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Three Americans Stop Gunman on French Train; Interview with State Department Spokesman John Kirby; Iran Nuclear Deal Defended; Deadly Air Show Tragedies Caught on Video; Will Biden Run for President? Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired August 24, 2015 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an enormously traumatic incident.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota, and Michaela Pereira.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, August 24th, 8:00 in the east. Breaking overnight. three childhood pals celebrated worldwide. Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos awarded Knights of the Legion medals from France after they preventing a potential massacre on a high-speed train. They took down the gunman who was armed to the teeth and now being linked to ISIS.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Now, the suspect said he is dumbfounded by allegations he's linked to terrorists. He claimed that he was on the train to rob passengers because he was hungry. Our breaking news coverage begins with CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson live from Paris. Give us the latest there, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, good morning, Alisyn. These three young American heroes, the French president said they should be an inspiration for all of us. They diverted a possible major catastrophe. The gunman had 300 bullets with him on the train. There were more than 500 people. The implications were very, very dire. These men came to the presidential palace here. They were led in by Spencer Stone whose arm is still in a sling.


ROBERTSON: This morning three young Americans arriving to a red carpet ceremony in Paris. The French president presenting them with a country's highest award for bravery, the Legion of Honor.


ROBERTSON: The honor came after this incredible scene was viewed around the world. A gunman hogtied on the floor of a passenger train. The close friends say they acted on instinct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was either do something or die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't a conscious decision. We just acted.

ROBERTSON: And 23-year-old U.S. Airman Spencer Stone lead the charge.

SPENCER STONE, TACKLED GUNMAN, ON FRENCH TRAIN: I saw he had what looked to be an AK-47. It looked like it was jammed or wasn't working, he was trying to charge the weapon. And Alek just hit me on the shoulder and said "Let's go."

Authorities say he and his two friends college senior Anthony Sadler and National Guard member Alek Skarlatos along with a French and British national prevented what could have been a bloody massacre.

CHRIS NORMAN, HELPED STOP GUNMAN ON FRENCH TRAIN: When I heard that they were moving, that gave me the impetus to get up and do it. That galvanized me as well.

STONE: Ran down, tackled him. We hit the ground. Alek came up and grabbed the gun out of his hand while I put him in a chokehold.

ROBERTSON: The suspect is identified as Ayoub El Khazzani, a Moroccan national who boarded the train carrying a small arsenal of weapons, including an assault rifle with at least eight magazines, a Lugar automatic pistol with extra ammunition, and a box cutter which he used to slash Stone multiple times, nearly severing his thumb.

BRIAN STONE, SPENCER STONE'S FATHER: I think he's not dead because he took immediate action to take action to protect himself and everyone else there. Plus, there being an angel in the room.

ROBERTSON: Stone's father believing it was destiny. The three men moving from coach seats to first class for better Wi-Fi.

EVERETT STONE, SPENCER STONE'S BROTHER: I expect nothing less from my brother. He's a warrior.

ROBERTSON: According to a senior European counterterrorism official Khazzani is linked to investigations into radical Islamist networks across Europe including a French ISIS cell in Turkey. His lawyer says he denies he's a terrorist. Instead he planned to rob passengers on the train with weapons he found in a park. One passenger was shot in the melee. Stone rushed to help another who was wounded in the neck.

STONE: I just stuck two of my fingers in his hole, found what I thought to be the artery, pushed down, and the bleeding stopped.

ROBERTSON: Over the weekend President Obama called the men personally, commending them for their courage and quick action.


ROBERTSON: The French president has said there will be an investigation into a security in the French transport network, but he said whatever authorities do, there is always a responsibility left with the individuals, left with people to try to do something. And he quoted Anthony Sadler saying that when presented with a crisis then you have to do something. A very high honor, indeed, for the three young American heroes.

CAMEROTA: If only we were all so capable as these three heroes. Nick, thank you so much.

