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EARLY START

Kercher's Family Speaks; Americans Arrive In Sochi

Aired January 31, 2014 - 05:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Amanda Knox guilty again, terrified after an Italian court finds she killed her roommate. Will she be forced to return to prison? New this morning, the victim's family weighs in. We are live. And details about the ex-boyfriend, detained.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Obama in a CNN exclusive, telling us about his new plan to get jobless Americans back to work.

ROMANS: Mounting security threats at the Olympics as American athletes arrive for the games. We are live in Russia.

BERMAN: Just one week to go now until the Olympics.

ROMANS: I know. Almost there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN (on-camera): All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Great to see you today. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 past the hour this Friday morning.

BERMAN: We've got lots of breaking news this morning in the Amanda Knox case a day after she was convicted again in Italy of murdering her roommate. we are hearing this morning from the family of Meredith Kerche, speaking out about this retrial and the potential that Knox may have to return to prison. There's a lot of other news going on in this case also. Erin McLaughlin live in Florence this morning. Erin, tell us the latest.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Well, Meredith Kercher's brother and sister were present in court last night for the verdict. Their attorney has long argued for this conviction. They gave a press conference this morning. Take a listen to what Lyle Kercher had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYLE KERCHER, BROTHER OF MEREDITH KERCHER: No matter what the decision and when it is finally upheld or not, you know, nothing's, of course, going to bring Meredith back. You know, nothing will ever take away the horror of what happened to her. The best we can hope for is, of course, finally bringing this whole case to a conclusion, you know, and a conviction, and everybody can then move on with their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: Stephanie and Lyle Kercher also saying that should it come to an extradition order for Amanda (INAUDIBLE) should Italy's Supreme Court make that ruling that they would support her extradition from the United States. We're also getting an update on Amanda Knox's co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito. He was found guilty of Meredith Kercher's murder last night, sentenced to 25 years in jail.

We understand from Italian police in the Northern Italy city of Udine, which is located near the border of Austria and Slovenia. The police detained him at 1:00 a.m. last night. They found him inside a hotel. He had checked in with another woman. They brought him to the police station. They had been following him, they said, because of police orders to seize his passport.

Those orders given by the court because he was deemed a flight risk. He's currently still at the police station, we understand, filling out paperwork -- John and Christine.

BERMAN: I can see why detained at the border must raise a serious amount of concern for the police as they try to keep him in the country while this legal process continues.

MCLAUGHLIN: Absolutely. And this legal process is not over. We are still waiting for the written decision from this court in Florence. They have 90 days to issue that. Once that has been given, then the defense has another 90 days to appeal this decision to Italy's Supreme Court, the very same Supreme Court, however, that overturned the 2011 acquittal decision. so, at the moment, things are not looking good for Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox -- John.

BERMAN: No, not at all. All right. Erin McLaughlin for us in Italy this morning, thank you so much.

ROMANS: In Atlanta this morning, road crews finishing up a monumental task of moving the last remaining vehicles from the city's frozen interstates, a job that began overnight. Tow trucks pulling cars off the roads. Cars not retrieved on Thursday by drivers who had to leave their vehicles behind at the height of this paralyzing storm. Officials are hopeful today's morning commute will be nothing like what the city went through on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It was just a few inches of snow, but it left many highways impassable. Residents are seething, and the governor told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he's sorry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NATHAN DEAL, (R) GEORGIA: That long delay and stalling of traffic was hard on everybody, and it is for that that I am most apologizing, because I don't want that to happen to any of our citizens. I think it's been a big wake-up call. I think it is going to cause all of us to be more aggressive in terms of declaring states of emergency, in terms of deploying our emergency personnel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The governor said he's not looking for a scapegoat and the buck stops with him, but he implied that he was not given accurate information from forecasters about how bad the storm would be.

BERMAN: The death toll from the storm stands at ten, many of these in Alabama, where the highways remain a mess this morning. These pictures from Birmingham where roads froze again overnight after much of the snow and ice that was there melted and refroze. Officials continue to warn residents, do not travel today unless you absolutely have to.

ROMANS: Indra Petersons watching the forecast. And I'll tell you, it has been quite a week for the south. What can they expect now?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I mean, it's unbelievable. Of course, it's the morning hours when it's below freezing that it's difficult out there, but each day, the forecast is getting better. You can actually see in the morning hours almost a ten-degree warm-up from just yesterday and in the afternoon. We're going to continue with that trend as we see the temperatures really warming, so much so that in Atlanta, they're going to see above-normal temperatures by Sunday, 66 degrees.

