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Was Sandy Recovery Money Misused?; Southwest Jet Lands at Wrong Airport; West Virginia Chemical Spill; "Golden" Winners; Travel Alert For Russia Olympics

Aired January 13, 2014 - 08:00   ET



REPRESENTATIVE FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN exclusive: Chris Christie under investigation again. Did he misuse funds to help New Jersey rebuild after superstorm Sandy? New allegations he used the money to help his re-election campaign. Details only here.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Olympic warning. The United States now officially alerting Americans to the dangers of traveling to Russia for the games -- warning of possible attacks. This as more terror suspects were arrested over the weekend.

CUOMO: Oh, what a night. Leo and Jennifer Lawrence win big. But always, at the Golden Globes, it's what happens between the speeches that steals the show. We have everything you want to see live from Hollywood.

Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning. And welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It's Monday, January 13th, 8:00 in the East.

Traffic jams and political payback may be just the start of trouble for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

CNN has exclusively learned a federal investigation will be launched into how Christi funded a tourism campaign with Hurricane Sandy relief money. This comes on the heels, of course, of last week's firing of several staffers who are accused of orchestrating a traffic jam as a political payback.

CNN investigative correspondent Chris Frates has the details and is joining us live.

Good morning, Chris.


So more bad news here for Chris Christie going forward. We're learning that a federal investigation is looking into taxpayer-funded campaign ad that has Christi being investigated.


FRATES (voice-over): When Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey last year, Chris Christie led from the trenches and his skillful response to the devastating superstorm shot him into political super stardom.

But a new federal investigation into how the New Jersey governor spent some of the Sandy relief money could threaten to wash away the foundation of his political brain.

CNN has learned that federal investigators will examine the state's $25 million tourism marketing campaign, a campaign that was paid for with Sandy recovery money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Jersey Shore is open.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: Because we're stronger than the storm.

FRATES: A campaign that featured Christie and his family during an election year.

Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, a vocal Christie critic requested the investigation and tells CNN it's now moving ahead, but he says this is not about politics.

REPRESENTATIVE FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: This was money that could have directly been used for Sandy recovery. As you know, many of my constituents still haven't gotten the money that is owed them to rebuild their homes or to raise their homes of to help.

FRATES: Pallone says promoting New Jersey tourism after the superstorm was a good idea, but he has a big question about how much taxpayer money was spent to make those ads. The winning bid, a $4.7 million campaign featuring Christie and family. The next lower bid that lost out was nearly half the price at $2.5 million and wouldn't have featured the governor. The ads caused controversy as they hit the airwaves while Christie was running for re-election. Democrats slammed him, arguing it gave the incumbent governor an unfair advantage.

At the time, Christie aides said the winning bid provided more value. But after an initial review of the Sandy relief spending, the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Housing and Urban Development has concluded there is enough evidence to launch a full- scale investigation, according to Congressman Pallone. PALLONE: Taxpayer dollars that could have been used for Sandy relief were used for ads promoting the governor because he was in them with his family during an election campaign.

FRATES: But as bad as the George Washington Bridge scandal has been for Christie, if the investigation finds he misused funds, it could get far worse, tarnishing the signature achievement that has helped propel toward the White House.


FRATES: So, Chris, we've reached out to Christie's office and the inspector general but yet to get an answer from them. But Representative Pallone tells us that moving forward, you should expect an official report from the inspector general and that's likely to take months before we see a result there.

CUOMO: All right. We'll be looking for that. Chris Frates in D.C. -- thank you.

Also, breaking overnight, a Southwest Airlines jet with 124 passengers on board lands at the wrong Missouri airport and nearly speeds off the too short runway. The Boeing 737 was supposed to touch down in Branson, which is seven miles away. Why the mix up and can the jet take off again from such a short away?

