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U.S. on Standby; Christie's Aide Threat; Amazon's New Service; Trash Talk in Seattle

Aired January 20, 2014 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much.

Great to be with you all on a Monday. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

First up, we begin with terror threats for the Sochi Olympics coming from beyond the grave. These two men, in this chilling new video, are believed to be the bombers behind the deadly suicide blast in the city of Volgograd last month that killed dozens of people. And in this just released video, they are promising something similar for the Olympic host city of Sochi. Joining me now is our justice reporter, Evan Perez.

And, Evan, CNN has just learned the U.S. is taking extraordinary contingency measures here. Tell me about what you know.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Brooke, that's right, the Navy is sending two ships that are going to be posted inside the Black Sea just off the coast of Russia, just in case something goes wrong. Now, as you know, there's been a lot of security fears over the games. The location of the games in Sochi in southern Russia is a very hard to reach area. So the U.S. is now deciding that just in case something goes wrong and they need to do some evacuations, they're going to send a couple of ships into the Black Sea and they're going to have some planes on standby in German which can reach Sochi in about two hours.

Now, in order to do any of this, they're going to have to get permission from the Russian government. And as you know, that's always a very dicey thing. But, you know, this is just something that they're planning just in case something happens.

BALDWIN: OK, Evan Perez, on the contingency plans, the what if plans. Evan, thank you.

Let's broaden out this discussion, talk more about the security situation in Sochi with Mike Baker, former CIA covert operations officer.

Mike, welcome.


BALDWIN: Let me just begin with some sound that definitely caught my ear watching Candy Crowley's show just yesterday morning. Take a listen.


SEN. ANGUS KING JR. (I), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I would not go and I don't think I would send my family. I don't know how you put a percentage on it, but it's just such a rich target in an area of the world that has - you know, they've almost broadcast that they're going to try to do something there.


BALDWIN: So, Mike, a United States senator saying he would not go to Sochi. Given everything you know, given what you know that we don't know, would you go?

BAKER: Right. Well, I would go, but, you know, that would be all, you know, that's that individual decision. Would I go with my family? No, absolutely not. I mean the senator, you know, he said they almost have broadcast. Well, they have broadcast. You know, the Islamist fundamentalists who are literally in the backyard of Sochi and have been waging a brutal campaign against the Russian forces for years now, they have been very clear in stating that their goal is to disrupt these Olympics.

Now, Putin, you know, he's staking his reputation on the successful completion of the Olympics without any incident.


BAKER: And he's kind of pointed to the Olympics as sort of the resurgence of Russia. Now, think about it from the Islamist point of view. Now what do you want to do? Well, now you know the whole world is going to be watching. You've got an opportunity to embarrass Putin.

BALDWIN: The stage is set.

BAKER: Right. Right.

BALDWIN: Right. You mentioned Putin. Let me play some sound, because just recently ABC's George Stephanopoulos sat down with him. Take a listen to this.


PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): If we show our weakness and fear and let others notice it, it will help terrorists to achieve their goals. I believe the international community in various fields, such as humanity, politics and economics, should make joint efforts in fighting against terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent people. Our task as organizers is to provide security for the participants and guests of the Sochi Olympic games and we are going to do everything for it.


BALDWIN: So the everything he's alluding to is this perimeter around Sochi. They're calling it the ring of steel. Tens of thousands of troops patrolling it. And, you know, we talked about those drones, missiles, Mike.

BAKER: Right.

BALDWIN: I mean, but what do you see as potential holes in security, possible targets here?

BAKER: Well, I mean, targets are anything, you know, inside or outside the Olympic zone. And you're right, the Russians have taken extraordinary measures to protect the - sort of the perimeter around a very large area of - that would be sort of the Olympic zone. But we've just seen recently in the past month the bombings that killed 34 people in Volgograd.


BAKER: So you don't just have the Olympic zone, you've got all the transit points. You've got to get to Sochi. You've got to leave Sochi. So you've got the transit points that are essentially, compared to the ring of steel, are soft targets.

BALDWIN: What about what Evan Perez was just reporting, our justice reporter, this what if contingency scenario with these, you know, just in case warships and planes that we would have ready to go, you know, in the case of some kind of attack. I mean what are even the logistics of evacuating such a massive group of people?

