Return to Transcripts main page


Manhunt for 4-Year-Old Missing Girl; Senator Marco Rubio And Senator Ted Cruz's Tax Returns; Hillary Clinton's Huge Win In South Carolina; Airstrikes In Syria Continues; IRS Data Theft; Stephen Curry Breaks Own Record; All Def Movie Awards Aired 6:30-7a

Aired February 28, 2016 - 06:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: In response to the revelation or to the revelation I should say, Governor Rick Snyder admitted his staff -- quote -- "let us all down." And he added, I'm responsible for that. Eventually 87 people were diagnosed with legionnaires. Nine died. State officials say not everyone who got the disease was expose to Flint water though.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And a developing story we're following this morning, the FBI is leading a massive search effort right now, trying to find a 4-year-old girl in Montana. Whatever you are doing, please take a moment and look at the screen here.

This is Maci Lilley. She was taken from her home by a 20-year-old man on Friday night.

Now that suspect is in custody but they still can't find this little girl. We understand military and private aircraft are joining the search effort for her as well.

BLACKWELL: All right. Still to come on to your NEW DAY on to Super Tuesday.

Just two days away now. Donald Trump riding the momentum three consecutive wins and Hillary Clinton now turns her attention after that rubbing in South Carolina to beating the GOP front-runner.

PAUL: And Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz releasing their tax returns, demanding this morning, where are Trump's?



BLACKWELL: It was a resounding win for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, overcoming the ghosts of 2008 to win the state. Even taking home a larger percentage of the black vote than Barack Obama did eight years ago.

In the victory speech Clinton says she's ready to take her campaign nationwide and indicated that she's zeroing in on Donald Trump as a target. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Despite what you hear, we don't need to make America great again. America has never stopped being great. But we do need to make America whole again.


Instead of building walls we need to be tearing down barriers.


We need to show by everything we do that we really are in this together.


BLACKWELL: For more let's bring in my colleagues. CNN political reporter Eric Bradner and CNN political commentator and former Capitol Hill communication's director Tara Setmayer. Good morning to both of you.



BLACKWELL: Eric, I want to start with you.

After listening to her victory speech last night, and it was a huge victory. Does she feel like effectively once she gets past Super Tuesday she has this thing wrapped up? Is that her view?

BRADNER: Well, it might take a little bit longer than that. Super Tuesday now looks to be a really good state for Hillary Clinton largely because six of 11 states that vote are all southern states with similar demographics to South Carolina. So she's looking to rack up a big delegate advantage in all of those states. But on the Democratic side delegates are awarded proportionally. And so a strong second place for Bernie Sanders sort of keeps him in the game. And he's got some state he's targeting too Colorado and Minnesota to name a couple.

The real knockout blow that the Clinton world hopes they can land comes on March 15th when five more big states vote. So it's not going to be as simple as knocking Sanders out within the next few days but Hillary Clinton is trying to build a big enough delegate advantage throughout the next two or three weeks to effectively put the race away. Even though Bernie Sanders is going to be able to keep pace since Democrats don't do what Republicans do and switch at the certain point to a winner take all kind of system.


Tara, let me come to you and talk about the Republican front-runner here. Yesterday Ted Cruz kept up his attacks over Donald Trump's tax returns. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Donald Trump doesn't want to show anyone his tax returns but his defense for not releasing his tax returns he says, well gosh I'm being audited. So you're telling me a few months from now we may find out that you're being charged with tax fraud? Now, maybe not. I'm not suggesting it. I'm saying release the returns and let the people see.


BLACKWELL: OK. That might have been a suggestion because no one up to this point has talked about tax fraud but he slipped it in there.

But the question is, no matter what's in there, could this hurt Donald Trump whether they are released, whether he doesn't release them? It seems like to some supporters he's infallible.

SETMAYER: Well that is true. To some supporters he is infallible which is part of the scariness of this whole Trump phenomenon.

But I think this question about the tax returns is a valid one. Mitt Romney was excoriated for not releasing his tax returns in 2012 and he was basically embarrassed into finally doing so. And there was nothing nefarious in there. But the media went after him and he -- they talked about his tax rate and how much money he has and that became a whole narrative in the campaign about how wealthy he was.

Well Donald Trump brags about how much money he has and brags about how many organizations he gives money to and who he supports. But we have no way to prove any of that. We only can go by his word. Yet when he -- when it came down to a $5 billion libel suit in 2011 that he -- when he sued a "New York Times" reporter because he didn't like what he wrote about him in a book Trump wouldn't even release his tax returns then when it could have potentially helped him in a $5 billion libel suit. He was uncooperative then.

And not only did he not release them the judges in that New Jersey case they chastise him for being untrustworthy and basically misleading and uncooperative about his net worth and what was going on. So this whole thing about Trump's tax returns, I think it is somewhat of a -- of a risky proposition for him. Because it questions people -- it has people question his veracity on what he's talking about and that there's no way to prove it. What is there to hide?

