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President to Tap Former Procter & Gamble CEO to Head V.A.; USA Prepares for Match Against Belgium in World Cup; New Developments in Toddler Car Death

Aired June 30, 2014 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DIANE MODINI, PASSENGER: They just had a panicked look. And they quickly took the carts and ran backwards to the back of the plane.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The plane en route from Chicago O'Hare international airport to John Wayne airport in southern California was forced to make an emergency landing in Wichita, Kansas, descending over 20,000 feet in 10 minutes according to flightaware.com.

MODINI: The first thing that went through my mind is if the chute opened then it probably popped out the door, which meant we would probably lose pressure immediately. But luckily that didn't happen.

MARSH: Passengers took to social media to share pictures and video of the frightening experience. Former Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez tweeted this picture of the slide, writing, scariest flight of all time, #emergencylanding.

This isn't the first time a slide has accidentally deployed on board a flight. Last year a slide opened on a JetBlue flight, pinning a flight attendant against the wall of the plane. Passengers onboard the United flight say it's lucky everyone was seated and no one was in the back of the plane when the slide deployed Sunday night.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: And again, Kate, I can't stress, this really could have been disastrous, even deadly. The slides are made in many cases to deploy within just six seconds. So just imagine the force. And when you look at those pictures, it looks like it would be soft like a bounce house, but these are filled with pressurized gas designed to be hard and solid to handle passengers. So, again, serious injuries could have happened, could have been deadly, but luckily, we know, no injuries. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Especially when you really dig into the details, Rene, it sure goes in the category of that could have been a whole lot worse for all of those passengers, especially those sitting right near it in the back. Rene, thank you very much. We'll be on top of that if there are any new developments there.

But also happening today, President Obama is expected to tap Bob McDonald, Procter & Gamble's former CEO, to head the embattled Veterans Affairs department. The agency has been embroiled, as you well know, in controversy since CNN reported that V.A. hospitals across the nation were hiding a long list of veterans waiting for care, covering their tracks in doing so.

Joining us now, Drew Griffin, who broke the story for CNN has continued obviously to doggedly report on this. Drew, when you look at the heads of the V.A.in the past, you've had medical professionals, a lot of retired generals, even politicians. Bob McDonald doesn't fit squarely into one of those categories. It seems an unusual pick. What do you think?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an unusual pick, yes. But they have an unusual problem at the V.A. when you talk about the systemic failure nationwide. They really need at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Kate, a turnaround expert, somebody who can come in there and really take this huge organization and take it in a completely different direction, a direction that is consumer friendly, that delivers on the product that it's supposed to deliver, and that can organize hundreds of thousands of people. And I guess what the president is saying, who is better than that than a guy who ran Procter & Gamble, a huge company.

BOLDUAN: It does kind of seem to point to where the president's head is on this, if you will. He just received a report from one of his chief deputies Rob Nabors, and one of the most damning lines in this report on Friday was that the department is described as having a corrosive management culture and a lack of responsiveness and inability to effectively management or communicate at the agency. At the very least, that's absolutely what your reporting has shown. Do you think the management problem is the first issue he's got to take on?

GRIFFIN: Absolutely. When General Shinseki resigned, Kate, what he said at his speech the morning before he resigned is basically he was lied to by his management team, that they were lying to him. He was not getting the full truth how bad it was. Ever since then, every single report that has come out, every single audit, all we are hearing is it's worse than we expected. Now the president has inside information from his own deputies saying, listen, boss, this is really a bad situation. So you have to get somebody, I feel, from the outside who has no allegiance to anyone at the Department of Veterans Affairs who will come in and hopefully have the power to literally make heads roll, because you have people who have been there and have overseeing this operation as it has just gone down the toilet for so many years. And that's why it is in the terrible shape that it's in.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And so far, I mean, the statements out of Capitol Hill have been cautious for some Republicans, like House Speaker John Boehner offering him some compliments that he is the kind of man that can do it. I think most importantly is looking at the statements coming from veterans groups, the IAVA, you know very well, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, it's one of the country's largest advocacy groups for veterans. They seem to really tiptoe and be very cautious about endorsing McDonald at this point. What are you hearing from them?

GRIFFIN: Well, they're cautious because he's not one of them. He's not really a military guy. He did go to West Point. He graduated high in his class. But he only had a five-year career with the 82nd Airborne, Kate. So he's not of them. He's not of the veterans groups. He's not of their picks.

But on the flipside they know they need somebody with strong leadership and organizational skills. And maybe an outsider like I said with no allegiance who can look at everything with fresh eyes is what they need. They are cautious. They want to know what his plans will be. And I think you'll see a semi-vigorous questioning period as he goes through the confirmation process. But again, this is President Obama's pick. It's a business pick. It's somebody that the Republicans, at least on paper, should applaud. And so the Democrats, I feel, would go along with the president's pick no matter what.

