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Obama Asks Congress For Action On Guns; Likelihood of Gun Proposals Passing; Americans Held Hostage in Algeria; Goldman & JP Morgan Earnings Surge; Boeing Shares Fall
Aired January 16, 2013 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: In on the president's gun proposal. We aren't going to tell you what's illegal, we will show you what's illegal. You'll hear it straight from a gun dealer.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.
They lived a middle class life, going to work, playing tennis. But behind closed doors, they were sleeper spies, delivering secrets for cash.
Plus, the jet of the future, grounded. Why Dreamliners' new problem leads to a drastic move.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just devastating. I think the whole town is probably just mortified about it.
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BALDWIN: A dad and his two young sons go hiking, but never come home. You'll hear what happened in their last 24 hours.
Hello, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Good to be with you.
It is a fight he shied away from in his first term of office. But as of this afternoon, gun control is back near the top of President Barack Obama's agenda. Thirty-three days since the shocking carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the president is calling the nation to action. He says protecting America's children should not be divisive.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe's task force. And in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.
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BALDWIN: Let me briefly just tick through for you what the president has in mind. So, first of all, he signed these 23 executive actions. Those are the steps he can take on his own without the approval of Congress. Stand by for specifics on that because, of course, we're going to run through those.
But there are bigger plans here. And these plans would have to involve Congress. The president said today he will ask for universal background checks to govern gun purchases. The president also says he wants a law to limit ammunition magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds. And perhaps the most controversial here, the president is asking for a nationwide ban on military style rifles known as assault weapons.
As an example of the resistance the president is certainly bound to face here, today the National Rifle Association released this video ad that drags the president's own daughters into the gun debate here. The president said today he cannot fight this one alone.
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OBAMA: If parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, if hunters and sportsmen, if responsible gun owners, if Americans of every background stand up and say enough, we suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will come.
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BALDWIN: But what about the Constitution? What about the Second Amendment? That's what a lot of folks I know are asking. And the president had an answer for that.
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OBAMA: As Americans, we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights that no man or government can take away from us. But we've also long recognized, as our founders recognized, that with rights come responsibilities. Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will, comes an obligation to allow others to do the same.
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BALDWIN: With me now from Washington is our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin.
And, Jessica, 23 executive orders. Let's just begin there. What's in those?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke.
Well, I won't go through all of them, but broadly speaking, a great number of them have to do with improving the background checks system. For example, making it easier for -- to report when somebody has a mental health problem and put that into the background check system. That doesn't always happen. Also, even funds to improve the process that allows states to share that kind of background check information with other states. That's one measure.
Another would be, crack down on gun crimes. Specifically this means better tracking of stolen crimes and more prosecution of people who -- sorry, better tracking of stolen guns and more prosecution of people who buy stolen guns. Sometimes law enforcement officials find that there's a stolen gun and then don't trace the person or prosecute the person who's in possession of it.
And then more funds made available for school safety and mental health concerns, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, so that's part of it. It's a broad look at those 23 executive orders.
But then you have, you know, much bigger proposals, right, that he has to pass to Congress in order to achieve.
BALDWIN: And what is he -- what precisely is he asking Congress to do?
YELLIN: Well, we've talked about the big picture issues. You know, pressing the assault weapons ban. But they've sort of -- I have to say in the meetings here -- downplayed that according to a lot of the people I've talked to who have been in the meetings. The big focus has been on getting new legislation that would limit high capacity magazines, those that have 10 bullets or more, and then improving, changing the background checks system by law so that anybody who buys a gun has to go through it, through that background check, even say if I privately sell you a gun. That's not currently the law that I'd have to do a background check on you.
Also, new laws that would ban armor piercing bullets, even more stringently than they're currently limited, and putting more cops on the beat, for example. Those are the things that they'll try to push through Congress, Brooke.
BALDWIN: And, finally, let's just talk, Jessica, about the optics of today, right?
BALDWIN: Because you see the vice president, you see the president, they're flanked by a number of children. Who are these children?
YELLIN: You know, I spoke to some of these kids, and I have to say, they were unbelievably impressive. They are kids who, by their own account, after the Sandy Hook shooting, didn't know what to do, felt so upset and emotional about it. The two I spoke to said they took -- turned to their parents and said, I want to write the president a letter. And each of them separately wrote him saying he want -- they want him to change the gun laws.
Now, obviously, you know, they want him to crack down on making sure that bad people, as one of them put it to me, don't get guns. Now, obviously that also has a political optical purpose for the White House, which is using the nation's children to sell this legislative effort. You know the NRA has also used the president's kids in an ad. So a lot of kids being used in this battle, Brooke. BALDWIN: OK. Jessica Yellin for me at the White House. And I want to continue this discussion.
I want to go to Las Vegas for my next guest. Gun shop owner Jay Wallace of Outdoor Adventures in Smyrna, Georgia.
