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THE SITUATION ROOM
Three Wounded in Shooting at Texas College; "Not Designed to Bring Us Together"; GOP: Obama Wants "Era of Liberalism"; Reports: Two Suspects in Custody; a "Live" National Anthem?; Secretary Clinton to Be Questioned on Benghazi; Biden's "Aha" Moment; Biden Versus Clinton in 2016?; Interview with Vice President Biden
Aired January 22, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: We're getting new details about a shooting on that community college campus in Texas. At least three people have been wounded and a suspect may still be at large.
Also, today's blistering reaction to President Obama's inaugural address. Republicans are warning, if the president gets his way, the era of big liberalism is back.
And in a CNN exclusive, the vice president, Joe Biden, talks about the possibility of taking on Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.
And it sounded beautiful, but was it live? Controversy erupting over Beyonce's rendition of the national anthem.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And the breaking news continues here on CNN. We're covering the country's latest multiple shooting incident on a college campus. Three people, at least two of them students, were wounded in a crossfire as two people shot at each other.
A federal law enforcement official says a fourth person suffered a heart attack during the shooting. It all happened near Houston, Texas, on the North Harris campus of Lone Star College. That's a community college in Texas.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has got the latest. He's joining us on the phone from Texas.
Ed, what are you hearing?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the shooting appears to have been a situation that just started off as an altercation in one of the buildings on campus between two people. One of those firing shots was wounded and is now in custody.
But two people appear to have been caught in the crossfire and those two victims have also been wounded. And then there was a fourth person that in all of this melee had a heart attack. That person is being treated as well. And now the focus is on that second shooter, the second person involved in that altercation. That suspect is -- fled the campus itself. Officials say that everything is safe and secure now on the campus, but the search for that second suspect is the main concern at this hour.
And I'm told by a law enforcement source that one of the main focuses that they are looking at right now, law enforcement agencies there on the ground is a wooded area next to the campus of Lone Star College. They believe that that's where this second suspect might have fled into so they are paying a great deal of attention to that wooded area and obviously that creates a whole new level of terrain and issues that law enforcement there on the ground must deal with. But that is at this hour where they appear to be focusing their efforts to try to find that second suspect.
BLITZER: And we're getting a lot more information, Ed, some of it obviously very consistent with what you're hearing, this coming in from the Harris County Sheriff's media relations department.
Let me just update our viewers on what they are saying. As I said, a lot of it consistent with what your reporting shows. They reiterate one suspect is in custody, three people taken into the hospital, their conditions unknown. The spokesperson says they continue to interview all witnesses to gain as much information about what happened during what appears to be an altercation at the campus library.
Police from at least five agencies have secured a perimeter around the wooded area around the college to see if there's another suspect on the loose that could be armed. The Harris County Risk Operations group -- that's their SWAT team -- is the lead agency being assisted by others.
Tell us a little bit about the community college, Ed.
LAVANDERA: It's one of several campuses that Lone Star College has around the Houston area. And this is in the northern part of Harris County, which encompasses Houston, and it's also very close to the Intercontinental Airport, the Houston Intercontinental Airport.
But I was struck by one of the eyewitnesses that we have heard from there talking to local reporters on the ground who described being about 10 feet away from the shooters and heard the altercation and one of the shooters saying, I don't want to fight you, I don't want to go to jail. This eyewitness went on to say that it seemed to be an altercation that could have easily have been resolved, but clearly escalated to this very dangerous level.
BLITZER: What are the rules on a college campus in Texas about carrying a weapon?
LAVANDERA: That's really interesting at this point, Wolf, because Texas is a concealed handgun state. You can carry a handgun if you have the proper license to do so, but there are some areas in some parts of the state where regardless of whether or not you have the license or not, you're not allowed to carry a concealed handgun. Churches and schools are some of the main ones. And obviously that would apply to this campus as well. But what's interesting, Wolf, is that the legislature here in the state of Texas has just gone back into session. They have dealt with this issue before and there are many state lawmakers here in Texas who are trying to change that aspect of the concealed handgun law here in Texas and they want students to be able to carry handguns on the campus.
Many people around here think the situations like Virginia Tech could have been helped if there had been an armed student in that classroom that they could have taken out the shooter. That is a debate that is intensifying here in the state and one that we are currently dealing with as this shooting has taken place today here in the Houston area.
