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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview with Newt Gingrich; Interview With Congressman Ron Paul; Wall Street Protests Spread to Main Street; Interview with Senator Sanders; World Mourning Steve Jobs
Aired October 8, 2011 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama gears up for a Senate showdown over the jobs bill and reads a new unemployment report with a cautious eye. This hour we'll break down the numbers and the election year politics.
Plus, big changes and red hot comments in the Republican presidential race. Stand by for my interviews with Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich on the race; and Ron Paul's call for the president potentially to be impeached. And I'll get reaction from the liberal independent Senator Bernie Sanders.
And startling details in the fraud case against four men accused of one of the largest government contracting scandals in history. Prosecutors say it cost you and me, all American taxpayers, $20 million.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Economists say there's no hint in the newest unemployment report that another recession is starting; 103,000 jobs were added to pay rolls last month. That's a stronger than expected increase. July and August figures were also revised upward, as well as to show an additional gain of 99,000 jobs over the summer. The overall unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent.
Let's bring in our White House Correspondent Dan Lothian.
Dan, what is the White House saying about all the numbers heading into a Senate fight over the jobs bill?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, top aides here at the White House say that unemployment rate of 9.1 percent is still unacceptably high. They're encouraged by growth in the private sector. But White House Spokesman Jay Carney said it's, quote, "far from good enough."
They believe that the president's jobs bill is one way to get Americans back to work. And that's why you've seen the president campaigning across the country and again this week holding a news conference here at the White House, putting pressure on lawmakers to act and throwing his support behind a new way to pay for it all.
LOTHIAN (voice over): It wasn't a full-throated endorsement of the surtax on millionaires to pay for his jobs bill. But it was as close as President Obama got.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The approach that the Senate is taking I'm comfortable with.
LOTHIAN: The president used a big part of his roughly one-hour press conference to lean on Congress to pass the jobs bill; singling out Republicans for often saying no to his proposals.
OBAMA: The question, then, is will Congress do something? If Congress does something, then I can't run against a do-nothing Congress. If Congress does nothing, then it's not a matter of me running against them. I think the American people will run them out of town.
LOTHIAN: With an economy going in reverse after showing signs earlier this year of moving forward, the president blamed Europe, a tsunami, high gas prices, and debt ceiling fight with a dark outlook.
OBAMA: There's no doubt that the economy is weaker now than it was in the beginning of the year.
LOTHIAN: He said ideas Republicans are backing won't create the immediate jolt the sagging job market needs. And he challenged reporters to measure his plan against what the critics are offering.
OBAMA: Go ask the Republicans what their jobs plan is, if they're opposed to the American Jobs Act. And have it scored, have it assessed by the same independent economists that assessed our jobs plan.
LOTHIAN: Later, while honoring the NCAA Women's Basketball champions in the Rose Garden, the president joked that the coaches practice of throwing candy to fans might sweeten his hand on the Hill.
OBAMA: I'm going to try that. You think that's going to work if I go to the House of Representatives and just throw candy around?
LOTHIAN: House Speaker John Boehner criticized Democrats saying that they need to stop campaigning and start listening. He says the unemployment numbers shows a real urgency for Democrats and Republicans to sit down, find common ground, and come up with, as he put it, common sense solutions, Wolf.
BLITZER: A lot easier said than done. Dan Lothian, thank you.
As worries pileup over the economy these latest jobs figures offers some good, although not necessarily great news. CNN's Tom Foreman is taking a closer look at all the numbers.
What you are seeing, Tom? TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is all about context, just exactly what you're talking about there. When you consider all this news. This is the line on unemployment since the president came in here. Back here a little between 7 and 8 percent when he started, now at 9.1 percent.
But it is more important to look at the overall job growth, if you want to understand what that means. From the time he came in, we had all the down months. The stimulus came along. We had months where we were producing jobs instead of losing them. Then we went back to losing some. And now we're producing some. But here's what's important. Just producing jobs does not solve the problem. Because we're also producing more workers in the workforce as people get older.
Now look at this. If you stay in this red zone, even though you're producing jobs, you're actually losing the number of people employed because there are more people getting into it. So all the green numbers that didn't crack that, we got higher unemployment as a result, even though we were producing jobs. If you get up in here, which is what we've just done this time, you're kind of in the status quo. You're not really losing. You're not really gaining. You're sort of in this gray zone.
