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Ammunition Crackdown; Administration Loses Another High Profile Woman

Aired January 9, 2013 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, Vice President Joe Biden's task force on gun policy officially convened today, launching. Why he says the White House might have to go it alone.

Plus, new developments in the Aurora theatre shooting tonight, prosecutors say James Holmes intended to kill every single person inside the theatre that night.

And "Time" magazine calls New Jersey governor the master of disaster. Does it add up? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, executive power. Here's the vice president today talking about what the president is going to do about guns.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The president is going to act through executive orders, executive action can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet, but we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action we believe is required.


BURNETT: John Avlon is with me along with Paul Callan, CNN legal contributor, as I said, there are some out there who adore the second amendment, who are very worried about what Joe Biden just said. All right, executive action can be taken. They're looking into it with the attorney general. What executive action can be taken?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Article 2 of the constitution gives the president the power to issue what we call executive orders and it has been done a number of -- it started out kind of slow. George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving.

BURNETT: I'd be all about that.

CALLAN: But after that, we see some really big ones. Arguably, Lincoln freed the slaves with an executive order, the emancipation proclamation. Eisenhower helped desegregate public schools in America after the Brown versus the Board of Education executive order. Roosevelt interned Japanese-Americans executive order during World War II. So, there's a lot of -- Reagan by the way, banned abortions in military hospitals executive order. So, a lot of big policies have started out as executive orders, but overruling the second amendment, it's a tough concept.

BURNETT: I ban -- do a new assault ban or something like that.

CALLAN: He can't do that. He has power of the executive branch and he can, I can come up with ways that he can do it. He could ban the military from participating in sporting events with the NRA where these assault rifles are used. He could ban funding of certain programs. There are ways he can work around the edges of gun control, but I cannot see how he would ban weapons outright.

BURNETT: John, you've been looking at some other things that he could do.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, first of all, reality check. An executive order cannot supersede the constitution, full stop, so, everyone just chill out. We have a lot of record as Paul just said, of executive orders been done by -- had 291 executive orders. People weren't freaking out there so again, reality check.

In terms of what the president could actually do, in some ways, it's consistent what the NRA calls for, which is more aggressive enforcement of existing laws. Just three things the president could do unilaterally.

One, prosecute criminals who lie on their background checks. We discussed this a few weeks ago, Erin, 71,000 people lied on their background checks in 2009. The Justice Department only prosecuted 77 of them, you know, that's a huge gap, less than 1 percent. That's one thing the president could do. Sign an executive order saying, look, let's prosecute that more aggressively.

Number two, there's another one, national institute of criminal background checks system. This happened after Virginia Tech, part of the terrible Virginia Tech shooting and the NRA was actually instrumental in pushing for this.

It said, look, we need to make sure that mental background checks are coordinated. There's a national database so that that Virginia Tech killer might have been caught, might have been stopped from buying a weapon.

And now that is -- President Bush signed it, NRA backed it, gets less than 5 percent of the funding necessary. There's something else he could do by executive order. And then finally, ATF director, we've been six years without a full time ATF director. It's ridiculous. The Senate won't cooperate. You could do it by executive order.

BURNETT: To your point though, an executive order can't supersede the constitution. OK, but the example you gave about -- I'm not an expert on this, just hearing what you say at face value. So, you have Roe V. Wade and he comes out and bans abortions in military hospitals.

So could you say, all right, there's a second amendment to bears arms, but you know, how we define is up for discussion. So there are a lot of things I could do, which would limit that right significantly although not fully taken away.

CALLAN: Bear in mind that Reagan's order limited abortions. He allowed them in cases of incest or rape, but he limited them otherwise in a way that they were not being --

BURNETT: All that becomes a topic of discussion. Aren't guns the same thing? I can bear them except in --

CALLAN: But he had authority over federal hospitals. He was the administrator of the federal hospital so that's how he sort of argued and by the way, it was subsequently overturned. Congress can overturn an executive order and they frequently do, which gets back to John's point.

I think you going to see us working around the edges here. You're not going to see a ban on military weapons in civilian hands because how would he enforce it? The FBI would have to go out and start arresting people.

BURNETT: And again to the point here that John made and we're going to talk about right now. You got to -- you can enforce what you have before you start to add new things. All right, thanks very much to both of you.

Now, let's talk to a lawmaker with a plan of his own to help stop gun violence, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. Senator, great to talk to you. It's been a while and I'm glad to see you.

Now, you're proposing a bill on ammunition background checks and I want to talk about that in a moment, but first, I want to talk about this issue, take a step back. There are a lot of gun laws in America.

