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Clippers Win, Advance in Playoffs; Zingers Reign at Correspondents' Dinner; Weekend Violence in Ukraine; Talks to Determine Next Phase of Flight 370 Search

Aired May 4, 2014 - 06:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-HOST: After a bloody weekend battle, the body count soars in Ukraine. And now the blame game and the pleas for the U.S. to intervene.

CHRISTI PAUL, CO-HOST: Triumph for the Clippers after, oh, you know, a trying week in the spotlight. Two big wins for this team this morning one week after the Donald Sterling saga stole their thunder.

BLACKWELL: And Washington goes Hollywood. Well, OK, well, they tried. They got close. The stars came out, of course, and so did the jokes.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means orange really is the new black.


CHRISTI PAUL: We just want to start your morning off with a few zingers, you know, get you in the mood.

BLACKWELL: That was a good one.

CHRISTI PAUL: That was a good one, and there's more where that is to come. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, 6 a.m. on the East Coast. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

CHRISTI PAUL: Well, you know, after one of the longest weeks in franchise history, the L.A. Clippers finally have a reason to celebrate.

BLACKWELL: Yes, playing in their first ever playoff game seven at home, La-City (ph) knocked off the Golden State Warriors in front of 20,000 screaming fans last night. The final, 126-121. Clippers star, point guard Chris Paul here.


CHRIS PAUL, L.A. CLIPPERS PLAYER: It's going to sound crazy, but it was all about tonight. Everything else was in the past; couldn't dwell on all that different type stuff and, not to diminish how serious everything's been in the past week or so, it was all about basketball tonight.


CHRISTI PAUL: And what's more, the franchise is now getting a new leader. With owner Donald Sterling banned from the league for life over those racist audio recordings that leaked last weekend, the NBA trying to force the 80-year-old billionaire to sell the team. The league announcing that it's appointing a new chief executive officer to oversee the Clippers' day-to-day operations, a move Shelly Sterling, Donald's wife and the team's co-owner, support.

BLACKWELL: And of course, the folks over at "Saturday Night Live," they had something to say about all the drama. Check out the fake Donald Sterling, who helped kick off last night's show.


BOBBY MOYNIHAN, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": I have decided to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for the bargain price of $1 billion. I know that sounds like a lot of money, I'm making a lot of money, but remember the NBA already fined me $2.5 million, so I'm only be clearing, like, what, like $998 million?

Now, I hope to use every penny to repair my relationship with the black community especially Magic Johnson, who is clearly one of the good ones.

So I have been learning about your history. Today I watched "Roots" on TV, and let me tell you, that Questlove, very talented. Very talented boy. You know?

I have also agreed to put up $3 million to do my own version of the Million Man March, so this June, Donald Sterling's Million Man Cruise will take thousands of black men on a wondrous journey to the beautiful Ivory Coast of Africa, to never come back.


CHRISTI PAUL: Oh. CNN sports Joe Carter joining us now.

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS: That's the first time I've seen that.


CARTER: That's funny. They know how to really hit the nail on the head sometimes. You know, they really say the joke that everybody's kind of thinking. But I like how they give a northeastern accent. I think that Donald Sterling is from California, and he's lived in California his whole life. I think.

CHRISTI PAUL: Yes, that was the only thing. I don't know that I've heard Donald Sterling that much, other than the recording...

BLACKWELL: The recording, yes. CHRISTI PAUL: ... so I didn't know how true to, you know -- true that was.

CARTER: Yes. It was good, though, very funny.

You know, last night was a huge win as Chris Paul said, for them, obviously being able to advance to the second round, something the Clippers, we're not used to talking about the Clippers having post- season success. I mean, when you look at the franchise, for years they were sort of known as the Bad News Bears of the NBA. For years.

BLACKWELL: Or regular season success.

CARTER: Right, regular season success. There you go.

When Donald Sterling took over the team back in '81, since then they've had a 36 percent winning ratio, so not a lot of success. Back in 2009 they got the No. 1 overall pick in Blake Griffin, and that's really when the franchise took a turn for success. They got Chris Paul in 2011, and the NBA, you know, all you need is two good guys, two superstars, and they've got them, to have success.

