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Olympic Terror Fears; Immigration reform In Doubt

Aired February 7, 2014 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Growing terror threats at the Olympics. Opening ceremonies just hours away. The new drastic measures now being taken, including here in the U.S. to keep Sochi safe. We're live.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Spy games straight out of the cold war. A U.S. diplomat's phone is bugged. Her private conversation recorded. It's posted online. This morning, accusations of new, damaging Russian spying on the U.S.

ROMANS: "The Tonight Show" torch has been passed. Jay Leno signing off for the last time overnight. His tearful goodbye, ahead. Did you cry?


BERMAN (on-camera): I have to say, amazing and dramatic. There's no crying in TV, so you know, I didn't cry, but he did. You've got to see it. It's really stunning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

ROMANS (on-camera): You've laid out a challenge for me to get you to cry on TV. I'm Christine Romans. It's Friday. It's 31 minutes past the hour.

And we are just hours away now from the official start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Already, the games plagued by terror warnings that are increasing at this minute as we speak this morning. The TSA now banning all liquids, all gels, all powders from carry-ons for flights from the U.S. to Russia. There are fears they could be used to set off a bomb.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is live in Sochi this morning. Nick, give us a sense of the situation on the ground there just hours away from the huge anticipated opening ceremony.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Six hours out at this point, John, and what we are seeing today around the Olympic venues is a lot of security, not a lot of bustle, though, of international visitors, fans really coming in. Early day still, but it's not packed. And we tried to go through some of the Olympic venues. They won't let large quantities of liquid in, unless, you're a properly accredited journalist like we are.

I saw one man having to drink his bottle of pop right in front of us. But Barack Obama today doing his best to try and calm nerves.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in preventing any kind of terrorist act or violence at these venues, and they have put a lot of resources into it. We're in constant communications with them, both at the law enforcement level, at the military level, at the intelligence level.


WALSH: Now, what is all this having as an impact on attendance here? Now, Americans, perhaps, aren't coming in the numbers expected as fans. I spoke to one tour operator who said, look, we'd normally expect to have more fans and family members of athletes coming, but instead, it's the other way around. They have 250 family members of athletes and only 50 fans.

And also, he said, a thousand tickets they had allocated to them to sell to American visitors who now aren't coming. So, a sign there, one story, not the full picture, but one story that perhaps the security threats had an impact on attendance. I spoke to a member of the U.S. Olympic delegation here. They said to me, as far as they understand, they're expecting actually more family members than fans turning up.

And I spoke to a fan, actually, a rare sight of American tourist here, just relaxing, and they said you can still buy a ticket for the opening ceremony right now, only less than six hours away now, for $600. Perhaps, things aren't selling as fast, maybe, to foreigners as expected -- John.

BERMAN: I hope those seats are filled. This should be a wonderful night for the athletes, and I hope they get to enjoy it. Nick Paton Walsh in Sochi for us, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Meanwhile, an embarrassing phone surveillance scandal is chilling relations between the U.S. and Russia. The White House is implying the Russians tapped a phone call between two U.S. diplomats in Kiev and posted it online. We're going to play you part of the tape. Listen as a state department official, Victoria Nuland, and Jeffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, talk about the European Union's stance on Ukraine's pro-Moscow government.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the U.N. help glue it, and you know, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) the EU.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, exactly. And, I think we've got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: The state department is not disputing the authenticity of the recording. They're calling the release of the tape a new low for the Russians. Victoria Nuland has apologized to EU officials.

BERMAN: The state department has to be seething over this. This is not the kind of cooperation you want to see just before the Olympics when security and so many other concerns are looming over everything.

ROMANS: And then, there's the other question of why was that not a private conversation.

BERMAN: A secure phone?

ROMANS: Why was that not a secure phone with such very obviously very important discussions happening? I don't know.

All right.


ROMANS (voice-over): President Obama heads to Michigan State University today where he's set to sign the new trillion-dollar farm and food stamp bill approved earlier this week in Congress. This bill will cut direct payments to farmers but increase crop insurance. It will cut food stamps for food stamp recipients in this country by about $90 a month.

BERMAN (voice-over): This morning, no deal to restore unemployment benefits to the more than one million Americans who have stopped receiving checks. A Senate vote came up one vote shy of the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster. The two sides squabbling now over how to pay for it. They've been squabbling for a while over this. And also, how many amendments Republicans can offer to this bill.