BLITZER: As far as the kind of weapon or weapons that were used in this shooting incident on the campus, do we have any idea what we're talking about here?
LAVANDERA: I have been trying to ask those questions and it's still too early. The law enforcement agency that would handle that kind of thing, we're in the early stages of getting to the scene and working the scene, so we have not able to confirm any of those details just yet.
BLITZER: Ed, hold on for a moment.
Our Brooke Baldwin had a chance to speak to a student on the college campus, Amanda Vasquez. And this is what she said. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA VASQUEZ, EYEWITNESS: I heard about six shots and kids started rushing down the hallway. And a few even came into our class. And it really happened so fast.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: What were people shouting?
VASQUEZ: They were just shouting. But I couldn't hear anything. For me, I was just trying to get under a table, get into the back corner of the room, and immediately I just wanted to find some sort of shelter inside the room.
And so we closed the door and we turned off the lights and there is a lady in the room who was trying to be an EMT. And she put a table by the door. I called my mom just because I needed her to know that I was OK and that, you know, I loved her, just in case anything was going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Clearly, a terrified student on the campus there at the North Harris campus of Lone Star College.
You are looking at live pictures right now from the campus.
Ed, there are about 10,000 students on this campus near Houston. I assume everyone has been told this is a lockdown situation. Just don't even go to the campus if you're there. Make sure you're safe.
LAVANDERA: Yes, absolutely.
I don't know what the plans are. I'm sure school officials there are working through that now as well, what the plans will be. Classes I'm sure in the campus will be closed for the rest of the day, and waiting to hear on what the plans will be for the coming days, if this will continue into tomorrow.
But most importantly we have heard from a law enforcement official there on the ground that they have gone through the various buildings on the campus there and everything is secure. So, at least the situation in the contained area of the campus appears to be a situation that is under control and as I mentioned a little while ago, one of the areas that appears to be the focus, I'm sure not the only focus, of the search for the second suspect is that wooded area near the campus and that would be an area where they believe the second suspect might have fled into.
And whether or not that person is able to hide out there or whether or not that person is still in that area is unclear at this point. We will try to get more answers about that as soon as we can.
BLITZER: Stay with us. Don't go away, Ed.
I want to bring in our CNN crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns. He's also working his sources.
What are you hearing, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have got the FBI, the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Bureau and others converging on the scene and we're also told there are about five different local agencies surrounding the woods there looking for that one shooter who apparently has not been identified.
As Ed reported, this sounds very different, Wolf, from the types of situations we have seen, Aurora, Colorado; Newtown, Connecticut; and other places where one individual went in indiscriminately and started shooting. This appears to be an altercation between two people in a school setting which makes it sound like more like so many of the things we have seen at public schools in major metropolitan areas and some other universities where police have to start asking questions, was it drug-related, was it gang-related, was this a score-settling of any type?
These are the kinds of questions. And Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who represents this area of Harris County, Texas, actually was asked that question and sort of restated it on our air just a little while ago. But we doubled back to her office and they told us, the fact of the matter is, the school does not have, to their knowledge, a gang problem and neither does the area.
We went so far as to look at the 2011 security report for North Star college system and that includes the Harris County campus, the North Harris county campus. And it shows almost nothing, a couple car break-ins, nothing significant at all.
Of course, you also have to caution that a lot of universities and schools do not like to report crimes if they don't have to. But the evidence we have right now is, this is a very safe, secure environment and something highly unusual to happen on this campus, Wolf.
BLITZER: That would seem to suggest this is not a campus, not an area, not a greater part of the Houston area in Harris County where there is a lot of gangs and a lot of violence. This is a peaceful campus and all of a sudden shooting erupts on this college campus where 10,000 students are studying presumably right now.
JOHNS: That's true. And we're also told that -- we have had some people here on the CNN staff who have been looking -- that six or eight miles away as the crow flies there is a gang problem.
Within driving distance, certainly, just a few minutes' driving distance, they have had some problems with gangs which have been fairly well publicized, but nothing around the campus proper.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Ed Lavandera. I think he's still on the phone with us. He is in the area.