You have to get up here into the lower unemployment zone, and the president would actually have to make this happen for months and months and months, to make up for everything we've lost so far. So that's an important perspective to keep in mind.
Who's being hit by this? Well, it's different for different people. Obviously, the folks out here are being hit the worst are the African-American community, Hispanic community behind that; Asian and white community not so much.
And it has something to do also with who you are in the culture in term of your income. Before the recession began, remember, lower wage jobs were growing. Higher wage jobs were growing. Middle-wage jobs, $35,000 a year and up that, area, they were growing the least of all. And then look what happened. When the recession came, what actually happened here was those jobs plummeted. And they've been the slowest to recover in all of these numbers that we see. These jobs have come back a bit much these jobs are not coming back at all.
But these are recovering very, very slowly, Wolf. So when you consider all that together, you can see why all this marginal jobs figures aren't doing much to move the needle.
BLITZER: Yeah. 9.1 percent unemployment rate remains the same. All right. Thanks very much, Tom, for that.
Let's get some more on the politics of the jobs report as the presidential race keeps heating up as well. We're joined by our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and our CNN Correspondent Joe Johns.
Gloria, look, obviously could have been a whole lot worse; 100,000 plus new jobs created in the month of September is decent. But most economists say in order to see that needle going down, you need at least 150,000 jobs created every month given the number of people that were entering the workplace.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's like you're barely treading water to stay in place, Wolf. It's very difficult situation right now. Particularly politically for the president, who knows that he's got to get this needle to go down if he's going to be able to tell the American public that things are actually going in the right direction.
It doesn't work for him politically to be able to say things would have been worse if we hadn't had the stimulus plan, which created jobs as Tom Foreman showed. So it's a difficult political position for him. He's got to say things are getting better, not that they would have been worse.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a gray zone, just like Tom said. You know, and that means a susceptible of interpretation. People in the right are going to say the fundamentals are just not sound here. We still need more growth. We still need to do something about energy. We still need to do something about the trade deficit.
And until you do that, we're not going to move in the right direction. The Democrats on the other hand, have a chance to sort of refute that argument but it's absolutely not conclusive. And that's the problem for the president of the United States, a year and a month out from November.
BORGER: You know, he's essentially proposing another stimulus package by another name.
BLITZER: Half a trillion dollars.
BORGER: And what you say, Republicans are saying, you know, that is not going to help stimulate job growth. What's their plan to help stimulate job growth? Well, maybe deregulate to a certain degree. But does either side actually have a solution about how to create jobs right now? No. You just have to get the economy growing.
BLITZER: They're creating a lot of political friction. That's what they're doing here in Washington. Here's our latest CNN Poll of Polls, the average of all the major polls on how all these Republican candidates are doing among Republicans nationwide.
Romney is still ahead with 20 percent. Herman Cain is doing remarkably well, 17 percent. Rick Perry, 15 percent. Everybody else in single digits right now.
As you well know, these are national numbers. Much more important are the numbers in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida. Those are the numbers that will really make a difference. But it does show a certain amount of trend.
JOHNS: It certainly does. It's fascinating that Romney is been able to play like he's running in the general election, as long as he's been able to without somebody coming from nowhere, and sort of knocking them out of the box. It's clear that there are a lot of people who think he has some very high negatives. They think he flip- flops or whatever. When you have Herman Cain turning out to be the guy who is nipping at your heels, I think Romney doesn't feel like-
BLITZER: And Gloria, if you think about Mitt Romney. He's the front-runner right now. A lot of people already assume he's going to get the nomination. I think it's way too early to make any such assumption like that.
BORGER: Yeah, sure.
BLITZER: But he was at the Citadel on Friday. Delivered his first major foreign policy address. I'm going to play a little clip. Because he really goes after President Obama.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And eloquently justified surrender of world leadership is still surrender. I will not surrender America's role in the world. This is very simple. If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I'm not your president. You have that president today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That is clearly, he is suggesting the president of the United States does not want America to be the strongest nation on earth.
