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THE SITUATION ROOM

Hillary Clinton Speaks Out; President Obama Talks Immigration Reform; NRA Chief Vs. Giffords' Husband on Guns; Home Prices See Biggest Jump in Six Years; Critics: Fix the Border First; How to Sell Reform to Conservatives; New Allegations of Drugs in Sports; "I'm Not There to Protect Her"; Critics: X Games Put Money Before Safety

Aired January 29, 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: President Obama talks immigration reform and draws a line in the sand for Congress to take quick action.

Also, her final days on the job as the secretary of state. Hillary gives an exit interview to CNN. You will see it, the full interview, here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And a new steroid scandal explodes, engulfing some of the biggest names in baseball, including Alex Rodriguez. Now the league is speaking out.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A major speech on a hot-button issue, President Obama speaking out just a little while ago in Las Vegas about comprehensive immigration reform. His remarks come one day after a bipartisan group of senators laid out a framework for a possible bill that would be a path to citizenship to increase border security.

But the president also made it clear that if Congress can't act quickly on that, he will put forward his own bill.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is standing by.

Jessica, detail for us what is in this president's proposal?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, detail is the key word.

In the past, the president has been accused of standing for policy proposals that are short on specifics. Not today. President Obama laid out a plan for comprehensive immigration reform that would change the immigration system in three central ways.

First, it would strengthen workplace enforcement, specifically by making it harder to hire illegal immigrants in the workplace and make it harder for illegals to get jobs here.

Secondly, it would create a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers who are already in the U.S. After they pay fines, they would get in the back of the line. And it would streamline the legal immigration system. That's especially for, say, highly skilled workers who come here for, say, high-paying jobs but then have a hard time, for example, bringing their families over.

Now, the White House insists, Wolf, that the main difference between the president's proposal and the proposal outlined by the Senate yesterday is this, that the president's proposal would treat same-sex couples in the identical way that heterosexual couples are treated. But I can also say that the president emphasized today that he will increase border security. That was something I did not hear in my past conversations with administration officials.

They have previously said they think the border is as secure as it's ever been -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jessica, how optimistic is it that the White House will move quickly on the comprehensive immigration plan?

YELLIN: Well, the president doesn't want to throw cold water on the progress he's seen to date. And, yesterday, they called what the Senate did a breakthrough, but you could hear that in the president's words that he has his doubts. Listen to what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be rigorous about many of the details. And every stakeholder should engage in real give and take in the process. But it's important for us to recognize that the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: In this building, Wolf, they say they are going to keep the pressure on -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You are also learning, Jessica, that the immigration reform fight is resulting in some pretty strange bedfellows out there?

YELLIN: That's right. The head of the Chamber of Commerce, the central organization that represents business interests here, has been working with one of the nation's top labor union leaders to try to come to agreement on a piece of immigration reform about how many guest workers come in here.

It's an element that they have disagreed on in the past, but because both sides want to get immigration reform done, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Richard Trumka have been having breakfast to work out a guest-worker program, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see what they can do. Jessica Yellin over at the White House, thank you.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. Gloria, what is the president's role right now? Why is he coming out today, the day after the bipartisan Senate push?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Because the senators, the Democratic senators wanted him to, Wolf.

I think the president hangs back for now. As Jessica was pointing out, he has a plan out there, but his plan is not contingent on enforcement in the way that the Senate bipartisan plan is. So I think for now you see the president hang out there and say, look, if you people cannot agree to something, my plan is out there and Republicans, you won't like it any better than what you have got now.

So I think what he -- he acts as kind of the bad cop to the Senate Democrats' good cop, knowing full well that he could pounce at any moment if he thinks it's going to fall apart because he knows his Democrats are pretty much united on this, but it's the Republican Party that's split. It's also the Republican Party that really needs to try and win back Hispanic voters.

