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Holder Says Racism Behind Obama Opposition; Germany Wins 2014 World Cup Final; United Airlines flight Has to Land on Remote Island; Leanna Harris Gets Lawyer; Friends of Justin Ross Harris Call Him a Monster

Aired July 14, 2014 - 6:30   ET


KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Many of the concerns they've had are of substance. These are problems they were pointing out to the administration.

If you remember, Governor Perry himself as early as May 2012 sent the letter to the administration, warning them of this impending problem with folks coming to the border from Central America. But the president was late to react. That is not a judgment of just Republicans. Many Democrats, including Luis Gutierrez, Henry Cuellar, many of the folks in border states, Democrats, said that as well.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Kevin, they're not even going to visit these kids. The president was down there, you know? And that became -- what's the nice political word, a kerfuffle, you know, that he went to Texas, and didn't go to visit these regions. Not that the lawmakers are going, they want to argue about these kids. They haven't even gone down to see them.

I think it's one of the most naked abuses of politics I've seen in terms of saying something is important, but not even going and dealing with it.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Some of them are trying to, and --


MADDEN: There were -- yes, there were reports --that's right. Kate points out, there were reports of Republicans who wanted to go to one of the detention facilities and was barred from DHS employee of actually see it. And the president was about 240 miles away and it would have been important to highlight some of the problems that are down there if he had gone there and seen them for himself, and he chose not to. Instead, he chose to raise money for his political allies.

BOLDUAN: They spend weeks subpoenaing emails on, you know, what's going on with the IRS, but you're really not to fight your way in to see the kids? It's because you don't want to.

But we're going to save that for another day. Let's switch topics here real fast.

Kate, set this up for us. I want to see if these guys -- BOLDUAN: The attorney general did an interview with ABC News on

Sunday. He's spoken about race before, but he really spoke about it some very -- in very candid terms that we haven't heard before, really suggesting that maybe the Republicans -- especially how Republicans are looking at the president, that there is race as part of this.

Listen to a little bit of what he said to Pierre Thomas.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There is a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that's directed at me, directed at the president. There's a certain racial component to this for some people. I don't think this is a thing, is a main driver, but for some, there's a racial animus.


BOLDUAN: What do you make of it, Dan? What do you make of what Eric Holder is pointing out here?

DAN RESTREPO, CNN EN ESPANOL: I mean, I think, two things are important here. One is, as he points, he thinks only a portion of the animus that's directed towards him and towards the president has some basis in race. And I think the important thing about Eric Holder and his role in the national conversation about race, he's unafraid of talking about race. That's important.

And he has raised and he has been a controversial figure as a result of raising racial issues throughout the administration. He hasn't shied away from it. I think it's an important conversation to have. But at the same time, I think it's important to remember what he actually said, which is that this is a motivation for some portion, not all of the opposition, that the president and the attorney general are facing.

CUOMO: All right. Kevin, give us a quick last word?

MADDEN: Well, I would that agree, yes, racism does exist. But I think to equate any opposition to the president that is substantive as being about race is unhelpful.

Let's remember, President Obama when he was first elected was at 70 percent approval rating. He's now in the 40s and in many places only the high 30s, not because of his race but because of people think he's taking the country in the wrong direction and has advanced the wrong policies.

CUOMO: Key word is substantive.

Kevin, Dan, thank you very much. Appreciate the perspective.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

MADDEN: Great to be with you.

Important conversation to have. You'll be hearing about the attorney general's words all day long.

So, set the table for you here. Let's take a quick break on NEW DAY.

When we come back, terrifying ride over the Pacific. A plane diverted to a remote island on reports of a weird smell. It sounds like a movie. Now new questions, should it have ever taken off? We'll take you through it.

BOLDUAN: Plus, a dramatic and terrifying scene in Turkey. A pregnant woman forced to jump from a burning building. And the crowd below scrambling to try to help break her fall. We're going to show you what happened.



Here is a look at your headlines. Concerned about airstrikes targeting Hamas is sending hundreds streaming out of Gaza. Israel is dropping off leaflets warning residents to abandon facilities cities controlled by the militant group. Israel says more than 130 rockets were fired in its direction Sunday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he's sorry for the lost of life, but claims Hamas is urging people to remain in the line of fire. The death toll in Gaza is now over 170.

