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Council Confronts Toronto Mayor; Toronto City Council Meeting Becomes Contentious; Obama Approval Rating Reaches Personal Low; White House Tech Officer Testifies Before House Committee

Aired November 13, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

We are going to go, first of all though, to Toronto.

MALVEAUX: Rob Ford, the mayor there, embattled, admitting that he, in fact, used crack cocaine. He is before the city council answering a number of questions. It's been ongoing throughout the morning. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That we deliver in the city. Has there been any service that's been disrupted as a result of what's been happening, or slowed down in any manner?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The simple answer, counselor, is no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So everything continued to function -- garbage pickup, turn on your tap, water comes out, everything works?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct, counselor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to committees, have committees continued to function and chairs attending and responding to the issues and the items on those committees?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They all have continued, yes, counselor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And as we know, there's a motion coming forward later. The recommendations within this motion, is there any part of this motion or these recommendations that are, in fact, enforceable or are these symbolic or are they suggestions? Have you had an opportunity to have a look at that Mr. City Manager?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I would say, counselor, is, as they are outlined in the motion, they are requests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're requests?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they're not the same type of recommendations in other issues that we deal with that, in fact, are actions and become enforceable? This is different?



Thank you, Madame Speaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. OK. So that's it for the questions.

Now, we'll go to speakers. The mayor, Mayor Ford, you want to speak at the end, correct? It's your item. Do you want to speak first or do you want to speak at the end?

MAYOR ROB FORD, TORONTO: I'd like my friend, Councilmen (INAUDIBLE), to speak first since. It's (ph) his item.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Thank you. So Councilmen Wong, it's your item. You have five minutes.


Madame Chair, today the whole world is watching. What will they see? A world class city demonstrating world class values? It already knows we know longer have world class leadership. But those watching don't know yet if we can sift out of the small politics of personal gain and instead of jockeying for position or advantage do the right thing. Not for ourselves, not against the mayor, but for the institution of the city of Toronto and its government upon which so many of our citizens depend.

If we retreat behind legalese and say that no law has been broken, no wrong has been done, we miss the point made with such urgency around every dinner table because it is known so clearly in every parent's worrying heart that the values that matter most in forging the life of an individual or of a city come not from the law and justice but from clear and consistent expressions of what is right and wrong. When presented with the choice of doing the right -

HOLMES: That is Toronto Councilman Denzil Minnan-Wong speaking now at this council meeting, which is ahead of a motion to get the mayor, Rob Ford, to step aside to deal with his, quote, "personal problems," unquote. The mayor saying he's not going to do any such thing.

Paula Newton is standing by to talk about this.

Paula, this has just been absolutely extraordinary. I mean theater is probably the wrong word. It's a bit of an embarrassment, isn't it?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an embarrassment, but it's also quite sad. It's an incredible tragedy. What you're witnessing right here, what people out here are witnessing, is like an intervention. It's like we've just all gotten off the therapist's couch.

This man has again and again admitted to the fact that he has done things that criminally are wrong, not just morally wrong, and this was predicted to be that kind of an inquisition. And that's exactly what we're getting today. It is getting ugly. Even within the chamber, I can tell you, there's been a lot of heckling, no matter who is speaking at a given time.

I want you to hear now, though, what crucially Mayor Ford said in answer to a direct question about his drug use.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, have you purchase illegal drugs in the last two years?





NEWTON: You know, despite the fact that he admitted that there, Michael, he says, look, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay in this job. I can do my job. When his friend, the counselor, standing next to him asked him, look, are you addicted to drugs, are you addicted to alcohol? He stood up and said, categorically absolutely not.

It is going on and on here, Michael. This doesn't show any sign of ending for at least a few hours. Thankfully they're going to be in a lunch break soon. The mayor had predicted that this would happen, that he would be publicly humiliated really this way. This is what he's saying is happening. And it's sad for many, many people, even those who are angry with Rob Ford and want him to step down. Many people wondering whether or not this is really appropriate.


MALVEAUX: And, Paula, I noticed too, I mean he apologized. He said he spoke to his family, that he's getting professional help here. But what can this council do essentially? I mean can they say, look, do they have the power to kick him out of office?

NEWTON: This is all pretty much an exercise in moral authority and I think that's another thing that angers many people. I mean as much satisfaction as perhaps the counselors are getting out of this right now, it isn't going to matter for much at the end of the day. They cannot remove him from office. He says he will continue to stay in office. It doesn't matter if this motion passes. And it looks like they've got at least two-thirds of the council that will pass it. It will not change the fact that the mayor is in charge of this city still.

Now, there is another motion pending in the coming weeks which could strip the mayor of those powers. Procedurally, that's coming way off in the distance. And right now everyone is just completely riveted by a man who's essentially going through a therapy session and really is on the spot every minute answering questions like you would be in a court of law really.


MALVEAUX: All right.

HOLMES: Yes, extraordinary stuff. One of the counselors there was actually asking if he would sit down and have a conversation with him to discuss his issues. He can't be (INAUDIBLE). It's important to note, though, in Canada, the mayor of the city has not got the same powers that a mayor in the United States has got. They -

MALVEAUX: It's a little -

HOLMES: It's limited.

