Return to Transcripts main page


Anthony Weiner Speaks Out; Royal Baby Revealed; William & Kate Show Off Newborn Son; Weiner Acknowledges Newly-Surfaced Chats; Obama Clears Way to Arm Syrian Rebels; 'Chaos and Confusion' in Southwest Crash Landing

Aired July 23, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, royal baby on board. Prince William and the Duchess Kate, they leave the hospital and introduce their little prince to the world. We're going to tell you what they're doing right now.

Plus meet the grandparents. Prince Charles gets some face time with the royal heir but only after Kate's mom and dad do as well.

And Anthony Weiner's wife joins him to respond publicly to new revelations in the sexting scandal that forced him out of Congress, acknowledging messages sent months after his resignation.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers around the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Lots coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM. Right now, we're following the breaking news, just moments ago, the former Democratic congressman, the current mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner acknowledging newly revealed sexually explicit photos and messages.

He admitted the so-called sexting scandal continued after he resigned Congress. He did not drop his mayoral candidacy and his wife spoke out about the scandal as well defending her husband.

CNN's Mary Snow was in New York. She was inside that news conference. She's following the story for us.

For viewers, Mary, who are just tuning in, tell us what happened.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this was really a stunning news conference, after allegations first surfaced on the gossip Web site called about Anthony Weiner said to be exchanging sexually explicit messages with an anonymous woman that was first reported as late as last year.

Anthony Weiner at first had given out a statement and threaten just a short time ago showed up to a news conference with his wife, Huma Abedin, who is intensely private. And for the first time, she spoke at this news conference. And basically Anthony Weiner two months into his candidacy for New York City mayor, after resigning in disgrace from Congress back in June of 2011, said he wasn't disputing the allegations that were first reported by the Web site. Another thing is that he wouldn't directly answer the question of whether or not more messages were to come out. Here's a little bit of what he had to say just moments ago.


ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: As I have said in the past, these things that I did were wrong and hurtful to my wife and caused us to go through many challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation from Congress.

While some of the things that have been posted today are true and some are not, there is no question that what I did was wrong. This behavior is behind me. I have apologized to my wife, Huma, and I'm grateful that she has worked through these issues with me and I have had her forgiveness.


SNOW: Anthony Weiner just took a few questions, and he did acknowledge some of these messages were sent as late as last summer.

And also we should note that "People" magazine spoke with Anthony Weiner in an issue that was published back in July of 2012 in which he talked about his life. Huma Abedin is mentioned. Most of our viewers will know her as a close aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, very private, but very active in this campaign as a fund- raiser.

She spoke and got very personal, saying it was her choice to stay with her husband. And then they left for a candidate's forum for mayor -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mayor, thanks very much.

Let's listen a little bit to Huma Abedin, the wife of Anthony Weiner, defending her husband.


HUMA ABEDIN, WIFE OF ANTHONY WEINER: Anthony's made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after. But I do very strongly believe that that is between us in our marriage.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, Kevin Madden, our CNN analyst, the former aide to Mitt Romney.

Kevin, what do you think? Can he survive this, go on to potentially be the next mayor of New York?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I really -- I think it's almost impossible at this point. Look, I always believe that there were other candidates given that were stronger in this race that eventually were going to, when all the baseball was played, were going to have a better chance of winning. And the key to this campaign for him to win was to move past that entire chapter and talk about what it was that he was going to do for the people of New York City.

And this is an extraordinary distraction. This is something that is going to consume his campaign from here all the way until when the voters render their judgment. And it's going to be impossible for him to break through. He's never going to have another good news day again in this campaign.

BLITZER: You can only imagine, Gloria, how painful this must have been for his wife, Huma Abedin, to be put into this situation.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: As we keep saying, she's a private person. She's a staffer.

But think of the person she works for, Hillary Clinton. And remember Hillary Clinton's famous sort of "60 Minutes" conversation, Tammy Wynette, stand by your man. This was very reminiscent of that, except it occurred on the day that the story broke.

