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Benghazi Angers Flare; Should Jeb Run? George W. Bush Weighs In; Amanda Knox Fights New Verdict; NBA Owners To Move Quickly On Sterling

Aired May 2, 2014 - 07:30   ET


JOHN KING, HOST, CNN'S "INSIDE POLITICS": TGIF. Good morning, Chris, Kate and Michaela. Back to you in just a few minutes, but a busy day to go inside politics. So let's go and with me to share their reporting and their insights on this Friday, Anna Palmer of "Politico" and Jonathan Martin of the "New York Times."

Let's start with this dust up. We've been talking about a lot this week over Benghazi. Benghazi is back. Republicans say a newly released White House e-mail that is only in the public domain because a conservative group sued the White House. They say it's a smoking gun about the coordination in the White House about how to explain what happened and what the Republicans say is what didn't happen. An excuse for what happened. Listen to the Democratic and the White House response to this Republican uproar.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What we have seen since hours after the attack, after the attack beginning with a statement by the Republican nominee for president is an attempt by Republicans to politicize a tragedy and that continues.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: I haven't seen that, but what I will say is, again, diversion sub-diffuse. Benghazi, why don't we talk about something else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dude, this is like two years ago.


KING: Anna, the Republicans want to call John Kerry up to testify. They are saying if they take about the Senate, they would like to have a select committee to look into this. The Democrats are saying especially with the White House taking the lead, old news, old politics. Who is right?

ANNA PALMER, "POLITICO": This is red meat for the Republicans. When they're looking at the November elections they want to turn up the base. This is what they do. You talk to Republicans on the Hill and they will keep pressing these points. Democrats are trying to make light of it almost. I don't know whether that's going to probably almost inflame the right even more.

KING: Risky to make light of it, Jonathan. Ambassador and three other Americans died in Benghazi. This e-mail comes out. The part I don't get is if you're dealing with this months ago or a year ago at the White House, why not just throw everything out there and say, were we perfect? No. Is there a conspiracy? No.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": That's always the danger of the politicians risk when they drip and drab stuff out like this instead of putting it all out at one time. What you're seeing among the Democrats that you showed us, sort of private exasperation and even mockery of going public. Eye rolling manner. Sort of an air public fixation. I agree, I think it is dangerous because of the very grave nature of what happened there. Politically in the short term, Anna is right. This is a could turn out lever for Republicans though.

KING: And so Lindsey Graham is mocking those, the Republican senator, a lot of his Democratic critics say he's only talking about this every day because he has all these Tea Party primary challenges back home. He says it's not the case. He says when the White House, well, this one document wasn't specifically covered by the subpoena. Here's his take on that.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I guess he believes that to say this wasn't trying to shake the Benghazi story is inconsistent with the document itself flies in the face of the facts and yet another insulting misleading lie.


KING: He also said in a radio interview, Anna, White House officials are scum bags who lie. Pretty hard to get to the factual bottom of something when everything is so inflamed and distrust is so high. You have Republican leading Republican senator calling White House officials scum bags. The White House clearly has disdained from the Republicans in Congress who want to do this oversight. Can you ever get to the place where the American people would feel comfortable they turned over every rock and here are the findings?

PALMER: This is not a dialogue. You have Democrats making light of it. You have scum bags. They're going to be throwing barbs back and forth. I don't think anything in terms of getting to the bottom of it is going to come forth.

MARTIN: I think it's so caught up in the election year politics. Now it's hard to see much happening. But it's does strike me as a question that's not going away.

KING: Not going away. At least for the election. We'll see what happens if the Republicans do take the Senate. We'll see if they continue. CNN's Jake Tapper was down in Crawford, Texas, yesterday at the Bush ranch. It's a great location. The big event yesterday was a wounded warrior ride. Something the former president he does that is a great cause to keep wounded warriors physically active, to give them some political support. Of course, Jake also asked former President George W. Bush if he thinks younger brother, Jeb, will join the 2016 parade. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I hope Jeb runs. I think he would be a great president. I have no clue what's on his mind and we will talk when he's ready. I notice he's moving around the country quite a bit.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Doing well in polls.

BUSH: Yes, that's fine. Don't mean anything. For him, I can guarantee he's not looking at a poll to decide whether or not he wants to run.


KING: My favorite part of having covered the George W. Bush White House is we don't look at the polls. Of course, they look at the polls. In this context, Neil Bush told Gloria Borger that dad wants him to run. The men in the Bush family is trying to nudge Jeb to go. Mom is still a little skeptical.

PALMER: They are on board. I think he is a person who chooses his words pretty carefully and certainly has the backing of him by saying, yes, I want him to run. That is the strongest statement from the Bush family.

