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THE SITUATION ROOM
President Obama Talks Debt Ceiling; Lance Armstrong Coming Clean?
Aired January 14, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Lance Armstrong apologizes ahead of an expected confession.
President Obama gets combative with Congress over the debt ceiling. The U.S. and European allies take action against terrorists in Northern Africa.
High demand, but short supplies of the flu vaccine.
Plus, a preview and a look at the preparations for Inauguration Day. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Joe Johns. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM. .
We are waiting for any news coming out of one of the biggest sports interviews in recent memory. Today, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong sat down with Oprah Winfrey. Right before that interview, Armstrong made a personal and tearful apology to the staff of the cancer charity he founded about the doping that led him to being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is working the story for us in Dallas.
Ed, what's the latest you are hearing there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Joe.
Around lunchtime today, Lance Armstrong showed up at the headquarters of the LIVESTRONG Foundation, which is also in Austin, and met with the staff. I am told the meeting lasted about 15 to 20 minutes and it was tearful on Lance Armstrong's part. He apologized to the staff for the stress that he has caused them over the years and he also urged them to continue fighting for those suffering from cancer. But he did not talk or admit to steroid use in the meeting this afternoon.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): It's a script that would make a Hollywood writer jealous. Cycling athlete gets cancer, nearly dies, but heroically comes back to win the world's most famous race, not once, not twice, but a record-breaking seven straight times. Oh, and, by the way, he also starts a cancer foundation which has raised $470 million, and has provided inspiration to millions around the world. But a dark cloud hovering over this story never blew past. Suspicions that grew into allegations that Lance Armstrong used performance- enhancing drugs to accomplish his incredible feats. The suspicions were confirmed in October when the United States Anti- Doping Agency released thousand of pages of evidence of what it said was a sophisticated doping program.
Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned from all Olympic sports for life. One by one, his sponsors have left him too. Late last year, Armstrong was forced out from LIVESTRONG, the cancer charity he founded.
Armstrong has kept a low profile at his Austin home since the report was released. But Armstrong's repeated denials other the years to protect his name have angered many.
LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER CYCLING CHAMPION: I have said it for seven years. I have said it for longer than seven years. I have never doped. I can say it again. But I have said it for seven years. It doesn't help.
LAVANDERA: Former teammates found guilty of doping themselves went on record.
REPORTER: Did you see Lance Armstrong using other performance enhance drugs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At times, yes, different training camps.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He took what we all took. Really no difference between Lance Armstrong and I would say the majority of the peloton, you know?
LAVANDERA: Repercussions. So why is he doing this now? One reason could be hope a confession might give him a shot at resuming his competitive triathlon career, for which he is banned for life. At age 41, he doesn't have much time left to make a clean start in another sport.
LAVANDERA: Joe, the question will become to what extent will Lance Armstrong confess? What will he talk about in this interview. It's expected to air on Thursday night. But he is not out of the woods yet. There are still other sponsors that want money paid back and some other legal issues that he is facing. So, this is a very delicate situation for Lance Armstrong as he enters into this interview -- Joe.
JOHNS: Ed Lavandera, thanks for that. We will have more on the huge legal implications for Lance Armstrong, including what could happen if he is found to have lied in a sworn deposition.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming at 6:30, that is. There is a lot to talk about on that. A lot of questions I have, that's for sure. Another big story we are watching, the coming battle over the debt ceiling. Both sides in the debt ceiling battle speaking out today, but neither side is blinking in the high-stakes game of chicken that could take the country to a financial brink.
CNN's White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, has the latest on this.
Brianna, it sure sounded today that the president was ready for a fight over the debt ceiling.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He reiterated that he will not negotiate with House Republicans on the debt ceiling, the end, period. That's what he said. He said Congress has a responsibility to increase the debt ceiling and to use it as a bargaining chip is absurd.
KEILAR (voice-over): Tough talk from the bully pulpit to send a message to Republicans that they can't take the U.S. economy to the brink of default.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly, and pay America's bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.
KEILAR: Republicans are insisting the debt ceiling, expected to become necessary in late February, is tied to spending cuts. The president gave in on that demand in the bruising debt ceiling battle of 2011. Not again, says President Obama.
