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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Western Journalists Killed in Syria; New Protests Over Koran Burning; Virtual Tie In Arizona; Two Western Journalists Killed in Syria; Lower Corporate Taxes; Santorum's 2008 Satan Warning; Murder Plot or Tragic Accident?; PBS Doc Takes Harsh Look At Clinton Presidency; U.S. Consumer Bureau Examines Bank Fees

Aired February 22, 2012 - 06:01   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It is 1 minute past 6:00 in the morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. We're very happy you are joining us this morning. It is 6 a.m. in the east so let's get started here.

We start with breaking news. Two western journalists have died in the shelling in Syria, one, an American there on the left and frequent contributor to this network.

BANFIELD: And also here in this country, it is a final face-off before Arizona, Michigan, and the Super Tuesday. It all starts tonight. All of this is brand new polling, is showing that there is a virtual tie in the desert.

We'll have comments about Satan actually making their way into this program and sort of haunting Rick Santorum as he goes up against Mitt Romney and as a frontrunner.

SAMBOLIN: Reliving the Lewinsky affair. Did it distract from a bubbling threat from a new group at that time called al Qaeda? What White House insiders said in this new documentary?

BANFIELD: And there is nothing quite like a president whose sayings, doesn't matter if it's a musical president or not, but you have got to hear President Obama belting out the blues. We'll have that for you a little bit later on in this program as well as the rest of the news today as well.

We want to begin with some breaking news overnight. Just minutes ago, we had word that two western journalists including an American have been killed in Syria in the violence there. American Marie Colvin whom you might recognize because she has reported for CNN. In fact, from Syria just hours ago, and also French man, Remi Oclick.

Syrian activists say they were both killed during some of the heavy shelling we've been seeing for three weeks in the city of Homs. Opposition says 106 people were killed just yesterday alone.

It was just last night on Anderson Cooper's program "AC 360" that Marie talked about what she said was a murder that was happening every day in that city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIE COLVIN, "LONDON SUNDAY TIMES": Every civilian house on the street has been hit. We're talking about, kind of poor, popular neighborhood. The top floor of the building I'm in has been hit. In fact, it's totally destroyed.

There are no military targets here. The -- there is the free Syrian army. Heavily out-numbered and out-done. Rocket propelled grenades, but they don't have a base. There are more young men being killed.

You see a lot of teenage young men, but they go up to try to help get the wounded to some kind of medical treatment. So it's a complete and utter lie that they are only going after terrorists.

There are rockets shell, tent shells, and aircraft being fired in a parallel line into this city. The Syrian army is shelling the city of cold, starving civilians.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: It's really tough to be listening to her voice from just last night. Arwa Damon is joining us now live from Beirut. Did you know her?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, actually our paths had briefly crossed inside Homs, inside Baba Amir. We had left Syria and she was going to be staying there because that is just how passionately she believed in the need to tell the story.

She was someone who was fully aware of the risks that were involved. This is amongst the most seasoned journalists of our generation. And she had been to just about every single war zone you could possibly imagine.

She lost her eye to shrapnel in Sri Lanka. That didn't stop her. She's reported on numerous occasions from Iraq. She was on the frontline in Libya reporting from Misrata. Marie was the kind of person who would tend to go where no one else would go.

She was someone who we all really looked up to. We admired her bravery. We admired her ability to report with such compassion and to really put forward, to shine that critical spotlight on various crises on human suffering around the world.

In many ways she seemed to be entirely unstoppable. She was always so calm in these types of situations, really believing in the need to take these great risks to keep on telling these stories.

And, of course, she's not the only person who's reported to have been killed this morning. There was also a French journalist, Remi Ochek who was killed as well and then last night, of course, a citizen journalist inside the Homs, Rami Elsaid, one of those many brave individuals who take those YouTube videos that are posted online.

He was also killed by shrapnel after he was covering the deaths of four family members. This just goes to show you how indiscriminate and just how intense the shelling in the neighborhood of Baba Amir is. It really does not spare anyone.

SAMBOLIN: Arwa, do you have any more details on exactly what happened?