I mean, Hillary Clinton did not speak until a little bit later. But the point of this is, I have forgiven him, she said. I believe in him. And therefore you should too. Now, it did work for Bill Clinton, but I don't think Anthony Weiner is Bill Clinton.

BLITZER: There are other cases where politicians come back from sex scandals, including in South Carolina recently.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, but the circumstances are completely unique and different.

We talk about South Carolina. You're talking about Mark Sanford. He and his wife divorced. He's now with the woman he calls his soul mate, the woman from Argentina. And they're still together. And they're out and about in town.

You have Eliot Spitzer, who is still married. But she's nowhere to be found on the campaign trail. But I think if you take a step back and look at the evolution of political scandals when it has to do with adultery or something having to do with the sex, you used to see women standing by their men. Then you saw the sort of a recede from that, not standing next to them. Right? That was kind of playbook.

This is on a whole 'nother level. The fact that she came out and spoke and spoke so -- obviously, she was nervous, but so clearly and distinctly about the fact that she -- this is -- she's like, back off, guys. This is my life. This is our life. This isn't you. This is me.

MADDEN: Mark Sanford was running in a very Republican district against what was essentially --


BLITZER: but he had a whole bunch of Republican challengers who were trying to beat him in the primary.

MADDEN: But it was name I.D. at that point. This is -- Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson are not people who are novices in New York City politics.

There is a choice. They have a choice between so many other candidates that are stronger now. I really do believe the focus is going to turn to them. And this is going to be devastating towards his campaign.

BORGER: The question is whether voters are going to feel like they were treated properly, which is that this wouldn't have come out unless this Web site had posted this story. Would Anthony Weiner have revealed this? Would it have been considered relevant? Or are the voters going to think you were trying to pull a fast one on us because need to know? We didn't need to know this, except --

BASH: The key thing to remember is we're talking about the fact -- if you just kind of take a step back and soak this in, this was one year ago. This was a full year after he resigned in disgrace, a full year after he said he was going to go to rehab, a full year after he said he was working on his marriage. He was engaged in -- some of this stuff on the Internet he says is true -- really explicit sexual exchanges, the photographs and the texts.

BLITZER: Dramatic story in New York. We will see how the voters in New York City respond to this. But it's an incredible, incredible story. Guys, thanks very much.

Still ahead, William and Kate plus one. You will see the baby's touching debut and hear his parents gush about him.

Also, the name game. How soon will we know what to call Britain's new prince?


BLITZER: Prince William, Duchess Catherine, and their still unnamed baby emerged from a London hospital today to face cheering crowds and hordes of news media.

It's the kind of frenzy the newest member of the royal family will experience the rest of his life, but in many ways they were like any other family. William and Kate were tender with their newborn, emotional, and grinning from ear to ear. They're now back home at Kensington Palace. They're settling in with their new baby boy.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster is on the scene there for us.

What an impressive debut, shall we say, for this new family.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they're just settling in. They're in lockdown now, Wolf. There was a huge public moment today, and now they just want to be on their own. So they're in the palace behind me. They have got a small two-bedroom cottage. There's a much larger apartment that is being done up for them at a huge cost. It's going to be a glorious family home, but it's just not ready yet. So they're in that cottage.

I suspect after a couple days they will sneak off to Bucklebury, the privacy of Bucklebury, be near Kate's mom to sort of get to know each other as a family. That's always been their priority throughout this process to bond as a family. I think they're going to head off to Bucklebury.

And then in a week-and-a-half, William's back at work. He's only got two weeks' paternity, the first royal to ever go through that paternity process, certainly an heir. And I think Kate will spend some time with her mom and then William will sort of switch between working in the area and spending time with his family.

BLITZER: Max, take us back to that moment a few hours ago when they emerged. They actually spoke a bit to the news media, Prince William specifically. Tell us what he said about his son.

FOSTER: Yes, it was a carefully orchestrated moment. We were taken through what would happen. And exactly what we were told would happen did happen. There was a photo moment. They walked down the steps, and then they went up to the microphone.

Yes, she was particularly calm. He was particularly happy. They looked really sort of content as a group. And this is what William said. He was -- we were allowed to throw him some questions. These were his responses.