MARTIN: Yes. There's no real way that his brother can say he doesn't want him to run though.

PALMER: It would be very awkward.

MARTIN: If he said, no, he shouldn't run for president. We already had our turn. I'm the kid that got the opportunity. Hard to see. Mom is more complicated. There it's a maternal instinct about not wanting him to do it again. It also gives Jeb a fun political opportunity to say, dad's for it, mom's against it, ha-ha.

KING: The conversation between the brothers Bush when Jeb getting closer to that final decision.

Let's move on to some primary of 2014, a primary just a couple weeks away in the state of Kentucky. One of the big Tea Party hopes to knock off the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell. The most of the polling and there hasn't been a lot of it. Most shows McConnell with a huge lead.

He's invested heavily in this. Look here. This web video from the Matt Bevin, he is the Tea Party challenger campaign, priceless to me if only for the fact that we see a very young Mitch McConnell.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kentucky senior senator voted 20 times since he's been there for spending money that we didn't have. In other words, increasing the debt ceiling or for budget deficits.


KING: With the anti-incumbent sentiment out there one would think that you could get some power out of that, to show a guy much younger. Now he's in Washington. Call into question votes that you say are inconsistent. And yet if you talk to people down there, Anna, look at what's available in the public polling, it doesn't look like Matt Bevin has a prayer.

PALMER: I don't know, I was talking to some of McConnell's former aides this week and trying to figure out, how close, are they worried, concerned. This is a little bit too little too late. I think they think he's going to be fine in the primary in the next week and a half or so.

MARTIN: Look, it's -- it's fun watching the old clip there from '84 when McConnell was the only GOP senator to win a challenged race. Democrat in the country that year. The fact is that his opponent has not raised money. Outside groups have not come in with money for Matt Bevin in which McConnell knows how to win a primary in that state.

He has a real challenge ahead of him trying to overcome some really bad approval numbers to win re-election this fall. The best thing he has going for him is that President Obama is unpopular as he is in his state.

KING: This is the Friday of what we call prom weekend in Washington, D.C. The White House Correspondents Dinner is this weekend. It's become a bigger and bigger and more Hollywood event. But Anna, you write a piece in "Politico" today that talks about not so much the Hollywood angle, but the corporate money angle. Talk a bit about that.

PALMER: Absolutely. What we have seen is the explosion of all of the corporations, these fortune 500 companies, Microsoft, Viacom, AOL, influencers. It's a soft lobbying that you see.

KING: Buying reporters and politicians' drinks and hoping maybe down the road, better coverage?

PALMER: It's not necessarily they're going to be --

MARTIN: Access.

PALMER: Access. Not necessarily in terms of creating a deal attempts, but much more of that soft kind of brand embellishment.

MARTIN: Nothing sacred, John. The next thing you're going to tell me a White House selfie was sponsored by a cellphone company or something crazy like that.

KING: Something crazy like that. Jonathan Martin, Anna Palmer, thanks for coming in. We get back to Chris and Michaela and Kate in New York. It is an interesting question though, there are some people who say reporters are supposed to stay way on the other line, not mingle and mix like this. Others say, come on, it's a drink and a little music. That debate will not end this weekend. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I think we all agree. We all have good enough split personality that we can have fun. We can yuck it up and still be as mean to the politicians the next day as we need to be. Right?

KING: I personally think the process has been put on steroids too much, but that's just my opinion.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Amen, my brother, and there's no --

BOLDUAN: The purist John King.

CUOMO: It's no irony that the people that attack politicians for their corporal allegiance, the media, is much more quiet when there's a corporal allegiance attached to one of those events.

BOLDUAN: Kill his mic.

CUOMO: Nobody has the market cornered on hypocrisy. John King, have a very good weekend.

Coming up on NEW DAY, I will never truly be free. Stunning revelations from Amanda Knox in our exclusive interview seven years in the Italian courts and now they're taking one more shot at her. Can she fight them off? Do you buy Amanda Knox' story? You'll hear it straight ahead.


CUOMO: We're already having a conversation about the Amanda Knox interview because it really has been very provocative. Why? She's answering the new reasons being offered for why she is a killer. An Italian court went further than ever in this seven-year saga against Knox. Not only is she guilty, but she dealt the fatal blow and the theory of the case that had Amanda as a sex crazed drug addict, that's out.

But there's a new one. A fight over money with her roommate, that why it happened. That's what this new judge is saying is all fact. Joining me now to talk about it is Nina Burleigh. She is an award- winning investigative journalist and the author of "The Fatal Gift Of Beauty" about Amanda Knox and this process. A very, very deep look at this situation from its start. Now seven years ago.

