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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Asylum for Assange?; Wildfires Raging in 13 States; Arizona Governor Denies Deportation Relief; Facebook Shares Could Tank; Shooting at Family Research Council Center; Interview with Stephen Baldwin; Ecuador Grants Julian Assange Asylum

Aired August 16, 2012 - 08:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody.

STARTING POINT this morning, it is decision day for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wanted in Sweden over claims of rape. But he's been holed up in London for two months. We are standing by for breaking news on his request for asylum coming at any moment. We're going to bring you a live report, straight ahead.

Plus, heartbreaking loss this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM SEEMEYER, EVACUEE: My house is gone. All my friends, neighbors, people I care about. We're all going to have to move, rebuild. Hug, shed some tears, and start over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Wildfires intensifying, ravaging California and Washington and other states. People packing their belongings, running for their lives.

Also, defining Paul Ryan. We're taking a look into Mitt Romney's choice for vice presidential running mate and how it is affecting and will affect his campaign.

We have a busy show ahead. The actor Steven Baldwin is going to join us. Actor Dane DeHaan. Also, Bryan Curtis, he's a writer for ESPN's Grantland.com, talking sports.

It's Thursday, August 16th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: It's jazzy music. But that's not new music, I don't think.

Welcome, everybody.

Richard Socarides is joining us this morning. He's a writer for NewYorker.com.

Ryan Lizza is a Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker."

Will Cain is a columnist at TheBlaze.com.

John Berman stays with us, CNN anchor.

How long have you been here now?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A month. But it feels like we've known each other for years.

O'BRIEN: It feels like 15 years.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: You start at 5:00 a.m., right?

BERMAN: I do. You sure you'll be watching "EARLY START" at 5:00 a.m.

O'BRIEN: What time do you get up in the morning?

SOCARIDES: It's great show, by the way. It's my favorite show. Next to this show, it's my favorite show.

BERMAN: I get up at 1:45 in the morning.

O'BRIEN: Very political of you, 1:45?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it's got to feel great.

SOCARIDES: I feel great.

He is going out for drinks after this.

O'BRIEN: Let's start with our developing story this morning.

We're expecting that decision any moment now from Ecuador's foreign minister on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's request for asylum. He has been holed up in country's embassy in London ever since June, and British authorities have been threatening to take him out of Ecuador -- take him out of that embassy if Ecuador doesn't just hand him over so he can be extradited to Sweden. Assange is facing sex crimes allegations there.

And Atika Shubert is live for us now this morning, with more on this.

In some ways, Atika, this is a countdown as we monitor and you stand there monitoring the situation. Tell us how it's changed over the last hour.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a bit loud here, as you can see. We still have a lot of protesters coming through here in Ecuadorian contingent here saying earlier hands off Ecuador. That, of course, is in reference to what Ecuador says is Britain's veiled threat to basically go into the embassy and arrest Julian Assange.

Britain says they want to solve this situation diplomatically. But there is a basis, they say, by which they could basically take away the diplomatic status of the Ecuadorian embassy if it's being misused. That doesn't mean they are going to raid it anytime soon, and of course so far we have seen nothing to indicate that police would go in and arrest Julian Assange.

So meantime, we are waiting to see what the decision is from Ecuador, will they grant Julian Assange asylum. And even if they do, does that mean he'll be inside the embassy indefinitely?

O'BRIEN: Yes, a lot of questions there, because as you point out, if they are threatening that they might still revoke the diplomatic status of the embassy in London to allow the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder, not only do you have this argument over Julian Assange, you are also getting that debate that's going on ragingly behind you between sort of the colonial power versus Ecuador. And it's kind of ramped things up, hasn't it?

SHUBERT: Well, this is the problem. I mean, even if they felt that the embassy was being misused in some way -- excuse me, sorry, we have a lot of protesters working in and out of the shot, as you can imagine.

But if they feel that the embassy is being misused, they say they have the ability and the legal right to withdraw diplomatic status. But even if they did do that, that is something that would take months to do. It would probably be legally challenged not only by Ecuador but by other countries.

So this is something that even if it happened would take months. And so realistically speaking -- sorry, a lot of protesters getting in the way -- it doesn't mean we are likely to have anybody go into the embassy and make an arrest anytime soon.

