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Senate Goes "Nuclear"; Dow Breaks Record; Anatomy of a Meltdown; Iran Nuclear Negotiations; JFK Murdered: 50 Years Later

Aired November 22, 2013 - 05:00   ET



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: This is nothing more than a power grab.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Gridlock. Gridlock. Gridlock.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There are no rules in the United States Senate.



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: The Senate goes nuclear. Democrats toss out the rules and why Republicans this morning are vowing war now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Different subject. A real life nuclear deal hangs in the balance as talks with Iran continue. We are live with the latest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her remark and I think she made it more than once, is, no, I'm going to leave these clothes on. I want them to see what they have done.


SAMBOLIN: Fifty years ago today, President John Kennedy was killed this morning, remembering that tragic day, along with the mystery -- what became of Jackie's iconic pink suit worn on that fateful day?

BERMAN: You know, the memories are everywhere, in all the papers. You can see in the headlines everywhere. "The New York Post," they've got a special edition.

SAMBOLIN: Something you can take out and keep as a memento and share with the kids. I think this is really great.

BERMAN: Some of the memories people have. I've been reading here really, really astounding.


BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Nice to have you with us. It is Friday, November 22nd. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So, let's begin with the stunning historic vote in the U.S. Senate. It is so extreme that it is called going nuclear, essentially blowing up what had been the rules for a generation. No longer will 60 votes be necessary to move ahead. With most presidential nominations, no longer will the minority be able to filibuster the president's choices for federal judgeships, or executive branch positions.

Democrats have been threatening this for years. Republicans say the majority has gone too far and that they will regret it.

Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash has more.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain is a Republican who tends to work across the aisle, and says by detonating the nuclear option, Democrats may have blown up any remnants of Senate bipartisan.

MCCAIN: It puts a chill on everything that requires bipartisanship.

BASH: Republican feathers are so ruffled, agreement on issues that should be passed maybe harder to find.

MCCAIN: There are going to be difficulties from time to time, where cooperation was probably the case in the past, and will not be now.

BASH: The historic rules change strips Republicans of their power to block the president's executive and judicial nominees, except the Supreme Court. Instead of 60 votes to break a filibuster it's now 51 votes a simple majority. It's called the nuclear option for good reason.

Just a few years ago, even Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he wouldn't do it, saying it would be?

REID: A black chapter in the history of the Senate.

BASH: So what about now?

(on camera): Why isn't this a black chapter?

REID: Things have changed dramatically since 2005, dramatically. For the last four and a half years, they have done everything to deny the fact that Obama was elected and then re-elected.

BASH (voice-over): Translation -- GOP obstruction is unprecedented.

To back that up, Democrats point to statistics from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. In the history of the country, there have been 168 filibusters of presidential nominees. About half, 82, happened during the Obama administration.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: In summary, this is a power grab.

BASH: Angry Republicans don't necessarily dispute the Democrats' statistics about nominees they have blocked. Instead, they point to how many judges they have confirmed -- 215, and rejected five.

The president opposed this tactic as a senator when Democrats were in the minority.

OBAMA: If they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.

BASH: He has changed his tune too.

OBAMA: The vote today, I think, is an indication that majority of senators believe, as I believe, that enough is enough.

BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BERMAN: That is a big milestone in the Senate, no doubt. There was a major milestone for investors in the economy to tell you about.

The Dow Jones Industrials Average finished above 16,000 for the first time, up more than 900 points to close at 16,009. Overall, this year, the Dow is up more than 22 percent. That's amazing. That is a dramatic turnaround where we were four years ago at the height of the financial crisis.

Christine Romans will have much more on this in "Money Time". That's coming up in the next half hour.

SAMBOLIN: The team in charge of the Obamacare Web site apparently knew they were in a bumpy ride in the days leading up to the disastrous rollout. Internal e-mails released by Republicans investigating the launch revealed consistently failed to handle 500 users at one time. That was in final tests. It was supposed to handle 10,000 or more.

BERMAN: The talks are called intense and substantial but one thing they're not called yet is done. There is no deal yet between international negotiators and the Iranian government on freezing Tehran's nuclear program.

Our Matthew Chance is live in Geneva.

Matthew, what's the latest there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, it's very difficult to say. Certainly, we know that U.S. diplomats are briefed by Catherine Ashton, who was heading up the negotiating teams to the five permanent members of Security Council plus Germany, in these talks over Iran, nuclear program.

You have to hang in these diplomatic situations on every word that is spoken, off the record, on the record by the various parties involved, and the words they are using are, you know, in general terms, positive, they are calling the negotiations so far with the Iranians, useful. They're saying that they're substantial, but saying they are intense as well.