This nonsense about he's being audited is just that. He can release past years' tax returns and everybody knows it.

BLACKWELL: And of course questions over how much money he's donated to charities specifically veterans' (ph) charities --

SETMAYER: That's right and what charities. I mean, yes. Sure.

BLACKWELL: Let me come to you Eric and ask about these tax returns.

BRADNER: Yes. BLACKWELL: And the Trump University law suits. We know that Marco Rubio on the "Stump" has said, you know, you're going to hear a lot from these people.


Are we expecting there will be the Rubio campaigns' ads features these plaintiffs in these cases?

BRADNER: It's entirely possible.

Perhaps likely the Rubio campaign is showing all of a sudden that they have all sorts of opposition research to hit Donald Trump with. The question about all of this is whether it is too little too late, right? We're on the eve of Super Tuesday right now. And a lot of delegates are going to be awarded.

Ted Cruz was unleashing that attack last night. But it's a Saturday night dominated by a Democratic primary. So the question is whether any of this can hurt Trump.


BRADNER: And whether it can hurt Trump at this stage in the race. Had they deployed all of this stuff two months ago or six months ago perhaps it would have changed the narrative a bit. But right now Trump seems to be swatting it away. And there is so much of it. The Trump University stuff, the tax return stuff that it's not clear any of it is going to gain the kind of traction to become a real damaging narrative ahead of Tuesday.


SETMAYER: Let's not -- I'm sorry.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead.

SETMAYER: I just want to jump in really quickly. Let's not forget also the use of illegal immigrant labor and his hiring of foreign workers over American workers. This has been the hallmark of his campaign, right?

He shot out of canon talking about really tough on illegal immigration and talking about Mexico and workers and all this. Come to find out when it was business convenient for his business he was hiring foreign workers over American workers and illegal workers. This is all public record.

Eric is absolutely right. Where the hell was this four or five months ago when the Trump train started to leave the station? I don't understand why the campaigns waited so long and why there has been such a lack of an appetite to go after Trump directly because he has been conning the American people.

Marco Rubio is absolutely right to coin -- to use the term con artist because that is exactly what he is. He's an imposter and he's been able to get over on the American people and create this facade that has absolutely no foundation whatsoever in his business practices or his politics.

BLACKWELL: Coming up on Super Tuesday we'll see if there is some impact. Eric had the operative phrase there, all of a sudden we're hearing this.


BLACKWELL: All right. Tara, Eric, thank you both.

BRADNER: Thank you.

SETMAYER: Thank you.


PAUL: ... is being overshadowed with controversy. The Oscars of course blasted for its lack of diversity for the second year in a row. We're taking you to Hollywood.

We're going to see how Chris Rock is preparing for all of this and what he might have up his sleeve for tonight (INAUDIBLE).



PAUL: Well it is show time tonight. Envelopes are ready for the 88 Annual Academy Awards. On any other year we'd be talking about the front-runners. This year it is a little different.

Michaela Pereira is in Hollywood and I spoke to her earlier about the main topic that seems to be on everybody's mind.


PAUL: So diversity obviously....


PAUL: ... is a big issue this time around. And Chris Rock of course being the host. What are the conversations you are hearing behind the scenes?

PEREIRA: Can I tell you what's really interesting? Is we came to get our credentials the other day and right behind me, you can't see me (INAUDIBLE) the red carpet behind me a part of the hotel has a big poster of Oscar. And there is a big poster, a big billboard of Chris Rock. And I sat there and contemplated, Christi, a little bit about the pressure that is on this man's shoulders, right?

Think about it. This is an African-American comic who's known to not shy away from controversy. His comedy is piercing. Some people even think that it is, you know, off putting but a lot of people love him. He's -- he's, you know, been doing shows all around the world. We know he's been rehearsing his stand up here, doing shows here in L.A. Fine tuning what he's going to do on Sunday.

Now, here is the other thing. He's hosted before. He knows the game. But it was back in 2005. Different world, different time. Not this national conversation about race. Not this national conversation about the Academy and its diversity going on. So the pressure is on. But I think he's kind of put the blinders from what I can tell he hasn't been doing a lot of press and really focuses on the task he's got to do Sunday.

PAUL: We also know there is going to be this counter show by Russell Simmons.


PAUL: And, you know, we're wondering if a lot of African-Americans are going to go ahead and boycott the Oscars. And what does Chris Rock think of that? Because (ph) surely (ph) I would think he's going to be on stage thinking I want to reach everyone here.

PEREIRA: Well, this is the thing. There is a great thing about being part of the diaspora (ph), right? There is a variety of opinions and thought within the African-American community. You can't say that everybody speaks with one voice.