O'BRIEN: Atika Shubert for us this morning -- cool as a cucumber this morning ass people walk to his live shot, because obviously, everything is ramping exactly where she is. Atika, thank you. Obviously, we'll come back to you as we get word of what that decision is.

Also happening this morning, our STARTING POINT, homes and lives being threatened, 13 states in a heartbreaking battle with wildfires and there is no end in point. There are 70 large wildfires burning, 13 states west of the Mississippi. They have already consumed 1.3 million acres, burned more than 60 homes. A dozen more homes are in danger.

And the victims literally are shell-shocked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, there goes another one.

JACK CUSHING, EVACUEE: There goes another one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think the wind is the biggest factor.

CUSHING: We have been here for 25 years. We moved over from Belgium. And it hurts. SEEMEYER: Everybody's house is gone. All my friends, my neighbors, you know, people I care about. And we're all either going to have to move, rebuild, hug, shed some tears, and start over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness.

California, of the 13, has the most fires, 13 states, has the most fires burning right now. They have 13 fires burning. They have called in the Marines to help 8,000 firefighters try to beat back those flames. For the folks in central Washington state, they have been hit the hardest. Wind-whipped Taylor Bridge Fire torched nearly 40 square miles so far, 60 homes there have been destroyed.

All that brings right to Rob Marciano. He is in Cle Elum, Washington, this morning.

How's the forecast looking for these folks.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, winds have died down a little bit, but the heat is creeping up and the humidity is dropping, so that's the bad news there.

This is the one large uncontained fire in Washington, but it's done the most damage. It's the worst one that this area has seen in decades. It started Monday night near a construction site and spread rapidly.

This is an area no stranger to winds. They get them all summer long out of the West. And that can whip up those flames quickly and dozens of homes, pictures are heartbreaking, being burnt as that fire whipped through, not only inside of town but on the outskirts of town as well, and some farming areas. It sent livestock and other animals fleeing as well.

All in all, at least 450 families have been evacuated and no word on when they can go back.

Ten percent containment now. They hope to get a better grasp later, but they are worried about it creeping further north into wooded areas. California, that's where the heat has been building. That's where those big fires have been building.

But the heat now is building here. And even though the winds have died down, Soledad, temperatures will be near 100 degrees in some spots of Oregon and Washington. And with those high temperatures, that's just one more thing that firefighters will have to contend with, over the next couple of days.

O'BRIEN: It's got to be just horrible to be fighting fires like that.

All right. Rob Marciano for us this morning -- thank you, Rob.

And this just in this morning. We are receiving word that an International Security Assistance Force chopper has gone down in southern Afghanistan. Eleven people killed, Afghan and coalition service members. At least three of them are U.S. service members.

Not sure what caused the ISAF chopper to go down. An investigation is now underway.

We continue to follow those developments as well, and we will continue to bring them to you as they come in.

Turning now to politics and the race for the presidency. It's been five days since Paul Ryan has started hitting the campaign trail as a candidate for the vice presidency. True impact, of course, that he's going to have on the race remains to be seen. An article called "Ryan's Hope" in the new "TIME" magazine asked this question: "Can a Wisconsin Wonk Help Mitt Romney Win?"

The author of that article is Michael Crowley, "TIME's" deputy Washington bureau chief.

Michael, nice to see you, as always. Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, TIME: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: You know, when you look at tracking polls, and this one is from Gallup, you see no immediate bounce in the polling for Governor Romney. Let's throw that polling up on the screen there.

Before the announcement, Romney was at 46 percent and President Obama at 45 percent. After the Ryan announcement, Governor Romney at 47 percent, Obama at 45 percent.

What do you make -- what do you take away from a poll like that?

CROWLEY: Well, I think it's got to be a disappointment for the Romney campaign. Everybody wants a bigger bounce. And, look, I think that this pick was a risk. It was a toss of the dice. I think the dice are still tumbling.

You know, it's possible what they are looking at here or what they are hoping for is a boost in their turnout. This is a pick meant to energize Romney's base. So, you might not necessarily see the numbers in a poll like that move dramatically, but what would happen, the Romney campaign hopes, is that on Election Day, conservatives are more fired up than Democrats and the people who actually get up off the couch and wait in line to cast their ballot will make the difference because they will be more motivated and excited and more inspired by Romney, who I think was not really inspiring the conservative base, although they have always been pretty motivated by the desire to knock out President Obama.