Brookings has put the number at 300. Some people have said it's as high as 20,000, but a Department of Justice study found that 80 percent of inmates obtained their guns illegally. So 80 percent of inmates for gun laws obtained their guns illegally. Isn't the first thing to do to enforce the laws we have?

SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Absolutely right. Terrific point and it's a point that I make constantly because my background is in law enforcement. I was attorney general of the state of Connecticut for 20 years and a federal prosecutor as United States attorney for four and a half years.

The best laws on the books are dead letter unless enforced, so we need more resources. Absolutely right, both at the state and federal level to enforce existing laws and if that executive action or executive order involves more resources or more vigorous enforcement of existing laws, improving that national database, the National Enforcement Criminal Background System, all to the better. BURNETT: So, you're saying the executive order that the president could do, could be you know, putting more people, more resources, more money into existing laws. He can do that via executive order.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, he may need an appropriation from Congress for major amounts of money, but remember, we're not talking about huge amounts of funding. The national database appropriation last year was $5 million. That's million. Not billion, $5 million, which is a drop in the bucket for the Connecticut state budget, not to mention the national budget.

But here's the main thing. I proposed a bill that would involve better enforcement of existing law. Right now, it is against the law for certain categories of people to buy both firearms and ammunition. Fugitives, felons, people who are seriously, mentally ill.

The domestic abuse people who are under court orders cannot buy either firearms or ammunition, but the background checks are only done on firearm purchases. You can walk into a Wal-Mart, buy a supermarket cart full of ammunition, pay for it, walk out, no questions asked. And so, all I'm suggesting is we should do background checks when people buy ammunition as well.

BURNETT: It's a fair point. One thing though, because you talk about certain categories of people can't buy guns already, which seems to be part of the problem because every time there's a mass shootings, it becomes very clear to normal Americans that these people are very sick.

They are mentally ill, but they don't show up. They haven't been institutionalized. They haven't directly threatened harm and there's been no way to find these people, but yet, they clearly are, to whatever extent you want to say, mentally ill. What can we do about that?

BLUMENTHAL: Here are a couple of points. First of all, someone who buys, for example, 1,000 rounds of ammunition or more, is probably someone who should be of interest to local law enforcement.

BURNETT: Fair point.

BLUMENTHAL: At some point.


BLUMENTHAL: And particularly if that person has a background of mental illness, law enforcement should know about those purchases. There are other ways to know whether someone is seriously mentally ill. We're not talking about someone who is just seeking treatment.

But there are indicators that should be the basis for action as there are in the current law, it is not enforced. And again, to your point about enforcement, laws that involve mental illness that is so serious that it could include confinement ought to be a trigger. And here's one more way that the laws can really work effectively. The state of Connecticut has a law provides for seizure of weapons, literally, seizure by police without a warrant of weapons from people who pose a danger to themselves or others. There's then a court process.

That person can in effect get their guns or firearms back if they convince a judge that they've been wrongly seized. So, that kind of seizure law, unique to Connecticut right now, is one that can be broadened to other states across the country.

BURNETT: I know Maryland has one similar. They're trying to make even stronger to your point. All right, Senator, thank you very much. He has put forth an ammunition background check. Let us know what you think whether you think the issue right now is more about enforcement or adding new laws to address existing loopholes or problems when it comes to guns.

OUTFRONT next, another woman in President Obama's cabinet decides to hang up the cleats. Meanwhile, the White House tries to frame this story. Frame is a very purposely chosen word people tonight and makes a PR fumble.

Plus yesterday, the one and only suspect in the Benghazi attack was released and a militant group met him when he walked out of confinement with a celebration.

And steroids, have they changed the way baseball sends players to the hall of fame? Today, one man who voted against huge stars, he says yes.


BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, another high profile woman steps aside. This afternoon the president's Labor Secretary Hilda Solis resigned. Now she was one of eight women in the president's cabinet and her resignation comes the same day an image caught our attention "The New York Times."

This shows, this is why I said the frame. Like the frame of the picture. OK, the president here is meeting with his top advisers. Now, Valerie Jarrett is in that picture. I see a lot of white guys, but apparently if you take a closer look, you can see a portion of her leg, wow, really?

Whoever found that works hard. OK, there's that guy's butt and her leg. Now, the picture was taken about two weeks ago, but shortly after the "Times" published the picture, this was the White House photo of the day, the president and his senior advisers, three women in the picture, all very visible.

OUTFRONT tonight, Charles Blow, CNN contributor and op-ed columnist for the "New York Times" and former Pentagon official, Rosa Brooks, a columnist for "Foreign Policy" magazine.