MALVEAUX: It's different. It's a little deja vu for me. I used to live in Washington, D.C. Former mayor, Marion Barry, you know, on tape smoking crack cocaine, of course going through the whole motions. Eventually, you know, he lost his job. Eventually he was redeemed.

HOLMES: He's still on the council.


HOLMES: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: In fact, he is.


MALVEAUX: So you never know where this is all going to end up.

HOLMES: Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto not going anywhere he says and it looks like the council can't make him. He is going to speak again a little bit later on and we will bring that to you live when it happens. At the moment, council members are getting to have five minutes each to basically make statements now. That's what's happening in the council chambers.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, we're following this. This is an overpowering stench of death essentially that's hanging in the air. This is in the Philippine disaster zone. This is five days after that monster typhoon hit. Bodies are still decaying in the sun. It is unbelievable the tragedy. The roads, they are blocked with debris. Survivors, you can imagine, they are growing more and more desperate every hour, every day.

HOLMES: Here's the latest now. The confirmed death toll from the Haiyan typhoon now stands at 2,275, although no one believes it's going to stay there. It's going to go up. More people are reported missing. Bodies are still everywhere under that debris you're looking at there. Body bags have started to arrive, but sadly not enough. Authorities say 2 million people are in need of food and water. More than 11 million overall in some way impacted by the typhoon.

MALVEAUX: Tons of food from around the world have started arriving in the Philippines. The World Food Program alone has brought in 2,700 tons of rice, but most of the homeless and starving typhoon survivors, they have yet to actually receive that food aid. That is because this, as you can imagine, a logistical nightmare on the ground trying just to get that aid to the many islands that have been decimated by this storm.

HOLMES: There are major logistical issues, but also a lot of criticism of central government for not running the aftermath, the operation more efficiently. We're going to have a live report coming up from the disaster zone.

MALVEAUX: And then the Justice Department is clearing the way for the world's largest airline carrier. How the merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways could impact how much it costs for you to fly.

HOLMES: Plus, before she became the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton's name show up on what's being called a target list. How her phone could have been hacked or was at least on a list of phones that journalists wanted to hack. That's all coming up here on "AROUND THE WORLD".


HOLMES: Welcome back to "AROUND THE WORLD". We're monitoring events in Toronto where a city council meeting, a bizarre city council meeting, is underway. The mayor, Mayor Ford, the council wants him to step down to deal with his personal problems. He's admitted to smoking crack cocaine. This morning, he admitted to buying illicit drugs and also having drunken binges. We've been listening to councilmen speak. His brother is actually a councilman, as well.

MALVEAUX: So we've been listening to Doug Ford, who is defending his brother. And we want you to listen to this because it is a unique moment inside before the city council where he challenges everyone in the room. So listen to this.


DOUG FORD, TORONTO COUNCILMAN & MAYOR FORD'S BROTHER: Everyone in this chamber is coming across as holier than thou, lily white. None of you have ever done anything wrong, have you, ever? Never. Never. The question is, have you ever smoked marijuana?


FORD: Have you ever smoked marijuana?



FORD: Hold it. Have you ever smoked marijuana?


FORD: It's a question. It's simple.


FORD: A yes or a no. Have you smoked marijuana?


FORD: The answer I guess is yes.


FORD: The answer is yes, I guess.


FORD: I would like everyone else to stand up who's tried smoking marijuana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Counselor - Councilor Ford -

FORD: The whole - the whole council will stand up.


FORD: So don't come across -


FORD: Don't come across that you're holier than thou, OK, because you aren't. Every one of you are not.


FORD: Have you never drank? Have you ever driven --


FORD: Councilman Wong.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Councilor Ford, Counselor Ford --

FORD: Everyone - everyone should be careful about throwing rocks into a glass house.






FORD: Have you ever done illicit drugs Minnan-Wong?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is off. Councilor Ford -

FORD: I know the answer. I know the answer.



MALVEAUX: You can see the brother there, of course, accusing the body of being hypocrites when it comes to drug use here. And, you know, this is something that they - I believe they have taken a recess. We're going to actually hear back from the mayor again, who continues to defend himself because he says, look, you know, I've been dealing with this with my family. I'm seeing a professional here. I'm a hard-working guy. And he, earlier today, challenged everybody, those council members. He said, 'I put my 13 years up against yours. I'm a hard-working guy, and I've done a good job.' He called himself a role model as well.

HOLMES: Yeah, he did. That councilman we were watching before who was speaking, Councilman Wong, is very anti-Ford. There he is there. And he has been -- Minnan-Wong, his name is, and he has been gunning for the mayor on this issue, and the mayor, fighting back, and that question from the mayor's brother was initially directed at that council member there.

And unbelievable, unseemly stuff and, as Paula Newton was saying earlier, sad in so many ways, it's being conducted on a public stage.

They're trying to get him to step down. He says, no way, not happening

MALVEAUX: Yeah, we're going to get much more of this as they've adjourned briefly, but they're all going to come back, try to sort this out. And the mayor, again, will be defending himself. We'll see where all this goes. They don't have the power necessarily to -

HOLMES: No, they can't -

MALVEAUX: -- to take him out of office.