BAKER: Right. It's expected that perhaps 15,000 U.S. citizens will be there for the Olympics. And you think about what that could mean in terms of a -- some type of disastrous chain of attacks perhaps. The problem is, as was pointed out during that report about the ships being placed in the Black Sea, is that you can't do anything without their permission of the Russians.

Now, the Russian services are very nationalist. It's their turf. It's their matter of national pride. So we have a limited ability to respond in any sort of, you know, unilateral fashion to this. The best thing we can be doing is very close cooperation with the services, the Russian services, right now to gain as clear an assessment as possible as to the security that's in place and what could happen and to work with them to try to say, how do we respond to an assault? How do we respond to an attack? But that cooperation does seem, at this point, to be somewhat lacking.

BALDWIN: Two weeks, two and a half weeks to go. And then, I have to ask you about this, because I was reading this entire transcript between George Stephanopoulos and Vladimir Putin and Edward Snowden came up, because, you know, he is seeking asylum in Russia. And given the charges he faces back here at home, you know, Vladimir Putin said, sure, he could buy a ticket, he is still on Russian soil, to go to Sochi to attend the Olympics. My question to you is, and I know this is semi left field, but under any circumstance, could the U.S. arrest him there?

BAKER: Well, no, it's, you know, it's Russian territory. It's -- you know, we couldn't conduct and we wouldn't conduct a unilateral operation to pick up Snowden on their turf. I mean you can imagine what sort of political blowback that would create. Could we work with the Russian authorities? Well, we've already seen that they don't care. We don't have any leverage when it comes to Snowden at this point. You know that train left the station already. So I don't know how that whole situation is going to play out, but it would be interesting to turn to your left at the speed skating event and see Snowden sitting there.

BALDWIN: Can you imagine?

BAKER: Yes, I'd like that.

BALDWIN: How about that visual? How about that for some optics in Russia.


BALDWIN: Mike Baker, as always, thank you so much.


BALDWIN: And a new figure and new political lead here have emerged in this power politics question surrounding Chris Christie. Here is this official. Her name is Kim Guadagno. She is New Jersey's lieutenant governor, and today she is saying no, she never delivered a message from Chris Christie demanding favors from the mayor of Hoboken, as that mayor is now alleging, to get the money the town needed after Hurricane Sandy.

Keep in mind, big picture here, this is, you know, Christie's potential presidential ambitions now playing out amid this whiff of scandal. And it began with a similar allegation that Christie confidants arranged revenge against another New Jersey town whose mayor had declined to endorse him. CNN's Alexandra Field is with us now from Union Beach, New Jersey, and from Los Angeles is CNN's - it's Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and editorial director of "The National Journal."

But, Alexandra, to you first since you're there on the ground. Tell me about this lieutenant governor and what exactly did she say today.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, the lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, is vehemently denying the latest claims. That denial came during a very highly orchestrated event earlier this morning. The lieutenant governor came here to Union Beach, New Jersey. She said exactly what she wanted to say and nothing more than that. She left before answering a single question from any reporter.

Guadagno was in Union Beach to greet volunteers who are spending the day helping to rebuild homes that were destroyed during Superstorm Sandy. After greeting those volunteers, she turned to the press and addressed the latest controversy unfolding over the use of Sandy relief funds. Over the weekend, as we all now know, Hoboken's mayor, Dawn Zimmer, made a very public allegation, that the Christie administration was tying those funds to the Hoboken mayor's support for a private real estate development project. For the first time now, Guadagno took the opportunity today to respond to those allegations and here's what she had to say.


LT. GOV. KIM GUADAGNO (R), NEW JERSEY: Mayor Zimmer's version of our conversation in May of 2013 is not only false but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all of the facts are examined. Any suggestion, any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false.


FIELD: Guadagno then left the firehouse to join volunteers with some of their rebuilding efforts today. But first she said that she was even more offended by the allegations because she was a victim of Superstorm Sandy herself. Her house sustaining some damage during that storm.

Now, the mayor of Hoboken is responding to what was said earlier today. Dawn Zimmer has issued a statement and it read in part, quote, "I am genuinely disappointed that Lieutenant Governor Guadagno has lived up to her promise that she would deny linking Hoboken's application for Sandy hazard mitigation funding with expediting a private development project." Zimmer says that she kept careful notes of her conversations on the topic with Guadagno. She met with the U.S. attorney's office yesterday and Zimmer says she has now handed over those writings.


BALDWIN: OK, Alexandra, so that's the back and forth you're reporting.

