Vetting for Supreme Court; Interview with Sen. Chris Coons; Complying with FBI; Deadly Tornado Outbreak. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET



Complying with FBI; Deadly Tornado Outbreak. Aired 6:30-7:00a ET>


[06:30:40] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news for you this morning. These are live pictures. This is the Coast Guard stepping in to rescue crew members after their fishing boat ran aground off of Rockaway Beach, New York. So this is the Coast Guard chopper, you can see here. There are between five and seven crew members that needed to be rescues. If the cameraman pulls out -- we can't control this, but if they do, you'll see the fishing boat that is listing wildly in some choppy seas.

It is unclear how this fishing boat ran aground. There are reports that the Coast Guard boat sent in to help also ended up overturning in rough waters. We'll keep an eye on this for you as we pull out here. Let's see if we can see the boat in distress and see if all the crew members are doing well. You can see the boat just there on the left side of your screen that is unstable. And there, look at this, it looks like somebody is being -- well, that looks like a Coast Guard -- one of the Coast Guard emergency teams, but they have rescued, we understand, between five and seven crew members from this ship. So we will keep an eye on this and bring it to you as we have.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and China agreeing on a draft U.N. resolution to be submitted today punishing North Korea for its recent nuclear test and other violations. The new resolution is described as the toughest yet against Pyongyang. Pyongyang's January claim of a hydrogen bomb test and a satellite rocket launch earlier this month both violate international sanctions.

Strong words from Apple CEO Tim Cook in the company's battle with the FBI. Cook tells ABC, devising a so-called key to unlock the iPhone on the San Bernardino terrorist is, quote, "the software equivalent of cancer." Cook fears this requests could have a domino effect and trample on the civil rights of Apple customers. Apple has until tomorrow to formally respond to the federal court's order to help the FBI.

All right, those are some of your news headlines. Let's go back out to Houston where all the excitement is.

And, Chris, hello.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Really interesting -- it will be interesting to see if Tim Cook comes up tonight in the debate. Very interesting to hear him tell David Muir over at ABC News that they don't have the software to do this yet. That's going to be an eyebrow raiser to a lot of people.

So, what's going to be going on here tonight? It's going to be a reflection of what's going on in politics. Another big issue is what's going on with the battle to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. President Obama threw a little bit of a curve ball into the mix. They are vetting a Republican governor from Nevada. Sandoval is his name. He was a judge. What does that mean? Will that be good enough for Senate Republicans to even hold a hearing? History here can predict what the future will be. We'll discuss it coming up.


[06:37:22] CUOMO: Very interesting development in the battle to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. We hear that the Obama administration is vetting a Nevada Republican governor. His name is Brian Sandoval. They're looking at him for this vacancy.

Now, the question is, how serious are they looking at him. Is this just a rouse to try to push the Republicans or expose their position for saying that they won't even having a hearing on this. Which, by the way, politically, is not unusual talk.

Here's a little look at Brian Sandoval. Now, what makes him interesting? Well, from a Democrat's perspective, on the bench he was centrist. We didn't see him deal with a lot of issues that come to play in the culture wars right now. But he did have a pretty middle of the road record in terms of how he looked at the Constitution and its application to current law. That might make him someone who's susceptible to Democratic sympathies. Maybe not. But he does put a very interesting twist on the race.

So let's discuss it now with Delaware Senator Chris Coons. He sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Obviously they will be the power players, if there ever is a hearing on this. Now, he's called the GOP response to the Supreme Court vacancy, "elementary."

Senator, thank you for joining us. Explain why you use that word.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Chris, what I was saying was that the Constitution requires us to provide advice and consent when the president nominates someone for a vacancy on the Supreme Court. And for our response to be nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, we refuse to even hear from you, we refuse to do any hearing or even to meet with a nominee, that's an elementary school level response, rather than doing our job under the Constitution, having hearings, having a vote. If the Republican majority chooses to reject President Obama's nominee, that's their prerogative. But to simply refuse to even hold a hearing, and now many Republican senators are refusing even to meet with a nominee, is in my view akin to slamming your door shut and saying, I refuse to even talk to you, which isn't advice and consent. We should be doing our job under the Constitution.


COONS: I have called on the president to nominate someone who is a consensus candidate, who would be eminently deserving of confirmation. CUOMO: All right, Mitch McConnell, obviously, is driving the efforts of the Republicans, or lack thereof, on this particular issue. Here's what he says about what his thinking is and why.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Presidents have a right to nominate, just as the Senate has its constitutional right to provide or withhold consent. In this case, the Senate will withhold it.

[06:40:06] Well, look, I don't know how many times we need to keep saying this, the Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that there be no hearings. I've said repeatedly, and I'm now confident my conference agrees, that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected.


