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NASCAR Star Involved in Deadly Crash; Iraqi PM Clinging to Power; Hillary Clinton Slams Obama's Foreign Policy; Controversy Over Police Action; Cease-Fire Continues;

Aired August 11, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We know people in the race community are talking about this, two very definite schools of thought about what happened and why. Take us through it.

BRAD GILLIE, HOST, SIRIUSXM NASCAR RADIO: Well, basically the video that we see right now ultimately shows the wreck and it shows Tony Stewart's car hitting Kevin Ward. Such an unfortunate accident and thoughts go out to he and his family and Tony Stewart and his family. I think right now it is a process of gathering information just like the sheriff said in Ontario County, they want to see more video, because what the video shows now to me really is inconclusive as to what happened leading up to that accident.

Really when you see Tony's car, you see it just before the point of impact. We don't know what was happening with Tony's car before that, was he already sliding around the track? What was going on? So, in the absence of more video and more information, it's really hard to say what lead up to the impact itself.

CUOMO: Right. But here is what we know, Andy, sheriffs don't ordinarily investigate crashes on race tracks, OK? Even if somebody dies, you don't usually have an investigation.

So, this is unusual. And it's unusual in part because the driver was outside the car, but mainly, let's be honest, because of how he died.

Now, Tony Stewart didn't race. Was that seen as being a smart move because people are against him right now or do you think it's about how he feels?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Well, Chris, you know, originally when Sunday morning rolled around, the news was Tony Stewart was going to compete at Watkins Glen which is surprising to everyone. Someone on his race team said they were operating as business as usual which was outrageous considering what just happened the night before. And then, you know, when clearer heads prevailed, they said we're not going to race, we need to take some time to think about what happened Saturday night.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens next week. We don't know yet if Tony Stewart is going the race in Michigan. We still haven't heard whether he is or not. But I guess if we take anything from what happened yesterday where he almost raced, we would likely see him in a car next weekend. CUOMO: How many people are giving him the benefit of the doubt, Brad,

that, you know, the other racer was very angry, he was moving toward his car, making it more difficult on a dirt track to maneuver? We know that's part of the racing is the slip of the car.

And then you had the other side which is people saying, at least one driver saying you know what happens when you hit the accelerator around the curve, you know the car is going to flatten out, you knew it would flatten out towards him. What do you think? What's the main take right now?

GILLIE: I think as far as race fans go, it's really mix. People calling in SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, some people saying it was Tony's fault, some people are in support of Tony Stewart, basically saying that Kevin Ward shouldn't have been walking down the race track. As far as another racer, he was in the grandstands, he wasn't holding a steering wheel, so he doesn't know what Tony Stewart saw, he doesn't know what Tony Stewart's field of vision was based on a car in front of him and the conditions and everything else.

So, you know, really I think the hard core fans just wants to know more, wants to know the facts in this whole situation. We don't have all the facts in the absence of more video.

CUOMO: Well, the statements coming out from the race community are pretty tepid when they come to Tony Stewart, people are definitely keeping their distance.

Andy, what's the speculation, if it is concluded, and I don't know how they're going to get there, because they've got a local sheriff doing this right now. We don't even know if the race organization itself is looking at it. But if it is concluded that Tony Stewart did something that was wrong here, what's going to happen?

SCHOLES: That would be so tough to prove as we talked about. The video is inconclusive. Unless there's more video out there that we just know about, it's going to be hard to prove there was any intent or wrongdoing. We know Tony Stewart has a history of being a little bit of a hot head. We've seen him throw his helmet at Matt Kenseth on a race track before. I know a couple of photographers in Dallas, Texas, that were covering him before, Tony Stewart said some very unkind things to them when they got close with their cameras.

So, we know he has a bit of a story of a hot head. But still, there's no video or reason to believe he did this on purpose. I talked to someone who works in dirt track racing, and you know, they think a lot of things at play. It was a dark track, and Kevin Ward was wearing an all black suit. Tony Stewart, you know, he came around that corner, maybe he meant to scare him, maybe he didn't. But maybe he didn't see how close he was to Kevin Ward who was way out there on the track.