Jay, welcome to you.
JAY WALLACE, OWNER, "OUTDOOR ADVENTURES": Thank you, Brooke. Thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: Let's talk about something our White House correspondent was just talking about. Something that the president is proposing. This universal background checks. I mean this really seems to be, if I may, just one of the biggies coming out of the White House. My question to you is, universal background checks, sir, what exactly would that entail? Is it practical?
WALLACE: Well, you know, the thing is, is that we have to make sure that people understand they have an individual responsibility of when they're selling a firearm that they should sell it to someone that's not mentally ill or incompetent or a felon or any of those things. And that's their individual responsibility not to do that.
If there are some ways where we could make it better to where they could have a better understanding of how to do that and enforce that, I'm not in favor of taking away individual rights for those who want to sell firearms from one individual to another.
BALDWIN: But it sounds like maybe you understand. Obviously we know -- you know the story, some of these guns have fallen into the hands of people with nefarious purposes, some of whom have been mentally ill. And for those reasons, if that is imposed upon you, would you be accepting of that?
WALLACE: You're saying is it -- would it be a --
BALDWIN: If it were to go through --
WALLACE: Put on me, as a business --
BALDWIN: Yes, sir.
WALLACE: No, if it -- well, if it were to go through, and it did go through Congress, of course that we would be acceptable to it. We wouldn't defy the law. I think the president is doing the right thing by going to Congress and getting their advice and, you know, working with them. I think that's the right thing to do.
BALDWIN: What about -- what about this? You know, if you are a law abiding citizen and you would never use a gun for violent means, but, you know, you register to get a driver's license, why are some people so against just registering guns?
WALLACE: Well, I think that they look at what's happened to other countries. You look at Australia. That's the way that they started. You look in actually in Canada, and it's just a slippery slope to where, you know, guns are set up to be confiscated. We realize that. You know, we don't want to be like Europe. We want to be like America. And one of the things that makes America different is freedom, individual freedom, individual responsibility. We want to keep that.
BALDWIN: But, and I understand that, and I understand absolutely Second Amendment right to bear arms. But, again, if you have to have a license to drive, for an example, why not, if you don't have ill means in having a gun, why not just register a gun, period?
WALLACE: Well, yes, but see, the thing is, it's not the ill means of the individual that has the license to drive a car. It's the ill means of a government that could pass laws and make things more restrictive. So, you know, we see that as a slippery slope.
We're not against things that make a difference. We're not against making it harder for mentally ill individuals to get their hands on firearms. We're not against that. We're not against making the instant background check more efficient and have more information. We're not against that.
But, you know, as far as individual rights of people that want to sell firearms back and forth, that's the right -- that's the way that we are. And that's part of our country, you know? We have to look back. If you really want to examine this, you have to look back in the '50s and look at the difference of what's happened here. You know we -- guns were more available in the '50s and '60s than they are now. And we didn't have these problems. So, for instance, the 30-round magazines the president said, those were around back in the '50s and '60s. We never had this problem before. We have to --
BALDWIN: So what's changed? What's changed, Jay Wallace, do you think, as a gun owner?
WALLACE: Well, I think -- I think the main -- I thing the main thing that's changed in this country is that, you know, that individuals that are willing to die and kill someone else, they've lost the fear of God. I mean they're fixing to meet their maker and it's like in his face when they kill themselves and kill others.
BALDWIN: But then don't you understand --
WALLACE: So I think that's the biggest thing.
BALDWIN: You know, here's the president trying to, what was it he said, 900 people have been killed ever since Newtown happened. And so he, it sounds like, is just trying to prevent these people, whom you're describing, from getting their hands on weapons. And if you have to have universal background checks, and if you have to, you know, maximize these magazines, ban these military style assault weapons, you know, and that might frustrate some people, then that's what you have to do. Do you understand that?
WALLACE: Well, I do understand it, but you have to understand this, do you want to do something that makes you feel good or do you want to do something that does some good? And these things that he's wanting to do really are not going to have an effect. I mean when you look at the assault type firearms and they're used in less than 2 percent of the shootings in this country, then is that what you're going to say, we want to go after something that's less than 2 percent. So, I mean, it really doesn't -- it doesn't make good sense.
BALDWIN: I appreciate this conversation. I appreciate your candor. And let me just -- let me ask you this. Was there any one thing that the president said that you really, really stand behind, you agree?
WALLACE: Well, I do agree that if we could make the instant background check better. I do agree with that. And if he can make it where those that are mentally ill will show up and it will restrict them from buying a firearm, I'm totally behind him.
I do agree with the president by going through Congress. I do not agree with him taking it on his own. I think that he should -- he should look at everything. I think, you know, when he was talking about doing a study with the CDC, I think he should look at the study that was done in 2002 where they found that there was no evidence that furthering laws, restrictions on firearms, that it made a difference any at all. So I think he needs to look at that study and if he thinks there's something different between 2002 and now, he needs it look at that.