Those are some of the questions Rene marsh is tracking for us, down in Washington -- Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, you know, this was a close call. The passengers on board were just feet away from disaster. The pilot was forced to jam the brakes. Officials say if the pilot didn't brake when he did, the plane could have gone over a steep embankment and tumbled on to a highway.

Now, Southeast flight 4013 carrying more than 100 passengers was scheduled to land at Missouri's Branson Airport Sunday night, but instead it showed up at Taney County Airport, about seven miles from the intended destination.

Now, here's the problem with that -- the runway at Taney County Airport is about half the length of the runway at Branson. So, for Southwest really this is not the kind of headline you want. This comes on the heels of that hard landing at LaGuardia this summer where 10 people were injured.

We can tell you -- at this hour, teams from Boeing, Southwest and that airport in Missouri -- they are working one big math problem. They are calculating the weight of the plane, the length of the runaway, weather conditions, many other factors to determine if it's safe for this plane to take off from this very short runway.

Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: As you're wondering and everybody is, how did this happen in the first place? That question will linger.

Thanks so much, Rene.

MARSH: Sure.

BOLDUAN: All right. Let's talk about new developments in the water crisis in West Virginia right now. A sign of hope for the 300,000 people under a very strict tap water ban. Overnight officials announced they will issue new zones for people to access clean tap water. People have been without it since Thursday after a chemical used to clean coal leaked into the water supply.

Alexander Field is following these developments from Charleston, West Virginia this morning.

Good morning, Alexandra.


This morning, no one is clear to turn the faucets on, but officials are making plans for how to lift that "do not use" ban once officials deem that the water supply is safe.

So, zones are being designed, priority will be given to certain zones, including zones that have hospitals in them, places where water is now badly needed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a state of emergency, you do whatever it takes.

FIELD (voice-over): Firefighters in Charleston, West Virginia come to the rescue with water, bottles of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least 600, 700 cases, probably more.

FIELD: The lines to collect keep growing -- 300,000 people have been forced to get by on bottled water since Thursday. That's when a chemical leak was found to have tainted the water supply. Schools are shut down, water samples are being tested around the clock for signs of improvement.

GOV. EARL RAY TOMBLIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I believe that we're at a point where we can say that we see light at the end of the tunnel.

FIELD: But there's still no specific timeline for lifting the water use ban. It will happen in phases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are anxious. They don't have certainty of what's going on.

FIELD: Officials now believe as many as 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal leaked into a water supply from a 1 inch-hole in the underground part of a storage tank. The problem was discovered around 8:00 Thursday morning when someone reported smelling the sense of licorice. Freedom Industries, which owns the tanks says it became aware of the leak around 10:30.

TOMBLIN: I think there should be a thorough investigation of what happened and why this happened at Freedom Industries.

FIELD: Investigators say it will take weeks to determine whether the leak could have somehow been prevented and just how quickly it was detected. For another day, people in West Virginia are left high and dry.


FIELD: Freedom Industries did not respond to our request for comment on this report. Over the weekend, the company held a press conference, apologizing. Right now, health officials say their main focus is monitoring the potential impact of this spill. They tell us that 10 people are hospitalized. None of them are in serious or critical condition -- Chris, Kate.

CUOMO: Well, Alexandra, it's surely a serious and critical situation. Thanks for staying on it for us.

There's a lot of other news this morning as well. So, let's get to John Berman, in for Michaela -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Chris.

New this morning, a study of 225 terror cases in the U.S. since 2001 finds that the NSA's domestic phone surveillance operation is not helping prevents acts of terrorism. The Washington-based nonprofit group New America Foundation found traditional law enforcement techniques unearthed most of those cases and that the bulk collection of phone records is not essential to preventing attacks.

Happening right now, the funeral for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is being held in Israel. He's being buried at his ranch in Negev. Earlier, Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a state memorial ceremony and praised Sharon's tenacity. The memorial was followed by a military funeral procession that stopped at the site where Sharon was wounded during Israel's war for independence.