RYAN LIZZA, NEW YORKER: Crowley, it's Ryan Lizza.

CROWLEY: Hey, Ryan.

LIZZA: Hey. At the beginning of the piece, you start off this piece with this idea that the ghost of Sarah Palin sort of haunted the search for a running mate with Romney. And at the end of the piece, you note there's an echo of Sarah Palin in the Ryan pick. What do you think? What do you think the -- you think they got it wrong here? Even though they were driven by not doing another Palin they may have gone down that road anyway?

CROWLEY: Well, I think that's a great question and the question to ask. One thing that interests me about this story is that, yes, I think the specter of Palin was there from the beginning. Everybody said you have to pick somebody serious and substantive. We don't want any reminders of the fiasco from 2008 when John McCain picked someone who just wasn't ready.

But I think there is an echo in the sense that it looks like this was a pick designed -- it's become a cliche, but I do think it's a good descriptor, a kind of a game changer to reboot the campaign. That the Romney headquarters in Boston felt that the status quo they were on was not a winning one.

So they had to reframe the debate, reenergize their campaign. They may be switching to more of a base strategy. But I think it's a very open question as to whether it's going to work.

And I think conservatives with Palin were very excited by the pick initially, but they are not seeing the base. A lot of Republicans, particularly down the ticket in congressional races are nervous about the way Medicare has become a front and center issue. And I think it's entirely possible that as with Palin, they are going to end up regretting this.

Now, I think it's too early to say for sure. But it would be sort of ironic if we saw it play out the same way the Palin pick did after they tried so hard not to repeat history that way.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask Will Cain a question on this. It seems to me that not getting a bounce is not unusual for many campaigns actually, right? I mean, you saw some bounces in the past, but give me the history of this. Do you always se a bounce from the presidential pick? Often there is no bounce, right?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Ryan is much more versed in polling and presidential races than I am. But I will have to say, I think Michael's analysis is exactly right. This pick is designed to energize the base. And I think actually both campaigns, that's what their focus is right now. It is energize our base. Not really strong efforts to win over the middle.

I disagree with one thing that Michael said -- I think Republicans are comfortable with Medicare being part of the national debate. Not so much, hey, we're going to reform Medicare for the long hall, but try and make it like 2010 -- Barack Obama is cutting your Medicare. That's the argument they want to have.

O'BRIEN: What? No, no, no. What? No. One quick point.

LIZZA: Over time the bounce on V.P. picks has been reduced.

O'BRIEN: OK. LIZZA: And the Medicare thing, look, this is a funny test in the middle of a presidential campaign to test the idea that Republicans can suddenly win the Medicare debate. Certain issues are owned by one party or the other. The Democrats own the Medicare issue.

(CROSSTALK)

SOCARIDES: Can I ask, Michael, because I have -- the more and more I think about this, the think that Romney picked Ryan just because he liked him the best. There is some report being this that it really wasn't meant to be an ideological game changer. He just liked this guy and now they are dealing with the fallout.

Did people tell you that?

CROWLEY: Yes, we definitely can't underestimate chemistry here. It's hard to know exactly how the different percentages broke down. You know, how much was this reason or that reason. I think there's no question there's chemistry. These guys are both numbers guys. They're data geeks.

You know, it's been said that Ryan reminded Romney of someone hoe would hire at Bain or remind him of one of his sons. I think that rings very true. And you can kind of see the dynamic between them.

One quick thing I would ad --

O'BRIEN: Not three points that you want to make?

CROWLEY: No, it's my best one. I'm a little more selective than my friend Ryan Lizza. Which is just that I do think, you know, Medicare -- Republicans do get some traction with that cutting Medicare line they used in 2010. I think that's an excellent point.

But remember that the conversation right now about the Romney/Ryan ticket is not getting people jobs right now. So if you're unemployed, this is what we will do to get you a job in the next few months. They are talking about reforming Medicare a decade out, you know, 20 years out.

I think it's an interesting question. Is this what voters want to hear right now? I know they are concerned about the debt. Health care costs are a really problem.

But to win an election in November, don't you want to be talking more about I'm going to get you back to work in a few months, and here is my plan? And they are not saying that right now.

O'BRIEN: And there might be time for that, though, right? We've still got 80 some-odd days.

CROWLEY: I think we will hear it. Yes.

O'BRIEN: Michael Crowley, nice to see you.

