Return to Transcripts main page


January Bitter Cold; Russia Extends Snowden's Asylum; JPMorgan CEO Gets Raise Despite Fines; Huckabee Slams Dems for "War on Women"; What's Next for Bieber?

Aired January 24, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much. NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thanks so much for joining me this morning.

Millions of Americans shivering from the cold and shuddering from the record cost to stay warm. After two weeks after that dreaded polar vortex a new arctic blast is plunging temperatures to record lows and driving up heating costs for most of us.

Propane, natural gas, heating oil, all surging. Some propane customers are seeing their prices double if they are lucky enough to get their tanks refilled. The reason? Brutal January cold that has shattered a staggering 1100 records and counting this month alone.

As if the cold weren't bad enough snow and ice are also sweeping all the way to the deep south.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in Houston where an ugly morning commute is now getting under way.

Good morning.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. It is especially cold for this part of the country this time of year. In Houston the last couple of hours we've seen the sleet ebb and flow. And that morning commute, as you mentioned here on Interstate 45, you see the cars moving there kind of at a slower pace than usual, Texas Department of Transportation, they say they have been out prepping the roads for these icy conditions.


VALENCIA (voice-over): A crippling ice storm affecting millions of Americans. Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, all waking up this morning at risk from dangerous ice building up as freezing rain and bitter cold temperatures take hold.

Residents here all too familiar with crippling ice storms like the powerful one in 2011 that paralyzed the airports and led to rolling blackouts. Some schools in the area closing their doors. And city officials prepare for the worst.

FRANCISCO SANCHEZ, OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Here we have the decisions that are made and how we respond to a threat and how we execute that throughout the region working with all of our partners.

VALENCIA: In Indiana, a horrifying scene. Dozens of semitrucks and cars colliding in whiteout conditions. At least three people were killed and more than a dozen injured in this massive pileup on Interstate 94.

Scores of car crashes already blamed on the deep freeze. Treacherous conditions tangling trucks and cars from the Midwest to the northeast. The winter weather also wreaking havoc in the skies with flight delays and cancellations quickly adding up.


VALENCIA: And those cancellations are a big concern here for Houston. No other city in the United States has been hit as hard in terms of cancellations between the two major airports here. More than 150 flights already cancelled so if you're traveling this morning be sure to check with your airline -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Good advice. Nick Valencia, many thanks.

There are new developments, too, this morning in the case of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Just hours after the exiled American said he's not ready to return to the United States Russia says he's welcome to stay there as long as he wants.

Moscow's extension of Snowden's asylum comes as they publicly discuss his options including one online with CNN.

Joe Johns is our senior Washington correspondent. He's live in Washington to tell us more.

Good morning, Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Carol. This information comes from a Russian top official, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Duma, Alexey Pushkov. He said that Russia will not end Snowden's asylum and send him back to the United States, and said it would be up to Snowden if he wants to go back. So this would suggest on its face that the one year asylum that was granted to Snowden is actually open ended now.

That there is apparently no deadline for Snowden to reach some resolution of his legal issues with the U.S. government. The U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has reached out to Russia in the recent past giving assurances that Snowden would not be exposed to the death penalty if put on trial here even though he's not been accused of any death penalty eligible violation.

Snowden has been accused by some on Capitol Hill on -- political forum of engaging in spying for Russia. Russia has denied that. So the new development this morning is that the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Duma said Russia will not end Snowden's asylum and that returning would be up to him.

Just yesterday Snowden said that returning to the U.S. would not be possible because whistleblower laws here offer him no protection -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Joe Johns reporting live from Washington this morning.

Four people are dead and more than 50 injured after explosions rocked police headquarters in Cairo. Two smaller explosions then went off near police stations in other areas. Egypt's Interior Minister calls the events, quote, "desperate acts," and it comes just one day before the third anniversary of Egypt's 2011 revolution.

At the top of the hour, a once rising political career lands with a thud in a Virginia courtroom. Former Virginia governor, Robert McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will make their first court appearance on federal corruption charges. Prosecutors say the couple illegally accepted more than $165,000 worth of gifts and loans from the owner of a Virginia business. Gifts like Gucci shoes and -- you know, I can never pronounce this word, but it's a certain type of face cream, and Louis Vuitton goodies.

McDonnell who was once considered a possible presidential candidate denies doing anything illegal.

The nation's second busiest commuter railroad back in action this morning after grounding to a halt last night. New York's transit authority says a power failure resulted in three main Metro-North lines being shut down for two hours.

And just look at the chaos this caused in Grand Central Station. Huge crowds of people were just standing around waiting for their trains. The rail line takes thousands of people from New York City to Connecticut and the suburbs every day.