A New York social worker witnessed the horrifying attack. We spoke with Christina Coons about what happened on board that train. Here's her account.


CAMEROTA: So you are under your seat, taking cover. The tray table is down. You see this man fall with blood and you see that bloody duffel bag. What is going through your head as that's happening?

CHRISTINA COONS, WITNESS, FRANCE TRAIN SHOOTING: I didn't know what to think. I just thought, oh, my god this man got shot. He's dead. I thought he, you know, I'm like, the neck that's a severe area to be shot at and he thought I might be dead. And I thought, am I next? That's my first thought. Am I next? Are we all next?

[08:05:07] CAMEROTA: But when did you realize there were people on the train who were going to try to save you?

COONS: The shots were fired, the man was bleeding. I didn't know what to think. And then I saw a large rifle. At first, I thought oh, my god is that the gunman, because I didn't know yet who he was. And I later learned he was one of the three men that saved my life and all of our lives.

CAMEROTA: We know were there some conversation exchange within the three Americans. Did you hear them talking?

COONS: I heard one of them say "I'm a paramedic. Someone get this man some help." He was basically trying to come to the man's rescue and he was asking passengers in my car to get, like, neckties, like men's neckties or a women's scarf to make a tourniquet around the neck to stop the bleeding.

They communicated to us, OK, we have the man tied up. His ammunition was taken away. So they did communicate that. So we felt a bit safer -- I was still scared and shaken up, but I felt a bit safer to come out of hiding. So I did that. And actually they all made us go to the back of the car and then eventually made us go to the next car, car 13, because they didn't want so many people near the man who was on the floor bleeding.

CAMEROTA: What do you want to say to them?

COONS: Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. I don't feel like I'm, you know, the thoughts that were running through my mind were, you know, am I going to die? I'm not ready to die. That's how I thought and felt and -- excuse me, I'm getting a little emotional. And, you know, I feel like I have so much more to do with my life. I'm only 28 years old, and I have goals and everybody on that train does as well. And they saved us. They are heroes. And if they don't think they're heroes, then, I mean, they're very humble and I respect that, but they are heroes. They're truly heroes. And my mom wanted to say thank you so much. She's very grateful that they were on that train.


CUOMO: All right, joining us now is State Department Spokesman John Kirby. Good to have you with us, sir. When we look at the situation, let's put aside the question for now whether or not the man was looking to rob or what the much more obvious suggestion is he's there to terrorize. Lone wolves, do you see that as the take away from this?

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Well, again, we don't want to get ahead of the investigation, Chris. But you're right, I mean, this certainly does raise the specter of self-radicalized lone wolves, as you put it, whether they're motivated by ISIL or some other terrorist group, whatever their ideology is. This is a concern and it has been a concern since we saw the rise of ISIL last summer. And we have got more than 30 countries inside the 60 plus country coalition that are taking legal and administrative steps to try to deal with exactly this kind of problem.

CUOMO: Let's tick off some other major issues. What is the chance that the violence in Korea escalates between the north and south?

KIRBY: It's difficult to predict, Chris. As you know the north is a very unpredictable, very opaque regime. We don't have a lot of insight into their intentions and thinking and their actions. It was encouraging to see the two sides talk over the weekend, and we're monitoring this very, very closely. Nobody wants to see this come to blows on the Korean peninsula. We have almost 30,000 troops there. They're ready to go if they need to be, but obviously that's not the outcome that anybody wants to see. Tensions are high. We continue to watch this very closely and obviously hope things can deescalate.

CUOMO: How comfortable are you that there is no better deal than the Iran deal on the table?

KIRBY: Well, looks, Secretary Kerry has talked about this at length. The deal was negotiated over the course of two-and-a-half years. And it wasn't just the United States and Iran. It was, you know, five other countries with us.

And so the international community in addition to the EU, the international community is behind this deal. There is no other alternatives out there, certainly none that anybody has put forward. And what is really important to remember the deal brought Iran to the table. And this deal will take away their ability to possess a nuclear weapons capability.