OBAMA: The difference between this year and 2011 is the fact that we've already made $1.2 trillion in cuts. And at -- at the time, I indicated that there were cuts that we could sensibly make that would not damage our economy, would not impede growth.
KEILAR: In a statement, Speaker John Boehner stood by House Republican efforts to use the debt ceiling as leverage. "The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing spending at the same time," he said. "The consequences of failing to increase the debt ceiling are real, but so too are the consequences of allowing our spending problem to go unresolved."
OBAMA: If you think about my first four years...
KEILAR: President Obama addressed concern that his new Cabinet lacks diversity. Of Obama's 16 Cabinet positions, only two are women. Recent appointments to top Cabinet posts have all been white men. But the president promised the diversity of his second-term Cabinet will meet that of his first.
OBAMA: But I would just suggest that everybody wait until they have seen all my appointments, who is in the White House staff and who is in my Cabinet before they rush to judgment.
KEILAR: The president also responded to criticism that he has not spent enough time building relationships across the aisle, dismissing the notion.
BARACK OBAMA: With respect to the -- this truism about me not socializing enough, and patting folks on the back and all that stuff, most people who know me know I -- I'm a pretty friendly guy. And I like a good party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Well, that sure got a Chuckle, but President Obama said that socializing is important and that he can do a better job. But he downplayed the suggestion that his reputation as not being the chummiest of presidents has gotten in the way of his brokering deals with Congress. In fact, Kate, he said he played golf with John Boehner and had a good time, but that doesn't result in a deal in 2011.
BOLDUAN: No, it sure didn't.
KEILAR: Another big topic at today's press conference was the issue of gun control. What did the president say when he was asked about that and the task force that he has asked to give him recommendations?
KEILAR: This was interesting, Kate, because it turns out he already has the recommendations from Vice President Biden. We were expecting those to come tomorrow. He said he already has them, he is reviewing them.
He was going to meet one on one with the vice president to discuss them. And he said later this week he would be rolling out his proposals. So, certainly, we will wait for that. But another thing he was asked about -- and this comes amid signals that perhaps the White House is not going to pursue an assault weapons ban as aggressively as certainly some gun control advocates had hoped. He was asked about that and sort of sidestepped whether that would part of his recommendations. I guess we will have to see.
BOLDUAN: Yes, we are waiting to see what those recommendations are as the week continues.
Brianna Keilar at the White House, thanks, Brianna.
JOHNS: Forty-seven states are now reporting widespread flu activity, including New York, where a public health state of emergency is now in effect.
And for people who waited until now to get a flu shot, finding a vaccine suddenly has gotten a lot harder.
CNN's Mary Snow is working on the story for us.
Mary, what are you seeing? MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, the CDC is reporting spot shortages in some areas of the country. One area is New York. That's because of a surge in demand after that public health emergency you just mentioned was issued over the weekend.
The order gives pharmacies more latitude in being able to administer shots, but it also means there are some pharmacies now short on supply.
SNOW (voice-over): This pharmacy in Brooklyn has a sign telling people they give flu shots. But, inside, the best pharmacist Bassam Amin could do was put people like David O'Keefe on a waiting list.
BASSAM AMIN, WYCKOFF PHARMACY: Hopefully, we'll have flu shots for you tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
AMIN: I have 80 shots coming in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
AMIN: Your number will be 76.
SNOW: Amin ran out of vaccine on Sunday after New York's governor declared a public health emergency over the weekend. The declaration gives pharmacist the ability to give children flu shots. In New York, they ordinarily can only give vaccines to people 18 and older.
(on camera): What was this weekend like?
AMIN: It was chaotic. A lot of people come in, in panic. They want to get the whole family immunized.
SNOW (voice-over): And it wasn't much different at bigger chains like Walgreens.
STACIA WOODCOCK, WALGREENS PHARMACY MANAGER: It's been a little bit insane, to be honest. As soon as the public emergency was declared, it was like the floodgates opened and everyone wanted their flu shot and they were coming in just in hordes looking to get it.
SNOW: This Walgreens replenished its supply of vaccines this morning. Other chains like CVS also reported shortages at some of its locations. And while there may be a shortage of flu vaccine in some places, there is no shortage of New Yorkers taking to social media to write about their experiences, like this tweet: "This flu is brutal. Not hungry, whole body aches like crazy, throat kills."