DAMON: We're still trying to piece that together. We're trying to reach out to activists who are located in Baba Amir who would have been with her as well. It seems as if there is some video that emerged showing rubble in the street where the strike is said to have taken place.

But the shelling inside Baba Amir and Homs is incredibly intense. Oftentimes, you know, you've got 15 shells that will rain down in the span of just 30 seconds and it's very hard to determine exactly where the shelling is because in one instance it can sound like it's fairly far away.

And the next moment it will impact the very building you're inside in. It's the kind of situation where even standing out on the street, moving from one location to another, also poses great risk just because the shelling is so indiscriminate.

SAMBOLIN: You know we were talking to Nick earlier about her, who also knows her. He said she would want people to hear about the civilian deaths that are still happening, as well.

DAMON: She most certainly would. According to activists there, at least, another nine people who were killed. She was also, of course, in that brief clip you aired earlier there reporting on how she witnessed the death of a child.

She had also been to a medical clinic a few days before that and seen another two people die as well. That was really her forte, her ability to take the suffering, to translate it into pros and to report it to the rest of the world.

She was someone who really believed in the journalistic mission to try to shed light on various atrocities happening around the world. No matter what the risk was.

SAMBOLIN: Arwa Damon, live for us in Beirut. Thank you very much.

BANFIELD: It's so good to see Arwa safe and out of that exact neighborhood where that happened to Marie Colvin and the others. So luckily our Arwa Damon is back in Beirut.

But again, it goes without saying, they are at such risk to bring the story to the western world and we are very thankful for everyone who does that.

We also want to follow some breaking news out of Afghanistan this hour. The American embassy in Kabul on lockdown right now. New protests raging across Afghanistan all in response to what the U.S. is saying is an inadvertent burning of some Muslim holy books at a military base there at Bagram.

Thousands of Afghans are massing outside that air base, setting fires, benching their extreme outrage. U.S. choppers firing flares to try to break up this crowd.

SAMBOLIN: Officials say some of the religious material was removed because detainees were writing on the documents to exchange extremist messages.

Still, the United States is apologizing saying that it was an honest mistake. General John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, ordered an investigation saying it was not intentional in anyway.

He also said that there would be training for the soldiers that they could identify all of those religious materials.

BANFIELD: Back here in this country to politics now. It's the big day of the debate in the desert. Brand new polling is showing on this day that it's a statistically dead heat of the two top front runners.

Mitt Romney at 36 percent and Rick Santorum tucking in neatly behind it, 32 percent, again, within that margin of error. Newt Gingrich not fairing quite as well at 18 percent and Ron Paul just ticking along at 6 percent. Romney's four-point lead again within that margin.

Brett O'Donnell is our next guest. He helped to prepare Mitt Romney for one of his big debates, as well as Michele Bachmann for some debating as well.

I'm glad to have you back was because do you know something, Brett, I've been doing the math. It's been 27 days since the last debate. I'm kind of wondering if the candidates are a little bit rusty or if they are unbelievably prepared for tonight. What do you think?

BRETT O'DONNELL, ADVISED MITT ROMNEY ON PRIMARY DEBATES: Well, I mean, I would imagine that all of them have been preparing significantly for this debate. I mean, this is the last debate of the primary season potentially and so the stakes could not be higher for the debate this evening.

BANFIELD: Some word that Newt Gingrich cleared his schedule today so that on debate day he's not doing any campaign stops, no speeches anywhere. Does that speak volumes to you?

O'DONNELL: It does. It says that he's taking tonight very seriously. I think all of the candidates will be. Most of them go through a routine that they have found works for them to get them ready for the debate both mentally and in terms of preparing for the issues.

BANFIELD: All right. I want to play for you a couple of sound bites. I think you and I even talked about this about a month or so ago. But these were some of the greatest hits from both -- you know where I'm going with this.

O'DONNELL: Sure.