HRH PRINCE WILLIAM OF WALES, UNITED KINGDOM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: Well, he has got a good pair of lungs on him. That's for sure. He's a big boy. He is quite heavy.

But we're still working on a name, so we will have that as soon as we can. But it's the first time we have seen him, really, so we're having a proper chance to catch up.

Very emotional.

KATE MIDDLETON, DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE: Yes, it's very emotional. It's a special time. I think any parent I think probably could have known what this feeling feels like.

PRINCE WILLIAM: It's very special.


PRINCE WILLIAM: It was. And I will remind him of his tardiness when he is a bit older, because I know how long you have all have sat out here, so hopefully the hospital and you guys can all go back to normal now and we can look after him. So -- QUESTION: Who does he look like? Does he look like you or Catherine?

PRINCE WILLIAM: He has got her looks thankfully.

MIDDLETON: No, no, no.




FOSTER: They really were on great form. William expressing sympathy for the press doesn't happen every day. And also the explanation as to why we don't know the name of this young prince, they basically haven't decided yet.

BLITZER: They haven't decided yet. Give them some time. They will make a good decision, I am sure. Max, thanks very much.

The waiting game is the next big thing, including as we say the baby's name.

Let's bring in our expert panel.

Joining us, our CNN royal commentator Katie Nicholl and royal historian Kate Williams. They're at Buckingham Palace.

Katie, what do you think of a name? I have heard all sorts of names. Is there a front-runner, shall we say?

KATIE NICHOLL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this morning it was George. And I think that's still the case. James is also very popular. Arthur, Philip, Louis, all of those names that you see current members of the royal house and also hearkening back to more traditional former kings.

That will be what they're looking to. And one wonders if being a royal modern couple and doing things their own way, which is very much what Max was saying just then, perhaps they will bring a slightly different name into the naming arena. I'm not entirely sure that they haven't got ideas. Possibly, though, they just haven't actually made up their mind. Sometimes when you actually see your baby, you think it's going to be an Arthur or a George. Then you see it and you think actually I'm not so sure.

In that respect, they're just like any other parent. And, of course, they're going to need to make the right decision. There can't be any changes. They will want to announce it only when they're fully sure that they have got the name right, the order of the names, because of course being a member of the royal family, this little boy won't just have one or two names. He will be three have four.

BLITZER: And, Kate, let's talk about the protocol for making this announcement. How do they do it? Do they usually wait a few days? I know it took a week 30 years ago I think with Prince William, right?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Exactly, Wolf. It took a week with Prince William. With Prince Charles, it took a whole month. We didn't find out his name until his christening a month later.

I think what we can here is something that is going to be rather faster, because the thing is William knows that everyone's attention is on him because people want the name. As soon as they give out the name, they can perhaps settle down to a little bit more of normality at Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace.

If they give us a name maybe in two or three days, that will be really to their favor, so I think they do want to do that. But the name has to go through the most important person around, and that is granny here in Kensington -- here in Buckingham Palace. And she goes on holiday on the royal chair to Balmoral in Scotland on Friday.

Before she goes on holiday, they will want to discuss the name, so it will be approved. And whatever we go forward with, Arthur or George or James, will perhaps be the Arthur I of the United Kingdom, perhaps James, perhaps George, that name will go through the queen and so she approves it. I think she will be by pleased to see Philip in there.

BLITZER: We will soon find out, at least in the next few days, if not tomorrow. Who knows. We could find out as clearly as tomorrow.

Kate and Katie, stand by. We have a lot more to discuss as far as this royal family is now concerned.

Also coming up, President Obama's new dilemma. What do you give a baby who's also a future king? We're going to take a closer look at the gifts past U.S. presidents have given to royal newborns.

Plus, what life will be like inside Kensington Palace for this new family.


BLITZER: The birth of the royal baby is putting President Obama in something of a diplomatic bind. What do you get a little prince?

Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. She's been doing some research on this.

Jessica, what are you finding out?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the pressure is on here at the White House and over at the State Department to figure out just what that perfect gift should be.


