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Flight Hits Sudden Turbulence Midair; Secretary of State Criticizes Russia over Syrian Policy; Winter Olympics Continue; Olympic Medal Count; Rudy Giuliani Talks Dunn and Syria: "If it Were Me, I Take Out Assad

Aired February 18, 2014 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're hearing now for the first time phone calls from the man who shot and killed a Florida teenager after an argument over loud music. Prosecutors just released jailhouse calls made by Michael Dunn in the weeks after the fatal shooting of Jordan Davis. Dunn, who has claimed self-defense in his trial, is heard saying he was the one victimized.


MICHAEL DUNN: I don't know how else to cut it, but they attacked me. I'm the victim. I'm the victor here, but I was the victim too.


BOLDUAN: Meantime, protests continue in Jacksonville after a jury could not agree on the first degree murder charge against Dunn, prompting a mistrial and now a possible retrial. Dunn was convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Self-confessed serial killer Miranda Barbour is not a Satanist, so says the Church of Satan which wants nothing to do with the 19-year-old. Barbour says she joined the cult at age 13 then set off on a multi-state killing spree leaving at least 22 dead. Police have not been able to verify those claims yet. Barbour is in custody on charges that she and her husband killed a man they met on Craigslist. Top Satanists say, whatever the truth, the devil did not make her do it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Church of Satan, talk about oxymoron.

More proof LaGuardia airport is a third world country, long delays there after a fuel truck collided with a police cruiser. Hundreds of passengers reportedly trapped on the tarmac while two people were taken to the hospital. They are in stable condition. The accident triggered 90-minute delays, just caused chaos.

BOLDUAN: It's not over yet, the east coast getting slammed by more snow. Take a look live at snow coming down in Cleveland this morning. A severe storm is set to make a mess of the morning commute for millions in what has already become one of the snowiest winters on record. We're covering it all for you starting with Indra Petersons tracking who is conditions for us right outside our studios here in New York City.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You just mentioned LaGuardia. Still more trouble, a good two hours delays this morning because it is snowing again. Temperatures very close to that freezing mark this morning. But nonetheless we're still looking at maybe one to two inches in New York City. Up towards Boston we're going to see heavier snow, especially toward Portland, Maine, we could see really anywhere from four to as high as eight inches of snow. Timing, morning commute, never a good time, but it looks like the snow is already coming down. It will continue through the New York City throughout noon or so and finally tonight, exiting out from the northeast.

This is just one system guys. By tomorrow, we are warming up. Yay! Notice that means we're going to be talking about rain tomorrow. That's good news in the sense that temperatures are warm, but flooding concerns and ice jamming will be high. And then by the end of the week, a third system in the mix is expected to bring a pretty good squall line. So Midwest on Wednesday, Ohio Valley on Thursday, Mid- Atlantic by Friday, we could have the potential for some severe weather.

CUOMO: All right, Indra. Wonder what it looks like in Iowa right now. Oh, here it is. The storm rolled through. There's a picture for you of the roads. What's the problem? Thick layer of ice underneath the snow makes roads very difficult to travel on, very deceptive. Dozens of accidents already reported in Des Moines. We will monitor the situation.

BOLDUAN: In Minnesota roads and highways are blanketed with snow. Many cities have declared a snow emergency yet again. That would be their sixth of this season so far.

PEREIRA: Crew members and two passengers are waking up in a hospital this morning after a near disaster in the air. Witnesses say severe turbulence hit their plane out of nowhere Monday as the United Airlines flight was landing in Billings, Montana. Let bring in Rene Marsh live from Washington. How terrifying, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Michaela. I mean, if you've been through turbulence, you know just how scary it is. Passengers say this was something they never experienced before. One man says passengers were screaming as they were tossed. The plane was dropping and jostling side to sigh. The shakeup so violent three flight attendants and two passengers had to be rushed to the hospital. One person was in intensive, and at last check, only one person remains in the hospital.

