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Storm Hits Northeast; Trump Fires Tillerson Nominates Pompeo; Haspel's Role in CIA Torture; Moron-Mania Back in the Spotlight; Nationwide School Walkout. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 14, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Died at the age of 76. The British astronomer and theoretical physicist lived an incredible life, overcoming a debating lifelong battle with ALS and in the process making science popular and even cool. He was best known for his work on black holes and relativity. Fellow scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeting that Hawking's passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake, but it's not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of space time that defies measure. Well said. Hawking left his mark on pop culture, making cameos on "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Simpson's" and he played poker with Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." His life and his love story was the subject of the Oscar winning film, "The Theory of Everything." Renowned physicist Steven Hawking dead at 76.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Sad. A big loss. A big loss and it really just raises that question, where will the next generation of great thinkers come from, you know?

CAMEROTA: And, also, I mean just the idea that he not only survived with ALS for so long, but he thrived.


CAMEROTA: And he had such a robust career with ALS. Even when, you know, his physical shell failed him and broke down, that he was able to mentally be so strong. It was really remarkable.

CUOMO: Especially in a culture that doesn't often value in heroes science, you know, and thinkers and philosophers. So he will be sorely missed.

The latest winter storm stalls over the northeastern U.S. and that means bad things. There's another blast of cold air behind it. Parts of New England are buried under feet of snow. Hundreds of thousands are still without power.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has your forecast.

When I started watching the fisherman models that were showing it slowing down and stopping, never a good thing.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Never a good thing, especially for the Atlantic Canada (ph) too, we'll see up toward the Bay of Fundy picking up just buckets and buckets of snow. They'll measure it in centimeters, but that's OK.

We have at least two feet of snow in many areas here from Maine through Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Even a foot and a half on eastern Long Island.

This weather is brought to you by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, packed with goodness.

Now this morning we are going to need some warmth out there. Hundreds of thousands without power. Make sure if you know someone without power, that they have a place to go to stay warm. This is a cold storm now. The cold air is behind the storm. It's wrapping in. Windchills will be below zero in many spots.

We'll see some snow today, but not like we saw yesterday. One to two inches in most areas. Even in the higher elevations across parts of New Hampshire and Maine. Probably only three to four. Most of that snow will be well to the north.

Does spring ever show up? Well, yes, in the south by the weekend. But another shot of cold air for next week. We'll see if that brings another snowstorm later on today.


CAMEROTA: How dare you, Chad. How dare you.

MYERS: I know. I'm sorry.

CAMEROTA: All right, moving on.

The revolving door at the White House in overdrive with the firing of Rex Tillerson. Do all these staff shakeups create a national security risk? Michael Hayden here on that, next.


[06:37:14] CAMEROTA: President Trump signaling that the current White House shakeup may be just the beginning. So what does this chaos and all the vacancies mean for national security?

Let's discuss with General Michael Hayden, CNN national security analyst and the former director of the CIA and NSA.

General, thanks so much for being here.


CAMEROTA: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson fired. Any cause for concern from you?

HAYDEN: Well, I mean, what you've got here are both risk and opportunity. Certainly the way it does -- the way it was done leaves an awful lot to be desired. But now you've got someone as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, whom I think enjoys far more the confidence of the president. And so when the secretary of state speaks, I think the rest of the world will now more believe that is the position of the American government that is representative of the president.

The dark side of that, the one that makes it a bit more challenging, is that I think truly Director Pompeo, now soon to be Secretary Pompeo, sees the world much the same way as President Trump sees the world. And Secretary Tillerson formed, I think, a very useful function, performed a very useful function as a counterpoint sometime to the president's instinctive, spontaneous reactions to events. So things are -- things are going to be different here.

CAMEROTA: Right. This is not a team of rivals. This is a team of people in lockstep in terms of their world view.

So what do you think that means for the U.S. interactions in all of these hot spots? I mean let's just start with North Korea.

HAYDEN: Well, I -- first of all, in general, Alisyn, I go back to an awful lot of the president's campaign rhetoric and the things he said or tweeted over the past 15 months because I think those are going to be actuated now a lot more without what you just suggested, the brakes or the guard rails that have been out there by some of these other individuals in government. So we'll go negotiate with the North Koreans.

Actually, Mike Pompeo is fairly skeptical that the North Koreans will give up their weapons. So we'll see what -- that dynamic plays out.

The area I think where the president and the new secretary most closely align is their opposition to the Iranian deal. And that's something that Secretary Tillerson pushed back on. And, Alisyn, a forgotten player in the last 24 hours is Secretary Mattis. Recall that both Mattis and Tillerson cooperated a lot, had similar world views, met very often. And now I think Secretary Mattis is going to find himself a bit more isolated in those meetings when these decisions are made.

CAMEROTA: And so, general, what does this mean for national security? Let me just put up a graphic for everybody to show that not only is there chaos in terms of this staffing, but there are vacancies. I mean, look at this, 42 ambassadors, no nominee yet. Twenty assistant and undersecretaries in the State Department, no nominee. And then when you look at the State Department changes, you see there at the top, Rex Tillerson, he's gone. And let me just show you this pyramid. There's one guy left.

