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Interview With Senator Lindsey Graham; Daughters Testify For Prosecution; Health Care Website Fails Again; Pushing for Answers on Benghazi; Food Linked to Depression

Aired October 31, 2013 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SABRINA MACNEILL, MARTIN MACNEILL'S DAUGHTER: I remember staying up at night thinking, what in - like, what in the world. I mean, I thought she was our nanny. Why is she up in dad's room?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Provo, Utah.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's get into what all this could mean and the trial itself with our legal team, Danny Cevallos, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, and Sonny Hostin, former federal prosecutor, also CNN legal analyst.

Happy Halloween to you both. I've been making fun of people about how they look like they're in costume, but you two are too attractive, so let's get right into the analysis.

Now, Sunny, you had been with me early on saying, you know what, boy, this guy's coming off like a bad person, but I don't know that he's coming off like a guilty person. And then Alexis MacNeill -- what did you make about her testimony, the notes, the medical background about medication, the admissions from the father, the admissions from the mother about feeling as if she were being drugged, your take?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think she was certainly the most important witness for the prosecution so far, Chris. I mean, I don't think that they are there yet in terms of proving that Dr. MacNeill drugged and then drowned his wife because there are no witnesses to this, and this is a circumstantial case. No one saw him drug her. No one saw him drown her.

However, when you have his daughter -- daughters testifying, especially this daughter, Alexis, who is also a physician, who is also someone that was very close to her mother, I think they really have advanced the ball in terms of circumstantial evidence, circumstantial proof pretty far down the field at this point.

CUOMO: This is a game changer, Danny Cevallos, fair statement, based on where's the medication, dad? Oh, I don't know, maybe the police took it. 'Mom, why are you so drugged up?' 'I don't know. Dad keeps giving me pills. He won't let me know what the pills are. I feel like I can barely think.' Game changer or no? Are we in the game now? DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is, and that's the way I view this evidence at this point. It's still character evidence that's repackaged as motive evidence, and I think the prosecution's doing a good job of clouding that issue. But now I think we've gotten to the level where the suspicious behavior is such that a jury may be able to conclude that there was enough motive - well, really, enough intent. The problem is, the prosecution still has to tie in the criminal act. That an act the doctor did intentionally resulted in a death.

CUOMO: He gave her too many pills.

CEVALLOS: However -

CUOMO: He gave her too many pills.

CEVALLOS: Because they're building up just so much -

CUOMO: He gave - gave her too many pills, Danny.

CEVALLOS: Gave her too many pills.

HOSTIN: Yes.

CEVALLOS: But that doesn't go to an intentional killing. It may go to - he did admit, 'oops, I gave her too much medication a couple days before.' And I think a jury could connect the dots and say, 'hey, if he accidentally did it before, he didn't accidentally do it on this day.'

CUOMO: So what do you think, Sunny, if they're in the box and they believe -- the jury, -- and they say, 'you know what? I think he gave her too many pills and it wound up killing her,' does the "and he choked her and he hurt her in the bathtub" go away? And is that enough to convict?

HOSTIN: It's not enough to convict because, as Danny just pointed out, they've got to prove intent. The government has to prove intent. I mean they've charged him with first-degree murder. And so, I think when you look at that, you know, an accident -

CUOMO: Overcharge? Overcharge?

HOSTIN: You know, I was just about to say that, Chris. You know, perhaps an overcharge here because, again, there are no eyewitnesses and, yes, maybe he accidentally gave her too much medicine, maybe he's a bad guy and he was having all of these affairs, but does that really lead to 'I am intentionally going to drug my wife and then drown her?' I just don't see it yet.

I mean, we still haven't heard from the medical examiner. That usually is the book end witness for most prosecutions. I need to hear that first before I can go all the way and say, yes, this government is where it needs to be in terms of this prosecution.

CUOMO: Flushed pills at the direction of the doctor says Eileen Heng, former girlfriend of Martin MacNeill's son, Damian MacNeill. How does that figure into your plans to put on a case in chief, defense counselor? Do you have to put on a case of the defense now?

CEVALLOS: You know, that's an interesting question. I mean, I'm still in the camp of you don't need to call the doctor but do you put on a defense case? I mean they have to, in the sense that they have their own M.E. and they have to put on some science. But in terms of their own witnesses, I imagine they will call their own.

But, I mean, the bottom line is, how do they begin to refute all of this creepy behavior by the doctor? I mean every single event. The other way to explain it away is that, hey, some of these comments he made that are incriminating years prior, they're just sort of offhand pillow talk comments. They shouldn't be held against him. But, look, this doctor's got -- he's made this -- his life very difficult for himself with his shenanigans.