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was my third point.

O'BRIEN: Shush. Michael Crowley --

CROWLEY: Ryan, thank you for reading my article so closely.

O'BRIEN: Washington bureau chief. Appreciate it, Michael. Always nice to have you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Ecuadorian officials are making the announcement right now whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will get -- Assange can get asylum.

Live pictures. We're going to bring you that decision the moment it is delivered.

And then define the president. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issues her own executive order. It happened last night. Banning benefits to young illegal immigrants. We'll tell you what happened there.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We've got to take a break. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We are following developing news as Ecuador officials are right now going over their decision in the Julian Assange case.

You're watching Ecuadorian TV. Those are the pictures that we're showing you on the left side of your screen. And they're reviewing just exactly how the case developed. A little bit about the history of the case. So they haven't gotten to the point yet where they're announcing whether they are going to allow, in fact, Julian Assange to have -- to come to their country.

CNN's Atika Shubert is live outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. That's where the WikiLeaks founder has been hold up now for two months. He's been really hiding from British authorities. They're hoping to deport him to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual abuse. She's going to come join us live as soon as a decision is made. She's obviously monitoring Ecuadorian TV and those official remarks.

Right now in Arizona, the governor there, Jan Brewer, a few hours ago signed an executive order, and that order directs state agencies to deny benefits, including driver's licenses, to Deferred Action recipients in that state.

The Deferred Deportation Program was created back in June by the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Janet Napolitano. Went into effect this week. We were talking about it yesterday.

Senior Latin American affairs editor Rafael Romo joins us. He's in Atlanta this morning. The governor says the Deferred Action Program doesn't give any legal status, so she thinks not giving out Arizona licenses is a perfectly fine thing to do. Legally, is she on steady ground or on weak ground there?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, Soledad, when you talk about the Deferred Action Program by the Obama administration, it essentially gives not only the opportunity to stay in the country to these young immigrants for a period of two years but also very important, it gives them a Social Security number and also a work permit. That means that in any state they have the ability to get a driver's license.

What the -- what the governor in Arizona is arguing, Jan Brewer, is saying that that's not the case because they are only temporarily here in the United States. They don't actually have legal status. And so therefore, they are not entitled to any local or state benefits. In essence, this means a driver's license.

So what she's doing is issuing her own -- executive order to counter President Obama's executive order, although the administration doesn't like to call it that. They call it a policy -- policy memo from the Department of Homeland Security.

And as you can imagine, Soledad, already protests in Arizona. The Dream Act Coalition protest at the moment. This was announced with a march to the capital there in Arizona. The ACLU already criticizing Arizona for alleged slating at the local level what should be a federal law. And many -- many, many people saying the same thing, that the governor just went ahead and is doing her own legislation in a manner that should be federal.

O'BRIEN: So, then, Rafael, do you think that there's an expectation that the Justice Department steps in and get involved -- gets involved in some way?

ROMO: Well, if history is any indication, if you think about what happened in Arizona in 2010, right after Governor Brewer signed SB 1070, the law cracking down on illegal immigration in Arizona, the Justice Department stepped suing Arizona, and the decision didn't come up until a couple of months ago in June when the Supreme Court overruled three out of four provisions in Arizona.

But one of the most important ones, the one that allows police to ask for legal status to anybody they stop suspected of being in the country illegally stands. So you can imagine that the Justice Department right now is taking a close look at this, and deciding what they're going to do.

And just let me show you some of the reaction that has been in Arizona. Influential columnist EJ Montini from the "Arizona Republic," talking about this, says, "It's cutting off your nose to spite your face," -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Rafael Romo for us this morning in Atlanta. Thank you, Rafael, appreciate the update. Much more ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. We continue to follow the asylum request of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Ecuadorian officials are making that decision, reviewing the history of the case right now as we speak.

Plus, we'll tell you why investors could start dumping their Facebook stock today. Maybe that's an opportunity for the rest of us. We'll tell you that straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Minding Your Business" today. I'm Poppy Harlow. It could be a day of reckoning for Facebook. Investors will be able to sell as many as 270 million shares of the stock today if they want to. Today marks the end of Facebook's first lockup period.

Facebook stock is down 45 percent since that initial public offering mid May.

