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Violence Continue Between Hamas and Israel; Congress to Consider President's Request for Funding to Deal with Immigration Crisis; Citigroup Settles on Payment to Justice Department; Bowe Bergdahl Could Return to Active Military Duty Today; Popular TV Anchor in China Detained

Aired July 14, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: This is more dangerous, I think, than at any time in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're using missile defense to protect our civilians, they're using their civilians to protect their missiles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To those who are contemplating coming here illegally, we will send you back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a problem of monumental humanitarian impact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a maneuver hailed as one of the greatest engineering feats in maritime history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shooting suspect Curtis Reeves Jr. is out of jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of long journey, we're here. He's free.


CUOMO: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. Where do you draw the line between a nation's self-defense and the loss of civilian life? That is a big question this morning surrounding what's happening in Israel. Israel says it has to launch targeted air strikes against populated areas of Gaza because that's where Hamas is hiding its missiles. This morning hundreds of civilian there is are heeding Israeli warnings to abandon their homes ahead of a fresh round of strikes.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Still the death toll in Gaza is climbing, now more than 170 people killed. But militants, they aren't prepared to slow down, still firing hundreds of rockets towards Israel. Joining us from near the Israeli-Gaza border is Wolf Blitzer, the anchor of CNN's "SITUATION ROOM," of course. Wolf, you've been there since last week and you've seen quite a bit firsthand. What does it look like on the ground to you?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": It's pretty tense still today. There's no doubt that Israelis are on alert. We drove down towards the Gaza border. There is this border crossing, and some Palestinians and others are getting out of Gaza. We wanted to see what was going on. As we got closer and closer, Kate, there was an Israeli military checkpoint. They stopped us there. They said there's something going on. We had no idea what they were referring to. So we stopped. We were waiting inside our vehicle, and all of a sudden we heard this.


BLITZER: No pictures. Just shoot me. We don't know what's going on.

Did we get the all clear? I know. I'm sorry.

We're here on the border between Israel and Gaza. You can there was a rocket that just came in from Gaza. We heard it not that long ago. It was a real moment because all of a sudden we were at this area that had been sealed off and the Israeli military was not letting us go any further. And they said it was sealed off. We were waiting for permission to go through this checkpoint. We hadn't received the permission yet. We heard all of a sudden the rocket explode. And then we saw something really unusual. We saw some Israeli soldiers ducking for cover. We ducked for cover as well. A young Israeli woman soldier clearly was traumatized. She fell to the ground and started to cry. You don't often see that. So later she told me it's been really, really hard, especially on these young, 18, 19-year-old soldiers who come here to the border and hear these rockets going off.


BLITZER: It's obviously very hard, much harder on the Palestinian side where Israel continues its airstrikes and commando raids as well. We know of one, but we're also told others are in the works right now. They dropped those leaflets, as you know, Kate, over that one north Gaza town Betlahia. And the Israelis are warning everyone to get out. A lot of people did get out but a lot of people are staying there. Everyone at least along the border is bracing for Israeli attacks on this area where they say so many of the rockets coming in to Israel are launched. So it's still an extremely tense situation, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And you were talking to officials really throughout the weekend. Any indication -- every day brings another barrage of rockets from both sides -- what to expect today, especially with the leaflets being dropped. Really it seems that hopes of a ceasefire or talks of a ceasefire really seem to be diminishing. But what are you hearing?

Reporter: I know there's a lot of effort behind the scenes. The U.S. is involved, the Europeans, the U.N., Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Palestinian Authority, everybody is working at it. I don't see, at least I haven't heard of any dramatic progress yet. It would be good if there were a ceasefire, rockets stopped coming in to Israel from Gaza, the Israelis stopped launching strikes against the various targets in Gaza. Unfortunately I don't see that happening. I suspect this is going to play out for a few more days at least. It would be great if there was a ceasefire. I don't see it happening yet.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Wolf. And do you get a sense that they want to see more U.S. involvement in this or what the U.S. can do, what more the U.S. can do here?

BLITZER: Well, there are limits to what the U.S. can do. On the one hand the U.S. has very good relations with one side, namely Israel. On the other hand, they have no relations with Hamas on the other side. The U.S. doesn't talk to Hamas because it's considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. So there's a limit to what the U.S. directly can do.

What the U.S. has been doing, Secretary of State John Kerry and others, talking to Egypt, talking to the Palestinian Authority, talking to some of these other third parties who do have contacts with Hamas, trying to get the rockets and missiles to stop coming into Israel and to try to convince the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his cabinet to stop launching strikes against Hamas.

My own sense is the Israelis really want to try to diminish or destroy as much of Hamas's military capability as they can over the next few days before they go ahead with the ceasefire. But in the meantime, of course, a lot of Palestinians in Gaza are suffering and that death toll goes up.