Is this an area prone to sort of gang violence, Ed, based on what you know? I may have lost Ed Lavandera. It looks like we will reconnect with Ed. He's heading over to the campus, the North Harris campus of the Lone Star College, a community college of 10,000 students where the shooting erupted just a little while ago.
Police say three people are in the hospital, their conditions unknown, one suspect in custody. They say they are looking for another suspect and they are trying to secure an area -- a wooded area around the college campus right now to see if this other suspect may be on the loose.
And they are saying he potentially could be armed right now. So we are watching all of this unfold, very disturbing information. Any time there's a shooting, especially in a college campus, that's not where they are supposed to be shooting. Not supposed to be these kinds of incidents.
It happens, unfortunately, Joe, from time to time. We take a step back and we look at what's going on, we try to make sure it doesn't happen again, but then it happens once again.
BLITZER: You know, and I don't know what's going to happen as a result of this, but let me play another clip of another eyewitness to what happened. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY ROBBINS, WITNESS: Someone said they had one guy and we don't know how many it was. And it is very scary. It is very chaotic. You are thinking if they made us go to the library, I mean, to the cafeteria, if you can't find the guy, how do you know he's not in the crowd with us? All I can do is stay away from windows and pray.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what you're hearing, Joe, is that federal authorities are also taking a look in case local authorities in Texas, they ask the FBI, other federal agencies for other assistance?
JOHNS: That's absolutely right.
The federal authorities are essentially assisting the sheriff there in Harris County to try to get to the bottom of all this, which is pretty typical in situations like this, because when you have a shooting at a school, it essentially terrifies a whole community and schools are the kinds of places where these things are simply not supposed to happen.
Again, hearkening back to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, she told us that she was actually in a meeting talking about how to deal with the problem in this country of crimes involving guns when she got the word that this shooting had occurred in her -- in the place that she represents.
That just sort of underscores this whole debate in the country, what do you do about guns being used to cause terror, to kill people, and certainly school shootings, Wolf, are very much a part of that.
BLITZER: All of this happening right now in Harris County. That's where Houston, Texas, is, and this campus of 10,000 students has now been evacuated. Apparently, they are still searching for a suspect who may be in a wooded area near the campus.
It's interesting that only yesterday in the president's inaugural address, he once again spoke about keeping students safe. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're going to go to the White House. Our own chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is standing by. We will talk to her on this day after the inaugural address, get reaction from Republicans as well, and we will certainly stay on top of the breaking news out of Harris County, where Houston, Texas is, a shooting at a college campus.
Much more on the breaking news and all the day's other news right after this.
BLITZER: Just to update you on the breaking news, we're following from the North Harris campus of Lone Star College near Houston, Texas, a community college of about 10,000 students. It's been evacuated right now following a shooting that occurred there just a little while ago where one suspect is in custody. You'll see three individuals have been taken to the hospital, their conditions unknown. You see one person there being whisked away as well.
They are searching for another suspect they think in a wooded area near the college campus, but they don't know for sure -- they are continuing this investigation.
We are going to be getting an update from the local county sheriff. They are going to do a live briefing at the top of the next hour at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll have coverage of that. But we'll stay on top of this story for all of our viewers. Update you with information more as it comes in.
Let's get to some other news that we're watching right now here in Washington. Today's furious reaction from Republicans to President Obama's inaugural address. There's a firestorm of criticism unfolding right now over what one Republican leader calls a presidential agenda -- and I'm quoting now -- that is not designed to bring us together.
We have the very latest from our reporters on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue here in Washington. Let's start with our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin who has new information on the president's priorities right now.
Jessica, the president had some surprises. What's the latest?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf.
President Obama started his second term today by mixing with the people. He gave visitors on the White House tour the ultimate surprise with Bo, his dog, and the first lady by his side. I think we have a little bit of video. This is on a lighter note.
I'll pause for some sound and video to see if you can hear this for a moment. That was at the White House on the White House tour. He dropped by to let some of those people who just came here to get a regular general admission ticket, a chance to say hello to the president of the United States, the first lady and their dog Bo.
But, Wolf, soon the glow of the inauguration will wear off. The fight over debt and spending will heat up and the president will not have much time to press his second term agenda and the priorities that he wants to fight for.
YELLIN (voice-over): High spirits --
YELLIN: -- high fashion and high bar for the president who outlined a long list of second term goals. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The threat of climate change. The size of our deficit. Revamp our tax code. Our gay brothers and sisters, hopeful immigrants.
