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Obama Speaks on Business; NSA Denies Snooping; Boston Celebrates

Aired October 31, 2013 - 13:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. King, I there any other evidence that you would like to receive, any other information, evidence, that was not made available to you for whatever reason by local authorities? At one point they cited that there were minors involved, so they couldn't release some of the videotape. Is there anything else that you want to see that you haven't received yet?

CHEVENE KING, FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, certainly, we would like an examination made into the location of Kendrick's organs, his clothing, what happened to his fingernails, things which we believe would lead an investigator to -- or in the direction of who may have been involved in taking this young man's life. So we feel, however, that the court order that now gives us the right to take close examination of the videotape that should show not only whether he entered the mats (ph), but certainly whether or how he got to the gym that following morning will be most revealing.

BLITZER: Benjamin Crump, do you have confidence that the U.S. attorney and the FBI will get to the bottom of this case?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, FAMILY ATTORNEY: We certainly are optimistic. We believe it should be a matter of simple justice. We know the videotape would not show Kendrick Johnson climbing into a mat (ph) getting stuck and suffocating. That was a ridiculous conclusion. We really believe his parents have always maintained that their son was killed, and the only question we want to know is why they're covering up for whoever killed their son.

BLITZER: Benjamin Crump and Chavene King, the attorneys, thank you to both of you. And Kenneth and Jacquelyn Johnson, thanks to you as well. Once again, our deepest, deepest condolences.

Is there anything, Jacqueline or Kenneth, you want to say before we wrap this up? First to you, Jacquelyn.


BLITZER: Kenneth?

KENNETH JOHNSON, KENDRICK JOHNSON'S FATHER: The truth is all we ever wanted. And that's what we're waiting on.

BLITZER: We're waiting on the truth as well. Kenneth Johnson, thank you. Jacquelyn Johnson, our hearts go out to you. And as I say, this is a major development. As all of you know, CNN has been all over this investigation over the past six months.

And our team of reporters and producers have really gotten some information, I think, I think, that propelled the U.S. attorney in Georgia to go forward with reopening the case and launching this new investigation. Let's hope we get some answers eventually. Thanks to all four of you joining us.


President Obama's approval rating takes a serious hit. Gloria Borger standing by. We're gonna talk about that. What is going on? Stay with us.


BLITZER: President Obama getting ready to drum up more investment in the United States. He's hosting an investment summit here in Washington to connect foreign and domestic investors with government and economic development groups. It's part of his effort to try to promote job creation here in the United States. He's going to be speaking any minute now. We'll have live coverage. Stand by for that. He wants to create jobs by encouraging foreign investments in the United States.

Other news we're following, how many times and how many ways can you say, 'I'm sorry,' when it comes to the Obama administration and the botched rollout of the website? A lot of ways. President Obama took responsibility for fixing the problems, as did the vice president and the secretary of Health and Human Services.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: You deserve better. I apologize. I'm accountable to you for fixing these problems.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We assumed that it was up and ready to run. But the good news is, although it's not, and we apologize for that, we're confident that by the end of November it will be.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So there's no excuse for it. And I take full responsibility for making sure it gets fixed ASAP.


Our chief political analyst Gloria Borger is here. Gloria, so all these various ways of basically saying, 'I'm sorry.' Is it working? Politically, are they rebounding from this? What's going on?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Wolf, if you look at the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the president really is not rebounding politically. I think you've got a poll there that shows that his job approval has dropped to 42 percent. That's the lowest point in his presidency. The interesting thing to me -- you see it there -- the interesting thing about these polls is that for the first time his favorability is upside down. More people view him unfavorably than favorably. His favorability has dropped 11 points since January. I don't think it's all tied to the website or the shutdown.

But, you know, you've got the NSA surveillance. You've got Syria. He's had a very complicated and tough time of it since he's been re- elected, Wolf. You know, you often wonder why do people want a second term? They always end up with so many headaches in a second term. He's had a very hard time kind of getting going.

BLITZER: So how does he -- I mean, I assume if the website is fixed by the end of November and people are signing up, and big numbers, young people are signing up.