BANFIELD: From both Newt Gingrich as he was heading into that South Carolina slam and then also from Mitt Romney as he went into his big Florida slam. So let's have a look at those two and talk in a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not anti-immigrant. My father was born in Mexico. My wife's father was born in Wales. They came to this country. The idea that I'm anti-immigrant is repulsive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Wow. I remember both of those moments as they were playing out live. I could almost hear the echo of no, you didn't. But I got to ask you. Do you think those things are just organic? Do they just happen? Are they just debate magic or are they strategic?

O'DONNELL: Well, I think that sometimes they're strategic, sometimes they are debate magic. I mean, you know, there's this misconception that candidates sit in a room and a bunch of advisers cram lines into their head.

So that they can go out and deliver, you know, sound bites to an audience. Many times that's not the case. Many times you know it's the candidate that has to execute. Now, in the case of Newt Gingrich, clearly that moment was T'd up for him because it was the moment about his ex-wife, infidelity. So he had to be expecting that question.

Tonight, will be interesting because it was John King who is moderating that debate and John is moderating this evening. It will be interesting to see that exchange and how it goes down between Speaker Gingrich and John King.

BANFIELD: So, Brett, apart from Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney who were clearly all about the narrative last time around. It's now different. We're 27 days later and it's all about Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Does Rick Santorum need to do one of these big things? Does he need to come out of the gate with a big slam in order to keep his mojo as our Paul Steinhauser calls it or is he OK just to keep going under the radar like he has done.

O'DONNELL: Going under the radar is not going be acceptable this time. He will be the center of the stage. He'll be in the spotlight. He's got a lot of things that he's going to have to answer tonight in the debate.

Given the last few days and some of the comments that are surfaced, some of the things that he has said. He's got to clarify those and make sure that he is, you know, ready to go to answer those questions that have come up over the last few days.

You know, these debates are really about establishing who is the alpha male, who is the leader of the pack and it's very, very important that tonight, each of them look for that moment where they can establish themselves as the person who will the champion to go take on President Obama in the fall.

BANFIELD: I for one would have loved to be a fly on the wall with one of your prep sessions, but I will just have to do with this interview. I thank you for it, Brett.

O'DONNELL: Good to see you.

BANFIELD: See you again soon, I hope. We want to remind our viewers not to miss the last presidential debate before the primaries in Arizona and Michigan, and Super Tuesday, as well. CNN's Arizona Republican debate starts tonight 8:00 Eastern. Sharp. Don't miss it.

SAMBOLIN: It's 13 minutes past the hour. Still ahead on EARLY START, President Obama is unveiling a brand new corporate tax reform plan that is scheduled for today. Christine Romans gives us a sneak peek at all of the details in it.

BANFIELD: And Linsanity cashing in on for a good cause. You'll find out what that's all about in just a moment on EARLY START.

SAMBOLIN: One more reason to love him. First, let's get a quick check of the weather. Rob Marciano joining us. Good morning.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Day after fat Tuesday, shake the cobwebs out and get out there and get on it. Some snow showers across parts of upstate New York. It shouldn't be a big deal.

And also some rain and snow showers across Chicago. Maybe an inch or two there, but it will melt later on today. Threat for severe weather across parts of the southeast today and again tomorrow with the anticipation of this storm that's rolling into the Pacific Northwest today.

Flood watches and warnings. More rain for Seattle and wind as well through the mountains of Idaho and Montana and Wyoming and that energy will get into the south tomorrow for severe weather as the heat continues to build. That's a quick check on weather. It's 14 minutes after the hour. EARLY START will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We begin here with breaking news from Syria. Two western journalists, including American Marie Colvin, were killed in heavy shelling by Syrian government forces in a neighborhood in the City of Homs. There she is on the left-hand side.

Colvin was a frequent voice here on CNN reporting from Syria just last night on CNN's "AC 360." The 28-year-old French photographer on the left there, Remi Ochlik was also killed. And this is new video just in to CNN showing rubbles from the shelling where those journalists were killed.

Five people gunned down last night at a health spa outside of Atlanta. Police say the shooter also turned the gun on himself. We have very few details there.

And jury deliberation is expected to begin today in the University of Virginia lacrosse murder trial. Former UVA student George Huguely is charged with first degree murder in the beating death of his ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love.