Breaking news from the Motor City: General Motors taking top honors at the Detroit auto show. Corvette Stingray winning car of the year honors, beating out the Cadillac CTS and the Mazda 6. The Chevy Silverado was awarded top truck, finishing ahead of the Jeep Cherokee and the Subaru Forrester.

Developing this morning, police are on the hunt for a suspected serial arsonist in California. Officials in San Jose releasing this sketch of the suspect. He's wanted in connection with more than a dozen fires there in just the last week. Eleven of them confirmed to be the result of arson. Three of those coming Sunday afternoon. We have no reports so far of injuries.

And Colorado officials hoping that shaving 100th of a mile off a sign will make it less of a steal. So this is what happened. Somebody swiped the latest mile 420 sign, so within the last year it was replaced with the mile 419.99 sign. The number 420, as you all certainly know has been used as shorthand for marijuana, the origins for that are hazy.

Some people suggest 4:20 in the afternoon, some people suggest, is the appropriate time to partake in the new legal substance in Colorado.

BOLDUAN: Some say? It goes on the category --


CUOMO: I didn't know which led Indra Petersons to call me an idiot.

BERMAN: My goodness.

CUOMO: Was that the science? That's what the science said on it, was that -- I didn't know. I didn't know. Now it makes sense. The story made no sense the first time.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm glad we can help you with that.

BOLDUAN: News you can use category, gentlemen. Now, you know.


CUOMO: Anyway you're so smart, Indra Petersons. What's happening with the weather?

PETERSONS: Oh my God. I think I'm red on the face of being called that right.

All right. Let's take a look what's going on across the country. We have a pattern that we do not want to see this time of year. You continue to get more and more rain on the East Coast, which is fine. But in the West Coast, we're going to see a ridge of high pressure continually build in and get stronger as we go throughout the week.

Remember, this is the rainy season. Unfortunately, when you see a pattern like that, conditions are extremely dry.

Take a look at the percentages here of humidity as we go towards the afternoon on the West Coast. Then, look at departures. They're talking about a good five inches below average for this time of year. It doesn't seem that big. When you talk about a gap when it's the rainy season, you're only missing that departure get wider.

Drought conditions severely worse. In fact, exceptional comparison to last year. So, that's the concern. Fire danger is going to be high. They had red flag warnings this week and also strong Santa Ana winds. So, that's going to be a concern as we go throughout the week.

Now, back to the East Coast where it's rainy. We're still talking about a cold front after cold front. So, a series of these systems will be making their way through. Here comes the first guy. In towards the Ohio Valley and it kind of moves into the Northeast where tomorrow watch the low. You'll see some showers mainly offshore.

So, maybe just kind of cloudy out there, not really a lot of rain out of this. But there goes one. Here comes number two on its heels, another system making its way in through Wednesday, a third one comes in behind that. That's the story, a little bit of rain over the next several days. No biggie. But a good thing when you look at the West Coast and how severe that potentially could be with fire danger in the next several days.

BOLDUAN: We'll watch it. Thanks, Indra.

CUOMO: So, it was a who's who of A-listers at the Golden Globes, as you might expect at Hollywood award show. We had Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, all on hand, along with Jennifer Lawrence taking home top honors for the second year in a row. But it was the two hosts, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey who some say stole the show.

Entertainment reporter Nischelle Turner also known as some (ph) is live in L.A. from the scene of the shine.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: And, by the way, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have renamed Tom Hanks. His name was Tom Hunk. So, that's what they call him.

The reviews are in for them this morning. Once again, Chris, you're right. They were great.

The words being used for them -- gorgeous, funny, people loved the bits that they did especially when they were calling Matt Damon garbage man.

Thought that was one of the standouts of the night. It was no surprise that these ladies were going to be extremely funny. We knew that would happen. But I have been telling you guys, the Hollywood forum press loves to zig when everybody else zags. They love to shock us. And some of last night's winners left many much us saying whoa!


TURNER (voice-over): Hollywood's biggest stars uninhibited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to go up there and take that statue no matter what name is called.