BORGER: Republicans, as you know, Wolf, for a very long time have talked about this notion of American exceptionalism and how Barack Obama does not subscribe to it. He spends too much time apologizing about America to the rest of the world. But it's interesting to me that Mitt Romney would do this because when you look at Barack Obama's foreign policy, when you look at the surge in Afghanistan, for example, this is something that John McCain wanted.
Most of the candidates in the Republican field want to pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan because they want to spend the money at home. Barack Obama got us Osama bin Laden, he gotten Al- Awlaki. It is interesting to me that he would draw such a red line, because Republicans are with him on a lot of things.
BLITZER: Those red lines are only just beginning. This campaign is about to get even nastier than it already is. Guys, thanks very much.
They were entrusted with your money. But prosecutors say government officials defrauded taxpayers of about $20 million. Plus, two Republican candidates air their very sharp differences over the killing of an American citizen, the Al Qaeda leader in Yemen. Anwar Al-Awlaki. My interviews with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul coming up. And the man behind the iPod, the iPhone, iPad, unfortunately passed away. Steve Jobs was a visionary genius. What will his death mean to Apple? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Politicians always like to talk about waste, fraud, and abuse of government. Now prosecutors have set their sights on four men who they say carried out one of the most audacious schemes in history. They're accused of bilking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers out of $20 million. CNN's Brian Todd is in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's been investigating this story.
What do we know here?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we were in court for their detention hearing and picked up extraordinary detail on this case. The four men were ordered held without bond. One prosecutor told me this is one of the largest if not, the largest government contracting scandal in U.S. history.
TODD (voice over): A beautiful upscale house in Washington suburbs. Hope you like it because you may have paid for it. That's according to an indictment filed against four defendants in a massive alleged fraud scheme. Two of them work for the Army Corps of Engineers, a government agency. Prosecutors say the four men schemed to file inflated bills for federal contracting services.
(On camera): How brazen do you believe this was?
RONALD MACHEN, U.S. ATTORNEY: I've been a prosecutor for a while. This is one of the most staggering violations of public trust that we've seen.
TODD (voice over): Lead prosecutor Ronald Machen says the defendants defrauded taxpayers of about $20 million. In their indictment, prosecutors say the two Army Corps of Engineers officials, Kerry Khan and Michael Alexander, agreed with an employee at contractor Eyak technologies to funnel government business to Eyak. In return, prosecutors say, EyakTek overbilled the Army Corps of Engineers by $20 million over a four-year period. The government says that money was divided between Alexander, Lee Khan, his father, Kerry Kohn and Harold Babb, an official with Eyak technologies.
Prosecutors say Lee Khan set up shell companies to launder the money stolen by his father. All four have pleaded not guilty. Jeffrey Jacobovitz is a lawyer for Harold Babb.
JEFFREY JACOBOVITZ, ATTORNEY FOR ACCUSED CONTRACTOR: We heard one side of the story. We have heard the government's version of the facts. Obviously, there are two sides to the story.
TODD: Prosecutors say the alleged schemers were not exactly subtle with their money, purchasing several expensive sports cars, high-end watches, first class plane tickets, and 16 properties.
(On camera): Prosecutors say this expensive house in the Washington suburbs belonged to the defendant Kerry Kahn. They say, Kahn, whose salary what the Army Corps ranges between $84,000 and $110,000 a year, wrote one check for a down payment on this house for more than $300,000. EyakTek did not have to compete with other bidders thanks to special rules for Native Alaskan companies. Rules which critics say make fraud easier.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D-MO), CONTRACTING OVERSIGHT CMTE.: This is the stuff that happens when you allow giant no-bid contracts to very tiny companies that then hire somebody on the back end to actually do the work.
TODD: Defenders of those special rules argue that they bring contracting jobs to disadvantaged Indian tribes who were treated badly in the past. Now as for this case, one prosecutor told me there was a breakdown of internal control of the Army Corps of Engineers that allowed all of this to happen. Spokespeople for the Corps and EyakTek say they take the allegations seriously. They don't tolerate this kind of conduct and they are cooperating with investigators, Wolf.
BLITZER: And there's been some really amazing family intrigue in this whole story as well.