BLITZER: Yes. I want to continue this. I just want to show our viewers a picture. They have started the voting the roll call in the Senate for the confirmation of John Kerry to be the next secretary of state. He will be confirmed. He was unanimously confirmed by voice vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and now he's going to be confirmed by the next -- this Senate and then the president will have a swearing-in ceremony for him.

So this confirmation process is moving quickly, Gloria, for John Kerry. We will let our viewers know the final vote as soon as it occurs.

Not all Republicans, by any means, as you know, on this immigration fight are on board. Even though Marco Rubio, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, they are on board with the Democrats in the Senate, there are plenty of to Republicans who are skeptical or totally opposed. Listen to Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She was on "STARTING POINT" earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: ... want to make certain is that it is not amnesty.

But I have to tell you I think this is some of the particulars and the legislative language that people want to see. What we have learned is if you grant amnesty, what do you get? More amnesty. More illegal entry. And so what we want to make certain is that we have learned those lessons. So let's see what the legislative language is going to be. Let's see, make certain it is going to be fair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I think they will get the legislation passed in the Senate, assuming this coalition, this bipartisan coalition holds up. The House may be a lot more difficult. Is it going to pass? BORGER: Sure.

Well, it's hard to predict. Let's see what happens in the Senate and let's see what the final version is. There is this big question of amnesty. It's the reason we haven't seen immigration reform legislation since 1986. And amnesty is sort of one of those buzzwords that really gets people riled up.

I mean, we heard it a lot during the Republican primaries, Wolf. You were there. Only one-third of Republicans actually support a path to citizenship, according to some polls. So, yes, this is going to be a problem, which is why this bipartisan bill in the Senate says that you have to deal with enforcement first.

You have to make sure the borders are secure before you can proceed to any kind of path to citizenship, which, by the way, Wolf, does not happen overnight. I mean, when you say amnesty, people think, oh, you're going to get amnesty and hope it happens overnight. That's not the case in this version in the Senate right now.

BLITZER: It's very interesting, the role of Marco Rubio, the Republican senator of Florida, himself a son of immigrants from Cuba to the United States. He's out there selling this bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation to some skeptics, including on the Rush Limbaugh show today. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think there's this false argument that's been advanced by the left that conservatism and Republicans are anti-immigrant and anti-immigration, and we are not. Never have been. On the contrary, we are pro-legal immigration, and we recognize that our legal immigration system needs to be reformed. We also recognize, because conservatism has always been about commonsense, that we do have this existing problem that has to be belt with in the best way possible.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BLITZER: How important is Rubio's role in trying to get this comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed?

BORGER: I don't think you can overstate it, Wolf. It's very, very important.

Here's someone with undeniable conservative credentials, a bona fide member of the Tea Party who is effectively trying to save, I would argue, save the Republican Party from itself on the question of immigration. He is somebody who can go on the Rush Limbaugh show and say, look, I care about enforcement. We have to secure the borders, but we have to find a way out of the immigration mess that we have.

So he's got credibility, not only with the Republican Party, but also with a lot of Democrats on this issue. I believe he's staking his entire political career on it and, as I said, helping the Republican Party in his own way. I mean, this is somebody, Wolf, you know who is thinking about the presidency.

BLITZER: Certainly is true. Gloria, thanks very much.

We're going to have much more on the comprehensive immigration reform debate coming up later in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But right now, we have something just coming in, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her final days on the job sitting down with CNN for what is being described as an exit interview. She talked about her recent health problems, including that blood clot that had her in the hospital. Listen to what she just told our own Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: ... that if you had one blood clot, there is two times chance that you will have another one. This is something that you're going to have to deal with for a long time.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, millions of people do. It's very common.

DOUGHERTY: Do you take medication?

CLINTON: Well, that's what people do when you have blood clots, and then you get evaluated after the blood clot has resolved, because, as you say, I have experienced this before.