So, there's really no way to tell, Chris, just how -- what was going through Tony Stewart's mind and if there was any intent at all many this case.

CUOMO: And, obviously, Brad, the best thing he may have going for him right now is that it is a legal investigation, because if they can't find the proof to make a case, it starts to relieve some of the pressure surrounding the situation. But just awful, and racing more than any other sport really is a family. And we know this is hurting everybody right now. But we've got to stay on it.

So, Brad, let us know what you learn. Andy, same thing. We'll stay on this story all the way through. Thanks, fellows.

All right. You want to learn more about this, see the video for yourself. Because we're not showing you all of it for obvious reasons. You can go to Take a look for yourself.

Take a break here no on NEW DAY. And when we come back: Hillary Clinton is joining critics who say President Obama's response to ISIS has led to the current crisis unfolding in Iraq. Why? We're going to discuss.

Plus, one-on-one with New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. The job doesn't get any easier the second time around. Why he thinks New York City is the number one terrorist target in the world and he has to take care of business himself.



This morning, Iraq's government is in crisis. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is refusing to step down, accusing the country's new president now of violating the constitution. And just hours ago, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a warning to Maliki to not interfere with the process of picking a new prime minister.

Now, there are new fears al Maliki will abuse his power, to try to abuse his authority to try to hold on to power. So, what can the United States do at this point in this political crisis?

Let's bring in Margaret Hoover, a CNN political commentator and a Republican consultant, and John Avlon, CNN political analyst and editor in chief of "The Daily Beast."

Good morning, guys.



BOLDUAN: Happy Monday. Not so happy unfortunately with all the news we're looking at.

A political -- everyone's attention has really been in the north, in the military operation going on in Iraq. But we're talking about a political disaster that's really starting to unfold in Baghdad.

I mean, from the United States' standpoint, they've been very careful to not call on Nouri al Maliki to step down publicly. The president said that to me, he wouldn't go there, he wouldn't say Maliki's got to go.

Does the United States need to go further and be more forceful in trying to say that?

AVLON: Well, I mean, State Department officials have been indicating via tweets and statements in the last several hours that the United States policies are for anybody but Maliki, the president needs to be the guarantor of the constitution and by implication that Maliki's got to go.

But you've got a constitutional crisis going on in Iraq at the same time United States is ramping up operations in the north of the country against ISIS. So, this is an enormously delicate time. It's got to be managed appropriately. But, ultimately, the U.S. should not be in the business of determining Iraq's leaders. The one guarantor needs to be someone who can unify the country, because Maliki's really sectarian approach is one of the things that's created this crisis.

BOLDUAN: He's now moving tanks into Baghdad.


HOOVER: Yes, he's moving tanks to protect himself. It's looking more like a henchman dictator, more the style, frankly, of his predecessor. I mean, this is sort of what has governed Iraq for many, many years.

The problem is the United States has precious little political influence in Baghdad because when we vacated Iraq, we vacated our ability to have any influence over the political process.

BOLDUAN: Do you think they would have had more if the United States had been able to get the status of forces agreement together and been able to stay there?

AVLON: Yes, sure.

HOOVER: That's the whole point.

I mean, the point of being able to be there was to help secure the peace while the political process took hold. And we frankly left too early and we really abdicated their ability to influence the political outcome.

This is why we don't have a pluralistic governing system in Iraq right now or anything close to it.

AVLON: In fairness, of course, the United States wasn't going to single-handedly create a pluralistic democracy. The point is that if we kept troops in, it could have been at one time. And again, the reason -- one of the reasons we left was is that Maliki and the Iraqi government wasn't going to guarantee our success.

Now, you can argue we should have pushed harder and the absence of troops created this crisis. But we are where we are. So, now, of course, we're getting back involved in the country and we have mission creep going on right now. BOLDUAN: That's exactly what I wanted to ask you about. I mean,

we've got -- you have a president that we all need to remember and everyone is kind of remembering this at this point, he ran and won at least in part on saying he was going to get out of Iraq. Lawmakers, you heard him on the Sunday shows split along ideological lines about are we not doing enough, is the president not doing enough in Iraq or is there already mission creep? And there's a lot of concern that the president is going to go too far, even with these targeted strikes.

