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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Reports: Armstrong Admits Doping; Infected by Accident; Facebook Secret?

Aired January 15, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Finally, a confession. Reports say disgraced cycling legend Lance Armstrong has told Oprah what he's always denied to the rest of the world.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Infected by accident. A medical mistake may have exposed hundreds of war vets to HIV.

SAMBOLIN: And Facebook's big secret. Mystery surrounds a special event. It's scheduled for later today. A lot of people speculating about what it could possibly be.

Good morning to you. Thanks for being with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Tuesday, January 15, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we're going to begin this morning with cheating live and apology. Check out the cover of the "New York Post" here. It says it all. "Lie Strong. Lance admits to vile betrayal."

Why are we talking about this? Well --

SAMBOLIN: Everybody's talking about it.

BERMAN: Everybody's talking about it, including Lance, apparently. Media reports say that Lance Armstrong, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, admits for the first time he used performance-enhancing drugs while racking up win after win on the cycling tour.

So, let that sink in for a moment because for years Armstrong not only denied using these drugs and methods, but he viciously attacked anyone who said he did. Now, that appears to be a giant sham.

Sources say he's now in talks to return sponsorship money and he may be willing to testify against others involved in doping.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is following all these developments live in Austin, Texas, today. And, Ed, what do we know about this confession?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the million-dollar question, John, is going to be what extent Lance Armstrong apologizes and what will that sound like? Will he apologize for or admit to using steroids throughout all of his cycling career? I mean, to what level will this be done?

So, many people anxious to hear exactly what Lance Armstrong was saying. More importantly, just how he will say it. Not many details other than beyond that headline, that according to media reports Lance Armstrong will admit to using steroids in his interview with Oprah Winfrey. Not much coming from Oprah Winfrey as well.

Shortly after wrapping up the interview here in Austin, Texas, Ooprah sent out a brief tweet. Just wrapped with Lance Armstrong more than 2 1/2 hours and he came ready. She wrote "ready" in all caps. So, from what we understand Lance Armstrong showed to that interview with a small team of advisers, lawyers and family member as well.

And if past interviews are any indication, Lance Armstrong, you knowing has over the years, John, been a very tough interview, very steadfast. So it will be very interesting to see how his tone and attitude changes now if he has to be a lot more forthright and contrite. We'll see how that plays over, John.

BERMAN: He is a pro in these interviews. And the question is after all these years of denials, after all these years of, frankly, vicious attacks of people who accused him of doping, why might he confess now? What might he get out of this?

LAVANDERA: I think there are several different things out there. To what extent each played a role will be answered in the interview. But as you mentioned right of the top, "The New York Post" headline, "Lie Strong" instead of Livestrong.

Lance Armstrong, before he went to meet with Oprah Winfrey, showed up at the headquarters of the Livestrong headquarters, which is not too far away from his home here in Austin, Texas, and apologized to the staff there for the stress that he had put them all under. So that Livestrong aspect of this and wanting to make sure that agency is able to continue doing the work it's done over the years plays a role into it.

But also, Lance Armstrong, since he's given up cycling has been competing a lot in triathlons, in running events, and that sort of thing. And because of this ban, he's not allowed to compete in those types of events as well. So, perhaps he's looking to get his sentence lessened and compete and make money that way.

So, a lot of different aspects playing into the role, we suspect.

BERMAN: What about the potential legal aspect from admitting he was lying all those years?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, it's interesting to me. There are still several things out there that Lance is having to deal with. There's a special federal whistle blower lawsuit brought by a teammate Floyd Landis. That is still pending up there as well. And then we've also learned from a CNN source confirms that Lance Armstrong is in talks with the U.S. Postal Service which had paid a reported $30 million over the years to sponsor Lance Armstrong's cycling team and we understand there are talks under way now for Lance Armstrong to return a portion of that money as well.

Remember, there was a deposition from a Dallas-based insurance company that had paid Lance Armstrong bonus money for winning consecutive Tour de France titles. We have a snippet from deposition that he gave back in 2005k, Lance Armstrong speaking with that company's attorneys. Listen to what he said when he was asked if he had taken any steroids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ATTORNEY: You have never taken any performance-enhancing drug in connection with your cycling career.

LANCE ARMSTRONG, CYCLIST: Correct.

ATTORNEY: And that would include any substance that's ever been banned, is that fair to say?

ARMSTRONG: Correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: John, all of that was under oath, but that was back in 2005, and the statute of limitations for perjury here in the state of Texas is three years. So at least in that particular case, it doesn't seem that Lance Armstrong would face any legal troubles, and you would imagine that with a team of lawyers that Lance Armstrong has, the timing of this interview, they must have felt pretty secure, at least from a legal standpoint that Lance Armstrong could come out and make this confession. But to what extent and how deeply he goes it into that confession will be interesting to watch -- John.

