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California Chrome Denied Triple Crown, Owner Attacks Race Rules as "Not Fair"; Backlash Over Bergdahl Swap; Man Charged in Morgan Accident; Government Buses Undocumented Kids to Arizona

Aired June 8, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning to you! Grab your cup of choice, whatever it is. Sit back and relax a little bit. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Eight o'clock here on the East Coast. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

This was supposed to be the horse.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: This was the one, wrapped in white carnations, enshrined in history. It was supposed to be California Chrome as the winner of the Triple Crown.

PAUL: Instead, one of Chrome's owners is blasting the results for his colt's fourth place finish. He is ticked off.

BLACKWELL: At the line, Tonalist managed to pass Commissioner by a head. Neither had run, though, in the Triple Crown's first two races, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. The third place finisher didn't run in the Preakness either.


STEVE COBURN, CO-OWNER, CALIFORNIA CHROME: It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. I look at it this way. If you can't make enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, you can't run in the other two races. It's all or nothing. It's all or nothing, because this is not fair to these horses that have been running their guts out for these people and for the people that believe in them to have somebody come up like this, this is the coward's way out.


PAUL: A coward's way out, he calls it.

Now, look, this injury might have played into it as well. California Chrome's front right hoof there. But people are not happy, particularly that owner.


Senior correspondent Richard Roth was at the Belmont for the running.

Richard, we understand that just last hour, Coburn doubled down on this position, this talk about the coward's way out requiring all these horses to run all three.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this morning on NBC's "Today" show, Coburn repeated his thoughts last night right after the race. So, he's not backing down.

However, just a short time ago at Belmont Park, the trainer of California Chrome, Art Sherman, was more generous indicating that perhaps his owner was speaking a little bit in the heat of the moment. Let's listen.


ART SHERMAN, CALIFORNIA CHROME TRAINER: I think at the heat of the conversations with the press and everything, sometimes you might get a little vocal and not really think about what he's saying. I think Mr. Coburn was mad because the other horses got a break, to be away for six weeks and freshening up from their last race, you know what I mean? He says, well, if you want to run in the Triple Crown, you should run in all races like the rest of us.


ROTH: Now, Sherman indicated perhaps there would be a press release, maybe an apology perhaps from Coburn. No indication of that, Christi and Victor, so far, from his comments.

Look, horse racing needs a little controversy. You can say it's nothing bad right now for the industry because there's so much disappointment about California Chrome. I heard you say, Victor, we thought this would be the horse. I've seen seven other horses fail at the Belmont in the last 17 years. It's amazing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Everyone was -- you know, there are people with the nose strips, the nasal strips that California Chrome -- they were hoping for it.

All right. Richard, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Richard.

BLACKWELL: New this morning, we're getting new developments, and they're pretty dramatic -- details about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and his family.

PAUL: Yes. First of all, an FBI special agent tells CNN the bureau is looking into threats made against Bergdahl's parents.

BLACKWELL: We're learning more about Bergdahl's capture by the Taliban and how he's doing right now at that military hospital in Germany.

PAUL: Now, "The New York Times" is also reporting today Bergdahl says the Taliban punished him when he tried to escape by locking him in a shark cage for weeks in the darkness.

BLACKWELL: And "The Times" says Bergdahl is healthier than expected after five years in captivity. That he's walking and talking with his doctors and has begun wearing his military uniform but he does not want to be called sergeant.

PAUL: So, let's go to Karl Penhaul. He's in Landstuhl, Germany, where Bergdahl is being treated.

So, Karl, first of all, let's talk about -- more about Bergdahl's condition. What have you learned?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Paul, I mean, it is fascinating, isn't it, how this story has taken on so many different levels, the human level, the military level, the political level and how all that is intertwining.

Now, here at Landstuhl, the medics really aren't giving too much specifics away about Bergdahl's condition beyond saying that yes, he is stable, he's continuing to make improvements and showing an interest in the medical program that is being devised for him. Medics are also saying that he's not yet ready to be flown back to the United States for continued treatment in the San Antonio medical facility.

But what we have learned this morning, as you suggested, are those details that have been leaked by a senior Defense Department official to "The New York Times" and they're quite fascinating. It doesn't seem that Bergdahl is suffering from any grave medical condition. Yes, we're told he has some skin problems. We hear he has some problems with his gums, but those really due to the fact that he's been exposed to the elements for five years and maybe hasn't had the best kind nutrition either.

Also we're hearing he really doesn't want to be called by that rank he was promoted to during his time in captive. He still very much wants to be seen as one of the grunts. That's why he's insisted on being called private first class still. Of course, one of the opportunities the psychologists are taking is to get him to come out of himself, to explain a little bit what happened to him during his time in captivity. He's still very much wants to be seen as one of the grants, that's why he's insisting on being called private first class still.

