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CNN NEWSROOM

President To Face Obamacare Site Glitches Today; Same Sex Marriages Begin In New Jersey; NSA Under Fire From France, Mexico; Train Kills Workers In San Francisco; Existing Home Sales Fell In September; Report: JPMorgan And Government Reach $13 Billion Settlement; Escaped Killers Caught, More Arrests Expected; Ted Cruz On Obamacare, D.C. Standoff; Mexico To Probe "Illegitimate" NSA Actions

Aired October 21, 2013 - 10:00   ET

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


JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It'll be interesting to see, guys, if he gets fined by the NFL, and that would actually be the first time that a kicker or punter will get fined for a hit like that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You don't see that from a kicker very often, but that looked like the textbook definition of helmet to helmet contact.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: But he also popped right back up too.

BERMAN: Nice to see you. All right, Joe Carter, thanks so much for being with us. Thank you all for watching this last hour. But fret not, because the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: I'm Michaela Pereira. Carol Costello has the day off.

Next hour, President Obama steps in front of the cameras and takes the heat for those Obamacare glitches. The healthcare website has crashed leaving thousands of insurance shoppers frustrated and angry. We asked folks to weigh in on the problems that they are encountering on the site, and here is what we have heard from cnnmoney.com.

The chief complaint: "I can't even log on." Number two, information is not correct. Insurers say they're getting applications that are duplicates or missing key info. Website glitches are getting much of the blame for that.

Some website visitors say the costs are just too high. They say not only are premiums more expensive, but higher deductibles put the plans out of reach. And some folks are saying the higher prices are being passed on to them from their employers who are also reeling from sticker shock. Republicans are taking their shots and demanding fixes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Like it's been a fiasco. Send Air Force One out to Silicon Valley, load it up with some smart people, bring them back to Washington and fix this problem. It's ridiculous and everybody knows that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: Strong language from John McCain. Let's get a view from the White House and CNN's Jim Acosta. What are we expecting the president to say? Obviously, he's going to have to take some of the blame, but not all of it.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll see Michaela. In about 90 minutes from now in the Rose Garden here at the White House. White House officials say that President Obama will talk about what they're calling technical problems with healthcare.gov, the Obamacare website.

Technical problems that the president says are unacceptable and administration officials say they're already working on correcting the glitches in the system. They say they've brought in the best and brightest to work on these problems.

And already this morning, let's put this up on screen. I want to show this they've started to make changes to healthcare.gov. If you go to the main site as we speak it shows a link for how you can connect online and buy insurance for the exchanges. It has a button now that will take you to the phone number so you'll have to look at that online and then pick up the phone and try buy an insurance the old- fashioned way.

In the meantime, a lot of Democrats are starting to scratch their heads and wondering what's happening over at the White House, why is this web site not working, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who said as much yesterday after one of the Sunday talk shows. Here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I do think what has happened is unacceptable. It has to be fixed and that's what will happen. I believe when the president comes forward, he will have what the fix is -- how it has been fixed and what the process is from here forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, the millions of visitors to healthcare.gov, the Obama administration, says only about 500,000 people have applied or filled out applications for insurance. But one number, one metric the White House will not put out, how many people have enrolled. The White House says that number is coming in mid-November. But they're not willing to disclose it just yet -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Well, Jim, we know that the Obamacare problems and glitches and the frustration, all of this comes as many Americans fed up with what's going on in Washington, all the dysfunction that led to the shutdown and the near defaults on its debts, talk about the latest polling, what are you seeing? ACOSTA: Well, no surprise. As you remember, Michaela, in the run up to the shutdown and even after the shutdown occurred, poll after poll showed that Americans thought Republicans were responsible for the dysfunction here in Washington by and large. Some thought Democrats, but a majority of the Republicans.

Take a look at this, a brand new CNN/ORC poll, some pretty eye catching numbers this morning, 38 percent, only 38 percent of Americans believe that GOP controlled House of Representatives is good for the country. But 54 percent, that's a solid majority, say that's bad for the country. That's not good news heading into the midterm elections.