YELLIN: Expect President Obama to tackle immigration reform first.
OBAMA: Our journey is not complete until we find a way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants.
YELLIN: The president won an overwhelming 71 percent of the Latino vote in November. Since become an article of faith that Republicans will agree to some kind of immigration reform this year, the American people are on board. A new CNN poll shows 53 percent believe illegal immigrant should have a path to residency.
Another goal: national security.
OBAMA: We the people still believe that enduring security does not require perpetual war.
YELLIN: As more U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the president is increasingly focused on a new kind of war fighting, shifting from ground troops to a reliance on intelligence and technology, especially drones.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: After more than a decade of war, we are entering a new phase. We continue the president's overarching goal when it comes to al Qaeda which is disruption, dismantlement and ultimate defeat. He's made great progress.
YELLIN: Perhaps the biggest reach in his agenda --
OBAMA: We will respond to the threat of climate change.
YELLIN: It's an issue dear to the president, but he's already acknowledged climate change policy is so politically charged, there's no clear path forward.
OBAMA: That I'm pretty certain of. This one's hard.
YELLIN: Now, Wolf, in the speech the president also broke ground by promising to push for expanded civil rights for gays and lesbians. Aside from his health care reform law, this could be the greatest legacy, the biggest legacy of his time in office. A case that is now before the Supreme Court could force the administration into making new federal policy on this front. It could force the administration to decide whether federal benefits will be extended to same-sex couples in the next year, Wolf.
BLITZER: So now that he's laid out very specifically -- I was surprised how specific he went yesterday in the inaugural address, his priorities for the second term, I assume in his State of the Union Address in February, he's going to go into details with more specifics. Is that what you're hearing? YELLIN: Yes, Wolf.
I should say I wasn't as surprised that he laid out sign posts about what he want -- where he wanted to make progress. What he wasn't going to do in this speech was get into detail. And so, where he laid out markers on these major issues, we will now hear much more policy detail in the State of the Union and the White House is saying that these two speeches are sort of the end posts for one another.
In the inaugural yesterday, he outlined what he hopes to accomplish in the State of the Union. He will give far more detail about exactly how he hopes to get there on all of these second-term agenda items, Wolf.
BLITZER: Look forward to that as well. Thank you, Jessica.
Let's go to Capitol Hill right now where yesterday's bipartisan goodwill already seems to be a very distant memory. Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is standing by.
Dana, give us the reaction.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans are arguing that the president is trying to foist the liberal agenda on what is really a center right country. In the words of the Senate minority leader, he said, not a great way to start off his second term.
BASH (voice-over): The Senate Republican leader had his sound bite on the president's speech ready to go.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The era of liberalism is unabashedly far left of center inauguration speech certainly brings back memories of the Democratic Party of ages past.
BASH: Far different from the restrained response the House GOP leader gave us hours after the speech.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: You know, I think that the president did a fine job, certainly laying out what he would like to see happen as far as the future of the country.
We have some differences. Hopefully, we can bridge those differences.
BASH: Cantor was coming from a bipartisan post-inaugural lunch.
But now, with the inauguration over and the pressure to be respectful past, conservatives are eager to share their disgust.
REP. DAVID SCHWEIKERT (R), ARIZONA: He's trying to basically throw a bone to every left-wing activist group he could.
BASH: Some tell us that they're not happy, but hardly shocked. REP. JEFF DUNCAN (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It's exactly what we saw on the campaign trail. And if you don't see this president coming, you're not looking.
BASH (on camera): So, you're not surprised?
DUNCAN: I'm not all surprised at all.
BASH (voice-over): Republicans say that the president unleashed a new campaign for liberalism with lines like this.
OBAMA: Our journey is not complete until our gay brother and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.
BASH: In fact, a GOP campaign apparatus, Karl Rove super PAC responded with this video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unapologetically liberal. A progressive liberal agenda is what he's now clearly staking his second term on.
BASH: Even some relatively moderate Republicans call itself- righteous.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, he doesn't have a monopoly on all that's good and all that's true.
BASH: Others, a missed opportunity.
(on camera): Do you think that the tone that he took is going to hurt relations with Congress?