YELLIN (voice-over): The birth of a first child is a special event in a very special relationship. No, not theirs -- theirs.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been no shortage of words uttered about our special relationship.

YELLIN: Sure. But any good friend knows nice words are no substitute for a nice gift. American presidents have a spotty record when it comes to gift-giving for a royal wee one.

For example, when Prince William arrived, the Reagans gave Charles and Diana this Chip and Dale mini-chair with needlepoint seat. But when Harry came along, nothing, a gift to the heir, not to the spare. Oh, my. Going back to Prince Charles' birth, the Trumans sent the happy parents a simple telegram.

Nancy Mitchell is a protocol expert.

NANCY MITCHELL, PROTOCOL EXPERT: That's where the personality of the giver is reflected in the gift or the response.


YELLIN (on camera): -- cheap?

MITCHELL: He was known to be economical.

YELLIN: That's a yes. That's a yes.

(voice-over): The Trumans did send a gift for the royal wedding, giving the future queen a Steuben vase kind of like this one. And thank goodness, because when the princess was born, the White House honored Princess Elizabeth's arrival with nothing. Shame on President Coolidge.

Sources say the Obama administration is now determining the appropriate gift for the latest royal kiddo. Some advice?

MITCHELL: Let's avoid the silver spoon, and I won't go there.

YELLIN (on camera): On Twitter, one of the suggestions was a gift of "Star Wars" action figures. Appropriate?

MITCHELL: I don't think I would go there.

YELLIN (voice-over): Instead?

MITCHELL: An appropriate gift is perhaps a piece of a moon rock. Another thing might be a tree. Trees are very symbolic.

YELLIN: Or original art work from?

MITCHELL: One of their favorite books.

YELLIN (on camera): "Where the Wild Things Are."

MITCHELL: He is crowned.

YELLIN: King of the wild things.

MITCHELL: King of the wild things. YELLIN: Hmm. One gift to cross off the registry? Car seat. The duke clearly has that in hand.


YELLIN: So, Wolf, they are still makes this decision. It's a process that is decided both by the Protocol Office of the State Department and the first lady's office, and no doubt the president has a say. But there is some pressure here on the White House to give just that perfect gift for the royal bundle of joy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the chief of protocol over at the State Department has a person who is in charge of gift-giving. I have met that person in the Obama administration and earlier administrations. It's a tough, tough job.

YELLIN: They're busy.

BLITZER: I'm sure they will come up with something creative. Thanks very much, Jessica, for that.

Up next, Prince William and Duchess Catherine, they speak to reporters about their new baby boy. We are going to bring you every word of what they had ave to say.

And when you live in a royal palace, can family life be anything close to normal?


BLITZER: Happening now: William and Kate plus one. You're going to see and hear it all as they open up about their new son and show him off to the world.

Plus, he's third in line to the throne. Can this little prince lead anything like a normal life?

And new information emerging about the failed landing gear on a Southwest jet, as the feds open a formal investigation.

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

We haven't seen this much excitement about the birth of a baby in a long time, since Charles and Diana, perhaps, three decades ago introduced Prince William to the world. Today, William is the proud father. And he and Duchess Catherine stepped out of the same hospital where he was born to show off their baby boy. They also, in the process, spoke with reporters.


PRINCE WILLIAM: Well, he has got a good pair of lungs on him. That's for sure. He's a big boy. He is quite heavy.

But we're still working on a name, so we will have that as soon as we can. But it's the first time we have seen him, really, so we're having a proper chance to catch up.

Very emotional.

MIDDLETON: Yes, it's very emotional. It's a special time. I think any parent I think probably could have known what this feeling feels like.

PRINCE WILLIAM: It's very special.


PRINCE WILLIAM: It was. And I'll remind him of his tardiness when he's a bit older, because I know how long you all have sat out here, so hopefully, we'll all go and you guys can all go back to normal now and we can, you know, look after him. So --


PRINCE WILLIAM: He's got her looks, thankfully.

DUCHESS CATHERINE: No, no, no, no, no.


PRINCE WILLIAM: Wait and see, wait and see.