And take a look at this number, this is really surprising or perhaps not so much depending on your viewpoint, should John Boehner be replaced as speaker of the House, yes, 63 percent, no, 30 percent. Those are very troubling numbers for the speaker of the House.

At the same time, the president's numbers have not changed very much, 44 percent say they approve of the job he is doing. More than half say they disapprove. But again, that hasn't really change much since the last time we took this poll -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you so much for that. We should point out just ahead, the man on the mission to kill Obamacare. Republican Senator Ted Cruz goes one on one with our Dana Bash and he's certainly is not backing down in this fight.

BERMAN: First let's take a look at some of the top stories this morning. New Jersey is now the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriages. Senator-elect Cory Booker personally officiating some of these ceremonies, they began at midnight. Over the weekend both couples and lawmakers spoke out on this historic moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSCAR MADRID, JERSEY CITY RESIDENT: We used to live in California as well so we followed it there. We didn't get married there and we always said we would get married in the state that we lived. And this is especially exciting for us because we live in Jersey City.

MAYOR STEVEN FULOP (D), JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY: It's exciting. It's great to see families having the opportunity to formally be recognized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And developing news this morning, we have just learned that Governor Chris Christie withdrew his appeal of this ruling permitting same-sex marriages. Governor Christie's office saying that even though he strongly disagrees with the court making the decision instead of New Jersey voters or other elected officials, the governor will ensure that the law is enforced. Same-sex marriage now the law of the land and not changing in New Jersey.

PEREIRA: New allegations against the NSA. This time over accusations the agency intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France. That's according to a French newspaper that cites documents leaked by former contractor, Edward Snowden.

And in Mexico officials there lashing out against a report that the agency hacked into a public e-mail account of former President Felipe Calderon. Mexican officials say that would be, quote, "unacceptable" and they are now calling for an investigation.

BERMAN: Investigators looking into the deaths of two workers after they were struck by an out of service bay area Rapid Transit Train over the weekend outside San Francisco. The employees were killed Saturday while they were inspecting the track. This comes in the middle of a really tense labor dispute between union workers and the train company there. Officials say one of the men was a union member who chose to go to work. Both men had experience working around moving trains.

This just in, we're getting the numbers, new numbers for last month's existing home sales. They fell nearly 2 percent in September.

PEREIRA: In other housing news, a source says JPMorgan Chase and the Justice Department have tentatively agreed to a $13 billion civil settlement and it could mean more money in your pocket. Your ears perked up, didn't day? CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, she's got my attention. Break this all down. It seems to be a record deal. This is extraordinary.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is a big, big fine. This is a very big deal. Tentative, still on the table. Let me show you what they're talking about here. A $13 billion fine overall. $9 billion is in fines and penalties, and $4 billion is what they're calling a customer consumer relief, a bit on that in a minute. But this has been a very painful year for Jamie Dimon, the man who runs JPMorgan Chase.

He is someone who was known as America's banker, remember? He was heralded for steering this massive bank through the financial crisis relatively unscathed. In the 11th hour, in the darkest moments of the financial crisis, he picked up Bert Sterns and Washington Mutual at the request of the United States government, he points out.

And of course, many of the problems he's facing now are because of those two acquisitions. This is about settling these civil charges, these civil allegations that some of the shenanigans at the bank at Bear Sterns and Washington Mutual really hurt taxpayers, really hurt Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and were a big part of the financial problems that we had.

BERMAN: What about the $4 billion though? How does that get into our pockets?

ROMANS: Well, that's what's really key here. Because I've looked to a lot of these other sort of settlements and foreclosure initiatives and in terms of first time home buyers or home buyers keeping them in their home, most of the money has gone for short sales and has gone for other second mortgages and the like. So it will be key to see how much of this $4 billion goes into your pocket.

But this is what it could look like, principal reductions, help for underwater homeowners, and for closure payments. This is the framework. But $4 billion has been ear marked to help the homeowners.

PEREIRA: There are still so many people underwater and there is such great concern about that.

BERMAN: And this settles the civil issues and not the criminal case.

