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Chris Christie to Deliver State of the State Speech; Documents Released on Benghazi Attack; Shooting Altercation Occurs in Movie Theater; U.S. Journalist Talks About Being Expelled From Russia; Chris Christie to Deliver State of the State
Aired January 14, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, January 14th, 7:00 in the east. Chris Christie's political future could be on the line today as he delivers his state of the state address. This will be no ordinary speech. The New Jersey governor and 2016 presidential hopeful is fighting off questions about, well, the traffic jam as political payback against the mayor of Fort Lee along with new accusations of retribution against officials in New Jersey. This now on top of the investigation we first told you about on NEW DAY involving a tourism ad paid for with super storm Sandy relief money.
Erin McPike is in Trenton this morning following it all for us. Erin?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris Christie will fight to get positive attention today when he outlines his accomplishments to date and lays out his goals for the coming year. We hear he'll put a big emphasis on education reform. But that effort will be in direct competition with the new twists that keep oncoming and the controversies that are hurting the governor.
MCPIKE: In the midst of weathering a full blown political super storm, Chris Christie will discuss the bridge closure scandal when he delivers his annual state of the state address this afternoon. This will be the first time the popular New Jersey governor is in front of cameras since his marathon apology last week.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: I am soul searching on this. But what I also want the people of New Jersey to know that this is the exception, not the rule. MCPIKE: But it's not just bridge-gate anymore. On Monday, CNN revealed the new storm clouds forming over the brightest spot in his governorship, his response to super storm Sandy. Democratic congressman Frank Pallone thinks these tourism ads that promote the whole Christie family might be a misuse of the federal relief funds given to help New Jersey recover from Sandy.
REP. FRANK PALLONE, (D) NEW JERSEY: I think there's extra money that was spent on the ads to put him on the air during a campaign that could be used for other purposes for Sandy relief.
MCPIKE: Federal auditors are probing those allegations. Though Christie office dismissed the revelation as conveniently timed, and added the Obama administration approved the effort. Another possible incident of retribution, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, a Democrat, considered endorsing Christie for reelection last year, but then declined to do so on July 18th. Over the next two days, Christie's appointed canceled upcoming meetings with him, leading Fulop to write an e-mail to former Port Authorities official Bill Baroni, who has sense resigned.
In the email obtained by CNN, he wrote in part, "I am not sure it is a coincidence that your office canceled the meeting several weeks back that seemed to be simultaneous to other political conversations elsewhere that were happening. Prior to that, you were always very responsive, and I sincerely hope the two issues are not related."
And there's more on the scandal that started it all, the lane closures to the George Washington Bridge last fall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think laws have been broken.
MCPIKE: New Jersey assemblyman John Wisniewski will lead a brand new special committee forming today that will utilize a special counsel to investigate Christie's key staffers and the governor himself. That committee will have subpoena power and intends to call on fired deputy chief of staff Bridget Ann Kelly and Bill Stepian, Christie's longtime trusted political adviser.
MCPIKE: Christie has another chance to hit the reset button a week from today when he'll deliver his second inaugural address, and he has a chance there to add a more sweeping look at what he wants to accomplish in his second term. Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thank you so much.
Take a look at this number, if you will, a huge number. Negotiators in Congress agreeing on a spending plan that's more than $1 trillion to keep the government funded until the end of the year. The final version includes some changes to the bipartisan deal announced last month, notably affecting, some of it affecting veterans and the much debated sequester cuts. Let's get straight to Jim Acosta at the White House with the very latest. So we have a deal, Jim. The question always is, will it pass? JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fingers crossed, Kate. Good morning. The White House is praising the spending bill agreement that was announced by Congressional leaders last night. Let's roll through what it does, Kate. As you mentioned, it does weigh in at more than $1 trillion and it keeps the government funded through the end of September. Most importantly, it avoids a government shutdown and also softens the across the board spending cut known as the sequester. The agreement also restores some of the pension cuts to older disabled veterans after some complaints from lawmakers up on Capitol Hill.
