tv The Situation Room CNN January 21, 2014 2:00pm-3:29pm PST
it has 18 zeros. so pencil me in right now. make sure to follow me on twitter @jaketapper, that's all one word and also at @theleadcnn. that's it. i'm jake tapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer. he's in a very cozy situation room. all right, jake, thank you. a dangerous winter storm hammering the eastern half of the united states with brutal cold and heavy snow. cities are shutting down. thousands of flights are canceled. we have full team coverage at this hour. a desperate hunt for female suicide bombers known as black widows and a shadowy figure known as russia's osama bin laden who has vowed to target the winter games. is it safe for americans to go
to sochi? plus, chris christie is sworn in for a second term. he's already sinking in the polls. can he turn things around? i'll ask one of his top allies. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." they are called black widows and pose a chilling new terror threat as the world's top winter athletes, thousands of american tourists get ready to head for russia and the olympic games. an urgent hunt is under way in southern russia, already reeling after a series of terror attacks. cnn's phil black is there with the very latest. >> reporter: wolf, we're now aware that russian authorities believe that the detected two separate terror plots involving so-called black widows or female suicide bombers. one, a group of women thought to be targeting the olympic torch relay in the city of rchl
ostov-on-don. a second plot involving a woman, the widow of a known militant believed to be already in sochi planning an attack. russian police are racing against the clock to find this woman who they say may be working with a known terrorist organization, planning an attack on the olympics. and she may already be inside sochi ready to strike. >> obviously the russian security forces are concerned that perhaps people have already penetrated their outer perimeter and are in sochi. >> reporter: 22-year-old ruzana ibragimova is known as a black widow that's emerged in russian chechens and they are asking the staff to be on the lookout for her. experts say there could be other so-called black widows planning a strike. >> she's liningly part of a larger network that they are looking at. >> reporter: ibragimova is
believed to be from dagestan. law enforcement officials have been asking if there are any issues where they should be focusing. they killed seven rebels in dagestan early last week. one of those killed is a black widow by the name of zai zaira allieva. she is one of three women believed to be planning a suicide bomb attack targeting the olympic torch relay on tuesday or wednesday. this notice was sent to local hotels again sking workers to help find the women. all this after a new terror threat this past weekend from two young men in this video claiming responsibility for twin suicide bombings in volgograd
last month and as they say for the olympics, we've prepared a present for you. islamic militant hotbeds are within the country, leaving the olympics closer than ever to danger. >> this group does not have to fly in from the northeast or africa or asia or some other remote location. they are already in the neighborhood. >> reporter: russian authorities are sticking to their lines that all precautions are being taken. publicly they are not commenting about this black widow plot but in both cases have been concerned enough to approach people on the ground, hotel workers to ask them to help find these women. back to you, wolf. >> our chief international correspondent christiane amanpour sat down with the russian prime minister, dmitry medvedev, and asked him about the concerns. >> this is a moment of great pride for russia, great
anticipation for the world athletes and yet you have a major security threat, a major security alert that your government and security forces have stated. can you tell me what you know about this threat, how dangerous is it? >> translator: on public events, there are always some threats. not only in this country but also in others. in this country, they have some specific consequences. definitely we are aware of that and we will take that into account during the olympics. >> well, the hunt is on for the so-called black widow bombers. there are also deep concerns about plans that may already be set in motion. cnn's brian todd has been looking into this part of the story. what are you seeing? >> wolf, this man is very dangerous and very heelusive.
he's got russian and u.s. officials scrambling to protect the winter olympics and track every threat. some call him russia's bin laden, a u.s. intelligence owe fillings calls him the amir. he's a dangerous chechen islamic leader. he was killed recently in a counter terror operation but they can't confirm that. even if he is dead -- >> with the world coming to sochi, he's coming to the olympics. >> last july he threatened to destroy the sochi games. experts warn terror plots may have been launched from his orders. that's where he draws comparison to bin laden. >> i think that he's more again of the inspirational leader. he's the spokesperson. he issues the public statements
that everybody tracks as we did with osama bin laden for years. >> said to be in his late 40s, leave as loose-fit militant groups that have been battling russian forces since 1994. >> for the last 20 years, he's done two things every day when he woke up in the morning. the first was to hide from the russian security services and the second was to fight the russian security forces. >> he claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings on the subway in 2010 that killed more than two dozen people. >> translator: this special operation was carried out at my order. >> authorities say easy loose sif and reports that he's had plastic surgery to repair his face. >> he could be replaced in about ten seconds and the people in
line behind him are just as ruthless and radical. >> christopher swift says whoever replaces umarov is probably from dagestan. experts say that umarov could be hanging out in dagestan. >> we're learning that u.s. officials are stepping up their involvement to try to make sure these olympic games in sochi are safe. >> we have gotten that information. a spokesman for the joint chiefs of chairman says they have discussed the possibility of the u.s. sharing high-tech economic to counter ieds during the olympics. that's being discussed. the intelligence committee is going to have people in that region. we also have to note, the u.s. has placed a $5 million bounty for information leading to the location of that man that we just spoke about, doku umarov,
