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Key Vote On Unemployment Benefits Delayed; Brain Dead Girl Moved To New Facility; Saving Central Africa's Elephants

Aired January 6, 2014 - 19:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Next, bitter cold, the frigid air forcing schools to close, canceling flights and postponing a major vote in Washington.

Plus the family of the 13-year-old girl declared brain dead looking for a miracle tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jahi McMath has been taken from children's hospital and brought to a place where they will use her name instead of calling her a body.


LEMON: And a major shakeup at "Saturday Night Live." Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm Don Lemon in for Erin Burnett. A developing story, a major vote in Washington postponed tonight blamed on the weather, but did either side have the vote? It's a bill that affects 1.3 million Americans and whether they get their unemployment checks.

A vote to proceed with the bill would have been a huge for the Democrats. They needed 60 votes. That means Democrats needed the support of five Republicans and tonight they didn't have the bodies on Capitol Hill. Straight now to CNN's Joe Johns who is on Capitol Hill for us now. Joe, there was uncertainty about the vote from the very beginning and now the reason we are hearing is the weather -- would the Democrats have even had the votes?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We actually don't know. I got to tell you, if all 100 senators were here at the United States capitol tonight, everybody working it's still would have been a cliff hanger by almost anyone's assessment. The Democrats need five Republicans to go along with them.

My colleague, the Senate producer, Ted Barrett counts four Republicans who have said they will at least vote to open up debate on this issue. But there is still a question of one more Republican according to our count. We don't know whether they had the votes. But we know Senator John Cornyn of Texas went to the floor, Don, and said there were about 17 United States senators who were not present, a couple of more trickled in, clearly though the weather causing some problems for senators to get here to Washington on Monday night.

LEMON: As we said, 1.3 million Americans waiting word on this and their families, is a lot more people than that. So then what happens? Where do we go from here, Joe?

JOHNS: Tomorrow, 10:00 Eastern Time, the Senate is expected to take up this issue, which they could have taken up tonight. It would have been a win/win for them since if they get the numbers and can open up debate, perhaps they have a bit of momentum on this issue and other issues. If they don't get the numbers and they don't get the vote, then they have a political issue to take to the polls later on. That is, of course, unless Republicans figure out something with them in the coming days and weeks.

LEMON: Joe Johns standing by for us on Capitol Hill. Joe, appreciate your reporting. It is it clear that Democrats are going to keep this issue atop of their agenda. I want you to listen to just a few of them.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Instead of punishing families who can least afford it, Republicans should make it their New Year's resolution to do the right thing and restore this vital economic security for their constituents right now.

GENE SPERLING, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We have never over the last half century cut off emergency unemployment benefits when long-term unemployment was even barely over half the rate that we have right now. Now is not the time to start.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Let's start helping the middle class. Let's start helping the poor. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.


LEMON: Joining me now, CNN political commentator, Paul Begala and senior political columnist for "The Washington Examiner," Tim Carney. Paul to you first, are you buying this excuse that it was the weather or do you think they just didn't have the votes?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, probably a little bit of both. Certainly, it's the weather. I mean, John Cornyn, as Joe pointed out, the senator from Texas, is part of the Republican leadership for the Senate. He doesn't want to do any favors for Harry Reid. I do think whether, you know, it was a bipartisan issue.

It is also true that the best vote counters and I heard Joe report say that the Democrats are maybe a vote or two short of the 60 they need. Keep in mind, the viewers should know, the Republicans are filibustering this. The extension of unemployed benefits to Americans who -- most Americans think deserve them, they have to get 60 instead of the 50.

LEMON: Are you buying it, Tim? Do you think it's just the weather? TIM CARNEY, SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, if they didn't have all the Democrats it's clear they didn't have the votes. Will they have the votes when they are all in there? I don't know and the Republican filibuster, the interesting thing we see about that is Democrats had a chance in the budget deal last month to put in this unemployment insurance extension.

So when you hear the way the Democrats are talking, when you hear the way Paul is talking, it's clear that they were more interested in having a fight over unemployment insurance than they were in extending unemployment insurance.

LEMON: You have to go there. We moved on. Let's talk about the president. The president will address unemployment benefits tomorrow. How important is this vote for the Democrats to set the agenda for the year?

BEGALA: Well, it's terribly important. You know, the question of the squeeze of the middle class. You saw Harry Reid talking about that. The Democrats want to focus on that for the year. The collapse of the middle class is the defining of our time. President Obama said that and he will say it again in the state of the union address do. We extend unemployment benefits and raise minimum wage and pass protections for the women in the workplace. That's the heart of what the Democrats want to talk about all year.