Ron Brownstein, to you. And I think I saw Chris Christie's press secretary there at Union Beach, Colin Reed, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, one of the reasons this original story, you know, took a while to take off is the fact that a lot of people looked at the allegation that these, you know, Christie inner circle, the pals (ph), had unleashed the traffic jams against an enemy and they, frankly, refused to believe it. So now we - here we have this second mayor coming out and saying, hey, they threaten me too.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Vastly - I think this vastly increases the risk to Governor Christie, both because, as you say, it now establishes a pattern of allegation and, secondly, unlike the bridge scandal, you have the mayor of Hoboken directly implicating him in that - as she says, she was told by the lieutenant governor, the message is coming directly from Governor Christie.

Brooke, this is a significant moment in the 2016 race. I mean Governor Christie, by most measures, is the Republican front-runner. He is also the Republicans best positioned to deal with the biggest problems they faced in the general election and has caused them to lose the popular vote in five out of the last six. If he is significantly weakened, much less forced from the field, this -- that would be a very significant change in the balance of forces for 2016. BALDWIN: I remember during the 108 minute long news conference, what was - the week before last and questions were thrown at him with regard to his leadership, because you have to take a look, Ron Brownstein, at Chris Christie. And let's take him at his word, that he wasn't in the loop on the traffic jams, you know, that it was his top aides. But does this scandal make it look as though the people backing him, that they're not ready for the big time if you want to go ahead and look at 2016, as we all are. You know, that if he does run for president, he needs better people around him.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the first thing - yes, look, I think clearly what this suggests, if these allegations - there's a big if, if these allegations are substantiated -


BROWNSTEIN: Is kind of a culture in the office that most Americans would find unacceptable. A kind of a level of hardball in pursuing your goals that really skates up not only against the moral, but potentially a legal line, which is, you know, underscored by the fact that the mayor talking -- indicating that she met with U.S. attorneys yesterday.

What we know is there are going to be legislative inquiries into this, there are going to be subpoenas, there's going to be testimony under oath. There may even be, based on her indications, a criminal proceeding. So this is going to go on for a while and there are certainly going to be more revelations before we're done.

BALDWIN: Ron Brownstein, thank you so much, from "The National Journal."

And make sure you join me next hour because I will be talking to a woman who heads - speaking of investigating -- the committee investigating Chris Christie. Do not miss my interview with New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg.

Coming up, though, unheard conversations of MLK talking about JFK, an interview with the civil rights leader released today to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King discusses John F. Kennedy's role in his release from prison and has a pretty surprising comment about the then senator. We will play that for you, next.

Also, says it wants to know what you want before you do. And they're going to send packages to you before you even click buy. Does that sound crazy? This is a thing, it's called anticipatory shipping. It is a real thing. We'll explain, next.


BALDWIN: First it was drones. That made national news. And now it's a plan to ship you items before you have even bought them online. This is called anticipatory shipping. This is Amazon's latest tool to get their products to their customers even faster than before. Basically Amazon is choosing items they think you want before you even click buy. This is based upon past searches, what items, you know, are in your shopping cart before you check out.

Take a look at this. This is an image from Amazon's patent. It shows that once packages are on the way, that they would essentially wait at warehouses or hubs for you, the customer, to actually purchase the item.

Zain Asher, I read about this first thing this morning. One camp could say this is cool. One camp could say this is really creepy. How accurate are they in guessing what I want?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE/BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, well this is -- the whole idea is that Amazon is looking to try and know you better than you know yourself. So here's how it works. They look at your previous searches, your wish list, your search history, that kind of thing, and it forms a profile of who you are - or who it thinks you are as a person based on your habits.

So let's say, for example, I'm just going to make this up, but let's say Brooke Baldwin usually orders the same brand of toothpaste every month from Amazon without fail. OK?

BALDWIN: OK. I'm with you.

ASHER: I don't know if that's true, but let's say, OK. And then, in anticipation that you're going to buy the same brand of toothpaste next month, it then starts to ship that item towards you. And what I mean by towards you is it uses your zip code and your street address and sends it to your neighborhood, then waits there. So when you finally do click, OK, yes, I'm ready to buy this now, it shows up at your house the next day, in a few hours.