TODD: It is unreal. The father and son duo who were charged in this case, Kerry and Lee Khan, well they have another family member, son of Kerry Kahn who is in prison for drug trafficking. Prosecutors say when that son heard about what was going on, he sent a letter to his father and brother essentially threatening them saying I'll go to the feds. I know what's going. I'll go to the feds unless pay me a certain amount of money.
Well, after that, prosecutors say that the son who is charged in this case, Lee Kahn, threatened to kill his brother who they say tried to extort the money from him. They talked about this in a phone conversation. This is part of a court document. A phone conversation between Lee Kohn and his father talking about the brother.
Quote, "If anything like that happens, you're losing a son because I will kill that m-fer myself. He makes an f'ing peep, he's going down. I'll have to find somebody locked up to f'ing shank him in there. If I have to do that he's going down." He's talking about killing his own brother. His defense attorney says that was just in the heat of the moment, you can't judge him by that. And maybe these were some ill chosen words.
BLITZER: I'll chosen, I would say is an understatement.
TODD: You would figure that.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian, for that report.
Should president Obama have ordered the killing of an American citizen and Al Qaeda leader? Republican candidates Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, they differ sharply on this issue. My interviews with both of them, those are coming up.
Plus, some liberal politicians are embracing the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I'll ask Senator Bernie Sanders about the political impact of all these protests that are now spreading across the United States.
BLITZER: It's been a volatile week in the Republican presidential race with dramatic movement in the top tier and some very provocative comments by the contenders. I spoke with two Republican candidates this week, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. First up, the former House speaker.
BLITZER: I'd like you to respond to one of your other rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul. He very much opposed President Obama's decision to order the killing Anwar Al- Awlaki, the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, there. Listen to what Ron Paul said today.
RON PAUL, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They asked me whether that was an impeachable offense. It is. I mean, just ignoring the Fifth Amendment and assassinating American citizen without due process? And won't even tell us what the rules are. Oh, I bet he's a threat. Can you imagine being put on a list because you're a threat?
BLITZER: All right. Are with you President Obama on this issue or with Ron Paul on this issue?
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I wrote a newsletter today, I write a weekly electronic newsletter, entitled "Obama Gets One Right. The fact is that Congressman Paul is wrong about the law. He's wrong about the Constitution. If you were an active enemy combatant, if you're actively advocating the killing of Americans.
And Callista and did a movie about America at risk. And we have footage in a movie of Anwar Al-Awlaki calling for the killing of Americans. We know that he was advising the terrorists who killed 13 Americans and wounded 33 at Ft. Hood. He wasn't in American courts. He wasn't in Chicago or New York. He was running around Yemen plotting the killing of Americans. If you do that, you are an enemy combatant.
If you're an enemy combatant, you're subject to military action which causes killing, you are not subject to going to court. This is not a criminal procedure. This is a war. We have a long precedent for this. You are called a traitor.
Now If he had shown up and turned himself in, then we would have owed him due process as an American citizen. We would are tried him as a traitor. I think we would have convicted him. He has no defense if he's actively trying to encourage the killing of Americans. The president was exactly right legally and he was exactly right morally in killing somebody who was a threat to everybody.
BLITZER: One final question. Give me a yes or no if one of the other Republican candidates gets the nomination and asks you to be the vice-presidential running mate, is it a yes for you or a no?
GINGRICH: Well, it wouldn't be a no.
BLITZER: Sound like a yes. Anything? All right. I'll leave it at that.
GINGRICH: I'm not going to-
BLITZER: It wouldn't be the first time that a candidate asked somebody with more experience a little bit older, President Bush asked Dick Cheney, President Obama, as you know, asked Joe Biden. I wouldn't be surprised necessarily if somebody else gets the nomination-I know you want to get the nomination-they turn to you and say will you join me on the ticket. So what I hear you saying, is you're open to that. Give me a yes or no?
GINGRICH: Ronald Reagan once said he was very glad Jerry Ford did not ask him in '76 because he didn't see how a citizen could turn down a president in that setting. I think Reagan had a lot of profound wisdom about that.
BLITZER: Newt Gingrich speaking with me earlier in the week. We are going to give Ron Paul a chance to respond to Newt Gingrich. And I'll ask him which candidates he'd support if someone else were to get the nomination.