But I am lucky because I have been very healthy. I feel great. I have enormous amounts of energy that have to be harnessed and focused. So I'm very fortunate, and I'm looking forward to this next chapter in my life, whatever it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The full interview, by the way, with the secretary of state, it will air here in THE SITUATION ROOM in the next hour, as well as at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. She goes through a wide, wide range of issues, including national security issues and what about 2016? Is she really interested in running for president again?

The interview will be airing here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

As we saw earlier, the Senate is now voting on Secretary Clinton's replacement, John Kerry, to be the next secretary of state. That roll call is going on right now. He will be confirmed and he will be the next secretary of state, the senator from Massachusetts. We will get you the roll call number as soon as the roll call is finished.

The head of the National Rifle Association and the husband of Gabrielle Giffords, they are set to square off on Capitol Hill over gun control.

Plus, stunning new numbers on the housing markets, what they mean for millions and millions of American homeowners and the U.S. economy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The gun control debate is certain to heat up tomorrow at a closely watched hearing on Capitol Hill. All eyes will be on two very well-known figures who are set to square off.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is joining us for a preview.

Dana, you had a chance to speak with Mark Kelly, the husband of Gabrielle Giffords. He's getting ready to testify tomorrow. What did he say to you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I spoke by phone with him just a short while ago. He actually said that, you know, he and Gabby Giffords, they are both gun owners. He said that he actually considered joining the NRA at one point, but never got around to it.

He also said that when it comes to the other big witness, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, the two have never met but he said, at the hearing tomorrow, he hoped that they can have a constructive conversation about how to tackle gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Two staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, two very different views on guns.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: They are God-given freedoms. They belong to us in the United States of America as our birthright. No government gave them to us and no government can ever take them away.

MARK KELLY, GABRIELLE GIFFORDS' HUSBAND: I defended the Second Amendment flying in combat over Iraq and Kuwait, you know, defending our country. I own a gun. This really isn't about the Second Amendment.

BASH: These will be the star witnesses at Congress' first hearing on guns since Newtown. Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who survived a gunshot through the head, six people died in the attack. The couple are gun owners themselves. Kelly tells CNN they even used to practice at an NRA range. Now, they are taking on the powerful gun lobby.

Kelly also tells CNN they support extensive gun control, including restricting high-capacity weapons like the one used by Giffords' shooter.

KELLY: He was taken down after unloading ten rounds in a magazine, then there would certainly be other people that didn't -- that died that day that would be alive today.

BASH: As the NRA's executive director, Wayne LaPierre is the defender of gun rights. His prepared testimony released by the NRA sounds familiar warnings. "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals. Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families."

LaPierre certainly will have plenty of avid defenders on the committee holding the hearing, like Orrin Hatch.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, after years of being pushed around, it's tough for them not to be a little bit combative. Wayne LaPierre is one of the nicest, kindest people you'll ever meet. But he really does believe in the Second Amendment, as do I.

BASH: LaPierre will go head to head with one of his toughest opponents, Dianne Feinstein.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: He makes his claim that everybody is entitled to these weapons. My view is, everybody is entitled to be safe.

BASH: She called the NRA "venal", but insists it's not personal with LaPierre.

FEINSTEIN: He wants one thing. I want an entirely different thing. He's there for gun people, to allow them to have these guns regardless. They have fought virtually every kind of regulation. The time has come to change course.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And when it comes to legislation, Feinstein isn't only going to have to convince Republicans. One of the interesting dynamics on this committee that is holding this hearing tomorrow is that the Democratic chairman, Wolf, Pat Leahy, is a supporter of gun rights. In fact, Feinstein said that she is concerned that the witness list is a little bit too skewed towards opponents of gun control and she will try to hold her own hearing with the witness list that she believes is more favorable to those who want more gun control -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So what you're saying is little dispute going on between Dianne Feinstein and Patrick Leahy? They are both Democrats. They're both on the liberal side of the Democratic Party but when it comes to guns, they disagree?

BASH: That's right. They do disagree.