A U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on whether race should be a factor in college admissions. A woman says the University of Texas denied her admission because she is white. The university says race is only one of several factors it considers.

BANFIELD: Also in the news, a snowmobiler set off a deadly avalanche in Montana and it ended up killing him. A fellow rider was able to escape. The pair was riding in an area that was approved for snowmobiling.

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who is also the husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, says that he is now writing a children's book. The book will be called "Mousetronaut." It's about a mouse that travels in space.

SAMBOLIN: How sweet.

BANFIELD: And the basketball jersey that Jeremy Lin was wearing when he - he led the Knicks over the L.A. Lakers earlier this month went on sale and it fetched more than $42,000 at a charity auction. The money is going to Madison Square Gardens' Garden of Dreams Foundation. I'll repeat that, $42,000. Just remarkable.

And Edvard Munch's famous painting "The Scream" is for sale. It's headed for auction at Sotheby's in May and the experts say it could go for more than $80 million.

SAMBOLIN: The reaction to that? Ah. That same reaction, right? $80 million? Goodness gracious (ph).

BANFIELD: I had that reaction - I had that reaction when it was stolen. So this has some history to this painting, not only just a famous and beautiful painting but also it's been around the block, shall we say.

SAMBOLIN: $80 million.

All right, coming up, the GOP candidates prepare to battle it out tonight in what could be their final debate. We're going to tell you what to watch out for. Actually, our panelists are going to do that for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Twenty-four minutes past 6:00 A.M. on the East Coast. Welcome back, everyone.

America's businesses are getting a tax overhaul. Obama administration is unveiling its new corporate tax plan a little bit later on today, lowering the highest tax rate but eliminating a whole bunch of those loopholes.

SAMBOLIN: And, you know, we need somebody to break it down for us, so Christine Romans is here. What do you know about this plan so far? I'm sure you've been poring (ph) on all this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. It's on the front page of all the newspapers. And our Jessica Yellin got a good preview about it last night.

So we're going to hear more from the president - from the Treasury Department actually about the American tax rate and how the president wants to have a new framework for lowering the overall corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent.

He also wants to eliminate dozens of loopholes and subsidies and all of these little goodies that companies can use to try to lower their - their tax rate from 35 percent on their own. And he wants to install a new minimum tax on foreign profits and put in incentives for companies to keep jobs and production and manufacturing at home.

So this is a framework from the administration and an administration official admits that it might be difficult in this political environment to get it all through, but the president putting out there what this administration sees for lowering corporate taxes.

BANFIELD: Is it good enough? Is it what companies want? Is it what Republicans or companies think is good enough?

ROMANS: Here's a good thing. You know, we'll be looking to see what the big business lobby says about it later on today.

But bottom line is that companies have $2 trillion in cash, right? They're back to making profits again. And if you look at Congressional Budget Office analysis of how much companies are paying, they're not paying 35 percent of their profit in taxes. And they haven't done that for years. They're paying more like 12 percent of their profit in taxes.

And you look at some of the very biggest companies in this country who are, I guess, based in this country but work all around the world, you know, they have tax offices that are working very, very aggressively to make sure that they're paying very little tax, as much as legally - as little as legally possible.

So if you take away all of these corporate tax breaks and all of these subsidies, companies will be paying higher taxes in some cases. So that's why I'm sure we're going to hear from the corporate lobbies today about what they think the president should do about this.

SAMBOLIN: And you were telling us a little factoid earlier that I thought was really interesting. And that's - that the tax attorneys get paid a whole lot of money.

ROMANS: Oh, in some of these companies, I mean, the place where the attorney gets paid the most, the most highly paid attorney is a tax attorney for a big company. We have a complicated tax system that is full of loopholes and subsidies. And if your job is to enhance shareholder value your job is to go out there and get as much money from each other.

BANFIELD: Not if Obama's plan might go through, those tax loopholes might be in peril.

ROMANS: Right.

BANFIELD: All right. Thank you, Christine. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: Twenty-seven minutes past the hour.

Coming up, GOP candidates debate tonight. Maybe for the last time. What you can expect?