Plus, Steve Jobs' legacy for Apple. How the seeds he planted will shape the company's future and ours.
BLITZER: As anger grows in America over the faltering economy, President Obama is pushing for passage of his nearly half trillion dollar jobs bill and Democrats are pushing for an extra tax on the wealthiest Americans.
I sat down with Republican Presidential Candidate Congressman Ron Paul and I asked him if that proposed 5.5 percent surtax on millionaires would help.
RON PAUL, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, it's not going to do any good at all. It's not a lack of taxation that's going on. There's just too much spending. And this doesn't solve the problem. I see no advantage to doing what he's doing.
BLITZER: You know that all the polls show that the majority of cases, in some cases an overwhelming majority of the American people want higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires as the president likes to say. Why are the American people wrong when answering that question?
PAUL: Well, because pure democracy sometimes leads to these ill- advised positions. You know, when there is a war propaganda going on and they draw and beat the war drums and everybody says 75 percent of people want us to go to war.
And then after ten years their sick and tired of it doesn't mean it was right when 75 percent said do something. This is the danger of pure democracy. When you demagogue and you attack somebody and say we have to attack the wealthy.
I don't mind criticizing, you know, the wealthy at times. I criticize the bankers and the bailouts and the corporate people who got all the benefits both when the financial bubble was being built but then when it burst, they got bailed out and then the people suffered.
But that doesn't mean we should attack wealth for the sake of wealth. We should stop all the subsidies to the wealth. Anybody is getting wealthy because they get contracts from the government or because they're on the inside of the program where they get their bailouts.
That's quite a bit different. We should stop that, but not blanketly penalize people who make wealth and who have created wealth and provided great services for the consumer.
BLITZER: Rick Perry, the governor of your home state of Texas, if he were to get the Republican presidential nomination, could you support him?
PAUL: Well, I don't know because his policies have changed and maybe if he came a little closer to what I'm talking about and would agree that troops ought to come home and look into the fed, I'd certainly give it consideration.
BLITZER: What about Mitt Romney? If he were to get the Republican nomination, could you support him?
PAUL: Well, the same answer. None of them are advocating my positions, but they're starting to talk a little bit like I am because I think like Governor Romney actually said we should bring troops home from Afghanistan. So I would have to find out exactly what their positions are and what the platform is that they'll be running on.
BLITZER: Who's better from your perspective right now?
PAUL: I don't choose to pick one of those because I see all the other candidates sort of in one group that is -- and they're all different than what I'm talking about because the foreign policy I advocate neither one of them do and there is tremendous emphasis on that. I have a tremendous emphasis on personal liberty, right to life and liberty and civil liberties. I would put all the other candidates in another category. I think in many ways I'm competing with all of them as one group.
BLITZER: So if the Republican nominee turns out not to be you, Congressman, didn't change his or her positions and didn't come around to where you stand, would you consider running as a third party, perhaps libertarian candidate for the presidency?
PAUL: I haven't talked about it. I have no plans to do that so, no, that wouldn't be in the cards for me.
BLITZER: Not in the cards for you. All right, let me move on and ask you about Newt Gingrich. He's running for the Republican nomination as well.
He was here in THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday and he strongly disagrees with you when it comes to President Obama's decision to order the killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki in Yemen. Listen to what the former speaker told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is Congressman Paul is wrong about the law. He's wrong about the constitution and the president was exactly right legally and he was exactly right morally in killing somebody who was a threat to everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, go ahead and respond to Newt Gingrich.
PAUL: I'd ask him to read the Fifth Amendment. It's pretty clear. You can't take a life without due process of law, especially on American citizens. So I would say that he's way off base. This is historic.
We've never had a policy that said that we can put somebody on a assassination list by a secret tribunal, so to speak. We don't even know what the qualification is or the criteria to put somebody on this list. I think this is the most dangerous precedent and respect for the constitution and rule of law that needs to be milked out. I think we lost a lot of it.
I consider this one of the most dangerous things that we have done. And this president has done it. He announced the policy in February of last year. I gave a speech on the House floor shortly thereafter advising how dangerous this was. And this means that we have very much violated the whole concept of the rule of law.
