Return to Transcripts main page


Did Flight 370 Veer Off Course?; Did The CIA Spy On Senate Intelligence?; Obama Hosting Ukraine's Prime Minister; Republican David Jolly Wins Special Election

Aired March 12, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They turned the transponder off. If someone did that in the cockpit, they were doing it to disguise the route.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Mystery flight. How far off course was the missing Malaysia 370? Conflicting reports, complicating search efforts to find the plane, and more importantly, the 239 people on board. We have the latest.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And just stunning accusations this morning. A top senator accuses the CIA of spying on the Congressional committee breaking into their computers and interfering with investigation into the agency. If laws were broken, will heads roll in Washington?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Face-to-face, President Obama meets with Ukraine's new prime minister today. As Russia tightened its grip on Crimea, can they head off the crisis before Sunday's referendum vote?

CUOMO: 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's Wednesday, March 12th, 6:00 in the east. Brooke Baldwin, great to have you in for Kate Bolduan. Michaela Pereira joining me as always here.

And here's the big story. The Malaysian flight mystery has taken a bizarre turn. New questions about where it was headed when it when it disappeared from the radar screen. There is a live news conference going on right now. We are monitoring it for you. So far, they're just discussing what we already know. If anything new comes up, we'll pop right into it.

But here's what is driving this bizarre turn. A senior Malaysian Air Force official tells CNN the Beijing-bounded jet liner veered hundreds of miles off course toward the Strait of Malacca, which is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.

Top Malaysian officials however now disputing that claim, but they're also saying that they're expanding the search into that area. This as we're learning that the plane's transponder was turned off. Shutting down the transmission of critical data like altitude, direction and speed, why did that happen?

So we've got the latest on the search for Flight 370 and the investigation into its disappearance beginning with Jim Clancy who is in Kuala Lumpur -- Jim.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hot day in Kuala Lumpur, here in Malaysia. Chris, I can tell you especially hot for Hishammuddin Hussein. He is the defense minister. He has basically now admitted that the plane is nowhere near the South China Sea when it was last seen on radar. He has also broken down and said bring in the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States, we need all the help we can get. Listen.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, DEFENSE MINISTER, MALAYSIA: The way forward, ladies and gentlemen, is to be more able to analyze both the civilian and military data in the east and west, on land or in the water. And this is exactly what we are doing today.


CLANCY: Chris, that press conference, as you noted, it's going on and it's still a hot one. Let me get you caught up on the rest of the day's events.


CLANCY (voice-over): As we enter day 5 of the search for the missing Malaysian airliner, a sea of frustration amid a lack of answer. Vietnam now scaling back its search. A Vietnamese official saying this is due to insufficient information from Malaysian authorities on where exactly to look.

Civilian aviation radar suggests this was the plane's last known location over the South China Sea. But now a twist, a senior Malaysian Air Force official telling CNN their radar shows the Boeing 777 may have still been airborne more than an hour later flying in the opposite direction of its destination, Beijing.

Now challenges to that with the air force chief saying overnight it's too early to issue any official conclusions about the plane's flight path. Search and rescue teams scouring sea and land. The air force official saying the aircraft's last known location was just over this small island of Pulau Perak.

Malaysian authorities say this is the expanded search area. Adding to the mystery, the plane's transponder, the instrument that transmits its location, speed and direction, stop working or was turned off while cruising at 35,000 feet raising the possibility of a hijacking or some catastrophic incident.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: You have to have a very deliberative process to turn the transponder off. If someone did that in the cockpit, they were doing it to disguise the route of the plane.

CLANCY: The unknown leaving family members of the missing passengers hopeless, desperate for answers.


CLANCY: And once again, it has flip-flopped from that press conference. We're getting word that, yes, the military is admitting the plane was last noted on its radar, Brooke, at 200 miles northwest of the Penang. That's north of where we are. It is gone for the south -- from the South China Sea. It is right now -- we see that they are having to look in another direction.

They have also added India to the list. If the plane stayed on that path, it was flying towards the Indian Ocean. It's where it was headed. All right, that's it from here. I'm going to turn it back to you -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Where the heck is this plane? Jim Clancy, thank you so much in Kuala Lumpur. As far as the investigation goes in the Flight 370, I can tell you that law enforcement officials, they're still scrambling to try to find out what happened on board that jet liner in those crucial moments before communication was lost.

