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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Toronto City Council Votes Against Mayor; Filipinos Struggle in Haiyan Aftermath; Live Coverage of Toronto City Council Meeting; Democrats Frustrated with Obamacare
Aired November 13, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The city council confronting their crack-smoking mayor, officially calling on him to take a leave of absence and get his life in order, but how will he respond?
Also, this hour, Alec Baldwin's bizarre day in court, teary-eyed testimony about the woman he calls his stalker. And today it's her turn to tell her side.
And, prepare to be inspired by a young man who is a free man today after spending a third of his life behind bars, all the while trying to prove he was innocent. It's a story of forgiveness that you will not soon forget.
Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Wednesday, November 13th. Welcome to LEGAL VIEW.
Shock, scandal and outrage, that's all one thing, but now the mess in Toronto is getting serious.
More or less serious, because as we speak, that man, and the city council that he represents, they're all dealing with emotion right now to specifically suggest that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford take a leave of absence over his substance abuse issues.
And you know the substances I'm talking about, right, one of it starts with a "C" rhymes with whack?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAYE ROBINSON, TORONTO CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Toronto is distracted and for good reason.
Our city's reputation has been damaged and continues to suffer, and it has become difficult to focus on the pressing and substantive issues facing the city council.
Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence to address your challenges privately, outside of the public eye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: CNN's Paula Newton is watching all of this unfolding, live. She is in Toronto and she's actually at the council meeting.
There are two motions as I understand it, Paula, that are in play today. What are they, and maybe more importantly, does either of them have any teeth when it comes to Rob Ford?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely no teeth. I know many people will be surprised to hear that.
But what many people are talking about here is having the morale authority to, in the first instance, ask Mayor Rob Ford to step aside and then to apologize for his actions.
I have to say, Ashleigh, it's getting pretty ugly here. We are in a five-minute recess. There was some kind of a commotion in city council. The mayor got up. There are lots of accusations right now about decorum and who is speaking when.
The actual motion itself won't even be debated, Ashleigh, until at least another 30 or 40 minutes from now.
Right behind me now, this is the overflow. They are broadcasting the council meeting here in the main hallway at city hall.
Many people in Toronto and around the world really riveted by what's going on because the mayor, Rob Ford, and his brother, Doug Ford, his chief supporter really, are saying, look, we are going to stand our ground.
The mayor says that he will not step down and that he will face all the people on council, now about two-thirds of council steadfastly against him, wanting him to step down voluntarily, something he still says, Ashleigh, that he refuses to do.
BANFIELD: So, Paula, one of the members of council definitely not in that percentage that wants him to step down would be his brother Doug, a councilor, as well, and who stood behind him all this time.
How is he factoring in to today's hearing?
NEWTON: He's made some comments to us this morning, saying that basically this is a waste of taxpayer money. He has said this is going to be a bloodbath and a public flogging.
They're making it seem, certainly the Ford family, that want the council wants is a kind of public punishment for Rob Ford and that they don't really want him to get better. They're trying to save their own political skins.
Again, Ashleigh, this is getting incredibly ugly from that point of view, and Doug Ford saying himself that he doesn't expect any kind of decorum out of this meeting, that it's just going to be a lot of insults flying towards his brother and his family.
Having said that, speaking to the deputy mayor this morning, Norm Kelly, he's saying, look, he wants this to be reasonable, responsible, and very quick. They want to get this dealt with. But that does mean, Ashleigh, that the mayor's going to be up there at city council basically having an inquisition, what amounts to an inquisition, about things that are very personal.
BANFIELD: Extraordinarily. In fact -- Paula Newton, thank you. Great work, I don't want to keep you from your coverage. And I know you're only in a short recess.
One of the things that you've been hearing about is councilors who brought forth these motions that Paula was reporting on.
One of the councilors who brought forth one of those motions used to be a big supporter of Rob Ford. So here in America we tend to think everything politicized and that everything's for particular gain for a political party, but in this particular case, maybe not so.
The councilor named -- and pardon my pronunciation here, but -- Denzil Minnan-Wong, again, a big supporter of Rob Ford, brought forth instead what you're hearing today, the demand that he apologize, that he take a leave of absence and that he actually cooperate with the police.
He just stood up right before Paula left that room and had this to say about something he said was a personal confrontation between himself and the mayor. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENZIL MINNAN-WONG, TORONTO CITY COUNCILMAN: He stood in my way and blocked my path in a threatening way, in a way that I have never experienced on my time on this council.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're too much, buddy.
MINNAN-WONG: I would ask that he -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Councilor Ford, please.
MINNAN-WONG: I would ask that he apologize.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should be ashamed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: I just don't know what to say. You can hear in the background, you're too much. Councilor Ford, I'm assuming Councilor Ford means brother. Unless they happen to call the mayor councilor, as well. There's two Fords in that room right now.
