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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Trial for Rape Case in New Dehli Begins; President Nominates News CIA Director; Interview with Mayor Cory Booker; Carmakers to Announce New Models for Driverless Cars

Aired January 7, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the president's pick to run the CIA. Brand-new, it's John Brennan, the president's top adviser on counterterrorism. Is he ready for the job?

And prepare for a fight on the president's pick for Defense Secretary. Some conservatives already saying they're going to fight the choice of the former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for the job.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And the car of the future just might be here already. Details about the new self-driving car.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": And is it Fighting Irish or Roll Tide? The BCS championship tonight. The college football champ will be crowned and what about the pros? Major second guessing after a football star goes down.

O'BRIEN: And the lineup this morning, Newark Mayor Cory Booker will join us. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, former Congressmembers, Connie Mack and Mary Bono-Mack, and Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg of the ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" are our guests.

It's Monday, January 7th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. This just in to CNN. The White House is now naming long-time CIA official and the president's top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the nominee for CIA director. This as high- profile conservatives are already declaring war so to speak on the president's pick for Defense Secretary, the former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Let's get right to our foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty. Jill, good morning to you. Let's start with Brennan. First, give us information on Brennan, and how do you expect his nomination process to go?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, he's a heavy hitter. He's been in this for a long time. John Brennan, of course, the adviser to the president for the past four years, counterterrorism, and homeland security. He really knows what he's talking about. He was with the CIA for 25 years, an expert in the Middle East, an expert in terrorism, and at the president's side for the past four years. He is not a flashy person. Is he a person who has been deeply in the trenches on both issues. And I think, Soledad, you have to say a number of people would support him. He's quite qualified.

O'BRIEN: Let's turn to Chuck Hagel. Maybe you will see the opposite for -- in terms of a lot of people supporting him. He's getting so much opposition from both sides on this. Why is that?

DOUGHERTY: He is. And I think you would have to get into some of the issues, which we can in a minute. But he is a Republican technically speaking. However, Republicans basically do not consider him one of them. And when it gets into the positions, let's just listen to Lindsey Graham and this read-flag statement that he made about Chuck Hagel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: This is an in-your-face nomination by the president to all of us who are supportive of Israel. I don't know what his management experience is regarding the Pentagon -- little, if any. So I think it's an incredibly controversial choice. And it looks like the second term of Barack Obama will be an in-your-face term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: So what are some of the issues? Start with Israel. As you heard, a number of his opponents, especially on the Republican or conservative side think Chuck Hagel is not a friend of Israel and point to his position on Iran sanctions. They say because of his position that Iran sanctions essentially aren't effective, that that is another point against him.

Also from the liberal side, comments about a dozen, maybe 14 years ago, that Chuck Hagel made about a candidate for an ambassadorial position where he called him openly and aggressively gay. Now, Chuck Hagel has since apologized for that, but that also raises some haggles among some people on the more liberal side. So it's not going to be a friendly reception up in the Senate, however, the White House obviously thinks they can pull it off.

O'BRIEN: An interesting confirmation hearing, that's for sure.

Let's talk about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose illness people were mocking honestly. Not sure I can use a different word for the concussion and it turned out to be quite serious. Is she fully recovered?

DOUGHERTY: You would say she is. She probably has to continue on blood thinners, there's no question. In terms of anything else, they say she is raring to go. Get back to work. She has a full schedule beginning at 9:15 this morning.

O'BRIEN: Wow. We'll watch her health as well.

Jill Dougherty for us this morning, appreciate it. John Berman has a look at some of the other stories making news. Good morning.

BERMAN: Welcome back.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: We're going to start overseas with a deadly rape case that really has stirred worldwide outrage. Five men accused of robbing and assaulting a 23-year-old women and her male companion on a bus are appearing in court today. A juvenile court will narrow down the age of assists, but six suspects claim to be 17. The woman reportedly raped and beat Nguyen a metal bar. Sumnima Udas is following developments from our bureau in New Delhi. What's the latest this morning?

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The proceedings for the day are now over. It was an in-camera proceeding, which means it was off limits to the media and public. And even if the media were to get information from elsewhere, they would not be allowed to report on those proceedings.

The reason for that, there was a bit of a ruckus right before the suspects were due to arrive inside the courtroom. A lot of defense lawyers -- sorry, lawyers shouting at defense lawyers, saying "You will not defend the barbarians." The magistrate requested everyone to leave, no one did, and so she did. She came back in and she said it will now be in camera and nobody would be able to be report on it and be there for there now on.

BERMAN: Such a horrible case. Thank you very much.

A pretrial hearing in a few hours in Colorado. Colorado prosecutors will lay out their case against James Holmes. He's accused of killing 12 people and wounding dozens of others in aurora, Colorado, last July. A judge will decide if the case should go to trial.