Some folks are capitalizing on disgruntled New Yorkers expressing themselves through social media. One app developer is tracking the flu in six cities including New York. ADAM SADILEK, FOUNT.IN CEO: We download publicly available tweets, and then we put them through our machine learning system that decides (INAUDIBLE) healthy based on what they tweeted and where they have been, and then plot them on the map.
SNOW: And New York is just one of six cities that app is currently monitoring.
As are the vaccine, manufacturers have told us there are still many doses to be shipped out. If you are having trouble finding them where you live, there are many Web sites that may help you find it in your area. One set up by the government, Flu.gov, is a good place to start -- Joe.
BOLDUAN: I will take that one, Mary. Mary Snow in New York, thanks so much, Mary.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead, did Lance Armstrong commit perjury when he denied doping under oath? We will get more on the huge legal implications he's facing with our own legal expert, Jeffrey Toobin.
Plus. the U.S. undertakes a dangerous new entanglement with terrorists in Northern Africa.
BOLDUAN: U.S. and European allies are increasingly concerned about two terrorist safe havens in Africa. They are now taking action against Islamic jihadists who have made bold and deadly moves in both Somalia and Mali.
But there is growing fear about the groups may be planning next.
CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, has more on this.
Chris, what's going on?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, officials are very worried that al Qaeda may be establishing a safe haven in Africa the same way they did in Afghanistan 12 to 13 years ago.
So, they are joining an international effort to try to aggressively go after these al Qaeda affiliates there. But after a disastrous rescue mission over the weekend, it shows how just dangerous it can be to operate in that part of the world.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): American soldiers were back on the ground in Somalia this weekend as a bloody battle to rescue hostages ended in disaster and death. For a lot of Americans, Somalia conjures up images of "Black Hawk Down." But unlike the film that showed a battle in Mogadishu that killed 18 U.S. soldiers, this time the Americans did not take the lead. They were backing up a French rescue squad, giving them limited technical support to try and save a French spy.
JENNIFER COOKE, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I believe they encountered some resistance even before they got to the town where the hostage was held, and all-around a botched attempt.
LAWRENCE: The U.S. briefly sent fighter jets into Somali airspace, but they were not needed in the mission. The French forces flew in at night and faced brutal resistance from the Islamists, who killed two French soldiers and likely the hostage.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): This operation did not succeed of two of our soldiers and the assassination no doubt of the hostage.
LAWRENCE: The French intelligence agent was abducted more than three years ago in Mogadishu. CNN's Jim Bittermann says there were several factors that triggered the rescue mission, including an authorization from France's president and weather clearing.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The third thing is that they seemed to have pretty good intelligence about the whereabouts of the hostage.
LAWRENCE: Even that was not enough to free the hostage. The failed mission underscores the difficulty of operating in this part of Africa.
COOKE: Somali has been particularly difficult, with few kind of steady partners on the ground, kind of interlocutors, people who are providing the kind of intelligence and the French might need for this.
LAWRENCE: And, actually, the much bigger battle could occur on the other side of the continent in Mali. That's where French warplanes have already started bombing some of the militant camps and the U.S. is right now considering what sort of assistance to give to the French in this effort -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Surprising to some that the U.S. even acknowledged involvement in this French mission, but we will be watching how things develop over there.
Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, thanks so much.
JOHNS: Justice Clarence Thomas catches everyone at the Supreme Court off guard. Details of what he did for the first time in seven years. And could Lance Armstrong go to jail for perjury? Jeffrey Toobin talks about the legal ramifications the disgraced cyclist could be facing.
JOHNS: Lance Armstrong and the legal implications of a doping confession. We will hear from a man who went to prison for helping athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.
Plus, our own legal expert, Jeffrey Toobin, coming up next.
BOLDUAN: Happening now, jail time possible for Lance Armstrong if he confesses to doping.
Newtown, Connecticut, marks one month since the school massacre.
And why your paycheck just got smaller.
Wolf Blitzer is today. I'm Kate Bolduan, along here with Joe Johns. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
JOHNS: A massive media presence outside the home of Lance Armstrong. The disgraced cyclist apologized today to the charity he founded for the scandal surrounding him. That was ahead of an interview with Oprah Winfrey at which Armstrong was expected to confess to the doping that cost him his seven Tour de France titles.