All right, Charles, let me start on this first Hilda Solis resigning. There's one fewer woman in the cabinet. It was very interesting that the White House then announced that a woman, an African-American and an Asian were staying. So, clearly all this conversation at least is being registered there.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. I think that you would like to see as much diversity as possible, racial diversity, whatever else kind of diversity, in any cabinet, this one included.

That said though, I think that you know, it's important to understand the entire context of what "The New York Times" said in that story. One thing they said was that 46 percent of Obama's appointees have been women and that's a very important issue, half of the people working in the White House are also women.

And that you know, he has had two big appointments, you know, the biggest thing a president can do is to nominate a Supreme Court justice. Obama's had two shots.

BURNETT: Fair point.

BLOW: Both of them have been women. And that and he appointed as his secretary of state, the woman, a woman and not just any woman, but what his chief rivals. Would have done it again were it not for Republican opposition to Susan Rice. And so I think you'd have to be really fair about how we paint this portrait of what's happening in the White House.

BURNETT: I think that are all fair points, but Rosa, one thing that strikes me, when you look at any organization, let's take the White House, the cabinet. You know, there are all kinds of positions that are quote/unquote "management."

A company, right, there's managing directors and there's vice presidents. There are more VPs in most companies than there are MDs and it keeps going up, right. So when you look at the fence and you look at the CIA and you look at state and treasury, there are no women.

Now to Charles' point. He was going to try to nominate Susan Rice and of course, he had Hillary Clinton there, but does he need a woman in one of those pole positions?

ROSA BROOKS, FORMER PENTAGON OFFICIAL: I sure think it would be nice to see a woman in one of those positions. I think Charles' point, it's obviously fair that almost half of the presidential appointees overall have been women, but when you look at the top, you see a really different story and this is not unique to the government.

This is true in Fortune 500 corporations. This is true in education. No matter where you look, you see something pretty similar. If you look at the lower levels, you see an almost even split between women and men, but as you go higher and higher, the women start disappearing.

I think the White House and cabinet are some of the most visible positions in the United States and it is important for the president to set the tone and say we're not going to be just like any other corporations. We're going to try to make sure we have some fantastic women at the top. There have been some. There could be more.

BURNETT: Right. Charles, I'm going to pull up another picture. This is a picture that I think struck a chord with a lot of us. This is the night of the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden.

What ended up getting the attention in this picture, Rosa, I hope you can see it too, but it's the one where all the men are kind of arms across them staring and Hillary Clinton has her hand over her mouth and there was such a bruhaha over this and criticism about it that she had to come out and say it was allergies and not emotions.

BLOW: I mean, that's unfortunate.

BURNETT: First of all, what's wrong with feeling emotional at that moment and why would it be a derogatory thing for a woman, but let's be honest, it clearly still is.

BLOW: And I think if you look at this picture, I don't think she's the only person showing emotion in that picture. She may be showing a different emotion, but I think that, you know, we are all human beings. We all have emotional baggage to take into any job that we do.

Just because aggression might be associated with one group of people and some other emotion might be associated with others, doesn't make aggression the best thing. It's important to remember that we are human beings and however we react, as long as we're doing the job well.

And no one could argue that Hillary Clinton has not done the job of secretary of state very well. She has an incredibly high approval rating because of that. I think that is the measure of her performance and not kind of any kind of emotional response.

BURNETT: All right, great to see both of you. Appreciate it.

Twelve people murdered in the Aurora theatre massacre. The prosecutor in the case says James Holmes wasn't even close to what he intended to do.

Plus, the city of Boston declares a public health emergency. This is pretty troubling. It's not just there. Is there a flu epidemic in this country?


BURNETT: Our third story, OUTFRONT, a plan to quote, "kill them all." Prosecutors say 25-year-old James Holmes didn't care who he killed when he went into a crowded movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado on July 20th. Twelve were killed, dozens more were wounded.

The preliminary hearing, which actually is going to determine if the case goes to trial, ended today. Prosecutors presented more evidence that they say Holmes had been planning the shooting for weeks.

Ed Lavandera is in Colorado again tonight and has the story. So Ed, what else did we -- here's Ed.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six hours before James Holmes burst into Theatre Nine, the accused killer snapped self- portraits using his iPhone. These are sketches of the photographs shown in court wearing black eye contacts, Holmes smiled while holding a handgun near his face, fully dressed in the all black gear he'd later wear into the theatre.

In another, Holmes bright orange hair is seen flaring out of a dark cap while he sticks out his tongue. James Holmes smiled in court as he looked at the pictures of himself pop up on a TV screen. Tom Teeves whose son was murdered in the theatre says Holmes is an animal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was smiling. He was having a hard time controlling himself, but he's not crazy. One bit. He's very, very cold. He's very, very calculated.