BERMAN: Perhaps no criminal liability, Ed, but still faces maybe civil damages as time goes by. It is an epic day, as we said, the end of long -- years'-long charade.

Ed Lavandera, in Austin, Texas, thanks for being with us.

LAVANDERA: You got it.

SAMBOLIN: You know, he doesn't have a lot of supporters. It's interesting, in that same article in "The New York Post", there's a cancer doctor that has treated him that he says he's still a hero. The doctor who helped Lance Armstrong beat cancer remains loyal, even if he doesn't have a lot of company he says, he's still a hero because of his will and the energy that he gave back to cancer and to cancer --

BERMAN: Well, you can be a hero for beating cancers, but you'll still a cheater and a liar.

SAMBOLIN: No, absolutely. How does that weigh, right, with his foundation? I think that's a big question, right?

BERMAN: I hope it does not affect the foundation.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I hope not either. Six minutes past the hour. And in a few hours, New York may become the first state to announce a tougher gun laws since the Newtown massacre. Last night the state Senate passed a set of broad changes proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, expanding the ban on assault weapons and putting in place new measures to keep guns away from the mentally ill. His plan heads to the state assembly later this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: This is a scourge on society. People have had to live through these tragedies. Tragedy after tragedy after tragedy, and people are sitting there saying, you know, at what point do we get it? At what point do you say enough?

We understand. No one else has to die. No more innocent loss of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Cuomo's bill also includes a Webster provision, a life- without-parole provision for anyone who murders a first responder. That provision was included in response to the Christmas fire and ambush shooting in Webster, New York, that killed those two firefighters there.

BERMAN: Vice President reportedly recommends background checks on all gun sales, making certain rapid-fire guns off limits, and keeping guns away from the mentally ill.

President Obama is expected to formally lay auto these measures later this week.

SAMBOLIN: Fresh off the fiscal cliff, President Obama is digging in his heels on the next budget battle, raising the debt ceiling. At the White House news conference yesterday, he said he would not trade cuts in government spending which Republicans want in exchange for raising the borrowing limit. He said trimming the budget deficit should be a different discussion separate from the debt ceiling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say that America will pay its bills, and we are not a deadbeat nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Clearly, House Speaker John Boehner thinks differently. He responded by saying, quote, "The American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time."

BERMAN: Medical scare at Buffalo, New York, Veterans Hospital. Hundreds of patients may have been exposed to HIV or Hepatitis B or C due to the improper use of insulin pen. These pens are designed to be used only by one person, but an investigation discovered that many of them were used on multiple people.

SAMBOLIN: Are you in Hawaii or going there anytime soon? Surfers, beware. Check out this video. It's a real-life jaws. City and county officials had to propose warning signs at local beaches after two sharks were swimming dangerously close to the show right near Honolulu. Can you believe it? Look at that.

You could wade in and be bitten, eaten. Last year, there were a total of 11 shark attacks in Hawaii.

BERMAN: That is what I call dangerously close.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

BERMAN: All right. So some people in the Southeast waking up to the dual danger of flooding and ice.

Meteorologist Alexandra Steele in the weather center. Hey, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, guys. And even snow tomorrow potentially for you around New York City, really north and west of the city.

SAMBOLIN: Trifecta.

STEELE: There you go. We'll see it all. And, you know, here's why, Zoraida. What we've got is the stalled front and along the front we've got everything from rain, sleet, even freezing rain that will become a snowmaker. What's happening right here in the pink, what we're seeing is rain is falling. But it's falling into areas where temperatures are below freezing, thus we're getting icy surfaces on the road.

So, we are going to see a little bit of ice accumulation and a quarter inch of ice. We'll see power lines go out, limbs begin to sag. Of course, you see it on your windshields. Roads get icy, especially those elevated surfaces. So, you can see some of that's falling now. And also the potential for flooding already had one to two inches of rain along this line and it's really not moving much.

Washington, points south, you can see where that rain is falling. It's going to fall over the same areas, and we're going to watch that rain move into Washington, D.C., as well. It's already there now. With that, the flood threat throughout much of the east.

And, again, also winter weather advisories. Where we've got the rain, and we'll see it for the next two days. Right here you can see south of Washington. But, again, sleet and freezing rain. Even an ice storm warning for portions of Mississippi and Arkansas. This is what will affect the northeast.

Winter weather advisories, guys. Beginning tonight at midnight, going to 4:00 tomorrow, one to two inches of snow and even freezing rain as well. So, tomorrow's going to be tough on the roads there.

