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Obama to Speak on Gun Control; Interview with Dan Glickman; Still No Apology Following Armstrong's Admittance; Miss Montana Speaks Out on her Life with Autism

Aired January 16, 2013 - 11:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello, thank you so much for joining me today.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Carol.

Hi, everybody. It's nice to have you with us today.

Exactly actually one month after President Obama vowed to use "whatever power his office holds to prevent more tragedies like Newtown," he is about to say exactly what that means.

In a little less than an hour, he'll take the wraps off a series of proposals that go beyond gun control. He's expected to push for a new ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips. He wants to close the so-called "gun show loophole," that involving the background checks.

But he's also expected to talk about other things like mental health care health care and boosting school security. He's going to be joined by his vice president, Joe Biden, who compiled these ideas after talks with various stakeholders.

And for good measure, they've also invited along some of the children who wrote them after the massacre at Sandy Hook.

CNN's special live coverage begins at 45 minutes past the hour. And while we wait for the president to address us on these issues, I wanted to bring in our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian.

Dan, is it all about the timing? Is it now or never? Is it capitalizing on the emotion of this country or is there something else afoot?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, I do think it is now or never. You know, the White House really sees a sense of urgency here in pushing something forward.

As you know, when you look back over the past several years, when you've had these massive shootings, whether it's in Connecticut, whether it's in Colorado or elsewhere, there's talk here in Washington about coming up with guidelines to prevent something like that from happening again.

And then usually it gets lost in the noise of Washington. There are other pressing issues that come up. And, in fact, we probably would have been talking now about fiscal issues had that shooting not happened.

And, so, they really see this as an opportunity to seize the moment. And they believe the president is putting forward a comprehensive plan, but, of course, it's controversial, a lot of pushback, not only from gun rights groups, but also some lawmakers up on Capitol Hill, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: And then, Dan, if you wouldn't mind just reminding our viewers, there was a lot of talk about the 19 potential executive actions the president would have at his disposal. That rattled a lot of nerves across the country who don't want to see executive orders and certainly feel as though that could encroach on their rights to bear arms.

Remind us what the president can do and what Congress can do instead.

LOTHIAN: OK. Well, let's first of all start with some of the things that the president, according to sources familiar with what he's putting together, wants Congress to do and to act.

He wants to push for an assault weapons ban. That's something that lawmakers have been talking about shortly after the shootings and the president had expressed support for.

He wants to push for a ban on those magazines with more than 10 rounds, thereby slowing down a gunman. Would not be able to set off as many rounds in a short period of time.

He wants to push for universal background checks. That means anyone buying a weapon, whether at a gun show or whether in a private transaction, would have to get checked out for mental illness or for their criminal record.

Wants to request funds be made available for mental health issues and also for schools to be able to protect themselves.

So, those are some things that the president will be urging Congress to do. But, also, the president does plan to do some things on his own, much of it perhaps will be focused on some laws that are already on the books, enforcing those laws.

We also expect the president to push for data-gathering, information on weapons that have been used in crimes. Those are some things that perhaps the president will push through in executive order.

BANFIELD: All right, Dan Lothian, standing by for us on the north lawn of the White House and keeping an eye on the president's movements, as well.

We're on the countdown to seeing the president live. And we should also mention to you that New York is one step ahead of the president and, in fact, it looks like one step ahead of the entire nation in this particular movement, anyway.

The governor, Andrew Cuomo, has signed into law a sweeping gun control law. It is the first such law enacted in response to the Newtown shooting massacre.

That law expands the state's existing assault weapons ban. It also limits the size of gun magazines to seven rounds, just seven rounds. That's, in fact, smaller than some of the actual capacities of guns.

This law also includes measures to better keep firearms away from mentally-ill people and it imposes tougher penalties on those who use guns while carrying out crimes.

As to be expected, gun rights advocates denounced this law in New York.

And with all the heated rhetoric over guns, it might be easy just to consider throwing in the towel and saying the effect of national laws to reduce gun violence are virtually impossible to achieve.

But former Congressman Dan Glickman of Kansas does not agree with that. Rather than denouncing gun owners, he says instead there is a need to understand the nation's deeply-rooted gun culture, no matter how you feel about it.

In an article in Politico, he writes this. Quote, "We need to recognize that large numbers of Americans view gun ownership as almost tantamount to their citizenship and their views have strong cultural foundations.

"We should not demonize the gun-owner and recognize that the overwhelming majority are decent law-abiding people."

Dan Glickman is now a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He joins us from Washington.

And I should also mention you fought for the assault weapons ban in Congress and suffered dearly in your opinion for it back in '94. You lost your seat and you feel that was the reason why.

I want you to characterize for me what it was like for you going door to door in your campaign after having supported that kind of gun control?