Secretary of State John Kerry meets with his Iranian counterpart today. They're in Vienna for talks on Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. and western countries are offering to ease sanctions on Iran if it reduces its nuclear enrichment program. But Iran wants to expand the program, saying the material is for energy, not for weapons. Sunday is the deadline for the two sides to reach a deal.

A fire on the observation deck at Rockefeller Center left six people burned Sunday night including a child. The injuries were from embers that fell from a burning camera. The little one was taken to the hospital for treatment of burns. But the five adults refused medical treatment at the scene. No cause has been yet given for the fire.

And I have to show this terrifying video. A pregnant woman was forced to escape a fiery escape by jumping out of a first floor window in Turkey. You can see her teetering on the edge of the building as the crowd below scramble to hold out a sheet of cardboard for her to land on. The woman was taken to the hospital and is said to be in good condition.

You would hope there's something besides cardboard, but you have to grab whatever is around.

BOLDUAN: You know, it's not that far. But --

PEREIRA: Any -- yes.

BOLDUAN: I mean, anything -- I can only imagine. When you showed me that this morning --

PEREIRA: I know. I almost wish I hadn't --


CUOMO: There is no need for you to imagine that at all. She's fine. That's the headline there. And thank God they were there to catch her, right? Because it was only, let's say, like 10, 12 feet. But to her, it was like 1,000.


CUOMO: We'll be there. Don't worry. No cardboard either.

BOLDUAN: Michaela is going to walk around with cardboard and bubble wrap.

CUOMO: I'll use this coat. All these unnatural fibers will work like a trampoline.

PEREIRA: We got you.

CUOMO: All right. (SPEAKING GERMAN). That's a switch to German for it's finish, strong reference. It was the Germans taking it home before --


BOLDUAN: The subtitles of that.

CUOMO: The extra time before they brought it home. If you were one of those, oh, the U.S. is out -- if you're one of those types, a billion people watched Germany beat Argentina yesterday. So, we get it.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

This is one for the books. True?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, you know, it certainly was, Chris. You know, this was an absolute nail biter. We didn't get to see a lot of goals, but we got to see plenty of drama. Both teams have plenty of opportunities to score, but just couldn't find the back of the net. Sixty-six minutes, Messi had a great run, but his shot pushed just right. He couldn't believe it.

We would go all the way to extra time. Seven minutes away from penalty kicks. In the 113th minutes, sub Mario Gotze comes through with an amazing goal for Germany.

Take another look, the 22-year-old takes it off the chest and drills it home. Gotze now a national hero as Germany would win the game 1-0, to claim the World Cup.

And what do you do after winning the World Cup? Well, you take a bunch of selfies. Here's Bastian Schweinsteiger kissing Lucas Podolski during the celebration. I'm sure that one was a keeper. German soccer legend and current U.S. men's soccer national head coach Jurgen Klinsmann congratulated his countrymen on the win, tweeting, "Yes, yes, yes, Yogi, you did it. Huge compliment to Argentina but the best team won the 2014 World Cup."

If we learned anything from this world cup, it's what the worst haircut in the world looks like. Argentina's Rodrigo Palacio's hair looks like this. At one point during yesterday's game, #rattail was trending on Twitter. Then some genius came up with these names, here's Spiderman taking a swing from his hair. How about Tarzan? Then, of course, we have Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.

Guys, I don't know what I'll miss more about the World Cup, the actual play on the field, or the great memes that we got to see between Luis Suarez biting things and Tim Howard's shaving thing --

BOLDUAN: I'm never going to be over the biting thing.

Was there something behind that haircut? We know there was good meaning behind some of them. Cristiana Ronaldo, it was a fan he was supporting --

SCHOLES: I've heard nothing good about this haircut, Kate. Maybe there is, but I've heard nothing good about it.

BOLDUAN: That is something to take in.

Here is my big takeaway, it shows how good the U.S. team was that Germany won.

CUOMO: Strong.

PEREIRA: Well done.

CUOMO: I take that. That's true. Same score, same score. That's all I'm saying. Brazilians lost 7-1. That's all I'm saying.

BOLDUAN: Michaela is still working on what we're going to watch now.


BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, they thought their plane was going down. A United flight forced to land on an island in the Pacific because of an electrical odor some passengers smelled before they had even taken off. So why did the plane fly?