The death toll is expected to rise after a fire at a home for the elderly in Canada. Five people now confirmed dead. Thirty others are not accounted for. Frigid temperatures froze the water being used by firefighters at one point and most of the residents, well they were ambulatory, they couldn't move, some had Alzheimer's.

CNN's Paula Newton is in Quebec. She joins us on the phone.

Good morning, Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (via phone): And good morning, Carol. Quite a scene here. They have been moving equipment again to try and basically recover some of the victims, but -- you know, the entire place has collapsed. It is now encased in thick layers of ice. The temperature is about zero degrees here. And again they don't have a handle on exactly how many people are missing.

But quite a grim scene here and again many people asking questions about the sprinkler system. Now police say they are not ruling anything else. The investigation continues.

But, Carol, not only is it going to take some time for them to understand exactly what caused this but for them to know exactly how many people died in the fire. As you said, 30 missing. Police believe that unfortunately the number of dead will get very close to that but they don't know exactly how many people perished in this fire.

And just the scene, Carol. You could imagine that it's encased in ice and yet when they try and get to some of the victims there are still fire burning beneath those thick layers of ice -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Paula Newton reporting live from Quebec this morning.

As people around the nation speculate as to whether Hillary Clinton will run for president it seems she has her own gravitational pull. Just take -- just take a look at the bizarre cover of this weekend's "New York Times" magazine. The former first lady and secretary of state has been transformed into Planet Hillary.

Some people says the image freaks them out. But the Internet loved it. Just look at all the (INAUDIBLE) it started. Some of you joked Planet Hillary on Justin Bieber's mugshot.

In about 20 minutes, we're going to dig deeper into the article and how it breaks down the Clinton universe.

Still to come, John Boehner makes his first trip to the "Tonight Show" couch.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, listen, you know, I go to bed at 10:00.


BOEHNER: And I -- you know, I heard you were going -- this show was about over and I thought I better get here before it was too late.

LENO: Sure. Well, I was going to say the same thing for you. Yes.


COSTELLO: Hear what Mr. Boehner is saying about a presidential run, next.


COSTELLO: Here's a corporate head scratcher. Despite paying $20 billion in fines over the last year for offenses ranging from selling bad mortgages to failing to warn the government about Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, a new report says JPMorgan has decided its CEO Jamie Dimon should get a raise.

Yes, a raise.

Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here to explain how exactly he deserves that.

Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. This has been quite a year for Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase. As you said he has been opening up the checkbook and settling billions of dollars with regulator, with the government from everything from turning a blind eye to Bernie Madoff to the mortgage disaster that led to the financial crisis to derivatives in the electricity market.

All kinds. There are $20 billion in fines. And so what is the board going to do? According to the "New York Times," the board is going to give him a raise. Last year they docked his pay to $11.5 million. He had -- he was the highest paid banker in 2011

In part, Carol, $23 million in compensation, in part because he led the bank through the financial crisis. And then the next year, that London Whale, that big trading mistake or that trading problem that happened in London. Big, big pay cut the board gave him for that and now according to the "New York Times" after a heated, heated meeting on the board they want to give him a raise to congratulate him, to reward him for leading the bank through a very tough year with all those settlements.

Interesting as well, Carol, that he was quoted at Davos, that big, you know, meeting of the global elites in Switzerland, he was quoted as saying the government -- the government's pursuit of the bank with all these settlements was unfair. He paid it out because it was the best thing for shareholders but he called all that unfair.

Still, $20 billion, huh?

COSTELLO: Isn't he buddies with President Obama?

ROMANS: Well, he was. I mean, a long time ago they called each other by the first name, you know, the president called him Jamie and many people have said perhaps you could be a Treasury secretary someday and then the financial crisis happened. And then they bailed out the bank and suddenly, you know, the banks were kind of persona non-grata in Washington anymore.

But look, you know, this is by all accounts the smartest banker in the world. He runs a very big bank that he's led through -- I mean it is profitable still. They've gotten through all of the craziness of the --

COSTELLO: Wait a minute. Didn't all of these things happen on his watch?


COSTELLO: How can he be the best banker in the whole world?

ROMANS: Yes. They did happen on his watch. And some say when you have somebody -- maybe that means these banks are too big if you can't keep an eye on everything that's happening maybe they shouldn't be so big that you could have a trading problem in London and you could have a Madoff event. And you could have all of the devastating things happened.

A couple of -- you know, people who were big defenders of Jamie Dimon will say, look, many of the problems stem from buying Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns. You know, the government encouraged them. They were a healthy bank in the middle of the financial crisis. They picked up a couple of names who were pretty bad actors. It's the worst point of the -- you know, the go-go days of the early 2000.