ROMANS: John, that's very important to note because that's something that JPMorgan really wanted to get the criminal thing off the table. Not off the table. The $13 billion would not end necessarily the problems for JPMorgan on this front.

PEREIRA: We'll see how the criminal aspect (inaudible) down the line. All right, Christine Romans, thanks so much.

BERMAN: Still to come for us, a nationwide manhunt for two escaped killers over. Stay with us for dramatic video of this arrest and news on what is next for the two convicts who allegedly walked right how the prison thanks to some forged documents

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Two convicted killers back behind bars this morning and more arrests might be on the way. U.S. Marshals hunted down Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker this weekend in Panama City. What's you're looking at right now is a video of their dramatic capture. Forged documents are blamed for their mistaken release from prison weeks ago.

Attorneys later classified them as escapees and say the pair likely had, quote, "A lot of help." CNN's Nick Valencia is outside the Bay County jail in Panama City, where the inmates are right now. A lot of help. It sounds suspicious.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, John. This is where Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins woke up this morning right here at the Bay County Jail. Investigators do tell us though that they're will be more arrests. They are trying to figure out who helped them get their hands on these forged documents and also who helped them with this brazen escape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My God, those are U.S. Marshals.

VALENCIA (voice-over): For the two convicted killers, this cell phone video shows the moment their man hunt ended, just 80 miles from where their escape began. Handcuffed and shackled, Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker said little during their first court appearance after being arrested.

MARTY WEST, U.S. MARSHALL'S FUGITIVE TASK FORCE: We had information that they were here at the Coconut Grove Motor Inn. VALENCIA: Officials tell CNN the two were waiting for a ride from Atlanta in this Panama City beach motel when they were busted. Unarmed, they were detained without incident. At a press conference on Sunday, Florida officials addressed the bureaucratic blunder. The two convicts serving life sentences were accidentally released after showing forged paperwork. Apparently, this had happened twice before. Only the inmates were caught before they got out.

MICHAEL CREWS, CORRECTIONS SECRETARY, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: It is embarrassing. But my concentration at this point is I think everyone else here is making sure that we come up with a process and a procedure that prohibits this from happening in the future.

VALENCIA: Law enforcement has launched an investigation to figure out how Jenkins and Walker duped the system and obtained the fake documents.

JERRY DAILEY, ENFORCEMENT COMMISSIONER, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW: There is speculation, an underlying speculation that there was a source where for certain a sum of money that these documents could be constructed for $8,000. Whether that is true or not will be determined.

VALENCIA: CNN legal analyst, Mark O'Mara says they must have had help.

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It has to be somebody on the inside. It has to be, somebody in the courthouse, maybe even somebody in the state attorney's position, a secretary that can get that paperwork done.

VALENCIA: Standing at his father's grave, Robert Pugh chokes up. While his father's killer, Charles Walker, was on the run, he struggled reliving his family's nightmare.

ROECO PUGH III, VICTIM'S SON: He had no remorse when he killed our father in front of us the first time.

VALENCIA: Police are now promising to hold all who contributed accountable telling CNN that additional arrests are expected.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: State officials say as a result of this incident, they're going for now require a judge to verify an inmate's early release. As far as Walker and Jenkins are concerned, they appeared in court this past weekend and have another court date on Friday where they will be transferred over to the Department of Corrections. It's still unclear though if they're going to be headed back to that same jail where they escaped -- John.

BERMAN: Nick, it sure seems like a good idea to double-check those early release notices. As you said, officials saying more arrests are likely on the way. CNN's Nick Valencia in Panama City, Florida, thanks so much. PEREIRA: Still to come, defiant and determined, Senator Ted Cruz talks like a man on a mission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I think what we're trying to do is bigger than the economy, the budget, and bigger than Obamacare. What we're trying to do is really change how Washington operates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: Big plans but not a hint of a backing down. Ted Cruz, one on one, with our Dana Bash.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: In just about an hour, President Obama will face the cameras and confront some of the computer glitches that have dogged the launch of parts of Obamacare.