ROMANS: TGIF for global stock markets. Remember how ugly Monday was? Investors hoping that's a thing of the past. Asian markets ended the week higher. Japan's Nikkei up two percent, a nice turn-around following earlier losses of seven percent this week. That is a big move for the week. Hong Kong and London higher. U.S. futures are higher as well after the biggest gains of the year for the Dow and S&P Thursday.

But things can change if the monthly jobs report doesn't meet expectations. Economists surveyed by CNN Money, they think that unemployment in this country held steady at 6.7 percent for the first month of the year. They think 178,000 jobs were created. We had a number yesterday, a weekly number that showed fewer than expected Americans filed for jobless benefits last week. That was one reason why the market was higher yesterday, but you know what?


ROMANS (on-camera): January's bitter-cold weather, it may have taken its toll on this report. That's due out at 8:30 a.m. eastern. You know, I've been saying, I don't really trust this market this week. I mean, I don't think anybody should sit back, say oh, the worst is behind us. We've got a lot to get through and there are still people who are saying this market needs to have a full-on correction.

BERMAN (on-camera): Big mystery and it's big news when it happens.


BERMAN: She's so excited, she's dropping stuff right now. Been watching all morning. Christine will bring you that jobs report when it breaks, and it's hugely important to the entire economy.

All right. Thirty minutes after -- 37 minutes after the hour right now.

And this morning, Portland, Oregon is in the middle of something it has not seen in years, heavy, intense snow! And it keeps on piling up. It's caused some really bad accidents like this 28-car pileup across the river in Washington State. There's already nine inches of snow on the ground in the Portland area.

Another foot could fall by the end of today, and there could be even more snow coming Saturday. Officials telling residents stay home, if you can, do not drive. Avoid the roads, folks.

ROMANS: Snow also a problem near Dallas. That's right, Dallas, as in Texas, where the roads are icy this morning. About an inch of snow fell on Thursday. Some school districts are closed today. Airlines are trying to get back on track at DFW airport, one of the nation's busiest.

BERMAN: Officials near Philadelphia are promising the power should be back on by tonight for the some 300,000 customers still in the dark after Wednesday's snow and ice storm took down trees, power lines throughout the Philadelphia suburbs, really causing huge problems down there.

Chad Myers keeping an eye on that and the forecast for this morning, for the weekend. He's watching it all -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, you talk about Portland and how ugly the snow was, and really, it's difficult to drive it, but the people of the west need the snow and need the rain.

ROMANS: Yes, they do, they do.

MYERS: I'll get to that in a bit. It is cold across the northeast. It is one below in Albany. These are not wind chill factors. Nineteen degrees in state college this morning. Cold all the way down south, 18 Nashville, 29 in Atlanta, and that's cold for there. Look at this ugly map, nasty colors here. Six below Bismarck, four below Fargo, three below Minneapolis. And I wish that was the wind chill factor, but that's literally what the air feels like out here.

Now, there's an awful lot of snow coming down in these higher elevations. It has been very dry out west. I've talked to the California growers out there, and they said if we don't get some rain, we're not going to be able to have crops. We're going to have to water the almonds and the pistachios and all the big things that we can't afford to lose, like trees, but there may not be anything for us to grow because there may not be any water.

Finally, we're seeing some water there, finally up there into parts of the northeast and parts of California. We're going to see a little bit of rain. Not enough to break this drought, but at least a little bit. The cold still is in the northeast. And I know we talk about this big storm that's possibly coming. It's just -- I just don't see it developing. Two to four inches, not two to four feet, and that's actually a good thing.

BERMAN: Yes. That's a good thing to me. I had to shovel the stuff.

MYERS: Shoveling yesterday was really hard.

BERMAN: Very, very heavy snow.

ROMANS: Most of America wants to kiss Chad Myers right now, at least the northeast does.

BERMAN: Most of America always wants to kiss Chad Myers.


BERMAN: Handsome man.

All right. What a goodbye last night for Jay Leno. "The Tonight Show" host, he said goodbye again. This time, he says it's for good. No jokes, though, about that, because his final show really emotional. His first guest 22 years ago, Billy Crystal, was his last guest last night. The farewell featured this song from "The Sound Of Music," performed by a number of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey. Let's listen for just a second.




BERMAN: Oprah can sing, too, folks. Jay Leno choked up as he said his final goodnight, calling the experience the greatest 22 years of his life.



JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": I am the luckiest guy in the world. I got to meet presidents, astronauts, movie stars. It's just been incredible. I got to work with lighting people who made me look better than I really am.


LENO: I got to work with audio people who made me sound better than I really do. And I got to work with producers and writers and just all kinds of talented people who make me look a lot smarter than I really am.


BERMAN: And did that guy work hard. We should all work as hard as Jay Leno. Loved telling jokes, will tell jokes 24 hours a day if he could. He also could not resist one last dig at his network saying in his final monologue, "I don't like good-yes. NBC does."

ROMANS: Thanks. That was -- I mean, thank you to him for all of those years.

All right. Coming up, 2014 is supposed to be a year of action on a lot of things, including immigration reform. New signs today that Congress may be deadlocked. The latest developments when we come back.


BERMAN: All right. This morning, it looks like any hopes for immigration reform may be falling apart in Congress. This will be the hopes for some kind of legal status for the millions and millions of undocumented workers who are in the United States right now. This is a big-ticket item on the agenda for 2014, but now, House Speaker John Boehner says he does not think that he can pass a bill.

He does not think he can get enough Republican votes, and he's blaming the White House for that. Take a listen.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Listen, there's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes.


BERMAN: All right. CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, political editor, joins us from Washington right now. And Paul, explain the politics of this to me, because the House leadership unveiled their sort of roadmap to immigration reform just a week ago. There was hope amongst the leadership in the House and people for immigration reform, that that could mean something gets through. Now, a very hasty retreat from the speaker. What's going on here?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Sounds like we've heard this before, right? And you said it right there, leadership. Maybe the rank and file doesn't feel the same way. I guess, John and Christine, here's where it stands.

House Speaker John Boehner truly feels that some immigration reform would be good for the economy, and he also wants to help his party, the Republican Party, try to appeal better to Latino voters, which would help the GOP in 2016 as they try to win back the White House, but this is 2014. We've got the midterm elections coming up in November, and there's a lot of pushback from conservative lawmakers. They're in districts with small Latino populations, and they're in districts where their base is very much against any kind of pathway towards citizenship, and that's why there's a lot of pushback. I think Boehner was hearing from a lot of his fellow lawmakers. Let's wait on this until after the midterms are over.

What do Americans think? Well, guess what? We have brand new poll numbers. Let's take a look. I've got some right here right now. We asked the question, what do you think about allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and eventually apply for citizenship, which is in the Senate bill that passed last year?

Well, that number there's pretty obvious. Eighty-one percent favor that. And here's one other number to make the point. Take a look at this. The main focus for U.S. immigration policy. Look at the change. Back in 2011, more people said border security is more important. Now that is swapped. More people saying legal status for immigrants should be the main focus of U.S. immigration policy.

So, what Americans want and what the Republican leadership is doing are two separate things, I guess, you could say.

ROMANS: It feels like in 2005, there were a lot closer on getting something and they're not anywhere -- it blew up, and they're not anywhere near where they were in 2005 on getting some kind of consensus on what to do for immigration reform. Let me switch quickly to the vice president. You know, Joe Biden is known for his unpredictable or maybe just really frank comments.

I want you to listen to something he said yesterday when talking about infrastructure investment in this country. He was at LaGuardia talking about Laguardia airport. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I blindfolded someone and took them at two o'clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said, "where do you think you are?" They say this must be America. It's a modern airport. If I took him blindfolded and took him to the LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think I must be in some third world country. I'm not joking!



ROMANS: Not joking. Is he going to take it back?

STEINHAUSER: You know what? It was a funny thing is that any of us who flown through LaGuardia airport --


STEINHAUSER: -- especially the central terminal, which is very old, I think we would agree with the vice president. And listen, this is Joe Biden being Joe Biden. He says it like it is, off-the-cuff comments. Is it going to hurt him? No. The story is definitely doing well online and on TV, though, guys.

BERMAN: He should not be blindfolding anyone.


BERMAN: I'm just going to go out on a limb there.

ROMANS: I will say the former treasury secretary, Larry Summers, recently used JFK as an example saying, we need -- anybody who's flown through JFK, we need more infrastructure investment.