Keep in mind, members of the Congress still have to vote on this agreement. That is expected to happen in the house on Wednesday tomorrow and in the Senate perhaps as soon as Friday, but that may happen on Saturday. I talked to a top Republican congressional aide earlier this morning who said expect to hear a lot of grumbling from lawmakers over the next several days. This bill is long, more than 1,500 pages. There are parts of it that both sides are not going to like. But of course the alternative is yet another government shutdown, which is why the White House through a statement released by the Office of Management and Budget is urging lawmakers to pass this as soon as possible. Chris?
CUOMO: All right, Jim, thank you very much.
We have breaking news for you this morning. The House Armed Services Committee is releasing hundreds of pages of classified documents about the deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi featuring testimony from several key senior military officials. These documents have never been seen before. Foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott is with us from Washington this morning. Elise, what's the word, anything in there that sheds light on why this happened and whether there were missteps?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, these documents provide more detail about just how ill-suited the military was to respond. Despite claims the administration had beefed up security before the 9/11 anniversary, no attack aircraft were on alert. Why? Because there were no indications of any attack on the mission. Major General Darryl Robertson says prior to that event at Benghazi, there has not been an attack on 9/11. DOD had to respond in any way. They were taking all of the indications and warning and postured as appropriately as they thought that they should be around the world.
But resources were an issue. No one, including General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, believes they could have prevented the attack. But Carter Ham, then head of U.S. forces in Africa, said in testimony that he didn't think he would go so far to say it would have prevented the attacks that occurred. But as a military commander, he did want more resources.
One last note about the suspects still at large, General Dempsey says the U.S. military not authorized to use force to kill them. They have to be captured to be brought to justice. And, obviously, everyone is looking for those suspects to be brought to justice.
BOLDUAN: Still looking and waiting this long after that deadly attack. Thank you so much, Elise, for that update.
So there are new details this morning in a deadly movie theater shooting in Florida. Police say it all started with an argument over texting. The suspected shooter a 71-year-old retired police captain. CNN's Tory Dunnan is live in Ft. Lauderdale with more details on this. Good morning, Tory.
TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Kate. Well, the victim's wife, Nicole Olson, is recovering this morning from a gunshot wound to the hand. Police say that she was trying to shield her husband, and those two were among the 25 people who were inside the theater just there to any enjoy an afternoon movie.
DUNNAN: A frightening and fatal afternoon at this Florida movie theater on Monday, all apparently because of texting.
SHERIFF CHRIS NOCCO, PASCO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: It's absolutely crazy that it would rise to this level of altercation over somebody texting at a movie theater.
DUNNAN: The previews just began to role at the 16 Movie Theater in Wesley Chapel when an altercation erupted off screen.
CHARLES CUMMINGS, WITNESSED SHOOTING: There seemed to be some irritation between a guy sitting two rows -- two seats over from us and the guy behind him over a cellphone.
DUNNAN: The suspect seen here, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, was a retired Tampa police captain. Police say he was irritated that 43- year-old Chad Olson was texting his three-year-old daughter.
CUMMINGS: Their voices start going up, there seems to be almost a confrontation, and then bang, he was shot.
DUNNAN: Charles Cummings, a retired marine who served in Vietnam, says it was absolutely shocking to be caught in the crossfire.
CUMMINGS: He staggered two seats over, fell on my son and I.
DUNNAN: The father and son watched in horror as Reeves allegedly shot and killed Olson with a.38 caliber handgun.
ALEX CUMMINGS, WITNESSED SHOOTING: I just held him. I was trying to hold him up and he just fell down.
DUNNAN: Amid the chaos, heroes step up.
CUMMINGS: A fellow was in the movie, a nurse stepped down. They started pumping the gentleman's chest until the paramedics arrived.
