tv The Situation Room CNN January 23, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PST
for the month. >> you plan to have a girlfriend? >> for sure. >> he will play the patriarch of a multigenerational family. he will mud through the waters of parenting and ratings will soar like the cosby show did three decades ago. cosby is said to be working with the team of writers. that's it with "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i'll send you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." iranian leaders raise fresh doubts about whether they will honor the nuclear deal with the west. are there tough comments sent to cnn or cause for concern as republicans look for bay to repair their image they name a woman to respond to the president's state of the union address while mike huckabee blasted the democrats saying the democrats think that women can't
control their libidos. and hillary clinton may not have declared for 2016 but a liberal political machine is already starting up the bandwagon. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." just days after the nuclear deal with iran went into effect, tough talk from iranian leaders raising fresh doubts of whether tehran will live up to its side of the bargain. what exactly is in that agreement and how will americans know if it's being breached? let's begin this hour with jim acosta. jim? >> wolf, it's clear that sticking points remain over this deal. administration officials are brushing off comments that they will not dismantle key parts of their nuclear program that could be weap be weaponized. that's exactly what iran will have to do.
they saw this one coming. >> we said before that we expected the iranian government to spin the commitments they made under the joint plan of action for their domestic political purposes. >> translator: . >> reporter: at issues, comments made that the white house is overselling just how far his country has agreed to go. the interim deal to scale back. >> the white house tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of iran's nuclear program. that's the word that they use time and again. we are not dismantling any centrifuges. we are not dismantling any equipment. >> reporter: zarif did overstate the time that the administration used the word dismantle. but president obama said iran for the first time will start ee limb fating high levels of
enriched uranium that makes it possible but in a separate interview with cnn's fareed zakaria, iran said no way. >> so there will be no destruction of existing centrifuges? >> translator: no. no. not at all. >> reporter: asked about those comments, white house press secretary jay carney said the iranians are playing semantics. >> how iranian officials characterize this for domestic audience matters far less to us than what they are actually doing. >> reporter: the white house says the destruction of centrifuges has always been a goal of a future longer lasting agreement, not the interim deal that's just been implemented. it's a case that the president made last december. >> they don't need the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess in order to have a peaceful nuclear program. >> reporter: now, as for iran's call to release the text of the interim nuclear deal, the white house resisted that idea saying they've already made it
available to members of cross and as for the accusations, two key parties from both parties told me that they believe the white house is also putting its best face on the agreement because of domestic pressures here in washington. wolf? >> why don't they release the text so the americans can see what's in the agreement? zarif obviously has read the text. why can't the american public know what is in the text? >> reporter: that's right. as have members of congress. but jay carney has said it's the iaea that will be watching iran's dealings with the agreement and compliance with the agreement that there are certain technical aspects of the final -- or interim deal that they would like to keep confidential. the white house is saying that is why they are keeping that text not public at this point. it's best kept confidential for the moment, wolf. >> why not just keep those technical points confidential
but release everything else? >> reporter: now, they have, wolf, released summaries of the deal and that's been put out to reporters. we've talked about that over the last couple of weeks. the average text of the deal, it's their preference because of what they say the iaea would like to see happen, that those text remain confidential. >> jim acosta, thanks very much. and fareed zakaria is joining us from davos, switzerland, after a conversation with president rouhani. it gets to the sensitive part of what the iranians have agreed to do and what they have not agreed to. watch this. >> translator: we will not accept any limitations and in accordance with the parliament law in the future, we're going
to need 20,000 megawatts of electricity and we're determined to get the nuclear fuel at the hands of our scientists and we're going to follow on this path. >> so there would be no destruction of centrifuges, of existing centrifuges? >> translator: not under any circumstances. >> it seems to me, even going further, fareed, than what his foreign minister zarif told our jim sciutto. there could be potentially a fundamental disagreement between iran and the u.s. >> reporter: that's exactly what i worry about, wolf. i think you're right. the first time an iranian official and this is the president has laid out his vision, if you will, of the final agreement. and what he said to me, what rouhani said to me, look, we intend to have a robust nuclear
program. you can have as many inspections as you want but we're not going to roll back that program. in fact, we're going to expand that program. now, that's a very different vision from what the united states has laid out, where they expected significant rollback of the program. they talked about shuttering some of those centrifuges, dismantling one of the two heavy water reactors. he categorically and unequivocally said none of that is going to happen. so i think we have a train wreck on its way here. >> yeah, it sounds like. i'm going to play another clip about when you asked him about the u.s./iranian relations, confidence building. listen to this. >> reporter: do you think in your understanding of the negotiations that the two sides are that there is enough goodwill, that there is enough trust that can be a bridge between what seemed to be very different positions? >> translator: of course. one cannot say there is full
confidence and trust. >> reporter: fareed, where is this u.s./iranian relation heading? >> reporter: you know, i am struck by the fact that there is a commitment to negotiation. he reiterated very strongly, we do not intend to have nuclear weapons. it's unislamic. it's forbidden. you can have inspections as many as you want but the bridge between the two positions, as i say, so great, that you would need a lot of trust and we have very little. remember, we have not talked to this country in 34 years. we're just beginning this process. we're not doing it one-on-one and as a result these negotiations -- i've talked to people who have been in them, you don't build a lot of trust when you have so many people in the room. you have six countries on one side, iran on the other. it's difficult to imagine this one ending very happily.