LEMON: You are talking about this fairness in pay and equality that the president and the Democrats have been talking about. Democrats have been taking a beating over Obamacare lately. Now they seemed to be changing the narrative and they are taking a page from a newly installed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's playbook about income inequality. It worked in New York City, but that's not exactly a great measure of the rest of the country. Will this measure work elsewhere nationwide, Tim?

CARNEY: I think the Republicans are going to have to counter it. If the Republicans keep saying you can't tax the rich, while Obama and the Democrats are pretending to care about the middle class. It will hurt them. So I've been hoping and I've been writing for a while that the Republicans need to target their message and their policies to the middle class. Get rid of the regulations that keep entrepreneurs out and stop worrying about Mitt Romney's 47 percent talk. I think that will be more coherent than the Democrats ad hoc middle class. That's the only way to counter.

LEMON: Instead of this narrative about the redistribution of wealth and saying it's not right and all the president is trying to do is redistribute the wealth. They need a plan for the middle class?

CARNEY: Yes, and I hope they do. It's hard for Republicans to change old ways, but maybe this time around they'll do it.

LEMON: You know, Paul, Democrats are hoping that this is going to overshadow Obamacare or at least give them enough time for Obamacare to start working properly the way they hoped it would. Should Republicans be a little more concerned that this game plan could work here?

BEGALA: Well, they should and also there is a reality here. There are -- you pointed out at the top of the show. There are 1.3 million Americans whose benefits have run out. It's not because they're lazy or stupid, but because of this recession that we are now digging out of. We have to act on. It's politically helpful to the Democrats. Tim's advice to the Republicans is a good one, but it's they can't quite seem do it. Vast majorities of Republicans support raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits. It shouldn't be a partisan issue. Raise the minimum wage and extend the unemployment benefits.

CARNEY: Raising the minimum wage will exacerbate the unemployment problem and extending unemployment helps people out of jobs, but it increases unemployment. Democrats aren't interested in finding the right balance of policy. They want determine demagogic points. One of the reasons that Republicans are afraid of rolling out policies is because the Democrats have easy cajoles as if that makes people richer, extend unemployment benefits as if that has no negative effects on the unemployment rate.

LEMON: Tim and Paul, until tomorrow night, I'm sure, we'll be talking more about this. Thank you both.

Still to come, the family of a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead is not giving up. They are hoping for a miracle tonight.

Plus the police chief in Detroit wants more guns on the street. We're going to tell you why.

Tens of millions of Americans bracing for historically low temperatures, we'll tell you which parts of the country are most at risk.


LEMON: New details tonight in the case of Jahi McMath, a 13-year-old girl who was declared brain dead by California doctors has been moved to a new facility that is willing to continue treating her. McMath has been on a ventilator since suffering complications from tonsil surgery. Her family is fighting a legal battle to keep her on a ventilator. And now they are concerned about Jahi's safety. We will not be saying where she went or where she is.


CHRIS DOLAN, FAMILY ATTORNEY: We've had people make threats from around the country. It's sad that people act that way. So for Jahi's safety and those around her, we will not be saying where she went or where she is.

OMAR SEALEY, JAHI'S UNCLE: We are very grateful and proud. We want to thank everyone who supported us and in our corner and prayed for us and everyone who helped to donate to make this possible. Without you guys, none of this would be possible. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It is a very emotional case here. And joining me now is CNN's senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and Bobby Schindler, he is Terry Schiavo's brother. You may recall that the Schiavo family lost a prolonged right to die battle with Terry's husband.

Bobby, thank you for joining us. I want to start with you, the spokesman for Children's Hospital in Oakland. Here's what the spokesman said. He said it is very unfortunate for the Schiavo Foundation to play on the idea that Jahi might come back to life in a highly emotional case. This has a lot of emotional controversial like your sister's case did. Why did you decide to get involved with the McMath family?

BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: I don't think we are giving the McMath family any false hopes. All we're saying is that the family should have the right to make the decision to provide Jahi with the help to see if she can improve before you make the decision to end her life. This is a mistake that can't be reversed and the family should be the one making the decision and not ethics committees and hospital boards.

We are seeing it more and more with the ethics committees are making the decisions instead of families when it comes to certain medical situations particularly when you have hospitals that have a financial interest involved. You can see why this could be very, very dangerous.

LEMON: Jeffrey, do you think is it the hospital really making the decision because there had been at least three doctors and a judge have declared Jahi McMath brain dead. Do you think it's really the hospitals and is it time for a judge or a court to step in, in this case?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is, of course, an unimaginable tragedy, and I can't blame the family for clinging to hope. But there is no hope. Brain death is death. This poor child has been dead since December 12th.