LAVANDERA: Prosecutors spent the last three days laying out a detailed timeline of how Holmes planned the Aurora theatre massacre.

(on camera): Investigators say James Holmes started casing the Century 16 movie theatre about three weeks before the shooting. They say he came here on three different occasions and snapped off a series of pictures they found on his iPhone. It showed various hallways and doors, even the exit area of Theatre Number Nine.

(voice-over): James Holmes' deviant and deadly plan feels more like the deranged creation of a fictional villain in a Batman movie. Prosecutors says Holmes spent weeks planning the attack stock piling weapons and rigging an explosive system in his apartment time to detonate just before he started the killing spree.


BURNETT: Ed is with me tonight from Colorado. So Ed, I know this is all going to come down to and you have that man they are talking about whether he was crazy or not, whether he can stand trial because of his mental state. What other details were there on that front? I know that they found some more proof of his planning of this attack on his smartphone.

LAVANDERA: Well, when you looked at that phone, there were also pictures taken just a few hours before he would allegedly walk into that theatre and start gunning people down. He had taken pictures of all the canisters and some of the shells that were part of the explosive devices he had left in his apartment.

It almost seemed that he was proud of the work that he had been spending during the last several weeks and he wanted to capture it all there and memorialized it all there on his iPhone. And as you mentioned, a lot of this will boil down to how this plays out in the weeks ahead whether the level of mental illness and how that played a factor into all of this.

BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to Ed Lavandera.

And still to come, a New Jersey state senator said Governor Chris Christie got lucky with Hurricane Sandy, so did that cost the line? He'll be our guest.

And why was the one and only suspect in the Benghazi attack released especially when he got a hero's welcome and celebration from militants?


BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about where we focus on reporting from the front lines and we begin with an update on a story we brought you last night. AIG's board today met and decided not to join a shareholder lawsuit against taxpayers. It was a $25 billion lawsuit initially filed by former AIG CEO Hank Greenburg. He says the terms of the government's $182 billion bailout weren't fair. They were loan shark rates.

An attorney for Greenberg's Star International says -- tells OUTFRONT that the attempt by the AIG board to prevent Star International from pursuing claims on behalf of AIG shareholders is contrary to the shareholder's interest.

Boston's mayor has declared a public health emergency because of the flu. According to the mayor's office, there have been 700 cases of the influenza in the Boston area since October 1st. That's compared with 70 the prior season.

Dr. Mark Rafkin (ph) of Boston area Newtown Wellesley Hospital says it's the worst flue season in 10 or 15 years. His advice to OUTFRONT -- well, wash your hands, try to avoid large crowds and get the flu vaccine. We'll have more on the flu in just a moment.

Another Boeing Dreamliner has run into problems, that's the third in three days. An All Nippon Airways, ANA, flight in Japan canceled after the crew discovered a problem related to the plane's braking system.

In a conference call, Boeing said any new plane program is going to have issues that have to work through, but this has been fires and fuel leaks and now this. Aviation expert Michael Boyd says these issues are typical, though. He agrees with Boeing.

He tells OUTFRONT passengers don't need to worry and pilots have been operating with an abundance of caution. It's easier said than done.

Federal judge has approved a plea deal that will send a businessman to jail for trying to export surface to air missile parts to Iran. Christopher Tappin has been sentenced to 33 months in prison. That's what he gets. Dan Cogdell, Tappin's attorney tells OUTFRONT he hopes his client will only have to serve four to six months in the United States. He's pushing for Tappin to be repatriated to the U.K., where his wife is ill. And in the U.K., Cogdell says he thinks Tappin is likely to serve little to no jail time.

It has been 524 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we going get it back? Well, that could depend on the next treasury secretary who is bound to face a fight over U.S. debt. A source tells CNN, President Obama will nominate White House chief of staff Jack Lew to succeed Timothy Geithner.

And now, our fifth story OUTFRONT: a hero's welcome for a suspected terrorist. The only person jailed in connection with last September's deadly attack in Benghazi is now free. And there is new video tonight that we want to show you.

So, this is his release. Tunisian authorities released him. It's been posted on Facebook. He was greeted by what we are told, or reported to be members of the militant group Ansar al-Sharia, who as you can see, welcomed and embraced him and celebrated his release.

Our Brian Todd is OUTFRONT.

Brian, what more can you tell us about this video?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the timing of its release is very curious here. We're trying to figure why it was released just this week because just this week, this man Ali Harzi was released from custody in Tunisia. As you mentioned, he is the only known suspect that we definitely know was in custody in relation to the Benghazi attack. He's a Tunisian man. The Tunisians released him from custody this week, citing a lack of evidence. His lawyer says he wasn't involved. But lo and behold, after his release, this video that you mentioned is posted on a Facebook page of that group Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia.