CUOMO: Now, to the extent that the Constitution is relevant here and not just typical political maneuvers, which, by the way, your party has used as well in the past, he says we have the right to advise and consent. They actually have the duty to do so under the Constitution. He also says that they have the right to withhold it. That actually is not in the Constitution. But do you think you can make a salable case that they're doing something that violates the Constitution here or is this just about how they choose to play politics?

COONS: I think this is an unfortunate political move to continue the obstructionism that has sadly dominated the Republican response to President Obama for the last seven years. In the 2012 election, President Obama was elected to a four-year-term. And under the Constitution, he can and should nominate someone for the Supreme Court vacancy that's now gone on several weeks. If there is a vacancy in this key seat in the Supreme Court throughout the rest of this year, it will likely hobble the court's ability to decide a whole series of important cases on issues from affirmative action, to abortion, from immigration to unions, and that would be a sad spread of the disease of obstructionism that has so seized up the Congress and its fight with the president.

CUOMO: But, senator, you know, you know all -- this all very well, but why is it -- why push them to do something that your party has also not wanted to do in the past? And not just anybody talking about it, your big shots have talked the same talk. Chuck Schumer talked it in 2007. Now President, then senator, Barack Obama was in favor of the blockage that they were having in, what was it, 2006. You had Biden talk about it in the early '90s. This is what out of power parties do in situations like this when they're close to the end of a presidential term. How's this any different?

COONS: Well, Chris, let's be clear about how it is different. This time they're refusing to even hold a hearing, to even offer a vote, in some cases even to meet with a nominee. Senator McConnell, in the clip you just played, misspoke. He did not hear unanimously from the Senate Judiciary Committee. He heard from his Republican side of the Judiciary Committee.

CUOMO: Right.

COONS: And to set the record straight about what then Senator Biden did, not what he said but what he did as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, every single Bush nominee to circuit courts and district courts in his last election year got a hearing, got a vote. And, frankly, in the last century, every Supreme Court nominee --

CUOMO: But not a Supreme Court justice nominee.

COONS: Every Supreme Court nominee in the last century got a hearing and got a vote, except a few who withdrew on their own.

CUOMO: All right, important perspective there. Thank you very much, Senator Coons, for making the case on NEW DAY this morning. Appreciate it.

COONS: Thank you. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, we're going to have much more of our breaking coverage of this Coast Guard rescue that's happening right now off of Long Island. This is very much an active operation. You can see live pictures here. There were five to seven crew members on this fishing boat that needed to be rescued. Right after the break, we'll bring you the latest on what's happening onboard.


[06:47:38] CAMEROTA: Back to our breaking news now. You're looking at live pictures of this Coast Guard rescue underway here off of Rockaway Beach, New York. There -- what you can see here in the crowd is this fisherman. He's in the red protective gear. He's just been rescued off of this 74 foot fishing vessel right here that you see. This is called "The Carolina Queen." And she ran aground just off of the coast here off of Rockaway Beach. And you can see, listing wildly in pretty rough seas. So the Coast Guard went out to try to save the five to seven crew members on this fishing ship and their Coast Guard boat overturned on these rough seas.

So now what you're seeing is that there's a Coast Guard chopper hovering overhead and sending down one of those -- the sort of metal nets to pick everyone up. There you can see one being lifted -- one of the fishermen being lifted up, rescued off of their. We believe there are still about six crew members from the fishing boat, as you can see live here, still onboard waiting to be rescued. They have donned their protective gear that they'll need. It looks as though the Coast Guard has this under control. Though for a while it was dicey because, as we said, their own boat overturned in these waters. And look at how badly it's listing.

Now they're putting blankets -- you can see all the EMS guys and the firefighters putting blankets and trying to get these guys warm after their scary ordeal. So we will be following this for you all morning and bring -- bring you the latest as it happens.

Meanwhile, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, is speaking out on the company's privacy fight with the FBI, even calling the FBI's request equivalent to cancer. We'll get a perspective from a former chief of security at Apple. That's just ahead.


[06:53:14] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM COOK, APPLE CEO: The only way we know would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the software equivalent of cancer. We think it's bad news to write. We would never write it. We have never written it.


CAMEROTA: That was Apple CEO Tim Cook speaking out about the tech giant's battle with the FBI. Law enforcement is trying to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist's phone but Apple is refusing to help saying that would unlock another danger.

So let's bring in Rick Orloff. He's the former senior director of information security at Apple and the vice president and chief security office of the security firm Code 42.

Mr. Orloff, thank you so much for being here.

Tim Cook said a lot last night in that interview and basically what he said was that complying with the FBI in this terror investigation would be, quote, "bad for America." Obviously there are other people who think that helping to stop possibly a future terror attack would be good for America. Where do you fall?