this chechen militant. there's also word from the russian government that president obama called president putin today. their conversation is said to have focused on the syrian peace talks that are set to begin tomorrow in geneva. only a few hours away from that meeting. time, though, is running out forb for besieg sieged starving peop. fred pleitgen is joining me. >> reporter: wolf, one of the places under siege is a place that used to be a palestinian refugee camp in syria. it's turned foo a district of damascus and under rebel control
and it's under siege and now as sort of a goodwill gesture before the geneva conference, the regime has let some people out and aid supplies in. we were there when it happened and this is how it looked. after months of hunger, cold, and violence, for some of the weakest, the nightmare is over. the youngest, shown here, is only 15 days old. >> translator: there's not enough food inside. i simply didn't have enough food for him, his mother says. this is the area a few miles from central damascus, inhabited mostly by falling into a year ago. under siege by pro assad forces since september, activists inside say dozens have died of starvation and lack of medical care. this 75-year-old says the lack of food is devastating. most of the people want to get out. they are hungry. there's no food and hunger is
the killer, he says, as gunshots ring over the area. he has seen fierce battles between pro and anti-regime forces. international aid groups have a aaccused the government of trapping people inside. the regime says armed rebels did not allow food and medication to enter. this is the final area of government control and this is also as far as the military is going to let us go. they say otherwise it's too dangerous because there are snipers in the area behind us. that area is where thousands of people are still trapped. now, in what the government says is a goodwill gesture ahead of the gentleman neeva peace confe some have been able to leave. >> i think that nothing will
change after geneva but i hope something different will happen. i hope that. but i'm sure that nothing will change. >> reporter: the opposition says that the assad regime is using acts like this as a publicist stunt. most are happy to simply be alive. wolf, it's an appalling situation for those trapped inside. the information that we're getting from activists inside the camp and other places as well is that they are trying to pick leaves off trees in the area to hide from snipers. people that i spoke to on the ground in damascus, wolf, more and more people than ever before are saying we simply want the violence to end and simply hope that something could come out of the geneva conference. most diplomats don't seem
optimistic. >> let's hope for the best, though. fred, thanks very much. fred pleitgen, one of the few western reporters in damascus right now. just ahead, our breaking news. a monster winter storm bringing heavy snow and dangerously frigid snow. and chris christie starts his second term with a state of emergency. it's for snow, not scandal. but can he ride out the political storm swirling about him? [ female announcer ] season after season, no matter the occasion... your home's the place everyone gathers. so be ready with a stouffer's lasagna. it's the mouthwatering recipe that keeps them coming back. stouffer's. made with care for your family.
a massive snowstorm is hammering much of the northeast, the worst bearing down in the immediate hours ahead. here in washington, d.c., where the federal government is shut down, as much as ten inches of snow is expected with windchills as low as 15 degrees below zero. off the coast in philadelphia and new york, up to a foot of snow and in parts of massachusetts they are bracing for more than a foot of snow and warnings not to venture outdoors. cnn has team coverage of this monster storm up and down the east coast. let's begin with our jennifer gray over at the cnn severe weather center. give us the latest forecast. >> wolf, it could not be more messy for the evening commute when you have d.c., new york, and boston all covered in snow right now. the snow is continuing to come down. this is that light, fluffy snow and very strong winds over the next couple of hours and even
during the overnight, you can expect visibility to be down less than a quarter of a mile in a lot of places. dangerous outside. d.c. is still getting the snow as we look at the radar. philly, new york as well. even boston getting in on the snow, as we speak. also, a blizzard warning for the cape and that begins at 7:00 this evening. let's take this storm hour by hour. you can see the evening commute, still snow in d.c., new york, and boston as of 11:00 this evening. it does push out of d.c., new york, and philly as we get into early tomorrow morning. however, areas like boston and the surrounding areas, that includes the cape, could see lingering snow showers as we go throughout the early hours of tomorrow morning before this thing starts to push off shore. now, snow totals are impressive. we could see anywhere from eight to ten inches of snow in new york, long island, isolated amounts, up to a foot in some areas and rhode island and massachusetts, could see anywhere to a foot of snow or
more across those areas. now, we're going to see very, very cold temperatures as well. overnight tonight, we could see windchills 12 degrees below zero in new york city, boston. during the overnight hours, you could feel like 11 degrees below zero and then those temperatures will be moderating as we go throughout tomorrow. look at the three-day forecast for some of the major cities. atlanta, high temperature on tuesday, you were at 48. we'll be at 37 high temperature on wednesday, wolf. so it is going to be cold, cold across the east coast the next couple of days. >> very cold indeed. thanks for that forecast. cnn meteorologist and severe weather expert chad myers is up on a pier. plymouth considered ground zero. what are the conditions like where you are? >> reporter: not that far from
preliminary moth ro plymouth rock. on a warm sunny day, people would walk up here and ask for a summer cruise. but not now. the blizzard is almost pretty much here. i think 7:00 is going to be very good. folks over here invited us for coffee but they are having a party out there. if you look downtown, if you look this way, you don't see anybody out there. the police have been by, fire trucks have been by but otherwise i think people are staying home. although this may not be the biggest storm of the year, it's certainly a big enough storm when visibility could be down to a quarter or an eighth of a mile. we'll be right here for the next six hours. wolf? >> we're going to check back with you frequently. chad, thank you. poppy harlow is on eastern long island. you could be experiencing near blizzard conditions. are you ready? >> reporter: i'm ready, wolf.
