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Virginia Tech Tragedy; Killer's Hometown; Grilling Gonzales

Aired April 20, 2007 - 06:00   ET




I don't recall . . .

I don't recall . . .

I don't recall . .

I don't recall . . .

I don't recall exactly when I made the decision.


CHETRY: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales facing new fire this morning. Some Republicans even braking ranks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that the best way to put this behind us is your resignation.


CHETRY: President Bush standing by his man, but whispers of concern are growing at the White House, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And good morning on this Friday, April 20th. I'm Kiran Chetry here in New York.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Roberts back in Washington today.

You take a look at that opening video that we had there about Alberto Gonzales. Sixty-four times he said something like, I do not recall, which is about half the number of times that his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, said it, Kiran. But still, even Republicans are saying this morning that he went down in flames yesterday. We're going to be talking with Sheryl Gay Stolberg from "The New York Times' coming up in just a couple of minutes. The headline on her article, which is the lead in "The New York Times" today, listen to this, "On a Very Hot Seat With Little Cover and Less Support." Bad day for Gonzales.

CHETRY: It is. And even yesterday, I mean before the hearing, he was warned by so many on Capitol Hill, don't be evasive. That's the one thing that's really going to come back to haunt you if you do that. So we're going to break that down, as well.

ROBERTS: Yes, I guess he didn't hear them when they said that.

CHETRY: I guess not. And thanks to the modern day editing, all of those "I don't recall, I don't recall" could be edited together and it really made a strong statement.

So, also in Washington, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, with some comments about how the Iraq War is a "lost cause" and, of course, the Bush administration causing those comments "disturbing," to say the least. So we're going to talk more about that as well today.

ROBERTS: Speaking of disturbing. Just this incredible backlash across the country about the airing of these videos that Cho Seung-Hui made before he went and killed 32 people at the Virginia Tech campus. We'll be looking into that controversy.

We're also learning more about Cho Seung-Hui this morning. Sean Callebs is going to be tracing his roots when he was younger, going to school in Fairfax County, just outside of Washington, D.C. Did that set the stage for the whole crisis that happened earlier this weekend?


CHETRY: You know, and sometimes divorces get ugly and . . .

ROBERTS: Really?

CHETRY: When it's between Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger, I think they really have hit a new level. Let's listen to a bit of a phone message by Alec Baldwin that was leaked to a website.


ALEC BALDWIN: I'm going to let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig.


CHETRY: He was not talking about his ex-wife, either. So we're going to have more on that. We're going to play the whole thing for you, let you decide.

ROBERTS: Who was he talking about?

CHETRY: Well, it's disturbing when you find out, for sure.

ROBERTS: Oh, my goodness, wow, when beautiful people go bad, huh?

CHETRY: You think he's beautiful?

ROBERTS: Well, she certainly is.

We begin this morning with the trials of Alberto Gonzales. Another prominent Republican is calling on the attorney general to quit, but he still has the support of one man who counts. President Bush backed Gonzales in a public statement after his long- time aide and confidant was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Five hours of questions about the firings of eight federal prosecutors, with the ranking Republican leading the attack.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Were you prepared for the press conference where you said there weren't any discussions involving you?

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator, I've already said that I miss spoke. It was my mistake.

SPECTER: I'm asking you, were you prepared? You interjected that you're always prepared. Were you prepared for that press conference.

GONZALES: Sir, I didn't say that I was always prepared. I said I prepared for every hearing.

I do not recall what I knew about Mr. Bogden (ph).

I don't recall any decent.

I don't recall remembering -- I don't recall the reason . . .

I don't recall specifically the genesis of the idea.

I don't recall -- I don't recall exactly when the decision -- I made the decision.


ROBERTS: Sixty-four times Gonzales testified that he didn't recall. Specter hasn't directly said that he should go, but conservative Republican Tom Colburn told Gonzales flat out, it's time to step down.

Back on the Senate floor, a salvo from the Democratic leader. Harry Reid says he told President Bush that military force won't lead to victory in Iraq.


SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: As long as we follow the president's path in Iraq, the war is lost. But there is still a chance to change course. And we must change course.


ROBERTS: Republicans are blasting Reid and the White House calls his comments "disturbing." The backdrop, of course, is the battle over a war funding bill that the president insists be stripped of deadlines for bringing the troops home.


CHETRY: Well, today, Virginia observes an official day of mourning, four days after the shootings at Virginia Tech. Also, Texas, Massachusetts and West Virginia also observing a day of mourning today. On the Blacksburg campus, Virginia Tech alumni organizing what they're calling "Hokie Hope Day." Everyone being asked to wear the school's colors, orange and maroon.

Also, classes at Virginia Tech resume on Monday, but administrators are aware that some students just may not be in the state of mind for studying. And, in fact, they are allowing students to take the grades that they earned before the tragedy if they don't want to carry on with the study.