Now, I tried to interview Senator Leahy a couple of times today in the hallways. He didn't want to go there. He said, watch the hearing tomorrow. He has said that he believes that there will be some kind of legislation that will be put out. But he vowed he'd to do that in his committee.

But you're absolutely right. He is known as a liberal. But on gun issues, not so much, and he definitely differs with his colleague, Dianne Feinstein, on this issue.

BLITZER: We're going to invite him here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Senator Leah, to get his views on background checks, universal background checks for example, magazine clips, assault-weapon type guns and see what he has to say.

Thanks very much. Good idea even though you didn't propose it, I thought of it myself. But good idea, Dana. Thank you.

A strong sign of recovery for the battered U.S. housing market. Home prices in 20 major cities jumped 5.5 percent in November, the biggest gain in six years.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here to take a closer look inside the numbers.

That's a pretty impressive jump, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, Wolf. And if you're one of those homeowners out there who's seen housing value plummet, you know how you've been just waiting, waiting, waiting for this kind of news.

And look at the numbers here. Back in July, home prices up about 1.2 percent. In August, 2 percent, 3 percent September, 4.3 percent in October, 5.5 percent in November.

Not only is this an increase in home values, but really important to economists. It's a trend, a movement steady over time to show improving home values. Let's look at the map and see what we're talking about. There are 20 cities that were surveyed out here, and in every one of them, except for New York, values went up from November of 2011 to November of 2012.

Look at this, here in Tampa, 6.8 percent up. Up here in Chicago, almost a percentage up. Out here, look at this, Phoenix, almost 23 percent higher. Las Vegas, 10 percent higher. San Francisco, 12.7 percent higher.

These are all very good signs, Wolf. And as I said, it's more of a trend that matters here, especially if you're a homeowner there waiting for your home value to come back. That trend is working in your favor, not just a one-month blip -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, does all of this mean, Tom, that the housing market is making up for lost ground?

FOREMAN: It is. But now, I'm sorry, here comes the dark cloud to go with the silver lining because it really is important. Remember that these are relative numbers, relative to where it was in November 2011, not necessarily relative to where it was a long time ago.

Go to Las Vegas, one of the hardest hit areas. Back in February of 2006, an average home there was worth $315,000. And, Wolf, look at that home in December 2012, you want to guess how much that same home was worth in December last year?

BLITZER: Let me guess -- it was worth $300,000.

FOREMAN: No. They would be thrilled if it were. That same home was worth $123,700.

BLITZER: Wow!

FOREMAN: So, the simple truth is, this house has a long way to go to get back to the value it had back in 2006.

And in the hardest hit markets all over the country, that is true. This is a very good trend but this trend has to not only settle in but stay that way for a good number of years, Wolf, before many of these homeowners would be able to say my house is now once again what it was worth back in the mid-2000s.

BLITZER: Yes, those are pretty impressive numbers, I must say.

All right. Tom, good report. Thank you.

And, by the way, you can find much more on this story, including how to play the housing market. Go to CNNMoney.com and you will get a lot of useful information.

This is something you don't see every day. Take a close look at this. It's a massive, massive wave. To get an idea of its size, look at that little white line out in front. That's a surfer. Stay tuned for more on where this happened, what causes such huge, huge waves.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. Check out these monster 100-foot waves off Portugal. That tiny line is somebody riding a surf -- look at that -- riding a surf board trying to set a new world record.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers is joining us right now.

Chad, what's going on here?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Amazing waves there. And this is the place in the world that surfers from Hawaii will fly to, to get waves like this.

There's a little phenomena going out there. In the surface of the ocean, of course, is the wave. But under the surface is where this wave is truly generated. There are very large waves and winds right now across Iceland, a very big low. I'll show that you in a second.

But come to me here and I'll show you Google Earth. What happens here happens nowhere else in the world.

The continental shelf of Portugal is here. It is also here. The continental shelf is not right here. That is a canyon that comes out of the Atlantic Ocean and funnels all of that water to one spot and that one spot is Nazare, Portugal. And people flock to this area every single year.

