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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Senator Rand Paul "Droning" On; Woman Killed By A Lion; Explosive Comments About President Obama; The World Awaits A Conclave

Aired March 6, 2013 - 19:00   ET

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


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUTFRONT: OUTFRONT next, an old fashioned filibuster in Washington, D.C., Rand Paul talks and talks and talks and talks for hours. We are in hour eight. He is still talking. We will tell you why.

Plus, a worker at animal sanctuary attacked and killed by one of the big cats. We are going to go to California for that story tonight.

And the East Coast bracing for a huge, early spring snowstorm, we will tell you how many inches coming.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, senator Paul drones on and on and on and yes, he's droning about drones. Here is a live picture of Republican senator rand Paul right now on the floor, the first old fashioned Senate filibuster since 2010. Look at him. Does he look tired to you? We are at hour eight. He still has a voice. I think all he has had is a snicker bar for fortification today. It is all an effort to stall John Brennan nomination from the CIA.

Now, we were hoping that he would have stopped droning on by now, not to interfere with the civic process, but because he was supposed to be our guest from Capitol Hill tonight. That's where he was supposed to be standing. See how lonely it is? Senator Paul, we need you there. We are hoping you're going to wrap this up soon and join us. At the least, I would like to know how you went all day without using the restroom. But, it sounds like Senator Paul is also hoping to wrap it up and join our shot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I can be done anytime if I could just get a response from the administration or from attorney general saying that they do not believe they have the authority to kill noncombatants in America. The reason it has to be answered is because our foreign drone strike program does kill noncombatants. They may argue that they're conspiring or may someday be combatant combatants, but if that's the same standard you're going to use in the United States, it's a far different country than I know about.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, former national Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor and Mike Riggs, columnist of "Reason" magazine.

Great to have both of you with us.

Tommy, let me start with you. What's the answer to Senator Paul's question? Could a drone ever be used in the United States?

TOMMY VIETOR, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: Sure. I think the answer is pretty simple. The attorney general said in the letter, the president has not and would not use a drone to take action in the United States. John Brennan has been cleared that as CIA director, he wouldn't have the authority to do so.

So, the bottom line on the practical and a policy level is that we would not do this. The president's ruled it out. And that if we needed to deal with the terrorist threat in the United States, we would use local law enforcement or the FBI or other means to deal with the threat.

BURNETT: All right. So, let me play what the attorney general had to say because this is important. And Mike, you know, obviously, Senator Paul said I'm not going to halt the nomination if I get a detect answer. As Tommy said, Eric Holder sent him a letter in respond and spoke about it. Eric Holder did during a Senate hearing this morning. Here is what the attorney general said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: What I said in the letter was that the government has no intention to carry out any drone strikes in the United States. It's hard for me to imagine a situation in which that would occur. We have within the United States, the ability to use our law enforcement capacity. The use of drones is from my perspective, something that is entirely, entirely hypothetical.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And Mike, entirely hypothetical and hard for me to imagine. I understand Tommy's point that those seem to say no, but it's not a one word answer, no.

MIKE RIGGS, COLUMNIST, REASON MAGAZINE: Yes. I mean, I'm glad to hear from Tommy that the president has ruled this out. And I was, you know, almost relieved to hear from Attorney General Holder that he said - he said later in that hearing that he thought the use of a drone would be inappropriate.

But the question on the table is whether or not it is constitutional. We don't know if the Obama administration thinks this is constitutional or not because they have already said as we saw in the department of justice's white paper last month, or should I say leaked last month, that the Obama administration doesn't feel any court in this United States including the Supreme Court is qualified to rule on the constitutionality of its killing program. BURNETT: So, Tommy, why can't the White House come out and be more specific? House Intel chairman, Congressman Mike Rogers recently told me, I was actually asking him about Christopher Dorner, the man hunt suspect in Los Angeles, you may recall, and whether the U.S. would use a drone against him since - that we can use a drone again someone outside the United States. Mike Rogers just said it would be unconstitutional for the U.S. military or intelligence services to conduct lethal counter-terrorism operations in the United States against U.S. citizens.

As chairman of the House intelligence committee and would never allow to occur. I urge the administration to clarify this point immediately.

Now, so Tommy, why can't the president come out, the White House come out and say we believe this is unconstitutional? That simple sentence?

VIETOR: Right. I mean, I think the chairman is talking about intelligence activity. So, he is talking about what the CIA could or could not do legally. He is making the point that John Brennan has made that he does not have the authority to take lethal operations in the United States and he would not. And the president has been clear that as commander in chief, he would not use the U.S. military to take a drone strike against an American person in the United States.