PRINCE WILLIAM: We've done that already. Good.


PRINCE WILLIAM: He's got way more than me, thank God. Thank you, thank you.

BLITZER: The proud parents showing off that sweet little baby boy. There he is. We don't have a name yet, but we probably will get one very, very soon. There's another nice shot of the baby.

The royal couple and the new baby, they're bonding in their home right now at Kensington Palace in London. Let's talk about their family life with our experts.

Joining us, CNN royal commentator Katie Nicholl and royal historian Kate Williams. They're over at Buckingham Palace. Also royal commentator Victoria Arbiter. She's in New York.

So what's next, first of all? Let's talk about the three of them in the immediate days ahead. Victoria, let me start with you.

VICTORIA ARBITER, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think at the moment you hit the nail on the head, Wolf. They're planning to stay at home and bond with their baby and really enjoy this early stages of getting to know their little boy.

It really remains to be seen what's going to happen in the immediate future. There's been a lot of talk of Kate going down to Bucklebury when William goes back to Wales. But Bucklebury does not have quite the level of security that is going to be required.

I wouldn't be surprised if they pop up to Balmoral, because up there, there is security. There is freedom from prying eyes, and really, up there, they get to have a very relaxed, totally free life together. Even if it's just for a few days with great-granny.

William, I think, if he goes back to Wales without Kate and the baby, is going to miss them terribly. The fact that he stayed in hospital last night shows how keen he is to be with them at all times. So I think they'll sort of figure it out over the coming days of what their next steps are going to be.

BLITZER: Katie, at some point William has to go back and go back to his job in the Royal Air Force, as you will. But he's got some sort of leave right now, right?

KATIE NICHOLL, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes. He's got paternity leave. Now over here in the U.K., Wolf, that's two weeks, which is quite generous. And he's taking his full entitlement to that.

But we are actually expecting another quite imminent announcement from the palace. My sources tell me it will be before the end of the summer about William's future in the RAF. He's a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, and he's stationed at RAF Valley in Anglesey in Wales. But there's a big question mark over his future. That part of the force is being privatized. And it's very much seen as an opportune moment now for Prince William to step down as a search-and- rescue pilot. That's certainly what the British papers over here have been speculating. So that's another big news story around the corner.

Of course, that will affect his role as a father. Kate herself has spoken about her fears every time William goes up in the air to carry out usually a very dangerous rescue mission. So that's something, also, that we'll be looking at over the coming weeks.

BLITZER: In the coming weeks. What do you anticipate, Kate? Where do you see them heading over the course of, shall we say, the summer and into the fall?

KATE WILLIAMS, ROYAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think what we're going to see is some time spent at Nottingham Cottage. It is a rather small cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace, the palace where, of course, Queen Victoria was brought up, where Diana lived, where William and Harry, they loved living there. Harry's a great fan of life there.

Their actual apartment is being renovated, so they're in Nottingham Cottage, and that is rather small. So we will see visitors, but I think that will be the younger visitors going there. We'll see Pippa. We'll see Harry paying a visit.

When it comes to the queen, the baby will be taken to the queen. So the baby will come and see the queen in Buckingham Palace. And I think that will be before the queen goes on holiday on Friday to Balmoral on the (INAUDIBLE) train. Probably Wednesday or Thursday. The baby will have to try out its attempts at bowing to the queen. And she will then meet her great-grandson. She already is a great- grandmother, but her great-grandson, who will be the future king.

And then after that we're going to see. I think certainly no foreign holidays. There will be time spent just the three of them. Some of that time in Kensington, some in Bucklebury and at her parents' house. And maybe, as Victoria says, maybe they'll also go to Scotland, as well.

But certainly, we won't expect to see Kate on any royal engagements, on any public royal engagements for some months yet. We certainly expect her to take much more a full maternity leave than some mothers have in the past. For example, the queen went straight back to her duties.

BLITZER: Were you surprised, Victoria, that we didn't see, at least at the hospital, the two siblings, Pippa, Prince Harry, come over and congratulate the new couple -- the newly -- the newly-born baby and his parents?