And while two Iranian nationals who boarded that flight with those stolen passports have not been linked to any terror groups, the head of the CIA says terrorism has not been ruled out.

Let's go straight to our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, joins us this morning live from London. Nic, good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brooke. It can't be ruled out because there have been claims, unsubstantiated claims that this was a terror attack by groups that people haven't heard of before. This is what John Brennan was referring to, essentially too many loose ends, no corroboration or confirmation that these claims are -- in any way be substantiated.

Certainly the view of Malaysian authorities that this could be a hijacking or sabotage falls under the terrorism banner, if you will. The Interpol saying that the two men traveling on the stolen passports were probably not engaged in terrorism, but that does leave over 200 other passengers.

What is clear from this press conference in Malaysia right now is that the civil and military authorities in Malaysia are having trouble interpreting the radar data that they have. Obviously it's diminished because the transponder and some of the equipment on the plane was turned off.

The military seem to perhaps have the best idea. But what they are all stressing in searching these two different areas South China Sea and the Malacca Strait is because they're having trouble interpreting that information.

This is perhaps why we're hearing the Malaysian officials talk about having the help of the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority and the NTSB who can bring their experts to bear on interpreting the information that the military and civil authorities have got on their equipment. They just don't know how to interpret it correctly. This really does seem to be at the root of the confusion there -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Nic, thank you very much. So the question is, is this about how they're investigating it or what they're investigating? Is it confusing by circumstance or by the practice of the investigation itself? Does this new theory about where it was flying feed into the idea of terrorism or is it take away from it. It seems like it would lead to human error, someone had to turn off the transponder.

This is where you need somebody who understands these types of investigations. We are very lucky to have Mary Schiavo on this story for us to kind of go through this situation. Here's what we know, we know it left at about 12:41 from Kuala Lumpur. That's where we start to get the conflicting reports.

Some say the flight turned around hundreds of miles off course. Others say it didn't. We are showing it to you on the screen right now. Let's try to make sense of it. Mary Schiavo, we were -- we're monitoring the press conference. We are not getting new information, but we do have you on the phone. Right, Mary, are you with us?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER U.S. DOT INSPECTOR GENERAL (via telephone): Right. I'm with you on the phone.

CUOMO: All right, help me with this. First, let's look at it, no pun intended, from 30,000 feet here. Is this getting in the realm of the unusually mysterious? Is this somewhat uncharted territory in trying to investigate a situation like this?

SCHIAVO: I would say yes if we had the complete information, but I think it's the opposite. I think what has occurred is we have not gotten accurate information from the Malaysian government. When that occurs, I think you'd go to the most likely scenario. The most likely scenario, they keep saying the transponder was turned off. I think the most likely scenario is the transponder was not able to transmit and we look at the most recent warnings.

Boeing had a warning out in November and most recently they renewed it just a couple of days before this accident saying there were fuselage cracking under the antenna and that could cause a catastrophic loss of a plane. Obviously, your communications would go down.

I think what the Malaysian government needs to do -- they clearly didn't believe it was a hijacking, because they allowed this plane to fly right back over the air space and over the country. I think what occurred is the plane, the poor souls on the plane probably were trying very hard to communicate but could not.

What they need to do is find the fuel on board and track that same heading to where the fuel would run out. And we've seen other crashes like this.

CUOMO: All right, well, that's important. We have. This isn't the first time like this. I know that you draw the comparison to Air France 447 that crashed into the Atlantic. It took five days to find, right?


CUOMO: But, again, it seems to get more and more confusing. We're now hearing that Malaysian authorities will confirm that it did take -- the flight did take this veering off course of some several hundred miles. Explain this to me then, Mary, if that's true. You say it's still most likely that it was a catastrophic event maybe dealing with the directive about the cracks in the fuselage, surrounding an antenna, but then how would it make it hundreds of miles?

SCHIAVO: Well, because the plane, the 777 has an interesting system as thus the airbus. When you start losing systems on the 777, they shut down other systems. It's intended to do this. It preserves the flight controls as best that it can and the plane -- it tries to preserve what systems it has to keep that plane in the air. It's the same thing the air bus did. It preserved the systems that it did have left.