So, initial impressions, what you heard in terms of Amanda Knox pushing back against these latest discoveries about her by the judge, are you compelled?

NINA BURLEIGH, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, she's, you know, this is the seventh year, as you've said. I'm compelled from the amount of information that I collected for my book over the years, compelled to say that the latest report from these judges is completely illogical. It's laughably illogical.

CUOMO: He says there is no other conceivable explanation for what happened other than what I'm saying in this ruling. BURLEIGH: And there is another conceivable explanation and they ignore it completely. They ignore completely the fact that there's no physical evidence that Amanda Knox and Rafaelle Sollecito were in the room where Meredith Kercher bled to death.

There is a person who has confessed to being in the room when she bled to death, whose fingerprints are all over the room, whose DNA is inside Meredith Kercher's body, who had a history of breaking and entering. The house had a broken window.

I mean, that's -- that's the case. It's a very simple case. It's a man on woman violence and this is a common thing in the world, worldwide, and they just ignored it.

CUOMO: A key piece of sound. Play the sound of Amanda explaining why it's not her.


AMANDA KNOX, RE-CONVICTED OF MURDER IN ITALY: If I were there I would have had traces of Meredith's broken body on me and I would have left traces of myself around -- around Meredith's corpse and I am not there and that proves my innocence.


CUOMO: The judge says here's why. There's more than one killer. You were one of them. You actually did it. You struck the blow, the cut that killed her. There's blood all over from Meredith Kercher and it's in a pattern that shows that Rudy Gaday had three hands and that he wasn't the one holding her down.

Now, the forensics were never able to demonstrate that, but the judge says that's what it was. So if he was holding her down he had help. The only people who could be helping are you, Amanda Knox and your boyfriend. Why? Primarily because I don't believe there was any breaking and entering, which means the only way you could have gotten in was from a key or to be let in.

I don't think Meredith Kercher let him in. So that means the only other people with keys around were you because the roommates were gone. It was you and him. He did a holding down because of collapse with his DNA on it, the bra collapse. But he didn't kill. It's the kitchen knife, your DNA is on it, so you did it and you cut her on the neck and you killed her. End of story. Do you buy it?

BURLEIGH: Chris, you've just given the -- this prosecutorial error airing once again. They made a mistake. Every single thing you've just said has been disproven. The DNA on the bra collapse, not there. The knife was something that a cop just picked out of a kitchen drawer because it looked large.

The DNA is not on it. Forensic experts in the second trial where there was an acquittal or the appeal decided that it didn't exist. What you have here is something that happens all over the world. It's not an Italian phenomenon. When prosecutors make mistakes they don't like to turn around and admit it. And that's what happened in this case.

When they -- they rushed to judgment. When they found the DNA and the fingerprints of the actual killer in the room, they didn't change their case. They simply altered it and put this third person in to this scenario that they had. They keep changing the motive.

Look, Perugia is a wall mountain town. It's not that much different than small towns around United States. When a stranger comes to town, something happens, they need to get the crime solved. They make a mistake just like in the Memphis three, just like the jails in this country are filled with people who DNA proves they're innocent. Prosecutors make mistakes.

What happened here is the Italian system, unfortunately, is protecting itself. They've gone back and created completely illogical explanation of what happened in that house. They've complicated. They've put out all sorts of things that have been factually proven not to be correct by independent experts in the second appeal.

You've just laid out what they've said, and it's not -- it's not accurate. It's not factual. What's factual is somebody threw a rock through a window, which is found in the -- on the floor of the room.

CUOMO: He discounts it.

BURLEIGH: Somebody broke in. The person who broke in has a history in town and around Italy of breaking and entering in exactly the same way. Climbing into an empty house. He thought it was an empty house. Somebody came home, locked the door. It was a broken door that could only be close with a key.

Meredith Kercher came home. It was dark. She locked the door. There was somebody in the room getting computers and gear, and he heard her. He was making himself at home. He thought nobody was there. And, bam, they confronted each other. Simple crime.

CUOMO: That's what you think happened. Other experts agree. Other experts don't -- experts don't agree because of the holes in the story that Amanda and her then boyfriend told which, of course, smelled like guilt. And the biggest problem I believe she has always faced was a case of first impression, not legally but publicly.

How they perceived her, her actions, and her emotions. And I think that drives perception as much as anything. I just had hoped it wouldn't drive it in the courts. In the court of public opinion, that's fine. In the court of law it should be about something else, something better.

But I appreciate you doing this. The book, again, "The Fatal Gift Of Beauty." This is a long and hard look at this entire saga. Nina Burleigh, thank you very much.