ARBITER: Just from what we've seen in before in terms of how the royals get visits in hospital, I was a little surprised not to have seen Pippa and Harry at the hospital this morning. Only because Diana's sisters came to visit her in the hospital when William was born.

Having said that, I think William and Kate really were relishing that private time in the hospital where it was just the two of them with the baby until they met Kate's parents late today. And Charles and Camilla, as well. I think, really, they knew that the minute they walked out of those front doors and presented their baby to the world, it really was unleashing a storm that they will never be able to sort of gather back in.

So I think probably the families were respecting their -- their desire to have the baby to themselves just for a few more hours.

BLITZER: I was impressed, Katie, the way William took the baby in the baby car seat and put the baby in the car as if it was just a regular couple leaving the hospital. Then he got behind the wheel to drive off. It was a nice touch. You don't often see that, in contrast especially, to 30 years ago when he was born and his parents left the hospital.

NICHOLL: No, you're absolutely right, Wolf. I mean, not only was it just a hark -- a look at how modern we are; look how normal we are. But also, look how impressive I am. I just learned to do this. And he did it without -- without a hiccup. I tell you, it took my husband a lot longer to master that. So hats off to William and top marks.

But he has been reading a parenting manual, apparently. So he knows -- he's revealed he's changed his first nappy. I would imagine that there'll be bottles. He'll be learning how to sterilize. All of these wonderful things he has ahead of him. So he's obviously sharing the duties with Kate. BLITZER: Do you said he's already learned how to change a diaper? I know you call it a nappy over there. But he's already done that or he's learning how to do it?

NICHOLL: He -- I think -- I think one of the questions he was asked by one of the reporters was has he changed a nappy and he said he'd already done that.

BLITZER: Wow, that's pretty impressive, I've got to tell you. That's pretty good for Prince William. She looks beautiful. He looks handsome. The baby looks adorable. We're very, very happy for all of them. There he is. Still no name, but an adorable little baby boy.

Ladies, thanks so much.

ARBITER: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're going to continue this coverage, obviously. The whole world is very, very excited.

Up next, we're moving to a very, very different story. We heard earlier Anthony Weiner's wife stand by her man today as he acknowledged sexting even after he resigned from Congress. We're going to take a look and compare it to Hillary Clinton's famous defense of her husband.


BLITZER: Let's get some more now on the breaking news this hour. New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner acknowledging newly- revealed sexually-explicit online exchanges.

With his wife standing by his side, Weiner revealed that some of the sexual chat happened months after he stepped down from Congress.


ANTHONY WEINER, NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Some of these things happened before my resignation. Some of them happened after. But the fact is that that was also the time that my wife and I were working through some things in our marriage.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger. We also heard from Huma Abedin, his wife, standing there. Obviously very, very unpleasant situation for her. But she said this.


HUMA ABEDIN, ANTHONY WEINER'S WIFE: When we faced this two years ago, it was the beginning of a time in our marriage that was very difficult. And it took us a very long time to get through it.

Our marriage, like many others, has had its ups and its downs. It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place like this. It was not an easy choice in any way. But I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage. That was the decision I made for me, for our son, and for our family.


BLITZER: The wife, Huma Abedin, a very powerful statement. How important was that statement?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Incredibly important. I think his candidacy would have been over, in fact, if we hadn't heard from his wife.

What she went on to say was, "Look, I have forgiven him, and I believe in him." And clearly speaking to the voters of New York, saying, "Look, if I can forgive him, you should forgive him."

But the voters of New York are not married to him. They do not have a child with him. This is a personal decision she made which I think everyone can respect and honor. But I think the question now for the voters of New York is, is this somebody they trust, somebody whose judgment they trust? Is this somebody they want to become the next mayor of New York?

So of course, today I do believe she was incredibly important, and I'm sure she will continue to stand by him on the campaign trail. She's been visible out there. And she's not a political person by nature, at least not outwardly. She was a staffer who worked for Hillary Clinton. But I think whether, in the long-term, the impact will be to have him become eventually the mayor of New York really remains to be seen.