[06:40:23] HAYDEN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: There's all sorts of undersecretaries and deputies that are vacant. And so does this have ramifications for national security?

HAYDEN: It certainly does. And part of that, Alisyn, I think is intentional, a little deconstruction of the administrative state, if you will.

But, Director Pompeo was a pretty strong manager at CIA. And so now he will be moving over to c street (ph), to the State Department. And I think he'll bring that drive, those management skills to State, which, I think, the members of the State Department will find to be very heartening. Something that they would want their secretary to do. The secretary pushing back, for example, on some of the budget cuts that Secretary Tillerson seemed willing to accept.

CAMEROTA: But just to expand on your point about that this is intentional and a deconstruction of the sort of bureaucratic state, does it mean that maybe we don't need all of these filled? I mean the country is still functioning. Maybe there is redundancy. Maybe you can save some salaries here.

HAYDEN: Yes. Well, I mean, as a federal bureaucrat for 40 years, I would never try to make the case that we've got just the right number of people here and you just can't cut anybody. Surely there's a bit of a weight loss program that the bureaucracy could undergo.

But that said, Alisyn, the strength of the American government is that professional cohort that reaches beyond administrations and provides the kinds of expertise that frankly in many instances only the American government has. So I think on balance those vacancies hurt us, particularly now as we're running up to some pretty key decisions, Korea, Russia, Iran, and so on.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about Gina Haspel, who is the president's choice to lead the CIA. She, as you well know, oversaw this secret Thai prison that -- where they used, you know, these so-called brutal interrogation tactics, including waterboarding. What do you think of her?

HAYDEN: I think -- I think the world of her. And let me offer you a view. CIA is the calmest institution in the federal government today because they know who their next director is going to be and they have great confidence in her. So that's one very important data point.

Second, with regard to Gina and the agency's history, Gina did her duty. Gina was asked to go do hard things on behalf of the country, asked to do that by her director, by her country, and with the sanction and validation of the Department of Justice at the time. And so I think that issue has been litigated. It has been asked and answered. And, frankly, Alisyn, if anyone is worried that Gina's nomination suggests the CIA is going back to this, let me remind folks of what I said when she was selected to be the deputy director last year. Her choice indicated that the agency intended neither to repudiate nor repeat its past.

Look, Gina loves the agency. The agency feels, I think, a genuine since of betrayal as to what happened to the agency as we shifted administrations. And many CIA case officers were hung out to dry. Gina is never going to put her officers in that kind of situation. We aren't going back to enhanced interrogation.

CAMEROTA: General Michael Hayden, always great to get your perspective on this. Thank you.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris. CUOMO: All right, so students and teachers across the country are preparing to walk out of school today to protest gun violence and honor victims of the Parkland massacre. One senator who is behind them joins us next.


[06:48:00] CAMEROTA: The word "moron" is back in the spotlight now that secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been given the axe. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look back at that unforgettable moment.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When you call your boss a moron, don't expect a pat on the back. But now that President Trump has given Rex Tillerson the boot, it gives everyone a chance to rehash the "m" word.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calls him something like a moron.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Apparently privately called the president a moron.


MOOS: To be entirely accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My source didn't just say that he called him a moron, he said an f-ing moron.

MOOS: CNN's Kaitlan Collins left that modifier out of the question that President Trump couldn't quite make out.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Did you fire him because he called you a moron?


COLLINS: Did you fire him because he called you a moron?

MOOS: And then chose to ignore.

MOOS (on camera): Now, Tillerson is no moron. He knows how to not answer a question.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": Is it true? Did you call him a moron?

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff.

You know, that's a really old question.

You want to make a game out of it, I'm not playing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you call the president a moron?

TILLERSON: I'm not going to dignify the question.

MOOS (voice over): Remember how the president dignified it by saying, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests and I can tell you who is going to win.

TRUMP: I know I have an IQ better than all of them.

Because I have a very good brain.

MOOS: But why harp on Tillerson's cutting remark when there were happier times. We will always have the sword dance, hashtag rexit, tweeted one White House reporter. Now that Tillerson has waved good- bye, at least neither he nor the president will have to put up with those "I'm with moron" jokes.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: I think Rex will be much happier now.

MOOS: New York.


CUOMO: The president probably dead right about that. I mean this was not an easy go for Rex Tillerson, especially with what he was used to doing. I mean he was completely in control. There was complete continuity of leadership with what he was dealing with. And now this.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but despite that, I mean in that statement yesterday put out by one of his lieutenants, he said that he liked the position, wanted to stay in the position, was surprised by the abrupt firing and hoped to do well by the American people.

[06:50:10] CUOMO: Yes, I just -- I just think that working for Trump was a bad fit for him.

CAMEROTA: You think?

CUOMO: And he also learned a lesson. Public service is about accountability. If you say something, you have to own it. Just saying you're not going to answer the question just doesn't work these days.