BOLDUAN: Let's get more with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, as well as "Sports Illustrated" senior writer David Epstein in New York. And we're also joined by Victor Conte in San Francisco. Conte says he supplied Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, boxer Shane Moseley and other athletes with performance-enhancing drugs. And full disclosure, he did serve four months in prison.
First, David -- welcome to all of you by the way.
First to you, though, David. There is a lot going on right now in terms of this interview that Lance Armstrong is doing with Oprah Winfrey. Have you learned anything about what went on in this interview so far?
DAVID EPSTEIN, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": I want to be kind of cautious because I don't know that anybody except the people who were there that knows for sure. But the indications I have heard is that he will confess to a degree, but it will be very limited in terms of details.
BOLDUAN: Confess to a degree, what does that mean to you?
EPSTEIN: To me, that means that there won't be sort of specific, probably won't be sort of specific apologies to people and not sort of specific details about how things were done or going point by point through the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report, but sort of a more blanket discussion or confession.
BOLDUAN: Let's look back a bit. There is such a long string of evidence or just comments about doping and Lance Armstrong that have really spanned years. We want to play you something that Lance Armstrong said about doping allegations. This was back in 2004. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LANCE ARMSTRONG, FORMER CYCLIST: We have sort of reached a point where we really can't tolerate it anymore and we are sick and tired of these allegations. And we are going to do everything we can to fight them. They are absolutely untrue. We filed action in England. We filed action in France against everybody involved. And enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Enough is enough. He didn't only deny the allegations. He fought back, David. Does that make the apology, if it does come now, all the harder to accept?
EPSTEIN: I think for a lot of people it will.
Look, when he had a chance to really fight, when he could have pursued the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's arbitration process to really clear himself, he decided not to partake in that process. That's the opposite of fighting. That's like equivalent to pleading no contest. There is that and then there are a lot of people who were sort of harmed in his wake and I think a lot of those people feel like they deserve apologies and not even just his confession.
JOHNS: Jeff Toobin, I want to talk a little bit about the potential legal implications here and we would like to start by just playing a chunk of tape from Lance Armstrong's 2005 deposition. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have never taken any performance- enhancing drug in connection with your cycling career?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that would include any substance that has ever been banned? Is that fair to say?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: There is another part that we don't have on tape, but we do have in transcript form. And I just want to read you some of that. This is some of the questioning of Lance Armstrong.
The question: "You understand that, although we are in the conference room of your lawyers, you're giving testimony as if you are in a court of law? Do you understand that?"
Question: "And that penalties of perjury attach to this deposition just like they would in a court of law proceeding?"
Armstrong: "Of course."
So in the event that Armstrong has actually made certain admissions relating to his alleged use of performing -- using performing enhancing drugs, do you think he has a perjury problem here?
TOOBIN: No, for a simple reason. Look at the date: 2005. That was pushing eight years ago. The statute of limitations for perjury in Texas is three years. So he is completely safe from a perjury prosecution.
The whole matter of civil litigation is very different. But for criminal cases, I don't see how that could be the basis of one.
JOHNS: So by civil litigation, you mean he could be sued?
TOOBIN: Correct. And he already has been sued by "The London Times." You heard in that piece of tape we just placed that he had sued "The London Times" for making an allegation about the performance-enhancing drugs. He actually received a substantial settlement from "The London Times," and now the paper is suing to get that settlement back.
There have been a number of possible lawsuits already discussed. For example, the Tour de France prize money which is over $3 million. They are considering legal action to get that back, because he is apparently -- and again we don't know precisely what he's saying -- he's acknowledging that he won the Tour de France while using prohibited drugs, which would be a fraud, entitling perhaps civil action against them.
BOLDUAN: And Victor, I'm going to bring you in on this and get your take on how all of this is going down, as well as what we expect, possibly, whatever kind of caveat we need to put, an apology or an admission from Lance Armstrong. But first I want to play you another part of that deposition we're talking about. It's so interesting. This back from November 30, 2005.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've never used your own blood for doping purposes, for example?
LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: Absolutely -- that would be banned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm not trying to agitate you. I'm just trying to make sure your testimony is clear. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: You have been on the inside, knowing more about this, really, than most -- most anyone, including in terms of performance- enhancing drugs and supplying them to star athletes. What do you make of all this and how he went about it? So many people call it the most sophisticated doping operation that they've ever seen.