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: I don't think it's going to change relations much and that's the real problem.
BASH (voice-over): To be short, some critical House Republicans did not attend the inauguration.
(on camera): Were you at the inauguration yesterday?
AMASH: No, I wasn't.
BASH: How come?
AMASH: I just had personal things to take care of.
BASH: Were you there?
DUNCAN: I was not.
BASH: How come?
DUNCAN: I spent some time at home. My family was out of school and I've gone enough, and so, I spent the weekend with my family.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Although Republicans are slamming what they call the president's unabashed political agenda, they know privately that the president also handed them a political and fundraising gift -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dana, thanks very much. We'll see what happens on this front especially as we look forward to the State of the Union Address. That's coming up as well. We'll see how long any bipartisanship lasts between the White House and Capitol Hill.
We have more on what's going on.
It's one of the big inauguration stories, at least, that's emerging right now. Beyonce singing the national anthem, was it prerecorded, though, or was it live?
BLITZER: All right. We're getting new information from our CNN affiliate KHOU and KTRK. They are both reporting now that two -- two suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the shooting incident on the campus of -- the north Harris campus of Lone Star College, outside of Houston, in Harris County, a campus of 10,000 students. We have not yet independently confirmed what these law enforcement officials are telling our local affiliate.
But I wanted to update you on what's going on. We are standing by for a 5:00 p.m. news conference, in half an hour or so, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Central. The Harris County sheriff is expected to brief us on what's going on.
Earlier they said they were searching a wooded area near the campus for a suspect. That's when they said they had one suspect in custody, but now our affiliates are telling us that two suspects are in custody. We'll see where this is going. We'll update you as more information comes in.
Other news we're following right now, including a new controversy erupting today in the wake of yesterday's inauguration ceremony here in Washington. A spokeswoman for the United States Marine Corps band telling CNN that Beyonce opted to use what they call a pre-recording for her beautiful rendition of the national anthem.
Our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is here. Jim, there has been some confusion all day. What was going on? What do we know as of right now?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this was a question on a lot of lips in Washington today. Earlier today, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marine band told CNN what Americans heard on inauguration day was a prerecording of pop star Beyonce singing the national anthem. Take a listen.
Now, you can't really tell right there, but according to the U.S. Marine band that was a pre-recording. That spokeswoman for the U.S. Marine band said Beyonce made the pre-recording of the national anthem overnight before the inaugural as a standard protocol, the band says. In case something goes wrong during the actual performance and just before the inauguration ceremony, a decision was made to use that pre- recording instead of the live rendition of the song.
The pop star even posted pictures of herself on her Facebook page apparently recording the "Star-Spangled Banner" with Marine officials around her, but on inauguration day, a band spokesperson said, Beyonce, quote, "did not actually sing."
And let's take a look at another graphic, another quote here from that Marine official. We don't know why the decision was made. We wondered the same thing. We don't know. We don't have that graphic available, but that is from Kristen DuBois who is a U.S. Marine band spokeswoman.
Now that spokesperson went on to say, we don't know why the decision was made, quote, "we wondered the same thing. We still don't know." Wolf, later today another Marine spokesperson told "Washingtonian" magazine that the band and Beyonce's team made a joint decision to use this prerecording due to a lack of pre-rehearsal time before the inauguration.
The band said something like this has happened before. Back in 2009, you might recall at President Obama's first inaugural, American cellist Yo-Yo Ma used a prerecording due to the frigid temperatures out there.
Wolf, we did reach out to Beyonce's team for a comment, did not get one. Also, all day long we have tried to reach out to the Joint Congressional Inaugural Committee, the folks that worked for Chuck Schumer and Lamar Alexander on Capitol Hill.
We did not once get a call from that office willing to go on the record as to what went on with this prerecording and why it was used on the inauguration day. We had to rely on the U.S. Marine band for this information.
BLITZER: So basically for the last several hours this story has been out there he a Beyonce through a representative still has not made a public statement and the Joint Congressional Inaugural Committee still has not made a statement either. The only official statement you're getting is from the spokesperson from the U.S. Marine Corps band?
ACOSTA: That's right. I had a chance just a few moments ago to talk with the editor-in-chief of "Washingtonian" magazine, Garrett Graff. He was seated a few rows back from the U.S. Marine band and Wolf, he says he noticed that the band -- the folks in the bands themselves were not playing their instruments, that they, too, were using a pre- recording.