TURNER: And megawatt energy turned up the red carpet.


TURNER (on camera): You feel good?

(voice-over): Once inside, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler --

TINA FEY, ACTRESS: "Gravity" is nominated for best film.

TURNER: -- didn't hold nothing back. FEY: It's the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.

TURNER: Poehler even donned a wig --

AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS: Your name is Sochi (ph). What are you, the Olympics?

TURNER: And took her wild antics into the crowd.

POEHLER: It was a night full of nerve racking wins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm as nervous as everybody else. What happens?

POEHLER: And tipsy star speeches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a few vodkas under my belt.


TURNER: Best mini series actress Jacqueline Bisset stole the time with a lengthy minute walk up and the bizarre two and a half minute speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd say I like my mother. What did she say? She used to say, go to hell or don't come back.

TURNER: The infectious Jennifer Lawrence won best supporting actress for her 1970s throwback role in "American Hustle".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm shaking so much. Don't ever do this again.

TURNER: Seasoned Leonardo DiCaprio graciously won Best Actor in a comedy for "The Wolf of Wall Street".

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: Wow! This is an incredible, incredible honor.

TURNER: Utter shock ran through two former SNL cast members when they nabbed the Globe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't prepare anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never win so I can't believe I won.

TURNER: The three-hour show was also a fond farewell for crime drama series "Breaking Bad".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Such a lovely way to say goodbye to the show that meant so much to me.

TURNER: Taking home Best Actor and Best TV Series for its last season. The two based on true story flick, "12 Years of Slave" and "American Hustle" took home the night's biggest honors, Best Motion Picture Drama and Comedy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the wonderful benefits of the motion picture business is that we get to make films about people, about the art of survival, resilience, and about reinvention.


TURNER (on-camera): Yes, indeed. I like Hollywood this time of year. Now, this morning people are still saying "Brooklyn 99" best comedy series? Andy Sandberg, Best Actor in a comedy? I think Andy Sandberg, himself, is even saying, how did this happen? I'm glad it did, but how did it happen.

Now, going forward, I will tell you, the Best Actor category in the movies is going to be a very interesting one because while Chiwetel Ejiofor was the favorite going into the Globes, Matthew McConaughey and Leo DiCaprio's wins will shake up the landscape in that race come Oscar time.

Also on the female side, Amy Adams win, Cate Blanchett wins, makes this a clear race between the two of them with Emma Thompson kind of coming in and trying to sneak up on the two of them.

BOLDUAN: I love your play-by-play.


BOLDUAN: I could have an entire segment of just watching you act this out which we might need to do.

TURNER: Like a pop up video for the Golden Globes. I can narrate what I'm really thinking, what people are really thinking.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Stay tuned. More of Nischelle, coming up. Thanks, Nischelle.

TURNER: Exactly. All right, guys.

BOLDUAN: We're going to take a break. But coming up on NEW DAY, an Olympic warning. The state department alerting Americans to the dangers of traveling to Russia for the games. Will athletes and tourists be safe?

CUOMO: And Dennis Rodman is on his way home and he's saying he did nothing wrong. Well, tell that to the teammates that he compromised. We're going to speak with one of them, Cliff Robinson and his wife. Listen to what he and what the others were told and not told about what this trip was about.


BOLDUAN: Developing this morning, the state department is warning Americans about attending the Olympics in Sochi, this, comes after reports that several terror suspects have been detained in Russia following multiple suicide bombings in the region. Authorities there have boosted security responding to the widening concerns just three weeks ahead of the games. But is it enough? That is the lingering question. CNN's Nic Robertson is in Moscow with the very latest. Hey there, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kate. That's a question everyone is asking themselves here. Six of the people arrested over the weekend according to security officials here were saying that they were actually plotting another big attack. Now, it's worth remembering here that Russian officials really want to show that they're on top of the security situation here.