Meantime, stock futures are pointing higher ahead of the Opening Bell on Wall Street. Investors are waiting on several important reports including weekly jobless claims and housing starts. Cisco Systems, that tech giant, shares rise 5 percent on strong earnings and dividends.

But, guys, I can tell you, no one is going to be talking about Cisco. They're going to be talking about Facebook at the opening.

O'BRIEN: Would you ditch your stock if you had it?

HARLOW: Do you have it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't have it. Don't have it. Wouldn't have it.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not?

O'BRIEN: I know. Don't give me one of these, it's too hypothetical. If you had it --

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: How do you evaluate a company with unknown revenues, unknown future earnings? I mean you can value a tech company like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sound like the guys at Berkshire Hathaway that Warren Buffett --

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: Yes, not interested.

O'BRIEN: Back to my original question. If you own Facebook stock, would you take the opportunity to ditch it, you know, where the value has really gone down, or would you say maybe I'm going to keep it and see what happens?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I'd hold it.

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: I don't know why he'd sell back 45 if you got it at the IPO.

O'BRIEN: Right.

HARLOW: Unless you want -- unless you want the money, you've been holding this paper money and now you want the cash.

O'BRIEN: Go buy your mansion right now or half a mansion as it might be.

All right. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, breaking news on the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's asylum request. There is really police action outside of the embassy in London, as London seems to be threatening the Ecuadorian embassy.

We'll tell you what's happening there.

Plus, look at this videotape. This little boy gets his head lodged in a stone balcony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

O'BRIEN: My goodness, we'll tell what you happened to him. That looks like a miserable position to be in.

And a man who's known for his strong opinion. The actor Stephen Baldwin is going to join us. Going to talk politics with him. On tone of the campaign. He's walking in right now.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Hey, good morning. Nice to have you. How are you also?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Here's what's happening right now. Officials in Ecuador are reviewing their decision in the Julian Assange asylum case. What you're looking at is Ecuadorian TV live. They have not decided to let him come to their country. The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up for two months hiding from British authorities, who are trying to deport him to Sweden to face allegations of sexual abuse.

CNN's Atika Shubert is live outside of Ecuador's embassy in London. She's monitoring this news story, and as soon as that decision is made, she'll come to us with a live report. That's straight ahead.

First, though, John Berman has an update of the day's top stories. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad. Penn State University -- oh, we just received news that the international security assistance force chopper has gone down in southern Afghanistan killing 11 afghan and coalition service members. At least seven of them are U.S. service members. We don't know what caused the ISAF chopper to go down. An investigation is underway. We are following developments and will bring them to you as they come in.

Now to Penn State. Penn State has announced it will be holding a conference on sexual abuse at the end of October. Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart are scheduled to speak at the conference. There is a Penn State perjury hearing for two men who are accused of lying to a grand jury in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Their lawyers will try to have the case thrown out.

And you'll never see a more unhappy looking boy. He got his head stuck in a stone opening in a balcony. Poor little guy. The good news is he was freed using a hydraulic spreading machine, some pliers, and he does appear to be unharmed, though very, very sad. Poor guy, seriously.

O'BRIEN: Yes. I know. Isn't that terrible? Every time we have one of those little kids stuck in fill in the blank, it's always good when they are OK.

Let's talk politics. Trash talk maybe getting out of control on the campaign trail ever since Vice President Biden talked about putting you all in chains, and the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani pretty much said he's just stupid and Sarah Palin said she thought that the vice president should be replaced on the ticket. And ben la bolt said unhinged describing Governor Mitt Romney. Romney's new running mate Paul Ryan picked up the line of angry from the governor last night in what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL RYAN, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Obama is out of ideas. And that is why his campaign is based on anger and division.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I think it's fair to say it's getting pretty ugly out there. Actor Stephen Baldwin is joining us this morning. He is a Romney supporter and from a political family that like to duke it out on both sides of the aisle.

STEPHEN BALDWIN, ACTOR: Well, I just saw that Chinese kid, and it brought back a lot of memories.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's how they do it in the Baldwin family.

O'BRIEN: Where are you in the pecking order?

BALDWIN: I'm the youngest.

O'BRIEN: Of six, right?

BALDWIN: The difference between me and that young kid is I was forced there.