The plane would keep the heading that it was last on when this occurred. If they were turning and trying to drop altitude, the plane would stay on the last course or the last instruction that it had. Whether or not people were even alive in the cockpit, that's what the plane would do because Boeing and air bus engineered it into the plane to try to save the plane and save those lives.

CUOMO: So it could have been a catastrophic event where it was a ghost ship is what you're saying, where those on board were incapable or incapacitated for whatever horrible reason. That's why the flight path is so straight which is inconsistent with human manipulation of the plane and then it winds up in the Strait of Malacca.

And that is the explanation. Again, just speculation, but Mary, you know, you are one who has the right to speculate because of all your experience with investigating transportation and flight situations like this. Thank you for the perspective. If I get new and fresh information on it, I'll try and get you on the phone again so you can fill in the blanks. So thank you, Mary, appreciate it.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

CUOMO: Brooke.

BALDWIN: As soon as we get more information, we'll pop it up back. Meantime, I want to take you to Washington because this explosive war of words is really heating up between the Senate and the CIA. You have CIA Director John Brennan flatly denying this startling accusations that his agency spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee and violated federal law. But Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein took the Senate floor, took outline that it's charges and others.

CNN' Michelle Kosinski is at the White House for us this morning. Michelle, good morning.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What is being alleged here is really stunning, like cloak and dagger within our own government. It goes right to the heart of how much power the CIA has and how much Congress can keep tabs on it.

Five years ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee started investigating the CIA's interrogation and detention policies after 9/11, some of which President Obama has called torture. They say during this investigation, the CIA accessed their computers and that certain damning information just started vanishing. Now each side is alleging that what the other did might have been criminal.


SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CHAIRWOMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The CIA just went and searched the committee's computers.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Diane Feinstein blasted the CIA on the Senate floor.

FEINSTEIN: Besides the constitutional implication, the CIA search may also have violated the fourth amendment, the computer fraud and abuse act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.

KOSINSKI: The 6.2 million documents she says for staffers who spent years coming through, but and then noticed certain pages started disappearing. This happened twice, more than 900 pages. She says the CIA, when asked what was going on, first denied any interference. Then blamed it on the IT guys. Then said the White House had says an internal report that highlighted the CIA's own problems started disappearing.

FEINSTEIN: It was not their classification level, but rather their analysis and acknowledgment of significant CIA wrong doing.

KOSINKSKI: CIA Director John Brennan strongly denied hacking those computers.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn't do that.

KOSINSKI: Though Dianne Feinstein says he admitted the CIA, quote, "searched them." She says now the CIA is claiming her committee should have never had access to that internal report. And the CIA has now gone to the Justice Department to look into whether Senate Intelligence Committee has committed a crime, something she calls intimidation of those trying to investigate.

FEINSTEIN: Wading through the horrible details of a CIA program that never should have existed.


KOSINSKI: The reaction to this has been strong. Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said, if this is true, this is dangerous to democracy and that Congress should declare war on the CIA. And Feinstein is going to move to have her committee's entire report declassified and made available to the American public -- Chris.

CUOMO: Michelle, this is one of those allegations, that's only as good as the proof. So, we'll be waiting to see what's behind the senator's suggestion about this. Thanks for the reporting.

Now, let's move to Ukraine. The clock is ticking there. President Obama is set to welcome the country's interim prime minister today. We understand that President Obama will express his support and discuss options to resolve Russia's invasion. This comes as Russia seems to be tightening its grip on the area known as Crimea there.

Russia has been declared the official language of one key Crimean city and flights from Kiev and Istanbul canceled through at least Monday.

CNN's Anna Coren is live in Crimea with the latest.

Anna, first question, why are the flights canceled?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Flights are can canceled because they are not taking any of the planes coming from Kiev, only from Moscow, which really tells you that Russia is now in control of the Crimean peninsula.

You know, politicians in the West, they are clutching at straws. Yes, Ukraine's acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, is in Washington, D.C., due to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, along with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who'll then travel to New York to address the United Nations.

But as I said, they are clutching at straws. They are trying to find a diplomatic solution to reverse Russia's invasion. And that's what it is, invasion of Crimea.

You know, we traveled to the east and tip of the peninsula yesterday. The port's been taken over by Russian forces. A couple of miles, you know, in easterly direction is Russia, and that's where they are ferrying across troops, convoys of trucks. This is a continual flow.