DUNNAN: An off duty deputy in the theater detained the shooter and secured the gun until police arrived. Reeves is now charged with second degree homicide. CUMMINGS: I can't believe people would bring a pistol, a gun to a movie. I can't believe they would argue and fight and shoot one another over popcorn or even a cellphone.
DUNNAN: Chris and Kate, according to CNN affiliate Bay News 9, Reeves retired from the police force back in 1993. While he was there he actually helped establish the tactical response team. Ironically that would be the same unit that would respond to an incident just like this one.
BOLDUAN: Tory, thank you so much for that update.
Let's get over to John Berman in for Michaela for some of today's others stories.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Kate.
Today members of President Obama's NSA surveillance review board are expected to appear on Capitol Hill for a Senate judiciary hearing. The president will announce his NSA reforms on Friday. The advisory board has suggested that the NSA stop collecting bulk data about almost all phone calls. It also recommends that phone companies as private third parties maintain the data instead with access granted only by a court order.
President Obama making his first public response to criticism of his military leadership by former defense secretary Robert Gates in a new book. The president says he did question his Afghan war strategy because part of his job is to, quote, "sweat the details." But he says ultimately the administration got it right in Afghanistan.
New details in the fatal police shooting of an unarmed college football player in September. Attorneys for the family of Jonathan Ferrell will announce today that they are suing in connection with the shooting. Ferrell, who play for Florida A&M was shot in North Carolina after banging on the door of a woman's home. His family lawyers say he was looking for help after being in a car accident.
Water safety warnings are gradually being lifted in West Virginia. People in downtown Charleston among the zones getting the go ahead to flush their pipes. Thursday's chemical leak and the subsequent tap water ban affected 300,000 people in that state. Chemical company Freedom Industries and West Virginia American Water now facing close to two dozen lawsuits.
All right, look at this -- road trip. How long do you think it took a hundred pound tortoise to travel 30 miles? Guess. Six months. Six months. So it seemed like the reptile was running away. The tortoise is back home, now reunited with his owners in Arizona after they spotted an ad in a local by a family that reported finding a stray tortoise.
BOLDUAN: Who knew you'd put that in the paper?
BERMAN: There couldn't be many ads for stray tortoises.
CUOMO: There's certainly no section.
BOLDUAN: There's so many questions.
CUOMO: Well, let's give them to Indra Petersons. Indra, how fast does a tortoise walk, and what does the barometric pressure have to do with it?
INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely no idea. But I do have a pet turtle. Actually, my parents do.
All right, let's show what's going on around the country right now. Very easy to see on the water vapor satellite. A couple things I want to show you. Notice the east coast and kind of around the Dakotas. Look at all that air quickly coming down from Canada. Let's talk about all these separately here. The low has formed right around the Carolinas and it's going to slowly make its way to the north. We're going to be talking about light showers today.
Tomorrow, looks like a break for the east coast, only to have another system kind of building behind it. Another low actually forms off the coastline, so light showers in between those two systems. And then the third system, another clipper kind of makes its way through, kind of eventually spreading to the northeast by the weekend.
Summary of all of this, light showers, the total of about two inches for the northeast down to the southeast, only about two to three inches. But the big winner, Green Bay, Wisconsin. They're getting about six to even 10 inches of snow, near blizzard conditions for them today. One reason not only the heavy buy also some strong winds in the area. Remember the first map I showed you, all those winds diving down? That's going to bring cold air as well.
Quick check out west, we keep talking about the fire danger. That is building, especially tonight and through tomorrow morning. Huge thing, January, February, there's supposed to be wet and rain, not fire danger.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.
All right, we're going to take a break here on NEW DAY. But coming up, the first American journalist has been ousted from Russia since the cold war. Does this have something to do with the Sochi Olympics just a few weeks away? We're going to talk with David Satter himself live after the break.
CUOMO: And a governor's state of the state speech is usually all about policy, but not today in New Jersey. Chris Christie is expected to take on growing questions about him and his staff. How he plans to take them on ahead.