Also Thursday, a campus vigil. A memory made up of candles, cards and messages to those who died. While the school is still in shock, they are beginning to talk about the future.


LARRY HINCKER, VIRGINIA TECH UNIVERSITY RELATIONS DIRECTOR: We have got to move forward. As you can imagine, we cannot let this horror define Virginia Tech. We're going to do whatever we can to try to get this place on its feet again while we remember what took place and we do what we can to ever prevent anything like that happening again in the United States.


CHETRY: And again, Virginia Tech also making the decision that students who were killed in that massacre on Monday will all be receiving posthumous degrees.

Well, we have other developments as well. CNN's Brianna Keilar is in Blacksburg today. Sean Callebs is in the gunman's high school, or the city where he went to high school, which is Chantilly, Virginia, for a look at his troubling early years. And Alina Cho with the sorrow and the impact in the Korean community. Also Mary Snow is at Rutgers University where presidential candidates are carefully stepping back into action after Monday.

And we begin with Brianna, where investigators have all but concluded their on-campus investigations of those shootings.

Hi, Brianna.


The evidence has largely been gathered, the crime scene has been cleaned up. And we're told by authorities that the information coming from this investigation is slowing to a trickle.

One of the things we are waiting for in the coming months will be the results of a review. A review of what authorities did ahead of the shooting and in the aftermath of the shooting. This is a review asked for by the university president, Charles Steger, of Governor Timothy Kaine here. And we now know some of the people who are going to be taking part in this panel.

Among them, Colonel Gerald Massengill. He's a former head of the Virginia State Police. And another name you'll certainly recognize, Tom Ridge. Of course, former Pennsylvania governor and the former and first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Also experts from mental health, as well as higher education and law enforcement will be taking place.

As you said, today is a day of morning declared by Governor Kaine. Also, alumni organizations have declared this "Hhokie Hope Day." So what we're going to be seeing here on campus and across the state of Virginia, a moment of silence at noon to remember the 32 who were lost here, as well as churches around the country having vigils and special prayer services. And then for "Hokie Hope Day," we're going to be seeing a lot of people showing their solidarity by wearing the Hokie colors, Kiran, of course, maroon and orange.


CHETRY: That's right. They're going to be seeing a sea of that today I'm sure because other states are actually planning days of mourning, as well.

Brianna, have investigators been able to talk to the shooter's family at this point?

KEILAR: Well, the FBI isn't confirming that, but the South Korean embassy says, as they checked in to see if the Cho family was all right, they were told from a meeting with the FBI that they are doing OK and a law enforcement source confirmed that meeting. They said it was set up to respond to any possible threats to the South Korean community.


CHETRY: All right, Brianna, we'll be checking in with you throughout the morning. Thank you. ROBERTS: Nine of the Virginia Tech victims are still in hospitals this morning. Three were released yesterday. Others got an unexpected morale boost. Take a look.


ROBERTS: The Hokie's marching band appeared outside Montgomery Regional Hospital to play the school's fight song, "Tech Triumph." That really lifted a lot of spirits there.

We've got a lot of new information for you today on Cho Seung-Hui and his early life. But first, I just want to tell you, that in regard to the video screens that Cho sent out to NBC News, when those videos first surfaced, they were pertinent as new information. With this information though now part of the larger story and given its very sensitive nature, we just want to tell you today that CNN is going to air that material very judiciously.

And we're now learning much more about the killer's early years. AMERICAN MORNING's Sean Callebs is live for us in Chantilly, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

Sean, what are you learning today?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cho Seung-Hui grew up in this area. And you talked about the fact we're not going to air a lot of those pictures. And that's going to be welcome news to the people in this region. They are tired of having the spotlight shown on this area.

We know that Cho went to the high school that you see behind me. And if you look, there's a makeshift memorial just over my shoulder. There are candles that are still lighted out there. One is to Reema Samaha. The other to Erin Peterson. Two students police say Cho killed who also went to this high school.

Now we had a chance to talk to a number of people who went to school with Cho, spent years all around him. But the one thing we're finding out, very few people really know who Cho is.


CALLEBS, (voice over): This is how the world will remember him, sullen and snarling, casting a wide net and blaming those who he says pushed him over the edge.

REGAN WILDER, CLASSMATE: You have to wonder what went so wrong in his life that this was ultimately the decision he made to get revenge for whatever it was.

CALLEBS: And now Regan Wilder wonders if anyone really knew Cho Seung-Hui. They went to the same middle and high schools before moving on to Virginia Tech.

WILDER: If you asked anybody about him that graduated with him or went to school with him, he was just known as that kid that didn't speak. He just -- he never spoke. And that's how everyone remembered him.

CALLEBS: That is, until now.