BOLDUAN: First things first, he needs to get through confirmation, and Congress will be heading back out of town very soon for August recess. So this needs to be top of the priority list when you look at just how long the laundry list is to take on, as you have been reporting on, Drew. Drew Griffin, thanks, Drew. We'll talk to you soon.

All right, let's get back down to Chris Cuomo live in Brazil. How's it going?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Very well, Kate. As you can see, we are live in Brazil, the famous Rio de Janeiro behind us. The stakes and crowds are now bigger here. Team USA must win against Belgium tomorrow. The question, do we have a shot? The weekend had wild matches that all proved one thing, anything can happen here. So let's bring in Lara Baldesarra, the anchor of CNN International's World Sport. She's in Salvador, Brazil. That's where the U.S. will be playing Belgium tomorrow afternoon. Lara, we're going to be heading to you shortly. So do me a favor, size it up for us. Belgium is this bunch of hot shots. They're undefeated so far. What makes them so special?

LARA BALDESARRA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a team that's' full of, as you said, hot shots. These are kids -- kids I call them. They are in their mid-20s, most of them. The average age is 26. These are guys that play for top European clubs that are very highly coveted players. There are players that are compared to Lionel Messi. Even Hazard, he's an attacking midfielder that plays for Chelsea, he has drawn those comparisons to Lionel Messi. So you know if there is a guy that's being compared to the best player in the world, they are very good players.

Now, this is also a very physical team and a very defensive team. They have yet to concede a goal in the World Cup. So the USA is really going to have their work cut out for them as they obviously need to score. That's the point of soccer.

Now, the big issue here, though, with Belgium is that they could be missing two very key defenders, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, both center backs, they're two defenders. So if they're not playing that really opens the door for the U.S. to take full advantage. Chris, I will also say, though, as we talk about this Belgium team,

all of these, great, fantastic young players, a lot of these guys are seen as the golden generation, but the future. So not so much this year people were thinking they would win the World Cup, but in four year's time, so looking down the road these guys will be the core that will lead Belgium to the World Cup in 2018.

Now they are nothing to write off, but the USA got through Germany, Portugal, Ghana. Belgium is really not going to be any different for them. It's going to be just much more physical. And Chris, I don't think it's going to be that much trouble for the USA.

CUOMO: See, that's what I'm talking about. Instead of the golden generation, we're gold plated. They haven't been tested. And the U.S. was in group of death, so they are hardened and hungry. And the Belgium team has all this great promise and they have this pressure on them. So tell us, Baldesarra, what do we know about how the U.S. can win this game?

BALDESARRA: This is going to be a game that's going to come down to the midfield, once again, that core. There is all this talk about Jozy Altidore probably being ready and able to play on Tuesday in this game. I don't really think it's a big deal if he is or isn't. It is the core of this team, the middle of this team that's really making it work. Michael Bradley has been given a bad rep for this entire World Cup. People aren't liking him too much. The fact of the matter is he's actually the player that's covered the most ground for the entire group stage of any team in the World Cup. He's moving and he's actually getting things done. So that is how the USA will win. It's in the midfield, Chris.

CUOMO: And we have this nice sideshow that's going on with the U.S. And I wonder if there is the latest chapter up there in Salvador where you are. The coach, first, he says, we can't win the World Cup. Everybody is shocked because you don't want to say Klinsmann doesn't know what he's talking about. He was a phenomenal player for Germany and a coach. He has won a World Cup as each a player and coach. But now he shifted the narrative on us, Lara. He is saying, who saying we're an underdog? We're not an underdog? And he is telling players rebook your tickets to leave July 14, which, as you know, is the date this tournament ends. So what's his deal?

BALDESARRA: Absolutely. It shocked everyone when he said it was unrealistic to think the USA could win the World Cup. That was not something you wanted to hear. He didn't just tell the players to rebook all their tickets. He told the players' families to do the same thing. And that obviously gives this team a lot of confidence. It shows that he has a lot of confidence. We have a lot of confidence in the USA now. And, Chris, you know, the way that this World Cup is going, anything can possibly happen. So who knows? Maybe the USA will be there. It's going to be a tough road, but they could get there, just a few more days.

CUOMO: The hot tip I need when I get down there is what jersey the U.S. will wear tomorrow so I can make sure that I don't jinx them. I have to make sure that I have the proper kit. So get that information for me. I have to pack right. I'll see you soon.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDESARRA: OK.

CUOMO: Back to New York to Kate and Michaela.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thank you so much. We'll work on it. We'll try to find out.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: We have some intel, don't we, I think somewhere?

BOLDUAN: No matter what, you wear the scarf, you're OK.

PEREIRA: Exactly. Yellow - no, that's the wrong color. Red, white, and blue.