The whole thing is that it's all about cutting down delivery times. So that's why there's this talk of Amazon using drones because that is how it's going to compete with brick and mortar stores. That's how it's going to lure customers away from brick and mortars by cutting down delivery times.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh. I'm a little creped out, but appreciate the convenience, to be honest.

ASHER: Right.

BALDWIN: But, I mean, aren't there other companies out there, Zain, who already anticipate what I want or no?

ASHER: Yes, yes, absolutely. So, for example, Netflix might send you suggestions based on your previous movie watching history. You have smart bridges that tell you that you're about to run out of something. But this sort of takes it one step further because -

BALDWIN: Because it sends it.

ASHER: Yes, it actually sends it. And it's kind of like a huge financial undertaking or risk for Amazon because if it gets it wrong more times than it gets it right, then, you know, you have all these wasted shipping costs. But we're hearing that Amazon might sort of circumvent that by actually giving you the item for free because they've already invented in sending it close to you, they might give it to you for free or at least heavily discounted.

BALDWIN: Interesting. Kind of makes you want to go to Amazon and see what they think I want.

ASHER: I know. I know.

BALDWIN: Zain Asher, thank you.

ASHER: Of course.

BALDWIN: And now to some of the hottest stories in a flash. "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

How about this. A 6.2 magnitude earthquake has hit New Zealand north island rattling buildings, knocking down a giant eagle, a character featured in the latest hobbit movie. But this powerful quake was captured on live television during this greyhound race. Take a look for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Everything's shaking here I'm afraid. Looks like we might have a bit of an earthquake going on here. A very big earthquake, in fact. We've got a very large earthquake going here. The race is underway here. Unfortunately, the monitor's (ph) fallen on me. But I've managed to pick it up. I can tell you (INAUDIBLE) in front here. I'm not going to be able to do much (INAUDIBLE) this race.


BALDWIN: Do you hear that, he said the model (ph) fell on him. He continues. The commentator pulls it off and goes on to call the rest of the race.

And a dog walk nearly turned deadly for a man in Missouri. Firefighters had to rescue him from an icy lake. Look at this. The victim was walking his dog, fell through the ice here. The man jumped in to save his dog, couldn't get himself out. A witness described how she and others tried to get him.


SHARI FORD, WITNESS: He was talking to his dog and pushing his dog up. The dog gets out and then he can't get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so you say he started yelling or saying something?

FORD: Yes, and he was screaming. We were screaming. Everybody's looking for a rope in their trunks. Nobody had some rope. Nobody could help him. He was struggling, yes, and he -- he was yelling to us, I think I'm frozen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Well, they got him out. The paramedics then got the guy to the hospital. Authorities say the dog is doing just fine.

Four hundred pounds of dynamite turned a building in South Carolina into a pile of rubble in a matter of seconds. Down she goes. A 14- story tower. The tallest building ever imploded in Greenville. It was torn down to make room for new apartments. Neighbors evacuated from the area during the demolition and were given free breakfast while they waited to go home. How about that, Greenville?

Coming up next, the rant that has gone viral. Richard Sherman is the player. He had some choice words. Doesn't exactly hold back. You haven't seen the video? Stand by. Today, the Seattle Seahawks player wrote a rebuttal for all his critics. Hear how he explains his controversial rant.


BALDWIN: All right, we now officially have a matchup for our Super Bowl Sunday. You have the Broncos taking on the Seahawks, squaring off the 2nd of February. Seattle defeated San Francisco and Denver beat New England on Sunday. And get ready to hear a lot more from Seattle's Richard Sherman. Take a look at this. This is all over today. He's blasting San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree after last night's game.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The final play. Take me through it.

RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Well, I'm the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get. Don't you ever talk about me!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who was talking about you?

SHERMAN: Crabtree, don't you open your mouth about the best or I'm going to center (ph) for you real quick. LOB.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, before - and, Joe, back over to you.



BALDWIN: And back to you, Joe.

Well, Crabtree responded on Twitter, of course. He tweets, "film don't lie. NFL Network, ESPN, pull up the tape of that game and show me where this guy is the best -- fake, fake, fake." Sherman's online response, "a lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep." The back and forth today. Richard Sherman posted a column at "Sports Illustrated's" Monday Morning's Quarterbacks site. He says he still doesn't think Michael Crabtree is a top NFL receiver, but in his words, quote, "to those who would call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field, don't judge a person's character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field. What he does for his community, what he does for his family."

Let's talk about this with Bob Condotta of "The Seattle Times."