RICK ORLOFF, FMR. SR. DIRECTOR, INFORMATION SECURITY AT APPLE: I think that all corporations are going to want to do things that resist terrorists activity, but they stop short when it requires putting a hole in the entire product line that not only creates a backdoor for all systems, all devices. When things are narrowly focused, I think corporations are wanting to help.

CAMEROTA: So is the situation that Apple cannot unlock this phone with their current technology even if they wanted to help?

ORLOFF: Correct. Yes, so, over the years, companies moved towards the path of strengthening -- their product strengthening of the security. As that happens, there's thousands of development hours that get put into that. And so now you have products that are very, very secure and there is no inherent capability to unlock that. So, you know, now the conversation turns into, well, can you be forced to go write new code to break what you've been building for years?

[06:55:16] CAMEROTA: "The New York Times" is reporting this morning that Apple engineers are going so far as to develop new technology to make it impossible for the FBI or law enforcement ever to be able to unlock the phones. Is this a bridge too far? I mean at some point could there be a scenario where it would be so vital to national security to get some information off one of these phones that making it impossible is not wise?

ORLOFF: You know, I don't know that making things impossible. What they're saying is that they're unwilling to build something to get there. So the possibility is there, right? The question then is, should they go build something? And what they're saying is that relative to the security of all Apple parts, and all of their customers, they don't want to build something that puts a hole into the software for all of the devices that are out there. So they're not saying it's impossible, they're saying that they -- that they're not going to build it.

CAMEROTA: OK. I mean it sounds as though they are even trying to harden the system to make it harder for law enforcement.

Obviously, the public is always wrestling with this same debate, with privacy and civil liberties versus national security. Let me pull up for you the latest Pew poll on how Americans are feeling about this. And it's interesting because they're almost evenly divided. Should Apple unlock the terror suspects' iPhone was the question. And 51 percent of Americans said, yes, 38 percent said, no, and 11 said they don't know. So if you add those two categories, it's almost evenly divided. Do you know, during your tenure at Apple, we understand there were nine other criminal investigations that the FBI and law enforcement went to Apple for help with. They involved drug trafficking. They involved murder. They involved child pornography. Do you know if Apple ever helped law enforcement?

ORLOFF: You know, there are times where, you know, all companies have court orders and things like that coming in, but I don't know of any instances where Apple turned over encryption keys or decryption keys. There's other things. There could be criminal activity about, you know, what happened with the device. It could be stolen devices. All kinds of different things out there. But relative to encryption and decryption, I don't know of Apple ever turning over the keys.

CAMEROTA: So, legally, what do you think happens if Apple sticks to its guns and says, we are not going to help in this San Bernardino terrorist investigation?

ORLOFF: You know, certainly this thing's on a path for escalation, but it's really not for me to, you know, provide legal opinions on that.

CAMEROTA: But you think that something is heating up and tomorrow -- whatever -- a decision is expected tomorrow.


CAMEROTA: Yes. OK, Rick Orloff, thanks so much for your expertise in this field. We'll be watching this story very closely.

All right, we're following a lot of news this morning. Deadly tornadoes are tearing up the East Coast, and a high stakes Republican debate tonight, so let's get all to it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He opened the front door. He says, mama, tornado, tornado.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could hear stuff tossing and turning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never seen nothing like this before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is just like not even real.



SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Super Tuesday will be the single most important day of --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So far everybody that's attacked me has gone down.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I can win. The Democrats desperately do not want to run against me.

TRUMP: All of a sudden he's getting tough.

CRUZ: We will not give up on our country.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you ready to make history on Tuesday?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders, he wants to start all over. We're not going to do that.

SANDERS: A united people can never be defeated.

CLINTON: I don't know what part of democracy they are afraid of, but they are determined to turn the clock back.


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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your new day, this February 25th, now 7:00ish in the East. We're coming to you live from Houston. Tonight, the five remaining Republicans take the stage trying to convince Republicans in -- all of them except Trump, this will be -- they're going to try and convince Republicans that Trump is political poison. Why? Super Tuesday is looming and there's no question that Senators Rubio and Cruz need to make something happen here tonight.

But first, we do have breaking news for you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, another string of deadly tornadoes ripping through the East Coast. At least 16 tornados reported overnight from Florida to Pennsylvania, leaving dozens of homes damaged or destroyed entirely. Three men and a two-year-old boy killed in Virginia. More than 100,000 homes without power at this hour.

[07:00:07] So let's get right to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with all of the breaking details.

What are you seeing this hour, Chad?

(Byline: Alisyn Camerota, Chris Cuomo)

(Guest: Chris Coons, Rick Orloff)

(High: The White House is vetting a GOP governor for its Supreme Court nominee. Apple's CEO talks about complying with the FBI. A deadly tornado outbreak kills four.)

(Spec: Supreme Court; Brian Sandoval; Government; Congress; Apple; Tim Cook; FBI; Tornado; Storms)