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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  January 3, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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it all if you take a look at this film. back to you. >> thanks so much, lori sigel. that's tonight, cnn, story of apple computer founder "steve jobs, the man in the machine" here on cnn. next hour of "cnn newsroom" begins right now. hello, everyone, thanks for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. vacation over. president obama arriving back in washington. he'll begin his 2016 agenda tackling quote, unfinished business of his presidency, the epidemic of gun violence. monday he plans to meet with loretta lynch to discuss options and expanding background checks for gun sales. sources tell cnn he's preparing a new executive action on the issue. thursday, the president will join cnn's anderson cooper for an exclusive live town hall on guns in america. cnn investigations correspondent
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chris frates joins us now. the timing of the town hall should be noted, quite significant. >> the president is kinging off the new year with an impressive push for gun control. sources say expanding background checks will be a keystone of the president's actions. >> a few months ago i directed my team at white house to look at any new actions i could take to help reduce gun violence. monday i'll meet with our attorney general loretta lynch to discuss our options, because i get too many lernts from parents and teachers and kids to sit around and do nothing. >> reporter: sources say president obama's expected to announce new executive action soon, expanding background checks on gun sales, aimed at closing the so-called gun show loophole which allows some gun sellers to avoid conducting a background check. advocates pushed the white house to tighten regulations on the reporting of lost and stolen guns and want the president to report passengers on the no fly
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list from buying guns. republicans running to replace him were seemingly competing who would undo them. >> signing another executive order, having to do with guns, i will veto that, i will unsign that so fast, so fast. >> all of these executive orders, he's going to come out with tomorrow that will undermine second amendment rights, on my first day in office, they're gonzalez. >> reporter: jeb bush argued there was no need to expand checks. >> the so-called gun show loophole doesn't exist. people that want to sell random, occasionally sell guns aut to have the right without being imparred by the federal government. >> reporter: democrats applauded obama's efforts. sunday, bernie sanders, who rivals have called him weak on gun control, endorsed increased background checks. >> i think most gun owners in this country understand people
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who should not own guns should not be able to buy them. and we do need to expand the instant background check. i don't think that's an onerous burden on anybody. >> reporter: measuring americans' attitudes seem to depend how you ask the question. in a recent cnn poll, majority said they don't support stricter gun control laws or the president's handling of guns. but in a quinnipiac survey, overwhelming majority, 89%, say they support requiring background checks for all gun buyers. fred? >> chris frates, thank you. so this has been one of the most critical issues in obama presidency. he has made at least 12 public speeches in the aftermath of mass shootings, calling on congress to take action. >> we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world, and there's some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these
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mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don't happen. i've had to make statements like this too many times. communities have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. we come together filled with sorrow for the 13 americans that we have lost. with grad tude for the lives that they led and with a determination to honor them through the work we carry on. i have come here tonight as an american who like all americans to pray with you today and we'll stand by you tomorrow. and the federal government stands ready to do whatever's necessary to bring whoever's responsible for this heinous crime to justice. all of us are heart broken by what's happened and i offered the thoughts and prayers not only myself and michelle but
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country as a whole. and each time i learn the news, i react not as a president but as anybody else would as a parent. in the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as americans and i will do everything in my power as president to help. the lives were taken from us were unique. the memories their loved ones carry are unique, and they will carry them and endure long after the news cameras are gone. any shooting is troubling. obviously this reopens the pain of what happened in ft. hood five years ago. the country has to do some soul searching about this. this is becoming the norm. and we take it for granted in ways that as a parent are terrifying to me.