Now, that group as you said, is a known militant group. You see the people there greeting him and there is a translated piece of sound from a young man on that tape, which says, "March, my brother, on the path of jihad." So there is a connection here, apparently between this man who was just released from custody in connection with the Benghazi attack to this militant group in Tunisia. We cannot verify the authenticity of the tape. We believe, though, it is legitimate, posted on the Facebook page of that militant group.

BURNETT: At the least, it is frustrating that --

TODD: Right.

BURNETT: -- that there's only been one person even taken into custody. Never mind that the person was released. I mean, I think that infuriates and upsets a lot of people. But --

TODD: Sure does. BURNETT: I know you talked to Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia. What did he tell you about this man, Harzi's role in the attack?

TODD: He said basically that he knows, that he was there, he was on the ground during the attack. That's according to Congressman Frank Wolf, and the congressman is very upset at his release. I caught up with the congressman yesterday. Here's what he had to say.


REP. FRANK WOLF (R), VIRGINIA: He was involved in the attack of the American consulate in Benghazi. He was there. So, he's really partially responsible for the death of four Americans. Secondly, we give the Tunisian government $320 million a year of foreign aid.

TODD: Well, you now press from some withholding of that --


WOLF: Well, I -- we're asking that the State Department cut it in half.


TODD: Now, separately, U.S. officials have told us on Ali Harzi, they believe that he was sending details of the attack on social media while it was happening, Erin, so that's another reason for the congressman to believe he was on the ground at the time.

BURNETT: Now, one thing obviously that's been the focus of this is the role of al Qaeda, and Ansar al-Sharia, being an al Qaeda linked group, right?

TODD: Yes. Whatever and however that specifically defined. But I know that you have some new information on Harzi again. This man is now been released and his brothers links to al Qaeda.

There seems to be a family tie. His brother's name is Tarek Harzi. According to counterterrorism sources, Tarek Harzi, there's a picture there. This is from the Iraqi interior ministry. Counterterrorism sources tell us Tarek Harzi was involved with the group al Qaeda in Iraq.

According to the interior ministry, he was one of about 100 detainees who escaped from a prison in Tikrit, Iraq, in September. He was being jailed and was sentenced to death for his role in attacks in behalf of al Qaeda in Iraq. So there's apparently a family connection between these two brothers and militant groups. Again, very frustrating that this man in connection with the Benghazi attack, Ali Harzi, has been released.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to Brian Todd.

And now, the master of disaster -- that's what "TIME" magazine calls Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor's approval rating has surged since hurricane Sandy and he is still not done making his case. He needs more money, he says. Here he is again today.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Sandy is and was above politics, in every other element except for what happened in the Congress a week ago. And so what I was trying to point out very clearly was, there are people suffering in New Jersey, there are people suffering in New York, and they need to be taken care of.

Remember this, Matt. We've now waited seven times longer than the victims of Katrina waited for federal aid.


BURNETT: Above politics.

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, blasted Christie recently saying -- and I'll quote -- "I guess he prayed a lot and got lucky that a storm came."

Senator Sweeney is OUTFRONT tonight.

Senator, it's good to see you. I know you apologized for that particular comment, but do you stand by your sentiment that the governor has been using the storm for his own gain?

STEPHEN SWEENEY (D), NEW JERSEY STATE SENATE PRESIDENT: Well, Erin, yes, for one reason. Not for political gain, to hide his record in New Jersey. He actually said, I'm going to wipe the slate clean now because of the storm.

Before the storm hit, we had 9.6 percent unemployment. We had the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation behind Florida. Our poverty rate has increased 3 percent.

So, you don't get to wipe the slate clean, Governor. And quite honestly, if this is your jobs package, it's not a good jobs package. We need to fix New Jersey.

But the governor --


SWEENEY: -- wants to paint a different state than what's going on.

BURNETT: One thing I have to ask you about this, though, is, you know, post crisis bumps happen. As distasteful as it may be, they do happen. It happened to Rudy Giuliani after 9/11 and President Bush after 9/11. You know, what happened to President Obama after superstorm Sandy, too, right?

And maybe the reality of it is good leaders shine in a time of real crisis. Is that perhaps something that could describe Chris Christie? SWEENEY: I think the governor did a great job and I said it on multiple, multiple occasions. I think he showed leadership and communicated extremely well with the people of the state, but, Erin, you don't get to wipe the slate clean. What about the 9.6 percent of the people that are unemployed? Our employment rate is much higher than the states around us.

