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Spurs on the Brink of the NBA Title; Militants Advance in Iraq, Move Closer to Baghdad; Bowe Bergdahl Back on U.S. Soil; George H.W. Bush Jumps Out of Plane For Birthday; U.S. Weighs Iraq Options

Aired June 13, 2014 - 06:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Airstrikes are a possibility but White House spokesman Jay Carney says U.S. ground troops not an option.

Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions will not be the next house majority leader. Sessions saying he can't run because a, quote, "successful campaign" would create division within the Republican Party. Also he probably wouldn't win because House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy has lined up enough votes to replace Eric Cantor. Cantor is stepping down from his leadership post at the end of July after being beaten badly and unexpectedly in the Republican primary.

So, Hillary Clinton fired up. She was clearly irritated during an NPR interview when the host Terry Gross brought up gay marriage repeatedly. Clinton said that Gross was putting words in her mouth. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: You are playing with my words and playing with what is such an important issue.

TERRY GROSS, NPR: I just want to clarify so I understand.

CLINTON: No, I don't think you are trying to clarify. I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed and now I'm in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that's just flat wrong.


BERMAN: Clinton did not support gay marriage in her campaign but does now support and it did by video the first time last year.

This is something you have to see and frankly you can't unsee. Chris Christie busting a move. Here's a governor getting his move on with Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show." Keep on watching.


BERMAN: All right. That last little thing clearly a good-natured shot at the George Washington Bridge scandal that embroiled the governor's administration. Christie had been seen and maybe is being seen as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. He was asked if he could hypothetically beat Hillary Clinton, he said yes in a dance off.

Now, this was entertaining, folks, clearly. This was also clearly a deeply political dance from the very beginning. Chris Christie trying to put this whole thing behind him and move on.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Can he do anything that you would say is not deeply political?

BERMAN: No, not like this. Certainly not appearing on Jimmy Fallon who just lamb basted him with that Bruce Springsteen song before. Going on this show and doing this dance is his way of trying to get beyond it with humor.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And not about -- I mean, a lot of politicians do it. But I don't know. I think Hillary Clinton could give him a run for his money. We've seen pictures of her dancing, right? Right?

BERMAN: The bar is low.



CUOMO: But I'll tell you --

KEILAR: The three amigos.

BERMAN: He looked good. The governor has been working on his fitness and weight for a long time. And he looked pretty up there.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what? The more you can laugh at yourself, the more it diffuses the strength of criticism against you. It's a win- win for him and for Jimmy Fallon. He is funny. He's growing quite a franchise over there.

BERMAN: All right. Also, so, from someone who may be on the way back up to someone who looks like they are on the way down, who were the reigning champs on the court last night? San Antonio just blew out the Heat again, one win away from an NBA championship.

You may not be surprised but I'll tell you who is -- the guy with the nice golf shirts on, Andy Scholes who brings us the "Bleacher Report".

How is it going for you now? You've got the Heat's color on there, Andy. You picked them to win. Not so much.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, you know what? I thought this would be a much more competitive series than it has been, as did a lot of people.

Chris, I know how much you love stats so I've got good one for you this morning. When the team is down 3-1 in the NBA finals, they have a zero percent chance of winning the series. So, things are not looking good for the Heat. And really they would be lucky just to win another game in the series. The Spurs, man, once again just put a beat down on Miami in game four

leading by 19 at the half, 107-86 was the final. Spurs are just impressive back to back wins in Miami. They will now look to win their fifth championship Sunday night in San Antonio.

All right. Turning on this morning the World Cup is finally off and running. Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in the opener behind two goals from their star Neymar. Three more games today including a rematch between Spain and the Netherlands. That game is at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

The USA, they don't get to hit the field until Monday night and head coach says we can't win the world cup this year. What do you think? Rachel Nichols is going to tackle that topic tonight on "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS".

And you can watch that at 10:30 eastern right here on CNN.

SCHOLES: All right. We're out here in Pinehurst, North Carolina, for the U.S. Open. Round two is just about to get going out on the course. Phil Michelson is in the hunt and he certainly had a weight lifted off his shoulders yesterday as "The New York Times" is reporting that he will not be charged with any wrong doing, any Clorox inside trader investigation. Phil is five shots back of Martin Kaymer.

Kaymer shot a Pinehurst best 65 yesterday. He has a three-shot lead heading into today. The fabulous sports week we're enjoying right now will continue tonight with the Stanley Cup Final, game five between Rangers and Kings. Another do or die game for New York.

