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NK Envoy: Bae Must Serve Out Sentence; Stomach Bug Strikes Again; Obama Goes One-on-One With CNN; Amanda Knox Convicted, Again; Ice Starting to Melt in Atlanta

Aired January 31, 2014 - 06:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth of the matter is, is that every president engages in executive actions.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A CNN exclusive, hard questions for the president. Jake Tapper and President Obama go through all the big issues. Does he have a plan to get the jobless and Congress back to work? Will the Sochi Olympics be safe? And much more.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The nightmare continues. Amanda Knox convicted again for murder in an Italian courtroom again facing decades in prison. Will Italy try to force her to return? And new this morning, her Italian ex-boyfriend caught trying to leave the country after his conviction.

CUOMO: Too late to apologize. The governor of Georgia with a full apology (ph) on CNN for the snowstorm chaos in Atlanta. Is it accepted as people finally retrieve their stranded cars and the city toss (ph) out?

Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, January 31st, six o'clock in the east. We have that exclusive interview with President Obama, but first, we want to get you some major headlines.

Medical records for Washington Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis, show he was given a bill of mental health weeks before the shooting. The Associated Press learned the doctor treating Alexis for insomnia found his speech and thoughts to be clear and focused. As far as his job in the Defense Department, the doctor deemed, quote, "No problem there."

BOLDUAN: Breaking news this morning in the Amanda Knox case, overnight authorities stopped her former Raffaele Sollecito near Italy's border with Austria, Slovenia. Knox and Sollecito were just found guilty again of murder in the death of Knox's former roommate, Meredith Kercher. Knox maintains she is innocent and her lawyers vowed to appeal. Much more on this coming up in the show.

CUOMO: Bad news from North Korea, they say they don't plan to release American Kenneth Bae anytime soon. In fact the country's ambassador to the U.K. is saying they won't be pardoned or released before he completes his 15-year sentence of hard labor. Bae was leading a Christian tour group in North Korea when he was arrested back in 2012 and jailed for so called anti-government acts.

BOLDUAN: Federal prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder cited the cruel and deprived manner of the attacks when he made the announcement. Tsarnaev faces 30 federal charges in the terror attack that left three dead and 260 wounded at April's Boston marathon. He has pleaded not guilty.

CUOMO: A second cruise ship hit with a nasty stomach bug. The CDC expected to board the Caribbean Princes cruise ship because a norovirus outbreak made at least 170 people sick. The ship abruptly retained to a Texas port. Then on Wednesday, a Royal Caribbean cruise cut its trip short after nearly 700 crew and passengers got sick once again.

BOLDUAN: Now to a CNN exclusive, President Obama speaking to Jake Tapper in his first interview since the state of the union address. The commander in chief promising 2014 will be a year of action. And he's moving forward with or without Congress as he said to draw a lifeline to the long term unemployed. The president revealing his plan right here on CNN. Joining us now to talk about it is the anchor of "THE LEAD," Jake Tapper.


BOLDUAN: It's so nice to meet you.

TAPPER: Your last name should be French.

BOLDUAN: It's not. It's not.

TAPPER: I have to say I've been covering President Obama since he was Senator Obama.

BOLDUAN: And you've had several interviews with him.

TAPPER: I was covering him on the campaign trail. There was a time after he clenched enough delegates. June 2008, he clenched enough delegates. And he talked about his election in terms of this would be the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the world began to heal.

Now he's talking about using his pen and phone to take executive orders, executive actions. That was one of the things I wanted to ask him about. Has he scaled back his ambitions and expectations for what he wants to do with the country.


TAPPER: Thanks for doing this Mr. President.


TAPPER: So your big push in the state of the union and here is whatever you cannot accomplish with Congress you will take executive action or issue executive orders. How much can you really accomplish doing that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, my big push is making sure we're focused on opportunity. Making sure every single day all of us in Washington are thinking about ways we can help all of us get good jobs, make sure the jobs pay, make sure the kids are getting a good education. Those are the issues the American people still are very much concerned about.