CUOMO: Answer the criticisms. The criticisms are, one, you turned it into a situation that is no longer if but when they get it. You have given them $150 billion you could have held off them. You're not squeezing the sanctions anymore that you could have continued to do. And they didn't give back the American prisoners before starting any negotiation, which should have been a precondition.

KIRBY: That's a lot. Let's take them one by one, and if I forget, you remind me. We wanted to separate the condition of the Americans that are being detained with Iran. They need to be home because they need to be home with their families. And linking them to the deal might have only made the situation worse for them. So we never missed an opportunity to talk to Iranian leaders about that.

[08:10:06] You mentioned $150 billion. I know the numbers sort of fluctuate here, but, look sanctions relief is what brought Iran to the table. The U.N. sanctions that were in place were there for one reason only, to deal with their nuclear weapons capability and to try to bring them to the table. So there was going to be a measure of sanctions relief. U.S. sanctions are not going to be removed on Iran for their nefarious activities in the region. So we always have other economic and frankly other military options at our disposal if they continue to support terrorism in the region and to conduct destabilizing activities. Nobody is going to take our eye off that. And I can't remember, you had a couple more.

CUOMO: I know you remember, John, but you're ducking. But you've answered enough.

I have one other topic that I want to, because we'll follow on the conversation as we see where the votes go and what the bases are for the votes. We don't want to pre-argue something that we don't know how it turned out.

So the last one is this -- can you say that the State Department approved of the use of Clinton's private e-mail server the way it was conducted from start to finish?

KIRBY: Well, look, as you know, Chris, this issue is under a series of reviews and investigations. So I'm not at liberty to comment too specifically about past use of the e-mail server. What I can tell you is we at the State Department are very much committed to making these e-mails, and there's 30,000 more, to make them public. We're going to do it carefully through the Freedom of Information Act and that process. But Secretary Kerry is committed to doing that just as expeditiously as possible. Obviously we don't want to get in the way of reviews and investigations that are looking into this.

CUOMO: Understood, but it is your department and it is your policy, and it would be within your purview to say whether or not her practice met your policy. Can you?

KIRBY: Well, we have said in the past, Chris, there was no policy prohibiting the use of a private e-mail account here at the State Department. That is still a fact. Now, we obviously have policies in place now that highly discourage that, and you're supposed to use your government account so there's a constant, permanent record of it. But at the time she was not violating policy.

CUOMO: Even though there was a change in 2009 and that would have overlapped?

KIRBY: As I said, at the time when she was secretary of state there was no prohibition to her use of a private e-mail.

CUOMO: So that's the position of the state department. Obviously whatever else comes from the investigation you're going to have to watch. But it's a question that gets overlooked here. Did you guys ever have a problem with what she was doing and did you say did you go to the secretary and say it? You're saying no.

KIRBY: I'm not aware of what individual conversations might have occurred back then. I wasn't here. But I can tell you that there was no prohibition for her use of this. And we have since changed the policy to discourage that greatly. In fact, the policy is you have to use the government account for business.

CUOMO: Is it a fair point that the policy was changed while she was secretary of state and whether or not she met with the changes of policy?

KIRBY: I don't believe the policy changed while she was secretary, Chris. I would have to go back and look at that. But certainly, as I said, at the time when she was secretary of state, she was not violating any policy or regulation.

CUOMO: John Kirby, thank you very much for taking on the issues of the day. We look forward to having you back.

KIRBY: My pleasure. Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the U.S. market is bracing for a drop this morning after Asian markets took a huge hit overnight. China's losses stirring up all sorts of economic worries across the globe. CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans now is here with us this morning looking at this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It's getting worse by the minute, you guys. I hate to tell you. This is what world markets look like. And again, getting worse. Look at London, Paris, Frankfurt, a real big problem there. Shanghai started this all at 8.5 percent decline for the day. It's down five percent over the last month.