Now, passengers say it happened in a split second, no warning. United flight 1676 from Denver to Billings, Montana, experienced severe turbulence as they came in for landing. One passenger said that a woman hit the ceiling so hard that it cracked. As for the flight crew, he thought they were just as surprised by the sudden turbulence as the passengers were. As for the airlines, they say they're assisting people that were hurt and their flight safety crew is investigating what happened. BOLDUAN: All right, Rene, thank you very much. So what was it like on that flight? Let's find out. Kerri Mullins was a passenger on the United Airlines flight and she's joining us via Skype from Billings, Montana. Kerri, thank you so much for jumping on this with us this morning.


BOLDUAN: It sounds like some absolutely terrifying moments on that flight. Can you describe what you saw? What was it like?

MULLINS: Sure. It was typical flight. We took off out of Denver. In fact, I managed to kind of doze for a little while. They came over the intercom and said they were passing out beverages. So put my tray table down, got my tablet out, started reading. They handed me my drink. It was all very calm. They -- we hit a little bit of turbulence, nothing too severe. They came over the intercom and said, you know, we need people to stay with their seatbelt buckled.

And then just in a split second, we were tilting to the far right and plunging. And it was just instantaneous. Everything that everybody had in their hands were flying through the air. People were screaming. I was right over the wing, so the -- there was a lady behind me that was yelling, "My baby, my baby!" So I can just assume that she had an infant in her arms and let go of it.

BOLDUAN: One other passenger mentioned it felt to him as if when the turbulence began that the plane had been hit from underneath. And it also, as you said, sounded like it happened instantaneously. That was the conversation after that? What were people saying?

MULLINS: It was interesting. We didn't hear anything over the intercom. We spent probably the next 10 minutes or so handing items back to each other. My cell phone and my tablet ended up a couple rows ahead of me across the aisle. And the man next to me had lost his wallet. His credit cards and ID were all over the floor of the plane.

BOLDUAN: And now we know three crew members and two passengers were injured in all of that. We all when we fly at one time or another experienced some kind of turbulence. You seem to fly often for work. How would you describe how this was different from anything you felt in the past?

MULLINS: It was pretty scary. I have never experienced -- I mean I've had flights to billings several times before. Usually coming into Denver is when you hit a little bit of turbulence. And that was -- it was nothing compared to what I experienced yesterday was quite surreal and honestly felt like a scene in a movie I was watching. It was hard to believe with my own eyes.

BOLDUAN: I'm sure. I know you're in Billings now and you have to fly back to Denver later this week, so let's hope you have a much more uneventful flight if you decide to fly on the way back.

MULLINS: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Glad to see that you're OK this morning. Thanks.

CUOMO: All right, in Maryland today, President Obama is expected to announce new rules for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. This is part of a big speech on jobs and the economy. The new steps are another attempt to work around Congress and would apply to commercial vehicles and take effect in 2018.

BOLDUAN: The head of the agency overseeing the George Washington Bridge has ordered investigations into the lane closures that has embroiled New Jersey governor Chris Christie in a political retribution scandal. In question is whether Port Authority police had any role as officers reportedly told drivers to complain to the mayor of Fort Lee.

PEREIRA: A new report shows that a record number of women are using IVF treatments to get pregnant. About 2,000 more in-vitro- fertilization babies were born in 2012 than in 2011. IVF treatmens accounted for nearly two percent of all babies born in the United States in 2012.

CUOMO: Now to the crisis in Syria. The situation is getting worse, period, as the tensions between the U.S. and Russia are doing the same. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Gulf leaders in Abu Dhabi today after sharpening his criticism of Moscow for propping up the Assad regime. The Russian officials say it is the U.S. that favors military action. This much is known. Peace talks have stalled. The question therefore, is a diplomatic solution even possible? CNN's Jim Sciutto is in Washington with more.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, yes, the trouble is peace talks have been the centerpiece for the U.S. strategy for Syria. Now they're in disarray. And the two countries with arguably the most power to influence the situation on the ground there, the U.S. and Russia, are pointing fingers at each other.