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the good news is i'm kf deconfi the outpouring of unity, strength, love, across charleston indicates the degree to which those old vestige of hatred can be overcome. each time this happens i'm going to bring this up, each time this happens, i'm going to say that we can actually do something about it but we're going to have to change our laws. >> so sources tell cnn that president obama's executive action is expected to be announced ahead of his state of the union address january 12th. we don't know the exact date or language yet. but here's what we do know. the focus remains on closing the so-called gun show loophole, which doesn't require certain sellers at gun shows, online sites and elsewhere, to have a license and therefore, doesn't require them to conduct background checks. additionally, sources say his plan will include new funding for government agencies are to better enforce existing gun
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laws. it likely that the mass shootings during obama's presidency did influence this kind of executive action but the vast majority of guns used in recent mass shootings, san bernardino, charleston, south carolina, newtown, connecticut, aurora, colorado, tucson, arizona, all of those weapons were bought legally through a licensed dealer, which included a federal background check. let's talk about this with cnn political commentators, van jones and ben ferguson. good to see you all. happy new year. van, to you first, the president is using executive order. is this a sign of his frustration that he's been unable to work with congress to get something else done? how is it being interpreted that he's flecking his muscle this way? >> well first of all, i wanted to say, i am happy, happy, happy, very, very proud of this president. i mean, that was heartbreaking.
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you look at -- he starts off look like tiger woods, by the end looks like morgan freeman, seven years, almost eight years the president has been begging the country to take action. there's a circle what's allowable in our constitution, a circle of what is required by conscience. in the middle is where you find executive orders. this president is doing what i think americans want to be done. 80 plus percent of americans want something to be done. i'm very happy, very proud to see him doing this. it's heartbreaking. we've had too many funerals, too much terrorist violence with guns, too much street violence with guns. somebody has to do something. he's acting within his authority to do what he can. >> on that note, whether this is the response that americans have been looking for. ben, we have this orc poll from last month saying 62% of pollster disapprove of how obama is handling gun policies in the u.s. so, is this a response that
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might move the needle? this is the kind of response action that those who were polled were saying they want to see from the president. >> i don't think so. and i think this, the big issue, this is a false sense of security and home. he is pushing this, claiming it's going to keep us safe from actions after owl of the speeches that you just played, before van and i came on here. but the reality is, not one of the shootings would have been stopped with anything the president's going to do through this executive action. this is a bait and switch. this is about his legacy. >> does that preclude the effort, then, to do something in some other way? >> there's people that want things done when it comes to mental health. when it comes to saying that if you're committed against your will by a court you shouldn't be able to get your hands on a gun for a period of time. the president is not doing any of those things. again, if the president of the united states of america would have done this seven years ago when he became president, not one of shootings would have been
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stopped because of executive action. this is afalse sense of security. this is pushing gun control, not going to deal with the problem, which is mental health, where there is a common ground on this. he can walk out and say all of these things that happened during his presidency have inspired him but you're not dealing with the problem at all and none of these would have been stopped. >> how do you respond, there isn't a connection in enough of the mass shootings and the gun show loopholes? >> sure. the problem is that when we focus only on the mass shootings we forget there are shootings every day. there -- we have funerals in this country every single day of people dying because of gun violence. and what we don't know is what is the relationship between some of those killings and some of these things. here's reality. what we know is, in countries where they have tougher gun laws, in countries where they have better regulations, they have fewer killings. so the president can't do everything but he can do something. i think most people in the
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country are going to be happy to see him take some action. this is purely constitutional. conservatives say he's trying to be a dictator. he's had fewer executive actions than bill clinton, fewer executive orders than w., fewer executive actions by reagan. this is not being a dictator. it's being a responsible president using the power he's got. >> i would say the president -- this is the difference between what he's talk about, bill clinton and george bush. when they did executive actions it was on smaller issues. the president is making law through executive action when congress decides and people that send congress to washington they don't want something done. there's a completely different scenario here. you have a president going to try to make law coming up this week because he says washington won't act. the people that voted congress into washington and they listen to the people and decide not to act, that is also their job to not make new laws if the people doesn't want them. yet the president's taking executive actions -- it's an