O'BRIEN: We are going to start with a serious topic which is that shooting that took place in D.C. at FRC. Earlier we had Brian Brown on, and he was -- he said this. Let me just play a little bit of his interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Everything points to the fact that this was politically motivated. And it's totally unacceptable. And groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which have labeled the family research council, which is a mainstream group, a hate group, that sort of talk, that sort of labeling and attack, it's totally irresponsible and unacceptable. And I think this incident makes that clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: He is the president of the National Organization for Marriage. And it seems we are now learning about the security guard who was injured in the attack. But he seems to have stopped it and really probably saved a lot of lives because this guy was heavily armed. What do you make of what he's saying, which is there is an irresponsibility in the labeling that goes around the FRC.

BALDWIN: Well, I think that -- I know exactly what FRC is. I know the founder of it. And anybody that tries to go in there with a weapon was probably pretty stupid, because those people are --

RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Heavily armed?

BALDWIN: Yes, they are heavily armed people. Huh. Exactly. I think it gets back to common sense, regular Joe philosophy. I think that there is a right and a left. And a very conservative perspective about what the future of the country is. And there's a progressive movement that wants what it wants. And we are now seeing all of these types of differences coming to extreme heads and confrontations.

O'BRIEN: It sounds like you're saying that the hostility and the tenor and the tone is only going to ratchet-up, right?

BALDWIN: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: You're saying harsher this way, harsher that way, and that bubbles into much of a clash and angry rhetoric and worse than angry rhetoric.

BALDWIN: Yes. I mean, obviously we're seeing more and more violence. Where is that coming from? SOCARIDES: Do you think, though, that maybe we're seeing more violence on the extremes, but that in the middle, I think the country is coming together around some core principles. We are all in this together. We are all about the same values.

BALDWIN: We should be.

SOCARIDES: We should be, right?

CAIN: What are you saying?

SOCARIDES: I think that there is a consensus around issues like gay rights. The family research council is a big advocate against gay consensus for basic fairness for all.

BALDWIN: Well, there's a shift.

SOCARIDES: There is a shift.

BALDWIN: In the perception, yes. But at the same time, you have organizations like family research council that say, ok, what about traditional? What about the foundations of what has been the origins and the establishment of this country? It doesn't mean don't try to do the right thing. But I believe, you know, listen, Kirk Cameron said something, you know, with Piers Morgan and got in a lot of trouble. And I said during that time, Kirk, it's not what you say. It's how you say it. But I supported kirk Cameron for being able to say and stand up for what he believes in.

O'BRIEN: By the way, you have called Vice President Biden a potty mouth. You called the president a gangster. Do you think that the words that people are throwing back and forth are, you know, and I played just a bunch of clips of everybody saying just hostile, nasty things. And I know every couple of years, we say this is the worst ever. Oh, my god, the rhetoric is so bad. But at some point don't you think it's ratcheting up?

BALDWIN: Well, Soledad, I call them like I see them. No. Listen, there was a political move by this president to get health care passed that in my perception was criminal, meaning on a common sense level. You don't go do a deal behind everybody's back and work the system and, you know, pimp it out so to speak, in order to get your way.

O'BRIEN: So I'm going to guarantee you that the fact you have used the words "pimp it out" is going to --

BALDWIN: Get me in a lot of trouble!

O'BRIEN: Yes, sir.

BALDWIN: I call them like I see them, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So you are, though, comparing the president to a pimp in those words. Is that what you're saying?

BALDWIN: No, no. I'm using an -- O'BRIEN: No, I'm asking. No, no, I'm literally -- that's what I'm saying. You're going to get in trouble. That's the connection people will make, as you know.

BALDWIN: I'm trying to clarify it simply by saying he did something and made a move that most people on a common sense level would say, was that really the right way to get that done? But this president obviously is going to do what he thinks he needs to do to achieve his goals and achieve his agenda.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. Did you really save some woman's life in a bar the other day?

BALDWIN: No. I was at the Peninsula Hotel.

CAIN: I read this.

O'BRIEN: But there are reports that you saved -- a woman had an epileptic fit, an attack, and --

BALDWIN: I just held her hand.

O'BRIEN: If someone asks that question, just go with it.

SOCARIDES: Tell us what happened.

BALDWIN: A woman was having a seizure and I held her hand and made sure her airway was not blocked.

O'BRIEN: How did you know what to do? By the stories I read, it seemed like no one else was doing anything and you jumped in and saved her.