Chris, I know you're pretty nervous about this. They have to win in order to bring the nervous back to Madison Square Gardens. Do you think they're going to get it done tonight?

CUOMO: Absolutely. There's a zero percent chance they will win tonight.

SCHOLES: They didn't.

CUOMO: Shut up.

See you, Andy. Have a great weekend, pal.

KEILAR: Not nervous, I guess.

And it is now CNN money time.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans here with that.


Another week, another hack. A possible security breach at PF Chang's this week, and it's linked to mass attack at the Target earlier this year. Experts say online hacking is only going to get worse so you have to protect your finances online. It's up to you.

A few things you can do. Be diligent about software updates. When they find holes they send out security patches to solve it. Be aware of the webcam. Even if you're not using your webcam, hackers can get to it remotely. Put a piece of tape over it.

Hackers can tap into the mike on your smartphone so put it away when you're not using it. Use two factor authentications, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, offered two -- it's really important, two layers to the. Once you enter your password the site will prompt you for a second code from your phone. It adds another layer of security.

Remember, half of Americans were hacked last year. Half of Americans. So, a few extra layers of protection certainly can't hurt -- guys.

CUOMO: Nothing like tape to save you.

ROMANS: The lowest tech possible solution, tape.

KEILAR: I have paper over mine on the desk.

ROMANS: Nice. Nice. Now you can do anything and no one will know.

CUOMO: Thank you, Christine.

Coming up on NEW DAY, Iraq is in turmoil and that's really putting it gently. Could the U.S. get sucked back in?

Spider Marks is here. He knows the situation in Iraq. He knows what intel there is and isn't. He's going to give us the options and risks.

KEILAR: And President George H.W. Bush celebrating the big 9-0 high in the sky. We'll talk live with his dive partner.


KEILAR: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

A very volatile situation in Iraq this morning. Militants seizing Iraqi cities, moving closer to Baghdad on their mission to establish an Islamic state throughout the region.

President Obama says Iraq clearly needs help but what can America do and should it get involved again?

Joining us now to talk about this is retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. He is former commanding general of the Army Intelligence Center and CNN military analyst. He was the top army intelligence officer during the 2003 invasion in Iraq.

Major general, let's for once -- let's put the politics of this aside for a moment. Let's put aside the fact that Americans are war weary. For stability in the region what needs to be done in your opinion?

MAJ. GEN. SPIDER MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the United States certainly has an obligation to have a leadership role -- so we can kind of say that up front, Brianna.

But clearly, Maliki has got himself into a real challenge here. And he's done this with his eyes wide open. He's really established a sectarian government. The Sunnis feel disenfranchised.

He's at the point now where he sees his government potentially in flight. It's going to collapse. It could collapse. He's got a lot of work to do and he needs to do it very immediately.

Step one clearly is he has to be able to reach out to his political detractors, the Sunnis, and be able to bring them in as quickly as possible. That's path one. Path two is he has to be able to very overtly make -- achieve some successes on the battlefield against ISIS which he's not been able to do.

Clearly, what ISIS has been able to achieve up north in Mosul and Tikrit en route Baghdad. Clearly there's a line of communication that runs from north to south straight into Baghdad. Maliki has to be able to control the momentum that ISIS has been able to achieve along that route. He hasn't been able to demonstrate that his military is up for the task.

Now, the best military he has is in the vicinity of Baghdad. They will be tested here shortly. He has to get those boys out of their position right now and start to confront is and do it effectively.

KEILAR: What about the U.S.? What about the role of the U.S. military? Obviously, boots on the ground has been ruled out. But there's this issue of airstrikes. There's the possibility of giving more weapons to Iraq.

What can the U.S. do and what it should do it?

MARKS: Brianna, the United States military, the joint chiefs, will lay out all the options, and clearly, they do this with the blue sky type of a consideration. In other words, here's what we can do, then you overlaying obviously all the political considerations so you reach very quickly the determination that boots on the ground is not very likely option.

There is the possibility of airstrikes, both manned and unmanned. But that could also be done by a coalition of partners from the region. The United States certainly doesn't -- doesn't need to do that alone. There are some very competent capabilities that exist in the region.

Those strikes should be against very fixed targets. You can't use close air support. In other words, where Iraqi security forces are in a tight fight with ISIS. Unless you have U.S. forces on the ground to direct that fire, you're not going to have close air support to achieve distance between those units that are in combat.