When you big low pressure center, now there is Portugal right there. The lows are up here near Iceland, bringing the waves and the wind in this direction for days and days and days, blows all of that water into that canyon. The water goes straight through the canyon, doesn't break off shore because there's no continental shelf, there's no real reef out there to break. The breakers happen right close to shore and they get that big.

BLITZER: Always that big or are these a little bigger than usual?

MYERS: Oh, these are bigger than usual but a 50-footer is certainly a normal day. But the 100 footers happen when you get a big low in the winter up here, and even if you in Hawaii, you want to see big waves, you go in the winter because that's when the storms are the strongest.

But you get storms up here to the north, this storm at one point in time was actually deeper, had a lower pressure than Sandy. So, this is a big thing. This is a lot of wind. It's not a hurricane because it's not warm water.

But the wind was just as big. That wind was pushing those waves day after day after day, and finally, they had that one that was caught on tape. What a huge, huge swell.

BLITZER: Chad, thanks very much. Those pictures are really, really amazing.

MYERS: Unbelievable.

BLITZER: I guess the surfers must love, love those waves.

Baseball stars linked to a new steroid scandal. The league is now speaking out. We'll have details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The strongest push for immigration reform in years is now unfolding. President Obama just gave a major speech on the subject and a bipartisan group of senators has outlined a bill. Watching it all unfold, not only millions of undocumented immigrants, but also people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border.

CNN's Casey Wian is there for us in Arizona, one of the frontlines in the dispute. What's the reaction to folks you're speaking to there along the border to what the president just said?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of skepticism, Wolf. You can see over my right shoulder the fence that separates Arizona from Mexico, over my left shoulder, you can see a town of Naco, beyond Naco, a lot of ranch land.

And we have been speaking with ranchers and the local sheriff here who say that despite the fact that the border patrol says its apprehension numbers are down, which means in its view fewer people are trying to cross the border illegally.

They say in rural places like this, it's just as dangerous as ever and they say it's far too soon for comprehensive immigration reform because they stay in places like Cochise County, Arizona. This border is just not secure. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF MARK DANNELS, COCHISE COUNTY, ARIZONA: They are all over our rural areas and into our ranch lands, into our rural communities coming through there, and we're dealing with assaults, the burglaries. We're dealing with obviously a murder here a couple years ago so I would say no.

JOHN LADD, RANCHER: There are going to be a bunch more people coming as soon as he talks about immigration reform and pathway to citizenship. There are going to be a bunch of people coming across that wall to trying to get here while they can and take advantage of the pathway to citizenship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIAN: Now, that rancher, John Ladd, he owns 14,000 acres of ranch land along this border. We spent some time with him this morning. He talked about people coming over the wall. Just on Friday, he said two truckloads of drug smugglers cut through this border fence about two miles down from here.

Cut his fence and went through his property with loads of marijuana. Local sheriffs gave chase, the smugglers ended up escaping. That rancher says that's the 28th and 29th vehicles, drug smuggling vehicles that has crossed his property in the past year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Casey Wian on the frontlines along the border with Mexico. Thank you. Of course, this is not the first major push for immigration reform. We've seen a fact that President Obama noted in his speech of Las Vegas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So at this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon and that's very encouraging, but this time action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We've been debating this for a very long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, let's talk about that and more with CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona and CNN contributor, the Republican strategist, Ana Navarro.

Ana, members of your own party, Republicans, several of them, they don't like what they're hearing because they think this is amnesty and they hate that word amnesty. How do Republicans who support this comprehensive immigration reform right now deal with that?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think Senator Marco Rubio is dealing with it exactly the right way. He is going straight to the people. He is going to some of the talk shows. He's invested an incredible time and energy, Wolf, in selling this and explaining these in lay terms, explaining the problem and why it has to be solved. Listen, we don't need to get all Republicans, we don't need to get all Democrat. We just need enough to get enough to get this passed and I think what the Democrats and the Republican senators did yesterday in going one day going before the president changed the tone and substance of what the president was going to do today, I think they may have saved this baby by going ahead one day.