You go out towards New Orleans, they're going to be looking for 70s. So, that's the good news. And if you're in D.C. and New York City, same thing. We'll start to see these temperatures going up. We actually feel the difference out there this morning. It feels so much better. Just keep in mind, if you're in the upper Midwest, you're not as fortunate. We're going to see a series of storms making their way through.

In Colorado today, already seeing six to 10 inches of snow possible from the system. Eventually, if you go through Saturday, that's going to be spreading all the way in through Michigan. Notice Chicago by Saturday, six to 10 inches of snow possible, Detroit, four to six inches. So, definitely kind of a wintry mix with some gusty winds out there. Keep in mind, even as the system kind of makes its way through, the second one here on Saturday is going to produce a little bit of icing from the Ohio Valley back to the Southern Plains.

It will bring some showers in through Saturday in the northeast. The big thing is, though, Super Bowl Sunday, that forecast -- we have different weather models -- makes it clear for Super Bowl Sunday, but here's another model, the European model, and notice we get a little bit of some scattered showers kind of around the area at game time. So, notice showers above, showers to the south.

It's just so hard to call at this point in time. I mean, we check every hour and the forecast is changing --

BERMAN: You know. it's really interesting, because they would prepare for the game differently if they knew that the weather was going to be bad, if it was going to be raining. So, interesting that they can't tell right now.

PETERSONS: Yes. At least it won't be bad, bad, but whether or not you'll get anything out there, still tough to call.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Indra.

BERMAN: This morning, we're hearing from President Obama in an exclusive CNN interview. The president is outlining a major initiative by some of the nation's biggest companies to hire the long- term unemployed. The program is to be officially announced today, but first, the president sat down with Jake Tapper to outline one way that he's taking action with or without help from Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the biggest problems right now on the jobs market is the long-term unemployed.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, THE LEAD: Yes. They're having trouble -- people won't hire them because they've been unemployed so long.

OBAMA: Because they've been unemployed so long, folks are looking at that gap in the resume and they're weeding them out before these folks even get a chance for an interview. So, what we've done is to gather together 300 companies just to start with, including some of the top 50 companies in the country, companies like Wal-Mart and Apple and Ford and others, to say, let's establish best practices.

Do not screen people out of the hiring process just because they've been out of work for a long time. We just went through the worst recession since the great depression. And so, I'll be convening a meeting where a number of these top companies will be coming in, agreeing to these best practices, and we'll have an opportunity to encourage more people to come in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: There's a huge amount from this interview that is fascinating. We will have much more of Jake's exclusive interview with the president coming up in just a few minutes on "NEW DAY," and then again this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. on "The Lead" right here on CNN.

ROMANS: You know, companies don't do things for the goodness of their heart, out of the goodness of their heart. They do it to return shareholder value, so the president has to convince people, it's good for America, good for their business to start hiring --

BERMAN: But the president can apply pressure.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: And these CEOs have to listen when the president calls them out. ROMANS: Oh, absolutely.

All right. The NSA close to having a new chief. President Obama picking Vice Admiral Michael Rogers as his nominee to head up the NSA. He'll also be in charge of the U.S. cyber command. Rogers is a 30- year navy veteran and a trained cryptologist. That's the study of secure technology. If confirmed, he'll take over the helm next month when the current director, general keith alexander, steps down.

BERMAN: So, expected to be released today, a crucial state department report on the environmental impact of the Keystone XL Oil pipeline. The analysis of the proposed Alberta-to-Texas pipeline is expected to conclude that the project would pose little risk to the environment. So, the president has, so far, hedged on whether he will support this project or not.

He has been waiting for reports like this environmental impact report to make a decision about whether he will support this pipeline. He's facing enormous pressure from the left in his own party to oppose it. However, he has said if there is no environmental impact, that could influence his decision.

ROMANS: On immigration this morning, hopes for a deal in Congress unclear now that Republican House leaders have unveiled their blueprint for reform. It includes providing legal status for 11 million undocumented workers reportedly with sharp criticism from many House Republicans, some of whom apparently said an election year is not the time to deal with this issue.

Democrats are saying they see the blueprint as a jumping off point for negotiations. A lot of disagreement among Republicans about whether there should be a probationary status for the illegal immigrants or whether there should be a pathway to citizenship.

BERMAN: And Democrats on the side of citizenship. However, they say the fact that there are some Republicans who will accept now legal status. That's a point where they can start talking.