But you can strike their lines of communications. You can strike their stockpiles. And ISIS support comes from Syria. So the challenge now becomes if we were to conduct air strikes, it just wouldn't be over Iraqi territory; we'd have to stretch into Syria. That complicates it further. But we have the capability to do that. The United States and its partners can do that.

KEILAR: We saw in Libya President Obama went it alone without congressional authorization for air strikes there. But just this last year when it came to Syria, he bowed out of that without getting the backing of Congress. Do you think it's a real possibility air strikes, even if President Obama doesn't get congressional support, whether it's in the form of a vote or in a more informal way?

MARKS: Very good question, Brianna. I have to tell you, this administration has not been averse from using military force when it -- when it needs to. It also has some repair work to do with our Congress because they haven't necessarily bridged those two authorities as effectively as they could.

At this point, I don't know what type of congressional support we would get to do almost anything in Iraq. So if you want to keep Maliki's government viable and you don't want to have it in a situation where it has to flee Baghdad -- and now it's -- it's elsewhere. And one of those locations could be in exile in Tehran; that would be a horrible outcome. The president is going to have to act. The administration is going to have to act pretty swiftly in order to get something done because right now the bleeding is immense, and Iraq needs the help.

KEILAR: Yeah, and we imagine the administration's decision will come in the next few days. Major General James Spider Marks, thank you so much.

Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: Important information there, Brianna. That's for sure.

Coming up on NEW DAY, Bowe Bergdahl back on U.S. soil this morning. We have letters he wrote in captivity. We're going to tell you the clues they contain to why he left.

And it's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's our 41st President George H.W. Bush celebrating his 90th birthday like a man. That's him jumping out of a gosh don don plane. We're going to speak with the man who took the plunge with him. Look at him. Four-point landing.


BERMAN: All right, Chris Cuomo has the good stuff. We're going to call this the awesome stuff. Former President George H.W. Bush celebrating his 90th birthday just like most 90-year-olds by jumping out of a helicopter at 6,000 feet.

The former president jumped in tandem with Retired Sergeant First Class Mike Elliot.

Mr. Elliott is part of the all veterans parachute team. I can't get enough of this.

Mike joins us now from Maine. Thank you so much for being with us. This is such a wonderful, joyful thing to see. As I said, we simply can't get enough of it. So explain to me the feeling of being at 6,000 feet with a 90-year-old former president of the United States with everyone on earth watching and filming this. What are the feelings going through your mind?

MIKE ELLIOT, JUMPED OUT OF PLANE WITH GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Well, let me tell you, it's quite amazing. And just -- just the feeling of honor to have such an American hero strapped to you. Yeah, the nerves are definitely a little high because you know the whole world is looking at you. And you know you are representing every veteran, every soldier. But just a feeling of American pride. It's kind of hard to describe this sensation.

BERMAN: Now, of course, the former president has done this a few times for his 75th, 80th, and 85th birthday. The first time he did it was went when he was shot down over the Pacific as a very young pilot in World War II.

We watched the video of this jump yesterday. The landing, you know, you might have had smoother landings with him in the past. Is everyone OK after that landing? It looked a little bit bumpy.

ELLIOT: Absolutely. He is completely OK. After the jump I went up to the house and spoke with him and 43 and the entire family and he was smiling. He reminded me of a 10-year-old Christmas day.

We have to realize that the former president is 90 years old. So things are not as mobile, and he doesn't have his strength of, you know, of a 60-year-old man. So the landing was not as perfect as we wanted it to be but, you know, he had a safe and enjoyable tandem sky dive.

CUOMO: Sergeant, John Berman is being gentle about it. Let's put it a different way. You kind of pancaked the president there on the landing.


Are you ready to assume responsibility for that? Is there something you would have done differently the next time instead of kind of like flopping on top of the man like that at 90 years of age?

ELLIOT: Well, I'll put it to you like this. You know, it was a risk taking the former president with -- with his age, with his Parkinson's disease. And you know, it is what it is. It wasn't perfect. I wish it was better. But you know what, he is happy. So at the end of the day, that's what it's all about.

CUOMO: That is what it's all about.

KEILAR: And Sergeant, Brianna here. Do you think he's going to keep doing this? I mean, this has been something he has been doing a few times. Does he want to keep going?

BERMAN: Sergeant, can you hear us OK?

CUOMO: He's thinking about the question. KEILAR: I think we may have lost him.

CUOMO: We got you, Sergeant? Are you thinking back to the parachute with the president?

