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Do Americans Believe Christie?; Deadly Security Sweep

Aired January 16, 2014 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You got served! Governor Chris Christie and his top aides brace for possible subpoenas in the Bridgegate scandal within hours, perhaps, as the embattled governor meets with the public for the first time, touting the very efforts that he's accused of mishandling.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Chilling, new audio from a New Mexico school shooting. A 911 call of a teacher as she comforts a young victim shot by a fellow classmate and why police believe this may have been a calculated plan to kill many more.

BERMAN: New developments in the death of a teenager after a plane crash in San Francisco. This video shows what rescue crews did, but it's what they may not have done that has the victim's family so angry.


ROMANS (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START this Thursday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. Great to see you. It is 31 minutes past the hour right now.

ROMANS: Happening today, we could see subpoenas in the political scandal many are calling Bridgegate involving New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, and two top aides who shut down lanes to the George Washington Bridge, apparently, as political payback against a mayor who wouldn't endorse their boss. Today, a new state committee begins its work looking into what happened.

It's hired a former federal prosecutor who helped bring down Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, by the way, to be its special counsel. As for the governor today, he's set to meet with his voters for the first time since e-mails and texts linked the scandal to his office. He's visiting the Jersey Shore to talk about Sandy relief. At the same time, he's accused of misusing Sandy funds on an ad campaign that showed his family.

BERMAN: And there are new details this morning about what you think of the governor and what he said about the bridge closing scandal.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning, or its execution.


BERMAN: CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is with us this morning. He has the results of a new poll. Paul is in Washington this morning. And Paul, what did the polls say? Do people believe Chris Christie right now?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Such an important question, John. You know, I mean, listen, honesty is so important when it comes to politicians. NBC/Marist came out with a poll last night. They conducted earlier this week. Let's look at the results for that question and a plurality, 46 percent in this poll, almost half say, yes, Chris Christie, they think, is mostly telling the truth, about a third disagree, and about one in five unsure.

No surprise, there's a partisan divide in this question, of course. Most Republicans but only a minority of Democrats in this poll say that Chris Christie is telling the truth -- guys.

ROMANS: All right. Paul, let's bring up something the governor also brought up in that same press conference when he was asked if he was going to change his style of politics. This is what he said. Listen.


CHRISTIE: Because I am who I am, but I am not a bully.


ROMANS: The public agree with him.

STEINHAUSER: Well, about half do. Look at this from the same poll, NBC/Marist, and you can see right here, is he a bully? Only about a quarter say he's a bully, almost half say he's a strong leader, about one in four unsure. Similar results from another poll, state poll showing the same results. Here's the most important question, I guess, what's your opinion of Chris Christie? And look at this, almost seven in ten say --

ROMANS: No change.

STEINHAUSER: -- no change right now. That middle number, though, is troubling. About one in five say they like him less because of this episode, and you've got a very small minority saying they like him more. Another national poll from Pew earlier this week had similar results -- guys.

BERMAN: And Paul, underlying in this is also his approval rating, which has been fantastic coming up until now. It's still pretty good but slipping a little bit, and then, there's another number which caught my eye, for those of us who are obsessed with 2016, even though it's only 2014. A big 2016 number to tell us about.

STEINHAUSER: There sure is, and we all know Chris Christie is definitely considering a run for the White House. Here you go. This is a hypothetical matchup, Chris Christie if he's the Republican nominee, Hillary Clinton if she's the Democratic nominee. Look back in December. It was a very close race, now a 13-point advantage for Clinton. So, is this damaging? Maybe.

But remember, listen, polls change. As you guys both said, new developments, new investigations. These numbers could definitely change over the weeks and months ahead. This story is far from over.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: Paul Steinhauser -- Clinton and Christie, by the way, considering a run for the presidency like I'm considering drinking coffee and wearing a pink tie this morning, by the way.


BERMAN: Thank you, Paul. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: That is coffee in there. Thanks, Paul.

Breaking overnight in Indiana, a shooting at a grocery store has left three people dead. This happened in Elkhart, about 150 miles north of Indianapolis. Police say a 20-year-old man shot a store employee and a shopper and then opened fire on police before the officers killed him. And police aren't revealing any motive.

BERMAN: In New Mexico today, a middle school, the site of a shooting, is reopening, as we're hearing for the first time the 911 calls from inside the school describing the terrifying moments after police say a 12-year-old opened fire, severely wounding two classmates. And what teachers did to keep the wounded alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Berrendo Middle School. A kid just got shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Berrendo Middle School?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Berrendo middle school. Someone just got shot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid just killed a kid. I don't know. The guy walked in --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is the kid that has the gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. He's on the floor right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talk to me, baby.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't let you go into shock. You have to wake up now, OK?