CONTE: Well, it was a very sophisticated program. In the USADA report on pages 129 through 139, it's almost a blueprint as to how you circumvent the anti-doping policies and procedures in place.
I would like to say I'm very glad to hear the discussion about these people that have been bullied and sued. I don't know what's worse. The cheating? I was very much involved with this, and I decided early on that the best thing to do was to step up and tell the truth and do it for all the right reasons.
As a result, two lawsuits were filed against me, one by Marion Jones in the amount of $25 million, and the other by boxer Shane Moseley in the amount of $12 million. These were simply fraudulent lawsuits. They lied in their declarations that were filed. Thereafter when confronted, of course, I prevailed in both of these cases.
But I do understand these people, the support team members as an example, around Lance Armstrong and how they feel they didn't have the resources to defend themselves against someone like a Lance Armstrong.
I also feel that there's an accountability by the legal advisers that he has. My opinion is they knew full well that he was using performance-enhancing drugs, and they knew that he was committing fraud when he filed these declarations as a part of these lawsuits.
So I don't know what's more damaging. Is it the fact that he used the drugs in competing against other athletes, or the cover-up and the damage that he caused to all those people thereafter.
BOLDUAN: So when you look at all that and see where we are today with the possibility that he will be admitting doping, do you think he can redeem himself?
CONTE: Listen, the longer that you lie and you carry on like this -- as an example, Marion Jones, she lied for about an eight-year period, filed a lawsuit against me. And everybody remembers her on the courthouse steps, crying and weeping.
And when I looked at Marion, I saw her children and I saw her mother, and I realized they didn't lie. They didn't cheat. They didn't do anything wrong, yet they suffered tremendously.
I didn't think it through. I'm not so sure Lance Armstrong has thought this all through. It wasn't until I got into a prison camp and my family members came to visit me, and I looked in their eyes and I saw the pain and the suffering that I had caused to them, when I realized how reckless that I had been in making that decision to join this culture of -- of PED use in sports. And it was a mistake; it was wrong. All wrong for me.
JOHNS: And David Epstein, that question we hear again and again: why should people care about athletes using performance-enhancing drugs, when there are many people who say we glorify athletes too much when we should be glorifying, say, scientists of academics? EPSTEIN: Well, it's a complicated question. It sort of depends where you want to start from. But at its basis, if you care about sports, I think, there's hardly anything in the entire universe that's more dependent upon agreed-upon rules for its basic values than sports. So if you care about sports, that's one issue.
There's the other of doing things that are against United States law. Or the other of whether ends justify the means. And so I think there are a lot of angles. People aren't required to care. But I think if you care about athletes following U.S. law like other people do and respecting sort of the very basic building blocks of what we think is valuable in sports, than it's probably something we can care about to a degree.
BOLDUAN: When you watch how this thing -- I mean, how many years there have been these allegations. And where has this whole -- story has come to today, so many people are asking, myself included, why now? Why would he admit it now, David? Did he hit rock bottom or is there something else?
EPSTEIN: I mean, there's no other choice. I think the strategy in retrospect that looks like deny as long as you absolutely possibly can, and then maybe there's something -- there's nothing else to be really gained from denying it anymore.
So now if he admits to he was taking some pressure from people with the Livestrong Foundation to minimize the damage that will be done to the foundation, and also, a lot of his personal finances are tied up in things related to that foundation. So maybe he can help if he -- if people view him as redeemed to a certain extent.
And then, he also wants to get back to competing. He's not the kind of guy who's going to go on a run...
EPSTEIN: ... on the weekend for fun. He needs to be timed and beat people and have a number and official record. And this confession won't help that at all. But if after this, he goes and collaborates with anti-doping authorities and gives them substantial new information they didn't already have, maybe he'd be doing triathlons again by the time he's 50.
JOHNS: Jeff Toobin, there's also that issue of proportionality. Certainly, if he admits to this, it's bad, but by the same token, he's done a lot for cancer research. And shouldn't that go into the equation in the long run?
TOOBIN: Well, it does. And all of the issues we're dealing with now are really about his reputation. And there is no court of reputation in the United States. People are going to make up their own minds about him.