i'm from minnesota. you're from buffalo. we can deal with this. and so can the folks on the north shore of long island. this is main street. you can see how khloe traffic is. this would normally be busy with people going into the stores but let me give you a sense of how tough it was for us to get out here today. left new york at 12:30 p.m. and didn't get here until 4:30 p.m. a drive that should take an hour or less took four hours not even rush hour. we've got four inches now and we're going to get eight to 12. the big story is going to be the freezing temperatures that chad and jennifer were telling you about. it's going to be about 8 here tonight. it's going to feel like negative 10. that's going to persist through the day tomorrow. that means that all of these roads that are not necessarily iced over now will be iced over by the morning. that's the big concern. the power company here telling us, we're not worried about the snow. we're worried about the ice and wind bringing down the power
lines. wolf, you know what is open here? the pizza shop and the liquor store and that's about it. the liquor store owner said, hey, people need to drink in a blizzard. he said the best seller is single scotch. >> poppy harlow on long island. zain asher is in new york city for us. what are the conditions like there, zain? >> reporter: the snow is pretty light but the winds are i can approximating u approximating picking up. i'm colder than i've been in a long time and you're from buffalo so you're used to this. i certainly am not because i'm from london. this is new to me. but i will say that the big question right now is really how is this weather going to impact the evening commute? is it i'm sure a lot of people are at their desks wondering what is the best way to get home tonight. if you guessed mass transit, give yourself a gold star.
you don't want to be driving in these conditions. you can see that this area, which is usually very busy, drivers are i can taking it ver seriously. even if you did leave work 45 minutes early or so, chances are you would be sitting in traffic. your best friends are the msa and long island railroad. wolf? >> zain asher, thank you so much. athena jones is here in the nation's capital. what's it like outside, athena? >> reporter: wolf, it's very, very cold here. we've been watching this snowfall heavily and steadily since 10:00 a.m. and it's going to be falling for several more hours. it's not supposed to stop until possibly after 9:00 when we could see accumulations of eight or ten inches. i want to show you the consistency of this snow. it's really light. it's not too heavy. it blows and blowing snow is one of the issues that we've heard
as one of the concerns from the national weather service as part of their winter storm warning. they talk about decreased visibility. half a mile. they are urging people to be careful and not to be out on the roads unless they have to be and if they are, to make sure they are packing a blanket, food, water, a flashlight in case they come into any trouble. even though we saw people trying to build snow men and making snow angels and having snowball fights, it's a real concern because these are potentially dangerous conditions, not just the roads, of course, but also the cold weather. the national weather service says we could see windchill factors of 5 to 15 degrees below zero overnight. so we're still in the midst of this and it won't be for several hours until it ends. wolf? >> there's not much traffic. not just because of the bad weather. they've shut down virtually all of the local schools. d.c., maryland, northern virginia. you don't see any cars on the road, right? >> reporter: that's right.
there's been very little traffic for much of the day. we know that the d.c. government had 200 plows available as of 8:00 a.m. this morning. we've seen numerous trucks spreading salt on the road to try to keep them from icing over and keep the snow from accumulating. but you're right, because the federal government was shut down, the school systems were shut down, we're seeing a lot less traffic than we usually see, even though places like the supreme court are opened, it's not your normal day and we're not going to see any rush hour like we usually see, wolf. >> athena, thanks so much. the storm is wreaking havoc to travel across the area. 3,000 flights have been canceled. with the latest information, rene marsh is joining us. what can you tell us? >> reporter: roughly 2500 delays. that is not as many as we saw during that so-called polar vortex. still, though, if you're one of
those people trying to get on that flight, it makes a big difference to you. we're inching towards 3,000 cancellations just for some perspective here on a regular day we usually see about 200 cancellations so we're well above that. take a look at the video shot a short time ago. we went out on the air field right here at reagan international airport and this is what airports along the northeast corridor are dealing with. it looks a lot like it looks right here at reagan. we're seeing deicing. the visibility is droppin. i want to talk to you a little bit about those airports which are just simply getting slammed by these cancellations. the top airports are getting slammed, philadelphia, laguardia, ne newark, jfk, it's a team effort working with the airlines. all hands on deck. we were inside the operation center here at reagan national
today. you're being looking at that video. they are keeping tabs on everything. the weather conditions, the temperature of the runway, that sort of thing. all to make sure that these people get to where they want to go in a timely fashion. wolf? >> rene, thank you very much. rene reported on the situation in the skies, not so good. what about the situation on the ground? cnn's jason carroll is driving through the roads in new york. what are you seeing, jason? >> well, you know, wolf, as you may have heard, new york city and the surrounding area expected anywhere between 6 and 10 inches before all of this is over and i can tell you from being here on the roads for the past half hour or so it feels like much of that snow has already fallen. it's been very slow going. right now we're on 14th street here in manhattan headed towards the west side highway. we've been going at a snail's pace at about 10 miles per hour.
