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Government Shutdown Continues; Hostage Negotiator Weighs In; Jesse Ventura Wrestles Political Issues; PBS Says NFL Covered Up Link Between Football and Brain Injuries; Obamacare Glitches Continue; Monster Truck Crash; Record-Breaking Diamond Auction

Aired October 7, 2013 - 15:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Government shutdown, day seven now, and House Speaker John Boehner, the man very much at the center of this stalemate, a short time ago jumping on a comment kind of sort of allegedly made by a White House official.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: A senior White House staffer this morning said that the president would rather default on our debt than to sit down and negotiate.

Now, the American people expect when their leaders have differences and we're in a time of crisis that we'll sit down and at least have a conversation.


BERMAN: Now, he was very loosely paraphrasing a comment made by a White House official earlier.

Nevertheless, what is clear from voters across the country is that you are fed up.

Still, even the president is jumping in on the analogy -- sorry, you across the country are fed up. Some people have compared this to a hostage situation. Even the president has jumped in on that analogy.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: The American people don't get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their job. Neither does Congress.

They don't get to hold our democracy or our economy hostage over a settled law.


BERMAN: Someone who would know all about hostage situations is Chris Voss, a former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator. Chris, you have called this similar to a prison siege. Explain that to us. How is this standoff like a prison siege?


Yeah, and I have made that analogy, and it's usually appropriate when one side seems to be a little bit in disarray and they're having trouble getting themselves together and they're confined in an area, if you will, and you make the decision among the various people who are among the leadership as to which one you want to try to empower, which one you want to start the dialogue with.

This was standard operating procedure in any given prison siege. There was chaos inside the walls, and as the chaos settled down, we would pick out which of the leaders on the other side we would want to start a dialogue with, empower them slightly, and try to get some conversation going.

BERMAN: So if you're the president then in this case, how do you empower and who do you empower on the other side?

VOSS: Well, they've got to -- your side has to be willing to talk, and then you pick someone on the other side whose position is closest to the position that you would like them to start their bargaining from, and you give them some sort of a small concession.

You empower them by letting them accomplish something for their side.

The other side, if they're in disarray on the other side, they're looking for leaders who can deliver.

So you give one of their leaders the opportunity to deliver, and it then begins to rally the other side behind the leader, and then you continue the discussion.

BERMAN: So, allow them to declare victory, at least partial victory in this case.

When you hear the president say, I'm not going to negotiate under these circumstances, when you hear Speaker Boehner say, I won't talk about this unless Obamacare is involved, or that's what he was saying earlier, at least, does that create the situation where these discussions can take place?

VOSS: Well, one side is talking about negotiating. The other side is talking about having a conversation.

So the side that's talking about having a conversation makes themselves sound far less threatening, and they begin to get a little bit of an advantage in framing the discussion because it doesn't look good if you're afraid to have a conversation.

So you want to reframe the discussion and put it in terms that's to your advantage and possibly aim for a higher goal they both can agree on, which again gives you the opportunity to frame the discussion. So there's a lot of attempts to see who can do the best job of framing the discussion here, but no side is -- appears to me to be doing actually that much to tactically empower who they want on the other side to move forward.

BERMAN: You have to be willing to make the other guy look at least a little bit good, it sounds like you're saying, and so far, that is not happening.

Chris Voss, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

In just about 10 minutes, another unique viewpoint. Jesse Ventura was in the navy, he was a professional wrestler, and of course, he was the governor of Minnesota.

Now he's started a petition to end the shutdown, and he has some strong words, very strong words for the people in Washington.

The former governor will join us live to explain what he thinks should be done.

But first, growing concern about safety for NFL players. Now, shocking allegations that the league covered up just how dangerous this game can be.

Did the NFL hide important information that perhaps could have protected players? That's next.


BERMAN: The federal government shutdown, nearly a week old, and a potential default of the Treasury now looms in just 10 days, so let's talk to Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler, a former governor of the state of Minnesota.

He's got a book out about the Kennedy assassination. It's called "They Killed Our President." He's also been talking about running for president himself.