CAMEROTA: But you also can't say, yes, I called him a blanking moron. I don't think that would have worked.

CUOMO: You can if you want to own it. It's just, you're going to have to deal with the consequences of it. He shouldn't have said it if he didn't want to have to back it up. That's just how it is. All right, so students and teachers across the country staging a walkout today that will last 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Prosecutors now confirming they will seek the death penalty against the alleged shooter.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes me feel like we're making an impact and doing something.

CROWD: We will not be silent.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say they want to go down in history as more than just survivors. They want to be the force behind gun reform.

TANZIL PHILLIP, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: It's crazy that it took something like a school shooting for all of this to happen. But it's now or never.

GALLAGHER: With relentless, unapologetic activism --

EMMA GONZALEZ, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

GALLAGHER: In the wake of unbearable, personal pain --

DANIEL TABARES, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN: It's been really hard sometimes. I'm in grieve (ph). Sometimes I'm in anger.

GALLAGHER: The impact of their advocacy so far is best perhaps summed up with the stroke of a pen. Florida Governor Rick Scott signing several gun control measures that they demanded into law, just three weeks after the shooting.

REBECCA SCHNEID, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: Not to be, I don't know, cocky or anything like that, but, honestly, like I'm proud and it's all because of us. It's because we went up there and we've been fighting. And if we didn't do that, then I have no doubt in my mind that that bill wouldn't have been passed.

SUSANNA BAMA, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: I think that's -- that's part of the process. Start in state and then move it up to a national level.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to get universal background checks.

GALLAGHER: But their efforts to sway Washington haven't moved at the same rapid pace, if at all.

SCHNEID: And even if we want it to happen overnight, we know that, you know, our legislature in Congress -- that that's not going to happen. We know -- we understand that. And that's because we're educated and because we're, you know -- we understand the way that the -- that the law works.

JULIA SALOMONE, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: It's hard to not feel a little upset by the reaction in Washington. But we're going to be there.

CROWD: Enough is enough. Enough is enough.

GALLAGHER: Most MSD students haven't had facetime with lawmakers on the federal level.

KAI KOERBER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: They haven't physically seen us. They haven't seen the passion that we have to offer.


KEVIN TREJOS, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: We're hoping some things get passed before the march on March 24th. If not, hopefully our march puts as much pressure as possible so that they get something passed.

TABARES: They have to feel it. They have to know what we're feeling inside.

GALLAGHER: So, while they admit the next step is daunting, these accidental activists are quick to remind you --

JACK MACLEAD, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: From the day after this happened at the rally, you could tell that, you know, we weren't going to take no for an answer. We were going to take this all the way to the top. And so I'm hoping that Parkland is a representation of what America should be and what America could be.

GALLAGHER: And they don't plan on stopping until gun reform spreads across the country.


CAMEROTA: So true. Those kids are not slowing down, they're not stopping. We're going to go down to D.C. to report on the march on March 24th. And we'll see what kind of turnout they get. And I know --

CUOMO: The march will be big because there are a lot of different elements in this country that are pushing towards the same thing. It was just good to have the kids as an impetus, but never as an end point, you know?

CAMEROTA: Oh, of course.

CUOMO: You know, the idea that the kids would get change, you know, you're going to have to have people co-op their energy and put together proposals that get to lawmakers and that drive votes at the polls, otherwise you will not get what you're looking for.

CAMEROTA: Look, I mean they've always said, they're not policymakers --

CUOMO: Right.

CAMEROTA: But they certainly are momentum drivers.

CUOMO: We'll see.

CAMEROTA: OK, meanwhile, 33-year-old former Marine Conor Lamb is declaring victory in the Pennsylvania's 18th district, through CNN says it's too close to call still. So, what does this mean for the Democrat. We ask him when he joins us live, next.


[06:58:28] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did it. You did it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're going to keep fighting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to win it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now the race is too close for CNN to call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election was a referendum on Donald Trump. Donald Trump was on that ballot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You better get nervous, Republicans, the wave is coming.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the cabinet that I want.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is considering a wider shakeup among senior staff.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: I've never seen a presidential administration so basically disorganized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Pompeo recognizes the need to boost morale in the State Department.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the message to people, if you undercut him, he's going to fire you.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

We begin with the special election for a House seat in Pennsylvania. CNN still has it too close to call. The Democrat, Conor Lamb, is declaring victory over Rick Saccone in that 18th congressional district. Remember, that's where Donald Trump beat Clinton by 20 points, actually more than that, in 2016.

CAMEROTA: So Lamb's lead is narrow. It's just more than 600 votes. But absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted at this hour. Lamb's strong showing in this staunchly Republican district that President Trump won by 20 points is sure to make Republicans a bit anxious about the November midterm elections. Lamb is already looking ahead. But Saccone is not giving up yet.


RICK SACCONE (R), PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE CANDIDATE: You know we're still fighting the fight. It's not over yet. We're going to fight all the way to -- all the way to the end. You know I never give up.