BERMAN: That's a nice commute in at 3:00 a.m. SAMBOLIN: Forewarned.

BERMAN: Alexandra Steele, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

STEELE: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Eleven minutes past the hour here. We know the time and the place. That's it.

We do not know exactly what Facebook plans to unveil in its much hyped event later, but you know what? We're going to share some ideas later. That's coming up.

BERMAN: Big mystery.

And Walmart making no secret of its plans to help some of America's war veterans. We'll tell you what they're doing, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 14 minutes past the hour.

Aurora, Newtown, Webster, New York -- now, Vice President Biden is making his recommendations to President Obama to try to stop these horrific shootings, reportedly proposing background checks on all gun sales, making certain rapid-fire weapons off limits, and keeping guns away from the mentally ill as well.

White House correspondent Dan Lothian is following all of the developments for us this morning. Very nice to have you this morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

SAMBOLIN: So, we do know that the vice president has delivered his taskforce recommendations. We don't actually have a copy of it, right? So, but you know some of the details that are in it. Could you share that with us?

LOTHIAN: That's right, we do.

And, you know, it's interesting because, initially, the vice president had said that today would be the day that he would deliver these recommendations, these proposals to the president. In fact, he met with the president yesterday and both of them starting reviewing some of these recommendations, the president pointing out that later in the week, he will talk in more detail about what his administration plans to do going forward. Some of it will require congressional approval. Other things the president plans to do on his own through executive action, such as a registry, the president said, or getting more data in tracking the weapons that are used by criminals.

The president yesterday during his news conference gave a hint as to what the proposals will look like. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What you can count on is, is that the things that I have said in the past, the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn't have them, an assaults weapon ban that is meaningful, that those are things I continue to believe makes sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Now, the president says that he's not worried about politics but he's focused on what makes sense, what works, and what is best to keep America and children safe -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And, Dan, states are also beginning to move on gun policy. Last night, New York state lawmakers came to a deal on new gun restrictions. It has bipartisan support. Tell us about that.

LOTHIAN: That's right. It goes on to the state assembly. Now, part of this bill will focus on assault weapons registry, creating an assaults weapons registry. Also, a uniform licensing system statewide.

And I'll tell you, New York is not the only state. A number of states across the country are looking at ways to prevent gun violence. Maryland is another one. Some of these state and local leaders are in Baltimore, Maryland, meeting at a gun violence summit there, looking at ways to prevent gun violence.

And Governor Cuomo talked about the need to really do something to keep kids safe. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: This is a scourge on society. People have had to live through these tragedies -- tragedy after tragedy after tragedy. And people are sitting there saying, you know, at one point -- at what point do we get it? At what point do you say enough? We understand, no one else has to die. No more innocent loss of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: The NRA, though, is vowing to fight any restrictions on guns. They don't believe that an assault weapons ban will be able to make it through Congress. But nonetheless, the public out there seemingly on the side of what some of these lawmakers are pushing.

An ABC News/"Washington Post" poll saying that 58 percent of Americans support a ban on assault weapons, 39 percent oppose it, 51 percent support a ban on semi-automatic handgun, 46 percent oppose. And then, finally, on those high-capacity clips that we've been talking so much about, a ban on those, 65 percent support it, 32 percent oppose it.

So, a very complex, difficult problem here, that state, local, federal leaders are trying to deal with.

SAMBOLIN: And a lot of passion on both sides, Dan.

Dan Lothian, live for us at the White House -- thank you very much.

LOTHIAN: OK.

BERMAN: About 18 minutes past the hour. Right now, let's get you updated on all the news this morning.

And after history of denials, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has reportedly admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. This happened during a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey. The interview will be broadcast on Winfrey's TV network on Thursday. Sources say Armstrong is also going to talk to pay back some of the millions of dollars in sponsorship money he received from the U.S. Postal Service.

SAMBOLIN: More controversy for troubled actress Lindsay Lohan. The 26-year-old is expected to be arraigned on charges stemming from her car crash last June when she was already on probation. All this as reports say she fired her long-time L.A. attorney who has managed somehow to keep her out of jail so many times.

BERMAN: It's crazy.

All right. Retail giant Walmart getting ready to roll out the welcome mat for returning U.S. military veterans. The company will announce a plan to provide a job to any service member who has received an honorable discharge within the past year. The new hiring program will begin on Memorial Day, that's May 27th, and will last five years. That company is expected to hire about 100,000 veterans during that time. That's a nice program.

SAMBOLIN: Nineteen minutes past the hour. It's time for your "Early Reads", your local news that is making national headlines.