Cho was born in South Korea in 1984. His family moved to the U.S. in 1992, eventually settling here in Centreville, Virginia, where his parents worked in a dry- cleaner's.

EBRAM HAKIM, CLASSMATE: I thought he was -- you know, he was pretty normal, other than the fact that I just thought he didn't know any English, that's why he never talked to anybody.

CALLEBS: Cho was quiet, even though he was often at this local basketball court, refusing to join games. Cho did pick up a nickname walking to the bus stop each day.

JOHN WILLIAMS, CLASSMATE: We called him the trombone kid because he was just walking with his trombone all alone.

CALLEBS: But there were worse names leveled by others. Cho, they say, was often picked on and taunted because he was such a loaner.

WILLIAMS: Such a quiet, shy kid like that, he's such an easy target. And he took it and took it and took it and built up all that anger and whatever he felt inside and, you know, someone like that is going to explode. It's destine to happen.


CALLEBS: Boy, that last part is just simply ominous. And we heard a lot about Cho allegedly stalking a couple of women at school. John, we talked to people who knew him in middle school and high school, did he ever have any kind of instances like that growing up? The people who did see him every day for a period of years said they never saw any of that.


ROBERTS: I'll tell you, he's not getting any support from his family, either. Quotes from overseas news agencies. His grandfather said, "son of a bitch, he deserved to die. Better to not have such a child in the family."

So, Sean, I mean everybody out there is just so -- just devastated by this whole thing.

Sean Callebs for us in Chantilly, Virginia. Thanks very much.

As the nation reals from the Virginia Tech tragedy, today marks the 8th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. April 20, 1999. Twelve students and a teacher were killed there when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at the Littleton, Colorado, high school and then killed themselves. No classes at Columbine High today. The school has closed every April 20th since the attack.

Now coming up next hour, we'll be live in Littleton to hear from those survivors who have advice and comfort for students at Virginia Tech.

So, Kiran, you can see that these thing are all interconnected, even as the years go by.

CHETRY: Very true.

All right, John.

A little bit of an update now on another story. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, he's still on a ventilator this morning. The hospital, though, says he's less dependent on it. But the governor, nonetheless, cannot breathe on his own at this point. He was seriously hurt in a car crash last week. He was a passenger in the front seat of an SUV going 91 miles an hour in a 65 zone and Corzine was not wearing his seat belt. He broke a thigh bone, a really bad injuries there, 11 ribs, his breast bone and collarbone. So we'll continue to update you on the New Jersey governor's condition throughout the morning.

Rescue teams in Maryland are still working to find two coal miners who have been trapped for three days when a wall collapsed. So far, they found parts of the miner's backhoe and bulldozer and the teams are still working around the clock. They say they still have hope they will find them alive.

ROBERTS: This morning, the Tennessee woman who killed her minister husband is facing three to six years in prison.


JUDGE WEBER MCCRAW, MCNAIRY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: We the jury find the defendant, Mary C. Winkler, guilty of voluntary manslaughter.


ROBERTS: Thirty-three-year-old Mary Winkler could have gotten life had the jury found her guilty of first degree murder. She testified in her own defense that her husband's death was an accident, coming after years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Winkler will be sentenced on May 18th.

CHETRY: And coming up, disaster zone. New Jersey is still dealing with the aftermath of that nasty nor'easter. The flooding concerns. We're going to bring you an update on that.

Also, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is under fire. Can he survive? Even Republicans grilling him yesterday on Capitol Hill. We're going to have much more on that. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


CHETRY: The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

Investigators in Houston now want to know what caused an explosion and fire in two tanker trucks at a chemical depot. Firefighters used water and foam to keep it from spreading to other tanks. Thank goodness only one worker was burned and only slightly.

In southeast Georgia, 18 homes wiped out and thousands of people displaced from those wildfires. Schools that may be in harm's way also closed for the fourth day in a row. That fire scorching more than 46 square miles.

New Jersey this morning looking for President Bush to declare flood-ravaged counties disaster areas. FEMA teams are sizing up the damage from this week's nor'easter thought to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Here is some scene from Patterson, New Jersey. Flood waters blamed for three deaths in New Jersey. And they're still keeping hundreds of people out of their homes.

It's 16 past the hour now and we want to talk to Chad Myers.

At least the good news for the folks in New Jersey and up and down the eastern seaboard is that we are looking for a good weekend on tap, right?


ROBERTS: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faced a tough crowd when he went before a Senate panel yesterday. Tough is putting it mildly. He couldn't even find a sympathetic ear among some Republicans. On the phone with us right now is "New York Times" White House correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who's got a story out today in which she says that they didn't find any cover there. A real rough time.

Cheryl, you say in your article that this thing really went bad from the very beginning.