So this has been a build for the last three years. Really the emotion that this team has gone through this week, obviously the up and down on and off the court emotion, I love how they did not let all the distraction that's happening with this Donald Sterling saga distract them and take away from what -- on paper people predicted they would win this series. I mean, they're a better team than Golden State, and Golden State, they gave them everything they have. They put up 121 points last night, and the Clippers still were able to beat them at home.

But I love what Blake Griffin said afterwards. Doc Rivers, their head coach -- you're seeing the video of him here -- this guy won a championship with Boston in 2008. He's been here before, but the emotion you saw from him last night, high fiving the players, pumping his fist and then Blake Griffin after the game really summarizing what this week has been like for these guys.


BLAKE GRIFFIN, FORMER FORWARD, L.A. CLIPPERS: It's kind of all in the past. We had that baggage with us for that series, but you know, it's pretty much over. I mean, it's obviously still lingers but IT'S not quite the same, so hopefully we just get locked in tomorrow and do what we got to do and have a good showing.


CARTER: Yes, and they're going to need to stay locked in, guys. They face, now, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team that many believe will take on the Heat in the finals. A very big task ahead of them in terms of basketball.

CHRISTI PAUL: All right. Joe Carter, thank you so much.

CARTER: Thank you.

CHRISTI PAUL: We appreciate it.

So from to Hillary for president, few topics were immune to the zingers at last night's White House Correspondents Dinner.

BLACKWELL: Yes. President Obama and comedian Joel McHale headlined the annual roast, and they put on a pretty good show for the Washington and Hollywood elite.


JOEL MCHALE, COMEDIAN: The vice president isn't here tonight, not for security reasons. He just thought this event was being held at the Dulles Airport Applebee's. Yes, right now, Joe is elbow deep in jalapeno poppers and talking to a construction cone he thinks is John Boehner.

OBAMA: And I'm feeling sorry, believe it or not, for the speaker of the House, as well. These days the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means orange REALLY is the new black.

I got a lot of grief on cable news for promoting Obamacare to young people on -- between two ferns. But that's what young people like to watch. And to be fair, I am not the first person on television between two potted plants.


OBAMA: An American won the Boston Marathon for the first time in 30 years. Which was inspiring, and only fair, since a Kenyan has been president for the last six.

Of course, we rolled out That could have gone better.

MCHALE: But thanks to Obamacare or, as the president refers to it, Mecare, millions of newly insured young Americans can visit a doctor's office and see what a print magazine actually looks like. That's awesome.

OBAMA: Let's face the facts, you'll miss me when I'm gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.

MCHALE: Hillary Clinton has a lot going for her as a candidate. She has experience. She's a natural leader, and as our first female president, we could pay her 30 percent less. That's a saving this country could use.


BLACKWELL: No one was safe last night. CHRISTI PAUL: Oh, my gosh.

BLACKWELL: And you saw the crowd shots there, all the political power brokers, the Hollywood A-listers out in full force, the Washington Hilton.

CHRISTI PAUL: CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner were in on all of that action, too.

Good morning, ladies.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Christi, it was an amazing night really. It was the 100th anniversary of the White House Correspondents Association, so there was some history there, as well, but as you could imagine, there were some zingers coming from...


MALVEAUX: ... the president, who always tries to be funny. I thought he was pretty funny. T

here were some moments, of course, when he really went after his own site, saying it went from "yes, we can" to "control-alt-delete" and then brings in his former HHS secretary up there to try to fix something. I mean, you know, that went a bit -- a step farther than even I had anticipated.

TURNER: You know, I mean, he did a lot. He went there, as they say. The president definitely went there. He didn't hold back. If Joel McHale was assessing the president, he'd say he was'ing all over everybody.

That was one of the lines from Joel McHale tonight that was really funny. He talked about kind of became the moniker for everything that's bad. So he had a little fun with that.

But he had some zingers, too. And I know we were watching, we were cringing a lot. And on our air, on the coverage tonight, Ben Stein was none too happy with Joel McHale's assessment of Chris Christie. He thought it got a little bit mean.