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. New questions this morning surrounding a United Airlines flight from Honolulu to Guam that was forced to land on the remote island of Midway because of a mechanical issue.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Passengers aboard say they smelled a strong electrical odor in the cabin before the plane even took off and then described terrifying moments when they hit turbulence and thought their plane was going down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were all thinking of people at home and our own little ones we had with us. I think after the 40-foot drop it got really silent in cabin. People prayed. We all prayed. I prayed.


PEREIRA: Joining me is CNN safety analyst and former FAA safety instructor, David Soucie. David, this is one of those stories that we hate reporting but at least it had the outcome it had. We hear the reports of the passengers smelling this odor before they took off, sitting on the tarmac for some several hours. Should this plane have even have taken off?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, it's hard for me to say because I wasn't there, obviously. But I tell you what, it's really difficult for me to understand why an aircraft that had that significant of a smell, that much smoke -- actually a haze called ozone actually in the cabin and not be able to replicate that and have the mechanic fix that problem is very questionable in my mind.

PEREIRA: And then add to the fact that, as I mentioned, they sat on the plane, on the tarmac rather, for some three hours looking into the problem. Does that sound as though they knew there was something they needed to investigate?

SOUCIE: Obviously there was something very serious going on. The mechanic must have tried and tried to replicate it, but wasn't able to replicate the problem and, therefore, just returned it to service rather than saying well, I know it's a serious problem, accepting that, and accepting that I can't find it right now, so maybe we need to bring in another aircraft and maybe we need to delay this flight even longer. There's a lot of pressure on those mechanics to get the aircraft back in service. I'm not second-guessing the mechanics, certainly, but sometimes these problems are intermittent and it's difficult to identify them.

PEREIRA: Right, when you try to replicate them, they don't happen.

Let me ask you about this electrical smell. What could that have been caused by in your expertise?

SOUCIE: The electrical smell is often described as electrical smell, but it's actually ozone. Its three molecules of oxygen, it's O3 instead of O2 like water moisture would have been. So O3 is very, extended exposure can be very harmful to your lungs, your mouth. It can make you very irritated. It's caused by arcing. A lightning bolt would create ozone, there's a lot of things, that any kind of arcing. This fan that failed has brushes in it that make it a motor. As the brushes move or if there's a short internally, those sparks actually cause the ozone smell. Something significant was going wrong in that motor for it to produce that much ozone.

PEREIRA: And again, I know you weren't there and you weren't involved in the investigation. But, at first blush, from the reports you're hearing do you think any safety regulations were violated here or they didn't follow proper protocol?

SOUCIE; I suspect that they followed the protocol, but here is where the rub is, is that this incident isn't even required to be reported to the NTSB or the FAA because it didn't get to the level of which it was a safety hazard. That's a definition that's within NTSB 803 rules. That tells you exactly what needs to be reported. This incident didn't need to be reported which is concerning to me. Because then how could you follow a trend? How could you see if this is something that's occurred several times within the whole fleet? Within the airline the airlines are very good at tracking their particular maintenance failures. When you look at it as a systemic area as far as sharing information

between other airlines to see if they're experiencing the same problem, that's really difficult to occur because of the barriers to information sharing that are in the system.

PEREIRA: Let me just wrap up with United's comment. They say the mechanical issue was due to a problem with an equipment supply cooling fan which they say has been corrected and the aircraft was put back into service on Saturday. David Soucie, thank you so much for joining us very early to talk about all of this. You have a great day.

SOUCIE: Thank you, Michaela.


CUOMO: Spooky stuff, there that's for sure.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the violence in the Middle East is getting worse.


CUOMO (voice-over): Wolf Blitzer, you see him there, he is on the ground in the thick of it. We're going to him live straight ahead.

A: Friends were quick to defend the father who allegedly left his son to die in a hot car in Georgia. Now as the case unfolds, some are changing their minds. Why? That's ahead.


CUOMO: There is new information about the man accused of killing his toddler by intentionally leaving him in a hot car.


CUOMO (voice-over): Friends who initially defended Justin Ross Harris are now painting a very different picture of the man, one friend even calling him a monster. Are they acting off insight or are they just reacting to the facts of the situation like the rest of us?