CUOMO: What about him telling the jailbird that he did it? Do you think that gets dismissed because it came from somebody who's in jail?

HOSTIN: I don't think so. I mean, certainly there's no question that we have people that testify all the time, jail mates, jailbirds, they testify each and every day in our courtrooms across the country. So just by virtue of the fact that he was in a jail cell with Dr. MacNeill, I don't think, you know, boots his testimony.

But I've got to say, Danny made an interesting point because this guy's behavior before, during, after his wife's death is so very, very creepy it sort of harkens back to Casey Anthony for me. But certainly in that case it wasn't enough to convict her. So I do think that the defense needs to put on some kind of case. They've got to rehabilitate this doctor. I mean, my goodness, every single person on this jury is looking at him thinking, he's a creep capable of murder, and they probably do want to convict him, but is there enough to convict?

CUOMO: Casey Anthony, another case of potential overcharging. Sunny Hostin's invoking the Politan-esque. My goodness. That's going to take the debate for her.

HOSTIN: I did go Vinnie Politan, didn't I?

CUOMO: Look at Cevallos. He's got nothing on that. That was like a trick-or-treat slap in the face to Cevallos. He's got nothing going, but he's still handsome. Happy Halloween to both of you. Thank you for taking us through this. Imagine if the doctor takes the stand. What an analysis session that would be. What could it mean for the trial?

Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham still pushing for answers on -- about that deadly attack in Benghazi more than a year ago, threatening to hold up nominations until he gets answers. We're going to talk with him about that and much more live next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone.

The president, the vice president, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, all responding to the broken Obamacare website yesterday, leading to still more questions as to who's responsible for the debacle and whether the administration has restored confidence that it can work. Joining us to talk about that and much more, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a key member of the House - the Senate Armed Services Committee, of course. Joining me - I just gave you a demotion, Senator, I'm very sorry.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I enjoyed the House.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. You did. You did. All right, great to see you.

I want to task you about health care. No surprise, you are not a supporter of Obamacare.

GRAHAM: Right.

BOLDUAN: You're not a fan of the program or the law.

GRAHAM: Right.

BOLDUAN: But as it is rolling out, are you satisfied with the answers that Kathleen Sebelius provided to Congress yesterday?

GRAHAM: Well, at the end of the day, time will tell. No, not really. I mean how could, for three years, you haven't noticed that you've got to roll out a website on a certain day and it not work? Are we going to pay people who designed the website that doesn't work? Can we get some of our money back? And everybody's responsible, but nobody's to blame, I guess, is sort of what I learned.

BOLDUAN: Do you allow them more time to get it right or do you think that you can call it an abject failure now?

GRAHAM: Well, it's a fiasco. I don't know if they can turn it around. But the website is just one story. The real story is, how many millions of Americans are going to eventually get a letter from their insurance company saying you're no longer covered. We're going to cover you under a new policy and when you get the sticker shock. A lot of Americans are going to 29 hours of employment to avoid the employer mandate that kicks in at 30 hours. A lot of Americans are going to lose their private sector insurance that they've enjoyed. The president promised, if you liked your healthcare, you could keep it. He said it would be as cheap as a cell phone and easy to access as Amazon.com. So he's zero for three.

BOLDUAN: Now, I want to ask you about Benghazi because you've been very -- out there very passionate about this. You're threatening to hold up presidential nominations until the White House lets you and lets other members of Congress speak to or hear from witnesses and survivors of the attack in Benghazi. You told Wolf Blitzer earlier this week that you support - you would even hold up the nomination of Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve in order to get these answers.

GRAHAM: Right.

BOLDUAN: Have you heard back from the administration about this threat?

GRAHAM: Well, since March I've been asking for something pretty simple. Before you can close the books on Benghazi, I think Congress needs to look over the administration's shoulder, it's called oversight. During the Bush years, when they made mistakes, and they made plenty of them, the 9/11 Commission, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, detainee abuse. We had numerous hearings where Senator McCain and myself were working with Democrats to hold the Bush administration accountable.

You've got a national security failure here. You've got the first ambassador killed in 33 years in the line of duty in Benghazi. And almost 14 months after the fact, the Congress has only been allowed to talk to one person who survived the attack. They won't make the witnesses available for congressional oversight purposes. And within 48 hours of the attack, the FBI interviewed the survivors in Germany and it is my belief that the survivors never told the FBI there was a protest.

But Jay Carney, the president and Susan Rice, for weeks after the attack, claimed that there was no evidence of an Al Qaida connection. It was not pre-planned. It was a protest spawned by hateful video that went bad. My belief is that these FBI interviews two days after should be released to the Congress so that we can look and see if whether or not there was evidence that there was never a protest.