And to have outsiders come in and exploit what is going on here is just appalling. This family should be allowed to mourn, but to give them false hope and suggest there is controversy here when there is no controversy is tragic.

LEMON: Is there anything unusual about it? Because he is saying and I'll let him talk about it to you a little bit more, but he's saying that the hospital has decided rather than the family deciding. Is that unusual?

TOOBIN: The coroner -- it's not just the hospital. It's the coroner too, has said this poor child is dead.

This is the fact. There is nothing further to be done for her. It is terrible. But the only thing that's worse is to give these poor parents false hope because there is no hope. Their child is gone.

LEMON: And, Bobby, I know you say this is a decision that should be made by the family. Her body is being kept alive with machines. I mean, is there a time frame in which she should be kept in this state when there is no sign of improvement?

BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: Look, I don't know if Jahi is going to improve. But there have been cases where the same diagnosis have been made to people who emerged from this brain dead condition. And that's all we are saying.

We're not giving this family false hope. We're not saying that she is going to get better. We are saying they should have ever right to provide this girl with a chance to see if in fact she can improve. Doctors are wrong -- they're wrong all the time. When you have a hospital --

TOOBIN: That is not true.

SCHINDLER: -- that put her in this condition in the first place, you can understand why this family distrusts the hospital in wanting to care for this girl.

TOOBIN: That is not true. Brain dead people are dead. They do not come back to life.

SCHINDLER: There are physicians -- there are physicians that have -- that do not believe -- that take issue with this brain death criteria. You'll find them. So, not everybody agrees with this whole brain death criteria.

They referred to her sister as a corpse and dead body, quite frankly, sir, is offensive. And they refer to my sister that way, which was the furthest thing from the truth. Terri was not even close to being brain dead, and people need to get their medical facts right when it comes to brain injury and understand what it is that brain injury is and the families involved for caring for these individuals.

LEMON: Jeffrey, we can argue about that until the show is over. But should the family have the right, the legal right to keep her on a ventilator or machine as long as they want?

TOOBIN: You know, I certainly am not going to quarrel with whatever this family wants to do. If they want to pay to try to have a hospital keep pumping air into her lungs, certainly nothing is going to -- no one is going to arrest them for desecrating a corpse. But that is what could happen to a hospital that persists in this.

It is unfair. This is not a legal process. It's not a moral process to give this family false hope and -- you know, of course no one wants to interfere with the family. They can grieve. They can do this if they want. But no one is doing them any favors by encouraging them --

LEMON: It's tough because, as you know, as a legal analyst, you are giving us the facts here. No one, as you said, no one wants this young lady to be brain dead. It's really tough here. And it's not that you are trying to use language that is hurtful, but those are the facts according to you.

TOOBIN: That's how I see the facts.

LEMON: Bobby, we appreciate you joining us here on CNN. Thank you so much, sir.

And thanks to Jeffrey as well.

SCHINDLER: You're welcome.

LEMON: Still to come here tonight, it's one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and one of the most important. We're going to give you an exclusive look, next.

Plus, Dennis Rodman back in North Korea. This time, he brought some friends with him.

And a major change at "Saturday Night Live."


LEMON: It is one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet. But for those trying to save the elephant population in central Africa, which is shrunk by two-thirds in the last decade, it's also one of the most crucial.

In an exclusive CNN report, Arwa Damon risked her life to follow a group of eco guards as they struggle to fend off elephant poachers in the Republican of Congo.

We need to warn you. Some of the images you are about to see are graphic.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been eight, grueling, hot hours on this river chasing poachers in the Republic of Congo's largest national park. For these eco guards, disappointment follows disappointment.

(on camera): When you put your hand inside, it's actually still quite warm, which means that they probably left early in the morning.

(voice-over): Finally, around a bend, signs of activity, smoke rising along the bank. They rush ashore and fan out into the jungle. Within seconds, a gunshot.

And the pursuit begins. The terrain is dense and disorienting. The men force their way through the undergrowth and slosh through knee-deep water. Our CNN team can barely keep up.

(on camera): They've all gone forward trying to chase down what seems to be a poacher who, at least most definitely, is armed. They appear to have caught him completely by surprise.

(voice-over): Mathieu Eckel, head of the park's anti-poaching division, brandishes the weapon captured by one of his men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy in front of him tried to shoot him.

DAMON: Hooked on adrenaline, Brice Moupele (ph) describes what happened. "He tried to shoot me, like this," he says. Moupele then tackled the poacher, grabbing the gun, but the poacher got away.