Obviously, there's going to be more that we can do if Congress is able to breakthrough some of the gridlock. If we're able to pass immigration reform, that is going to add growth to the economy, reduce our deficits --

TAPPER: You don't seem confident that that's going to happen.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I actually think that we have a good chance --

TAPPER: I mean the jobs issue.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think there are going to be some issues where it is going to be tough. I'm going to continue to reach out to them and say, here are my best ideas. I want to hear yours. But as I said, I can't wait and the American people, more importantly cannot wait. We know that one of the biggest problems right now is the jobs market.

TAPPER: People won't hire them because they've been unemployed so long.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Folks are looking at that gap in the resume and they're weeding them out before these chances get a chance for an interview. We gathered together 300 companies just to start with including some of the top companies in the country, to say let's establish best practices. Do not screen people out of the hiring process just because they have been out of work for a long time.

We just went through the worst recession since the great depression. I'll be convening a meeting where a number of these top companies will be coming in, agreeing to these best practices and have the opportunity to encourage more people to come in. All of these things are going to have an impact.

Will we have more of an impact if we can get Congress, for example to mass a minimum wage law that applies to everybody as opposed to me just through an executive order, absolutely. And that's why I'm going to keep on reaching out for them. But I'm not going to wait for them. TAPPER: I've been covering you for a long, long time. I remember during the campaign when you talked about your presidency being a moment when the rise of the oceans would slow and the nation and the world would heel. Now you're talking about pen and phone and executive orders. Do you think you were naive back then or have you recalibrated your expectations and ambitions?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Part of it is we got a lot of that stuff done. We got in this country a health care reform that already signed up millions of people and make sure that anybody's who's watching, anybody who has insurance will not be drop because of pre-existing condition. If they don't have health insurance, they can get on We have made enormous strides on the education front. Millions of more young people get student loans.

So part of what's happened is, that checklist, we have passed a lot of that. And so in no way are my expectations diminished, but what is obviously true is we've got divided government right now. The House Republicans in particular have had difficulty rallying around any agenda, much less mine.

And in that kind of environment, what I don't want is the American people to think that the only way for us to make big change is through legislation. We've all got to work together to continue to provide opportunity for the next generation.

TAPPER: Let's talk about House Republicans and Senate Republicans because there has been a large contingency of Republicans critical of your new approach. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas who might run for president calls this the imperial presidency. They want to reign in what you're trying to do. How do you respond to that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I don't think that's very serious. The truth of the matter is every president engages in executive actions. We've been very disciplined and sparing in terms of the executive actions that we've taken. We make sure that we're doing it within the authority that we have under statute, but I am not going to make an apology for saying that if I can help middle class families and folks who are working hard to try to get into the middle class do a little bit better, then I'm going to do it.

I think it's a tough argument for the other side to make that not only are they willing to not do anything, but they also want me not to do anything. In which case, I think the American people, whose right now estimation of Congress is already pretty low, might have an even lower opinion.

TAPPER: The stop act is not something you take seriously?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm not particularly worried about it.

TAPPER: Let's talk about areas you might be able to make progress. I know a path way to citizenship through immigration reform is very important to you. It's possible you might be able to get an immigration reform bill on your desk for legal status for the millions of undocumented workers who are in this country but not citizenship. Would you veto that?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm not going to pre-judge what gets to my desk. I think the principle that we don't want two classes of people in America is a principle that a lot of people agree with, not just me and not just Democrats. But I am encouraged by what Speaker Boehner has said. Obviously, I was encouraged by the bipartisan bill that passed out of the Senate.

I genuinely believe that Speaker Boehner really do want to get a serious immigration reform bill done. If the speaker proposes something that says right away folks aren't being deported, families aren't being separated. We're able to attract stop young students to provide the skills or start businesses here, then there's a regular process of citizenship I'm not sure how wide the divide ends up being. That's why I don't want to pre-judge it.

TAPPER: I just wonder if you see this at all in terms of especially the path way to citizenship in the way that you seemed to when you were passing health care reform and I was covering it, the public option. In other words, it would be great if you could do it, it's not going to happen and there might be expectations that you have to do. I don't think House Republicans can pass anything that has a path way to citizenship.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Here's the good news though, number one, there is a desire to get it done. And that particularly in this Congress is a huge piece of business because they haven't gotten a lot done over the last couple years out of the House Republican caucus. The fact that they're for something I think is progress. I do know that for a lot of families, the fear of deportation is one of the biggest concerns that they've got.