BERMAN: A law enforcement source tells CNN the shooter had a journal at home that described his plans, and the source says the boy told some students in the gym to get out before he fired his sawed-off shotgun. The motive, still not clear this morning. The parents of the alleged shooter say the incident has left them heartbroken and they offer condolences to the families of the victims. Today, counselors will be on site at the school offering assistance.

ROMANS: This morning, 34 Air Force officers are on the suspension list, caught in a cheating scandal involving a proficiency exam, and all work in the missile group in charge of the nation's nuclear arsenal. Officials say some of the officers were sharing test answers and others knew about it and did nothing to stop it. But the Air Force insists the nuclear arsenal is safe.

BERMAN: I find this staggering. Every time we hear about this story, people handling our nuclear weapons involved in scams and scandals. Troubling, to say the least.


BERMAN: All right. There is new pressure this morning on Congress to not issue new sanctions against Iran. The president telling Democratic senators in a rare meeting, a rare meeting at night at the White House that any new sanctions could damage the already delicate talks over Iran's nuclear program.

Next week, Iran is set to begin eliminating some of its enriched uranium under a temporary deal with other world powers.

ROMANS: A stinging, bipartisan Senate report about the Benghazi attack is still being felt in Washington today. That report blasts the state department, the Pentagon, and intelligence agencies for missing warning signs that it says could have prevented the attack on the diplomatic outpost in 2012. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.

The report is also critical of Stevens for rejecting offers for extra protection weeks before the Benghazi attack.

BERMAN: New information this morning about the status of an American soldier missing in Afghanistan since 2009. As first reported here on CNN, the U.S. military has obtained a new video showing Beau Bergdahl alive but in declining health. Now, this video has not been released, but the military believes it was recorded recently.

Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in June of 2009 and is believed to be in the custody of insurgents.

This morning, new fears about just how dry it's getting out west. New figures from government scientists show drought conditions in California and elsewhere in the west intensified last year. California, for example, received the lowest amount of precipitation in more than 100 years! This, this morning, is increasing worries about wildfires, also water shortages. ROMANS: And this is something that's been on Indra's radar, if you will. Let's take a look at your forecast this morning, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, definitely the biggest concern, January and February. That's when it's supposed to be the wettest time of year, and then, as you get towards maybe the fall is when you start to see things drying out and you have the fire danger. So, the fact that we are now in the peak rainy season and they have critical fire danger today out west, that is a huge concern.

Keep in mind, high pressure dominating. Single-digit humidities as we go through the afternoon. Winds are ripping up to a good 50 and 60 miles per hour in the region. Critical fire danger is out there. And of course, a lot of dry fuel, thanks to the shortage of rain. Just take a look at the drought conditions from just a year ago, and now, take a look at what we're looking at just one year later.

So, extreme drought conditions, and of course, that's only expected to expand as we continue to go in the drier season as we go later on throughout the year. Otherwise, there's the critical fire danger we're looking at today, and in fact, it's going to be extended now all the way into Friday for all of those reasons.

Let's switch gears. We'll take you off to the east. Today, you can actually see just a little bit of a system left over, chances for flurries, and maybe some light rain out towards Boston, Pittsburgh, New York today. Not really the big system. It's the system behind it.

We're kind of watching that currently is producing blizzard conditions out towards the Dakotas and Minnesota, bringing a little bit of snow out towards Chicago today, making its way into the Ohio Valley, bringing about four to six inches of snow for them and then towards the northeast by this weekend, still a chance for some light rain out of that. So, nothing major but just another. We're all going to continue cool down towards the weekend.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Indra.


ROMANS: Dow futures lower right now. This is my forecast. Dow futures are lower right now, a little letdown after the Dow had its fourth highest close in history. The Down gained 108 points. The NASDAQ gaining almost one percent. The S&P 500 barely managing a record and now erasing all of those losses for the year.

In Europe right now, London, Frankfurt, Paris have all turned down. In Tokyo, the Nikkei closed down 61 points. Here in the U.S., Apple settling a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. This is going to refund at least $32.5 million to the parents of kids, kids who went on app-buying sprees without their parents' OK.

One consumer complained that her daughter racked up, John, I'm not kidding, $2,600 in the tap pet hotel. This happened to a lot of people. Their kids get in an app, start buying up stuff, and then, boom, huge, huge losses. FTC settling with that one.

BERMAN: That's a lot of room service at the tap pet hotel.

ROMANS: I know. Another reason to watch what your kid's doing on the iPad.


BERMAN: Coming up, we have a story that a lot of people are talking about this morning. Was it a tragic mistake or was this a reckless act? This video raising so many questions this morning about what rescue crews did after the crash of a jet in San Francisco.

ROMANS: And a deadly shoot-out in Russia is raising many fears that terror may hit the winter Olympics. We're live with the latest, next.