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absolute new law. >> these are not new laws i went to law school. regulations are fully constitutional. unfortunately there's misinformation out there how our government works. >> there are a lot of people that will challenge this legally and that's one of the main things you're going to see. >> if the argument ends up being the president is using executive order and ramming through an agenda that is not a reflection of america, what is best argument to make in which an executive order would be used, van? >> well, listen, executive orders can be good or bad. you can agree with them, not agree with them. but these are fully constitutional within his authority to do. the other thing you want to be clear about, this does ramp up, and i think ben will agree with me, it does ramp up the stakes for 2016. in other words, you have some republicans say, this is the kind of stuff we don't like, we don't want. you're going to have democrats rallying around the president saying we should do this and do more. and that will then say, if you want to keep these few steps the
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president has made in place, in place, you've got to get out have vote. if you want to get rid of them, you've got to get out and vote. this does ramp up both sides for 2016. >> ben? >> no doubt about that. this is a center point of the election especially with executive actions. i think you're going to hear republicans say, not only will they rescind these and say one of the mass the shootings that would have stopped these shootings six or seven years. the answer is not one of the mass shootings in the country would have been stopped that the president talked about with executive actions. this is nothing but gun control doing it under this banner of i'm going to stop mass shootings and it would not have fixed it. >> we'll leave it right there. thanks so much. >> happy new year. don't miss the live exclusive town hall about guns in america this thursday, 8:00 p.m. eastern. president obama will join anderson cooper to discuss the executive action that he is expected to aannounce any day
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now. the president will take questions from a live studio audience. that's thursday, 8:00 p.m. here on cnn. breaking news. >> breaks news, saudi arabia is cutting all ties with iran and giving iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. this follows a firestorm of protests against saudi arabia. angry demonstrators storming the saudi embassy in iran. protesters are furious that the saudis executed 47 people accused of terrorism and among those executed a prominent shiite cleric, nimr al nimr. the execution will cause, quote, divine revenge for saudi politicians. and armed protesters have taken over a federal building in the oregon wilderness.
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and they're calling on americans to take a stand for their land. details next.
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more now on this breaking news out of the middle east and saudi arabia saying it's cutting ties with iran. iranian diplomats now have 48 hours to get out of the country, this follows a firestorm of protests against saudi arabia after the saudis executed 47 people accused of terrorism, and among those executd a prominent
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shiite cleric, nimr al nimr. the saudi diplomats are being evacuated from iran after the embassy was stormed. senior international correspondent frederik pleitgen joining me now with more on what you know. this is a very delicate situation. >> delicate situation and surprising twist in all of this that was going on since late saturday, the saudis today coming out and announcing, as you said, servering all ties, accusing iran of undermining saudi arabia's security. it was the saudi foreign minister who said that saudi arabia, quote, would not allow iran to undermine saudi arabia security. of course, speaking about that incident that we're seeing on our screens right now, where protester in iran stormed into the saudi embassy in tehran late saturday night, setting some rooms on fire. the saudis say that they had asked the iranians to protect that embassy. they claim that did not happen.
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the iranians, for their part, today, at least to a certain extent in damage control mode, when the president rouhani, while condemning the killing of the shiite cleric, did come out and say that storming the embassy was wrong, that the iranians were going to find the perpetrators. 40 people have been arrested but clearly that's not enough to calm down the mood in saudi arabia. >> what does this do about relations with nations that are close to saudi arabia like the united states of america and, at the same time, having their own deals and other relations with iran? >> you know, it puts the u.s. in a huge bind. the u.s., for a very long time, has been trying to balance the iranians and the saudis. saudis, of course, as you pointed out, one of america's most longstanding and one of the most important allies in the middle east. the saudis, in recent months, years, have not been happy with u.s. foreign policy as u.s. and iran inching closer to a nuclear
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deal. something the saudis were skeptical of, however, one of the biggest accomplishments in diplomacy especially for secretary of state kerry was getting the saudis and the iranians into one room to speak about the future of syria. they're both at opposite ends of that conflict, accusing each other of meddling in that confli conflict. getting them into the room was something many saw as a prerequisite trying to solve that crisis. the big question now is, what are the allies of these two countries going to do next? what's the united arab emirates going to do. >> what's going to happen in bahrain, lebanon? a lot of fragile states that could suffer from worse arabia. s between iran and saudi >> frederik pleitgen, thank you so much, from london. still ahead -- armed demonstrators have taken over a federal building in the oregon wilderness and calling on americans to take a stand for their land.
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a developing story in oregon, armed protesters are holed up in an unoccupied federal building in the middle of the government-owned wildlife refuge. they claim to be taking a stand against the federal government's control and use of the land. it all started because two oregon ranchers are set to go to prison tomorrow for arson.
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following the story for us, polo, who are these people who are doing this? >> they call themselves patriots, constitutionalists and some referring to themselves as militia members. at this point they claim they are trying to support the family, that you just mentioned. but also at the heart of the issue, a larger one here, building conflict between the government and some ranchers, calling into question the use of public land. >> reporter: they're armed and staying put. a group of protesters broke into an unoccupied building at an oregon federal wildlife refuge saturday. claim to be taking a stand against the federal government's control and use of the land, the armed occupation broke off from a peaceful rally earlier in the day to support dwight and steven h hamid. expected to report to prison monday. >> it's a sentence. >> reporter: he and his son convicted of arson, setting at least 130 acres of federal land on fire. they maintain it was a
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controlled blaze that accidentally got out of hand. prosecutors, however, argue the flames were meant to cover up poaching. >> it sort of frightening when there's people making threats and people touting guns. >> reporter: the son of cliven bundy, at the center of a similar standoff with the federal government last year over grazing fees. >> this is no a time to stand down. it is a time to stand up. >> reporter: the younger bundy called on militia groups to descend and demand the government restore, quote, the people's constitutional rights, part of a vague and vocal anti-government message. >> the people have been abused long enough. their lands and their resources taken from them to the point where it's putting them literally in poverty. >> reporter: the hammonds, however, distancing themselves from the latest face-off. their attorney communicating in a short, but clear statement, to the sheriff's office says,
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neither evan bundy or anyone win the group or organization speak for the hammond family. those who are protesters say their demonstration is peaceful, but if provoked they will defend themselves. hammond family, they're making it clear, they do not agree with this armed occupation of the federal building, fred. tomorrow, both father and son, expected to turn themselves in to federal authorities to begin serving a five-year sentence. the reason why it's so long, fred, by federal law, any arson on federal property requires a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and that's what's reignited this conversation. it's an older issue being discussed yet again. >> polo sandoval, thank you so much. let's bring in matthew fo gflt g, retired deputy u.s. marshall. good to see you. happy new year. all right. so, the leader of these
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occupiers, prepared to stay in the building for weeks, even possibly years. how do you see this playing out? >> well, i see it playing as a very dangerous situation when you've got people with armed weapons such as what i've seen with these folks carrying, a.r. 15s, long guns, flak vest and so forth. a lot of these people, when you talk about militia, a lot of the people are prior law enforcement or had law enforcement training. you're talking about a serious situation here. when we look at -- i've been involved as u.s. marshal, i remember ruby ridge. >> waco. >> and waco, of course. the bottom line is you don't know. when people are carrying guns and talking about hunkering down and they will take action, then you have to believe them. >> okay. earlier i spoke with our justice correspondent even perez, and this is what he said about some of the law enforcement reaction --
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>> the fbi, which has jurisdiction, because this is a federal building that has been taken over by an armed group, they're taking -- keeping a very low profile on this. it's a very unusual situation obviously. they seem to be wanting to lower the temperature. they don't want to make a confrontation, which is what this group appears to want. they seem to want some kind of confrontation that perhaps will draw even more support from the wider militia movement. it's important to note that even members of the militia groups around the country, a lot of them seem to be distancing themselves, they're not quite sure that this is right way to go. >> matthew fogg back with us, you see the caution, in direct contact with ruby ridge, waco, federal authorities not wanting a repeat situation like that. >> well, again, we have to do our jobs.
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and you can also be tesending a message the other way. once groups can stand up against law enforcement, people can back off, they'll continue to move forward. this is serious. they have actually seized, taken over federal property with guns. that would almost fall under the patriot act talking about the type of instigation, what it means here. i understand, we have tried to low key these things. i'm telling you, a lot of other militias are watching this thing, if they see these guys are successful and backing the government down, they probably want to try to do the same thing. >> matthew fogg in washington, appreciate it. coming up -- a self-described gun lover. after the mass shooting at an oregon community college he made a viral video, pleading for responsible gun ownership. we'll talk to him about obama's new executive order, next.
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sources tell cnn, president obama is preparing a new executive action on gun control, we don't know the exact language of this order yet, but here's what we do know. the focus remains on closing the so-called gun show loophole, which does not require certain sellers at gun shows online sites and elsewhere to have a license and therefore doesn't require them to conduct background checks. additionally, sources say his plan will include new funding for government agencies to better enforce existing gun laws. jo jo joining me now, mark harmon, meeting with president obama on tuesday. good to see you. i want to hear more about your upcoming meeting. after the mass shooting at an oregon community college, you actually made a viral video, pleading for responsible gun
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ownership. why did you go public with this push for more control, and then tell me about this tuesday meeting you have with the president. >> well, quite frankly, i want to just clarify a couple of things. i did not vote for president obama on two different occasions, and when i watched him on the day after the shooting in oregon, i saw him in a different light. i saw a president but i saw a man, i saw a father, i saw a person just pleading for help, saying, i can't -- every time i turn around i'm getting stonewalled by the congress. he specifically called on gun owners. that haunted me, the day following that, i got on the internet and posted a video ranting at fellow gun owner friends of mine about we have to be responsible. we can't let political devices or differences or whatever those may be, we can't let that come
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between us and the safety of our country and our friends and family and our fellow citizens. and i decided, at that point, it was time to get involved and to start just making a lot of noise around and see what i can get done. >> what, among those things, getting done. what do you think is reasonable, what do you want to see as a gun owner, and as someone, as you said, who did not support the president but now you do? >> i do support the president on this 100% because, any conversation i've had with anybody from the white house or from senator schumer or other people i've talked to, i've not heard one person talk about banning guns or doing away with the second amendment. talking about putting responsible rules and regulations in place that simply cause people to get a background check when you buy a firearm. to close the loopholes for people that are engaged in the business of selling firearms,
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but not licensed, i mean, in my state, i could set up and sell rifles out of the back of a pickup truck like watermelons and there's no law stopping me. >> the executive order would include something like that, impose restrictions on being able to resell your gun to someone else. what are you going to be talking about specifically on tuesday with the president? >> we're going to be talking about things that the president can do by executive order, there are some things he cannot do. he cannot write law but he can by executive order do things to identify and make clear what requires a person to be licensed to sell firearms. and for a lot of people that are really, you know, jumping up and down about the executive order, let's remember that the emancipation proclamations and an executive order. >> i spoke to the executive director of
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i asked him recommendation to stop or prevent another mass shooting. >> i think the main thing we need to do is do away with gun-free zones. every place where the mass murders occur united states a gun-free zone. if they don't know somebody's in there or know that somebody's in there or might be in there with a gun or two or three or five people, whatever, they're going to be less likely to go into those places and commit these crimes. >> so, mark, what's your reaction to that, doing away with gun-free zones. is that something you're going to be having a dialogue about? >> as a son of a police officer, i can tell you that i -- i personally don't think that civilians ought to be enforcing the law, they're not trained for it. but then again, you knowing i understand the logic in gun-free zones if you're advertising that people here are not armed that causes the bad guys to go in and
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do things. but i really don't -- i really don't believe that that's the case. i think that getting the proper restrictions in place who has access to a firearm is the answer. >> on the campaign trail, we're hearing from some candidates who say any executive order like this based on what we've been -- what's been described for what the president wants to institute is that it's an infringement on second amendment rights. what's your response to that. >> two things. one, second amendment, a lot of the people that are adamant second amendment has to be right to the letter and all of that, we have a right to keep and bear arms. if we agree, stipulate we can't interpret that language for the 21st century, let say wherein does the contusion give me the uninfor instan iinfringeable ri
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firearm. we're looking at opinion by the supreme court handed down and told the stated it is constitutional and the states should put regulations in place. what we're looking at from that. as far as a dhand wants to unwind an executive order looking at 2% of the gun -- 72% of the guns owner surveyed would like universal background checks and loopholes closed and look at general populous, proceed at your own peril. >> mark carmen, thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. on thursday, this week, more americans will get to ask president obama about guns in this country. it part of cnn's exclusive, live town hall hosted by anderson cooper, thursday 8:00 p.m. herein, here on cnn. coming up -- bill cosby is out on bail in one case, and his wife is going to be deposed in another case aimed
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at the comedian. could the two cases intertwine? details, next.
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a free online resource about learning and attention issues to help your child thrive. welcome back, camille cosby is scheduled to answer questions in a defamation case involving her husband. the iconic tv dad is involved in a civil suit in massachusetts, where seven women are suing for defamation after cosby called them liars when he denied their sexual assault accusations. he's involved in a criminal case in pennsylvania where one woman claims cosby drugged and assaulted her. now all eyes on camille cosby and what she might say. a judge ordered her to answer questions from the attorney for the seven accusers in massachusetts. could her answers end up in her husband's criminal case in pennsylvania? i want to bring back cnn legal analysts phillip holloway. so this deposition, while it's in the defamation case, might it
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be used, borrowed, in the criminal case? >> depends, on what exactly she might have to say. keep in mind, according to all of the evidence, including in the police complaint that we read just this past week the only two people in the room were bill cosby and the victim. talking about the criminal case in pennsylvania. >> andrea constand. >> correct, if she, being camille knows anything, it would only be hearsay because of something that her husband presumably told her. if that would be considered something to be a confidential marital communication, she may have a privilege to keep off the stand, in other words, not have to testify about that, in a criminal trial. >> okay. so, we are at this juncture with the criminal case because that's what was once a sealed deposition of bill cosby was unsealed, and because there was that admission of inappropriate behavior and use of quaaludes,
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that helped resuscitate this criminal case. >> absolutely. >> wasn't there also a gag order, because there was a settlement in the civil case involving andrea constand, and now that's evolved into a criminal case, how does that change the storytelling, the account of her, the eyewitness, as well as possibly incorporate any other accusers into this criminal case? >> there can be no doubt, fredricka, that unsealing of the testimony in the civil case along with bill cosby's own words given to the police a year after this allegedly occurred, his words, i guarantee you, that proves 95% of the state's case, it proves he was there, it proves he did the things that she is accusing him of doing though she might have otherwise arguably had some type of inability to recall or observe or understand what was happening due to her intoxication, he confirmed everything that she said except for the key and
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crucial element of consent. to that point, that's where the other accusers can come in, fredricka, if their stories are so similar to miss constand's that they are deemed to be similar transaction evidence or evidence that could bear bill cosby. criminal signature as it proceeds to mow does operandi, that evidence can prove what bill cosby's words do not, it was a nonconsensual encounter. if that's the case they could literally line up victim after victim to come in and testify to this jury. and if that's the case, his own words combined with their testimony could easily spell a conviction. >> why are there potential complications? you have his deposition, some admissions, but then you have in this criminal case i mean he is going to plead not guilty, going to combat that, how does this
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deposition either make it much more difficult for his defense team or can it even be further complicated for the prosecution? >> it makes it, i think, much harder for the defense team, fredricka, because he basically admitted that not with respect to miss constand but with others that he gave them quaaludes. now, it's in dispute what exactly he gave miss constand. it not in dispute he gave her pills. he says it was benadryl. his mother says he told her it was something out of a prescription bottle, he'd have to read the label and get back to her. he admitted to giving her pills and admits to the police, the benadryl puts him to sleep right away. his own words, why he ever sat down and agreed to talk to the police in the first place, i cannot figure out. >> because they thought it would be sealed? >> i'm talking about the police interview. he went with lawyers and talked to the police and he confirmed everything and gave them the
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ammunition they need with regard to benadryl, which puts her to sleep. >> we'll have to leave it right there. appreciate it. fascinating week. it's hard to find time to keep up on my shows.