BLITZER: We heard earlier, Maria, that one difference between what the bipartisan group in the Senate is proposing and what the president is proposing involves same-sex couples, if you will. The president wants everyone to be treated the same, but some Republicans and others have a problem with that.

Listen to what John McCain -- what he said on CBS this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's something that, frankly, is not of paramount importance at this time. We'll have to look at it. We'll have to gauge how the majority of Congress feels, but that to me is a red flag that frankly we will address in time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The president didn't say anything about same-sex couples in the speech even though some of his aides have been saying he wants everyone to be treated the same, heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, if you will. How big of a problem, Maria, is this going to be?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, my hope is that neither side will allow that to be a huge sticking point. Now, there's no question that that is what the president believes. Clearly, this was a big issue during the campaign when he came out in favor of equal rights for guy and lesbian couples and we've seen the majority of Americans are with the president on that.

But I think on this issue, Wolf, we have some room to negotiate and I agree that it was very smart for the senators to go out in front of the president, for the president to come out and talk about what his proposal framework is and it is different than what the senators put out there.

Because it does give that you wriggle room to negotiate and to figure out what are the best pieces that we can move forward with that both sides can agree on. It will still be an uphill battle, but I think that the stars are aligned on both sides of the party and in the country to get this done.

BLITZER: Ana, you know that the Latino vote is the fastest growing vote in the United States right now. Let's say it collapses and the public out there, Hispanics blame the Republicans for the collapse. Nothing is passed. How does that affect the 2014 midterm elections?

NAVARRO: I think that if it doesn't pass, it will be huge disappointment, disillusion and sadness frankly, Wolf. I've been there before. I've been in this for 20 years. I've shed many tears of disappointment. I hope that's not the case. I'm feeling more optimistic than I have in many, many years when it comes to immigration.

I think Maria is right. Listen, as long as -- you know, President Obama can think and propose whatever he wants, but as long as he doesn't make them firm lines on the sand and he respects the bipartisan process going on in both Senate and House, this has a shot.

These senators are seasoned veterans of these immigration battles. They know the art of the possible. They know how far they can push and what is viable to get it passed and they are invested in getting something passed.

Give them the chance to do that, support them from the outside, but don't meddle and don't become a problem and something like that LGBT issue would have been a poison pill at this point. So I'm very glad he did not mention it.

BLITZER: Ana Navarro, Maria Cardona, thanks to both of you for joining us.

Despite all the scandals about steroids in sports, we're following some brand-new allegations linking some big name athletes to performance enhancing drugs. Standby for that.

And a New York woman decides to take a trip of a lifetime by herself and now she hasn't been heard from in more than a week. We'll have the latest details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right, John Kerry, by the way, has just been approved. His confirmation has been approved as the next secretary of state overwhelming vote, 94-3. Three Republican senators, John Cornyn of Texas, Ted Cruz of Texas, James Inhoff, Republican of Oklahoma voted against that confirmation.

But overwhelmingly, John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be leaving the United States Senate to succeed the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That's going to be happening very, very soon. Her last day is Friday.

Major League Baseball today confirmed it's in the midst of an active investigation into allegations of players using performance enhancing drugs. This comes after a Florida newspaper linked the players to a Miami clinic that says it is under investigation for allegedly supplying drugs to what the paper calls sports biggest names.

CNN's John Zarrella is joining us from Miami. He has been reporting on this, looking into it. What are you finding out, John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, up until about a month ago in this office building behind me in a first floor corner office, there was a company called "Biogenesis" and it was an anti- aging clinic. Right now, even though, it is closed down, "Biogenesis" has become the centerpiece in yet another saga of Major League baseball players and performance enhancing drugs.