And a woman in Texas shot by a bullet that flew over the border from Mexico. We'll let you know what happened and what the implications are.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It is 30 minutes past 6:00 a.m. on the East Coast. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

It's time to check the stories that are making news this morning. All knotted up, it's just hours away from the CNN Arizona Republican debate. A new CNN poll showing that Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are in a statistically tie in the state.

The U.S. embassy in Kabul is on lockdown as protesters in Afghanistan rally a second day against Koran burnings. NATO officials have apologized for what they're calling an error in the disposal of the Korans they say were scrawled with, quote, "extremist messages."

U.N. nuclear inspectors bailing again in their attempt to investigate if Iran has secretly been working on arms testing. This comes as Tehran issued a defiant warning threatening a preemptive strike against any country that threatens Iran.

BANFIELD: Police in London are rehearsing a full-scale terror attack. They're faking a subway bomb blast with mass casualty there's. Security exercise is part of the preparation for this summer's big event which is, of course, the Olympic Games in London.

Maryland is a step closer to becoming the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States. The Senate committee approving a gay marriage bill and sending it to the full state Senate for a vote later on this week. Maryland's Lower House approved it last week.

And a woman walking in El Paso, Texas, was hit in the leg by a bullet that authorities believe flew over the border from Mexico. Police say the incident occurred at the same time as a shootout broke out in Juarez.

SAMBOLIN: That's a crazy story.

BANFIELD: Unbelievable, but I suppose they are close enough. I've never been there.

SAMBOLIN: Nearby.

BANFIELD: Right next to each other.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-two minutes past the hour here. Let's talk politics, shall we?

Rick Santorum's comments about Satan from four years ago surfacing just hours before the big CNN Republican debate.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that have so deeply rooted in American tradition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So he is defending what he said. And is sure to face more questions about it tonight -- at least that's what we think here. The fallout could slow down his surge in the poll perhaps.

So, let's talk to CNN.com contributor Ruben Navarrette; former spokesman, House Republican Conference, Gretchen Hamel; and CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser.

Paul, I'm going to begin with you.

The peril of being the front-runner, right, is that we are hyper-focus, so we are hyper-focusing on Santorum today. Listen to what he said to our Jim Acosta about the Satan comment and then I want to talk to you about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANTORUM: I'm a person of faith. I believe in good and evil. I think if somehow or another because you're a person of faith you believe in good and evil is a disqualifier as president, we're going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: So, a CNN poll shows a tight race with fundamental split in party. Thirty-four percent of the people though say they might change their minds. How can Santorum appeal to those that are less religious with the comments like the one we just shared?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, you know, listen, his comments shows that he backs up what he says, that he doesn't change his mind, he doesn't maybe flip-flop like some other candidates may be running for the GOP nomination. I think Republican voters understand that Rick Santorum is a very religious man who stands by his convictions.

But he also will emphasize the economy. We've seen him do that over the last couple of weeks in speeches. It's not just social issues for Rick Santorum. I think he needs to do that in our debate tonight.

But for Rick Santorum, remember, this is the first time he's going to be sitting center stage. He's been on the sidelines on the side of all the previous debates. When you sit in the center, as he will with Mitt Romney, a lot more scrutiny comes and he needs to be ready for full frontal attacks from Romney and from Ron Paul.

SAMBOLIN: Gretchen, we're going to talk about the economy here. Santorum is hammering home on social issues. So, let's deal with that and then we'll talk about the economy. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SANTORUM: Free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done.

It's the churches money, and forcing them to do something that they think is a grievous, moral wrong. How can that be the right of a woman? That's not -- that has nothing to do with the right of a woman.

I do have concerns about women in front line combat. I think that can be a very compromising situation.

It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

SAMBOLIN: He is a man of his convictions. But we know that economy is the most important thing to voters and it's a weak spot for Obama here. Only 40 percent think that he can get the economy moving. So, do you think that Santorum is going to focus every opportunity he gets on the economy in the debate?