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, "NEW YORK TIMES" WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think from the moment the attorney general walked in the room, even before he said anything, Senator Jeff Sessions, who's the Republican from Alabama, usually pretty sympathetic for the administration, looked at him and said, well, give it your best shot. And it was almost like he was a man headed for the gallows.

ROBERTS: Sort it's sort of like, you know, we know that you're going to get absolutely hammered here, but why don't you give it the old college try. But is he really headed for the gallows here? Tom Coburn said, I think it's time for you to go, but he's a pretty conservative Republican. Conservatives never really liked Gonzales. Anybody else high up in the GOP calling for his head at this point?

STOLBERG: Well, I think that's the big question. I mean the Republicans pretty much buried Gonzales yesterday. They skewered him. Very important Republicans did. Men like Arlen Specter and Lindsay Graham, Sessions, John Cornan, people with real authority on the committee. But they haven't come out yet and said that he ought to resign. So the question is, will President Bush take the hint or do they need to come out and really say so to push him over the edge?

ROBERTS: Yes. Hey, I want to see if I can call a little bit of an audible here with our control room. Folks, do we have that little exchange between Lindsay Graham and Alberto Gonzales available? Can we play that? Sheryl, I think we have this. Take a listen to this and I just want to come back get your thoughts.

Oh, we don't have it, unfortunately, but let me read it to you. Gonzales was told by Lindsay Graham, he said, "you said something that struck me. Sometimes it just came down to these were not the right people at the right time," speaking of the U.S. attorneys. "If I applied that standard to you, what would you say?" And Gonzales comes back and says, "senator, what I would say is that I believe I continue to be effective as an attorney general of the United States." But that really was, Sheryl, a devastating question by Graham, was it not?

STOLBERG: I thought it was devastating and frankly I thought at that moment in the room, Al Gonzales may have been the only person who thought that he continues to be an effective attorney general of the United States. And the real question is, you heard Gonzales says, if he concludes he won't be effective any more, he'll step down. So what will he conclude after his performance at this hearing has really been universally panned?

ROBERTS: Yes. Well, so far, I guess, Sheryl, the White House is still sticking by their man, but you've got to wonder after that performance yesterday how much longer he's got as attorney general. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of "The New York Times." Got the lead story in the paper today. Get out there and read it. It's a really good wrap-up of the day's events yesterday.

Sheryl, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

CHETRY: And coming up, John, gas prices. Are they draining your family finances? You might be surprised to see how some other Americans are fairing.

Also, Alec Baldwin in a rage. An angry voice mail leaked to the tabloid press. It's something you have to hear to believe. And we're going to play it for you coming up, when we come back on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Twenty-five past the hour now. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business." And today we're talking about gas prices.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I drive about once a week. I keep a car in Manhattan, believe it or not.

CHETRY: A car.

VELSHI: Yes. And I drive about once a week. So Friday is when I sort of start paying attention to gas prices. $2.86 a gallon, national average for unleaded gasoline.

CHETRY: But didn't they think it was going to go up to $3.00 by the summer?

VELSHI: Yes. Yes. And, you know, we're in that trend. It's going to go up. Right now $2.86. Now we've got a poll, a CNN/Opinion Research poll, which we're releasing this morning and it's saying that two-thirds of Americans, 66 percent of Americans, say that these gas prices are causing hardship for their families. Now that's not unsurprising. It's not -- in fact, these numbers haven't changed dramatically. But these are the kind of things, because you see gas prices so much and because you use it so much, it influences how you do other things.

You were making the point that other things go up too and . . .

CHETRY: Well, we've seen milk prices jump and a few other things, but gas prices . . .

VELSHI: Right. But you see that sign -- even, even if you don't drive, you think gas prices are going up and it affects how people think about the economy. And right now, that's an important thing for us. How people feel about this economy determines how they spend and whether this economy keeps ticking. So it's an important factor and it's causing hardship for Americans.

CHETRY: What else you got going on today?

VELSHI: Well, we've got another record on the Dow. We've got a big earnings day. And we have, I'll tell you about this in half an hour, we have another conviction in a corporate scandal. One that reaches way back to the early 2000s.

CHETRY: All right. Ali, thanks so much.

And we're going to head back down to Washington with John Roberts.

Hey, John.

ROBERTS: Hey, Kiran. Top stories of the morning are coming up next and there's a lot to talk about this morning.

New questions for Alberto Gonzales. The biggest, will the president save his job? According to White House insiders, he went down in flames before the Judiciary Committee yesterday.

Plus, perhaps Senator John McCain should keep his day job. He put a spin on the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Ann" in South Carolina yesterday and it's not his singing voice that got him in trouble, it was the lyrics.