Later this hour We'll talk to Lisa Wayne, criminal defense attorney and former public defender who helped train the two lawyers defending James Holmes. That should be interesting.

President Obama has signed a $9.7 billion super storm Sandy aid package. Most will be used to pay flood insurance claims. The House and Senate will vote on a second bill, a $51 billion package, on January 15th. House Speaker John Boehner received harsh criticism last week from New Jersey Chris Christie and New York Congressman Peter King, both Republicans, when he refused to bring a $60 billion Sandy bill up for a House vote.

So hockey fans may soon have something to cheer about. After a marathon bargaining session the league and players association came to a tentative agreement yesterday on a 10-year deal that would end the lockout.

O'BRIEN: For the 10 fans remaining. BERMAN: For all 10 of you fans left, there could be hockey soon. The offer could be approved by team players and owners. And you 10 fans could watch hockey as early as next week.

Now football. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan might have some explaining to do after star quarterback Robert Griffin III appeared to badly reinjure his knee in last night's playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. It happened in the fourth quarter as RGIII tried to recover a fumbled snap. It hurt to just watch it. He wasn't even touched. Check this out right now. He wasn't even touched. He couldn't move to pick up the fumble.

He had hobbled throughout the game. He started limping in the first quarter. But Shanahan left him in. And as that happened the Redskins blew a 14-point lead to the Seahawks, losing 24-14 in the wild card loss. And adding insult to injury, the Redskins Trent Williams got a little carried away during postgame handshakes, smacking Seattle's Richard Sherman in the face. I'm sure emotions were really high.

O'BRIEN: People are really debating this. I don't watch a ton of football. I had two torn ACLs. Anything with knees -- oh!

BERMAN: He had been limping since the first quarter. Field conditions were terrible.

O'BRIEN: I know people say this is the sport, this is the game, and at the end day of the, is he supposed to play.

BERMAN: They won't say that nine months when he is still not back on the field potentially. He's get an MRI today.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, there's relief on the way finally at long last for some of the victims of super storm Sandy. But is it enough money for those hardest hit areas? We'll crunch those numbers straight ahead.

Up next, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and we'll chat about his upcoming run for the U.S. Senate. And we'll preview the BCS championship game tonight. Will it be the fighting Irish or the Crimson Tide?

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Christine has business news for you.

ROMANS: The future is here, you guys. Top car companies getting ready to reveal self-driving cars. But how close are you to owning one? You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's the game everyone is talking about, a new champion crowned tonight in college football when the second ranked Alabama Crimson Tide takes on Notre dame. The Tide is a 10-point favorite. I have hope. The only two times these teams have met in bowl games, the Irish have come out on top. Let's get right to Carlos Diaz in Miami, the sight of the game tonight. Let's talk a little bit about some of the players in this game. What you expect will happen? Walk me through it.

CARLOS DIAZ, HLN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you so much. You know, A.J. McCarron, the quarterback for Alabama. One of the most amazing stories, Soledad, you will ever hear. At the age of five, on August 4, 1996, he was involved in a horrific wave runner accident, so bad, in fact, his mom was preparing for what he would wear in his casket. Doctors said he would not live through that accident. She was going to bury him in the little league outfit. Then when he became better doctors said he would be mentally handicapped, he would be blind. Obviously he's fought through all of that, and now he's the quarterback of Alabama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

A.J. MCCARRON, ALABAMA QUARTERBACK: It's all pretty crazy. I'm a big believer that the man above, god has a plan for you, and everything happens for a reason. I feel like it's my second chance at life. Me and my mom promised each other since I got that second chance, I would take full advantage of it and try to make every -- all my dreams come true that are possible. So it's kind of just wake up every day and think about that, you know, let the day play out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAZ: A.J.'s younger brother, Cory, was the next person up on the wave runner that fateful morning on August 4, 1996. Cory said he never saw A.J. come back from the wave runner. The next time he saw him was in the hospital.

Now, Cory is transferring to Alabama himself and A.J. and Cory both say every time A.J.'s mom sees them here this weekend, she just starts crying. It's an amazing story of an amazing quarterback here in Miami. Big game tonight. Big game.

O'BRIEN: There are so many great stories out of these two teams meeting up. And Mayor Cory Booker, but maybe not for long Mayor Cory Booker, is joining us, Carlos.

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: And I just want to remind, the older I get, the better I was, but I'm the only person that beat Notre Dame when they were number one in 1990. I had five catches, now it's more like 25 because every year I add.

O'BRIEN: Glory days.

(LAUGHTER)

BOOKER: South bend, Indiana, and took down Notre Dame.