I think it is undoubtedly clear this guy has done a tremendous amount of good in terms of cancer. He has also lied egregiously and bullied and intimidated people who were less powerful than he is. Both of those appear to be true. I don't know how to sort that out myself. I think he's obviously -- it's a complicated equation.
But we don't -- we don't have the government to do that. We don't have courts to do that. People are going to make up their own minds about -- about Lance Armstrong, and everybody is going to go about it differently.
BOLDUAN: And final question, Victor, very quickly. I mean, you've been in the middle of it, and you're watching it unfold now. What's your best advice, not only to Lance Armstrong but to any other athletes out there?
CONTE: You know, I'm now working with a fighter by the name of Nonico Denere (ph), and he is enrolled in a program called VADA, Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. And he has tested 24-7, 365. 2012 he won fighter of the year.
So my point is you can do it clean. You can win without the use of drugs. There is a use-or-lose mentality that has existed for decades. You need to step up, do it the right way. It can be done. And don't make that decision that I made. And we look at this whole series of elite athletes that have all went down. They made bad decisions. It didn't serve them, and it won't serve you.
BOLDUAN: Jeffrey Toobin, David Epstein, Victor Conte, thank you so much for your time.
Again, we are still awaiting to hear exactly what comes out of that interview and if it is, possibly, Lance Armstrong admitting that he did what he is alleged to have done.
Still ahead, exactly one month since the Newtown school tragedy. CNN's Anderson Cooper is there, and we'll get an update from him coming up next.
BOLDUAN: One month ago today, an unspeakable tragedy struck a quiet Connecticut town. Twenty children and six staffers were massacred by a gunman who burst into the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Today, relatives of some Sandy Hook victims unveiled a campaign to prevent future tragedies.
CNN's Anderson Cooper is live from Newtown, Connecticut. Anderson, you spent, unfortunately, a lot of time there in Newtown, meeting these families and almost experiencing the pain on the ground. What are you hearing there tonight?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, this is a community still -- still devastated and still very raw. Emotions are still very raw here one month since the shootings. You know, much of the country may have moved on, but for the people here, it is all still horribly fresh.
That meeting that you talked about took place here at the town hall earlier today, and there were family members from 11 of the shooting victims who came forward to start what they hope is a national dialogue. They were announcing the formation of a nonprofit group called Sandy Hook Promise, which they hope spurs a national dialogue on school safety, on mental health issues, and on what they call gun responsibilities.
Here's what the mother of Dylan Hockley, Nicole Hockley, said earlier today at the town-hall meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLE HOCKLEY, MOTHER OF DYLAN HOCKLEY: I do not want to be someone sharing my experience and consoling another parent next time. I do not want there to be a next time. The Sandy Hook Promise is the start of our change. It's a promise we make for your community, but we need a nation of communities to join us in making and delivering on these promises if we are going to achieve true transformation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, so many of the parents and families here and just the community hopes that something can come out of this. Exactly what, you know, a lot of people aren't really sure, but they do hope this is a start of some sort of change.
BOLDUAN: And we understand, Anderson, you have something special tonight courtesy of singer Kenny Chesney.
COOPER: Yes, well, we're going to be talking -- we're going to be broadcasting "AC 360" tonight from here at 8 p.m. and at 10 p.m. and talking to family members who lost loved ones.
Also, Kenny Chesney is going to be performing a special rendition of "Amazing Grace." One of the victims, Grace McDonald, she loved Kenny Chesney, listened to his music, used to sing his songs with -- with her mom while they were waiting at the bus stop for her to go to school. And so Kenny is going to sing "Amazing Grace" in memory of her and all the other victims. That will be on tonight at 8 p.m., as well.
BOLDUAN: That will be great. We'll all wait to see that. Anderson, thanks so much.
And as Anderson mentioned, he'll be anchoring "AC 360" from Newtown tonight. That's 8 Eastern, right here on CNN. You won't want to miss that.
JOHNS: President Obama's second inaugural is one week away, and there are big changes under way from what happened four years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT: I, Barack Hussein Obama, solemnly swear...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack Hussein -- I Barack Hussein Obama, solemnly swear...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: At the top of the hour, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is following the worldwide outrage over rape cases in India. A well- known actress will be speaking out to Erin tonight. Erin is here for a little preview.