So this was a combined prerecording, it appears, of both the U.S. Marine band and Beyonce performing the national anthem and according to Garrett Graff over at "Washingtonian," a U.S. Marine band spokesman has told him that is indeed what happened.
That they both made this decision to use that prerecording and as far as anybody can tell in Washington, this has never happened before on an inauguration day where the performance of the national anthem had been pre-taped and used as a prerecording.
But as often is the case, it's not the crime, not that it's a crime, but it's the cover up sometimes and we just don't have all the answers at this point --
BLITZER: So let's get some more answers. I got to tell you I was sitting right on top of that U.S. Marine Corps band anchoring our coverage from the capitol and the U.S. Marine Corps conductor, he was moving his hands. He wasn't just standing like this. He was moving along with the "Star-Spangled Banner."
ACOSTA: It sounds as though they made a decision to play it safe, that they didn't have enough rehearsal time. That apparently Beyonce was running late getting to the rehearsals on Sunday night.
And so just to play it safe, they decided let's record this, get it on tape, use that on inauguration day as opposed to just going out there without enough rehearsal time and sort of let's just see what happens. They decided that was not the right course of action so they went with this prerecording.
BLITZER: Whether it was live or pre-recorded, she does a beautiful, beautiful job. Let's not take anything away from that. That was one of the best national anthems I've heard performed.
ACOSTA: It sounded great.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
A big day tomorrow, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will finally testify on what happened in Benghazi, Libya. Our own Jake Tapper, he makes his first appearance here in The Situation Room. He's got new information. That's coming up next.
BLITZER: We're expecting some dramatic testimony tomorrow from the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. She's finally coming to Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers' questions about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador.
CNN's new chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, is here with a little preview.
Jake, first of all, welcome to CNN. Good to have you here.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Wolf. It's great to be here.
BLITZER: This is the first time you've been in THE SITUATION ROOM.
TAPPER: This is my first time in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're very excited to have you here.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about the news. What are you hearing about tomorrow? There's going to be obviously extensive coverage in the morning, in the afternoon, she's appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. First time she's going to be answering a lot of specific questions.
TAPPER: That's right. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is preparing for some aggressive questioning. And Republicans have been preparing for some time as well. And you should expect also to hear some questions about whether or not a security vacuum in the region not only paved the way for the attacks on the compound in Benghazi, but whether or not it has any role in what is going on right now in Mali and also Algeria.
You should expect a larger question about northern Africa.
BLITZER: Are we going to learn anything new? I know there's going to be a lot of political rhetoric going on, a bunch of Republicans are going to make their points. But do you think we're going to get more information than we got from that State Department report that Ambassador Tom Pickering put together which spelled out how this happened?
TAPPER: My sources tell me that there actually are a few new emails and cables, including some from November 2011 when the late U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, was exploring the idea of moving the compound in Benghazi to a different location, adjacent the CIA annex, which would have been safer and more secure. But ultimately that plan was scotched.
So, yes, some new information will come out tomorrow, I think.
BLITZER: This is really one of the last things she's doing as the secretary of state before she leaves. John Kerry getting ready -- John Kerry is the chairman still of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, but he's recusing himself. He won't even be there, I don't think. He's gearing up for his own confirmation hearing.
But Bob Menendez, the number two Democrat, he's going to chair these hearings.
TAPPER: That's right. And you should expect from Democrats, of course, to hear effusive praise for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And this is an odd way for her to go out. But, yes, she's leaving this week.
BLITZER: Now let's talk a little bit about you. Today's your first day here on CNN. About a month ago we saw you on another network. But what have you been doing the last month gearing up for this major new challenge in your life?
TAPPER: A lot of gearing up, a lot of time with my children, Jack and Alice. And also, you know, I have this book that I wrote about Afghanistan. One of the...
BLITZER: A best-seller, I must say.
TAPPER: It is a bestseller. One of the...
BLITZER: "The Outpost ," there it is, right there.
TAPPER: One of the soldiers in that book, Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, it was announced a week-and-a-half ago that President Obama is going to award him the Medal of Honor in February. So I've been...
BLITZER: He's a central character in the book.