(on camera): There's elephant meat in the boat.

(voice-over): The men find the poacher's canoe, weighed down with fresh elephant meat, still dripping blood. Even more hangs off the sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is to take off the tusk.

DAMON: It's a sickening image of a trade that has decimated the park's elephants.

The nonprofit group African Parks, which runs (INAUDIBLE), estimates that Central Africa has lost 62 percent of its forced elephants in the last decade. In this park alone, thousands have been killed in the last five years. In the week we spent here, we only saw one alive.

The park, about the size of Connecticut, is patrolled by just 76 eco guards. Not nearly enough. But some 40 percent of them are former poachers themselves, which helps big-time.

MATHIEU ECKEL, ANTI-POACHING AGENT: They know how poaching work. So it's easy for them to think like them.

DAMON: It's part of a program created by Eckel in the last year, where poachers are given amnesty if they hand over their weapons and confess. Eckel says this raid is proof his program works.

But the unit's successes come at a price. This is a country where corruption is routine, and where poaching with impunity has been a way of life. All these eco guards have been threatened.

Frank Bolangonga tells us three men attacked his wife. "They tried to rape her, but she was strong. She pulled back and her dress ripped off and she ran away," he says. The same men who Bolangonga says are part of his villages poaching ring tried to attack him. He stabbed one of them.

The unit doesn't find any elephant ivory, but does end up with four guns, ammunition and a cell phone, a potential lead to the poachers. The eco guards torch the camp to send a message. These men often find themselves pursuing people they once worked with, friends, neighbors, and even family members. In the ever-evolving fight against the ivory trade, out here, it's now personal.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Odzala National Park, Republic of Congo. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And stopping the illegal ivory trade has become a worldwide effort including in China where six tons of ivory were destroyed today. A growing group of nations has made similar symbolic gestures including the United Nations, which destroyed six tons of its own ivory stockpile back in November.

Still to come, tens of millions of Americans bracing for an historic and life-threatening deep freeze. We're going to tell you which parts of the country will be hit the hardest. Plus, a Detroit police chief takes on his city's crime rate. Why he thinks more guns are the solution. He's going to join us live.

And a random photograph in a newspaper that reunited a family.


LEMON: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.

In an unexpected move, Liz Cheney is bowing out of the Senate race to unseat Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi. In a Facebook post today, Cheney cited, quote, "serious health issues that have recently arisen in our family." She did not elaborate, but CNN has learned from multiple sources close to the family that those health issues involved at least one of her children.

Cheney's candidacy was rocky from the start, with criticism about her residency in Wyoming, to very public dispute with her sister over same-sex marriage. Polling last year showed Enzi with a wide lead.

The Pennsylvania woman who dubbed herself "Jihad Jane" was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Colleen LaRose was indicted in 2009 for conspiring to support terrorists and was allegedly part of a plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Muhammad with a body of dog. Well, four years in jail LaRose has already served will count to her sentence. She had faced life in prison. But "Reuters" reports she received leniency for helping the FBI in other terrorism cases.

In Utah marriage licenses for same sex couples can no longer be issued. This after the Supreme Court unanimously ruled today in favor of the state's request to appeal a decision that for a short time had allowed gays and lesbians to tie the knot. For many, already with licenses, there's a lot of uncertainty.


SEAN REYES, UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's unfortunate that many Utah citizens have been put into this legal limbo. But we are evaluating their legal status currently.


LEMON: The Supreme Court justices made the move 17 days after a judge struck down Utah's 2004 amendment that banned gay marriage. A picture is worth much more than a thousand words in the bitter Washington cold. And "Associated Press" photographer captures a young man huddled under a blanket. The man, Nick Simmons (ph) had been reported missing in New York after days of searching for him, there he finally was, on the cover of "USA Today." Can you believe that story?

Between the paper, the photograph, and the family, the metropolitan police were able to track Simmons down. He and his family have since been reunited. I hope it all works out for them. And Urban Outfitters under fire now over a woman's t-shirt with the word "depression" scrawled all over it. It turns out depression is a brand. But does that make the fashion statement any better?

After a social media backlash, the retailer pulled the shirt and in a tweet said, "We're sorry to those offended by the tee we brought from brand. We were trying to support a small brand, not glamorize mental illness in any way."

Another memorable fashion don't came in 2010 when they released and yanked a shirt with the words "eat less" on it.

Now, to a historic and life threatening deep freeze. A cold front is thrusting two thirds of the U.S. into an icebox. Temperatures for tens of millions of Americans are plunging into the single digits.