BLITZER: And she's worked, Abedin, she worked for Hillary Clinton for a long time. And Hillary Clinton, a lot of us remember the '92 campaign when the allegations against the then-Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, her husband, Gennifer Flowers came up. They both went together on "60 Minutes," and we heard this.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I'm sitting here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he's been through and what we've been through together. You know, if that's not enough for people, then heck, don't vote for him.


BLITZER: That was a very powerful moment in his bid for the Democratic --

BORGER: She said that a lot more southern.

BLITZER: As a lawyer as the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: She was -- that helped him a lot capture the Democratic presidential nomination and eventually become the president.

BORGER: Right. But as you were pointing out to me earlier, Wolf, you know, he was denying an affair with Gennifer Flowers at that -- at that time. This is something that Anthony Weiner has admitted to.

Look, wives standing by their husbands are very, very important, but it doesn't mean that it's going to be the deciding factor in this mayoral race. There are lots of other things New Yorkers have to think about.

BLITZER: The ballot box this time around (ph).

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Up next, we're getting new information just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from some investigators about that crash landing at LaGuardia.


BLITZER: President Obama has now given a green light, at least a tentative green light, to begin sending military aid directly to Syrian rebels. But there's a lot of debate still going on in Congress about this plan.


BLITZER: And joining us now from Capitol Hill, Mike Rogers. He's the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Chairman, first of all, do you support sending weapons to the Syrian opposition?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I have said in the past, Wolf, that I think it's very important that we re-establish with the Syrian opposition in a way that's helpful to the United States. I think we have long damaged that relationship. And so I've laid out some things that I thought publicly we should be engaged in.

I do think that the administration has presented a plan that did not get wild reviews on the committee, even including from me, to do certain things in Syria of which I can't provide the details, obviously.

I do think that we have to do something to establish that relationship not only with the opposition, but our Arab League partners of which has deteriorated greatly because of two years of doing about nothing. And it's created real problems for us, and it's jeopardized our security, the United States' security position in the Mideast when it comes to Syria and the regional conflict this is turning out to be.

BLITZER: How do you guarantee that, if the U.S. were to supply weapons, whether shoulder-fired missiles or anti-tank rockets or whatever, if the U.S. were to do so, they wouldn't wind up in the homes of al-Nusra or al Qaeda supporters who are also in the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad?

ROGERS: Certainly, there's no doubt of that. So any project to do anything close to that would have to be with good intelligence, good vetting and very limited and some would term it feathering in of any weapons system so that you can, with almost certainty -- and nothing is certain in this -- in this type of environment --

BLITZER: Let me interrupt you, Mr. Chairman. Does the U.S. have that good intelligence to know who's a good guy in the opposition as opposed to a bad guy?

ROGERS: The United States has gotten better at that, which is why many said don't do this early on until you get a better intelligence picture. I think the intelligence picture has improved.

The problem now is, because of the time that was waited, you have al- Nusra is rising up, 6,000; a new group called al-Sham (ph) that's there. We have other groups that are now appearing, some -- over 4,000 people coming from all over the region, including some in Europe and other places, to show up to join the fight, which means if nothing bad happens to them there, they're going to go home at some point, which means really dangerous times ahead for us.

So, again, it is really dangerous. There is -- right now we're playing for the best worst option.

I was not impressed with the plan that has been presented. I think we've made that pretty clear. We have pushed back.

BLITZER: Let me switch gears to Iraq for a moment. As you know, two major prison breaks: a whole bunch of terrorist prisoners, some of whom the U.S. put in prison at various prisons, including Abu Ghraib in Iraq. All of a sudden they were freed in a highly-coordinated, sophisticated operation. How worried are you that some of these al- Qaeda-related terrorists in Iraq are now free?

ROGERS: Very concerned. Which is why many of us over time have said be careful about bringing these -- this group of prisoners back to the United States. It's not about people breaking out; it's about people breaking in to break people out. And we've seen this literally tens of times around the world: people breaking in to break these folks out. And the most -- latest, which is really troubling, is this one in Iraq.