BOLDUAN: Michaela.

PEREIRA: I'm kidding. I'm just messing with Chris. I want to send him off a little bit.

All right, let's get a look at our headlines this hour. Breaking overnight, ISIS has formally declared the creation of an Islamic state in territory it controls in parts of Iraq and Syria. A spokesman for the militants said it stretches across northern Syria and Iraqi. The Iraqi military says it is in the process of trying to retake the city of Tikrit. Residents, though, tell CNN they don't see much progress.

Back here at home the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says the suspected ringleader of the Benghazi attack likely did not provide useful intelligence during his two-week trip to the U.S. Mike Rogers and other top Republicans are questioning Ahmed Abu Khatalla's prosecution in U.S. courts. They say it prevents authorities from getting the information they need about that deadly 2012 attack.

New this morning, damning allegations against security contractor Blackwater. Documents obtained by the "New York Times" show the State Department began investigating the contractors operations in Iraq back in 2007 but that probe was abandoned after Blackwater's top manager allegedly threatened to kill the investigator. A few weeks later Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians.

Dramatic surveillance video to show you from New Orleans from a shooting on Bourbon Street early Sunday morning. You can see people fleeing, running and crawling for cover when gunshots rang out. Nine were in total injured, two of them critically we're told. Police are still searching at this hour for the two gunmen who they say got into some sort of argument and began shooting at one another.

Some really severe weather we are seeing already this summer. I want to get to Indra Petersons, our meteorologist. She is keeping track of all of this and some really severe flooding going on.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Take a look at this video, Michaela. We're talking about five to seven inches of rain that fell over eastern portions of Arkansas. Look at that. These highways completely flooded out there. Unfortunately, it looks like a threat for even more severe weather is going to be out there today. Let's shift the focus, seeing enhanced focus, even Des Moines looking at moderate risk for severe weather.

But still, almost 44 million of you do have the threat of severe weather from Detroit all the way back to the panhandle of Texas, down through about Amarillo today. That's going to be the focus today, and by tomorrow, this focus will shift farther to the east because we're going to be tracking this cold front and low pressure system that will bring it farther east and bring that rain into the northeast by the middle of the week. So that's one side of the equation.

Another severe weather, you shift from the spring-like severe weather into what we typically see in the summertime is the tropical weather. Now, it's 60 percent chance in the Atlantic to see development here. So many people are watching this because we are worried about the Fourth of July. Look at this slow development making its way to the Carolinas by the Fourth of July itself. Here's our bulls-eye. That's our concern. We talk about heaven rain all along the eastern seaboard. You want to go Fourth of July for one day for the entire east coast by the time you add it all in.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right, the whole east coast. You're going to be busy.

PEREIRA: Just bring your boots along for whatever trip you're planning.

PETERSONS: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Goes with anything.

PETERSONS: Exactly.

PEREIRA: All right, let's take a short break here on NEW DAY. Next up, stunning admission from the mother of the toddler that died in the sweltering car. Just like her husband, she has now admitted that she too researched child deaths in hot cars. Is this a game changer for the case? Our legal experts weigh in.

BOLDUAN: And the Supreme Court set to rule again on Obamacare. This could be a big day. This time, should private companies be force to include contraception in their health insurance plan. We're going to go INSIDE POLITICS for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: New developments into the investigation of a death of a Georgia toddler after he was left locked in a hot car for hours. The toddler's mother now telling investigators that, like her husband, she also researched information on hot car deaths. The boy's father, Justin Harris, he pleaded not guilty to charges that he killed his 22- month-old son. But does his wife's admission point investigators in a new direction? Where does it lead us? Let's talk about all of this with Sunny Hostin, CNN legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, and also CNN commentator and legal analyst Mel Robbins. Good morning to both of you. It seems at NEW DAY, we learned a little bit more detail on this, Sunny. But I'm still searching, searching, searching for where the answer is. Was it a tragic accident? Was it a crime? What does this latest detail, where does this get us? The fact that we now know that the father and the mother, they both admit that they researched hot car deaths on the internet.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think, I've said from the very beginning, this happens so often, people leaving their children in cars. I have admitted that I did it myself. And I think what this tells us is perhaps these are first time parents that are very nervous. Anyone that's a first time parent knows that you Google drowning deaths. You Google hot car deaths, because you don't want it to happen to you. There but there for the grace of God go I.

And I think in her admission that, wow, she too did it probably makes this case a lot more difficult for the prosecution. I haven't heard motive yet. Barring that, I need to hear something about a life insurance policy on the child. I need to hear something about a bitter divorce custody battle. I need to hear some sort of motive before I think this prosecution can get in front of a jury of probably other parents that have done the same thing and say this guy is guilty. The prosecution is in a tough place right now.