BLITZER: And if the whole system is working, people are happy, then he rebounds?

BORGER: He might. I think it will tack a long time for people to decide, first of all, whether or not Obamacare is working. But then he's got another agenda that he's got to sell, immigration reform, for example.

And if you look at all of the poll numbers that are coming out, Republicans should not take comfort in the fact that the president's numbers are dropping because their numbers are dropping even more. There is a sense of a pox on all of your houses now, with all of this polling that we've seen, Wolf, after the government shutdown, after the debt ceiling fight.

We're in for more fights over, you know, spending cuts and taxes, and I think the public is just sick of it. And they believe that neither Congress nor the president are able to get things done. And I think they're turning off in a huge way.

And don't forget, this is a president who has said from day one that government can work for you, that government can help you, that big government solutions, like Obamacare, can really help you in your life. And if government now seems to be irreparable, then how can he continue to make that point? I mean, it's very difficult. And these two things are at odds with each other.

BLITZER: You know, some have suggested he lost, sort of, the A-team working with him--


BLITZER: --in the first term. The second term comes in, a lot of those people move out. They want to make some money. They're retired. They've worked hard.

BORGER: Sure. BLITZER: And now, he's got the B-team helping him. I don't know if you buy that argument. But other administrations, I've seen it, whether in the Bill Clinton administration or the George W. Bush administration, second term you lose the people--

BORGER: You do.

BLITZER: -- who got you to the dance to begin with.

BORGER: Well, I think what the president has is a lot of people who have been there all along, who are exhausted, physically, emotionally. These jobs are very, very difficult, Wolf. Some presidents decide, you know what? I'm going to bring in some new blood, get some outsiders in here, so I can have somebody who looks at things differently.

I think what we've seen in this president is he goes for his own comfort level, and he promotes people he's already comfortable with. And so, he may be missing that kind of outside counsel that some presidents tend to bring in in the second term.

BLITZER: Speaking of the president, he is now speaking here in Washington, promoting foreign investments in the United States to create American jobs.

Let's listen in.


OBAMA: -- American exports and American workers. I've been to many of your countries, and I've said that when we do business together and when we trade and forge new partnerships, it's good for all of us. I want more American products being sold in your countries. And I want your companies investing more here in the United States of America.

Because it advances my top priority as president, creating good, paying, American jobs and strengthening and broadening our middle class. There's nothing more important right now. And I'm here because I want your companies to know, I want companies around the world to know, that I believe there is no better place in the world to do business than the United States of America.

Think about it. Globalization and technology means you can go just about anywhere. But there are a whole lot of reasons you ought to come here. We're not just the world's largest market. We're growing. Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis, and over the past 3 1/2 years our businesses have created more than 7.5 million new jobs.

Thanks to the tough decisions we've made to tackle our long-term challenges, America's becoming more competitive from the business standpoint. We're reforming a broken health care system. And as a consequence, health care costs are rising at their slowest rate in 50 years. We've cut our deficits by more than half since I took office. And they keep going down. We've pursued an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and we are producing more traditional energy, more renewable energy than ever before, more natural gas than anyone in the world. And we have cut our carbon pollution in the process.

So while the case for doing business in America's always been strong, we've made it stronger. And of course, you will find no better workers than American workers. Our productivity is rising. We have the world's best universities, its most innovative entrepreneurs. We have its strongest intellectual property protections to go along with a rule of law that matches up with anyone.

And thanks in part to a new initiative focused on exports and the new trade agreements that I've signed, we sell more products made in America to the rest of the world than ever before. So as you've heard, repeatedly today, and you will hear undoubtedly after I leave the stage, America is open for business. And businesses have responded.

You know, after a decade in which many jobs left the United States to go overseas, now we're seeing companies starting to bring jobs back because they're seeing the advantages of being located here. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel's opening its most advanced plant right here in the United States.

And there are a whole range of fashions involved. People are looking at lower energy costs here. They're looking at stability. They're looking at the increased productivity of our workers. All these things are adding up. And people are saying, why would we want to be outside the world's largest market when we can get our products made effectively here and this is a great platform from which we can export all around the world.