BLITZER: One final question. Do you think that the civil war that has developed in Syria could actually really spill over and there could be a similar civil war in Iraq?

ROGERS: Well, you know, remember the root of this is Iran. All of the roads go back through Tehran on this. So we know that they were -- when the United States had a heavier presence in Iraq, they were responsible for some 600 U.S. soldiers killed through their support, material support of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda, by the way, which is not a Shia-based organization, but to cause trouble.

And what we've seen in Iraq then is that separating, then the Shia versus Sunni problems, then that violence that's occurring across the country spurred on by Iran. You see the same kind of thing now happening in Syria.

So there's a lot of concern here, mine included, that you break out into full open Shia versus Sunni conflict, so it goes beyond a civil war. It's already gone regional. It's putting pressure on Jordan and Turkey, and the Saudis are certainly concerned, others. The Israelis. That this thing starts to engulf that whole region because of just what you've talked about: full-fledged civil war or uprising or insurgency in Iraq sponsored by Iran, the same fueled in Syria sponsored by Iran that gets out of control.

Now you have competing al Qaeda groups in Syria fighting each other and different terrorist organizations fighting for control. This is as bad a problem as you could draw down on a piece of paper and say, here, try to solve this. This is that problem and it's, unfortunately, happening today.

BLITZER: It's a very, very gloomy picture that you paint, but thanks very much for painting it. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, from Capitol Hill. Thanks for joining us.

ROGERS: Thanks, Wolf.


BLITZER: We'll be right back.


BLITZER: We're getting new information on the Southwest Airlines incident. The National Transportation Safety Board just tweeted that the nose gear collapsed up and into the fuselage, damaging the electronics bay. Passengers also are speaking out. Here's CNN's Poppy Harlow.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kristin Shumpert was sitting in the third row of the Boeing 737 when it skidded, nose down, sparks flying on LaGuardia's Runway 4. She saw the front cabin door pop partially open on impact, right next to two flight attendants.

KRISTIN SHUMPERT, PASSENGER: As soon as it came to a stop, they were up. They were trying to keep everybody calm. They assured us that the plane was not on fire.

HARLOW (on camera): What was the smell?

SHUMPERT: I didn't smell anything like until after the plane had come to a stop. And then the front of the plane, where I guess where it had been skidding on the tarmac, kind of started to fill up with smoke. It wasn't like a fire smoke, though. It was more of like a burning metal.

HARLOW (voice-over): The emergency slides deployed and she, one of 150 on board, evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like getting smashed in a car wreck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very chaotic. No one knew what was going on. Flight attendants crying.

SHUMPERT: There was definitely a little, like, chaos and confusion. People asking like, "When are we getting off? How are we getting off? You have to get us off this plane."

HARLOW: But amid the chaos --

SHUMPERT: It was a really orderly exit from the plane with the -- with the slides.

HARLOW (on camera): How long would you say it took to get off the plane from the moment you had that harsh landing?

SHUMPERT: It could not have been more than ten minutes.

HARLOW (voice-over): Shumpert snapped photos. Here, one of the plane's engines on the tarmac. This one when she looked back. At that moment she thought of Asiana Flight 214 that crash-landed in San Francisco just a few weeks ago.

SHUMPERT: Then definitely when everything happened, that all definitely comes back into mind, when you see those pictures of, like, that burned-out hull of that -- that flight in San Francisco, you think, "Oh, God, is the plane on fire? Is it going to, like, blow up?"

The landing gear comes out --

HARLOW: She was taken to the hospital and examined for smoke inhalation, then released.

The NTSB announced Tuesday it will conduct a full investigation of the incident because of substantial damage to the aircraft.

(on camera): How would you say the airline and emergency responders reacted?

SHUMPERT: I mean, I think that they did a really good job. Everybody was really quick. You know, before, I think the plane even comes to a stop I saw the trucks and the Port Authority and everyone coming out to the plane.

HARLOW: And in a statement, Southwest Airlines said the Boeing 737 was just inspected last week and said it became operational back in 1999. The airline went on to say it is working with the NTSB and with Boeing in a preliminary investigation.

Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.