GRETCHEN HAMEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE PUBLIC NOTICE: Well, he hasn't thus far. He has been focusing on some other issues and it will be interesting tonight to see how he handles this. With the polls showing pretty much deadlocked in Michigan and Arizona, this is going to be critical for both of -- actually for all of the candidates, but especially for Romney and Santorum to really show a difference here, they show that they have the leadership to bring this nation out of its economic turmoil, all of the fiscal turmoil, and that it can bring this nation back up and provide the economic opportunity to the American public that they want.

But staying on these social issues may be his strategy in order to win the nomination. But we need to get back to the focus of what Americans care about and what this country needs right now.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ruben, we're going to stay on Santorum.

We know the Democrats are not their biggest fans, but he's getting a lot of criticism now from a conservative columnist from "New York Times," Ross Douthat. It's an op-ed piece for today. It says talking like a social conservative activist could actually be a problem. "In the still unlikely event that Santorum captured the nomination, then, his campaign would probably be able -- to social conservatism what Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign was to small government conservatism. A losing effort that would inspire countless observers to declare the loser's worldview discredited, rejected, finished."

Is he right? Is it as dire as all that?

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: I tell you what? I think Ross at "The New York Times" has it exactly wrong. I don't think he's got it right at all.

I know a lot of Republicans who feel this way, who feel we ought to focus on economic issues and you ought to stay away from the social issues. The problem is the heartland voters don't feel that way and it certainly didn't feel that way in Iowa.

I mean, look at Rick Santorum. This is the guy who we pronounced him all but dead a few weeks ago, now, he's back. He's a front-runner. And I think the reason for that is that people out there in the heartland do like his emphasis on social issues. They don't have to agree with him, but they like the fact that he sticks by what he believes and he speaks to them at their core.

SAMBOLIN: All right. I got a final question here. It's a two- word answer for you guys. President Obama sang last night. I don't know if you heard it. Here it is just in case.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to preface this by reminding all of you that I am from Chicago.

Thumbs up or thumbs down.

Gretchen, I'm going to start with you.

HAMEL: Two thumbs up. It was a great moment for him.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ruben?

NAVARRETTE: Thumbs down. He ought to focus on the economy. No wonder he's singing the blues.

SAMBOLIN: Paul?

STEINHAUSER: I'm the man in the middle so I'll give one thumbs up and one thumbs down. How's that?

SAMBOLIN: Well-done. Thank you very much.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: One thumbs up, one thumbs down. I think two thumbs up.

BANFIELD: All right. I want to take you overseas because in Afghanistan, if you didn't think a lot was going on there -- think again. The embassy there is on lockdown because of this. Look at these people. They are livid -- all over what's called an accidental burning of some religious documents and Koran.

Find out where it is going. We'll take you live there in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Welcome back to EARLY START. Forty-two minutes past 6:00.

In just a few hours, jury deliberations are set to get under way in the murder trial of a former University of Virginia lacrosse player, George Huguely, who is accused of killing is former girlfriend Yeardley Love. He's facing life in prison in this case.

And our Paul Callan, who is a CNN legal contributor and former prosecutor, now criminal defense attorney, joins us via Skype from Ridgewood, New Jersey.

I've been wanting to talk to you about this for a while. This is a little different in that closings actually finished on Saturday and here we are almost four days later getting down to deliberations.

Is there anything to this very long period of time in which this jury has had to contemplate the last things they heard?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Judges have a right to do this, to delay submission because of courtroom efficiency. I mean, I'm told that the courtroom had to be used for a grand jury yesterday and that was one of the reasons that the delay occurred.

I have to say though that most lawyers are appalled by this. I mean, it's a murder case. After you sum up to the jury, you like the jury to get the case. It's a very, very important case. So, you know, I'm surprised that the court scheduled it this way. I don't think it's a good thing.

BANFIELD: And, Paul, one of the last things that this jury heard and saw in this case was a prosecutor in tears. I have done hundreds upon hundreds of cases. I've been in courtroom after courtroom, and I have never seen a prosecutor cry.

CALLAN: I -- you know, I was sort of stunned by it, myself. And you know, because I was commenting on this is the other day on another CNN show. And I was talking to a prosecutor friend of mine in Manhattan who has been in the office for 30 years, never heard of a prosecutor crying.