Here in New York, the thermometer is expected to dip to as low as 5 degrees. Oh my goodness. But that's balmy compared to other places in the United States. Listen to this, this polar vortex is shattering decades old records. Fargo, North Dakota expected to hit a negative 24 degrees, Minneapolis and Indianapolis, near 15 below. And the frigid air forcing schools and government offices in several states to close. Delays at the nation's airports as well. And it is illegal to drive except for emergencies.

In a moment, we're going to go to live to CNN's Chad Myers with the forecast.

But, first, Ted Rowlands is in Chicago with more.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The normally crowded streets of Chicago were nearly empty throughout the day. Those who were out in the sub zero temperatures were doing everything possible to stay warm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, I have on leggings you should my jeans, wool socks, three shirts, a jacket, a had, a hood and my gloves.

ROWLANDS: For those who have to work in it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I keep moving around and thermo inside of my gloves, so it keeps me a little warm. ROWLANDS: Temps across the Midwest are not just uncomfortable. They're dangerous. At least 13 deaths have already been blamed on the extreme weather. Hospitals and first responders are treating victims for frost bite.

DR. MICHELLE SERGEL, COOK COUNTY HOSPITAL: In weather like this, it's not going to take long, minutes, 15 minutes or even less.

ROWLANDS: The homeless across the region are a huge concern. In Indianapolis and Chicago, homeless advocates are working with city government to make sure everyone is accounted for.

MATT ROLLER, WHEELER MISSION MINISTRIES: Outreach teams that are out there already every day trying to get men and women out of the cold, get them into shelter.

In parts of Minnesota, temperatures dropped to 40 below, closing schools statewide for the first time since 1997.

BRENDA CASSELLIUS, MINNESOTA EDUCATION COMMISSIONER: This is the kind of weather, we're in five minutes. Kids can get significant frostbite.

ROWLANDS: For people in Chicago, it's a one-two punch. This deep freeze comes in the wake of a massive storm that dropped more than a foot of snow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Painful. Just pain.

ROWLANDS: The weather has created great online videos, including a guy in Canada showing what happens when you shoot a water gun when it's negative 41 degrees.

And this kid in Iowa jumping on an icy trampoline.


ROWLANDS: Don, this is what a deep dish pizza looks like in this temperature, 16 below zero today. This is a Lou Malnati's or was. We get the other half, but you get the idea, pretty cold. Only knuckleheads are out here in these kinds of temperatures.

LEMON: What are you standing across from the Wrigley building, right? It's cold out there. What's the biggest concerns out there in Chicago and in the area?

ROWLANDS: Well, it's for the most vulnerable, as you can imagine. The elderly, the kids, school has been closed again tomorrow, not only here but in other areas around the Midwest, and the homeless. People have been going out, cities are work with agencies and work with the homeless to go out and warn the homeless who don't -- who may not know what is coming and get them inside. Get them to safety, because it really is life threatening if you are exposed to this weather for too long.

LEMON: You see that building right behind you there. I worked there for three years and it was way too cold. I had to get out. That is the NBC tower in Chicago.

Thank you, Ted. Appreciate it. Stay warm.

ROWLANDS: You got it. We are seeing dangerously cold temperatures in many parts of the U.S. many of us have never seen.

Chad Myers has more on the big chill.

Boy, it's minus 11 in Chicago. Jeez.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And the wind chill is colder than that. Where Ted was standing in that live shot, it felt like 35 below. There is the North Pole, Don. There should be a jet stream going up and down like that. But it's not doing the circle. It's doing the dive, all the way down to the Gulf Coast. That's what we've been talking about all day, that vortex you'd been hearing about.

There it is. International Falls, 43 degrees below zero right now. I talk to Pete a little bit earlier and they said, please, if your pets are outside, and it's just below freezing, get them inside somewhere because they are just not ready to handle this type of weather and certainly not that type of wind and wind chill. Seven in Buffalo, a big event going on in Buffalo. A blizzard, I know that's breaking news but actually, it is. We have not had a blizzard warning in Buffalo for 1993, for 20 years. That's how long it's been.

This is how historic this storm truly is. By morning, New York City, you're 11. Boston, 17. Boston today was 54 degrees. It's going to plummet over 35 degrees tonight.

Seventeen in Atlanta, 17 in Birmingham right now. It's going to be cold, all the way down to New Orleans. There will be suburbs of New Orleans down to 15. And look at all those plants that are outside. Even the Jacksonville, all those plans, Jacksonville, you're going to get down to 20 degrees tonight, 24 tomorrow.