thankfully, wolf, it's very easy to tell that this is what rush hour looks like in new york city. normally you can see out here on the road, this road here would be packed with cars but that's not what we're seeing. a lot of drivers, obviously, took the mayor's warning which he gave earlier today and said if you don't have to be out on the roads, unless you're an emergency situation, do not be out on the roads. still, very slow going. visibility at a quarter of a mile. snow is very thick here along 14th street and manhattan as we head towards the west side highway. the good news is that some 1700 plows and spreaders will be out on the roads here tonight and through the early morning. also, 2,000 sanitation workers are going to be working extra duty here in the city as well. slow going but the message is, stay off the roads if you don't have to be out here. wolf? >> good message indeed.
jason carroll, thank you very much. we'll stay on top of the breaking news and we'll have much more later. just ahead, chris christie starts his second term with a state of an emergency. because of the snow. not scandal. but can he ride out the political storm swirling about him? also, is an american being held in north korea one step closer to being released in his sister is standing by right here in "the situation room." wow, this hotel is amazing. oh no. who are you? who are you? wrong answer. wait, daddy, this is blair, he booked this room with priceline express deals and saved a ton. yeah, i didn't have to bid i got everything i wanted. oh good i always do. oh good he seemed nice. express deals. priceline savings without the bidding. being carried in your arms...
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putin. vladimir putin. among other things, they discussed syria, the peace talks set to begin in geneva tomorrow and a cooperation on iran trying to get rid of its nuclear program but interestingly, the two presidents also discussed u.s./russian interests, including what they described as a safe sochi olympics for which the united states has offered its full assistance. there you have it. they had a lengthy phone conversation today. president obama and president putin talked about a wide range of issues. other news, the new jersey governor chris christie today declared a state of emergency for the brutal winter storm sweeping across his state. not because of the political scandal which threatens his political future at his second term inauguration. it was all about business as usual with a little bit of tongue in cheek. >> this growth will not happen
without following the path that some of our neighbors seem prepared to pursue. for those who prefer economic growth and opportunity to government redistribution of higher taxes, i have this to say to you today. come to new jersey. you will be welcome here. it's only fitting that in this administration with more hurricanes, snowstorms, flooding, and disaster of the natural sort that of any administration that i can remember in my lifetime that we begin the second term in the same way. [ applause ] >> a little laugh. presumably referring to the snow emergency in new jersey. let's discuss what is going on with the christie ally.
thanks very much for coming in. what do you think the governor needs to do right now in the coming days and weeks to get over this political crisis? >> he should do what he did when he first came to trenton and that would be a strong leader, bipartisan legislation. you know, we had high taxes. he changed the way arbitration is done in that state. he took on issues that i never thought anyone could do in this state. let him continue to do the same thing he's been doing. >> do you know why those traffic lanes were closed leading up to the george washington bridge? >> i don't have any idea but i can tell you those e-mails and text messages were horrific and we want to get to the bottom of that. there are some investigations going on. republicans and democrats want answers to that. nobody liked what happened.
the governor said it at a press conference and we'll get to the bottom of that, no question. we should stop working on policies that affect the people in the state of new jersey. >> you're the republican leader in the assembly and the new jersey senate. they have now combined their investigation into one sort of supercommittee. do you trust them? >> well, that's the first step. you didn't need two investigations there and other investigations at the federal and u.s. attorneys office. but we need bipartisan investigations. the investigation that was created by john wisneski, we're simply asking republicans and democrats do it, a bipartisan investigation so we know it's not just a former democratic chairman against the republicans. we all want to get to the bottom of it but let's do it. >> named by president obama, do
you trust him because he's leading his own separate federal investigation. >> absolutely. i've actually called for chairman wisneski to send as many of these documents to him. i think you need a federal prosecutor and there's one appointed by barack obama. that's probably the best way to handle cease investigations. >> have you spoken with these series of scandals with the governor in most recent days? >> i have not. i have not discussed the substance of it. i wish him well. i'm a legislator. he's an executive. we work together on legislation but we have not discussed the substance of the issues outstanding. >> there's no smoking gun. there's no direct evidence limpging the governor personally to these scandals but a lot of the critics, mostly democrats, say these aides wouldn't be doing these things unless they
assumed or thought or got a green light from the governor to which you say -- >> well, whether it's c nchl n or my law office, people do stupid stuff and in every administration there's always some dumb thing that happens. but he took responsibility. this, in my judgment, is one of the strongest leaders i've seen in this nation. he would never stand for that kind of activity on his watch. the fact that it happened, he's apologized, he'll get to the bottom of it, we'll get to the bottom of it but chris christie is a guy that is a real straight talker and that's the kind of leader we need. >> jchl on bramnick, assemblyman, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> good luck with that new jersey weather. it's brutal. i appreciate you suffering through it. >> trying to get home. >> we would have had you doing a weather report for us. go home. you've had enough outdoor activities today.
thank you. just ahead, could a jailed u.s. missionary somehow be closer to freedom because of dennis rodman's controversial trip to north korea? i'll ask the sister of kenneth bae. she's standing by live. also, pretty frank talk with president obama about race and the impact on his own popularity. mine was earned in korea in 1953. afghanistan, in 2009. orbiting the moon in 1971. [ male announcer ] once it's earned, usaa auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation. 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. go! [ male announcer ] it's chaos out there.