BLITZER: Because Newt Gingrich in defending the president's decision said he was an enemy combatant of the United States. And over all the years of warfare, the U.S. has been able to kill so- called enemy combatants. So what do you make of that argument? PAUL: Well, I would ask him and the president to produce some evidence exactly what he did and why is he an enemy? What are the charges? You know, if we can try Eichmann, the Israelis tried him in 1961. Don't you think we could try somebody like Al-Awlaki or at least, you know, recognize that individual should be captured when possible and tried?
But this enemy combatant, anybody can -- you know, in the -- the word has already been used. He was a threat. I think that was the word, a threat. I'm anti-war. I might go to an anti-war rally and what if the administration said Ron Paul is a threat?
Somebody in the media, he's a threat he's preaching that the government is doing wrong with the foreign policy. This, to me, is a very, very dangerous precedent.
BLITZER: So would you support articles of impeachment against President Obama for this decision?
PAUL: I haven't introduced them, but I think it's an impeachable offense if the mood of the country was such that they want to do it. Yes, I could support that.
BLITZER: One of the Senate's leading liberals weighs in on the U.S. killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki as well. Did President Obama do the right thing? I'll speak with Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders on that and a whole lot more. That's coming up next.
And now that Chris Christie is not running for president, will comedians lay off all the weight jokes? Jeannie Moos is ahead.
BLITZER: Protests against Wall Street spread to a number of U.S. cities this week including right here on the nation's capital. President Obama says the demonstrations are expressing the frustration that so many Americans feel right now about the economy, the jobs situation, and the fallout from the financial crisis.
Democrats now are trying to harness the anger of the growing "Occupy Wall Street Movement" that some see as the left wing's answer to the Tea Party Movement. I spoke this week with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
BLITZER: Senator, thanks very much for coming in. Let me get right to this "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration that's going on around the country right now. What do you think about this?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I applaud them. I think the president is right. They're speaking to the real anger and frustration that millions of Americans feel at a time when the middle class is collapsing, poverty is increasing.
The people on top are doing phenomenally well and the people, Wolf, who cause this damn recession in the first place, the folks on Wall Street because of their greed and illegal behavior, you know what their punishment has been?
They're now making more money than they ever made before. So what the demonstrators are saying there is something wrong with picture and they're exactly correct.
BLITZER: The president at the news conference today was asked about all the Wall Street bankers in 2008 and 2009. You say illegal activity. No one as far as I know has gone to jail let alone even been charged with any illegal activity in causing this crisis. Do you know of anyone who's been charged with a crime?
SANDERS: Well, I think there are some investigations that I think, you know, hopefully they will lead to criminal charges. But what I think the average American is saying if a kid smokes marijuana, that kid can end up in jail.
These people, because of their activity, destroyed the economy, millions of people lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings and now they're making more money than they ever did before. So I applaud what the folks, the Wall Street demonstrators are talking about.
But now what we have to do is put some meat on that bone. We have to come up with some specific ideas in terms of how you deal with Wall Street. I'll give you one example, Wolf. Many people don't know this.
The sixth largest financial institutions in this country have assets the equivalent of 60 percent of the GDP of the United States of America, 60 percent of our GDP, some $7 trillion. In my view, everything being equal, they will once again, because of their reckless activity, come back before Congress in a too big to fail situation.
They will need to be bailed out again. In my view, we have got to break up these financial institutions right now, bring some competition to the financial industry. Furthermore, you have large banks, Bank of America, the others. They're charging interest rates on people's credit cards of 25 or 30 percent.
That's called usury. We have to regulate interest rates and demand that the fed take that kind of action. So we need some real specific wall street reform which pro tech the American people.
BLITZER: You want to share with us who's being investigated right now for criminal activity on Wall Street?
SANDERS: Well, I think -- no. I think something has been in the front pages of the papers. So I've nothing more to -- than that.
BLITZER: Is the Obama administration MIA when it comes to all these problems because it's been a business now for almost three years. SANDERS: If you're asking me do I believe there should have been a thorough Wall Street investigation, that there should have been prosecutions two or three years ago, the answer is absolutely. If you're asking me is the Obama administration been bringing onboard financial advisers who are too close to Wall Street, absolutely.