BOLDUAN: That's a really interesting point, Sunny. And, Mel, I want to get your take. Because the chief of police has been quoted as saying , "The chain of events that occurred in this case does not point towards simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation."

What could investigators have? What could they be looking into that hasn't been released publicly that would lead us into a different direction than what Sunny is talking about?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: First of all, I agree 100 percent with Sunny. I'm wracking my brain, sitting here thinking what could possibly motivate what is otherwise a dad who loves his son, who has no criminal record, who has no history of mental illness that we know about, who seems to be in a loving marriage?

In fact, Kate, at the funeral this weekend, the wife made her first public statement. She said she stands by her husband. She doesn't blame her husband, that he is a wonderful husband. And that, if they have kids again, he will be a wonderful father to any future kids that they have.

So what do they have? Who knows? I mean, they've got to have something. Because at this point it seems to me, just like Sunny's been talking, there is no motive. The one thing we're holding out for is what time did these searches take place? If the wife did searches a while ago, that means nothing. Most new parents buy a fabric insert to stick inside a shopping cart because they're terrified of normal germs. So researching something that you hear about in the news that is a huge concern for any parent, that's not suspicious. That's typical behavior of a parent.

So I don't know what they have. Unless they've got something like maybe he did this research at 9:00 in the morning, that he did it at a time when it's super close to when he left the kid in the car, I don't think they have anything.

BOLDUAN: Do you think the time frame is critical, Sunny?

HOSTIN: Yes, it definitely is critical. And I think that's the problem people are having with this case. The fact that he had the child, took the child out to breakfast, and then went to work and left him there. And then got back into the car, opens up the driver's door, and then closes it, goes back to work. I think people are troubled by the timing of these events.

But, again, there was a survey recently on I think it's called kidsafety.rog -- safekids.org, rather. One in four parents admit to having left their kid in a hot car. One in four. How do you find a jury of people --

BOLDUAN: That's an excellent point. And when you hear from the mother saying she's not angry at her husband, absolutely not, that she stands by him, does that -- should that change anything?

HOSTIN: I think it will. Because common sense dictates is this a conspiracy between the two? I mean, it almost negates his internet search. And I've said before that that was troubling to me, because we've seen like Casey Anthony, we've seen it in Scott Peterson, thatt can be very damaging evidence. But, in this case, now that you've got a mom saying the same thing, unless it's some sort of huge conspiracy, I don't know what the prosecution does.

But I also want to agree with Mel on that. Maybe the investigators know something we don't know, because they really came out pretty strongly saying this was one of the most egregious things they've ever seen. So, investigators, let us know what really is going on. We don't want to try him in the court of public opinion, but we have.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely not. And that's what everyone is being -- and we are being very careful about. But it does go to the investigators. Because, as Sunny said, they did come out very strongly and kind of pointed there's more to this story than we're discussing. But we will know. I mean, as it stands right now, the father is charged with murder and second-degree child cruelty. He is behind bars. So we'll see where this goes right now.

Sunny Hostin, Mel Robbins, thank you, guys.

ROBBINS: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

All right, let's take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Hillary Clinton is going to get $225,000 to speak at UNLV in October. The student government there says Clinton should donate the money back to the school. Why are we talking about so much graduation speeches and the to-do all around it? We're going to talk about it on INSIDE POLITICS though.

Chris?

CUOMO: I know people down here, Kate, who could use the money. We are live in Rio, the epicenter of all the World Cup excitement. But we're going to show you the flip side of this city, a place you have not seen as part of the World Cup rollout. But it literally surrounds all the celebrations. Come with us into the world of the favelas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: 7:28 in the East, welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your headlines.

Breaking overnight, investigators trying to determine how an evacuation slide deployed midair inside a United Airlines flight. The flight was headed from Chicago to Orange County, California. A passenger tells CNN he heard a loud pop. Look at these images. The Boeing 737 was carrying 96 passengers and 5 crew members. Fortunately no one was injured.

Also breaking overnight, ISIS has formally declared the creation of an Islamic state in territory it controls in parts of Iraq and Syria. The spokesman for the militants says it stretches across much of northern Syria and Iraq. The Iraqi military says it's in the process of trying to re-take the city of Tikrit but residents tell CNN they aren't seeing much progress.

North Korea says it will prosecute two American tourists accused of, quote, "perpetrating hostile acts." Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller were taken into custody in separate incidents. Their alleged crimes? Miller traveled to the country and is accused of then tearing up his tourist visa. Fowle is reportedly accused of leaving a Bible behind in a hotel. The U.S. State Department has yet to comment.

Crews are battling a massive Arizona wildfire. Firefighters say the San Juan fire is only 5 percent contained; it has already burned about 5700 acres. Evacuation orders are in effect for parts of eastern Arizona.