Plus, Alec Baldwin's outrageous rant left on a voice mail. You thought his divorce with Kim Basinger was already ugly? Just wait for this.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


ROBERTS: Under fire and losing friends. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales grilled about those fired U.S. attorneys yesterday before the Judiciary Committee. At least one Republican joins the chorus of demands for his resignation. President Bush, for the moment, standing by Gonzales, but new signs this morning suggest that White House support could be short-lived.

Welcome back. It's Friday, April 20th.

I'm John Roberts, back in Washington this morning. Good morning, Kiran.

CHETRY: Hi there.

I'm Kiran Chetry in New York.

Good to see you, John.

And we are going to be covering may stories today. It's a day of mourning, but also a day of hope. They're actually calling it Hokie Hope Day at Virginia Tech to remember the lives of the people that were killed in that massacre. They're asking everybody to wear maroon and orange to -- which are, of course, the colors of Virginia Tech -- to remember what went on there on Monday.

ROBERTS: Yes. I'm going subtle with it today. I've got the maroon and orange embedded in my tie this morning to show respect and condolences for, you know, what everybody is going through down there, because it really is just terribly tragic. We were down there for three days, and you know what it's all like down there. It's just awful.

CHETRY: It is. It's upsetting.

ROBERTS: Hey, John McCain finds himself on the hot seat again today over a joke. He was in South Carolina and spun the words of the Beach Boys' song, "Barbara Ann". Somebody asked him what he would do about Iran.

You can imagine what he said. What his presidential campaign is saying about that this morning, coming right up.

CHETRY: Also, we're going to talk about the Korean community backlash, the way that many of them are feeling today in light of what happened down at Virginia Tech. And Alina Cho is going to be bringing us the unique perspective on that.

Plus, you could not miss this today. We played a snippet for you, and it's this angry voice mail from Alec Baldwin, spitting mad, that was leaked to the press.

Let's listen to it a little bit.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I'm going to let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig.


CHETRY: All right. Disturbing, to say the least.

However, I'm sitting here in a studio, John, of all men, and they were coming to his defense a little bit. So, yes, we're going to play the entire tape and we'll see what people think. ROBERTS: Who was he talking about?

CHETRY: He was talking to his 12-year-old daughter.

ROBERTS: Oh, my god.

CHETRY: But there...

ROBERTS: Well, here is one man who is not going to stick up for that. All right?

CHETRY: Good. And are you surrounded by men there or are you all alone?

ROBERTS: No. We've got -- we've got about -- we've got -- let's see, we've got mostly women in the studio this morning. We're outnumbered here. But...

CHETRY: Well, we'll play the tape. We know it's been a bitter relationship, and we know that custody has been a huge issue between the two of them, and if there was -- we don't really know what's going on, but we will play this tape and people can judge for themselves what they think.

ROBERTS: Well, it's all about context, too, and I don't have that yet, so we'll get that a little bit later on.

Hey, first to the trials of Alberto Gonzales. Another prominent Republican is calling on the attorney general to quit, but he still has the support of the one man who counts. President Bush backed Alberto Gonzales in a public statement after his longtime aide and confidante was grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Five hours of questions about the firing of eight federal prosecutors, with the ranking Republican leading that attack.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Were you prepared for the press conference where you said there weren't any discussions involving you?

ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator, I've already said that I misspoke. It was my mistake.

SPECTER: I'm asking you, were you prepared. You interjected that you're always prepared.

GONZALES: Senator, I didn't say that I was always prepared. I said I prepared for every hearing.

I do not recall what I knew about Mr. Bogden (ph).

I don't recall any dissent.

I don't recall remembering.

I don't recall the reason.

I don't recall specifically the genesis of the idea.

I don't recall -- I don't recall exactly when the decision -- I made the decision.


ROBERTS: Sixty-four times Gonzales testified that he didn't recall, which is a little more than half of the number of times that his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson said the same thing. Specter has not directly said that Gonzales should go, but conservative Republican Tom Coburn said to Gonzales flat out, time to step down.

Now here's a question that you wouldn't have heard in political dustups a decade ago. What are the blogs saying about all of this?

CNN's Jacki Schechner has been eyeballing them all morning.

Jacki, what have you found out?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, if he's looking for love online, then Gonzales is looking for love in all the wrong places.

ROBERTS: There you go.

SCHECHNER: You like that one?

Now, you know, we took a look at some of the conservative blogs to see how they weighed in on this, and even Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters blog, who's a committed conservative, noted that if Coburn is asking Gonzales to go, it is time for the White House to put out a want ad.

We're also hearing over at the corner that they're using words like "disastrous". It sounded a lot like Gonzales had no idea what was going on in his own department.

A little bit of support online on line from Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line blog, but again, he says that he would prefer a more hands-on attorney general. Even though it looks like he may not have done anything wrong, it would be nice to know that he was more involved.