Your average low should be 41. So, it shouldn't even be flirting with that, 17 degrees down here, Don, tonight in Atlanta. We have days and days of this to go, it warms up by the weekend, but not before then.

LEMON: I saw 2 degrees on Atlanta in your map. So, can we officially still call it hot-lanta anymore?

MYERS: Not anymore.

LEMON: Not anymore.

MYERS: They have cancelled school because of the cold, because they don't want kids standing out there on the bus stop waiting for the bus. And I will tell you, I have lived in Buffalo, grew up there. Lived in Detroit and I also live in Nebraska, they make clothes different for the north than they do down here.

The jacket you buy here would not last one day in Buffalo where the jacket in Buffalo will keep you warm to minus 30. We don't have that kind of clothing down here, because they never sell it.

LEMON: Stay warm, Chad Myers. Thank you very much.

You heard Chad mentioned Detroit. We're going to talk about Detroit now. A story we first told you on Friday, Detroit's police chief says he thinks more people with concealed weapons would deter violence, even though his city has one of the highest violent crime rates per capita in the country. So why does he think more guns would help?

The Detroit police chief James Craig joins me now. And it's probably really cold where you are as well. Thank you, sir.


LEMON: Yes, listen, you have, in the past, called for stricter gun laws and called on congress to ban assault weapons and put in gun control measures. But you think more concealed weapons is a good idea. Why is that?

CRAIG: More concealed weapons by good Americans, good Americans who are responsible. Very different. You know, certainly in Detroit we have a very different situation going on here unlike other places I have had the good fortune of working. It's no secret that Detroit is violent.

There's a violent culture. The criminal predators here are very violent. So, good Americans who are responsible who conceal weapons can make a difference. There are studies out there that show that.

LEMON: We're going to talk a little bit more about the studies but let's focus on Detroit for now. And we'll get to the studies. According to your own statistics, though, there was a 7 percent overall reduction in crime in Detroit in 2013 without those extra guns on concealed weapons. So, your department has figured out ways to deter criminals. Aren't there better ways than arming more citizens?

CRAIG: That's one strategy in the tool box. I'm suggesting that while we're using statistics, our concept model, which has had an effect we have seen a 7 percent reduction overall in crime. I'm excited about our trend downward. We have seen 52 less people murdered in the city of Detroit, 105 less people shot in the city of Detroit. I've only been here six months.

We are trending in the right direction. But here's the bad news, we saw 333 murders for 2013. Compared to New York, we're a city of 700,000.

LEMON: Right.

CRAIG: Look, this whole thing with concealed weapons has been around in Detroit now for about 10 years.

LEMON: You can get a license to carry -- you can get a license to carry in Detroit. It's been on the books for a while now, as you point out. I want to tell you what the Brady campaign, which advocates for gun control, told me. Here's a statement they gave us. "And their comments go like this the American people know there are better answers to violence than putting even more guns on the streets that too often wind up in the wrong hands. We are better than a nation of vigilantes like George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin because he was permitted to carry a loaded, hidden gun despite an arrest record and history of violence.

What's your response?

CRAIG: Our response is, we're not talking about vigilantes. We are talking about good Americans who are trained. Good Americans that need personal protection. I don't care what city you talk about in America. We cannot be everywhere.

Look, let me give you an example. We had a 91-year-old man just last week pulled out of his car at gunpoint, thrown in the snow carjacked and there is story after story. This is about personal protection. And unfortunately, I don't care if you are talking about Los Angeles, a place I spent 28 years or in the state of Maine, the police cannot be everywhere. This is about personal protection and in some instances, the protection of others because we have seen the Good Samaritans. We've seen them go to the aid of others because they were good Americans with concealed weapons permits.

I disagree with that statement.

LEMON: Police Chief James Craig --

CRAIG: I've been doing this for sometime.

LEMON: Thank you very much for joining us. We will be watching to see how it works.

CRAIG: OK. Thank you. It's going to work out. Thank you, happy New Year to you, too, Don.

LEMON: All right. Still to come, Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea with his team of American basketball players. What he says he'll talk to Kim Jong-un about during his controversial visits.

Plus, "Saturday Night Live" does something it hasn't done in more than six years.


LEMON: Back with tonight's "Outer Circle". I promise you'll be interested in these stories. Tonight, we're going to go to North Korea where Dennis Rodman and a team of former NBA players have arrived to play a controversial basketball game. The game will be played on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's birthday.