So when everyone's unemployment's going down and ours is staying up to where it was when he came into office three years ago, you know, using this storm is saying everything's OK now, it's not. Jobs aren't -- we haven't done anything to improve the economy.

BURNETT: All right. But you have become famous, Senator, for working with Chris Christie. You're the guy, you and he together, these two people who are supposed to hate each other. He's the guy who says whatever the heck he thinks. You say whatever the heck you think.

And you guys got together and worked together to take on unions in New Jersey. That's something the whole country knows about.

So, it sounds like you agree with a lot of what Chris Christie has done in New Jersey.

SWEENEY: Well, listen, we had to get together. You now, honestly, Washington's dysfunctional and we can't put our people aside, so we fight.

The idea is to find areas of compromise and, honestly, most of the stuff we did, Erin, were things that I spoke about four or five years before the governor came into office and was ridiculed by my own party. But, you know, we have to put the people first and that's what we did and we did search for areas of compromise and we've accomplished a great deal. The problem in New Jersey now is we haven't found a solution to the economy.

BURNETT: What do you think the future is for Chris Christie? Obviously, he's getting a lot of conversation for 2016. Chris Christie versus Hillary Clinton in 2016. What do you think, Senator? That could open the door for you to be governor of New Jersey, which you might want, right? I mean, so, hey, maybe you should back Christie.

SWEENEY: Listen, I know the governor has been looking at the national stage for several years. Look, he's done a good job of communicating. He's a person that has, he's got a good personality and you know, I'm not going to say bad things about him personally because there's not bad things to say about him. We find areas to get along with.

You know, it's not -- you don't have to hate the other side. You know, it's important to put people first and that's what I've tried to do since I've been there.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Senator Sweeney. We appreciate your time. Now, CNN contributors Roland Martin and Reihan Salam join me.

All right. Reihan, why are you shaking your head?

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That was absolutely fascinating as an illustration of Chris Christie's political skill. You know, state senator -- State Senate President Sweeney is correct. New Jersey has an unemployment rate that's about two percentage points above the national rate. The state is really fiscally distress. Chris Christie has not delivered on a number of issues like property tax relief and also -- there's big structural issues.

BURNETT: But he gets credit around the country for slashing spending and taking on unions.

SALAM: But he did do a tremendous amount. And then he did it, he has a Democratic majority in the Senate and assembly in the state and he did it by dividing Democrats in brilliant ways. You saw Sweeney, he was squirming. He was like, yes, I work with a guy I like, don't want to be too negative about him.

But then also, they're trying to come up with a message, they can't get a candidate who's willing to stick up to this guy. It's fascinating because again, you know, look at -- it's incredible. Folks in Newark, urban educators tend to like him more than suburban educators. You ever all these constituencies that would normally be united against a Republican governor and they're actually really confused and divided because some of them kind of like him. It's very impressive.


SALAM: Well, you know -- some Democrats would say he does. He's very shrewd.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let's remind our viewers of an important thing. This is a national show, OK? It's not like we're dealing with the intricacies of New Jersey every single day.


MARTIN: Typically what happens, same thing happened with Giuliani, what happens is, there's a thing called a national profile and there's a thing called truth, what happens in your state. And so, on the national profile, when he's on "Today" show or CBS this morning, or ABC or CNN, the rest of these shows, we're not getting into the weeds of what's happening in New Jersey.

What you see with Sweeney, what he's trying to take some of the shy off Christie. And as Reihan said, they recognize there's a gubernatorial election coming up. I think what Sweeney should be doing is saying, who is going to be the Democratic candidate and how can we create a message in our state, forget national shows, in our state to go Chris Christie. Otherwise, it's sour grapes.

So stop wasting your time complaining about praying for a storm. Find a candidate first, then get a message.

BURNETT: But, you know, Reihan, this raises a really interesting point though, which is that the whole country assumes Chris Christie is going to run and he's very popular right now, not just in New Jersey, but around the country.


BURNETT: And then when you actually run, people start throwing your record at you, right? They did with Mitt Romney, about his taxes, about the education rank of Massachusetts. There were all kinds of things.


BURNETT: Things like having an unemployment rate 2 percent higher than the average, I mean, that could change if he gets reelected and goes -- that could go away.


BURNETT: It could not be a problem. Or you could look at these statistics and they could change how you think about how he will fare in a Republican primary.

SALAM: Yes. I mean, there's also -- here's the big issue from perspective. The big thing is that Chris Christie has this profile where he's saying I'm a problem solver, I'm a bipartisan guy. I worked with Democrats in the legislature, I get things done. But the thing is that there are two big Democratic Party bosses in the state. And I don't want to get too local, but that's the reason why he gets things done because those guys can knuckle under the Democrats and legislature.