Let me show you futures right now because this is a really ugly picture. Just look at that for a second. This is telling you if things hold it's going to be worse today than it was on Friday. This is a big decline for any market, certainly a big decline for today. Friday, you saw the Dow down 530 points, really nothing good to say about the stock market action on Friday, and the ferocity of the selling has continued all the way over the weekend.

A couple of problems here. You have got China, its growth is slowing. China, of course, is the factory floor to the world. All of these countries that supply raw materials to China are now in trouble because China doesn't need as much of their stuff. So you have all these things declining, all these commodities declining, and this oil price decline pretty significant, below $40 a barrel for the first time since 2009. It's going to be great for drivers. It's going to be great as you fill up the car this fall. It's not so great for anybody who relies on stable energy prices for their portfolio or for their business. We are about an hour and 15 to the opening bell. And I have just got to show you those futures one more time again, guys -- 645 points lower is what it looks like the Dow could open this morning.

CAMEROTA: Oh, boy. Thank you so much for keeping an eye on that for us as we know you will throughout the day. Thanks Christine.

[08:15:00] Well, a destruction in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra inflicted by ISIS, the terrorists blowing up the Baal Shamin temple, one of Syria's most important historic sites. This marks the first time ISIS terrorists have destroyed Roman era ruins since seizing Palmyra in May. Last week, ISIS extremist beheaded an 82-year-old Syrian scholar who worked for more than five decades as the head of antiquities in Palmyra.

PEREIRA: Investigators this morning are digging for clues into what caused a pair of deadly air show crashes in Europe over the weekend. The death toll climbing in England after a vintage jet nose-dived onto a busy highway. And in Switzerland, horror as two planes collide midair.

CNN's Ian Lee live in Shoreham, England, with the latest details and new video of the deadliest crash -- Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michaela, just behind, we're watching as this crane is pulling off the wreckage from the highway. We're seeing chunks of the plane being put on a flat bed trailer.

This is the moment which authorities said they are likely to find more bodies. Right now, at least 11 people, they say, are likely to be dead. That number is expected to rise as they clear the scene and pull that wreckage out. This is a town really in shock, a small community. This air show was really the height of their summer. And so, we're seeing this deadly tragedy.

Also, police hearing from other family members who say they still have people missing. That is something that they're going to be double checking when finding out the final death toll here. But we're also getting new footage of this crash from a dash cam on a car. You can see it coming down and hitting blowing up and no surprise at the large death toll because of that huge explosion.

Also, in Switzerland we did have another air incident where two planes collided. One pilot was killed and another one, though, was lucky enough to bail out of the plane and parachute to the ground. It's been a deadly weekend for air shows -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Ian. Thank you very much.

So, in politics, there's lots of speculation this morning that Joe Biden is one step closer to White House run. CNN was first to report that Biden held a private meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren on Saturday. The big question, why?

CNN's White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski joins us now with more.

The tantalizing aspect -- a ticket or is it just to meet with someone who represents the progressive part of the party? What's the scoop?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, that is a million dollar question, right? Is it the writing on the wall or what will be the big sign that Joe Biden is indeed challenging Hillary Clinton and running for president? Could it be that just this morning, his office announced that he now has a new communications director with some big time campaign experience, John Edwards for president, New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen? Or it could it be this meeting on Saturday with Senator Elizabeth Warren, the hero of many liberal Democrats and progressives?

So, this is a big deal. I mean, he flew in just for this meeting. It lasted about two hours, and he flew right back home. Some are seeing that alone as a signal that he's leaning towards a run, although sources tell CNN that he wanted to get her thoughts on that possibility. That he wanted to talk about his stance on certain issues, including the economy, but that he's still thinking about.

Now, here's what the super PAC supporting Biden said in an email to Democrats around the world, "While the vice president thoughtfully considers his potential candidacy, Draft Biden 2016 has already assembled a who's who of staff talent focusing on deft media strategy, aggressive fundraising, innovative digital outreach, and a dynamic field operation that aims to be up and running in all 50 states by September."