CNN's Karl Penhaul on what Rodman has to stay about his latest trip.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, true to his word, Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea in time to celebrate the birthday of strongman Kim Jong-un. Going with him, NBA all timers that include Doug Christie, Charles D. Smith, Vin Baker and Eric Floyd. Now, of course, this trip is controversial. This is a regime with a dire human rights record that regularly threatens to unleash nuclear war.

On top of that, Rodman has no plans to press Kim Jong-un to free American missionary Kenneth Bae, who's doing hard time in North Korean labor camp.

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I'm not trying to save the world. I'm not trying to save Kenneth Bae, these people. That's not my job. Not my job. My job is one thing, sports. I'm not an ambassador or whatever.

No, I'm not. I'm going to do there and do my thing and try to interact him with that on that in the form of love (INAUDIBLE) heals sports (ph). I like the guy. The guy is awesome to me. That's about it.

PENHAUL: But these guys definitely do speak the language of sport and they were telling me they can break down barriers and build bridges through basketball.

Now, if you're a betting man, I think you put good money on the NBA all stars beating the North Korean selection. But my question really is, how much would you want to spoil a North Korean dictator's birthday treat?

Back to you, Don.


LEMON: All right. Thank you, Karl.

After six years, "Saturday Night Live" is finally getting a black female comedian. Finally.


SASHEER ZAMATA, COMEDIAN: I didn't say anything about a girlfriend. But you can call me special (ph) girl --


LEMON: The show confirming reports that comedian Sasheer Zamata will join the cast when they return in two weeks. She is first female African-American cast members since Maya Rudolph left in 2007. Now, the show has been under fire recently for its lack of diversity, prompting producers to hold auditions last month exclusively for African-American women.

Mediaite's Joe Concha joins us, as well as comedian Sheryl Underwood.

Sheryl, I want to talk to you first. I've got to talk to a black comedian, if we're going to be talking about a black comedian on "SNL". "SNL" poked fun at itself back in November with Kerry Washington having to rush to change outfits to play a number of black women.

You saw that. They were making fun of itself. But what's your reaction to all of this?

SHERYL UNDERWOOD, COMEDIAN: I think this is great. I think Shaheer is excellent. I think she's a perfect choice. I can't wait to see her Janelle Monet (ph) impersonation. It's going down. More chocolate on TV. More chocolate on TV. I'm loving it.

LEMON: Did you ever apply? Did you ever audition for "SNL"?

UNDERWOOD: No, I think I'm too robust for "Saturday Night Live". I think I'm a little too -- I'm a different kind of comedian on the seriousness (ph). I think the young ladies like the Tiffany Haddish, like the Robin Montagues, like the women that are really doing sketch comedy and do impersonations. Those are the women that they should put in there.

Now that you have one, have all. You've got five white dudes on "Saturday Night Live." I need five sisters on now. They got in need more diversity. How you cracking these jokes and you ain't got no word in there. Now, I will guest host, but you don't need me in all the sketches.


LEMON: Let me get a word in, girl. This is not "The Talk" that you're the co-host of.

UNDERWOOD: I'm sorry, but I just wanted to make sure.

LEMON: Listen, why do you think it took six years to hire another black woman?

UNDERWOOD: You know what I think? I think what Kerry Washington did increasing the ratings, that's what you have to prove. Having black women on the show increased the ratings higher than they've ever had. Now that you see diversity will work in your pocket, let's have more diversity.

This is not going to hurt you. This girl did a wonderful job. She's actress. Everybody loves scandal, so we need more of this.


UNDERWOOD: Look at what's happening on "The Talk." Ratings increasing on "The Talk." Sisters make it happen in all different types of women make it happen.

LEMON: Right, there are two African-American women on "The Talk". Two African-American, Joe Concha, she has a point, too, African-American women on "The View." Barbara Walters was leaps and bounds ahead of everyone on that. You take a look at the cast, there are two African-Americans on the cast, males, and the new cast members this season -- five men, five white men, one woman, all white, right?

Was this a necessary move on the part of the producers that they have to do this? This is a new cast, the ones that were just hired.

JOE CONCHA, MEDIAITE: OK. Don, I'm sure checking all boxes here. Answer me this question, I'm going to answer your other question.


CONCHA: How many Asians have ever been on "Saturday Night Live"?

LEMON: This isn't about Asians, though. I understand that. People have been talking --

CONCHA: Checking all boxes. We're going white. We're going black.


LEMON: We'll get to that. But still, when you look at this age of diversity now, "SNL", for six years not to have an African-American woman, an Asian woman, doesn't make it any more -- doesn't make it right because they don't have an Asian, because they don't have a Hispanic, it doesn't make it right, that's not an excuse for it.

