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Clarifying The Putin-Hitler Comparison; Obama Orders Sanctions Over Ukraine; Mall Makes "No Hoodie" Rule

Aired March 6, 2014 - 07:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Hillary Clinton is now setting the record straight. The former secretary of state and potential 2016 presidential contender now clarifying comments that she made comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin's tactics in Ukraine to those used by Adolf Hitler. Here's senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, with more on the story.


BRIANNA KEILAR, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hillary Clinton clarifying her thoughts on Russia.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective.

KEILAR: After comments she gave at a private event Tuesday made headlines. Clinton compared Russian President Vladimir Putin's incursion into Ukraine, which he said would protect ethnic Russians to what Nazi Germany did before World War II.

CLINTON: This sounds familiar to what Hitler did back in the '30s. All the Germans that were, you know, the ethnic Germans, the Germans by ancestry who were in place like Czechoslovakia and Romania and other places, you know, Hitler kept saying they're not being treated right, I must go and protect my people. And that's what gotten everybody so nervous.

KEILAR: At UCLA Wednesday, Clinton softened her wording, but stuck by the idea.

CLINTON: I am making a comparison certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can learn from this tactic that has been used before.

KEILAR: And some prominent Republicans backed her up. Senator John McCain tweeted, "She's right on this comparison." Potential 2016 candidate, Senator Marco Rubio, told reporters, "I think the point that she was making is similar to the argument that Hitler made in the 1930s."

But other Republicans worked to tie Clinton to President Obama's floundering relationship with Russia pointing to Clinton's reset of U.S. relations with Russia while she was secretary of state.

CLINTON: This is a fresh start.

KEILAR: Clinton pushed back on the criticism that she and Obama were naive.

CLINTON: As for President Putin, I know we are dealing with a tough guy with a thin skin. I said when I was still secretary that his goal is to "resovietize" Russia's periphery. But in the process, he is squandering the potential of such a great nation, the nation of Russia. And threatening instability and even the peace of Europe.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


CUOMO: Why so strong? What does it mean for Hillary? What does it mean for the situation? Let's bring in two of our big shot political commentators to discuss, Ana Navarro on the right, Paul Begala on the left. Paul Begala, I must advise you was a one-time advisor of the pro -- Western -- thank you, buddy, reformers in Ukraine. Thanks for that.

I mangled it, Paul, but it was just a mandatory disclosure. I don't think it gives you bias in the situation and I'll give you an equal beating any way. Ana, actually, I'll start with you, Paul. So Hillary, why is she making this comparison between Vladimir Putin and Hitler? Is this a show of force? Is this to show that she's strong? What is this about?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's who she is. Hillary's strong. I mean, I always used to tease her. She is stronger than garlic and a milkshake. She always operates from a position of strength. On this one you have to say, she's historically accurate. Politically I think this is spying when John McCain and Marco Rubio, as Brianna pointed out in her piece, are praising her.

And comparatively, I mean, some of our friends on the Republican friends have compared our president and health care for working people to Hitler. So I think Hillary has got the best, the better of this thing by far.

CUOMO: All right, Ana, why do you think she's doing this? Is this a way of separating herself from the Obama strategies that are in play and showing that she is stronger, what do you think is behind it?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, she -- she compared -- she made the Hitler-Putin comparison before she didn't make the Hitler-Putin comparison. So I think maybe when she did get the support of John McCain and Marco Rubio, it made her think twice of whether this was what she should be doing if she wanted to appeal to the Democrat base.

Let me just -- you know, Paul just took a shot there on folks that make a comparison between Obama and health care and Hitler. Paul, until yesterday you had a candidate in Texas who was running a Democrat candidate, who was leading for the longest time, who walked around the street of Houston with a poster comparing Obama to Hitler. A Democrat candidate who came in number two for --

BEGALA: She's not a Democrat.

NAVARRO: OK. She was running as a Democrat.

