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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Death Penalty Sought Over Boston Bombing; Two Arrests In Russia Terror Attacks; Is Yahoo!'s CEO Out Of Time?; When Beatlemania Began

Aired January 30, 2014 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Does the burden of proof have to be higher for a death penalty case than a case that has a different punishment? Will the government have to show something extraordinary in order to put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on death row?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's not that it's a different burden of proof. It's a whole different trial. There will be a guilt phase of this case. You know, whether the government proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Tsarnaev was the bomber and then there will be a small separate mini-trial.

The penalty phase where the government will have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that there are aggravating factors, that there are factors that justify given the death penalty and, of course, his lawyers led by Judy Clark who was a legendary death penalty defense lawyer will attempt to show that there are mitigating factors. There are reasons why the jury shouldn't impose the death penalty.

TAPPER: What does this mean for any potential change of venue? Will the defense request a change of location because of the decision?

TOOBIN: You know, Jake, I think this is one of the most interesting difficult strategic decisions that the defense faces because, on the one hand, you have Boston. Boston was obviously deeply traumatized by this incident and the jury pool is Boston if the case remains where it is, but Boston is also probably the most liberal city in the country.

Death penalty opposition there is higher than anywhere else. So does the defense go somewhere elsewhere people, you know, don't have the immediate association with the crime or do they go somewhere where people might not oppose the death penalty in the same numbers. It's a very tough call. It's something I'm certainly going to be watching and I don't know how the defense is going to come out on that one.

TAPPER: Jeffrey, as you know better than I, even if somebody is sentenced to death, the actual act of that person being executed does not happen immediately and sometimes doesn't happen at all. There hasn't been a federal execution since 2003. What are the odds that you think he will actually be put to death if convicted?

TOOBIN: Boy, that's a tough question. You know, Timothy McVeigh was executed and he did a bombing in a similar kind of way. If he gets the death penalty, I think he actually will be executed. But remember, there is still a possibility of a plea bargain ahead and you can be sure his defense team as I mentioned headed by Judy Clark we'll be looking for a way to work out some sort of plea to life in prison. But if it goes ahead and if this is a trial that ends in a death penalty verdict, I think he actually will be executed.

TAPPER: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks. I'm going to be initiating a very new policy that comes to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Every time we mention Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his case, I'm going to mention the names of the four whose lives that he allegedly took, Crystal Campbell, Martin Richard, Lindsey Lu and of course, Officer Sean Collier. Our thoughts and our prayers go to their families. Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much for your time.

When we come back, two terror arrests in Russia as security heightens around the Olympic details on the suspects next.

Plus, 50 years after the British invasion, is there any musical group as influential as the Beatles. We'll look back on their unforgettable rise to fame in our "Pop Culture Lead."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm live from a GE plant in Waukesha, Wisconsin where earlier today. I interviewed President Obama and more of that interview will air tomorrow on THE LEAD and also on "NEW DAY" at 6:00 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Now in the World Lead, with so many concerns about the threat of attack at the Sochi Winter games, intelligence officials hope two arrests will clue them into what a Russian terrorist network maybe up to. Russia's National Anti-Terrorist Committee arrested two brothers for last month's bombings at a train station in Volgograd.

They were taken into custody in Dagestan, an area known as a hub for Islamic insurgency. Officials also identified the suicide bombers who pulled off the deadly attacks. They are said to have been part of a terrorist group based in Dagestan. The group could be linked to this video released two weeks ago, which shows men armed with guns and explosives warning President Vladimir Putin to expect a, quote, "present" at the Olympics.

Joining me now from Washington is former CIA official, Peter Brooks. Peter, thanks so much for being here. What can you tell us about these men who were taken into custody today.

PETER BROOKES, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, these were the accomplices of the suicide bombers in Volgograd, the attack in December. I think there are a couple of good things about this. One, they found people who were involved in that terrible attack. Two, they may get some information out of them. Hopefully, they'll get some sort of intelligence.

And three, it's possible these individuals could have been involved in a future attack so it's possible they foiled a plot. We don't know that yet but it's obviously good. It helps to take apart this network of splinter groups under caucuses Emirate that poses a serious threat to the Olympics in the next week or two. TAPPER: I know we don't know all of the details, but given the fact that they were detained in Dagestan, is it likely, do you think, based on your experience, that they are at least somewhat related to the groups that are behind the threats to the Sochi Olympics?

BROOKES: Yes, I think so. But there could be splinter groups. The one who was involved in most recently was Dagestan, a new group. I don't even think the Russians had heard about them. This group is calling themselves (inaudible) terror group. There are a bunch of splinter groups out there and the challenge is that they may be operating in cells, Jake. In other words, they are not talking to one another. They have their marching orders and they are going about themselves undertaking potential terror attacks. It's very, very difficult. They have to have good operational security.