DAN GLICKMAN, SENIOR FELLOW, BIPARTISAN POLICY CENTER: Well, clearly, that '94 campaign, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I had just worked on legislation that really protected thousands of jobs in the aviation industry, which was big in my home town of Wichita.

But in going door to door after I voted for the assault weapons ban and the crime bill, which I thought was the right vote and still do, I could see from talking to folks on the street that, in fact, in many cases, their guns, their gun ownership and their pride of ownership was even more important to them than jobs were.

And that's why this is so difficult because the intensity of opposition to gun legislation puts these people into almost a one- issue voting situation. And most people who support reasonable gun regulations and gun legislation have many issues that they're interested in.

So, for a congressman out there who comes from a, let's say, a tough district, if they're hearing this from the standpoint of those who will say they will vote against you if you vote for this, rather than those on the other side who will say there are many issues they're interested in, it becomes a very tough political battle for them.

BANFIELD: All right, let me ask you this and I am curious about just how tough a political battle it could be, given that there are many who say this culture has changed so rapidly, the exponential factor brought on by Newtown, but notwithstanding all the other horrific gun incidents that we have been forced to report on and the country has been forced to digest.

It's a different climate than the '90s. We barely had school shootings back then. So, is it so tough now for a congressman or congresswoman to go out and campaign now, given that the polls seem to be shifting?

GLICKMAN: I think the polls have shifted to some degree and I think the environment may be better, but the intensity of this issue, which is a big thing in politics, how strongly do people feel about it, is still on the side of the gun-owner.

And, so, what you have to do, the president and others will have legislation and regulations is, is that we have to build a climate -- a political climate in this country where it's safer for politicians to support this legislation.

And that is not an easy thing to do, but I think it's important to try.

BANFIELD: And I just -- you know, I want to just outline some of the recent polls, Mr. Glickman, because they fascinated me. And I don't know if I'm just naive to this, but they do seem to have significantly shifted on a number of different levels.

When it comes to just satisfaction with the current gun laws, a "USA Today"/Gallup poll recently suggested that 38 percent of those were dissatisfied and wanted stricter gun control, 43 percent were satisfied and only 5 percent wanted less strict guns.

But then when you break it down into specifics and that's what the president is doing today -- he's outlining specific operations -- the nationwide ban on semiautomatic handguns, 51 percent support that.

And a nationwide ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, that number is even higher. It's 65 percent now of those asked.

And when it comes to assault weapons, 58 percent of those asked now support a nationwide ban on assault weapons.

Look -- when it gets to nationwide background checks, universal background checks, that number skyrockets to 76 percent.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think those numbers were very, very different than when you were campaigning in '94, aren't they?

GLICKMAN: I think the numbers are different now, but, again, I go back to the point, the intensity is what is important. How strongly do people feel when they're in the respective categories that they're in?

And this is going to be, obviously, a political battle. Some things like background checks are probably going to be easier to get done than banning assault weapons, but, you know, the president is showing leadership by proposing these ideas.

Now, the Congress will have to deal with it, but, ultimately, the American people are going to influence their congressmen. And they've got to let their voices be heard and they've got to let their voices be heard in the context of how important this is for them.

BANFIELD: Former Congressman Dan Glickman, it's good of you to join us. And I really appreciate your perspective as it spans the decades. Thanks so much.

GLICKMAN: Thank you.

BANFIELD: As mentioned, President Obama is due to unveil his gun control plan a little later on this hour.

We are on the countdown, about 35 minutes from now. Our special coverage beginning at 11:45 Eastern time.


BANFIELD: We're still waiting to hear if Lance Armstrong apologized to his accusers in a huge interview that he did with Oprah Winfrey, but one thing is remarkably clear. He's finally admitting that he used performance-enhancing drugs and that he has been lying to us in the past about it.

Not just once, but over and over and over again. And, honestly, to look at it all together as a body of work, it is simply nothing short of remarkable.

Have a listen.


LANCE ARMSTRONG, PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE: We're sick and tired of these allegations and we're going to do everything we can to fight them. They're absolutely untrue.

I've said it for seven years. I've said it for longer than seven years. I have never doped. I can say it again, but I've said it for seven years. It doesn't help.

How could it have taken place when I've never taken performance- enhancing drugs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back to 1995. One of your former teammates, Stephen Swart, he was riding with you. He was a key wing on the Motorola team.

He has told ESPN on the record and on camera that back in '95 when the team was struggling that you announced to the team that you were going to begin doping and you were encouraging other teammates to do the same.

What do you say to that account?

ARMSTRONG: No, again, complete nonsense.

If I can't be any clearer that I've never taken drugs, then incidents like that could never happen.

Why would I enter into a sport and dope myself up and risk my life again. That's crazy. I would never do that. That's -- no. No way.