Forty minutes after the hour right now, and there is new hope this morning for some low-level drug offenders in federal prison. The justice department is now encouraging them and their lawyers to ask for clemency from the president if they were convicted of non-violent drug crimes and have clean prison records. The federal Bureau of Prisons will even be telling inmates about this opportunity.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole says it is the best way of dealing with an exploding prison population.

ROMANS: Another down day on Wall Street and Dow futures now are down about 90 points. It follows a 100-point gain yesterday. So, look, everything you gained yesterday given back in futures this morning, propelled by news the economy growing at a pretty solid pace. Still, it will be the Dow's seventh drop in nine sessions.

Let's look at what's happening in Asia right this minute. The Nikkei down modestly. Europe, stocks down. A big day for Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen. Bernanke bids adieu to the Federal Reserve today.

BERMAN: I love when you speak French.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Today's his last day on the job after eight years as fed chief. You know nothing (ph) happen in those eight years. Very uneventful term. Janet Yellen takes over on moNday, the first woman to lead the central bank in its more than 100 years. As for Bernanke, many credit him with preventing a recession that could have been much worse.

He used unprecedented measures to prop up the economy, but some are worried about the consequences of those actions like a possible stock bubble that needs to be popped? Emerging market bubble that then turns into problems for us? I think the legacy has not been written yet for the last eight years.

BERMAN: But after this eight years, I hope he gets some rest, takes a big, long nap.

ROMANS: I hope so, too. Gets to read as many economic textbooks as he wants now.

BERMAN: Which is always relaxing.

ROMANS: Coming up, the opening ceremonies in Sochi are just a week away. Wow! And as Americans arrive, the questions remain, will these games be safe? We are live from Russia with the latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: We are now just one week away from the start of the winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia is insisting these games will be safe. Thousands of police and soldiers are on guard in and around that city. And American athletes begin to arrive. Ivan Watson is live in Sochi this morning. Ivan, what are you seeing? What are the concerns there now as athletes are actually coming to town?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Today, we're broadcasting to you from the port of Sochi. Now, many people may not know this, the city and Port of Sochi are actually about a half hour's drive away from the main Olympic Park where the ice skating's going to be taking place, the opening and close ceremonies and a lot of the events, the sports venues and the Olympic village are. They're quite far apart.

The Russians are saying the sports, the winter Olympics are going to be the safest ever, and this week, the head of the U.S.' counterterrorism center, Matthew Olsen, he also said that he believes these very well fortified Olympic venues will be safe. His concern, he said, are softer targets, like the city of Sochi, itself, where I am, and the outlying areas where there simply aren't the same fortifications.

He said, quote, to Congress that "there is a substantial potential for a terrorist attack in some of these places." Of course, the athletes are going to be very far from these. They will be behind the Russian so-called ring of steel. When it does come to those Russian security measures, we've seen firsthand, Christine, some of the tens of thousands of Russian soldiers and police and undercover police that are out there.

They're searching the roads. There are -- I do have to say, these Olympic venues are very well fortified. We can't get into them right now because we don't have Olympic accreditations. It would be very difficult to penetrate them to pose some kind of a threat. The more dangerous area for ordinary Russians and tourists who may be outside of those areas, staying in hotels and areas like this.

ROMANS: So-called soft targets.

WATSON: Christine?

ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much. Nice to see you.

BERMAN: This morning, victims are reacting toward the Boston marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will face the possibility of the death penalty. Attorney General Eric Holder made the decision public on Thursday. And for those who were hurt that day in April, they say this was the right call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC FUCARILE, BOSTON MARATHON ATTACK SURVIVOR: I think what he did to a lot of people that day, especially the ones that he killed, I think he deserves it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Tsarnaev's mother tells CNN she loves her son and the family is sickened over their child. Tsarnaev faces 30 charges in the bombing that killed three and injured 260 others. He has pleaded not guilty.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-eight minutes past the hour. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Kate Bolduan joins us now. Good morning, Kate. Happy Friday.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Happy Friday. We've got a big day, a lot going on here today. Two huge exclusives this morning. First, President Obama going one-on-one with Jake Tapper in his first interview since the state of the union address. What the president says about his new push to get the long-term unemployed, unemployed Americans back to work.

And wait until you hear his surprising comments when asked about security at the Sochi games. And also, he talked about the issue of marijuana and the comment that he made to "The New Yorker." You don't want to miss that.