I thought at some point maybe he got a little bit mean, as from actor to actor, I thought the Robert De Niro line was really -- that was a gut puncher, when he said De Niro's agent picks up the phone and says he'll do it, because Robert De Niro is one of the legendary actors. So I thought it was interesting, but he was an equal opportunity offender.

MALVEAUX: And one of the people that took a real hit was the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who was in the audience, clearly -- I mean, he's losing weight and -- but his - the scandal, the questions surrounding bridge-gate and closing the bridges kept getting nailed, not only by the president but also by the comedian, Joel, as well. And they hit him on his weight, which didn't seem -- really seem fair -- nice -- seem fair to me.

TURNER: Don't you think he knew he was going to get it, though, coming?

MALVEAUX: You've got to know. You've got to know. If you're going to sit in that audience, you realize this is a roast. You've got to know. That's what we got.

TURNER: He's had a rough year, so -- but it was a good night, and the crowd was good. The celebrities were out.

MALVEAUX: We talked to a lot of them.

TURNER: Nerd prom was a hit. We got our geek on.

MALVEAUX: We're going to do it next year.

TURNER: Exactly, back to you guys.


BLACKWELL: Certainly looks like a good time. Suzanne Malveaux, Nischelle Turner, thank you.

CHRISTI PAUL: And you know, we have a winner at the Kentucky Derby. We're going to tell you more about the horse that outpaced 18 others on the road to the triple crown.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And it wasn't, unfortunately, Vicar's in Trouble, that horse.

But also, blame game, after this, a very violent bloody weekend in Ukraine. Could we see Russia get more involved?


BLACKWELL: The recent days of chaos and the violence in the eastern part of Ukraine appear to be now pushing the country closer, potentially, to civil war.

CHRISTI PAUL: Yes. With violence spilling into even more cities. This weekend Russia's blaming the Kiev-based government for targeting pro-Russian separatists.

BLACKWELL: Well, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk. Nick, tell us what's happening there now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, it is quiet at the this point, but that doesn't take away from how extraordinarily volatile the situation is. We do have the Ukraine military consistently moving around this hotbed of Slavyansk and reports, even, of a helicopter in the sky near the city, as well.

That comes after 24 hours of real violence here, clashes in the outskirts of Slavyansk, in which the Ukrainian military lost two of their paratroopers, 12 injured, and apparently, when we met, many civilians in local hospital who said they'd been shot, many actually in the legs or below the waist during that exchange.

Those troops saying they came under sustained fire. The civilians say the troops tried to move out and, when blocked, started shooting.

So clearly, a lot of hostility from local residents towards these Ukrainian soldiers. They have almost an impossible job, in many ways, because they're facing quite well-trained, potentially, pro-Russian militants who have good equipment. We saw with the two helicopters down in the past 48 hours and particularly in Kramatorsk, another town we went to just yesterday, the Ukrainian military moved in, and then the interior minister claimed they held buildings, but there's no evidence of that at all. The pro-Russian militants still in place outside the city or a lot of burned-out buses and trams in the city's center. And also, a lot of consternation from locals that the army had opened fire in such a way.

CHRISTI PAUL: Nick, we know that John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov spoke on the phone. Do we know Moscow's reaction to this escalating violence this weekend?

WALSH: Well, yes, I mean they say this is a crime. They say they're deeply concerned, and they reiterate the noise we've been hearing for months now that Russia reserves the right to intervene here, in they believe people they're referring to as their compatriots, Russian language speakers here around the threat.

They say they've been receiving thousands of calls for intervention, for assistance. They consider what's happening here to be a criminal act. But we haven't seen at this point any large-scale mobilization to bring those Russian troops just across the border in our direction here. That's a possibility, and we are hearing from the Ukrainian prime minister of substantial military maneuvers bolstering the Russian military presence in Crimea, which they annexed only a month ago.

Some analysts say it's not the game plan of the Kremlin to actually have to intervene here. It's simply allowing this chaos and unrest to continue is enough to disrupt the elections towards the end of this month. But really, as each day passes, we see a worsening death toll here. The deaths of over 40 people in a building fire there, that's got a lot of pro-Russian sentiment here extraordinarily angry, and we have very tense days ahead.

