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New Video of Bergdahl Being Freed; Hillary Clinton Opens Up to "People"

Aired June 4, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, June 4th, 8:00 in the East.

Breaking overnight, we've been covering it this morning -- stunning new video of the moment Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was turned over to U.S. forces.

Take a look, this video shot by the Taliban released by the Taliban's media arm shows what can be described as a dazed Bergdahl being turned over by his captors obviously to the U.S. He then is led to a waiting helicopter, patted down and whisked away.

Let's bring in Barbara Starr live from the Pentagon with much more on this.

Clearly, everyone is going to be going through this video frame by frame, Barbara.


Controversial, though, the turnover may have been. This gives you an extraordinary at Bowe Bergdahl's walk to freedom and the men who came to get him.


STARR (voice-over): Breaking overnight, the first images of the actual Bowe Bergdahl swap emerging on the Taliban's Web site.

Chanting praise for their leader, 18 armed Taliban militants seen standing and wait perched on grassy hills in the valley, guns and rocket launchers at the ready. The narration says this meeting took place at four in the afternoon in Khost province, Eastern Afghanistan.

At the center of the action, a silver pickup truck, Bowe Bergdahl seen inside sitting in the back seat. Bergdahl dressed all in white. He appears to be nervous, blinking, and shaky. Bergdahl seen talking with one of his alleged captors. At one point, the army sergeant even cracks what looks to be a smile while talking and then wipes his eyes. Seen flying overhead, a twin-engine plane approaching the meeting point. And then suddenly, like a scene out of the movies the Special Forces Blackhawk helicopter descends. Two Taliban militants immediately escort Bergdahl towards the chopper, waving a white flag.

Three U.S. Special Operations commandos approach, shaking hands with the Taliban militants. They pat down Bergdahl's back and immediately begin escorting him to the helicopter. In Bergdahl's left hand, a plastic bag. The contents, not yet known.

The commandos wave back to the militants as they run towards the chopper. They pat Bergdahl down again, this time in a deliberate and thorough fashion, presumably a swipe for explosives right before loading him in.

This face-to-face exchange lasting less than 10 seconds before they were off. A message later emerges, "Don't come back to Afghanistan."

Another portion of the edited video shows the homecoming of the Taliban prisoners in a separate location. A caravan of SUVs pulls over alongside a busy stretch of road.

The five Guantanamo Bay detainees exit, hugging their supporters. This video now detailing what is considered a highly controversial exchange. The Obama administration facing steep criticism for what some say is a negotiation with terrorists in exchange for a U.S. soldier who some say is a possible deserter.


STARR: But what may be most fascinating in this video is a rare, close-up look at those U.S. Special Operations commandos. They are not saying what unit they are from, but operations, when you hear that word, it usually means SEAL Team 6 or Delta Force. Their faces are covered. This is a rare opportunity to see them in the field and to see them at work -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And as usual, Barbara, they got the job done.

All right. So, let's break down this video here. There's a lot in it that's tactical and military and also for the politicians.

So, we have senior national security correspondent from "The Daily Beast", Josh Rogin.

Good to have you on NEW DAY.

Let's take a look at these different moments, because here is something that's very important. Obviously, the military is going to be looking at this, who are these guys, how did they do this because the hostilities will continue? When you look at the man himself, Bowe Bergdahl, we haven't seen him.

What do you think will be relevant here for people assessing them? JOSH ROGIN, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, one of the administration's main claims was this deal had to be done now because Bowe Bergdahl's health was deteriorating and they received a proof-of-life video that the public has never seen, proving he was so near death that the pressure was on them to make the swap. So --

CUOMO: Do you see that here?

ROGIN: I'm not an expert. I haven't seen the other videos. But that will be something that they will look at to see if that holds up in the light of day and if Bowe Bergdahl was really in the condition where we needed to make the deal right away.

CUOMO: So, we have him here sitting in the pickup truck, obviously, the crucial moment they come as the S.F. guys get in here, the special ops guys get in here and working it. Seeing him dressed in their traditional garb, that bag, I mean, these were all going to be real items of interest. What could be in that bag? You know, this is something they'll have to be looked at, right?

ROGIN: It's interesting that they shake hands and sometimes put their hands to the heart which is when Islamic officials don't want to shake hands, that's something they do.

It's interesting this was a three-second interaction. The choppers were surveying the land to make sure there was no ambush. They were making sure there was nothing fishy going on. They landed exactly for a minute and were off right away.

They took no chances with the safety of the mission and no chances the Taliban would take back their word and do something nefarious during this exchange.

CUOMO: And it's very interesting, you say it was one minute in duration. During the video, the narration of it, they comment on that, the Taliban guys. They thought they would stick around and have a chance to talk. What do you make of that?