And, of course, one of the opportunities that the psychologists are taking during his time in Landstuhl, is to get him to come out of himself, to explain a little bit what happened to him during his time in captivity, and again, those key details we're learning this morning from "The New York Times" that he's told his carers that he was kept for weeks at a time in total darkness in a metal cage for his efforts at trying to escape his captivity which really runs against a lot of this criticism that we're hearing, that in some way he cooperated and collaborated with the Taliban.

PAUL: All right. Karl Penhaul, thank you so much for all the information here this morning. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Well, the U.S. trade of five high-level Taliban detainees for Sergeant Bergdahl, as you know, has caused a firestorm on Capitol Hill.

PAUL: Yes, Senator John McCain is going to be on "STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY" on CNN at the top of the hour.

Listen to what senator and former Vietnam POW, McCain, of course, told CNN's Anderson Cooper back in February about a potential trade for Bergdahl's release.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So if there was -- the possibility of some sort of exchange, that's something you would support?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would support -- obviously, I'd have to know the details. But I would support ways of bringing him home. If exchange was one of them, I think that would be something I think we should seriously consider.


BLACKWELL: CNN's Candy Crowley joins us now live from Washington.

Good to see you this morning, Candy.

Senator McCain now calling the Taliban prisoner swap for Bergdahl a mistake. Is this -- is this a reversal?

CANDY CROWLEY, "STATE OF THE UNION" HOST: He says not. Any number of fact checkers have said, yes, he is.

Look, here's what he says. He said, I very clearly said I'd have to see the details. Here is the detail he doesn't like, these particular five Taliban members being released. He said they're high level. They're war criminals. These are big guys and should never have been released.

I mentioned to him 10 minutes ago that those names were already out there in connection with this prisoner exchange when he made that statement about, yes, he would look at it favorably. But he says not these guys. So, that's in his mind where he was on this.

So, this is not going to be resolved. This is a McCain media kind of thing. And you're going to have to go online and look at it and decide for yourself.

But, as I say, a number of fact checkers have said, look, here is what is going on at the time.

PAUL: Now, I understand you're also talking to a retired general who kept in touch with Bergdahl's family?

CROWLEY: Yes. We actually had a panel of three retired generals to take a look at the whole thing. I mean, this notion that somehow Bergdahl was less worthy of saving than others because of all these kind of rumors that are out there, the complaints and understandable complaints from his unit who felt that they were put in danger because he left, he went AWOL.

So, a number of things out there. Plus, just the deal in general, because as you know, Senator McCain and others are saying this just puts the U.S. in more danger. It now says to other folks, hey, take a U.S. soldier, not as a prisoner of war but as a hostage and a deal can be made with the U.S.

And in particular, they believe these five Taliban members will not stay in Qatar. That they will eventually go back to the battlefield and be a threat.

Again, another conversation that's never going to be resolved because people are going to look at it differently. But we thought the military point of view, especially from those who have been talking to the Bergdahls all along since their son's captivity five years ago, we think it will be an interesting conversation.

PAUL: No doubt.

All right. Candy Crowley, thank you so much.

Be sure to catch her. She's on "STATE OF THE UNION" today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

BLACKWELL: Wal-Mart says it will do the right thing. If its truck caused the accident that killed one comedian and sent actor and comedian Tracy Morgan to the hospital.

PAUL: Not only that, outrage brewing over the federal government's moves to bus more than a thousand undocumented children, some just babies off to Arizona. We've got some new pictures to show you, some of them sleeping on the floor with nothing more than thermal blankets. Even the governor of Arizona is calling the move inhumane.


BLACKWELL: So much support on Twitter, all of social media for comedian Tracy Morgan who was critically injured in a chain reaction accident in New Jersey.

PAUL: The actor's publicist says Morgan is receiving excellent care in the hospital, that his family is close by his side. But that wreck killed one person and left two others critically injured as well. And now, a truck driver is facing charges including death by auto.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Alexandra Field is in New York with the latest.

Alexandra, what else do we know about this truck driver?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi, Victor. Kevin Roper is a 35-year-old Wal-Mart driver. He's from Georgia, and he's now being held on $50,000 bail. He was behind the wheel of the tractor-trailer around 1:00 Saturday morning.

New Jersey state police say that he failed to see traffic slowing down. He tried to veer at the last moment and slammed into a limo bus carrying Tracy Morgan and fellow passengers.

The Middlesex County prosecutor's office says investigators are still looking into the specific cause of the crash, why Roper didn't see the traffic slowing down. But the driver is already facing serious charges, along with death by auto, he faces four counts of assault by auto.

Wal-Mart, his employer, has issued a statement. In it, president Bill Simon says, quote, "We are profoundly sorry that one of our trucks is involved. If it's determined that our truck caused the accident, Wal-Mart will take full responsibility. We will do what's right for the family of the victim and the survivors in the days and weeks ahead."

Now, in this crash, James McNair, a comedian who goes by the name Jimmy Mack, and is longtime friend of Morgan's, he was killed in the crash. Tracy Morgan and two other passengers who were onboard that limo van are also in critical condition right now -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: Do we know the extent of any of the injuries? And with Morgan, I mean, is he conscious? Is he -- do we know -- you know, is it a head injury? Have they given us any indication of his status?