BEGALA: Right, but she's --

NAVARRO: The point is that people have to be very careful with Hitler comparisons and that there is a political correctness aspect to Hitler comparisons because Hitler what so, you know, what he did was just beyond the pale unique in history, killed six million Jews. But certainly I think some of the aspects that she was drawing on are equivalent and a good comparison.

CUOMO: So let's get at what's really going on here. Why Hillary would be trying to separate herself? Why she wants to be seen uniquely strong and it comes down to a phrase called the Russian reset. I'm going to do something that is unusual for me. I want to some sound during this. Do we have McConnell and Boehner? I want to let you listen to this because it's the context for the debate. Go ahead.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), SENATOR: When it comes to the president's foreign policy, can you think of any place in the world where we're better off now than we were when he came to office?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: With regard to Ukraine, steps that have not been taken over the last three or four years, frankly, allowed Putin to believe that he could do what he is doing without -- without -- without any reaction from us.


CUOMO: Now, I'm using these two guys because they're leaders and they were here in 2008, Ana. Here's what I don't like about the situation. I want to see where are you on it, to the idea that President Obama lit Putin's fire, emboldened him, gave him the idea that he could do something like this in Ukraine rings hollow to me, Ana, if you were alive in 2007.

Because Georgia is an exact analogy to what's happening here except it was worse. The president then was Bush, he was criticized from going much more slowly than they are moving right now. None of these guys complained about it then. So to blame President Obama for starting this seems to me to be petty politics at play. You tell me why I'm wrong.

NAVARRO: Well, look, first of all, I don't think anybody lit this idea in Putin. Let's put it into context. The guy is a Soviet KGB agent.

CUOMO: But your party says Obama did it. They keep saying it. Everyone's saying it. NAVARRO: What they're saying I think it is different. What they're saying is that because there's been so many instances where this administration has seemed to flinch, to blink, to not have a resolute direction on foreign policy whether it's Syria or Egypt or Russia, that that has been, you know, given us a perception of weakness and emboldened our enemy.

CUOMO: right. But you did say he's made it worse.

NAVARRO: That we engendered this idea --

CUOMO: That's what they said. That's what you just heard in the sound bites. Lindsey Graham says Putin did it because of Benghazi. Paul, I want your take on this. Is it irresponsible to ignore what President Bush did in 2008 if you want to talk about who started Putin's boldness? But isn't that an important part?

BEGALA: Of course, politically, I will say, Anna's friend, Senator John McCain was --

CUOMO: Always. Always. He's been the strongest on this.

BEGALA: You have to give him credit for consistency, but most of the rest of these guys, of course, they are playing politics and that's our system. But this whole notion that somehow the American president either invites or prevents Russian action is really juvenile.

Dwight Eisenhower saved the world. He won the biggest war in the history of the world and guess what, the Soviet Union moved on Hungary in 1956. OK, Lyndon Johnson was waging a huge war in Vietnam, massive American military buildup and guess what? The Soviets moved on Prague in 1968. They do what they do.

We have to defend our interests and to be strong. But the notion that somehow this president or President Bush was at fault for what Putin does is really nuts.

CUOMO: I'm just saying, I'm not blaming President Bush for this. I'm saying if you want to start a time line, you can't start with Obama. It's just factually wrong.

Ana, I believe, I'll give you the last word. It's a big reason why Robert Gates, who is defense secretary back in 2008, why he is coming out now and telling Republicans, calm down with the criticism about Obama. Calm down. That means a lot to me that he's saying it.

NAVARRO: Well, you know, listen, Robert Gates remember served both Bush and Obama. So Robert Gates has taken it from both sides in different administrations. But Chris, the point is that when you start drawing red lines, when you start issuing stern warnings and then there are no consequences, when you do it again, nobody believes you.

You run the risk of being a country that's turned into the boy who cried wolf. You do it over and over again, and by the time you do it and the wolf is really there, nobody believes you. I think that's the point that Republicans are making.

You can't be drawing red lines and flinching. You can't say chemical weapon use in Syria is a game changer and then have nothing happen. Those are the problems.