And then, in a very different exclusive, a NEW DAY exclusive, Chris is sitting down, going face-to-face with Dennis Rodman for the first time since his explosive outburst right here on the show. They're going to be live from Rodman's rehabilitation center, the facility that he's at. He has some time changed rodman's mind, his view on his visit to North Korea and what he said while he was over there.

And also, they're going to be talking about an issue that many Americans struggle with, addiction. Rodman's going to talk about his own very personal fight, where he is on that struggle on his road to recovery, where he is today. We're going to have all the answers that you have been waiting for. Chris is going to be there this morning.

BERMAN: Some huge, huge news, big stories coming up.

ROMANS: Wow!

BERMAN: We have one big story here, Kate, I should tell you. It's Christine Romans' birthday today.

ROMANS: Ah!

BOLDUAN: What?

ROMANS: So, we did get her a cupcake.

(APPLAUSE)

BOLDUAN: I did not know!

BERMAN: We couldn't light it on fire because the flame wasn't in the budget, but here --

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Well, that's obviously. Insurance is tough. Christine, 30? Your 30th birthday. I'm so proud of you.

ROMANS: Oh, I'm 32.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Oh, Christine --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Tell Cuomo he expensed it.

BERMAN: It's very hard to expense a cupcake.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: Talk into my mic.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's all he got you was a cupcake?

(LAUGHTER) BERMAN: We'll see you coming up.

BOLDUAN: Bye, guys. Happy birthday!

BERMAN: Go away.

ROMANS: Chris Cuomo got the Dennis Rodman interview. You got me nothing.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Don't worry about Chris.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right. Happy birthday.

ROMANS: Thank you. That was so sweet.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up for us next, some news, shocking allegation against people whose job is to help. Firefighters accused of turning a blind eye, possibly leaving to a man's death. We have this story and a lot of questions coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: This morning in Washington, D.C., a firefighter and a lieutenant are on administrative leave as authorities investigate whether a man died outside a firehouse because firefighters refused to help. This happened on Saturday when 77-year-old Cecil Mills (ph) collapsed across the street from a fire station.

Those with him called 911 and then ran to the door of the firehouse begging for help. But they say they were told fire crews couldn't do anything, unless, they were dispatched.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIE MILLS, DAUGHTER OF CECIL MILLS: And that's how I felt, because the person stood there and watched the entire thing and did nothing to help. I even ran to the curb and said "are you going to help me or are you going to let my dad die?"

PAUL QUANDER, DEPUTY MAYOR, WASHINGTON D.C.: Firefighters routinely go in to danger. They don't wait to be called, they respond. And so, that's what's troubling about this. This goes against what firefighting is all about. And that's one of the reasons that it's so troubling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A police officer eventually flagged down an ambulance for the man who later died. Washington officials are calling it unacceptable.

Coming up, Microsoft close to finding a new leader, only the third CEO of Microsoft since 1975. We're about to find out who! The details in "Money Time," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Two minutes to the top of the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time" this Friday morning. A really rotten month for stock investors, payback after a spectacular year. Right now, Dow futures down 80 points, nearly wiping out yesterday's gain. European stocks are down.

Asia has wrapped up the week now with Nikkei in Japan closing down just shy one percentage point. And the last day of the month, the S&P 500 is down three percent this month.

All right. Big news for Microsoft. The quest for a new CEO may be over. Microsoft reportedly on the verge of naming Satya Nadella as its new CEO. It has been a long search. Current CEO, Steve Ballmer, is retiring and the guessing game for who will take over has been frenetic.

Nadella is a 22-year veteran of Microsoft, a consummate inside for much of the past year. All the focus -- the past six months, the focus has been on outsiders potentially coming in. We'll look for confirmation that it will be an insider instead to be only the third CEO of a very big American company.

NEW DAY starts now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OBAMA: The truth of the matter is is that every president engages in executive actions.

CUOMO: A CNN exclusive, hard questions for the president. Jake Tapper and President Obama go through all the big issues. Does he have a plan to get the jobless and Congress back to work? Will the Sochi Olympics be safe? And much more.

BOLDUAN: The nightmare continues. Amanda Knox convicted again for murder in an Italian courtroom again facing decades in prison. Will Italy try to force her to return? And new this morning, her Italian ex-boyfriend caught trying to leave the country after his conviction.

CUOMO: Too late to apologize. The governor of Georgia with a full apology (ph) on CNN for the snowstorm chaos in Atlanta. Is it accepted as people finally retrieve their stranded cars and the city toss (ph) out?

Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is Friday, January 31st, six o'clock in the east. We have that exclusive interview with President Obama, but first, we want to get you some major headlines.