BALDWIN: Jay Wallace, thank you. And I know you took on Bloomberg some years ago and the whole thing's settled, correct?
WALLACE: That is correct.
WALLACE: We were -- we were able to finish that up and it worked out very well.
BALDWIN: All right, Jay Wallace, thank you.
WALLACE: Thank you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Big question here. What, if anything, could pass Congress? Let me go to Capitol Hill for that one, to our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
And, Dana, you are reporting, all this talk about these background checks, interesting what my last guest was saying. You know, you're saying, it could pass, but it has an uphill climb.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think talking to sources here on Capitol Hill, particularly Senate Democratic leadership sources, and that's really what counts right now, is that that is the most likely to pass. And you just heard from Jay Wallace, that was a great example of why. You know, he is somebody who clearly is very much for gun rights, against most gun control. But that is the one thing he said, maybe we could find common ground on. And that is why you've heard the president list that first when it comes to legislative option he wants to push in Congress, and it's also why Democratic sources say that that is probably -- even though we're going to see a high profile role out of the assault weapons ban by Dianne Feinstein next week, and other measures that the president talked about, that is the most likely to get through.
However, and here's the but, and it's an important but. Even that is going to be difficult because we are talking about a lot of concern, political concern, among the president's fellow Democrats. Never mind Republicans, fellow Democrats in the Senate from those red states where gun rights are a way of life, that will be reluctant to do anything unless they are sure -- well, first of all, reluctant to do anything at all. But -- and then in the next step, if they do agree to do something, to sign on to something, to vote for something, they want to be assured that it will actually pass. Get the 60 votes needed in the Senate, pass the House and get to the president's desk, because they don't want to, as they say around here, walk the political plank for no reason.
BALDWIN: From Capitol Hill, Dana Bash, thank you.
I need to pull away. Breaking news right now on CNN. We are getting word of a terrorist attack in which Americans are being held hostage. A terrorist attack in which Americans are being held hostage here. The State Department just now confirming it with CNN. We're all over it. That's next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: Breaking news now on CNN. Americans taken hostage in what the U.S. State Department is calling a terrorist attack. It is happening here in Algeria, in northern Africa. This BP facility. Keep in mind, this is a foreign operated gas field. Algerian state media report these militants, who have links to al Qaeda, are holding at least 40 people hostage. As many as seven of them could be Americans here. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemning this attack, but being cautious when it comes to specifics.
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VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: The best information that we have at this time is that U.S. citizens are among the hostages. I hope you will understand that in order to protect their safety, I'm not going to get into numbers, I'm not going to get into names, I'm not going to get into any further details as we continue to work on this issue with the Algerian authorities, and also with their employers.
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BALDWIN: Now, some reports indicate that this could be an act of retribution by Islamists for the French armed intervention in Mali.
Chris Lawrence, let me go to you at the Pentagon, and just tell me, as we're talking, 40 hostages, as many as seven Americans. What do you know? What's the military telling you? CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, a defense official that I just spoke with a few minutes ago said this was clearly an act of terrorism and that was echoed and amplified by the defense secretary, Leon Panetta. He is traveling in Europe right now, meeting with some of his NATO allies. And he said clearly that this was a terrorist act, this kidnapping including some American hostages.
Right now, from sources that we are speaking with, Africa command is taking the lead on this from the military side. But they are mostly conferring with the State Department and the FBI as the State Department sifts through the information and works with the Algerians to get the best available information on what's going on, on the ground.
There are some military assets that are somewhat close. There are Marine, fleet anti-terrorism teams in Sigonella, Italy. There's also Air Force surveillance aircraft that could be available out of Aviano, also in Italy. So there are some military assets in the area.
But the defense official I spoke with said right now that the best thing is to get all the information they can about what's going on, on the ground. In other words, he said, how many bad guys are there, what is the specific layout of this BP facility? He said --
BALDWIN: Why this facility? Do we know?
LAWRENCE: What did you say?
BALDWIN: Why this facility? This BP facility? This foreign operated gas field? Do we have any idea why there?
LAWRENCE: We don't know why specifically that was targeted. But I can tell you, just from traveling around in the region, I've met a lot of American workers, British workers, who go to work in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, they work for oil companies overseas and basically live in those countries while they're working there for a year or two years.
BALDWIN: OK. OK. Chris Lawrence, we'll put you back in front of the camera as soon as you learn any more about this hostage situation, Algeria, northern Africa. Forty hostages, possibly as many as seven Americans. Thank you. From the Pentagon.
A quick break. Back in a moment.