BOLDUAN: Welcome back. American journalist and scholar David Satter who called Russia home has been forced out. It's the first time a U.S. journalist has been expelled from Russia since the end of the Cold War.
Former "Financial Times" correspondent David Satter is joining us now from London. He's now an advisor to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
David, thank you so much for taking the time. So many questions here, so many people wondering why and what the true motivation is for this to happen.
Just this morning, the Russian foreign ministry released a statement essentially saying that you were expelled because you were five days late for your visa renewal. What do you think?
DAVID SATTER, JOURNALIST EXPELLED FROM RUSSIA: Well, that's just an attempt to refuse world opinion. The real reason was given to me by Alexi Grubi (ph) who is a diplomat in the Russian embassy and Ukraine. Grubei (ph) said that the competent organs, which is the usual expression for the FSB, have determined that my presence on the territory of the Russian Federation is undesirable, and I'm banned from entering Russia.
Now that's a formula that's used generally in spy cases. I've been reporting and writing about Russia for almost four decades. In that time, I've never heard that formulation applied to a journalist before. So this indicates --
BOLDUAN: David, there are no -- go ahead. Of course.
SATTER: Yeah, this indicates that we're dealing with something completely different. In fact, I at no time violated any regulations. I operated strictly in conformity with what I was told to do by the foreign ministry. They are perfectly aware of that.
They told the American embassy that they do not give -- when the American embassy -- we've been trying for weeks to get an explanation out of them, they told the American embassy that they don't give explanations in visa cases. And then they give this on their website, which is absolutely false. Everything I did was strictly in conformity with what I was told to do by the foreign ministry itself. I followed all bureaucratic procedures.
BOLDUAN: David, you know, there's no shortage of critics of president Vladimir Putin. That is to be sure. Why do you think you? Why you, why now?
SATTER: Well, you know, it's very hard for me to speculate and put myself in the position of the Russian authorities. I wrote a book, actually a long time ago it came out in 2003 called "Darkness at Dawn" in which I argued that Putin came to power as a result of an act of terror: the blowing up of the apartment bombings in Moscow in 1999 that led to the second Chechen war.
That book has since been reissued in Russian under the title, "How Putin Became President". And it actually became a best-seller.
Maybe that was part of it. In fact, I did not go to Russia in order to reopen the question of the apartment bombings. I've talked about that in my book. I've testified about it before congress. My goal in going there was to understand the whole sweep of Russian history after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Nonetheless, we can't speculate as to what went on in the minds of the Russian authorities.
BOLDUAN: Well, of course you're gonna -- many people are thinking this is very interesting timing coming just weeks ahead of the Sochi Olympics. Many would say that possibly that the Sochi Olympics has something to do with your expulsion.
But when you think about it, that kind of a move is counter to the way that Putin has been operating of recent, releasing from prison some of his chief critics, members of the punk rock band, an oil tycoon who has been behind bars for years. He gave them amnesty and released them, some saying that that is just a way to bolster his image and is a bit of a publicity stunt.
Why do you think the treatment to you has been different then?
SATTER: You know, once again, it's very hard for me to say. I can only operate on the facts that are available to me. I can tell you that telling a correspondent that his very presence on the territory of -- of Russia is in the eyes of the security services undesirable and then doing -- and then expelling him at a time when it would seem that they had every reason not to do that, I can only put two plus two together and assume that for some reason they are placing a very high priority on this.
BOLDUAN: Do you want to get back in? Do you think you'll go back into Russia?
SATTER: Well, they've said that I'm banned for five years. And I definitely want to go back. And I think that that -- their decision should be reversed and should be reversed immediately. I don't accept it.
On the other hand, being realistic I understand that the chances are not great. We're gonna -- I'm going to see what we can do to get this reversed. And I think a great deal will depend on the reaction to it. But it looks pretty serious.
BOLDUAN: It is a serious situation. That goes without saying.
David Satter, thank you so much for coming in and telling us your story. We're definitely going to be -- Keep us updated on how things go.