ROGIN: Again, they wanted to mitigate the risk that something bad would happen. Here is where we see the soldiers frisk Bowe Bergdahl.

CUOMO: Which would be standard operating procedure.

ROGIN: Who knows what the Taliban might have hidden on him if they had hidden an explosive device. That could have been very dangerous for those soldiers.

CUOMO: And we recall, we did have somebody blow up before in an operation with the CIA. So, it's something to be concerned about.

ROGIN: Exactly. This was a diplomatic interaction by any means. This was a mission to get this guy as quickly into safety as possible, take no risks and get the heck out of there.

CUOMO: Even though there did seem to be based on their own narration, they said they had messages that they wanted to talk and the guys left on them.

ROGIN: Right. Well, these guys are not diplomats. These are Special Forces. Isn't it interesting that the Taliban is putting out this information where the Obama administration is not, right? The Taliban is shaping the narrative. They're showing a video of their guys.

CUOMO: Well, there's a good reason for that, right?

ROGIN: Yes, both sides want to spin a victory for themselves. One side is succeeding. Here we see the five Taliban released in Doha, with almost no supervision, they were allowed to walk around free, they're celebrating.

What we're able to report today at "The Daily Beast" was that when this deal was originally conceived, there were going to be strict assurances that these guys would be under house arrest. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

CUOMO: Well, that's the big question. When you see this video and you see them come out and then they leave, and the question is, where are they now?

Do you believe -- we've had generals on the show saying this is what the intelligence community does is monitor people like that. Do you believe with the conditions set up, we will know where these men are and what they're doing?

ROGIN: So, the conditions that have been set up are secret. What we reported is the idea was there would be surveillance, monitoring, some of level of -- but this was all done by the Qataris. Now, if you trust the Qataris, then we can have some assurance these guys will stay in Qatar but only for one year.

After one year, there's no telling what these guys will do.

CUOMO: Now, is there a truth not being spoken yet, as upsetting as it is to show these are enemies of the U.S., these are the future. As Gitmo gets closed, they're not coming to U.S. prisons. Many men will be released back to Qatar and other places.

ROGIN: Right. Well, President Obama has promised to close the prison. He's proven he can release high-risk detainees without even notifying Congress and there's not much Congress can do about it, but this is a change, because traditionally, we release them into custody of the governments, said that they remain in prison in countries.

Basically into the wild. If this is a precedent, that will be a worrying precedent for many people on capitol hill who are concerned anti this issue. The precedent has been set. If the president wants to release more prisoners from Guantanamo, he can do it. Nobody can really stop him. That isn't exactly what he has promised to do in his State of the Union speech in January.

CUOMO: The basis for criticism is legit. There is a little political theater going on here. Everybody knew this was the deal. Everybody knew who these guys were. There wasn't opposition to it all these years until right now. So, a little bit legit but little bit opportunistic..

ROGIN: When this did surface in 2012, Dianne Feinstein told me personally she was very opposed to the idea. She also revealed details of the deal that she had been briefed in a classified session. After that incident in 2012, the administration was very wary of going to congress with any of these details. Just to be fair to them, Congress leaks.

So, they broke the law, yes, by not notifying Congress. They had reason to believe this was sensitive information that they had to keep in line. They also knew top Democrats and Republicans, including Dianne Feinstein, did not like the deal and were going to fight against it. Yes, there are politics on all sides. In the end, they decided we want to get this done. We'll worry about taking the flak for it later, right and they just did.

CUOMO: The administration would argue may have broken the law of the 30-day rule. The NSC saying we think this may have been a legitimate circumvention of it, that's to be decided, right?

ROGIN: Exactly.

CUOMO: Josh Rogin, thank you very much. Great to have you here on NEW DAY.

Mick, over to you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Chris, thanks so much.

Here is a look at more headlines at this hour. The Republican Senate primary race in Mississippi looks to be headed for a runoff. Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel has a slim lead over six-year incumbent Thad Cochran, with almost all the votes counted. However, neither has the 50 percent needed to declare victory and avoid a runoff.

Meantime, in Iowa, State Senator Joni Ernest won the GOP Senate nomination. She will face Democrat Bruce Braley for the seat being vacated by the retiring Tom Harkin.

Straight out of a movie, that's how U.S. officials describing a dangerous close pass by a Russian fighter jet. That aircraft coming within 100 feet of a U.S. Air Force plane. And after buzzing the Americans, the jet banked showing its belly loaded with missiles.