>> yeah, it sounds pretty depressing. on syria and the iranians have a lot of influence on what is going on in syria, they have a close relationship with the syrian president bashar al assad. he did say something intriguing to you about elections in syria and potentially some kind of end to the civil war. what did he say? >> reporter: well, he was very clear that he supported the assad regime's conception of what is going on there, which is there are a lot of terrorists from saudi arabia, turkey, places like that. this has to stop. but then he said we do believe that there should be free elections in syria and that is the best way to resolve this. now, that is one glimmer of hope. if there is going to be a political solution in syria, that is one path by which could you imagine the assad regime either having to share power or actually exiting altogether. it's the first time we've heard one of -- syria's main sponsor
is iran. the first time we've heard any prospect of some sort of solution which might involve a different political settlement other than assad just staying in power. >> and in a totally unrelated matter, in an article that you wrote for "time" magazine, the case for snooping, you made the case that the u.s. has to continue the surveillance program, the nsa surveillance program. in a quick gist, tell us what your bottom line is. >> reporter: the bottom line is this, wolf. people don't realize, we are under constant cyberattack from all over the world. the nuclear -- the national nuclear administration, which oversees our nuclear facilities, gets ten million cyberattacks a day. how do you defend against that? you have to allow the nsa to get into those systems. we live in the cyber world. we want to be protected but that
freedom doesn't come free. to protect all of those systems, you have to allow the government into those systems. of course with constraints, of course by the rule of law. but, you know, you don't get liberty for free. >> fareed zakaria, gps, airs sunday mornings here at 10:00 a.m. and also at 1:00 p.m. fareed, thanks for the excellent work. >> pleasure, wolf. look at this. we're following some breaking news. this just coming in to "the situation room." a catastrophic scene. we want to show you these life aerial pictures we're just getting in of a major car crash in lake county indiana. multiple, multiple vehicles are involved. look at those trucks and the other vehicles. the weather is severe. only 11 degrees with near supposedly whiteout conditions.
we don't have word on fatalities or injuries. we're going to continue to update this story as more information comes in. but this is coming in from lake county, indiana, that freeway is clearly shut down in that direction right there. it's near laport, indiana. we'll get you more as soon as we get some more. awful pictures. up next, mindful of the issues among voters, republicans name a woman to address the state of the union address and mike huckabee drops a new bombshell that may have many women winsing. and check out this new bizarre cover of the "new york times" sunday magazine, hillary clinton depicted as the man on the moon. the magazine isn't even out yet but it looks like "the times" is already being forced to explain. hey guys! sorry we're late.
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after watching president obama get re-elected, republicans realized that they have problems with women and minorities. our chief congressional correspondent dana bash is here with more on what is going on at this republican party meeting that is ongoing in washington. >> you remember very well mitt romney talking about binders full of women and talking about legitimate rape. ever since then, they have been trying to keep their brethren from making comments like those. today's comments were not entirely what they had in mind. republicans invited mike
huckabee to address their winter meeting because he's a conservative who can deliver a clear message. >> if the democrats want to insult the women of america by making them believe that they are helpless without uncle sugar coming in and providing 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. >> reporter: that made many republicans here quietly wince, not exactly what they are going for as they are painted as anti-women extremists. this is more like it. choosing the only female women of the house republican leadership, cathy mcmorris rodgers to address the state of the union address. to reach female voters, the republican national committee is also urging gop candidates to talk more about the thorn knee issue of abortion, not less,
when attacked by democrats. once your candidates go down that road, they risk -- >> our candidates risk being silent and getting punched in the face on a bogus war on women and i think they ought to fight back. >> reporter: all of this, nearly a year after the rnc delivered a blu bluntly-worded autopsy. we have lost the ability to be persuasive or welcoming. they are trying to rebuild work around the country. >> we have for too long become a u-haul trailer of country for a presidential nominee. >> reporter: the rnc is building staff and grassroots in communities of key voting blocs that have been lost in elections. >> here's the point. if you're not in hispanic communities, who is there? who is there telling the story of the republican party of
opportunity and freedom? >> reporter: but the republican strategy to broaden its national reach for 2016 could be undercut by this november's midterm election, where it's all about ginning up the gop base. >> we naturally have an advantage walking into 2014. >> reporter: translation, the gop prize is taking the senate by defeating democrats in red states where the president lost. that means firing up core conservative voters. and nothing fires up those core conservative voters at this point more than obamacare. republicans are still banking on the fact that the republican base will be energized enough against health care and the law to put them in a position where they really want to go to the polls. wolf? >> dana, stand by. gloria borger is here, our chief political analyst, ryan lizza, gloria, what do you make of the
mike huckabee comment? because as dana just reported, some women were probably out there wincing. >> it's not exactly what i think republicans were planning on. i mean, in the autopsy that dana was talking about for the republican party, the prescriptions about how to win, they said you've got to get more aggressive on the so-called war on women, fight back against democrats who say you don't need to worry about the women. what mike huckabee was saying was that democrats are insulting women by essentially trying to women over by giving them free birth control, as he puts it, under obama care. that's not exactly the discussion they want to have. the republicans i talked to say we have some issues that the public is with us on. for example, parental consent on the issue of late-term abortion, for example. let's talk about that stuff. >> i was there and watching him lie and talk about this. it was really the word libido. >> yeah.
>> one of his friends actually told me afterwards, somebody who is a very big supporter, said can you text me about libido? i said, no, that's your job, not mine. >> cathy mcmorris rodgers is going to give the response to the president's state of the union. >> i think in the short-term for a midterm election they have one set of issues. long term with the democratic trends in the issue that obama put together for 2012 is what is going to overwhelm them. >> mitt romney won married women by 11 points but single women, the republicans lost by 36 points. >> i'm not a single women but i
can imagine don't think that birth control is used because your libido is out of control. >> in the 1990s we called it the sex in the city vote. >> cathy mcmorris rodgers is the only woman that has given birth three times while in office. her first son has down's syndrome. they believe, obviously, that this is the kind of thing that people should take pride in and we saw that with sarah palin. >> there's got to be a way to talk affirmatively to women without insulting a group of women. reince priebus is reaching out to them and they understand that they've got to do this. >> you saw the largest, i think, liberal super pac as it is
called, endorsing hillary clinton as the next president of the united states. a lot of them are pretty close to the president. >> absolutely. they say that this group is going to be there for hillary clinton and this is the biggest statement so far of major obama establishment democrats saying that hillary is the one and that we don't want a messy divisive primary. jim acina is not a long-time obama supporter. he managed the campaign in 2012 and one of his jobs was the liason between the obama world and clinton world. >> we didn't know if this group would intervene should joe biden decide to get in the primary against hillary clinton. >> because it does look like a slap. >> sure. >> and whether this implies an endorsement by the president. >> joe biden can't just sit back. you have to have your people more aggressive.
>> super pac. >> you guys have now seen the new cover -- this is in the new yorker magazine. they have a new cover in their sunday edition, "planet hillary." some headline the gravitational pull of a possible 2016 campaign is bringing all of the old clinton habits into her orbit. will chaos prevail? a pretty controversial cover. >> of course. that's the point of it. but the question about her inner circle, that is one that is going to be talked about and already is being talked about quietly because, you know, part of the wrap on her is that she's loyal to a fault in 2008 and the other issue going on is that all of these people have been at her side for decades. as somebody close to her said, they are exhausted. they are in a waiting game. they are trying to figure out whether they need to get back on the horse and get back out there for her or not. >> a lot of people are making
fun of this cover, by the way. i don't think it's a very flattering picture of hillary clinton. >> the thing is, didn't "time" magazine have the cover with the leg, the hillary clinton leg? and now you've got the hillary clinton planet. it's difficult to figure out ewu ways to put hillary clinton on your cover. >> i never criticize anyone's magazine covers and i have a rule that mocking politicians is perfectly formal and okay for the press and, you know, i imagine i haven't heard this, some people are saying it is sexist. if you were at that level you have to love it. >> you don't have to love it. >> that's true. >> she doesn't need any more buzz, by the way. new details about what president obama thinks about fellow democrats and the new jersey republican governor chris
christie. new developments surrounding the scandal of chris christie, talking to aides of a new jersey mayor. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." people don't have to think about where their electricity comes from. they flip the switch-- and the light comes on. it's our job to make sure that it does. using natural gas this power plant can produce enough energy for about 600,000 homes. generating electricity that's cleaner and reliable, with fewer emissions-- it matters.
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a very long interview with president obama offering new insights into his mood, this five years after joining office. joining us now is the author, david remnick, the editor of "the new yorker." david, in addition to that very long initial article, you've now posted even more and i'm going to read a sentence or two
because i want your insight. "democrats up on capitol hill that i have relationships with know that the things i'm fighting for are things they care about, that they deeply -- that they care deeply about and that i have a genuine commitment to seeing them succeed. you haven't seen me, i think, go out of my way to play against democrats on the hill but i've tried to be supportive of them in every way that i can." my take away from that is -- and you were talking apparently about one of the serious criticisms that he gets, he doesn't really spend a lot of time with democrats or republicans up on capitol hill the way ronald reagan did, with tip o'neil but go ahead and give me your understanding of what he was driving. >> well, i think he thinks that doing all of those things that lbj did, shmoozing only really
matters on the margins and the reason he's having trouble getting legislation through is because of the systemic change in american politics. the fact that the republican party has radicalized and moved deeply to the right and the fact that even his own democratic party is filled with individual actors. chuck schumer can come out against the iran policy without any fear of punishment and any fear of party discipline. politics has changed independent of barack obama. but there's no doubt that schmoozing is not his thing. >> mary landrieu in louisiana, it seems that they are running away from the president but necessarily not in photo ops with him. >> look at the states that you named. north carolina, louisiana, you could say the same thing about alaska. these are not states that are easy for democrats in any
situation. they can't risk being too closely associated with him. and i think that would have been true with any other center-left democrat president. >> you know, i came away from the initial article, which was very long and part two which has just been posted, i'm just wondering if you agree that he seems to be sort of deflated right now. >> i don't. >> he came in with all sorts of grand ideas but now he sees the reality of washington and he's a little bit depressed? >> no, i don't agree with that. when you're spending hours with a reporter like me, you're talking in a different vain than if you're speaking with 25,000 people in front of a football stadium. it's a different tone of voice, a different level of rhetoric. when he was with me, it was no doubt a more interspective and