The "Miami New Times" is reporting that "Biogenesis" was basically a direct pipeline for some ball players to these performance enhancing drugs. We spoke to the writer of the article.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM ELFRINK, "MIAMI NEW TIMES": It's clear that "Biogenesis" like a lot of anti-aging clinics was selling an awful lot of drugs that are widely banned in sports, testosterone, anabolic steroids. You know, the records we've seen indicate that, you know, as for the average population, he was providing the same drugs to professional athletes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now, the "New Times" did a three-month investigation and part of their investigation they found that three of the ball players that they identified in their reporting have already served suspensions imposed by Major League Baseball -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What's the Major League Baseball saying about all of these?

ZARRELLA: You know, as you mentioned at the top, today Major League Baseball did issue a statement and in part the Major League Baseball statement reads, we are in the midst of an active investigation and are gathering and reviewing information. We will refrain from further comment until this process is complete.

Now, beyond that, Alex Rodriguez, a New York Yankees slugger, he was named in this article from documents that the "New Times" says it obtained on "Biogenessis." Now people on behalf of Alex Rodriguez wrote a statement that says, quote, "The news reports about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient. He was never treated by him and he was never advised by him.

Now Geo Gonzales, a Washington Nationals pitcher was also named in the article. He tweeted out today, quote, "I've never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will. I've never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substances."

Now Tony Bosch, the man who is being referenced here by both players, is according to the "New Times," the man who ran this clinic. Now Bosch was apparently and reportedly investigated back in 2009, but no charges were ever filed against Bosch.

And we did try to reach all day today and continued to try to reach Mr. Bosch for comment, but we have had no luck finding him or getting through to him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Pretty firm denials, though, from two of those ball players that you just saw.

ZARRELLA: Yes.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. I know you're still working the story for us. John Zarrella in Miami.

A desperate search for a New York woman missing in Turkey and now new clues coming in from Istanbul. CNN is live on the scene. We'll share the details when we come back.

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BLITZER: The family of a New York woman who disappeared in Turkey this month is now pleading for help. She hasn't been seen in more than a week and now her husband, her brother, they are in Turkey. This is video showing they are trying to find out what is going on.

CNN's Ivan Watson is joining us now from Istanbul. What is the latest on this disappearance, this mystery, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, American and Turkish authorities are working together to try to solve this mystery of the 33-year-old American mother of two who disappeared while on vacation here in Istanbul more than a week ago.

Today Turkish police released security camera footage of the last moments that she was seen in public before she mysteriously disappeared.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON (voice-over): A lone American woman on vacation in Turkey's largest city. This video released by Turkish police shows Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother two of in an Istanbul shopping mall on January 20th. She hasn't been heard from, her worried husband says, in more than a week.

STEVEN SIERRA, MISSING WOMAN'S HUSBAND: You know, the fear that I'm not there to protect her, you know, and that bothers me.

WATSON: Sierra flew to Istanbul on January 7th. It was this native New Yorker's first international trip, family and friends say, and she made the trans-Atlantic journey solo.

MAGALENA RODRIGUEZ, MISSING WOMAN'S FRIEND: She did a lot of homework before she left. She did a lot of research about the area, about where she was going to stay, the safest places to go and the time of days to travel.

WATSON: Sierra's Instagram feed shows photos of Istanbul's stunning skylines and mosques. It also shows photos of the train station and architecture in Amsterdam. Turkish police say Sierra flew from Turkey to the Netherlands and Germany on January 15th and then returned to Turkey four days later.

The manager of Sierra's hotel in Istanbul told CNN he last saw her on January 20th, the same night this security camera video was shot. She left her passport and most of her belongings behind in the hotel, family members say, but not her iPad, which she appeared to be using in the food court of the shopping mall.