O'BRIEN: Join us in our conversation with Carlos. What do you think will happen?

BOOKER: I'm pulling for the Irish. I can't believe they are 10 points down. But I think they will be extraordinary tonight.

O'BRIEN: Carlos, thank you for joining us. We'll check in later. DIAZ: No problem.

O'BRIEN: He has the good job today. Hanging out.

BOOKER: I thought you were going to jump in, contradict me.

BERMAN: I think Alabama's defense is so good, and I think Nick Saban is a great coach, not the type of coach to let his team fall asleep against an underdog.

BOOKER: We have never agreed on sports. I can't wait until baseball season.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk politics. I knew last time you were on you were going to run. I didn't know if you were going to run for the governor's spot, which you decided not to do. Why not?

BOOKER: I think the most important thing I have going on in my life is being mayor of city of Newark.

O'BRIEN: Come on, man! I knew you were going to say that. Chris Christie, are you worried that he would beat you?

BOOKER: No. Undoubtedly this is going to be my most productive year as mayor. We have about $1 billion worth of new development in Newark on the hook. We're going to be through our fiscal crisis for the first time in 10 or 15 years where we won't be relying on large sums of revenue, we will stabilize our budget. We'll be able to hire a lot more police. So these are all things that will get done if I left the helm now. Or if I got into a tough fight with Chris Christie, it would all come to a screeching halt.

Anybody who knows Newark, exciting things are going on. I just talked to a developer yesterday who couldn't believe the number of new buildings being built downtown, the number of activity going on with housing in our neighborhoods. So I swore an oath to do my job. And I would hate to leave early to chase after another job.

O'BRIEN: You are going to the Senate. Have you had a conversation with Lautenberg?

BOOKER: I want to give him the space to make his own decision. I announced my intention to run. The reality is, we have a good Senator. He's been loyal. He's been there a long time. He has a decision to make. So I'm focusing on my job for now. We've reached out a number of times. I had a plane trip going to meet with him and with a lot of challenges in Washington, he to cancel the meeting.

BERMAN: Would you primary him? Run against him in a primary?

BOOKER: I think it's too early to talk about those kinds of hypotheticals because he has not made his decision yet.

O'BRIEN: Let's dive into the hypothetical. I love hypotheticals. It's my middle name. If he decides to run, would you go against Lautenberg? BOOKER: I think we have a full year until that hypothetical becomes real one way or another. And the two things we need is a Senator in D.C. and we should be supporting Lautenberg in tough fights ahead, and we need a mayor in New Jersey's largest city that is focused on getting the job done.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You are trying to unseat him.

BOOKER: This is not an election year for the Senate. This is an election year for governor.

O'BRIEN: So people who love him and support him should stop loving him and support you when you run for his seat.

BOOKER: No. I think I am a guy who actually has a deep respect and love for him. He has given a long degree of service. We should all respect that. And, look this is a lion of our Senate, and I'll give him that space. This isn't an election year, a year we should be talking about hypotheticals. We have the fiscal cliff that we just dealt with. We have the Sandy aid. We have the debt ceiling, a lot of issues we need him in the saddle focused in the job, not focused as mayor of the city of Newark.

O'BRIEN: You always get these glowing, rave, wonderful articles. "The New York Times," it was not nice at all. They say are you a better marketer than mayor. Is it hurtful?

BOOKER: It was probably one of the more frustrating articles of my career especially because they glossed over what we have done from doubling affordable housing, instituting court reform, prisoner reentry reform, everything from urban gardening frankly to dealing with veterans' issues. So it was a frustrating article. But as you said, sometimes you won't get flowing press. The press sometimes likes to build you up and take you down.

O'BRIEN: What? What? We do now. That's a lie. I'm kidding, of course.

BOOKER: My mom says I hope this is a lesson you should not believe all the good things your read about yourself.

O'BRIEN: Your mother would love my mother. Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, what do you think?

BOOKER: I trust the president. I think he has to focus, most importantly here, defending the nation. So I give him a lot of latitude for the decisions that he makes.

O'BRIEN: Do you worry about the Jewish lobby, he didn't say the "Israel lobby," he said the "Jewish lobby." He was talking about a diplomat being aggressively gay, Iran and sanctions.

BOOKER: I consider myself a strong advocate for equality issues and it's something that hurts me deeply that I still live in a nation that has a second class citizenship for people just based on who they love. Does it concern me, yes?

Do I think that focusing on Israel, actually focusing on the security of the United States of America as our democratic partner in that region? Yes, these are things that concern me. But I know the president, known him since before he was president, and I think he's made extraordinary decisions when it comes to foreign policy. I watched the campaign where he didn't get enough credit for keeping America safe, for building America's military capacity, for dealing with issues ranging from terrorism from cyber terrorism to the kind of terrorist attacks we've seen on our homeland. So I think the president of the United States, we should give him a lot of deference for decision making. And the good news is, these issues have been highlighted and he tried to address them, and I think in the coming days, he will even more so.