(END VIDEOCLIP) CUOMO: Let's get some perspective. Joining us now, attorney and radio host Mo Ivory and criminal defense attorney Page Pate. Thank you to both of you for being with us. First thing to discuss, Lianna Harris, the mother involved. She now has an attorney. There's been some curiosity about her, things that she reacted to, things that she said specifically, what she said when she found out Cooper, the child, wasn't in day care and her comments at the eulogy. I want your take. First start with this, Mo, why would somebody hire a lawyer to be a mouthpiece to the media instead of hiring a PR person? You think this is always a wrong move for people?

MO IVORY, ATTORNEY AND RADIO HOST: Well, no. I mean, the lawyer could certainly be also working with a PR person that works inside of the law firm. The PR person may not be the face of -- when they meet up with the news or make statements, but it's a very important thing for her to be represented, you know. Everybody has the right to have representation, whether they're innocent, guilty, whatever. So, I think it was a very smart move for her to get representation and to put a buffer between her and the media and have somebody who is more skilled at handling, you know, obviously what is going to continue to be a barrage of people asking her questions.

CUOMO: And rightly so, Page, right? Because few situations fall into the "this makes no sense category" more than this one does. What is your take, assuming it's accurate, what the mother said when the day care center told her the son wasn't there, what the mother said during the eulogy. What is your take on that?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: All of those statements create a lot of suspicion about her involvement and whether or not she knew what her husband was doing. I think it is a good idea for her to have legal representation. I know her lawyer personally, but I don't think it's because of the court of public opinion. I think they are focusing more on the potential legal ramifications of what she has done. I think she wanted a lawyer to at least start a discussion with the district attorney's office and to make sure that if she's going to be charged, they figure that out early and then maybe try to work something out. I think that's a possibility.

CUOMO: So we hear the friends now, as you heard in my intro, they can just be learning new information so they're reacting to it as the rest of us are. But character evidence. Start with the attorney's take on this, Page. What do you think character evidence will mean here? It's never helpful that people say you're a bad person, but how important is it here?

PATE: Chris, I think it is incredibly important for the defense to have good character witnesses in this case. What they have to do is say, look, the history of Ross Harris, the people that know Ross Harris, his background, would never suggest he would do anything like this. If you don't have those character witnesses at trial, then I think it's going to be a tough case to defend. What I've been concerned about is all of the one-sided information that's getting out there in the media. The defense has not stepped up and given a theory of defense, tried to explain some of the evidence, and as a result they're starting to lose some of their potential character witnesses. CUOMO: Well but Mo, as we all know, often a good attorney saves it for

the courtroom, especially on the defense side. It doesn't usually help you to try things in the media, certainly we've seen that with juries in the past. When we rank the factors here, OK, going to Page's point about character, I would rank them this way. You forgot your kid, you return to the car. You have an insurance policy on the kid. You were web searching suffocation, and then you have the sexting. I put it last. It's least germane to me about this whole alternative life theory. But how do you see the components of what matters here?

IVORY: Oh, I mean obviously the prosecution has already -- and they haven't necessarily revealed everything either. So they have definitely made a strong case that there was definitely, you know, a plan to kill this child, to live a parent-free lifestyle. I do think all of those factors will be very important. Like Page said, it will be equally important for character witnesses for the prosecution to come forward to paint a picture of the father that nobody really knew, which is what we're getting a glimpse of. They're going through hundreds and hundreds of searches that he's done. We've only heard about some of the searches. They say there's a lot more stuff that we don't know. The character witnesses will be equally as important to making sure that he's convicted as they will be to trying to set forth a case that he is a loving father.

CUOMO: Strong point, Mo. Let me finish with you on this, Page. Of all the things the mother has reportedly said so far, do you think saying to Harris in jail, "Do you think you said too much?" Is that the statement that bothers you the most?

PATE: Chris, it is. When I first heard that, I thought that was going to be something that was difficult not just for Leanna Harris, but also for her husband, because it suggests they both knew this was going to happen or at least suggests that the state needs to be focusing in on what she knew, when she knew it and how they can prove it. So yes, it did concern me.

CUOMO: Page, Mo, thank you very much. We'll be following this very closely. Everybody in the country wants to know what happened here. Appreciate it. That is just one of the stories we're following. A lot of news for you this morning, so let's get right to it


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conflict quickly escalating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is more dangerous, I think, than at any time in the past.