Look, he's a complicated banker. He's a complicated figure. This board, this board, we're going to learn details officially today, I'm sure, about what his compensation is. But according to the "New York Times" after much debate they decided it was time to give America's banker a big raise -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Christine Romans, thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: He's number one in Congress but when it comes to late-night TV John Boehner gets bumped to number two. The speaker of the House made his first appearance on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" but had to play second fiddle to French star Matt LeBlanc. But come one, he's Joey Tribbiani. Boehner talked to Jay about why he probably won't be making any presidential bids in the future.


LENO: You ever think of running for president?




LENO: You want to show what you did when I asked you that question before?


LENO: You want to show what (INAUDIBLE)?

BOEHNER: Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass.

LENO: Right.

BOEHNER: You know, I do drink red wine, I smoke cigarettes.

LENO: Yes. Right.

BOEHNER: And I'm not giving that up to be president of the United States.

LENO: Right. Right. That's right.


COSTELLO: That's right. Boehner was hesitant to endorse anyone for president but when asked about Jeb Bush he said the former Florida governor would be a great choice for the job.

Republicans need to attract more women to their party? The latest Quinnipiac University Poll shows women favoring Democratic candidates for Congress over Republicans by about four points, and perhaps in an attempt to show American voters there are strong women in the Republican Party, Congressman Cathy McMorris Rodgers will deliver the response to the president's State of the Union. Roger is a fourth highest GOP leader and highest ranking Republican woman in Congress.

But one high-profile Republican, Mike Huckabee, probably didn't help the cause. Huckabee, normally a gifted speaker, muddled his argument against mandated birth control and sparked an Uncle Sugar storm.

He made his remarks at the RNC's winter meetings.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: The Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.


COSTELLO: OK. That start ad firestorm online.

Our chief national correspondent John King is here to talk about this.

And, John, to be clear, Huckabee wasn't saying he thought women had uncontrollable libidos. He said Democrats make women believe they have uncontrollable sex drives and need birth control, as a result.

Of course, the Democrats pounced. But does comment really have legs?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, even some Republicans like the former senator, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum said last night here on CNN's "CROSSFIRE", Huckabee would like to get that back with a rewrite and maybe say -- make his point with a little different language.

Look, remember, Governor Huckabee is a former evangelical preacher. They have perhaps a different perspective there on the government's role.

The language was off putting especially if you think nationally and look at the Republican Party's problems in presidential elections with moderate suburban women. Polling shows women by far want the coverage in the Obamacare, that's one of the things that's popular with women, birth control contraception coverage.

However, we shouldn't make too much of this, you showed that poll, Republicans down four points among women. If you look how much they are up with men it works out pretty good. Nationally, Republicans have a problem. But they have a majority in the House. A lot of people think they will pick up the Senate this year. They have 30 governorships across the country and they made huge gains in the state legislature.

So, this is part of the Republican struggle. We have national party, we have local party. Governor Huckabee, one voice, and as Senator Santorum said he probably wishes he edited just that.

COSTELLO: Well, the presidential race is coming. So, this is a national issue for the Republican Party.

But isn't the bigger issue here birth control is a loser topic for Republicans, isn't it, because the vast majority of women favor insurance companies paying for birth control?

KING: Yes, those numbers are pretty stunning right there. Birth control is a loser subject for Republicans. The role of government is not. And that is that where Governor Huckabee wishes he had that language back, because Republicans especially, Carol, in the place where they need to be competitive.

If you look at the map of the competitive Senate contest this year, if you look at the relatively small number of House districts, Republicans feel they are on very strong ground if they are arguing about the role of government. They say Obamacare is too much of a reach. It puts too much power in Washington or in the hands of bureaucrats and not individual choice.

That's safe ground for Republicans. When they start stirring into language like this, then it gets a little more dicey and it feeds among some voters this preconceived notion that there's this war on women. That's one of the reasons. You just noted John Boehner's deputy -- the top woman in the House Republican leadership -- will deliver the response to the president's State of the Union Address. It's safe to say, Carol, that's no accident.

COSTELLO: No, it isn't. John King, our chief national correspondent -- thank you for entrepreneur sight this morning. I appreciate it.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM: Justin Bieber took plenty of pictures on his latest trip to Miami, including this mugshot after he was arrested for DUI and street racing. So, what's next for the Biebs?

Nischelle Turner is following that story.

Good morning.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Carol. Yes, the hits just keep on coming for Bieber and not the hits on the charts. We'll talk what he's facing when we come back.


COSTELLO: Two former NFL stars are praising police for arresting Justin Bieber on charges of drunk driving and resisting arrest in Miami Beach. Keyshawn Johnson tweeted, "They finally caught him. Glad no one was hurt no, kids in the street. Everyone grows up at some point. Hopefully he learns from it."