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let's discuss what is going on with our chief correspondent gloria borger, john king, and charles bloom. let me throw the numbers out to you, charles. first, in this new poll, a hypothetical matchup between hillary clinton and chris christie a month ago it was neck-and-neck, 42% for hillary clinton and 41 -- 42% for christie and 41% for clinton. look at it now. 38% for christie and 46 for hillary. how much trouble is the governor in now? >> you can't say at this point whether or not that will happen. this is not, at this point, a fatal issue for him. what will be fatal if we find out relatively quickly that he knew more than he is letting on or that he had in that long, rambling press conference that he had. but here's the flip side of that, which is that other things happen in the news and if
something -- another big political thing pops up before we know whether or not chris christie was completely part of this scandal, if it turns out that he's telling the truth, he was not aware of what was happening, even though it happened under his watch and under his nose, he basically told the truth and got rid of the people who were responsible, he has gotten more national exposure than he could possibly buy. that means that he has actually raised his profile within the republican party. >> good point. >> one thing that really works with the republican candidates is that the republican rank and file do not like the elite media. they see an inherent bias and if you're being attacked by the media, that's how they read this, i think many of them read this that way. that makes you one of them and
that makes him more one of them than months ago. >> his poll numbers have for the really declined among republicans because republicans are coalescing among him because of the fight with the media, as charles is talking about. the place that he's really lost some altitude is with independent voters. the independent voters that he won when he was running for re-election, that he talked about in the speech today, that he brought democrats, republicans, men, women, minorities together. that's where he's losing support and that's been his calling card in the republican party saying, i can get elected president. >> it's going to take three months, six months or more before these investigations are wrapped up. chris christie has to do the best job he can to govern and in the meantime democrats potentially did a smart thing by combining the investigations because democrats are worried that we're going to overreach here. too many people are attacking
chris christie and it's going to play to his advantage. one legislative investigation, one outside criminal investigation. cleaner and potentially less political. >> but as john points out, three to six months. on what story us does the public actually have three to six month attention span? that is the real danger here. that if you don't figure out very quickly and it's not clear that you'll be able to figure out quickly that he knew something or did something wrong, if tough wait three to six months with all of the other things bubbling up that could come into play and take over the spotlight, he actually survives just by waiting it out and not having another shoe to drop. >> he is getting some allies now because of the criticism, because of the attacks against him. charles and guys, listen to this. yesterday we reported the president's comments and the lengthy interview in "the new yorker" magazine about race. he said that there's no doubt that there are some folks who just really dislike me because they don't like the idea of a black president. the flip side of it is, there
are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because i'm a black president. our producer, rachel shackleford remembers -- and this is not the first time that the president said these kinds of words. going back to 2008 and 2009. listen. >> because i don't want to sound naive. will there be some folks who probably don't vote for me because i'm black? of course. are there some people who don't like me because of my race? i'm sure there are. are there some people who vote for me only for my race, there are probably some of those, too. >> so what do you think? this seems to be a theme. i didn't remember the earlier comments, charles, but he's been saying these kinds of things now at least going back to 2008. >> well, i think it's just acknowledging what people already feel. what this boils down to is whether you like someone or not simply on kind of one dimension
and i think it's more complicated than that. yes, are there people who -- for whom race is the primary factor, the only factor? yes. but i would guess that that is a small group of people. for most people, why you are attracted to someone or repulsed by someone is multi-factorial. race may be part of that. another part may be policy or whatever the case. and what weighting either of those things get in a pierson i a very difficult task. so i think that we have to think about this as things that people are able to articulate that race is my primary motive or they have been able to acknowledge or even can acknowledge and whether or not that is a large group of people or a very small group of people is a very difficult thing for any of us to try to figure out and i think that the
president is acknowledging, yes, there is probably a sliver and i think that there is a deliver on both sides of that coin and how much of it exists within each of us is just too difficult for us to even point fingers and say that race is the factor here or there or wherever. >> charles, john king, gloria borger, we're going to leave it right there. there's a lot to look at in that article. just ahead, could rodman's trip to north korea bring an american missionary one step closer to freedom? i'm going to speak to kenneth bae's sister and his new plea for help. stand by.