You can leave it to the liberal blogs to come up with the funny puns on this one. Over at Firedoglake they say this man couldn't run his own bath, let alone run the Justice Department.

Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo says, "Go ahead and fire him." One of the reasons being that he ran this department like an ungamely combination of a young Republican's camp and Michael Brown's FEMA.

We're seeing a lot of descriptors today, things like "Gonzales looked awfully flummoxed and testy". Also words like "he's bombing," which we've heard this morning.

And even, frankly, moderates not helping him out at all. They say that it was disastrous.

I would say, John, this is sort of the testimony equivalent of Sanjaya's moments on "American Idol". I don't think Gonzales has got much hope here.

ROBERTS: I think Sanjaya had a little more support for quite a while than Gonzales did. But Jacki...

SCHECHNER: He had better hair. I'll give you that.

ROBERTS: Well, I don't know. I wasn't particularly fond of that...

SCHECHNER: Oh, but it was creative. It was creative.

ROBERTS: ... flippy mohawk that he had.

SCHECHNER: It was creative. Come on.

ROBERTS: Well, I guess, yes, he's got that over the attorney general. Thanks, Jacki -- Kiran.


CHETRY: Thanks a lot.

Well, the presidential candidates are getting ready to emerge after quite a quiet week on the campaign trail.

Today, Democratic senator Hillary Clinton is scheduled to make a postponed address at Rutgers University. And that's where we join CNN's Mary Snow.

And Mary, understandably, the candidates did take some time away because of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did, Kiran. And Senator Clinton had accepted the invitation to speak here during the height of the controversy involving Don Imus and his offensive remarks about the women's basketball team here.

Now, last weekend's nor'easter canceled this appearance. But Senator Clinton, like her other rivals running for president, are stepping carefully back on to the campaign trail after Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech.


SNOW (voice over): As the news of the mass killings at Virginia Tech spread across the nation, the campaign trail went dark. Most of the candidates canceled their campaign events for Monday night and Tuesday.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe this is the right time, speaking for myself, for politics.

SNOW: Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards did turn a Monday afternoon campaign stop into an event of healing for those killed at Virginia Tech. And nearly all of the candidates either put out statements or spoke from the heart.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can only imagine what it must be like for parents right now who probably still can't get in touch with their kids from all over the country. And we pray for them.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Presidential candidates had no choice but to hit the pause button on their campaigns. It would have been unseemly to do otherwise.

SNOW: Campaigning resumed on Wednesday, but it wasn't politics as usual. Gun control, which hasn't been an issue out on the trail, suddenly became a topic of discussion.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I do not believe that we should tamper with the Second Amendment of the United States -- the Constitution of the United States of America.


MCCAIN: I think -- I think we should...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think George Washington stood for automatic weapons?

MCCAIN: I think that -- I think that -- I think that George Washington stood for the right of people to bear arms, which is the -- which is their constitutional right.

SNOW: And the massacre at Virginia Tech wasn't far from the candidates' minds.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must determine, how do we make our schools safer? How do we do a better job of detecting the wrong signs and the warning signs earlier?

SNOW: Now, though, the candidates return to connecting with voters and raising cash. And for Hillary Clinton, a big plug from her husband.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe she would be the best president by a good, long stretch, for all kinds of obvious reasons. At least they're obvious to me.


SNOW: And on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night, President Clinton called his wife's Democratic rivals gifted people who deserve to be seriously listened to. And he added there's also the prospect of former vice president Al Gore still running -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Mary Snow, thank you so much.

ROBERTS: Hey, a little bit more heat for Senator John McCain's campaign today from that appearance in South Carolina. He was criticized for a joke that he made while campaigning and also singing as part of that joke. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess my question is, how many times do we have to prove that these people are blowing up people now? Never mind if they get a nuclear weapon. When do we send them an airmail message to Tehran?


MCCAIN: You know that old -- that old Beach Boys' song, Bomb Iran?

(SINGING): Bomb, bomb, bomb -- anyway...


ROBERTS: He said that a VFW hall in South Carolina, slightly reminiscent of Ronald Reagan when he was practicing for that address and he said, "We begin bombing in five minutes" when talking about Russia.

When asked whether the joke was insensitive, McCain replied, "Insensitive to what, the Iranians?" The senator has long maintained that the U.S. should prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and that military action should be considered, but only as a last resort.

Basically, Kiran, I mean, it was a joke, right?

CHETRY: He was joking. And look at his audience, too. You know?

But everything, as we say, during the political campaign gets dissected, and then everyone complains and says, all the candidates are so stiff. Why don't they ever loosen up?

ROBERTS: Nobody will say anything.

CHETRY: Right, because they're afraid.

Now, this is what happens. By the way, when I was little, I had no idea it was "Barbara Ann". I thought it was Bob a Ran (ph). I didn't know what it meant. It's a hard lyric.