And it's not just companies based in the United States. Honda's betting on America by expanding production operations in Ohio, and Alabama and Indiana. And, today, more Hondas are made in America than any place else in the world. Samsung's betting on America by revamping their plant in Austin, Texas. A $4 billion investment. Siemens is betting on America by hiring hundreds of new workers in North Carolina and putting $50 million a year into training its U.S. workforce.

And that's the kind of investment that we've always welcomed as a nation, but the reason for Select USA is, we know we can do more. We know we can be better. So two years ago I acted on a recommendation from the CEOs on my jobs council and we created Select USA to encourage more foreign companies to invest and create jobs right here in the United States. And we've shown that this works. As Penny (ph) mentioned earlier this morning, with help from Select USA, the Austrian company (INAUDIBLE) is creating 220 jobs in an auto parts plant in Cartersville, Georgia. The Canadian company Bombardier (ph) is investing more than $600 million to expand its Lear jet facility in Wichita, Kansas. Asco (ph), a Belgian company that makes high-tech aircraft parts, reopened a shuttered factory in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and they're expected to create 380 good jobs by the end of 2015. And the list goes on.

And I want to see even more of these success stories told across this country, which means I want to make sure we are doing everything we can so that companies like yours want to set up shop here in the United States. And for all the U.S. states and cities who are represented here today, we want to provide you with the tools you need to close those deals and create those jobs. So that's why today I'm proud to announce that I'm expanding and enhancing Select USA to create the first ever fully coordinated U.S. government effort to recruit businesses to invest and create new jobs in the United States.

To do that, I'm taking four new steps to bring more good jobs to our shores. First, building on the great work that our diplomats and embassies do every day, I'm making attracting foreign investment a formal part of the portfolio for our ambassadors and their teams around the world. Now, I meet with our dedicated embassy staffs wherever I go. All of them are great ambassadors for America and they're building bridges and connections every day. Well, I want them doing even more to help foreign companies cross those bridges and come here. And as they take on the expanded economic mission overseas, we'll make sure that they've got the support that they need here at home.

Which brings me to the second point, officials at the highest levels, up to and including me, are going to do even more to make the case for investing in America. Now, I already do this everywhere I go around the world. In public and private I joke with a few American companies that I will deserve at least a gold watch at the end of my tenure from them. You know, I've racked up some pretty good sales. But as - but as a country, we don't always make our case in a coordinated way that links our teams overseas to the right senior officials in Washington. And we're going to change that and make our advocacy more effective, more effective, more connected so that businesses who are making decisions about where to invest are getting timely answers and know that they're going to have all the help that they need.

Number three, we'll make sure that for the first time -


BLITZER: All right, so there you hear the president. You get the gist of it. He's making a case for greater foreign investment in the United States. He wants a lot more foreign capital to come to the United States, to build factories in the United States, get some new jobs going in the United States potentially a hugely significant moment for the U.S. right now, the president insisting, this is an opportunity for a lot of people with money outside of the U.S. to invest that money here in the United States in the process. New jobs, high-paying jobs would be created. We'll continue to monitor what the president is saying.

When we come back, though, other news we're following, including new spying allegations against the NSA. Now accused of tapping into the servers of both Google and Yahoo!. So what is the head of the NSA saying about all of this. Jim Sciutto, our chief national security correspondent, he's standing by live. We'll discuss with him when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: New allegations about another NSA spying program that could have collected massive amounts of data about Americans from Internet search engines Google and Yahoo! through a loophole in the law. Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is here. He's been looking into this.

So what's going on here?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, in all the back and forth with the NSA, they will deny going after the servers of Google and Yahoo! They will not deny going after the communications links between those servers, particularly the ones overseas. Picture undersea cables carrying all this data back and forth. And they will argue that that's their job to spy on foreign communications overseas to protect Americans. But it is another way the NSA has expanded its global reach and one that was revealed by not the kind of document you'd expect from the NSA.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Explained in this simple hand sketch drawing, complete with a smiley face, may be a newly disclosed way the NSA is monitoring the Internet. "The Washington Post" citing documents stolen and released by Edward Snowden reports the intelligence agency has tapped into the communication link, such as undersea cables, connecting Yahoo! and Google data centers around the world. And because those links are overseas, they can do so without any oversight from the U.S. government. The NSA chief delivered a partial denial.