So, it's clear difficult negotiation but to be expected it was always going to be hard. The objective is, though -- to do a deal with guarantees that Iran cannot develop a nuclear bomb. It's something it says it's not going to do and many countries, including the United States. Deep skeptical about that. In return Iran will want sanctions for the crippling sanctions imposed by the international community and doing damage on its economy and so the detail of that that is currently being worked out. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry saying the parties are as close as they have been for the past decade, but there's still some way to go.

BERMAN: Coming into this a sense that the five parties in European Union weren't in agreement what the deal would be but Iran needs to come along. Do we think that's still the case? I know it's hard to tell, but does it seem to be what the tea leaves are saying around that building?

CHANCE: Yes. Well, I don't know if it's entirely fair to blame Iran on this. Some obstacles that prevented a deal being done 12 days ago John Kerry was here last time when all other European foreign ministers and Russian and Chinese foreign ministers as well.

A couple of things holding the negotiations up as far as we're aware: one is, Iran's insist ns for a full more recognition of its right to enrich uranium. That's something the powers have balked at. On the other side: the extent of verification. The French raising objection about the heavy water reaction that Iran is building in Arak, which would produce a byproduct that could also be recognized, they want greater inspections on that and work on that to be stopped.

So, there are a couple of problems on both sides. They are not insurmountable we are told by diplomats but they are still watching the details.

BERMAN: All right. Watch this space over today and the weekend, because there could be quick progress, we just don't know yet. Matthew Chance for us in Geneva -- thanks so much, Matthew.

There's also diplomacy going on involving Afghanistan. A tentative deal between the U.S. and Afghanistan is now starting to look shaky. The Afghan President Hamid Karzai suddenly insisting the agreement should not be signed until the Afghan people elect a new president in April. The White House is responding by imposing a year-end deadline. Without this signed pact, there will be no U.S. support groups left in Afghanistan by the end of next year.

SAMBOLIN: Seven minutes past the hour.

Strong signals this morning from the United States to North Korea. Three Americans being held there in strained relations with Washington could improve. This comes after an 85-year-old Korean War vet on a tourist visa was obtained. There's a picture of him there.

Merrill Neuman is his name and his family says they have not heard from him since October. Tensions with Pyongyang have been at an all- time high this year, after the North Koreans conducted nuclear test and threatened a strike on the South Korea and the United States.

BERMAN: So, blame it on sequestration. America's top general in Europe says U.S. military spending there may be slashed as much as 20 percent. Right now, the Pentagon is facing nearly a trillion dollars of cut in the next decade and the next round could come in January if Congress doesn't agree on a spending plan that would end those automatic cuts.

SAMBOLIN: So, it's Friday. That means the weekend is almost here. Did you see Berman? Aahh!

But for a lot of us, it may be a little snowy. This was the scene in Denver suburbs yesterday. That snow, we understand, is moving East.

I say if it's coming, Indra, bring a lot of it so we can play!

BERMAN: Snow not this Friday. That's all that matters.

So, what is going to be anyway, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It kind of depends on where you go, right? And we are definitely talking about more snow in the West, but even flurries are going to be Northeast.

Let's start out West. Let's look at Colorado. Currently, we're not seeing too much. It has already kind of moved south of their region, but higher elevations in Arizona and New Mexico and southern portions of Colorado are still going to be talking about that snow and good amounts of it as the system drops farther south.

Now, of course, farther south, we will be talking about rain where it's a little bit warmer. So, let's separate the two here.

Look at the amounts of snow. Almost two feet of snow south of telluride and 1 to 4 inches in New Mexico and even Big Bear out towards California looking for about a foot of snow from this system. We know it's really good. You can actually see that low spinning around and this moisture filling into the region, so flood warnings likely with the heavy rain into the southwest.

Let's track the systems making their way east, though. Notice this cold front here. Not expected to bring a lot of rain with it. The bulk of the heavier rain would be further south. But, by today, we're already be seeing showers into the Northeast, only about an inch of rain, to the north, further to the south, maybe 2 inches or so but the temperatures we are going to be talking about. Look at these current temperatures, Casper, Wyoming, six degrees, Pittsburgh, 51 right now. The reason I'm sewing you that big gap is the gap will not be that big by the time we get to Sunday and talking about 20s and 30s in New York and maybe a little snow.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: It's almost the season. It's not too early.

Indra, thank you so much.