That's not how Congress works. If he wants to work with Democrats in Congress, it's not going to work the way it works in Jersey.

MARTIN: But --


BURNETT: Maybe it should. Maybe there should be a little bit of bruising and punching and maybe that would, you know, toughen up those guys down there in Washington.

MARTIN: But here's a deal though. We have to remind folks when then-Senator Obama ran for president, what did he do? He touted the bills he had passed along with Senate President Emil Jones in Illinois that had Republican and Democratic support. Like it or not, that is music to the ears of people when they're voting in campaigns.

There's a reality, though, when you do get to Washington, D.C. What Governor Christie is trying to do is established a potential campaign narrative which is different from the reality of governing. And that's exactly what he's doing. And let's also be honest -- we're helping Governor Christie a lot because we're focusing on him and no other Republicans. And so, he is simply trying to ride this wave as long as he can because if he can blow somebody away for New Jersey governor in '13, he is in prime position to raise money and establish support in '14 and '15 and advance to '16.

BURNETT: All right. Interesting. But, you know, there's a reason why we talk about him, because people like to hear it. He is a different kind of politician than others that people are seen as front-runners.

SALAM: Look, I mean, Chris Christie --

BURNETT: Because he also says what he thinks, even when grossly inappropriate. And people like that.

MARTIN: He's a great sound byte. That's right. He's a great sound byte.

BURNETT: And he means it when he says it. It's not like, you know, he needs to just his best, right? People seem to like hearing that.

SALAM: He plays against hype. Chris Christie blows up the map, the red and blue map. I mean, just like Bill Clinton was a guy from the Deep South who understood the South, yet he was also a Democrat who appealed to --


BURNETT: Mitt Romney was supposed to blow up the map. Maybe, you know, Republicans from New England will --

SALAM: That's a very good point. But I think that, Christie, that's the reason why people are excited about him. But he actually scrambles in interesting ways.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to you both. See you tomorrow.

SALAM: Thank you.

BURNETT: Still to come, no one will be elected to the baseball Hall of Fame this year. Has the shame of steroids changed the game forever?

And prostitutes in Brazil are getting some special training. What they are being taught before the World Cup. We'll tell you.


BURNETT: Our fifth story OUTFRONT: shut out by the baseball Hall of Fame.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Souza, all of whom faced accusations of steroid use were not inducted today. In fact, it's only the eighth time in the Hall of Fame's history that no new player was added. OUTFRONT tonight, MLB network insider and "Sports Illustrated" senior writer, Tom Verducci. He's one of the writers who got to vote. So, he's the guy who made the decision. And I spoke to him and asked him who he voted for.


BURNETT: All right. Tom, sorry, I want to start with Barry Bonds. Let me just go through this here -- 762 home runs, more than anyone else ever in the history of baseball, 1,196 RBIs. In 2001, a record 73 home runs, more than anyone else ever in baseball. The only seven -time MVP in baseball. Did you vote for him to join the Hall of Fame?

TOM VERDUCCI, SENIOR WRITER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: I did not vote for him. It's funny you read of those numbers. I don't even need to know because he was this good. One of those you look at and said that's a Hall of Famer. Well, a Hall of Fame career, perhaps, but the choice he made to use performance-enhancing drugs, to me, that does not define a Hall of Famer.

BURNETT: All right. Let me ask you about Roger Clemens also today -- 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, the only 7-time Cy Young winner. Did you vote for Roger?

VERDUCCI: Yes, I did not vote for Roger. Same category. And I've heard a lot of people say that some of these guys who use performance-enhancing drugs put up hall-of-fame numbers before they chose to use them, I'm not one person who agrees with that kind of sentiment, because I think based on your career win totals and homerun totals. That doesn't give you the green light to go ahead and cheat the game and those who play the game really, to make it an unfair game.

BURNETT: All right. So, you wrote a piece for "Sports Illustrated" at about how you would not vote for a known steroid user and obviously, you stuck with your word today.

But is there any level of steroid use you would accept?

VERDUCCI: I don't see it. To me, when you are endorsing a Hall of Fame candidacies, and I think it's the greatest honor you can give certainly any baseball player, but really anybody in sports, because the Hall of Fame really is that prestigious in baseball. What you're doing is you are endorsing their career and how they achieved their career. So for me, I cannot endorse someone's steroid use on any level, whether they use the year one or in year 19 of a 19-year career.