And that's why we took executive actions given by discretion to make sure we're not deporting kids who drop here and are Americans for all practical purposes. But we need to get that codified. Is there more we can do in this legislation that gets more support but solves these broader problems including strengthening borders.


TAPPER: And of course, more of the interview will air in a little bit. Kate, you know one of the things I thought was so important and interesting was I asked him point-blank, if immigration reform doesn't have a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers will you veto it. He wouldn't play.

BOLDUAN: And it shows the struggle. It's a difficult answer because it could box him in. If he gives you a firm answer on --

TAPPER: I agree with you, but I do think there are going to be advocates for immigration reform that are going to be very disappointed with that answer because they will think this is a fundamental principal, these people need to become citizens and the president is basically saying it's acceptable.

And as I said in the question to him, there was a time during health care when he made it very clear that he would like a public option government run health care, but he understood it couldn't get through Congress, so he threw it under the bus. He -- he seems to be signaling something similar here. He's not standing up for it.

BOLDUAN: That's smart politics though. It's a president entering a second term who wants to get something done.

TAPPER: On the politics I agree. On the principle, I think there will be people on the left disappointed.

CUOMO: That's the trick in general. You have such convergent ideologies there. Jake's making a strong point. His base is not going to like the answer. It's also good insight into why the interview is so valuable. Usually he's on message. That was very good for you to get him into a dialogue here, Jake, where you're unpacking why he thinks what he thinks about things. It's important.

TAPPER: It's interesting also because right now the House Republicans are in a retreat and they are discussing this. Just based on reporting, I know, I don't think there's any way House Republicans will be able to pass immigration reform with a clear, special, distinct pathway to citizenship. I know Speaker Boehner has said he will not bring up a bill unless it will get a majority of Republicans. It can't just be some Republicans and the majority of Democrats.

BOLDUAN: You know that.


CUOMO: Wants of year of action. He's going to have to get things done. He's going to have to take what he gets to some extent.

TAPPER: That's right.

BOLDUAN: We got a lot more coming up, Jake's going to be back. We're going to have more of Jake's interview with the president just ahead. A lot of other topics that Jake hits on. We are going to hear the president's thoughts on another global figure, Pope Francis, and also what his daughters think about his approval rating and also of marijuana. And you can watch the full interview today on "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper at 4:00 Eastern.

CUOMO: All right, we have also news this morning about the Italian trial saga six years in the making. Amanda Knox now vowing to fight what she calls wrongful persecution after an Italian court reinstated her murder conviction. CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Florence with more -- Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. Well, the victim, Meredith Kercher's brother and sister speaking out this morning saying nothing will bring back Meredith. Their lawyer has long argued for this conviction telling CNN that he is satisfied with the court's decision. Meanwhile, outrage among Amanda Knocks' supporters, they're saying that once again she and Raffaele Sollecito have been railroaded by the Italian judicial system.



MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Guilty once again.

The Amanda Knox murder trial far from over this morning after Knox was last night slapped with her second conviction of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. This is a third time an Italian court has heard the case. Knox was released from prison in 2011 when a judge overturned the original conviction due to errors in the investigation. She returned to the United States and made no appearance in this trial.

Last night, a woman believed to be Amanda Knox was whisked away by family members outside her mother's home in Seattle. Knox released a statement saying, "I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict. Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system.

Now, the court has sentenced Knox to 28 1/2 year in prison.

Knox's ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito was also convicted of murder on Thursday. He I sentenced to 25 years in jail. He was on hand to hear the verdict.

And this morning, the Kercher family keeping the focus on the victim at the center of the case. They say the new verdict gives them hope.

LYLE KERCHER, BROTHER OF MEREDITH: Either their decision when it is finally upheld or not, nothing's of course going to bring Meredith back. Nothing will ever take away the horror of what happened to her. The best we can hope for is, of course, finally bringing this whole case to a conclusion, you know, and a conviction and everybody can then move on with their lives.