Secretary of State John Kerry blaming Russia for giving the Assad regime both weapons and diplomatic cover to continue, in fact, accelerate the violence there. His Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, says it is U.S. betting everything on a military solution. CNN's found evidence of mass graves and summary execution by Al Qaeda linked terrorists. President Obama is said to be looking for new policy options but so far he has rejected moves ranging from arming and training rebels to airstrikes on regime force. The administration is now pushing for a new U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the atrocities and attempting to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground. But that resolution is unlikely to include the threat of sanctions or military force.

PEREIRA: Jim Sciutto with the latest from Washington, thank you for that.

Let's take a look at what is in the papers this morning. We'll start with "The Wall Street Journal." Officials say Iran's hacking of a Navy computer network was more extensive than previously thought. It took four months to finally purge that cyber-attack. Vice Admiral Michal Rogers led the response. He's now expected to president's choice lead the National Security Agency. You can expect questions at his confirmation hearing about his long term plan to address security gaps exposed by that cyber-attack.

From the "Washington Post," 401(k)s soaring to record highs in 2013. The nation's largest provider of retirement plans, Fidelity Investments, reports the average balance in its accounts was just over $89,000. That's nearly double the average during the depths of the reinvestigation. Vanguard reports it plans averaged $101,000 at the end of December, the highest total since it began tracking data some 15 years ago.

And in "The Los Angeles Times," what's in your wallet? Apparently visitors from creditors if you're a Capitol One company. A recent contract update says they can "contact you in any way you choose, including a personal visit." Now according to Capital One they won't actually visit you, just debt collectors. I don't know if that's supposed to make us feel any better.

CUOMO: All right, more trouble this morning for two members of a Russian female punk band. The women have been detained in central Sochi. This happens just weeks after the two were released from a Russian prison. For more let's turn to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live in Sochi. Nic, what do we know?

NIC PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, exactly what Vladimir Putin didn't want to happen. He'd released them ahead of the games to try to create an atmosphere of political tolerance in Russia. Now I've spoken to one of several people arrested, the key member of Pussy Riot. She says to me that she was approached on the street, accused of theft at the hotel where they were staying at. They're concerned they're going to be questioned without a lawyer being present and say that they've been repeatedly detained by the police and the FSB while in Sochi. They say in fact they were about to try and record a video for a song called "Putin will teach you how to love the homeland."

These are provocative women. Police have confirmed they are being detained to be questioned over these allegations of theft. But the key issue here is Putin had presumably hoped these games would pass without secured incidents or major recognition of the political climate that many Russian live under. This is exactly what Pussy Riot wanted to publicize. And it appears that these arrests, whether sanctioned by central powers in Moscow or not, will bring international attention of the climate that many Russians live under. Back to you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Nick, thank you very much.

Sticking in Sochi but focusing on the Olympic games, a spoiler alert for you. Let's catch you up on where things stand with the Olympics. Four events in the books. American Alex Diebold won bronze in the snowboard finals, keeping up the possibility that the U.S. could be the first nation to medal every day of the Olympics. He's hoping. Also today, Emil Hegle Svendsen, probably did not say that name right, of Norway took gold in the men's 15 kilometer biathlon by a razor thin margin. He held on in a photo finish. The top two were even given the same time amazingly enough.

Also there's American pride on full display. Team USA made it to the medal podium, headlined by the ice dancing duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White. They beat out the defending champs from Canada. The two-man bobsled team also won bronze, the first medal in that event for the U.S. since 1952.

CUOMO: Here's a big one to watch: The U.S. women's hockey team, one win away from gold. They beat Sweden six to one Monday. Listen to this, they out-shot the opponents 70-9. The gold medal game is set for Thursday against a country known as Canada. It will be the fourth time that the U.S. and Canada have faced off for gold since women's hockey was --

BOLDUAN: It's also pronounced John (ph).