And what all watchers seem to agree on that he's going to make this decision whatever it will be within about a month -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK -- everyone on tenterhooks waiting to see that decision.

Thanks so much, Michelle.

Well, an apology from ESPN analyst Cris Carter for comments he made at a symposium for incoming rookies last year. The NFL hall of famer captured on video giving this controversial advice to a group of first-year players.


CRIS CARTER, ESPN ANALYST: And just in case y'all not going to decide to do the right thing, if y'all got a crew, you've got to have fall guy in the crew.


CAMEROTA: Carter now tweeting, quote, "seeing that video has made me realize how wrong I was. I was brought there to educate young people and instead I gave them very bad advice. Every person should take responsibility for his own actions. I'm sorry and I truly regret what I said that day.

CUOMO: Hmm, is he sorry? CAMEROTA: I'm sure he's sorry once it blew up.

CUOMO: That he got caught.

What do you think? Making a joke? Got taken a wrong way, had to apologize?

PEREIRA: It sounds like he was joking around and trying to, you know, relate to these guys and what have you.

[08:20:00] But I think he was trying to share some insight. I don't know. I don't know. I feel kind of twisted up about it. It's not the kind of advice you need to be giving anybody, coming up, you know?

CUOMO: That's the problem. It sounds like he was joking, it is something that happens too often with these younger guys, especially --

PEREIRA: You need to support them not send them astray.

CUOMO: That's too bad. I like Cris Carter. He's usually known as a character guy. But he's got trouble on this one.

So, provocative question: will he or won't he? Please tweet Alisyn. Do you think Joe Biden is going to make a run for the White House? If so, what does mean for Hillary Clinton? Who wins, in your opinion? Tweet Alisyn!

CAMEROTA: @AlisynCamerota --



GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA: If I were Hillary, I would say, don't jump in. If I were Joe Biden, I'd probably give a very serious consideration.

MARTIN O'MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I have a great deal of respect for Vice President Joe Biden. He's a very, very good and decent man. It would be nice to have at least one more lifelong Democrat in the race.


CAMEROTA: Well, Vice President Joe Biden has political tongues wagging after meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren this weekend. Was that a sign that Biden is getting into the presidential race? And what does it mean for the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton?

Let's discuss all of this with our CNN political commentator, Paul Begala. He's a Democratic strategies and senior adviser for a pro- Hillary Clinton super PAC, and CNN political analyst and editor in chief for "The Daily Beast", John Avlon.

Gentlemen, great to have you here. [08:25:00] Paul, I want to start with you.


CAMEROTA: Good morning.

You've known the vice president for a long time. Do you think that he's going to get into the race?

BEGALA: The truth is I just don't know. I think this is one of the classic cases where those who know aren't talking, and those who are talking don't know. I'm one of those who don't know.

I have known him for a long time. I love the guy. And he's a beloved figure across the Democratic Party. He's -- President Obama will tell you this, the best decision he made is putting Joe Biden one just heartbeat away from the presidency. He's a loved guy I think all of us.

I'm obviously for Hillary. I help run that super PAC that supports her. And yet, I think all of us should give him the time, the space to make his decision rather than trying to stampede him one way or the other.

CUOMO: Well, is he a stronger candidate than Hillary in light of this one number? Put up the poll number about her trustworthiness and how it's continuing to haunt her now. I don't know what this number means.

CAMEROTA: This is the one in Florida I want to get to in a second. First, you can look --


CUOMO: That's what I said.


CUOMO: OK. So, Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, 60 at least in three big fat states. Do you see this as a blip or do you see this as a reason that Biden may be the party's best bet?

BEGALA: Well, I can't imagine that Vice President Joe Biden would make a decision based on one number in one poll. The only person who has numbers on that factor as bad is Donald Trump and he's leading in his party. So, Hillary is leading in her party.