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wrapping up a busy travel weekend with lots of people heading home after the holidays. o'hare is one of busiest airports and chicago airport midway the focus of a cnn investigation. we wanted to know why some of the police officers assigned to protect both airports are not allowed to carry weapons. they work alongside armed police officers but there's one major difference. if there is an attack at any terminal, these aviation police officers say they are trained and told to run away. and now those officers are speaking out. here's cnn's senior investigative correspondent drew griffin. >> reporter: take a look around the passenger terminals at chicago's o'hare and midway airports and you will see what appear to be police officers, but take a closer look. not one of them is carrying a gun. the event of an active shooter
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or terror strike here you might be surprised to hear how they've been told to react. not fight back. not try to neutralize the threat. but, instead, it run. you guys are police officers. but yao don't have guns. do you feel safe when working? >> no, sir. not safe at all. >> absolutely not. >> reporter: do you feel almost as if you're a sitting target? >> absolutely. >> reporter: it's not for lack of training or licensing or experience. aviation police officers are all sworn officers in the state of illinois. they get the same training as chicago police, and man r. are military veterans or have second jobs in suburban police departments. these two officers speaking in silhouette, for fear of being fired, say all they want to do is carry a gun like any other law enforcement officer. >> on the floor! >> reporter: just two years ago at los angeles international airport, a man with an assault
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rifle killed a tsa officer, wounded several others before being shot and wounded by an armed police officer. the same event took place in chicago's two airports, the nearly 300 unarmed aviation police would be defenseless to stop it. so, in the event of, let's say, terrorist attack, let's say it's a shooter, what are you supposed to do? >> run. >> reporter: run? >> hide. >> reporter: hide? >> seek shelter. >> reporter: this internal chicago aviation department document obtained from aviation department sources outlines policy, if evacuation is not possible, hide. you must ensure that unarmed security personnel do not attempt to become part of the response. here's the training video. officers say they were instructed to watch. >> if evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. block entry to your hiding place and block the doors.
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>> we're casualties if you tell us run and hide. how can the public look at us if they see police officers run and hide? >> reporter: it's the chicago police who carry guns at both airports, since they are the primary law enforcement agency. if there's a major incident or an arrest, aviation police tell us, they must wait for chicago police to show up, a unique arrangement among major u.s. airports. >> it doesn't make any sense. >> reporter: matt brandon an official with the union that represents aviation police officers. basically they're just -- i mean no disrespect to the officers -- as their role at airport, they're glorified security guards. >> that's exactly right. my question to the city is, you send these men and women to the chicago police academy to be trained as police officers, to be able to respond as police officers, to be able to act as police officers. >> reporter: the chicago police department has 231 armed
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officers assigned to o'hare and midway, and the city says that's enough. so, too, does the chicago aviation department about its unarmed force. and the staffing level of armed police is, for the most part, similar to other major u.s. airports. if you compare the top three busiest airports in the u.s., atlanta's hearts field jackson has 78 armed police. los angeles, 572. o'hare's budgeted 175. numbers do not include additional security, such as private security personnel. in an e-mail to cnn, the aviation department says, the multilevel security has proven effective in stopping and preventing crime, and violent crime incidents are extremely low. but there's been no explanation why the nearly 300 aviation police officers here are unarmed. the department is declining to discuss security measures, cnn has surveyed large u.s. airports and found chicago's use of
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unarmed aviation police officers is unique and according to miami security expert wayne black, absurd. >> you've got sworn law enforcement officers at a u.s. airport that are trained to hide if there's an attack. that's crazy. airports are tar et. >>s of terror activity, what are in he going to do if somebody runs in with a gun and there's no law enforcement officer there? >> reporter: in october a man caught with the knives attempted to get on the airfield. he knew they were not armed. the gun issue is part of ongoing dispute between the officers and their chief, richard edgeworth, chicago's aviation police took a no confidence vote against edgeworth, calling him incompetent and someone who exare thes control through intimidation and fear, despite the vote, edgeworth's boss says he has full confidence and trust of the aviation department. edgeworth has refused to even answer numerous phone calls from cnn. when we approached him to ask our questions, he did what his
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officers are supposed to do if anyone approaches them armed. excuse me, chief, chief edgeworth? drew griffin with cnn. good to see you. we wanted to ask you why your officers aren't armed? >> i don't have any -- >> reporter: are not armed. wouldn't the public be better protected if armed and able to engage a threat instead of -- sir, instead of having to run and hide? >> that was drew griffin reporting. i'm fredricka whitfield. more "newsroom" with jim sciutto.
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"cnn newsroom." i'm jim sciutto in washington. poppy harlow is away. president obama kicking off his final year in office with a monumental task, tackling gun control and the epidemic of gun violence. the issue has stymied his presidency for years. so far obama has had zero


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