BALDWIN: Yes, it was weird. This woman fell over and started convulsing, and everyone screamed and ran to the other side of the room. And I just went over and said, dang, I hope she's going to be ok. And I talked to her and prayed for her and held her hand and she was fine.

O'BRIEN: How did you know what to do when someone is having a grand mal seizure?

BALDWIN: Well, I didn't really. But I just know it can be dangerous. But I'm willing to do that.

O'BRIEN: Well, that makes you a hero. Clearing her airway, that saved her life. Thank you for talking to us this morning.

We're going to get right to this breaking news coming to us out of London. Ecuador saying, yes, they will grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador. British authorities hoped Assange would be turned over to be extradited to Sweden where he faces allegations of sexual assault. We'll bring you a live report from London right after a short break. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Breaking news this morning. Ecuador has now granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador. Let's get right to CNN's Atika Shubert. She's live for us in London. Good morning, Atika.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

It's good news for Assange and his supporters, a bit of a cheer went up among his supporters here. But it does not fundamentally change the situation on the ground. Now that Ecuador has granted him asylum, it simply means that he can stay in the embassy perhaps indefinitely.

But it doesn't explain how he can get from the embassy to Ecuador because as soon as he walks out of the door -- it means that the authorities here --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.

SHUBERT: -- I'm sorry we have a lot of protesters are walking back and forth here. But it means that if he steps outside of the door that he could face arrest by British police.

So a legal win for him because he has now been granted asylum, but no logistical way for him to get from there to Ecuador at this point.

O'BRIEN: So apparently Britain has said that in the -- if in the event that he was granted asylum, under the law they would have a week and then they could go into the embassy and forcibly grab him and they also could revoke the diplomatic status of Quito's embassy in London, which is right where you are. They said both of those decisions haven't been made yet, and they are hoping for a diplomatic solution.

But this is really ratcheting up I think the -- the tension. I mean if you're talking even, you know, down the road a little bit, about going in and grabbing a guy out of an embassy, that takes this conversation to a different level, doesn't it?

SHUBERT: Well, yes. I mean this is definitely ratcheting up diplomatic tensions quite a bit. And basically what Britain has done is they simply want to solve this diplomatically, but there is an act, there is a law that says we can revoke your diplomatic status if the embassy is being misused.

Now, if that -- if that is done, then they would have the ability to go in and arrest him. However, for that to be done, obviously, it takes months. It could be legally challenged not just by Ecuador but by other countries as well.

So possibly a bit of an empty threat by Britain but a threat that Ecuador takes very seriously and they said they feel very threatened by this. And they said they are not going to be bullied, basically, and they stood up to Britain and the way they have done that is by granting Julian Assange asylum. So now the dilemma is for Britain, what do they do? They feel that they are responsible for extraditing him to the United States for his breach of bail conditions that he should be arrested but frankly as long as he's in the Ecuadorian Embassy they can't go and get him not without a long legal fight.

O'BRIEN: We're going to be watching for that. All right, Atika Shubert for us this morning. Atika, thank you very much.

Coming up next, actor Dane DeHaan is my guest. He is in a new movie called "Lawless". We'll talk about that right after this break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Dave DeHaan is a rising star in Hollywood, best known for his portrayal of a troubled teenager in the HBO series "In Treatment". He now appears in the new movie "Lawless", which is based on a true story. It features an all-star cast including Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain.

The movie takes place in prohibition era Virginia, involves a gang of bootlegging brothers who take on authorities. Dane's character is a vital member of their inner circle with a magic touch when it comes to moonshine. "Lawless" goes into theaters on August 29th.

And Dane is with us this morning. It's nice to have you. Thanks for talking with us.

DANE DEHAAN, ACTOR: Yes it's great to be here.

O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about this movie. Bootleggers, crime, guns -- a little bit violent. But it also looks really, really good. You say it's about family ultimately.

DEHAAN: Well, yes. I think it is about family. I mean the movie is a blood bath, you know, but it's a blood bath because it's about three brothers and their heritage and providing for their family with their heritage.

And you know the law comes to town and tries to squash their operation. And as a family, they fight back and stick up for what they believe in.

O'BRIEN: You play Cricket, who is one of the brothers. Tell me a little bit about -- about the character.