SATTER: I'll be glad to. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
Chris, back to you.
CUOMO: All right, coming up on NEW DAY, the political stakes couldn't be higher for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as he prepares to deliver his state of the state address, bridgegate and another scandal brewing on the horizon over Sandy relief funds. We're digging in deeper in our political gutcheck.
Plus, a court battle looms in Texas. A question you hope you never have to answer: a pregnant woman kept alive on life support to save her unborn child. Her family says her living wish was to be allowed to die. What about the baby and the law in new developments in the debate ahead.
BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Time now for political gutcheck of the morning.
Today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will be delivering his state of the state address, of course, amid lingering questions about the political scandal involving bridge lane closures in his state. So will any of this, or how will this be addressed in his speech?
Joining us for more on it, chief national correspondent John King, here with more, the man who knows all.
So John, we would pay attention to the state of the state address regardless just because of Christie's presidential aspirations. We're gonna be watching this even closer. How do you think he's going to bring up the bridge closures and all the scandal surrounding him right now?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it will be very similar to what he did at the beginning of his marathon and the tone he kept throughout his marathon news conference last week, in which he's going to say that he's going to get the to bottom this, he's going to cooperate with the investigation and that he's sorry, that he's embarrassed himself and he's embarrassed his state, something to that effect.
As he says this, and then tries to pivot as we discussed a little bit yesterday, this will be the most watched state of the state address, most likely, across the country. Other governors probably not envious of Christie's problems; they might be a little envious of the spotlight when he talks today about a new proposal to extend the school year and extend the school day, when he has a new property tax initiative.
Here's the challenge, Chris and Kate. What are we talking about three months and six months from now? Are we talking about that Governor Christie put the scandal part in the rear-view mirror and look what he did on education, look what he did on property taxes? Or are we still talking about this because the legislative investigation is going to go on for weeks if not months. The federal government is looking into several questions when it comes to Governor Christie's administration.
So he's better dealing with this in January 2014 than January 2015, but he's got to start to put this behind him. CUOMO: I gotta tell you, you know, we had one conversation yesterday, John, I believe with each passing day, I need to hear more on the other side. You know, this new mayor who came out and said, "Yeah, I think they canceled my meeting." Yeah, welcome to politics. Oh, and the Sandy funds. They always get reviewed. You know, commercials, they always have the governors in these things.
I feel like we're gonna start -- the burden's going to shift a little bit, and I think these recent polls showing that the governor hasn't taken a huge hit because of this scandal are pretty telling. I think he's going to be OK unless there's new information. They can't just linger on this way.
KING: It's interesting if you look at these polls, and it depends on your perspective, if you will. If you're a Democrat and you're a Christie critic, you're thinking, "Well, we got him to drop a little bit pretty quickly. If we keep it up, maybe he'll drop more." And so there will be a lot of Democratic noise here.
Now some of this, let's be careful, the federal government in my view should audit every big contract. So take a look at how the money was spend, and if you come to the conclusion there was something done wrong, say so. But also, if you come to the conclusion, nothing was done wrong, make sure you say that too and move on.
The bridge investigations will continue. And some of this will be legitimate inquiries, and some of this will be politics. Look, it would be politics if he were just a governor without national ambitions. It'll be politics times 10 on the volume meter because he does have national ambitions.
Democrats see a chance, if nothing else, to put a guy who had full momentum, full wind at his back on defense and on his heels. So that's certainly a part of this, and we'll watch how -- he wants to be president of the United States, you want (ph) the nuclear football -- go back, whether it's Ronald Reagan, whether it's Bill Clinton, whether it's George W. Bush, whether it's Michael Dukakis in a failing (ph) effort, when governors run for president, everything they have said or done comes back into the national stage. Some handle it well; some don't.
BOLDUAN: And on the investigation into how Sandy funds were spent, I mean, there's -- now Republicans are saying, "Look, politics are being played on both sides."