All right. It was an unforgettable moment. Jackie Kennedy covered in blood after her husband was murdered 50 years ago today. This morning, remembering that tragic death. And then this question -- what became of the iconic pink suit, the suit that the first lady really wanted the whole world to see?

SAMBOLIN: And flying may soon be getting a lot more convenient, but a lot louder. We'll tell you the big change being proposed for you.

BERMAN: Plus, it is time for your morning rhyme. Tweet us with your own original verse. It can be about anything. The hashtags are #earlystart and #morningrhyme.

Mine is very good today. It will be hard to beat it. Still if you do --

SAMBOLIN: Seriously, Berman? Your head is swelling by the second!

BERMAN: Be honest with people.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

It is November 22nd. It was 50 years ago today on this date in 1963 that President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, bringing an end to Camelot, and for many Americans shattering the innocence of the era and changing their entire view of government.

Today, thousands will visit the place where it all happened -- Dealey Plaza in Dallas, for the city's first ever official ceremony marking the tragedy.

But the days before the anniversary also brought protesters insisting that JFK's death was part of a conspiracy.

SAMBOLIN: So one iconic imagine from that day is the First Lady Jackie Kennedy in her pink suit. It would become a symbol not only of what happened in Dallas but also her grace in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

Here is Randi Kaye with more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the words of President John F. Kennedy, she looked smashing in it, which may be why the president asked Jackie Kennedy to wear the watermelon pink suit to Dallas on November 22, 1963.

It looked like Coco Chanel, but her suit was actually a knockoff, made in America. The first lady had worn it at least six times before that fateful day.

Here she is in 1962 awaiting the arrival of the prime minister of Algeria. That's John Jr. in her arms.

In Dallas on November 22nd at this Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast, the president even joked about his wife's fashion sense.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, THEN-PRESIDENT: Nobody wonders what Lyndon and I wear.


KAYE: Later that day, President Kennedy would be dead. And the first lady's stunning pink suit stained forever with her husband's blood would begin a long and mysterious journey.

When aides suggested she change her clothes after the shooting, she refused. Philip Shenon wrote a book about the Kennedy assassination.

PHILIP SHENON, AUTHOR, "A CRUEL AND SHOCKING ACT": Her remark and I think she made it more than once is no, I'm going to leave these clothes on. I want them to see what they have done.

KAYE: Hours later, Mrs. Kennedy continued to wear the suit during the emergency swearing in of Lyndon Johnson as president.

SHENON: That whole scene is obviously just surreal. She arrives in the cabin in Air Force One in these clothes, covered with the president's blood, and expected to stand there and witness the swearing in of her husband's successor.

KAYE: Mrs. Kennedy was still in her suit when she arrived later that evening in Andrew's Air Force Base in Maryland where she received her husband's body, the president's brother at her side in the middle of the night. Once at the White House her personal maid put the suit in a bag so Mrs. Kennedy wouldn't have to look at it.

Then, sometime in 1964, the bloodstained suit arrived here, at the National Archives Building in the nation's Capitol. It comes in a box along with a handwritten note from Jackie Kennedy's mother on her personal stationary. It read simply "Jackie's suit and bag worn November 22nd, 1963."

All this time Mrs. Kennedy's pink suit is forbidden from public view and will likely stay that way for a long time. In 2003 after her mother's death, Caroline Kennedy gave the suit to the people of the United States with the understanding that it wouldn't be put on public display for 100 years, until 2103 and then the Kennedy family must be consulted before any attempt is made to display the suit, all in effort to avoid sensationalizing that horrible act.

And it's believed only a handful of people, maybe only as few as two have seen the suit since. Along with the suit and hidden from view, the blue blouse Mrs. Kennedy wore in Dallas, her stockings, blue shoes and blue purse. What they don't have is the first lady's pink pill box hat.

SHENON: The hat is a mystery. The hat goes to the Secret Service initially and the Secret Service turns it over to Mrs. Kennedy's private secretary and then it disappears. It has not been seen since.

KAYE: The Archive is making every effort to preserve the suit. It's stored in a windowless vault, in an acid free container where the air is changed every 20 minutes or so, to properly store the woolen cloth. It is kept at a temperature of 65 to 68 degrees, which is best for the fabric.

The suit's story, a perfect ending for a first lady who craved privacy after so much pain.

Randy Kaye, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: There is such indelible images and the colors are so bright. Even when it's black and white, by the way, I think you see the pink exploding off the screen.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, you know, that was a really special thing about "TIME" magazine, the colors that they had of all of these images which is so vivid and so bright.

BERMAN: I have to say the bright images of that day are symbolic and emblematic of a way the colors are muted after that horrible act happened. This is all before and then after --

SAMBOLIN: And who knew, I didn't know the story of her suit.