BOLDUAN: To that point, Wolf, set the scene for viewers, what you have behind you, where you are.

BLITZER: I'm at this police station in Sderot along the border, an Israeli town not far away from Gaza. What they've done is they've collected a whole bunch of Hamas rockets that have come into this specific area, and they've got a display, a lot of these rockets, Katyusha rockets, ground rockets, all sorts of other rockets. These are rockets that mostly landed in some open areas, as they say, farmland, didn't cause a whole lot of damage by any means. These are rockets that were not intercepted by the Iron Dome, that antimissile system.

But for the Israelis who live here, there are a lot of them who do, every time one of these rockets come in, those sirens go off. And since they're so close to Gaza, they only have about 15 seconds to run some sort of shelter. If we heard that siren right now, for example, we'd have about 15 seconds to get inside and go to some sort of shelter because the rockets just come in and the folks here are pretty traumatized.

I must say I've been here before, and it's a pretty sad situation to see what's going on right now. But as I say, this is a town by the way, Kate, and you'll remember this, that President Obama came to when he was running for office back in 2008, visited Israel, came to Sderot. In many of his speeches he's delivered since then he's referred to what he saw here when he met with Israelis, many of them at that time since sort of routinely sleep in their bunkers, in these safe rooms, as they call them, because they're so scared that the rockets will come in. So it's relatively quiet between the end of 2012 and now, but now it's heated up pretty dramatically.

BOLDUAN: I mean, it's one thing to talk about the back and forth between Israel and Hamas, it's another thing to see the rockets there behind you, Wolf, and to talk to people on the ground and the civilians caught in the middle of it all on both sides. Wolf Blitzer, great to see you, thank you so much. Wolf has been there before, always does amazing reporting. So you want to make sure to watch Wolf. He's going to be anchoring from the Israel-Gaza border. He's going to be live there for you 1:00 p.m. eastern and of course "THE SITUATION ROOM" starting at 5:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

CUOMO: All right, now, back at home another pressing concern, the immigration issue now has a face, a face, tens of thousands of children's faces. They're trapped in the border in conditions we do not know enough about. All of Congress agrees the situation demands action, but they have so far done nothing.

Today Congress gets another chance. They're going to take up the president's request for nearly $4 billion in emergency funding to deal with the problem. The question is, what will they do with that request? Meantime, Homeland Security says they're going to begin deportations this week. So let's get down to the White House, CNN's Michelle Kosinski is there with the latest. What do we know, Michelle?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is really go time for Congress in deciding whether or not to approve this nearly $4 billion that the president has requested. So we have both Democrats and Republicans saying it's of critical importance, but there are still differences in what they say are the root causes of it, the issues surrounding it, and, yes, how to solve it. The Republicans have wanted more border security and they've faulted the president's plan for not including a bigger piece of that. Here is Senator John McCain.


MCCAIN: And the fact is that we cannot have an unending stream of children, whether it be from Central America or anybody else, to come into our country with all the strains and pressures that is put on our capabilities. It's not acceptable. Every nation has the requirement to secure its borders. Our borders are not secure, no matter what they say.


KOSINSKI: The president's plan does include a significant chunk, about $1.5 billion, for border security and enforcement. And the administration has said, look, this isn't even really a border security issue at this point because many of the children arriving are looking for border agents so they can turn themselves in and then begin the now lengthy legal process of trying to stay in America. They've also pointed out that over all the number of people trying to cross the border is at near historic lows. The spike has just been in these enormous numbers of unaccompanied children trying to get here. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Michelle, thank you very much, appreciate the perspective. The question is, what can the White House do to get Congress to act? We will stay on it, that's for sure.

A lot of other news this morning. Let's get right to Michaela with that.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone, here are your headlines. Millions of us will have to deal with pretty bizarre weather to start our week. The Midwest seeing unusually low temperatures while the northeast and mid-Atlantic are dealing with severe thunderstorms and heavy rain. Disney's Epcot Center not immune to weather-related problems. People were stock on the monorail there for about 90 minutes Sunday because of a power outage. And 120 people had to be evacuated.

In Iraq parliament is at an impasse after it failed to make progress on choosing leaders in an effort to form a new government. Lawmakers suspended its session until Tuesday after they failed to vote for a new speaker, a move that would start the clock for choosing a president and prime minister. All of this as Sunni militants continue to gain more ground in their march towards Baghdad.

In a daring operation workers and divers completed the delicate operation of refloating the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia. It's been two-and-a-half years since that ship ran aground off the coast of Italy, capsizing and killing 32 people on board. It is now being towed to its home port where it will be scrapped.