CUOMO: -- also known as John (ph) -- introduced the game in 1998 to the Olympics. And it's an awesome addition. Who will win? I know where my money is.


CUOMO: I know where my money is, Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Let the beat-down begin.

CUOMO: Let's make a little wager. Let's bet our mittens.


CUOMO: Where's your confidence? Just because you're better looking and smarter doesn't mean --

BOLDUAN: No, she does covet those mittens.

PEREIRA: No, those mittens --

CUOMO: My mittens are up!

PEREIRA: OK. All right.

BOLDUAN: OK, here we go. Spoil alert on the medal count. Here's the updated medal count for you. Four have been handed out this morning. Russia and the U.S. remain tied for the overall lead with 19 medals. The Netherlands is in third. And with the gold we told you about, Norway jumps back into a tie with Canada to round out the top five.

CUOMO: We win, I'm going to have a new set of oven mitts, Canada style.

NBC's Bob Costas returned to the Olympics coverage after a six-day absence from this funky eye infection he had that left him unable to see in bright light. "Today Show" host Matt Lauer sat in and did very admirably while Costas was recovering for three nights on NBC's primetime coverage of the winter games in Sochi. First time, listen to this, since 1988 that Costas was absent from the Olympic chair. He is an iron man, good to have him back.

PEREIRA: All right, I'm going to up you that. The mittens are on the line, but then you have to wear them if you lose.

CUOMO: Oh, I'll wear them.

PEREIRA: All right, let's check what's trending.

A pack of stray Chihuahuas terrorizing a town in Arizona. Neighbors in Maryville, a section of Phoenix, have been flooding animal control offices with reports of these roaming strays. The packs are up to 15 and are said to chase kids as they're trying to walk to school. Officials say the unusually large numbers of strays is due to foreclosures and undocumented workers being forced out of the area. Nischelle?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wow. You know, he may be a Supreme Court justice, Michaela, but these are fighting words. Justice Antonin Scalia says Chicago's in deep dish when it comes to pizza. Scalia is a native New Yorker, by the way, issued this controversial ruling over the weekend. He said Chicago-style deep dish is tasty, but it's not real pizza.

BOLDUAN: Apples and oranges, I say.

PEREIRA: A south Florida artist is facing criminal mischief charges this morning for intentionally breaking a $1 million vase at a new art museum in Miami. It was all caught on tape. Fifty-one year old Maximo Caminero tells police he did it as a protest on behalf of all local artists who can't find space to display their work in south Florida. Oh, yeah, he was arrested and later released on bond. The vase he destroyed was from the collection of celebrated Chinese dissident artist, Ai Weiwei. It was 7,000 years old.

TURNER: If I had pearls, I would clutch them right now.

It's off and running for Jimmy Fallon. He hosted his first "Tonight Show" -- his first "Tonight Show" from Rockefeller Center in New York.


I'm Jimmy Fallon, and I'll be your host, for now. .


The U.S. men's hockey team beat Russia on Saturday in a very dramatic shoot-out.


That was exciting. That was great. The American team said that they're thrilled with the win while the Russia team is missing.


TURNER: Star-studied night included celebrities coming out to give Fallon a hundred bucks after saying he'd never host the show. The actual guests for the show were Will Smith who joined Fallon for the evolution of hip-hop dancing and U2 who performed on the building's roof deck. And I know I'm not the only one who wore overalls with one side hanging down, Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: That looked good, Nischelle.

CUOMO: OshKosh B'Gosh. Actually, mine were Smiths. I did it. I used to trim (ph) my hand. I had some linoleum back in the day I used to carry around.

BOLDUAN: Really?

CUOMO: Yeah.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, keep working on that.

CUOMO: Ugly past, ugly past.