CUOMO: Paul Begala (INAUDIBLE) Trump proof that feels vulnerable?


BEGALA: No, I want Trump believe I'm going to send him vitamins. I want him to keep running and keep running. But the truth is, the vice president is going to, I think, I think, knowing that he's going to do this, he's going to think about what's best for his country, he's going to think what's best for his family. And I think the third tier is like the pragmatics. Can I win? Can I put the campaign together?

But he -- this is deeply principled and very idealistic guy for somebody who has been in politics all his life. So, I think he'll do this exactly the right way.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the third criteria is the one that's toughest for Biden. I think Paul will probably agree with that. I mean, it's not just whether there's money, but whether there's a support.

The Democrats also need to confront they really have a depth in the bench problem. I mean, when Joe Biden is your alternative to Hillary, he's pretty much the only guy in the Democratic who's older than Hillary Clinton. I'm not saying that an AARP membership is a problem in a general election, but it's not necessarily an asset.

This party is clearly looking for an alternative right now. Those trustworthy numbers are a problem. Even the most hardcore of Hillary Clinton surrogate would have to admit that.

But partly what's driving the Biden bandwagon right now is simply just a desire for a better more vibrant race in the Democratic Party. You've got Bernie surging, but it's not really offering a credible alternative as a nominee.

May win a couple of primaries but not necessarily changing the outcome. And so, the question for Biden isn't best day the first day I get in? Can I actually win? That's a much tougher calculus.

CAMEROTA: Let us play for you what Donald Trump said he would prefer to run against Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton. Listen to him this weekend.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they're the same. I think that Hillary may be damaged, however, George, because of the e-mail thing. But I don't know. Assuming she could get over that, which I just don't know how she possibly can, but if she could, I would say it would be pretty equal.


CAMEROTA: Paul, are you willing to concede that she is damaged by the e-mail controversy?

BEGALA: No, no. It's a very long way to temporary (ph), well, long way before the election. This is going to be -- it's going to be long forgotten.

AVLON: Where in Texas temporary, Paul.

BEGALA: Exactly. You see Austin right behind me. By the way, I'm moving my son in today at the university..

CUOMO: Hook 'em Horns, hook 'em Horns!

CAMEROTA: Congratulations!

BEGALA: Yes. My Billy, the best pitcher on a club baseball team at Texas.

But Mr. Trump is going to have his own problems, believe me. I don't want him to have problems until the general election. I want him to win the Republican primary.

But, no, this thing -- Hillary has to deal with it and she's dealing with it. I think it's going to be long forgotten. At some point, some point, some sweet day voters are actually going to engage. They're not going to.

They're going to ask questions like who is going to help me get a pay raise? Who's going to do something about the middle class squeezed in this country? You know, who's going to get the economy moving again? And they're going to turn to Hillary for that.

CUOMO: They've got to trust those answers, though. That's why it matters, right?

Look, we just had Kirby on. I tried five different ways to get him to say the State Department had some problem with their practices, and not because I want to indict Hillary Clinton.

BEGALA: What did he say?

CUOMO: He doesn't want to go there.


CUOMO: He said we changed the policy and didn't affect to her. I don't want to mess with the investigation.

So, it's not so much that Hillary is going to get indicted. I don't know the GOP is running that. It does sound very scary, but it's about whether or not she is trusted on what she says. And that's something that can be a little bit difficult to deal with.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, John.

AVLON: Well, no, I just - Biden's decision time line really does correspond to a deep weakness in Hillary Clinton's numbers, not just the owners and trustworthy but questions and clouds pumped up by GOP candidates who would love to have her not be on the ballot next November.

So, that time line coincidence is a real problem. It's going to be tempting for Biden to get in. But you've got to play the game out. I will just say, again, the Constitution does not forbid a vice president from serving more than two terms. CAMEROTA: Oh. Planting a seed.


CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Paul.

BEGALA: Hillary's favorable, Hillary is favorable is above 70 among Democrats. It's above 70.