A mysterious odor has led to the evacuation of about 150 homes in Pennsylvania. Emergency crews detected high levels of volatile organic compounds in several homes near Philadelphia. The Red Cross shelter has been set up now for evacuees. The EPA and other agencies are working to determine the source of those fumes.

Quite an unsettling weekend in Oklahoma, seven earthquakes reported over the last two days, the largest registered a magnitude of 4.3. There's been a huge spike in earthquakes reported in the state, this year alone 207 quakes with 3.0 magnitude or higher. The state averaged just two per year in 1978 to 2008. No official reason for the spike, but many suggest hydro-fracking could be one of the causes. Those are your headlines. It's 12 minutes past the hour, guys.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Michaela. You see right there, that means it's money time, folks. The Department of Justice has been coming down hard on lenders responsible for the financial crisis and getting some big payoffs. J.P. Morgan chase paid a record breaking $13 billion last year. And now another big bank facing the reckoning of the mortgage crisis. Poppy Harlow is here with some of the breaking details on that. POPPY HARLOW, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. This

is just getting confirmed. We're talking about Citigroup, a multibillion dollar payout coming from them. A source close to the negotiations telling us they are going to announce this with the Justice Department in just a little while, that press release just coming down. This settles charges that Citi packaged bad mortgages knowingly during the run-up to the huge financial crisis. Citi and the Department of Justice have been haggling for months over the amount of the settlement. Citi offered $4 billion as recently as June. But this is much higher, a $7 billion deal. The Department of Justice has threatened to sue even after Citi offered $7 billion, but then somehow they came to an agreement. No lawsuit here.

Where does the money go? That is what matters. $And 4 billion to the Department of Justice, $2.5 billion homeowner relief, mortgage modifications through Citi, et cetera, $500 million is going to go to the FDIC and also states attorney generals. Guys, you know what this means. They're not going to be any lawsuits going forward in terms of these mortgage backed securities deals. So it's a big, big payout, and they didn't want to pay at first and there was a lot of haggling back and forth. But it's going to protect them from some of the lawsuits.

BOLDUAN: This is one of the biggest, $7 billion, these are big penalties. This deal is one of the biggest, right?

HARLOW: But it's not even near what J.P. Morgan paid. Let's take a look. J.P. Morgan paying a record, that was in November, that was $13 billion, $11.8 billion from Bank of America, this $7 billion from Citi, Wells Fargo $5.8 billion, $1.25 from Morgan Stanley.

Some important things to note here, though, Bank of America is still haggling with the Department of Justice over another mortgage-related settlement in the billions of dollars. We're told the lawyers on both sides are nowhere near a deal.

So this is -- I mean, Chris, you're looking at this like a lawyer. You look at it from the bank's perspective and you think this saves us from the lawsuits. It's also a big public relations fight on the part of the Department of Justice, so many people saying these banks really haven't been held accountable.

CUOMO: Do you remember that person who committed the crime and they didn't have to go to jail, they just paid the fine? No, you don't. Because it doesn't happen. And what people are pissed about here is these banks committed crimes and they're paying their way out of it.

BOLDUAN: And they're not going to jail as a result of it.

CUOMO: Nobody has gone to jail. I don't want to see people go to jail, but nobody's gone to jail for admitted crimes and they're paying their way through it. Where do you think the money comes from to pay it?

HARLOW: And they can afford it. And it comes from their customers.

CUOMO: Fees, et cetera.

HARLOW: Exactly. And we've seen those fees being raised. This protects them from civil lawsuits. It doesn't protect them from criminal suits but the Department of Justice is yet to bring them them.

BOLDUAN: But where are they -- right. When are those going to come?

Poppy, thank you so much. A lot to talk about with that ahead today. And also this, coming up next on NEW DAY, is Bowe Bergdahl ready to go back on duty after five years in captivity? He's been in therapy. Is it too soon, though? And what other concerns does it raise?

CUOMO: Have you heard the war of words over Iraq, the latest one? This one, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, getting into it in a big way. We have more on INSIDE POLITICS coming right up.


CUOMO: Welcome back. New for you this morning, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl could return to active duty as early as today. The man held by the Taliban for five years and accused by his brothers at arms of desertion is expected to re-enter life in the military after a recent round of therapy and counseling.

Let's get to Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr following developments for us. This is some quick turn, Barbara, isn't it?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Chris. What they found in the military, each of these captives are able to return society basically more relaxed, more able to cope, all on different time frames. It's been about six weeks or so for Bowe Bergdahl. And my Pentagon sources are telling me, as soon as later today, we do expect an announcement that he, too, has finished this reintegration phase -- recovery, counseling, therapy -- and will rejoin the active duty military.