So, you know, I think we should have been much more aggressive in going after Wall Street. I'll give you another example. We found out -- I got a provision in Dodd-Frank, which showed the fed during the financial crisis, the fed provided $16 trillion on a revolving basis of low-interest loans to every large financial institution in America, central banks all over the world, many large corporations.
Right now in America, you have small businesses desperately in need of affordable capital. They can't find it. Why is not the fed responding to the needs of American small business people who want to expand, who want to grow jobs in the same -- with the same sense of urgency that they responded to wall street in their moment of crisis in.
BLITZER: The president's jobs bill, it's going to come up next week in the Senate. You're a senator, but a lot of people are suggesting why is the president proposing legislation that he knows is not going to -- not even pass, forget about the House of Representatives?
But even some of your fellow Democrats, if you will, I know you're an independent. But even some Democrats say they can't vote for the president president's plan.
SANDERS: I'm not so sure that that's the case. I think what the president has got to do and what the media has got to do is appreciate the urgency of the moment. And we don't.
The reality is unemployment in America today, Wolf, is not 9 percent. Real unemployment including those who have given up looking for work and working part time when they want to work full time is 16 percent, 25 million Americans.
What the president has got to do is come up with a bold jobs program. I would go further than he did. I would put more emphasis on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, transforming our energy system. But the president has got to the American people. We need to create millions and millions of jobs.
And if any Republican out there does not want to support job creation, you have to hold that person politically accountable. That is the issue of the moment, 16 percent unemployment, young people getting out of high school, getting out of college can't find jobs. Older workers seeing their wages go down. We need to rebuild this economy.
BLITZER: I want you to listen, Senator Sanders, to Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaking out today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you interview somebody that happens to be rich, that you call a fat cat, go and get rich instead of expecting them to walk outside of their office and write you a check. That's not the way America works. Work for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, you want to respond to Herman Cain?
SANDERS: Yes, I think Mr. Cain got it wrong. That's exactly how America works. Historically, what we have said is especially in a moment when the wealthiest people are becoming wealthier and we have the most unequal distribution of income and wealth.
What we have historically done is say yes to the wealthiest people in this country, you have to pay more in taxes and especially at this moment when the real effective tax rate for the very rich is the lowest it's been in decades.
Of course, they're going to have to contribute to help us get this economy moving and create the millions of jobs that we desperately need.
BLITZER: One final question before I let you go, did President Obama do the right thing in ordering the killing of an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki?
SANDERS: That's a long discussion probably longer than the amount of time we now have.
BLITZER: Go ahead, give me 30 seconds.
SANDERS: Well, the answer is that I, you know, think that when you have an American citizen killed by the United States government, it raises some real questions. On the other hand, when you have somebody that is a terrorist and at war with the United States, that's the other side of that equation.
BLITZER: Senator Sanders, thanks very much for coming in as usual.
SANDERS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Steve Jobs was the public face and brilliant mind behind Apple for decades. Now after his death, we're taking a closer look at how the company he founded will carry on.
BLITZER: People around the world are mourning the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. In Beijing, crowds gathered outside an Apple store where a make shift memorial sprung up. In London, a man used his iPhone to photograph a similar tribute. Flowers also piled up outside the Apple flagship store on New York City's Fifth Avenue and outside Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, a group of Chinese exchange students used candles to spell out jobs' name and depict the Apple logo.
CNN's Lisa Sylvester has an in-depth look at Apple's future without Steve Jobs -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the world is mourning his loss. Steve Jobs was a cult hero. His name was synonymous with Apple. So will we still see the same revolutionary creations coming out of Apple?
Well, the people I spoke to say Jobs was such a unique figure, such a visionary, but that he did something very well. He spread that mind set to others around him.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): We're here to put a dent in the universe. It's one of Steve Jobs' memorable quotes and a dent he did make, the Apple computer, the Macbook, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad.
Around the world outside of Apple stores, people are leaving flowers, tokens and thank you notes. He was a guy rooted in counterculture, but yet, able to connect with the masses.
JOBS: The coolest thing about iPod is that whole your entire music library fits in your pocket.
SYLVESTER: His name is attached to more than 300 patents. He's been likened to a modern day Thomas Edison, a Walt Disney of our time.