BURNETT: All right. What about Lance Armstrong? You know, obviously, "The New York Times" has reported that he's been talking about coming out about his steroid use. He's been stripped of his title. Lance Armstrong comes out and admits everything. What will that do? Will that change the view of steroid use?

VERDUCCI: Well, I don't think so. But it is an interesting case for this reason, that for years, there were obviously rumors about Lance Armstrong, and accusations from some of the riders. But, before the 1,000-page report came out from USADA, there was no admission, there was no court ruling, there were no positive tests associated with Lance Armstrong.

And a lot of people have used that defense to defend steroid use in baseball. In other words, hey, there's no admission. There's no positive test.

And I think it is a destructive case to let us know that these guys are always ahead of the testers. The cheaters will be a step ahead, and they do not want to admit. So, Lance Armstrong must be painted into a narrow corner for anybody to come out and admit the use, but especially for some that kind of level and notoriety.

BURNETT: Do you accept, as someone who votes for this and obviously believes very passionately that steroid use should not be in the hall-of-fame, do you accept that some people probably sneaked in, that no one knows they use steroid but they did? And you vote for them because you didn't know either?

VERDUCCI: That could have happened. It may have happened already. We don't know the answer obviously. And not of us that smart, we don't have crystal balls. We can only go by what we know.

So, the fact is, there may come a day where someone is in the Hall of Fame already, who admits to using steroids. Or I vote for someone later on we find out, hey, that guy was dirty. I don't know that now. I can only vote on what I do know at this moment.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Tom, thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time.

VERDUCCI: Thank you.


BURNETT: And I'm curious if you all think anybody now can set records without using steroids. We just set an impossible set of standards.

Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up with "A.C. 360."

Hey, Anderson.


Yes, we're keeping them honest tonight.

Tackling a story where each side can find facts to support their version of the truth on what should be done about gun rights in this country. Now, we're not taking side. Just giving you all the angles, including this -- in San Antonio, Texas, a shooting that could have been a massacre if not for the quick thinking of an armed off duty sheriff sergeant. Or the disaster that could have been even more of a tragedy. The shooting of Gabby Giffords, where a legally armed bystander took aim at the wrong man, almost shooting the hero. Our panel weighs in on all of that.

Also tonight big "360" interviews, Retired General Stanley McChrystal also sharing this thoughts about civilian access to military-style weapons. Plus, we'll talk to General McChrystal about the future of the war in Afghanistan, and what U.S.'s rule should be. The story is a whole lot more. Also, tonight's ridiculous and we'll be talking about Lance Armstrong as well at the top of the hour, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Looking forward to all of that, Anderson. See you in a few minutes.

And now to tonight's "Outer Circle" where we reach out to our sources around the world and tonight, we go to Sao Paolo where prostitutes are getting some specialized training in the lead up to the World Cup. So, the Association of Prostitution, yes, is offering free English courses, but students will also learn about finances and fetishes.

Shasta Darlington is following the story and I asked her if the prostitutes are participating.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, 20 people have already signed up for these classes and I talked to the regional president of the Association of Prostitutes and she said she expects 300 members to take classes this year. In fact, she was very pragmatic about the whole thing. She said the private sector across Brazil is trying to take advantage of this sporting events, get its people prepared, and -- well, prostitution is another profession, at least in Brazil, and that's because it's legal here.

She said the members will need to carry out financial transactions in English. She also said they need to learn a very specialized vocabulary that comes with the trade. Now, the classes will be free, so they are also hoping that English teachers will volunteer their time. They say after all, doctors and psychologists already have such deals, Erin.


BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much to Shasta.

And still to come, it's been three weeks since a 25-year-old woman has been raped and murdered in India. And today, her father spoke out for the first time.


BURNETT: The father of a 23-year-old woman who was raped and murdered by a gang of men in India spoke out today. The killing has sparked protests in Indian cities and led to government officials promising to strengthen laws against sexual assault. Now, when the victim's father spoke out, his face was blurred for his own safety. And it would have been understandable, probably what you expect, right, if he lashed out at the people who murdered his daughter and the system and country that allowed it to happen. Instead he spoke about the positive things that he hopes will come from this tragedy.


FATHER OF INDIAN GANG RAPE VICTIM (through translator): If possible, it would be nice to have some sort of law in her name. If a hospital or something nice could be named after her too, at least something good can be coming out of all of this. Or it's just all pointless.

She has brought an awakening to society. Society cannot any longer turn a blind eye to these sorts of incidents which are happening every day. We have to change ourselves.


BURNETT: On last night's program, one of our guests said there is no word of rape in Hindi. Now, a few of you tweeted at us that there is a word, balaskar (ph). Thank you very much for telling and for being a part of OUTFRONT.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.