But. Danny Cevallos, I don't know what to begin to ask you to ask you on this one.
When Paula Newton said there's no teeth, there really are no teeth that they have to get rid of this man?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. There's no mechanism in this jurisdiction in Canada to impeach Mayor Ford unless and until he's convicted of a crime. And he has not been convicted of a crime.
And I might add, that even though he's made admissions, even though there may be video, even in Canada I have to expect it would be exceedingly difficult to get a drug possession case conviction without a seizure analysis, although they may be able to get him on paraphernalia or something like that.
But the bottom line is, he has not been convicted yet, and there simply isn't a mechanism.
The motion today is essentially a motion to agree that crack is bad. That's about it.
BANFIELD: I mean, it sounds crazy.
I just want to also let our viewers know that that comment that you just heard from that councilor, it was referring to an incident today, I mean, literally today, that councilor had that run-in with the mayor.
It's just -- it's astounding that this is continuing to go on. I'm sure it very shameful for a lot of people in Canada that he's on the news every day, all day long, on American networks. It's is very embarrassing situation for them.
But short of that charge, is it a charge or a conviction? Which one is it?
CEVALLOS: It appears to be a conviction. That's how he weak the whatever the charter is that governs this particular jurisdiction is, that he simply cannot be removed.
So that's why when we talk about not having teeth, literally the only motions at issue today are a motion to agree that we do not like your behavior and to ask, not order, but ask the mayor to take a leave the absence.
BANFIELD: It's remarkable. I mean, again, that's the one that's nonbinding. Apparently that second motion is a little bit confusing, but essentially it would take his powers away by suspending his authority to dismiss the deputy mayor and use his executive committee powers to run the budget process.
But obviously this continues. This story continues.
Danny Cevallos, don't go anywhere. If you wouldn't mind, stick around for a moment. Thank you for that.
We've got a lot of other cases that we're covering on LEGAL VIEW, and just ahead, they are desperate for food and water, Filipinos who are struggling to find what they need simply to survive.
And it's just utter devastation there. When they discover the remains of missing loved ones, it is absolutely heart-wrenching.
We're back right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Hungry, suffering and filled with despair, people in the typhoon-ravaged areas of the Philippines are desperately waiting for help right now.
They're still waiting to bury their loved ones this morning, too. The number of dead now stands at 2,275, Three-thousand-six-hundred-and- sixty-five have been hurt in this storm, and 660,000 have nowhere to go. They are homeless.
Just take a look at these pictures. They'll give you a very clear idea of what Tacloban, the hardest hit area, looked like before, right before the storm hit, and now watch the transition.
That's the after picture, just a remarkable change, miles and miles of rubble, again, the before and after the Tacloban.
The World Food Program has also sent at least 2,700 tons of rice to the Philippines, but once it gets to the islands, it's really hard to get it to the people who need it.
Our Anderson Cooper got there, as well. I don't think he was prepared about what he was about to come across.
Typically, we go to these stories. We look for the damage. We try to assess the numbers, the issues.
But when you come across people who've lost their entire families and are still sitting amongst their corpses, it's overwhelming. Have a look at his report.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": In Tacloban, the misery is beyond meaning.
This is your home?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: The first. The first, she says, our house was one of the first to come down.
COOPER: Jubelyn Tanyega (ph) sought shelter from the storm surge in this bus with her husband and six children. She survived. They were swept away.
And has anyone come to help you?
I really want to see them, she says, even if it's just their bodies.
She has found the body of her husband and shows us the bodies of three of her children. She's covered the kids as best she can.
Now, she searches for her three other children. She doesn't believe they survived the storm.
Where will you sleep tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here in the street, anywhere. I don't know where I go.
COOPER: In Tacloban, there isn't anyplace to go.
Juanito Martinez (ph) is living in a makeshift shelter. His wife Jena (ph) and daughter are covered with sacks nearby.
I really want somebody to collect their bodies, he says. I want to know where they're taken so then I can light a candle for them.
Juanito cooked some rice and noodles for his neighbors. One of the men tells us he wants to call his mother in Manila. He's desperate to tell her that he and his daughter survived, though his wife and two other children are dead.
We dialed her number on our satellite phone.
They're gone. They're all gone, he says.
JUANITO MARTINEZ (PH), SURVIVED TYPHOON: Mama!
MARTINEZ (via translator): I don't know why this happened to me.
COOPER: You won't find answers here in Tacloban. You'll only find loss. You'll only find misery. With so little help, that is just not going away.
Anderson Cooper, CNN, Tacloban, Philippines.
BANFIELD: Just some outstanding reporting by our colleague, Anderson Cooper.
I know when you watch that, you can't watch that without feeling something very deep, and you want to help you to help.
And we actually want to help you to help, so if you want to reach out to the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, just go to CNN.com/impact.