Now, people watch this stuff on television, you know, "Law and Order."

BANFIELD: Sure.

CALLAN: And there's a lot of emotion in these summations, and they think that's what happens in court.

BANFIELD: It doesn't.

CALLAN: Prosecutors do not cry and they don't cry because appellate courts frown on it. They think it's objecting emotion into a case when the jury is supposed to be focused on the facts.

BANFIELD: Yes.

CALLAN: Sometimes you see defense attorneys do it, but this is the first time I've ever seen a prosecutor do it.

BANFIELD: I've seen plenty of defense attorneys do it. Let me tell you. But here's the thing, I'm not going to put the cart before the horse here. But if things don't go George Huguely's way, is that reversible error? Is that something he can say I have a real good appellate issue here?

CALLAN: It's certainly something that can be argued before appellate court. I will tell you that there's a long history of cases being reversed when prosecutors used emotionally charged words in their summations. If you call somebody a creep or a predator or a habitual liar, courts frown on that because they say it's name- calling.

BANFIELD: Yes.

CALLAN: Now, what's more emotional than crying in front of the jury?

So if the court was looking for a reason to reverse, that certainly would be put on the list. And let me tell you something, there's probably a lot of areas in this case where the court might be looking hard at the record. So, it's going to be on the list.

BANFIELD: You bet your bottom dollar there appellate attorneys are watching every moment in this case because it's so high profile, but the heart of the issue and we'll get over this quickly here, the heart of the issue is, premeditated murder or felony murder. No matter how you slice it, there is a whole lot for this jury to chew on, and this is going to be a tough one for George Huguely. A big (INAUDIBLE).

CALLAN: Yes. And it's just such a tragic case for both families. I mean, the love family, she was a talented athlete, beautiful young girl. And for George Huguely as well, going off to college and you have this case. It's just -- it's horrific. But, prosecutors did something very unusual here. They charged premeditated murder, that he planned to kill her. Very, very serious charge. life In prison.

And then, they hedge their bets by saying he's guilty of what we call felony murder. Now, this is a doctrine that when you're, say, sticking up a store or a bank, if a bystander is accidentally killed, you're guilty of murder even if you didn't plan it. So, they're saying he broke into her dorm room and planning to steal her computer, and she died in the process, hence, felony murder.

A real stretch on that doctrine. And if prosecutors lose those two counts, then it drops down to manslaughter, which is what the defense says it is. You know, the defense says, hey, he was a drunken kid who was stupid and acted inappropriately, and he hit her and hurt her, but he didn't want to kill her.

BANFIELD: You are smarter than I am, but I'm going to disagree with you on the felony murder. I say that's an out clause for this jury if they can't get the premeditation, I say, they can get him on that. But you know, like I said, you're smarter than I am, and you and I are going to have this conversation again.

CALLAN: I don't want to say that I'm smarter than you are, Ashleigh.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Paul Callan, it's a joy to talk to you every day. Thanks for being with us.

CALLAN: OK. Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-six minutes past the hour. Here's what's making news this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Breaking news from Syria. Two western journalists including American, Marie Colvin, on the left there were killed in heavy shelling by Syrian government forces on a neighborhood in the city of Homs. Colvin was a frequent voice here on CNN reporting from Syria just last night on CNN's "AC 360."

On the right there, 28-year-old French photographer, Remi Ochlik, was also killed. And this is new video just in to CNN. It is showing the rubble from the shelling where those journalists were killed.

PBS documentary on former President Bill Clinton has focused new attention on the whole Monica Lewinsky affair, and the Clintons are not too happy about it. In the next hour on "Starting Point," Soledad talks to Lanny Davis, former White House counsel and Clinton family friend.