CHRISTI PAUL: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for bringing us the very latest from that region. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Look, we're now on day 58 since the disappearance of Flight 370, and this is a pivotal moment, because investigators are preparing to regroup and reorganize the search for the flight almost two months, as we said, after the plane vanished. So what will the next phase be? How will tomorrow's trilateral meeting mean big changes?


CHRISTI PAUL: Think about this for the families, 58 days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, and so far officials have not found one single piece of debris from the Boeing 777. This is baffling.

BLACKWELL: It's unbelievable, but here's what we know. The U.S. Will extend the deployment of the high-tech underwater robot, Bluefin- 21, until at least the end of the month. So far 18 deep-sea missions have turned up, as Christi said, nothing.

CHRISTI PAUL: Meanwhile, three Bangladeshi naval ships are scouring the Bay of Bengal after a possible underwater debris sighting.

BLACKWELL: So all this is happening as officials are gearing up for a trilateral meeting tomorrow to discuss what's next, the future search operations.

CNN's Will Ripley joins us live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And this really is a pivotal moment. It will kind of shape what the next few weeks or months of this search will be.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, you guys. And it's happening right now. There have been meetings going on for the past several hours. The acting transport minister here in Malaysia, Hishammuddin Hussein, actually tweeted about seven hours ago that his delegation had arrived in Sydney. He also tweeted that the China delegation was already there, and they're going to be heading to Canberra, he said, first thing in the morning tomorrow, which since it's already late evening in Sydney, is a matter of hours they'll be heading to Canberra for this trilateral meeting between China, Malaysia and Australia.

And they're going to discuss exactly what you were talking about, the next phase of this search. Because here we are now, more than eight weeks into this, still not one single piece of debris from the plane in spite of the best efforts of 26 countries. We know the visual search is over. They're focusing now on the underwater search in the southern Indian Ocean.

The Bluefin-21 contract is extended to the end of the month. That's costing alone, that little piece of equipment, $40,000 a day. And so now they're going to be talking about other equipment they can bring in, the cost of that, who they're going to hire. They're going to need the help of some private contractors from a lot of different countries. There are companies in Malaysia that are interested in doing some of the work, countries from all over the world, really.

And so that's what this meeting will be about, and then we're expecting a pretty big press conference afterwards, where we will get an update about how this next phase will proceed.

CHRISTI PAUL: OK. We have to acknowledge, Will, this report by "The Daily Mail" that's fueling some theories that terrorism may have been involved. And I say that because, according to the report, 11 terrorists with ties to al Qaeda were arrested last week near Kuala Lumpur.

What are officials -- again, this was coming from "The Daily Mail," but what are officials saying?

RIPLEY: Well, "The Daily Mail" report connected these arrests of these 11 suspected militants to MH-370, something that the Malaysia Royal Police are flat-out are denying to CNN and every other news agency that has contacted them.

This has not been uncommon, frankly, in these past weeks, that one news outlet or another will come up with some big exclusive with a link to MH-370, then when you actually -- we actually check out the information and try to confirm it through our own independent sources, it turns out not to be legit.

And in this case, any connection of the missing plane is being strongly denied.

But look, Malaysia is a strong partner with the United States in counterterrorism. It's one of the big topics that President Obama discussed here in Kuala Lumpur when he was here last week. And so it's not uncommon for U.S. intelligence officials to work with Malaysian intelligence officials to try to prevent terrorist attacks here, in other countries around the world. And that's exactly what we're seeing in this investigation.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely, just the timing of 11 terrorist arrests that people would question if there's a connection.


BLACKWELL: Good to make sure we got that clarification out. Will Ripley, thank you very much.

CHRISTI PAUL: Thank you, Will.

So the L.A. Clippers celebrating, I'm sure, their huge win last night. The drama, though, you know that is still brewing in the front offices as the NBA takes another big move in hopes of forcing Donald Sterling to give up his valuable team.


CHRISTI PAUL: Now for an update on mortgages. Rates rose this past week. Take a look.