BOLDUAN: But, Senator, is there another way to do this? Because you know what folks are going to say is that Janet Yellen -

GRAHAM: I'm open minded.

BOLDUAN: That Janet Yellen leading the Federal Reserve arguably one of the most important positions -

GRAHAM: Right. Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: That will be leading in Washington in the coming years - in years ahead.

GRAHAM: Yes. Yes.

BOLDUAN: Is it fair to hold up one part of government in order to get -- make a point on another?

GRAHAM: Is it fair to tell the Congress, when you have a national security failure like this, we will not make available to you the people who survived the attack so you can make an independent inquiry? Is it fair to withhold from the Congress a separate branch of the government with oversight responsibilities the basic evidence about what happened? I don't like holding up people. That's not my nature. I've run out of ideas and I am not going to do - Kate, I'm not going to let this whole chapter close without having talked to the people in Benghazi who went through this living hell and pushed the administration to reconcile how their story about Benghazi was so different than the "60 Minutes" report that identified Al Qaida terrorists and named them, by name, that it was a pre-planned, coordinated attack.

This is a big deal. We haven't gotten the truth. And the only leverage I have is to insist upon this information being released by stopping nominations. I'm not asking for too much. Is it really too much for me to want to talk to the people who were in Benghazi independent of the administration? Or should, in the future, the Congress just be told to shut up and go away, trust us, we've looked at it.

BOLDUAN: Now, I want you to respond to the White House. The White House has said that this isn't about Benghazi at all. They say it's about politics for you. You're up for re-election this year. What do you say to Jay Carney, who was one of the people who said that?

GRAHAM: Go tell the - go tell the parents and the survivors of the four dead Americans that it's OK for the administration never to share the witnesses with the Congress so we can validate whether or not what the families were told about Benghazi is true. Fourteen months later, do we know how this protest story started when all of the evidence from day one suggested terrorist attacks?

Chris, our Ambassador Stevens, on the phone said, we're under attack. I am confident that the witnesses, who were interviewed two days after the attack, never suggested there was a protest outside the consulate.

And to Jay Carney, why did you say on four to five separate occasions, weeks after this attack, there was no evidence of a pre-planned terrorist attack? Did you know about the FBI interviews? Where did you get your information to suggest there was a protest? How could you tell the American people a story that had no basis on fact and who denied the numerous security requests to enhance security at the consulate?

The "60 Minutes" piece detailed the people on the ground, saw this attack coming. Has anybody been fired for letting the consulate become a death trap?

BOLDUAN: Senator --

GRAHAM: What was Chris Stevens doing in Benghazi? Other than that, everything has been answered.

BOLDUAN: Senator, what are the chances do you think you're going to get this information? You're going to get access to witnesses? Because quite honestly the White House says they have given, they've gone above and beyond to give you information and while there's a criminal investigation is going on. What are the chances you're going to get it?

GRAHAM: Very good. That's a bunch of garbage. They haven't provided access. How can you close the chapter on Benghazi when you've never talked to the witnesses? The Accountability Review Board, an internal State Department organization, had access to the witnesses. We're supposed to believe them and you can't you know interview the witnesses ourselves? I'm asking every Republican and Democrats to join together and tell this administration you can't get away with this.

This is a bad precedent. What would the world look like, America look like if you have a failure like this and they use the criminal process -- 9/11, you couldn't investigate 9/11 under the theory that there may be a potential crime prosecuted later. That's a ridiculous concept.

And now Al Qaida attack is not a crime, it's a national security event. This was a national security failure and the truth is not coming out and the only way it will come out is to have access to the witnesses.

I'm asking every Republican to stand with me and Democrats to make this administration do the right thing. Can you imagine what Democrats would be doing if this were the Bush administration? No, you can't talk to any of the witnesses. Go away. We're not going to share with you FBI information in real time.

BOLDUAN: Well, hopefully you can settle this without holding up nominations because I know you will agree with this --

GRAHAM: I would like that.

BOLDUAN: -- obstructing one part of government is not a good way to run the other part of government. I know you agree with that so hopefully you can work it out.

GRAHAM: I do -- I do believe in oversight, too, that one part of the government has to answer to the other.

BOLDUAN: Senator, it's great to see you. Thank you so much for coming in.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right we'll talk to you soon. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Kate. Coming up on NEW DAY, do you love pasta? Of course you do. It's part of wanting to be Italian. But loving it too much, could that hurt your mental health? Oh maybe that's part of being Italian too. We'll give you some answers when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: All right. Let's get straight over to Indra for another look at the forecast, a stormy one pretty much all around Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and just a reminder to everyone it's Halloween, but 53 million of you are really under the threat for severe weather from Detroit, all the way down today. We're talking about strong winds, heavy rain and even the threat for an isolated tornado. The reason why -- we're talking about all of this moisture coming out of the south of the jet stream lining up.