MCLAUGHLIN: Next up, a fresh round of appeals and many unanswered questions. Will Italy request her extradition from the United States and will the U.S. grant it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Italy, you're still actually presumed innocent until that third final stage. The prosecution asked for a questionnaire or provisional arrest warrant today. It was rejected. The court recognized she is lawfully in the United States.

MCLAUGHLIN: But Knox says she's fearful of her future.

AMANDA KNOX, FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER: It would feel like a train wreck if they would order my arrest and the Italian government would approach the American government and say, extradite her. And I don't know what would happen.


MCLAUGLIN: There's been an update on Raffaele Sollecito's whereabouts. Local police tells CNN that he has been detained near a northern Italian town of Udine, near the border with Austria and Slovenia. He was found in a hotel at 1:00 a.m. in the morning and checked in with another woman. Police were following him on court orders to seize his passport and other travel documents because he had been deemed a flight risk. He's telling police that he was not running away.

Back to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Erin. Thank you very much for that update.

So finally, a break for the people of Atlanta. Temperatures inches just high enough for the ice to start melting after this week's storm. But people are still recovering from the mess. Overnight, any abandoned cars left on the interstates, which there were a lot. They were towed away after most people were able to retrieve them during the day yesterday.

Now, finally, an apology from Georgia's governor.

CNN's George Howell in Atlanta, with much more on this unfolding.

Good morning, George.


It is presently 26 degrees in Atlanta. It's expected to get into the 50s. That is welcome news as the commute here gets back to normal.

And we are hearing an apology from the state's governor and a personal admission that he could have done more.


HOWELL (voice-over): This morning, the icy roads that froze Atlanta to a standstill continued to thaw out. This, as Georgia's governor tries to alleviate criticism about his response to the Snow-pocalypse.

GOV. NATHAN DEAL (R), GEORGIA: I accept responsibility for the fact that we did not make preparation early enough to avoid these consequences.

HOWELL: Governor Nathan Deal came out strong on Thursday.

DEAL: I'm not going to look for a scapegoat. I am the governor. The buck stops with me.

HOWELL: A sharp contrast to his role in the blame game the morning after the storm.

DEAL: The National Weather Service had continually had their modeling showing that the city of Atlanta would not be the primary area where the storm would hit.

HOWELL: Governor Deal ordered an internal review for the state's delayed response to Tuesday's crisis. Take a look at the traffic map from that day showing the smooth flow of traffic in green, quickly grinding to a halt in just an hour. Turning deep red, the color of gridlock.

Throughout Thursday, people came back to claim their abandoned cars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your vehicle was towed by --

HOWELL: State troopers and the National Guard are helping transport people to the more than 2,000 vehicles strewn along roads and highways.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I give them an A in spite of all the Fs. This is an A and I thank them.

HOWELL: Overnight, state troopers scoured the roadways. Today, the cleanup is moving forward. Even though some neighborhood streets are still sheets of ice.

A 14-year-old girl lost part of her leg Thursday on one such street after the abandoned car she was standing behind was struck by another car.

DEAL: I think it's been a big wake up call. I think it's going to cause all of us to be more aggressive in terms of declaring states of emergency.


HOWELL: So, what a difference a few days makes. A live look here at the city of Atlanta, and you see the commute getting back to normal. Most of the cars, if not all of the cars really have been identified and most have been removed from the roads.

We also know, Chris and Kate, that the governor has ex-tended that state of emergency until Sunday to keep resources on the ground to help folks who need them. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Getting it right this time. George, thanks so much.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Preparations weren't in place. But in truth, the information about the weather has been.

Let's get over to our meteorologist Indra Petersons.

I mean, you saw this coming. The question is, when does this go away? When does temperature come back, right? There's that part as well.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I mean, it's just so interesting, because you can actually just go back right now and actually see the forecast discussions way back, several days, 48 hours before. Yes, the information was definitely there.

But speaking of today, it is still cold out there. Temperatures this morning again below freezing. So, the concern any ice that is still out there, still frozen this morning. Any moisture out there, still frozen. But there's the difference. Temperatures already 10 degrees warmer today than they were yesterday morning. We're going to continue that trend as we go through the afternoon. So, notice, not only in the Southeast we're going to be seeing temperatures go back to normal, but above normal. So, we should start to see that recovery very quickly as we go through the weekend.