But the attorney general is offering his legal advice, which is to say an extremist, if there were another 9/11, there were another Pearl Harbor, could the president use a U.S. military to take lethal action against terrorists? I mean, the answer from the legal perspective is yes.

And you know, Senator Paul was elected to write laws. He could write a law changing this. But I think my concern here is that I got to work in the White House for four years and I worked very closely with John Brennan and feel incredibly privileged to have worked around him because I've seen some of the worst crisis our country has faced in that time and he is one of the most able and capable and decent people I ever worked with. And the president needs him at the CIA now. He needed him there a month ago or two months ago. And to hold up critical national security nominees like this over issues that are not related to their fitness for the job is harmful to our national security and we shouldn't do it to get headlines.

BURNETT: And Mike, to that point, here's something else senator Paul said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: It would take them five minutes to jot this down on a piece of paper. If they don't intend to do it, why not tell us. When your government won't tell you they are not going to do something, when they won't answer no, I don't have the power, they're saying to you, yes, I have the power.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Senator Paul went on to say ultimately John Brennan will be approved and that this will be a blip in the nomination process. So, isn't he just holding everybody up? To Tommy's point, isn't this he has made his point, move on, wasting valuable time?

RIGGS: I think he's giving the White House a great opportunity to distinguish itself from the Bush administration, which it has failed to do time and time again especially on issues of national security. And there is no threat to national security because John Brennan hasn't been confirmed yet any more than when David Petraeus was having affairs.

But, I would say that this is an opportunity for the Obama administration to clarify what it means by a threat being imminent, by what's feasible and whether or not a court, somebody outside of the White House has the constitutional authority to determine whether or not Obama has the constitutional authority to order people to be killed without any form of due process.

BURNETT: And Tommy, just a quick final question to you. I still this intellectually have trouble getting around one crucial question here. And that is, if it's OK to kill an American citizen outside the U.S. with a drone, it just seems a slippery slope to being OK to do it in the United States, especially once the technology is there.

VIETOR: Well, I mean, you are right. I think the point that law enforcement, FBI, those individuals use lethal force on a daily basis to keep us safe.

BURNETT: Right. So why would it be different to use a drone to do that as oppose to a gun, I supposed to a police officer killing Dorner in his house?

VIETOR: Sure. I mean, Senator Paul is constructed this hypothetical scenario that's extremely frightening. To me, the notion of a drone cruising around my house that could take a shot at me is scary, which is why we have been clear that we will not do this. Senator Paul just need to take yes for an answer here.

And so, what I would say is, you know, I have talked to the president about this. He welcomes the debate around the legality and ethics of our count terrorism policies. And the irony here is that John Brennan has pushed the envelope on transparency and an accountability and oversight of our CT (ph) programs more than anyone else in government.

BURNETT: But he's the daddy of the drone.

VIETOR: No. He is absolutely not the daddy. John Brennan does his job to save lives, whether they are Americans or someone living in Yemen who is threatened by Al-Qaeda. That's what John Brennan does his job. And he does it extraordinarily well and should be at the CIA doing his job today instead of being held up over an issue where Senator Paul needs to take yes for an answer.

BURNETT: All right. Tommy and Mike, thanks to both of you. And still to come, FOX News boss Roger Ailes calls President Obama lazy. Some people say it was racist.

Plus, Benedict XVI stepped down as pope days ago, and the papal conclave still hasn't even started. So, what in the world is the hold up?

And we're going to go to California for the latest on the big cat attack today. How did it happen? It was a horrific thing.

And a volcano erupting in Italy. We have the dramatic video of this happening. I mean, right in the middle of a populated part of Italy, later in the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, breaking news in the deadly lion attack. A worker at an animal sanctuary in California was fatally mould today by one of the facility's lion. Authorities later shot and killed the animal. Lion lived at cat haven, east of Fresno.

Paul Vercammen is following the story from Los Angeles.

And Paul, what can tell us? I know you have some news now on who died.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've been talking to various people from up in the Fresno County area (INAUDIBLE). What they tell us is they believe the victim is a 26-year-old female and that she was an intern. From what we understand from authority, she was in an enclosure when the attack happened and they believe the cat who attacked her was the 350 pound African lion. Our Fresno affiliates are reporting this lion was called (INAUDIBLE), sort of a celebrity cat, a cat who had made the rounds of various talk shows. And they say when the attack happened, someone else, another co- worker, tried in vain to try to distract this huge cat and it just did not work. And when the sheriff's deputies, the first to arrive on scene tried, they saw that the victim was injured severely, but the victim died on scene.