This week, Sierra's husband and brother traveled from New York to Istanbul. On Tuesday, they spent the day at police headquarters here, meeting with officers from the missing person's unit. Both American and Turkish authorities are working hand in hand on the search.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: All authorities, everyone from the U.S. to the locals in Turkey are working at this as a missing person. They elevated it to every level possible. The bureau chief of missing persons is looking. I know that they are conducting a very logical investigation and they are pulling out all of the stops.

WATSON: While investigators work, family and friends hope and pray they can soon bring this missing mother back to her children.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Now, Wolf, a church in New York has helped raise some funds for the husband and brother of Sierra to help pay for their trip over here to Turkey and while the family waits and hopes, they are not telling her two children that their mother has gone missing so a very difficult period for the Sierra family right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Hope she is found and found quickly. Ivan, thanks very much.

A terrible accident has put a new spotlight on extreme sport. Critics say people are putting themselves in extreme danger so others can make big money.

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BLITZER: A horrific accident has ignited a new round of questions about the dangers of the so-called extreme sports, especially questions about whether safety is taking a back seat to money. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now with a closer look at what's going on. Brian, the video is very dramatic.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Wolf. You know, the X Games have always had inherent risks and that's what is so thrilling to so many fans, but today many observers are asking do they have to have an event where a 450-pound snow mobile does a back flip off a ramp.

More questions made all the more urgent by the fact that a snowmobiler is now fighting for his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): What's usually a charge for the fans turned horrifying in a nanosecond. Freestyle snowmobiler Caleb Moore attempting to back flip his snowmobile in the X Games on ESPN couldn't make it all the way over.

The skis dug into the lip of the slope and the 450-pound machine came crashing down on top of him. After this accident Thursday, a concussion was first diagnosed, but then doctors discovered bleeding around his heart.

JASON BLEVINS, STAFF WRITER, "DENVER POST" (via telephone): Emergency heart surgery and complications from that surgery that led to a brain injury, brain complications.

TODD: The family now says Moore is in critical condition and is asking for continued prayers for his recovery. Christine Trankiem is trauma surgeon at Medstar Washington Hospital Center. She is not involved in this case --

DR. CHRISTINE TRANKIEM, TRAUMA SURGEON, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: This sounds very serious. This young man is critically injured at this point.

TODD: Moore is not the only athlete to be injured at these X Games. His brother, Colton, suffered a separated pelvis in the same event. A freestyle skier had a spinal fracture. A snowboarder got a concussion and it's not just the athletes at risk. Look what happened in another snowmobile crash. The runaway snowmobile plowed into a bank of spectators.

(on camera): Has this gone too far? I mean, flipping a snowmobile, is it too dangerous to even continue these games?

TRANKIEM: Well, it sounds like that there's been a number of injuries at the Winter X Games, including pelvic injuries, spine injuries. They do train all year for this. But it's important for the folks watching at home to realize that these acts, while exciting to watch, are potentially life threatening, limb threatening, and brain threatening acts if an accident should occur.

TODD (voice-over): But the thrill of these events for viewers and the profit margins for those taking part are hard to resist. For the athletes, the games mean endorsement dollars. Analysts say for ESPN, which doesn't televise the Olympics, these are the Olympics.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And ESPN which organizes and televises the X Games just a short time ago e-mailed a statement to CNN on the X Games injuries. It said, in part, we have worked closely on safety issues with athletes, course designers and other experts for each of the 18 years of X Games, still one of the best complete at the highest level in any sport risks remain.

Caleb is a four-time X Games medalist who fell short on his rotation and on a move he has landed several times previously. The network also said it is constantly working to ensure spectator safety, Wolf, of course, that in relation to that accident where that snowmobile ran into the bank of spectators.

BLITZER: Yes, but Brian, while they are doing that, ESPN is also expanding these games significantly. Isn't that right?

TODD: They certainly are. They are going more global with them as well. They've added two more Winter X Games events this year in Aspen and in France. They are adding four more Summer X Games this year, including events in Brazil, Germany and Barcelona. They are expanding them internationally -- Wolf, it is a huge money maker for ESPN.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thank you.