CNN.com/impact, there's an array of different charitable organizations, all of them you can trust. We encourage you to go and check that out and do what you can to help those people who are so in need.
I want to take you live back to Toronto right now. Just before we went to cover the typhoon aftermath, we were telling you about the accusations that a Toronto city council member is making about Rob Ford physically obstructing his path this morning. Rob Ford has just been speaking up and addressing that, denying that it happened. Let's listen in live.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
FRANCES NUNZIATA TORONTO CITY COUNCILLOR, WARD 11: We have an agenda that we're here to do. It's our job to get this agenda through.
MINNAN-WONG: Madame Chair, there is nothing more important than how this council operates and that we're free to take our positions and act on behalf of the best interest of the city. I refer you to the council perks assisted me with this, rule 27-47. If a member disobeys a rule in the procedural bylaw or a chair's ruling, he's failed to apologize, that you have to give him a -- that you are required to give or you may give a verbal warning to the member. That's the only remedy available. I would ask you that you use that remedy.
NUNZIATA: Okay. Okay. Mayor Ford, I did say when we started that in fact I did not hear you, but there were members of council that did. So I'm asking you, I'm asking you, mayor, if you would please apologize so we can continue with the agenda. That's my ruling.
ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: Madame Speaker, apologize for following the rules and asking the other members of council to follow the rules? That's what I'm apologizing for? No. I don't think there's apology necessary. If it I said something derogatory, if I did what he's accusing me of, yes I would apologize. But I did not say that. Madame Clerk was right there. All I did was asked him to do is take a seat while people are asking questions. That's the rules. Not walk around. That's it. There's nothing to apologize about.
NUNZIATA: Mayor Ford.
FORD: So, no, I'm not going to apologize. If I did something wrong, I would apologize. I did absolutely nothing wrong besides ask them to take a seat, like you do every ten times a meeting you tell members to take their seat
NUNZIATA: Mayor Ford --
FORD: --take their seat when people are asking questions. That's all I did.
NUNZIATA: Councilman Wong felt that you said it in a manner that was threatening. That's why it's --
FORD: You know what, Madame Spearker, I'm sorry. You know -- you know what?
NUNZIATA Okay. Thank you.
NUNZIATA Thank you, Mayor Ford. Thank you Mayor Ford.
FORD: I didn't mean to -- NUNZIATA: Mayor Ford, that's all I wanted you to say.
Okay. Councilor Grimes, are you up on a point of order or point of personal privilege? Personal privilege, Councilor Grimes.
MARK GRIMES, TORONTO CITY COUNCILLOR: I would like to remind my colleagues for what it's worth, it's World Kindness Day today -
GRIMES: So, if we could take that in the spirit of moving this agenda forward, it would be great.
NUNZIATA: So what, we should all give each other a hug today?
(END LIVE FEED)
BANFIELD: Okay. Okay. So Toronto City Council is going to give each other a hug right now. What you just saw was the city councillor demanding an apology for the mayor for getting in his way and saying something derogatory. The mayor refusing to give that apology. And then I think a miscommunication where the speaker asked him for the apology and he said I'm sorry -- I believe he may have been saying I'm sorry I'm not going to do that. But they cut his mic and they said, there you go. We got the I'm sorry out. This is unbelievable. The drama in Canada.
In the meantime we have our own drama here. Problems with healthcare.gov, that website. The problems are, quote, unacceptable, and that comes from the big guy, the chief technology officer is sitting in the hot seat today. We're going to take you there live.
BANFIELD: So you undoubtedly know that things aren't going well in Washington. I know you know that all the time. But particularly when it comes to Obamacare, in the hot seat today in yet another committee hearing, and there have been more than two dozen of them. Right now, in fact that man is Mr. Chao, Henry Chao is the deputy chief information officer for the center of Medicare and Medicaid services. I know that's a long title, but they're responsible for getting the whole Obamacare website rolled out, and he's been answering a lot of questions. But the big IT guy has also been sitting in the chair, having to answer questions. The chief technology officer for the White House has also been having to answer questions.
And before I get to that, there's other breaking news. Democrats who increasingly are getting very frustrated what what's going on with Obamacare, a piece of legislation, many of them if not all of them signed onto, literally and figuratively, they're very angry with what's going on and starting to demand big answers. Dana Bash joins me live from Capitol Hill now. Chief congressional correspondent, apparently, they're demanding answers in the White House. Big heated meeting today?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right it was actually a meeting here on Capitol Hill. It was a regular Democratic caucus meeting. But members of the administration came to try to explain their messaging on Obamacare. I'm told by several sources now who were in this meeting that it did get heated. And even members of the House Democratic caucus who are supportive Obamacare and the law, and making it work, were openly very frustrated, openly demanding that the administration give answers and make changes soon.