FIELD: At this point, no details on the extent or the type of injuries that he might have suffered. We know he was brought in immediately -- that he was in intensive care. That he's remained in critical condition.

Again, we know that his family is there. We saw some friends going to the hospital yesterday to lend their support, but really nothing is being said about the injuries themselves. We've asked police were the passengers in the limbo bus wearing seat belts, because that's the big question for a lot of people. At this point, they aren't able to tell us that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alexandra Field for us from New York -- thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you.

So, let's talk about these hundreds of undocumented children that are getting bussed to a border patrol facility in Arizona.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's left the Governor Jan Brewer there furious, calling out the Obama administration over its immigration policy and so much more.


PAUL: Inhumane, that is one of the ways that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is characterizing a situation in her state as she is outraged at the federal government. Basically, they're sending bus loads of undocumented children, some of them just literally three to six months old, we hear --


PAUL: -- to her state. And this has been happening since last month.

BLACKWELL: More than 1,000 children could end up at the border patrol facility in Nogales before the day is over. All of them were caught as they tried to illegally cross the border in Texas.

PAUL: But these kids are just a small sample, apparently, obviously, of a much bigger problem.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more for us.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What's behind these walls in Nogales, Arizona, has many angry, and here is why. On the other side of these chain-linked fences are children, hundreds of them, seemingly laying on the floor covered in thermal blankets.

This is where immigration officials are moving more than 1,000 undocumented children to this makeshift detention center this weekend, just inside the Arizona-Mexico border.

Arizona's governor, highly critical of the move, releasing a statement on Friday saying in part, quote, "I am disturbed and outraged that President Obama's administration continues to implement this dangerous and inhumane policy. Not only does the federal government have no plan to stop this disgraceful policy. It also has no plan to deal with the endless waves of illegal aliens once they are released here. If the Obama administration put half the effort into securing our border as it has invested to institute this operation, our state and nation would not be facing this situation."

This latest operation by federal immigration officials comes on the heels of an influx of women and children over the Memorial Day weekend, caught illegally trying to cross into Texas. Hundreds were flown to Tucson, then bused to Phoenix and left at a bus station to find their way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beginning on Tuesday, we started seeing families dropped off including, you know, children, most under the age of five, some as young as three to six months old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're now being released on their own recognizance, which means given authorization to travel and reunite with family members in the United States.

FLORES: But it's this weekend's transport of the undocumented children to Nogales that has called the entire operation into question. A spokesman for Homeland Security tells CNN the number of undocumented children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by themselves has increased substantially, calling it a crisis situation.

Officials say at least 60,000 children will try to cross into the United States this year alone.

(on camera): And we should add that the influx of children coming into the United States without their parents actually has nothing to do with U.S. immigration policy. Immigration attorneys will tell you that it has all to do with violence in Central America -- Christi, Victor.


PAUL: All righty. Rosa Flores, thank you so much.

Well, did you see the lightning? Did you hear the thunder? It has been nasty in the South and the Midwest.

BLACKWELL: There's been a lot of it. Reported tornadoes tearing up homes like this one. Look, is there more to come?

JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS: Coming up on "INSIDE POLITICS", it certainly started a political firestorm. But was the Bowe Bergdahl trade worth the high price?

Also, Hillary Clinton is doing more than providing some light summer reading for all of us political junkies. Is it just a coincidence she seems to be up staging the current occupant of the White House quite frequently? I'll see you in a few minutes.


PAUL: All right. Well, keep it together and look out the window every so often, because it is turning into one very stormy Sunday. We've got threats of damaging wind and hail, specifically in the Southern Plains.

BLACKWELL: Yes. In Missouri, people are recovering after severe storms, reported tornadoes there. They ripped through the area. You can see the damage here in St. Peters. Homes, businesses destroyed.

Let's go to CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis in the weather center.

Karen, who is next?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like about 20 million people expecting a slight risk of an isolated tornado. Mostly what we can expect is the hail and the high winds and maybe a few isolated thunderstorms. But the cluster of thunderstorms now breaking across Oklahoma and Texas, producing another round of very heavy rainfall.

You may remember over the last several days the rain across this region has been exceptionally heavy. In some cases, four, five, six inches of rainfall.

There's additional rain on the way and some pretty big thunderstorms about to enter the Dallas Metroplex region.

Oklahoma City saw some thunderstorms earlier. Now it's pushing on in across the ArkLaTex region. Some areas expecting four to six inches of rainfall.

So, where you see this green shaded area from Lubbock, to Oklahoma City, to Springfield, to Little Rock, that's all the area that's seen quite a bit of rainfall, more in store. Watch out for the isolated thunderstorms in the South Central U.S. again today.

Back to you, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you very much, Karen.

PAUL: All righty. Go make some great memories today.