sentence of hard labor. now kenneth bae has made a video tape statement with a chilling confession. bae says he committed a serious crime and insists he hasn't been mistreated. he is calling on the media and his family to stop worsening the situation by vial rumors against north korea. is the new video a source of concern or hope for his family e? let's discuss all of this with the sister of kenneth bae, terri chung. we hopebrother is home soon. when you saw the video what did you think? >> it was lots of mixed emotions. it was nice to see his face.
he seemed to be in decent health. it is always a difficult to see him in the prison uniform, a visceral reminder that he is a prisoner number 103. he is not a number to us. i think that is really difficult for us to watch. >> when you are watching him and you thought he was okay because your mom visited him in north korea in october, she came back with a relatively gloomy assessment of his health, right? >> kenneth has been in the hospital for the past five months. i understand he has been receiving medical treatment. i have not gotten any official medical updates but i think from my mom's perspective he looked a little better than he did back then in october. >> do you believe as some analysts believe that the actual release of this video, letting him speak to reporters, showing him may be a precursor to his eventual release sooner rather than later?
>> it is hard to know that. that socertainly what we hope and pray for every day. >> when the state department, obama administration saw the video, one of the immediate steps was the special u.s. envoy ready to go there and bring your brother home. do you believe the united states government, the president, the secretary of state and others are doing everything possible to bring him home? >> we appreciate the work they have been doing both behind the scenes and otherwise. but we ask for their continued advocacy and not resting easy until he does come home. >> my own analysis for what it is worth, no inside information and someone who has been to north korea, the dennis rodman embarrassment to north korea, me is now in rehab as you know, that embarrassment might help your brother a little bit.
maybe the north koreans want to improve their own image. what do you make of that analysis? >> it is hard to know. dennis certainly overstepped his bounds with his remarks. it had thrust him into more of a spot light which we need to bring kenneth home. >> good luck. we are praying for you and your family and your brother. we hope he is released soon. we appreciate you joining us. >> thank you for having me. a candid confession from the former first lady barbara bush, why she said she quote loved the former president bill clinton. and buffet betting $1 billion on this season's ncaa tournament. we'll explaint that and a lot more.
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happening now second term blues. despite the standing ovation the new jersey governor chris christie takes the oath of office under a cloud of scandal. can he turn his plummeting poll numbers around. virginia's bob mcdonnell and wife facing charges. what are the luxuries prosecutors say they accepted illegally. and frigid temperatures gripping a huge portion of the eastern u.s. how long will the weather emergency last? i'm wolf blitzer. you are in "the situation roo.".
this was supposed to be a night of celebration for chris christie but the storm clouds covering new jersey and much of the eastern united states cancelled his inaugural fe festivitie festivities. growing scandals have his poll numbers plunging as questions about his political future grow more pointed. try to recapture some political mojo. cnn's jake tapper was there. >> will you please join me in welcoming governor chris christie. >> reporter: chris christie faced two storms. >> only fitting that in this administration with more hurricanes, snow storms, flooding and disaster of the natural sort than of any administration i can remember in my lifetime that we begin the
second term in the same way. >> reporter: a snow storm forced the cancellation of tonight's inaugural gala on ellis island and a continuing storm of controversies clouded what was supposed to be a day of celebration. christie didn't talk about scandals. instead the republican governor touted his bipartisan efforts. >> as we saw in december regarding the dream act, we can put the future of our state ahead of the partisans who would rather demonize than compromise. >> reporter: trying to contrast what he has been able to do in trenton with the partisan rancor in the nation's capitol. >> we cannot fall victim to the attitude of washington, d.c., the attitude that says i am always right and you are always wrong. >> so help me god. >> reporter: as christie was getting sworn in new jersey democratic lawmakers announced
they were combining two separate committees with subpoena powers investigating whether the administration abused the power. as christie arrived at his inauguration he enjoyed a 2 1/2 minute standing ovation. the numbers that are troubling for the likely 2016 republican ptal contender are these, another national poll indicating christie's favorable ratings are taking another big hit. >> another republican governor seen as a potential white house contender in 2016 but now bob mcdonald who led virginia for one term has been indicted along with his wife. what do we know about the charges against this virginia couple? >> a 14 count indictment alleging what is essentially public corruption and wire fraud. they are also charged with conspiracy to obtain property
essentially from abuse of office. it is all about the relationship with a ceo of a dietary supplement company called johnny williams. the meat of the case involves loans including a shopping trip in new york city. a $15,000 check described as a wedding gift apparently for one of the daughters. a rolex watch with the words governor of virginia inscribed in the back, golfing trips. things given allegedly in exchange for their help in promoting the company star scientific and products. the governor issued a statement saying i regret accepting legal
gifts and loans from mr. williams all of which have been paid with interest and repeats i did nothing illegal for mr. williams in exchange for what i believe was his personal generosity and friendship. this indictment has been expected for a long time. i can tell you the acting u.s. attorney in this case is a tough one, dana boente in on a number of cases including prosecution of former new orleans representative william jefferson. a big problem for him because there is always the question which has been raised so many times of willful blindness, knowing about a thing but turning the other way. so as this case progresses that will be sure to come up. >> certainly joe jones reporting disturbing information. now the republican national