My case, I came out of a life-threatening disease. I was on my death bed. You think I'm going to come back into a sport and say, OK, give me everything you've got; I just want to go fast? No way. I would never do that.


BANFIELD: Well, way. You did. And you're telling people that now. And there are people a lot of people whose lives have been extraordinarily affected.

Which brings me now to all of those people, people who he has wronged over the years, and not just little, a lot.

Former friends who were cast out as vindictive and jealous liars when they dared to accuse him of doping.

Here are just a few of those left in his wake. Former Armstrong teammates Frankie Andreu and Tyler Hamilton; Armstrong's former masseuse and assistant, personal assistant, Emma O'Reilly; and David Walsh, a British journalist, who co-wrote a book that detailed the allegations against Lance.

Not everyone who has come up against Lance Armstrong is so ready to forgive and forget. Dallas attorney Jeff Tillotson is one of those waiting patiently to hear just exactly what Armstrong has to say when the interview airs tomorrow night and Friday night.

Mr. Tillotson's clients paid Mr. Armstrong millions and millions of dollars for his Tour de France wins. There were bonuses for racking up all sorts of yellow jerseys. And, now, I can only assume you want your money back.

Mr. Tillotson, thanks so much for being with us. My first question to you is this. Are you about to file paperwork to sue Lance Armstrong because now it looks like he's going to admit he lied? He lied in depositions that you were part of. He lied in a cast that cost you millions/

JEFFREY M. TILLOTSON, EXTERNAL ATTORNEY, SCA PROMOTIONS: Yes, my client has made demand for the return of the prize money they paid him and, absent getting a satisfactory response to that demand, they'll have no choice but to pursue legal action against Mr. Armstrong for the return of that money.

BANFIELD: Now, that is not new. I know that you have made that request, very politely, may I add, but you haven't made so by asserting it in a civil court of law.

Are you going to do that?

TILLOTSON: Well, we're waiting to see like everyone else exactly what Mr. Armstrong says in his interview with Oprah Winfrey.

But I can assure you of my client's resolve, if this matter isn't resolved, then they will sue Mr. Armstrong and that demand has been communicated to Mr. Armstrong's camp very clearly and very forcefully.

BANFIELD: OK. Which brings me to the critical nature of the wording.

I want to know from a legal standpoint exactly what you are listening for that perhaps the layperson may not identify as critical to your mission, the words that Lance Armstrong uses that could expose him to the liability that you're suggesting.

TILLOTSON: Well, it's not just admitting that he doped, but that he doped in connection with the Tour de France races, that he's been doping for a long period during his career and, hopefully, an acknowledgment that he was untruthful in our legal proceeding.

I think we all know, as your viewers do, that the answers to those questions are yes and that he was untruthful. But we'd like to see what he says to Miss Winfrey to finalize our legal strategy.

BANFIELD: And in the way he words it because Miss Winfrey has been -- she's couched significantly exactly what Lance Armstrong has said to her and. brilliantly so, because I think we all really need to see this interview to know exactly what we're up against here.

But he has said to the Livestrong campaign that he regrets what they have had to endure since all of this transpired. Regret is not "I am sorry for."

There's a big difference between saying you regret and a big difference between saying I'm sorry and I did this.

So, what wording do you need to hear that gets you to the courthouse to file your case?

TILLOTSON: Well, I think no matter what he says tomorrow night, based on the evidence we have, we have a compelling legal case for the return of the money we paid him. But we're specifically looking to see which of the doping allegations that we raised and developed in our case he's going to acknowledge as true.

That said, you played a clip from my deposition where he said, unequivocally under oath, "I never doped." And I think tomorrow night he's going to actually confirm that that was an untrue statement given under oath.

BANFIELD: This is a bit arcane and it does get into the weeds a little, but the effect of it nonetheless is really critical.

I know the statue of limitations on perjury in a criminal case is only three years in Texas. Did you ever take a deposition over, say, a video conference or a telephone call from another state which could possibly expose Lance Armstrong to perjury charges in another state that perhaps has seven years statute of limitations or more?

TILLOTSON: It's possible. Depositions were taken in California in our case. We deposed Emma O'Reilly, the masseuse, and that was actually taken overseas. Depositions of Mr. Greg Lemond were taken in Minnesota.

BANFIELD: But Lance Armstrong -- I'm curious to see if Lance Armstrong may have lied in another state over the transmission wires which could expose him to some federal issues and could also expose him to the statute of limitations that could be longer in another state? Which means he could be up on criminal charges.

TILLOTSON: Yeah, I'm going to leave that to the appropriate authorities.

He was deposed in Austin, Texas, when I took his deposition. So, for our purposes in our civil case, we're focused on Texas and Texas law.