BALDWIN: Big day for Wall Street. Fourth quarter earnings starting to roll in here with a couple of big name financial firms reporting today. Surprise, surprise for Goldman Sachs, its earnings are higher than what analysts predicted. JP Morgan also reporting higher earnings. That's the good news. The bad news here. The maker of the troubled jetliner dragging the stock market down just a bit. We've been talking about that.
Alison Kosik, let me go to you. Let's begin here with JP Morgan. Higher earnings. And a pay cut for the CEO. Pay cut. How much are we talking?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pay cut for Jamie Dimon. Huge pay cut, $12 million. In fact, he's paying the price for last spring's trade gone bad in London, Brooke. These were trades that were making big bets on complex derivatives. They cost the company more than $6 billion. So, the bank is cutting his total salary, which includes his bonus, to half. Which means he'll get paid $11.5 million for 2012. I know it's not chump change. But, look, he made $23 million in 2011.
As for the company, JP Morgan made a profit of about $5.7 billion in the last three months of 2012. That's up more than 50 percent from a year ago. It was helped by the recovery in the housing market.
BALDWIN: What about Goldman? How did they come back, bounce back?
KOSIK: Goldman had a -- yes, Goldman had a strong finish. Goldman also benefited from the housing recovery and credit conditions that are getting better. Goldman booked a profit of almost $3 billion. That's actually triple from a year ago. And despite what CEO Lloyd Blankfein called challenging economic conditions for most of the year.
But here's what's interesting in this earnings report. There's really this shift going on at Goldman from making money on trading and investment management, to getting most of its growth from lending money. That clearly paid off for 2012 with the stronger results.
BALDWIN: I have to ask you about Boeing. Yet another glitch, this emergency landing for this -- what's supposed to be this revolutionary jet, right?
BALDWIN: Boeing shares, they dropped a bit today.
KOSIK: They are dropping more than just a bit.
KOSIK: Dropping almost 4 percent. Look, this Dreamliner, Brooke, it just can't catch a break, can it?
KOSIK: You know, it had problems last night, an emergency landing in Japan. What it's actually done is it's prompted All Nippon Airways and Japan Airways actually to ground their Dreamliner fleets. The plane is meant to be Boeing's marquis jet. It's the plane of the future. But look at all these headaches that it's causing. Although aviation experts say they think that the long term fallout will be limited. Some say it's normal to run into these types of issues. Others say this is beyond what's known as teething issues for new jets. But as for airlines that have Dreamliners in service here in the U.S., they are just United Airlines does, and United told CNN today that they inspected all of their 787 aircraft and that they are flying as scheduled.
BALDWIN: We're going to talk a little bit more about this Dreamliner.
Alison Kosik, thank you.
How about this story. This teenage mother, she gives up her baby for adoption. That was for 36 years. Had no clue what happened to her until now.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my goodness.
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BALDWIN: Their emotional reunion and how they got here is next.
BALDWIN: You have heard how social media and the Internet revolutionized the adoption experience and reunited many adopted children finding their birth parents and, of course, vice versa. But how often do you actually get to see this first time face to face between birth parent and child? Well, our Chicago affiliate, WBBM, was there for this family reunion more than 30 years in the making. I promise, you won't be turning away from this. Mike Parker has the story.
MIKE PARKER, WBBM CHICAGO REPORTER (voice-over): Jenny Hadley waited for the South Shore train carrying her long lost child. She'd been searching adoptee reunion websites for years.
JENNY HADLEY, MOTHER: I kind of started to lose faith. I'm thinking maybe, you know, maybe she doesn't want to be found.
PARKER: But, it turns out, her daughter had been searching for her too. They found each other online just after Christmas. They'd been exchanging phone calls, e-mails, and photos every since.
HADLEY: Oh, my goodness.
PARKER: The train pulled in and life suddenly changed for Jenny Hadley and her daughter, Elaine Harman.
HADLEY: Wow! Wow! Just amazing. Just amazing.
ELAINE HARMAN, ADOPTED CHILD: It only took me 36 years.
PARKER: Two women who battled an emptiness in their hearts for so long, reunited. Those two hearts are full again.
HARMON: It's unbelievable. I mean, I'm the luckiest person alive today. I mean it's -- I always -- I'm incredibly fortunate. My parents told me from day one how much they wanted me and how great my mom was.
PARKER: Elaine brought a gift for her mom, from Virginia, where she lives now.
HADLEY: Oh, my goodness.
HARMAN: That's a picture of each of us at about the same age.
PARKER (on camera): What do you think about that?
HADLEY: Yes, I'm about to start crying.
PARKER (voice-over): In the days ahead, there will no doubt be a lot of tears.
HADLEY: And it's a dream come true. Yes. A billion dollar lottery doesn't feel this good.
PARKER: It is hard to tell this mom and her daughter apart.
BALDWIN: WBBM reports that Jenny Hadley's next trip to Virginia here will be to meet her daughter's husband. He's now serving in Afghanistan.