PEREIRA: And quick to seize on those problems, Obamacare's leading critic, Senator Ted Cruz. His do or die opposition infuriates Democrats. It makes him a hero of fellow Republican conservatives back in Texas. Colorful, defiant and blunt. Cruz sat down for one on one interview with our Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you planning on doing this again January 15th when the current bill that was just passed to re-open the government, when it finishes?

CRUZ: There will be time enough to talk about specific strategies and tactics. What I can tell you is that I think we need to keep as the top priority, providing meaningful relief --

BASH: But you're very deliberately not ruling it out.

CRUZ: What I'm saying it the top priority. There are a lot of politicians in Washington that want to put it behind us. OK, fine. No more discussing Obamacare. You know what? The American people are not satisfied with that.

BASH: But on a practical level, what is frustrating some many of your colleagues is they think you're turning your ire on them instead of trying to electric more Republicans to do what you want to do. Your tactics are being used for fundraising tools for the very groups that do fund them.

CRUZ: My ire is focused on Obamacare because it's not working and not helping American people. I'm not willing to go to the Texans who elected me and say, "You're hurting because of Obamacare, but I've washed my hands." I'm not willing to tell that to my constituents, and I am encouraging Senate Republicans to stand together for --

BASH: And to those who say you've tarnished the Republican brand and set the Republican party back in efforts to retake the Senate, maybe get in a position where a Republican can win the White House in 2016.

CRUZ: The single most damaging thing that has happened to Republicans for 2014 is all of the Senate Republicans attacking the Republicans attacking them for trying to defund Obamacare, and lining themselves up opposite the American people. I'm hopeful that will change. I'm hopeful there will be some time and some reflection and that Senate Republicans will come back to the principles that they believe and campaigned on. I'm hoping we'll put action behind the campaign promises.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA: That's our Dana Bash reporting. Cruz is also not backing down from well-known members of his own party and accused him of damaging the party's image.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEB BUSH, (R) FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I think the best way to repeal Obamacare is to have an alternative. We never hear the alternative. We could do this with a much lower cost and improved quality, based on our principles, free market principles. And two, show how Obamacare flawed to its core doesn't work. Have a little bit of self-restraint.

It might actually be politically better approach to see the massive dysfunction. We don't hear about that because we've stepped on that message. And I think Republicans need to take a step back and allow, show a little self-restraint and let this happen a little more organically.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you blame Ted Cruz for that?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I blame the whole effort.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, he led it.

MCCAIN: The whole effort, which as I said --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA: John McCain says he's all for abolishing Obamacare. But he says a government shutdown inflicts far too much collateral damage to innocent Americans.

BERMAN: Still to come from us this morning, the NSA back in the headlines after being accused of spying. Once again, the new revelations that have some of America's closest allies outraged.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: A new source of controversy for the NSA after a French newspaper claims that the agency spied opposite more than 70 million phone calls during a 30-day period. That report based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden. But the anger isn't just limited to France. In Mexico the government there vowing to investigate reports that the NSA hacked into the public e-mail of former President Felipe Calderon. They're calling it against international law.

CNN's foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty is at the State Department this morning. Good morning, Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michaela. Well, you know, the timing of this is extremely bad as far as the United States is concerned because the Secretary of State John Kerry just arrived in Paris for a previously scheduled visit. You can imagine that he's going to have to address this.

In fact, we're expecting, according to a senior administration official, something coming from the embassy today. And also, there will be plenty of opportunities to ask Secretary Kerry what his opinion about all of this is.

In the meantime, the foreign minister summoned the American ambassador to speak about this. He showed up. They've had that discussion and here is what a quite angry foreign minister said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURENT FABIUS, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): These kinds of practices that violate policy are totally unacceptable. We must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated. So the ambassador will be received this morning at the Cadorse (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: Right, so we have a really bad situation with France now, at least publicly and as we've been reporting, just yesterday there was a report about spying, alleged spying by the NSA on the public e- mail of the former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon as well as gathering, systematically gathering intelligence and eaves dropping on the Mexican government.

We did get a statement from the NSA just a few minutes ago saying that they're not going to comment publicly on every single allegation. But they say "as a matter of policy, we've made clear that the U.S. gather foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations."