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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Olympic Terror Threats; Interview With Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Snow Storm Sacks Super Bowl Travelers; Most-Watched Super Bowl Ever

Aired February 3, 2014 - 16:00   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, at the end of the day, the much celebrated Denver Broncos scored only eight more points than I did, and I wasn't even playing. Old joke. Sorry.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The politics lead, on the air and taking your calls. For the first time since e-mails and texts connected his office to the Bridgegate scandal, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will face questions from the public. We will talk to one of the well-known Republicans sticking up for the New Jersey governor, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The world. With only four days left until the opening of the Winter Games, Russia is a number of women under house arrest, not for what they have done, but over fears about what they may do in retaliation for their husbands' deaths.

And the money lead. Their fans may want to send the Broncos to the glue factory today, but even for a team that lost the Super Bowl by five touchdowns, the big game means a big payday.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We will begin with breaking news in our money lead. Geez, what happened on Wall Street today? Did everybody bet on Denver? The Dow dropping more points than the Broncos, seven times as many points, in fact, before the closing bell just rang moments ago.

Let's get right to Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, why such a big drop today?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, new worries about the economy sent stocks into a tailspin, with the Dow suffering its worst loss of the year.

A manufacturing report we got today shows that the sector is growing at the slowest pace since May. That is not all. Auto sales from GM and Ford disappointed the Street. There's more, in fact, a full plate of concerns hanging over Wall Street today. Fourth-quarter earnings really not wowing Wall Street, with many companies just not very optimistic about the road ahead. All that has investors worried that the Fed may have begun pulling back on stimulus a little too soon. Here's the good news, though. While some economists do think we could be in the middle of a correction, many also believe the market will turn things around by the end of the year.

Just so you know, a correction is just a fancy-schmancy word for a bigger downturn, 10 percent from recent highs. So, when you look at the numbers for the S&P 500, it's when the S&P 500 hits the level of 1665 and the Dow hits 14930. It's getting kind of close to that. Not quite there yet, Jake.

TAPPER: Alison Kosik today, thank you so much.

In the politics lead, if you have a question for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about perhaps what he knew, when he knew it about the Bridgegate scandal, you might be able to answer him yourself. The Republican is planning to hold his ask the governor radio show as scheduled this evening at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, as he does every month or so.

Anybody can call, text, tweet, e-mail in a question. Governor Christie has not answered anything from the public since incriminating texts and e-mails linked his office to a plot to create a giant traffic jam on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, all apparently out of political spite.

It seems the scandal may be taking its toll on Christie's political future. Take a look at this brand-new CNN/ORC poll we're releasing right now showing this horse race for the 2016 GOP nomination. Republicans just can't control their libidos for Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor leads the pack at 14 percent. Behind him, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul at 13 percent, a Tea Party favorite.

Only then do we see Governor Christie tied for third place with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 10 percent. Keep in mind, of course, there is a 4.5 percent margin of error. So they are all bunched together, but Christie used to be ahead of the pack.

Governor Christie's office has found itself battling more allegations from David Wildstein, the former Christie appointee to the Port Authority, who seems to have played a key role in Bridgegate. On Friday, Wildstein's attorney released a letter stating -- quote -- "Evidence exists tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures during the periods when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly" -- unquote.

The governor's office has slammed the letter, not surprisingly. Even the Democrat leading the state investigation into Bridgegate says no such smoking gun is in the 900-plus page of documents that Wildstein handed over in compliance with a subpoena.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D), NEW JERSEY STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: The use of the words, evidence exists, as opposed to saying I have documents or I have an e-mail, it is a curious choice of words. It raises questions about what does he have and why doesn't the committee have it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, this investigative committee was supposed to receive more subpoenaed documents today, but officials tell CNN that they do not expect any to actually come out today because so many of those involved have asked for extensions.

Christie's office over the weekend sent out an e-mail asserting that Governor Christie had -- quote -- "no involvement, knowledge or understanding of the real motives behind David Wildstein's scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge."

They also took time to outline some of the events from Wildstein's past, like suing over a local school board election when Wildstein was a teenager or being accused of deceptive behavior by a high school social studies teacher.

So what should Governor Christie tell his constituents, and should it include another swipe at David Wildstein?

<16:05:04>

So, joining me now from New York is former Republican presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He's chairman and CEO of Giuliani Partners, a security consulting firm.

Mr. Mayor, good to see you.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Good to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: So, I'm learning that the governor's office is also going to be fighting back against "The New York Times," which first reported on David Wildstein's letter on Friday in a story that had to be corrected.

The Christie team is pushing out today's "The New York Times" public editor column, which said that "The Times" should have flagged they made to changes the story -- quote -- "Some sort of notice was due to the reader that initial story had changed in a substantial way." They are also including a whole bunch of attacks on "The New York Times" for how the story was misreported.

They originally said that Wildstein said he had evidence, as opposed to Wildstein asserting that evidence existed.

Do you think this is going to be effective, to attack "The New York Times"?

GIULIANI: Well, I think to correct the article, it's probably necessary to point that out.

I actually commend "The Times" for making the correction. It seems to me any newspaper can make a mistake. And they have now corrected it and put it in the proper context. It's unfortunate that they did the original one, because it led to a lot of very exaggerated headlines. And I think Senator Wisniewski actually, I'm quite pleased, pointed that out in that interview we just heard. The reality is that no evidence was presented suggesting the governor isn't telling the truth.

TAPPER: So why...

GIULIANI: He creates an offer in which he says that he can point the way to evidence.

Now, if he had this evidence, he should have given it to the committee, again, as Senator Wisniewski pointed out. And, number two, without attacking Mr. Wildstein excessively, which I don't think we should do, it is quite fair to point out some of the motives he might have for doing this.

He's seeking indemnity. He's seeking for the Port Authority to pay for his legal fees. There's only one possible way they could pay their legal fees. He would have to been authorized to do it by the governor. So, he has a real motive to try to bring the governor into this, so he can get his legal fees paid.

And then I guess the next step would be to try to get immunity. So, you have to take this with a grain of salt. The original "Times" article didn't have any grains of salt in it. And then I think "The Times" corrected it and put it in proper context, which is basically we shouldn't overreact to this.

TAPPER: Speaking of overreacting, Mr. Mayor, did you think it was odd at all that Governor Christie's office put up this document talking about what David Wildstein was like in high school and as a teenager? I mean, it begs a few questions.

One of them is, if he's so horrible and such a freak, then why did Governor Christie approve him being appointed to the Port Authority? Second of all, I don't want to get into what you were doing in high school or what I was doing in high school...

GIULIANI: Please don't.

TAPPER: Exactly. I don't know that that is really appropriate. What did you make of all of that?

GIULIANI: Well, they were attacked pretty unfairly, and sometimes you can throw a few more things over the transom than you should.

I think it's quite effective to just point out, sort of as I would as a lawyer, the questions about his credibility. I think they are sufficient to create some real doubt about whether or not he really has this evidence or exactly what this evidence is.

TAPPER: They assert that this is David Wildstein's scheme. That's the first time that we have heard the governor's office try to put this on somebody.

We have seen in those e-mails that actually Bridget Anne Kelly, the former Christie deputy chief of staff, is the one who says, "Time to create traffic problems in Fort Lee." David Wildstein says, "Got it."

Is this a declaration by the governor that this was Wildstein and not Bridget Anne Kelly?

GIULIANI: I can't say that. I don't know. I don't know -- that would be reading too much into it. I'm not privy to all the decision making that goes on.

I sort of am an outsider. Look, I'm doing this because I have known Chris for a long time. I know him as a U.S. attorney. I think that, although a very serious thing happened here, from everything I can see from the outside, he's handled it well by taking accountability for it, firing the people responsible.

And I do think, you know, the public is entitled to at least have a devil's advocate who can lay out the other side of the story. And, as a lawyer, I sort of have a natural instinct to do that.

TAPPER: Fair enough, sir.

Last question, the probability that Christie will have to address this in his ask the governor tonight, I would say, is pretty high. What would you advise him to say?

GIULIANI: I would advise him to be himself.

The one thing that was very powerful about the press conference that he held a few weeks ago was, it was so darn direct. It was clear and so precise and so different than when we have one of these politicians who is backpedaling, you know, I can't remember, I don't know, I'm not sure, maybe, no recollection.

I think he has to be himself and make it clear that he didn't have this knowledge that Wildstein is suggesting that he had, and also pointing out that there is no evidence at this point that he isn't telling the truth. So let's let the investigation play its course, rather than having these overly exaggerated stories come out right before the Super Bowl and at other times.