O'BRIEN: I think it will be interesting to watch his confirmation hearing.

BERMAN: Should RGIII have been in the game?

BOOKER: You know what? I've played the game and it is very difficult to take a guy out.

O'BRIEN: Who is limping with a brace on his leg? Come on.

BOOKER: I have seen the same thing in Stanford where a friend of mine who stayed in longer than he should and it caused injury. But I've seen guys, as I have, playing injured and have the best games of my life and come back. It would have taken a crowbar to take me out of the game.

ROMANS: Or a coach.

O'BRIEN: I agree. But I think this was a player that was not going to be taken out. It's so easy to second guess the decision. In the heat of battle, you have to give deference to player and coach in making the decision. Sometimes the call may be wrong.

O'BRIEN: Christine and I, you know that we think you're wrong. But it's always nice to have you.

BOOKER: It's great to be here.

ROMANS: Love at the table.

O'BRIEN: Exactly. Exactly.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a top women's track coach resigns after revealing an affair with a student. Is it the right call? Or is she the victim a double standard? Our STARTING POINT team is walking in to discuss that and much more. We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans minding your business this morning. U.S. stocks futures still slight ahead of the opening bell today. Stock closed at a five-year high on Friday. And that's a good indicator for the year. The stock trader's almanac finds how stocks perform in the first five days of January predicts the market with 86 percent accuracy. The Dow is up almost four percent so far this year. The S&P 500, still the best indicator for the stocks in your 401(k), that is up 4.6 percent, the NASDAQ up nearly five percent.

Carmakers are moving closer to driverless cars. Toyota put up a preview video on its website Thursday, a five-second clip showing a Lexus driverless car prototype. Audi told the "Wall Street Journal" it will showcase a self-parking feature this week. Google has a timeline of five years or less for driverless cars to hit California roads, and some experts predict by 2040, 75 percent of cars will be driving themselves.

O'BRIEN: It's not true. By 2040, 75 percent of the cars will not be driving themselves are a.

ROMANS: In sensor technology, it works best when it's repetitive kind of thing. So they have tractors in their seals, or Volvo is working on a chain of cars, like a commute.

O'BRIEN: Like a train.

MARTIN: You have to buy like five cars?

O'BRIEN: Yes, you and your friends.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: And we have an op-ed columnist from "The New York Times," also joining us Connie Mack, a former Congressman from the state of Florida, and McKay Coppins, the political editor from Buzzfeed.com. I don't think it's going to happen. I don't see that. I really don't.

FMR. REP. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: We just got a new car.

O'BRIEN: Driverless?

MACK: Close. It parallel parks itself. And it's freaky. You let go of the wheel.

O'BRIEN: It really does? What kind of car?

MACK: A land rover.

MCKAY COPPINS, POLITICAL EDITOR, BUZZFEED.COM: We heard from your wife in the green room that are you actually worse than parallel parking than the car itself, right?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, we'll be talking about the evidence that we'll hear against the suspect in the Aurora movie theater massacre for the first time today at a hearing. There's a good chance they will go for the insanity defense here. Is there a chance that, in fact, he won't end up standing trial at all? We'll talk about that and much more straight ahead right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Colorado prosecutors are ready to spell out at least part of the case against James Holmes today. He's accused of course of killing 12 people in a midnight massacre at an Aurora movie theater last July. Holmes will be in court for a pretrial hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to put him on trial.

CNN's Casey Wian is in Centennial, Colorado, for us with more. Good morning, Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. We're expecting about 70 witnesses in the preliminary hearing. It's expected to go on perhaps the entire week. We're also expecting that some of the family members of those killed and some of the people who were injured to be in court. And they've been told by the prosecution to expect very graphic and very disturbing testimony, including video from the scene, 911 calls, even autopsy photos.

Because of that, some of the family members apparently have elected to view the proceedings from an overflow room, and some of them also saying they don't want to be in the same courtroom as James Holmes.

Now, as you mentioned, this is going to be the first time the public has heard much of the information against Holmes. That's because there has been a very sweeping order in this case covering the prosecution, the defense, even the University of Colorado for a period where he was a graduate student.

Now we are expecting though that the defense is going to mount some sort of a diminished mental capacity defense. That is by court filings that have been made public.

Also no plea yet, that would come at an arraignment at a later date if the judge determines that there is enough evidence against James Holmes to make him stand trial and no one expects that the prosecution is going to have any difficulty showing that evidence -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Casey Wian for us with an update. Thank you, Casey. Appreciate that.