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: This is not NSA breaking into any databases. It would be illegal for us to do that.

SCIUTTO: As in a written statement from the NSA to CNN saying, "the assertion that we collect vast quantities of U.S. persons data from this type of collection is not true." But the NSA did not deny it accesses links between the service or communications of foreigners carried on those links. Reaction from Google and Yahoo! was swift and angry. "We have long been concerned about the possibility of this kind of snooping," said Google, "which is why we continue to extend encryption across more and more Google services and links." Yahoo! Said, "we have not given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency."

Two European delegations upset at allegations of NSA surveillance in their countries met face-to-face with the White House and the NSA chief, who told them all NSA intel gathering in Europe is done in collaboration with European intel agencies. So I ask them, does that make the Europeans hypocritical for criticizing the U.S.?

CLAUDE MORAES, E.U. PARLIAMENT CIVIL LIBERTIES CMTE. DELEGATION: We want to get to the truth of why there was mass surveillance. We have a set of allegations that talks about mass surveillance of our citizens.

SCIUTTO (on camera): By Americans and Europeans or just by Americans?

MORAES: Whoever it was, whatever partners there may have been, whoever it was, we want to get to the truth of it.


SCIUTTO: Well, those two delegations were at the White House to talk spying. And what they say they're asking for is an agreement that sets hard limits on what's acceptable to spy on among friends and what's not acceptable to spy on.

Now, I know that the German foreign minister, in speaking with you, said that you're not going to stop terrorism by listening in on Merkel's phone calls, for instance. But it's interesting, the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, was very expansive about the reasons he thought were justified for spying on foreign leaders of our allies. He said, quote, you know, how they impact us across a whole range of issues, if what they're saying gels with what's actually going on, on trade issues, political issues, et cetera. So he sees it as justified for things other than just terrorism.

BLITZER: Yes, my interview with the German foreign minister on this NSA program. And that will be in "The Situation Room" later today.

Thanks very much. Jim Sciutto reporting.

All right, let's get on to some other news. Very different news.

You may have heard by now, guess what, Boston is flying high today after winning the World Series last night, downing the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 in game six. It's their third World Series win in the last decade. But this one was a little sweeter. It was the first time they've won it in front of their home crowd in, guess what, 95 years. Joining us now from Fenway Park, Rachel Nichols.

Rachel, give us a little bit of a sense of the energy in Boston right now.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: Yes, the last time they won at home, World War I was still going on. So, you know Boston. Just because day has broken, it's not like they're still not celebrating any more. People are excited all over the streets and they certainly have good reason. Not only was this such an exciting victory for an improbable team. This team certainly not picked to win this year. Remember, they finished last in their division last year.

But, of course, also the emotional component. We saw how this city was literally ripped apart earlier this year by the Boston Marathon bombings and people have really used gathering here at Fenway, this Red Sox team, as a way to come back together throughout the summer and fall to have some healing. Marathon victims, first responders, they've been on the field all throughout these playoffs. The players have said that they have supported them. They've pushed them to this win and tonight they were all celebrating together. All through the day today, we expect into the weekend, as well, when they'll have the parade on Saturday, Wolf.

BLITZER: I think the big difference this year, Rachel, correct me if I'm wrong, and I speak as someone with a little bit of beard myself, it was the year of the beard, right?

NICHOLS: Absolutely. They started this in spring training. One guy started to outgrow the other guy. It became a team unity thing. And, you know, Wolf, they tug on the beards every time one of them hits a home run or makes a great defensive play. So maybe we can start that. After you have a great interview, we can tug on your beard.

BLITZER: My beard, their beard - their beard is a lot bigger than my beard. But you know what, beards are good. Rachel, thanks very, very much.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. See you at 5:00 p.m. Eastern in "The Situation Room." "Newsroom" continues right now with Brook Baldwin.