Now, some are asking just what is cat haven. Well, it's about 45 miles east of Fresno in Dunlap. It has a number of cats from leopards to lions to cheetahs. It also has bobcats. And this is up in elevation in the foot hill. It's about 2,400 to 3,000 in feet. It specializes in being a sanctuary for these various cats. It's dedicated to innovate preservation of wildcats. And dale Anderson, who sort of the owner of this, this sort of around circle as I said, he's gone on talk shows in the past. But, what we know right now is we are eluded to is that we believe that the victim is a 26-year-old female intern at this sanctuary -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well Paul, thank you very much. We appreciate it and we do have a statement in now from project survival cat haven. They are confirming it was an intern, age 26, who was killed today. They say their thoughts and prayers are with her family at this critical time. The lion was named Kusku (ph) and shot and killed for the safety protocol. That lion, they continue to say, was raised as a cub from the age of eight weeks old right there at project survival cat haven.

I want to bring in Jeff Corwin now, a wildlife expert, host of ABC's "Ocean Mysteries" and author of the book "Sharks." And Jeff joins us by Skype.

Jeff, our affiliate WFSN is reporting this is a lion you may have held at one point when you were on Ellen's show a few years ago. I know you're not sure if it was the same lion, but as we just heard here from project, the statement I'm looking at from the cat haven, this lion was raised as a cub from eight weeks. School children went to this place all the time to leans about lion. Are you shocked by this attack?

JEFF CORWIN, HOST, "OCEAN MYSTERIES": I think it's incredibly shocking when we see a tragedy like this unfold. These are very, very powerful creatures and an animal like this, like Couscous (ph) could have a really good disposition, maybe a great animal as an advocate for its species, as an endangered creature from Africa. But the truth is, it is powerful. And it is wild. They warrant a tremendous amount of respect.

BURNETT: And do you think this lion could have gotten more aggressive as he grew up, or is there risk even with an animal as you said that appears in most situations to be extremely docile?

CORWIN: Well, this is a creature hard wired to be one of the greatest predators on our planet. I mean, Erin, you have to remember that African cats, specifically African lions are at the top of the food chain, and that doesn't happen by accident. And what's really amazing about these creatures is if you look at your domestic cat, you can see those natural, innate abilities to be a hunter. But when take that to a level of a tiger or a lion, that's times by many, many thousands when it comes to predatory ability and strength.

So, this creature, although maybe raised in a human-care environment, will always be wild. This is the core of what they are. And because of that, you can never forget what they possess, which is remarkable predatory ability. The skills that they can use to dispatch a gazelle or other wild animal in Africa can sometimes be displayed in ways that can put human beings at risk, and that's why we have very strict laws on the book when it comes to keeping these animals out of a wild state.

BURNETT: Is it even right to keep them, though, in captivity? I mean, there's the issue of whether it's safe, especially considering the people who visit these sorts of places are usually children who are learning about the animals. So that has a lot of parents afraid. But just the broader questions about whether it's right to keep an animal like that in captivity.

CORWIN: Erin, that's a very interesting and loaded question. And it's really, it's how you look at the answer. And I believe that legitimate organizations that are recognized by the AZA, which is the official organization for zoos and aquariums, places like the Bronx Zoo or the Los Angeles Zoo, these places are often the only way that a person from an inner-city environment can connect with nature.

And it's not only about educating the public, there's a lot of conservations work that happens in zoological institutions. For example, to protect lions that literally happen in the zoo and then get (INAUDIBLE) the field.

So, I think there are legitimate and very real and proper ways these animals could be kept in this type of environment, and they can perform a very good service. Not only in conservation and research towards their protection, but also when it comes to serving as ambassadors for their species. But you can't forget what they are.

And most importantly, Erin -

BURNETT: OK.

CORWIN: --what they don't make are good pets. Something you never want to keep in the private situation like in your home.

BURNETT: Some people obviously try to do that. And that is a risky and awful thing to do. Jeff, thanks. Jeff will be our guest tomorrow morning on STARTING POINT at 7:00 a.m. Be sure to tune into him then.

And still to come, more about the surprise announcement about knives on planes. A former TSA chief says machetes should also be allowed.

Plus, the pope has been out of office for days, but there is still no papal conclave. There is still no urgency in any way, shape or form for one of the most powerful jobs on the planet. Why?

And the East Coast bracing for a major snowstorm. We have the first images coming your way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, the world is waiting. It's been nearly a week since Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign in 600 years, but still there is no word about when his successor will be chosen. According to a new CBS poll, 50 percent of American Catholics believe the church is in good condition and only 29 percent say they have a, quote, "great deal of confidence" the pope will be in touch with their needs.

Raymond Arroyo is OUTFRONT tonight. He's the news director of Global Catholic TV. He's in Rome with the latest. And Raymond, you know, the U.S. cardinals were talking. You remember, we had New York Cardinal Dolan here on CNN. He gave an extended interview and sort of made the whole process more accessible and more human. But this has changed, right?