Coming up on NEW DAY, does U.S. policy in Syria need to change? The answer seems to be yes, but how? Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani here to weigh in, sitting on the couch right now, not making faces at me. Good sign.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, the Michael Dunn verdict has reignited the debate over Florida's controversial self defense law. So what does the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family think about it? He's going to be joining us live to talk about it.


CUOMO: There are a number of pressing issues facing us right now that demand, the perspective of leadership. And we're very lucky we have former mayor Rudy Giuliani here to help us discuss these hot button issues.

Let's start -- first, always great to have you on NEW DAY. Thank you for being here, Mr. Mayor.


CUOMO: Let's start with what we're seeing with the Zimmerman case and now the Michael Dunn case.


CUOMO: There is outrage, miscarriage of justice, black youths killed, no punishment met. There seems to be that we are missing the bigger argument here. There's too much focus on Zimmerman and Dunn saying that they worked the system.

GUILIANI: Right. CUOMO: They're falsely empowered, I believe, to ignore the cultural argument that we need to have. How do you see it?

GIULIANI: Well, first of all, as I told you before, I see it more as cultural difference in parts of the country and what juries will be more permissive about in certain parts of the country where guns are more popular, guns are accepted, guns are part of the culture. Another part of the country where guns are outlawed basically.

But I think there's a big difference between Zimmerman and Dunn. First of all, Dunn got convicted.

CUOMO: Right. Important.

GIULIANI: And I don't think Dunn feels he got away with it. Looks to me like he's spending 25 years in jail.

CUOMO: At least.

GIULIANI: So, from my view as a prosecutor -- take back to the role -- if I got that conviction, I figure that was a win on Dunn. So I think the overreaction to it is more debating nice points as opposed to debating some kind of injustice.

In Zimmerman's case, if you believe it was cold-blooded murder, well, that's an injustice. Now, was it cold-blooded murder? Jury says no. Would a jury in New York have come to that conclusion? I don't know about that.

CUOMO: So don't focus so much on the law. Focus also on the culture of the community?

GIULIANI: Yeah, yeah. Zimmerman -- you keep talking about, you know, stand your grand. The Zimmerman case I followed very closely. That was a straight self-defense defense. That's a self-defense defense you could have in California, New York, Florida, Alabama.

I think the difference -- if there's a difference in outcome, the difference is how a Florida jury that has very different views about guns and about how to defend yourself with a gun would come out very differently than a New York jury or Chicago jury.

CUOMO: They also benefit from a lower bar, right? Because in New York, you have a duty to retreat.


CUOMO: It makes you think before you act.


CUOMO: In Florida, it's effectively taken away because you don't have to retreat.


CUOMO: Stand your ground is a separate defense, but those words are in the self defense statute.


CUOMO: It makes it easier for a jury here --

GIULIANI: It does.

CUOMO: -- to forgive bad behavior.

GIULIANI: But my point is, you give that same charge to a New York jury --

CUOMO: Maybe a different outcome.

GIULIANI: They're gonna slide over it. You give that charge to a Florida jury, they'll take you very seriously.

CUOMO: And what do you think about this where there's a lot of focus on who Michael Dunn is as a person, that he worked the system, that George Zimmerman is this conniving genius who knew how to work it? You think that's a waste of energy?

GIULIANI: A little bit, yeah. And again, Zimmerman won. I mean, Zimmerman got an O.J. Simpson verdict, right, for some people. I mean, some people think he's innocent. But some people think he's guilty. If he is, then he got an O.J. Simpson verdict.

The Dunn thing surprises me a little. He got a pretty heavy conviction.

CUOMO: But not for killing the kid.

GIULIANI: For 25 --

CUOMO: But not for killing the kid.

There's still been no message sent.

GIULIANI: Well, I remember a lot of mafia guys I put in jail for tax evasion. They weren't too happy when they went to jail for tax evasion.

CUOMO: Right. And it could be a life sentence.