The New U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking to crackdown on checking out overdraft fees. Yes, you hate those. It's investigating whether banks are manipulating the system and charging the fees and whether they're making it clear to you how they have been incurred.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: So, it is official. President Obama is a singer, if you didn't already know it, with his Al Green number. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (singing) I am so in love with you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Wow! That was January 19th, Mr. Smiling Man. And this is now, "Sweet Home Chicago," singing for the second time in this year, 2012. A little more hesitant this time. Why wouldn't you be? He's on the stage with blues legends, Buddy Guy and B.B. King. But he did manage to get out a few lines of "Sweet Home Chicago."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: My knees would have been knocking beside B.B. King. And hello there, Mick Jagger, too? Star-studded affair. Some people are saying this is President Obama's Bill Clinton's saxophone moment. Let's take you back. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SAXOPHONE PLAYING)

BANFIELD (voice-over): Maybe, you prefer President Bush boogying down.

(MUSIC PLAYING) SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Folks here are laughing, OK? But I believe that's Ashleigh's favorite moment.

BANFIELD: Not of all of them. That would be my favorite moment of President Bush's moments. I don't think there were that many, but this is a good one. That was a whole lot of fun, I remember.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Even his wife is getting in on the action there.

BANFIELD (on-camera): Hmmm. Soledad O'Brien joining us now with a look on what's coming up on her program starting.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I was going to say President Obama must be feeling the pressure he has to sing in front of Buddy Guy and B.B. King.

BANFIELD: I know.

O'BRIEN: That's a tough crowd, but I'm going to change that. President Bush dancing and then taking over the drumming?

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: It's a bit much.

BANFIELD: He was a decider.

O'BRIEN: He was good. I like that. I like that.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: All right. Still ahead this morning on "Starting Point" at the top of the hour, we're going to dig a little bit deeper in the story that we brought you yesterday. We were talking about the Buffalo schoolteachers and all the millions of dollars that they've been paying for plastic surgery. That's covered by the district. We're going to talk to a teacher who had plastic surgery. Going to explain some of the details behind that sorry this morning.

Also, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, he sits down and talks to Piers Morgan and Piers asked him about his weight. I'll tell you what he said about that.

And these are young ladies who had their own following when their dad was running for president. The Huntsman girls will join us to talk about what they're doing now on the political front. That's all ahead at the top of the hour. EARLY START, of course, is back right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-three minutes past the hour here. We're following a developing story happening now in Afghanistan. There are new violent protests on the streets of Kabul. Demonstrators rally for a second day now. They're angry over the burning of the Koran by NATO troops.

U.S. officials have apologized for what they're calling a mistake. They say copies of the Koran that were confiscated from the detainee center had extremist messages written in them and that's why they were disposed of.

BANFIELD: The U.S. embassy is, right now, on lockdown in reaction to all of the street protests. And reports of increasing violence this morning are coming in. Four people reportedly killed by police. Ben Farmer is a journalist in Kabul. He joins us live now, and it's just sort of late in the afternoon where you are.

I'm curious to find out if there are any additional measures right now that you've been able to see, concrete measures, to try to mitigate what is going on there and maybe stop the spread of this violent protest.

BEN FARMER, JOURNALIST: Police have deployed extra men on to the streets of Kabul and on to the streets of several other cities to try and stop these protests. We've seen at least five or six large protests today. The death toll (INAUDIBLE) wounded. Now, Mr. Karzai has made a statement. We've been expecting him to make a statement for some time now. Rather than condemning the protests, he's condemned the actual burning of the Koran.

And he's ordered an investigation into what happened at Bagram. So, it doesn't look like he has moved to take away the heat out of these protests yet. And it seems that they could well continue. Although, it's late in the afternoon, and today's protests might be waning. There's fierce that they will continue tomorrow, and everyone has got their eye on Friday and Friday prepares -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Ben Farmer, thank you for that. And that is distressing news to say the least that the president of that country has condemned the burning of the Koran and not the violence that has ensued. That doesn't speak well to how this (ph) unfortunately.

SAMBOLIN: Still ahead on EARLY START, reliving the Lewinsky affair in a new documentary. It's a brand-new information. Does it focus too much on Monica, however? Soledad O'Brien is talking to a friend of the Clintons. She's going to share all the details of that. You are watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: And one minute before seven, that is EARLY START, the news from A to Z. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien is next.