TAPPER: Peter, I don't need to tell you that it's easier to gather intelligence after an attack and we're seeing that here. But obviously the goal is to prevent future attacks, especially coming up with the Sochi Olympics. How far do you think this arrest can go in terms of thwarting a potential attack?

BROOKES: Well, hopefully they will be able to find out some information. In fact, I understand that they arrested them a couple of days ago and now the information is just coming out. They probably want to see what they can get out of them, perhaps get other individuals, get some names that they might be able to run down, but these are just two individuals.

This is a very capable terrorist group that has a long history of attacks in Russia. So the challenge really is where is the knowledge and information? You know, they are gathering all of this information and we still have these three black widow potential bombers out there and they believe one of them is inside that ring of steel that is surrounding Sochi so real challenges ahead.

TAPPER: And obviously there's always a lot of difficulty when it comes to intelligence agencies from different countries, especially countries that are in still some ways rivals, like the United States and Russia, to come together and to cooperate. We've heard that there was some difficulty in getting the Russians to provide information, to cooperate with U.S. intelligence officials. We've also heard that that has thawed a bit. Do you think that there is going to be progress made? Are you hearing anything from your former colleagues at the CIA?

BROOKES: Well, I know we're trying to be helpful and international cooperation is critical to dealing with those sorts of terrorist threats. So I hope the Russians get over their nationalism, their pride and some of the antagonism. We can't forget about Edward Snowden as a burr under the saddle of this relationship, but I hope they are willing to take good American intelligence, European intelligence, other intelligence that will keep these 3,000 athletes, 200,000 spectators that are expected to go and the foreign dignitaries at the Olympics in a week or so.

TAPPER: And that will be one of the questions that we'll air in our interview with President Obama, what would he do if friends or family came and said we're going to the Olympics? He sees all of the intelligence. What would he recommend? That will air tomorrow morning. Peter Brookes, former CIA official, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

BROOKES: Thanks for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: When we come back, she was tasked with turning around a family tech giant, but with lacklustre results so far, is time running out for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer?

Plus, Jerry Seinfeld is finally asked about that secret meeting he had earlier this month. His response leaves us with even more questions. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're live from Waukesha, Wisconsin where earlier today, we interviewed President Obama. That interview will be airing in its entirety tomorrow on "NEW DAY" at 6 a.m. and at my show THE LEAD at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Now turning to the "Money Lead," she was a Google superstar exec who left Google to help turn around a tech company facing a changing landscape and numbers released this week showed that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, well, she may be in trouble. Her year and a half on the job has shown declining sales and little progress waiting any ground from mega tech companies such as Facebook, Google and our good friends at Twitter.

Is this the end of the line for Mayer? Jessi Hempel of "Fortune" magazine is in New York with more on Yahoo!'s future. Jesse, good to see you. Is this a defining moment for Marissa Mayer?

JESSI HEMPEL, SENIOR TECH WRITER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: It's definitely a defining moment for Marissa Mayer. I think -- you ask the question that everybody is asking, is this the end? And it's the wrong question to ask right now because when Marissa took this job, right, she said, give me a few years and we're only 18 months into her tenure. We've just hit that point where people are asking, what are you doing and is it working and I think if anybody saw earnings this week, you really have to ask that question because we didn't see the progress that many of us had hoped to see with the company so --

TAPPER: What has Mayer done? Go ahead.

HEMPEL: No, I guess, you know, the question that one might ask is what has she done right? You know, I've actually been into the company fairly recently.

TAPPER: That's what I was asking.

HEMPEL: Right. So the answer is she's done a heck of a lot of things right. She's really energized the place. She's totally turned around the culture. She has taken a group of folks who were bummed to come to work every day and created reason for them to feel hopeful about what's going on and she's created a real innovation machine that seems to be working.

The problem Marissa faces is that the business she's in is the business is declining. Display ads are not what people are investing in right. So even if things are going really well at Yahoo!, it doesn't seem to matter because the business itself is shrinking. So then her challenge is to figure out a new business to move Yahoo! into and it's really too early to say whether she's going to be successful at that.

TAPPER: But you know, Google and Facebook, they also had their numbers out this week. It's hard not to compare them to Yahoo! Maybe you don't think it's fair to do, but how can we avoid but comparing Yahoo! with Google and Facebook.

HEMPEL: Well, sure. You have to compare them, right, but you have to understand that Google, Facebook, they are starting from different places. I mean, Yahoo! is a turnaround story. We've seen the stocks climb to crazy heights over the last year, but a big reason and we can't forget -- a big reason for this is because Yahoo! owns a quarter of the Chinese company, Alibaba. That's projected to go public this year.

So a lot of the hopefulness you've seen in the market is actually hopefulness about Alibaba. So you know, that will happen -- and after that, that will be the true test for Yahoo! What happens then? I mean, it would be easy to compare Yahoo! to Amazon and Google, but they are really different corporate stories right now.

TAPPER: You've talked to insiders at Yahoo!. Briefly, if you would, Jessi, what is next?