TAPPER: He's a big character in the book and I've been preparing for that. We're going to have a party for him. I've been trying to get airlines, Southwest, American Airlines, JetBlue are providing airfare for these troops and their families, Best Western Hotel. So preparing a little reunion for the guys.
BLITZER: Because I got invited to your party.
TAPPER: You were invited, Wolf.
BLITZER: That's going to be February...
TAPPER: But keep it down, not everyone got invited. So you have to...
BLITZER: Oh, in other words, those who didn't get invited...
TAPPER: Well, now they know.
BLITZER: ... they should feel really bad. This is a good cause you're doing and I want to thank you on behalf of all of the U.S. military for what you're doing, because you're doing something really, really important.
TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good luck here at CNN. It's a wonderful news organization.
TAPPER: Thanks, you think it's going to go OK?
BLITZER: It's my personal favorite. You've got to work hard, you know, play by the rules, and some day, you know, you'll move up the chain.
TAPPER: Wait, let me write this down. I need...
BLITZER: Work hard, play by the rules.
TAPPER: I'll DVR it.
BLITZER: We'll help you.
TAPPER: OK. Thank you. BLITZER: Jake, welcome.
TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden - he's opening up to our own Gloria Borger about the next four years. The question everyone wants to know right now: listen.
BORGER: So, are you ready to run against Hillary Clinton in 2016?
BLITZER: -- days inauguration festivities. Stand by.
BLITZER: Vice President Joe Biden seemed to be everywhere during Monday's inauguration festivities. He was waving, smiling, and shaking hands like a candidate running for office. In our exclusive interview with our own Gloria Borger, the vice president talked about 2016 as well as about he calls the ah-ha moment when he discovered he liked being vice president.
BORGER (voice-over): Just days ago, I met with Joe Biden to talk about his last four years as the president's right-hand man and his adjustment to the job.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If there was an ah-ha moment whether the job was worth it was when he asked me to coordinate Iraq policy to end the war in Iraq early on in the administration.
BORGER: It was December 2011. Biden traveled to Baghdad with a message from the president.
BIDEN: So on behalf of President Obama -- and I was able to say to the American troops assembled, gentlemen and ladies, you are dismissed because you have done the job that you are sent to do and like all Americans you are going home with nothing, but your pride and the knowledge of a job well done.
I got off that stage. It was a moving moment for me. Went back, picked up the phone. I said, I've been kidding you about whether this job is worth it. Thank you. Thank you for asking me to do this job. It has made it all worth it.
BORGER: The job has had its up and down. Biden's infamous candor has made him a punch line, even for the president.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And I say, settle down, Joe. I'm trying to run a cabinet meeting here.
BORGER: But here's why this team works. As much as President Obama dislikes the congressional drama, Biden thrives on it.
BIDEN: I have spent a lot of time in this town.
BORGER: Forty years, to be exact. That's one reason why he's running the president's effort on gun control, taking on the NRA.
BIDEN: You know, I've done this before. I'm the guy that passed assault weapons ban.
BORGER: More than 20 years ago.
BIDEN: Yes. And because the so-called Biden crime bill had a life span of 10 years and had to be renewed during the Bush administration, there was no desire in 2004 to renew it. But that doesn't mean there's still not a consensus for a bulk of what we're proposing.
BORGER: So can you guarantee that the president will sign some form of general legislation?
BIDEN: Look, I can't guarantee anything that the Congress is going to do, you know that. But I can guarantee you that the president and I are absolutely committed to take this fight to the American people for a rational gun safety policy in America.
BORGER: And he is smack in the middle of a fiscal fight. Now he's ready for round two and predicts Republicans will be different.
BIDEN: They finally figured it out, all this bluster about they are going to renege on the debt, they will not, because there are more responsible people in the party than irresponsible. So it's not going to happen.
Now, will there be a fight how we finish off what we started to do, a grand bargain, we've said in the beginning, there is a balance here. The American people get this. This is not that complicated. Politically it's complicated but not mathematically.
So we ought to be able to, in the next three months, finish out that grand bargain to get us to the point -- I sound like an economist here, where debt to GDP is about 3 percent. Every economist left, right, and center says, when that happens, the economy grows.
BORGER: But where does Biden go next?