RAYMOND ARROYO, NEWS DIRECTOR, GLOBAL CATHOLIC TV: It has changed, indeed, Erin. A lot of the cardinals it seems, particularly the (INAUDIBLE) cardinals, those who are based here at the Vatican, they're concerned the Americans were having an outsized influence in sort of setting the narrative of this conclave and painting the picture for the public of what to expect in the next pope. So, that's part of the reason why there's been this media blackout. The new rule is, and all the cardinals have accepted it, they won't do any interviews and those press briefings are finished.

The other part of this is, there were some leaks in the Italian media about what's been happening in their private meetings, these general congregations. And they find that disturbing. But if you're going to make anybody be quiet, you should quiet the Italian cardinals who were the ones who leaked it to the Italian media.

BURNETT: You know, you've covered a transition before and you said this time in Rome, tonight in Rome is very different.

ARROYO: It is, Erin. It is very different. Well, you didn't have a papal death this time. Remember, in 2005, this beloved pope, John Paul II, 25 years on the throne, millions of people, including young people, four million young people jammed the streets waiting to see him, to say good-bye. You don't have that central event sort of bringing the world's attention here, and the energy is very different this time.

So what's happened is all the action is happening behind the closed doors, and it's really the cardinals going through this process of feeling each other out and deciding when to start this whole conclave. But the external excitement is just not the same. The streets here are empty, Erin. I've never seen anything like it and I've been coming to Rome almost 17 years now.

BURNETT: And this environment, what does this say? The fact they're not able to get the conclave together, not able to get everyone there, not able to have the enthusiasm and excitement as they have before -- what does all this say about how the church will handle the big issues that it faces right now? And I cite the poll from CBS News. Twenty-nine percent of American Catholics actually think that the church is going to pick someone who's in touch with what they care about.

ARROYO: Erin, I'm always a little leery of those polls. The way they're phrased, the way they're imparted and the way people understand them.

But let me peel back the curtain a little bit on this. It's actually a good thing if they don't set a conclave date tomorrow or early this week. And the reason being, it gives the cardinals more time to have a serious conversation.

What you don't want is this. If they have a cardinal - if they have a conclave tomorrow, the Italian cardinals, the ones at the curia (ph), the one who have caused so many of the gaps and allowed so many of the problems that Benedict presided over, those cardinals will be in control. They have their candidates locked up. They have their coalitions together. You want the rest of the cardinals from other parts of the world to have a say, to come here and feel they're really being listened to.

So, extending the date for when this conclave begins might for the church and the world be the best thing that could happen.

BURNETT: All right, Raymond, thanks very much to you.

And now, President Obama is wining and dining the Republicans literally right now. Is he caving to them?

Plus, why Taylor Swift called Tina Fey sexist, and why she's wrong.

And a volcano in Italy erupts, and we've got video of it. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

We start with stories we care about where we focus on reporting from the front lines.

And we begin with an update to our top story. Republican Senator Rand Paul mounting an epic filibuster to stall John Brennan's nomination to the CIA. There's been nearly eight hours of droning on and on about drones and Senator Paul said he would end it if his just proposed resolution against the use of drones to kill Americans on American soil were approved.

But Democratic Senator Dick Durbin objected to this, saying the resolution was premature. A vote to break the filibuster is likely to happen next. But even then, Senator Paul could drag things out into the weekend if he so chooses.

We can confirm so far today, he has had a Snickers bar and some liquids, but no bathroom break.

And an OUTFRONT update on the controversial story. The TSA's new policy, they're going to allow pocket knives onboard planes. Well, one leader representing air marshals tells us it's as if we didn't learn anything from 9/11 and adds that flight attendants are going to be, quote, "sitting ducks."

Former TSA chief Kip Holly says the policy should go further and allow battle axes and machetes on planes.

Really? Machetes? Forget that anyone who wants to carry a machete on a plane is crazy and shouldn't be allowed on board. Let's not even go there. Let's instead prioritize legalize things we care about, like shampoo, water, soda, perfume.

All right. A lot's been made about what Mitt Romney will do next. CNN has confirmed he has a new job. The former presidential candidate is returning to the private sector to work at his oldest son's investment firm. The source told us Romney will serve as chairman of Solamere Capital's executive economy. That's the firm Tag Romney started shortly after his father's first shot at the presidency in 2008.

Romney is also scheduled to speak next week at the CPAC meeting of conservatives.

All right. Look at this. I'm going to show this amazing video. This is from last night. It's amazing what happens at night. You get an even more powerful picture. Mount Etna in Italy, one of the most active in the world, also the highest in Europe. I remember seeing it for the first time this summer. It looked so peaceful and quiet. But look at what it's capable of.

Brown University professor Malcolm Rutherford (ph) tells us lava is spewing about a half a mile up into the air and these eruptions happen once every few years. Apparently, in between, there could be occasional ash storms that come off Mount Etna. Just gorgeous.

It's been 580 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we going to get it back? Nothing today.

And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: breaking bread with President Obama. At this hour, the president is wining and dining Senate Republicans at the swanky Jefferson Hotel in Washington. Now, they all arrived about an hour ago. The White House says the dinner invite is part of an effort to break the gridlock with Republicans.

One of the dinner guests, Senator Lindsey Graham, says it's about time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The fact there is a lot of interest in a dinner between the president and a handful of Republican senators is a pretty good statement about where we're at as a nation. I'm not blaming anybody because it takes both parties to get $16 trillion in debt. It's going to take both parties to get out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: There's been some interesting polling causing some to say, is this the president on his knees to the Republicans?

OUTFRONT tonight, Ben LaBolt, former campaign spokesman for the president, and Terry Holt, former press secretary for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

All right. Let me start with you, Terry. This outreach comes five days after the Republicans refused to cave on the spending cuts. They view it as a win. Democrats say they will live to regret that.

But is the White House now caving to Republicans? Saying look, we need you more than you need us? Let's have a dinner.

TERRY HOLT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let's look at where the president is. He still hasn't submitted a budget because he knows he can't get it through the Senate and the Senate hasn't proposed a budget in years. And so, the president is in a pretty tough spot and has invited these Republicans to dinner because he's looking for a coalition of the willing, a group of senators who he might peel off one day to get what he wants politically. And fundamentally, I think he's been put in this position because the Republicans have passed budgets and they have held firm.

And so, with polling numbers showing he's slipping, Erin, I think he's in the spot where he needs to find a few friends on the Republican side of the aisle.

BURNETT: Ben, is the White House caving?

BEN LABOLT, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Well, I just tell Terry to take a look at the Republican congressional numbers. They've been in the tank for a couple of years now. Look, the president's tried out different strategies --

HOLT: They have. But we're talking about the president. He's protecting his own individual popularity at the expense of his own party. When his popularity starts to slip, that's when you see the shifts in politics from this president.

LABOLT: Well, here are the facts. Look, in 2011, during the fiscal talks, the president went behind closed doors with Speaker Boehner to work on a grand bargain. They agreed to it. The speaker couldn't get his conference to pass it. He couldn't deliver his members.

So then the president took a different attack. He went to enlist the support of American people. He can't wave a magic wand and get Republicans to pass the policies of the American people voted for on Election Day. So, now, he's working on a different set of votes and this is what allowed us to avert the fiscal cliff.

Hopefully, he will find this common sense caucus within the Republican Party going around the leadership.

(CROSSTALK)

HOLT: They're all common sense. They're looking at a $16 trillion debt and they're desperate for the president to come to the table with a deal about fixing the problems rather than just playing politics with them.

BURNETT: Well, Ben, let me -- all right, let me just ask you a question -- Ben, a question, though.

CBS poll just came out on blame -- on who do you blame for the budget cuts, for the problem we're in right now. Thirty-eight percent, Republicans; 33 percent, the president; 19 percent, both. All right?

More blame Republicans, but let me show you what it was two weeks ago. It has surged, nearly half of people, 49 percent, blamed Republicans. So, that's dropped to 38. The president has increased, and people who blame them both has surged.

That's obviously not good for a president.

LABOLT: Well, look. Workers are being furloughed. Services are being cut. I think Americans are seeing the impact of the sequester and they're not going to blame an individual or party. They're going to blame all of Washington for that.

But the president has a trump card, which is that the American people agree with this approach, that we should reduce the deficit in a balanced way with a mix of revenue and spending cuts, and they're going to be calling their members of Congress and pressing them for action.

And even if the Republican leadership doesn't want to sit down, Speaker Boehner made clear he's not going to go behind doors again and negotiate, the president will find those Republicans who can work with Democrats and get this done on behalf of the nation. It's an economic necessity that we do it.

HOLT: You know, one of the big problems the president has with the leadership of the Republican Party at this point with Boehner and McConnell and others, that he's trying to negotiate with, is he's shattered the trust that they were trying to build between them by moving the goalpost, by playing politics with these issues.

The president doesn't do policy. The president does politics. And the reason why --

BURNETT: All right.

HOLT: -- he's forced to the deal right now is because he's in a tight spot and can't get anything passed.

LABOLT: When the chips were on the table, when the agreement was agreed to, the speaker couldn't deliver his members.

HOLT: That was then, this is now.

BURNETT: Let me just hope this is nothing a few drinks can't solve.

(LAUGHTER)

LABOLT: We'll take you up on that.

HOLT: Absolutely.

BURNETT: Let's hope they can open some wine, affordable wine, not upset the taxpayers.

HOLT: You know, it's got to be a nice dinner. When the president calls, you go, and you go with an open mind, but I say caution.

LABOLT: I agree. You've got to open with a big cocktail. BURNETT: All right. Thanks to both.

And now to the big dig. Right now, major winter storm is bearing down on the East Coast, which is why you've got to give some of those guys in Washington credit. At least they're going to a dinner. A lot of people aren't going anywhere in D.C.

The storm is targeting the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Virginia has been hit the hardest. Some areas could get up to 20 inches by the time the storm marches north. Snow covered roads and highways are littered with cars and trucks.

These are pretty amazing pictures to see in places like Virginia in March. The heavy snow is also blamed for massive power outages, mostly in central and western Virginia. In the Northeast, as you can see, the storm's about to bear down on those reeling from Hurricane Sandy. Forecasters warned those living close to the shoreline to get ready for tonight's high tide, which could be significant.

And because of the storm, the federal government announced it isn't going to be open for business today. That's right. See? That's what I said, going to dinner with the president, at least you're doing something, unlike a lot of people in Washington.

As Tom Foreman reports, that day of break for Washington could add up to millions of dollars in lost productivity for taxpayers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First came snowpocalypse, then snowmageddon and now, just a few years later, perhaps the worst storm D.C. has ever seen in March, snow-quester.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a major snowstorm hitting our area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could get up to a foot of snow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nation's capital in the crosshairs.

FOREMAN: Only it didn't turn out that way. The storm that was supposed to cripple Washington --

MAYOR VINCENT GRAY, WASHINGTON D.C.: Stay off the streets.

FOREMAN: -- instead, just made it limp a little with a lot of cold, with wet rain.

ERICA GUY, D.C. RESIDENT: I saw the snow and I was thinking it was a lot worse than it really was.

FOREMAN: Dozens of flights canceled. Federal offices threw up the shutters, from Education Department to the IRS to the FBI. Congress met, but postponed a hearing on homeland security.

The White House even called off the daily press briefing. Hard to tell if reporters enjoyed the break or not. It's also hard to say how much this cost. There are well over 2 million federal employees nationwide with the biggest concentration in D.C., so millions of dollars were likely paid for people to stay away from the office. And again, during a big blizzard in 2010, about a third of federal employees worked from home.

(on camera): There are positive sides to this. For example, the commute is much easier with no one out here on the roads.

(voice-over): And make no mistake, just beyond the city limits, the storm did rage. But for one day in this seat of world power --

JOHN BAILEY, D.C. AREA RESIDENT: The most powerful person here is the weather man.

FOREMAN: And the big storm was more bark than bite.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BURNETT: I love the lassie, Tom.

All right. But here's the question, a lot of the federal workers don't live in the city, right? They live in the suburbs, with the snow hit even harder. So, does that mean day two, multiply all those numbers by two, another day off tomorrow?

FOREMAN: Well, they thought that we were all going to get just completely pounded here. And it's kind of a fluke, Erin, but D.C. itself, there's just nothing here. If it wasn't for these forecasts, you'd think it was just a rainy day. That's right.

But you're right, a little further off, a lot of people here commute from far away, they did get hit considerably harder, but what we didn't see was massive road closures in the immediate vicinity, big trees downed, or lots of power outages that affect many hundreds of thousands of people. That didn't happen here.

So, in all likelihood, tomorrow morning, business as usual. The government can get back to its regular dysfunction, not this special dysfunction we've seen today.

BURNETT: I mean, the disappointment of seeing you in the lovely CNN jacket, and there's no horrible weather coming down, it's just not right.

But I've got to congratulate you, by the way, Tom.

FOREMAN: I have my skills.

BURNETT: All of your fact checking, which all of our viewers know you for, has obviously paid off. So, congrats on the Cronkite/Jackson Prize for fact-checking political messages. I know it's really well-deserved.

FOREMAN: Thank you so much. I enjoyed doing it with you down at the convention, too. We did some fact-checking down there. it was good fun.

BURNETT: Yes, we did. And we had a lot of fun.

All right. Well, still to come, FOX News chief Roger Ailes calls President Obama lazy and some people say that was racist.

Plus, the director of the world's most famous ballet attacked with acid. Police have the suspect in custody tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And we're back with our "Outer Circle", where we reach out to sources around the world.