<16:10:07>

Let the investigation run its course. Let's see what they find out. There's plenty of time -- if the governor did something wrong here, there's plenty of time to hold him accountable in a serious way. And if he didn't do anything wrong, which I believe is the case, then what we're doing to him is kind of unfair.

TAPPER: All right, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

GIULIANI: Thank you. Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Later this week on THE LEAD, we will sit down with Secretary of State John Kerry. I will ask him about recent claims that he privately told some lawmakers that the U.S. policy in Syria is failing, plus the latest on negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. That's this Wednesday, an exclusive with Secretary of State John Kerry right here on THE LEAD one year after he became secretary of state.

When we come back, if the Super Bowl was being held tonight, it would look like this. Several inches of snow has already fallen in the Northeast. We will get an update on the mess it is causing at airports.

Plus, if Hillary Clinton needs a little more convincing before deciding whether to jump into the 2016 presidential campaign, well, she might have just gotten in our latest poll.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

<16:15:21>

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The national lead now, the Broncos offense wasn't the only Super Bowl no-show. A snowstorm that many feared would hit the New York area during the big game showed up hours later, turning MetLife Stadium from Seahawks green to winter white. Six inches of snow are in forecast for the Big Apple today and as much as 10 inches are expected in Philly, prompting the city to shut down schools and government offices.

Joining me now live from New York is CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers.

Chad, Governor Christie in New Jersey just declared a state of emergency in the Garden State because of the snow. How bad did it get there?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, there's eight inches. Just about all across the state, especially the northern half, and even a little bit farther south, there could be more, especially from Philadelphia and just points into Pennsylvania as well. We do have at least eight to 10 inches in some of those spots there, (INAUDIBLE) out towards Allentown, Bethlehem, and there you go, from Cranberry 8 1/2, all the way down to Morris Planes at eight, and that's enough now with temperatures falling tonight, we're going to see refreezing.

Something else that's coming up in the next couple of days, another storm system will affect us here on Wednesday. It takes shapes in the plains tomorrow and it moves towards the Northeast on Wednesday. We will see icy conditions here, a little bit farther to the North, Saratoga, Albany, Binghamton, that's all snow. One storm after another and there may be another bigger one for Saturday.

What we have here behind me, I believe about 6 1/2 to 7 inches in central park. That's enough for me for any one time, about half hour ago, we had big Charlie Brown flakes coming down. They are going to be on and off for the rest of the night. The big problem will be those ruts that you see in the middle right there. They'll be refreezing right after sunset and that's just about an hour or so, a lot of ice on the streets tonight -- Jake. TAPPER: Chad, how do you think your friends back in Atlanta would deal with that? Never mind. You don't have to answer. Jake Tapper, thank you so much.

MYERS: We would shut down until June.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: OK.

The snow is adding insult to injury for Super Bowl fans who are ready to get the heck out of New York and forget this whole weekend ever happened. Yes, Broncos, we're looking at you. More than 1,800 flights had to be canceled today, many of them in the New York.

Mark Murphy, the founder of travelpulse.com, is live from chilly Philly, to help put this travel backlog in perspective.

Mark, good to see you.

How many passengers are being impacted by these cancellations?

MARK MURPHY, TRAVEL EXPERT: Tens of thousands when you start talking about 1,700 flights and you talk about 200 passengers per plane. They all have to get rebooked. They are all being held up at the airports.

Hopefully, they got warnings before they got to the airport and they are sitting back there in the hotel room as long as they have a hotel room, right?

TAPPER: It's been back to back winter storms. So, for the airline industry --

MURPHY: Oh, yes.

TAPPER: -- this has got to be costing them a lot, as well as travelers.

MURPHY: Yes. You know where the impact is, it's on the airlines when it comes to business travelers, right?

So, a business traveler has a meeting, can't get out, cancels the meeting, no reason to fly. That's lost revenue to the airline. And that's the high-yield revenue for the airline. That's where the guys paying $1,500, $1,600 to sit in coach next to the leisure traveler who booked three or four months out that's only paying $300. So, that is an impact to the airlines.

The leisure traveler tends to get out. It tends to get rebook. The business traveler, not so much if they missed that important meeting.

TAPPER: So, you talk about the ripple effect. So, it's not just an impact on the airline industry. Tell us -- explain, if you would, how much this ripples out.

MURPHY: OK. So, think about the travel industry. Think about all of the areas it touches. It's the largest employer in the world. Everybody from taxi drivers to people who work at attractions to waitresses and waiters and bartenders, all of these business businesses get impacted because they in many places rely heavily on tourism and business travel trade.