ROBERTS: "Barbara Ann".

CHETRY: Thank you. Thank you for clarifying.

Meanwhile, coming up, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid says the war is lost. And we're going to talk to former general James "Spider" Marks about how that comment is going over with the troops and their families.

Also, we're going to play you Alec Baldwin's nasty phone call. He's cursing. He's threatening. And we're going to tell you exactly who he was talking to. We're going to play the whole thing for you coming up after the break.



SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: As long as we follow the president's path in Iraq, the war is lost. But there is still a chance to change course. And we must change course.


CHETRY: The White House weighing in on those comments made by Senator Harry Reid yesterday, calling them disturbing.

Joining us now on the phone to talk about it is retired Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks.

General, thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: What did you think of Harry Reid's comments yesterday?

MARKS: Completely irresponsible. And I think he knows exactly what he's doing. And what he's doing is undercutting the morale of the families of our service members, who continue to do great service in theater. It's absolutely responsible for a national figure and senior leader like that to make those kinds of comments.

CHETRY: Just -- what strikes me is how do you go from demanding them to stay for 15-month deployments now, risk their lives for 15 months, if you have some of the top people in Washington saying, hey, it's over, it's unwinnable?

MARKS: Oh, that's exactly the point. I mean, there are several layers of issues that exist here.

First of all, this is not a surge. We call it a surge. National leaders call it a surge. Our military leaders call it a surge. They need to get off the surge boat.

This is a change of mission. It's going to take time. It's not measured in weeks and it's not measured in days, certainly. It's measured in months in terms of making a presence and making a difference.

But that's kind of point number one. We have to be able to stay with this buildup of our forces, which is really what it's all about. But also bear in mind, Kiran...

CHETRY: Well, let me ask you -- go ahead.

MARKS: There is a total of -- there were a total of five brigades that are going into Baghdad. The third brigade has just arrived, which means it's just not getting into position to begin its mission set.

CHETRY: And I don't think there's any doubt that when our troops are there, they do what they're supposed to do, and they do it well. The problem seems to be that they can't be everywhere because we just simply don't have enough troops. And there are questions about whether the Iraqi counterparts are filling in that gap once we clear out an area.

MARKS: Kiran, point number one, you don't want troops everywhere. That's fundamentally wrong.

What you want is troops to be where they need to be. And that's why the buildup is taking place in Baghdad. So that's point number one, and that's being addressed.

The fact that the Iraqis are going to continue to stand up, or at least try to achieve levels of readiness and preparedness, is clearly what this is all about. You achieve that effect by continuing to serve alongside the Iraqis.

My point is, back to your question, your fundamental question -- is for Senator Reid to make a statement like this, clearly, as you pointed out, Kiran, on the heels of this commitment that's being asked of our soldiers and our soldiers specifically, to extend their time in theater, is irresponsible.

CHETRY: You think the comments irresponsible. I have just one other question, though.

What is preventing us from being -- making some of those diplomatic moves and trying to get the political and the sectarian strife under control at the same time as the mission that our troops are doing there?

MARKS: Well, there's nothing holding us back. It's a matter -- the solution in Iraq, as we've discussed all along, is multifaceted. There's not a military solution to a political challenge. So you have to achieve security, which is mission one. And that's what the troops are hoping to try to provide.


CHETRY: So you do agree with Senator Reid on that point -- on that point, that we do need to be working politically and diplomatically as well.

All right. Well, I'm glad that we had a chance to talk to you and get your comments this morning.

Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, we're out of time -- John.

ROBERTS: Boy, no doubt where he stands.

Thanks, Kiran.

If you thought that the war between Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger was already plenty ugly, well, you haven't yet heard this. A voicemail was leaked yesterday. has got it, and Baldwin let's loose not on his ex, but on his 11-year-old daughter.

Take a listen to this.


BALDWIN: I'm tired of playing this game with you. I'm leaving this message with you to tell you, you have insulted me for the last time. You have insulted me.

You don't have the brains or the decency as a human being. I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that you're 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) who doesn't care about what you do, as far as I'm concerned.

You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone. This (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you pull on me with this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother, and you do it to me constantly. And over and over again.

I am going to get on a plane, or I am going to come out there for the day, and I'm going to straighten your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out when I see you. Do you understand me?

I am going to really make sure you get it. Then I'm going to get on a plane and I'm going to turn around, and I'm going to come home. So you'd better be ready Friday, the 20th, to meet with me, because I'm going to let you know just how you feel about what a rude little pig you really are.


ROBERTS: I guess he didn't know that the father of the year nominations were coming up soon. Baldwin and Basinger have been locked in a bitter and sometimes very public feud over child custody since she was granted a divorce back in 2002.

How about that, Kiran?

CHETRY: You have a daughter around that age, right? I mean, can you imagine talking to your child that way?