Eric Dickerson tweeted, "It's about time. Nobody is above the law."

So, why are these ex-football players piling on Bieber?

Well, they live in a gated California community where Bieber was spotted last year racing around in his Ferrari and they complained.

Unfortunately for Bieber, he's joined the all too familiar club of celebrities in trouble with the law. Judging by his mug shots, some might think he's not taking his arrest for DUI and street racing seriously.

In a 2012 interview with CNN, Bieber's mother said he was growing up to be a responsible young man.


PATTIE MALLETTE, JUSTIN BIEBER'S MOTHER: He's a really responsible guy. He's very mature and makes a lot of great decisions. So I'm not too worried about giving him too much advice. Hopefully I've been a good example to him.


COSTELLO: Those great decisions probably don't include flying down the street drunk in a super car. So what now for Justin Bieber?

Nischelle Turner is live in Los Angeles to tell us.

Good morning.

TURNER: Hey, good morning, Carol. I like the way you think.

Now, right now, we should say Justin Bieber is facing DUI charges. He's facing resisting arrest. He's also facing driving without a valid license.

Now, he hasn't officially been charged with speeding or drag racing but the police report does note that he was doing so. Now, he was released after paying his $2,500 bond. Yesterday, he was dressed in black sunglasses and a black hoodie. He jumped on top of an SUV and waved to fans before leaving the jail.

And police say that Justin Bieber told them that he had a beer, he smoked marijuana and that he took prescription medication. That's one of the reasons why they couldn't determine his blood alcohol level right away because that mix made everything muddled and now it seems like his life is becoming muddled as well.

Remember, he is still being investigated in southern California for felony vandalism in connection with that egging incident that we were talking about just about a month ago. Now, talking to people yesterday, I still got two completely different schools of thought about Justin Bieber. I spoke to Keyshawn Johnson who were just talking about who, of course, didn't have a lot of positive things to say about him, but he did say that he hasn't seen or spoken to Justin Bieber since their run in where Keyshawn confronted him when he say Bieber was speeding in their neighborhood.

Then I also talked to some industry folks, Carol, who say that want he's a great kid who just sometimes makes dumb decision and he's going to be just fine. One person said to me those that these two different views of Justin Bieber show where the real issue is here and they said will the real Justin Bieber, please stand up. Almost fitting that we end with that shot there of him in front of a judge.

COSTELLO: You're not kidding. Well, I hope the real Justin Bieber does step forward and it's the good version, right?

TURNER: Exactly.

COSTELLO: Yes. Nischelle Turner, thanks so much.

Still to come in THE NEWSROOM: an inside look in what it means to be in Hillary Clinton's orbit. We're talking -- isn't that bizarre? We're talking about Planet Hillary and the behind the scenes look at the drama before 2016.


COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

Checking top stories this morning at 28 minutes past the hour.

There's no escaping the frigid weather blanketing much of the country. Cold air has descended on the Deep South, blasting communities from Florida to Texas where an ice storm is affecting millions. The Midwest is getting hit, too. Officials blaming white-out conditions for this deadly crash involving hundreds of vehicles.

Indiana University student is facing charges of trying to make a bomb. Police say a friend of writer Lewis Pickens called authorities after seeing dangerous chemicals in a hazmat suit in his basement. He admitted having the chemicals but denied he was trying to make a bomb. Pickens, who pleaded not guilty, is being held on $1 million bond.

A second woman has now come forward alleging she was sexually abused by a California teacher. This is the same teacher who was confronted by another alleged victim in a YouTube video that went viral. Second victim has filed a complaint against the school district, claiming the school knew about the teacher's history of sexual abuse with students but did nothing.

The U.S. attorney's office has subpoenaed two groups linked to Governor Christie. His re-election campaign and state Republican Party Committee as part into investigation into bridge lane closings. A spokesman says both groups intend to cooperate with the request. The Dow may be looking at a fourth day of losses as investors continue to worry about corporate earnings. The bell about to ring on Wall Street.

Let's head to the New York Stock Exchange now. Alison Kosik is there.

Good morning.


Oh, yes, stocks are 0-3 and today, not looking good either. The Dow is looking for a big dip when the opening bell rings in about 20 seconds. This would add to yesterday's 176-point selloff. This is happening overseas as well in Asia and in Europe, markets there down more than 1 percent.

This has been the trend so far this year. It makes you long for those memories of record breaking days last year and it's happening for a few reasons. For one, concerns about China. There was a report this week that showed manufacturing over there slowed and the U.S. not looking so hot either.