BERMAN: Well, the sergeant was saying that what was important was that former President Bush was happy. I think one of the most interesting things about George H.W. Bush has been the last year or so, after he got sick. He has done so much, so many wonderful happy things. I have never seen him without a smile on his face over the last year. And it just seems like he is living this life to the fullest, and you can see his family all around him taking great joy in every moment as well.

KEILAR: And I love the message that that sends to people who are in their 70s, their 80s, or their 90s to just, you know, there's nothing really stopping you.

BERMAN: Or their very early 40s, very young early 40s.


KEILAR: That, too.

CUOMO: I was teasing the sergeant there. But you know what? This isn't the first time he's jumped with the president, as he was saying. What an amazing memory for him to make also. He obviously cares about the man, not just the office, very much. And they obviously ensure his safety there.

And I'll tell you, you know. Got a little bit of a tear in my eye. When you see the video, his wife, Barbara Bush, comes flying out. She kisses him on the cheek. She's rushing out there to make sure her man is OK. They've been married what 70 something years?

KEILAR: It was a fun family affair.

BERMAN: During World War II, they got married.

CUOMO: There's a picture of them kissing. That after all of these years she ran out and made sure her man was OK. Beautiful moment. Happy birthday to the president.

BERMAN: And what a life this is, and what a life it has been for him. And on Sunday right here on CNN, you have to tune in as 41 American notables come together to bring you a unique portrait of George H.W. Bush. It's called "41 on 41". I cannot wait to see this. It's Sunday night 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

CUOMO: God bless him. Impressive what he's doing there.

Now we're following a lot of news for you as you begin your new day. Let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bowe Bergdahl is back on American soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get a chance to find out what was in his head that day when he was taken captive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Letters reportedly written by Sergeant Bergdahl to his family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he saying what the Taliban told him to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American forces were the glue that was holding Iraq together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the makings of an Iraqi civil war now full blown, foreign policy crisis.

JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're 100 miles from Baghdad. And what's the president doing? Taking a nap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's brutal. I would say it's inhumane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the faces of a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of children as young as four traveling alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A processing center is no place for your child.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. We have the TGIF special edition for you. We've got Brianna Keilar in for Kate. We've got J.B. sitting in for Michaela this morning as well. And we also have breaking news for you.

This morning Bowe Bergdahl is back on U.S. soil after five years in Taliban captivity. The 28-year-old arrived in the dark of night at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.

His disappearance has been the speculation kind of capital of the week. His release is a topic of controversy. Why he left is the main question.

Let's bring in CNN's Martin Savidge live in San Antonio with the latest. Martin, good morning.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. It was, as you say, the middle of the night that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl touched down. It was a long flight, a military one that brought him all the way from Germany, to Lackland Air Force Base.

And then, in what has been a very carefully rehearsed many times scenario, he was transported from there and then brought to the San Antonio Military medical center, which is located behind me there. He's got a special floor, a special section. Right now he's isolated. And that's where they will care for him.

This is all carefully done. It's not done because he is Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. It's done because this is the way the Army says it treats all of its returning captives. It was a statement that was put out. And I'll read it to you briefly.

It just says that, "Our focus -- from the Army here -- "Our focus remains on his health and well being. Secretary Hagel is confident that the Army will continue to ensure that Sergeant Bergdahl receives the care, time, and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration."

Key to that will be reunion with his family. No timeline. We expect it to be soon. And it's crucial for his overall recovery. That's what the medical experts say.


KEILAR: We'll be waiting to see when that happens.

Martin Savidge, thank you.

And now to Iraq in turmoil. The U.S. now said to be weighing how to deal with radical Islamists as they topple key, big Iraqi cities. The militants now moving south nearing Baqubah becoming a bigger threat to Baghdad.

Let's bring in senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta with the latest from the White House.

What are we hearing, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, a senior administration official said the president has not yet made any decisions yet on whether to strike in Iraq, but a separate senior administration official is indicating that a decision could come as early as this weekend on how to proceed, including the possibility the U.S. could conduct air strikes.


ACOSTA (voice-over): With the makings of an Iraqi civil war now a full blown foreign policy crisis, President Obama huddled with his national security team to talk options. What was once unthinkable for this anti-Iraq war president is on the table.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't rule out anything because we do have a state of making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter.

ACOSTA: To prevent the Islamist militant group ISIS from taking Baghdad, White House officials say the president is now considering drone or airstrikes on the Sunni-backed fighters.