BERMAN: Pretty amazing, isn't it?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it really is remarkable.

All right. You can stay with CNN. We're going to bring you live coverage of anniversary events that are happening throughout the day.

BERMAN: Other news now to tell you about, a 14-year-old Massachusetts boy has now been formally indicted for allegedly raping and killing his algebra teacher. Philip Chism is facing first-degree murder as an adult. The allegations outlined in the indictment are really too horrific to imagine.

Prosecutors say Chism raped 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer in inside the school and dumped her body in the nearby woods. The young teacher had reportedly stayed behind to discuss an upcoming exam with the boy. SAMBOLIN: It was one of the biggest injustices of the last century. The Scottsboro boys, nine black teenagers wrongly convicted in the rape of two white women. This was in Alabama. It was in 1931, with six of them later cleared or pardoned but three others, Haywood Patterson, Charles Wing and Andy Wright remain convicted felons until now, some eight decades later. The state has officially pardoned them posthumously.

BERMAN: Long time coming.

After more than a decade behind bars, Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel is now a free man. A Connecticut judge ordered Skakel released from prison weeks after his conviction for the 1975 murder of a neighbor was vacated. His bail set at $1.2 million. Prosecutors are appealing the ruling which grant Skakel a new trial. The appeals process could take years.

SAMBOLIN: And the SEC is considering a plan that would let airline passengers use their cell phones in flight. The proposal would lift the ban on airborne calls and data use once a flight reaches 10,000 feet. Cell phone use would still be restricted during takeoff and also during landings. Well, the plan would remove a regular hurdle, it's up to the individual airline to decide whether to allow it.

BERMAN: Could we talk about this?


BERMAN: I would like to nominate this for the worst idea ever.

SAMBOLIN: And why is that?

BERMAN: Who wants to hear people yapping on the airplane?

SAMBOLIN: I know. And some people really have no idea how loud they are when they are talking on the phone.

BERMAN: For instance, you?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, except for me.

BERMAN: Besides that for a second. The airplane is one place you can go not to be bothered by work or family, not that work or family bothers me personally but it's peaceful! You want to take that flight. I can't believe they are considering this. I have to imagine --

SAMBOLIN: Bad idea, bad idea.

BERMAN: If any of you think it's a good idea, tweet us here and I will ridicule you. But no, I want to know if there's anyone out there who thinks this is a good idea. Because I think there is --

SAMBOLIN: Can you imagine the fights that are going to happen on the airplane?


SAMBOLIN: That is going to be --

BERMAN: Bad idea.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Twenty-two minutes past the hour.

Alex Rodriguez's appeal coming to a close but his fight to stay in baseball, it is just beginning. Andy Scholes joins us with the "Bleacher Report". That's coming up next.


BERMAN: All right. Thursday night football showcased two teams going in very different directions. Drew Brees and the red hot Saints taking on the struggling Atlanta Falcons.

SAMBOLIN: Would you like more? Andy Scholes has the highlights of this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, before this season, it was the Falcons not the Saints that were super bowl favorites. But it certainly hasn't worked out that way. Second quarter last night, Jimmy Graham hauls in a 44-yard touchdown from Drew Brees and he celebrates by dunking on the field goal post but check it out. He accidentally bends it! Workers had to come out and fix it and causing a brief delay.

New Orleans high scoring offense didn't put up huge numbers in the game but they did enough to beat the Falcons 17-13.

A-Rod's grievance hearing against Major League Baseball wrapped up yesterday with both sides resting their cases. This comes just a day after the Yankees third baseman angrily stormed out of the hearing and decided not to testify in his own defense. A decision from the arbitrators is expected by January. A-Rod's lawyers are already vowing to challenge the ruling in federal court if it doesn't go their way.

All right. You want to own a piece of Red Sox history? Well, here's your chance. Gillette and a few Red Sox players teamed up to shave their beards and they are auctioning off the razor along with the iconic facial hair for charity. Take a look. This ball of hair came straight from the face of Shane Victorino.

It's on eBay right now for more than $1,600! Big Papi's beard is at $4,300.

And, Zoraida, it's really weird. The high bidder on both of those is a J. Berman.

(LAUGHTER) SAMBOLIN: I believe that! You know, I believe you would probably it in your office along with the Big Papi statue. It would be very cool. You've got to fork over a lot of money.

BERMAN: Like Big Papi DNA like the hair, like years down the line, you could clone Big Papi.


BERMAN: I have plans for this.

All right. Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

We'll be right back.