committee weighing a new push against abortion. comes as tens of thousands of protesters opposed to abortion rights for women are gathering here in the nation's capitol for the annual march on the u.s. supreme court. explain, tom, to our viewers. >> these protesters may create the biggest noise as they march tomorrow but the few republicans gathering at a handful of meetings some in private and some in public may make a difference. >> reporter: amid the growing blizzard 168 members of the republican national committee will consider a plan being pushed by conservatives to tackle the stormy issue of abortion head on. resolution on republican pro-life strategy would have gop candidates aggressively confront democratic challengers to see precisely where they stand on proposals to require spouses be notified before an abortion is performed, to provide sharper
health warnings to women about the procedures and to require a waiting period before an abortion takes place. on all of these and more the author of the plan believes public opinion runs strongly to the right. >> 80% of americans believe abortion should be illegal in the third trimester and parents should be involved. >> you think republicans have real muscle here. >> i know republicans have real muscle here. >> brought us binders full of women. >> reporter: in a broader sense the effort is aimed at democratic assistance that republicans are waging a war on women. >> even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape it is something that god intended to happen. >> if it is a legittimate rape the female body has ways to shutt that down. >> reporter: women have tilted left in many elections. backers of the measure are
convinced if democrats are forced to spell out how far they want abortion rights to go the republican position might start looking more likable to women everywhere. >> so the republicans are trying to thread the needle once again seeing if they can remain in large part against abortion but not seem to be so in such a way that it closes the door for all discussions of graduations along the way. there are plenty of democrats who say you want to go that way bring it on. they think they have a winning issue with women on all of this. >> thanks very much. still ahead the man who forced her husband from the oval office after only one term. that makes barbara bush's public declaration of love for bill clinton all the more shocking. plus very dangerous winter weather out there hammering huge portions of the united states right now. we have details of the brutal
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there are words no one could have imagined hearing in 1992 when bill clinton and george h.w. bush were bitter political rivals. the two have developed a deep friendship. the former first lady says she loves bill clinton. our senior washington correspondent joe jones is back with more on what is going on. what is she saying? >> this is a strange but true story of how two towering
political figures who once squared off for the highest office in the land have settled into the deepest of friendships, not the type of situation you would expect in the polarized world of american politics. >> reporter: in a candid interview on c-span a personal reflection from a former first lady. >> i love bill clinton. maybe not his politics. >> reporter: barbara bush revealing the deep feelings that have developed between her family and the former democratic president. >> my husband, bill clinton, and i have become great friends. bill visits us every summer. we don't agree politicly but we don't talk politics. >> reporter: a connection that may go almost as deep as it can get. >> people began to joke i was getting so close to the bush family i had become the black sheep son. >> reporter: bill clinton's father died in an automobile
accident before the future president was born. >> bill's father wasn't around. i think he thinks of george a little bit like the father he didn't have. and he is very loving to him. and i really appreciate that. >> reporter: they have come a long way since clinton beat george h.w. bush in the 1992 election. it may have been the bush's son who truly brought them together when he asked them to join forces to help the victims of the 2005 asian ntsunami. now there is a chance as jeb bush weighs his options, a run for the highest office that could lead to a face-off with none other than bill clinton's wife, hillary. >> there are a lot of ways to serve and being president is not the only one. i would hope that someone else would run although there is no question in my mind that jeb is the best qualified person to run
for president. i hope he won't. >> jeb bush's father by contrast says he would like to esee his son run for president. it is not clear which way jeb bush is leaning. >> if he were to run he would be a formidable candidate for sure. >> let's dig deeper with our cnn political commentators. anna, you are close to jeb bush. what do you think about the special relationship between former president george h.w. bush and former president bill clinton and their families? >> i think it is absolutely genuine and true. i can tell you that i have witnessed it. the last time i saw bill clinton and as you know my better half who is a friend of bill clinton owns a hotel where jeb bush is a tenant. bill clinton was coming into the
hotel. i said, bill, your little brother is not in town but he sends his regards. he knew i was talking about jeb . he said tell him next week i'm stopping by houston and i am going to see his mom and dad. he visits them regularly and i think absolutely he has a very special fondness for george h.w. bush and it is mutual. >> you worked for bill clinton when he was president of the united states and supported hillary clinton's run for the white house. what do you make of the unique relationship? >> i think it should give us hope that after such partisan bickering that we can transcend that. they were at each other's throats during much of the clinton presidency. it shows if you really get together and focus on something bigger than politics and bigger than yourself you can really come together. i think it was an amazing interview. i think barbara bush looks incredible. i thought it was interesting how
she straddled the question of jeb bush running by saying clearly she supports her son but also saying she does not want him to run. i think the special relationship should give us hopet that there is something bigger than politics. >> someone who has watched bill clinton over all of these years going back to 1992 he is a unique politician. he does have the ability to sort of make everyone he gets in contact with with feel so special because he makes them feel like he knows them and likes them. that is part of his talent as a politician. you know jeb bush well. do you think he will run for the republican nomination? >> i think he is a very disciplined guy. he has told me and others that he is going to sit down and think about this in the summer. you probably won't get a decision from him until november. i think he is looking at it seriously. i think he needs to disentangle himself in business deals he has going on and all of the business