The military buildup is happening. It's intensifying, in the lead up to that referendum on Sunday, where the people here will decide if it will become a part of the Russian mainland.

But, certainly, Brooke and Chris, you know, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion. This peninsula here and the people are now officially part of Russia.

Back to you.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Referendum four days away. We heard from the president at the White House a couple days ago, still reiterating the fact he says that referendum absolutely violates international law. The critical midterm elections still months away, but a big blow for Democrats in the year's first big political showdown. You have Republican David Jolly emerging victorious, narrowly defeating Democratic Alex Sink in a special election for Congress in Florida. Both parties poured millions of dollars into this swing district race. It's seen as a key test for November.

Dana Bash is live for us in Clearwater, Florida this morning.

I mean, this is not just one little race in Florida, is it, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not if you look at the way, as you mentioned, both parties spent money, millions and millions of dollars poured in, really to test their messages. It's always dangerous to take a special election and call it a bellwether for elections in November, because if you look at history sometimes, it was a yes, it really did predict what happened, and sometimes it was just an aberration.

That is certainly not stopping Republicans, as you can imagine, Brooke, since they won here, from saying, aha, it was our message that won, this is proof it's going to help in November. That message, of course, broadly is: repeal Obamacare.

Republicans have been putting all eggs in that basket on the national level, to not just keep the House, but to try to retake the Senate. And already, the minute that David Jolly was declared winner, the Republican leaders in Washington said that this is something the Democrats should be worried about.

But the truth is that the Democratic candidate here Alex Sink certainly said that she supported the health care law, but was careful to say that she wanted to make changes to it. So, she didn't embrace it all together. Democrats on the national level are saying that the fact tat she came as close as she did, it really was pretty close, in a district which is this one that had a Republican congressman for 43 years is proof that they, in a more traditional election, can do well with that kind of message.

So, you know, it's unclear how much it's going to mean. You can be sure that both sides are going to be studying the specifics, especially given the fact that about a third of the electorate here is independent. And that is really obviously the crucial swing vote, not just here but in districts all across the country.

And this is just an eight-month election. They're going to be right back at it in November -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: And for that very reason, there'd be a lot of eyes on this.

All right, Dana Bash in Florida, thank you so much. Still dark there -- as it is in much of the nation this morning.

Do you know who they're playing there?

(CROSSTALK) PEREIRA: I know you want to comment.

CUOMO: We're watching the video there of the guy celebrating the win. The song is called "Six Fingered Tune". It is the theme song from "The Price is Right".

BALDWIN: How do you know that?

CUOMO: They just told me on my ear with the name of the song. I wouldn't know anything. See this? Here's my brain.


CUOMO: But here's the thing -- what a metaphor for what politics has become, that they're playing the theme song of "The Price is Right" when they celebrate the victory because it's about the money. It makes me sick.

PEREIRA: Does it make you sick?



PEREIRA: Should we take a look at the head lines while you go cover.

All right. Here we go.

Top headlines right now: U.S. Airways flight from Tampa to Phoenix forced to divert to Houston last night. They had a medical emergency on board involving one of the passengers. That passenger's identity and condition have not been released yet. Once the passenger was removed from the plane, it was allowed to continue onto Arizona.

A massive fire emergency in San Francisco. Look at this. At least 150 firefighters battling a blaze that broke out at an apartment complex that's under construction in the city's Mission Bay neighborhood, not that far from AT&T park. This blaze grew to six alarms. Several hundred residents across the street from the fire had to be evacuated. Some of their windows were being shattered.

Officials say the cause of this fire is being investigated.

Obamacare numbers show that sign-ups have slowed down. The White House says 943,000 Americans selected health plans in February. Now, compare that to January's 1.2 million. The proportion of young adults, a critical demographic, did not increase, compared with January. Total enrollment now stands at 4.2 million. Administration officials expect or hope for a last-minute sign-up surge to hit their 6 million enrolled target.

Former top aide to Governor Chris Christie fighting a subpoena investigating the George Washington Bridge Scandal. The special legislative panel wants texts, e-mails and other documents from Bridget Anne Kelly, who suggested that traffic jam as political pay- back. But her lawyer says turning over documents would infringe on her right to remain silent.