Meanwhile, the FBI at the same time saying they've got people here now working with the Russian authorities to try and keep the region secure.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Just three weeks before the Olympic Games kick off in Sochi, security remains a paramount concern after a string of attacks and terror arrests. The U.S. state department issuing a travel alert over the weekend, warning U.S. citizens planning to attend the games that they should remain attentive at all times, warning of possible acts of terrorism including the bombings and hostage takings.

On Saturday, five suspects possessing nearly five pounds of TNT and a homemade explosive device were detained in a raid in Southern Russia less than 200 miles from Sochi.

RAY MEY, FORMER FBI AGENT: This event, in particular, is going to be very difficult because it's taking place in an area that we know to be a hot bed for terrorism.

ROBERTSON: Terror concerns are real. Just last month, surveillance cameras captured this powerful explosion inside the train station in nearby Volgograd. Islamist insurgents blamed for at least 34 deaths. The FBI and other federal security personnel are now on the ground, assisting Russia's security force, more than 37,000 strong.

MEY: They've asked for specific assistance in regard to most likely intelligence sharing, cyber threats, forensic evaluations as it relates to weapons of mass destruction.

ROBERTSON: The state department is also alerting Americans about Russia's declared ban on any promotion of gay relationships to minors. Those traveling to the games who are found in violation of the law could face a fine of more than $3,000, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation.


ROBERTSON (on-camera): -- excuse me. Now, the state department is also warning that the medical facilities in and around Sochi haven't been tested for large volumes -- excuse me -- large volumes of people, and for that reason, they're saying that people visiting the Olympics may want to consider medical insurance because facilities there may not match what they would expect in the west and also that they should consider insurance for evacuation in case of a major medical emergency.

So, concerns are about the medical facilities. The state department does stress at the moment that it doesn't have a specific terror threat around the Olympics but does remind everyone that this whole region, Dagestan, Chechnya, just to the north of Sochi, this whole region, has been experiencing all sorts of different terrorist attacks over the past 10 or 15 years. Back to you Kate and Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Nic. And thank you for battling through there in Moscow for us. Appreciate the report this morning.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the (INAUDIBLE). Dennis Rodman speaks out after nearly a week in North Korea saying he's sorry but also that he did nothing wrong. What about what happened to his teammates, though? You're going to hear from one coming up.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, a scathing scandal. Controversy brewing over who's going to the Olympics with the U.S. figure skating team. Are they qualified for the high stakes competition? Details on that story also ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's get straight over to John Berman for the five things to know for your NEW DAY.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Kate.


BERMAN (voice-over): Number one, CNN has exclusive learned a federal probe will be launched into a New Jersey tourism campaign. It was done with millions in Sandy relief funding and featured Governor Chris Christie and his family.

Breaking overnight, investigators are trying to figure out how the pilot of a Southwest Airlines flight carrying 124 passengers landed at the wrong airport in Missouri.

New developments as West Virginia's tainted water crisis spills into a fifth day. 300,000 people still without tap water, but officials plan to announce zones today to issue clean tap water.

The Senate is to vote to set this evening on a compromised plan to restore unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans. As of now, it is unlikely the measure will get the 60 votes it needs to pass.

And two legends tangle Sunday for a Super Bowl berth. Tom Brady's doing the Patriots taking on Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. In the NEC title game, a good one, too, it features Seattle's Russell Wilson facing San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. Some great games.


BERMAN: We're always updating the five things you need to know. So, go to for the latest -- Chris. CUOMO: All right. Thanks, John.

Breaking overnight, former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, arriving in China after staying behind in North Korea well after his teammates. It was supposed to be basketball diplomacy, but instead, Rodman sang happy birthday to dictator, Kim Jong-un, and had an exclusive interview on our show, as you remember, and then apologized.

Now, of course, they did play this exhibition game with other former NBA all-stars. We're now hearing from some of these teammates and about how, what they knew, and didn't know about what this situation was.