DEHAAN: Yes well, Cricket he's actually the best friend of the youngest brother. But he's in a way like the fourth brother. He lives in the -- he lives in the garage at the guys' place. And he -- he's like a mechanical genius. He soups up the cars. He -- he -- he makes big stills and creative stills to make different ways of making the moonshine.

O'BRIEN: He has a disability. DEHAAN: He does. He has rickets, yes. So he is like -- the three brothers are very like big dudes, very strong, and he's -- he's the feeble body but the bright mind. You know and he relies on the brothers for protection so that his mind can work.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting. When this -- it's a fairly violent movie, which I usually am not a big fan of violent movies. But I was watching parts of this and thought, this looks really, really good.

Harvey Weinstein was asked about violence in movies. And he said this. "I've been involved with violent movies, and then I've said at a certain point, I can't take it anymore please cut it. You know, you've got to respect the filmmakers it's a really a tough issue."

As an actor do you ever sort of feel that draw between what's authentic, you know, to the character?

DEHAAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And like gratuitous violence which often brings people into the theater. And going to have some you know --

(CROSSTALK)

DEHAAN: Yes, sure I mean, I think -- I mean I don't really believe in putting anything gratuitous in movies. You know I think it's -- as long as you earn it, as long as it's there, I mean if it's -- if it's a world that's a very violent world and a lot of violent things happen, then to not have that blood would be completely inaccurate.

O'BRIEN: No one would believe the part.

DEHAAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: You've won an OB.

DEHAAN: I did.

O'BRIEN: You had a lot of success in films so far. You're 26 years old.

DEHAAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: How do you navigate Hollywood as you know we started the segment by calling you a rising star?

DEHAAN: Right.

O'BRIEN: How do you make sure your -- you continue on the path to stardom without being sort of you know taken over by the celebrity or taken over, you know, by the craziness that's Hollywood?

DEHAAN: Yes -- well, I've never really done the studio celebrity. You know I've done it because I really love acting and I really love the work. And so the work is what's important to me. And I've been really lucky to work at a really high level in the business, where a lot of the best people work. And those are the people I want to work with.

So it does come with a certain amount of loss of privacy and celebrity. But -- but that's just I guess a perk of the job. It's not why I do it.

O'BRIEN: Dane DeHaan, it's nice to have you. Congratulations on the new movie.

DEHAAN: Yes thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: It opens on August 29th, it's called "Lawless". Thanks for being with us.

DEHAAN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: You bet.

"End Point" is up next. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Time for "End Point." John Berman why don't you take off for us.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're talking about Julian Assange, who now has you know -- you know an amnesty or being held in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. You don't usually see this in a place like London. And it sets up a real diplomatic standoff here.

RYAN LIZZA, "THE NEW YORKER": Yes.

BERMAN: What's going to happen to him? What will Great Britain do? Will they go in to get him out? Will they not? It's a real faceoff.

O'BRIEN: They can legally.

LIZZA: They can.

O'BRIEN: I mean -- right -- and you basically have the good news for him, is he's been given you know whatever -- asylum by Ecuador. But the bad news is, how do you get out of the embassy --

(CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Yes.

O'BRIEN: -- to get to Ecuador, which is where he's been given asylum.

LIZZA: And people are wondering why Ecuador. Remember, Ecuador is run by a left-leaning economist Rafael Correa whose aligned himself with Chavez and Castro -- very anti-American. So his political views are in line with Assange. And has also criticized Great Britain for their long-running dispute over the Falklands with Argentina -- actually called for sanctions against Great Britain. WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Interesting in asking what's the upshot for Ecuador? Because what they are doing is looking past the actual indictment against Julian Assange which is regarding a sexual assault case. So what country grants asylum for sexual assault? And obviously, what they are doing is looking past that to these other issues.

O'BRIEN: Yes there is messaging there.

RICHARD SOCARIDES: And they're worried that Sweden will send him to the U.S.

BERMAN: You have seen movies about people living in embassies for years, you know, under asylum in other countries.

SOCARIDES: How long could you do it, though. That's what I wonder? How could you just hold up there.

BERMAN: I don't think in London very long. I don't think this lasts forever.

O'BRIEN: Obviously we're going to continue to watch that. It's a conversation as well for "CNN NEWSROOM" with Fred Whitfield. Notice we just took the word "Fredricka" off because I messed it up yesterday.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's right.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning.

WHITFIELD: All right. Good morning to you. Have a good one. Thanks so much.