This happened in April, the second close pass by the Russians that month. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke privately with officials about those incidents.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino now backing out of a concussion lawsuit against the NFL. We told you about it yesterday on NEW DAY. The 52-year-old former Dolphins star claims he didn't realize his name would be attached to the suit. His announcement comes a day after it was revealed that Marino and 14 other players were suing, claiming the league knew about a link between concussions and long-term health problems and he hit it from the players.

That's quite a development from yesterday, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and quite a turn-around.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the new video of Bowe Bergdahl's release comes at a time when some in his own unit are growing more and more critical of him. We're going to talk to Bergdahl's former team leader about the night he vanished.

Also ahead, Hillary Clinton opens up to "People" magazine about life after public office in a candid new interview just out today. What she says about that concussion and 2016 prospects. We're going to talk with "People" editor coming up.


BOLDUAN: New this morning, it's a side of Hillary Clinton many never see. The former secretary of state is gracing the upcoming cover of "People" magazine. There is the cover right now.

And in a candid new interview, she talks about her health, Benghazi, Monica Lewinsky and, of course, the question everyone has been asking. Will she run for president in 2016?

CNN's Brianna Keilar is here with much more.

A lot to look through in this interview, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot. It's pretty interesting there are light topics and there are also these serious topics. She talks about her plans for 2016. She talks about what kind of grandmother she wants to be which will happen before the end of the year.

She says she wants to be emotionally supportive but also set expectations, she wants to baby-sit a lot.


KEILAR (voice-over): Hillary Clinton sitting down for an exclusive interview with "People" magazine at her Washington home as her newest book "Hard Choices" hits shelves next week.

On her presidential aspiration, Clinton tells "People", "I know I have a decision to make. We need to break down that highest hardest glass ceiling in politics. I'll have to make my own decision about what I think is right for me."

Her book rollout is certainly starting to look like a campaign, a busy schedule of appearances.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me shake a few more hands.

KEILAR: -- interviews and calculated releases of parts of her memoir about her time at the State Department. Just Monday she dropped this hint, talking about the grueling nature of a presidential race. She assured the crowd she has --

CLINTON: A lot of resilience and a lot of stamina.

KEILAR: She also talks about her husband's health, saying he's had the tremor for years. It's nothing serious, just a nerve pinch. People say that he's too thin. He doesn't think so and he has an enormous amount of energy."

And Monica Lewinsky who recently resurfaced with an essay in "Vanity Fair." Clinton tells "People" she hasn't read it saying she moved on. "I think everybody needs to look to the future." Clinton also reveals her indulgences since taking time off, "Dancing with the Stars" --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all about location, location, location.

KEILAR: And "House of Cards" which she and Bill, quote, totally binge-watched.

And she wasn't demure when asked if she had a hair strategy for 2016, "I'm at an age where I can do what I want. Here I am whether you like my hair or not."


KEILAR: So, she jokes about her hair, Kate, but not her head. She addresses the lingering question or the question of whether there are lingering effects from the concussion and the blood clot that she suffered in 2012. She says, no, they're not.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. Brianna, thank you so much.

So, Hillary Clinton's exclusive interview with "People" is on stands Friday.

Let's bring in Kate Coyne, the executive editor of "People" magazine, to discuss, and also Maggie Haberman, CNN political analyst and senior writer for "Politico", to discuss.

Good morning to both of you.

As Brianna was laying out, and we were talking just now, Kate, there was a lot to get through. Soft topic, hard topic, a lot to get through.

KATE COYNE, PEOPLE: Yes, really no topic was off limits including Monica Lewinsky. She was willing to discuss anything we asked her from the mundane like questions about her hair to obviously the question everyone is asking right now.

BOLDUAN: What was the impression -- what was the impression of the writer? What was the impression of "People" magazine that you came away from? How is she? How did she come across?

COYNE: Well, you know, I think that people may be surprised to hear this. But obviously on the one hand she was incredibly poised, incredibly prepared. She rolled with every single question that went her way.

She was also very, very warm, very colorful, she talked about things that didn't make it into the story, like becoming a grandmother. Her house is itself which really featured in the history is a riot of color with a red kitchen and a yellow dining room. She's somebody who seems to be feeling very at ease and at home with whom she has become. There really seems to be a sense that she's come into her own now.

BOLDUAN: Coming to her own. That's really interesting. One thing she does take on, we're hearing her address, the concussion, her health. We've been on it, talking about when is she going to address it and how? And you said she came prepared.

I think this part of the interview shows that. She says she has no lingering effects from that concussion and from that health issue. Then she says this, she brings up Paul Ryan when talking about it.

I want to read it because it was really interesting. "At the inauguration for President Obama in the second term, I was standing with Paul Ryan. I said, congressman, I read you're a great athlete. Have you ever had a concussion? Oh, yes, three at least. I said, were they serious? He said one was really serious."