So farther down in the south we have anywhere from three to five inches of rain that can still be seen out of this and farther up to the north, we're talking about one to two inches in the Ohio Valley but more importantly that's where that severe weather threat is enhanced. We could see even 50-mile-per-hour gusts out there. So, just a reminder for everyone to stay safe on Halloween take a break -- Kate and Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right that's a good point. Thank you good advice, thanks Indra.

CUOMO: All right do you know the expression brain food? Well it turns out there's something to it. We're going to take a look at how what you eat can affect your mental health. But you know what; I feel like it's a couchable conversation.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Couchable. Are you telling us to sit on the couch?

CUOMO: So let us to the couch yes. I'm full all the pasta I ate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: What should we eat?

PEREIRA: Now for NEW DAY new you. Can certain foods actually increase your chances of clinical depression? There's a new study from Harvard University that say yes, some of the culprits are probably on your favorite food list.

Dr. Roshini Raj is here with the bad news. She's assistant professor of Medicine at NYU Medical Center.

So first of all let's talk about the foods that are on the list. This is devastating.

DR. ROSHINI RAJ, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT NYU MEDICAL CENTER: Sure, it's not like bad news.

PEREIRA: OK.

RAJ: Because the good news is if you do change your diet maybe you can reduce your risk of depression.

CUOMO: Good spin.

RAJ: But then the news we're talking about the pro-inflammatory foods, these are foods that we've now found can increase overall body inflammation and therefore there may be a link to increased risks of depression. That's what they found in the study. So we're talking about refined sugars, refined grains.

PEREIRA: Sure.

RAJ: -- sodas, especially the sugary sweetened sodas, even the diet sodas, red meat -- these are the food that they found when women consume these regularly over several years they did have an increased risk of depression. And it was a very good study; it was a large number over 43,000 women, 12 years of follow-up. There was a significant increase in rates of depression for those who have that diet.

BOLDUAN: Do we take away that you should try to cut this out completely or is this a -- is this is an issue of moderation?

RAJ: Moderation I would say, but in general you want to be having whole grains, foods that sustain you longer, more fruits and vegetables. In fact, the study showed some specific ingredients, olive oil, coffee actually was protective against depression, red wine in moderation. So that's some good news.

CUOMO: Not to break up -- not to break the fun, but being a male.

RAJ: Yes.

CUOMO: Is there anything in here that is relevant for that part of the population?

RAJ: Well this study was looking at women but a very -- a very similar study looked at men -- this was done in Finland, same exact results.

PEREIRA: What exactly is -- can you explain quickly inflammation and why it is important for us to be paying attention in?

RAJ: Yes, it's interesting because we used to think of inflammation as just in a certain joint or a certain part of your body, swelling and --

BOLDUAN: Take Advil and you're fine.

RAH: Right your immunity system is basically releasing certain chemicals that fight off infection or other things. But overall body inflammation means in your bloodstream there are certain chemical that are released we call them cytokines that really kind of rev up certain things that shouldn't be revved up and that can cause inflammation in your blood vessels, hardening of your arteries for example, neurologic issues and things of that nature. So it's not good to have overall chronic inflammation.

BOLDUAN: Where are you on the red wine debate? How much is good and how much is too much?

RAJ: Well what's interesting is when they look at this it wasn't just the alcohol in the red wine, it was really the quality of the grapes and the grapes' skin so I think because there are so many risks with alcohol I would say try to stick to the grape juice, grapes.

PEREIRA: Moderation.

RAJ: Yes definitely moderation. And for women, that's only one drink a day. It's not very much. CUOMO: And for men it is 11.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's what the doctor said, 11.

BOLDUAN: Listen to Dr. Raj, not to Dr. Cuomo.

PEREIRA: Good to have you hear, Doctor and happy Halloween to you.

RAJ: Thank you. You, too.

PEREIRA: Thanks for joining us.

CUOMO: NYU Langone says 11 drinks -- no they don't. Drink in moderation, you know that. You know that, if you know anything.

All right. Coming up, it is Halloween. We're doing our planning. Part of it is being safe with the weather. If you live on the East Coast there's a big storm that could wreak havoc with the trick-or- treating. So we will tell you it's going to be right in "THE NEWSROOM" right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Happy Halloween, everybody. Thanks for watching NEW DAY. Time for "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello -- take it away.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, there's a gorilla behind you. Watch out. Happy Halloween. Thanks so much.

CUOMO: Two gorillas for the price of one.

COSTELLO: Awesome. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", breaking overnight -