And, first, from the "San Jose Mercury News" which has the pulse on Silicon Valley. Could it be the face phone? We're speculating. Facebook is inviting the media to an event today, to, quote, "come see what we're building."

There's speculation that the social network could be unveiling its own smartphone. Some experts tell the "Mercury News" that it could also be a new search engine that will tap into friends' suggestions and take on Google.

BERMAN: Now that Facebook is a public company, they're looking for ways to generate revenue.

SAMBOLIN: Correct.

BERMAN: They might create their phone and other way to break in the search, which, you know, would be a huge expansion for them. We'll see if it works.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, monetizing would be great news for them. BERMAN: There's also this kind of a really cool story from "The Washington Post" this morning. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been silent, famously so, during oral arguments for nearly seven years. That is a record. Well, it seems that Justice Thomas finally broke his silence yesterday. Not to make a point but to make a joke, and apparently you had to be there like seriously because the court's official transcript did not catch the joke because of laughter in the room.

Now, people there said Thomas was said to be wisecracking about Ivy League lawyers, specifically those from Yale, which is his alma mater. It's really fascinating. He has no love for Yale, by the way. He expressed regrets several times for his time there.

You know, everyone has wondered why Thomas has been silent for so long. Why has he not asked a question from the bench for seven years? Some people say it's because he never liked his voice, he's talked about never liking the sound of his voice. Other people, Thomas has also talked about the fact it's kind of a peanut gallery there and justices often talk over each other.

SAMBOLIN: Case in point.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It's a joke.

SAMBOLIN: He makes a joke and nobody catches it.

BERMAN: It was a joke.

For an expanded look at all of our top stories, you can head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, just search for EarlyStartCNN.

And coming up, the move that gives an old commercial tagline a new meaning. Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, you're getting a Dell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Mrs. (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures are trading lower ahead of the opening bell.

SAMBOLIN: Some big stock moves on the NASDAQ yesterday. Shares of Apple fell sharply while Dell stocks surged.

Alison Kosik is in for Christine Romans --

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't usually work that way.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

KOSIK: You know why it's happened? It's amazing how much investors will react to a report. A report came out of Bloomberg saying that Dell was considering being bought out, going private. What you saw was investors react immediately. We saw stock jumped 13 percent. In fact, right now in the pre-market Dell is up 2.5 percent.

So, yes, you saw the stocks spike to its highest level in five months. You know, Dell has had a rough time of it. Shares have dropped 30 percent in the past year. It's really fallen far from the heyday of the 1990s when "Dude, you're getting a dell," the commercial we all saw.

Michael Dell created this company in his dorm room. He was 19 years old, a freshman at University of Texas at Austin. This company was huge. It was huge, it is huge, in Austin, right outside of Boston.

It became the world's biggest P.C. maker and lost that title in 2006 to Hewlett-Packard. What it did and what it does is builds these to- order customized P.C.s, and they're delivered to your home.

But the problem is Dell fell behind. It didn't evolve into the new world of smartphones and tablets. And let me ask you, when's the last time you bought a P.C.?

BERMAN: I was going to say, what's a P.C.?

KOSIK: And you said -- you were thinking about buying one.

SAMBOLIN: Only for my son because he's headed to high school and you asked me which one. It's a Mac.

KOSIK: That's the problem. Dell hasn't evolved. What's it going to do?

Why not go private at this point. That's what these reports are saying. Even "The Wall Street Journal" is saying dell is in talks with at least two private equity firms.

Discussions, though, are in the early stage. This whole thing could fall apart. These are just reports. And, you know, some analysts are saying, look, good luck with this deal because it's going to be really expensive for anybody to buy a Dell, really hard to pull off.

But if it does, these private equity firms would go in and given a premium for the stock price, 50 percent to 100 percent premium on the stock price. For shareholders, it would be a win. For Michael Dell, it would be a win because it would allow him to be more creative.

In fact, he said this could be Michael Dell's born-again moment. He said he wouldn't have to answer to shareholders anymore. He could establish maybe an alliance with Apple.

But, you know, one analyst says another way to go about this is you can fix the company behind the scenes, make it more profitable, make it grow more and then take it public again. Of course, it's all speculation. It's very interesting. This company had a long run. It may have more lives to go.

BERMAN: So many fast changes in the tech world. It really is crazy.

SAMBOLIN: I do have two Dells. But they're sitting in the corner collecting dust.

BERMAN: That's right. They're coasters right now.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Alison.

BERMAN: Twenty-seven minutes after the hour right now.

In just a month after Newtown, the NRA is out with a new mobile app that's raising a few eyebrows. We'll have that story coming up.

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