I've had a lot of conversation with people who think that the boycott is the way to go. There are people that also say that boycotting isn't the answer because it doesn't get to the heart of the issue, which is diversifying thoughts and diversifying experiences within the Academy and just generally in America. Now there is a lot of -- you mentioned the Russell Simmons effort, there is a lot of about the counterprogramming and other events and things you can do instead of watching the big Oscar show. Yet on the other side, the flipside, Steve Harvey, I don't know if you saw that, Steve Harvey basically taking a rift from the stand up series or comedy show that Chris Rock did himself, "Bigger and Blacker". He said, Chris Rock, here is my call to you. Go blacker. Be as black as you can be. Represent the 40 other actors who won't be there at the Oscars show on Sunday night.


PAUL: OK. Michaela Pereira, thank you so much.

Coming up I talked to Russell Simmons about his answer to the Oscars (INAUDIBLE) controversy. As you've heard there's (INAUDIBLE) own separate awards so -- and it's hosted by Chris Rock's brother Tony.



BLACKWELL: Coming up on the top of the hour now.

Let's take a look at stores making headlines.

There are several reports of violence in Syria. Despite this weekend's cease fire gun fire and air strikes have been reported but it's not clear which group is responsible here. It's according to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights who says that some of the targeted air strikes went after ISIS controlled areas. The terror groups like ISIS and the al Nusra front are not part of this cease fire agreement.

PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) IRS data theft was worse (INAUDIBLE) much worse than originally thought. The tax collection agency now says hackers stole personal data on more than 700,000 people. That is 70 times worse than what was reported last May.

BLACKWELL: Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors -- he had a good night. Breaking two NBA records in one night. Well, he started by breaking his own single season three pointer record now at 288 and then tied the record for the most three pointer in a single game with 12. Last night (INAUDIBLE) win against the Oklahoma City Thunder -- now he did all of that after rolling his ankle in the third quarter and sitting out for five minutes.

PAUL: Power house --

BLACKWELL: He just needs a little more time it (ph) got (ph) even (ph) better (ph).

PAUL: All right. Listen, lots of voices last night. A lot of talking going on as we headed to Super Tuesday. Just a couple of days away from now.

Presidential candidates making their final push for voters. We're talking live with advisors from the Rubio and Cruz campaign.

BLACKWELL: And next it's Hollywood's biggest night. A lot of people say there is no diversity in tonight's Oscar Awards. See how Russell Simmons hopes to change that.



BLACKWELL: Well the Oscars are now just hours away but for the second year in a row now the show is being overshadowed by the so called Oscar so white controversy.

PAUL: Yes. The Academy facing backlash over what some are calling a lack of diversity.

Now Def Jam Recordings founder, Russell Simmons, is addressing this controversy with his own award show. He put together the "All Def Movie Awards" in just ten days mind you. Who has (INAUDIBLE) to do that. He does. I talked to him about it a little bit earlier regarding how he's using humor here to open up a dialogue.


RUSSELL SIMMONS, CO-FOUNDER, DEF JAM RECORDING: The idea is to promote a harmony. You know, sometimes pressure makes a diamond. And this industry is very, very segregated despite the fact that Hollywood is such a compassionate and beautiful community. This is -- whenever I say something about Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, animal rights, or gay rights -- whenever I speak out about injustice it is always Hollywood that's behind me. And more than that it's been Hollywood who has -- every time I say these things oh there is that liberal Hollywood bull.

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

SIMMONS: If that's what they say then we should be leaders in promoting integration and proper inclusive actions. You know, and I think we can be. And I just think we needed a little nudge. I love what Jada Pinkett said. And the idea of celebrating the uncelebrated is inspiring for me and for my team at All Def Digital. So it worked perfectly.

We did it in 10 days. We pulled the whole thing together in 10 days which I think is...

PAUL: Wow.

SIMMONS: ... commendable.

PAUL: Yes. By far. And I understand there were words such as best picture, best actor, best actress, best producer. A lifetime achievement award for Will Smith. But there are other parts, right?

SIMMONS: Will Smith, yes he's brilliant.

PAUL: That were a bit -- is it fair to call it a parody of the Oscars in such that there were awards such as the best black survivor in a movie and best helpful white performance award.


I mean, at the end of the day I know that it is a serious topic. But how do you think those comedic elements help us further this conversation.

SIMMONS: Well realize that comedy, poetry, art, expression is always the best way to approach these subjects. The poets also and the artists also reach inside themselves and then find the real inspiration, which comes from inside. So I think it is great to do it in a funny way. You can say things that are more cutting, biting, inspiring, uplifting through art.


PAUL: Listen, he has so much to say about this topic. You have got to hear how he says Hollywood and really all of us can change if it does just one thing.


Very profound moments coming up here.