HEMPEL: I think that we're going to begin to see Yahoo! figure out how to make some money off the Tumblr acquisition. You know, they've really just started running advertisements on Tumblr in the last half of the year. Marissa has said she expects that to pay big dividends in 2014.

We're also going to see Yahoo! experiment with advertising formats, a lot of the native advertising, an attempt to basically reinvent brand advertising, which they will need to do. Now, I think -- I don't think that will be enough to really bring Yahoo! the momentum it will need to grow as a company. I think we'll need to see Marissa do something else and that's what I'll be looking for in 2014.

TAPPER: All right, Jessi Hempel, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Coming up next, 50 years ago the sound of shrieking fans filled more than 70 million American living rooms and America met John, Paul, George and Ringo. We'll take a look at the lasting impact of the British invasion coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We are coming to you live from a GE plant in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I'm here because earlier today I interviewed President Obama. You can see that interview tomorrow morning on "NEW DAY" at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow and on my show, THE LEAD, 4 p.m. Eastern.

The Pop Culture Lead now, to say it was a really big show is an understatement of epic proportions. It's now been 50 years since a four-headed mop top phenomena, it sounds like that. Phenomena. Hit American airwaves and changed pop culture forever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The 73 million viewers would watch as the Beatles asked America to hold their hand on the Ed Sullivan show and the unbridled shrieking of the fans that ensued is still echoing through the halls in rock and roll history.

Joining me now is Alan Light, contributor for "Rolling Stone" and former editor-in-chief for both Vibe and Spin. Alan, thanks so much for being here. This is about more than rock and roll really. It's about the power of television. Why was this one night so important?

ALAN LIGHT, CONTRIBUTOR, "ROLLING STONE": Well, it's very easy now to forget how limited media was in 1964. The Beatles made a conscious decision that they were not going to come to America until they had a number one single that they could come in at the top. They had a number one and people had maybe seen a picture of them. They may be heard something about the haircuts. There was all of this curiosity that had built up and nobody had actually seen what this band was.

And the notion of a self-contained band from England that wrote their own songs, you know, this would have sounded insane a couple of months earlier. And so there was this fever pitch that built around them and they delivered -- that's what greatness is, to take that moment and deliver beyond expectation and that's what they did.

TAPPER: What do you think of the Beatles first album compared to what they later did?

LIGHT: Well, the Beatles early music is fantastic, but in a very different way, of course, than what they went on to do. The Beatles were so well honed. They were such an incredible live band from all of the nights that they played in Hamburg and Liverpool all over England that by the time they went into the studio, they were this really well-crafted machine. They were writing great pop songs and making smart choices for what songs they covered.

Obviously as their career went on, they grew experimental. They went into new directions that people couldn't even imagine. But, you know, we forget people didn't think about bands that wrote their -- first of all, they didn't think about bands. Second of all, they didn't think about pop stars who wrote their own music prior to the Beatles. That was a revolutionary thing no matter what kind of songs they were doing. TAPPER: It's hard to think of a time in American history of more change than between the mid-'60s and late '60s in terms of a five or six-year block. How much do you think the Beatles are responsible for playing a role in that seismic shift?

LIGHT: You know, I think there's always a question about how much does the culture -- how much does the art mirror the culture and how much does it go the other way. I think that the timing of the Beatles' arriving coming a few months after President Kennedy's assassination brought a youthful, fresh energy and really pointed a way towards the future and a creative future.

You know, certainly what they were doing was mirroring a lot of things that were happening in society at the time. But they were the ones who had the wheel. They were the ones who were leading that charge as there was a move toward more experimental art, politics, drug culture, looking at eastern religion, all of these things were things that they were the one who is were setting the pace for.

TAPPER: All right, Alan Light, thank you so much. We appreciate your time. Tune in tonight for a special episode of the upcoming CNN original series, "The '60s, The British Invasion." It premiers tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

It was a picture that sent Internet a Twitter a picture and spotted at Tom's Restaurant in New York, the setting where many a conversation about nothing took place between their Seinfeld characters during the sitcom's amazing run. There was speculation that they were shooting a Super Bowl commercial. What were they doing there? The host of a New York radio show had Jerry Seinfeld in their studio. They wanted answers and asked tough questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he Jason in this filmed piece?

JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: George. He was George. Do you want to know if Larry David was involved?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard he was involved.

SEINFELD: He was involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he on camera or no?

SEINFELD: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Seinfeld being very coy, but he did say that other show characters are involved. The project is a one-time deal, he said, and will be released very, very soon. And he said it lasts longer than 60 seconds. Stay tuned. A reminder, you can see more of my interview with President Obama tomorrow first on NEW DAY at 6:00 a.m. and then 7 a.m. Eastern and then later right here on THE LEAD at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Finally, we'd like to thank the 700 men and women of the GE Waukesha gas engine plant for their incredible hospitality, kindness in helping bringing you our show today. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He is in "THE SITUATION ROOM" back in Washington, D.C.