ROMANS: In Russia this morning, security officials scrambling to explain a deadly shoot-out just weeks before the start of the winter Olympics. Three members of the Russian security forces and four militants were killed in Dagestan during an anti-terror raid. Officials said they were looking for people threatening to attack the games in Sochi. Nic Robertson live for us in Moscow this morning. Nic, what's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that this was an operation that had been planned, that there were people, rebels, militants inside the building, according to the security services here, that they were specifically targeting. They went in in armored personnel carriers, they went in with, you know, weapons ready, but what happened, they said nightfall came, the people inside tried to break out, the gun battle ensued.

That's how the deaths came about. They said the militants inside were using automatic weapons and hand grenades. Five security officials also injured as well as those others killed. The main target of that operation, they're saying, is a man that security services here claim was behind a car bombing a couple of weeks ago much closer to the Sochi Olympics than where this took place in Dagestan, several hundred miles away.

The car bombing much closer killed three civilians. It was positioned near a police station. So, that the focus of the operation. But clearly here, the security services going in to what they considered a very hostile environment.

ROMANS: All right. Nic Robertson live for us this morning in Moscow. Thank you, Nic.

BERMAN: Quarter to the hour right now. We're hearing more this morning about the fallout from video we first showed you yesterday. This firefighter surveillance footage from moments after the crash of an Asiana Airlines jet in San Francisco. It shows a 16-year-old girl lying on the runway and rescuers telling colleagues to be mindful of her body, but she was later run over twice by firefighting rigs. She died.

Her family is suing the city, and their lawyer tells CNN the footage shows rescuers did not even do the basics.


JUSTIN GREEN, YE FAMILY ATTORNEY: The first step in triage is to take the pulse, check the respiration. That was never done. And the video, which I think is the best evidence of what happened, shows at least five firefighters who saw her, who understood she was there, and none of them did the basic step of checking if she was alive.


BERMAN: The city of San Francisco and its fire department have declined comment, citing pending litigation. The fire chief at the time apologized profusely for this accident.

ROMANS: It looks this morning like Egypt is closer to having a new constitution. Officials say voters have overwhelmingly approved the charter that would map a way forward in the country more than six months after President Mohamed Morsi was ousted. His Muslim Brotherhood party had called for a boycott, and the interior ministry says more than 400 people were arrested during the two days of voting.

It is a huge day in Hollywood, really around the world today. The Oscar nominations will be announced less than three hours from now! "12 Years a Slave," one of this year's most celebrated films, is expected to be among the most nominated. "Gravity," which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, is also expected to receive multiple Oscar nominations, along with the David O. Russell film, "American Hustle," another pre-Oscar favorite.

There will be anywhere from five to ten nominees for best picture, so it's hard to kind of guess which ones will actually make the cut, but you do not have to guess. You can watch, because we will bring you the Oscar nominations live on "New Day" at 8:38 exactly a.m. eastern time.

ROMANS: Can't wait.

BERMAN: It's going to be awesome.

ROMANS: What are you going to wear?

BERMAN: Exactly.


BERMAN: Who are you? I think it's who are you wearing, right?

ROMANS: Who are you wearing? I think it matters more when it's the actual Oscars.

OK. CNN film's "Black Fish" up for Best Documentary Oscar nomination. It's about SeaWorld and the alleged mistreatment of orca whales in its parks. Now comes word the company expects record profit in 2013. And despite many musical acts saying they would not perform at SeaWorld, SeaWorld says attendance numbers were up in the fourth quarter. The company says it's launching a new orca whale show this summer.

BERMAN: Let's take a look at what's coming up on "New Day," in addition to the live Oscar nominations. The perennial winner, Chris Cuomo, joins us now.

ROMANS: What are you wearing, Chris, for the Oscar nominations?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Something cheap and ill-fitting, Christine.


CUOMO: You know, it's interesting, you said orca whales, I say the same thing. Turns out, they're dolphins. Who knew? Who knew, right? Here's what we're doing this morning. One of the big things we like to examine whenever we have a mass shooting is to try to understand how to prevent it the next time. A big part of that is understanding the motivation, the potential illness, the derangement of the shooter.

The Newtown shooter has been big on this. Why? It seemed like there were so many red flags. Well, now, there's a new one that you have to hear about. It turns out that the shooter was heard talking on a radio call-in show one year in advance about his fascination with mass shootings. How was that missed? We'll take you through it.

And then also, I don't know, is it PC gone crazy? Is it what a litigious society we're becoming? But a coach suing a kid, a little league coach, and here's why. The kid threw a helmet in celebration, hit the coach, and now, he's suing. And if that's not enough, wait until you see the tabulation of the damages. I don't know, J.B. I don't know, Christine. It makes me wonder what we are coming to here.