it's very different. i don't accept this business that he's deflated or depressed. that's been some of the reaction to the piece that i published in "the new yorker." >> we're showing our viewers of live pictures of the president at the white house. he's got a nice event going on over there. >> he doesn't look too depressed to me. >> no, he doesn't at all. he's got a big state of the union address on tuesday. did he give you a little sense about what he might be unveiling? >> yeah. i think that you're going to see greater use of the bully pulpit of issues like the gigantic gap in opportunity between the very wealthy and the rest of us. middle class especially and the poor. and the gap grows and grows and grows between that very top slice of american society and everybody else. and i think he feels that not only for reasons of fairness, for reasons of decency and
morality, but even more economic reasons this is bad for the country. this kind of hyper deluxe economy where there's a few winners and everybody else is struggling to keep pace and struggling to put food on the table and have a decent life. that that is no way to move forward. and he may not -- again, he may not pass legislation even of the most rudimentary sort, even on increasing the minimum wage may not succeed but he's going to use the bully pulpit more and more, beginning with the state of the union address on tuesday. >> we'll, of course, have live coverage of that. very quickly, i thought he was really nice to chris christie and the comments that he had with you in part two of this interview. >> well, i would say he dodged the question. i think you've had the experiences that i have with the politician that just doesn't want to go near a hot topic. there's nothing in it for the president of the united states to give me a long disposition on the gorge washington bridge
controversy with chris christie. he basically said, you know, i had a good relationship with him. i have a good relationship with him and i don't know -- as he said, i don't know the full details. i don't have enough information about this, which is about as rudimentary a dodge as a politician can make. >> i thought he was very nice to bob gates, too, some very positive things about him in his new book duty and also criticism. i assume you agree with me on that? >> i do. and he gave me what i would call a long cloud of words that amounted to not much just to avoid getting into it with bob gates because, after all, any time a president of the united states sends anything, it becomes big news so he talked to me in great detail about marijuana, for example, and that became big news or the discussion of syria became news. he's got to be very careful not to pick fights that are completely unnecessary politically speaking. >> david remnick, the editor of "the new yorker" magazine. david, i know there's a cover of the new magazine.
obviously it's a long, long article but i recommend it to all of our viewers in the united states and around the world. good luck. i know you're off to sochi. be careful over there. hopefully we can have you back to talk about that. >> thanks very much, wolf. up next, new developments in the scandal swirling about the new jersey governor, chris christie. we'll take you to an ancient christian village now on the front lines of syria's civil war. why many christians are now siding with the bashar al assad regime. the new new york is ope. open to innovation. open to ambition. open to bold ideas. that's why new york has a new plan -- dozens of tax free zones all across the state. move here, expand here, or start a new business here and pay no taxes for ten years... we're new york. if there's something that creates more jobs, and grows more businesses... we're open to it. start a tax-free business at startup-ny.com.
we have an update now on the breaking news we've been following, the catastrophic scene. look at it. a major multivehicle crash in lake county, indiana. we're hearing at least one person is dead. this, according to the indiana department of transportation. the weather there is severe right now. only 11 degrees in parts of the area near whiteout conditions. and there's concern that people backed up in traffic could run out of gas or heat as they are waiting for this mess to be untangled. we're going to continue to monitor this awful situation and bring you more information as it comes in. while syrian peace talks have gotten off to a rocky start, the civil war goes on. fearing an onslaught by jihadist, fred pleitgen visited and there are graphic images.
fred is joining us live from damascus. set the scene, fred. what did you see? >> reporter: wolf, there's been high-profile attacks by islamists on christians and they fear for the existence of christianity in this country. churches have been attacked, churches have been burned, bishops have been kidnapped and killed and now a major attack on a montestary. we visited that site today and here's what we saw. a statue of jesus christ but at the saviour's feet, a gruesome sight. dozens of badly mutilated and charred bodies. the dead are rebel fighters who tried to storm a montestary. they attacked from that mountain back there and destroyed our front gate. the montestary is not a civilian target these days.
it's filled with pro-assad fighters, mostly christians, and army forces as well. there's artillery, tanks, and mortars stationed inside. in the last couple of days there's been a massive increase in the violence in this area. in the past few days alone, 40 mortars either hit inside the montestary. rebels have often accused syria's christians of collaborating with the assad regime. this video shows sunni towns getting shelled atop of the hill. though we cannot verify the authenticity. many of syria's christians feel threatened by the uprising of bashar al assad. one of the main christian towns was slammed by muslims and nuns were kidnapped.
many fear that christians could be pushed out of syria altogether. i'm certain they are targeting us because we are christian. we've had many attacks, says this christian fighter. syria's splintered rebel groups have done nothing to assure christians that they will be safe in a pro-assad country. many fear the end of the assad regime could lead to tougher times for syria's christian community. it's not just the end of bashar al assad himself, wolf, that the christians are afraid of itself it's the whole power structure that is in place here where they feel that power strublg tur has guaranteed the stability to live in this country and they are very worried about what will happen if that power structure falls apart, very worried about islamists becoming much more powerful.
>> fred pleitgen, thanks very much. we'll check back with you tomorrow. when we come back, he's the conservative trying to take down the most powerful republican in the u.s. senate. and he just received a major endorsement. my interview with businessman matt is next. details surrounding new jersey governor chris christie. new allegations his lieutenant governor played politics with superstorm sandy's funds. i have low testosterone. there, i said it.
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swirling around new jersey governor chris christie, including fbi involvement and federal subpoenas. let's bring in chris of cnn investigations. what are you learning, chris? >> wolf, there are two developments. first, at least three people are backing up hoboken mayor dawn zimmer's allegation. now, the lieutenant governor says the accusations are false but now three people are saying that zimmer told them about the ultimatum soon after that conversation with the lieutenant governor last may. and a source is saying that the fbi interviewed two of mayor zimmer's current staffers and, in addition, we spoke to david mellow, a hoek councilman. >> i'm going to talk to the u.s. attorney next week and i'm going
to share with them everything that i can about what was shared with me this last summer and corroborate at least back to that date, you know, most of the key facets of what the mayor has conveyed to the media. >> i absolutely believe her. even if she hadn't told me much of what she has told the media this summer, i would still believe her. i've known her for years. >> now, councilman mello is a christie supporter. >> you're also learning new details about the bridgegate scandal. >> that's right, wolf. both the re-election campaign and new jersey republican state committee has been subpoenaed for documents relating to the george washington bridge the story is obviously not going away by any means. chris, thanks very much for that
report. he's a conservative trying to take down the most powerful republican in the united states senate. the minority leader, mitch mcconnell, and he just got a major endorsement which could give him a critical boost in momentum in the race to kentucky's republican primary, now just a few months away. matt bevin is joining us from louisville, kentucky. matt, thanks very much for coming in. tell us why you think mitch mcconnell, the republican leader in the united states senate, should be ousted and you should be the next senator from kentucky? >> well, my reasons for thinking so are really the reasons of the people of kentucky whose voices i listen to for some months before even jumping into this race. they probably are summed up in the fact that 30 years is a long time for a person to go somewhere. they change, they become less of who they once were and there are many people here in kentucky that do not feel that our voices are well represented by mitch mcconnell, that he really does not 'em place the conservative
thinking of most of the voters here in kentucky. i am willing to step forward to give people a choice in this upcoming primary. >> freedom works, the conservative pac, has just endorsed you, but you have a huge uphill struggle. a lot of republicans fear you're just going to weaken mitch mcconnell, setting the stage potentially for the democrat to win the election. what say you? >> it sounds like they're already making excuses, doesn't it? this from a man who is already the weakest senator in the united states among his own constituents with only a 31% approval rating. i don't think he needs me to weaken him. i think he's done a pretty good job of it on his own, frankly. >> historically speaking, no party leader has ever lost in a primary. you know that? >> i do know that. it's time to make some history here in kentucky. we've done it before. >> you suggested in a recent interview that this campaign was
engaged in thuggery against you. what do you mean by that? >> you know, you've covered this business for a long time, wolf, so you understand there's a lot of backstory to what people see on the front side of a campaign and there are always the shiny baubles, the velvet glove and the iron fist. there's been more than a little bit of both in this campaign but i'm not an individual who will be bought or bullied out of the arena because truth be told, the people of kentucky deserve a choice. >> the word "thuggery" is a pretty big word. give me an example of what you say backs up that word. >> well, for example, i was told by the time this campaign were over if i were to move forward, that the people who sit behind me in church would get up and leave when i came in. that's the type of thing i'm talking about. but i have yet to see that come
to fruition. i'm not too concerned about it. >> have you seen any evidence of real negative politics, something really disastrous, something ugly that has gone against you? >> no, the same old noise that we expect from mitch mcconnell. he's the man who takes the slash and burn approach. it's the way he's always gone about things. i'm not too concerned about it. most of his allegations in his ads against me have been absolutely outright lies. he knows them to be. but as you know in the world of politics, that's considered fair game. so i expect there will be more of the same. i think when we're done, he will stoop to levels the likes will make aqua buddha look like a warmup act. >> what do you mean? the primary is at the end of the may. what does that mean? give me another example. >> i think that we'll continue to see increasingly desperate ads from him. my job in this campaign is to focus on the issues, to focus on the economy, to focus on the
issues of debt in this nation, to focus on issues like amnesty. his attack seems to take the lowest common denominator, slash and burn, both with myself and with the democrat contender. kind of rhymes with people's names and silly little videos and things that frankly are demeaning to the office itself. they're beneath the dignity of the office that he holds in my opinion. >> a lot of tea party supporters like you and support you but senator rand paul, who's a darling among many tea party folks has endorsed mitch mcconnell. i assume you're pretty disappointed in that? >> he did this long before i was in the race. and in fairness to rand, he's a man of his word. he made that commitment before i ever entered the fray and is sticking to that commitment. i have a lot of respect for rand. i supported him in his primary and general, voted for him both times. he's a guy that i would vote for
again. i like the way that he represents us in the u.s. senate. i think it would be great if he saw the light and realized that he and i are much more alike than are he and mitch mcconnell, but he's committing to what he said he would early on. >> i want to show our viewers a photograph of you and your family. >> i'm not sure of the exact picture. >> you with a lot of kids. >> my wife and i and a lot of kids. we do have nine children. i grew up as one of six children in a very simple way, out in the country, very simple life. in my life after paying my way through school i joined the military, got out, went into the business world and i've been very blessed. i have lived the american dream, wolf, i really have. in the course of that i've always had a heart for the 167 million orphans in the world, and we realized some years back that we should try to embody our thinking by visually representing this need and doing something about it. and so four of our nine children are adopted. and it's been an absolute blessing in many, many census of
that word. >> and you adopted them in ethiopia. you have a beautiful family indeed. matt bevin, thanks so much. we invited mitch mcconnell to join us. we have an open invitation to him. if the two of you would like to do a debate, we welcome both of you to join us in a debate as well. thanks very much for joining us. >> i would love it. thank you very much, i appreciate it. just ahead, we'll give you an update on the breaking news we've been following here in the situation room, that deadly pile-up. look at these pictures in indiana. new information just coming in. also jay tapper chats with edward snowden on twitter. he's here with the details of that conversation coming up right at the top of the hour. [ male announcer ] this is the story
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let's get an update on the breaking news we're following, that major pile-up in lake county, indiana. two people are now confirmed dead and authorities say the crash involves at least a dozen semi trucks and too many vehicles to count. teams of coroners are now being called to the scene where people are believed to be trapped inside cars and under semis. we're told heavy equipment is being brought to try to help people get out. some victims are already being transported to hospitals and warming buses are being brought in to help others. the eastbound side of this major interstate expected to be closed most of the night. happening now, snowden speaks. the nsa leaker takes part in an online chat discussing the surveillance programs he revealed and he responds to cnn about a possible return to the united states. would he accept a plea bargain?
olympic warning, chilling words from a top u.s. sports writer heading for sochi. she calls the games, quote, an agent of death. will her worst fears be realized? and a top official announces he'll no longer defend his state's pan on same-sex marriage. why does he now say it's unconstitutional, that ban? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." overreach and abuse, that's how edward snowden describes the government surveillance programs he revealed in a series of notorious leaks. the former nsa contractor took part in an online chat just a little while ago from russia where he's been granted temporary asylum. the u.s. has charged him with espionage and left of government property. now a u.s. justice apartment official tells cnn the government is willing to discuss snowden's return to the united states if, if he pleads guilty
first. snow den's latest remarks coincide with a scathing new report on the programs he revealed to the world. brian todd is here with details. >> reporter: the report says that massive nsa program to collect americans' phone records in bulk is illegal and should be shut down. this watchdog panel nominated by the president himself pushes back on the nsa's claim that if it had that surveillance program before 9/11 it could have disrupted the plot. a hijacker on board the plane that slammed into the pentagon on september 11th had been inside the u.s. well before 9/11, had been in contact with an al qaeda safe house in yemen. the nsa did not know that he was calling that location from san diego. the nsa's chief says if they had their current program of collecting bulk phone records in place, then -- >> we'd have known about the plot. >> reporter: but a privacy watchdog board rejects that.
>> the information was available, the agencies just weren't sharing it. >> reporter: and the board says that controversial nsa program, revealed by leaker edward snowden, should not exist. >> it is unlawful in the majority of the board's view and should be shut down after a short transition period. >> reporter: the board says the patriot act doesn't give legal authority to collect phone records in bulk, as the white house argued, and said the program is a huge invasion of americans' privacy. it's a harsh rebuke on president obama's stance on intelligence gathering. in the wake of the report, the white house is again defending the program as legal and effective. >> we simply disagree with the board's analysis on the legality of the program. >> reporter: president obama has announced plans to take the phone data collection program away from the nsa and give it stricter oversight but not to end it. in an online chat today snowden said, quote, there is no justification for continuing an unconstitutional policy with a 0% success rate. the obama team says the phone
surveillance program did help disrupt one terror plot. the 2009 effort to ploe up part of the new york subway. but this board says the nsa's phone records surveillance, which the board chair calls the 215 program, played a minimal role in that case. >> it played a role only after he had given up on his plot and returned to colorado. >> reporter: peter king of the house homeland security committee disagrees. >> it's not just the actual threat that you stop. this fills in blanks. it leads authorities one way or the other. >> reporter: king says this board is, quote, outside its lane. he said he doesn't know what qualified these five people to decide what's legal and constitutional, when almost all judges' rulings have said the phone surveillance program is legal. the board chair responded by saying they were nominated by the president, confirmed by the senate and they're all lawyers, including a former federal judge. >> an important report coming out. brian todd, thanks very, very
much. during today's online chat, edward snowden took a question from our chief washington correspondent, jake tapper. jake is here in the situation room right now. how did that go? you tweeted and he responded? tell bus that. >> earlier in the day, the attorney general had suggested that he would be willing to talk to snowden's lawyers about coming back to the united states if snowden were to plead guilty. so i asked snowden about that. then i also asked what would you -- what conditions would there need to be in order for you to come back to the united states. he gave a lengthy answer. part of the response was returning to the u.s. i think is the best resolution for the government, the public and myself but it's unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws, which through a failure in law, did not cover national security contractors like myself. he noted that the law under which he's been charged is about a century old and it was never
intended, he said, to be used against people working in the public interest and forbids a public interest defense so it doesn't sound as though there are any conditions, unless when congress comes together to act on the recommendations that brian mawas just talking about, maybe there would be a different situation. >> so we shouldn't expect him to plead guilty, get a reduced sentence, any time soon. >> under the conditions he described, congress would have to come together and have a clemency or justice for edward snowden act to pass the house and senate and be signed into law by the president. i don't see that happening. >> that's not happening. jake, thanks very much. a disturbing new message believed to be from the head of al qaeda now inserting himself forcefully into syria's bloody civil war and raising fears the terror organization may be rising once again. let's go to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr who's working the story. what are you learning, barbara? >> reporter: in an audio message
believed to be from al zawahiriy he calls on the faxes in syria to unite. but after months of brutal infighting across syria, can al zawahiri exert control. >> it's all about expanding the territory al qaeda controls. >> reporter: it appears to be part of a bigger plan raising questions about whether he is growing more powerful. >> it would appear that he has a significant capability to communicate with our operatives in the arab world and indeed on other jihadist fronts. >> reporter: the state department insists the tape is all al qaeda spin. >> we've seen al qaeda in the past try to take advantage for propaganda purposes of conflicts in places like iraq, places like yemen and places like syria.
>> reporter: but a u.s. official says the worry is this, if he can still get audio and videotapes out to the public, what else is he doing? israel wednesday announced it arrested al qaeda suspects behind a plot to attack the u.s. embassy in tel aviv and other targets. >> it had the personal involvement of al zawahiri from his place in pakistan border area and he was personally involved in the operation. >> reporter: u.s. officials believe the suspects may have been inspired by his influence but likely never communicated directly with him. now, wolf, you know, u.s. intelligence believes that whether these tapes are propaganda or not, these audio tapes, these videotapes that he puts out, that still he has a clandestine network of couriers
across the middle east and across africa and that's certainly plenty to worry about. >> barbara, thanks very much. growing fear of terror attacks on the sochi winter games. plus an attorney at law makes a stunning announcement about same-sex marriage in his own state. [ male announcer ] here's a question for you: is your tv powered by coal? natural gas? nuclear? or renewables like solar... and wind? let's find out. this is where america's electricity comes from. a diversity of energy sources helps ensure the electricity we need is reliable. take the energy quiz. energy lives here.
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because it offers a superior level of protection. and because usaa's commitment to serve current and former military members and their families is without equal. begin your legacy. get an auto insurance quote. usaa. we know what it means to serve. an alarming warning from a noted sports writer and columnist. a growing security fear surrounding the upcoming winter
games in sochi sha, russia. she writes, an i'm quoting, the olympics have become an agent of death. the writer, sally jenkins, is joining us now. sally, thank you so much for coming in. you rewrote a really strongly worded article. you said the olympics are supposed to be about human dignity, in the words of the olympic charter, but in these games the humans are shields. how worried are you about what's going on in sochi, russia, and what's about to happen? >> well, i think the people who are most worried are ordinary everyday russians who are living in that area with the olympics approaching. you always hesitate to sound when i kn whiney about your own personal security going to a region like that. >> i take it you're going over there to cover these games? >> yes, for "the washington post." >> how worried are you personally? we're hearing all these alarming
reports about security. >> well, i think my understanding from the experts is that interior sochi should be secure. there are 60,000 russian troops, there are all sorts of electronic surveillances. the problem is that russia is so vast, there are so many areas just outside of sochi that are inflamed, that i think it could be very difficult for them to protect basic things like railroad tracks, trains, buses. you know, there were a couple of explosions in volgograd just a month ago. so while the interior sochi olympic villages may be secure because of the massive amounts of security there, it's actually the perimeter outside of the, quote, ring of steel where the real concerns may be. >> they made this decision back in 2007 to hold these winter olympic games in sochi. who's responsible for that decision? you obviously think that was a huge, huge blunder. >> well, in 2007 the
international olympic committee had a choice. south korea was an appealing destination and got the next winter olympics. sochi was the weakest entry. its only real asset was the fact that vladimir putin pledged to spend two or three times what anyone else was going to spend on the winter games. since then, that figure has ballooned to $50 billion or so. so it's a bit of a puzzle why the ioc decided sochi was the most attractive venue. jean-claude said it was literally the most difficult building project for the winter olympics he has ever seen. >> what worries me is the worry about the security could affect the athletes, even though they're great athletes, it could affect their strength, their ability to do what they're going to these games to do.
should i be concerned about that? >> if your question is could it tell in the athletic performances -- >> yes. >> -- if things get a little hairy, absolutely. certainly. figure skaters have about two and a half minutes in the short program that they have been practicing four years for and have to land jumps on a blade less than a quarter of an inch thick. it would be pretty easy to disturb their focus, i would think. it remains to be seen. you know, i really, again, just because the inside of the olympic village at sochi is secure by 60,000 troops doesn't mean that there aren't other concerns. and again, the people who may suffer the most from this are ordinary russians who literally live just a couple of miles outside that perimeter. >> sally jenkins of "the washington post," good luck at the olympics. thank you so much. >> thank you. he took an oath to uphold the constitution but now there's one provision that he says is illegal and won't defend it.
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got some more breaking news just coming into "the situation room" out of north korea. let's go straight to barbara starr with the details. what are you learning, barbara? >> reporter: news come from north korea's national defense commission in the last several minutes. they have apparently sent a letter to south korea saying that they, the north koreans, want an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity.
they want a complete halt to hostile military acts and a reunion of separated families between the north and the south. wolf, let's take a deep breath here. from the u.s. point of view, let's remember north korea, the u.s. says, is a nuclear state with a long-range missile program. you put a nuclear weapon on top of a long-range missile, that is, according to the u.s., a direct threat to this country so there is a long way to go. very hopeful words that the north koreans may be looking for reconciliation and unity, but the u.s. still very cautious. in fact it was just today that a top u.s. admiral in charge of military operations in the pacific said he had questions about whether kim jong-un, the leader of north korea, was engaged at all times in rational decision-making and the u.s. has upcoming war games, upcoming training exercises with the south koreans and they are going
to stick to it. they are going to go ahead with those exercises with south korea. so tonight a very interesting letter from the north koreans where they say they're looking for reconciliation and unity and an end to hostile acts, but a long way to go. >> i've read this lengthy letter that's just been released. there are several pretty encouraging lines in there. would it be fair to say this was a north korean olive branch, shall we say, from kim jong-un, the new young leader of north korea, to the south, to south korea? >> reporter: yeah, i think some people are absolutely going to interpret it that way. you know, it will remain to be seen how the south korean government reacts to all of this. an olive branch certainly perhaps a starting point, but as long as north korea has that nuclear weapons program and that long range missile program, the feeling in the united states, and i think it is very fair to say across much of asia is they are unpredictable. it's an unpredictable regime.