What do you do?

AVLON: Well, one thing is pretty clear: I would be shocked if the president puts boots on the ground. I mean, he's not for that philosophically and his general as well in the case of Iraq.

What I think you will see is an escalation of air strikes. The question is how much do you do to try to dismantle ISIS? To what extent does the administration see this after their dismissal as a national security threat to the United States? I think you are seeing them, the president saying the other day this is not a question of days anymore, this is weeks, possibly months.

HOOVER: And let's just be very clear. ISIS now is larger, has more territory than al Qaeda did at its height. The reason we're going in for ISIS is, while the humanitarian mission is incredibly important, this is a threat against United States' national security. It's in the United States' interest to make sure Iraq is stabilized, simply for our own national security interest.

BOLDUAN: Well -- and go ahead, I'm sorry.

HOOVER: Which is exactly why we need to be there. I mean, this is not --


BOLDUAN: I also want to get your take, because this leads right into this. Hillary Clinton in this interview with "The Atlantic," stepping further away from the president on foreign policy than she has in the past. She's being careful. It is nuanced. She does call -- that the president did not do more to arm rebels in Syria a failure.

Let me read you just part of the key quote. "The failure to build up a credible fighting force for the people who were the originators of the protests again Assad, they were Islamist, they were secularists, there was everything in the middle, the failure to do that left a big vacuum with the jihadists which the jihadists have now filled.

Why is she doing this? Is this purely a political strategy or is Hillary Clinton more hawkish?

HOOVER: Well, look, I think it's both. I mean, conveniently works for her in both ways. It appears from all accounts she is not just being a political opportunists, and that's really how she felt and that's what she argued internally within the administration at the time. It appears she was probably right. The president didn't have a strategy for his foreign policy, vis-a-vis Syria or the middle east at that time.

I think it's a very fair point that she says, look, not doing stupid stuff is an organizing principle. You need an overlay that you can use so that your allies know what you're going to do.

BOLDAUN: And you talked about this in the past, the fact that the president has a difficult time articulating his foreign policy might make him vulnerable. Don't do stupid stuff, is that enough?

AVLON: No, It's not organizing principle, as Hillary Clinton said. This interview is significant because it is the most direct steps Hillary Clinton has taken to differentiate herself. But as Margaret said, it's a credible differentiation because it's rooted in her history. Remember, she was the senator from New York during 9/11.

BOLDUAN: Yes, this doesn't come out of left field.


AVLON: In many cases she was sort of the neocons favorite Democrat. She has a record, as we've learned through reporting, that especially in those internal administration debates of being more hawkish. So I think that you're seeing it's who she is and its part of a world view differentiation that's going to drive her campaign because she can't really run as simply as a successor. It's a triangulated approach between Bush and Obama, consistent with her husband.

HOOVER: What would be great for somebody ask her is what would she do now. Because what we see now is there doesn't seem to be a clear strategy.

BOLDUAN: You're talking about the then, but what about the now?

HOOVER: President Obama doesn't have a clear strategy now, right? If we are bombing parts of ISIS., but there's no name even for the military operation. What would she do now? What should be our goal? What should be our end point now? That's what, frankly, Americans need to be asking our government.

AVLON: And, frankly, I'd rather have more politicians focusing on that rather than the endless finger-pointing.

BOLDUAN: What happened in Iraq.

AVLON: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. Important conversation, important interview coming out with Hillary Clinton as well as the president kind of taking a bit of a slam, even though the way the interview is timed, not really. He fought back and said that the whole concept of arming rebels has always been a fantasy. The fact it would have had any success had always been a fantasy. You really see the difference between those two right there in those little bits. Great to see you guys.

AVLON: Thanks, Kate. HOOVER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, Chris is going to sit down with New York City's police commissioner in a rare interview. Find out what he says about a growing racial divide in the city that followed a disturbing incident that ended up with a man dying after police put him in an alleged choke hold. We'll have much more on that ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton has a lot on his plate. As the commander of what's in essence one of the world's largest armies, he's watching what's going on in Iraq and the Mid East very intently. He's also dealing, however, with trouble here at home. It was a caught-on-tape arrest that went very wrong. It's threatening to split the city along color lines. All of this, and remember, this isn't even his first time on the job. So we got a chance to sit down with the commissioner for a rare interview to take a look at what's going on in the world around us.