ROMANS: It makes me want to cry! I feel so bad for that kid, you know? He's just so happy about his -- I don't know.

BERMAN: And you have to wonder what lesson the other kids on that team, all the kids in that community are learning from this whole thing.

All right. Chris, we will see you in a little bit. Put on the crush velvet. We'll both be wearing it for the Oscar nominations, 8:38 a.m. eastern time.

ROMANS: Baby blue bow tie on both of you.

BERMAN: Coming up for us next, what did the church know, what did the church do? Explosive testimony set for today over priest sex abuse. The story when we come back.


ROMANS: It could be an intense meeting in Geneva today as some top Vatican officials for the first time answer questions about child sex abuse in the church. A United Nations Committee in Geneva will meet with the Vatican's top sex crimes prosecutor to ask what the church did and didn't do when officials became aware of pedophile priests.

In written testimony submitted last month, the Vatican argued it's not responsible for the individual actions of every priest around the world.

Another sign this morning that heavy drinking may not be so good for you. A new study shows a steep decline in memory for men who have more than 2 1/2 alcoholic drinks a day. Heavy female drinkers, women who drink heavily, also showed some problems with planning and with focusing but not memory. And surprisingly, women who abstained from alcohol completely, they showed the greatest loss of brain function. Moderation, I guess.

Coming up, the housing market rebounding, foreclosures lowest level in years. It could be good news for how much your house is worth. "Money Time" is next.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time." Dow futures are lower right now. Dow finished at its fourth highest close ever yesterday. The Dow Industrials up 108 points. The Nasdaq gained about one percent. The S&P 500 finished barely with a record, but futures down a little bit this morning.

Also lower, JCPenney stock lower in premarket. The ailing retailer's going to cut 2,000 jobs. It's going to close 33 of what it calls underperforming stores. It's been a really tough year for JCPenney. The stock is down more than 60 percent in the past 12 months. The company's been losing hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter after a restructuring gone wrong.

Foreclosures hit a six-year low in 2013. The overall number of filings down 26 percent from the year before. This is according to the folks at RealtyTrac. So, that's the improvement, right? But the foreclosure threat still very real for many homeowners. In December, on about one in five homes, borrowers owed at least 25 percent more than their mortgages, on their mortgages than their houses were worth.

Wow! That's a big number still. And Florida now takes the lead as the foreclosure capital.


DAREN BLOOMQUIST, VP REALTYTRAC: Florida had the top foreclosure rate in 2013, and eight out of the top ten metro foreclosure rates nationwide in 2013 were in Florida. So, Florida's definitely right now the epicenter of the foreclosure problem.


ROMANS: Beyond Florida, metro areas making the top ten foreclosure hotspots include Rockford, Illinois and Las Vegas. And Yahoo!'s number two is out. Henrique de Castro, the chief operating officer, is done at the company effective today. He will leave with a severance package that could be worth $42 million, and that's for a little more of a year on the job. It's been a good stock year. De Castro was Marissa Mayer's first big hire when she became CEO of Yahoo!

But according to the "Wall Street Journal," Mayer decided de Castro needed to leave because he didn't deliver the advertising world that she had been hoping for.

All right. "New Day" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officers entered the store. They heard what sounded like a gunshot.

CUOMO: Breaking news, shootout at the super market. Three dead after a man opens fire at Indiana store. Police rush to the scene, take on the gunman. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nuclear chief. The frightening scandal rocking the Air Force. Dozens of officers in charge of nuclear missiles accused of cheating on their proficiency exams. Were U.S. nukes at risk?

Voice of a killer. New audio recordings reportedly of the Newtown shooter talking on a radio show about his fascination with killing. How much advance notice was there?

Your "New Day" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "New Day." It's Thursday, January 16th, six o'clock in the east.

Breaking overnight, an Indiana super market becomes a killing field. Police say two women were shot to death by a gunman. Officers then arrived on the scene, exchanged gunfire with the suspect. Pamela Brown is tracking the latest developments for us. Pamela, what do we know?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you. Police say the gunman walked into the super market intent to cause harm armed with a knife and a handgun. He killed two people, but the death toll could have been even worse had police officers who happened to be nearby the scene not arrived so quickly.


BROWN (voice-over): It happened here at this Martin Super Market in Elkhart, Indiana. A short and bloody rampage that ended with multiple fatalities.

SGT. TRENT SMITH, INDIANA STATE POLICE: We live in that world. There's not a day that goes by it seems like anymore where, you know, we're not learning of a school shooting or at a business or you know, unfortunately, we hope that this would never come to our hometown, and here it is.

BROWN: Police say a gunman snuck to the doors of the deli at Marin Supermarket and then opened fire, killing two women, a store employee and a shopper. Their bodies found ten store aisles apart from one another.