nuclear weapons and long-range missiles cause a real problem. it is a threat to the region. wolf. >> the timing of this letter is also interesting, barbara. there had been some tense moments in recent weeks, but it seems to be improving a little bit. if they release kenneth bae, the american who's been held about 15 months prisoner in north korea, that would be a significant olive brarcnch, sha we say. >> reporter: very significant olive branch and the u.s. hopes for that. but the long track record with north korea is decision-making that is very opaque to the united states. most of the time the united states isn't sure why north korea does what it does. >> barbara starr at the won, thanks very much. other news we're following, a remarkable turn-around by virginia's new attorney general less than two weeks after being sworn in. mark herring has announced his office will no longer defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage. he's deemed it unconstitutional
and he says, i'm quoting him now, it's time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history. the virginia attorney general, mark herring, is joining us from the state capitol of richmond along with jeffrey toobin who's joining us from new york. attorney general, tell us why you made this decision to go ahead and reject what is now part of your state's constitution. >> well, first of all, there was a pending case in norfolk filed last year that was fully briefed and heading toward oral argument on january 30th. so we knew that coming into office this was an issue we were going to have to look at closely. i very quickly appointed a solicitor general to head up the legal team to analyze the law. we researched it carefully, considered the supreme court precedents and determined and concluded that if the supreme court were presented with the facts of this case, we think they would strike virginia's ban down. consistent with my obligations as attorney general of virginia,
i felt it was important to fulfill those obligations and present the state's position, which is that the law is unconstitutional. >> and you've made the comparison to loving versus virginia, which used to be the law in your state which the constitution rejected that used to ban interracial marriage, if you will. you see a parallel there? >> well, we in virginia are very proud of our heritage, when it comes to the contributions many of our forefathers have made to democracy and to freedom. thomas jefferson, author of the declaration of independence. madison, mason, patrick henry. but there have been critical times in our state's history where we have argued on the wrong side of landmark supreme court cases. virginia argued on the wrong side in the brown versus board of education school desegregation case in 1954. the loving case, which struck
down virginia's ban on interracial marriage. and virginia was on the wrong side in a case where virginia argued that female cadets should not be admitted to the virginia military institute. and this time it's important that virginia be on the right side of history and the right side of the law. you know, i happen to, as a matter of policy, believe that marriage rights ought to be extended to same-sex couples. but it's not about my personal policy, this is about what the law requires and what my obligations require as attorney general. >> i want jeffrey to weigh in. go ahead, jeff. >> attorney general, one thing that really struck me in your brief is that you say it's not the virginia constitution that requires same-sex marriage to be illegal, you say it's the united states constitution. so does that mean that all 50 states should have legal same-sex marriage?
>> well, i think the question that ultimately is going to need to be decided by the courts and ultimately the supreme court is whether the different states' bans on gay marriage violate the 14th amendment to the united states constitution. if you look at the cases that the supreme court ruled on last year, striking down section 3 of the defense of marriage act, justice kennedy wrote that state laws that treat same-sex cup ous as second class citizens violated the due process and equal protection of the constitution. it also sent back, although it did not rule on the ultimate issue, it sent back another case on proposition 8, effectively nullifying california's gay marriage ban. so when you take those cases and other cases like the lawrence versus texas case, striking down texas' anti-sodomy laws, couple that with the long line of cases
where the supreme court has recognized that individuals have a fundamental right to marry, you know, i have concluded after that thorough legal analysis that virginia's ban would not sustain constitutional scrutiny. >> when do you think we'll know the final result of your decision today? >> well, it's important for people to recognize that the change in the state's legal position does not mean the case will end. the registrar of vital records will continue to enforce the ban, as it has previously. there are other defendants in the case who will continue to argue for the legality of virginia's ban. and so those sides are going to be argued and presented. the arguments are scheduled for january 30th and will go from there. but it's important that this issue be resolved in a matter of the rule of law and a court is going to have to decide. >> attorney general mark herring of virginia, a major decision on
your part today, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you for inviting me. >> and thanks to jeffrey toobin as well. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. "crossfire" starts right now. tonight on "crossfire," is the u.s. keeping iran from building a nuclear bomb or getting fooled? president obama says -- >> key parts of the program will be rolled back. >> but iran's president just told cnn -- >> we will not accept any limitations. >> who's correct? on the left, stephanie cutter, on the right, newt gingrich. in the crossfire, tom periello and ran sick santorum, a former senator and presidential candidate. is iran fooling itself or the u.s.? tonight on "crossfire." welcome to "crossfire."
i'm stephanie cutter on the left. >> i'm newt gingrich on the right. in the "crossfire" tonight, guests with very different views of president obama's foreign policy. here's how i see it. libya is in chaos, syria is in chaos, iraq is descending into chaos, pakistan is a mess, afghanistan is teetering on the edge, and then you have the iranians. within the past two weeks, cnn has record three things that should alarm every american. first, iran's president tweeted the world's powers surrendered to iran's will. second, iran's foreign minister declared his country isn't dismantling any of its centrifuges. and then you have iran's president today explaining to cnn's fareed zakaria what the chants of "death to america" really mean. >> what they mean to say relates to the aggre