CUOMO: So is it good to be back?

BILL BRATTON, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Oh, its great to be back. No place I'd rather be.

CUOMO: The job change since the last time you had it?

BRATTON: '94 was traditional crime. This time terrorism is front and center and will always remain front and center because we are the number 1 terrorist target in the world and will remain so.

CUOMO: Are you concerned with ISIS? You ever see a group like this before, running around and trying to chase Christians down and kill them, telling people convert or die. They're a new breed.

BRATTON: They are a new breed in the sense of their ability to not only inspire, but to recruit and to train Americans. They have the potential to come back to this country.

CUOMO: Can the police handle that kind of threat?

BRATTON: We have a better capacity and capability than any other city in America.

CUOMO: So when you see what's going on over there, you still feel confident saying even a group like that, don't bring it here?

BRATTON: That's correct.

CUOMO: You don't leave it to the Feds.

BRATTON: You don't leave it to the Feds. You can't leave it to the Feds because as well intended, as skilled as they are, they just don't have the resources. There's 12,000 of them trying to protect the whole country. 35,000 trying to protect the 300 square miles of New York.

CUOMO: You know, when you were out there in L.A., there's a lot of tension between the populous and the police force there. Are you surprised that you're encountering some of that again back here?

BRATTON: No. The unfortunate reality of America today in the 21st century is the issues that come bubbling to the surface very quickly any time you have a police incident involving a minority, and particularly an African-American minority, such as the most recent incident in Staten Island.

CUOMO: The Eric Garner case, what you refer to as the incident out in Staten Island. It looks bad on its face because the choke hold that seems to be being used is not allowed to be used. So it's frustrating to hear for your critics that there's an investigation when the situation seems obvious.

BRATTON: It seems to speak for itself, well it does not. We have the expression, it looks awful, but it's awful. The role of the district attorney is to determine were any of the actions of the officers involved illegal. My role and responsibility is were any of the actions of the officers involved inappropriate --

CUOMO: Could they be illegal but appropriate? No, right?

BRATTON: There's a potential possibility interestingly enough.

CUOMO: It could be illegal but appropriate?

BRATTON: For example, many in the media have referred to the choke hold as illegal.


BRATTON: You can't find anywhere in the statutes of New York a choke hold.

CUOMO: So where does that come from?

BRATTON: It's a police term of art, its a policy term. We have a prohibition against choke holds. It appears to be a choke hold, as we understand it. Was it?

CUOMO: How could it not be, based on what you've seen and I've seen?

BRATTON: I've been around a long time in this business what it appears to be sometimes may not be what it is.

CUOMO: You know what the concern is --

BRATTON: That's right. No, I know what the concern is.

CUOMO: The concern is if it comes out that there's no action taken and something that seems very obvious, it looks like they're getting a pass because they attacked a black guy.

BRATTON: You're too far down the path.

CUOMO: But that's where the reactions is. I'm a lawyer, I'm all about the process. But you know what the concern is.

BRATTON: We're only beginning the journey. There's a lot of miles to cover before we get to the destination.

CUOMO: The guy who takes the video of this, right? Many people feel without the video you'd never hear about this. He winds up getting arrested. He says he was being followed. He says that the officers said to him karma is a blank to him, about why he was being arrested. That in some ways looks just as bad.

BRATTON: He was not being targeted by the New York City Police Department. He is a career criminal as evidenced by his record. He was engaged in a continuation of his criminal activity.

CUOMO: The question is, how did the police wind up being in the right place at the right time if they weren't following him?

BRATTON: How the police came to be there at that particular time was in the course of an investigation not involving the subject. In any event, it will all be resolved in a court of law where it's appropriate that it be resolved.

CUOMO: You think the head of the union for the police is helping or hurting the situation when he says we have to use tactics like this because people all resist arrest now? Putting the problem of excessive force on the populous as opposed to the police. You think that helps?