Erin, what else do you have coming up in the show?
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're going to be talking to Freida Pinto, of course, who was the star in "Slumdog Millionaire," Kate, and she has an amazing story to tell about her experiences in India with men. Here's what she had to say about something her mother went through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREIDA PINTO, ACTRESS: One of her first horrifying experiences was when she was traveling to school. And she had -- one of these men on a delivery bike decided to hit her in the chest for a good feel, if you please. And he sped away with a laugh on his face.
And -- and my mother was so petrified and so shocked, she did not know how to react at that point in time. So she decided to carry stones in her bag. Bless her for it -- so that she could attack him the next time she saw him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Freida talks about some of the recent horrific rapes that we've had since that awful case, Kate.
Plus, we have breaking news on Mali, the very latest there on the U.S. involvement and also the conversation I had today with the military commander of the Islamist forces who are fighting the French right now in northern Mali.
That's coming up top of the hour. Back to you.
BOLDUAN: There's a lot coming up. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" top of the hour. Erin, thanks so much.
JOHNS: Inauguration day is just a week away and evidence of what is always a massive undertaking is all over the nation's capital. CNN's Brian Todd is on the National Mall with a look for us at the preparations and a preview of the big day -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, the excitement is building and the preparations are continuing. Less than a week out now from the inauguration. You've got the west front of the capitol just behind me here. You can see the flags being draped, the presidential podium almost complete there. Hundreds of seats just below it for VIPS. You've got huge speakers being set up over here near this reflecting pool on the west front of the capital, and Jumbotrons are going to be set up shortly.
Of course, you cannot stage an event like this without the all- important port-a-Johns. Thousands of those things now being set up, ringing the Mall here in Washington.
You know, this event may not be quite to the scale that it was four years ago, but it has every bit the symbolism and the importance.
TODD (voice-over): This year, it will be scaled down, if you call about 900,000 people scaled down. Officials say for President Obama's second inauguration, Washington's National Mall will have about half as many people as it did in 2009. But it's still a huge undertaking. Millions watching on TV, Washington abuzz with ceremony, symbolism, that big event feeling.
CAROL JOHNSON, SPOKESWOMAN, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: It is obviously important because it's, you know, the peaceful transfer of power, and it's something that the park service is thrilled to be part of. But this is what we do. We do big events.
TODD: About 250,000 people have coveted tickets for areas close to the president's platform. Four years ago, many who had those tickets walked away angry. Thousands never got past the security entrances on the periphery of the Mall.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: One of the main reasons there were such holdups four years ago, the No. 1 reason was the huge amount of people, the record.
But the No. 2 reason was that people went to the wrong gates. They had to wait online forever, and then be told you've got to go somewhere else.
TODD: Hundreds of confused ticketholders got stuck in Washington's Third Street Tunnel and never saw the inauguration.
(on camera) But this year, the Third Street Tunnel is going to be closed for the inauguration, and organizers have come up with a special app for ticket holders. The app has a map showing your current location. Then you just touch the color of your ticket, and they'll show you where the closest entrances are corresponding to the color of your ticket.
(voice-over) As always, law-enforcement agencies, from the Secret Service to the D.C. Police, Park and Capital Police, will handle security. They'll close streets. Air and water traffic will be restricted.
This year's preparations have been replete with rehearsals, with stand-ins playing the president, the vice president, chief justice. Four years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts scrambled the words of the oath a bit.
ROBERTS: I'll execute faithfully the office of president of the United States...
OBAMA: ... execute the office of the United States faithfully.
TODD: So just to be safe, he swore in the president a second time.
This year, the president will again have two swearing ins. A private ceremony on Sunday, January 20, the date stipulated by law. And then a public ceremony the next day.
The president will use two bibles. One owned by Abraham Lincoln. The other by Martin Luther King Jr.
Some advice for those attending: soak it all in.
JOHNSON: Here's an opportunity to see our monument's memorials. I mean, this is part of the American story.
TODD (on camera): Now, the National Park Service is telling people who come to the inauguration that when the swearing in is over, when the parade is over, don't everybody rush off the Mall all at once. They're asking people, take a stroll, go see a memorial or two. Become a tourist.