(on camera): Looking ahead four more years, you've made it clear in one way or another that you are considering a presidential bid of your own. Is there any reason you wouldn't run?
BIDEN: There are a whole lot of reasons why I wouldn't run. I haven't made that decision and I don't have to make that decision for a while. In the meantime, there's one thing I know I have to do no matter what I do. I have to help this president move this country to the next stage.
We're out of the God awful situation we were in the first time we were sworn in, two wars, the economy in the tank like it hadn't been since the great depression. We're beyond that. Now I've never been more optimistic in my life.
We are in a position where we are able to be to the point where we can bring this debt under control, a sound financial policy, energy independence in a way we've never thought about before. We're respected by the world again like we haven't been for the last 20 years.
BORGER: So are you ready to run against Hillary Clinton in 2016?
BIDEN: Look, I haven't made that judgment and Hillary hasn't made that judgment, but I can tell you what, everything that should be done over the next two years that I should be part of would have to be done whether I run or I don't run.
If this administration is successful, whoever is running as a Democrat is better position to win. If we are not successful, whoever runs as a nominee is going to be less likely to win.
BLITZER: Gloria is here with this excellent interview. I know more is coming up later in THE SITUATION ROOM. But he's being pretty cagy about whether or not he is going to run in 2016.
BORGER: You saw him on that parade route shaking everyone's hand. He saw him at the Iowa caucuses. Have you heard of those?
BLITZER: New Hampshire, he was involved with them as well.
BORGER: Exactly. He's 70, looks great, very energetic. If I had to guess, I would guess he's running. But as he said, he doesn't have to make that decision for a little bit of time. He's completely loyal to this president. I think his point is accurate.
If the president does well, if the economy improves, then Joe Biden or any Democrat would be in a good position. I think the big question is, would Joe Biden want to run against Hillary Clinton again? Remember, he's run against her before in the Democratic primary.
BLITZER: In 2008. Didn't work out so great for him. She did better, but it didn't work out so great for her either. He ran before 20 years earlier, if you will. He said in your interview he thought the Republicans were being more responsible right now. But the president -- the reaction to the president's speech yesterday shows that this partisanship is pretty bitter.
BORGER: You know, I think they have a good cop, bad cop thing going on with the two of them. The president yesterday clearly set out his agenda and gave the Republicans nothing to kind of hone in on there, but Joe Biden's the closer. Joe Biden's the person who cuts the deals on Capitol Hill.
It was interesting to me that he said they changed. He was clearly referring to the fact that they've moved off the fight on the debt ceiling a few months. He believes he can deal with them and, as you heard, get some kind of grand bargain. I need to be convinced of that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, he is going to have a lot more, part two of your interview coming up later. Good working.
BORGER: He tells us -- how does he know when the president is mad at him.
BLITZER: Interesting to see that. Thank you. Good work.
In a moment, we're going to have the latest on the breaking news we've been following a shooting at a community college in Houston, Texas. There's going to be a news conference from the sheriff there. We'll update you with what is going on.
BLITZER: Here's the latest that we know right now on the breaking news at this hour, another shooting incident, this one at a community college near Houston, Texas. Three people are wounded and a fourth person suffered a heart attack.
According to a law enforcement official briefed on the status of the investigation, the shooting appears to have taken place in an outside area between the library and cafeteria at the North Harris campus of the lone star community college.
Witnesses telling CNN affiliates, at least one gunman opened fire after an altercation between two people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was actually 10 feet away from the shooter when this all went down. Tell us exactly what you saw leading up to it and then after that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me and my classmate were sitting down having a conversation or maybe 10 feet away. We couldn't hear what they were arguing about but we could hear them arguing. The shooter actually, you know, wanted -- he said I don't want to fight you.
I'm not trying to go to jail and he actually turned away from the situation. But whatever ticked him off, whatever he said, in the middle of their problems and street problems, two innocent people got hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We still don't know what kinds of guns were involved. CNN affiliates KHOU and KTRK are reporting that two suspects are now in custody although we have not independently confirmed that with law enforcement officials.
We should learn more right at the top of the hour in a few moments. The Sheriff's Department will be holding a news conference in Harris County. We'll bring that to you live. That's coming up. Once again, three people are wounded after a shooting incident on a community college campus near Houston. We're getting live updates from authorities in 3 minutes.