ROBERTS: My daughter is 15 and a half going on 16. And no, I couldn't imagine ever talking to her like that, not in a million years.

CHETRY: It just shows you, though, how nasty this situation is, because clearly, well, at least according to his lawyers, they're saying that Kim Basinger ad her lawyer leaked sealed material in violation of a court order. And Baldwin's spokesman is saying that he's going to keep his mouth shut and continue to obey the court orders about not talking about this.

ROBERTS: That's all he's got to say, is that it was illegally leaked?

CHETRY: Yes, so far today. I think the tape speaks for itself.

ROBERTS: Good defense.

CHETRY: All right. I'm sure we'll hear much more about it.

And Basinger spokeswoman says the voicemail speaks for itself.

ROBERTS: Yes, I'd say so.

CHETRY: Still to come this morning, Virginia Tech massacre through the eyes of Korean-Americans, a culture that knows extreme pride and deep shame. We're going to show you how they're handling the sins of one of their own ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: When authorities revealed the identity of the Virginia Tech gunman, it wasn't much of a shock to those on campus who had crossed paths with Cho Seung-Hui. But the Korean community is really thunderstruck that a Korean could do such a horrible thing.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho, a Korean-American herself, has been looking into this.

And we talked about it yesterday, as well, just about the immense pride and then also shame in the Korean community.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. That's right.

CHETRY: What are you hearing?

CHO: Well, a lot of people are talking about it. I've talked to friends, I've talked to my own parents.

You know, Koreans take great pride in their achievements, as you just mentioned, Kiran, in the same way they feel intense shame when someone of Korean dissent does something bad. So when it became clear that a young Korean man was responsible for the deadliest shooting in American history, many in the Korean community were devastated.


CHO (voice over): When the Korean community learned one of their own, Cho Seung-Hui, was behind the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, many said it was like a member of their own family had committed the crime. THOMAS KANG, KOREAN-AMERICAN: They feel a lot of shame, a lot of guilt. But not -- it's not because they have done it, but they feel that way because of it is a Korean person that has done it.

CHO: Thomas Kang was not much older than Cho when he moved his with his parents. His family, like Cho's, came for a better life. Hard working parents who sacrificed everything for their children, in the same way Kang is now doing for his daughter. A classic Korean- American story, why so many are connecting to this tragedy.

PROF. KYEYOUNG PARK, UCLA: Each Korean-American that I talk to, they feel really uncomfortable, and they're very embarrassed and trying to do anything, if there is anything that we could do.

CHO: Cho's sister graduated from Princeton, a source of family pride. Her brother is now a source of shame.

KIM YANG-SOON, CHO SEUNG-HUI'S GREAT AUNT (through translator): Who would have known he would have caused so much trouble, the idiot?

CHO: They were weeping in Seoul, and South Korea's president said his shock was beyond description.

Here in the U.S., Korean-American leaders say they're scared of a backlash, in the same way Arab-Americans felt after 9/11.

S. J. JUNG, KOREAN-AMERICAN: Some parents, they are really afraid of sending their children to school, and some Korean-American businesses, they decided to shut down their stores.

CHO: There is intense sadness, too. Just as the students of Virginia Tech are grieving for the victims by holding vigils, Korean- Americans are doing so as well.


CHO: An estimated two million people of Korean dissent lived in the United States right now. And interesting to note, that South Korea has more students studying in the U.S. than any other country, more than 400 at Virginia Tech alone.

And CNN has learned some of those Korean students have left campus since the shooting. They told us, Kiran, that they did so to avoid conflict.

But one important point that I want to make is that everyone I spoke to said, you know, we feel this shame, but more importantly, we, like every other American out there, feel sorrow for the victims. And that's something that everybody wanted to get out there.

CHETRY: That's very true. And one of the things that you and I also talked a bit about yesterday is the question of, how would his parents not have known that he was clearly a troubled and disturbed young man?

CHO: Well, that is the big question. You know, why didn't they notice? Certainly, he was deemed mentally ill and a threat to himself by mental health officials in 2005, but why didn't his family know?

Well, I talked to some experts about this, and they said that Asians are far less likely to actually seek medical treatment, to actually talk about it with their friends and family. There's such a stigma in Asian culture, particularly in Korean culture about this.

CHETRY: It's seen as weakness?

CHO: It's seen as weakness, and they keep it quiet, they keep it inside. And that might have been what happened here.

CHETRY: Alina, a very interesting angle to this story. Thanks so much.

CHO: Sure.


ROBERTS: Thanks, Kiran.

Calls for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step down now coming from both sides of the aisle. Is the president's support enough to save the AG?

That's coming up.

Plus, what you need to know before back out of the driveway this morning. See how your car stacks up in a test of the deadliest on the road. Ouch.

Stay with us.



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