commitments. he has time to do it. i think wait and see. i think we will get a decision from hillary and from jeb in november. at this point it almost sounds like it will be a family feud. i thought it was interesting in this barbara bush interview that she loves bill clinton. what was more interesting to me is that she also said in this same interview that she was also against her husband running for president and her other son george h.w. bush running. i almost think it is a good omen for jeb that his mom is against him running. i think she is being a mom above everything else and doesn't want to see her son get entangled in what is rough politics. >> i'm sure you would love to see jeb bush run. what about hillary? do you think she is going to run? >> i hope she is going to run. the same way anna talks about how jeb is being very
methodical about this hillary clinton is looking at this from all angles as she should. she has the benefit of type. she doesn't need to jump into this. you all have made many stories, many stories about how there are so many infrastructures that are waiting for her to jump in. i think she has the luxury of time in a way that we haven't seen any candidate in the past. i think if it is her and jeb that will be an incredibly interesting campaign. i think that jeb bush really would be a formidable candidate should he decide to run. i don't know jeb the way that anna does but a lot of other republicans that do know him don't seem to think he has the fire in the belly. a day is a lifetime in politics so we'll see. let me move on to wendy davis. let me give your thoughts first quickly. she is running for the democratic nomination for the next governor of texas. she has embellished a little bit of her biography. what do you make of this?
>> i think accuracy is important these days in politics. i remember a couple of years ago when marco rubio got the dates wrong of when his parents come to the united states from cuba and when paul ryan couldn't remember his marathon running time. wendy davis can't remember her on bigraphical information, when she got divorced. she has embellished. when you are running for high office like the governor of texas do not embellish because you will get caught if you are saying lies. >> she has said that she needs to be more careful in her language. clearly i think the gop is going after her as to whether she was divorced or separated at 19 ort at 21 because i think they are afraid that her story is really resonating with women in texas. there is no question that she struggled. she started working when she was 14. she was a single mom at 19 living in a trailer with her
daughter. she put herself through harvard. she clearly has made herself a formidable candidate with a real life story that is really making women look at her and it is relevant to all of the voters that she is trying to reach. i think the fact that the gop is trying to make a lot of this speaks to the fact that they are afraid of her. >> we would love to have her here in "the situation room." she has an amazing story when you look at her background and the fact that she is a graduate of harvard law school. thanks very much. anna, as usual, thanks to you. i know anna is in new york where it is snowing and would rather be in miami. millions of americans are under winter storm warnings right now. snow is piling up. thousands of flights across the country have been cancelled. our severe weather expert is out in the middle of it. there he is right there when we come back you will hear what he has to say. indulge in the pleasures of parmesan with olive garden's best 2 for $25 yet
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we're following breaking news. a major winter storm bringing heavy snow, frigid temperatures to large sections of the united states. the eastern part especially. severe weather expert is joining us. thousands of flights cancelled. you are in plymouth, massachusetts. >> people here are very hearty. when i see them shutting down their businesses and they say i'm not going to get business because nobody is coming out that means they take this seriously. there is four to six inches of
snow on the ground. it is hard to tell because the wind is blowing so hard. we have some spots that are bare. i just walked back here by one of the restaurants. if you think about this you can't see the stairs anymore. there is enough snow on the stairs that it is starting to get deep. now go here and it is probably six inches here. around the corner i can see the pavement and that is because of the way the wind is blowing. we are going to see it all night long. the winds are going to blow 15 to 30 miles per hour. the windshield factor is 0. i do knowt that there are two boats out in the water. they thought they were going to make it here to the harbor to offload tonight. they are not here yet. they don't know if they are coming back tonight. they are probably safer out there but heavy waves in the ocean rather than getting here in the harbor. we'll keep you up to date. it will be cold from boston to
new york to philadelphia and d.c. d.c. had a lot of snow. this is a difficult night. now that the sun has set seeing the snow is more difficult seeing the drifts and black ice. more difficult as you drive tonight. if you can do this because there are states of emergency stay home tonight and turn on the tv and enjoy the night. stay warm but stay out of this. >> good night to stay home in a huge part of the united states. thanks very much. we have two stories for you. one of my favorite sports, basketball. first lady michelle obamat shooting hoots with the heat. public service announcement with the first lady promoting her let's move campaign against obesity. president obama congratulated them for their back-to-back world championships although the
next day they did lose here in washington. finally warren buffett betting $1 billion. quicken loans is offering a billion dollar prize to the fan who submits a perfect bracket. if there is one it will be paid out by buffett's company. the odds are slim because there are more than 9 million trillion ways to fill out the bracket. good luck. >> remember you can always follow what is going on in the situation room on twitter. tweet the show. "crossfire" starts right now. tonight on "crossfire," chris christie starts his second term under a