CUOMO: Fair criticism. You should stick to those things as opposed to saying you created Putin, which is also what's being said. Because I'll tell you one thing that's for sure, if you want to know what influences Putin, watching Republicans attack the sitting president instead of working with him is certainly going to influence him in terms of emboldening.

NAVARRO: Look, I'm with John McCain who said that when he looked into Putin's eyes, he didn't see his soul. What he saw was three letters, KGB.

CUOMO: You know who said he saw his soul? You know who had that kind of --

NAVARRO: Yes, George W. Bush.

CUOMO: There you go. Thank you very much, Ana Navarro. Paul Begala, thank you as well -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thanks so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we have breaking news this morning, the president just now issuing an executive order freezing assets of those supporting the takeover in Ukraine. We're going to have a live report on what this could mean to the situation on the ground just ahead.

And also this is ahead, lower your hoodie. A sign posted in an Indiana mall is stirring controversy. Good policy or just plain offensive? We'll discuss.


BOLDUAN: Breaking news this morning, President Obama ordering sanctions on those directly - involved in de stabilizing Ukraine. This is just out from the White House. Let's get straight over to the White House where Michelle Kosinski is live with the details on this. So what are the details of these sanctions?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. This has turned out to be a big day not for diplomacy, but also action against Russia. The U.S. now has led the way with the president just signing this order. We literally just got this a minute ago. He's declaring a national emergency to deal with the threat and also ordering sanctions.

First of all, to freeze the assets and property within the U.S. of any person. So keep in mind, this is an order sanctioning individuals who have been deemed by the U.S. government to be responsible for undermining democratic processes in Ukraine, to contributing to instability there, or to be seen as miss appropriating state assets. This goes further to visa bans. I haven't had time to read the entire order. But it looks like the U.S. is now restricting entry to certain people who are deemed by the government to have contributed to the things that we just mentioned. Basically anybody seen as having contributing to the situation deteriorating in the Ukraine right now.

There are more sections to this order so we're going to take a look at it and digest it. The president also just issued a memo to Congress explaining what action was just taken. This is really the first sanctioning we've seen. The government has been talking about it for the past several days. We knew that they were preparing something and now we see it today -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: This is also key because -- this is one of the few options that the administration had without the assistance or an act of Congress. This has been discussed for a little while as one of the options, freezing visas and access to U.S. financial institutions.

KOSINSKI: It looked like there was going to be another day of diplomacy. Yesterday, administration officials were really emphasizing dialogue. Each time we've heard from the administration, they've emphasized diplomacy. Let's meet, let's make sure we can get Russia to sit down with Ukraine. Yesterday, Russia refused to do that. Foreign ministers were meeting, but Russia declined to meet directly with Ukraine.

So obviously, the diplomacy, it's not working although some ministers have said it seems to be working in certain ways. Now we see the U.S. moving to actually impose these sanctions now rather than wait another day because there is a lot going on today. I mean, we're seeing the U.N. Security Council meeting.

We're seeing all 28 European heads of state gathering in a special section and they may impose sanctions on Russia today. That is looking like it was going to happen. Even though we know that countries like France, Germany and the U.K. were opposed at least moderately to sanctions. But the U.S. now has decided to go ahead and be the first one to enact something.

So we're going to go through all the sections of this. In the first read, we're seeing the freezing of assets and property within the U.S. of people who are deemed to contribute to the poor situation in the Ukraine and also to deny entry to those same people. It doesn't name names, but it takes that initial step -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: This goes right along with what the White House has said, moving to isolate Russia in order to force Putin's hand. We'll see reaction from Capitol Hill and internationally. Michelle, thanks so much for getting on with the breaking news this morning. We'll be checking back in with you throughout the day. Thanks.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, a controversial dress code imposed by a mall. No hoodies. Smart policy or offensive. There are two very different takes on this. We'll split them up, and you judge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Welcome back. I direct you to these signs. They are prominently displayed at the entrances of the Mounds Mall in Anderson, Indiana. They warn visitors for the safety and well-being of everyone, please lower your hoody. And if you choose not to comply, you must be shown the door.