CONCHA: Don, I look at Lorne Michaels and his track record over four decades. He's discovered more raw talent. I can name all the names, like Belushi, Murray, Murphy, Ferrell, Fallon, Meyers, women, Wig, Fey, Maya Rudolph --

LEMON: But what does that have to do with African-American women in the last six years?

CONCHA: Because he puts the best team on the field, Don. This show has been successful for 38 years because he's not checking off boxes.

LEMON: You mean to tell me in the entire country. There are no -- and, Sheryl, you can jump in here. There are no women of color in the entire country who are not as -- just as funny as the five or seven white kids that they just hired?

CONCHA: I don't --


CONCHA: You still haven't answered my question. Thirty-eight years, OK?

LEMON: That doesn't make it right. You mean to tell me there aren't any Asian people as well who are not as funny as those five or seven white kids.

CONCHA: I'm saying Lorne Michaels' track record, if you want to go against that resume, the way he has chosen talent over the years, these people, they run Hollywood, practically now. Two are going to have their own late night talk show. It's not a matter of checking boxes.


LEMON: Go ahead, Sheryl.

UNDERWOOD: But, Don, here's what I seem to see this young man saying, what Lorne Michaels can relate to is his own culture and what's making him laugh, but if there had never been an Eddie Murphy that was doing great things with white characters and great characters. Gumby is da bomb. I'm Gumby, damn it. Come on, man.

You got to open to your eyes to the talent and go find the talent and then open up your checkbook because that's what the other thing you've got to do the show has been OK, you know what I'm saying? For a few years, now it's getting better.

LEMON: Let's talk about this and the history of the show, there have been three primary female cast members, black female cast members, Danitra Vance, Ellen Cleghorne, Maya Rudolph. The show has been successful with the current formula. Do you think that that is going to make, I mean, the entire time the show has been on the air -- come on, Joe.

CONCHA: I'll concede this. When it was apparent that President Obama was going to be elected, summer of 2008, he wasn't going to lose. In anticipation of that, could he have been more aggressive and found a female to play Michelle Obama, because you had Keenan Thompson who's been forced to play Oprah and Whoopi and Star Jones.

It's not that -- I think you're not hearing what I'm saying. It's not just about finding someone to play a certain character. I've watched. If you watch the kings of comedy, the queens of comedy, if you've ever been to a comedy club on a Saturday night, there are some funny you-know-what black in the country, and especially black women.


LEMON: I can't buy that. Go ahead.

UNDERWOOD: But let me tell you something -- I had to finance my own radio show, because people were telling me, there are no females in radio, and I'm not going to wait on you. I had to finance my own movie scripts, because they said, well, females are not funny. That's what people believed, until we put some money in your pocket.

CONCHA: Sheryl, you are hilarious. I don't know how they didn't find you six years ago. I love you.

UNDERWOOD: I work for CBS, I can't do all the jobs. But I can play Kevin Hart, I could play Kevin Hart in a movie. LEMON: Go ahead, Joe. I'm just saying, look, you know, there have been plenty of men that have played women over the years and they've been very effective. You remember Dustin Hoffman playing Dorothy Michaels and "Tootsie" is one of my favorite. He's nominated for an Oscar, Keenan Thompson should be applauded for filling the --

UNDERWOOD: You need to stay with the black, the discussion is, black people going back to work, and putting us in opportunities. Always get the opportunity. We're not against white people getting the opportunity. What we're against is the exclusion of black talent that will make black people watch more easy than any race of people. Put us on TV.

LEMON: Last word, Cheryl, thank you very much.

UNDERWOOD: That's my last word? I don't get to come back?

LEMON: No, Sheryl.

OK, I'll say --

LEMON: I'll see you at your show, I forget where it's going to be. But anyway, I'm sorry, Sheryl. Go online and check out where our show is going to be next. Thank you very much.

Still to come, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney shocks reporters with his new look.


LEMON: A major vote delayed in the Senate today, and yet there was only one thing people in Washington were talking about. Jay Carney's beard. The White House press secretary debuted his new look at his first press briefing of the year today, and reaction on social media was immediate with reporters, debating whether it was a good look.

One person even started a Twitter handle for the beard and began tweeting.

Well, Carney is just the most recent high profile personality to go with the bearded look. Al Gore grew one after he lost in the 2000. David Letterman, and Conan O'Brien grew beards as a sign of support for their striking writers in 2007. And last year, the host of the "Today" show grew them in support of Movember, and professional athletes regularly grew beards during the playoffs.

Let us know what you think of Jay Carney's new look. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching.

"AC360" starts right now.