The word is he will likely, likely rejoin a unit somewhere in Texas where he has been undergoing therapy, because logically that puts him close to the medical team that's been helping treat him if he runs into additional trouble.

One of the most interesting things perhaps, though, now that he's completed this therapy phase of his treatment, it will allow the army to have its investigating officer sit down, talk to him and in a more formal sense ask him questions about his disappearance back in 2009 from his base in Afghanistan. How did he disappear? What happened? Did he walk away deliberately? For the first time in over five years to get Bowe Bergdahl's side of the story. Then the army will decide how to proceed, whether he has any legal liability in what happened. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Wow, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Barbara, thank you so much.

And now let's turn to a bizarre and fascinating story out of China. The country's most popular TV anchor detained. The newscaster was taken by authorities just minutes before he was supposed to go on the air. David McKenzie has more on this from Beijing.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On China's most popular business show Friday, there was one major thing missing -- its star male anchor. Just an empty chair. Controversial anchor Rui Chenggang is known for fast cars and big interviews, but he was taken away on corruption allegations by investigators right before air.

Dubbed a shameless self promoter, Rui has never missed an opportunity for publicity. Here he is a few years back on "The Daily Show".

RUI CHENGGANG, CCTV ANCHOR: We have probably 200 to 400 million viewerees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 200 to 400 million?

MCKENZIE: Unashamedly pro-China, he helped kick Starbucks out of the Forbidden City and likes to bait senior U.S. diplomats.

RUI: Do you mind asking, Ambassador Locke, you flew coach from Beijing to Dalian. Was it a reminder that U.S. still owes China money?

MCKENZIE: Even taking on President Obama.

RUI: Unfortunately, I hate to disappoint you, President Obama, I'm actually Chinese. But I think I get to represent entire Asia.

MCKENZIE: With more two popular memoirs and more than ten million social media followers, he's the most popular personality on China's central television. He earlier denied he's being investigated.

Senior executives at CCTV, an arm of the Communist Party government, have already been detained by investigators. The party says no one is immune in their anti-corruption crackdown, even one of China's best known TV personalities.

(on camera): Rui was known as the new face of China. For now, he won't be getting much face time at all.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


CUOMO: All right, our thanks to David for that. When they yank you right before air, they're sending a message.

BOLDUAN: I think that's exactly what they were trying to do. David McKenzie put it very well. Thanks, David.

CUOMO: All right, coming up on NEW DAY, the man accused of gunning someone down just for texting during a movie just got out on bail. Why? We're going to take you through the judge's decision, the reversal, and the reaction from the widow's lawyer coming up.

BOLDUAN: Attorney General Eric Holder, he's going on the attack, responding to Sarah Palin's call that President Obama be impeached. Find out what he said when we go INSIDE POLITICS.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's give you a look at your headlines right now.

Hundreds are fleeing their homes in Gaza over concerns about Israeli air strikes. Israel is dropping leaflets warning residents to abandon Hamas facilities. Israel says the militant group fired more than 130 rockets in its direction Sunday. Israel's prime minister says he is sorry for the loss of life but it is unavoidable as long as Hamas fires rockets from civilian facilities. The death toll in Gaza stands now at over 170.

An unprecedented election audit now under way in Afghanistan. Afghan and international observers are recounting more than 8 million votes in the presidential election. The two men vying for the presidency in Afghanistan agreed to the recount after weeks of deadlock. Last month's runoff has been plagued by accusations of industrial strength fraud.

An Air India jet made an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire. Flight 144 was headed from Newark to Mumbai. A few minutes after takeoff, the pilot reported flames coming out of the left engine. That flight was forced back to Newark Liberty Airport with 313 passengers on board. The 777 jet landed safely about a half hour after taking off. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

OK. Here you go. Check out this viral picture. The most disastrous wedding picture is being called -- this the Tyler Foster. Yes, seen jumping at a wedding in Jamaica. And, yes, he kicked the bridesmaid in the head. Yes, he also ripped his pants.


PEREIRA: He posted the photo on Reddit, where more than 6 million people and counting have viewed his act of grace. The Canadian judge gives him a nine.

BOLDUAN: A nine?

CUOMO: Well, you have to give him something for just being able to jump like that.

BOLDUAN: The Russian judge gives him one. Bad form.

CUOMO: Strength and flexibility, straight tens.

PEREIRA: He had the whole beach. Kicked her in the head.


BOLDUAN: I mean, it is pretty unbelievable.

CUOMO: I'm still going with the jump. She looks fine. Is she OK? What do we know?

BOLDUAN: You do wonder if it was pre or post ceremony.

PEREIRA: I don't know that.

BOLDUAN: You just don't know.

PEREIRA: You mean, pre or post cocktails, is that what you're asking?