GIULIANI: Sometimes you don't get them for what exactly what they did, but you get them for 25 years, you got them good.

CUOMO: All right, so there's that situation.

Now, let's talk about something very different but equally violent, equally threatening, Syria. It seems to me that you believe you're a part of the group that believes now that the only way to change it is to take out Assad. How do we do that without getting into another Iraq, another Afghanistan?

GIULIANI: OK, I should say, Chris, the thing has been so mishandled. I don't think there's been a presidential mishandling of a foreign policy situation as great as this in my lifetime. This is a president who declared, you know, a red line 12 times. If he used weapons of mass destruction -- if you use chemical weapons, rather, we're going to take serious action. It happens; he folds. Now he's complaining about Russia. He --

CUOMO: He said he wanted to bomb and the Congress was pushing back on him that they wouldn't have authorized it.

GIULIANI: Well, he could have -- he could have anyway. He did before. He bombed before without congressional authorization. Bush bombed. Clinton bombed without congressional authorization. We can go on. President after president after president. That was an excuse to get off the hook.

The mishandling of this is monumental. Now, I find very strange, that they're blaming for Russia for not being cooperative. They brought Russia in. Who brought Putin into the negotiations? Barack Obama and John Kerry.

CUMO: So what should we do?

GIULIANI: Way back when, we should have joined the people who were protesting Assad. They were no different way back then than the Arab Spring, the people in the Arab Spring. After all, we supported it against Gadhafi. We supported it against, what's his name in Egypt.

CUOMO: Mubarak.

GIULIANI: Mubarak -- against Mubarak, right. So we supported against those two. They're not nearly as bad as Assad. There's no intellectual consistency, no foreign policy consistency in not supporting it against Assad.

CUOMO: So what do we do? Do you think we go in there and take out Assad?

GIULIANI: Now it's become more complicated by the fact that al Qaeda has come in.

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: Because we left a vacuum. The president's leading from behind creates vacuums. Vacuum gets filled by Russia. Vacuum gets filled by al Qaeda. Now it's a really complicated situation.

In my view, no clear decision here, no 100 percent decision here. If it were me, I take out Assad. Has to go. Too friendly with Iraq.


CUOMO: -- another Iraq, another Afghanistan, where you don't occupy, and your men and women are in there, and you're spending blood and treasure but it doesn't really change? Another one of those? That's the problem. GUILIANI: Is it better than slaughtering tens of thousands of people? Can we sit by and watch tens of thousands of people be slaughtered? We have done it so far. We have a secretary of State saying that climate change is the worst weapon of mass destruction, and he's sitting by watching Assad doing what's he's doing. You see a little inconsistency in that?

CUOMO: A different context, also, in terms of threat. But it's a hard situation to know what to do. I don't know that -- you think the country is ready to get behind more military action?

GIULIANI: We started to talk about leadership, right?

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: Here's leadership. The president has to make the decision and bring the country along. We do too much of this, "Oh, the country doesn't want to do this. The country doesn't want that." The country didn't want the Emancipation Proclamation.

CUOMO: Leadership is sometimes ahead of the people.

GIULIANI: The country didn't want the second World War. Franklin Roosevelt brought us into the second World War to save the world. The country didn't want Ronald Reagan pointing missiles at Russia, and it ended the Cold War. This is what great presidents do. Great presidents usually become great presidents because they make unpopular decisions that they turn out to teach the country was right.

This president wants to lead from behind, and he's making a terrible mess of foreign policy.

CUOMO: Last point, you were on Jimmy Fallon last night.


You gave him a 100 bucks. (inaudible) Do you think he's got what it takes?

GIULIANI: I think Jimmy's got what it takes, yeah.

CUOMO: Great.

GIULIANI: I -- I was on because I'm an old friend of his. I was on CNL (sic) with him when I was the mayor when he -- when he used to play Joe Pesci. And Tracy Morgan used to play Mayor Barry of Washington.