When that slows down or comes to a stop, that economic impact is felt literally at every level of the economy and that's where you see, in my opinion, the biggest hit. It's not the airlines, per se. They will get their revenue. They will get in fees, and high fares, et cetera. It's the guy on the ground that doesn't get the money for working that shift, that then doesn't spend the money, which impacts the economy.

TAPPER: Mark Murphy, thanks so much for joining us.

Coming up next, it's not just about the bragging rights. There's some real money in store for last night's Super Bowl game and not just for the Seahawks, the winners.

Plus, is the secretary of state secretly admitting failure in Syria? What two Republican senators are now saying he told about the need for a new strategy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

<16:23:40>

TAPPER: This is -- this is incredible. Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In money news, the Super Bowl started with a big snap and the game pretty much just got worse from there. You would not know that from the ratings, though. Fox Sports says that not only was it the most watched Super Bowl ever, it was also the most watched TV broadcast in history, 11.5 million people watched the slow motion Heimlich maneuver that was Super Bowl XLVIII as the Broncos choked in 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. That beats the previous record holder, Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, by more than 300,000 viewers. This despite a fair number of people who probably flipped over to the puppy bowl to see some actual competition.

Obviously, decisive victor for the Seattle Seahawks, they deserve the parade and the payday that comes with it. But don't shed any tears for Mr. Manning and his friends. It's not as if the Broncos are walking away empty handed. Those fans don't have shiny new rings on them, but they're not empty.

Did you know that even if you get totally blown out in embarrassing fashion at the Super Bowl, you're still guaranteed a hefty payday? Just not nearly as much you would get if you actually won.

Let's get to our Zain Asher, standing by for us in New York.

Zain, how much are these players taking home from last night's game?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jake. Well, the winner, the Seahawks will be taking home $92,000.

<16:25:02>

And that's winner's compensation for Super Bowl. It's an amount that's been steadily increasing over time.

But as you mentioned, the losing team are not walking away empty handed. Either the Broncos players are going to be taking home $46,000. Certainly not bad at all for a day's work.

But some players do actually have extra compensation built into their contracts. So, the amounts we're talking about, that's really the minimum in terms of last night's game.

But when you compare Super Bowl checks to what these guys make in a year, it's chump change. You look at some of the salaries -- guys like Marshawn Lynch, take home $7 million a year. Peyton Manning, he takes home twice that amount, $15 million.

But when you talk to some of these players, I'm sure they will agree that it's less about the salary on game day and more about the prestige. So, for example, the Super Bowl ring you were talking about.

Now, the value of the Super Bowl ring, it depends on the price of gold and it fluctuates with the price of gold. But I've been talking to the NFL. And they said the rings have a minimum value of $5,000. That is the amount that the NFL would be paying. Now, if the team wants to get more elaborate and spend more, they can, of course, do so.

But, Jake, looking online at some of the resale value of these rings, they can go for as much as $40,000, $50,000. So, let's not (INAUDIBLE), even for the losing team. They are making out just fine.

TAPPER: And as you noted, I mean, a lot of these players have, you know, writers in their contract saying, if you win the Super Bowl, you'll get a bonus of $1 million or $500,000.

ASHER: Exactly.

TAPPER: But sticking to these specific Super Bowl bonuses, how much do they end up paying in taxes?

ASHER: Right. So both players on both teams will actually pay taxes on income earned while they pay gains in the state of New Jersey. I've been speaking to the New Jersey Treasury Department about the drop tax. They say anything the guy made last night above $75,000 will be taxed at 6 percent. Anything they made over half a mil, we're talking about the Peyton Mannings of the world, if you will, will be taxed at 9 percent.

And, by the way, the Super Bowl rings, in case you're wondering, are also considered taxable earnings, too -- Jake.

TAPPER: Incredible. So, Garden State is going to make out with that -- incredible.

ASHER: Yes, roughly $10 million every single year is what New Jersey gets. So --

TAPPER: Nice work if you can get it. Thank you so much, Zain Asher.

When we return, Russian authorities are rounding up finding women as the hunt for potential black widow bombers who could be planning terror attacks on the Olympics heats up.

Plus, he could play a priest. He could play a transgendered person, a pretentious jerk, it didn't matter. We believed him every single time. We're going to take a look at the many faces and performances of Philip Seymour Hoffman, right ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)