Pretty politically astute being able to put in a Paul Ryan reference in that answer.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, POLITICO: She came prepared. That got Karl Rove, that's all about and you're going to hear I think a lot of that kind of answer going forward. I don't know if she said anything else about the concussion. But certainly this is an issue that as we talked about here, has been whispered about a lot.

It sounds like she took on a lot of different questions. One of them was Bill Clinton's health, that about the tremor he has had. This is something you've heard whispered about from critics as well.

So, it's interesting to see how she has sort of systematically and sort of smoothly going through all of this point.

BOLDUAN: It's a pretty smooth way of addressing that concussion. It's sure to come up again and again. Now, we'll see her line of attack in return, on that. Let me --


CUOMO: Another good line of attack, that Paul Ryan had concussions. You feel like a little bit was too smooth. I think it's a strong interview and I think it's hallmark of what makes "People" magazine great, is that you get people into areas that they don't usually go with us.

But, you know, do you think it could be too smooth, that everything comes out exactly the way she wanted to. She got a hit on the head, people worry about her age and her potential frailty. She talks about Paul Ryan, who can do like 250 push-ups.

Do you know what I mean? Do you think it's a little too smooth?

COYNE: But I think you're talking about somebody who can do 250 push- ups saying, according to Hillary, that he had a really bad concussion. It's less of an attack and more of a pivot. Her ability to say, you want to come at me with this, I'm going to redirect your attention to something that's every bit is relevant.

BOLDUAN: If you're going to bring up this health issue of mine, bring up past issues --

HABERMAN: And hold it upside by side.

BOLDAUN: She answers a lot of questions. One topic she really did not want to really take on, to discuss any further is Monica Lewinsky. She says I have moved on.

When the writer asked about that comment, did she call her a narcissistic loony tune. She said this, I'm not going to comment on what did or didn't happen. I think everybody needs to look to the future.

COYNE: She's done. This is a chapter in her life that she literally made a chapter about it in her previous memoir. She has written about this ordeal, this scandal. It was Monica Lewinsky's choice to write the article she did for "Vanity Fair." It was not Hillary Clinton's choice o re-enter this chapter of her life. She's just -- she's not going to go here.

HABERMAN: But she's going to get asked about it over and over again. This is not going to be the last time.

So, is too much. I don't think to your point of is it too smooth, I do think this is going to be something where, if she can hold the no comment for a long time, it will be impressive. She has a slew of interviews coming up. This is going to go on and on and on.

CUOMO: The media won't leave you alone about it when your friends and associates come out in droves to attack Monica Lewinsky when the piece comes out. You know, that's one of the games in politics that you guys at home don't always get to know, is why do you media keep that dogging about this? Because their people deny it behind the scenes so they can have plausible deniability. That's part of the game.

BOLDUAN: You talk about sexism. You double standards especially in politics. Also comes up, her hair strategy for 2016. It's always delicate. There is the tough question. Mitt Romney isn't asked about his hair.

COYNE: Although maybe he should have been. He had fantastic hair.


BOLDUAN: A great point, Kate. What do you think of her answer in taking on the double standard question?

COYNE: I think there was actually a very subtle pivot included in that in that she got the age question in there as well. I mean, some people have been doing the math about how old she will be if she does take the White House. And she managed to blend an answer about her hair into also a little comment about her age, which is that she is old enough that she does not have to care at all what people think about her hair.

She has passed the point of needing that level of vanity. She has a very good way, almost what she seems to be trying to do with the Lewinsky question, perhaps less successfully of making you feel a little silly for even wondering such a thing.

BOLDUAN: She's past it. You should be, too.

HABERMAN: She's past it except if you look at the cover of this issue. Her hair looks much more, less like she did at the State Department when she was letting it go long and not caring about it, much like she did when she was a senator.

BOLDUAN: In defense of her, my hair changes every day on the show.

HABERMAN: My hair changes every time I don't come in here and have my make up done. It changes every time. So --

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Well, the scrunchy chronicle continues as she likes to joke.

CUOMO: They didn't talk about the pant suits.

BOLDUAN: That will come out as well. I like a good paint suit, I will defend any woman who wants to wear a pant suit. We need to put that one to bed.

Kate Coyne and Maggie Haberman, great to see you guys.

Again, a reminder, this issue of "People" magazine on stands Friday. Thanks, Kate.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, some of his brothers in arms say Bowe Bergdahl is no hero. We're getting reaction to this morning dramatic video from the member of Bergdahl's own unit. Does he think we traded prisoners to get back a deserter? We're going to ask, straight ahead.