? I would have (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: I'm just clearing my schedule for the rest of the day.

ROMANS: All right, fantastic. For the rest of the day. Well, give us eight more minutes. Then you can clear the schedule.

BERMAN: You got it.

ROMANS: All right. Uber backlash, taxi drivers shutting down city streets to protest the ride-sharing app, but could all of this anti- Uber fury end up helping Uber? That's after the break.


ROMANS: All right. Good morning. Let's get an EARLY START on your money this morning.

Futures and stocks, European stocks, slightly higher right now. Another thing we're watching this morning oil prices up about 1.5 percent. They've been rising for the past few days. Growing concern about the violence in Iraq and how that's going to affect energy supplies. A pipeline in northern Iraq was shut down earlier this year. So far no other energy infrastructure has been affected, but still bears watching.

Microsoft fighting a government search warrant, and this could have big consequences for your privacy. The government is going after e- mails Microsoft has stored at a facility in Dublin, Ireland, as part of a drug trafficking case, but Microsoft says the warrant violates international law and user privacy.

Tech companies store information in data centers all over the world. This story raises a lot of questions about physical borders when it comes to your digital information.

All right, here's the Uber story Berman loves this morning. The car- booking app, Uber, is changing the way people travel all over the world, and some taxi drivers, they're not happy about that. Yesterday, licensed taxi drivers, they tried to block traffic in several European cities in protest, but their efforts are backfiring. Uber says it's seeing a surge in demand where -- in the cities where protesters, where those taxi drivers protested. In London, for example, Uber downloads are up 850 percent compared with last week.

BERMAN: Can you imagine that? 850 percent in a week because of a taxi strike?

ROMANS: It's drawing attention, it's drawing attention, and the fact that, hey, we're available and here's the app that you can use for Uber. You don't have to hail a cab.

BERMAN: It is coming, Uber is coming.

All right. That's it for us. "NEW DAY" starts punctually right now.