At the age of 13, Jobs called up the head of Hewlett-Packard and convinced them to give him free computer chips. At the age of 21, he had co-founded Apple in his parent's garage.
STEVEN LEVY, WIRED MAGAZINE: Steve was unique in combining that degree of confidence, taste and style, you know, intuitive sense of what people would want and a good grasp of what technology could do.
What opportunities it presented there. I don't think we're ever going to see that mix again. Steve really was unique, but in a way, he helped us turn the corner. He helped us go forward into what really is an amazing explosion of technology.
SYLVESTER: But with his death, how does the world fill this gap? Techies and non-techies alike had always waited with baby breath to see what Apple and really, Steve Jobs, had up its sleeves next. Now what?
Jay Elliot, a former senior VP at Apple says Jobs left behind not just a vision, but an ecosystem of like-minded people who will continue to give the world those creations that make us go wow. JAY ELLIOT, FORMER APPLE SENIOR V.P.: Steve is a master of finding really good people and he's put together an amazing team at Apple and when you're working for Steve like I did, he rubs off on you. So you start thinking like he does.
You want to be your own self, but you start understanding the intensity for building great products and you start being more creative yourself. It was a turning point in my own life just working for Steve.
SYLVESTER: Steve Jobs at a commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 spoke of death being an agent of change, making way for new ideas. He leaves behind these words for the world.
JOBS: Your time is limited. So don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
SYLVESTER: In that same address he said, quote, "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." And it is that philosophy that rubbed off on many of the people who knew him and worked with him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester, thanks very, very much.
Comedians won't have this weight to throw around anymore now that Chris Christie is officially out of the race for the White House. Jeannie Moos is next.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this week's "Hot Shots." In Israel, an altar orthodox, Jewish man holds a chicken over his children's head. The ceremony is supposed to transfer the sins of the past year to the chicken.
In Afghanistan, a girl looks for a recyclable item. In Spain, a thermal solar plant opens and it the first to use modern salt heat storage technology in a central tower receiver.
And in Germany, look at this. A great crowned crane cleans himself at the Berlin Zoo. "Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.
Chris Christie says he's not running for president of the United States and now Jeanne Moos breaks down the drama.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We in the press tend to fall hardest for the guy who is hard to get.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he in or is Christie out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he in or is he out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it yes or is it no.
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The answer is no.
MOOS: Say it isn't so.
CHRISTIE: It's a no until it's a yes. What I said is I would reconsider my no and I did, but the no never changed. So, New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you're stuck with me.
MOOS: Governor Christie giggled his way through a couple of the questions.
CHRISTIE: That's such a shock to the people in New Jersey, right.
MOOS: His decision not to run for president shocked nobody, but it disappointed many.
(on camera): We are gathered here to mourn all of the unborn, undelivered weight jokes that will now not be told.
(voice-over): Late night comedians will have to be content.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Travelling down the New Jersey turnpike, I saw him on the truck scales.
MOOS: With the routines that they have already managed to squeeze in during the courtship of Christie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you run for president, I will give you this bucket of chicken, extra crispy.
MOOS: Governor Christie says he doesn't mind when comedians joke about his weight. That's their job.
CHRISTIE: All I care about is that they are actually funny so I can at least laugh about it while they are mocking me, you know.
MOOS: But when political commentators say things like this --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cannot be president. He is just too fat.
CHRISTIE: The people who pretend to be serious commentators who have wrote about this are among the most ignorant people I've ever heard in my life.
MOOS: David Letterman made a show pretending not to do any more Chris Christie weight jokes.
CHRISTIE: The guy who was sent off to go and come up with jokes that weren't about me being fat, that guy was really good.
MOOS: Fat jokes disguised as dumb jokes. Fat jokes disguised as cheap jokes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Christie is so cheap, when he steps on a scale, it reads one at a time.
CHRISTIE: It's almost they're funny. What the hell do I care?
MOOS: Not only can he take a joke?
CHRISTIE: An answer will come to me. Did you see this one?
MOOS: He can tell one.
CHRISTIE: So he's been grounded, but --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Got a good sense of humor. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM at our new time 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, every Saturday and 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, and at this time every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.