Now, of course, Governor, when you ran for governor, you talked about politics as usual and changing politics as usual. Right now you're talking about abolishing parties. You have ideas about the future.

Before we get to the future, though, I want to talk about the now because, obviously, in Washington, they need help getting out of this crisis.

What would you advise them to do immediately, today, tomorrow, to solve this?



VENTURA: Pass the bills.

BERMAN: Pass the bills?

VENTURA: Pass the bills and put the government back working and get us to cover our debt so that we're not in major trouble on all this stuff.

Clearly, it shows these parties care more about themselves and their contributors than they do the American people.

BERMAN: You say these parties, though, but there are --

VENTURA: Well, gangs, I should call them. Because they use the term "party." In actuality, they're gangs.

BERMAN: Democrats say if there were a vote on the continuing resolution to fund the government, it would pass right now.

Do you think they're right?

VENTURA: I don't know because I can't don't sit in Congress, and I don't know how many votes are out there.

BERMAN: But you think there should be a vote right now?

VENTURA: Absolutely, there should be.

BERMAN: And on the debt ceiling?

VENTURA: Absolutely, there should be. They should be doing their jobs.

BERMAN: And do you care about the Obamacare angle? Do you think it's right and proper that it be included?

VENTURA: I believe bills should stand on their own, that they should have no amendments to them, no caveats to them.

Let each bill stand on its own. Vote them up or down, but these are all ploys by the two gangs to run our government in a horrible fashion.

BERMAN: You call them gangs. Is any one gang in your view at this moment more at fault for the situation we're in?

VENTURA: I lump them both together because it really doesn't matter who you elect.

They're -- they've created a system based upon bribery, the concept of bribery. If you do that in the private sector, you go to jail for bribery. But there, it's alive and well.

The bribers, they bribe both sides, so it doesn't matter who you get. You're going to get the same government because they're all owned by special interests and the corporations.

BERMAN: What evidence do we have, and we're talking about the House of Representatives in particular right here, that many of the districts across the country, perhaps even most of these districts across the country, are getting exactly what they want in their representation?

VENTURA: Well, maybe they are. How can you prove they are?

BERMAN: I don't know, but they elect these people time and time again. They all live in safe seats.

They elect -- every two years, they face election, and they seem to win again and again and again.

VENTURA: Yeah, well, we could solve that, too. Why do they put gang names on a ballot? Why not just put the candidate's name?

It's done on purpose, so that if you're conservative, you don't need to know the candidate. You can go in and look for Republican. If you're liberal, you look for Democrat.

Let's remove gang names. Let's make them political action committees. They can still endorse, but for me, it's -- we'll never get our country back until we get rid of -- and I've got good allies.

You know who my allies are in this thinking? George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, they all warned us about the gangs.

They said if the gangs take over government, that will be the destruction of the United States, and the gangs have taken it over.

BERMAN: And you want to abolish parties all together?

VENTURA: Yes, make them political action committees. Abolish them altogether and --

BERMAN: What the voter's responsibility here? Doesn't the voter have to do something?

VENTURA: Sure, but the -- and the voter's responsibility would be to educate themselves to what John Smith stands for.

BERMAN: Are they doing that right now, voters?

VENTURA: No, they either vote conservative or Republican because they have been trained that way by the two gangs in the system that we have of bribery.


VENTURA: And, by the way, I'm the only elected official in 50 years, I bet, who made more money doing the job than what I raised to get it.

And I never in four years as government, I never once even spoke to a lobbyist. They weren't allowed in my office.

BERMAN: You're out of government right now. Are you thinking about getting back in? People wondering and asking you directly, will you run for president?

VENTURA: Oh, they're asking me all the time, and I'll tell you. It's lining up perfect for me because I'll tell you right now what I'll win with.

I will give the American people, if I run, the opportunity to vote for the first president since George Washington, the father of our country, who does not belong to a political gang.

BERMAN: Well, you talk about Adams, Jefferson. There were parties and sides that developed very quickly.