BURLEIGH: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Kate. BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, there's no debate what that Donald Sterling said is reprehensible, but does the punishment he faces fit the crime for remarks made in private? A debate ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. An NBA committee agreed to move as quickly as possible to force Donald Sterling to sell the L.A. Clippers, but the question is, is that fair? It begs debate so we had Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator and host of "Huffpost Live" and Mike Pesca, NPR contributor and host of the "Slate" podcast "The Gist," which debuts next week, take on the issue and here's what they have to say.


CUOMO: Mark, start with you. Why should this man definitely be forced to sell his team on top of everything else?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because contrary to the popular argument this isn't private property that he owns it's a franchise and if you own a franchise as part of a bigger collection of organizations like the NBA, you have a right to be pushed out. He is clearly bad for business. Advertisers are pulling out. Fans don't want him there. Players don't want to play for him and there's no logical reason why he should stay.

CUOMO: In the constitution and bylaws it doesn't outline something like this as a scenario to force someone to sell. It's fuzzy.


CUOMO: So Mike, what could be the pushback?

PESCA: I don't think it's a private property argument. I don't think it's a free speech argument. I think they can do it. What would be the optimal solution for Adam Silver to have taken? I was disappointed in the firm execution style, he's out, there's no discussion how it got to this point in the first place.

HILL: It seems to me they got to the right place but took way too long to get there. And I think they know this.

PESCA: I think it would have been a good business suspension to give the fine and suspension, I do have the power to bounce this guy from the league, but I'm not going to do it. I want him to make that decision. I want the fans to perhaps react in some sort of protest or the players in some sort of protest. Because I think if the Warriors had walked off the court as they said they were going to do, that would have been the greatest moment of sports in the last 30 years. It would have had real substance.

CUOMO: Do you think the vote will be open or closed of the owners?

HILL: It's interesting. I think it will be closed and I don't think it is unanimous. This isn't like Congress where your mark your vote for memory and history so voters know where you stood. No one wants to be on the record voting for Donald Sterling to stay in the league.

CUOMO: So you think it is close.

HILL: It has to be.

CUOMO: He has to have a relationship with the people going forward. This is a little bit of an easy place for Silver to be strong. You can't be strong about a guy who says this type things what are you strong on. But you have to be a little careful here. You don't want to roughshod over the owners and think they are potential bad guys.

PESCA: Firms of all I think Silver took a head count like the majority whip in Senate and I think that he knew that he had have the votes.

CUOMO: He said he didn't.

HILL: I don't think he did. I think he did the opposite. I think he forced their hand.

PESCA: That would be a silly thing not to have done.

HILL: There's no need to because he did the press conference first.


HILL: He took the public position. He forced the owners' hands. He outmaneuvered them if they weren't interested in taking this position anyway.

CUOMO: One last thing and we'll wrap it up. He is having a private conversation with the girlfriend, he is saying things that he doesn't want her associating with blacks. No "n" word. He is gracious about Magic Johnson. Is this bad enough in terms of what we've seen with people in race and what has been punished in the past to warrant this punishment now and why?

PESCA: To me the troubling aspect of the tapes weren't that he didn't use a racial slur, you can be racist without using a racial slur. The troubling aspects of the tapes they were illegal and everything stems from them. Adam Silver said you can't ignore them and the bell can't be unrung. But that's a really bad precedent. There's much more complicated things going on here than, hooray, the bad man has been smote by essentially a daddy figure, which I think is going on in this Sterling case.

CUOMO: Final point.

HILL: I don't know if it was illegal or not. We don't have enough detail yet, but what I will say based on the tapes alone it would make me say this guy's racist, I don't want him in the league, but I don't think we have the muscle to do it without all the other stuff.

CUOMO: Mike Pesca, Marc Lamont Hill, thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, hopes dim on a diplomatic solution in Ukraine. Intense violence leaves three people dead. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are meeting to discuss the crisis. We'll have a preview in what's at stake on the important one on one ahead.

And also tune in this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for "PARTS UNKNOWN." This week, Anthony Bourdain is heading to Mexico. Take a look.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": This quiet little town is about 15 miles outside of Oaxaca. The pre-Hispanic Mexico are celebrated and packaged for consumption. Abigail Mendoza and her sister are Zapoteca. Original people from Mexico before the Spanish. Before the Aztecs. This is her restaurant where Abigail has been grinding corn by hand, making massa and moles like this the ridiculously faithful, time-consuming, difficult, traditional way she was taught to make these things. In the way she's been making them since she was 6 years old.

Look at her hands, by the way. Small, surprisingly delicate given all the hard work, all the pushing, kneading, grinding, stone against stone over the years. Then look at her forearms. The power there. It's impressive and beautiful.