Same story even in the Northeast. You're looking at those temperatures climbing, especially right along the East Coast. So, that's good news. It doesn't mean there's no showers in the forecast, because there are a couple of systems out there, and some good ones, depending on where you are. If you're in Denver today, one to two inches of snowfall per hour. That's what we're looking for totally, near 10 inches at the higher elevations.

That makes it ways all the way in through Chicago. Look at these numbers, six to 10 inches of snow in through Chicago. So, definitely good system is making its way through. There are two, tomorrow being the stronger one making its way all the way in through Michigan.

You can actually see the system kind of making its way through some icing from Ohio valley back through the plains. Just keep in mind, the first weather model does not bring us showers for Super Bowl Sunday. It clears it out, but we have several models, this always happens.

The European model does bring the chance for showers right before the game and right after the game. So, needless to say, the forecast is still changing as far as Super Bowl Sunday. It is a no go as far as perfect forecast. But we know it's not a huge snow maker and that's the deal.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it seems that it's a no go in terms of changing the date.

PETERSONS: That's correct. Better not be.

BERMAN: It's important, because if it's going to be pouring rain, the coaches will have a different game plan. You just don't know right now.

BOLDUAN: It matters.

PETERSONS: And for now, we're not saying pouring. Just showers out there. But either way, no one wants to be wet.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

PETERSONS: We're going to take a break.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: Amanda Knox convicted again of murder by an Italian court, sentencing her to 28 1/2 here in prison. The question now, will the U.S. ever agree to extradite her?


CUOMO: Amanda Knox, the big debate is if there's little evidence of guilt how was she convicted not once but twice. The answer is simply the Italian legal system. Not only is there no double jeopardy, but prosecutors have a lot more freedom to paint a picture and can go much further in arguing the character of a defendant without proof of that argument. And in Amanda's case, what a picture it was.

To the prosecutor, she was a sex crazed temptress, and the image stuck. That's why Amanda Knox asked to confront these allegations in our interview back in May. Was she the deviant they said she was? Here's her answer.


AMANDA KNOX, FOUND GUILUTY OF MURDER: That is simply coming out of the prosecution. No witnesses have ever come out saying anything like that. And the reason why they continue to per pep wait this idea is because they had this idea about me, they created this idea about me because it would legitimize their accusations against me. I would be the type of person, a deviant who would do this.


CUOMO: Would not have been allowed in the U.S. system and wound up being a huge factor in the Italian one. So, more about this verdict, what it means here and going forward.

Let's bring in Steve Moore, retired supervisor and special agent for the FBI, and HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.

Fellas, let's play this, this way. I will present what the prosecution is putting out there. Steve, you deal with it on an evidentiary basis because you know the record so well. And, Joey, you play on the legal arguments that go to the case itself and then what happens with the U.S./Italy relations.


CUOMO: So, the basic case here, Steve, is, you admitted it, Amanda Knox, you wrote it out that you confessed you did this. We have DNA inconsistencies with your blood and the blood of the victim, Meredith Kercher. We have a knife from the scene that seems to fit.

We have Rudy Guede who that says, while convicted himself, that you were involved and your story is uncompelling and your behavior troubling.

That is my case. Why is it not strong enough in your opinion?

STEVE MOORE, RET. SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: The knife didn't fit the wounds in the victim. That's out. The knife had no DNA on it from the victim. It's out.

There was no confession. They brow beat her for 53 hours over five days to get her to implicate somebody else that they needed to have.

There was nothing that you can put down that is in any way, shape or form has survived the appeals. It is also false, it's also gone.

CUOMO: Joey Jackson, I suggest that this was a sex game gone wrong. Meredith Kercher was a young woman of virtue. The defendant was not. This got ugly, drug-fueled, passion-fueled, and it wound up in murder and you confessed and you did cart wheels in the hallways afterwards while kissing your boyfriend and an innocent person doesn't do that, a grieving person doesn't do it.

JACKSON: Well, the facts are, Chris, that in any prosecution, you need evidence, you need facts to base any statements that you're making.

CUOMO: Here (ph).

JACKSON: Absolutely.