Tonight, we go to Moscow where a principal dancer from the Bolshoi ballet has confessed to plotting an acid attack that severely injured the company's director. The dancer and two others are under arrest. I asked our Phil Black in Moscow if authorities have figured out why they did it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, there's only been a small clue from Russian police. They say the dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko and the artistic director of the Bolshoi, Sergei Filin, had what they described as a hostile working relationship. So, it's not a huge surprise given the Bolshoi's longstanding reputation for powerful rivalries and animosities and the fact that Sergei Filin himself has always maintained that he believed it was a colleague, probably even a dancer, who was responsible for trying to use violence to drive him from his position.

While the police are not giving away details just yet, the Russian public are engaging in a lot of speculation and the most popular theories center on the dancer's frustration or lack of progress in his own career or perhaps frustration over the lack of progress in his girlfriend's career. She's also a dancer at the Bolshoi.

It is possible we'll learn more when Pavel Dmitrichenko appears in a court in Moscow on Thursday -- Erin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to Phil.

Now, we'll check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Hey, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Such a bizarre story there, Erin. Yes.

We're going to have more on the breaking news ahead tonight on "A.C. 360". A lion turning on an employee and attack in an animal sanctuary in California. We'll talk with renown animal expert Jack Hannah, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, about what drove the 4- year-old lion to kill.

Also, on crime and punishment tonight, a unique preview into what jurors may be thinking in the Jodi Arias murder trial. Arias took questions directly from the jurors today. It only happens in three states. They asked for more than three different versions of what happened the night she shot and stabbed her boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Fascinating questions from the jury.

I'll talk to Nancy Grace and senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos about all of that.

Also, the "Ridiculist," a lot about politics in D.C. A lot more at the top of the hour -- Erin.

BURNETT: I've got to agree with you. That is pretty ridiculous. Anything that goes on these days.

All right. See you in a few minutes, Anderson.

And our fifth story OUTFRONT: President Obama is lazy. These are the explosive comments made by FOX News chief Roger Ailes. "Vanity Fair" released an excerpt from Ailes new biography in which he says, referring to a comment someone made about Ann Romney.

"Obama's the one who never worked a day in his life. He never earned a penny that wasn't public money. How many fundraisers does he attend every week? How often does he play basketball and golf?

I wish I had that kind of time. He's lazy, but the media won't report that. I didn't come up with that, Obama said that to Barbara Walters."

All right, he did. And I'm going to get to that in a moment.

But the question is: are those comments rationally charged or just frank talk?

Michael Medved is a conservative commentator on Salem Radio, and Van Jones is a CNN contributor.

Van, racial?

VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Very. Very.

I -- first of all, I just want to say I worked with this president. I worked for him. I know his work ethic. I know not only the quantity of his work, but the quality of his work.

But you don't have to be in White House to see this guy work. Look at his hair. This guy goes in the White House looking like Tiger Woods. He comes out looking like Morgan Freeman.

BURNETT: Well, I give you that.

JONES: You know, look at this guy's hair. He is working himself to the bone. Why is he being accused of being lazy?

Of all the things you can accuse him of, why lazy?

BURNETT: So, you think --

JONES: That is one of the things that is a standard thing that said about African-American men. It goes back 200 years, the shiftless Negro.

We are now saying the president of the United States is a shiftless Negro. It is racially charged and offensive and wrong on the facts.

BURNETT: Michael, I know you think people should have the right to say what they want without being charged -- with being a racist. Why do you believe this comment's not racist?

MICHAELD MEDVED, SALEM RADIO: Well, I believe the comment is stupid and I think it's wrong. I think Van Jones is right. The president is hard working.

Where the comment is correct and where the comment is not racist at all is this is a president who doesn't do governance, who does politics. He has concentrated on that and he's very, very worked hard at politics, doing rallies and doing fundraisers. What he hasn't worked hard at is actually making the kinds of compromises that maybe will begin tonight at dinner when he has some Republicans over.

Look, the truth of the matter is, all our recent presidents, whether it's Bill Clinton or George W. Bush -- George W. Bush was called responsible for 9/11. He was called a traitor. He was called a deserter. He was called retarded. He was called every name in the book. He was compared to Hitler.

Was that racist?

JONES: What's interesting about George W. Bush is --

MEDVED: You have to have the right -- what's that?

JONES: I didn't mean to interrupt. Good friend, I love you. We go back a long ways.

But I've got to tell you this, the one thing about George W. Bush, he was gone away for a total of four months, almost every year. He was called a lot of things, he wasn't called a racist.

This president was gone for a total of two weeks in the first term. He's called lazy.

(CROSSTALK)

MEDVED: Van, Van, to correct you, hold on. The top grossing documentary movie of all-time was called "Fahrenheit 451". It starts out with Michael Moore accusing George W. Bush of being lazy.