BERMAN: There you go.

ROMANS: We should be borrowing money at three percent and investing in the future, not screaming and yelling about long-term deficits. We need investments now. It's a common Democratic theme. Thanks.

BERMAN: Paul, thanks.

ROMANS: Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Kate Bolduan joins us now. Good morning, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Speaking of Joe Biden, I actually joked with him after that event about the LaGuardia comment. I'll tell you about that a little later. I said you're going to take some heat from some New Yorkers on that one, Joe. So, we'll have a "NEW DAY" exclusive for you this morning. I was able to speak with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday.

We talked about a lot of stuff. We talked about jobs, immigration reform clearly in the headlines, Washington gridlock, midterm elections, and you want to hear what he has to say about 2016. He's asked us over and over again, but I have not heard him go this far before. He is fired up and you're going to want to hear that. We're going to have that in a "NEW DAY" exclusive. That's coming up at the top of the hour.

And then of course, this. You guys were talking about it and we have to as well. Jay Leno giving his long goodbye after 22 years hosting "The Tonight Show." We're going to bring you the star-studded highlights and his final words as he signed off. Plus, we're going to talk to his longtime former band leader, Kevin Eubanks (ph), as well as his former head writer for 20 years, talk to them about what they think is next for the funny man and let them reflect on a long career that they had with him as well.

BERMAN: You know, Jay Leno come on EARLY START, do occasional commentary, tell some jokes right here with us.

BOLDUAN: That's a great idea.

BERMAN: All right. Kate, thanks so much.

ROMANS: We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Students will be back in class at five West Virginia schools today, this a day after those schools were shut down amid more concerns over unsafe water. Students and staff reported smelling a licorice odor. That's the same smell as a chemical that spilled into the water supply near Charleston last month leading to an unprecedented do-not-use order.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could smell it when I went in, so I am happy that they're sending the kids home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we didn't create this problem. We're only responding to when the issues arise. But the safety of our children always come first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know, you know, hat's going to happen, what's going on with the water, how it's going to affect us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've had our kids, you know, out of school for so long. They're not getting the education that they need.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only change the schools, but maybe changing zip codes, going north, getting away from Charleston, if we have to.


BERMAN: Now, tests so far show that the water is safe, but the district plans to keep on testing.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, workers at AOL are going to see a little less money in their 401(k)s, and the reason? Obamacare? That's what the CEO says. You're going to hear why in "Money Time" next.


ROMANS: All right. Good Friday morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time." Markets around the world are higher this morning and we're waiting for this big, important jobs report. It could change the direction of everything. Asian and European markets are up. U.S. futures are up. Big rally ahead of the 8:30 eastern number on jobs. Big question, how many jobs were created and how many jobseekers have simply given up?

Economists polled by CNN Money expect the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent. That's the lowest level in five years, but the reason it's so low is really because so many people have been leaving the labor market. You still have about a third of the working-age population not working, and that's a problem. 178,000 jobs likely created in the month.

Job creation in December, remember it was a really disappointing 74,000, blamed on the weather? Harsh winter weather might be to blame today as well. Incredibly important, that 8:30 report. And I can tell you, members of both parties are sharpening their pencils with their press releases already before it's even out.

BERMAN: It's a crucial report. Who's covering it for us?

ROMANS: I am covering.

BERMAN: What time is that?

ROMANS: 8:30 a.m. eastern.

BERMAN: Do not miss it. It's a crucial, crucial report on this economy and a sense of where we're going in the weeks and months ahead.

"NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The odds are higher that there will be an attack in this game than there have been to any of the other previous games in our memories.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ready or not, the Olympics begin just hours from now. The anticipation of what will happen in the greatest demonstration of sport mixed with the anxiety about safety as the TSA puts new restrictions on what travelers can fly into Russia with. We have new details on the games and the latest threat.

BOLDUAN: "NEW DAY" exclusive. Vice President Joe Biden one-on-one. Can the White House save immigration reform? And his strongest response yet on whether he plans to run for president.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What a goodbye. Funny, tearful, truly memorable. A goodbye from Jay Leno overnight. The stars turn out to bid him farewell. We have all of the must-see moments.

CUOMO: Your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "NEW DAY" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.



LENO: I want a quote from Johnny Carson who was the greatest guy to ever do this job. And he said I bid you all a heart felt --