CNN legal analyst, Sunny Hostin is here and she's got some choice thoughts on this situation. Sometimes things are what they are. They are just a policy. Sometimes they ate. Sometimes they are about something else. So I suggest, let's step past the obvious here. This is not about a sign. It's not about a mall's right to make a rule. It's about what the rule is, OK?


CUOMO: I will argue in favor of the mall's rule. You take the other side because it really is about the two sides. Here's my side. I've got to start, though. The mall says we've had it in place since 2004 so don't hit me with the Trayvon Martin case and I've had it in place because the local police like it, and they feel it makes it easier to fight crime because it allows people to not conceal themselves. Wear your hoody. Just don't have it concealing your face so I can identify you in case anything happens.

HOSTIN: I think the bottom line is we know what this is about. This is about the pretext for being able to stop young African-American males. Hoody is code for thug in many places and I think businesses shouldn't be in the business of telling people what to wear. The 14th amendment protects us from this. This is akin in my view to stop and frisk, to the pretext of stop and frisk, and I think many courts have found that this type of behavior is unacceptable and downright unconstitutional. Remember the saggy pants ban.

CUOMO: Saggy pants.

HOSTIN: That a lot of places tried to enforce and that again was code for black men, please don't wear this. And so I suspect that this will be found unconstitutional because, quite frankly it is. And when do we get to a place in our society where we stop doing this kind of thing, where we stop targeting young black men so that there's a pretext for it being allowed to stop them to escort them out of a mall simply by what they are wearing.

CUOMO: The other side is why do you assume that only blacks wear hoodie? That is not true. That is not provable. So you are making a cultural distinction yourself. Also, the local police like it, which means they see a cross-section between crimes they investigate and, you know, the kind of concealing of one's identity using a hoodie.

And you don't want to own part of the problem in the first place, which is if there are a lot of black kids by your own designation who wind up wearing hoodies and getting in trouble, why don't you deal with the fact you have a disproportionate number of blacks getting in trouble and fix that. Don't fix me for having to deal with them? HOSTIN: That's always the argument. That's always their argument. And I think actually that argument is suspect because we know that, you know, in stop and frisk programs are targeted for offenses that white kids aren't.

CUOMO: This is not stop and frisk.

HOSTIN: But it is.

CUOMO: It's just pull off the hood.

HOSTIN: But it is. Why are hoodies inherently unsafe?

CUOMO: Not a hoodie. Covering your face.

HOSTIN: Well, then why aren't caps in this instance?

CUOMO: Because it doesn't cover your face.

HOSTIN: Of course they do. Of course they do.

CUOMO: It's on top of your head. This is something you pull over that masks your identity.

HOSTIN: Look, I think the bottom line is if you are going to outlaw hoodies in this mall then you should outlaw baseball caps, any kind of head gear. Ski mask and just anything. And so to identify just hoodies in my view, is very, very clear what we're talking about here. We're talking about racial profiling.

It's code for racial profiling. I think when you look at the sign and the sign says for the safety and well-being of everyone, please lower your hoodie. Are hoodies -- do they make you unwell? Are they inherently unsafe? Of course, they are not.

CUOMO: Why aren't you making a point that why is the hoodie black?

HOSTIN: Well, that goes without saying. Why couldn't there be a black circle with a white hoodie. That hurt myself whole position there. Forget what I said.

COUMO: These seem to be the two sides of the situation. It's obviously a debate. You happen to be dead straight on whether it would be constitutional because the baggy pants thing. There was some nudity. No shirt, no shoes, that's OK. But the saggy pants when it seems to be a fashion attack with no underlying reason it has to be a nudity play.

HOSTIN: Yes and I think this is a fashion attack for no reason and I think this is a pretext. It's a pretext for racial profiling.

CUOMO: Thank you for laying it out.

HOSTIN: No question in my mind.

CUOMO: There's always a question that's why we had. The question is, what do you think? Use the #newday. Those are the two sides -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, President Obama just ordered sanctions against Russia and Ukrainian officials who are responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. We're going to be live with "CROSSFIRE" host Newt Gingrich who recently blasted the president's policy there.