JONES: But there was no echo for it.

But here's what's interesting. This has become a right wing article of faith that he is lazy. They say he golfs all the time.

MEDVED: No, it hasn't.

JONES: Oh, yes, it has.

BURNETT: Well, let me -- let me explain something there --

MEDVED: John Sununu said it and it was stupid then. And Roger Ailes said it and it was stupid for him to say it.

BURNETT: Let me just tell you who called the president lazy first, OK? That would be the president. Let me play when he said this. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA WALTERS, TV HOST: What's is the trait you most deplore in yourself and the trait you most deplore in others?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Laziness.

WALTERS: You are lazy?

OBAMA: It is interesting. There is a deep down under underneath all of the work I do, I think there's a laziness in me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: All right. He is the one who said it? So, maybe that's his way of saying, you can call someone if you think someone is lazy, or whatever, it's not a racist think to say.

JONES: But it's an in cultural joke for Hawaii, but it's been, you have to admit. This has become an article of faith.

BURNETT: Does it mean aloha lifestyle?

JONES: The whole thing.

BURNETT: OK.

JONES: But, listen, and, Michael, you got to respond to this. This has become an article of faith. I hear conservatives say, all he does is sit around and golf. Hold on a second, he golfed 104 rounds in the entire first time. That's about middle for presidents, Eisenhower golfed four times as much, was never called lazy.

Boehner himself goes four times as much, by his own admission, he does 100 rounds a year. Nobody calls Boehner lazy.

Why is that? You got to have answers for that because I hear this all the time with conservatives.

MEDVED: The point is people attack President Bush as lazy. They have attacked John Boehner --

JONES: As lazy?

MEDVED: He's attacked for his complexion constantly, because he's tan. Can you imagine if people attack Barack Obama for his complexion? It would be the end of the world.

Look, the truth of the matter is we have our first ever African- American president. I think he works hard. I actually wish he were lazier. I wish he weren't working so hard to transform the country.

JONES: I've got to tell you --

BURNETT: Final word, Van.

JONES: Hey, listen, you say that he has not worked hard to reach out. I just want to say that's another myth. He put that grand bargain on the table more than two years ago. He had no partner on the other side. He has been reaching out and reaching out. I'm glad he is doing it tonight. I think now mainly, the Republicans would be willing to reach back out to him.

But this is not a lazy president. I worked for this president. I know he's not. It's wrong that people say it.

MEDVED: We agree he is not lazy. And we agree it will be good if they make a deal.

JONES: Thanks, Mike.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks to both of you.

MEDVED: Thank you, Van. Appreciate it.

BURNETT: Now, this is huge news a few days after a drone like UFO was spotted at JFK airport, there has been another UFO citing this time by Russell Crowe. The Academy Award winning actor has posted this video on YouTube. What's that thing just -- whoa! According to the actor, the time lapse footage shows a UFO flying over the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia. Crowe joins a growing list of celebrity UFO witnesses that also include politicians like Jimmy Carter and Dennis Kucinich.

That brings us tonight's number 500. According to MUFON, the largest privately funded UFO research organization in the world, there are 500 UFO sightings in the world every month, every month.

But before you get too excited, let me remind you of something we first reported on June 5th of last year, about 95 percent of all reported UFOs end up being airplanes, weather balloons, planets, other meteorological phenomenon or maybe even one of those light up light sticks that Russell Crowe appear to be. I don't know.

The truth is though, it does leave about 5 percent that are unexplained. As I said in June and I say again now, the truth is out there. OUTFRONT next Taylor Swift says Tina Fey is sexist. Does the charge ad up?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Taylor Swift thinks Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are sexists during the Golden Globes. They made this joke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what, Taylor Swift? You stay away from Michael J. Fox's son, or go for it. Or go for it.

She needs some me time to learn about herself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Taylor responded swiftly, telling "Vanity Fair", for a female to write about her feelings and then be portrayed as clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her is frankly a little sexist."

Well, of course, the truth is Swift has given many interviews describing her heartbreak and heartache, performing a song on "Saturday Night Live" about her dating history. And many of her hit songs are about past relationships.

Still, Taylor was offended by Tina and Amy told "Vanity Fair, "You know, Katie Couric is one of my favorite people. She said to me she had heard a quote that she loved that there is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." As Sheryl Sandberg (ph) notes in her wonderful new book about women called "Lean In," that quote is originally from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

Hopefully we can move beyond that quote and have it relegated to history, because women helping women just because of their gender is pretty sexist, too. And maybe Taylor should keep her sense of humor and remember that Tina and Amy make fun of someone, it's proof the person is talented and in the public dialogue which is exactly where Taylor Swift wants to be.

Anderson starts now.