HOLMES: -- make him go. No.


HOLMES: All right. We'll be right back here on "AROUND THE WORLD".



A new survey finds President Obama's approval rating has now dropped to the lowest number since he became president. The latest Quinnipiac University polling showed 54 percent of voters disapprove of how the president is handling his job. Compare that to October 1st when Obama's disapproval rating was 49 percent. Now, this comes after the disastrous roll out of the Obamacare website.

HOLMES: Right now, his approval rating just 39 percent. You see it there on your screen.

Now, also for the first time in Quinnipiac polling history, a majority of Americans now say the president is not trustworthy. Fifty-two percent say he is not honest and trustworthy. That compares to 44 percent who say he is.

MALVEAUX: But Americans think that Congress is doing a far worse job actually than the president.

This new Gallup poll released today finds only nine percent approve of the job congress is doing, nine percent. It is the lowest congressional approval rating in the 39 years that Gallup has actually asked the question. The reason that people give, the top reason here, of course, it's understandable, is the partisanship, the bickering, that is surrounding the partial government shutdown that happened just last month.

HOLMES: In anyone's language, nine percent is staggering. I mean, you could get friends and family to make up nine percent. That is amazing.

Right now on Capitol Hill actually, a congressional committee is grilling the man charged with fixing the flawed Obamacare website. Todd Park is the White House's top technology officer. He was subpoenaed last week by the committee's Republican chairman, representative Darrell Issa.

Now, the White House fought to have him testify in December instead.

MALVEAUX: So the administration they said, 'Well, he's way too busy. He's under this deadline to get the site fixed in two weeks.' So they lost that battle.

Here's what Park said today about the improvements that they're making on the site.


TODD PARK, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER: Getting better week by week, some days are better than others. If you look at the trend line, things are getting better.

One metric of the user experience is called system response time, the rate at which the website responds to user requests like displaying a page that you want. Just a few weeks ago, that rate was on average eight seconds across the system which is totally unacceptable. It's now actually under a second today.


HOLMES: Meanwhile, we're hearing more evidence that the website may not be fixed by the end of the month as planned. Joe Johns, joining us from Washington. Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill.

Joe, let's start with you. The same question we've been asking for weeks, anything about when this Web site could be fixed?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No real specifics on that, Michael, but we do know the administration has said repeatedly that the Web site will be functional for the vast majority of Americans by the end of this month. But, clearly, that suggests it won't be perfect by the end of the month. The administration's been saying for more than a week now that the system can process up to 17,000 registrations an hour.

Also important, I think, to point out that there's been a decidedly political tint to all of the testimony and the questions today. One of the senior members of the committee even bringing up that comment that former President Clinton made just yesterday that the administration needed to make good on its promise that anybody who wanted to have their insurance could keep it. Listen.


REPRESENTATIVE DAN MICA (R), FLORIDA: It's kind of interesting to see as Obamacare implodes how everybody's running for cover.

Yesterday, we saw the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, throw the current president under the bus, so to speak, on this issue.


JOHNS: So a lot of politics in this hearing, as you might expect, Michael and Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, Democrats, we're hearing them and we heard the reference to former President Bill Clinton that, in fact, he, according to at least one lawmaker, threw the president under the bus.

Dana Bash, joining us from Capitol Hill, so, Dana, what does it look like? It seems like you've got a list of people, a long line, that are starting to hammer, weigh in on this and hammer the president on this issue.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, exactly, and you're exactly right. And that is because from the Democrats' point of view, they want this problem, all of these problems, fixed, because they like this law. And politically, they are on record, for the most part, voting for this law, so that is why they are eager to get it fixed.

And I'm told that, just this morning, there was a private meeting here on Capitol Hill with administration officials, and House Democrats really let these officials have it, very frustrated. I was told that the meeting got pretty heated.

Now, obviously, House members in general are known as -- are not known as people who will hide their complaints, so it's not that unusual. But I'm told that specifically on the question of whether people can keep the plan if they like it, that is a very big political challenge for Democrats because House Republicans have a bill. They're going to put it on the floor on Friday.

And House Democrats want to have some kind of alternative, whether it's the administration doing it executively, or if they can't, if they'll come up with something they think Democrats can propose or put out there, legislatively.

They want some alternative because they feel a lot of pressure to vote for a Republican bill, many of them, that the administration insists is flawed and would completely undermine the whole system.

MALVEAUX: All right, Dana Bash, Joe Johns, thank you very much.

This is one of those political hot potatoes that they want this resolved as quickly as possible, the White House, because it's starting to impact the Democrats, their own party and how they're viewed and Obama health care.

HOLMES: And elections aren't that far away.


HOLMES: People have short memories. The shutdown and the damage that did to the Republicans might be getting shifted onto the Democrats now.

Anyway, when we come back, this story is -- just continues to stun and amaze with what you are seeing there on the screen, homes just varnished, debris everywhere, people homeless, bodies in the street.

MALVEAUX: It has been five days since the typhoon hit the Philippines. We are just now seeing the storm surge's full impact on the ground.

Coming up, how the hardest hit area looks, it is like a war zone.