BANFIELD: And then I'm going to just tap you for your legal mind here, not necessarily for your case, but I listed out a whole lot of people who have been wronged by Lance Armstrong, many of his former cycling mates, teammates, people who worked for him whose careers were ostensibly destroyed.

And I'm curious if you think those people -- and I've just got a few of them listed up on the screen right now -- have a strong libel case, a defamation case against Lance Armstrong because they suffered financially because of what he said.

TILLOTSON: I think that's certainly a possibility and the list is much longer than you gave.

Betsy Andreu comes to mind as someone who was particularly vilified by the Lance Armstrong camp and put through grief for testimony she gave that turns out now to be entirely truthful. The same with Greg Lemond and others.

So, depending upon what he said about them publicly and some of the things he said in my lawsuit, those individuals may have valid complaints.

And I will point out, we were one of the biggest targets of Mr. Armstrong's venom and were called all sorts of names and called liars throughout the course of our case.

BANFIELD: And, Mr. Tillotson, I should let our viewers know, in those bonus payments that your -- who you represent as the insurance company that paid out those bonuses for those yellow jersey wins, you did not sue him. He sued you.

He sued you to get the money. It's even more just strident in his behavior.

TILLOTSON: We questioned, in light of his sixth win, we questioned whether or not some of the allegations being thrown about him were true or not and, instead of getting answers, we got a lawsuit against us.

As it turns out, the information we gathered in connection with that investigation which was mostly put together by David Walsh, the British journalist, all turned out to be true and formed the bulwark of the USADA recent decision that was listed last fall.

So, certainly, we feel bad about it.

BANFIELD: Well, Mr. Tillotson, I hope that you will come back on this program, either Friday or Monday, and talk about your reaction to what he says, and whether that means you're on your way to the courthouse with some very expensive paperwork for him.

TILLOTSON: I look forward to it. Thank you for your time. I look forward to it. Bye.

BANFIELD: Jeffrey Tillotson joining us from Dallas, Texas.

And I just alluded very quickly to the Livestrong moment where he said he regretted what the folks at Livestrong have gone through.

I want to read to you a little bit more about what that foundation released today in the way of a statement.

"We expect Lance to be completely truthful and forthcoming in his interview and with all of us in the cancer community."

So, clearly, they're still waiting for word, as well.

For more on Lance Armstrong's story, don't miss our "World According to Lance Special." It's airing this Saturday night at 10:00 Eastern.


BANFIELD: One-hundred-and-fifty-thousand students scrambling for alternate ways to and from school today as New York City school bus drivers walk off the job and onto the picket line.

The issue for them, the drivers' union, they say it's job security. The city has put its contracts with private companies up for bid in a move to cut the costs.

The union says some drivers could suddenly lose their jobs when the contracts, therefore, expire come this June.

The House approves a big package of federal aid for Superstorm Sandy victims. The vote, 241-180, which means 180 voted against it.

The bill directs more than $50 billion to storm-ravaged states in the Northeast and that is on top of the $10 billion in flood insurance that was already approved.

That package heads to the Senate after the president's inauguration.

Alexis Wineman grew up knowing she really was not like any other kids, but it wasn't until she turned 11-years-old that she really found out why.

Here's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta with the story of a girl who did not let her disorder get in the way of her dreams.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Miss Montana is surrounded by more than 50 other beauty queens on stage, all hoping to become Miss America.

But for most of her early life, Alexis Wineman spent her time alone.

ALEXIS WINEMAN, MISS MONTANA: I was very quiet because I couldn't say anything right.

I was picked on for the way I spoke. I really didn't have any friends.

GUPTA: Her parents knew there was something wrong, but their small town of Cut Bank, Montana, didn't have the resources to help them figure out what it was.

And then at the age of 11 after years and years of searching for answers, a doctor finely put a name to Wineman's condition, pervasive development disorder, a mild form of autism.

Typically, children with autism are very intelligent, but very quiet, socially awkward and they don't respond appropriately to interactions with other people.

Typically, they don't end up becoming beauty queens either, but Wineman said one day she simply decided not to let her condition define her.

WINEMAN: I want to really accept myself and my autism and I realized that my autism isn't what defines me. I define what is autism.

GUPTA: She entered the Miss Montana pageant as a way to prove to herself she could do anything she set her mind to. WINEMAN: I fell in love with the program. Good thing, too, because I won. I wasn't expecting to win, but it's funny how things work out sometimes.

GUPTA: That win put her on the national stage in Las Vegas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman.

GUPTA: Wineman made it as far as the top 15 and won the America's Choice Award for garnering the most online votes.

She says the whole experience has been an amazing ride.

WINEMAN: It's been a challenge, but I've enjoyed it immensely.

There are times when I do feel a bit overwhelmed, but those are going to happen in life any way, whether you're going to be Miss America or not, so I'm willing to take all of that on.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.