And how about this? The president making a bit of a surprise stop at the Gap during a fundraising trip to New York City. Did a little shopping for his wife and daughters. The Gap clothing chain recently agreed to raise its minimum wage in stores across the country, something we know the president has urged other businesses to do.

Later on NEW DAY, in the 8:00 hour, we're going to speak to the Gap employee who helped the president make his selections.

What do you buy the first lady? That's a tough one.

CUOMO: Oh, is he shopping for his wife?

PEREIRA: And the girls.

BALDWIN: And the daughters.

Can you imagine -- Indra Petersons, can you imagine, you're hanging out at the Gap and a bunch of guys in ties show up and you're like -- can I help you?


BALDWIN: It's the president.


PETERSONS: You know, they probably want the girl's advice. I'll tell you that, go backwards, we'll help them dress, right?

All right. Let's talk about what's going on because there's going to be big changes in your wardrobe especially in the next 24 hours. Take a look at this -- this is D.C.'s high expected today, 68 degrees. Then I took you every four hours through the evening. Look at that.

So, by midnight, talking about 30s. By tomorrow, 4:00 a.m. in the 20s. And your high is pretty much staying around and only into the 30s tomorrow. And it is not the only city that's going to be seeing this.

Look at these changes. We're talking about New York City going 50s, down to the 20s tomorrow as well. So, everyone's really going to feel the effects of the next system making its way through. Or we're seeing about four inches of snow just west in Chicago area. And, of course, that system continuing to strengthen as it pushes farther off to the east.

So, what are we talking about here? I mean, heavy amounts of snow. Detroit could see up to about 7 inches. Notice, look at this, out towards Buffalo, blizzard warning, 13 inches of snow. One of the models lead up to 2 feet of snow once you get towards Burlington.

So, this is the concern to keep in mind, staying north of New York City, only about less than an inch. Boston looking for about two and a half inches from the system. So, here comes the low making its way across. Keep in mind, if you're on the cold side of the low, that's where you're seeing snow. Further to the South, you're on the warm side, you're talking about rain. But as it moves its way across, you switch over to the backside of the low. So, that's where you start to see snow overnight tonight in through tomorrow morning, into the Northwest. So, there you go. That's the system making its way through clearing out of here by Friday.

So, that's the good news. By Thursday evening, completely out of here. Just keep in mind, we'll talk about that cold air mass and the warm air mass, right in between, you're talking about the threat for severe weather.

So, a good 15 million of you into the mid-Atlantic, have a potential even for tornadoes, guys. Mostly strong thunderstorms, but you can't rule this guy out. Definitely a lot to be concerned with here over the next several days. Cold air, warm air together, never a good story, especially when the system pushing right through.

BALDWIN: Tornado, there's a collective ugh.

CUOMO: She missed boils and locusts. Anything else?

PETERSONS: Heavy snow. Yes, I already covered that.

BALDWIN: Thanks for that, I think. Indra, thank you.

Coming up next here on NEW DAY: stunning development in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. Inside the courtroom right now, the actual bathroom door that separated the Blade Runner from his girlfriend on the night she was shot and killed. Can this door help the prosecutors prove their case?

CUOMO: And we will bring you the latest on the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. How a Colorado company is hoping to locate the missing jetliner using their satellites and your computers. We'll tell you.


BALDWIN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Now, a dramatic day in court in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial because prosecutors here, they are using the actual door that separated Pistorius and his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, to try to recreate what they say happened the night she was killed.

Now, the defense is trying to chip away at the forensic expert's testimony about that door during cross-examination. So, let's pick up there.

Robyn Curnow in Pretoria, following every move here inside the courtroom.

Robyn, good morning. ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you.

And after eight days, we're seeing for the first time, some really compelling physical evidence -- not only the cricket bat, but the door as well.


CURNOW (voice-over): The bullet-ridden bathroom door to which Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was revealed in court today.

A forensic scientist testifying that the angle of the cricket bat strikes align with the height of Pistorius without his prosthetics on. Contradicting Pistorius' version of events, who claims after he shot through the door and realize it might his girlfriend inside, he put his prosthetic legs on before bashing the door down with the bat.

Also back on the stand, one of the Olympian's friends, Darren Fresco. Pistorius grinning, shaking his head, as he testified that over a year ago, it was the Olympian who was driving over 160 miles per hour when Fresco took a picture of the speedometer.