VENTURA: No, Washington --

BERMAN: Not Washington.

VENTURA: -- was the only one.

BERMAN: So he's the only one.

VENTURA: We could make history and elect the second president, if I run, who does not belong to a political gang.

BERMAN: And there's talk about Howard Stern as a running mate.

VENTURA: Well, there's a method to my madness. I despise the dirty money. Plus, when I was ran for governor, I was doing a state-wide talk radio show.

I had to lose my job because of FCC regulations. And so with Howard's show, I can stay on right until the election. He's Sirius Radio. FCC doesn't govern them.

Plus, we could appeal to Howard's listeners to merely send us all $20. And that way, we don't -- I could continue staying clean because I don't accept PAC money and I don't accept special interest money, and 50 bucks ain't going to get you much of an audience.

BERMAN: Has he told you he's willing to do it?

VENTURA: He's thinking about it.

BERMAN: Thinking about it, and you -

VENTURA: But I tell you, if he would support me and allow me to use his show, I would also, if he doesn't want to do it, I would consider Senator Angus King from Maine, the former independent governor.

He and I were the only two independent governors, so it very well could be a Ventura/King combination.

BERMAN: Have you talked to Angus King about this?

VENTURA: I have not.

BERMAN: So this is news to him right now, if he's listening?

VENTURA: He knows that I'd pick him because he's the only guy I would trust.

BERMAN: Now you criticize politicians for playing games a lot. Are you playing games with us right now or are you serious?

What are the odds you run for president?

VENTURA: I don't know. I don't know. 50/50.

BERMAN: 50/50?


BERMAN: That's pretty high.

VENTURA: Yeah, 50, I might; 50, I won't.

BERMAN: When do you want to make that decision by?

VENTURA: You have to make it pretty soon because we'd -- the difficult thing is this, I would have to get ballot access in all 50 states. The two gangs already have it in all 50 states.

See, they make the rules. That's what makes it difficult. It's like playing a football and then, at halftime, they'll change the rules on you.

So I would have to get ballot access in all 50 states, and I must be allowed in the debates.

But they control that, too. The Democrats and Republicans control who can debate. And it's simple,, if I can debate them, I can beat them.

BERMAN: A yes/no decision by the end of this year?

VENTURA: I don't know.

BERMAN: All right, thank you.

VENTURA: You're not going to pin me down on something like that. I live in Mexico right now and I have a new job. I'll be working for the richest man in a world, Carlos Slim, because I can't get a job here in the media.

But he's giving me one in Mexico, so I will be broadcasting to the United States, off the grid, much like we broadcasted Radio Free Europe where you've got to be outside of the country to get the truth to the country.

We're much like East Berlin today. I cross that border driving every year. The only thing missing are the tanks at the border. And I'm sure they're on their way.

BERMAN: When you make that decision, Governor, I hope you come back and tell us. We appreciate you being here today.

VENTURA: I'll be happy to do it.

BERMAN: Governor Ventura, thank you so much for joining us.

Up next, a look at the most expensive diamond ever offered for sale by a popular New Jersey auction house. See how much it's going for.

Plus, a deadly accident at a monster truck rally, the truck plows into the crowd as people simply scatter.

Now the governor says he has information about the driver that might explain what happened there.


BERMAN: All right, the NFL has a real crisis on its hands. We're talking about concussions, the head injuries which pose a threat not just to the league, but honestly, to the entire sport of football.

And a dramatic new PBS documentary suggests the NFL has done everything it can to avoid tying football to brain injuries.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're finding a record of suspicious scientific papers published by the NFL's own hand-picked doctors.


BERMAN: "Frontline's" special, "League of Denial -- The NFL's Concussion Crisis" debuts tomorrow. It's based on the work of two terrific award-winning ESPN investigative reporters, this documentary, very highly publicized, a little bit controversial.

CNN's Jake Tapper will speak with these reporters in the next hour. Jake joins me now.