What is going on, especially in the House, as I reported with you yesterday, I was told that there's a de facto deadline this Friday. And the reason is the House Republicans have a vote plan that they're going to put on the floor to make clear that anybody who has their health insurance and likes what they have now, that they can keep it. Basically saying that the president's promise, they have to keep that promise.
Now Democrats think that that legislation for many reasons is flawed. By politically, Ashleigh, they feel a lot of pressure to support it because they understand that there is a lot of anger out there from their constituents. That anger or frustration, probably is a better way to put it, was being vented, I'm told, by several sources in this private meeting this morning. It really all goes to the issue, that, yes, Republicans are sorts of having a field day with this because they never liked the law. But the Democrats who do like the law who are increasingly upset with the administration, that they don't feel like they're getting answers.
BANFIELD: Okay, so reconciling those two thoughts, do like the law and are upset. Is it fair or is it unfair to characterize this as "they're dropping like flies," all of those Democrats who at once were so in lock step with the president on this?
BASH: I don't think we can say they're dropping like flies yet. Even those who are the most critical say that they want the law to be fixed. The question is how it's fixed and when it's fixed. I think it is fair to say that they're maybe not dropping like flies, but being much more aggressive in saying to the administration that they do not think that this has gone well. Not just obviously with the website, which is the subject of the hearing that's going on right now, but also with the political promise that the administration gave and also members of Congress gave based on what they thought that the law actually did.
BANFIELD: You know, if you can stand by for one second. Just as I was coming to you about this meeting, this heated meeting between the Democrats and the administration, I was also headlining what was the lead story when I came to air and that was that Todd Park finally gave in and the administration put him forward to talk to the members of Congress who are upset about the failings of the website. As the chief technology officer for the administration, they didn't want to him testify, saying he was too busy, but then put him forward to do so. Let's hear a slight bit of what he was being forced to answer and how he handled these tough questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD PARK, U.S. CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER: I don't take any of this personally. It's a fast-moving situation with a lot going on. What I would say is this, is that it was the case absolutely that volume was a key issue that hit the site. It's still an issue for the site, though we've greatly expanded and are expanding the ability for the site to accommodate volume.
I relayed my best understanding at the time in each of my statements. It's the nature of things that as you do more painstaking diagnosis of a system, you learn more about what you need to do to fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: I wish you could see the body language of our political panel today. Will Cain, a conservative columnist and CNN political commentator directly to my right. Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist and PR executive to my far right.
Will, first to you, because you were doing, oh, here we go again with the same 'ol, same 'ol. I've got to ask you this, couldn't the same argument be made towards Republicans. Here we go again, committee meeting number 25-ish. Seven committees, could that not be seen as a distraction from the very critical work at hand? Get the thing going. Stop pulling all of the experts in and let them do their job.
WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because Obamacare has suffered from too much oversight for the last three years. That's the explanation for defenders of Obamacare, that too many people had to report the numbers and the credibility of that program for the last three years. If people want answers today, they're very well entitled to them. They were told things, Republicans, Democrats, elected representatives, they were told things. Robert, I'm going to give you a chance, I promise you.
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Will.
CAIN: They were told that -- if they liked their plans they get to keep them. Now we're hearing numbers about the number of people who enrolled in Obamacare. Do you know what they're including in enrollees? People that have it in their shopping cart. Amazon, no business runs this way. It's suffered from a lack -
ZIMMERMAN: Will, you made your point, now you're running the clock.
CAIN: The lack of credibility, Robert, that's the issue.
ZIMMERMAN: The point is, the congressional hearings are nothing. The Republican congressional twerking. That's really all they represent. They're a cheap thrill and gimmick for the base. They have no relevance in addressing the issues. And we've seen this -- remember the IRS hearings, Solyndra , fast and furious, all based upon leaks they get out there into the press, and sand-bagging witnesses, and they produce nothing substantively. There's no question, we know the website is broken. It's got to be fixed. We know people should be entitled to the insurance plans. What I find galling, Ashleigh, is the hypocrisy from the right wing Republicans. When people were losing -- 14,000 people a day were losing their insurance policies in 2008 and 2009, you never heard from the Republicans or the right about the need to make sure insurance was protected. Now all the sudden, this is their mission. It's just nothing more than politics.
BANFIELD: And will, look. That's a great point. At some point do the Republicans risk a little bit of overkill? You've had, I'm sorry - you've had -- it doesn't work and we're going to make sure it gets working. You've had, look, this happens with this happens with every major piece of legislation in America. They don't roll out perfectly. At some point do the Republicans risk being seen as kicking people when they're down instead of helping the process towards fixing for a solution?
CAIN: If who you mean by the people is the government and our bureaucrats who have failed this process -
BANFIELD: Those who -
CAIN: That's not the people, Ashleigh.