A big reason for that is because they don't want a crush of people all going to the D.C. Metro rail stops at once. There are only a couple of those stops around here. They do not want that bottleneck of hundreds of thousands of people trying to get off the Mall all at once -- Joe.
JOHNS: Brian Todd. CNN's coverage of President Obama's second inaugural spans two days. First, the official oath of office in a private ceremony. Then Monday, a public ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Be sure to watch the presidential inauguration starting at 9 a.m. Eastern Sunday and Monday here on CNN.
BOLDUAN: They don't give out a Golden Globe award for the most feared supporting actor, but ahead, Jeanne Moos is about to show us the flu had just about everyone a little spooked last night.
BOLDUAN: This just into THE SITUATION ROOM. Some information coming out of that much-anticipated interview Lance Armstrong is giving with -- giving to Oprah Winfrey as we have discussed this hour.
According to a source familiar with the interview, Lance Armstrong's interview was at times emotional, according to this source that's familiar with that interview. But this person would not go into the specifics of exactly what Lance Armstrong said, including whether or not he did confess to using performance-enhancing drugs, as was expected.
So we will have much more on that to come, but we want to bring you the latest news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
JOHNS: Some of the industry's biggest stars thought twice before walking down the red carpet or exchanging handshakes, hugs, kisses at last night's Golden Globe awards. As Jeanne Moos shows us, fear of getting the flu has gone Hollywood.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here's a symptom seen in people who don't have the flu. They find flu jokes funny.
JAY LENO, HOST, NBC'S "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": This flu season is so bad, Hugh Hefner is washing down his Viagra with Theraflu. That's how bad it is.
MOOS: Even the grandeur of stardom can't ward off the flu. Here was Jennifer Lawrence at the Golden Globes, protecting Ryan Seacrest by now shaking his hand.
RYAN SEACREST, RED-CARPET HOST: Thanks, Jennifer.
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: I don't want to shake your hand.
SEACREST: Then I'll help you get...
LAWRENCE: I'm sorry.
SEACREST: Oh, you have the flu?
SEACREST: Here. If you fall, lean on me.
LAWRENCE: Three seconds later, she forgot her scruples and latched onto the next guy who held out his hand. Stars, they're sick like us, spewing germs.
HUGH JACKSON, ACTOR: Thank you, Hollywood. Sorry, I have -- I'm tail end of this flu, and I was kicking myself for not getting the flu shot, but it appears, actually, you don't need one. I feel great.
MOOS: Yes, but will Hugh Jackman's wife be feeling great after that double kiss?
AMY POEHLER, GOLDEN GLOBES HOST: Meryl Streep is not here tonight. She has the flu, and I hear she's amazing in it.
MOOS: At least Meryl Streep apparently had the sense to stay home.
Jimmy Kimmel created a public service announcement aimed at workers who won't leave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you still here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your sick (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and go home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go the hell home!
MOOS: If you do happen to be home with the flu, here's a Facebook app for you. "Help, my friend gave me the flu."
(on camera) The point is, you feel really lousy, so you want to blame someone for making you feel that way.
LAURIE SIEGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
MOOS (voice-over): The app tries to find which of your Facebook friends made you sick by examining their posts. Perhaps they wrote of having symptoms before you, says CNN Money tech reporter Laurie Siegel.
SIEGEL: Evidence of sneezes, vomiting.
MOOS (on camera): That's just ridiculous.
(voice-over): Ridiculous, but fun.
SIEGEL: Oh, my -- Erica.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Erica.
MOOS: But instead of pointing the finger, point the needle.
(on camera): TV people were quick to bear arms, allowing their own arms to be shot while getting a flu shot.
(voice-over): From CNN's Anderson Cooper...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The light is glaring off your white arms.
MOOS: ... to the executive producer of "The Ellen Show."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ow.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, please.
MOOS: The award for most infectious may go to Jennifer Lawrence. Those little flu shot whimpers are kind of infectious, too.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
JOHNS: He should have had it long ago.
BOLDUAN: Long -- every time I see somebody, it makes me cringe when they're getting the flu shots. Anyway, get your flu shots, everybody.
JOHNS: All right. That's it for us. Remember, you can follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. Just tweet me, Joe Johns, @JoeJohnsCNN.
BOLDUAN: And me, @KateBolduan.
That's up -- that's all for us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.