Jake, this is a pretty thorough look at the medical community and the NFL's look at the impact of concussions on players. Were you surprised --

TAPPER: That's right. In addition --

BERMAN: Go ahead.

TAPPER: In addition to the medical case that it builds as to -- that the book builds, "League of Denial," as to how serious it can be to get -- to have a brain injury as withstood in the NFL, one of the things that this book achieves is building a case that the NFL has not wanted to know the truth, has kept the truth from the public.

And also, it paints a very moving picture of some of the victims of this, John, some people -- Mike Webster from the Pittsburgh Steelers is perhaps the most tragic case, somebody who withstood a serious brain injury as a result of his time in the NFL, and it's an important, important book.

I should note that there is a response from the NFL that we should read. Quote, "For more than two decades, the NFL has been a leader in addressing the issue of head injuries in a serious way.

"Important steps have included major investments in independent medical research, improved medical protocols and benefits, innovative partnerships with the CDC, NIH, GE and others to accelerate progress, and changes in rules, equipment, advocacy in support of state laws to enhance safety in football and youth sports in programs like 'Heads Up Football,' now reaching hundreds of thousands of young players.

"By any standard" -- this is again, according to the NFL -- "the NFL has made a profound commitment to the health and safety of its players that can be seen in every aspect of the game and the results have been both meaningful and measurable.

"We will not waiver in our long-term commitment to a better and safer game at all levels."

BERMAN: Jakes, you have a young son, and I have young sons. Have you had the discussion whether you will let your kids play football?

TAPPER: Having now read this book, I don't think I will, although if you know my son, it's debatable how much say I will have in anything he wants to do.

BERMAN: He probably plays football around the house every day as it is.

But it is a discussion so many parents are having about their kids as they're growing up, and a lot of opinions are changing by the day. And this documentary may change even more minds.

Jake, thanks so much. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper is a terrific show, starts at the top of the hour.

TAPPER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Up next, on the first day of Obamacare sign-ups, CNN's Elizabeth Cohen gave us a live demonstration of the problems that Americans were encountering on that Web site.

Today, Elizabeth has another live demonstration and guess what? It seems the glitches are still there.


BERMAN: Obamacare's online healthcare exchanges have been up and live for nearly a week, but not without glitches that kept people from signing up.

Over the weekend, Health and Human Services said they are working to improve the site, so today our medical team went back online to take it for another test drive.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now from Atlanta. And, Elizabeth, what did you find this time?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what? It didn't work last week, John, and we found that it is not working for us this week. You go to if you live in a state like Georgia that uses the federal system, and we got to the part, you know, let's get started. So we said, yes, let's get started.

We put in our identifying information. This is my producer who was on this one, and then it asked for our security questions.

Now this is where we got tripped up last week, and we showed you that. But we got -- this worked. That was good. This worked.

We went to a -- got to a screen that said, Please wait, and then we got to a screen that said, Your account couldn't be created at this time. The system is unavailable.

Now, we tried it several times, and we just couldn't make it work. We got to various points, but still, no success.

Now, the Department of Health and Human Services tells us that other people have had success, they have been able to sign on.

Plus, they say the phones are working, and the wait is just a few seconds long. John?

BERMAN: And they will be doing more work, apparently, overnight tonight, and it does seem more work is needed, at least based on your test.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for joining us.

We'll be right back.


BERMAN: A scary scene in Mexico over the weekend, at least eight people are dead, four of them children, after a monster truck plowed into a crowd of spectators.

You can see the truck go over the ramp right there before it just simply keeps going and veers right into the crowd.

The governor of Chihuahua says the driver may have been drinking. Twenty-eight people have been hospitalized. At least a dozen are still in critical condition.

Now, a much different note, finally, the price tag for nearly 60-carat rock that's going up for grabs in Hong Kong. Sotheby's is showing off an oval-cut, pink diamond worth an estimated $60 million.

That would make this the most valuable diamond ever sold by the auction house. It will auction that off next month.

Not interested.

All right, that is all for NEWSROOM right now. I'm John Berman.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper begins right now.