Bob, welcome.

BOB CONDOTTA, "THE SEATTLE TIMES" (via telephone): Yes, thanks. How you guys doing?

BALDWIN: Doing well. You've got a lot on your hands to write about, I suppose, in Seattle. You cover the Seahawks. You cover Richard Sherman. And I want to get to this trash talking reputation of the team in just a minute, but first to Sherman. Did the outburst there on TV, did that surprise you knowing who this guy is?

CONDOTTA: No, not really. Richard Sherman is a - he's a very passionate player and he got to this point by - you know he's sort of one of those guys who has a professional chip on his shoulder, as do a lot of the players on this team. You know, Richard Sherman was never really a big-time recruit, was drafted - you know, was drafted really late in the NFL draft. He sort of has used all of that, people doubting him and everything, to get to the point where he is.

And, you know, even now that he's to a point where he's getting an awful lot of accolades, I think he still seeks those sort of things out each week. And so I - you know, Michael Crabtree, they had some incidences in the past and he - that was a very emotional moment, obviously. He had just made a play to send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl and there's 70,000 fans screaming and all of that as that interview's going on. So, you know, I think this - if you kind of consider the context of all of that and who he is, it's not incredibly surprising.

BALDWIN: I read something, Bob, today, you know, going back to his high school football coach. He wasn't surprised by this outburst. But for people who are not - who have not been following the Seahawks quite like you have, who are just now coming into what's happening in Seattle, where does this - I mean you admit it yourself, this reputation for trash talk, where does this come from?

CONDOTTA: Well, I - yes, I don't know if I used the word trash talk, but I did use the word - but they do have a -

BALDWIN: A lot of people have. We'll put it that way, a lot of people have.

CONDOTTA: Sure. Sure. Yes. Yes. Yes, don't say I - I mean they certainly have a few guys who are very vocal.

BALDWIN: How would you -- how would you describe it, Bob?

CONDOTTA: You know, I - well, my point is, it's a team of 53 players. You've got a couple of guys, a couple of notable guys, who certainly aren't afraid to talk. But you've also got Russell Wilson, who, you know, as the quarterback is supposed (ph) to know the team, is the exact opposite of that. And he's got a real (INAUDIBLE) the defense - one of the defensive leaders who's the exact opposite of that too. So it's sort of who you want to focus on a little bit.

But no doubt, Richard Sherman, when they go to the Super Bowl, he's going to be one of the faces of the team and how he handles himself and everything is going to be looked at by a lot of people as representing the team. And I think he'll understand that and, you know, he's - he -- that's not what you get during the season, you know, when he holds his press conference during the year and all that. There's usually a lot of kind of entertaining, fun stuff and all of that. And it's usually not like that. Again, you know, that was - that was kind of a, you know, a pretty emotional time there with the play he had just made.

BALDWIN: Well I remember the whole, you mad bro thing with Tom Brady not too long ago. But let me just - let me just end with saying, yes, they're going to the Super Bowl. A lot of eyeballs on the scene come February 2nd. Do you think that - does he get talked to by a coach or do they know this guy is good, this guy wins and if he wants to, you know, use his mouth, he's going to use his mouth. It's football.

CONDOTTA: Yes, it will be some of the both. I mean Pete Carroll has built this team -- one of the reasons they've gotten to where it is, is he brings in guys like that and he doesn't - he kind of lets them be who they are. And the players thrive on that. You know it's a - it's -- he doesn't try to mold them into being something else. He just says, hey, we'll draft you and we'll bring you in as the person that you are and we'll try to make it work. And, you know, obviously they've completely turned the team around from when he took it over and they were losing teams and suddenly here they are four years later in the Super Bowl.

But, yes, they also are aware of the PR aspect of this and certainly they will - you know, again, he, you know, he - that was one time when he did that in a situation like that and he didn't cuss or anything. You know, he was just kind of making his point about Michael Crabtree.

BALDWIN: It has just been everywhere today. This interview with Erin Andrews everywhere.

Bob Condotta, "Seattle Times," thank you so much, sir.

Coming up next, a controversial decision by a judge. Taxpayers will be forced to pay for the sex change surgery of a convicted killer. The decision for the ruling coming up. Also, the controversy surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He just returned from Florida. A fundraising trip, meeting with big, big donors down there. We are learning more about what the donors said to the New Jersey governor about these swirling scandals.