BRATTON: Pat Lynch, he has an obligation to speak on behalf of his members.

CUOMO: Doesn't help your cause, though.

BRATTON: It does in one instance, and it doesn't in another.

CUOMO: Not in this one --


BRATTON: Certainly everybody is entitled to speak their opinion, much the same as Mr. Sharpton has been able to annunciate his concerns.

CUOMO: You think Mr. Sharpton makes the situation better or worse, the reverend (inaudible)?

BRATTON: I think it depends on the prism that you're looking through. If you're African-American, if you're black, what he does is attempt to give voice, to give very active voice to the concerns of African- Americans. Myself as a police commissioner, I have to deal with everybody.

CUOMO: The Garner incident grew out of a stop for selling illegal cigarettes. The criticism is that you go after these petty things, you wind up targeting poor people, minority people all the time. You've got a guy who is now dead and all he was doing is selling illegal cigarettes. Is that a fair criticism?

BRATTON: I think it's an unfair criticism.

CUOMO: Because?

BRATTON: We're focusing on behavior, and if that behavior happens to be occurring in an African-American neighborhood, a Latino neighborhood or a white neighborhood, we are going to take action. If we were ignoring it, they'd be taking our heads off. Look at the front page of the "New York Post" today jumping up and down because they, God forbid, they found two squeegee pests. Two. Eight and a half million people in New York, they found two squeegee pests. You think Niagara Falls was now drowning Manhattan. Get over it. Does anybody consciously think, the "New York Post" or anybody else, that I as police commissioner would allow this city to go back to what it was? It's not going to happen. If you want it to happen, then fine, get yourself another police commissioner.


CUOMO: Unusually assertive for Commissioner Bratton. He's a very -- he's quiet when it comes to these kinds of things, but he knows he's got to get the process going again. There are crimes that are on the increase in New York City. That's pressure for him. He has to do it. Stop and frisk was interesting. Remember there was a big to-do about stop and frisk here, and for good reason. He says we're doing it less, it was being used in unnecessary circumstances. Broken windows is better because it targets behavior, not just how they feel about the suspicion of who they're looking at at the time. So he believes it's a better method. But he's got some big challenges.

BOLDUAN: I was just going to say, he has a huge job.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: But you know, I watched him in L.A. He was my police chief while I was in Los Angeles for the bulk of the time and he spoke pointedly, he spoke assertively, and he brought numbers up.

CUOMO: Look, I mean, that's the hope. He did it here once before. Its a changing time. He's got a lot of political pressure around him here that's different. But, if anybody can handle it, he certainly can and its good to get a look into his mind because we don't usually get one.

Alright, so that's one story we're taking a look at but there's a lot of news this morning for you. Let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hope here is that they come away from Cairo with some kind of lasting deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could take thirty years to rebuild the damage left behind in Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be launching air strikes, not only in Iraq but in Syria against ISIS. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its grotesque targeted acts of violence. All the

warning signs of genocide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundreds of protestors showing anger over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told me how many times my son was shot. Eight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do want this investigated fully.


CUOMO: Good morning, welcome back to NEW DAY. We begin with the prospect for some measure of peace in Gaza.

There is a short-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas holding this morning. But both sides use the hours leading up to the 72 hour truce to just intensively launch attacks. More bombs, more rockets and, of course, more people killed.

BOLDUAN: The current cease-fire allowing for yet another round of peace talks to begin in Egypt and for humanitarian help to get into Gaza. But is either side any closer to a long-term deal? That is the huge, lingering question facing them in Cairo right now. Joining me to discuss is Mark Regev, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Regev, its great to see you. Thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Good morning. So all reports that we have on the ground is that the cease-fire is holding. I want to get that from you as well. Is it holding strong?

REGEV: That's correct, it started last night, midnight local time so its 14 hours that that cease-fire's holding and that's a good thing. We actually didn't want to see the violence, we accepted I think nine cease-fires. We accepted them, we honored them, and Hamas either rejected or violated those cease-fires, including the last one. We hope this one sticks.